MUSINGS, FIVE

MUSINGS

MUSINGS, BOOK FIVE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

The following short articles are thoughts that have occurred to me through the years. Perhaps they will be a help to younger Christians who are making their way through the wilderness of the present world.

Table of Contents

The Greatest Event

Earning Salvation

Passing Our Tests

The Destruction of the Flesh

God Deals Differently With Each Person

One Brick at a Time

Caverns of Punishment

The Tragic Result of Misinterpreting Two Verses

When Are We Beaten With Blows?

Two Motives for Beating the Body

The Mechanism of Growth

The Law of Moses Does Not Address the Sinful Nature

Dwelling in the House of the Lord

Accept Nothing; Pray About Everything

The Lord Is My Shepherd

The Secret Place of the Most High

Meeting the Past in the Future

Worries, and the Deceitfulness of Riches

Objects of Wrath and Objects of Mercy

Releasing Tongues in the Christian

Obeying Christ’s Commandments

Living in the Holy Spirit

Entering the Kingdom of God

Samson

The Lord’s Prison

A Statement of Faith or a Statement of Behaviors?

Activating the Word

Preventing the Birth of God’s Children

Save Yourself First!

The Revelation of our Character

Integrity

A World Without Sin

Obedience to God

A Painful Operation

What Would Adam and Eve Have Done?

What Do You Really Want?

An Inheritance of People

Praying for the Holy Spirit

Words Are Important

God’s Righteousness

Learning To Play Salvation

Poised for Change

Six Aspects of the Goal

The Darkness in Others

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Morning Star

The Devil and His Angels

Righteous Behavior Is the Testimony

Resurrection Comes First

Gathered to Your People

The Same Side of the Net

Forgiven, and Then Chastened

The Firstfruits of the Church

Accepting Doctrine or Accepting Christ?

The Day of Vengeance

The Inward Man

Getting What We Want by Faith

The Mind

The Kingdom

The Barren Bear Fruit

Everything on the Altar

Be Not Afraid!

One World

The Dilemma of the Unsaved Individual

MUSINGS, BOOK FIVE

The Greatest Event—Maybe we haven’t thought much about it, but the marriage of the Lamb will be the greatest event to have taken place since the Logos proceeded from the Father. The Logos, whom we know as Jesus Christ, or the Lamb, has never before had a complement, an enlargement of Himself.

In the beginning was the Word (the Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This may well be the most majestic proclamation in all literature.

How could the Word be with God and yet be God? Scholars have pondered this question, and not all have given the same answer. My answer is just as declared in the New Testament: the Word, the Logos, Jesus Christ, is God’s Son.

So we can say that in the beginning was God’s Son. God’s Son was with God. God’s Son was and is God just as a son of a man is a man. I think it is as simple as this.

We know the Father and the Son are not the same person because of the preposition "with." The Son was "with" the Father, which could not be the case if the Son and the Father were the same Person.

"This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." That is clear enough for me.

The New Testament teaches that all things were made by the Son. If it was in the beginning as it was in the days when Christ walked the earth, then we can say that all things came from the Father. The Son worked and created as He saw the Father work and create.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2)

Now here is an interesting fact: the Father loves the Son. This is one of the many facts that distinguish between the Father and the Son. The Father is not in love with Himself but with the Person who came from Him, just as an earthly father is not in love with himself but with the son or daughter who came from him.

In the second Psalm there is a statement which again distinguishes between the Father and the Son. The Father invites the Son to pray that He (the Son) might receive the nations and the uttermost parts of the earth as a possession.

We know the greatest joy we can experience is to do something that will bring joy to someone we love. The Father derives tremendous joy in bringing joy to His beloved Son. Don’t you imagine this is the case?

So through the Son, God created the spirit realm and all its inhabitants. No doubt these gave great joy to the Son, and He now had many creatures with which to share His joy.

It would be as the son of a king who was surrounded by members of the palace; although in this case the Son had created these members.

Something was lacking, wasn’t it? The Son, the Logos, had no one like Himself to share His experiences with. He is utterly different from the angels, isn’t He?

I believe when God said concerning Adam, "It is not good for the man to be alone," He was thinking of His Son. Or if it was Christ who said this, He was thinking of Himself.

So Eve came into being. Eve was created from Adam. Eve was Adam in another form. Eve was an enlargement of Adam. Eve was the same kind of creature as Adam. Eve was a provider of support suitable for Adam. There fullness of the image of God was not possible to Adam apart from Eve. Fruitfulness was not possible. Dominion was not possible for it is the result of fruitfulness.

"It is not good for the man to be alone."

It is my personal opinion that God knew when He brought forth His Son from Himself that His Son would need a wife. Are there things that the Father knows before the Son knows them? According to the Lord Jesus there are. Jesus said only the Father knows when He shall return to the earth. And didn’t the Father give the Book of Revelation to Jesus that Jesus might give it to John?

Perhaps God planned a bride for His Son before the Son created the angels. Perhaps God knew Satan would fall, and then infect mankind. The Bible says the Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world.

What I am suggesting is that God from the beginning of all things knew one day there would be an enlargement of the Logos, and that all that has taken place, including the rebellion of the angels, and all else, has been permitted to occur because it would result eventually in a Bride for the Lamb.

Can you see the importance I am attaching to the marriage of the Lamb? I am saying it is the centerpiece of all history, even pre-creation history. It is the one supreme event, and has been made possible by the shedding of blood on the cross of Calvary.

All things of the creation are working together for good that God’s will might be accomplished.

What could possibly be more important than the forming of a Bride for the Lamb?

Let’s review for a moment what I said previously about Eve. Let’s see how much of it is true concerning the Church, the Wife of the Lamb.

So Eve came into being. Eve was created from Adam. Eve was Adam in another form. Eve was an enlargement of Adam. Eve was the same kind of creature as Adam. Eve was a provider of support suitable for Adam. There fullness of the image of God was not possible to Adam apart from Eve. Fruitfulness was not possible. Dominion was not possible for dominion is the result of fruitfulness.

"It is not good for the man to be alone."

Eve was created from Adam. The Church is being created from the body and blood of Christ.

Eve was Adam in another form. The Apostle Paul said, "I am not living, it is Christ who is living in me." When this experience is carried to full maturity, then we can say that Paul was Christ in another form. He who sees Christ is seeing Paul, in that it is Christ who is living in Paul.

Eve was the same kind of creature as Adam. The Church is the same Substance and Nature of Christ because she has the same Father; because she lives by the body and blood of Christ; and because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit dwell in her.

Eve was a provider of support for Adam. It is not apparent as yet, because we are so immature. But I think our faithfulness and prayers serve to strengthen the Son of God, just as the mighty angel prayed for Christ in Gethsemane.

God has enemies who accuse Him constantly concerning the conduct of His elect. I believe the Lord is pleased and encouraged—strengthened if you will—when we remain faithful throughout severe trials.

The fullness of the image of God was not possible to Adam apart from Eve. This may or may not be true in the case of the Lamb and His Wife. It is certain the human male reflects only some aspects of the image of God. The female reflects the remaining attributes, such as in motherhood. Whether the fully mature Church will add to the image of God that Jesus Christ reveals, I am not certain.

It is true that the new Jerusalem is the glorified Church, the Wife of the Lamb. It may be that there is a fullness of God that is revealed when we add the entire new Jerusalem to the Lamb.

Fruitfulness was not possible to Adam apart from Eve. So it is true that Christ is the Vine and we are the branches. Beyond all doubt, fruit is borne on the branches of a grapevine, not on the stem.

Dominion was not possible to Adam apart from the fruitfulness that came from Eve. It is a scriptural principle that a man’s sons are as arrows in his quiver. They speak with the enemy in the gate. So it is a fact that Christ will return with His saints and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

It is not good for the man to be alone. It is not good for Christ to be alone. When God bring the Bride to the fullness of unblemished maturity, she will be the Glory of Jesus Christ for eternity.

Isaac stood alone and meditated quietly in the Negev one evening. Meanwhile his future wife was riding on a camel to a place where she had never been. Isaac looked up and saw the camels approaching and began to come toward them. Rebecca then saw Isaac for the first time.

I think we are in a similar situation today. Perhaps Christ during the past thousands of years has seen the various religious institutions and wondered, "Are they the ones the Father told me about?"

This may have been true of the great Catholic Church with its massive cathedrals throughout the world.

But it is evening now, so to speak, and Rebecca is nearing the end of her journey. No doubt the ride on the camel has been arduous. Rebecca must have been tired from the trip, and at the same time wondering what Isaac would be like.

How will we feel when we see Jesus at last? How will Jesus feel when the Father presents the completed Bride to Him—she who has been formed from His own body and blood?

How did Eve feel when she came to consciousness and saw Adam?

How did Adam feel when he awoke from his God-imposed sleep and saw Eve?

It is the greatest story of all, isn’t it? And we are so near! So near!

And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:22,23)

Earning Salvation—We can never earn salvation, but we absolutely must respond diligently to the demands of salvation if we expect to be accepted by the Lord.

For many years I have been preaching the necessity for righteous behavior on the part of Christian people. Of course, nearly every Christian believes we should live righteously. However, the current idea is that even if we don’t live righteously all the time we have no need to worry. After all, we have been saved by grace, haven’t we?

Because I maintain that salvation always results in righteous behavior, and the only proof we are continuing in the grace of God is that we are becoming increasingly righteous, I have been accused of preaching "works," of teaching that we have to earn our salvation.

I suppose if people insist on barricading themselves against righteousness of behavior there is not much anyone can do.

But let’s think about this for a bit. No one who understands the Christian salvation believes we need to earn salvation. Salvation is the gift of God given through the Lord Jesus Christ, paid in full by his blood on the cross of Calvary.

Therefore the issue is not about our earning salvation, that question is settled. The concern is fruit. Is the fruit of salvation righteous behavior? If it is, then we can say that where there is no righteous behavior there is no salvation.

Now we understand when an individual first comes to Christ we cannot judge his salvation by how he behaves. God is patient and welcomes the sinner home with no reservations or a period of probation.

But if there has been no moral transformation over a period of five or ten years, no new creation of righteous behavior, then we can say with assurance no salvation is occurring.

It gets right down to what salvation is, doesn’t it?

The Lord Jesus told us if a branch does not bear fruit it shall be cut from the vine. We are the branches. Christ is the Vine.

So it becomes essential to understand what fruit is.

Since the Vine is Christ, then the fruit that comes forth is Christ, that is, it is the moral Nature of Christ. It is the fruit of the Spirit of God. It is Christ-likeness.

God pronounced that Adam would be fruitful. This means Adam was to bear children in his image.

The fruit that we bear when we have been grafted into Christ is godly behavior. The Heavenly Farmer wants the whole earth to be filled with the image of Christ.

What is salvation anyway. Is it a plan to enable people to gain admittance to Heaven? This is a nice idea, but if it doesn’t change the nature of people we are looking forward to living eternally with people who are filled with the adamic nature. And we know what that is like?

Anyway, where is the passage of Scripture that states we have been saved to go to Heaven? If there is no passage of Scripture, why do we believe this? Because everyone else believes it? People used to believe the earth was flat and the sun revolved around the earth. But that did not make it so.

Is salvation a plan to forgive the sins of people and then change them into the image of God? This would be great, wouldn’t it? How would you like to live among people who were filled with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control? Better than living among unchanged people, isn’t it?

Suppose further that they are not changed to live in Heaven but so God’s will can be done on the earth? There is Scripture for this.

Think about it. We are on the earth now. When the Lord comes, we will return with Him and govern the nations with Him. When the new earth arrives, we will be situated on it as part of the new Jerusalem.

So what is this about making our eternal home in Heaven?

Maybe God is giving us understanding we didn’t have before. Perhaps this is the case.

But in any event, the only source of truth we can absolutely trust is the Bible. So it behooves us to find out what the Bible says about what it means to be saved.

We don’t have to earn salvation, it already has been paid for. But we certainly have to work it out as the Holy Spirit leads us in putting to death our sinful nature and putting on the new man who is in the moral image of Christ.

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 3:9,10)

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. (Hebrews 6:7-9)

Passing Our Tests—God’s purpose in putting us on the earth is to test us. The test comes when there is something we wish to do intensely, and yet we believe it is not the right thing to do for some reason. If we do what we wish, even though we feel it may be the wrong thing to do, we have failed the test. We have acted without integrity and God will not accept that.

"What is man that you are mindful of him?" the Scripture asks. I don’t suppose there is a more important question.

The second chapter of the Book of Hebrews informs us that man is a son of God, a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, and destined to govern the creation. This is the answer to the important question.

We have been made lower than the angels by being placed in a body fashioned from the dust of the ground. Because of this we are helpless indeed. But the angels, once lords of the creation, are now ministers sent to serve the heirs of salvation, which we are.

So, why? If we indeed are sons of God and destined to govern the works of God’s hands, why are we placed in bodies like those of animals? A few years ago an author referred to us as "naked apes." Is this all we are?

No, it certainly is not all we are. But for the time being we have been confined to the dust-houses.

Do you know why people are so fascinated with visions of the spirit world? It is because they are unhappy with the present material world. Why are they unhappy with the present material world? It is because of the limitations imposed on us by our imprisonment in a physical body.

God has a purpose in thus imprisoning us, rendering us frustrated and subject to corruption. It is to see what we will do if He gives us the true riches; to learn whether or not we are worthy of the Kingdom of God. Also He teaches us about Himself and tests our faith. And it is here, in this miserable state, we can learn stern obedience to the Father.

I know it is fashionable to state only Christ is worthy. If you will read the New Testament you will see how many times it says we must be worthy of resurrection life in the new world of righteousness.

There is one type of individual (I have mentioned this previously) who definitely does not belong in the new world of righteousness. It is the person who grasps what he or she desires without considering how his actions are affecting other people. We see this characteristic in the dictators of the world who maim and slaughter other people in order to hold onto their power.

Such individuals can make a profession of Christ all they want to, but if they are selfish, grasping individuals who care little for the conditions of others (like the rich man in Hell), they will never have a place among godly people. I know we teach today that accepting Christ changes this and permits the selfish to associate with the saints. But we are grossly mistaken in our doctrine.

God wants to see what we will do in various situations. He tests our heart continually. He looks to see if we really trust His faithfulness, and also if we fear Him.

If we have been elected to a high position in the Kingdom, then we will be tested very rigorously in the area of obedience. We must remain in the confining circumstances in which we are placed until God releases us. If we are not able to serve God for many years while our most fervent desires remain unfulfilled, our future assignment will be changed and our high position given to someone who has proven obedient to the point of death.

Even the Lord Jesus Christ, who had eons of time in the spirit world to learn obedience to the Father, learned obedience on the earth through the things He suffered.

We might think after we die and are in the spirit realm we will have faith, or if we could actually see God we would have faith.

Consider this fact: Satan and his angels were in the spirit realm. I do not know to what extent they could see God, yet they certainly knew there was a God. But this knowledge did not give them faith.

Faith is formed in us in the earth as we fall into various disastrous circumstances and then are rescued just in time by the Lord. As we walk with God for many years and witness His faithfulness in answering even the slightest prayer, faith is formed in us and then purified in the fires of life.

If indeed we are put on the earth to teach us and test us, and the Bible indicates such is the case, then we ought to be supremely diligent in following the Spirit of God that we might learn all the lessons and pass all the tests.

I notice that God does not waste time or people. He brings us through learning experiences every day. When it is evident we no longer will profit from our probationary period on the earth, He removes us to the spirit world.

I read of someone who had a visitation from a deceased person. The deceased person said, "What we (of the spirit world) would give for one more day on the earth!

This is reality. Our life on earth at this time is our one opportunity—perhaps in all eternity—to demonstrate our faith and our willingness to obey the Lord. It would be extremely unwise of us to waste this opportunity on the foolishness of the world, and then pass into the spirit realm having learned and accomplished virtually nothing as far as the Kingdom of God is concerned.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3)

The Destruction of the Flesh—The Apostle Paul spoke of delivering a man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. This verse certainly puts a dent in the current emphasis on salvation by faith alone.

I want you to think seriously about what appears to be a discrepancy in our thinking as Christians.

There was a believer in Corinth who was guilty of incest.

Now, the current doctrine of grace says that God does not see our sins because they are covered by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved by faith alone, it is claimed.

Am I correct in this?

If God does not see our behavior because we have been "accepted in the Beloved" and are shielded by our faith in Jesus Christ, then there is no problem with incest. Is this correct.

I think I am correct in saying most Christian people would say, "This is not right somehow. We know we are saved by faith alone, but it is not right that a Christian should practice incest." Is this what we would say?

How about if the pastor is caught in adultery with two or three ladies in the congregation? Is this acceptable or should we do something about it?

I guess most congregations would report the pastor’s behavior to a person in charge over him, like a district supervisor, and demand that something be done.

Now, are we not inconsistent? If God does not see the incestuous person’s sin, or the pastor’s sin, who are we to complain? If they are accepted by the Lord and their sins automatically are covered, why should we be concerned? If God is not concerned, why should we be concerned?

Would the pastor and his lady friends be caught up in the "rapture"? If not, why not?

Then too, every once in a while we hear Christians speak about the need to repent. To repent of what? Of Christ’s righteousness which has been imputed to us?

And if we are concerned about incest and adultery, why not about covetousness, gossip, hatred, lying, slander, which abound in the Christian churches? Why should we pick out incest and adultery and overlook gossip? The Bible does not make such distinctions.

Does God see our sins or does He not? Paul warned us that if we continue to obey our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God; we will reap corruption. How can this be when we are "saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done"?

I don’t know how you feel about these inconsistencies, but they bother me. I have come to the conclusion that the preaching in most Christian churches in America is not biblical. I realize this is a sweeping statement, but it is true either that God overlooks our sins or else He does not. Both positions can’t be true.

And if God does not overlook the behavior of Christian people, and they do not go to Heaven by grace regardless of their behavior, and Christians who continue to sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God but will reap corruption in the Day of Resurrection, and sinning Christians have reason to fear the Judgment Seat of Christ, then someone had better alert the believers in America because they are in deep trouble.

What would we do about an incestuous believer in our church? Would we tell him he was naughty and shouldn’t do this, but not to worry because he is saved by grace?

Would we urge him to stop what he is doing, make amends if they are called for, and tell him if he does not repent he must leave the assembling?

Would we go so far as to have the elders give him into Satan’s hands for his body to be destroyed that his spirit might be saved in the Day of Christ?

In my opinion, we need to rethink our teaching of grace. It assuredly is not entirely scriptural!

I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5—NASB)

God Deals Differently With Each Person—I suppose it is the adamic nature that seeks a uniform solution to the problems of life. However it is apparent, and scriptural, that God’s way of working with one person may not be the same in the case of another individual.

I was pondering a passage in the Book of Isaiah that has never made sense to me. Suddenly I think I saw what the Lord was getting at.

Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cummin; caraway is beaten out with a rod, and cummin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread; so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it. All this also comes from the LORD Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom. (Isaiah 28:23-29)

Is God this interested in the farming of caraway, cummin (like caraway), wheat, barley, and spelt (wheat)?

I believe what the Lord is pointing out is that just as different crops must be treated differently, so must people.

I notice that the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation speak of those who will inherit the rewards of victorious living, it is the overcomer (singular) who is addressed each time, not the overcomers. The promises are "to him who overcomes." I find this significant.

How often in church we bring people into bondage with our testimony. Perhaps we hear from the Lord all the time and we brag about it. But there may be people with whom God does not deal in the same manner. We stress that if people were spiritual they would "hear like I do."

Then too we criticize people who are not "like us." This is one of the problems with religion: it strives for uniformity whereas God produces diversity.

I remember one time I was teaching a group of "hippies"—young people who had been rebellious and now wanted to serve the Lord. They were very fervent, bringing their Bibles and challenging (in a good way) what I was teaching. They wanted to know where in the Bible it stated what I was teaching.

Contrast this with apathetic church people who do not know the difference between Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant, and could not care less about the difference.

I was attending a large Charismatic church at the time and teaching a Sunday school class there. I was teaching the hippies in a home group. They were a sight, with their long hair, Indian headbands, and sandals.

I knew better than to bring them to the large assembly. Do you know why? For one thing they didn’t dress like everyone else and would have been criticized. Another problem was, they were too sincere. They were not interested in a conventional worship service that went through the motions nicely. They wanted God, not a lot of traditional garbage.

People are different. Much of what we do in churches is cultural. I have been in formal churches and witnessed the historical liturgies. I have been in what we used to call "free Pentecost,"which was about as wild as they get.

I noticed God was in both places. Whether we sit quietly and listen to an organist play Bach, or are still in the Stamps-Baxter—shape notes worship, one is not more "spiritual" than the other. Some people relate to Bach and some to simple old country hymns, or raucous Pentecostal celebrations. It is all cultural. There are genuine disciples in all of these.

I may be wrong but I think God deals one way with one person and another way with a different individual. There are experiences we all share in common, like the need to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

We pastors need to remember that there is only one Shepherd. In a city there will be many folds holding different kinds of services. All these sheep are under the charge of the one Shepherd who places each one where he or she will grow spiritually. Isn’t it the truth?

Another conviction I have is that while there are certain gifts of the Spirit and certain ministries mentioned, we must keep in mind then when we mix a gift of the Spirit or a ministry with a unique human personality we may be surprised at the result. We should be looking for and encouraging diversity in the way the Spirit operates.

The farmer does not keep on breaking and harrowing the field forever. He sows His caraway, His cummin, His wheat, His barley, according to the wisdom God gives him. Then he does not try to thresh caraway and cummin with a threshing sledge, be beats out the seeds with a stick. And he does not thresh wheat and barley forever. The grain has to be ground into flour. Grinding the wheat into flour is not the job of the horses that pull the threshing cart.

Do you see the diversity here? Yet the end product of these varied operations is food.

The practical lesson for all of us is to not seek to conform other people to our ideas of what they should be of do. Let us encourage their diversity. Otherwise we will bring them into bondage and destroy their creativity.

A review of what we know about the animal and plant kingdoms will reveal quickly that God takes pleasure in diversity.

Well, He made you and me, didn’t He?

When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (John 21:21,22)

One Brick at a Time—If we could only see reality we would observe that each saint who comes to maturity is as a vast palace in which the Father and the Son can take great pleasure.

The Bible states that in Jesus Christ dwells all the fullness of God. Does that perplex you? It does me. How in the world can all the fullness of God dwell in one Person of apparently ordinary size! The Bible doesn’t say that Jesus was unusually large. Even if He were seven feet tall and weighed 300 pounds, He still wouldn’t be large enough to contain all of God. Yet this is what the Bible states.

You know what the answer is? It is that all we are seeing is the body of Jesus. We are not seeing what He actually looks like. It probably is a good thing too, because He may be larger than the universe. We would be afraid to approach Him.

Now in the Book of Ephesians, the third chapter, it states that we are to be filled with the fullness of God. How can this be? The answer is the same. When the Lord gets through building us we will be much larger than can be observed by someone looking at our form.

In God’s house there are many rooms, many places in which God can live. The Lord Jesus is the Cornerstone and the Capstone of that great temple. We are living stones that go to make up this dwelling place of God, this "tabernacle" that will come down from the sky and be installed on the new earth.

What I would like to suggest to you is that each one of these living stones is as a vast palace. Each one is a son of God, being made in the image of the Lord Jesus.

We have no idea of the potential of one human being. This is why it is so utterly important that we follow the Holy Spirit carefully each day of our discipleship. He is busily engaged in constructing the temple that we are, and preparing us to fit into our place in the entire House of God.

Each one of us is different. Each one is treasured by the Lord who sees how we will appear when the Spirit has finished with us.

I am not certain at all that the work will be completed during our lifetime on the earth. It is begun here, but so much has to be accomplished before we are in the image of Christ that it may require billions of years of our time before the palace which we are has been brought fully to God’s specifications.

After all, we have been predestined to be in the image of Jesus Christ.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

Now consider: You know just as well as I that when God states we are to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, He is not speaking of some tiny, washed-out imitation of Christ. What God does He does in a big way. God intends to make us exactly like His Son.

Christ has been with God from the beginning. He has had an incomprehensible period of time to be filled with God and made exactly like God.

How long do you think it will take for us to be made like Christ? Certainly not in the few years of our earthly existence.

What we must consider is the importance of now. It is now that the work has begun in us. Much can be accomplished in the present hour. It was on the earth that Christ learned obedience, revealing to us the potential our present situation has for rough-hewing our personality into the image of Christ.

We must not let a day go by without assuring ourselves that the Holy Spirit has had full opportunity that day to make us what God wants us to be.

Think of it! One day, if we are faithful and diligent, we will be a palace of vast size filled with all sorts of furniture and ornaments that delight the Lord—a suitable dwelling place for the Father and the Son.

We are being made an integral part of the living Tabernacle of God, the new Jerusalem, the holy city. As God filled the Temple of Solomon with His Glory, so He will fill us with His Glory. Then the peoples of the earth will see that we are one with the Father and the Son, and with each other. This will cause them to come and worship God and the Lamb.

Great things are ahead of us. Let us be as faithful Abraham, not staggering at the scope and grandeur of God’s plan; not coming short of the Glory of God. We indeed, if we are filled with faith, if we bear patiently with the work of the Holy Spirit in us, shall be made an eternal palace in which God can rejoice and find rest.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)

Caverns of Punishment—I think we have too limited an understanding of Heaven and Hell. There are several areas of punishment mentioned in the New Testament, some of them addressed to the Lord’s servants.

They used to say "There is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. This is true, and nothing I will have to say in the following brief article will change this fact. The rich man was in Hell. Paul was caught up to the third heaven, which I assume to be the Heaven where God, Christ, the saints, and the holy angels are located.

I think, however, that further explanation is needed.

First, I know of no New Testament passage that states Christ came to deliver us from Hell. If you know of one, you can quit reading at this point. I am not speaking now of what you believe but of what the Bible says clearly.

Christ came to bring us eternal life and to deliver us from sin. I can support this statement with clearly stated passages from the New Testament.

The famous John 3:16 is referring to eternal life, not to Hell. Eternal life and Hell are not the same thing. Eternal life is a state of being. Hell is a place in the spirit realm.

One might think there is no problem with teaching that Christ came to deliver sinners from Hell. There is a terrific problem here! Hell is where Christ places the wicked. This judgment originates with the Father. For Christ to prevent the wicked from being assigned to Hell would be for Him to go against the Father’s judgment.

But what about when the wicked are forgiven? It is not enough to be forgiven. In addition to being forgiven we must be delivered from our wickedness.

The wicked belong in a place of punishment and the righteous belong where there is peace and joy. To believe the Christian Gospel changes this is to misunderstand what Christ came to do.

Christ did not come just to forgive men. This is an awesome misunderstanding in Christian thinking. Christ came to change people from the image of Satan to the image of God. The purpose of forgiveness is to give people a chance to turn from their wicked ways and start serving God in righteousness.

The prodigal is forgiven and is received warmly as a son. But what happens after that? Did the prodigal learn his lesson and become a productive member of the household? Or did he bring his girfriends and drinking buddies to his house and make the rest of the family miserable? Or did he leave again because he missed the wild parties?

What happens after he is received by his father determines his destiny. Doesn’t it?

The judge forgives the young first-offender and expunges the record of the crime. It is as though the young man had never broken the law. But what if he shows up again the next week having repeated the criminal act? What will the judge do?

We have a fundamental misunderstanding in Christian thinking. We are viewing imputed righteousness as a new way in which God deals with man, rather than as a covenant designed to change man’s behavior. Whether or not this misunderstanding has proceeded from Dispensational thinking I am not certain. But I do see that it has destroyed the very meaning of salvation and has left us with churchgoers whose belief in Christ has not brought forth a new creation of righteous behavior.

I say all this to demonstrate that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is not a way of gaining Heaven and fellowship with God apart from turning away from our worldliness, lust, and self-will. Accepting Christ does not furnish us with a ticket to Heaven. Rather it gives us entrance into the program of salvation that will change us until we are fit to have fellowship with God and the saints.

Jesus Christ came to bring us eternal life. We gain eternal life as we obey God. Our first act of obedience is that of turning away from the Law of Moses, or any other set of scruples by which we hope to earn the favor of God, and placing our trust in Jesus Christ and the atonement made on the cross of Calvary.

After that we must obey God each day as He guides us in turning away from the actions of our sinful nature and choosing instead to follow the Spirit of God. Every day we die to our old nature. Every day we live in Christ. Every day we are given eternal life in the form of the body and blood of Christ administered to us in the spirit realm.

Divine punishment is one aspect of the Divine program of salvation. Some of the punishment is corrective, leading us to eternal life. Some of the punishment appears to be assignment to eternal torment. Most of the punishments outlined in the New Testament are directed toward the Lord’s servants, not toward the unbelievers.

I now will present some of these aspects of Divine punishment and chastening. I will not attempt to place them in order of severity or importance but merely will list and comment on them as they come to mind.

Perhaps you have read in Matthew about the Lord’s servant who did not use the talents, the abilities, given to him by his Master in order to accomplish the Master’s work. This parable obviously is directed toward Christians.

The punishment was to have the person’s ability removed from him and given to another. Then the lazy servant was thrown into the outer darkness.

I believe I am correct in stating there is no instance in the New Testament where an unbeliever is thrown into the outer darkness. It is a place where the Lord’s servants are sent. Whether it is a place of correction or an area of eternal torment I am not certain.

To the reader who will protest that we are saved by grace and could never be thrown into the outer darkness, let me say that all I have to present further will not be helpful to you. You would do better not to proceed with this essay.

We know the rich man was in Hell. He was there because he was selfish. The Law of Moses commands that we assist the poor. This he did not do and was consigned to torment in Hell. It is interesting that he was in the spirit Hell, and yet wanted water put on his tongue. What tongue?

Peter mentions that the angels who sinned were put in "gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment."

It is interesting that the terrified demons asked Jesus if He was going to torment them before the time. Remember that the Lord Jesus, not Satan, holds the keys of Hell and death.

Jude speaks of those who gathered together with the church people but whose heart were evil. Jude says they are wandering stars for whom "blackest darkness has been reserved forever."

Perhaps the worst punishment of all is the Lake of Fire, the second death. I think the first death is the separation from God unsaved people experience. The second death is eternal separation from God in a place of torment.

Revelation tells of the eight types of people who will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Their names cannot be found in the Book of Life.

Our great mistake in current Christian thinking is that making a profession of belief in Christ removes us from the authority of the Lake of Fire. It is true rather that believing in Christ suspends the sentence until we have a chance to stop sinning. The second chapter of the Book of Revelation informs us that if we live a victorious life we cannot be hurt by the second death. The second death can hurt us only if we choose to continue yielding to our sinful nature.

The company we would join in the Lake of Fire is not desirable. It consists of Satan, his angels, Antichrist, and the False Prophet. The Lake of Fire was created for Satan and His angels. There will be people there also, but only those who resist the Lordship of Jesus Christ and refuse to be corrected by Him.

The Lord told us if we abuse our fellow servants we will be cut in pieces and appointed our portion with the unbelievers. He said if we knew His will and did not do it we would be beaten with many blows. If we did do thing deserving punishment but did not understand the Lord’s will we would be beaten with few blows.

This warning obviously is addressed to Christians and is a temporary chastening aimed at our improvement. I don’t believe "few blows" is the same thing as eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. Do you?

I think it is right at this point that our current doctrine needs correcting. We talk about Heaven and Hell, but we don’t always mention that a Christian can be punished without being sent to Hell. We need to emphasize this, because Christians live careless lives believing Christ has saved them from Hell. They don’t think about "many blows" or about being vomited from the Lord’s mouth.

And how about when the Lord said (obviously to Christians) "Depart from Me, I never knew you"? The Lord didn’t say He was sending them to Hell or the outer darkness, He just said He didn’t want them near Him. This is punishment enough as far as I am concerned!

The Apostle Paul spoke of delivering an incestuous believer over to Satan that his flesh might be destroyed. This was the punishment of a Christian because of his sinning, but it was not permanent. We find in Second Corinthians that the man repented. God may have to punish us severely in our body. We may have to endure fiery trials. But such pain is a chastening unto salvation. It is for the purpose of making us a partaker of God’s holiness.

The Lord told us it would be better for us to have one eye than to keep both eyes and be thrown into Hell, or Gehenna—into tormenting fire.

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-48)

The idea of the worm not dying is found in the last verse of the Book of Isaiah. This says to me that people are cast into a tormenting fire in their bodies. Yet the fire will not consume their bodies nor the worms that feed on their flesh. Perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul meant in the Book of Galatians where he warned that Christians who yield to the impulses of their sinful nature will reap destruction, or corruption.

One of the punishments of the New Testament is directed toward those who refused to assist the saints, God’s witnesses. The "goats" are sent away into the "eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." This seems like a harsh punishment for doing nothing more than refusing to assist Christ’s witnesses when they had need. Then too, the Lake of Fire seems like an unusually harsh punishment for those whose sin was that of being fearful. Evidently God views matters differently than we do.

There is a punishment by implication found in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. For example, those Christians who do not live a victorious life will have their lampstand, their testimony removed; they will not be permitted to eat from the Tree of Life; they will not be given the crown of life; they will not receive the white stone with the new name or be given the hidden manna to eat; they will not govern the nations with the Lord; they stand in danger of having their name blotted from the Book of Life; they will not be made a pillar in the Temple of God; they will not be guarded during the hour of temptation; they will not sit with Christ on His throne. Those believers who do not pursue the life of victory over sin will not inherit all things. It is a straightforward as that.

According to the Apostle Paul, when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the bad we have done as well as the good we have done. The last chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us that when the Lord comes He will reward us precisely in terms of what we have done.

The nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation says the saints will be clothed in the white raiment of their own righteous acts. The implication is that those who lived in an unrighteous manner will be clothed accordingly.

The Book of Daniel speaks of those who will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt. If, as I suspect, in the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed in a robe that reveals what we have become during our days on earth, what our true personality is like, then one of the worst punishments of all will be suffered by those who have continued to behave in a treacherous, malicious manner. Their treachery and malice will be revealed in the robe they are given. They will experience shame and everlasting contempt.

This is the problem with current teaching. It presents residence in Heaven or in Hell as the only two destinies of an individual. If we are even a nominal Christian, a lukewarm churchgoer, we have our ticket that will admit us to Heaven.

No wonder Christian people lead careless lives! They need to be worried about losing their talent; about being regarded with shame and everlasting contempt; about being clothed in their conduct; about being vomited from the Lord’s mouth; about having the Lord drive them away from Himself; about being beaten with blows. All these are punishments to be administered to the Lord’s servants; yet they do not seem to be the same as eternal confinement in Hell or the Lake of Fire. We need to think more about this. The believers need to be made aware of what they are facing in the future.

One of the clearest warnings given by the Lord is that of being removed from the Vine. The Vine is Christ. To be removed from the Vine is to be removed from Christ, obviously.

If we do not bear the fruit of the moral image of Christ we will be removed from the Vine. What could be clearer? Yet American preachers for whatever reason keep repeating the age-old advice: "You shall not surely die."

It says somewhere, I think in the Book of Ezekiel, that if the watchman sees trouble coming and does not warn the city, the people will perish and their blood will be on his hands. Well, I see trouble coming for the Lord’s people in America. I don’t want their blood on my hands so I am sounding the alarm in Zion. We have departed from the New Testament.

If we do not bear the fruit of the image of Christ in our behavior we will be removed from Christ. That’s it! Period! Let’s get back to the Word or we may find the blood of millions of believers on our hands, so to speak.

The Book of Hebrews is one long warning to Christians. "How shall we escape if we ignore our salvation?" "We will die in the wilderness if we do not press forward into the rest of God’s perfect will." "We are near to the fire if we do not bring forth the expected fruit of salvation." "We become the enemy of God if we continue to sin willfully after we know the truth."

Peter speaks of those believers who turn from the way of righteousness and go back into the vomit of the world.

Paul tells us plainly in more than one place that if we continue to behave according to our sinful nature we will die spiritually; we will slay our own resurrection; we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

In the Book of Revelation the Lord spoke of a prophetess in the church in Thyatira. Jesus said He would cast this prophetess on a bed of suffering, and that those who commit adultery with her will suffer intensely. He said "I will strike her children dead." This to the believers in Thyatira.

The Lord went on to warn that He will repay each Christian according to his or her deeds.

Indeed there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. But there is much more to it than going to Heaven or going to Hell after we die. We will be chastened in the present life if God finds that chastening is necessary if we are to be kept from being condemned with the world.

I don’t know what sufferings we will experience after we die, but I suspect some of the punishments I have mentioned may take place in the spirit realm.

I am certain our greatest problem will be in the Day of Resurrection. At that time we will be presented with the consequences of our life on the earth. We will be robed with our behavior on the earth. If we have persisted in immorality, this will be reflected in our robe. If we have served God with a pure heart, this will be reflected in our robe. Those who turn many to righteousness will shine as the stars forever.

The American Christians need to be alerted. Unless I am mistaken, we shall suffer much in the days ahead. Wise Christians will search the New Testament to see if what I have said is true. If it is, then we need to set aside our worldly ambitions, stop pursuing wealth, take up whatever cross the Lord assigns to us, whatever prison of denial, and follow Jesus each day with a pure heart. If we will do this we will save ourselves and those who follow us.

Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?" The Lord answered, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. "That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:41-48)

The Tragic Result of Misinterpreting Two Verses—Romans, Chapter Four, verses four and five, has been misinterpreted. The result has been the moral decline of the United States of America. This may lead to the end of the leadership role of our country.

It used to be said the sun never set on the British Empire. This no longer is true. England today is largely confined to her small island and could not be considered a leader of the nations of the world. Why? My opinion is that this once superbly Christian nation has experienced severe moral decline. The nation that previously gave us some of the greatest of the world’s writers is now famous for its rock groups.

It is said of America today that it is the leading nation of the world. Unless God chooses to send a massive wave of repentance, the handwriting is on the wall. America is finished as major player on the world scene; especially if a nation arises that enforces godly behavior.

Why is this happening to America? It is because of sin. Behavior that is acceptable today, and even protected by law, would have caused a public outcry a hundred years ago. We do not realize the depths to which we have sunk, with the entertainment industry leading the way.

In the Western nations, at least, the principles of moral behavior are commonly taken from the Bible. We might say that the Christian churches bear the prime responsibility for pointing toward what is right and what is wrong.

But the churches have fallen down on the job. Why is this? It is because wrong doctrine is being preached. It is commonly asserted that we are saved by faith alone and that our behavior is not a critical aspect of our salvation. Because this teaching, which may have a strong Lutheran flavor, has permeated the major Evangelical organizations, many assemblings seem to have lost their moral compass.

One can hear Sunday after Sunday about how we are saved by grace; how we are going to go to Heaven to live in mansions; how we are going to be raptured into Heaven to avoid the Great Tribulation; how Christians should be rich. Other sidelines are pursued varying from church to church.

There is a strong emphasis on getting other people "saved." But the program of salvation seems to end once the individual has made a profession of faith, been baptized in water, and has joined our church. There is insufficient emphasis on moral transformation.

Perhaps not enough preachers are choosing passages of the Bible and explaining the meaning to their congregations. Instead there are topics that have social relevance and attract American people who want a more satisfactory life in this world.

How often do we hear "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus"?

My thinking is that all of this meandering in the current traditions springs from a lack of understanding of the program of moral transformation—its essential role in our salvation. When we do not grasp the true meaning of salvation, which is moral transformation, most of the text of the New Testament, from the Gospels to the Book of Revelation, becomes incomprehensible and irrelevant.

For example: the Apostle Paul stated that if we as a Christian continue to yield to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. What does this mean? What is the Kingdom of God? How does it differ from Heaven? How does it differ from eternal life? What did Paul mean when he said we will not inherit the Kingdom of God?

Does anybody know?

What did the Lord Jesus mean when He taught that if we do not bear fruit we will be cut out of the Vine? If we are saved by faith apart from a change in our behavior, what did Jesus mean when He warned we would be cut out of the Vine? Does this signify we could at one time be a branch in Christ and then be removed from Christ? What does it mean to be cut off from Christ? What is the fruit to which the Lord referred?

Recently a minister of the Gospel attempted to prove this passage does not mean if we do not bear fruit we would lose our salvation. "You shall not surely die!"

Given the ceaseless barrage of the worldly, often sinful, media; and given the increasingly demonic spiritual atmosphere in which we are attempting to survive; it is no wonder that the moral light of the churches is flickering and about to go out altogether.

Due to the popularity of polling, we rapidly are changing from a republic led by men and women of principle into a democracy in which the leaders do what their public is demanding. If such is the case, and if the public is receiving little or no moral guidance from the Christian churches, then our government, including the Supreme Court, is going to pass and support laws which are not in keeping with the Bible.

God’s purpose in furnishing government is that His moral laws might be enforced. The government "bears not the sword in vain." When any government no longer enforces God’s principles of morality, that government will be replaced. You can count on that. God is still controlling His world!

We come then to the fundamental question: Why are the Christian churches no longer providing the moral light needed so desperately in the United States of America? Why is the emphasis on adding more and more converts, and then keeping them content with formulas for worldly success? Why are we neglecting the New Testament passages that equate salvation with the moral transformation of the individual?

Let’s think a moment about the passage that can be interpreted to mean how we behave is not related critically to our salvation.

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:4,5)

From the above verses we deduce that how we behave is not critically important. Our task is to trust God to view our wicked behavior as righteous.

What do we conclude from this? We conclude that no matter how we behave, if we trust God He counts us as righteous. We are saved by faith alone.

We are defining "work" as efforts to earn righteousness.

This is clear, isn’t it? Even if we commit the wickedness of fornication seven days of the week, if we have faith in God, God views us as righteous.

This is a major premise of Christian thinking in our day. How radically it is applied may vary from church to church, but the poison of it has been sufficiently virulent to destroy the testimony of Christ in the United States.

Have we considered that such an interpretation is in direct conflict with other passages of Paul’s writings? More about this in a minute.

Two words in the passage need to be defined. These are "faith" and "works."

"Faith" is not mental agreement with theological positions. "Works" is not speaking of righteous behavior, such as telling the truth.

"Faith" is a way of living in which we do not trust ourselves but walk humbly with God. Faith includes constant prayer as we look to the Lord for every detail of life and cooperate fully with the Holy Spirit.

"Works," as the Apostle Paul uses the term, is referring to the statutes of the Law of Moses, as found in Exodus through Deuteronomy. It may be noticed in several places in the Book of Romans that Paul is speaking to Jews and to those who have been taught by Jews.

Now let’s rewrite the passage in terms of our definitions and see how it can be interpreted:

"To the man who does not observe the statutes of the Law of Moses but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his humble walk with God, as he prays constantly, looks to the Lord for every detail of life, and cooperates fully with the Holy Spirit, is credited as righteousness."

This latter interpretation is in line with Paul’s other writings. The former interpretation contradicts Paul’s other writings.

We can proceed now to other passages in Romans and see what else Paul had to say about the Christian way of salvation.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Romans 6:15-18)

Paul is saying here that the Christian, having been declared righteous by his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, must choose to be a slave to sin or else a slave to righteous behavior.

No human being is the master of sin. Whoever sins is the slave of sin. We cannot maintain that we will be no one’s slave. To not be the slave of righteous behavior is to be the slave of sin. Slavery to sin leads the Christian to spiritual death. Slavery to righteous behavior, the conduct imposed on us by the Holy Spirit, leads the Christian to the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ.

This is a far cry from the consequences of the "faith alone" teaching.

What would the United States be like today if every believer was a slave to righteous behavior?

There is another passage in the Book of Romans which cannot surpassed for its succinct description of the Christian plan of salvation. Again we see that the interpretation of Romans, Four, verses four and five, to mean there is nothing we are to do but believe, is utterly destructive of God’s intention under the new covenant.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:4-6)

"You also died to the law through the body of Christ."

The "body of Christ" is referring to the physical body of Jesus Christ.

The Law of Moses stipulates that the soul that sins shall die. This principle can never be done away. The Lord Jesus kept the Law of Moses perfectly. He did not sin even one time.

This is the meaning of the expression "You also died to the law through the Body of Christ. By assigning ourselves to the cross with Jesus Christ, which we do in water baptism, we die to the Law of Moses. Now we live because we are part of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus. Christ has given us the eternal life He earned.

The Law has no authority over us because Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law and we died and rose again with Him.

"That you might belong to another."

We did not die to the Law of Moses through the crucified body of Christ so we can go to Heaven when we die. We died to the Law of Moses so we may belong to Christ. What a different concept this is from the current teaching that we make a profession of belief in Christ so we will be saved and go to Heaven when we die.

Are American believers interested in belonging to Jesus Christ or are their hopes fastened on going to a mansion in Heaven? You be the judge.

"In order that we might bear fruit to God."

The above statement is extremely important if we are to understand our salvation.

We have not been set free from the Law of Moses and married to Jesus Christ so we can live as we please and still go to Heaven. We have been brought into union with Jesus Christ so we might bear fruit to God.

God is a Farmer. He is looking for fruit in the earth. The fruit God is looking for is the image of His Son: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, teachableness, self-control, and all the other characteristics of the moral Nature of Christ. This is what salvation is all about—it is moral transformation.

If we do not bear the fruit of the Spirit, but instead as a Christian exhibit hatred, misery, unrest, impatience, harshness, badness, treachery, arrogance, and lack of self-control, Christ will work with us patiently. If after a season there still is no change we will be removed from Christ. This is that God said.

Contrast this with the current poison derived from Paul’s righteous intentions in Romans 4:5,6. That poison announces to us, "You shall not surely die no matter how you behaved. Once you accept Christ you can never be lost."

Those who teach this claim if a person continues to sin, he or she never knew Christ in the first place. Which is to say, the only proof of salvation is righteous conduct. I would agree with this.

But Christ speaks of someone actually being a branch in the Vine, in Himself, and then being removed. Peter speaks of the individual who knew the ways of righteousness and then went back to his or her moral filth. The Apostle Paul tells the Christian people that if they continue to live according their sinful nature they will die spiritually, will reap destruction in the Day of Resurrection, and will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The Christian message in the United States of America is not according to the New Testament. Are we going to get back on the right track so we begin to produce moral lights instead of spiritually apathetic churchgoers?

Paul goes on to say, in the seventh chapter of Romans, that by "dying to what once bound us," referring to the interaction of the Law of Moses and our sinful nature, we no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses so we may "serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."

When we receive Jesus Christ as our Way of righteousness we pass from the authority of the Law of Moses. But we did not pass into the right to do what we please, as I am afraid is so often thought today. We now are to be in union with Jesus Christ at all times and to serve in the new way of the Spirit.

This is what is missing today—the concept of the "new way of the Spirit."

People are heard to say, "I am not under Law but under grace." By this they mean they do not gain righteousness by behaving righteously but by believing in the forgiveness of God.

They have misunderstood the Apostle Paul. They should say, "I am not under the Law of Moses but under the grace of God. The grace of God offers me a new way of the Spirit. I do not strive to keep the Law of Moses. I stay close to Christ and obey the Spirit of God. I also pray for strength to do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded. Now the righteous behavior I always have desired is coming forth in me."

If the United States is even to survive, let alone maintain its role of leadership, there must be a massive turning to God and to moral living. Is such a moral revolution possible? I am not certain.

I tell the young people in our church that if they manage to get the upper hand over their sinful nature and live the victorious Christian life, they will during their lifetime steer thousands of people toward the righteous behavior that Christ demands. People will glorify God when they see individuals who are living righteously according to what the New Testament teaches.

If, however, the Christian churches keep on teaching that all there is to the plan of salvation is belief in the facts concerning Jesus Christ, and willfully interpret Romans 4:4,5 to mean it is not critically important how we behave, I see little hope for the future of our country.

In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:4)

When Are We Beaten With Many Blows?—The Lord Jesus told us if someone knew His will, and committed acts worthy of punishment, he or she would be beaten with many blows. Some of this beating takes place in the present world, and perhaps some in the next.

We Christians have been fed on a diet of Heaven versus Hell for so long we do not perceive the several passages in the New Testament that emphasize the punishments that will be administered to the Lord’s servants if they do not do His will.

Because of the Christian teaching in America that we are saved by grace and our behavior has nothing to do with it, we do not take these passages seriously. We go to Heaven by grace, so where does punishment fit into this picture?

I wonder sometimes toward whom today’s theologians suppose the warnings in the Gospels and Epistles are directed. To the Jews? The poor Jews, as though they didn’t have enough trouble. To the unbelievers? They don’t know Christ, are bound with sin, and now they are going receive blows and be thrown into outer darkness.

I wonder whatever happened to the principles that govern the interpretation of the Bible (or of any manuscript, for that matter). Aren’t we required to consider the trend of the author’s arguments so we do not seize upon some portion of his text and twist his meaning? Aren’t we supposed to observe the context? Aren’t we supposed to interpret portions of an author’s manuscript in the light of other texts he has written?

It appears the primary method today is to settle on a verse or two that we favor, make this an axiom, and deduce our theology from our premise. The problem is, the Bible "therefores" are not always our "therefores."

To interpret the Bible correctly we have to induce truth, not deduce it. We are supposed to pray, and then read, and read, and read, and read, in this manner building truth.

We must not, as is the method today, discard those passages that do not agree with our thinking. Even though some passages appear to contradict others, we are to wait until we see the balance the Spirit has produced. There is no contradiction in the Bible. There is no verse that has to be forced into place because it almost fits.

The entire text of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is perfect and complete as it stands. It is not to be added to or subtracted from in any manner whatever. Every Word shall stand when the present earth and sky flee from the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The warnings in the New Testament are to God’s people, whether Jewish or Gentile by race. They are the elect, the Lord’s servants; and to them the Book has been written.

Even the venerable "how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation," and "the wages of sin is death," are directed toward the Christians, not the non-Christians. But we do love to congratulate ourselves and throw everyone else into the Lake of Fire.

I am discussing, in this brief article, the Lord’s Words to His servants about the blows that will be administered to those who do not prepare themselves and do not do what He wants. I could have used the story about the lazy steward who did not use his talent, or the servant who beat his fellow servants. It is the same message to the same group of people: "If you do not do what I want, you are going to be punished."

The purpose of God’s grace is not to shield us from punishment. It is because of His love and grace that God punishes us. God punishes every son He receives. If we are without punishment we are not a true son. As many as the Lord loves He rebukes and chastens.

The question that intrigues me is as follows: "Do we receive our punishment in this world or the next? When does the Lord Jesus say to the wicked believers, "I never knew you"?

We know from the New Testament that the believers are punished in the present world. We think of the man whom the Apostle Paul delivered to Satan for the destruction of his body. We remember also that the believers who took the Communion unworthily, that is, not recognizing they were partaking of the flesh and blood of God’s Son, were punished with sickness and, in some cases, death.

But how about the next world? I raise this question because I think it is a common belief that once we die, if we are saved we can forget about being punished. I rather doubt this is the case.

I remember C. S. Lewis, in A Grief Observed mentioned that the Bible gave him no assurance that his deceased wife was not still suffering.

Also the Apostle Peter wrote that those who were now in the spirit realm were being judged in the same manner as the saints still living on the earth.

I think this is very important to understand.

In the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation we read of several aspects of our inheritance, such as being permitted to eat from the Tree of Life, and wearing the crown of life. Yet the text states specifically that these endowments are restricted to those who have overcome sin and lived a victorious life in the Lord Jesus.

There is no way around this: to govern the nations with Christ is reserved for the victors in the fight of faith.

Jesus said there were only a few of the believers in Sardis who would walk with Him in the white robe of the royal priesthood. In fact, the Lord threatened those who did not overcome sin with having their name blotted from the Book of Life. We do not accept this today, but it is God’s Word and it cannot be altered in any manner. You know the curse that protects the Book of Revelation!

Now, here is the question: What happens to the majority of the believers who have not lived a victorious Christian life?

We know there are many such. I do not believe they are going to be thrown into the Lake of Fire, unless they have persisted in vile behavior to the extent they are not worthy of the Kingdom of God.

We might be within the bounds of reasonable thinking to suggest those who did not gain victory will be punished in the spirit realm.

Mind you, I am not teaching Purgatory. I know very little about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory. I have read somewhere that people can be prayed out of Purgatory, or their ransom can be purchased. I assuredly do not hold to anything like this!

I am speaking of the punishments that the New Testament refers to, such as many blows to be given to those who knew the Lord’s will and did not do it. I am suggesting that if these were not administered here I see no biblical grounds for denying the possibility that the blows will be given after death.

I know of Christians who have died who did not do what they knew to do. In one instance, the Lord told a believer to give a certain amount of money to a pastor. He did not do this.

One that I know of disappointed the Lord by the way he conducted his life. When he passed away I could feel the keen disappointment of the Lord. I have no doubt he will be punished in the next life.

As I said, my point in bringing this possibility to the attention of Christian people is that many of them tend to be sluggish about their discipleship. I think the basis for this is they suppose if they can just get through this life without suffering too much, when they die they will pass safely to their mansion.

But how about the person who buried his talent? When did the Lord come and remove his talent and throw him into the outer darkness? The passage gives the impression this took place when the Lord returned.

So I think, from what Peter said, in the fourth chapter of First Peter, that deceased believers are experiencing judgment now in the spirit realm.

I believe also, from what the Apostle Paul wrote and from what Christ Himself stated, that there will be people who will not be thrown into the Lake of Fire but who will experience remorse and anger in the Day of the Lord—gnashing their teeth in their rage as they are denied entrance to the Light and Glory that surround the Lamb and His loved ones. Such people have always blamed others for their misery. No doubt they will behave in the same manner in that Day.

The conclusion of this article is that we need to be diligent in serving the Lord, and when we are chastened, to remain as joyful and confident as possible.

For those believers who are apathetic and spiritually lazy, I would suggest you repent and begin to serve the Lord fervently; for your death may prove to be "out of the frying pan and into the fire."

That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47,48)

Two Motives for Beating Our Own Body—There are two motives for beating our own body. One is to earn God’s approval. The other is to keep the body from obeying the sinful nature. The first motive brings no righteousness. The second is part of the program of redemption.

It is not at all unusual for believers in a religion to abuse their flesh in some painful manner. This has certainly been true of the Catholic Church historically, and still may be for all I know. It is true also of some aspects of the Muslim religion. We all have seen pictures of holy men in India who torment their body in one manner or another.

The Apostle Paul spoke of beating his body and bringing it under subjection so he would not be disqualified in his race for the crown of life. Is this the same thing as the religious practices that include cutting or piercing the body, or prolonged fasting?

I don’t believe it is the same thing at all.

In the case of those who have abused their bodies in the name of religion, there may be several shades of motives. For example, in the Catholic Church it may have included the idea of penance. From my point of view, penance is not a proper action. It is as though we are to atone for our own sins. We ought not to attempt to do this, because the Lord Jesus Christ has made the perfect atonement for us.

Another motive may be that of reviling the body in favor of stressing the importance of the spirit of the individual. He wishes to escape from the physical world, as though it were evil, and live in the spirit realm.

This motive may be based, at least in part, on the concept that spirit is good and matter is evil. This is not a Christian concept. In the Christian concept, evil proceeded from the spirit realm and corrupted the physical body, that God had pronounced "very good."

Gnosticism regards the physical realm as evil and the spirit realm as good, as far as I can tell from Gnostic literature. It seems to me that Christian Science is related somewhat to Gnosticism in that the body appears to be less important than our mental viewpoint. It appears to be a sort of mind over matter.

None of this is Christian.

The attempt to punish our body in order to gain favor with God, or with the spirits, is counterproductive in that it does not remove our sinful nature but rather fosters spiritual pride.

"Look how I am suffering!"

The Apostle Paul told us he kept his body under subjection. I believe this is a different matter altogether. Paul was following the Holy Spirit in the matter of living in the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus Christ and crucifying the sinful nature (not crucifying the body). During this process of counting himself crucified with Christ and living with Christ, Paul had to wrestle with the lusts and passions of his flesh and soul.

Paul was not seeking to gain favor with God by harming himself, nor was he seeking to be more spiritual by punishing his flesh. He was following a program designed by the Holy Spirit who was bringing forth Christ in Paul.

Paul suffered many things, as we know from reading Second Corinthians. But none of these were any form of penance or seeking to retreat from the physical realm. They were the sufferings of Christ that Paul was required to share in order to experience the resurrection life of Christ.

I guess the principal difference between Paul’s sufferings and that of the religious zealot is that Paul was obeying God. Consequently the result of Paul’s pain was not spiritual pride but a fuller participation in the resurrection life of the Lord.

No, I beat my body and make it my slave so after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Corinthians 9:27)

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:20-23)

The Mechanism of Growth—People can sit in a Christian church for fifty years and never grow spiritually. Why is this? It is because the mechanism that produces spiritual growth is not operating.

There are two aspects of growth in Christ. There is the negative and the positive. The negative is our ability to recognize sin and resist it vigorously. The positive is the forming of the moral Nature of Christ such that we embrace good and act accordingly. These two aspects interact as the Holy Spirit leads us through the program of redemption.

Our growth in Christ depends on our ability to recognize the difference between good and evil, and our willingness and strength to reject the evil and embrace the good.

The believer who does not recognize the difference between good and evil, or does not have the willingness and strength to reject the evil and embrace the good once the difference has been made known to him or her, is a spiritual baby. It is as simple and straightforward as this.

Here is how growth takes place.

After we have turned away from our trust in the world, have professed Christ as our Lord and Savior, have been baptized in water, have been born again of the Spirit of God, we are ready to grow in Christ.

The Spirit of God brings us into a circumstance that may provoke a response from us. Let’s say someone cuts in front of us in traffic. Instantly the adamic nature becomes filled with anger. We may do nothing more than curse and rage. Or we may speed up and cut in front of the individual or attempt to force him or her off the road.

We may not realize it at the time, but the Holy Spirit has been guiding this incident to give us a chance to grow in Christ.

We can choose to yield to our sinful nature and act out our rage, or we can pray until Christ comes and gives us peace and quietness of spirit.

If we act out in rage we remain as an adamic creature. If we choose instead to pray and seek the Lord until we have perfect peace, a part of the sinful nature dies and the Nature of Christ takes its place. This is how we grow in the Lord.

As we pray and meditate in the Bible, the Holy Spirit is able to point out to us the parts of our behavior that are sinful. Then He brings us into situations that test our responses.

How often today we are confronted with incitement to lust. The media are filled with such seduction, and the demonic spiritual atmosphere provokes us to lustful thoughts and actions.

We go in a bookstore. Our eyes fall on a book that is filled with pictures that incite to lust. Right then we are being tested.

If we call on the name of the Lord Jesus He will give us the strength to denounce this urge and turn away from it. Then a part of our sinful nature dies and the Nature of Christ takes its place.

We read in the New Testament where gossip and slander are presented as being actions of the sinful nature. Someone calls us on the telephone. They begin to tell something they have heard about a member of the church. They are not positive it is the truth, but it probably is the case they feel.

We know it is not of God that we join in this gossip. So we do not yield to the notion that we need to know all about this ugliness so we can pray (a device used to justify slander). Instead we tell the person who called that we do not wish to pursue this further but would like to pray for the brother or sister.

In this case we have fought successfully against one of the most powerful of Satan’s weapons—accusations made against the believers. A part of our sinful nature will die. Christ’s Nature will take its place.

The new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our heart and mind. It is written a sentence at a time in the manner I have just described.

The Bible is a mirror. When we look in it we see where the dirt is. Then we confess the sin, denounce it as evil, and with the Lord’s help turn away from it and never, never, never practice it again. This is how we wash our robe and make it white in the blood of the Lamb.

Other devices that assist our growth in the Lord are:

The body and blood of the Lamb given us in the spirit realm as we choose to resist sin and embrace righteousness.

The Glory of the Lord that we see in mature saints; in the Scriptures; in the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit as they operate; in our private devotions; and in other places as God chooses to reveal Himself to us. Every time we behold the Glory of the Lord we are changed into the image we are witnessing.

Christian growth is growth in the ability to recognize both good and evil, and the willingness and strength to embrace the good and vehemently denounce and renounce all that is evil.

Churchgoers may attend church for fifty years and never grow an inch. Why is this? It is because they have not been taught to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit as He points out the sin in their life. Also, they are not poised to hear from the Spirit because they are not denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following Christ each day.

I think we have a nation full of spiritual babies. It is time for us all to grow in Christ.

There are several ways in which an individual can grow. He can grow in his body, as the years go by, if he remains healthy. He can grow spiritually if he cooperates with the Spirit of God and learns to embrace good and reject evil. There are other areas of growth possible, such as mental and emotional.

It is perfectly possible to grow physically mentally, and emotionally, and not spiritually.

We can confess Christ repeatedly; attend church; give; serve in the various tasks of the church. But we will not grow in Christ until we learn to follow the Holy Spirit in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature, choosing instead to look to the Lord for help in doing what Christ and His Apostles have commanded.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

The Law of Moses Does Not Address the Sinful Nature—The Law of Moses tells us what to do and what not to do. Since we have a sinful nature, the Law serves only to condemn us; for the sinful nature drives us to disobey God’s commandments. The only solution to this distressing problem is to destroy the sinful nature.

The Law of Moses has many rules and commandments that we are to observe. For example, we are not to commit adultery. We are not to use the Lord’s name when we are not sincerely calling on Him. We are not to have any kind of idols.

Each of us was born with a sinful nature, which we inherited from Adam. Our sinful nature wants to commit adultery, wants to use the Lord’s name insincerely, wants to worship people, things, and circumstances.

The commandments of the Law of Moses are useful in that they provide moral guidelines for us. However they cause a problem. The problem they cause is that they make us aware we are sinning against God and give us a guilty conscience. We know we are sinning, and yet we do not want to sin.

Our sinful nature is a curse placed on us because of the disobedience of our ancestor, Adam. We did not ask to be born with a sinful nature, but we were.

The Law of Moses condemns the acts of our sinful nature and offers animal sacrifice as a way of appeasing God’s anger because of our sin. God said the soul that sins shall die, and we continually are sinning. Who shall deliver us?

We know the Lord Jesus Christ made a perfect atonement for us such that our sins, as well as the sins of the whole world, have been forgiven.

But we still have a sinful nature.

Is it God’s intention to keep on forgiving us while we keep on sinning? Is this the new covenant that God has made with man? One would think so from today’s preaching. But it is not. The new covenant differs from the Law of Moses in several aspects. Perhaps the most profound of these aspects is that the new covenant deals with the sinful nature.

Notice that the Law of Moses does not deal with the sinful nature itself, only with our behavior, which is caused by our sinful nature. The Law of Moses tells us what not to do and what to do. But I can’t think of any passage in the Old Testament that deals with the sinful nature itself. Can you?

In what way does the new covenant deal with our sinful nature?

Unlike the Law of Moses, the new covenant requires that we assign our entire first personality to the cross, the good and the bad of it. The crucifixion of our whole old personality makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to get at our sinful nature. There are parts of our old personality that are good, that are not sinful. Nevertheless they all, the good and the bad, go to the cross with Christ.

The slaying of our first personality frees us entirely from the authority of the Law of Moses. The Law has no jurisdiction over us when we die. So when we are willing to die to our old life, the Law’s power over us is removed.

Then what?

Then the Holy Spirit begins to bring us into situations that expose the various aspects of our sinful nature. As He does, He (unlike the Law of Moses) gives us the power to put these aspects to death. We repudiate them utterly. If there is demonic influence, the Holy Spirit casts it out.

By the way, every time we confess a part of our sinful nature we are judging Satan. Our confession and sincere desire to never yield to this compulsion again results in our forgiveness and our deliverance. We actually are passing before the Judgment Seat of Christ when we do this.

It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. When we count ourselves as crucified with Christ, the Law of Moses relinquishes its authority over us and the Holy Spirit begins the work of eternal judgment of our personality.

I believe the impression often is left that our personality is an endless source of sin. We have to sin while we are in the world, and so our salvation consists of a perpetual forgiveness.

This is not the case. We have a finite amount of sin in our personality. This can be dealt with until it is gone from us.

My personal opinion is that if we are faithful in cooperating with the Holy Spirit today, diligently confessing and turning away from our sins, when the Lord Jesus comes He will remove the last vestiges of sin from our personality and clothe our resurrected flesh and bones with a body that is completely if not militantly righteous. This is what the Apostle Paul was groaning for: the redemption of his body so he would no longer have to struggle against sin.

The new covenant, then, unlike the old covenant, deals not only with our behavior but with the cause of our behavior. There is Virtue through the body and blood of Christ, and wisdom and power from the Holy Spirit, that are sufficient to give us victory over any and every sin. We have the authority through the blood atonement; the Virtue through the body and blood of Christ; and the wisdom and power we need from the Spirit of God.

Because of these tremendous Divine resources, which were not available under the Law of Moses, we are able to gain complete victory over sinful behavior in this world and in all other worlds.

But the key to the destruction of the sinful nature is our death on the cross with Christ. Until we are willing to condemn our entire first personality to the cross the new covenant cannot operate. The mainspring of moral transformation is death and resurrection with Christ.

I don’t know why the Holy Spirit is placing such emphasis on moral transformation today, but He is. Also the Spirit is requiring total obedience to the God. No amount of worship on our part will take the place of stern obedience to the Father.

We are approaching the ultimate conflict between good and evil. The Father will be facing Satan. The Son will be facing Antichrist. The Spirit will be facing the False Prophet.

Because of the nearness of the conflict, each believer in Christ must enter into the work of the eternal judgment of his or her personality until righteousness, holiness, and strict obedience of behavior have been gained. Anything less than this will leave the believer vulnerable to the colossal forces of evil that are marshaling their forces for the final struggle against God and His Christ.

The battle is not one of power against power. God retains all power. The battle is one of truth and righteousness. Truth and righteousness finally will prevail, because they are supported by the all-powerful Father. If we would be victorious we must enlist on the side of truth and righteousness.

But the hypocrites in the churches, those who are playing games with the Christian salvation, making a show of godliness but walking with one foot in the world, will be a stubble to be consumed by the flames of judgment in the coming days, even though they are professing belief in Jesus Christ.

It indeed is a time to set our house in order if we have not already done so.

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil— This is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him. (Isaiah 33:14-16)

Dwelling in the House of the Lord—The Lord Jesus prayed that we would be one in Him in the Father and one with each other. It is not possible for two people to be one in the Divine Oneness until both are in God’s rest. All saints are to be one in the Father and the Son, thus forming the House of the Lord.

The Lord Jesus prayed that the saints, the "holy ones," might be one with one another in Christ who always is in the Father, and that They, the Father and the Son, might be in the saints. This one Entity is the House of the Lord.

King David desired to dwell in the House of the Lord forever.

The Lord Jesus told us in the Father’s House there are many places of abode, many rooms in which to live.

Jesus was speaking of Himself. He is the Father’s House. This is clear from comments He made in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.

To get a true picture in your mind of the House of the Lord, think of a huge palace, larger than the Milky Way galaxy in size. This is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rooms are being created in this palace. Each room is a large palace. The rooms are the saints.

Christ went to prepare a place for us in God’s Palace, God’s eternal dwelling place. First He had to go to the cross to make an atonement for our sins. Then He went to Heaven to cleanse the holy places there with His blood.

Next; He poured out His Holy Spirit on those who were predestined to be rooms in Himself, in the Palace of the Lord.

Then He gave various gifts to the saints that they might assist in the forming of each member of the elect into a palace suitable for Himself and the Father.

The Apostle Paul prayed for each member of the Body of Christ that we might attain to "unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

This is another way of saying we might attain to the rest of God, or to the resurrection that is out from among the dead.

As soon as this huge Palace has been completed, it will descend through the new sky and be stationed for eternity on a high mountain of the new earth. This is the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

The people living on the new earth will be able to go up to the new Jerusalem and

gain eternal life, healing, wisdom, and blessing from the saints who compose the new Jerusalem, the Palace of God.

The issue facing us today is that of pressing fully into the rest of God. The rest of God includes full change into the moral image of Christ, and entrance into untroubled rest in the center of God’s holy fire and will.

It is useless to speak of being a part of the Father’s house until we are living in the rest of God. Why? Because we would be an area of trouble in an institution of total righteousness, total peace, and total joy—all in the Spirit of God.

Our problem is that of our first personality, our old nature, our adamic inheritance. Our old nature is as an animal. Whatever good points it may have, it is a source of endless agitation with its passions, appetites, and lusts.

Can two walk together if they are not in agreement?

If one person is living in God’s Person and will, he or she is growing into a palace in which the Father and the Son can find peace and rest.

If another individual professes faith in Jesus Christ, but is still living in part in the Adamic nature, there can be no oneness. The one is at rest in God. The other is struggling with various appetites and desires. There always shall be friction between the two.

If we aspire to be a palace within the greater palace, we should not despair. The Holy Spirit is more than willing to help us gain victory over, and finally total freedom from, every trace of trust in the world, of the lusts and passions of the body, soul, and spirit, and our own self-will and personal ambitions.

It may not seem possible to you at this time to believe such complete transformation of your personality is possible. It is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary if you wish to be part of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is why the writer of the Book of Hebrews states that we must press forward to the rest of God if we hope to be a partaker of Christ.

Do not despair. The one who called you to such grandeur spoke the worlds into existence. He absolutely is able to fully transform you into the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring you into untroubled rest in the very center of His holy Presence and fire.

Who knows? The Owner may move in before the building is entirely finished.

There is no hurry. A few billion years here and there are as nothing when we are speaking of the completion of the royal Palace. But it is totally necessary we are cooperating fully with the Holy Spirit today, if we plan on dwelling in the House of the Lord forever!

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Accept Nothing; Pray About Everything—When we have a problem we have many reasons why we do not pray, ranging from God is keeping me humble to as long as we are in the world we will have tribulation, or it is something I have inherited. Why are you accepting unpleasantness when the Lord said He would answer your requests that you might be filled with joy?

The Lord has promised to heal all our diseases.

Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, Who satisfies your desires with good things so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:2-5)

Just think about that passage!

Who forgives all your sins!

Who heals all your diseases!

Who redeems your life from the pit!

Who crowns you with love and compassion!

Who satisifies your desires with good things!

Who renews your youth like the eagle’s!

Do you see anything there you need? Why don’t you ask the Lord Jesus for it. You might be surprised!

Peter tells us that we have been healed by the wounds of Christ.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (I Peter 2:24)

I think we make two mistakes concerning healing. First, we may accept our sickness, saying "It is allergy season"; or, "I inherited this from my mother"; or "It is one of the signs of old age"; or "It is going around"; or "This is the way the Lord keeps me humble"; or " I was born with this and have always had it"; or "I will have faith (pretend) that I don’t have it because in His Word the Lord said I was healed."

Second, we may play doctor. If we have pain, or rash, or dizziness, or whatever, we fear that it may be cancer. We may go to a medical book to see what it says about our particular symptom. Instead of addressing the symptom directly we worry about what it may signify. We may die a thousand needless deaths doing this.

When we have a distressing physical symptom we should address the symptom directly and ask the Lord to heal it, without concerning ourselves with what it possibly could indicate. If it persists, we should go to the Lord for wisdom. Sometimes He tells us to go to the doctor. Sometimes He assures us that there is no problem, the symptom will go away.

If we are not getting a clear answer from the Lord, then we should do what is reasonable. Sometimes it is reasonable to go to the doctor. On other occasions we just use common sense. If we eat a heavy meal and then awake and are dizzy, or have heartburn, then we need to ask the Lord to forgive us for our foolishness and resolve not to eat so much the next time. From what the newspapers say, we Americans are eating too much (while some other nations are starving).

We take far too much for granted, and we don’t read the Word enough to know what God has promised to the righteous. Of course, if we are not serving the Lord, our distress may be coming from God who is judging and chastening us because of our disobedience. In that case we need to get back to God. The way of the transgressor is painful!

There are occasions when God is afflicting us for our spiritual benefit. But we never should take this for granted. Paul went to the Lord three times when he had a problem, if you will recall.

We may have a sense of gloom in our house. Pentecostal people are apt to be superstitious and worry that Satan has entered their home. Or, they may feel that this sense of gloom and doom means something dreadful has happened or is about to take place in their family.

It is not God’s will that your home is filled with gloom. Why don’t you just ask the Lord to remove the gloom and fill your house with joy?

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:24)

The faith-prosperity aberration was going strong a few years ago. People were trying to "faith" their way out of their problems. The Lord invited us to pray to Him and He would answer. If we look to our faith instead of to the Lord, He may let us paddle around in this lagoon for awhile. When we get desperate enough we may choose to pray to Christ as He commanded. Then we will get our answer. (This is what true faith is; not "I believe I believe I believe.")

If Satan attacks you at three o’clock in the morning, do not cower in fear. Ask the Lord Jesus to remove the spirit that is attempting to pull you down from your high place in God.

What is troubling you right now? Stop reading and ask the Lord Jesus to fix it. He knows all about it. He is waiting for you to accept His invitation to ask Him for the solution.

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; (Psalms 34:19)

There may be severe problems in the United States in the days to come. Don’t rush around like a headless chicken. Don’t take it for granted that you are to move. Stop, calm down, and tell the Lord Jesus every single one of your fears, doubts, and desires. Take the time to pray before you assume what you should do.

Jesus is above the clouds. He has all authority and power. He sits as King of the flood. He can turn your night into day with a word. But He does want to be asked.

So read the Bible each day, notice the precious promises and the wrathful warnings, and act on them.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

The Lord Is My Shepherd—Is the Lord Your Shepherd? Are you following Him every day? We Americans pride ourselves on our independence of thought. We like to think we are "in control." Is this what a sheep is like?

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. (Psalms 23:1)

There are several promises in the Twenty-third Psalm. Probably most Americans have heard them read some time or another—probably at a funeral.

But, as in the case of all the promises of the Bible, the promises in the Twenty-third Psalm are conditional. They depend for their fulfillment on the Lord being our Shepherd.

Having the Lord as our Shepherd means we are willing to trust and follow Him. It means we do not go wandering off whenever and wherever we feel like doing so. It means we are obedient and submissive.

It means we are anything but an arrogant American, taking control of our own life, free to do as we please.

The Shepherd tells us when to go out and when to come in. We know He will protect us from the wild animals. We ourselves were at one time a wild animal. Now, hopefully, we are willing to be led by another. We are meek and teachable.

When the Lord is our Shepherd we shall not be in want. It is His responsibility to see that we are fed. It may be true that He is more willing to take responsibility for us than we are to have Him do so.

The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (John 10:2-4)

The Lord Jesus knows us by name. He leads us from the pen and goes on ahead of us, and we follow Him because we know His voice. Sometimes the Lambs are not as certain which voice is the Lord’s, and they have to be watched carefully by the elders of the church. There is one who, given the chance, would destroy the Lord’s sheep.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, (Psalms 23:2)

If we are willing to follow the Shepherd, instead of our own way, He brings us to peace. Our culture is so tense, so frantic, that anxiety is common; tranquilizers are in common use; people have acid indigestion and heartburn from worry; some commit suicide because of emotional pressures. All because we are trying to lead our own life instead of being willing to let the Lord be our Shepherd.

Green pastures! Quiet waters! These sound pretty wonderful when you are tense and distraught from the worries and concerns of the American way of life.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalms 23:3)

There are times when we seem to come to the end of ourselves. Then we pray, and all of a sudden we feel strength and peace coming from the Lord. Have you ever experienced that? I certainly have. The Lord Jesus restores and refreshes us when life become too heavy for us.

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young. (Isaiah 40:11)

He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. When we belong to the Lord His reputation is at stake. When we stray from the path of righteous behavior we give Satan a chance to accuse God concerning us. The Lord Jesus is ready to lead us in righteous behavior and give us the wisdom and strength to do what is right, if we are willing to be led and helped.

There has been so much talk about how we are saved by grace that Christians often forget they are being watched by unsaved people. Others are observing to see if we really are truthful and upright. When we are not, they are not drawn to the Lord. People may mock the righteous individual, but it often is true that in their heart they are wishing that someone would take a stand and do what is right.

I noticed in the newspaper this morning that a reporter was commenting on the efforts Christians make to convert other people to their beliefs, telling them they will go to Hell if they do not "accept Christ." Yet these same preachers often are not careful to walk in the Spirit of God. They reveal in their personality more of the fleshly ways of Adam than they do the joyous fruit of the Spirit.

Naturally they alienate the Muslim people and others of different persuasions, including the unsaved.

I was thinking to myself, "These militant believers are doing something wrong."

Then the New Testament passage came to me about how we are to give an answer to everyone who asks us for the reason for the hope is in us.

I think it is a fact that we are doing wrong when we assail people with our knowledge of Christ. If we would just do as the Lord said, and let our good works shine as a light in the darkness, we would win more people than we ever will with our proselyting rudeness. We are as irritating as telemarketers!

Where did this proselyting ambition come from? Certainly not from the New Testament. It is little more than fleshly striving. In some instances personal evangelism may be of the Lord, but not much of it is from what I have seen.

The expression "He who wins souls is wise" is not speaking of what we mean by personal evangelism. It is referring to the fruit of the righteous individual, whose behavior guides other people into the righteous ways of the Lord, the ways that lead to life. The individual who thus serves as a moral lighthouse is blessed by the Lord and shall shine as a star forever.

The Lord Jesus guides us in paths of righteous behavior so His name will be honored among men.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4)

This present world is the valley of the shadow of death. We may not have realized it in the past, but as we see how people behave today we can understand how close to the borders of Hell we actually are living.

Life is not easy! The world is under a curse. We were born under a curse, with a sinful nature we did not ask for. Death and Hell are all around us, although sometimes they are disguised as being harmless.

One slip, and someone is harmed or killed. The scientists are reporting how many new diseases have appeared in the last few years. One scientist said recently, "We do not conquer bacteria; we fight them to a draw."

We may grasp life, and then panic when someone dies. Here we are, living in the valley of the shadow of death, and someone is so fortunate that God sees their time is up and they are free to go home.

How wonderful to be free to go home! How wonderful to be released from the valley of the shadow of death! The deceased are the fortunate ones. It is we who have to carry on in this valley who are to be pitied.

Christ’s rod and staff comfort us. When people do not know where the boundaries are they become restless. The Lord comforts us by setting limits on our behavior. If we push past those limits we are punished appropriately. Then we know where the walls are, and this gives us a sense of security.

Children are happiest in school when they have a loving but strong teacher. The Summerhill experiment in England, where children could do anything they pleased without restraint, resulted in young people who needed psychiatric assistance a few years later.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalms 23:5)

Sometimes we have enemies, physical or spiritual, whom we fear. But when the Lord is our Shepherd, it is in the presence of our enemies that our table is prepared.

One time I saw in a kind of vision the saints being raised from the dead, and the armies of the wicked surrounding them but unable to harm them. At that time the Word of the Lord came to me: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Our Shepherd is always present when we are in danger. His authority, power, and wisdom are greater than all the power that Hell can muster. We have nothing to fear when we are trusting in Jesus.

You anoint my head with oil, speaking apparently of the custom of anointing with perfumes the head and body of people at a feast. It is the anointing of the Spirit of God that makes the Christian pilgrimage possible. If we did not have the comfort of the Spirit, the power to overcome sin the Spirit gives us, and the power to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord, we simply would not be able to manage to live victoriously or to utilize our gifts and ministries..

He, the Spirit of God, is the Spirit of truth. It is by His guidance that we are able to overcome the Antichrist spirit of the world

In the days of Moses, every article of the Tabernacle of the Congregation had to be anointed with the holy anointing oil. This tells us that all aspects of our Christian life and ministry must be anointed with the Holy Spirit. Any aspect that does not have the anointing of the Holy Spirit on it is nothing more than dead religion.

Without the Holy Spirit, whom the Lord Jesus has sent from Heaven, we simply could not live the victorious Christian life. It is the Spirit who replaces the authority of the Law of Moses and makes possible our growth in righteous behavior.

Our cup overflows. Sometimes we go through years of cross-carrying obedience. We fight the good fight of faith. We endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ. We stand with God against that which is not righteous.

But then the day comes when we receive the desires of our heart. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. But when the desire comes it is a tree of life, and He adds no sorrow with it.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:6)

The wicked experience trouble after trouble. They push past and hurt other people in their mad pursuit of pleasure, only to achieve misery and corruption. The Bible says the way of the transgressor is hard.

But those who are content to let Jesus lead them are surrounded with goodness and love—even in the most difficult seasons. There is a deep joy in the heart of the victorious saint that no circumstance, no matter how grievous, can touch.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The Lord Jesus Christ, if we could see Him as He is, is a tremendous palace. Each one of us is being made a room in this palace, and each room is a palace in itself. This is the eternal Temple of God, the Father’s House.

This is the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Each person who is a palace in that greatest of all palaces is one with all other persons who are palaces in that mammoth palace. Each person is totally at rest in the love and will of God.

This is the light of the world, the Tabernacle of God that one day will come down from the new sky to rest forever on a high mountain of the new earth.

Every person who is a citizen of the new world has died at one time and been raised from the dead. To be saved is to be a part of the new world of righteousness, the world comprising people who had been alive on the present earth, who died, and then were raised from the dead. This is our hope as Christians.

"And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:14,15)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

The Secret Place of the Most High—To be abiding in Christ at the right hand of the Father in Heaven is to be dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. To live there at all time is to never die; for our position will not change at death, in the spirit world after death, or when we are raised from the dead. We now are alive forever in Christ at the right hand of God.

The Bible says we are dead and our life is hidden with Christ in God. I have preached this for many years, saying we will never go higher than where we are placed as soon as we are born again in Christ. In one sense, we already are at the right hand of God in Christ, so we are fighting our way downward that the Life we have in God will be expressed in our body on the earth.

I still believe this. However, there seems to be a dimension to it that I had not considered.

My secretary, Peggy Reiter, told me this morning that at the ladies’ Bible study last night they were discussing how we can pray without ceasing. I had stated a few Sundays ago that I was always praying. I said, "Even when I am speaking to you I am praying.

One lady in an E-mail asked me how I could be talking to someone and praying at the same time.

So Peggy and I discussed this matter of continual prayer. I hadn’t thought much about it. I just took it for granted that all Christians have the same experience that I do. It is just a matter of applying themselves. Perhaps this is the case.

I am reluctant to share personal testimonies of this type, because I am not certain God deals with everyone in the same manner. I don’t want to bring people into bondage, trying to do something that God is not directing them to do.

As I went back to my office I began to examine my own consciousness of the Lord. As I did, three passages came to mind. The first was where the Apostle Paul was praying for the saints in Galatia that Christ would be formed in them. This is interesting in that, according to the Book of Galatians, these believers already were saved and filled with God’s Spirit. This fact suggests to us that being saved and filled with the Spirit, and having Christ formed in us, may be two dimensions of the one salvation in Christ.

Again, in the Book of Second Peter, we notice that Peter was admonishing the saints to take heed to the Scripture until the Day Star (Christ) arose in their hearts.

The strongest thought had to do with the passage in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation where it pictures the Church as a woman in travail, with Satan standing in front of her, ready to devour the Child when He was born.

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:3-5)

It is my opinion that today the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God are travailing in order that Christ may be formed in God’s people. Satan stands in front of each person, ready to devour Christ as soon as He is formed in us.

In some cases, Satan is successful. He seduces the individual away from his position in Christ through worldliness, lust, or personal ambition. The Child is aborted.

In other instances Satan is unsuccessful. The Child is brought to term. As soon as He is, He is caught up to God.

Perhaps this is what I have been experiencing. That which I have preached for many years has finally become a real experience.

I can remember about thirty years ago, praying in the basement of the Annex of the First Assembly of God, in Fremont, California. I was there early in the morning, praying for the Sunday school class I was to teach.

All of a sudden I had a breakthrough. I started singing "You have overcome."

I have never before told anyone of this, as well as I can remember, but it might be a help to somebody, encouraging him or her to keep pressing forward.

I have had numerous battles since then and have made mistakes. I think once we pray through, as the saying goes, and keep on praying through, and keep on praying through, we break through into a higher level. This does not mean we can’t sin anymore. It just means it becomes increasingly easy to pray through.

"I have set the Lord before me," King David said. "He is at my right hand that I should not be moved."

This is the way it is with me. The moment something comes near my spirit that is questionable, I go to prayer immediately and ask God to put His fire on it so it will be revealed as to its source.

I am not suggesting that I am perfect. I learning every day, and often find something in my life that is to be confessed, denounced as evil, and turned away from resolutely. I am pressing forward to the resurrection unto life.

The only reason for all this personal talk and subjective examination is to encourage the reader to keep on seeking the Lord. I have been at this for more than 57 years.

I meant what I said when I told the congregation that while I was preaching to them I was interacting with the Lord. I am interacting with the Lord right now while I am writing these words, checking with Him that everything is being said just the way He wants it to be said.

I don’t count this any great thing, and I had supposed that all Christians have the same experience, or could have the same experience if they kept looking to the Lord. However, after talking with Peggy, I am not certain. Perhaps there does come a time in our life after we have won many victories when Christ is formed in us and is caught up to God and to His Throne.

When we are living here with Christ at the right hand of God, it is easy to pray without ceasing. It is kind of what we are and how we live. For myself, I would not know how to live apart from conscious interaction with the Lord Jesus.

If some of this sounds questionable to you, or it is something you desire, then I suggest you go to Jesus right now and ask Him about it. Tell Him that you are resolved to overcome every sin and problem that comes you way, and expect that He will make a way of escape for you through every temptation.

Whatever you do, do not listen to the traditional talk about how we can’t live a victorious life and must be forgiven continually until we go to Heaven. The Christian churches are filled with this type of defeatist attitude.

For example: Did you ever see a bumper sticker that said, "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven"? Do you realize this is a statement by the driver of the car that he is unable to live victoriously in Christ and must settle for continual forgiveness?

The sticker should read: "Christians are forgiven and are being made perfect." This would be in keeping with the New Testament statements and promises.

So as I said, if you would press forward to total victory in Christ, ignore the sin and fleshly behavior that goes on around you in the churches. Read the third chapter of Philippians where the Apostle Paul told of pressing forward to grasp that for which he had been grasped. Don’t listen to the Sanballats and Tobiahs who will call you down from the wall if they can.

Keep you eyes focused on the Lord Jesus Christ who is at the right hand of God in Heaven. If you will do this day after day, month after month, year after year, the first thing you know you will be there in the secret place of the Most High.

Then you will be like the people in Samaria. You won’t have to listen to people like me; you will have seen and heard Christ for yourself.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalms 91:1)

Meeting the Past in the Future—Perhaps some of us might like to visit the past, and there may be others who would be terrified at the thought. I think the reason for the popularity of the farcical hypothesis of evolution is that people do not enjoy the idea of a God who will bring up the past and pass judgment on it. But I think the Bible is clear enough—we shall in the future face our past.

One time Audrey and I were driving with some relatives, from New York to Arizona. One evening, after we had driven all day, we stopped at a restaurant. We were tired, the men were not shaved, our hair was uncombed, our clothes were wrinkled. We were embarrassed to go inside.

We said, "It doesn’t matter they will never see us again."

Probably no one in that restaurant ever did see us again. But it brings up a point. If we knew they were going to see us again, if they were going to be neighbors, we would not want them to see us in our wrinkled clothes and uncombed hair. We would have gone to a gas station and got cleaned up first.

Why is this? It is because we care what people think about us.

There is pretty good Bible evidence that we will be raised and judged in the sight of other people. How we have behaved during our lifetime on the earth may be revealed for other people to see. In fact, our past behavior may be portrayed in the way we appear when we are raised. We may be clothed in our own previous behavior.

There is evidence also that other people will be involved in the judgment.

Consider the following passage, for it indeed is remarkable.

The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. (Luke 11:31,32)

The Queen of Sheba will rise in the Day of Judgment with the Jews who lived at the time of Jesus, and condemn them for not taking heed to the Lord Jesus. The men of Nineveh, who lived in the days of Jonah, will condemn the Jews of Jesus’ day for not repenting when Jesus preached.

The Queen of Sheba listened to Solomon, and the people of Nineveh repented when they heard Jonah. Yet the Jews neither listened to Jesus or repented when they were faced with the very Son of God.

But to think the Queen of Sheba and the men of Nineveh will condemn the Jews in the Day of Judgment? Will other people judge how we behaved?

Whom might we face in the Day of Judgment? Someone we have wronged terribly? A wife we abandoned? Children we left fatherless? An acquaintance we cheated in business? Someone else we betrayed?

Will the things we have spoken in secret be proclaimed for everyone to hear? Will the kind of robe that clothes our resurrected flesh and bones portray graphically those hidden deeds we want hidden from everyone?

Will the mother who aborted her child be faced with that person who never had his or her chance to live on the earth? Will the abortion doctor be surrounded with the faces of the fetuses he murdered??

How exacting, how much detail, will be presented in the Day of Judgment?

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)

"Every careless word"! If someone other than God said this we would not believe it.

It is no wonder that the college professor who has fornicated with several of his students is teaching evolution. He would just as soon no one knew of his behavior, so let’s pretend the world was created by random forces and there is no righteous God. There will be no time when we have to account for what we have done in secret.

If we could only go into the grave and that’s the end of it. If we could hide in the grave. If it only were true that after we die it will be as though we had never existed. All is forgotten. The body returns to dust. Let’s do what we want to today because no one will ever know!

Not so! The body, however decomposed, will be reassembled by the One who created it from dust. Then the individual will stand before God and watch his life being played back, projected from the total memory of almighty God.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice And come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)

There used to be a television program called "Mission Impossible." Each episode showed government agents and an individual from whom they wished to extract information. They would place the person in an environment that was fabricated to confuse and frighten the subject until he would tell the agents what they wanted to know.

After they had gained the information, the subject was released and could walk away from the room where he had been held. When he walked into the sunlight he realized that he had been completely deceived.

This program is very close to what actually is true of life. We continually are placed in situations contrived to cause what is in our heart to be revealed. From these revelations God knows how we will behave when we are brought into the spirit realm and see what had been true all along.

When we are brought from the darkness of the material world into the light of the spirit world, we are going to wish we had believed the Bible. We are being offered such incredible wealth today: to be at the right hand of God in Christ for eternity; to receive all the desires of our heart; to inherit all that God makes new.

The most exalted Oriental monarch, possessing fabulous wealth, could never approach the treasures that will be possessed by the least member of the Kingdom of God.

As I said in prior writings, the Lord Jesus Christ is as a mammoth Palace larger than the Milky Way galaxy. Each saint is being created as a palace within the greater Palace. Each saint, as the eternal eons roll by, shall be formed in the image of Jesus Christ and brought into untroubled rest in the center of the Holy Fire who is God. These are exalted experiences and positions scarcely imagined by us in this present hour.

Today we are as intelligent animals, chained to the earth in a decomposing body, soon to be left to the worms.

To those who serve God there shall be an eternity of such fantastic glory that we could not bear to look upon it as of now.

Can you imagine the terrifying remorse of those who had been called of God but who chose instead to clutch to themselves the pitiful rags of the valley of the shadow of death in which we are attempting to survive?

In the future we will meet what we have done and are doing. Make no mistake, the future is a real as the past and present. Not one hair will be unaccounted for, not one word, one gesture, one thought. All are retained in God’s perfect memory.

God is fair, loving, righteous, and faithful. He has told us in the Bible what He expects of us. We demonstrate our judgment of God’s Character by the way we are behaving today.

God is never mocked. Those who choose to serve their sinful nature will reap destruction in that Day. Those who choose to serve the Holy Spirit will reap eternal life in that Day. In spite of all of today’s Christian-Humanistic teaching and preaching, the Word of God will stand clear and shining in that Day.

What will happen tomorrow or the next day we do not know. But of this we can be certain: as we sow we are going to reap. We will in the future meet the past!

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

Worries, and the Deceitfulness of Riches—The Lord told us, in the parable of the sower, that the Life of God can be choked by the worries of life in the world and by the deceitfulness of riches, until no fruit is borne.

We Americans do not realize the power of our culture to destroy our spiritual life. I believe people from more meditative cultures might see us as far too materialistic for our spiritual good.

I think we view their poverty and assume they wish they owned a nice house with a big mortgage, had two cars and were paying for them, and were borrowing money to sendheir children to college so their children could own a nice house with a big mortgage, have two cars and pay for them in installments, and borrow money send their children to college to repeat the cycle.

Maybe they don’t envy us as much as we might think. Perhaps some of them spiritual values that they treasure more than they do material goods. It is difficult for us to picture anyone being content without a large cash flow, but I believe there are millions in just that condition.

It is reported that Sundar Singh came to America, and then fled back to India because of the materialism he found here.

It probably is true that we are deceived.

Everyone’s goal is love, joy, and peace. The person who does not view these three conditions as highly desirable is unusual, I think.

What we do, the actions we take, are done so with the hope of gaining love joy, and peace. Isn’t it the truth? But where do love, joy, and peace come from? The Bible says they are the fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God.

Maybe most of us hope to find love, joy, and peace when we die and go to Heaven. Perhaps these three conditions are what makes Heaven "Heaven."

In America we participate in the frantic pursuit of money so at some point we can retire and not have to exert ourselves any more. Perhaps then we will find love, joy, and peace.

But you know as well as I that if there isn’t one problem there is another. Just when we are able to surmount one difficulty, another rises in its place. This is true whether we are a young person, or in the middle of our adult work situation, or retired. Love, joy, and peace elude us.

The Lord Jesus spoke of the Word of God being planted in our personality. Of the four kinds of "ground" where the Divine Seed is scattered, only one brought forth any lasting fruit. The fruit is (you guessed it) love, joy, and peace.

In one case, the seed landed where there was a lot of worry present, and the deceitfulness of riches. Worry and the deceitfulness of riches go together. Why is this? It is because the more money we have the more we worry about protecting what we have and about how to get more. And there is no end to it. There never is contentment. Money is deceitful this way.

The Word of God falls into our heart. It may germinate and attain a little growth. We attend church regularly. We read the Bible, pray, and rejoice with the other members.

Then an opportunity arises to make more money. Soon we are working twelve to eighteen hours a day. The Siren call of money pulls us forward to the shore of destruction. There is no strength left to pray, to meditate in the Scriptures—and sometimes there is no time left to attend church. The best part of our strength and time is devoted to making more money, not to the Lord.

But we can’t believe this! Just another year until I get my feet on the ground financially; then I will back off and have more time to serve the Lord.

But it never happens.

The Lord Jesus said the worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth will choke out the Divine Word and it will be unfruitful. This means the love, joy, and peace we are hoping money will buy us never develop.

We are left with enough money to live comfortably, but we are not content. There must be more! more! more! And what if something terrible took place and we lost some of what we have? Another worry!

We know of one family where the mother and father worked hard all their life, and then purchased a motor home. Finally they were able to retire and fulfill a lifelong dream. They set out in their motor home and toured in the United States and Canada.

After a short period of time the father died. (It seems often to be true that when men retire they die. This is not always the case. Perhaps when they no longer have to push themselves to go to work, their system begins to shut down.)

Anyway, the father died. Now the mother is left with the motor home and no one to enjoy it with. They had chased a phantom. No love, joy, and peace here.

It may be true that all religions have love, joy, and peace as their goal. They may hope to attain to these conditions in the paradise of their religion. Or some may pursue love, joy, and peace in the present world through a system of exercise and meditation.

I do not know about other religions. I do know in the Christian salvation, love, joy, and peace come to us as we pursue the Spirit of God. Each day we choose to do what the Spirit is leading us to do, meanwhile resisting and turning away from the demands of our sinful nature.

The fight of faith is just that—a continual battle against the spirit that is in the world, the sin that dwells in our flesh, and our tendency to follow our own path instead of obeying the Spirit of God. Every day we struggle against those forces and ideas that would turn our eyes away from the Lord Jesus.

One of these forces that distract us consists of the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of money and material goods. This is particularly true in America because of our worship of money and things.

I believe I am correct in saying the Lord has reserved some of the greatest opportunities ever to be found in His Kingdom, for the day in which we are living. Here we are in America, with all the attractions of the world dangled before us, while the Holy Spirit is inviting us to enter the Kingdom of God.

Nothing of value comes without an appropriately large price tag. Since the value of high rank in the Kingdom of God is of astronomical value, the price tag is astronomical. The Holy Spirit is asking today for those who will deny their own desires in life and attend wholly to Christ.

The rewards for following Christ today are so incomprehensibly vast that they show the worries and wealth that would distract us as so much garbage by comparison. Yet some who could have shone as a star for eternity will trade that position for a large bank account, and their place in the Kingdom will be given to another.

Let us not be so foolish! Let us press forward with our eyes on the Lord Jesus until we attain to all He has promised us.

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

Objects of Wrath and Objects of Mercy—The Apostle Paul states that some people are objects of God’s wrath while some are objects of God’s mercy. This seems unfair to us, but we know God always is fair; always is righteous. We simply do not see things as God does.

If we are to believe the Bible, we must acknowledge that God works in terms of His own will. The members of the royal priesthood are chosen from the beginning of the world. The Lord Jesus spoke in parables so people would not understand and be saved. Whether or not we can see the justice of such actions, we must place our trust in the righteousness of God and believe what is written.

The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." (Matthew 13:10-13)

The Lord deliberately concealed from the Jews what He was teaching, so they would not be healed or saved. I have never in my life heard any preacher state Jesus preached in parables so people could not understand Him. I did have a teacher in Bible school who maintained that Jesus spoke in parables so people would remember what He said.

Is this what you learned in Bible school?

The Lord’s explanation of why He spoke in parables would be anathema to many Evangelical people. Why is this? It is because we do not understand God or His ways. Because of the influence of democracy and humanism, we simply will not permit God to be God.

Christians peep and mutter about Antichrist, and how this person or that person is Antichrist. The truth is, when we will not accept the fact that God does what He will with people we have the spirit of antichrist in us. We don’t need another Antichrist. He is resting comfortably in the Christian churches.

God’s Word states with absolute clarity that God works in terms of election. This means merely that He knows what He is doing. He has not left it up to man to build His Kingdom, in spite of what we may think.

Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: Not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger."  Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Romans 9:10-15)

Does the fact that God knows what He is doing with people mean it doesn’t matter what we do: if we are elected to salvation we will be saved regardless of our response, and if we are not elected to salvation we will be lost regardless of our response?

It doesn’t mean at all! How do I know? Because of what other passages in the Bible state. This is our trouble today. We pick out the passages that please us, the "precious promises," and ignore the "wrathful warnings."

Do you think the Apostle Paul was elected to salvation? Well, Paul spoke of beating down the demands of his sinful nature so he would not be disqualified. Does this sound to you that it did not matter how Paul behaved?

So the problem is our limited intelligence, isn’t it? We cannot understand how God can designate objects of wrath and objects of mercy, and it still be true that we determine our destiny by the way we behave.

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— Even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24)

The Lord Jesus promised that He would not cast out anyone who came to Him. He also stated that no one could come to Him unless that individual was drawn to Christ by the Father.

Where are we then, in this matter of predestination and foreknowledge?

Any person can choose to do what he or she believes to be righteous. If the individual is privileged to hear the Gospel (I mean, really "hear" it, not just be exposed to it), then he or she can choose to believe it and receive it.

After having received Christ, the believer can choose to be the slave of sin or the slave or righteousness (Romans, Chapter Six).

Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? God most certainly did so, for it is written in God’s inerrant Word.

Did this mean Pharaoh could not have chosen to let the Israelites leave? Not at all, the choice was Pharaoh’s.

But I just said God hardened his heart. This is true. And I said Pharaoh had the choice at that time to let the slaves go free. That also is true.

It is right at this point that our understanding breaks down. We can’t reconcile these two facts. Yet we know they are true. God never, never, never is the author of sin.

I am not going to attempt to explain in logical terms how these to facts are reconciled.

But I will say that God is much more in our affairs than we believe. The desire to seek righteousness is a gift of God. God gives this gift to whomever He chooses, and then blesses the individual for behaving righteously.

Others do not have this blessing. Why, I don’t know. I do know when I attempt to tell Christians that they are going to return with Christ and help establish His Kingdom on the earth; that their eternal home is the earth, not Heaven; they look at me without comprehension of this simple, biblical fact.

Yet others see it immediately and go on their way rejoicing.

Now, think of it this way. Could those who did not understand, understand if they wished to do so? Not if the Holy Spirit did not give them understanding.

So what are we saying? We are saying God is in control of mankind and is building His Kingdom according to His own will.

Can people disobey God? Of course! How many people have known God’s will and have not done it? I know of an individual whom God instructed to give a certain amount of money to a pastor (not to me). He did not do it. Did God make him disobey? I don’t think so.

Today the Holy Spirit is calling perhaps as never before to Christians in the United States to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. Many are faced with this decision. Will all accept the challenge? Probably not. If they refuse the Lord’s invitation, is that because God did not want them to do His will? I doubt that, don’t you?

How about you? Are you ready to invite Christ into your life to the extent He absolutely is your Lord and Master? Are you ready to turn aside from all that is dear to you, if He should so require, and follow Him to the point of death?

If so, why don’t you tell Him of your decision right now.

Can you take this step of ultimate consecration?

If not, what is holding you back? Can you say that God is holding you back?

If you do not use your God-given abilities during your life to build the Kingdom of God, can you say it is not God’s will? that He desires to give your abilities to another and throw you into the outer darkness?

When it comes right down to it, God is not willing that any perish. Whoever chooses to live in victory over sin will sit on the Throne with Jesus Christ. If we choose to live in victory, God will send every resource to help us accomplish our goal of inheriting all that God makes new.

If we do not choose to turn away from our life in this world, is this God’s fault?

What about people who never heard of such an opportunity. The Apostle Peter stated that God accepts everyone in the world who chooses to live righteously.

So God knows all things. Yet each one of us chooses from among the few alternatives that we have in life. And God sees that choice.

We know from the Bible that there are objects of wrath and objects of mercy. We know also that the Bible informs us that an individual can purge himself from those behaviors that bring God’s wrath, and choose to be a vessel of mercy.

It is a huge canvas, and only God knows all there is to know about it.

All we need to understand is that Jesus Christ is in control of the world, and to rest in that fact. Our task is to seek Christ each day and to do what He directs us to do. If we obey the Spirit of God we will please God and reap righteousness, peace, and joy, in this world and in that which is to come.

But if we choose instead to defy God and follow our own way, our future is grim indeed!

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (II Timothy 2:20,21)

Releasing Tongues in the Christian—In the Book of Acts, people spoke in tongues when they first were filled with the Spirit of God. It appears today people are saved and have God’s Spirit years before they even hear about tongues. So it is more of a case of releasing tongues in them than it is of them receiving the Holy Spirit.

When we in Pentecost speak of receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit we mean the individual spoke in tongues for the first time.

My wife and I have been "in Pentecost" for over 50 years. Audrey was raised in church. I wasn’t. I came to Christ while in the Marine Corps, during Word War Two.

The Lord called me to preach a year later, while stationed in Sasebo, Japan. I knew nothing about Pentecost at that time.

When I was discharged from the Marine Corps, six months after the end of the war, I felt I should go to Bible school, since I had received a emphatic call to the ministry. After some confusion, I ended up in a small Assembly of God Bible school in San Diego.

I heard stories about people who had received a tremendous baptism with the Spirit. One pastor told of not being able to speak in English for three days, if I remember correctly.

The students labored over me for a year, trying to get me to speak in tongues. I had been a Christian for about four years at the time. I had had a very definite experience of being born again. It happened one night after a service in a Quonset hut at the Sixth Base Marine Corps Depot (I think was the name) on the island of Oahu. So I was a genuine Christian and fairly well acquainted with the New Testament when I came to Bible school.

I did everything I could think of, including getting up and praying in the middle of the night. But no luck.

One time late at night I was in a bus station in San Bernardino, trying to catch a bus back to San Diego. I was very concerned about getting back to the dormitory and was studying the bus schedules.

I became conscious that I was praying in tongues while looking at the schedules, but I was so worried about getting back to the Bible school that I didn’t think too much about it.

The next morning I went down early to pray in the chapel, along with Truman Cumbie, from Floydada, Lubbock County, Texas. Truman was kneeling toward the front and I was back a few rows of chairs.

I suddenly remembered speaking in tongues in the bus station. I thought, "I wonder if I really was praying in tongues!" Then I said to myself, I think I will try it and see if it comes back to me." So I started praying in tongues. Brother Cumbie stopped his praying, listened to me, and said, "Thank you, Jesus, for baptizing Brother Thompson with the Holy Ghost." This verified that I really was speaking in tongues, since I knew Truman was a man of God if there ever was one.

We always said "Holy Ghost" in those days, thinking it might be different from the Holy Spirit.

The bottom line is this: I had no great experience of falling on the floor and having to be carried from the church while I was unconscious and speaking in tongues. I think God, since I am a kind of cerebral person, had to get me so preoccupied with a problem that I would quit resisting and go ahead and speak in tongues.

Some time later a Pastor by the name of Stiles (I am not certain of the spelling) from the Assembly of God in Hayward, California, I believe, took Christians who has tried for years to receive the baptism with speaking in tongues, sat them down in a chair, and ordered them to stop speaking in English and start talking in tongues. He had good success, I was told.

So here we have a switch. In the early part of the twentieth century people used to "tarry" at the altar night after night until they had a powerful experience and broke out speaking in tongues. It reminds me of the old Nazarene experience of sanctification, root and branch.

Therefore, the reader might wonder if I, and the disciples of Brother Stiles, really received the baptism with speaking in tongues, according to the Book of Acts.

Well I can’t speak for Brother Stiles pupils, but I have been speaking in tongues for a good long time now. I don’t know how I could get along without being able to pray in tongues. Even though I did not have a powerful anointing of the Spirit at that time (I don’t think so, not in the bus station!), I certainly did get a gift from the Lord.

Let me add a side comment here. I personally think there are two kinds of talking in tongues. There is the kind, like the disciples had at the first Pentecostal outpouring in the Book of Acts, where the tongues were known languages. I think this is what Corinthians means by the gift of tongues.

Then there is the prayer language of unknown tongues. Paul speaks about this also in First Corinthians. This is the kind I have. I do not speak in any known language, as far as I know. It is more a spiritual language. It is not directed toward the listeners, as was true in Acts, but toward God. It is an intercession of the Spirit, I believe.

I am here to tell you, after speaking in tongues every day for more than half a century, that being able to speak in tongues is an extremely valuable asset to anyone’s prayer life and worship experience. I can’t imagine not being able to speak in tongues. Paul said he would like every one of us to speak in tongues. Since the Holy Spirit saw fit to include Paul’s comment in the inerrant Word, I think I am safe in saying God is willing for every Christian to be able to pray in tongues.

I know some maintain if we cannot speak in tongues we do not have the Holy Spirit. This cannot be. There are millions of Christians, past and present, who have been born again—and you can’t be born again of the Spirit without the Holy Spirit—and yet they have never spoken in tongues. "If any man does not have the Spirit of Christ he is none of His."

I like to say, "Before you speak in tongues you have the Spirit. When you speak in tongues the Spirit has you."

If you are a genuine cross-carrying disciple, have been baptized in water, and are following the Master every day, then I believe you are qualified to speak in tongues. Perhaps it is a matter of releasing what already is in you. In any case, ask the Lord at least once a day for the ability to speak in tongues. Then be thankful for all your blessings.

When you feel the urge to speak something that is not your native language, don’t be afraid to try it. If you do gain the ability to speak in another language, then share your experience with an elder you trust to insure that you really are in the Lord. If you truly are serving the Lord, and are praying to the Lord Jesus, I don’t believe you are going to receive something false.

It is best, of course, if you are in a Pentecostal church surrounded by believers who already speak in tongues. They would know in a minute if you had gotten off the track. But I don’t think you have to worry.

I have never seen anyone who loved the Lord and was asking Him for more of the Holy Spirit to receive something false. But as I have said, it is helpful if there is an elder whom you trust, who speaks in tongues, to kind of supervise what you are doing.

As far as having a powerful baptism of the Spirit, as the believers did in the first part of the twentieth century, I think we need this today whether or not we already speak in tongues. I am a candidate for a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit. How about you?

Maybe we need to go back to tarrying at the altar, like we used to do. After people received the ability to speak in tongues they stopped praying for the Holy Spirit. Certainly speaking in tongues after the manner of myself and Brother Stiles did not encourage tarrying. But I think all of us Christians, Pentecostal or not, need a new baptism.

Speaking in tongues is the entrance into the rest of God. "To whom He said, this is the rest."

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, To whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:11-13)

This is what the above means: God has judged His people to be bound by sin. So He has chosen to speak to them in strange tongues. In doing so, God shows them how to enter the rest of His Spirit.

When we speak in tongues we are relying on the Holy Spirit to guide our utterance. It is we who speak in tongues, but the Holy Spirit guides what we are saying. Proficiency in speaking in tongues leads readily into prophecy. As we prophesy, to ourselves and publicly, we hear what the Holy Spirit is proclaiming.

The idea is to cease from our own works, religious or otherwise, and learn to rest in the Spirit of God.

As we press into the rest in the Spirit, the eternal moral law of God is written in our mind and heart. "Do and do, rule on rule, a little here, a little there." The end result is a capturing of us by the Lord.

It requires a lifelong battle against the world, our lusts and appetites, and our personal ambitions if we are to press into that place where we are fully resting in the Spirit of God, doing God’s will moment by moment. Speaking in tongues is a great help in this process, because when we are speaking in tongues our own abilities are curtailed to this extent.

There are times to pray according to our own understanding. Then there are times to just let the Spirit of God guide what we are saying.

If this is what you want, you certainly can have it. It is a matter of asking the Lord every day, waiting on Him as often as you can so when you feel that little urge to speak in tongues, even if it is nothing more than stammering lips, you are poised spiritually and can enter into this thoroughly scriptural practice.

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." (Acts 10:45-47)

Obeying Christ’s Commandments—I think we do pretty well at telling people Jesus died for their sins. Perhaps not so well at telling them they must be baptized in water. And not well at all, as I see it, at making disciples and teaching them to obey Christ’s commandments. I believe we should start doing this.

I wish to point out in this brief article what I believe to be a concept of immense importance. It really gets to the root of what Christianity is all about, and what we need to do to please God.

As I see it, there are two great dimensions of the Christian religion, and perhaps of all religions.

The first aspect has to do with the mysteries of the religion.

The second has to do with the purpose for the mysteries of the religion.

I think the Christian leadership as a whole is well versed in the mysteries of our religion. I believe we are not nearly as proficient, in many instances, in the purpose for the mysteries.

Some of the mysteries of our religions are:

The Persons of the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The blood atonement.

Water baptism.

The born-again experience.

The gifts and ministries of the Spirit.

The Communion service

The Church as an elect, royal priesthood.

While there are some variations of these, I think by and large they constitute the mysteries of the Christian religion.

It is in the second area, the purpose for these mysteries, that we are not as clear. We teach that adherence to these mysteries is for the purpose of granting us admittance to Heaven, where we shall spend eternity. Such is not the case. No matter how venerable this tradition is, no matter how long-standing, it simply is not scriptural. We have not been furnished with these mysteries for the purpose of bringing us to Heaven.

Because we, for whatever reason and from whatever source, have decided that the graces given to us are for the purpose of bringing us to Heaven when we die, God’s intention under the new covenant has been thwarted. We have changed the program of redemption from a means of preparing the way for the Kingdom of God into a typical religion, in which the good go to Paradise and the wicked to Hell. Thus Satan’s kingdom in the earth is not challenged as it should be.

The mysteries of the Christian religion are for the purpose of changing people, not taking them to Heaven but changing them; and not changing them so they can go to Heaven but changing them so they can be related satisfactorily to God and to other people.

The mysteries are to transform us so we exhibit iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. God has given us the mysteries of our religion so we will be transformed into the image of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

By making the purpose of the mysteries that of qualifying us to enter Heaven when we die, we have missed what salvation is all about. God wants us to be transformed so we can bear witness of Him now, and return with Him and install the Kingdom of God on the earth when He sends Jesus back to us.

I have mentioned iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.

The teachings of Christ and His Apostles describe righteousness and holiness, and they are the same behaviors described in the Old Testament. The mysteries have change from the Old Testament to the New, but the purpose for the mysteries has not changed from the Law of Moses to the new covenant.

God wants us to tell the truth.

God wants us to be humble.

God wants us to be honest.

God wants us to be kind to others.

God wants us to love one another.

God wants us to seek to live in peace with others.

God wants us to be generous and hospitable.

God wants us to be morally pure.

God wants us to obey Him in all He tells us to do, in the written Word and also personally.

Do you know, there probably is not a religion in the world that would take issue with the items of righteousness, holiness, and obedience I have set forth.

We are supposed to be Christians in America. We think our great task is to "tell others about Jesus so they will go to Heaven." Telling others about Jesus is preaching the mysteries of our religions.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is spewing out moral filth to the rest of the world. As long as we permit this to take place (and we cannot change it by violence!) we can forget about America being a Christian nation. We are the polluters of the world with our lack of moral standards.

I am not certain I can make myself as clear as I would like, as I feel. But I believe if we showed in ourselves the moral transformation that Jesus can produce, we would have won the hearts of millions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, and Communists long ago.

We do a lot of preaching in America, but our testimony to the world is more the testimony of Satan than it is the testimony of God. For this reason we are going to have immense troubles from this time forward.

I understand there is only one source of salvation, of eternal life, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ, so don’t think I am preaching many roads to God. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No mistake about this.

I have been corresponding with a person in Turkey. There is an outstanding Muslim scholar there who is seeking to persuade Westerners that all Muslims are not terrorists. He sincerely wants peace and good will among all people.

We cannot relate to this distinguished scholar on the basis of the mysteries of Christianity. He is a devout Muslim. But we can relate on the basis of truth, humility, kindness to others, loyalty, generosity, sincerity. I know these qualities abound among Arabs. It is the work of government and religion to divide us, it appears.

We say we are anxious that we might bring people to Jesus in order that they may go to Heaven. Please give me one passage of the entire Bible that tells us people are saved in order to go to Heaven. You will find none—no, not so much as one.

Are there passages that tell us people may come to Jesus that they may be saved? This is the central message of the New Testament.

The problem is, we have changed the meaning of "saved" from "saved from sin" to "saved to go to Heaven. We do not lay nearly enough stress—not nearly enough stress! on being saved to do good works. We are totally unscriptural in this!

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Why are we created in Christ Jesus? To do good works.

Why is it important that we do good works? So we will please God and live productively with people of whatever race and religion.

What are good works?

A kind, gentle attitude toward all people, as much as possible.

Telling the truth.

Absolute honesty in business

How many Christian real estate people are absolutely honest in business? How many businessmen have taken the four steps of salvation and tell their customers the absolute truth? Instead they pass out tracts as a witness, while they have destroyed their witness with their lying.

How many evangelists are kind and gentle toward all people? How many evangelists, because they are living in the sinful nature, rant against the Muslims? What do they hope to gain by cursing the Muslims, other than to relieve their own irritations and frustrations? You don’t catch fish by cursing them!

Acting in humility.

Some friends just arrived from the Philippines. When they boarded the plane on the return flight there was a pompous gentleman who was complaining about the seat they gave him. After the stewardesses finally got him settled, he said, "I am a Bible teacher."

Humility is honored among Filipino people. What do you think the stewardesses thought about this Bible teacher? How must the Lord Jesus feel when this sort of witness is being given?

It is our own fault. We are preaching Heaven when we ought to be preaching character.

Many American Christians are against abortion and homosexual behavior, as well they should be. Abortion is the murder of children, and homosexual behavior is condemned in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Such are worthy of death, the Bible says.

But these same Christians, because they are not pressured to perform either of these condemned practices, are arrogant gossips and slanderers who also are worthy of death, according to the first chapter of the Book of Romans.

If the American Christians were known around the world for their humility, truthfulness, friendliness, moral purity, scrupulous honesty, kindness, gentleness, patience, generosity, peaceableness, the Lord Jesus would be here by now. We would have friends from the members of all religions and all governments.

The Russian and Chinese people honor hard work, truthfulness, humility, loyalty, kindness, peaceableness, and all other Christian virtues.

So do the Arabs.

So does everyone else on the face of the earth.

The self-seeking of governments, of business tycoons, and of religious leaders often produce hatred and division as they promote their peculiar beliefs and programs. Satan helps these divisive forces along for he always is a murderer and a liar.

Will we Christians ever read the New Testament and find out how we are supposed to live? We are concentrating on going to Heaven, This is not helping the people of the world.

The emphasis of the Lord Jesus is on fruit, that is, His moral likeness brought forth in us. When the people of the world see the Life of Christ in us they will be helped.

Jesus said if people saw our good works they would glorify God. Instead we try to tell them about the mysteries of our religion, while our good works are often lacking.

There is a time for preaching the mysteries of Christianity. The Book of Acts is a record of the Apostles preaching the mysteries of the Gospel.

But the bulk of the New Testament, including the teaching of Christ and His Apostles, is not about the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. It is about the righteous behavior of the Kingdom of God. We ought to hold forth the Word of Life. But the Christian people are to be growing toward the stature of the fullness of Christ.

There is no moral light of consequence in the United States other than that of the Christian churches. But the Christian churches have decided to devote themselves to going to Heaven as quickly and as easily as possible. I guess we are going to be the light of Heaven. Do you suppose?

Remember, by iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father, I am not referring primarily to social works, such as feeding the poor or seeking to introduce righteous legislation in the various governmental bodies, Such efforts have their necessary place.

Rather I am speaking of the growth in kindness, honesty, truthfulness, and humility on the part of the Christian people.

Do believers at Christmas time push and shove in line so their children, whom they idolize, will get the latest toys? Are they rude to the harried clerk who was doing her best in the confusion celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ?

Our culture is not Christian in nature. It is not Christian in nature because the Christian people are being taught the mysteries of their religion Sunday after Sunday, instead of how to live to please God and to help other people.

Can we make the change in America? I am not certain.

Can you believe there actually is a city government (not in America, you may be sure), where a Christian pastor has been invited to teach a course on moral behavior that all the police—yes, the police!—are required to attend?

If this were permitted in America (and don’t hold your breath until it is) we would not be comfortable with teaching the police how to behave morally. We would be trying to find a way to sneak in a few words about how they need to get saved and go to Heaven. We would not even be honorable enough to stick with our assignment to teach the police moral behavior.

The Christian Embassy in Jerusalem for many years has been trying to convince the Jews that the Embassy is there to assist them, not to convert them. The Jews have a difficult time believing this. Why? Because they have been alienated by the proselyting spirit that blinds Evangelical people to the simple ways of Jesus.

Even with all the stress the Embassy places on not trying to convert Jews, always reminding the Christians who attend the Feast of Tabernacles not to attempt to convert Jews, in spite of this, one of those in attendance managed to give the President of Israel a tract.

Although I do not know the sequel, my guess would be that the President graciously accepted, showing a far more honorable and kindly nature than our misguided believer.

It seems most religions have the tendency to emphasize their mysteries more than the character of their believers. And so the wars go on and on.

Maybe we in America will never change. But perhaps in some other nation the Christian people will read the New Testament and emphasize what it emphasizes.

Our Great Commission charges us to go and make disciples and teach them to obey what Christ and His Apostles taught, which can be summed up in the Sermon on the Mount.

But we don’t do this. We preach the mysteries, build churches where the mysteries are taught, and then send out missionaries to teach the mysteries.

But peace on earth and good will toward men are not as prevalent as one could wish.

I heard that at least one denomination was bemoaning the fact that although tremendous missionary work that has been done among the Africans they still are murdering each other.

Perhaps we didn’t follow up the mysteries with the Sermon on the Mount.

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Living in the Holy Spirit—There are at least four major aspects of our inheritance, our land of promise. The most important aspect is that of being the eternal dwelling place of the fullness of God. The nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for our possession is another aspect. A body like that of the Lord Jesus is a third. Living totally in the Holy Spirit of God is a fourth aspect of our inheritance.

Being the eternal dwelling place of the fullness of God.

The nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for our possession.

A body like that of the Lord Jesus.

Living totally in the Holy Spirit.

The above four goals are our inheritance, our land or promise, the rest of God that the Book of Hebrews mentions. There are enemies, pressures, and distractions that labor unceasingly to prevent us from entering the rest that God has promised us. It is God’s rest and our rest, for it is God’s intention to find rest in us.

None of the four is gained without fighting the war of faith. Why God has found it necessary to require us to fight for that which He easily could give us is not that clear to me. Perhaps it is so once we attain to these we will not lose them as easily and foolishly as Adam and Eve lost Paradise.

It really is true that the parable of the prodigal son is the basic story of mankind. We cannot retain what we have been given until we lose it, and then have to fight to gain it back.

One of the four aspects of our inheritance is that of living totally in the Spirit of God. You would think this aspect would be easy to gain, once we decided this is what we want. However, living totally in the Spirit of God means we turn over to the Spirit all of our efforts, not only in our daily life but also in our ministry.

Obviously we have to find the balance of knowing what we are supposed to do and what part should be left to the Spirit. We can’t just say, "The Holy Spirit is going to do everything in my life," and then make no effort to do anything. Such a decision would lead rapidly to a state of passivity in which we would rapidly sink down into a crippling indecisiveness.

So we see that living totally in the Spirit of God is an art. It must be practiced throughout our lifetime until we know just how to respond to the Spirit.

I have mentioned in a previous article the difference between the mysteries of the Christian faith, and righteousness, holiness, and strict obedience to God. The purpose of the mysteries of the faith, such as the blood atonement and the born-again experience, is to produce righteousness, holiness, and strict obedience to God in our personality and behavior.

Apart from such a change in our personality and behavior we cannot inherit any of the four positions that compose our land or promise.

As I stated in the previous article, we have made the mysteries of the faith the totality of our gospel, the idea being that if we subscribe to these we will attain to eternal residence in Heaven. Unscriptural method; unscriptural goal.

But aren’t we supposed to preach the mysteries of the faith so other people can be admitted to Heaven? Not unless the Holy Spirit commissions us to do so. And this is the point of the present article.

Let me present a succinct statement that sums up the problem I am addressing.

We are encouraged to say to the unsaved, "Jesus loves you." Now, why do we do that? We do that because we want them to receive Jesus so they can go to Heaven when they die.

I don’t believe the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do this. Instead of saying "Jesus loves you," we would give a far better witness of Christ by treating people in a kindly manner; telling the truth; acting in a humble manner instead of arrogantly as believers often do.

Are you following what I am saying? I am encouraging us to follow the Holy Spirit in ministry and not just practice our religious rituals.

It is characteristic of people of all religions, as far as I can see, to hide an ungodly character and ungodly actions behind the cloak of the mysteries of their beliefs. The Catholics certainly did that historically. Many Muslims are doing that today. All of us Christians tend to place a much greater emphasis on our statement of faith than we do on our behavior, and sometimes use our religious beliefs as an excuse for ungodly behavior.

We need a statement of character instead of a statement of faith. Belief in a statement of faith will not save anyone, in spite of our tradition that it will. But godly character and behavior will cause people to glorify God. At least, that is what the Lord Jesus said.

The reason we have fallen into the destructive trap of presenting the mysteries of our faith instead of cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the transformation of our personality is that we are not hearing from the Spirit. We are living in our fleshly, adamic nature. We are trying to build the Kingdom of God by our fleshly wisdom and efforts. We are not permitting Christ to build His Church.

We embraced the "faith" and "prosperity" errors because we were not hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We adopted such unscriptural practices as saying the Bible is Christ, and when we speak the words of the Bible it is Christ speaking. "Speaking the creative word," and attempting to manipulate the material realm by "imaging," are other examples of the error that results when we are seeking to do God’s work apart from the Spirit of God.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14;16,17)

In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul told us as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. I think most of us know of that verse, but I seriously doubt that most of us know of the preceding verse and the relationship between the two.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

The preceding and following verses, in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, reveal that Paul is pointing toward the redeeming of our body by filling it with the Spirit of God.

Paul is saying if we choose to live according to our sinful nature we will not attain to the resurrection of our body into eternal life in the Spirit of God.

If we cooperate with the Spirit as He guides us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature we will attain to the filling of our body with resurrection life when the Lord returns.

Then Paul says, "those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God."

Led by the Spirit of God to do what?

Led by the Spirit of God to put to death the sin in our life.

Unless I am mistaken, the Spirit of God is telling us today to enter into the moral transformation that only the Spirit can accomplish. I do not hearing Him telling us to go out and tell others about the mysteries of our faith. The Spirit is warning us in America that we are heading toward problems. Why? Because the churches are talking about grace, going to Heaven, a "rapture," and getting more souls saved.

Is this the problem in America—that we are not getting enough people to join our churches? Is this why the sword of judgment hangs over our country?

I don’t think so. The sword of judgment is hanging over our country because the Christian people, who are the only God-ordained light of the world, are not showing the righteousness and holiness of Christ in their personalities.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)

It is the business of the apostles (missionaries) and evangelists to proclaim the way of salvation. It is the responsibility of the pastors and teachers of the churches to build the saints to the stature of the fullness of Christ; for this is the reason the ascended Christ gave us through the Holy Spirit the gifts and ministries.

In my devotional reading this morning I was noting how God expresses His awesome power.

This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: "I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, To open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. (Isaiah 42:5-7)

The are several such declarations in the Book of Isaiah of God’s almighty power and authority.

Of course, the above is speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it is speaking also of every member of the Body of Christ, for we are coheirs with Christ.

I was meditating on such promises of God, and then comparing them with our puny efforts to preach the Gospel. If God should arise and fulfill the many promises in Isaiah, the whole world would be aghast at what they were beholding.

Why aren’t we seeing God in action like this? I think it is because we are not obeying the Holy Spirit. We have the bit in our teeth and are running according to our own wisdom and strength.

Do we dare look to the Holy Spirit to lead us in every part of our daily life, including our ministry?

The Lord Jesus Christ is our example. Now there was a Man who lived totally in the Spirit of God. He was at rest in the promises of God. This one Man has changed the course of history, although He did not strive to accomplish religious works.

How long will it be before we have been brought so low that we are forced to rely on the Holy Spirit?

I for one wish to live in the Spirit of God. I want every element of my life and ministry to be of the Spirit, in the Spirit, by the Spirit, with the Spirit.

How do you feel about this?

So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6)

Entering the Kingdom of God—There is much, much more to entering the Kingdom of God than "accepting Christ as our personal Savior," unless we mean by this accepting Christ as our personal Savior at every moment of every day and night in all that we think, say, and do.

I have written a great deal about the fact that the Bible does not stress going to Heaven when we die, but entering the Kingdom of God. Heaven is not the Kingdom of God. Heaven is a place in the spirit realm. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing the works of God’s hands, particularly the earth and its people.

Think of it! None of the parables of the Lord Jesus had to go with going to Heaven when we die. Not one! Not one! The parables are about the Kingdom of God. Why don’t you read the Gospel accounts again and see if I am correct.

I am stressing this point because our whole concept of salvation changes when we pass from Heaven thinking to Kingdom thinking.

For one thing, we enter the Kingdom of God now, as we seek to do God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. We can’t enter Heaven until we die. This makes quite a difference in the way we live the Christian life.

If our goal is to enter Heaven when we die, then we just have to wait until we die to attain our goal, meanwhile doing the best we can to keep ourselves ready to meet the Lord.

But if our goal is to enter the Kingdom of God, then we immediately enter the warfare against worldliness, lust, and self-will. We press into the Kingdom right now—today. We seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, not imputed righteousness but the actual righteousness found in doing God’s will.

Once you become aware of the Kingdom of God, and begin to see the way it is spoken of in the New Testament, a whole area of understanding will open to you.

John the Baptist came preaching the Kingdom of God, saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."

The Lord Jesus came preaching the same message. The Gospel is the Good News that the Kingdom of God is going to come to the earth. We might say in all truth, Heaven is coming to the earth; for all of Heaven is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints. They are coming to govern the earth in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.

This may not be good news to affluent, arrogant Westerners, but it surely is good news to the downtrodden of the earth.

The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that no one can see or enter the Kingdom of God until he or she is born again. We traditionally are using the term born again to mean we are ready to go to Heaven. This is how blind we are to what the New Testament teaches. Jesus said nothing about Heaven in connection with being born again. He said we could not enter or see the Kingdom of God until we were born of water and the Spirit: that is, of woman and the Spirit of God.

Being born again has nothing to do with going to Heaven. To be born again is to have the Kingdom of God born in us. It is to have Jesus Christ, the King of the Kingdom, formed in us. Isn’t that so?

The Lord Jesus presented the Kingdom of God as a Seed that is sown in us. This is true. Anyone who has served the Lord Jesus for a number of years can note how the Kingdom has grown in him or her. It totally transforms all that we are.

The Apostle Paul said if we continue to live according to the lusts of our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Now this is something to think about. When Paul wrote to the saints he said if they, who were saved and filled with God’s Spirit, continued to live in their sinful nature, they would not inherit the Kingdom of God.

We see, therefore, that the Kingdom of God is something we inherit.

What does it mean to inherit the Kingdom of God? It means we will have Christ formed in us, transforming our nature, and then the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will dwell in us in all Their Fullness.

To have Christ formed in our personality, and then to have the Fullness of God enter into us for eternity, causes us to change from an adamic soul into a life-giving spirit. It is to have the Throne of God resident in us. It is to have God dwelling in us in untroubled rest.

If any person be in Christ there is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All has become new, and all is of God.

How many believers truly desire such a change in what they are as a person? Such total, radical change is somewhat frightening, for it is an eternal transformation. We cannot hang on to any aspect of what we are as an adamic individual and experience the full transformation that is the Kingdom of God.

I am not certain what forces caused Christian thinking to change from the concept of the Kingdom of God to the idea of going to live in the spirit world for eternity. One force may have been the philosophy of Gnosticism, which teaches that all good is in the spirit realm. Another force may have been the competing religions of the Roman Empire. The early church leaders may have sought a compromise with the surrounding religions in order to attract more people to the churches.

In any case, the Gospel of the Kingdom has not been preached, as far as I know, from the early centuries of the Christian Era until the present.

I am not well acquainted with the Christian thinking of the early centuries, so I may have to stand corrected by scholars who are more acquainted with what was preached and taught in those days.

In any case, here we are in the twenty-first century. The Holy Spirit is restoring to us the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. In its strong light the traditional ideas of grace-rapture-Heaven are vanishing like dew when the sun rises.

One change in our thinking involves the purpose for the Lord’s return to earth. The traditional viewpoint is that the Lord is returning to carry His Church to Heaven. This is not only unscriptural, it is illogical.

The Apostle Paul taught us that when the Lord comes He will bring with Him the deceased saints, and then raise their bodies from wherever they have been interred.

Now consider this: some of these people the Lord will bring with Him have been in Heaven with the Lord for hundreds or thousands of years. What sense does it make for the Lord to bring them from Heaven, give them back their bodies, and then return with them to Heaven? Does this make any sense to you?

Wouldn’t you think once they had received their bodies, and then those bodies were clothed with resurrection life, they would want to remain on the earth for awhile?

The truth is, the goal is not to live in Heaven. The goal is to inherit the Kingdom of God. The Lord is coming with His saints to set up His Kingdom on the earth in answer to the Lord’s prayer.

All that we want to experience in Heaven is coming to the earth. Jesus will be here ruling from Jerusalem, so we certainly want to be here at that time. Don’t you want to be here when the Lord is here? Of course you do.

All the of Heaven on an earth from which the curse has been removed. Isn’t that the best of all possible worlds?

This is all fine and good. The problem is, if our goal was to go to Heaven to live forever, and we were able to enter Heaven and live there on the basis of a freely given grace, then we would not have to be too concerned about working with the Holy Spirit in the transformation of our personality. We could just kind of go along and try to live a decent life in the hope when we die we will "sing and shout and dance about," and enjoy standing with our relatives and gazing at all the marvelous sights of Heaven.

But since our goal is to participate in the Kingdom of God on the earth, then the demands on us are total. We cannot just kind of go along and live a decent life to the best of our ability. Instead we are faced with the rigors of denying ourselves; with carrying our cross each day as we follow the Master; with cooperating with the Holy Spirit in the seemingly endless process of transformation from an adamic soul to a life-giving spirit.

Our traditional program of grace-rapture-Heaven is not scriptural. It produces spiritual babies, for the most part. There is no new creation. There is only a religion whose participants are people living in the sinful nature, who go to church on Sunday, who live pretty much the same as unsaved people. The only difference between them and the unsaved is that they have made a profession of faith in Christ.

The true, scriptural program of redemption is not like this at all. It is a daily fight of faith as we struggle against the world, our sinful nature, and our personal ambition. It is no small matter to forsake all we are, to count it all garbage, to forget the past, and to press continually forward that we might attain to the resurrection unto life.

We are seeking to live in the power of Christ’s resurrection and to experience the fellowship of His sufferings.

If, as I expect, America is due for serious troubles, due in part to the lack of repentance and godliness on the part of the Christians, there may come a time when it becomes apparent who is serving the Lord and who is not; who is entering the Kingdom of God and who is merely a member of the Christian religion.

We who are Christians have to recognize that while we have been members of the Christian religion, we may not be inheriting the Kingdom of God. We may be asleep in Zion. In this case we need to get before the Lord and ask Him repeatedly to deliver us from deception and bring us into His truth.

We need to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Don’t you agree?

After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Samson—The story of Samson tells us much about the Christian life, and about the Holy Spirit.

The story of Samson is that of person to whom a gift of the Holy Spirit has been given. As is not too unusual, Samson did not appreciate his gift. He thought no matter how he behaved, the Holy Spirit would always be there.

His long hair signified his separation to God, just as the Christian is to be separated from the world and kept holy to the Lord.

Samson’s carelessness led to the cutting of his hair, portraying the destruction of his consecration to the Lord as a Nazirite, leading in turn to the loss of his gift of strength. The Lord Jesus told us, in the parable of the talents, that if we did not use wisely the abilities we have been given they would be taken from us.

One of the greatest of the many lies pervading Christian thinking is that our carelessness with the things of God will not lead to a serious loss of inheritance.

Samson, having lost his strength and now his eyesight, was put to work by the Philistines, symbolizing the Christian who is spiritually blind and enslaved by the world spirit.

After a season, Samson’s hair began to grow back. Under the laws governing the Nazirite vow, as I understand them, the fact that his hair grew back would not automatically reinstate his Nazirite position. The laws governing the Nazirite were very strict. However, God did hear his final prayer, and his strength returned long enough to bring the temple of Dagon crashing down, killing numerous Philistines.

The Bible states that Samson killed many more when he died than while he lived.

I believe this is a true picture of the Church. The Church started off strong. Then it lost its separation from the world. The Catholic Church, the main Christian institution for hundreds of years, was involved in the politics of Europe.

Then came the Protestant Reformation, and with it an emphasis on a personal experience with God. I have read that there was a strong holiness movement in the latter part of the nineteenth century. It also is true that Pentecost in the beginning was a holiness movement, in which consecration to God was emphasized.

Perhaps the hair is beginning to grow back.

We notice how Samson stood in the temple of Dagon.

Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived. (Judges 16:29,30)

His right hand was on one pillar, and his left hand on the other, of the two central pillars on which the temple stood.

In the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation we read of the tearing down of Satan from his position in the heavens. Do you realize what an epochal event this will be? Satan no longer will be able to govern the earth from the thrones in the sky.

There are few events described in the Scriptures as significant as this!

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)

For two thousand years the saints have been wrestling with the fallen lords in the heavenlies. Here we see the end of the wrestling match.

But notice what was necessary before the Father granted Michael and his angels the authority and power to remove Satan from heaven.

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

Picture it in your mind. Samson reached out his right and left hands on the two central pillars that held up the temple of Dagon. The he pushed the two pillars causing them to break. Samson and many Philistine dies as the temple fell on them.

I am going to give you another symbolic picture, so try to hold Samson and the pillars in your mind, and also the three ways by which the saints overcome the accuser.

If you were to enter the Tabernacle of the Congregation, on your right would be the Table of Showbread. The wine that was poured out there during the morning and evening sacrifice symbolizes the blood of the Lamb.

On your left would be the golden Lampstand. The Lampstand represents the light, the testimony given by Christ and the members of His Body. The only true, Kingdom testimony, the testimony that will stand for eternity, is that which is anointed by the Holy Spirit. The Lampstand, which burned olive oil, represents the Divine testimony that is given by the Holy Spirit. It is this testimony that overcomes the accuser of the brothers.

Directly in front of you would be the Altar of Incense, portraying our death to self. It is at this altar that we cry, "Not my will but yours be done."

I am saying what we have here is a picture of the Christian Church in the closing days of the Church Age. The saints will learn to live by the body and blood of the Lamb. They will understand the completion of the Temple of God can be accomplished only by the Spirit of the Lord. The blood and the Spirit will be emphasized.

Finally, and of equal importance if the accuser is to be torn down from his position of control over the earth, the saints will have to enter the body and blood of the Lamb, and the Spirit of God, until they are willing to forsake their own lives. Satan cannot be torn down until there are some who love not their lives to the point of death.

We can trust in the blood of the Lamb and the Spirit of God, but if we are not willing to serve Jesus Christ to the point of death, we will not succeed in dislodging Satan from his throne in the air or in our heart. I am not referring to physical death, necessarily, but to the death of our self-will and personal ambition.

As soon as there are believers who rely on the blood of the Lamb for their authority, and the Spirit of God for their power, and are willing to abandon their own life that Christ might live in them, the temple of Satan will come crashing down. The Book of Revelation says this will happen in the last days.

Thus the Church will accomplish far more by it death than it ever did by its life.

We are accustomed to thinking of the Holy Spirit as the one who enables us to minister the Gospel. We may not be as well acquainted with the power of the Spirit to work miracles and heal the sick.

However, the idea of the Spirit giving someone supernatural strength, as in the case of Samson, is a new thought. It suggests the variety of abilities that may possibly be demonstrated in the closing days of the Church Age.

"The former and the latter rain in the first month." This implies that before the Lord Jesus returns we may see all the miracles of the Old Testament joined with all the miracles of the New Testament, in order that an adequate testimony may be given of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The above may or may not be true. But of one thing I am certain: we all need to live in the Spirit of God.

The Philistines were baffled as to the source of Samson’s strength, so apparently he was not of huge size or extraordinary bulk. The strength came from God’s Spirit. We need to extract the message that is here for us.

I don’t trust the thought that if we had a great deal more money and many more people we could "do great things for God." The reducing of the army of Gideon to three hundred men is an indication of how God views the idea of the larger the better.

I don’t know about you, but I am praying for more of God’s Spirit. I want the Spirit of God to control every thought, every imagination, every prayer, every motive, every desire, every word, every action that I take. I want to live totally in the Spirit of God.

This present life of flesh and blood is so incompetent, so distracting. I am willing to carry on as long as God wishes, and hope to do so cheerfully. But when I think of living completely in the Spirit in spirit and soul, and, when the Lord returns, in body, I am greatly inspired.

The Holy Spirit works moral transformation in us, and also empowers whatever ministry we have. It is the Truth that the Holy Spirit is that enables us to overcome the antichrist spirit that is in the world.

The Church, the Temple of God, will be finished, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of God. All of us need to be encouraged to keep our hands off the Ark, to speak in a figure, and let God return His Glory to His Temple according to His own wisdom and will.

This is my desire—to make certain I am not interjecting my own strength, will, or wisdom into what God wants me to do, and yet not fall into the trap of passivity. Quite a bit of experience is required if we are to flow with the Spirit of God and not get sidetracked in some manner, isn’t it?

May God helps us all to serve Him in the Spirit in these last days.

The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. (Judges 13:24,25)

The Lord’s Prison—If we will faithfully remain in the prison where the Lord permits Satan to place us, we will be issued the crown of life. If we are to govern the works of God’s hands, all disobedience must be burned out of us. Remaining in the place where we are denied what we desire fervently, or where we are required to continue in a situation we detest, destroys our self-willed refusal to wait on the Lord continually.

Whoever would govern with Christ; whoever would be fruitful; whoever would pass from the spiritual fulfillment of Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles; whoever would enter the rest of God and inherit all things; must be proven faithful in the Lord’s prison.

Indeed it is Satan who places us there, as he did Job. But it is God who is behind all of this suffering and denial, teaching us about Himself and His ways.

Jesus told Peter that He would pray for Peter that Peter’s faith did not fail. The Lord did not tell Peter that He, the Lord, would prevent Satan from sifting him. Peter needed to be converted from his self-will to the knowledge of the Lord.

The same with Job. God could have prevented all that suffering. But Job needed to pass from self-centeredness to God-centeredness.

Abraham had to give Isaac back to God if Abraham and Isaac were to be fruitful and the heirs of the Kingdom of God. Jacob had to wrestle with God in order to change from the supplanter to Israel—the struggler with God.

Sarah had to give birth by a miracle so the child would be of God and not merely of the flesh. Hannah had to suffer much before the prophet of Israel was born

We know what Joseph went through before he was set over the land of Egypt. Even the Lord Jesus Christ learned obedience to God by the things He suffered. Peter speaks of the fiery trial that will test us.

There are two arms of the cross. One arm is that of being denied what we so fervently desire. The other arm is that of being compelled to do that which is distasteful to us—sometimes for many years.

It is in the Lord’s prison that the saints are fashioned.

There are two problems when we are in the Lord’s prison. The first problem is that we do not know how long our pain is going to last. The second problem is we do not understand the reason for our suffering. Believers who are unwilling to remain in the Lord’s prison will not receive the crown of life.

One of the deadliest errors of modern times was the so-called "faith" message, the idea being that if we were suffering it was because we did not have faith. The pre-tribulation "rapture" doctrine contains the idea that the saints are not to suffer, when the Book of Acts says we enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

I have been saying for years that the Charismatic movement will be divided into the believers who are willing to endure the Lord’s prison, and those who are not. The former will be a minority, but deliverance will be found in them in the days to come.

Isaiah tell us God will comfort Israel when her warfare has been accomplished; when she has received double chastisement for her sins. Judgment always begins in the house of God.

Isaiah informs us that it is the descendants of the barren woman who will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities.

God speaks of abandoning the soul in distress, just as He appeared to abandon Job. But He soon returned.

For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)

I have been there. Maybe you have too. It is not pleasant to be in the Lord’s prison, but when we emerge from the fire we find only our bonds have been burned. Like Job, we now can see God far more clearly than before.

As we read on in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Book of Isaiah we notice that the barren woman finally becomes the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the glorified Church.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah describes the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Again we see that the Lord is angry with us; then His anger turns away and He comforts us.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)

Until we experience the Lord’s prison we tend to be shallow spiritually. When we emerge from testing we are much closer to the Lord. Before we knew about the house of God. Now, like Jacob, we have learned of the God of the house of God.

All one can do when God decides to test him or her is to wait and trust. Our knowledge of the Bible tells us God has not forsaken us, although it seems so. Whereas before we were a joyous Christian, things have become bleak. We thought the devil had deserted when we were converted to Christ. Now we find there is more to it than this. The devil hasn’t left after all.

So what do we do? Wait, hope, trust. We can remember the good times in the Lord, the happy choruses. We can relate to those days mentally but not emotionally.

Why is this happening to me? Did I sin against God? How long is this going to last? It is a thoroughly miserable time.

I can remember thinking: "I know this is not a grave. It is a tunnel and there will be light at the end."

I was an experienced Christian before I went through such a dark time. This is no experience for a novice. Of course, no one understands. If you told another Christians they would advise you to have faith, or read the Bible, or tithe, or do something else. But when you are in the Lord’s prison you just have to remain quiet before the Lord until He is satisfied you have been fashioned the way He desires.

Do you realize what is happening in this fire? Your self-will is being greatly weakened. This is because you are not doing what you want to do. When you are denied your fondest desires for several years, your self-will and personal ambition are blunted.

We all would like to serve the Lord in pleasant circumstances. But resurrection life comes from crucifixion, from nowhere else. When God raises us up, the power of that raising proves to be of benefit to other people.

The Book of Second Corinthians records many of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul. Paul had the sentence of death in himself that he should not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead. But consider Paul’s fruitfulness!

I am a pastor. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could compose sermons in my walnut-lined study surrounded with commentaries and Hebrew and Greek lexicons. After polishing the sermon, and studying my facial expressions in the mirror, I could then go forth and preach my masterpiece to congregations who would weep one moment, and then be transfixed with glory the next.

Instead I go through a week of one problem after another, and then hope God will give me something on Sunday. I seldom get anything until an hour before the service. If God doesn’t show up, things would be a mess. But He always does!

To live in the power of His resurrection and to experience the fellowship of His sufferings. That is the goal, isn’t it?

If you are going through darkness now, remember—your are in a tunnel, not a grave. There is light at the end. Take comfort in the Book of Lamentations, and particularly the Book of Job. Let them be your daily bread for awhile.

When you come forth you will be different. God will be closer to you. The Lord’s prison is the only path to the fruitfulness and strength you desire.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

A Statement of Faith or a Statement of Behavior?—Every denomination has a Statement of Faith. Not every denomination has a statement of behaviors. A Statement of Behaviors is vastly more important than a Statement of Faith, which is merely a collection of theological conclusions.

A Statement of Faith, as we use the term, is actually a statement of belief in theological facts rather than a statement of faith. Faith is our assessment of God’s character. The righteous live by their conviction that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him diligently. By faith we practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Belief, on the other hand, is a mental recognition and acceptance of certain information.

The typical Statement of Faith asserts that:

Jesus Christ was born of a virgin.

Jesus Christ shed His blood on the cross of Calvary to make an atonement for our sins.

Jesus Christ rose from the dead on the third day.

Jesus Christ will return to the earth in a bodily form.

The demons understand these facts better than we, and they do not have eternal life. Therefore statements of faith do not result in salvation or eternal life. They are nothing more than theological conclusions, and may differ from one denomination to another.

It is nice to believe these things, but they are of little benefit until we come to know Jesus personally.

The Christian churches in America have not been of much help in setting moral guidelines for the citizens or the government, because the fact that the Christians believe certain theological conclusions does not remind the citizens of our country that there is a God in Heaven who one day will judge them according to their behavior.

What each denomination needs, I believe, is a statement of behaviors. These behaviors should be regarded as the evidence of salvation. I am drawing these from the New Testament:

I will tell the truth and not lie.

I will not commit adultery, fornication, or any other sexual act that is forbidden by the New Testament.

I will not include profanity in my speech.

I will be honest in business.

I will cultivate a humble, teachable spirit.

I will endeavor to assist those who have needs, spiritual or physical, as the Holy Spirit guides me.

I will strive to live peaceably with all people.

I will not hold my anger after the sun goes down.

I will obey those in authority over me, unless they command me to disobey God.

I will not worship idols, such as money, lust, entertainment, violence, or any other thing, relationship, or circumstance that distracts me from serving the Lord.

I will present my body a living sacrifice that I may prove the will of God.

I will attend to the ministry that the Holy Spirit assigns to me.

I will deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus every day.

I will endeavor to pray without ceasing.

I will strive for iron righteousness in my conduct; fiery holiness in my personality; and will obey God sternly and strictly according to His written Word and according to His directions to me personally.

These are a few of the behaviors that accompany genuine salvation. I sure you, the reader, can think of others equally important.

We really are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking in our day. We are placing an unscriptural emphasis on belief in theological positions and not nearly enough emphasis on godly behavior.

If any person is in Christ there is a new creation. This means he is growing daily in righteous behavior, fleeing from the malice and wickedness of the world. He is putting on the new man, and resisting and rejecting the old ways of the sinful nature.

Some of those who believe as I do are ministering in various jails and prisons. There is a problem here. There are jail workers who have been trained in the "faith alone" doctrine. The idea is, it is not too important how you behave. The main thing is to believe in Christ. Soon it is evident that two different messages are being presented. The one worker is teaching that all we need to do is believe. We can keep sinning but we must continue to ask forgiveness. Any day now we will be carried up to Heaven in a "rapture."

The other worker is preaching that if we are genuinely converted to Christ we will begin to reveal our faith by our behavior. This worker also speaks of the return of the Lord, but it is to establish His Kingdom on the earth, not to carry His Church to Heaven.

Make no mistake: these are two different gospels. One of them is of the Lord Jesus Christ. The other is not and is a delusion.. Which of the two sounds to you like the Lord? Which seems to fit the teaching of the Epistles?

There are many Christians in the prisons and jails of America. In some instances, the parents of the inmates are in the ministry. These prisoners have heard all their life that Jesus is the Son of God; that He died for our sins; that He is coming again in the clouds of glory.

Now, you tell me. What kind of preaching do they need to hear if they are going to be able to stay out of prison once they are released?

Do they need to hear how they should believe in Christ so they will go to Heaven when they die or when they are "raptured," and it is not critically important how they behave?

Or do they need to hear that they should lead, honest, upright lives in the sight of God and men? Which preaching will keep them out of prison in the future? Which teaching would be favored by the authorities?

I know of one city in another country where a minister has been invited to come to the police station and preach on moral behavior. The police are required to attend.

I have noticed how the newspaper, at least in our area, spoke of Mother Theresa when she passed away. The reporters presented a very favorable picture of this godly woman. Why? Because the world recognizes that which truly is meritorious.

Billy Graham just finished a crusade in our city. The papers again reported very favorably, and quoted some of the people who had been blessed by the crusade.

Do you know why? Because our nation recognizes that Billy Graham is a man of integrity. It is not his message that the unsaved recognize, it is his integrity.

The light of our testimony is dim in America. That is because we overemphasize belief and tend to neglect the behaviors I have listed above.

Our Statements of Faith do not do the job. The Catholic Church places a tremendous emphasis on its beliefs. But of late the behavior of some of the priests has been criminal. The Catholic churches have done a great deal of good around the world throughout history. But people are not impressed by their beliefs but by the actions of people like Mother Theresa.

But it always is the way with religions to put their mysteries ahead of righteous behavior!

If I am hearing the Spirit of God, He is telling us that God’s people need to repent and turn from their wicked ways. If we do not, our land will not be spared Divine judgment.

God is not asking for belief. He is asking for godly behavior. He is asking us to turn from our wicked ways, to behave in the manner He has commanded from the beginning of time.

If every Christian behaved in the manner I have outlined above, every form of government, every race, every religion on the face of the earth would take notice. Many would ask us a reason for the hope is in us. Then we could effectively tell them about the eternal life that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The people in America, for the most part, are not interested in hearing more religious talk. They want to see Jesus, and they can view Him only in our righteous behavior.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14)

Activating the Word—Any Bible verse is only ink on paper until through faith we bring it into our personality and behavior. To believe there is a God and He has said such things is a worthy beginning. But salvation occurs when the Word is activated in us. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them."

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word.

There are at least two aspects of our becoming the Word of God, of having the eternal moral law of God written in our mind and our heart, that we should consider; for they prevent us from relating to the Word correctly.

The first aspect has to do with a rather common Christian attitude. It is that if we read a passage, and accept it, we already possess the substance of it.

The second aspect is that we should just set about doing what it says without hearing from the Lord.

Let us think for a moment about the first aspect, that of reading and accepting a passage and assuming that we possess the substance of it.

One example is Paul’s statement that if any person is in Christ he is a new person; old things have passed away; all things have become new and all things are of God.

How many people have been told that if they will just "accept Christ" they will be a new creature? How many people have accepted Christ and assume they are a new creature? It may be true that they have made very little progress in moral transformation. Yet they believe the old things have passed away, all things have become new; and all things are of God.

Paul said he was crucified with Christ; nevertheless he was living. Yet it was not he who was living but Christ who was living in him. How many Christians assume because they have taken the four steps of salvation they now have been crucified with Christ and it is not they who are living but Christ who is living in them.

Jesus said we must be born again if we would enter the Kingdom of God. There are millions of Americans who have been converted to belief in the Christian Gospel. Have they been born again, or have they merely been converted to the Christian religion?

Is there a real experience of being a new creature; of having the old parts of our personality removed from us; of having a new personality in which all things are of God? Is this really something that can become true of a disciple after a period of time?

Is there a real experience of being crucified with Christ to the point that our old personality no longer is alive in us but it now is Christ who is thinking, speaking, and acting in us?

Does being born again mean we now believe in the principles of the Christian salvation, or does it signify that Divine Life has been conceived in us and now is being formed in us?

Perhaps most of us would incline toward the latter, so now we need to think about this; for there are many other similar examples in the Bible. To abide in the former is to be nothing more than a church member, a professor of faith in the Christian religion.

To abide in the latter is to enter a transforming experience that will continue for eternity, as we are fashioned in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let’s think for a moment about the second aspect—that of reading a passage in the New Testament and then just doing what it says.

We are supposed to do what the New Testament commands. But if we are to be successful we must always look to the Lord for every move we make.

When we find moral injunctions, such as to forgive our enemies, we need Divine help. We absolutely must forgive those who sin against us. If we do not, God will not forgive our sins. This is what Jesus taught.

Now there are some transgressions that are nearly impossible to forgive.

For example, the woman that has been raped. The woman or man that has been molested as a child. The businessman who has been cheated by a partner he trusted. Someone who has been permanently crippled by a robber.

There are many such examples.

The person who has been sinned against may find it just about impossible to forgive the transgressor. Yet we know we must. So what do we do?

We come to the Throne of Grace. We ask the Lord Jesus to come and give us of His body and blood. There is Virtue in the body and blood of Jesus Christ that can enable you and me to forgive any transgression against us.

Do not quit. Keep asking for the body and blood of Christ. When it is given to you in the spirit realm you will discover the bitterness has gone. It has been overcome by a superior power.

This does not mean you have to do anything in terms of the offender, unless the Spirit specifically guides you to do so.

For example: if you are a woman, and your father molested you as a child, and you have a daughter, do not leave your daughter alone with your father—not even one time! It does not matter that Christ has given you perfect peace. It does not matter how your father longs to have your daughter come over to his house—even with his wife there. When he molested you he lost the right to have your daughter relate to him in a normal fashion.

You do not have to tell other people why you are behaving as you are. Just remember that because you have forgiven someone does not mean you should expose yourself again to this individual so he or she can repeat the offense.

If your father, or uncle, or whoever, has received Christ and even has confessed that he molested you, it makes no difference. When he molested you he forfeited the privilege of a normal relationship with your daughter. Or in the case of a man molested by a minister, for example. That minister forfeited the privilege of relating to your son in a normal relationship.

It isn’t that you haven’t truly forgiven. You have forgiven through the Virtue that is in the body and blood of Christ. You may have forgiven the businessman that cheated you. But if you place yourself in a position where he can repeat the offense, you are foolish.

Remember the old saying: "Once fooled, shame on you. Twice fooled, shame on me."

I know the offender will go on and on about how if you were a Christian you would forgive and treat him as though nothing happened. Just be courteous, but stand your ground. Don’t expose yourself to the same offense ever again.

Yes, we are to do what the New Testament commands. But we have to have the wisdom of the Spirit of God if we are to do so. This is true of every command in the Bible—you have to have God’s help to do it.

Another example of going to God for help in keeping His commandments has to do with ministry, in particular those commandments that have to do with preaching the Gospel.

Jesus said: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." "Go into all the world and make disciples of every nation."

If I had a nickel for every time a pastor or evangelist has told the people in the congregation that they are supposed to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every person, I could live on the interest.

The fact that this charge was given to the eleven Apostles makes no difference, it appears, to our well-meaning leaders. The fact that we can’t do it and don’t do it doesn’t seem to matter either. Without intending to, they cause the members of the congregation to labor under a guilty conscience.

The Apostle Paul told us to present our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the will of God for ourselves. Then he listed several kinds of service in which we are to participate, according to our calling. Paul said the Holy Spirit has given a gift to every believer, and that is so. But we don’t know what our gift is until we begin to seek the Lord with whole heart.

If the Lord calls us to go to the nations with the Gospel, then He will lead us step by step and meet every need. It is a joy to serve the Lord in this manner.

If the Lord calls us to intercession, then that also is a joy. We just don’t charge out because of a verse in the Bible. We listen to the Lord. Does that make sense to you?

The Lord told us to pray that He would send forth laborers into the harvest. Do you think we will pray? Not so! We either go or we try to get someone else to go. But the Lord said "pray."

It must be a grief to Jesus to find so few who will just do what He says and not add anything to it!

The Lord called me to preach over fifty years ago, when I was nineteen. But it wasn’t until I was fifty years of age that the call was made clear and there was something Audrey and I could actually do. Yet all those years we wanted to be in full-time ministry.

The Lord finally impressed us that we no longer were waiting for Him, He now was waiting for us. I quit working and we set out, following the Lord as well as we could. I saw an angel, who kind of directed us. We have been pastoring the same church for 27 years and have never asked anyone for a penny. God has supplied our needs.

Many people have said they have been helped by my ministry. But this is no big deal, as we say. It is just a case of being obedient.

So if we are going to activate the Word, if we are going to become the flesh made the Word, then we cannot just read a passage and say it is true of us just because we understand it. It is well to claim the passage, determined one day it actually shall be true of us. But this is different from saying it is true before it actually is true.

Also, we can’t keep the commandments in our own strength. We have to determine to do what the New Testament commands, and then look to the Lord for wisdom and strength.

For example: the New Testament commands us to obey those who have the rule over us. This we are to do.

There came a day when people were hiding Jews from the Nazis. This was against the law in Germany. Were the Christians disobeying God when they defied the government? Not at all. We have to have the wisdom of the Spirit when we are obeying the commandments of the New Testament.

This is true concerning the exhortation to preach the Gospel to every person. We have to hear from God what our part is in building the Kingdom of God. If we wait on God, actively seeking Him with our whole heart, He will show us what our part is. And it will be wonderful, bringing peace and joy to us.

But to just make a religion out of the words of the New Testament, as some denominations have, not enjoying the Presence of the Holy Spirit, is to invite a dead, grievous bondage which results in a handful of bitter adherents to their particular set of errors.

By the same token, it is equally destructive to do as is the practice today: "Forget about trying to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done."

I know the above statement is in Titus. But the way it is applied today is not of the Holy Spirit, and it has destroyed the moral strength of many Christian churches.

Although some might disagree with me, the words of the Bible apart from the wisdom of the Spirit and the Virtue of Jesus Christ can bring death and bondage rather than life and joy.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:4-6)

Preventing the Birth of God’s Children—God’s children begin their existence by being born of a woman. Any action that is taken to prevent the birth of children or to harm their development in any manner should take this into consideration.

Every time a child is born, a potential child of God has come into being. There is no way in which a son of God, a servant of God, can come into existence other than by being born of woman. After that he or she must be born of the Spirit of God

There are many forces in America that are seeking to destroy the child. The portrayal of motherhood as being a lesser role than that of the chief executive officer of a multinational corporation is one such force. In God’s eyes, giving birth to a child is the highest possible role any woman can play, because she has made possible another child of God.

Poverty-stricken neighborhoods are another problem. Often the children of such neighborhoods, sometimes lacking parental supervision because of domestic patterns, become criminals at an early age. Such young people may be brought to Christ in prison or in jail; in other instances they become incorrigible criminals.

Divorce often has a negative impact on children. Sometimes the traditional family, where the mother guides the home and the father works, is not possible because of the pressures of a high cash-flow society. Or, the traditional family may be scorned as some kind of antiquated social pattern that no longer is relevant.

The availability of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and sexual activity is not helpful in constructive character formation.

The entertainment media is noted for exposing children to violence, drugs, witchcraft, drunkenness, cigarette smoking, and other unproductive behaviors.

Recently a young person who attends our church was introduced to witchcraft while attending a public school. This has had a destructive impact on his personality.

The colleges and universities emphasize evolution, promoting skepticism regarding Christian beliefs. This can leave the young person without the strong moral guidelines necessary if he or she is to avoid the lifestyles promoted by the media. The lifestyles promoted by the media do not create wholesome children of God.

Abortion cuts off the child as he or she is about to enter the world. Our courts have yet to decide clearly and finally at what point in the development of an embryo or fetus the organism becomes a person. Is the fetus garbage that can be discarded? Is the fetus an appendage of the female body, such as a gall bladder, that can be removed surgically with no moral implications?

To my limited knowledge, investigators have determined the fetus begins to exhibit human characteristics quite a while before coming to term. To put this organism to death is too close to murder to be acceptable.

When one considers the multiplied thousands of abortions that are performed each year in America, one wonders how many children of the Lord were lost in this manner? There hardly could be a more significant question. A woman should consider carefully the implications of putting a developing human being to death for no reason other than she thinks it is her right to do so.

Abortion cuts off the child as it is about to enter the world. Homosexuality prevents conception at the onset.

God created sexual behavior for the purpose of bringing forth His future sons and daughters. Sexual behavior is practiced throughout the animal kingdom to insure the survival of the species.

It appears to me that homosexual behavior is unnatural. That being as it may, it successfully prevents the creation of God’s children.

Homosexuality eliminates the family line. There are no children and therefore no grandchildren or further descendants. There are no loving grandparents, or uncles or aunts or cousins—nothing but a social vacuum. What we have is two people in a relationship condemned by the Old and New Testaments, engaging in an unnatural act that hardly could be called love, at least not love in the manner experienced by a man and woman, a mother and father.

If every person in the world were a homosexual the human race would die out in a short time and God would have no more children..

I cannot see how all the social practices I have mentioned are coming from any source other than Satan. Who else would want to deprive God of potential sons and daughters—of offspring He could enjoy for eternity?

I hope some day America comes to its senses before we lose our nation altogether.

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:18)

Save Yourself First—The Apostle Paul told Timothy that if he would be diligent in the things Paul taught him, watching his life and doctrine closely, he would save himself and his hearers.

Because of today’s tremendous emphasis on salvation being a gift of grace over which we have little control, a gift having nothing whatever to do with our behavior or effort, the expression "save yourself" appears to be heresy of the highest degree.

However the Apostle Paul, speaking concerning his exhortations to Timothy to persevere in the work of the ministry, told the younger man that he would save himself and those who listen to him if he was "diligent in these matters."

I wonder how Bible commentators handle this expression. Honestly, I don’t dare read and find out. But I am certain they would never let stand the simple statement of the Apostle Paul that Timothy would save first himself, and then those who listen to him, by his faithful perseverance in the rules Paul gave him to follow.

At issue is the definition of the term "save." If to be saved is to be qualified to go to Heaven when we die, and if we are qualified by stating we believe in orthodox theological positions, than Paul is making no sense at all.

But if the act of salvation is a program in which we interact every day with the Holy Spirit as we seek to do what we have been commanded by Christ and His Apostles, then it is not too far-fetched to say that in this sense we save ourselves. Others who are watching us are saved as they follow our example.

Let’s see what Paul was talking about. One area of conduct is as follows:

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (I Timothy 4:7,8)

"Train yourself to be godly," that is, to behave in a righteous, holy, manner, being always obedient to God. Diligently train yourself to be godly and you will save yourself and those who listen to you.

What happens if we do not train ourselves to be godly? Given the demonic pressures of the American culture, we soon will be exhibiting the characteristics of Satan. If we continue in this long enough we will be cut off from the Vine, from Jesus Christ, because we have not borne the fruit of godly character.

This is a simple, straightforward fact, and no amount of theological gymnastics will change it. We save ourselves by diligently obeying Christ and His Apostles. This means much of today’s teaching is unscriptural and therefore incorrect and morally destructive.

Note that we save ourselves first, and then our hearers. I think this is an important sequence. We cannot save others except as we save ourselves.

The so-called "Christian right wing," a political force in the United States, is much opposed to homosexuality and abortion. The politician who has his future in mind has to walk carefully between two powerful groups: the homosexual lobby and the Christian right wing, the Christian conservatives.

May I say that I am not certain it is a good idea for Christians to be involved in politics. I think it is going to backfire on us in the form of violent persecution. Our role and task is to be witnesses of God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Jesus Christ. Our kingdom is not of this world.

I know there are Christian people who will be very much opposed to what I have just said. But it may be called to mind that the Lord Jesus Christ refused to be a king or to have His servants fight.

The weapons of our warfare are not physical but consist of prayer, holiness of character, righteous behavior, and stern obedience to God. These weapons bring to our side the Holy Spirit, the most powerful force in the world!

The problem with trying to force our values on unsaved people is that we ourselves have not been "saved," in the sense in which I am speaking. The Christian people speak out against abortion and homosexuality. They are highly indignant and irritated with these practices. They are trying to save others before they themselves have been saved.

What do I mean the Christians have not been saved?

Go into the average Christian assembly. This is what you will find: quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance, disorder, sexual sin, and debauchery. We are just like the church in Corinth.

For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:20,21)

How in the world can we convince the homosexuals and aborters that they are not saved because of the things they practice when we are not saved because of the things we practice?

Why do we single out homosexual behavior and the practice of abortion when we ourselves are guilty of all the sin Paul mentioned regarding the church in Corinth?

We are looking for a speck of sawdust in our brother’s eye when we have a plank in our own eye!

We need to go easy when we are condemning other people!

Am I saying Christians should not care when children are being murdered? When unproductive lifestyles are being taught in the public schools?

This is not my point. It is the duty of government to correct by the force of arms destructive, immoral behavior—by immoral I mean against the teachings of the Bible.

The duty of Christians is to repent and seek God, turning away from their sins, so God may see fit to give us a government that will enforce righteousness.

It is we Christians who are at fault. We are the ones who are sinning; therefore God is lifting His covering from us and raising up enemies who will terrorize us, just as God did when the Israelites sinned against Him.

God said He would heal our land if we Christians, we who are called by His name, would humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.

But we Christians will never save ourselves and those who listen to us as long as unscriptural doctrine is being preached. As long as we are being told that God is overlooking our sins; we are saved by grace and our behavior does not matter; God sees only the righteousness of Christ when we sin, and we need not worry because we all are about to be "raptured" up to Heaven—as along as these lies are preached we are going to continue to sin.

Until the righteous, holy commandments of the New Testament are taught, and we Christians are warned that what we are sowing now we are going to reap in the Day of Resurrection, the Christians in the United States are going to continue in the works of their sinful nature.

As long as the Christians in the United States continue in the works of their sinful nature, our nation is going to plunge downward into the depths of moral depravity. The "Christian right" will gnash their teeth in vain. They will never be able to save their hearers until they themselves are saved from their sinful behavior.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:15,16)

The Revelation of our Character—God put us here on the earth in animal bodies that are inhabited by a sinful nature. Then God permits Satan to place us in painful situations to see if we will do what we know to be right no matter how we feel, or if we will take the path of pleasure. God wants to know what kind of character we have before He appoints us a place in His Kingdom.

You know, it would help us to be more aware of the spirit realm. Then we could see the drama that is being played out on the earth.

In the beginning God created us in His image. I guess this means we have a body, soul, and spirit. It is rather obvious the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Man who has appeared on the earth who actually is in the image of God.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of man, as compared with the other creatures of God, is that man has a soul. God also has a Soul, as we know from the Scripture.

The angels seemed to be just spirits. They do not have souls.

Man is like God in some respects, which is what Satan desired. Man was created to be God’s Throne and eternal dwelling place. As far as we know, no other creature of God has been chosen to be God’s Throne and eternal dwelling place.

We understand, therefore, that man has been assigned a higher place of authority than is true of the angels.

But God has placed us in an animal body, making us subject to the forces of nature and the laws of physics. It appears the angels are not subject to the forces of nature or the laws of physics. So in the present hour the angels are in an elevated position with respect to us.

The simple truth, is, God has done this to us in order to determine in advance what role, if any, we will play in His Kingdom, which one day will be installed on the earth.

Imagine! The sons of God, destined to inherit the nations and possess the uttermost parts of the earth, have been placed in animal bodies and made subject to the laws of physics!

When we consider the things that people have done in the past, and yet are doing, we can see God’s wisdom. Because the wicked are blind to the spirit realm, and do not understand the purpose for their being on the earth during this time of testing, their true characters are being revealed. If they knew they were being examined they probably would attempt to conceal their true desires and put on a show.

Do we have any idea how many instances there have been of people stepping on other people that they might advance themselves? How many times has a scientist made a discovery, or an explorer come upon an unknown territory or an ancient artifact, only to have someone else take the credit?

How often has it occurred that people have betrayed those who trust in them? How many rulers of nations have built up their bank accounts reveled in luxury while their citizens strove to eke out a living in abject poverty?

God sees all this. Even when such vicious, self-seeking people are of high rank in religion, it makes no matter. God will never give them the wealth of the Kingdom. Why not? Because during their stay on the earth they revealed that they are not to be trusted.

The reason we are experiencing this probationary period is that God might find out what is in our heart; what we are going to do if we are given people for an inheritance, or a place of rulership over the nations of the earth.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

When we understand we are in a fishbowl, being studied carefully by the Lord, Satan, the righteous angels, the wicked angels, and—I am convinced—people of all sorts, we then have a good reason to consider carefully what we are doing.

As I have written in another place, people stress the foolish hypothesis of evolution because they reject the idea of having to give an account of their actions at some point in the future. If they only knew it, all shall be revealed. That which was spoken in the ear shall be shouted from the housetops.

This does not bother the righteous. In fact, the righteous run to the light that their actions may be shown to be of God.

The conclusion we might draw from the fact that we are in an arena of testing, being observed carefully by the righteous and the wicked, not only from the spirit realm but also right here on the earth, is that we are wise if we behave uprightly. We should conduct ourselves with the certain knowledge that we are being watched, and that we shall give an account for our actions in the future.

Actually this is all very desirable. We have a chance now to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He forms us in the image of Christ. Also, we have an opportunity to prove to the Lord that we will be faithful to the point of death, even though we cannot always understand why we are being denied what we desire fervently.

The high places in the Kingdom have been designed for specific people. The period of time when such individuals are brought into the world is set carefully. The events of their lives are orchestrated. It is up to each individual to insure that he grasps that for which he has been grasped.

Other people have not been chosen for such high rank. They will not be tested as severely; but they indeed shall be tested! God wants to know what each one of us will do in the future if He gives us a place in His Kingdom.

I know it seems like we are on the earth for a very long period of time. Being old, I can look back and see how short a time it actually is. Events of my childhood seem to be only a few days in the past. When compared with eternity, our life on the earth is the briefest of moments.

We have this one chance to learn obedience to God, to demonstrate that we are solid in our character and will be of benefit to the Lord and to those around us in the Kingdom of God.

Remember—there is no hiding place. All we do shall be revealed so God and other people can evaluate what kind of individual we truly are. We can put on a show while living on the earth; but the fire of God shall burn away the mask until we stand revealed before God and man.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (Peter 1:6,7)

Integrity—When the world sees integrity it recognizes it and usually honors it. The world may not respond with integrity, however. A man cannot bear witness of Christ if he does not have integrity.

We Christians are paranoid at times. We suspect that we are in some kind of warfare with the world, that people are attempting to destroy us. The fact is, the people of the world are waiting for us to behave righteously, to act with integrity. It is my opinion that integrity often is in short supply in Christian circles.

I have been a Christian quite a long time. I have seen chicanery among the leaders and the people. There seems to be little relationship between how long a person has been a Christian and how much integrity he or she has. Also, the fact that a believer is a leader in a church or denomination is no guarantee of integrity. In fact, there may be a negative correlation between the importance of his office and how much integrity he has. Of course, there are notable exceptions in both instances.

By integrity I mean the same quality of personality that the world means by integrity: truthfulness, honesty, faithfulness, dependability, the keeping of one’s word.

It appears to me that the Christian churches, to a great extent, place more value on religious activities and "success" than they do on personal integrity.

How unusual is it for a pastor or evangelist to lie to the government about how much money he receives?

I personally know of an instance where a pastor gave money to the secretary of another church so he could claim it as a deductible contribution. He gave it with the understanding that she would give it back to him. I don’t believe he regarded this as anything unusual or an act to be ashamed of. As I recall, the secretary refused to participate in his scheme.

In our own area, several pastors purchased computers without paying the sales tax. They told the vendor (inaccurately) since they represented churches they did not have to pay the sales tax. Finally the tax board found out about it and demanded the sales taxes that were owed. When the vendor went to the pastors they refused to give him the money.

I am afraid this sort of conduct is not unusual.

How many Christian real estate agents swindle people? How many Christian loan officers encourage borrowers to lie on their statement of earnings?

How much cruelty and robbery did the Catholic Church engage in over the last several hundred years?

Recently a prominent television evangelist was sent to prison because of his behavior. Since then I believe this man has repented sincerely. God says when we turn from our wickedness and practice righteousness, our wickedness will not be mentioned.

But from what I have seen, there is precious little integrity in the Christian churches.

One church I know of had a spirit of stealing in it. The Communion table was stolen, apparently by a member of the congregation. When an elder told me this he was chuckling. Locks were put on the telephones because people without authorization were using them.

How many television preachers have raised money under false pretenses, robbing widows so the evangelist could invest in real estate?

How much political chicanery goes on among the officers of denominations? From what I have heard, there is just as much jockeying for position and fraud as there is in the United States government.

One pastor of a large Pentecostal church made a practice of driving to the scene of accidents so he could take pictures of the carnage. This was his hobby.

A good deal of fornication takes place in Bible schools. Parents of students in Christian colleges put pressure on the professors to give their children good grades, using the principle of "grace."

I know personally where a young minister attended a ministerial conference for the first time. He was shocked at the ungodly talk that went on. An older minister advised him not to attend if he couldn’t "handle it."

Another pastor told me that some of the ministers of his local association did not believe in God.

How about the practice of planting someone in the congregation so when the appeal is made for money he will stand and say: "I will give a thousand dollars!"?

How about the practice of installing ceiling vents so air forced through them will imitate the sound of the Holy Spirit?

How about the evangelist that comes through town and fornicates with someone’s wife or daughter?

Swindling, politics, striving for advantage, robbery, lying, hatred, treachery, immorality—all abound among the people and their leaders. Then they drive around with their bumper stickers reading: "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven." Ha ha ha.

Let me tell you, there are many who know of it and do not care? They take it for granted this is how Christians behave.

Somehow the concept has entered Christian thinking, perhaps especially in the leadership, that integrity is not important. What is important is power, money, fame, popularity, success—identical to that which is important among the unsaved.

How can this be? It exists because neither the Catholic nor the Protestant leaders understand the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. They think it is some kind of belief system that is not related to behavior. Oh they talk about righteous behavior, but they do not really believe it is necessary.

Does the Catholic leadership truly believe if people know they can sin, and then come and have the priest forgive them, that they ever are going to change? It appears to me that it is easier to say ten "Our Fathers" than it is to resist the temptation to fornicate.

Does the Protestant leadership actually believe when a believer fornicates God sees only the moral purity of Christ? He doesn’t even have to say ten "Our Fathers"; so perhaps the Catholic demands are more rigorous.

As I see it, this is not clear thinking on the part of the Christian leadership. It makes them appear to be placing something ahead of the actual moral transformation of the believer, which is the objective of the program of salvation..

It is just as Jesus described the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the Jews. They are ignorant of God. They are as green turf covering every kind of worm and creeping creature. The Christian organizations sometimes inveigh against abortion and homosexuality while they live for their own pleasure and aggrandizement.

Are there exceptions? Are there any Christians with integrity?

Indeed there are wonderful exceptions! We think of the Catholic and Protestant missionaries who have given their lives on foreign fields. Many have been rewarded with death for their efforts to help the needy. Oh yes, there are marvelous exceptions, both Catholic and Protestant.

But by and large in American Christianity we are in sore need of a revival of old-fashioned integrity.

Today there are many thousands of Christian young people in America who are holding conventions where they spend their time fasting and praying for a revival of repentance in America. They are ignorant of the hypocrisy in the churches. I hope something happens in America before these who are so pure of heart (some of them from our own church) find out what actually takes place in the denominations and lose their faith in God. Or what is worse, grow cynical and become partakers of this lack of integrity.

We may overlook this baseness that exists among us, excusing it as "That is just the way it is!" while we go about our business as usual. But I tell you God is not excusing it. He is calling His saints forward.

The trumpets are sounding today. Moses, Aaron, and the princes of Judah, so to speak, are in the vanguard. The singers and dancers are worshiping the Lord. The cloud and the fire are moving toward the land of promise. Israel is to press forward.

But there are many stragglers, and these shall be picked off by the enemy, just as happened to the stragglers when Israel struggled through the wilderness.

He who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly.

Don’t you be one of the stragglers. Cast aside the scornfulness and cynicism that abound in the churches. Take up your cross and follow the Master. There is no lack of integrity in Him! He is not a partaker of this Christian-church wickedness.

In that Day you will rejoice in your portion. But the cynics of today, those who are at ease in Zion, pursuing their slippery ways, will find themselves in a dry land. God is not finding their antics amusing!

In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever. (Psalms 41:12)

A World Without Sin—Think what the world would be like if there were no Satan, no rebellious angels, no demons. Think what the world would be like if in addition to the absence of evil spirits the whole earth was filled with the Glory of the Lord. Imagine what it would be like to have the whole earth filled with the Spirit of God? Try to picture what the world would be like if no sin of any kind was practiced. Would you like to live here?

The Bible tells us, in the Book of Daniel, that God is going to put an end to sin. This may be difficult for us to believe, but it is true. God knew, when He permitted Satan to tempt Eve and Adam, what would happen. The Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world.

The Apostle Paul declared that we wrestle against wicked spiritual lords in heavenly places. It seems to us that this wrestling match will go on forever. But it won’t! The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us that in the last days, before the Lord appears, Satan will be overcome and cast down from his position in the heavens.

Paul tells us that the physical world is awaiting the revealing of the sons of God, at which time it will be released from the bondage of corruption.

The Old Testament promises that the Glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and that nothing will harm people anymore.

Our tradition says that Christ is coming to carry His Church to Heaven, where we will live for eternity. The concept is that the earth always will be filled with evil and is not worth saving.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The nations of the earth are Christ’s, and our, inheritance. The farthest reaches of the earth are His and our possession.

The redemption of earth’s people and the earth itself is the center of God’s intention. There is no passage of the Bible that supports the the teaching that the Lord will return in order to carry His Church to Heaven. Rather the Lord is coming with His saints to establish His Kingdom, the doing of His will, on the earth. This is totally different from the current concept, but it is absolutely scriptural.

The question is, what do you and I really desire? If there were no Satan, no rebellious angels, no demons provoking us to sin, would you rather live on the earth or in the spirit realm?

Suppose the whole earth were filled with the Glory of God. Would you rather live on the earth or in the spirit realm?

Suppose everyone on the earth lived, moved, and had his or her being in the Holy Spirit, would you rather live on the earth or in the spirit realm, in Heaven?

Suppose no sin of any kind, not even your sin or my sin, were practiced on the earth, would you rather live on the earth or in the spirit realm?

Suppose the Lord Jesus Christ were King in Jerusalem and the saints were governing the nations of the earth, would you rather live on the earth or in the spirit realm?

Are you sure you want to live forever in Heaven?

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

Seventy "seven" 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)

Obedience to God—Christ was tested in the area of obedience to God. He learned obedience while living here through the things He suffered. Christ had no sinful nature; yet He still had to learn and be made perfect in obedience. This tells us there is a force apart from the sinful nature that has to be dealt with.

There are three basic areas of sin: love for the world spirit and trust in it for survival and security; the appetites and lusts of our personality; and self-will and personal ambition.

Christ while in the wilderness was tested in all three areas. Every son of God is tested in all three areas.

Choosing trust in the Lord rather than in the world is a fundamental decision, isn’t it? We choose whether we are going to look to the Lord for our needs or to the world. If we decide to trust in our ability to work hard in the world and survive in this manner, then it is not possible for us to inherit the Kingdom of God; for the promise is that if we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all that is necessary will be added to us.

So victory in the first area is a matter of whom or what we trust for our survival and security.

The Lord Jesus appeared to have no trouble with this. He derived His survival and security from His close walk with His Father.

The Bible says Christ was tempted in all points like as we, yet without sin. So we know He was tested in the area of the sins of the flesh. But remember: Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He did not inherit a sinful nature. So His knowledge of the Scriptures, plus the guidance of the Spirit of God, enabled Him to pass through the world without yielding to the sins of the flesh.

The one area of behavior in which Christ was instructed while on the earth was that of obedience to God. The Bible says He learned obedience; He was made perfect in obedience through the things He suffered.

Now here is a remarkable thing. We know we are to be baptized in water, signifying that we have turned away from the world and now are going to enter the Kingdom of God.

We know the Holy Spirit will guide and empower us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.

But here is a third area of sin, which we do not overcome by just deciding to leave the world or by putting to death through the Spirit the deeds of our sinful nature. It is the area of stern, complete obedience to the Father.

The problem in dealing with the third area, the area of obedience, is that it is too close to what we are. How can we with our self-will cast out our self-will? Every effort we make leads only to a strengthening of our self-will?

Evidently self-will must be dealt with in the earth, for it is certain Christ existed for an inconceivable period of time prior to His time on the earth; yet He learned obedience in the earth.

Because self cannot cast out self, God must take over at this point. If we have chosen to come out of the world and trust God, and then have looked to the Spirit and cooperated with Him in the destruction of the acts of our sinful nature, we are rewarded by having God destroy our self-seeking nature.

God attacks our self-centeredness by placing us in various prisons and crucifies us on various crosses. God denies us for long periods of time the most intense desires of our nature. God places us in situations that are painful and detestable. He often uses Satan to put these pressures on us, as He did in the case of Job and the Apostle Paul.

It is right here that the future rulers are appointed. If we are willing to submit to the denial of our most intense hopes, we are given the crown of life, the authority and power to govern by the power of eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.

But if we are not willing to remain in the prison or on the cross of pain and denial, then it is not possible for us to rule with Christ. This is because it is the prisons and crucifixions that destroy our self-will and self-centeredness. God cannot entrust the power of the Kingdom into the hands of an individual until God is absolutely certain of this person’s unswerving obedience to God’s slightest wish.

The Pentecostal-Charismatic people are at this fork in the road. The one path invites us to find out ways of using Christ to accomplish our goals—even religious goals. The other path demands that we give back to Christ all of our gifts and ministries, and wait in the darkness for Him. We must never light fires and then walk in the light of our own fires! We wait, wait, wait until God gives us the desires of our heart.

People will say, "God helps those who help themselves. Come down off the wall and we will advise you. If you are a son of God, come down from the cross and prove it; jump from the roof and see if God will help you. Step out and do great things for God. Sons of God, march forward. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. God has told you in the Bible to go to all nations—now do it!"

And here we sit on the roof with the seagulls. Here we hang on the cross with the criminals, our testimony in tatters. No God! No joy! No hope! Just darkness.

How did Abraham feel as he walked toward Moriah with Isaac?

How did Job feel when they gave him the news about the loss of his family and possessions?

How did Joseph feel when he was rewarded for his righteous stand by being thrown into a dungeon?

How did Jesus feel in Gethsemane when He faced the prospect of spending eternity in the hands of demons while covered with the filth of the sins of the world?

The Book of Lamentations is now our meat. We know only too well what Jeremiah was referring to.

The Bible advises us that hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.

Abraham is in Glory surrounded by his children.

Job came back to life and all was restored to him.

Joseph became lord over Egypt.

Jesus now possesses all authority and power in Heaven, on the earth, and over the dark regions below the earth’s surface. Jesus has far more than Satan offered him, because He has the hearts of His subjects.

Obedience to God is forged in the fires of denial and suffering; in darkness and dread; in the memories of joys once experienced and now vanished seemingly forever; in what was once warm, secure, comfortable, smashed into pieces. While God remains inscrutable, unknowable, indefinable.

We are in the belly of the whale for a season. When we come forth we obey God, and because the smell of death is on us we are a far greater testimony than before.

Those who ride with the Lord in the invasion of the earth have to be called to this honor. Then they have to be chosen on the basis of their response to their calling. Finally they have to be proven faithful through every kind of painful, perplexing, demeaning experience. They have to be dragged through the mud for awhile.

But God is instantly aware of every tear, every doubt, every longing that rends the soul.

It is only for the briefest of moments. He hides His face for a little while. Then He turns to us again, and now the new Jerusalem is in sight.

God never has abandoned His faithful ones. He won’t betray you or me. So let us press on, carrying our cross behind the Master, until the day breaks and the sun rises on a scene so breathtakingly glorious that only God and His angels can bear the sight of it in the present hour.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered And, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8,9)

A Painful Operation—As far as I can tell, the Ten Commandments cover every kind of sin. Writing them on our heart and mind, in their eternal form, is an operation. All operations are painful. The flesh must be made the Word.

The Ten Commandments seem to cover all bases, don’t they?

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

Honor your father and your mother, so you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Giving false testimony takes care of lying. Immorality and violence are covered. Obedience to authority is mentioned. Stealing and coveting are included.

We obey the Sabbath commandment by regarding every day as holy, not seeking our own pleasure but how to obey the Lord that day. This is a far more demanding commandment than that of setting aside one day for the Lord.

These ten commandments are drawn from the eternal moral law of God. The eternal moral law of God existed prior to the Law of Moses and will endure throughout eternity, for it is what God is in Character.

The eternal moral law of God is written in the conscience of man.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word, the eternal moral law of God, in the form of flesh and bones.

As soon as we have our sins forgiven through faith in the blood atonement, are baptized in water, are born again by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit begins the work of writing the eternal moral law of God in our mind, so we will understand it, and in our heart so we will perform it.

Writing the law of God in our mind and heart is an operation, and most operations are painful.

Having no other God is the first commandment. We by nature have many gods. Some of them are our relationships with people. Some of them are things, such as houses or cars. Some of them are situations, such as various forms of pleasure. We do not realize it but we worship these idols.

Many Americans idolize their children, for example. It is easy to worship people.

The work of the new covenant is to put all of these idols beneath our feet. If God leaves them with us to enjoy, fine. If he removes them, fine. It only matters that God is worshiped.

We are not to create something and worship it. Sometimes a person with a talent will focus his or her life on perfecting a talent, such as in music, or art, or some form of athletics or gymnastics. If God perceives that the talent is taking His place, He may remove it. If our heart is right in God’s sight, we keep on worshiping God. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.

We do not use the name of Christ or God unless we mean what we are saying. Profanity is the language of demons. To be bound by profanity is to have fellowship with demons. God wants our speech under our control at all times. The mark of the mature Christian is found in the things he says, the way he says them, and the occasions on which he chooses to speak.

To live in the eternal Sabbath is to live as Jesus eternally does, thinking nothing, saying nothing, doing nothing except that which is coming from the Father. We are to be in this relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to think, say, and do nothing apart from Him. It takes a considerable amount of experience to make headway in the Sabbath rest.

We Christians are to honor authority, beginning with our mother and father and extend our respect to all duly constituted authority. As in all God’s commandments, we have to seek the wisdom of God in obeying those who have been placed in authority over us. God does not want us victimized by unsaved grandparents who make selfish demands on us, or ungodly governments that want us to do something against God’s will. The Holy Spirit will give us wisdom to keep this and all other commandments.

The prohibition against murder extends to hatred, vengeance, violence, unforgiveness. All forms of hatred are contrary to the Nature of God. God dwells in love and is Love. When we are injured we are to bring it to the notice of God. God will avenge us in righteousness. We are to be free in our spirit to sing and rejoice in the Presence of the Lord, not bowed down with bitterness and hatred.

It is God who instituted sexual intercourse. He expects people to honor Him by living together decently in marriage. There is no quicker way to destroy the very fiber of one’s character than to engage in immoral conduct. We are surrounded with demons of lust, at least in America. To resist these filthy spirits requires enormous and constant prayer and dedication to the Lord Jesus.

It is not easy, but it is possible to resist the spirits of lust. I think the Spirit is saying in the future it will be not only difficult but impossible to resist the spirits of lust. We have to take our stand now if we are to be protected in the future.

We are not to steal. We are never to improve our own situation at the expense of another person. God will not have in His Kingdom someone who gain his own joy by bringing misery to another.

Gossip and slander are actions worthy of death, according to the Apostle Paul. Yet they are common behaviors in the American Christian churches. This is because "grace" has been preached rather than the destruction of the sinful nature. We need to change what we are preaching and believing, because the sins of Christians are bringing judgment on our nations.

We are to be content with what we have and not comparing ourselves with others. Part of the technique of advertising in the United States is to imply if we do not have what others possess we are not getting that which rightfully is ours. We are not to covet what anyone else possesses but to be content with what God provides for us.

The value placed on material wealth in America is destroying the spiritual life of the country. It is true that we are the envy of the world, consuming most of the natural resources of the planet on which billions of people are attempting to survive.

God sees this disparity very clearly. If we were wise, and wished to avoid destruction, we would be sharing our material blessings with the rest of the world. I understand the problems of politics, transportation, ignorance, and so forth. I realize if we just hand out money or food it will be stolen by the leaders of the impoverished nations.

I understand all this. I know also that if we had the will to do it we would find a way. We do not hesitate to spend billions on war. I do not say these expenditures are not necessary for our survival. But we are having to spend the billions on war and destruction now, because prior to this time we did not spend it on aid to the impoverished.

America has been helpful in charitable works, but not nearly helpful enough when we consider the inequity that exists.

However, God’s concern is with us as an individual. Are we willing to submit to the painful surgery necessary to carve God’s moral laws into our minds and hearts.? The love of the world must go. Our yielding to the lusts of our sinful nature must go. Our self-will and self-centeredness must go. We must become the Word of God.

We, creatures formed from the dust of the ground, must go under the knife of the Divine Surgeon until our flesh and bones become the Word of God in physical form. God will not be satisfied with our condition until the work has been done to His satisfaction. Then He will be our God and we will be His people.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)

What Would Adam and Eve Have Done—There is no evidence that the Holy Spirit dwelled in Adam and Eve. We know Christ did not dwell in them nor did they have a sinful nature. They had been created in the image of God and charged with multiplying and with exercising dominion over nature. Would they have sinned if Satan had not entered the garden? Would they ever have known the difference between good and evil had they not eaten of that tree?

Maybe it doesn’t interest you to think about things like this, but it does me.

Adam and Eve had no inherited sinful nature as we do. God said everything He had made was very good; so we know Adam and Eve were not created with a sinful nature.

There is no evidence that the Spirit of God dwelled in Adam and Eve. Certainly Christ did not dwell in them

God proclaimed that He made man in His image, according to His likeness. I don’t really understand this. If Adam was made in the likeness of God, and we are descended from Adam, then we should be in the image of God, according to His likeness.

Yet in Romans we read that God predestined His elect to be conformed to the image of Christ. Isn’t everyone descended from Adam in the image of God? Apparently not. So we need to think about this, don’t we?

I know Jesus told some of the Jews that they were of their father, the devil, and they did his works.

We know also that the enemy came and sowed his own seed in God’s field. This is a mystery to us.

How were Adam and Eve in God’s image, in His likeness?

Well, they certainly did not reveal the righteousness, holiness, or obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is the very Image of God.

Does it mean they were potentially in the image of God? That unlike the angels, they could be fashioned into the image of God and become the dwelling place of God?

We realize, if we have followed the Lord for any period of time, the amount of work that must be done in our personality before we begin to show forth the personality of Christ.

Well, Adam and Eve did not have the Holy Spirit, as far as I can tell, although the Lord God did walk in the Garden of Eden. They had not been born again of the Spirit; Christ had not been formed in them. The Father and the Son had not made Their abode in them. The body and blood of Christ were not available to them.

They did not have the Ten Commandments or the Spirit of God to guide their behavior.

Did they have a conscience? My guess would be that they did, although they were not conscious of being naked until they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the eternal moral law of God.

So here we have two human beings, with an anatomy and physiology like our own, fashioned from the dust of the ground. They had no sinful nature, nor did they have a Bible or any instruction in righteousness, other than to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Would they eventually have eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil if Satan had not seduced them? Probably so. They did not realize the fearful consequences of disobeying God.

But what if they had eaten of the Tree of Life, thus gaining immortality in their bodies, and then had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? They would have been immortal rebels against God. They would be living on the earth in the present hour, alienated from the Presence of God.

So God really was wise, wasn’t He, in tricking Satan into seducing the two people to make their move of disobedience before they became immortal sinners, incapable of being redeemed. As always, Satan does good while he is attempting to destroy.

Would they ever have understood the difference between good and evil if they had not eaten of the tree? Perhaps not. What a mess that would have been. They could have engaged in outrageous sin and never realized what they were doing.

So all in all, God knew from the beginning what He was doing. The Lamb was slain from the beginning of the world. God has permitted sin to proliferate in the earth so in due time He could send the Antibody, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is able to immunize us against the poison of sin.

We may imagine the problem of sin is settled by our going to Heaven. It isn’t. Sin began in Heaven. The only immunization against sin is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is here on the earth that we are immunized against sin.

We have seen the destructive consequences of sin; so have the angels of God. Satan has been totally discredited. Through the blood of Christ on the cross we have been forgiven our sin. Through the body and blood of Christ we have been immunized against sin.

One day there will come down through the new sky the city of God. It will be composed of saints who have been immunized against sin. The city will be installed for eternity on a high mountain of the wonderful new earth.

The immunized saints will govern all the works of God’s hands for ever and ever. The poison of sin will have been removed for eternity. The great rebellion has come to an end, and the rebels have been confined in the darkness where they belong so they no longer can bring their corruption into the new world of righteousness.

Yes, although we can’t always recognize His wisdom, God knows exactly what He is doing!

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)

What Do You Really Want?—If you were to sit down and make a list of everything you want, even what you want in Heaven, what would be on that list? If while you made your list you have been honest and not constrained by some sort of duty, you may find your list to be very revealing. Ask God what He thinks of your list, and to change the items that will not bring you eternal joy.

When we have been denying ourselves for some while, trying to please the Lord year after year without thinking of what we want, it is almost impossible to come up with a list of things we desire. It is an occupational hazard of being a disciple, I guess. Perhaps this is what the Lord means by losing our first love.

The Christian life, which ought to be a skipping on the mountains of spices, becomes a drudgery. There are good reasons for this.

The Lord will let this sort of slavery continue for a season while some things are being worked out of our personality, but there does come an end. There arrives a time when the Lord is ready to give us the desires of our heart.

I suppose most Christians know of the verse in Philippians that says God will supply all our needs. In fact, I heard one preacher say that God has promised to supply our needs but not our desires.

But he was incorrect in this. In the thirty-seventh Psalm the Lord promised that if we would delight ourselves in Him He would give us the desires of our heart. In another place the statement is made that in God’s Presence there is fullness of joy. At His right hand there are pleasures for eternity. You can’t have fullness of joy if there still is something you desire.

Religion can become a miserable business producing miserable people. There is a psychologic price to pay for being denied what we desire over a long period of time. Only the stoutest saints can remain in prison for many years and not develop the personality of a prisoner.

After you have suffered a while, God will establish you, Peter claims.

Perhaps in this life; perhaps in the next; the cross will be lifted from our shoulder. We need to be prepared for this. It requires faith to receive good from God’s hand just as it requires faith to receive pain from God’s hand.

God is not pleased when He wants to give us something good, and we, because of our self-pity, or hardness of heart, or whatever, refuse to accept it.

I have seen Christians, and so have you, who are no fun to be around. They are full of the Word, perhaps, but not full of the Holy Spirit. They have a doctrinaire attitude that is repulsive. But you can’t tell them that. They are positive they are correct and that is the end of that.

Yes, we go to the dens of leopards and are scratched until we are sore. But God heals us in a moment and we can sing and dance on the heights of Zion.

I never argue doctrine with anyone. It is against my religion. I will go to any lengths to give my bread to the needy; but when people want to argue I turn away. Nothing good comes of arguing doctrine, although many would disagree with me on this.

The poised believer, even though he has been through many fires, can always tell God what he desires. His heart is trusting, like a child. He knows that God has chastened him soundly so he might be acceptable in the courts of the Lord. He does not hold this fact against God. There is no self-pity in him. There is no anger against God or people in him. He is ready to be blessed. He knows he will receive his heart’s desire sooner or later. His treasures are in Heaven and they are safe there until his hour comes.

Do this: Let your requests be made known to God, in the meanwhile offering thanks. Don’t ask in terms of what you think is reasonable, practical, or possible. Get some romance in your bones. Consider the heavens and realize the power of the One you are addressing.

Music and poetry come from God. He delights in the beautiful. He takes His handful of water vapor and creates a sunset. His creation is full of marvels. His Glory fills the earth.

We haven’t moved mountains with our word as yet, at least most of us haven’t. But the promise is there and I believe it. I believe to see the trees clapping their hands and to hear the rocks praising God. Can dead nature come alive? I think so. Can the lion eat straw like the ox? I think so. Is it possible to walk on the water? I think so. Peter thought so.

But let’s be practical and reasonable, shall we? Of course. It is practical and reasonable to get our needed money from the mouth of a fish. It is practical and reasonable to direct the sun to stand still, as long as the Lord is with us in it.

I know Jesus has fun and a tremendous sense of humor. I know God has a child’s heart. Our problem is we become adults, and then we misinterpret God’s motives and actions.

So, battle-weary saint, get ready for some of those wonders that have not entered the heart of man to imagine. Forget the past. It is over, You have survived to this point. Now sit down a make a list of your heart’s desires. Then hold it up to the Lord. If something on your list will not bring you eternal joy, God will change your heart. Trust Him. Give thanks. Your Father has brought you grief. Now let Him bring you joy.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:4)

An Inheritance of People—The only inheritance worth having, relatively speaking, is people. In the second Psalm the Father invited the Word, Christ, to ask for the nations as His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. We are coheirs with Christ!

There have been different representations of Heaven. Perhaps the most common thought is that we will receive a mansion (based on an archaic translation of John 14:2). Some have mentioned golden streets (based on the description of the new Jerusalem). Usually angels are included.

We hope to see our loved ones again, and I think we shall, based on the passages that speak of individuals being gathered to their people.

Ordinarily we picture a glorified nature, with flowers, trees, and mountains. There will be no more sickness, sorrow or death (based on the description of the earth during the Kingdom Age, and also the new earth after the Kingdom Age).

Such representations of Heaven certainly are understandable, given the tribulations of the present life. We long for a better world where there are no problems, no pain, no worry, no dread, no fear, no tiredness, sickness, or death.

However, we usually do not think of people as being our inheritance. Yet God invited Jesus to pray that He might inherit the nations (nations Jesus Himself had created).

The truth is that since we are coheirs with the Lord Jesus, the people of the nations of the earth are our inheritance also.

Last Sunday night in church we viewed the people of Cambodia who are becoming Christians. As I looked at their faces I realized that there, in Cambodia, is a rich inheritance for someone whom God chooses as heir.

We do not understand why people are such a valuable inheritance until we become mature enough in Christ to experience His love for people.

There are many nations, races, and tribes that it appears no one has claimed as yet. The entire Muslim world, for example. Here are these people who have been taught that if they will just kill Jews, they can be assured of going to Paradise and receiving seventy dancing girls, or something like this. Many of these Muslims, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, are excellent people, well worth inheriting.

I have been noticing the faces of the Kurds who have been shown in the media. You can tell they are the kind of people you would enjoy knowing. But no one has been able to bring them to Jesus.

In order to inherit people you can’t just go out and make proselytes of them to your religion. God has to give them to you.

What I am suggesting in this briefest of articles is that you, the reader, begin to pray that God will give you an inheritance of people. Be prepared to have your heart broken. Be prepared to give your life. And be prepared when you enter eternity to be surrounded by these people whom you have inherited.

We talk about golden slippers, backyards filled with diamonds, ten-story mansions, and all the rest of this nonsense. People who have great wealth in this world are plagued with all sorts of problems, because this world is under the curse of God due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

When the rich die they can bring nothing with them. Also their soul is threadbare. They are not prepared to meet God. They have laid up no treasures in Heaven. They are placed somewhere to wait for the Day of Judgment and the reward they will receive from the hands of Jesus Christ.

I know we tell them if they will just "accept Christ" they will go into a glorious world when they die. We are lying to them just as the leaders of the Muslims are lying to their followers. They are not lying deliberately, they themselves have been taught a lie. So it is true when we tell the Americans they do not have to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus, we are lying to them. All they need do, we announce, is make a profession of belief in Christ and they will go to their mansion in Heaven when they die. We do not tell them they will have no inheritance of people, no treasures of genuine value.

We have been taught a lie and we are passing it on to our listeners.

The wise thing to do is to go to God right now and ask for an inheritance of people. God will hear you. From that point forward make certain you obey the Lord completely in all He guides you to do. Eventually your prayer will be answered.

You may never see the people until you die. Your place may be to remain faithful in prayer, or giving, or exercising whatever gift the Lord has given you. Or God may send you directly to the particular people. God will do His part and you must do yours.

Then, when you die, you will receive your inheritance. You have laid up treasures in Heaven. They will come to you, for you have become their father or mother.

There is no other inheritance, other than God Himself, that can compare with the inheritance of people. You and Jesus will share this wealth for eternity.

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalms 2:7,8)

Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:4,5)

Praying for the Holy Spirit—The Lord Jesus invited us to pray that we might receive the Holy Spirit. I am afraid we who belong to the Pentecostal movement believe once we speak in tongues we have all of the Holy Spirit God wants to give us. I do not believe this is the case.

Sunday night at church we were watching a film clip about Cambodia. A remarkable revival is taking place there in the present hour. The narrator made a comment that struck me. I don’t remember the exact word, but the gist of it was that people were responsible for the Cambodian revival about as much as they were responsible for the sun coming up in the morning. He was pointing out that the revival was of God, not something that man had produced.

One time I heard Pat Robertson preach on "no sweat." He was referring to the fact that the priests of Israel were not to wear garments that caused them to perspire. Brother Robertson recounted the astounding propagation of the Gospel that had occurred under his ministry, and how the work was of God, not of Pat Robertson. I know preachers says this sort of thing in an effort to appear humble.

But in the two cases above it was not a case of a minister being demure when everyone including himself believed the work actually was done by his abilities. The Cambodian revival and the work of Pat Robertson extends far beyond the efforts of people, although the people involved obeyed the Lord’s directions.

Who accomplished the Cambodian renewal? Who provided the increase in the case of Pat Robertson? The Holy Spirit—the all-powerful Spirit of God.

This started me thinking. I went back to the parable in Luke where the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray. Jesus taught them to pray for the Holy Spirit.

Those of us who have read of the revivals of the past have become aware of what the Holy Spirit can do. Yet we seem to never get the message. We work hard and attempt to do what the Holy Spirit can do with ease. We ought to work hard and do whatever is in front of us to do. But I think we need to pray more earnestly for an increased amount of the Holy Spirit. I know I do!

We have a major problem in Pentecost. We have taught people that when they can speak in tongues they have the Holy Spirit. I don’t think we have been quite as clear that we need to continue to pray for the Holy Spirit that God will move on the earth where revival is needed.

There are so many fields that are ready for harvest, and we need to pray, as the Lord instructed us, for workers to enter the work of harvesting.

However, there is another prayer that the Lord Jesus emphasized, and that is prayer for the Holy Spirit.

What the Lord illustrated in His parable is a kind of prayer we are not accustomed to. It is a prayer that we keep on praying until we receive the answer. It is bold prayer, persistent prayer, never-ending prayer.

I have seen enough of the Lord’s palace to know this does not mean we come into His Presence in a rude, demanding manner. There is such a thing as palace etiquette. Rather we come with thanksgiving and praise; and then courteously, but with steel determination, present once again our petition for more of the Holy Spirit.

This constant dripping is like the Chinese water torture. I hope I do not appear irreverent when I say it puts a burr under God’s saddle. "There is always this individual who is asking Me for the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name. How long am I going to be bothered by this?

"He is my friend, but that is not enough reason for Me to get out of bed, unlock the door, and give him what he wants. But I can’t get any sleep! I keep hearing him pleading with Me for more of the Spirit so he can minister to those who need eternal life.

"If I am to get any sleep, any rest at all, I am going to have to get up and give him what he is requesting."

What did God say? "Ask, and you shall receive."

What did God say? "Seek, and you shall find."

What did God say? "Knock, and it shall be opened to you.

Who said these things? God. Who guarantees their fulfillment? God.

As we pray we keep pressing further into God’s will. It is not a dry repetition like a Tibetan prayer wheel. It is an involvement with God, like Jacob wrestling with the angel. If God can get us to quit He will attempt to do so. But there is something about this wrestling with God. It is as though on one level God wants us to stop asking; and on another level He wants us to keep asking.

This doesn’t make any sense to you? Perhaps not. But it is what the parable is teaching us.

If we can be put off easily, we are not determined enough for God to go to the effort of helping us. Also, in the process of seeking we ourselves are changed and drawn further into the will of God. "Find Me here!" God draws back. "Find Me here!" God draws back. "Find Me here!"

Pretty soon it becomes apparent how determined we are to receive more of the Holy Spirit.

Sometime people are afraid to seek God this earnestly. They are afraid they will receive something from Satan, or go insane, or otherwise lose control of their lives.

This will not happen. If you are seeking more of God, and God sees something in your personality that is potentially harmful, He will guide you in such a manner that you will have the opportunity for deliverance.

The danger is not in seeking God persistently. The danger is in not seeking God persistently and continuing to live in the bondages of the adamic nature. Instead of laying hold on God and receiving His treasures we have been content to spend our life grubbing in the mud for enough money to satisfy our needs. We were born an animal, lived as an animal, and will perish as an animal. We missed our opportunity to become a child of God.

America is a very dangerous culture for the individual who wishes to enter the riches of God. Material wealth is a substitute for God. Material wealth is the only god that Jesus mentioned as being a problem to us, saying, "You cannot serve God and money."

Our culture is based on material wealth and a steady cash flow. We just can’t escape from it, most of us, without fleeing to a more primitive culture. And thus we are robbed of the one chance we have to become acquainted with the riches of God.

Actually we don’t have to move geographically. But we do have to gather what strength we have and determine to spend time each day seeking the Lord. As we pray for time and strength to pray, we will receive time to pray and more strength in prayer. There really is no limitation placed on the Christian who is willing to tear himself or herself away from the latest cell phone, the plasma television, and the wireless laptop computer, and make seeking the Lord his or her highest priority.

The treasures of Heaven are waiting for those who are wise enough to turn away from the enticements of the world and beseech God persistently for more of the Holy Spirit. Church history contains many accounts of individuals who have sought God and received mighty answers.

Maybe you are going to be the next person to put the kind of pressure on God that results in an anointing that brings eternal life to a multitude of people.

Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, "Because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ "Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ "I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs. "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? "Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:5-13)

Words Are Important—We Americans tend on the whole to be people of action. This may be a carryover from the pioneer days. Many of us do not believe just because something has been said clearly or elegantly anything has been accomplished. This may be somewhat different from other more philosophical cultures. Nevertheless, the Bible insists words are important in themselves.

It seems to me the New Testament places an emphasis on words beyond what I would expect. The Lord Jesus said people will have to give an account in the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. This statement is almost unbelievable. In fact, if God Himself had not said it, I would not believe it. Would you? Every careless word?

How many careless words have we spoken in our lifetime? By careless words I means words that are not really saying anything. We just enjoy talking for the sake of talking. It reminds me of the latest advertisements for cell phone programs where we are advised to talk, talk, talk. We don’t have to say anything of significance, just talk, talk, talk.

James said the tongue is set on fire from Hell. In America, one of our prized rights is the right to say whatever we feel like saying. This is certainly not a Christian value. The Bible advises us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. When we get to jabbering away, the first thing you know we have said something we wish we hadn’t. Is that the truth?

From my limited experience, I would say that the mature spiritual person is distinguished by his or her lack of meaningless talk.

What we say is important, no doubt about that. One of the important acts of salvation has to do with the confession we make concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus told us by our words we would be acquitted and by our words we would be condemned.

The conclusion of all this is that words are important. I am not one who subscribes to the voguish "you get whatever you say," or "the creative word." There may be truth in this trend, but I don’t see it in the Word. I don’t see Paul or Peter speaking "the word of faith" or advising us to do so.

The problem with this kind of emphasis is it puts man in the driver’s seat. We have a lot of little Jesuses running around working miracles, instead of the one Lord Jesus Christ living in His branches, all of them subservient to Him.

Some years back I came to the conclusion that the False Prophet, of Revelation, Chapter Thirteen, consists of those Christians who seek the power of Christ but who speak with the voice of the dragon. It is all about what they are going to do, not what Christ is going to do.

Antichrist comes out of the sea, that is, out of the mass of mankind. The False Prophet comes out of the earth, that is, out of the soul of man.

We are in a day when Christians are becoming increasingly knowledgeable of the opportunities there are for metaphysical power. They are attempting to use Christ as the means of success in the present world. This is the very opposite of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

We are not to use Christ, He is to use us according to His own will. We are not partners of Christ, we are part of Christ. Satan wants to be like God but not part of God.

Jesus Christ is looking for those today who will take all of their gifts, and their very life, and lay all at Jesus’ feet. By so doing they may lose their popularity, their ministry, and even the fellowship of those who believe we are to take what we have and go forth to "save a lost and dying world." (The lost and dying I am concerned about are the Christians in America who have been fed on the current traditions until they are a long way from Christ!)

The only words of faith we are to be speaking are the requests that we make to the Lord Jesus, knowing that He will answer them in His own way and His own time. We have faith in Christ, not faith in the words we speak.

So no, I am not referring to the voguish "creative words" or "words of faith." I am referring rather to the words that come from our heart and reveal our true character. The person who has integrity brings forth words that are meaningful and constructive. The person without integrity brings forth words that are devious, harmful, foolish, and useless. Also he or she uses the name of the Lord without actually invoking the Lord, just useless garbage coming from an evil heart.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

By our words we will be justified, and by our words we will be condemned. Let us guard our mouth at all times to insure that God is pleased with everything we say.

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)

God’s Righteousness—God declared several times in the Old Testament that His righteousness would be revealed. In my opinion, we have not understood all that God means by that, and our misunderstanding prevents us from entering the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps the basic premise of Christian thinking, at least Protestant thinking, is that God has assigned to us His own righteousness. (I do not know how Catholic theologians regard this position.) When drawn out to its conclusion, this means our behavior is regrettable, and we must be forgiven through the atonement made on the cross. God, seeing our sinful nature, has declared that He will clothe us with His own righteous state.

We are unrighteous in thought, word, and deed. Under the old covenant, God insisted that the Israelites behave righteously. They were obligated to obey the Ten Commandments.

God now has changed His demands, it is taught. We no longer are required to live righteously. If we place our faith in Jesus Christ, and forget about the Ten Commandments, God will cover us with His own righteousness. God will forever regard us as righteous no matter what we think, say, or do.

This is one understanding, the current view, of the Old Testament prophecy that God will reveal His righteousness.

There is another way of interpreting this prophecy. It is that God will forgive our sins through the blood atonement; God will suspend the Divine judgment on the wickedness in our personality, and then through the authority of the blood atonement, the Virtue of the Lord Jesus Christ given to us through His body and blood, and the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit (all three of which are integral aspects of God’s righteousness), will change us into the moral image of Jesus Christ and bring us into untroubled rest in God’s Person and will.

This means we are not only viewed as righteous, we actually have been made righteous in personality and behavior by receiving into ourselves the righteousness of God’s very Personality and Nature.

Notice that both interpretations rely on the blood atonement for the forgiveness of our sins. Notice that both interpretations offer a suspension of Divine judgment on the wickedness of our personality.

But now we come to the difference in the two viewpoints. The first viewpoint regards the suspension of judgment on the wickedness of our personality as being of eternal duration. This signifies a willingness of God to have fellowship for eternity with people have never have been transformed in thought, word, or deed.

The second viewpoint regards the suspension of judgment on the wickedness of our personality as temporary. It is a device that permits God through Jesus Christ to destroy, over a period of time, the sinful nature that is in us, and to form Christ in us.

No Kingdom of God, no doing of God’s will on the earth, is possible under the first viewpoint. People have sinful natures and always will have sinful natures. God has revealed His righteousness so their sinful behavior no longer can be viewed as sinful.

God has concluded that human beings cannot actually be transformed into righteous behavior. Therefore God has chosen to mercifully overlook our sinful nature, forgive us our sins, and will always regard us as righteous from this time forth and forever..

People lie. God says they are truthful. He has revealed His truthful righteousness.

People fornicate. God says they are morally pure. He has revealed His morally pure holiness.

The believers slander each other. God says they are building up each other. He has revealed His righteous speech, His mercy toward all His creatures.

Christians are dishonest. God says they are honest. He has revealed his honest righteousness.

This is what is preached today, although it is not always drawn out this clearly. Nevertheless, the people understand what is being said. They mean to do well, but there are these fiery temptations which they cannot seem to resist. However, God has revealed His righteousness, so they will go to Heaven in any case.

I cannot understand why Christian leaders cannot see how far off base we are.

Let’s think about the New Testament. How many passages support the first viewpoint? How many passages support the second viewpoint?

A few verses from Paul’s writings can be removed from their contexts and made to appear to support the first viewpoint.

The entire New Testament, from Matthew to the Book of Revelation, supports the second viewpoint. In fact, the entire Bible supports the second viewpoint.

The old covenant writes the moral law of God on tables of stone, and parchment, as well as paper. The new covenant writes the eternal moral law of God on the tables of the heart.

We are teaching that the new covenant is the abandoning of the moral laws of God in favor of believing God regards us as righteous through Jesus Christ.

I ask you: does writing the eternal moral law of God on the tables of our heart sound to you like God has abandoned His moral laws in favor of our believing God regards us as righteous through Jesus Christ? Or does it sound like God is removing His moral laws from stone, where we attempt futilely to obey them, and placing them in our personality where we actually are able to obey them?

If it appears to you that the new covenant is the carving of God’s laws in our heart so we are able to obey them, and is not an abandoning of God’s moral laws in favor of belief in Christ, then you are saying contemporary Christian preaching is destructively unscriptural. God’s determination to form through Jesus Christ new people who behave righteously is being aborted every Sunday, and throughout the week.

We are preaching error. We have misunderstood the Apostle Paul. It is time to get back to God and ask His help until we show forth His righteousness in our behavior.

This is what the LORD says: "Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed. (Isaiah 56:1)

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)

Learning To Play Salvation—I like to compare being saved to learning to play the piano. Someone can give you the gift of a piano, but he can’t give you the ability to play. You have to learn to play the piano. So it is with salvation. God gives you salvation. Now you have to learn to play it.

I have compared the gift of salvation with the gift of a piano in previous writings I thought of it again the other day.

In all my writings I stress that righteous behavior, holiness of personality, and stern obedience to God are an inseparable aspect of the Christian salvation. Some believers immediately take me to task, maintaining that salvation, eternal life, Heaven, are all gifts and we cannot earn them with works.

I agree totally.

Then how can I maintain that there is no salvation apart from righteous behavior, holiness of personality, and stern obedience to God?

Let me explain.

Let’s say someone gives you the gift of a Steinway grand piano. You did not earn this piano. A rich relative gave it to you for Christmas.

There it sits in your front room, a splendid article of furniture. There is the problem, of course, of having to dust it from time to time.

The piano contains in itself, so to speak, the most marvelous compositions of music—sonatas and preludes that would delight the listener. But the piano is mute.

What is required if the sonatas and preludes are to come forth from the piano? I’ll tell you what is required: thousands of hours of backbreaking practice, practice, practice. When other people are doing whatever pleases them, you are hunched over the piano imprinting on your nervous system the sequence of keys that are to be pressed.

When one has mastered a composition there is great pleasure in the performance of it, for the listeners as well as for the pianist.

Now, would you say that the pianist had earned the piano?

No, the piano was a gift.

Would you say that the pianist had earned the ability to play the sonatas of Beethoven?

If you did say this, it would be an unusual way of expressing it. You probably would say that the pianist had gained the ability to play the sonatas by years of study. He didn’t earn it, he gained the ability by studying under a teacher and then by practicing several hours a day.

In a way he earned the ability, but we usually don’t think of it that way.

So it is with the Christian salvation. It is a gift. But if eternal life is to be gained from this gift it must be developed as we sit under the great Teacher, the Holy Spirit, and then practice, practice, practice.

The gift of salvation is much like the gift of a piano. There are people who have had access to a piano for several years, and all they have learned to play is Chopsticks. No one would take the time to sit down and listen to someone play Chopsticks. There is nothing to the piece. It is a harmless little exercise.

Think of it! Years of access to a piano, and never take the time to learn to play it.

So it is in the Christian salvation. There are people who have professed belief in Jesus Christ for many years, but all they can play is Chopsticks. They are pleased to be able to call themselves a Christian, but their gift of salvation has never been developed.

The Bible says eternal life is the gift of God. So it is. But we learn in other places of Paul’s writings that the gift of eternal life is reaped after we have sown to the Spirit; after we have chosen to be the slave of righteousness.

Sometimes an evangelist will say: "If I gave you fifty dollars you would take it. Why won’t you take the gift of salvation?"

The evangelist is trying to "sell" you; so he does not say in order to receive this gift you must turn away from the world, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow the Lord Jesus every day of your life.

I think we are preaching a people-pleasing gospel today. This goes over well with Americans. We like a pill we can take that will keep us from becoming fat. We want an exercise machines we can plug in and it will do the exercising for us without having to exert ourselves.

So if someone comes along and states, "If you will say these particular words you will go to Heaven when you die," the American is apt to take you up on it. This is better than a life insurance policy, because you have to pay the premiums on an insurance policy.

But here nothing is demanded of you. Just say you believe in Jesus Christ and all of Heaven is yours.

I could say I wish it were as easy as that. But I would be wrong in this. If indeed it were as easy as that we would be spending eternity with people who never had been transformed morally; who still were forcing people and situations so they could have pleasure at everyone else’s expense—just like in the churches of today.

In America we have churches filled with self-seeking believers who have been taught they can have everything they want now, and they soon will be carried up to Heaven where they can have everything they want there. It is no wonder we have the kind of behavior among the leaders and the people that we do.

In the day in which we live the Holy Spirit is looking for true saints—people who have borne their cross year after year. They are accustomed to having their fondest hopes denied. They are accustomed to going year after year without understanding why God is treating them as He is.

They do not understand God but they trust God.

This is the true Christian way, the way of eternal life. The gift does not just remain in the living room, being dusted from time to time. There is someone who is spending hours each day striving for the mastery of difficult compositions.

Thank God for the gift of salvation. It is the gift of an opportunity to learn to play the composition titled "Eternal Life."

If we are intelligent we learn by experience that articles of value come with a high price tag. It seems in America, salesmen, and sometimes evangelists as well, strive to convince us that this is not so. We can get something of great value, they claim, at a low cost. But sad experience teaches us this is not the case.

No, we do not earn salvation; it is the gift of God to us. But in order to derive the good from it we have to make the developing of the wealth that is in it the highest priority of our life.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13)

Poised for Change—Today we are facing two major changes in the plan of redemption. Just as the leadership of the Israelites changed from Moses to Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ is changing from the role of Shepherd to the role of Commander in Chief. And just as the daily environment and challenges of the Israelites changed from the wilderness wandering to the war against the Canaanites, so are our environment and challenges changing from the traditional Christian journey through the world, with Heaven as our hope, to the prospect of war against all the forces of darkness that would hinder us from entering the fullness of our inheritance.

We human beings are somewhat ambivalent about change. Sometimes change is exciting to look forward to. In other instances, change is threatening and we want matters to stay pretty much as they are.

Religious denominations, and schools, public and private, often are resistant to change. So many people have a financial or emotional investment in their present situation that they tend to resist anything that appears to threaten their secure position. This certainly is understandable.

I know from personal experience the sluggishness of public schools when it comes to radical innovation. From the classroom teachers to the presidents of teacher-training institutions, a wall is erected against significant change.

It is the same in religious institutions. From the members of the congregation through to the chief executive officer of the denomination, the tendency is to preserve the status quo. Millions of dollars in seminary curricula, for example, may become somewhat obsolete if significant new ideas appear. The long-standing positions of professors of theology must be reexamined.

So, as we might imagine, every time God attempts to move us forward in the plan of redemption there is uproar, name-calling, defensive maneuvers. Satan becomes alarmed and speaks through people, saying, "This is of the devil." Satan can be relied on to term every new move as being "of the devil," which is amusing when you think about it.

We are in a major move forward in the program of redemption, and I think there will be uproars, name-calling, and defensive maneuvers. Satan will speak through the believers, referring to other believers as being of the devil. But God’s will shall be done in the midst of this brouhaha.

As was true in the case of Israel, we are facing two major changes. The first change is that in leadership. The role of the Lord Jesus Christ will change from Moses to Joshua: that is, from a Shepherd to a Commander in Chief.

The second major change is our change from viewing eternal residence in Heaven as our goal to an awareness of the New Testament definition of our goal. We are being brought to the east bank of the Jordan River, to speak in a figure, and there is our goal facing us just across the river. (The Jordan River represents death to our self-will and self-centeredness.)

It is difficult to think of Jesus as a Warrior. We are accustomed to the pictures of Jesus as the gentle Shepherd, followed by sheep or sitting surrounded by children. Now Jesus is appearing as someone more terrifying than Genghis Khan or any other commander of armies.

When Jesus is a Shepherd He is all Shepherd. When Jesus is a Commander of battle He is all Commander. What He is, He is; and there is no mixture.

I think it will be a while yet before Christians are ready for Jesus to descend from Heaven and attack Antichrist in a bloody battle. I am not certain we are ready for this aspect of the Lord to appear.

One practical dimension of this change in how we view Christ is the necessity for learning hardness and obedience. We have been accustomed to preaching about how much Jesus loves us, His grace, His mercy, and so forth that the very thought He would demand stern obedience and permit us to suffer is quite challenging. We are going to have to move forward and change with this new view of Jesus, aren’t we? Perhaps many of us will die along the way, never being able to change from a sheep to a soldier. Maybe our hope is in the next generation.

Then there is the problem of the land or promise.

Our tradition is that our land of promise is Heaven, and we hope to live there forever. However, this is not the scriptural goal of the process of salvation. Below are six aspects of the scriptural goal of salvation:

Change into the Personality of Christ.

Becoming one with all saints and with God through Christ.

Becoming the dwelling place of the Father and the Son.

Living in the fullness of resurrection life.

Our adoption as a son, the redemption of our body.

Receiving people from the nations as our inheritance and the farthest reaches of

the earth as our possession.

Heretofore we regarded accepting Christ as a kind of ticket that would guarantee our entrance into Heaven when we die. Now we find Heaven is not the goal. The six aspects I have just mentioned are our goal. They are a change in our state of being rather than a chance in our location.

Many times we believe if we could just move to another city, or state, or even country, we would find the fulfillment we are looking for. But even when we obey God and move under His direction, we do not find the fulfillment we are looking for.

The fulfillment we are looking for can be gained only by a change in our state of being as a person, not in our location.

As you ponder this you will realize what a truly awesome difference this makes in the way we live the Christian life. If we merely were holding on to our ticket to Heaven, we would make an attempt, I am sure, to live decently.

But when we understand these changes in our state of being are facing us now, we are brought to a decision. Either we will draw back because our comfortable way of life is threatened, or else we will press forward into these dimensions of the land of promise I have listed.

Either we will move forward with the Lord, or we will draw back in unbelief. There is no middle ground. The spiritual pressures are too great.

So we see that we are confronted with a new view of Jesus, and also with a new concept of our Canaan, our land or promise, the goal of our salvation. What shall we do? Shall we press forward with the Lord, or draw back and remain in our comfortable position?

As for me, I hear the praise and worship as Moses and the priest follow on after the Ark of the Covenant. The men of war are shouting for the battle. The cloud and the fire are moving toward the fullness of the inheritance. I care nothing for the past, or for the present for that matter. I want to be where Jesus is.

How about you?

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites." (Joshua 1:1,2)

Six Aspects of the Goal—The traditional goal of salvation has been to go to Heaven to live forever. This is not scriptural. The Holy Spirit now is outlining to us some of the scriptural aspects of our land of promise. Why don’t you pray and see what He has for you.

It was probably thirty years ago when it first dawned on me that the New Testament does not teach that going to Heaven to live forever is the goal of the Christian salvation. I know when we die we will go to Heaven to be with the Lord if we really are His servant. But neither the Old Testament nor the New points toward Heaven as being our land of promise.

Heaven is a way station. It is not our home. It is the earth that is our home, the present earth, and then the new earth when the Lord creates it.

The reason we go to Heaven when we die is that the last enemy, physical death, has not been defeated as yet. When our body goes down in defeat, then we pass into the spirit realm.

I can’t tell you much about the Heaven where Jesus and the saints are. Not enough is said about Heaven for me to make definitive statements. We have two chapters at the end of the Book of Revelation that describe the new Jerusalem, after it has come through the new sky to be established on the new earth. But this is not Heaven where Jesus and the saints are at the present time.

Or maybe it is. Maybe the new Jerusalem is in Heaven now, and what we see in Revelation is Heaven coming to the earth. In actuality, the new Jerusalem is the glorified Church.

So our tradition of going to a mansion in Heaven to live forever is not based on the Scriptures.

We always have known that something good would come from serving the Lord, and it shall. That we have referred to that "good" as Heaven is fine. God has had no trouble with that. But now that we are drawing close to the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, it is time to become aware of the actual goal of salvation.

Obviously the land of Canaan is not a type of Heaven. We are not going to have to fight our way into Heaven one city at a time. Since this is apparent, what then is our Canaan, our land of promise, our inheritance?

I am setting forth below six areas of conquest that we might consider as being our Canaan, our land of promise, our inheritance. I do not say these are all there are, but they are all I can think of at the present time. Perhaps you would like to add to the list. Please feel free, but make certain you have scriptural support.

The six are as follows:

Change into the Personality of Christ.

Becoming one with all saints and with God through Christ.

Becoming the dwelling place of the Father and the Son.

Living in the fullness of resurrection life.

Our adoption as a son, the redemption of our body.

Receiving people from the nations as our inheritance and the farthest reaches of

the earth as our possession.

Now stand back for a moment and look at these. Can you see they are not a change in our location, such as going to Heaven? They are not a change in location but a change in us.

Can you see also that they are not, for the most part, something you wait for and go to when you die? They are areas that have to be addressed right now.

This is the important part of my teaching: it is that there is something we are to be doing right now, instead of waiting until we die to advance in the Kingdom of God.

Another thing you might notice is that Satan will fight furiously against your entering any of these areas. You may not realize it, but Satan considers the earth and its people, including you and me, to be his possession. This is because he persuaded Adam and Eve to sin against God.

In particular, Satan has an interest in our body. Being a spirit, he cannot enjoy the physical sensations we take for granted. He has to gain these through human beings. So Satan has no intention of permitting you to surrender your body and the remainder of your personality to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will fight against this with all the strength he has.

I don’t believe Satan is too concerned about our going to Heaven. He has lost the right to enter Heaven and He knows it. It is the earth and its peoples that Satan is interested in. Notice, in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, that Satan is not trying to kill the woman, the Church. Satan is determined to kill the Child. The male Child is Christ being formed in the Church.

It is Christ who is rightful King of the earth, and Satan knows that. The woman can go to Heaven for all he cares. It is the King of the earth that troubles Satan. And well He might, for Christ’s coming to the earth with His saints marks the end of Satan’s rule over the earth.

As long as you are content to hold your ticket and wait to go to Heaven, I don’t suppose you will have too much trouble with Satan. But when you get serious with the Lord and begin to enter your inheritance, you will encounter a furious, vicious enemy. So there is no place in the middle. Either get out of the battle altogether, or else get in with all your heart. Otherwise you are going to be spit from the Lord’s mouth as being worthless.

Let’s think about these six areas of your inheritance.

First, change into the personality of Jesus Christ. We know this is a biblical goal from what we read in Romans 8:29. Many of Paul’s exhortation have to do with putting on the new man who is in Christ’s image.

To be in the moral image of Jesus Christ is a vital aspect of your inheritance. You can’t do much in the Kingdom of God while you are in the image of the first Adam.

Second, Jesus prayed that you would be one with all saints and with God through Christ. Such union is far, far more than just being in agreement with someone concerning doctrine. This is a supernatural union, the union that exists with the Father and the Son.

When you are dwelling in Christ in God’s perfect will, and I am dwelling in Christ in God’s perfect will, then we will be in union. Then Christ will give us both of His Divine Glory. Now we will be in union with one another and with Christ in God.

It is absolutely necessary, if we are to have fellowship with Christ in the Kingdom of God, that we be in His image, and one in Him and God and with one another. Such image and union form the basis of the Kingdom of God.

Third, we are to be the dwelling place of the Father and the Son, as well as of the Holy Spirit. We have been created for this purpose—that we might be the chariot of God, the Throne of God, the eternal house, habitation, tabernacle, temple, and dwelling place of God. It is for this purpose that God created man.

Of course, we cannot be the dwelling place of God until we are in the image of Christ and dwelling in union with one another and with Christ in God in the very center of God’s Person and will.

Fourth, we are to live in the fullness of resurrection life in body, soul, and spirit. We are to be living, moving, and having our being in resurrection life rather than in the adamic life of flesh and blood. This is something to look forward to as to its fullness, but we can set our desires in that direction now.

I think it is God’s will that every saved individual eventually live by the Spirit of God rather than by another form of life or metabolism. But we are a firstfruits of the creation, and so it is important that we come to know the power of Christ’s resurrection as quickly as possible.

Every time we choose to obey the Spirit of God rather than our sinful nature we move a bit closer to the day when our entire being is activated by the Spirit of God.

Fifth, if we are willing to put to death the actions of our sinful nature, choosing instead to follow the Spirit of God, then, when the Lord returns, our mortal flesh and bones will be raised from their place of interment and clothed with eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.

This is the redemption of our body, the crowning act of redemption, and marks our adoption as a son of God. Our inward nature is born of God, but our body shall be adopted if we are faithful in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.

The Apostle Paul spoke of attaining to the resurrection. By this Paul did not mean the general resurrection of the dead, for there is no attaining to that. All shall be resurrected, some to eternal life, some to condemnation.

I think Paul’s accompanying comment about seeking to know the power of Christ’s resurrection is the key to the understanding of Philippians 3:11. The redemption of our mortal body, the filling and clothing of it with eternal, incorruptible life, is the natural consequence of our diligently putting to death the actions of our sinful nature, as the Spirit of God guides and enables us.

If we would have a body like that of Jesus Christ, which ought to be one of the major goals of our Christian life, and not something we just take for granted, then we are going to have to attain to this glorious state. Paul was placing everything else in his life in second place that he might attain to this resurrection from among the dead.

Paul declares that the redemption of his mortal body was his goal. Therefore it ought to be ours!

And sixth, receiving people from the nations as our inheritance, and the farthest reaches of the earth as our possession. You may hear Christians speak of going to their mansion in Heaven when they die. I don’t think you will hear them list receiving the nations as their inheritance, or gaining the farthest reaches of the earth for their possession.

Yet, the Father invited Christ to pray for the nations as His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. And we are coheirs with Him!

Why are we not aware of this aspect of our land of promise? It is because we are immature.

We have died to the Law of Moses that we might be married to Jesus Christ. We are married to Jesus Christ that we might bring forth fruit to God.

Now consider: children do not ordinarily think about having children. It is adults who think about having children. The reason we do not understand why the people of the nations of the earth would be a valuable inheritance is that we still are children.

Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus that they might know the love of Christ. When we are strengthened enough in our inward nature that God can put the love of Christ in us, then we understand why the people of the nations are such an incredibly valuable inheritance.

Ask God to give you Christ’s love for some group of people. Then you will see what I mean, and no more explanation will be necessary.

So we are to be changed into the Personality of Christ. This can take place only as we are willing to die to our adamic nature and cooperate with the Holy Spirit in putting on the new man who is in the image of Christ.

We are to become one with all saints and with God through Christ. Again, we must die to our old nature, especially our self-will and self-centeredness; for these prevent our entering rest in the very center of God’s Person and will.

We are to decide that we are not going to hold on to our individuality, our right to be our own person. We are going to surrender that right that we might be filled with all the Fullness of God. We were created to be an integral part of God, not to be an individual god roaming through the universe and creating havoc—which we always do when we insist on being ourselves. Isn’t that the truth?

"I’ve got to be me." Well, go ahead and be yourself. But keep away from me. I want God. I have had enough trouble in this world. I want to be around God, Christ, and people who are filled with God and Christ.

To live in the fullness of resurrection life is never to be tired again. It is to be invulnerable. No harm or danger will be able to touch you. The best part is you will have a tremendous love of righteousness and a tremendous hatred of wickedness. Think of it! Your body will want to serve God along with your inward nature.

We are to press forward into eternal life in order that we may be ready to receive the robe of eternal life and righteousness from Heaven. How marvelous! God will have adopted us as a son. He who thus overcomes the sinful, self-seeking nature will inherit all things, and God will be his God, and he will be God’s son.

Now that we are totally established as a pillar in the Temple of God, and have His name written on us, and the name of the new Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus Christ, we are ready for the remainder of our inheritance.

We have no idea!—we have absolutely no idea!—what life is all about; what God has created us for; until God puts His love in us for some group of people. When He does we will realize all talk about mansions and streets of gold is nonsense. The only inheritance worth having is people.

God has given Jesus Christ authority over all flesh. All belongs to Him. From this sea of humanity God has selected some to receive eternal life. These whom God has selected are a firstfruits of mankind, the first to receive the Spirit of God.

The remainder of mankind are the inheritance of those who have been selected to be members of the governing priesthood.

This does not mean all will be saved, even though Christ made an atonement for the whole world. Some people will refuse the Lordship of Christ, insisting on being their own god. Such cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

All authority and power in Heaven, on the earth, and over the dark domains under the earth’s surface, have been given to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Tree of Life. All salvation is in Him.

It is a grief to Christ when an individual knowingly rejects Him; for that part of His inheritance has been lost.

But Christ shall divide the spoil with the strong. It is up to us to take hold of the salvation God has freely offered to us and give it the attention it deserves.

It is time now to take the Kingdom. Those who have ears to hear will make seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness the highest priority of their life.

Many believers, at least in America, are not pressing into the Kingdom as they should. They are sowing sparingly and they are going to reap sparingly. It is a great shame, for this is the one time in all of eternity that we have to gain a place in the Kingdom of God.

Not so long ago there were hardy pioneers who left the East coast and ventured into the virgin forests of Ohio. After them came restless men who pushed forward until they reached California.

There were many dangers and hardships. But these adventurers carved out an inheritance for themselves and for their heirs. The chance to pioneer America will never happen again.

What a real estate agent of today wouldn’t give to be able to buy at a nickel an acre the land that is now the city of Chicago, Illinois. This is one advantage of being a pioneer!

It must have been an advantage to have been with David in the wilderness, after David became the King of Israel. Our David is in the wilderness right now while Saul is governing God’s people.

I rather think this is true of the Kingdom of God. I believe there are areas to pioneer today. Our inheritance is occupied by Satan and his forces, and there shall be dangers and hardships for those who see the vision and set out to stake their claim.

Maybe this is our one chance. I am for setting out. How about you?

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

The Darkness in Others—We often see personality traits in other people that irritate us. What we may not realize is that these are areas of spiritual darkness in them, such as arrogance, or lust, or covetousness. It is our responsibility to pray that God will replace the darkness with the light of Jesus Christ. When we do not pray, but become irritated, it is because there is spiritual darkness in us. The devil loves to accuse the actions of the devil as being of the devil. Such is the frantic confusion of the world of demons.

Sometimes our friends in the church, or even outside the church, rub us the wrong way. We see character traits of which we do not approve, or even make us irritated or angry.

For example: there is this individual who always has to have his own way. He will never give up. We either do what he says, or nothing.

Then there is that sister who gossips. No matter how much is said about the evils of gossiping, it is like water off a duck’s back. She plunges in with her "Did you hear about so-and-so? Well let me tell you the latest..."

There are people who cause division in the church. They gather together a few like-minded souls and meet in their home. There they discuss the faults of the pastor (which usually are abundant).

There is the show off who makes certain he is noticed on every occasion.

Then there is the believer who wants to discuss (argue about) a situation. She goes on and on examining every detail. This is like the demons, who love to reason.

All of us can think of several personality traits that irritate us. It often is true that we spend more time criticizing such people than we do praying for them.

We are to rise above all such mannerisms. We are to pray until we are so full of Christ that we can see these unfortunate traits as areas of spiritual darkness in the other person. The individual cannot see himself or herself. If he could he would be mortified.

We need to keep this in mind. It is not that such people want to be annoying, they are in bondage. Once we understand this, and stop taking their behavior as a personal affront, we can pray with understanding and mercy. We look to the Lord every time this trait manifests itself and remind the Lord that these individuals, saved or unsaved, need healing. We don’t tell them they need healing unless they ask for help. We just pray.

This is especially important for pastors to understand. God has not called us to criticize the sheep but to feed them and lead them beside quiet waters.

When a pastor becomes angry at the selfish self-seeking that he observes in people, it is because he has darkness in himself. Satan always accuses Satan as being of the devil. Did you ever notice that?

When Christ is in us we do not become angry with people because they are bound or immature. When we become irritated and angry it is because we have darkness in us.

I see people in the church who are not heeding what is being said from the pulpit. They are going to lose all or part of their inheritance. It is not my place to become angry or upset because they insist on going their own way. They are the ones who will suffer loss. My responsibility is to preach the Word clearly and courteously, and to pray as the Lord leads.

The human condition at the present point in eternity is so complex as to be far, far beyond our ability to remedy, or even to comprehend. We know God intends to create sons in His image. We know also that there are many of His elect who are not making progress toward maturity.

How long will it be before we are fully in the image of Christ? How long will it be before every saved individual lives, moves, and has his or her being entirely in the Spirit of God? I cannot tell at this point. Except for the promises of God I would not believe such transformation to be possible.

But we are dealing with incomprehensible wisdom and power. No Word of God shall fall to the ground. All shall be fulfilled to the last detail. I know this is true.

So let us pray, pray, and then pray some more. Let us pray without ceasing. If there is darkness in us, then we will not be able to help others who also are bound with the darkness. By so doing we will save ourselves and those who hear us.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:1,2)

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—The Declaration of Independence, written in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson, declares that "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." This statement is one of the cornerstones of democracy, as practiced in the United States of America. While the Declaration represents a noteworthy, admirable advancement in the theory of government, we Christians must remember that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are not our primary values.

I hesitated before writing this brief article, and asked God if the concept had merit. I have no intention whatever of getting into politics or of arguing about our government, My purpose in writing is to build Christ in the believers. If any paragraph does not do that, then I have no time for it. I think I have a go-ahead to pursue this theme.

I believe I am writing for the generations to come. It may be that in the future the believers will have to understand they do not represent democracy but the Kingdom of God. While I am a patriotic American (I enlisted in the Marine Corps when seventeen years of age, during Word War Two), I recognize that Christianity was born and flourished in an empire. The work of Christ does not depend on democratic government. In fact, the moral decline of the Western democracies is surrounding us with that which is displeasing to the Lord.

God does not salute when we cry "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." God is interested in righteousness, holiness, and obedience. These last three are our goals as Christians.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Righteousness, holiness, and strict obedience to God. Do these appear to be the same to you? Which of the two sets of values appears to you to be scriptural?

Now, are these two sets mutually exclusive? Do they contradict each other?

Yes, and no. Let me explain.

If we place our life as our supreme value, we may lie, or steal, or hurt someone in order to preserve our life. For instance: let us say that a student wants to go to a certain university. He is so anxious to get a good grade on an entrance examination that he cheats. Because he placed his life, his welfare, above righteousness, he was willing to take an advantage over other students who had taken the test fairly.

The idea of "liberty" is that we are free to do what we want, unless we would be breaking the law. Adultery, abortion, and homosexual behavior used to be illegal. But since we place such an emphasis on liberty, we have changed the laws. Now adultery, abortion, and homosexual behavior are not ordinarily causes for imprisonment in the United States.

But to those seeking holiness, adultery, abortion, and homosexual behavior are not acceptable. And they are not acceptable to God, and are cause for not receiving the Kingdom of God as an inheritance.

In the United States, the right to say and do what we desire, has been blown out of proportion, from my point of view. The civil rights of the individual are emphasized at the expense of the rights of society as a whole. It must be remembered that preserving the civil rights of one person may destroy the civil rights of another.

An attempt to maintain civil liberties during wartime may make a nation vulnerable to the efforts of a nation that does not maintain civil liberties but operates in secrecy and coercion. Thus the effort to maintain civil liberties is not wise; because if the other nation is victorious in war, then everyone loses his or her civil liberties.

Another example of the foolishness of unrestrained freedom of speech and action is the license given to the media to propagate violence, suicide, and immoral behavior. There is no question that people, particularly young people, are influenced by the media. To say that the media does not promote violence, suicide, and immoral behavior reflects an idolatrous attitude toward freedom of speech, an attitude that brushes away evidence and common sense.

I suppose the concept of the state and church having a wall between them flows from the worship of individual liberty. It is the business of the church to bear witness, by word and deed, of God’s Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of government to enforce the moral laws of God. When any government does not enforce the moral laws of God, there shall be continual warfare, chaos, corruption and destruction of every kind.

God is a holy God and requires holiness. Any nation that turns away from the moral laws of God will eventually be destroyed. It is inescapable.

Then there is the pursuit of happiness. This is a vain quest, as older people understand all too well. We are living on an earth that has been under a curse since the rebellion of Adam and Eve. No matter which way we turn, there is a problem. If we had billions of dollars in the bank, we still would not be happy. There always is a problem, whether we are rich or poor; healthy or sick; in America or some other country; surrounded by family or alone. There always is one problem or another. The pursuit of happiness is a vain quest in the present world.

There is a deeper value underlying the pursuit of happiness. It is that we do not want to be told what to do. Even if we are miserable, we still do not want someone to be telling us what to do. The right to make our own choices, even though our choices are making us miserable, is a supreme god in America, in the Western democracies I would say, and it is worshiped with diligence and determination.

We are fortunate indeed if we live long enough to discover it is to our advantage to abdicate the throne and permit God to make our choices.

God does not tell us to pursue happiness. He commands us to seek the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness.

There are these two sets of values: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"; and righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Are these mutually exclusive? Are they contradictory? I said previously, yes, and no.

I have just explained why I believe they are mutually exclusive. Now let me explain why they are not mutually exclusive.

When we practice righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God, we gain eternal life. These three values are of the essence of eternal life. They lead to eternal life. The eternal life to which they lead is the Life of God, and strengthens us in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.

So it is a cycle leading ever upward to the Throne of God in Heaven. Here is life in its most desirable form. The flesh-and-blood life of our adamic nature is fraught with pain, danger, tension, and sinful tendencies. It is a corrupt, temporary form of life, the life that comes from the burning of cells in the presence of oxygen.

The Life of God, found alone in Jesus Christ, brings love, joy, peace, and every desirable state of being. And it is eternal!

So by refusing to pursue life, choosing instead to pursue righteousness, holiness, and obedience of God, we gained an infinitely more desirable form of life than that of flesh and blood.

Liberty. The Western democracies advocate liberty and promise liberty to those who embrace their policies. This is true of the European Union as well as the United States. It is ironic that the Western nations are pressing the Muslims to adopt democratic values. If the Muslim nations adopt democratic jurisprudence and democratic values, then they will have to permit sinful behavior which, at the present time, the Muslim law forbids. While promising them liberty we will make them slaves of moral corruption.

Yes, there is some political and social liberty in the Western nations. But the most important liberty, in terms of human welfare, is spiritual liberty. What good is it to have the right to vote, or to express one’s self, if the individual is bound with hatred, lust, stealing, lying, fear, witchcraft, drunkenness, drugs, violence, slander, or any of the other chains of the sinful nature.

The Lord Jesus Christ told us whoever commits sin is the slave of sin. The member of the European Union who practices adultery is the slave of that sin. The American who is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, the slave of that sin.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority and power to deliver us from the sinful nature. Until we are released from the sinful nature we are bound with cruel chains, so no matter how much political or social liberty we have, we still are slaves!

As to the pursuit of happiness, the individual who pursues the Kingdom of God and His righteousness may not understand it at the time but he or she actually is pursuing the only true and lasting happiness. "In Your Presence there is fullness of joy. At Your right hand there are pleasures for eternity."

How can anyone find happiness apart from God? It is impossible. No matter if we possessed authority and power over the nations, there still is no lasting peace and joy apart from the knowledge that God is pleased with us.

To every one of us there comes the moment of physical death. They say that as we draw near to death our life passes before us. That alone ought to frighten anyone whose heart is not right with God.

I myself on one brief occasion was held in the hand of God. I was utterly helpless. There was nothing I could do, no one to appeal to.

God has that kind of authority and power. The person who goes through life choosing to ignore the possibility that there is a God and that he may meet God when he dies, is a fool. He is lacking the most elementary common sense.

If he has the money he will purchase several different kinds of insurance. But if he does not seek God continually in order to determine God’s will for his life, he is gambling that there is no God.

What utter foolishness!

If he devotes his life to the pursuit of God he will find life and peace. If when he dies and finds there is no God, what does it matter? He has had as good a life as could be expected on this cursed planet.

But if he then finds there is a God, and he has spent his lifetime attempting to please God, can you imagine his joy?

But let’s say the individual is willing to gamble that there is no God. He gives way to the desires of his sinful nature. In this case he will have a life filled with frantic ups and downs, and all the while worrying about dying.

Then when he dies, he finds there is no God. He vanishes into nothingness. It is as though he never existed. His wife whom he betrayed, and his children whom he abandoned, do not even think about him except with pain. His life was a vapor that vanished like a pricked bubble.

But let’s say he dies and discovers there is a God, a God whom he ignored and disobeyed all his life. Now he enters terrors beyond description.

I was reading yesterday of the torture that was inflicted on some of the Iraqis who displeased Saddam Hussein. It does not seem possible that a human being would inflict such ghastly wrenchings and tearings on the body of another human being.

As I pondered these horrors, the Lord spoke to me: "Every single one of these acts will be accounted for." This gave me some peace.

The people who inflicted these gruesome tortures will be called to account for every tongue that was nailed to a board; every body part that was cut off with a chain saw. Every single action will be displayed and the perpetrator will answer to God for having done this.

I wonder if the Muslims truly believe if they murder a Jew they will enter Paradise when they die and receive seventy dancing girls as a reward.

The truth is, the murder of the Jew will be brought up before them and they will answer to a righteous God for having slain an innocent person.

Their conscience ought to tell them this, but then religions, including the Christian religion, have a way of silencing the voice of conscience and common sense.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The individual who makes these his supreme values will gain none of them, except perhaps temporarily.

Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. The individual who makes these his supreme values will gain them, and life, liberty, and happiness as well.

It is, after all, a gamble. We bet the God of the Bible really exists, or we bet that the God of the Bible doesn’t really exist.

Due to the extraordinary pressures of the present world, we cannot hedge our bets. It is either Jesus to win, or nothing.

Fifty-seven years ago I chose Jesus to win. Now I know I did the wise thing and I look forward to physical death as a wonderful release from the world and entrance into incredible joy.

Have you placed your bet?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)

The Morning Star—Christian people are not always clear as to what role their own efforts plays in their salvation. Some feel that no effort is necessary; they are saved by faith alone. Others believe we have a part to play. The new covenant is Christ formed in us, but there are things we must do if this inner transformation is to take place.

The new covenant is the writing of God’s eternal moral law in our mind and in our heart. God’s law is written in our mind so we will understand it, and in our heart so we will have a desire to obey it. This is another way of saying the new covenant is Christ formed in us, and finally dwelling in that which has been formed in us.

However, in order for Christ to be formed in us, for the eternal moral law of God to be written in our mind and heart, there are things we must do. The New Testament contains hundreds of admonitions that are to be obeyed.

Because of the emphasis that we are "saved by faith alone," which no doubt is a warped conclusion drawn from the Reformation rebellion against Catholic practices, there is in the back of the Christian mind the concept that salvation is something we gain by professing belief in Jesus Christ, and it will be fulfilled when we die and go to Heaven.

A corollary of the "saved by faith alone" viewpoint is the idea that our adamic nature is hopelessly wicked, so we need not attempt to obey any of the admonitions found in the New Testament because there is nothing we can or should do because of our evil nature.

If you stop to think about it, this position is not reasonable. Why would Paul and the other Apostles have written the things they did if there were no purpose in our obeying them? Paul could have saved himself a lot of effort by saying "you are saved by grace and there is nothing you are to do," and then gone on to tell about his travels. Instead Paul was explicit that if we did not put away our sinful behavior and follow the Holy Spirit in righteous behavior we would not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Yet we know the only righteous behavior we are capable of is that which comes from the Life of Christ in us. So what is the use of all these commandments in the New Testament, such as presenting our body a living sacrifice; denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus? Where do these fit, if anywhere?

The answer is found in the concept of the Morning Star. The expression The Morning Star refers to Jesus Christ.

In the physical world, the morning star can be any one of several planets that is visible at daybreak. The planet with this name most often is Venus.

Peter tells us that the Morning Star, Jesus Christ, will rise in our heart. Until He does, until He is in us in sufficient strength to affect our behavior, we must rely on our adamic nature to do what the Christ and His Apostles have commanded. And because our adamic nature is not inclined to obey the commandments, we must force ourselves to pray until we receive the grace of God such that we can do what we have been commanded.

When the Apostle Paul commands us to put off our old self with its sinful deeds, and put on the new man who is in the image of Christ, we have to do just this. Christ is not as yet formed in us to the extent we will set aside our sinful nature naturally and easily. So we have to do it. Our body is against us. The world is against us. Our culture is against us. We just have to do it! And if we will pray, God will assist us.

Now here is the point. If we do not make this effort, if we do not study the New Testament and make ourselves do what it commands, the Morning Star will not rise in our heart. Christ will not be formed in us. The eternal moral law of God will not be written in our mind and heart. We will not bear the fruit of Christ’s image. We will be removed from the Vine, from Christ.

We are made partakers of Christ only if we hold fast our confidence firmly to the end. This means we keep following Christ patiently, putting to death through the Spirit the actions of our sinful nature, presenting our body a living sacrifice, and doing all else commanded in the New Testament.

When the Apostle Peter told us about the Morning Star, there was no New Testament. So he advised us to pay attention to the Prophets of the Old Testament until Christ was formed in us.

This is interesting, because one of the ideas that prevail in our day is that God has changed His mind and we now are under a covenant totally different from the Old Testament. This is a tremendous error in understanding. The Bible is one book, from Genesis to Revelation. While we no longer are required to obey the Law of Moses, the kind of behavior God requires is found in the Old Testament as well as the New.

We are to study the Scriptures each day, asking God to enable us to do what is commanded. As far as the Ten Commandments are concerned, they all are found in the New Testament, although in greatly expanded form. The Sabbath commandment, for example is fulfilled when we seek God and live in His will and Presence every day of the week, not just on the seventh day. It is the eternal Sabbath, and the goal of our quest.

As I said, as we keep the Word, the Word begins to keep us. Our obedience in obeying the words of the Bible, particularly the New Testament, results in Christ being formed in us. As Christ is formed in us we have no problem keeping the admonitions of Christ and His Apostles. We are gaining a new nature. A new creation is being formed, a creation that performs God’s will easily and naturally.

Let me emphasize once again: this new Christ-filled nature will not be formed in us if we do not make the effort to do what is written. We have to labor to enter the rest of God, because there are several forces, such as our own sinful nature, that seek to keep us in corruption and death.

The new covenant results in a transformation of what we are as a person. Perhaps this new personality will help us when we die and go to Heaven. I do not know how that works. But it certainly will be needed if we hope to return with the Lord Jesus Christ and establish His Kingdom on the earth.

In fact it is the Morning Star, Christ in us, that itself is the Kingdom of God, the rule of God.

Every part of our personality must be born again of the Spirit of God if we are to see and enter the Kingdom of God.

There is no question that the idea of "saved by faith alone" has wrought havoc in the Kingdom of God. With this idea in mind, Christians make no attempt to obey what the Apostles have written. Therefore Christ is not formed in them. If Christ is not formed in them, the Father and the Son will not come and make Their eternal abode in them. They have not entered the Kingdom of God, which is Christ in us.

The Lord told us if we loved Him we would keep His commandments. He said if we would keep His commandments, the Father and He would make Their eternal abode in us. When we do not keep His commandments, we are not eligible for the fulfillment of the promise.

This idea of the Morning Star rising as a result of our diligence in obeying the Scriptures is terribly important, isn’t it? This is why I have described the relationship in this brief article, even though I have written much on this subject in previous booklets and books.

Do not let anyone deceive you. The commandments of the New Testament are to be obeyed. You cannot obey them in your natural strength. Therefore you are invited to come boldly to the Throne of Grace that you may receive assistance as you set about to do the Lord’s will.

As the Apostle John would say, "This is the true God and eternal life."

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (II Peter 1:19-21)

The Devil and His Angels—We don’t know very much about the rebellion of the angels. We do know, however, that the Lake of Fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels. Can you imagine how terrible it would be to be thrown into an area where you would be surrounded for eternity by the devil and his angels?

The Lord Jesus stated that the "goats," those people who did not assist His brothers when they were in need were cursed and were to be led away into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Since there is no mention in the Bible that Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels, we assume the reference is to the Lake of Fire.

Although we see that people will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, this place of torment was not prepared for people but for Satan and his angels.

In addition to the sin of not assisting the Lord’s brothers when they had need, there are other behaviors that are governed by the Lake of Fire.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

The cowardly.

The unbelieving.

The vile.

The murderers.

The sexually immoral.

Those who practice magic arts.

The idolaters.

All liars.

Notice it does not say cowardice, unbelief, vileness, and so forth. It does not speak of certain types of behavior but of certain kinds of people, or beings, we might say.

Is there a difference between behavior and people? Yes, fortunately for us, there is. All of us have at one time or another behaved in one of more of these ways. We have been unbelieving. We have been cowardly. We have felt like murdering someone.

But then the Lord Jesus Christ came and forgave us. More than that, He delivered us from these wicked impulses.

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. (Colossians 3:5-7)

"You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived."

God has given the Lake of Fire authority over these eight kinds of beings, including the devil and his angels.

They are cowardly.

They are unbelieving.

They are vile.

They are murderers.

They are sexually immoral.

They practice magic arts.

They are idolaters.

They are liars.

Each of us was born in sin. One or more of these traits was true of us.

Then along came the Lord Jesus Christ. He forgave us the things we had done. His next move was to remove the trait from us.

Let me say once again, although I have written this statement hundreds of times previously. Salvation is not a means of making our eternal home in Heaven. Salvation is the process of removing from us the eight traits over which the Lake of Fire has authority.

When the Lord Jesus removes cowardice from us, we not longer are listed along with the cowardly. The Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us or can harm us in any manner.

When the Lord Jesus removes unbelief from us, we no longer are listed among the unbelievers. The Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us.

If we are a Christian, there comes a time, sooner or later, when the Holy Spirit approaches us concerning the cowardice that is in us. If we refuse to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in driving the cowardice from us, it is then we are listed with the cowardly.

If we are a Christian, there comes a time when the Holy Spirit directs our attention to the unbelief that is in us. If we refuse to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in putting to death the unbelief that is in our sinful nature, then we are listed with the unbelieving.

Christ cannot and will not have fellowship with the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, or the liars. How can Light have fellowship with darkness?

When we first are saved and have many of these traits in our personality, God forgives us through the blood of the cross. He will hear our prayers because of the blood. He will send His Holy Spirit to guide us because of the blood. The oil comes on the blood, in the rites of the Levitical priesthood.

But there is no cowardice, no unbelief, no vileness, no murder, no sexual immorality, no practice of magic arts, no idolatry, and no lying in the Kingdom of God. None! Absolutely none!

This means at some point we must be delivered from these traits of personality over which the Lake of Fire retains authority.

The mammoth error in Christian thinking is that Jesus Christ came to forgive us so we would not be thrown into the Lake of Fire. If this were the case, He would be acting against the Father’s will.

No, Jesus Christ did not come so the murderers and the sexually immoral can rejoice in Paradise. The Lord Jesus came so we would be able to overcome murder and sexual immorality, driving these satanic impulses from our personality.

When is the Lord going to do this? When is He going to remove from us the works of the devil so we no longer can be harmed by the Lake of Fire?

He is doing it now. Today. We are passing from the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost to the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

How does it work? How do we take advantage of the Day of Atonement?

First of all, the Holy Spirit will point out to you some area of sin in your personality. Then you are to confess it as sin, denounce it as being unworthy of the Kingdom of God, and then declare that you want nothing more to do with it for eternity.

This is a work of eternal judgment. God will forgive your sins and cleanse your personality.

If you don’t see the deliverance you want immediately, then keep at it. Don’t fret about it or accuse yourself. God is judging Satan at this point, not you.

Keep denouncing it as evil. Keep resisting it, declaring you want nothing more to do with it. When God and Satan both see you are serious and determined, the trait will leave your personality.

There are kings of wickedness in us, and some of these keep cropping up. Never, never, never give up. They will flee eventually.

It is time now for us to enter the Kingdom of God. None of these traits are acceptable in the Kingdom of God.

The Lord Jesus is coming to us as the Lord, strong and mighty in battle. The Day of Vengeance of our God has commenced. It will continue until all sin of every description has been driven from the creation.

Do not be afraid. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Nothing can by any means harm you as long as you keep walking close to Jesus.

There shall be worldwide uproars in the future. Let none of these move you. They are the birth pangs of the Kingdom of God.

This is the moment we have been waiting for, the time when God is ready to release us from all the works of Satan.

The Lake of Fire has been prepared for Satan, his angels, and those people who are unwilling to be delivered from Satan’s image. Such are banned from the Presence of God forever. The first death is the separation from God that we experience because we were born in sin. It is temporary. The second death occurs when we refuse to be delivered from the image of Satan and his angels. The second death is not temporary, it is permanent.

Unless you enjoy the presence of Satan and his angels, I recommend that you get busy and follow the Holy Spirit as He leads you in putting to death the actions of your sinful nature.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)

Righteous Behavior Is the Testimony—Because grace, defined as "forgiveness," has been overemphasized, many Christians do not view righteous behavior as an essential aspect of our salvation. Therefore many Christians do not behave righteously. And since righteous behavior is the testimony, the Christian message is not nearly as powerful as it should be.

As those who have read my writings know only too well, I have written many, many times on the subject of righteous behavior. I have stated that righteous behavior is the expected outcome of our salvation; and where there no growth in righteous behavior taking place, no salvation is occurring.

I have said growth in Christ is growth in the recognition of good and the desire and strength to embrace the good; and the recognition of evil and the desire and strength to reject the evil utterly.

I have said the testimony that the world is waiting for is righteous behavior on the part of Christian people.

I have expressed these opinions so often that people must be saying, "Enough already!"

But then I picked up this morning’s newspaper, and what did I read?

Heading of article: "Members of Christian group are arrested."

Then it went on to tell how 200 believers formed a parade with floats attached to tow trucks. The police stopped the parade because the Christians did not have a permit for the parade. This is not persecution. Everyone who puts on a public parade in California must have a permit.

How did these servants of Christ respond to the police, who were doing their duty?

One woman allegedly tried to hit a policeman on the head with a 10-inch wrench.

Others allegedly used flag poles to stab at deputies. Others tried to break windows on squad cars.

I am not familiar with this particular Christian group. I know nothing of their beliefs or practices. They could be Evangelical Christians or a cult, for all I know.

But the newspaper credited them with being a Christian group. The term "Christian" is in the name of their assembly.

Now consider: Why were they having a parade in a large city? They probably were doing this as their way of testifying for Jesus, and perhaps of seeking to gain recognition and members for their group.

Whatever was true in this particular case, the newspaper article drove me back to my computer. Somehow the message has got to get through to Christian leaders that the purpose of the Gospel is not just to bring people to forgiveness, it is to change lives.

Whoever attacks the police with a wrench, or tries to stab deputies, or breaks windows in squad cars (all these were alleged to have taken place), does not have the Spirit of Christ. I don’t care how sound they are in Christian doctrine, they do not have God.

"Now you are being judgmental." No, I am not. I am declaring such behavior is not Christian. It is characteristic of Satan. It is not characteristic of Jesus Christ.

Today there is a tremendous emphasis on gaining more church members, more members of whatever denomination. What good does it do to gain more members? If the members we have are not growing in godly behavior, we are accomplishing little or nothing of value in the Kingdom of God.

It would be better to have one person who was growing up to the stature of the fullness of Christ than ten thousand people who make a profession of belief, attend church, but are not growing up to the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Our goal has become numbers. This is not a scriptural goal. The result is unchanged people.

The question has been raised, "After all the missionary work that has been done in Africa, why are the people still killing each other?"

I am not sure I have the answer. But I would ask this question: "Has the emphasis been on training the believers in godly behavior, or has the emphasis been on gaining more converts?"

If the emphasis is on training the believers in godly behavior, then you will have godly people who are not going to attack the police with a wrench.

If the emphasis is on gaining more converts, than this is what you are going to get—more proselytes to your religion.

I read recently of a church-growth plan in which as fast as a small number of believers was formed, each member was to go out and start another small group. As soon as this small group was formed, each member was to go out and start another small group.

I would expect that it would not be long before there was a large number of people involved.

Well, we would say, let’s do this. If this is the way to grow in numbers, by all means let’s do it.

When I read the goals of salvation as described in the New Testament, such as being changed into the image of Jesus Christ; becoming one with each other and with God through Christ; of attaining to the resurrection which is out from among the dead; of submitting to personal crucifixion so we no longer are living but Christ is living in us; I can’t see them being fulfilled if our emphasis is on becoming a group leader and gaining more members.

I have been in church work for a number of years. My observation is there is only a handful of believers in any assembly who are denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following Jesus each day.

The majority of the people are living in the sinful nature. And they never change. They exhibit the works of the flesh, of which Paul spoke, at the beginning of their experience in Christ. Thirty years later there has been no change. They still are exhibiting the works of the flesh while they are waiting for an unscriptural "rapture" to take them up to Heaven in their spiritually immature condition.

Such people are not fit to return with the Lord and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

They are not fit to be members of the Wife of the Lamb.

They are not fit to govern the nations with Jesus Christ.

They are not fit to judge people and the angels.

They are not fit to walk in the white robes of the royal priesthood with the Lord

They have not been conformed to the image of Christ and they are not brothers of Christ.

They are not sons of God, in that they are not led by the Spirit of God.

What are they? They are proselytes to the Christian religion.

The whole world today is wondering what is wrong and what is right; what is evil and what is good. The Communists are wondering. The Muslims are wondering. And what are they getting from the "Christian" Western nations, such as the United States? Gambling casinos; immodest attire of women; alcohol; cigarettes; the love of money; the unspeakable moral filth that spews from the media.

Why is this, when the Western nations are supposed to represent Christianity, to a certain extent? Because the denominations are seeking their own glory. They are more intent on showing in their statistics how many members they have than they are on producing godly behavior.

I have been preaching the victorious Christian life for many years. I have been criticized for encouraging people to sit in the pews and get fat, without going out to "save a lost and dying world."

I have come to the conclusion that it is not Christ who is behind this incessant demand for more members. Why not? Because the work of the Kingdom, which is to produce new creations of godly behavior, is virtually ignored in favor of programs that add more members.

It is my guess that the problems in America will grow, along with the descent into immorality, until Christians recognize that the current message is irrelevant and powerless. My hope is that the young people will pray and draw close to the Lord Jesus. When they do, He will speak to them about the need for righteous, holy living. The Lord will not work where unrighteous behavior is practiced.

I am hoping for a revival in America, but it will have to be a revival of spiritual growth. As long as the only growth is in numbers of people, and not in growth in godly behavior, we are heading toward national catastrophes.

"If My people who are called by My name." We are the ones who must repent. We are the ones who must turn back to the Lord and begin to live righteous, holy lives, if our nation is to be spared destruction.

Until the Muslims, the Communists, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and the other major groups of people see the moral image of Jesus Christ in the behavior of the Christian people, they will never come to Christ; or if they do come to Christ, they soon will abandon Christianity in disillusionment as being just another competing religion of the world.

Parades are worse than nothing, as a means of testifying of Jesus Christ, if the marchers are not kindly, courteous, and respectful of authority.

How do you feel about this?

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Resurrection Comes First—The catching up to meet the Lord in the air is not an act of redemption, it is merely the first step of our new life after we have attained the resurrection from among the dead.

I have written quite a bit about the "rapture" error. I accepted the rapture teaching as Bible truth when I first became a Christian. But as I studied the Bible I became aware the rapture was more of an emotional issue than a scriptural doctrine.

There are three schools of thought concerning the rapture, apparently. That it will take place before the Great Tribulation. In the middle of the Great Tribulation. At the end of the Great Tribulation.

We know from the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew that the Lord will return after the Great Tribulation. But I guess some teach that the coming of the Lord in Matthew, Chapter Twenty-four is not the same as the "rapture"—that the rapture will take place seven years before the coming of the Lord.

Since there is no scriptural report for a coming of the Lord before the coming of the Lord, I conclude that the rapture teaching is more of an emotional issue than a scriptural one. It just makes us feel good to think of being out of here before next week. Just think! We don’t have to worry about the financial difficulties of our nation; about the unrest in Iraq; about the establishing of a nation on the West Bank of Israel, which probably will lead to Israel’s disadvantage in the battle which likely will continue.

If the Palestinians become a nation, then any battle against the terrorists will be an actual war—nation against nation, rather than a nation against terrorists.

But it there is to be a rapture at any moment, we don’t have to worry about Israel and the Palestinians. However, the Israelis have to worry! One of the major groups supporting Israel is that of the Evangelical Christians. They won’t be here after the rapture. Neither will the Holy Spirit be here. How unspeakably dreadful!

Now we have a world without any sincere Christians. There is no Holy Spirit here, according to the rapture teaching, so people cannot come to Christ. Satan now has a free hand.

But you and I have nothing to fear. We are Christians. We now are living in splendid mansions in a world where there is no trouble, only everlasting love, joy, and peace.

It is no wonder this is a popular doctrine. Who cares whether it is scriptural or not, just as long as we get out of here. Right?

There is a better message, you know. That is, that Heaven is coming to the earth in the form of the Kingdom of God.

I have pointed out in prior writings that the rapture passage, First Thessalonians 4:13-18, is not emphasizing the going of the living saints but the coming of the deceased saints of all time, a huge number of people. Those believers who are living at the time will be a relatively small number of people.

The saints are coming to receive their bodies from their place of interment, The living saints will be changed from mortality to immortality. And then all will be raised in preparation for their descent with the Lord Jesus to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

So we are speaking here of the coming of the Lord and His Church, not the removal of the Church from the earth.

As I said, I have brought this fact out previously, and a thoughtful examination of the six verses under consideration will show this to be the truth, I believe.

There is no indication whatever that the six verses is a secret coming to remove the living believers from the earth so they will be protected from the Great Tribulation, from Antichrist, or from any other harm or danger.

Read the six verses carefully with the two contrasting views in mind, and then return, if you will, to what I have to say further.

I have emphasized the coming of the saints in prior writings. What I would like to think about now is the fact that the deceased believers will be raised from the dead, and the living believers will be changed, before they are caught up to meet the Lord in the air (nothing is said about their going to Heaven at this time). People are not raised from the dead so they can go to Heaven but so they can live once again on the earth. This much ought to be obvious!

Now, let’s look at the key verse carefully:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)

Just concentrate on one clause: "The dead in Christ will rise."

The dead in Christ will rise. Does this mean rise into the air? No, it does not. It means rise from the dead.

Do you remember that Jesus rose from the dead forty days before He ascended into Heaven?

The next verse tell about their being caught up, a totally different expression:

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

"After that." After what? After they have been raised from the dead and we, the living, have been changed from mortality to immortality.

Now compare these two expressions: "The dead in Christ will rise"; and "We... will be caught up."

First the saints who have returned with the Lord will rise. After that we all will be caught up.

As I said, Jesus rose, and then forty days later ascended to Heaven.

Will there be forty days after the dead saints rise and we are transformed before we all are caught up into the air?

We have no way of knowing of the duration of time between the resurrection and our being caught up.

Wouldn’t there be a danger from Antichrist or other evil people if the dead are raised and then not caught up immediately?

No, there would be no danger. This is an important point. Sometimes the rapturists claim we will be caught up to escape Antichrist and the perils of the Great Tribulation. They forget that we cannot be caught up until we first are raised from the dead or transformed. And after we are raised from the dead, or otherwise changed into immortality, we no longer can be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. Can you see the sense of this?

There could be years between our resurrection and our being caught up, during which time we could be appearing to people, ministering, doing whatever God had for us to do. And why not? Can you imagine being able to appear and disappear at will, and being clothed with such power you could make some much needed changes in the earth? I for one believe this is a much better thought than that of fleeing from the earth.

I have been referring mainly to the great host of people who have returned from Heaven with the Lord ("Those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him").

What about those who are still living on the earth when the Lord returns?

We have the answer in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians. Notice that this chapter does not mention the catching up, revealing that the catching up is not the main emphasis of the return of the Lord. The resurrection of the deceased saints and the change into immortality of the living saints should be emphasized when we are speaking of the Lord’s appearing.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:51-54)

The above is what will be true of the living believers when the Lord returns, and also of the dead saints who will be raised from the dead.

Let me point out two facts about the above passage.

First, there is no mention of the believers being caught up into the air. This is because the important work, the triumphant climax of the work of redemption, has been completed when we are clothed with immortality. This is the victory over the last enemy, physical death.

Second, can you see that once our conversion from a flesh-and-blood human to an imperishable, life-giving spirit takes place, we cannot be harmed by the workers of evil. Thus there is no reason why God should catch us up so we wouldn’t be harmed. We see therefore that the rationale for a rapture to deliver us from trouble vanishes like dew when the sun rises. The rapture to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation is demonstrated to be a myth, having no basis in logic or the Scriptures.

Now that we all (all who are qualified and competent to participate in this first resurrection) have been changed from the corruptible human form to the incorruptible eternal form, God will catch us up into the air at the point where the Lord has descended. Then we will be mounted on the white war-stallions and descend with Him in the famous Battle of Armageddon. Now the Kingdom of God will be installed on the earth.

This is a simple, clear picture and fits all that the Bible has to say about the return of the Lord. It is a far, far superior vision than that of the fleshly-minded believers of today being caught up to Heaven to avoid being harmed by the Antichrist. At least I think it is a better vision! How about you?

Now, back to the point of this article. The fact that we have to be resurrected, or changed, before we are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, is seldom mentioned (if ever mentioned) by the proponents of the rapture. I don’t believe I have heard it mentioned on even one occasion.

In fact, there are churches where people prepare for the rapture by jumping up and down next to their pews. Can you really imagine this? They never are told, even once, as far as I know, of the tremendous change that must take place in them before they are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

Also, I have never heard it mentioned that when they are caught up they will constitute only a small minority of the believers; for the tremendous host of the saints of history, some of whom have been in Heaven for thousands of years, will be caught up together with them.

What they have been taught, and what they believe, is that with no preparation other than that of jumping up and down next to their pews, they suddenly are going to be caught up to Heaven and thus escape the troubles of the earth.

Mind you, many of these people yield continually to their sinful nature in their daily behavior. They have been advised that once they profess Christ they are eligible for the rapture, because they are "saved by grace."

They apparently do not wonder if they will be caught up spiritually and leave their present body in the pew; if they in their present body shall somehow go through the roof of the church without harm; if unsaved people will be able to see them leave or whether they shall just disappear; if they will worry at that time about an unsaved son or daughter who is not with them in church. They just want to leave the troubles of the earth and go to Heaven.

What must occur in us prior to our being caught up is seldom or ever discussed. Yet the change in us is the central issue, not our being caught up to escape trouble.

The resurrection from the dead, and the change from mortality to immortality, is, as I have said, the triumphant climax of the work of salvation. It is the conquering of the last enemy, physical death.

Being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air is as nothing compared with our being transformed from a perishable human being into an eternal life-giving spirit. It is not that meeting the Lord is unimportant. It is that many people have met the Lord in one way or another, and yet have not been transformed from a perishable human being into an eternal life-giving spirit.

The Lord can call anyone to Himself any time He desires. But this is not the same as the Lord transforming that person from an adamic human into a redeemed son of God.

I have written much about the resurrection. It is a doctrine that is being restored in our day.

The truth is, in the Day of Resurrection we are going to be clothed in our own deeds. In the present world, we wear clothing to cover our bodies, since nakedness is a shame. Animals do not wear clothes, ordinarily. They are what they are.

I think this may be true when we are glorified. I don’t believe we will be robed with a garment that can be removed or put on. I think we will be what we are. What we are will be evident. Our outward appearance will not be something we can put on or take off, as we do clothes today. I believe it may be possible to change our appearance, but never so as to appear more righteous than we actually are; and probably not so as to appear older, stronger, or more authoritative than we actually are.

When we see Christ He is wearing a white robe. I doubt He can take this off, it is what He is—a holy Member of the royal priesthood; although He undoubtedly can change His appearance as He will. This is suggested by the manner in which He appeared to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

I can think of no truth more needed in the Christian world of today than the fact that when we are raised from the dead we will appear as we truly are. I am not certain how we will appear when we die and pass into the spirit realm. But when we are raised from the dead we will be been for what we have become during our sojourn on the earth. When you stop and think about it, this is perfectly just.

In the present hour we can conceal what we are. But not in the Day of Resurrection. As the Apostle Paul said, we will receive the good we have done and the bad we have done.

Notice carefully the following verses:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

The Bride makes herself ready. How does she do that? By behaving righteously.

What is the Bride given to wear? Her own righteous acts.

Now if a believer does not prepare himself or herself for the wedding, what will he or she be given to wear?

You are correct. That individual will be given a robe that is neither bright nor clean. How he has behaved on the earth will be evident.

I think the above is a somewhat symbolic (although perhaps literal!) way of saying we will appear as we really are. We will not be able to disguise our true nature in the Day of Resurrection. Again, this is perfectly just, although a person who wants to profess Christ and continue to yield to his or her sinful nature might not agree that he or she should be revealed in this manner.

Now, let’s carry this a bit further.

If a Christian has not sought to live a victorious life, but has continued to yield to the passions of his sinful nature, when he is raised from the dead his sinful nature will be evident.

Is this person eligible to be gathered together with the heroes of faith of all ages and caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air?

No, he is not.

Why not?

Because these who are caught up are the army of the Lord who will descend with Him to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Since each member of the army must be one who has walked on the earth in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God, having been proved utterly faithful during severe testings, the weak believer is not qualified to be among them.

First of all, he would not have been chosen to return with Christ to pick up his body from the ground. The Apostle Paul told us clearly that this resurrection must be attained to.

Second, if he were alive on the earth at this time, he would not have the faith to accept the change from mortality to immortality. Remember, he has not been sternly obedient to the Lord during his lifetime. Now, when he feels his natural life slipping away from him, he is going to draw back in unbelief. He will be as Lot’s wife. He will look back, trying to preserve his familiar life of flesh and blood.

He is neither qualified by the Word of God, nor competent by a history of strict obedience to God, to pass from one form of life to another while standing on his feet.

Are such people lost to God for eternity?

In my opinion, they are not. They will be raised in the second resurrection, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and judged in terms of their behavior. If Christ, for whatever reason, grants them eternal life, then they will find their place in the new world of righteousness that will come into being.

So we see, as Paul said, participation in the events described in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians must be attained.

Now, how do we attain to the first resurrection.

The Apostle Paul told us clearly. We must make seeking Christ the highest priority of our life, counting all else as garbage that we might perfect our knowledge of Christ.

We must learn to live by the power of His resurrection. This means we must submit to the work of the Holy Spirit as He leads us into experiences that crucify our adamic inclinations. We must pass from death to life each day, as it were, choosing at every point of decision to obey Christ rather than our sinful nature.

If we are not experiencing resurrection life in our inward nature, now, we have no hope of receiving resurrection life in our outward nature at the coming of the Lord.

We must be willing to accept the sufferings of Christ, such as rejection, frustration, pain, humiliation. All such pains and problems are for the purpose of bringing us down to the death of the cross that we might be raised again by the power of Christ. Each day we die. Each day we live. This is the true Christian experience.

In this manner we attain to the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection that will occur at the next coming of the Lord Jesus with His saints.

The catching up is being emphasized today as though it were a primary emphasis of the Scriptures. It is not. It is not even mentioned by the Prophets of the Old Testament. It is mentioned once or twice in the New. Its proponents see it in other passages, although it is not mentioned clearly in such passages. Rather it is assumed based on a preconceived model.

The any-moment rapture is a comfortable, emotional position that makes no demands on the believers. It appeals strongly to the adamic nature, which always seeks pleasure when gaining such pleasure makes no demands on itself. For this reason it is a popular doctrine among pleasure-loving Americans.

It is time now for God’s leaders to begin to emphasize the coming resurrection, pointing out that the kind of resurrection we will experience depends on the choices we are making today.

If that is not an important consideration, I don’t know what is.

God is very concerned about the peoples of the earth. The Church is the covenant of God with people, the light of the world. God has no intention whatever of abandoning these billions of human beings to the tender mercies of Satan and his angels and demons.

The Church will return with the Lord Jesus Christ and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. This is the coming of the Kingdom preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of Christ. This is the Kingdom that will bring justice to the nations, as proclaimed by Isaiah and the other Prophets of Israel.

Let us forsake once and for all this totally selfish, mythologic, unscriptural teaching that Jesus Christ is going to carry the lukewarm believers of today to Heaven so they will not suffer (unlike the saints of history, and many of today). It is a destructive doctrine, calculated to leave the believers as helpless babies during the period of moral and physical horrors that is approaching.

The scriptural emphasis is on the resurrection from the dead. This was the Apostle Paul’s goal. This must become our goal. The resurrection to incorruptible, resurrection life must be attained. Let us at once cast aside the spirit of delusion that rests heavily on the Christian churches, and begin to press forward each day that we may grasp that for which we have been grasped—a transformed inward nature in a glorious outward form that enables us to live for eternity in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

Gathered to Your People—It is written concerning Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Aaron that when they died they were gathered to their people. This could mean merely that they joined the ranks of the dead. But I am under the impression when people die they are placed with others of the same background.

What does the Scripture mean when it states Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Aaron were gathered to their people? Is it referring to the fact that they have gone to be with all who have died, or it there something more to it than this.

The key would be in the expression "his people." Abraham was gathered to "his people." Ishmael was gathered to "his people." Who would your people be? Who would my people be?

My guess is, God decides who your people are and who my people are. They might be relatives. They might be friends, past or present. They might be people from our church. They might even be someone, past or present, whom we have never seen.

In some cases we may be pleased with the people with whom God places us. In other instances we may be very displeased with the people with whom God places us.

Whom do you like to be with today? Whom are you comfortable with today?

We know from Jude that there often are wicked people who, for whatever reason, assemble with the saints. Why they would do this I do not know. What pleasure wicked people would derive from assembling with righteous people is past my understanding.

Yet I know how Satan and his demons do. They gravitate toward the most fervent assembly they can find. You would think if they wanted to go to church at all it would be a cold assembly where a bored congregation sits listening to three points and a conclusion, while their mind is wandering off somewhere.

But no, Satan comes to the fervent assembly. Why is this? They are not his people.

Two reasons come to mind. One, Satan is seeking a warrior of Christ whom he can deceive. Two, Satan may remember the glory he enjoyed when he was a guardian cherub in Heaven whose wings overshadowed the Throne of God. We know Satan is quite busy in the churches because of the amount of slander and gossip that take place. It is his business to accuse the brothers.

Why do wicked people attend the assembling of Christians? Perhaps it is an opportunity to seduce some woman or girl into fornication. Maybe it is to ease their conscience.

I have noticed that men are attracted to the ministry who have no business standing in front of a congregation. They are covetous, immoral, deceitful liars. Sometimes these men are skillful in the work of building large churches or attracting multitudes of people.

As I have thought about such men, knowing that when they stand before Jesus Christ He will reject them even though they have performed great works in His name, I ponder their motive in entering the ministry. Many of them if they would enter the business world would be millionaires. They are shrewd go-getters who would soon be rich.

Why do they choose to exercise their considerable abilities in the work of the ministry? In fact, there are people in the ministry who do not believe the Bible is the pure Word of God. They enjoy playing with their commentaries and practicing the art of preaching. They have excellent organizational skills and soon are appointed to high rank in their denominations.

Now, when they are gathered to their people, who will these people be? They will not be the people who have sat under their ministry and have tried to glean some spiritual strength, some food for their souls, from these empty containers. These whose money they took and before whom they preened themselves as God’s representatives, are not their people. They will not be gathered to them.

To whom, then, will they be gathered? If I am not mistaken they will be gathered to people like themselves.

It is no wonder God laughs in the heavens. Can you imagine what it is like when one of these charlatans dies and goes to be with people like himself? He would soon find himself among others as self-seeking, as deceitful, as covetous of money and of preeminence as himself. Can you even imagine the scene?

His new friends would soon put him in his place. They are like him so they understand him only too well. He cannot persuade them that he is anything but what he is in actuality—a false shepherd, a scoundrel. He would fit right in with them and join with them in the game of seeing who could gain an advantage over whom in their world of deceit.

This is one of the errors of Christian thinking. We suppose that if a person professes Christ he is destined to be gathered to the saints when he dies. But this may not be the case. If he has not lived as a saint he would be uncomfortable among the saints (just as he is today) and they would be uncomfortable around him.

Each person will be gathered to his people, as I understand it.

The victorious saints will be gathered to the victorious saints, perhaps to many whom they have known or possibly ministered to.

The loyal, faithful person of integrity will be gathered to those who are loyal, faithful people of integrity.

The spiritually immature will be gathered to those who are spiritually immature.

The wicked, envious slanderers will be gathered to the wicked, envious slanderers. Can you imagine what it will be like when all of those are living together in one place?

This is not to say that the spiritually mature will have no opportunity to minister to the spiritually immature. I believe in fact they will. In one of the accounts of Christians who have died and then been resuscitated, it was mentioned that those of a higher plane could descend and minister to those on a lower place, but they had to conceal part of their glory to do so, for the less mature could not bear the full glory. Also, as I remember, those of lower rank could not ascend above their station. This makes perfect sense to me, for it is like that in the present world, isn’t it?

I have observed that all spiritual truth can be seen in the everyday occurrences and relationships that take place around us. The big surprise when we die may be that things will be more like what we have been accustomed to rather than different and novel.

The truly wicked, such as cruel tyrants who have tortured and murdered their subjects, will be placed with other cruel tyrants like themselves. Their area is the deepest hell, the deepest darkness where the flames give no light. There they will languish in torment until the Day of Resurrection.

In the Day of Resurrection they will come forth to discover every one of their deeds is going to be reviewed in the finest detail—every single deed!

The people whom they tortured and murdered will be there to make certain they are paid back in full. Unless I am mistaken, these sons of Satan will at that time suffer every suffering they have inflicted on others.

You may think there won’t be time to go over every detail in this manner. Why not? If it took a billion years, so what! What is the hurry?

There may be some deceivers who were not as vicious as those in the lowest hell. Will they also be faced with their deeds? As far as I know, they shall be. And those whom they injured will be there to make certain God avenges them fully.

This is why we are advised to do to others as we would have them do to us; for in the days to come, they indeed shall do to us as we have done to them.

God is a God of perfect justice. As people have sown, so shall they reap.

When we turn to the Lord Jesus, our sins are blotted out. We are forgiven totally. But we will suffer on the earth, or somewhere else, for the evil things we have done; for every time we have hurt someone. We will be forgiven, but God must satisfy those whom we have injured until the scales are balanced.

Jerusalem always receives double for her sins.

Ask any saint you know what his life has been like. You will find that he has suffered a great deal because of hurtful things he has done in the past (although he may not always understand the relationship between his pain and what he has done previously).

Jesus Christ made the atonement for us, and so we are forgiven. But if you will recall, at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the good we have done and the bad we have done.

I think Christian scholars have had a hard time with this. They feel that since we have been forgiven utterly when we place our faith in the blood atonement, that no more judgment is necessary.

If they will read the Book of First Peter they will discover judgment begins with God’s household. God’s people are the first to be judged. Their judgment results in fiery trials that test them, and in this manner they are saved.

What sense does this make? If we are totally forgiven, if God has cast our sins behind His back, why then do we have to receive the bad we have done? (Any experienced disciple will tell you that we are chastened severely by the Lord; that He rebukes and chastens us because He loves us.)

Let us say a man has a son whom he loves dearly. The father has a shotgun. The father says to the boy, "Son, I don’t want you to ever touch my shotgun without my permission. Have I made myself clear?" The boy responds, "Yes, father."

One day the father is away from the house. The boy sneaks into his father’s bedroom and takes the shotgun and some shells.

Then the boy loads the shotgun and leaves the house.

He walks around in the yard looking for a target. Soon he notices the weathervane on the neighbor’s barn. I’ll bet I can hit that! The weathervane is in the form of a rooster.

So the boy, ten years of age, lifts the shotgun to his shoulder, aims, and fires. A perfect shot. The rooster disappears, leaving only the rod on which it was mounted.

The boy suddenly has misgivings and wonders if this was a good thing to do. In a bit of a panic he returns to his house, puts the shotgun back on the gun rack, replaces the extra shells in the box, and waits for his father.

There is a knock on the door. The daughter that lived next door saw what the boy had done and told her father. Now the neighbor is at the door with his daughter. Just then the boy’s father drives into the driveway.

The neighbor says, "Jim, your boy just blew away my weathervane with your shotgun. I sent away for that vane and it cost me a hundred and twenty-five dollars.

The father says, "Let me ask Richard about this."

"Richard, come here."

"Did you take my shotgun when I told you not to?

Little Mary, who came with her father, said, "I saw you. I saw you.

Richard hung his head.

His father says to the neighbor, "Steve, "I’m very sorry about this. I will make it up to you as soon as I get the cash."

Steve and Mary return home.

Now Richard and his father go into their house.

What do you think will happen next?

If Richard and his father have a close relationship, Richard will say he is sorry and will never do it again. His father will forgive him completely.

But this is not the end of it.

Richard will have to work hard to earn that money, and go over every week to the neighbor’s house with what he has earned that week until the debt is paid in full.

Richard will have to promise the neighbor, and his father, that he never, never, never will do a stupid, destructive thing like that again.

How about the relationship between Richard and his father? It has been completely restored. His father feels badly, because he knows that Richard had a few dollars saved that he was going to use to go to camp. Now he will not be able to go to camp this summer.

Will his dad relent? He will not—not if he wants a son of whom he can be proud.

This is how God is with the righteous. The righteous are saved with difficulty, because God makes them pay back what they have stolen; fix what they have broken. And God never relents. The debt must be paid in full.

Sometimes it is impossible to pay back what we have stolen; to fix what we have broken. In that case we are whipped soundly. We may suffer for many years because of the way we have hurt other people with our self-seeking ways.

But I thought we have been forgiven?

We have been, just as his father forgave Richard. The relationship continues unimpaired. But at some point the bad we have done must be addressed. The Bible says we will reap what we have sown. Richard reaped what he had sown. He had to apologize. He had to repay the neighbor for the damage he had done. And he was not able to go to camp that summer.

So it is with us.

But I said the righteous are saved with difficulty. How about the unrighteous?

The unrighteous will suffer when the Lord returns. He may choose to forgive some of them and bring them into eternal life in the new world of righteousness. But they are going to suffer at the hands of God, as we read in the Gospels.

There are lashes to be administered to those who transgressed God’s laws, and those who knew what was right and didn’t do it will suffer the most. Some of the Lord’s servants will lose their Kingdom gifts and be thrown into the outer darkness.

No one, absolutely no one, gets away with anything in the Kingdom of God. Every idle word a person speaks must be accounted for, either now or later.

We simply must cease preaching that on the basis of a hasty profession of Christ an individual will be hustled off to join the victorious saints in Heaven around the Throne of God. We are going to be gathered to our people, to the group where we fit, who are like us, I believe.

But what about the thief on the cross? Yes, what about him? (He often is used as proof a Christian can continue in sin and then be saved at the last minute by "confessing Christ".)

We know nothing of the thief’s heart, except for one demonstration. Hanging on the cross, thirsty, in extreme pain, he glanced at the "Thief" next to him, and said, "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

Think of it! Of all the marvels of history, this statement surely must rank among the greatest.

Here is a man in extreme agony, soon to have his legs broken because of the Sabbath, looking at another man in the same condition as himself, and referring to that Individual as Lord. Furthermore, believing his fellow "Culprit" would one day govern as King of His own kingdom.

Incredible! Absolutely incredible!

This thief had heard from God in Heaven, you can be sure of that.

So we know nothing about the thief, except that he made one of the truly extraordinary requests in all of history.

And then we try to use this to prove we can sin and still go to Heaven! The hardness and rebellion in our heart is revealed when we claim such a thing.

The way the Christian Gospel is preached today gives the impression that we will not be gathered to our people. Rather we can live like the devil and be gathered to Heaven to be with God’s victorious saints.

God hates mixtures, we know from the Old Testament. God permits saints and sinners, the sincere and the insincere, people of integrity and people without integrity, to mingle in the present world. But I do not believe this will be permitted after we die or in the new world of righteousness to come.

Let the holy remain holy and the filthy remain filthy. Make straight the way of the Lord. God says if we will come out from among the unrighteous of the world and touch not that which is unclean, He will receive us.

This does not mean we are to regard ourselves as better than others. We are to be kind and courteous to all people, as much as we are able. Sometimes a person whom we regard as hopelessly evil will suddenly turn and demonstrate integrity. God will not hold his past against him, and neither must we; although he will suffer for his past conduct.

Then there are those with whom we once had sweet fellowship, who turn and depart from us.

The conclusion that should be drawn from what I have written in this brief article is as follows: Each one of us needs to decide whom he wants his people to be; whom he desires to associate with when he passes into the next life.

If he wants to be with those who are with Jesus, then he must be like those who are with Jesus today.

But if today he is with those who are with Jesus, and yet he knows in his heart such behavior is not what he truly desires, then you can be sure when he dies he will be given the desires of his heart. He will be placed with those who are not that anxious to be close to the Lord.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" (Revelation 6:9,10)

Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:8)

The Same Side of the Net—We begin our Christian experience playing volleyball with God, so to speak. We do this, and God does that. We give of our money, God gives money back to us. We fast and pray, God answers our prayers. If we wish, we can grow past this stage until God and we are on the same side of the net.

The push is on today for entrance into the rest of God. The rest of God is that place in the center of God’s will where we are content to flow with God.

To enter untroubled rest in God’s will can be a long hard battle. So many forces clamor for our attention, time, and energy. But the fight is worthwhile. There is no more wonderful state of being than that of the merging of God’s will and our will until there is only one will operating in our personality.

What are some of the forces that strive to keep us from untroubled rest in God’s will?

The world, for one. The world tells us that if we have enough money (and there never is enough!) we will be completely safe and secure. Our survival is guaranteed. We can retire and then do as we please. We can sleep all day, or travel throughout the world, or dine at fancy restaurants—all as the mood strikes us.

The world tells us that education will bring us a well-paying job, a profession that interests us.

The world tells us that fascinating new inventions are on the way. For example, the car of the future will travel on highways that do the steering and prevent accidents. We can visit with our family while we are on the road, because there is no need to look out the window unless we want to.

I notice in the advertisements for the car of the future that there is a mother and father, and perhaps two girls and a boy, happily playing a game or watching television.

Have you ever been on a trip in a car where there were two adults and three children? What was it like?

The world continually is pointing toward a future in which there is no crime, no sickness, no dread or worry. All is one great rainbow of peace and joy. But you know, it never arrives. I am in my late seventies, and the world today is no different from when I was a boy. There still are wars, famines, sickness, domestic problems, child molestation, and all the rest of the problems. The world is a liar. Neither education, money, or politics can make a happier world.

But these factors, enhanced by the media, do serve one purpose: they call us away from looking to the Lord for the decisions required by each day. They keep us in an uproar in spirit, soul, body, mind, and emotion. We have to live as a disciplined Christian if we are to press past the Siren call of the world and live peacefully in God’s will.

In addition to the world, there are the appetites and passions of our flesh and soul. How many Christians, including ministers of the Gospel, are torn with a desire to satisfy their physical lusts? How many believers have been prevented from living a victorious life because of the demands of their flesh?

Then there are spirits of hatred, jealousy, gossip, slander, arrogance, gluttony, drunkenness, criticism dwelling in our personality. The Spirit of Christ has no fellowship with these. We might like to rest in God’s will, but these lusts and compulsions overtake us and keep us from the righteousness, peace, and joy that are found only in God’s will and way.

We don’t like to be forced to act by these appetites of our flesh, but it requires considerable diligence and determination to keep acknowledging our actions as sin. We must denounce these and turn away from them with the strength that comes to us as we seek the Lord. We have to pray without ceasing if we are going to rest in God and not be torn by these lusts and passions.

We have the spirit of the world to resist. We have the lusts of our flesh to resist. And then there is the problem of our self-will.

If I am hearing the Lord correctly, the Spirit of God is pressing the issue of our self-will today. Why is this? It is because the kingdom of Satan cannot be torn down until there are some believers who are willing to die to their self-will, their first personality, and be born again as a new person in Christ.

It is utterly impossible to live in untroubled rest in God until we are willing to let go of our right to be a personality independent of God.

When we speak of losing our right to be an individual independent of God we are going against one of the current emphases in the American culture—that of taking control of our own life; of looking to the god in us.

When I hear some of the fashionable sayings in the churches of our day, I don’t believe the believers realize they are seeking to use God to accomplish their own desires. If we pray this prayer, or say these words, or adopt this attitude, or take this "step of faith," God will do such and such. What if what they are saying or believing is not God’s will? Have they ever thought of that?

Some are teaching that we should never say "Your will be done," because this shows a lack of faith on our part.

I believe what we are seeing is the spirit of humanism, man-centeredness, blending with the increasing understanding that people are having of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God. The idea is that we can go forth and perform works of power, thus bringing people into the Kingdom of God by the thousands.

But where is the Lord Jesus Christ in all of this? Is it true that we can go forth with our gifts and ministries and work wherever we want and whenever we want, and it automatically is God’s will?

I don’t think so.

I believe the prophetic symbolism of the Bible points toward an unprecedented display of God’s power in the closing days of the Church Age. Then will come trouble. After that the Lord will return and establish His Kingdom on the earth. This is the ultimate revival—the driving from the earth of all evil authority and power and the doing of God’s will throughout the earth. This is the sovereign intention of God.

But in our own day I believe God wishes to bear witness of Himself. But God cannot bear witness of Himself until He can find believers who will relinquish their own motivations and ideas and wait until they know what Christ wants of them.

A person’s will is the same as his identity. Wherever we find a will be find an individual. God’s will is the only legitimate will in the universe. We absolutely must let go of our own religious programs and find out what Christ wants us to do.

There is a Jewish feast that comes after the feast of Pentecost. It is the feast of Tabernacles. While Pentecost celebrates the outpouring of the Spirit of God, the feast of Tabernacles points toward the day when God and Christ dwell in us.

The Holy Spirit desires at this point in time to move the church from Pentecost to Tabernacles.

The main issue in passing from Pentecost to Tabernacles is that of our will. In Pentecost we can maintain our will and learn to operate the gifts and ministries of the Spirit. But in Tabernacles we get off the throne of our life and welcome the Father and the Son. From that moment forward we learn to obey God.

This is when we move from our side of the volleyball net to God’s side. Now we do not make a move and expect God to respond. Rather God and we are on the same side of the net and what God does we do.

Make no mistake. Changing from spiritual activity sponsored by the talents, enthusiasms, knowledge, wisdom, and motivations of our own personality to the will of God is no small effort. It is at this point that we are endeavoring to press into the rest of God.

Once we are willing to let of our own religious aspirations and learn to trust in Christ to build His own Church in the way He sees fit, God begins to help us do this. God’s method is to bring us into ever deepening prisons and crucifixions. We are denied our most fervent desires. We are compelled to do that which is distasteful to us. These operations continue for many years, while our natural will and desires are removed from us.

I wonder how many Christians of today will be willing to cease from their own works that they might enter God’s rest? To do so is quite contrary to our culture, which admires creativity, initiative, enthusiasm, individuality, the person who "takes control" of his or her own life.

How does our culture view someone who chooses instead to become nothing, to look for the will of Christ in the smallest detail of life? How does our culture view someone who leaves his right to be himself that he might hang on the cross with Christ? This person is regarded as a "loser," just as Christ was regarded by the officials of Israel as a loser.

I am not advocating passivity in which the believer decides to do nothing but wait for the Lord to move him. There may appear to be a fine line between passivity and waiting on the Lord, but there actually is a grand canyon of difference between the two approaches to the Christian life.

True crucifixion with Christ is always dynamic. Each day, it seems, there is a new part of our personality that must be put down that the will of God may be done. We don’t have to look for areas to put down. The Holy Spirit will bring them to our attention, and then give us the ability to put them to death so Christ might have His unhindered way in us.

Will any of the believers of today be able to forsake most of what our culture views as desirable in order to become a chariot of God? Yes, I feel certain many shall take this next step after the Pentecostal experience. Actually speaking in tongues is a way for us to enter the rest of God, because speaking in tongues is our first step in learning to lean on God rather than our own understanding.

We have to fight to enter untroubled rest in God’s will, so we are on the same side of the net.

We have to turn aside from the Siren call of the world, with its emphasis on money, education, and technology.

We have to resist through prayer the vicious impulses of the sin that dwells in our flesh.

Then we have to be willing to lay down our own will in every aspect of our being and doing so it truly can be said we are not living but Christ is living in us.

Only the most determined Christians will be able to pass from Pentecost to Tabernacles. But some indeed shall, and these shall govern the nations with the Lord Jesus Christ. They shall inherit all the things that God makes new.

As far as I personally am concerned, the best part of being in God’s rest is that we do not have to concern ourselves with anything, really. We know God’s will always brings love, joy, and peace. So we don’t have to worry about anything except to make certain at every instance we are in God’s will. There is no darkness on approaching our spirit that we will permit to pull us down from our rest in Christ in God.

You are invited to live on the same side of the net with God. But you can’t bring anyone or anything with you. You pray for those whom you care for, but you have to leave them in God’s hands. This is part of living in the rest of God.

And you always are to pray "Not my will but Yours be done" in every detail of your life—now and for eternity. This is an eternal covenant you are making with the Lord. He will always do His part. You must always do yours.

I believe we should take our hands off the Ark. The Kingdom is the Lord’s!

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10,11)

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2,3)

Forgiven, and Then Chastened—If God forgives all of our sins when we receive Christ, what is the purpose of chastening? How important is chastening in the plan of salvation? Is chastening a judgment of our personality?

If I am not mistaken, the following verse sometimes is employed to prove once we receive Christ three things are true. First, we have eternal life. Second, we will not be condemned, or judged in any manner. Third, we have crossed over from death to life.

I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)

In other writings I have maintained that this verse is not to be used as a ticket. It does not mean once we make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ the three aspects are eternally true of us. Rather, I believe it means as long as we listen to Jesus every day; as long as we believe God every day; we have eternal life and will not be condemned. We have crossed over from death to life.

This agrees with Paul when he wrote that as long as we obey the law of the Spirit of life, and do not yield to our sinful nature, we are without condemnation. We have eternal life.

But used as a ticket that when it is bought guarantees we always will be in God’s favor, the verse is destructive of the true Christian salvation.

In this brief article I wish to examine only one position: that once we make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ we never will be judged again. The Judgment Seat of Christ holds no terrors for us, although it did for the Apostle Paul.

I can understand how scholars could reach this conclusion, given the perfect atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. However, as often is the case in modern theology, the scholars have not considered passages that contradict their position. They are pleased with their conclusion and ignore what else the Bible has to say.

This is a tempting procedure, in that some of the passages in the Bible appear to contradict other passages. The truth is, it is the two seemingly contradictory passages that taken together reveal Divine truth. Therefore to use one passage as an axiom, to deduce from that, and to ignore seemingly contradictory passages, is to insure that Divine truth will not be revealed.

Let’s think for a moment about what the Lord said:

"Will not be condemned." Other versions say shall not come into judgment or condemnation.

Now the following is a seemingly contradictory passage:

For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)

It is apparent from the verse that the expression "it begins with us" means those who have obeyed the Gospel.

Now on the one hand we have "will not be condemned or experience judgment or condemnation." On the other hand we have "it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God."

Seemingly contradictory, but not contradictory at all. We need both statements in order to grasp Divine truth.

In the first instance, the Lord Jesus is saying if we walk in the light of God’s Presence and will, His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We are always without condemnation. This is because as the Holy Spirit reveals our sins to us we confess and turn away from them, and thus are kept without condemnation.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:1-9)

Notice that today the claim is made that once we accept Christ we are without sin in the sight of God. This is not the case. God sees our sins and brings them to our attention that we may confess and renounce them. In this manner we keep passing from death to life.

In this sense we remain without condemnation, just as the Lord declared. However we must walk in the light of God’s will for this to remain true each day.

Now, what about Peter’s statement that it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God? How does this agree with the fact that we remain without condemnation provided we walk in the light of God’s will and confess our sins when they are brought to our attention.

It agrees in the following manner. We are dealing with two different areas of judgment. The first area, that of freedom from condemnation, is dealing with our guilt before God. Because of the blood atonement, as we obey God we are held to be without guilt. Do you understand this? The condemnation or lack of it has to do with whether or not God is judging us to be guilty. God will not judge us as guilty provided we are walking in the light of His Presence and will, even though our personality still contains areas of sin.

By guilt and guilty I am not speaking of our subjective sense of guilt, which I would term "conviction" or a sense of condemnation. Rather I mean our objective guilt in the sight of God because we have broken His laws.

If we will obey the Spirit of God each day, we can forget about being guilty. Our conscience toward God has been made perfect for eternity.

Just forget about being guilty. Your guilt was taken care of on the cross.

Now we come to another whole issue. This issue is not one of guilt but of what areas of your personality contain sin. Remember, you are not guilty. But you have not as yet been conformed to the image of God. You were created in the beginning to be in the image of God. Right? Well God will not be satisfied until you are in His image.

This is the judgment of which the Apostle Peter is speaking. He is not referring to your guilt before God. He is referring to the areas of sin in your personality, areas that reflect the person, ways, will, and purposes of Satan. None of these areas will be admitted into the Kingdom of God. It is the work of the Kingdom to drive every one of these from your personality.

If we think about it, the judgment found in Peter, even though it is a judgment of the family of God, is actually a judgment of Satan.

Let us say you as a Christian tell a lie. A lie is a sin. Lies originated with Satan. There is no lie in God and there is to be no lie in the children of God.

There are two issues raised when you tell a lie. The first issue is that of guilt before God.

You may tell many lies before the Holy Spirit brings this sin to your attention. However, if you are walking in the light of God that has been given you, and the lying has not been called to your attention, you remain without condemnation.

At some point the Holy Spirit will call the lying to your attention. If you will confess your lying as sin, asking God to forgive you and cleanse you from the lying, you will remain without condemnation.

If however, once you become aware of your lying, and then justify your lying in any manner, not confessing it as sin, not denouncing it, not turning away from it with the strength the Spirit of God gives you, then you come under condemnation. You no longer are walking in the light. You have turned away from the light.

The Apostle Paul told us when Christians do this, continuing to walk in known sin, God sometimes brings sickness or even death on them. The Book of Hebrews tells us that the believer who sins willfully after receiving the truth becomes the enemy of God. Make no mistake, this is true. Our modern teaching that no matter what we do we are without condemnation is not scriptural. It is a destructive lie.

Now, back to the two issues that are raised when a Christian tells a lie.

First, if he confesses and turns away from his sin when it is made known to him, he remains without condemnation. His conscience is clear. His fellowship with the Father and the Son continues in full force.

But now there is a second issue, and that is his personality. What is there in him that would cause this lie? This is what the fourth chapter of First Peter is referring to when it says judgment begins with the family of God.

It is not acceptable that any member of God’s family tells lies, not now, not in the new world of righteousness that is coming.

Therefore, God examines the personality of the one who told the lie. We might say he is not a liar as yet, it is just that the evil in his personality has been revealed. If he accepts God’s deliverance he will not be regarded as a liar. But if he does not accept God’s deliverance, Christian or not, he now is regarded as a liar. He is in danger of the Lake of Fire.

As often is the case, the Christian is ashamed of his lying, and, like the Apostle Paul, longs to be rid of this death in his personality.

God’s response is to bring him into suffering until all the root causes of the lying are exposed and driven from him. This is the meaning of the fiery trials and the suffering to which Peter refers. It is true that some of our sins can be removed from us immediately as we confess and turn away from them. However there are "kings" of sin, we might say, in our personality. These can be destroyed from us only by prolonged suffering and various prisons and crucifixions.

He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. (Deuteronomy 7:24)

The Son of God Himself learned obedience by the things He suffered.

We see, therefore, that when we speak of deliverance from sin we are referring to two different aspects of sin and two different actions on God’s part.

The first aspect of sin is guilt. The guilt was taken care of on the cross of Calvary. We will remain without guilt provided we obey the Holy Spirit as He leads us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.

The second aspect of sin is its residence in our personality. God deals with the second aspect by bringing us through various forms of suffering that chasten us. Every son of God is chastened severely over a period of time.

The first aspect, the forgiving of our sin, is an act of Divine judgment. The Divine judgment fell on the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is why He was temporarily forsaken of God and crucified.

The second aspect of judgment, the driving of every form of Satan from our personality, we might think of as a judgment on Satan. We did not ask to be born with sinful tendencies. When we join with God in condemning our sinful actions, the Divine judgment falls on our sinful nature and it is driven from us.

"He who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin," the Apostle Peter tells us.

There is a cream that you can rub on your arm. In a short while it will bring up potential skin cancers so your body may dispose of them safely. Our fiery trials are like that cream.

It requires those fiery trials to bring out all the sin in us that it might be destroyed out of us. As we cooperate with God in this aspect of judgment we grow spiritually. The forming of Christ in us is made possible as we obey God in this manner.

May God chasten us soundly that we may be partakers of His holiness, that we may be His sons in truth.

What, then, about the Judgment Seat of Christ? The Apostle Paul said he was terrified when he thought about it. Many preachers of today are maintaining that no Christian has any need to fear the Judgment Seat of Christ.

When we pass before the Judgment Seat of Christ, the good that we have done will be given to us and the bad we have done will be given to us.

This judgment is not so much that of the guilt of our sins, or the areas of sin in our personality. Rather it has to do with sowing and reaping. There is an irrevocable law of sowing and reaping that operates in the Kingdom of God.

The issue of the Judgment Seat of Christ is the decisions we have made during our lifetime on the earth.

The removal of the guilt of our sins, and the driving of Satan from our personality, are both acts of Divine redemption, or salvation we might say.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not, as I understand it, an act of Divine redemption. Rather it is an evaluation of our performance and has to do with the consequences of our behavior.

If we have obeyed the Lord, or have lived righteously according to our conscience or whatever moral code was made available to us, this fact will be revealed in the way we appear after we are raised from the dead. As Daniel says, those who have turned people to righteousness will shine as the stars.

If we have disobeyed the Lord, or have lived an unrighteous life on some other basis, this also will be revealed in the way we appear after we are raised from the dead. As Daniel stated, some shall be raised to shame and everlasting contempt.

The Apostle Paul told us Christians plainly that if we continue to yield to our sinful nature we will reap destruction. In the Day of Resurrection we will look like those sins we have practiced. We will receive the bad we have done.

So we have three areas of concern. First, by accepting Christ and then walking in the light of God’s will we have freedom from condemnation. We are cleansed from all the guilt of our sin.

Second, by patiently enduring the fiery trials through which we must pass, our personality is cleansed from the areas of spiritual death residing in it.

Third, at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the results of our behavior, the decisions we have made during our days on the earth.

It will go well with the righteous. However, those who choose to ignore God, whether or not they name the name of Jesus Christ, not being careful to follow the Holy Spirit, are in line for severe chastening. If they do not humble themselves and repent, they may be removed from Jesus Christ.

The current teaching that we never can be removed from Jesus Christ is manifestly unscriptural. Don’t trust this teaching. It is a destructive error. It goes back to the original lie: "You shall not surely die."

Let us choose to serve the Lord. Our time on the earth is only a moment in eternity. We have this one opportunity to show God we love Him, and to attain to incredible joy.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

The Firstfruits of the Church—There is much in the Old Testament as well as in the new that indicates there shall be a firstfruits of the Church. Gideon’s army is an Old Testament portrayal of the firstfruits. So are the overcomers of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. In fact, it appears the overcomers of Revelation are the true Church of the present hour.

I don’t like to get into this topic too much. The reason is, it can produce little groups of people who fancy themselves to be at a higher level spiritually than the facts warrant.

There are some who believe the "sons of God" are going to marry the Church," and they make much of this. We get various divisions, such as the members of the Body of Christ; the Manchild: the manifested sons of God; and so forth. I have only kindly thoughts toward people who get mixed up in this sort of thing, because they want more than "rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace." They are spiritually hungry.

But this kind of thinking may tend to be unproductive. I imagine it would be better to point out the scriptural basis for the idea of a firstfruits of the Church. "Firstfruits" is a scriptural concept. Also, the idea is fostered that the victorious saints are not a separate group from the Church but consist of those who have come to maturity before the remainder of the family. If we stick with this idea, we may be able to avoid the sidetracks that may not prove to be beneficial.

There is no question that God is using the idea of a firstfruits as He builds His Kingdom.

First came the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Firstfruits of God’s work.

After Christ will come a firstfruits of the Church—believers who have chosen to give themselves wholly to the Lord Jesus.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

The fact that these firstfruits to God and the Lamb "kept themselves pure" does not mean, as far as I can tell, that they never married. The Bible states that marriage is to be honored and the marriage bed kept pure.

No, I think the meaning goes deeper than this. I believe the expression means these believers have purified themselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit. The "women" represent the idols that believers may marry, such as job, a hobby, a house, an unlawful relationship, money, and so forth.

The Apostle Paul commanded us to not "marry" these idols. But how many believers today obey Paul’s commandments?

So we see there is a company of Christians who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Anyone can be part of this group, but he or she must follow the Lamb wherever He goes today.

The Old Testament contains many illustrations of a firstfruits of Israel who served God with special effectiveness. There was, of course, Gideon’s army. The Hebrews Prophets might be thought of as a firstfruits. The same is true of David’s mighty men.

One major indication that God will employ a firstfruits is the separation of the Ark of the Covenant from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. I believe this means there will be a period of time when the Glory of God will be present with a warlike remnant of people who will be used especially in the area of judgment and spiritual warfare.

Also, it may be remembered that David ruled over Judah for seven years before he was appointed king of all Israel. This is a strong type of a temporary division of the Church.

The length of time David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months. (II Samuel 12:11)

Perhaps the most significant of the Bible representations of a firstfruits of the Church is the two chapters of the Book of Revelation that contain promises to "him who overcomes." I am at a loss to know why these two chapters are not preached more often, because the promises are those we normally associate with the Christian life.

And I think we are correct in this—they are promises to the Christians. In fact, it is my firm opinion that the overcomers addressed in these two chapters are the true Church in the present hour.

I do not see how it could be otherwise. When you notice the promises, such as access to the Tree of Life, the crown of life, rulership with Christ over the nations, walking with Christ in the white robe of the royal priesthood—to not receive these promises would make someone something less than a true Christian disciple, or so it seems to me. How do you feel about this?

Everything hinges on what it means "to overcome," doesn’t it? If it were true, as some are teaching, that every person who believes in Jesus Christ is an overcomer, the two chapters wouldn’t make sense. After all, it is the seven churches of Asia that are addressed, not the seven countries of Asia.

So what does it mean to overcome? It means just what it says.

Every one of us is in a struggle to live in God’s will, that is, in the rest of God. We know when we have the victory and when we don’t. All sorts of things come against us: the lusts of our flesh; wicked people; the media; the spirit of the world in which we live—all of these keep trying to tear us down from our high place in God.

I was thinking about spiritual maturity recently. Do you know the signs of spiritual maturity? When we come up against evil, and do not react with more evil, such as anger, malice, revenge, irritation, fretting, but look to God before we do anything else that we might keep His peace in our heart, we are approaching maturity as a victorious saint.

Do you know when you have victory in Christ? Probably you do. You know you cannot be bitter and unforgiving; you cannot be covetous; you cannot be jealous of someone or gossiping about a person; you cannot be holding anger in your heart; you cannot be lying, or stealing, or using profanity. You are aware of these things in your heart. You can gain victory over each one if you will keep looking to Jesus. Keep on asking and He will keep on answering. Never quit!

It seems to me that there is only a handful of believers who choose to live in perfect victory.

Now I will tell you one thing I have learned over the years. I have learned that God means precisely what He has written. When He says these promises are to the overcomer, this is what He means. Nothing less. Nothing more.

"Brother Thompson. Are you saying if I don’t overcome my gossiping and bitterness I will not be given access to the Tree of Life?"

That is exactly what I am saying. I know many will tell you "You shall not surely die." But you know where that expression comes from, don’t you?

Am I declaring only a minority of the believers will receive the promises of Revelation, Chapters Two and Three? Yes, I am saying exactly that. God means what He says.

It is such a shame, because any believer can choose to be an overcomer.

There two chapters need to be preached more. We need to hear less about grace, the "rapture," and Heaven, and more about the promises to the victorious saint. This is my opinion and I am sticking with it.

In fact, I am quite certain only the victorious saints will be resurrected (or changed if they are alive at that time) when the Lord appears. This means only a minority of Christian believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

Many may disagree with me. This is fine. If I am incorrect, the only harm I have done is to exhort the believers to live godly lives. I can’t see anything wrong with that.

But if I am correct, there is a multitude of preachers who are going to be mightily embarrassed when their flock comes to them and asks them why there were not taught the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.

The concept of the firstfruits, or the firstborn, contains the idea that these are specially holy to the Lord. I have been told that in Jewish tradition the firstborn receive the double portion of the inheritance; but this is so he may take care of his younger brothers and sisters.

This sounds right to me. The Bible principle is that the stronger assist the weaker. We see this taking place in every church that is following the Lord. I would draw from this that the Lord’s firstfruits will have the responsibility of assisting the remainder of the Church until they too are able to resist sin and live in victory.

Let me venture that when the Lord returns, the victorious saints will be resurrected and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Then they will descend with Him and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

During the next thousand years I believe these same victorious believers will work alongside Jesus in governing the nations that have been saved from destruction. I believe also that some of them will be employed by the Holy Spirit to teach and otherwise help the remainder of the Church until all of God’s elect are ready to descend to the new earth as the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church.

This would follow the type of David’s rule over Judah for seven years prior to governing all of Israel.

This to me is a godly scenario. It is scriptural. It follows the types. I always test my ideas about Heaven and the new world by seeing if is working today. It has to be practical and workable if it is of the Lord.

Sure enough. This is what you see today. A handful of believers who are carrying their cross after the Lord. These might be thought of as "Zion," that is, the Ark as it was kept during David’s life in the suburb of Jerusalem called Zion.

The rest of the believers are as the remainder of the Tabernacle. It was located a few miles north of Jerusalem at the high place in Gibeon. In those days the Tabernacle included everything except the Ark. This means the Day of Atonement could not be celebrated. The Holy of Holies was empty.

This tells me that the authority of judgment, as well as a special Presence of the Lord, will be given to the victorious saints so they can participate in the work of reconciling God’s people to Himself.

But, as the Ark was restored to the other furnishings of the Tabernacle in the Temple of Solomon, so it will be that the Church once again will be whole, including all of God’s saints.

We notice, in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, that the firstfruits make themselves ready. They do this by putting away sin and living a victorious life.

But when the entire Church appears, in the twenty-first chapter of Revelation, we find the Wife of the Lamb did not make herself ready but "is prepared," suggesting she may have been made ready by others.

There may be special places assigned to the victorious saints that will be their possession for eternity, such as the role of being a pillar in the Temple of God. However, they will be one with all of God’s Israel.

The higher we go in the Lord, the more we become a servant of all—just the opposite of what is true of worldly government.

Remember the three on the Mount of Transfiguration, the Twelve, the seventy, and the remainder of those who listened to the Lord. There is no doubt God chooses whom He will and draws them close to Himself. I got to thinking about this fact the other day and realized there really is nothing we can do about God’s choices. To accuse God of not being fair is nonsense. God can do as He will, and He, and only He, determines what is just and fair and what is not just and fair.

We in America may be too puffed up to let God be God, but He will be God nevertheless.

There is a firstfruits to God and the Lamb, and there is no reason why you and I can’t be part of it. It is up to us to decide which we want more—our life in the world or our life in Christ. I for one have made up my mind, and I have not chosen life in the world!

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

Accepting Doctrine or Accepting Christ?—There is a difference between accepting Christ and accepting doctrine. To accept the Christian doctrine is to be converted to the Christian religion. To accept Christ is to become acquainted with a living Person with whom we can have daily fellowship.

In the beginning twelve men walked through the land of Israel with Jesus of Nazareth. Today Christianity is one of the great religions of the world. As a result, there always is the danger that people will become acquainted with the religion and not with Jesus of Nazareth.

When the Lord Jesus invited us to abide in Him, He was expressing the simplest and yet most profound concept of what it is to be a Christian. All we need do is live in and with Him each day of our life. But this is not as easy as it sounds. There are many aspects of life on earth that seek to distracts us from simply abiding in Jesus.

I believe one of our problems has to do with how we are brought to Christianity in the first place. The temptation is to take a few verses removed from their contexts, formulate a "plan of salvation," and invite the inquirer to profess faith in these verses. I think sometimes people who make these professions really come to the living Man. I wonder sometimes about others.

If we don’t encourage the inquirer to press through in prayer until he makes contact with the Lord Himself, then he may not be as apt to make a practice of cultivating the Presence of the Lord in hisr daily life thereafter.

Certainly a great part of our church services are about Jesus rather than being in Jesus. By this I mean we do not always seek the Presence of Christ Himself. We may sing about Him, preach about Him, testify about Him, but are we truly contacting Him?

Is our daily life in Christ or about Christ?

As I contemplate the actions of today’s organizations I am certain they mean well as they plan how to propagate their religion. But It seems to me they are not always hearing from the Lord. They are developing their plans as prayerfully as they know how to do. But developing denominational plans and asking the Lord to bless them, and hearing from the Lord, are two different matters.

It seems to me the Lord Jesus is closer to us than ever before, speaking generally of the entire Church. But He is on the outside asking for admittance to our personality. He promised He would dine with us. Why should we scurry around trying to work for Jesus and talking about Him when He is willing to dine with us in an intimate, personal manner?

I think our religion has become a matter of talk. We need to hear from Jesus Himself. I don’t believe we need more plans to help Him out in the work of building His Church. If we would wait until we are hearing from Him and know what He desires, it might be quite different from what we suppose He desires.

Perhaps each one of us should make an effort—each in his or her own way—to find out what the Lord is saying to him or her. I believe He is more willing to have fellowship with us than we are to have fellowship with Him. Maybe it is easier to keep Him at a distant and work for Him and talk about Him than it is to slow down enough to actually come to know Him.

Have you been brought to Jesus Himself, or were you directed to express faith in some verses in the New Testament? Are you living in daily contact with the Man?

You can, you know!

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39,40)

The Day of Vengeance—The Prophet Isaiah speaks of "the day of vengeance of our God." The terrified demons asked Jesus of Nazareth, "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" The Lord Jesus, after reading from the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah, rolled up the scroll just before reading "the day of vengeance of our God." I submit that Day has arrived.

At one time there was a great rebellion among the angels of God. Aside from removing them from their places of authority in Heaven, God has never visited the full extent of His wrath on them. But He shall at the appointed time.

If we would understand the history of the world we must grasp the fact that God is using evil to accomplish His purposes. God does not cause evil, neither does He cause anyone to sin. Rather God in His infinite wisdom takes what exists and uses it for His own ends.

He easily could have prevented Satan from tempting Adam and Eve, but He chose not to. He easily could have intervened at any point in history and prevented sin, disease, suffering, and death. But He chose not to.

If we would understand a righteous, compassionate God permitting the horrors that people have experienced, we must understand God has a plan that ultimately will bring righteousness, peace, and joy to His creation. That plan has several dimensions, such as the developing of a wife for the Lamb, brothers for Christ, and rulers over the works of God’s hands.

Chief among these dimensions of His plan is the creation of an eternal dwelling place for Himself. Man was created to be the dwelling place of God for eternity.

In order for man to be the dwelling place of God, man must be made in God’s image. In order for man to be made in God’s image, the sinful nature must be removed from man, and man must be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. The negative is the removal of the sinful nature; the positive is the change into the image of the Lord Jesus, first in the inward nature and finally in the body.

For two thousand years the Christian salvation has been thought of primarily as the forgiveness of our sins. To be saved is to have our sins forgiven. Our sins are forgiven by means of the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary.

However, forgiveness, as desirable as it is from our standpoint, does not accomplish God’s purpose in creating a dwelling place for Himself. We have to be made in God’s image before God can find rest in us. I think you will be able to see the sense of this.

Therefore we need to ask the question: Does the New Testament indicate our salvation primarily is one of forgiveness, of is it primarily one of a change in what we are, with the forgiveness of our sins included.

When we examine the Book of Hebrews to discover why the new covenant is superior to the old, we notice the reason is advanced that while the old covenant was written on tables of stone, the new covenant is written on our mind and heart.

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Hebrews 8:10-12)

We observe that the forgiveness of our sins is included but not central to the new covenant.

The writing of the eternal moral law on our mind and heart is equivalent to the positive aspect of redemption I mentioned previously: the forming of Christ in us. Christ is the eternal moral law of God made flesh. When the law is written on our mind and heart, then we are the flesh made the law.

We mentioned, however, that there is both a negative and a positive aspect of our change into the image of God. The positive is the forming of Christ in us. The negative is the removing of the sinful nature from us.

We see in Hebrews that our redemption does not consist only or even primarily of the forgiveness of our sins. Its emphasis is the transformation of our mind and heart due to the writing of the moral law of God on them.

But how about the negative aspect, the removing of our sinful nature? Does the New Testament emphasize this?

It assuredly does. Much of the writing of the Apostle Paul has to do with the removal of our sinful nature, accompanied by the warning that if we yield to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

In the Book of First John we read that the Lord Jesus Christ was revealed that He might destroy the works of the devil, not forgive the works of the devil.

We stated at the beginning of this article that a time will come when God visits the fullness of His wrath on the spirits that rebelled against Him. That time has arrived. And it will begin in those who are living in victory in Christ.

We Christians of today are the result of the labors and sacrifices of believers who have gone before us. We know what it means to be born again. We have been baptized by immersion in water. We have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. We are acquainted with the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit.

Now we have come to the Day of Vengeance of our God. We are a firstfruits of this aspect of redemption, which consists of judgment on Satan and his associates. God is ready now to avenge Himself of the heavenly rebellion, and He is beginning with those believers who are living close to Himself.

I am saying God is ready to destroy the sinful nature from us.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

How does this work?

The Holy Spirit will bring us into situations that will bring up different parts of our sinful nature. This does not occur all at once, but slowly, over a period of time, as we are able to bear it.

Some parts of our sinful nature, such as using profanity for example, we may be able to cease practicing through our own will power. This we should do. We always should do whatever we can to obey the commandments found in the New Testament. If we do not, we will make no progress in the program of redemption.

However, I am not speaking now merely of seeking to obey the written Word of God, as necessary as that always is. Rather I am speaking of a work of redemption as sovereignly imposed as was true of the atonement made on the cross.

This is an epochal advance in the process of redemption.

Let us say the Holy Spirit brings us into a situation so grievous that we speak profanely, even though we do not ordinarily do this. What are we to do?

We confess this action to the Lord as sin. (Sometimes confessing to a fellow Christian whom we trust is quite effective.)

We declare vehemently that we have sworn and that profanity is a sinful action. If we are not forceful and clear in our confession of sin, we will not be delivered. Both the Holy Spirit and the evil spirits are waiting to see if we really are judging our action as sin.

Then we denounce profanity as having no place in the Kingdom of God. We add to this that we want nothing more to do with it for eternity. It is evil and we renounce it totally.

God then will forgive us and purify us from the spirit of profanity. The compulsion to swear may leave immediately, or we may have to resist it for a season. But God has said if we will confess our sin, He will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness, If we will maintain our attitude of rejection of swearing, total deliverance shall take place. This is as certain as any other promise God has made to us.

Now, what has taken place here? It is the Day of Vengeance of our God. It is the beginning of the removal of Satan in every place he is entrenched. The work of removing Satan from the creation has begun and shall continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. When the new Jerusalem descends through the sky and is installed on the new earth, Satan will no longer be present among people as he is today.

Also, those evil spirits that have plagued people for so many thousands of years will be in torment where they belong. They never again will be allowed to circulate among the children of God. A wonderful thought, isn’t it?

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you question my statement that the Day of Vengeance has commenced. In this case, go directly to the Lord Jesus. Ask Him if what I have written is the truth; to show you something in your life that you are to judge as sin. When He does, confess your sin to the Lord (don’t justify it) and denounce it as evil. Then determine to never, ever do that again.

If you are set free from the particular behavior, then you are the better for it, aren’t you? Whether you believe what I have told you is not the issue. What is important is that you are delivered from your sinful nature so God can make His eternal home in you. Isn’t that right?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:2)

The Inward Man—Man has been created spirit, soul, and body. Two of these three parts are invisible to us in the present hour, and one is visible. Perhaps we can think of the spirit and soul as the inward man, and the body as the outward man. The visible outward man is the house in which the invisible inward man lives.

Each of us has an inward man and an outward man. Our inward man consists of our spirit and soul. Out outward man is our body, the house in which our inward man resides.

We know quite a lot about the outward man. We know he was created originally from the dust of the ground. Since that time he has been formed in the womb of a woman. We can see him. We know what he looks like. We know from the writings of the Apostle Paul and from experience that there is a sinful nature dwelling in him.

We actually know little about our inward man. We can draw some conclusions from the description of the rich man in Hell.

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, For I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so they will not also come to this place of torment. (Luke 16:23-28)

Remember that the rich man had died and had been buried. His body was in the ground. Since the rich man was not in his body, being in Hell, we can gain some idea of what is true of us when we our inward man is in the spirit world.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. (Luke 16:22)

The rich man could see across the chasm to where Abraham and Lazarus were.

The rich man was able to converse with Abraham and recognized him and Lazarus.

He had a tongue. He had eyes.

He was able to remember that he had had good thing in his lifetime and Lazarus had suffered.

He was thirsty and in agony.

He remembered his brothers and was concerned for their welfare.

The inward nature of the rich man was able to see, to think, to hear, to speak, to remember. He was able to feel heat on his skin.

If he had a tongue, and was able to feel the heat on his skin, it is likely he was in a bodily form similar to his physical form. The fact that he recognized Lazarus and Abraham indicates they also were in a familiar physical form.

This being the case, we might venture that our inward man looks like our outward man and functions in much the same way when it no longer is at home in the body.

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (II Corinthians 5:9)

It may come as a surprise to us to think of our inward man looking like our outward man, but such probably is the case.

So we have a visible outward man, and an invisible inward man.

Some questions arise:

When and where did the inward man come into existence? Was he created in the womb when the outward man was formed?

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

The above verse could mean Jeremiah’s inward man existed before his body was formed in the womb. I don’t think this is the case. I think it means God was able to speak into the future concerning Jeremiah, just as in the case of God’s elect who were known to Him from the beginning of the world.

What happens to the inward man when we are born again? We know being born again happens to our inward man, not to our outward man. The outward man is born of the water, in physical birth. The inward man probably is created along with the fetus in the womb. The inward man, in order to enter the Kingdom of God, must be born again of the Spirit of God.

The New Testament has some things to say about the inward man:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; To be made new in the attitude of your minds; And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

When Paul speaks of the old self I assume he means both the inward man and the outward man. Our first personality is corrupted by its deceitful desires.

Paul exhorts us to be made new in the attitude of our minds, and thus to put on the new self in the image of God. This new self will result in a change of behavior on our part, but it will not change the appearance of our physical body, our outward man.

But it very well may be true that by renewing our mind in the Bible, in prayer, and in the other ways by which God shows us His Glory, our inward nature will change, not only in its tendencies but also in its appearance. Without our knowing it, if we are sincerely following Christ, our inward man, that can be seen in the spirit world, may be changing in appearance. Think of it!

This suggests to me that the inward man of the unsaved person may be a wretched looking creature, shrunken, ugly, exhibiting the sinful nature that has accumulated since the rebellion of Adam and Eve.

Imagine! Here we see a handsome man or beautiful woman. Yet in the spirit world the handsome man is a dwarfed, cunning looking person, drooling at the mouth because he is bound with lust. The beautiful woman is seen to be a self-seeking, domineering individual who is anxious to be married so she can order her husband to fulfill all her desires.

The man comes to Christ and then lives as a disciple, studying the Bible each day; praying; meeting with fervent disciples. He decides to present his body a living sacrifice, doing all the Lord commands in His Word and to the man personally.

In the spirit world, his appearance begins to change. He grows in stature. His face reveals integrity. He is upright, no longer bound with lust.

Likewise the woman develops a gentle, quiet spirit. Now in the spirit world she is radiant with loveliness.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. (I Peter 3:3,4)

Perhaps some of this change can be seen in the physical world; but I imagine the full growth in the image of Christ is seen best as the inhabitants of the spirit world observe the inward man of the man and woman.

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. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:8-11)

Again we see the accent on being renewed in knowledge. When Paul exhorts us to take off the old self and put on the new self, he must be speaking only of the inward man. We don’t take off our body, our outward man, and put on a new body. So we are to get rid of our old inward man and, by a change of knowledge and attitude, put on the new inward man. We have to do this with the help of the Holy Spirit and, as I have said, by living as a fervent disciple of Jesus.

"Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free." As far as the inward man is concerned, there is no race or social station. Evidently race and social station are not carried forward into the spirit world.

This surprises me, somewhat, because five times in the Old Testament the expression is used concerning someone who died physically, "he was gathered to his people." This was said of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, and Aaron. Perhaps "his people" means the people with whom he rightfully belongs, without regard to race.

The Lord Jesus told us that His people are those who do God’s will, not necessarily those of His own family.

I am not certain at this point how completely true this is. What we are saying is that race is a function of the outward man, the body. Race may not affect the inward man, the spirit and soul.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; But I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (Romans 7:21-23)

The inward man of the Apostle Paul loved righteousness. This is not true of the inward man of all people. In the case of Paul, there was a conflict between his inward man and his outward man. Notice how Paul equates his inward man with his mind.

While Paul was under the law, his inward nature was held captive by the sinful nature dwelling in the members of His body.

Paul deplored his captivity, and in the eighth chapter of Romans leads us through the steps that will result finally in the redemption of his outward man, that is, the redemption of his mortal body by filling it with the Spirit of God. This will occur when the Lord returns.

As Christians, we are in a warfare between our inward nature (if we really want to be righteous) and the sinful nature that dwells in the members of our body. If we are willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit by refusing to live according to our sinful nature, our body will be set free from sin, being made alive by the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

But if we as a Christian, continue to live according to the lusts and passions of our sinful nature, our inward man will not grow into the image of Christ. In the Day of Resurrection our body will reflect our misshapen inward man. Even if Christ permits us to enter the new world of righteousness, we will have lost most if not all of our inheritance as a son of God.

I know of no message more in need of being presented to the Christians of our time.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (II Corinthians 4:16)

What happens to our body in the present life is not of eternal importance. God will make certain we have all we need in this world. But if we are submitting to Christ each day, our inward man is being renewed. He is growing in strength and godliness. This will be revealed when the Lord returns.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesus was that their inward man would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The stronger the inward man is, the more readily Christ can dwell in it. It is our faith that causes us to emphasize our inward man rather than our outward man—to live with our eyes on that which is invisible.

It is the will of God that our inward man be filled with all the fullness of God. Then, when the Lord appears, our outward man can be filled with that same fullness. When the entire body of saints has been filled with all the fullness of God in the inward man and the outward man, they shall descend through the new sky to be established forever on the new earth as the new Jerusalem.

The more we follow Christ the stronger and more godly our inward man becomes. Meanwhile our outward man is growing old. If we truly have followed Jesus, our outward man will be transformed in the Day of the Lord.

But if we have not truly followed the Lord Jesus, choosing instead to live according to the world and our fleshly desires, then, whether or not we are a Christian, in the Day of the Lord we will be clothed according to our sinful nature. We will not receive eternal life in our resurrected body. We will be raised to shame and everlasting contempt.

We know unsaved people have an inward man, because the rich man in Hell had an inward man. So how is the inward man of the Christian different?

When God created Adam, did He create an inward man as well as an outward man? When God warned Adam, God said "You are dust and to the dust you shall return." It is interesting that God did not refer to Adam’s inward man, his spirit and soul. It sounds as though Adam consisted only of an outward man.

This probably was not the case, although Adam’s inward man must have been as a blank tablet on which nothing as yet had been written. God ignored Adam’s inward man, and referred only to Adam’s outward man.

When God formed Eve from Adam, did God form an inward person in Eve such that Eve’s body, which God made at that time from Adam, was inhabited by an inward Eve who was not of Adam?

We need to ask ourselves, "Who is the real person? Is it my body, my house, my outward man? Or am I really the inward man, the person no one can see?"

Although we do not usually think of it, the invisible world is all around us. We always are surrounded with people, angels, and spirits righteous and wicked. They can see our inward man, and perhaps at times our outward man as well.

Our culture in America is based almost entirely on the outward man. The media continually refer to the outward man. It is seldom in our materialistic culture that attention is paid to our inward man. Yet, our inward man is our true person.

What practical use do my speculations serve? It is my intention that all of my writings serve to bring Christians to righteous behavior...

Just this: "If we spend our life servicing the needs of our outward man, we are foolish. Our outward man is not our real person. Furthermore, it is perishing. We indeed are foolish if we do not realize some day we will be old, wrinkled, tired, and perhaps ill. Why spend all our effort on a body that is going to be useless in a few years?

Our inward man is the important person. He will exist forever. He will not become old, wrinkled, tired, or ill. But he will be punished, as was the rich man, if he does not obey the Lord.

Hell is a real place. It is filled with the inward man of people, and they are suffering.

The Lord Jesus told us if we would see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again. What happens to our outward man when we are born again? Nothing, except that in some cases he may change his behavior.

What happens to our inward man when we are born again? The Divine Seed is planted in our inward man. A new Life comes into being and begins to be developed. That new Seed is Christ, the Son of God. Divinity is born in our inward man.

The inward man begins to change. His habits, attitudes, and desires begin to reflect the Nature of Jesus Christ. I feel certain the observers in the spirit world can see our inward man begin to change before their eyes. Instead of the dwarfed, selfish, self-seeking person they were accustomed to seeing, a new creation is unfolding.

In this world we can conceal what our inward man looks like. But not in the spirit realm. We can hide a lying, self-serving inward man behind a smiling, handsome countenance. We can wear fashionable clothes that cause us to look attractive and prosperous.

But in the spirit world, people may be seeing a gruesome appearing creature, slavering at the mouth because of lust, often behaving violently when provoked, selfish, cursing continually.

And think: this is our eternal personality I am referring to!

When we are born again, and then abide in Christ each day, a new creation comes forth in our inward man. The old things pass away. All things become new, and all things are of God. Think how our loved ones and friends in the spirit world feel when they see this change taking place in us.

Then comes the Day of Resurrection. Our inward man returns with the Lord, or is still in a body on the earth at that time.

Our body rises from the place of death (or is changed if we are alive at the time).

How will we look then, in our new house?

Unlike on the earth where we can conceal an ugly inward man with a handsome outer man, we will receive a body that matches our inward man.

The woman who has a beautiful outward man but a loathsome inward man will then appear as she really is.

I rather suspect that the body we will receive at that time will be our covering, without the need for additional covering, just as an animal ordinarily does not wear clothes.

Here is a real reason for growing in the Lord. We can waste our time and the Lord’s time today, not paying attention to our salvation as we should. Paul says if we yield to our sinful nature we will reap corruption. This is because our inward man has not grown from its original primitive form. We will receive a corresponding body, and be filled with shame when everyone can see what we really are like.

If we instead take up our cross and follow the Lord each day, praying, reading our Bible, working with the Holy Spirit as He removes the sinful nature from us, learning to live by the body and blood of Christ, our inward man will grow into the image of the Lord Jesus.

Then, when our body is raised from the dead, and our inward man once again possesses our resurrected body, the whole personality will be clothed with a body from Heaven that reveals in itself the spiritual stature we have attained through the Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus warned us in the parable of the talents, and in other places, of the danger of not paying attention to the development of our life in Him.

The Apostle Paul warned us clearly of the danger of living according to our sinful nature—the sinful compulsions that reside in our body.

Each one of us has a will. It is our will that defines us as a person.

We can choose to live according to the Holy Spirit, and grow in our inward man into the image of Jesus Christ.

We can, on the other hand, choose to live according to our fleshly desires, and cause our inward man to take on the appearance of a beast.

All is going to be revealed in the Day of Resurrection. What we are becoming now will be available for everyone to see.

How foolish we are to neglect our great salvation. We shall not escape the consequences of our foolish neglect!

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23)

Getting What We Want by Faith—A few years ago the "faith" message was popular. It seems to have died down somewhat. When it was at its height, I asked the Lord if He was going to empower this doctrine. I think the Lord told me that it would die down, and then be revived at a later time.

I haven’t thought about the faith message for several years. It was still pretty strong when we came to Poway 27 years ago, but I have not heard much about it since.

Part of the idea of the faith message was that whatever you said came to pass.

One time after I had finished preaching and we were leaving the building (this happened in another state), I saw a child about to get his fingers caught in a door jamb as the door was closing.

I yelled "Look out!"

The mother informed me that I should not have done that because my saying the child would get hurt would cause it to happen.

I’m still glad I yelled. I would do it again, wouldn’t you?

This shows you the ridiculous lengths people were going to in those days.

I will tell you flat out that I have no confidence in the faith message, the prosperity message, speaking the word of faith, the creative word, imaging, or any of this type of manipulation of the metaphysical world. I have confidence in Jesus, not in my ability to speak words of faith. Am I wrong in this?

The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation speaks of the False Prophet who will assist Antichrist. In my opinion, the False Prophet will consist of people who have learned to work miracles in the name of Jesus, but who are not leading the crucified life.

Please let me explain.

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts and ministries. Also we have the written Word of God. The written Word of God tells us we can work miracles in the name of Jesus. if we have faith we can command a mountain to move from here to there. We shall do greater works than Jesus Christ did when He was here.

Now, I believe what the Lord promised us is precisely true. I would not change one word!

The False Prophet will work mighty miracles. The Lord Jesus told His disciples that they can work mighty miracles if they have faith as small as a mustard seed. But there is an uncrossable chasm between the False Prophet and the disciple, even though both work miracles. What is the difference between the two?

The difference is, the False Prophet decides when and where to exercise spiritual power. The saint looks to the Lord Jesus and does only what the Lord directs him to do. It is just as simple as this. This is the difference between the False Prophet and the saint.

If you will notice carefully, those who preach the faith message, the prosperity message, speaking the word of faith, the creative word, imaging, or any of this type of manipulation of the metaphysical world, are not careful to teach us that we must set aside our own desires, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus.

They protest that if we say "Not my will but Yours be done," it is because we do not have faith. Can you imagine this? They discard the most important prayer of all in their zeal to work miracles and get what they want.

I have seen a little bit of the Glory of God and of His Holy Spirit during my lifetime as a Christian. I know the Glory when I feel it. And these preachers do not operate in this Glory. There is an enthusiasm, an uplifting feeling, and sometimes miracles do take place. But the Presence of Jesus is not there on many occasions.

Dr. Price in his writings tells how he always waited for the Lord’s directions before he did anything.

Can I put in writing what I feel, what I sense?

The heart of the Christian experience is not miracles, It is not "saving souls." It is not a multitude of people. It is not a famous name.

The heart of the Christian experience is the laying down of our life, bringing all of our gifts, ministries, desires, hopes, relationships, and everything else, and laying them at the feet of Jesus.

We do not get up and go forth apart from His direction.

We do not speak words of faith except at His direction.

We do not command mountains except at His direction.

We do not try to build a large church except at His direction.

We do not go forth to try to save souls except at His direction.

This is a real fork in the road. Should we go out and do what we think is right, or should we wait on the Lord for His directions?

All around us we hear of plans and programs to save the world. We hear of people praying that they might save souls. But how often do we hear of people who are waiting on the Lord for His directions?

I think what we have is ambition and presumption. I think we are afraid if we wait for the Lord to speak, nothing will happen. "God’s work is our work," we cry, and sally forth like Don Quixote, praying that God will help us do what we think we ought to do.

Perhaps many Christian people don’t hear from the Lord. This is difficult for me to understand. The Lord Jesus is so close it seems to me if the believer would make the attempt to draw near to the Lord, the Lord will draw near to him. It certainly is worth a try.

In any case, the Bible tells us to not lean on our own understanding but to commit all our ways to the Lord. The promise is He will direct our paths.

The Bible is a record of people who listened to God and obeyed Him. The Lord took the initiative. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the "faith" chapter, is a record of people who obeyed God, not of people "stepping out in faith." We are to obey Christ, not just do whatever we think is right.

The problem is, we are afraid if we wait on the Lord, nothing will happen. We will not be a success. We will not get the job done.

Our attitude is that God is upstairs waiting to see if we are going to go out and rescue the people who are sliding into Hell.

The God of the Bible has a plan. Jesus said, "On this rock I will build My Church." He did not say, "On this rock you will build My Church."

He did not say "Feed your sheep," He said "Feed My sheep." He told Peter what to do.

He did not say, "Go fish for men." He said, "I will make you fishers of men."

He did not say "Go into the harvest." He told us to pray that the Lord will send laborers into the harvest.

This is difficult, at least for us Americans. We readily translate "ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field," into "go out and start working."

These may seem like minor issues. They are not. For two thousand years the Christian churches have, to a certain extent, attempted to use their own strength and wisdom to help the Lord out. The result is a thousand competing denominations, and the world may be more sinful today than ever before in history.

Sometimes when we look to the Lord He says "Go." Sometimes, "Stay." Sometimes, "Pray." Sometimes, "Give." This is the romance, the joy of the Christian walk. It is the adventure, never knowing what the Lord is going to say.

But I’ll tell you it requires a personal crucifixion before we are willing to slow down and just do what God tells us.

Our church is relatively small in numbers. Whenever I go to the Lord, He says, "You take care of the Word. I will take care of the attendance." Is this Jesus talking?

What do you think of such a statement? Do you imagine it is easy when the sign of success in America is a multitude of people in attendance?

But isn’t it true that the Lord wants every church to draw in as many as possible? Is it? Is it really?

If we believe the Lord’s will is that we gather multitudes under our roof, then that becomes our goal. Success is measured in terms of the number of people in attendance.

But what if it isn’t the Lord’s will? What if He desires, in a particular community, to gather a small group of people who will pray for years without any apparent results, because the Lord knows that the area has been the center of demonic bondage, and this bondage must be broken before there can be the fruitfulness Christ desires?

If this were true, in a certain area, then anyone who came in and began to use every technique he had learned in order to draw in crowds of people would be out of the will of Christ. Yes, or no?

And if he is out of the will of Christ, then his efforts will bring only frustration and confusion, if not worse.

I guess the issue is, does Jesus Christ know what He is doing, or doesn’t He? Is He is charge of Gospel work or are we? Until we make that decision, we are not going to be confident that if we wait and pray, the Lord will direct us.

This is what is wrong with the various forms of the "faith" message. It puts the steering wheel in the hands of man. It does not wait for the Lord. Man is in control. This is the False Prophet, even though the name of Jesus is used to work miracles. It speaks with the voice of the dragon: "I will do this by faith. I will do that by faith. I will do the next thing by faith." I will. I will. I will. I will. This is what Satan said in the beginning.

The true saints know the difference. They remain hidden in their prayer closets, waiting on their lovely Lord.

This is not to say God does not have people, such as Billy Graham or Pat Robertson, whom He uses in a spectacular way. God does have such people, and they are not to be hiding in a closet somewhere.

The point is not whether we gain multitudes of people, or a handful; whether we are famous, or unknown; whether we work miracles, or just have to trust; whether God uses us when we are young; or whether all our plans come to nothing and we are old before we receive our marching orders.

All that matters is that the Lord Jesus is being obeyed. He knows what He is doing. God is in control. We do not have to build the Kingdom. That is the business of Jesus Christ. Our place is to be instantly obedient and everlastingly faithful.

This is all He requires of us, no more and no less.

To not wait attentively on the Lord, doing His will as we are instructed, is to neglect our salvation. The end of this is, our inheritance is given to another.

To move out ahead of the Lord is presumption. The result of this is the creation of confusion in the Kingdom of God, if not something worse. Satan has great spiritual ambition, but he has no intention of obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Charismatic move is at just such a crossroads today. I hope many of us will learn to look to the Lord for our directions. It is true that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. It is true also that the prophet is to be subject to the Spirit of God.

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

The Mind—The Apostle Paul places considerable emphasis on the renewing of our mind in Christ. He associates the change in our mind with our new inward nature. We need to understand this because of the extraordinary increase of the electronic communication devices that seek continually to influence our thinking.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; To be made new in the attitude of your minds; And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

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 3:9,10)

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; But I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. (Romans 7:21-23)

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)

"Be made new in the attitude of your minds." This statement tells us that the change from the old inward man to the new inward man is largely the product of a change in our thinking.

"And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." The new inward man is being renewed in knowledge.

"Waging war against the law of my mind." In his mind, the righteous individual wants to do what is pleasing to the Lord.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." This says to me that part of continuing as a disciple is to adopt and maintain a godly attitude.

Remember, the new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God on our mind as well as on our heart.

God has chosen to communicate with the mind of man primarily through the written Word, the Bible. We are to pay careful attention to the words of the Scripture until Christ, the Morning Star is formed in us.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)

God has spoken to many people throughout history. But the Bible remains our most dependable source of what God has said and is saying.

We of the Pentecostal persuasion need to pay strict attention to what the Apostle Paul said about the renewing of our mind in Christ being the key to changing from our old inward man to the new inward man, who is in the image of God. We tend to rely too much on emotion and on tradition. If we are not careful, we no longer will be "people of the Word."

Feelings are important. Emotional response is an important aspect of our salvation. But the Bible is more trustworthy, more authentic as being the voice of God.

Today, at least in the Western nations, there is a battle for the mind. Never before in the history of mankind has the average person been subjected to such a barrage of information. The television was bad enough. Now we have the Internet.

Of course, the electronic media is making possible the spreading of God’s Word to every nation on earth. But the major programming has to do with the world and its values; with the improvement of the condition of the outward man, the physical body. There is little programming dealing with the improvement of the condition of the inward man, the spirit and soul. Isn’t that true?

Because of the emphasis on the joys and needs of the outward man, the program of redemption is facing a major problem, a major hurdle. The true Christian redemption involves a transformation of our inward man into the image of Christ, and, at His coming, a transformation of our outward man.

The transformation of the inward man requires the crucifixion of the old inward man and the putting on of the new inward man. This is difficult enough without the incessant bombarding of our minds with the desirability of improving the condition of our outward man.

The satisfaction of the old inward man has to do with the outward man, with the body. The old inward man finds its fulfillment through the senses of the physical body. Satan derives his pleasures from the senses of the physical bodies of people. Therefore Satan emphasizes at every possible opportunity the need to maintain the old inward man, our original self, in a state of pleasure produced by the stimulation of the senses of our physical body.

Remember, the spirit of the world is concerned only with the pleasure that is brought to the physical body; therefore it strives through education and the media to convince our outward man that it should seek survival and security; joy; and achievement on its own terms, without regard to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Once we decide that Christ is more important than our immediate comfort, and desire to put on the new inward man, who is in the image of Christ, the battle for our mind commences. Satan, working through the educational and communication instruments of the world, keeps pressing on us the desirability of taking care of our physical needs; acquiring as much joy as we can, principally through immoral adventures; and making as much money as we can.

The Christian disciple learns early in his experience that he is against a formidable enemy. He must read His Bible every day, spend time in prayer every day, gather together with fervent believers, and do all in his power to serve God. He must present his body as a living sacrifice, seeking the will of God at all times.

The Christian who does not address himself to the task of keeping his mind renewed in Christ will soon move away from Christ. Why is this? It is because Satan at every minute is pressuring his mind, distracting him, encouraging him to fret about the evil in the world, tempting him to seek to acquire more money; pointing him toward drugs, cigarettes, alcohol, and especially with thoughts of sexual lust.

The chief gods of America are money, sexual lust, violence, pleasure, drunkenness, witchcraft in some instances, and entertainment. These demon gods vaunt themselves in the eyes of the believers through the television, and also through the Internet. American believers are eating food sacrificed to idols when they revel in the satanic activities they are seeing on television or the Internet.

Can you see that the battle is for the mind? If Satan can keep us fascinated with what he is portraying by the media, can you see how we will be prevented from putting on the new man who is in the image of Christ?

We American Christians should live as good citizens, making our contribution to our culture as the Lord leads. But if we will ask the Lord, we will find time and strength each day to look to Him; to learn what His will is and to do it.

In an age that has gone wild with various forms of media, the war is won or lost in the mind. We must discipline our mind to keep looking to Jesus moment by moment. As soon as we let our mind wander we entertain imaginations that are not profitable. Have you noticed that? We have to make the effort to bring every thought under the control of Jesus Christ, which means we limit our exposure to the media to that which is necessary to function in our culture.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

The Kingdom—The original Good News was that the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will in the earth, is at hand. This is what John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Apostles preached. What has happened to the original Gospel?

We are so far off the track today that it is almost impossible to picture the message of the preachers of the original Gospel of the Kingdom, and the way in which the Gospel was perceived by the hearers.

The Jews knew the Prophets spoke of the coming of a kingdom governed by Christ. But they would be thinking, of course, of the kingdom governed by Solomon.

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. (Daniel 2:44)

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:30-33)

How did we ever change the Gospel of the Kingdom into the hope we will go to Heaven to live forever and do we know not what?

I think one reason is that we are not Jews. We do not have the memory of the kingdom of Solomon in our background. As far as the present-day Jews are concerned, I imagine they have forgotten their hope Christ is to come and sit on the throne of David, and are interested mainly in going to Heaven when they die. I very well could be mistaken in this.

There is no basis whatever in the Old Testament or the New that if we are saved we will go to Heaven to live forever.

If I were to guess at Satan’s thinking, I would suppose he is deathly afraid Jesus Christ is going to return and set up His Kingdom on the earth. This, of course, would mean the end of Satan’s rule over the people of the earth, leaving him with nothing but his angels and demons, and the prospect of eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Therefore Satan has promoted the idea that we Gentiles have nothing to do with the Kingdom mentioned by the Prophets. We are a different group, and whatever the Jews are going to do on the earth has nothing to do with us. We are going to go to Heaven to live in mansions. An attractive idea if a person is poor and tired. But the doctrine concerning going to Heaven to live forever has no scriptural foundation whatever.

Since Satan can perceive the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God, of whom Satan is afraid, is on the Christian people, perhaps he figures if he can send us off to Heaven the Jews will not have the power of God to help them resist his evil ways. Thus his rule over earth’s people is preserved.

In fact, this is what Dispensationalism teaches, if I am not mistaken—that when the Christians are caught up into the air to meet the Lord, the Holy Spirit will be caught up with them.

If that were to happen (it will not, it is not scriptural) the earth would be in a bad condition. There would be no light, no witness of God. Wouldn’t Satan love that!

Thus the fulfillment of Dispensational theory would be totally destructive of God’s intention. God’s intention is not to leave His earth and His nations but to install His Kingdom here. After the saints are caught up they will return with the Lord and work with Him installing God’s Kingdom, God’s will, on the earth. Then the meek will inherit the earth and perfect justice will prevail among the nations.

This is the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. It is being restored in our day.

Have you ever noticed that none of the parables of the Lord Jesus is about our going to Heaven to live? The parables are about the Kingdom of God. Read them and see if I am correct.

Now, precisely what is the Kingdom of God? The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints governing all the works of God’s hands. It is an inner rule of God.

The Kingdom of God begins in us when we are born again. It is the Kingdom that is born in us.

How are salvation and the Kingdom of God different?

To be saved is to be preserved during the Day of Wrath. We are saved from Divine wrath. We are saved by believing in Christ and being baptized in water.

How is this different from the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in us. We enter the Kingdom of God by entering the will of God. We enter the will of God by following the Holy Spirit as He leads us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.

Paul told us if we Christians continue to yield to the demands of our sinful nature we will die. If Christ, the Kingdom, is born in us, and we then do not follow the Holy Spirit in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature, the Divine Seed which has born in us will bear no lasting fruit. Then we are cut from the Vine.

But will we be saved anyway, meaning, will we be preserved in the Day of Wrath?

That is up to the Lord Jesus Christ. If He judges us worthy of eternal life, we will be brought over to the new earth when it is created. But if He judges us as a lazy, wicked servant, we will be thrust from His Presence and dismissed to the outer darkness.

We Christians need to begin to think about the reality of the Kingdom of God. It is a genuine kingdom. Jesus Christ is a genuine King. He will rule over all the works of God’s hands. Once God has put everything beneath the feet of Jesus, then the Lord Jesus will be subject to God. This is the Kingdom of God.

How about today where there is so much sin in the churches? The Lord told us, as described in the Book of Matthew, that in the last days the messengers of God will come and remove all sin from the Kingdom. As far as I can tell, this great work has begun. Those who cooperate with the Holy Spirit will experience the sin being removed from them. However, those Christians who refuse to confess and turn away from their sins will be removed from the Kingdom.

There will be no sin of any kind whatever in the Kingdom of God. I guess we know instinctively, but we don’t know how it all fits together.

Perhaps the greatest impediment to our thinking is the concept that our destiny is Heaven. As long as this is our vision, the idea of there being no sin in us or in the Kingdom of God. Is somewhat confused.

But once we accept the true vision, that God is building a kingdom that one day will be installed on the earth, the idea of sin being removed from the Kingdom begins to seem possible.

The Kingdom of God comes when the Holy Spirit casts out Satan.

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. (Matthew 12:28)

The Kingdom of God is a genuine government. It does not accept disobedience to God in any form. We cannot maintain our own stubborn and rebellious ways and enter the Kingdom of God, not by grace, faith, mercy, or any other consideration.

So we see how far we have departed from the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. We have fastened on eternal residence in the spirit world as our goal. We have decided it is not necessary to live righteously because we will go to our eternal home in Heaven by grace operating through our faith. Thus God is left with people who never have been made in His image.

Jesus said we could not see or enter the Kingdom of God until we were born again of the Spirit. Today we use the term "born again" to describe someone who has made a profession of faith in Christ. People who are living ungodly lives claim to be born again, because they have taken the "four steps of salvation."

They have not been born again if their behavior is not changing.

Let us say proud parents announce a baby has been born to them. If it is possible we would like to get a look at the baby. Isn’t that true? We want to see the baby.

If someone says he has been born again, we want to see the baby. If something has been born, where is it?

If what we see in the individual is the same of pattern of sinful behavior, malice, lying, a lack of integrity, foolishness, lust, jealousy, gossiping, where is the baby?

The baby is Christ. Where is He? He is not evident in malice, lying, a lack of integrity, foolishness, lust, jealousy, or gossiping.

To be born again is to have Christ born in us. Isn’t that so? Christ is born in our heart through the Holy Spirit. The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us, the hope of glory.

The Kingdom of God comes as Christ is conceived in us and then is formed in us. As Christ is formed in us, our behavior changes. How could it be otherwise? Are we to say that an individual can have Christ formed in him and still live like the people of the world?

If people anywhere at any time were ever at a fork in the road, it is the Christians in America. The Spirit of God is restoring to us the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. We are going to take one road or the other. Either we are going to persist in our unscriptural idea that we can keep on as we are, lying, gossiping, hating, being filled with bitterness and envy, with the idea that we have our ticket and are going to enter Heaven by grace.

Or we can begin now to enter the Kingdom of God. But this means turning aside from our love of the world and its ways; confessing and renouncing the lusts of our flesh; and remaining steadfastly in the prison in which the Lord places us so our self-will and self-seeking might be destroyed from us.

The Kingdom of God is at hand. There are those who are selling all that they might press into it. Then there are others who are persisting in the idea that the Lord is just about to carry them to Heaven so they will be happy forever.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)

The Barren Bear Fruit—When God is going to use someone to perform an outstanding work, God often brings that individual through many years of barrenness. Then the work of God can be seen as the miracle that it is, rather than as the natural ability of the person.

When we consider the experience of Sarah, of Hannah, of Joseph, of the mother of John the Baptist, we realize God’s way is to prepare in advance someone He intends to use in an unusual manner. Sometimes, as in the case of Sarah and Joseph, God gives them beforehand an indication that they have been chosen for an important work or position.

It is not particularly pleasant when all around you others are flourishing. Why should you be the one who cannot seem to fulfill the normal expectations of those who depend on you? This certainly was the case with Sarah, wasn’t it, when her servant could become pregnant so readily. Also with Hannah, who was mocked by her husband’s other wife.

Joseph was inexperienced enough to point out to his brothers and parents that God was going to exalt him. But this did not happen until many years later. In the meanwhile Joseph experienced pain and disappointment.

If Sarah, Hannah, and the mother of John the Baptist, had conceived in the ordinary manner, there would have been no dramatic Divine intervention announcing that God was going to use the child in a special way. Also, the mother would not have been made ready by years of prayer and longing.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

If God has something special for you, you may be denied the attention and advantages that normally would have come to you. It might seem that God has overlooked you, or that you are not worthy, or that for some other reason He is not going to honor your prayers or your desires. You are fated to grow old and die without ever seeing your hopes realized.

The danger here is, like Sarah, we will decide to help God out. We will kindle sparks and walk in the light of our own fires, as the Bible says. The result of answering our own prayers will be an Ishmael. We may take pleasure in what our ambition has brought forth, just as Abraham took pleasure in Ishmael. But this is not God’s answer to our prayers, and in the end our adventure will not bring joy to us.

It is best to pray and wait.

It is interesting that in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, where God speaks concerning the barren woman, we find she has become the mother of the new Jerusalem.

O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires. (Isaiah 54:11)

God may be looking today for believers who are willing to wait for God. Are you one such person? My personal opinion is that an individual who will let his requests be made known to the Lord, and then obey God implicitly in every detail of life, makes things possible for God to do what otherwise would not have been possible.

The way of the heroes of faith is that of patience, and oftentimes suffering. They have to endure many perplexities and frustrations. But God has said if we will ask anything in Jesus’ name, He will do it. I believe this. I believe this absolutely!

So let us tell God what is on our heart, and then wait for the answer. If our prayer for some reason is amiss, and we are open to the Lord, He will direct our prayer until it is on target. Then God is bound by His Word to answer.

If God has promised you something, or if you are believing God to fulfill some hope or need you have, then never, never, never quit. Remind God each day what you are hoping for, and then give thanks. Be courteous. Be polite. But keep holding your request before the Lord.

Maybe your prayer is for the salvation or a loved one. Or for physical healing. Or for a mighty revival. Whatever it is, God is willing and able to answer.

The answer may come before you stop praying. Or it may come after fifty years. Just don’t give up in despair, thinking God has not heard you. He has heard you; and if you will obey Him in all He directs you to do, the answer finally will come. It cannot be otherwise. God has stated that He will give you whatever you ask in Jesus’ name.

As I have said in previous writings, I asked God many years ago for the opportunity to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom everywhere people breathe the air. At the time I was not a minister or pastor. I was a schoolteacher. The prayer was absurdly impractical and unrealistic.

How could I know one day I would be teaching hundreds of leaders from the countries of the Third World?

How could I know then that the personal computer and the Internet would be invented enabling me to reach multiplied thousands of people around the world?

How could I know at that time that God would call me into the ministry and I would be pastoring a church, and training disciples who are well able to teach and preach what God has shown me?

How could I know I would be able to write hundreds of books and booklets and God would raise up people to help me by sending these writings to so many places?

My prayer has not been answered as yet, but the answer certainly is closer to being fulfilled than it was when I asked God for the opportunity to preach the Kingdom of God throughout the world.

I still am waiting for the answers to that prayer and other requests that I have. I know the answers will come in God’s time and in God’s way. It is my place to trust and obey.

It is your place to trust and obey. Tell God about all that is on your heart. Then obey Him. Your day will come.

"Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD. (Isaiah 54:1)

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10,11)

Everything on the Altar—We have to put every relationship, every thing, every circumstance, yes, and our life also, on the altar of God. This means we are not to clutch anything but to leave all in God’s faithful hands. Whatever we insist on clinging to we will lose. All must be made new in Christ.

God has said He is going to make all things new. Notice that God is not making all new things, but all things new. God has in mind to take everything of the material creation that is worthy of the Kingdom, and then make it new in Christ. The end result will be that everything in the creation is a reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first aspect God makes new in our life is our inner man. God touches our inner man with His Divine life and plants His Word in our inner man. A new Life is born in us. If we were in the spirit world and could see our inner man before he was touched by the Lord we would observe a spiritually dead, shrunken, misshapen creature. When our inner man is touched by the Lord of Life a radiance surrounds him that was not present before. Also we can see the beginning outline of God in Him. He has been born again.

In order for this to happen we have to declare that we have died on the cross with Jesus Christ. Now we have risen to walk in newness of life. Our physical form may not reflect this change to any great extent, however it indeed has taken place in our inner self.

Now the Holy Spirit begins to deal with the things, relationships, and circumstances of our life in the world. Every one of these things, relationships, and circumstances must be on the altar. That is, we must have decided that when God asks for something so He can put it to death and then raise it in Christ, we are willing to let it go.

If we are not willing to let any thing, relationship, or circumstance go, then it is an idol. In this case we need to pray for God to break the idolatrous grasping in our personality concerning the particular issue.

Anything that we cling to, that we grasp, that we are obsessed with, is a chain. We don’t realize it, but it is a chain, a bondage. God wants to set us free from everything that would have dominion over us.

God is over Christ. Christ is over us. We are to be over every aspect of the creation. Nothing is to be between us and Christ—, no, not even the fact of our own life. That also must be on the altar.

As a pastor I have counseled people to let go of things that were troubling them. In one case concerning a man, it was bitterness toward an individual who he felt had cheated him in business. I told him to let the bitterness go—to pray until there was no more bitterness. This the man did, gaining complete victory, allowing himself to be defrauded. Then God moved the one causing the bitterness out of the area.

In another instance it was a man attempting to cling to a relationship. My counsel was to give the relationship to God and let God restore the relationship according to His own will. This proved to be too difficult for the man. He was unable to give it to the Lord. He kept trying to force it. The result was, the relationship was destroyed.

The Lord Jesus told us if we tried to save our life we would lose it. This is so true!

Everything that we are and possess must be given to the Lord, including our health, our money, our family, our job—absolutely everything! Anything we cling to is loss for Christ. We must give it all to the Lord so He can put it to death and then raise it in Himself. Once the Lord raises a part of our life in Himself, it is our possession for eternity.

God will be God! He will not permit us to worship and cling to anyone or anything except Himself. We may find this difficult to do. But if we do not, we are going to lose what we are grasping.

Great freedom, joy, and confidence result when we place all of our treasures in Heaven. We just have to have faith in the Lord that He will not permit a hair of our head to perish. All that will bring us eternal joy will be given to us in the present world or in the next. We do not have to hold on to anything except the Lord.

You know, there is only one world, only one place where people live. Part of it we can see. The greater part is the world of spirits, the world we can’t see.

When we commit a circumstance or relationship to the Lord, placing it in Heaven as it were, it may be out of our sight for a season. But it is there waiting for us. Let us have faith in the faithfulness of God. No good thing will God withhold from the person who walk uprightly before Him.

You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Be Not Afraid!—"The fear of man brings a snare," the Bible proclaims, "but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." Whenever we act out of fear we make mistakes. The very thing we fear happens to us.

Have you ever noticed that when you act out of fear you makes mistakes? I have tried to make it a practice to deal with fear and get victory over it before I make a decision.

We can always ask God, and He will remove the fear from us.

The Bible counsels us to direct our fear and dread to the Lord.

The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread, (Isaiah 8:13)

We never are to fear Satan, or Antichrist, or any other worker of evil. The Lord Jesus is a king, and when we are afraid of His enemies He is insulted. It is as though we are saying the enemy is greater than Christ.

Fear and faith cannot dwell in our heart at the same time. Fear and unbelief are closely related. The Lord was displeased when the Israelites were afraid of the warriors of Canaan, and turned His people back into the wilderness to wander there for thirty-eight more years.

The fearful, or cowardly, are the first type of individual listed as candidates for the Lake of Fire. This probably seems strange to us. Fear and cowardice in our minds are not great sins. But they can keep us from seeking the Lord. In order to live as a victorious saint we have to exercise courage on many occasions. We have to trust in the Lord’s Word and keep on pressing forward.

The wicked flee when no one is chasing them, but the righteous are bold as lions. Faith in God gives us the courage to march forward in this valley of the shadow of death, in which we are attempting to survive and serve the Lord.

When we let fear into our mind and heart we do not pray. We do not receive the wisdom and confidence that the Holy Spirit has for us. As I said, we make mistakes. In fact, that which we fear comes upon us.

Realize the spirit of fear comes from the enemy. You just have to pray and resist it until you have peace.

The fear that they will suffer during the Great Tribulation, and the fear of Antichrist, have caused people to accept the "pre-tribulation rapture" error. This is displeasing to God. The only fear we should have is that of displeasing the Lord. As long as we are pleasing to God, we have nothing to fear—or so the Bible teaches us.

Sin makes us cowardly. When we have put away our sin and are walking uprightly before God we are strong in faith and courage. We know God is with us. We know no weapon formed against us will prosper. We know God will justify us when we are judged. We know no power in the heavens or upon the earth can harm us in any manner.

Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Faith dispels fear as the morning sun dispels the fog.

The wicked have no such confidence. They are afraid of dying. They are afraid of losing their money, or of not having enough to eat, or that people will find out what they are doing in their secret places.

The righteous have no fear of death but are looking forward to going to their reward. They know God has promised to supply their needs. They run to the light that their integrity may be revealed for all to see.

The fear of man causes us to stumble. All fear weakens us and makes us indecisive. God has not given us a spirit of timidity but of power, love, and sound judgment. We walk with confidence in the physical world and in the things of the Spirit because God goes before us and protects us.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

One World—There is only one world where people live. Most of the people live in the invisible part of the world. A much smaller group lives in the visible part of the world where we can see them. Perhaps as the return of the Lord draws near we will become more conscious of the part of the world that is invisible in the present hour.

Maybe it is just true of me—perhaps because I am growing old. But the invisible part of the world, the spirit area, is becoming of increasing interest. Sometimes—not as often as I would like—I get glimpses of people or things. I have prayed that God would open my eyes to the invisible world, but it has not happened as yet. I suppose there is a good reason for this.

On occasion, people who have died recently are so real to me that I can almost see them. This impression will continue for two or three days, and then fade away.

I am not into any unhealthy worship of angels, nor do I attempt to communicate with dead people. The Lord warned me against this and so I do not do it, no matter how real they seem. After all, I believe demons can imitate people to where you can’t tell the difference.

And so they remain mute, as I do. But they seem real enough. I often have strong impression of my mother and father, long deceased. As I wrote before, I think I saw a Muslim warrior, a warlord, who had been killed recently in Afghanistan. He was standing on a plain, no vegetation, and no dancing girls. He was angry and said, "I have been deceived." Was this a genuine glimpse of the invisible world? I am not certain.

I guess if a person puts his treasures in Heaven, and tries to set his affection on things above, he is going to become interested in the people and real estate of that place. Does this seem reasonable to you?

Many saints have had glimpses of their loved ones who have passed on. I believe my father-in-law, after he had died, prayed over my oldest boy on one occasion. At least my son had that impression.

Catherine Marshall speaks of being aware of Peter just after he passed away. I think I read a while back of Norman Vincent Peale seeing his deceased father during a church service.

I collect any books I can find written by people who have died and been resuscitated. Most that I have read, like the experience of Marietta Davis (Scenes Beyond the Grave), are very believable. "Intra Muros" is another good one, and is available from Christ for the Nations. "Return from Tomorrow" by a psychiatrist is especially inspiring.

Another valuable source are the books that describe the visions of Sundar Singh of India. "Visions Beyond the Veil," the story of the Chinese orphans, should be in every Christian’s library.

I haven’t had any experiences like these but I am a candidate.

It sure helps when life becomes a drudgery to read and think about the wonderful world that as yet is invisible to us.

Rebecca Springer in "Intra Muros" recounts that the protracted experience she had was more of an audio-visual lesson rather than an actual life in Heaven. I think she is accurate, and I will tell you why.

I believe our picture of Heaven is inaccurate. For example, there is no biblical basis whatever for the idea of mansions. No modern translation presents the Greek term for "abodes" as "mansions." The word simply does not mean a large, elaborate house but a room where people live.

The "streets of gold" comes from the description of the new Jerusalem, which will be located on the new earth (although at the present time it is in Heaven.)

The idea of God wiping away tears, which we speak of so hopefully, does not refer to the Christian people but to the people of the nations who have been saved.

I do not know where golden slippers or backyards full of diamonds came from. The precious stones described in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation are in the twelve foundations of the wall.

The wild animals dwelling with the domestic animals and being led about by children is a picture of the earth (during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, I believe).

As far as beautiful grass, flowers, mountains in the distance—these are not found in the Bible. They really are a glorified earth if you think about it.

So we have made up many things in our Christian mythology. C. S. Lewis ventured that there is no Bible basis for believing our suffering ceases when we die. We certainly hope people no longer suffer, but we do not have Bible for our hope.

What do we find in the Bible? Souls under the altar. A sea of glass and the saints playing harps. Four-faced creatures. Elders on thrones throwing down their crowns. A great multitude wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.

So our hope of going up to visit with our relatives around the crystal sea may be more of a product of our hymns and the visions of the saints than of what Heaven is really like.

The Scriptures really are directed more toward the Kingdom of God than they are Heaven as a place. There indeed is a place in the spirit realm we term "Heaven." It appears to be the highest of several heavens. All of these are the invisible part of the one world in which people live; they are not out far beyond the farthest galaxies, as often is imagined.

Jesus spoke of gathering His people from one end of the heavens to the other. when He returns. Evidently the deceased are scattered all over the place.

The Bible intimates we will be gathered to our people when we die. This is a comforting thought. We see this in the fact that Lazarus was with Abraham.

The Bible says we are surrounded with a great cloud of witnesses. Personally I believe this is because the revelation of God’s plan is coming forth on the earth, and the saints in the invisible world are looking and listening in order to find out what God is doing—much like Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Don’t forget, all the saints who died before the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ had to be born again in the invisible world in order to see and enter the Kingdom of God. No person ever was born again before the resurrection of the Lord. He is the Firstborn from the dead, the Beginning of the Kingdom of God.

Let me tell you why I am emphasizing that there is only one world where people live, the main difference being that one is visible and one invisible.

First of all, Paul told us the Body of Christ is being built up to maturity by that which every part supplies, and that the gifts and ministries of the Spirit will serve until we all come to the stature of the fullness of Christ. This tells me clearly that the work must continue beyond the grave.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15,16)

God is bringing forth fresh revelation today as we pass from the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. Christians that have died in time past did not have an opportunity to move forward in this fulfillment as we do today. So I submit they are moving forward now, even though they are invisible to us.

When you stop to think of it, why should it make any difference in our experience whether or not we are visible? I think we are going to be surprised some day to find out how close the two aspects of the one world actually are.

The Book of Hebrews states that the patriarchs and heroes of faith cannot be made perfect apart from us, and that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.

Then too we notice that the Bride of the Lamb is to be without blemish. Anyone who has been around Christians very much knows that most believers are still blemished spiritually when they die. Yet Matthew tells us that in the last days, all sin will be removed from the Kingdom.

Matthew doesn’t say whether this removal will take place in the visible part of the world or the invisible part of the world. Anyway, what difference does it make?

The account of the rich man in Hell shows us that the invisible, spiritual counterpart of the rich man, whose body was dead and buried, was very much alive. While in Hell the rich man was able to recognize Abraham and Lazarus; could see; could hear; was able to pray to Abraham and intercede for his brothers; was feeling the heat of the flames; wanted Lazarus to put some water on his tongue.

You know, I just thought of something. Here was a man who during his lifetime had all the food and drink he wanted, while Lazarus had none. Now he was asking Lazarus for a drop of water. Isn’t that amazing? What goes around comes around, as they say.

Anyway, we see from the story of the rich man that while his body was dead and buried, his spiritual counterpart was able to function like his physical counterpart, and most likely looked a lot like his physical counterpart.

I am saying this to make us aware how real the deceased people actually are, even though they are invisible to us.

Peter tells us that God is ready to judge the living and the dead, and the dead will be judged as though they are alive in the visible world.

We know also from Peter that the judgment on we who are living often takes the form of fiery trials. This tells me that the invisible saints also experience fiery trials as they are judged and purified from sin.

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)

The above verse is referring to a previous passage:

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, Through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison Who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (I Peter 3:18-20)

The idea is that Christ through the Holy Spirit went and preached to dead people imprisoned in the invisible spirit world. These people died while Noah’s Ark was being constructed Christ preached the Gospel to them so "they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit." They were living in spiritual form in the invisible area of the world.

This suggests to me that God wants all people to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ., whether they are in the visible world or the invisible world. All may not agree with me, but this is the conclusion I have drawn. From my point of view, God’s righteousness and fairness in dealing with people requires that this be so.

What I have just written is based on the words of the New Testament. Our traditional belief that when we die we will go to a mansion and visit with our loved ones is not based on the New Testament, but could be gleaned somewhat from the Old Testament expression, repeated five times, that those who died were gathered to their people.

You notice, in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians, that when Paul comforted the saints in Thessalonica concerning those who had died, Paul did not tell them that some day when the living saints died they would be reunited with their loved ones in Heaven. This is what we would say today, but it is not what Paul said.

Rather, Paul said then the Lord returned He would bring the deceased saints with Him, and then the living saints would be joined together with the deceased at the time of the resurrection.

We teach today that once we are in Heaven we cannot sin. There is no scriptural basis for the teaching that we cannot sin after we die.

We teach today that once we die and are in Heaven we cannot suffer anymore. All sickness, every pain, will be removed. This is true at the time of the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus; but there is no scriptural basis that all of our pain vanishes when we die. This tradition is not found in the New Testament.

My guess would be that believers who have not served the Lord are going to be punished in the invisible world after they die. Some will be beaten with many lashes. Some will have their talent removed from them. Some will be driven from the Lord’s Presence.

We have false teachings in the churches of today. We are told that Christians will go to a wonderful world after they die even though they have not led a victorious life in the Lord Jesus. This is an unscriptural teaching. The believer who neglects his salvation is going to suffer, perhaps before, perhaps after, he or she dies.

I believe we need to recognize there is only the one world where people live. Some of the world is visible at the present time. Some of the world is invisible at the present time.

I rather suspect that when the Lord appears, the veil that is over us will be removed. Then we will see how closely we have been observed all the while. Then we will recognize that we are part of a much larger world.

On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:7,8)

The big surprise will be, I believe, that there are few surprises. God is not making all new things but all things new. What God created in the beginning is what God wants. He is not going to change the design of the world, only the spirit of the world.

It is not desirable that the spirit area of the world be hidden from us. The created works of God are dead apart from the life, wonder, and joy found in the spirit realm. The two areas are meant to be one world so we can have the joy and freedom of the spirit world and the substance of the physical world.

The creation was made for us to play in. Children can play while they are innocent. We adults can’t play because we are bound with so many forms of sin. When the Kingdom of God is installed on the earth, and Satan and all of his influence has been removed, the righteous will be able to play. The animals will play. God will play with us. The angels will play.

Play may be the highest form of righteousness and faith. We can’t truly play when we are sinning or when we have no faith. There never can be the fullness of joy and freedom when we are sinning or not believing in the Lord. A certain amount of darkness and fear always is present until we are at rest in the very center of God’s will.

All that is wonderful will be restored, once God is certain the angels and mankind have recognized the folly of maintaining our will against that of the Father.

A most marvelous freedom and joy await us as we can run and fly through the air when the Lord and His saints come and drive sin from the earth. The angels also will rejoice and sing with us. All of creation will worship God and the Lamb.

It is one world. Set your interest on things above and place your treasures there. You will be happy if you do.

The world is filled with the influence of Satan, but also with the Glory of God.

Choose the way of life you desire, and stick with it. You know, you are going to receive the true, lasting desires of your heart, for good or for evil.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so only together with us would they be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 11:39-12:1)

The Dilemma of the Unsaved Individual—Every person of sound emotional and mental health desires to escape pain. If he believes and is baptized, according to the commandment of Jesus Christ, he will be spared in the Day of Wrath. This plan may be acceptable to him or her. But in addition to this, he is commanded to repent. This means he must turn away from what is ungodly and practice righteous behavior, according to his understanding. Also he must obey what is written in the New Testament and well as what the Lord requires of him as an individual. He cannot follow his sinful impulses nor can he disobey Christ, and still escape pain.

Here we have a dilemma, don’t we? The person wishes to escape pain. He would like to avoid punishment in the Day of Wrath. He hopes when he dies to go to Paradise in the spirit world and remain there forever. He pictures Paradise, Heaven, as a place where he no longer will experience pain. There will be love, joy, and peace forever.

The hope of salvation in the Day of the Lord, and of eternal residence in Heaven, is held out by Christian evangelists. Some evangelists teach that if we will "accept Christ," we now are eligible for an "any-moment rapture," in which all who make a profession of faith will be painlessly carried up to Heaven and thus escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.

To gain this joy of all joys, all we need do is profess belief in Jesus Christ.

Here is a method of escaping pain that makes minimum demands on us. Just accept Christ, live your customary life, attend church diligently, or only when it is convenient—church attendance and other religious practices, such as praying and reading the Bible, while desirable are not crucial because "we are saved by faith and not by works."

This message of "salvation" appeals to American people because we want to escape pain; we want to please Christ; but our culture attracts us and demands of us that we spend our time and energy in the pursuit of material pleasures. Contemporary teaching permits us to escape pain and also follow whatever worldly pursuits appeal to us.

But when the true Gospel is presented to us, that we must not only place our faith in Christ but must obey His commandments and those of His Apostles, and also the requirements He makes of us as an individual, we are faced with a dilemma. We desire to avoid pain, but in order to do so we must live a life of obedience to Christ. This often means we must deny ourselves our most fervent desires and do all else that is part of Christian discipleship, such as gathering with fervent believers on a regular basis; confessing our sins and turning away from them; meditating in the Scriptures; praying constantly; giving of our substance; and serving as members of the Body of Christ.

What are we to do? Are we to risk severe, prolonged punishment at the hands of God by ignoring His demands; or are we to pursue the narrow way that leads to eternal joy, and accept the pain that accompanies this choice?

The teaching of today that we can have our cake and eat it too, that we can "accept Christ" and then live our life as it pleases us, frustrates God’s plan for us. God’s plan is that we be conformed to His image and practice righteous behavior. God is looking for eternal servants; for a "house" through which He can communicate with His creatures; for a wife for the Lamb; for a body that is an enlargement of Christ. None of these roles and tasks is possible unless we live as part of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This is the dilemma that confronts every individual. Do I gamble that there is no God, or if there is that He is too "loving" to cause me to experience severe pain or to go to Hell when I die? Or do I gamble that there indeed is a living God, that the Bible is His Word to us, and if I live in disobedience to Him my eternal destiny may be one of shame, remorse, and unending pain; but if I obey Him throughout my life I no longer need to fear death (or life) and eventually will attain to unending love, joy, and peace?

Friend, how will you resolve the dilemma for yourself?