THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Words of Righteousness)

THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST 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 Servant of the Lord foretold by Isaiah is Christ—Head and Body. Isaiah describes what is true concerning the Servant of the Lord. Only those who have matured in this manner are qualified to work with Jesus Christ in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The main purpose of the two thousand years of the Church Age has been to build up the members of Christ's Body so they can perform the work of the Servant of the Lord—now, and especially during future ages. All the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ serve to bring each member of the Body to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The Servant of the Lord will bring justice to the earth.

Table of Contents

Introduction Isaiah, Chapter Forty-two Verse one Verse two Verse three Verse four Verse five Verses six, seven

What it means to be "called in righteousness." The necessity for righteous behavior. Faith that we can gain righteous behavior. What righteous behavior is. How we gain righteous behavior.

Verse eight Verse nine Verse ten Verses eleven, twelve Verse thirteen Verse fourteen Verse fifteen Verse sixteen Verse seventeen Verses eighteen through twenty Verse twenty-one Verse twenty-two Verse twenty-three Verse twenty-four Verse twenty-five

Isaiah, Chapter Forty-three Verse one Verse two Verses three and four Verses five through seven Verse eight Verse nine Verse ten Conclusion

THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST

 Introduction

The Hebrew Prophets provide the vision of the Kingdom of God, the grand sweep of the past, present, and future, and prophesy of the coming of the Servant of the Lord whose task is to bring justice to the nations. The New Testament provides the daily practical details of how God's elect are to become part of the Servant of the Lord that they may be able to participate in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, To prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

All the ministries and gifts assigned by the Holy Spirit have a supreme objective. It is that each member of the Body of Christ reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, attaining maturity as measured by the full stature of Christ.

Why is this objective so important? Why are the resources of the Spirit directed to this end?

The reason it is important for the members of the Body to attain maturity is that they have been appointed to return with Jesus Christ and establish His Kingdom in the world. The establishing of the Kingdom of God in the earth will bring justice to the saved nations.

It is true even today that as we grow in the Lord we are able to bring the Presence and blessing of the Lord to other people. But only to the extent we have come to maturity in Christ.

Some of the chapters of Isaiah describe God's mature witnesses. We can study these to discover what it means to come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

We are being brought to the moral stature of Christ and to untroubled rest in the Father. When the world sees we are at rest in Christ in God the people will then believe God indeed has sent the Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Why has the Spirit given us the gift of tongues? So we may come to maturity in Christ. Then the world will receive Christ.

Why do we prophesy? So the members of the Body may come to maturity and thus be able to establish justice in the earth.

Why are there apostles? So the elect may be built up in the Lord and be able to serve as the light of the world.

We are the members of the royal priesthood. Until we come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ the nations will continue in their drunken, blind stupor.

 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. (I Corinthians 14:3)

There are two kinds of prophecy. The one above is a prophecy within the Body and for the building up of the Body. This is an internal prophecy, one might say.

But then there is the external prophecy to the world.

 Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:11)

The above is an external prophecy. In this case the Body itself becomes a prophet, a light to mankind. The purpose of the external prophecy is to bear witness to the world of the Person, will and way of God and His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah prophesied to Israel, and also to the surrounding countries, it may be noted.

The day will come when the saved nations come up to Jerusalem to seek God and His righteous laws. They will be ministered to by Christ—Head and Body. All the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ have been given that each one of us might be prepared to bring God to the nations in the Day of the Lord, and in our own day as well.

In order to understand the stature of the fullness of Christ we must keep in mind that there are two entities. The first entity is that to which we are accustomed—the Christian religion and its churches and liturgies.

The second entity sometimes is alluded to but will become increasingly prominent until finally the first entity passes away as the scaffolding it actually is.

The second entity is the Body of Christ. Most of the members of the one Body are in the spirit realm. They include the true witnesses of God from the time of the righteous Abel.

There is no such scriptural thing as a "local body," although this expression is used by Christians. There is only the one Body.

All the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the purpose of building up the one Body. No ministry or gift is given to a local assembly, only to the one Body, the Wife of the Lamb, the eternal Temple of God and Servant of the Lord.

The progression is as follows: the ministries and gifts build up the one Body. Then the members of the Body bring God to the nations of the earth.

We see this progression in the third chapter of Nehemiah where the sheep gate is built followed by the fish gate. Again in the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah. The Anointed Deliverer brings God to the members of Zion until they are oaks of righteousness. Then the oaks of righteousness rebuild that which has been destroyed.

The great need today is for the sheep gate, the members of the Body, to be built into oaks of righteousness, the stature of the fullness of Christ. Only then can the nations of the earth be addressed properly.

The Christian believers are for the most part a valley of very dry bones. These bones will live when the ministries and gifts are restored to the churches.

There is an emphasis today on the fivefold or fourfold ministry: the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, or pastor-teachers as you will.

This is a step in the right direction but there is death in the pot. The specifying of a fivefold ministry distinct from the other gifts falls too readily into the clergy-laity distinction, one of the more destructive of the Christian traditions.

Let us lean rather on the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. There we have apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, helps and so forth, all in the same category. This categorization reveals that the list of the five (or four) ministries in the fourth chapter of Ephesians is to be viewed in a more offhand manner, not as five clerical offices somewhat superior to the other manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

Thus the Body of Christ is an entity, not a general term for the multitude of Christian denominations. Our observation is that most believers of today are not functioning members of the Body of Christ. They are members of the Christian religion but they hardly are a covenant of God with the nations of the earth. They are spiritual babies.

The face of Christianity is changing. That which sufficed previously no longer is adequate. Whoever would be a member of the Body of Christ must mentally go past all he or she equates with being a Christian. It is time for fierce, determined consecration.

There never (to our knowledge) has been a time in the history of the Christian Church when all the ministries and gifts were functioning. Since the Body cannot come to the stature of the fullness of Christ until the ministries and gifts are functioning, the Body has not as yet come to full stature. We believe we have arrived at a new day—a day of bringing into view the ministries and gifts of the Spirit listed by the Apostle Paul.

Here is a focus of consecration for you: read the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians. Choose a gift or ministry. Then set yourself to pray for this gift each day if only for five minutes. Tell the Lord that as soon as the gift is manifested in your life you will make the operation of it the most important aspect of your life, waiting on Him each day for wisdom to serve. If the Lord has some other ministry in mind for you He will steer you. But He cannot steer you until you are in motion, just like a ship.

Put your career in the world in second place. Make your service in the Body of Christ the first priority. There is no limit imposed by chronological age. If you are an older person, go to Christ in desperation that you may make the most of your time, even if only a few days remain.

You are a middle-aged person, perhaps bowed down with a "million" responsibilities? Go to God and ask for help in making your service in the Body of first importance in your life.

A young person, a child? Go to the Lord and lay your life before Him. Tell him your entire career will be dominated by the ministry He gives you, whether at home or in another land. This does not mean you do not work, enter a profession, or whatever. It means all you are and do must be given to the Lord so He can use you without having to wrench you away from your desires and hobbies.

Keep the Lord Jesus central in your desiring and asking for ministries and gifts.

There are tools, such as pliers, that a mechanic uses every day. There are other tools, such as inside- calipers, that are not employed nearly as often. Yet when the workman needs pliers or calipers he wants them clean, oiled, and where he can lay his hands on them.

You may be pliers that the Lord will use all the time. You may be inside-calipers that the Lord will use once in your lifetime. It doesn't matter, it is faithfulness that the Lord rewards. Keep yourself prepared in prayer, holiness, and consecration as though you were the greatest apostle on earth. Then go about your business, watching the Lord always in case He needs you.

This is what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ. Anything the tiniest bit less than this is not at all acceptable. You are serving the Greatest of all kings!

The face of Christianity is changing. The advent of evil will increase geometrically in the coming days. Three points, some anecdotes, and a conclusion addressed to a "lay congregation" will never do the job. The congregations, under the leadership of godly elders, must give themselves to seeking the ministries and gifts the Lord has for them, and then devote themselves to Divine service.

It is the Lord's will that every believer be a fisher of men. This does not mean we are to go out and fish for men. It means we are to follow Jesus. When we follow Jesus He makes us fishers of men. Each one of us is designed to catch a certain kind of fish. We do not know our own destiny. Therefore we do not go fishing. We are to follow Jesus rather than stumble blindly through life. Then He makes us fishers of men. The distinction between going fishing, and following Jesus so He makes us a fisherman, is awesome. It is the difference between Babylon and the Body of Christ.

 In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4)

The exercise of the ministries and gifts in the body will make possible our return with Christ to assist the nations in Day of the Lord. We may be able to assist the nations now, although on a much smaller scale. As we are built up we can assist others.

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:12)

When the Lord returns and the nations are brought up for judgment they will answer for their conduct. The Roman Gentiles of Peter's day were slandering those who had become Christians, accusing them falsely. Peter exhorts the Christians to live such godly lives that when all stand before God the slanderers will have to give glory to God and His righteousness because the Christians had lived exemplary lives even though they were being mistreated.

The nations are influenced by the behavior of the saints.

 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)

It is necessary that evangelists go forth and proclaim the salvation that is in Christ. It is necessary also that pastors and teachers explain the mysteries of the faith to the converts.

But what the world is waiting to see is godly behavior in the people of the churches. Righteous behavior on the part of the believers is the most effective witness of Christ. The world needs to read living epistles.

In America today, if an individual stood up in court and said, "You know I am telling the truth because I am a Christian," the lawyers, the jury and the spectators would have a difficult time to keep from laughing. The judge would have to remove to chambers to regain his composure.

What does this tell us? It tells us something has gone wrong with the Gospel in America. We may talk a lot about how we should witness for Jesus. The truth is, the witness has been destroyed in America by the conduct of the Christian people.

The Muslims regard America as a degenerate, immoral society. They are correct in their judgment. The Eastern nations regard America as decadent. They are correct.

The problem is, America is considered by the Eastern countries to be a nation of Christians. Consequently much of the world looks at the Christian churches as being immoral and decadent. They are correct.

We may not like it but it is true. There is an old saying: "Love is blind but the neighbors ain't." American Christians may regard themselves as the moral light of the world. Actually we are in the deep freeze of apostasy. Will we ever be able to see ourselves as the Eastern nations see us?

Pornography streams into American homes via the Internet. I have been given to understand this is not permitted in China. We look with horror at China's persecution of Christians, and well we should. Is the Chinese government persecuting Christians because it regards Christianity as a destructive moral force?

It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking. It is time for repentance in the churches of America.

Where are the good works that will cause the nations to glorify God?

 For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. (Isaiah 62:1,2)

A popular edition of the Scriptures maintains it is the imputed righteousness of the Christians that will shine out like the dawn, that the nations will see.

Since there is no lexical basis for the interpolation of the adjective "imputed," and since it is impossible for the nations to see imputed righteousness, we may conclude that the editor is biased to the point that all scholarly competence is dismissed. This is too bad, because the edition has helpful features and reflects no small amount of research.

How many believers would understand that the insertion of "imputed" is a most damaging alteration of the meaning of the passage?

The Eastern nations are correct when they regard our behavior as degenerate. Our behavior is degenerate because we think imputed righteousness is the righteousness of the Kingdom of God, not realizing that imputed righteousness is a temporary help, an introduction God gives us so we can begin the long, arduous journey toward moral transformation.

Apart from the moral transformation of the members of the Body of Christ it is useless for Jesus Christ to return. If He had desired to bring righteousness to the nations by Himself He would have done so two thousand years ago.

It is time now for the members of the Body of Christ to come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The nations are waiting in their moral chains. How long will we keep them from the freedom God is preparing for them in the Christian people, in the sons of God?

The Book of Isaiah points out some of the factors involved in the maturing and ministry of the members of the Body of Christ.

 Isaiah, Chapter Forty-two

 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)

The Servant of the Lord foretold by Isaiah is Christ—Head and Body. Isaiah describes what is true of the Servant of the Lord. Only those who have matured in this manner are qualified to work with Jesus Christ in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

The main purpose of the two thousand years of the Church Age has been to build up the members of Christ's Body so they can perform the work of the Servant of the Lord—now, and especially during future ages. All the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ serve to bring each member of the Body to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

 Here is my servant.

First we note that the Body of Christ is God's Servant. Every true Christian is a bondslave of the Lord Jesus Christ. He bought us with His blood, therefore we belong to Him.

God is calling us today to iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. Those who choose to obey the Father strictly and consistently will survive the age of moral horrors that is upon us. Those who insist on having their own way will perish, even though they profess faith in Christ.

 Here is my servant, whom I uphold.

God upholds His servant. There is no power in the universe that can successfully attack a true servant of the Lord. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ keeps protecting and lifting those who do His will with a perfect heart. Those who have "made a decision for Christ" but are not seeking God's will in every aspect of life will experience great trouble in the coming days.

 My chosen one in whom I delight.

God has chosen us from among the peoples of the world to be His Servant. Israel, the Servant of the Lord, is one chosen entity whether Jewish or Gentile by birth. There is no difference, it is the one Seed of Abraham.

If we would understand the Kingdom of God we must realize God has not chosen the Seed of Abraham to be saved while the rest of the world goes to Hell. Rather, the Seed of Abraham comprises a royal priesthood, the priesthood that will bring the blessings of God to mankind.

God delights in each saint, each holy one, each of His elect whom He has chosen. He has ordained us that we should show forth the righteous Nature of Christ to the peoples of the earth and bring justice to them. Our responsibility is to serve God with all our mind and strength. If we do not do this, if we do not bear the moral image of Christ, we stand in danger of being cut out of the Vine, of being broken off the Olive Tree.

God delights in us and He desires we delight ourselves in Him, that we understand we belong to Him in a way not true of the nations at large.

 I will put my Spirit on him.

The reason God gives His Spirit to the members of the Body of Christ is that we might serve Him as a priest. The Spirit is as a holy anointing oil that sets aside the members of the Body for their appointed role as servants of God, as priests, rulers, teachers, deliverers, judges, and worshipers of God.

God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. The more we obey Him the more of His Spirit we will possess.

He will bring justice to the nations.

The Christian churches are looking for the Lord to come and carry them to Heaven. This is not what is going to take place. The Lord is coming to bring justice to the saved nations of the earth. We will be caught up to meet Him in the air so we can descend together with Him and work with Him in the cause of justice.

The world of today, as always has been true, is filled with injustice. The poor are oppressed. The meek are outwitted by the schemers who plot, cheat, steal, take what they want by trickery and violence. All of this is an abomination to God. The Servant of the Lord will descend from Heaven with enough power to put an end to the wickedness of the destroyers of the earth.

Then will the meek rejoice and inherit the earth.

 He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. (Isaiah 42:2)

The meaning here goes far beyond speaking with a loud voice. We know that the Lord Jesus, the Head of the Body, raised His voice on occasion.

Rather the concept is that of lifting up ourselves instead of waiting on the Lord.

Throughout Church history men and women have lifted up themselves to do the work of the Kingdom (as they supposed). They thought they were serving God and may have done great good in some instances, and great harm on other occasions.

"The just shall live by faith" means the righteous do not lift up themselves in their own wisdom and strength, in their pride, but look to God in faith for every decision they make.

In the days to come we need to cease lifting up ourselves to do the Lord's work. It is time now to wait on the Lord, to inquire in His temple. We need to do as Jesus did. He acted only as He saw the Father act. What the Father did, that is what Jesus did.

The pressures are so great today that for a person to launch into religious activity without hearing from the Lord will prove to be futile. We must learn to wait until we know what the Lord is saying.

The Lord mentioned people who claimed to have prophesied in His name, to have worked miracles, to have cast out demons. He will drive some of them from Him because they are wicked.

This tells us the Holy Spirit will honor the name of Jesus even though the minister is wicked. People will be saved and delivered from demons. But the minister has no inheritance in the Lord if he does not behave righteously.

Whoever would work in the Kingdom is wise if he or she will first establish his or her relationship with the Lord. Make sure the Lord knows you! The fact you can prophesy or work miracles or cast out demons in His name is not a sign He knows you. Remember that!

Wait on the Lord until you know what you are doing. You may have to wait many years, but what does it matter? If you lift up yourself and move out ahead of Christ you may seemingly accomplish many things but it will profit you absolutely nothing. This is foolishness.

You are going to have to believe that Christ cares more about His Church and Kingdom than you do. You don't have to do His work for Him. He is building His own Church. All He asks you to do is to be obedient and faithful to what He says. Nothing more!

Why should you kill yourself with work and get nothing for it?

Ministers today are trying to use the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not be used by them. The Holy Spirit is God. He will always honor the name of Jesus, but He will do so in His own time and way. It is not given to men to administrate the Holy Spirit or the angels.

The False Prophet is the church of the last days that seeks to use the things of the Spirit apart from the leading of Christ. Don't get caught in this.

The ways of the Lord are peaceful and restful. His yoke is easy and His burden light. The waters of Shiloah run softly. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Delight yourself in the Lord as He delights in you. Tell Him what you desire and then let Him work. Do not force people or circumstances.

 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; (Isaiah 42:3)

Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks are people who have been injured spiritually.

When we are lifting ourselves up, running about to build our own kingdom, we are apt to trample down people in the process. If they do not meet our standards quickly enough we cast them from us.

How many tender plants have been ground under the heels of the spiritually ambitious?

When we are waiting patiently on the Lord, inquiring in His temple, we are perfectly willing to work gently and patiently with one or two people for however long it takes. There is no hurry. God may bring them forth to glorious victory if we do not become impatient.

The servant of the Lord must not strive or be quarrelsome. He must be gentle, apt to teach, patient with the weak.

 In faithfulness he will bring forth justice.

Faithfulness is a highly prized virtue in the Kingdom of God. God is faithful. Christ is faithful. Every member of Christ's Body must be called, chosen, and faithful.

Faithfulness is not a gift, it is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Faithfulness is always doing under every circumstance what we are responsible to do.

Jesus Christ is absolutely faithful, and a good thing for us He is!

Justice shall be brought forth in the world because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ and God in Him. The outlook for worldwide justice indeed is bleak today as we see deceit on every hand. Nonetheless the Word of God shall prevail. The day will come when justice is found among all the saved nations of the earth. The supplanters, the devious, the guileful shall all be trampled under the feet of God's army when it is given the signal to march. The wicked shall be ashes under the soles of their feet.

 He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:4)

The reason Christ and the Body of Christ will not be discouraged until justice is established on the earth is they have no agenda of their own, no program or objectives of their own. This must be true of each Christian who is to work with Jesus Christ in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth, now and in the ages to come.

The reason we become discouraged is that we have plans and objectives of our own. When they do not work during the time frame we set for them we become impatient, making this effort and that attempt in order to carry out our own plans and schemes.

The Servant of the Lord is following God's plans and objectives, moment by moment. Each moment we seek God's will concerning every decision. Each moment we inquire in His temple. How then can we become discouraged? We only know what to do at any given moment, and we only have grace for that moment. Because we are resting in the Lord's will there is no basis for discouragement.

Establishing justice throughout the earth is a monumental task. Establishing justice in one's own family is a monumental task. Establishing justice in our own personality is a monumental task. We cannot establish justice. The forces of darkness are too wise, too strong for us. But God can and shall establish justice for every saved individual on earth.

We shall never be discouraged although we see failure after failure, experience disappointment after disappointment. Why are we never discouraged? Because the battle is the Lord's and He knows precisely what He is doing.

God's Word shall come to pass in the earth. The only question is whether you and I will be part of the glory to come. We shall if we become the bondslave of Jesus Christ, seeking His will in every decision throughout the day.

There is rest in this.

 In his law the islands will put their hope.

When we think of revival we picture a renewal of life in the churches or among church people. This indeed is one form of revival.

But the revival to be brought to the earth by the Servant of the Lord is the bringing of justice to the islands of the sea. Fair, honest, compassionate government wherever people dwell is the need of the hour. God has promised such government so we all can live in peace.

The law of God will go forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. Christ and His saints will reign over the continents and the seas from the city of Jerusalem. They will bring the righteous laws of the Kingdom to the islands of the sea. Then people will learn justice, honesty, morality, kindness, mercy. The law of God, backed up by the warrior angels who excel in strength, will bring peace, security, prosperity.

 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: (Isaiah 42:5)

Is God now changing the subject? No, He realizes we have a hard time picturing how justice and His law will prevail in the earth. So He points to the fact that He created the heavens, the earth, and the people who live on the earth.

Is anything too hard for God?

When God says His servant will bring justice to the earth and the islands will hope in the Divine law, then this is what is going to happen.

We see in our day so much lying, guile, treachery, covetousness, seeking of preeminence, hatred, and murder it seems impossible justice could ever fill the earth. Yet it shall happen. We know this because God said so, and God is the One who created the heavens, the earth, and the people on the earth.

If God had not promised justice to the world, then we would be foolish to suppose such a condition could ever come about. In this case we should live our life as well as we can until we are so fortunate as to die. Attempting to bring about a little bit of justice would soon leave us discouraged.

But God has spoken! It shall come to pass precisely as He has stated! Let us therefore rejoice and do what we can to build the Body of Christ. Perhaps in so doing we may hasten the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

 "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 42:6,7)

I, the Lord.

Is Jesus Christ your personal Lord? We have known Him as the gentle Shepherd. Now we are to know Him as Lord.

There are seraphim, cherubim, exalted rulers and wealthy men, wise men, philosophers, teachers, scientists, but God has made Jesus Christ Lord of all.

Let us take our eyes off our many gods and see the Lord, high and lifted up.

When we see Him in His kingly robes and the majesty of His train we will understand more clearly that Jesus indeed is Lord.

Let the spiritual forces of light, and of darkness as well, bow the knee and proclaim Jesus as Lord of all!

Those who do not bow the knee to the Lord Jesus are to be removed from all that is joyous, all that is wonderful, all that is holy.

We have not called ourselves to the Kingdom. The Lord has called us. It is the Lord who has commissioned us to bring righteousness to the nations. Therefore all that is written shall come to pass in detail.

 I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness.

What it means to be "called in righteousness." What does it mean to be called in righteousness? Is every member of the Body of Christ called in righteousness?

Yes, he or she is. In fact, the scepter of Christ's Kingdom is a scepter of righteousness.

The new covenant includes two kinds of righteousness. The first is imputed righteousness, that is, righteousness ascribed to us because we have turned away from the Law of Moses and received Christ by faith.

The second kind of righteousness, the actual righteousness of the Kingdom of God, is that which is created in our personality as Christ is formed in us. As we, by praying continually for wisdom and strength, keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, Christ is formed in us. As Christ is formed in us we begin to act righteously because of our transformed nature. This is the new covenant, the writing of the law of God in our mind and heart.

In our day the first kind of righteousness, imputed righteousness, has been overemphasized until the moral character of the Christians has been destroyed. Instead of imputed righteousness being a means of getting us started on the road to righteousness it has become a ticket to eternal residence in Heaven. This is "another gospel," not the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Every covenant God makes with man requires righteous behavior. The new covenant is no exception. When we present the Christian salvation as being only forgiveness with the objective of going to Heaven when we die we are not preaching or teaching the Divine redemption. We are offering only the destructive traditions of Christianity.

God has called us in righteousness, first imputed but then actually created in us until we become a new creation. To behave righteously is to deal fairly and compassionately with people, to tell the truth, to show mercy and forgiveness, to assist the poor and needy, to keep the covenants we make including the marriage covenant, to seek the welfare of others, to render to all their due—especially but not only those in authority, to keep ourselves morally clean, and to walk humbly with God.

God loves this type of person. God will not work in any situation that is unrighteous. The righteous Lord loves righteousness!

What a world this would be if all the Christians behaved righteously. Alas, we have been taught that being saved by grace means we can behave unrighteously and still go to Paradise when we die. This is an error in both means and ends.

The moral light of the Christian churches has been extinguished by a misunderstanding of the New Testament. Therefore there is no moral light to guide the nations of the earth. The coming of the age of moral horrors is due to the lack of emphasis on godly living by the Christian teachers. We Christians are responsible for the moral decline of the nations. The moral decline is due to the lack of a godly witness on the part of the Christian people, a lack resulting from our grace-rapture-heaven mythology and mentality.

Until the Christians approach God in humility and repentance, turning from their wicked ways, our land will not be healed.

Are you one who will help hasten the Day of God by your godly conduct?

The evangelists of the Body of Christ have been commissioned to preach the Gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. He who does not believe shall be condemned.

It is the responsibility of the evangelist to preach the good news, not to save everyone. There is an important distinction here.

We know from the Word of the Lord Jesus that no person can come to Him except the Father draw Him. Therefore while the Gospel is being preached to the whole creation, only those whom the Father draws will come to Jesus.

The reason for this is, the purpose of the Church Age is to call out and build up the members of the Body of the Servant of the Lord, the Body of Christ. Not everyone is called to the royal priesthood, although God does not want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. This appears paradoxical but it is what the Scripture teaches. There are many paradoxes in the Scriptures. That we do not understand everything God is doing is not important. Our place is to obey what is written.

Membership in the Church is different from not perishing. There is an eternal wall between the nations of the earth and God's elect, the Church, the royal priesthood. Each member of the Church has been called from the beginning of the world to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and to serve as God's witness to the nations.

Because we are unable to know whom God has called to the Church we have to preach the Gospel to the whole creation. The Spirit of God will determine who is to be added to the Church. All of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are for the purpose of calling out the elect from the nations and bringing each of them to the full stature of Christ.

 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

So the Gospel is to be preached to everyone, but only those who are appointed to eternal life will believe. It has to be this way so no person can say "I didn't hear. If I had heard I would have believed."

We may say, "If the individual was not appointed to eternal life, how can he believe? How can God find fault with him" Paul's answer to this seeming inconsistency is, "God is the potter and we are the clay." Beyond this mortals cannot press in the present hour. But we know God is absolutely righteous. Calvary reveals His love for mankind. We have to leave it at that.

What then is the relationship between the Church and the world? The relationship is that every member of the Body of Christ is a witness to the world of God's Person, His ways, His will, and His eternal purpose in Christ. When we are not righteous in character and behavior we are not bearing a true witness of God.

For two thousand years the churches for the most part have placed "evangelizing" ahead of witnessing, although the nature of evangelizing has been changed in some instances. The true role of evangelizing, the bringing of the good news of the coming of the Kingdom of God to all creation, has sometimes been changed to an emphasis on collecting members for our group and indoctrinating them in the theological viewpoints we believe to be accurate.

Then the convert is informed he now has his ticket and is waiting to die and go to live forever in a mansion in Heaven. He is told he has eternal life. But eternal life is presented as living forever in Heaven, in the spirit Paradise, rather than Divine resurrection Life we receive today in our personality so we may be able to keep God's commandments and so we may be prepared to be raised from the dead when the Lord appears.

In our day, while true evangelism is to proceed, it is God's will that the witness be formed by bringing the members of the Body to the stature of the fullness of Christ. Righteousness and praise is to spring forth in the sight of the nations. It is to this end we have been chosen in Christ from the beginning of the world.

The necessity for righteous behavior. It is time for the holy nation, the Body of Christ, to be born at once, as Isaiah says. Because the Body of Christ must be righteous as the Head is righteous, the Spirit of God is making clear to us why and how we must move from imputed righteousness to actual righteousness of behavior.

Ours is a new day, a giant step forward in the Kingdom of God. It is not a new day in terms of a new revelation not found in the Scriptures. We do not have to cut and paste remote passages in order to support a special doctrine, as is true of the "rapture" concept. It is just that there is a new emphasis today on the things of the end-time and the corresponding actions we are to take.

We know from Matthew that in the last days the Lord will remove the things that offend, and also the people who offend, from His Kingdom. We have not been sure when and how the purging of the Kingdom will take place but we know purging indeed shall take place, and must take place if the Lamb is to have a Bride without spot, wrinkle, or any other blemish.

Well, the day is here, apparently, and the Scriptures are opening to us.

The Scriptures speak of a travail that is to take place, a travail in which the Ruler of the nations is to be born.

In Micah:

 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. (Micah 5:3)

In Isaiah:

 Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)

In Revelation:

 A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. (Revelation 12:1,2)

We think the Spirit of God is telling us that today as never before the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ are to enter a travail to bring forth Christ, the Ruler of the nations, in the Church, which is His Body.

The traditional goal of the Christian salvation is to go to Heaven when we die. This is what it means to be "saved."

All of us hope to go to Heaven when we die. We believe if we put our trust in the Lord Jesus and hold our confidence to the end we will go to Paradise when we pass from this earth. The Lord Jesus said to the thief on the cross, "This day you will be with Me in Paradise."

So far so good.

But then we have the Apostle Paul speaking of not having attained Christ as yet, although the third chapter of Philippians was written after Paul was saved, filled with the Spirit, had wrought miracles, had established churches, and had written many of his famous Epistles.

Now, of what was Paul speaking when he said he had not attained perfection, had not attained the mark set before him.

To claim that Paul was trying to be qualified to go to Heaven is ridiculous.

Therefore there has to be a definite something to be attained in Christ that is not the same as going to Paradise.

This author is of the opinion that the definite something is membership in the Body of Christ, at least in the part of the Body that will return with the Lord Jesus and work with Him in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

For those who wish to move forward today in the Lord Jesus Christ, make doubly sure you do not confuse what you are seeking with being worthy to enter Heaven. We shall assume you are going to Heaven when you die. We are referring to something else, a fullness of Christ that has not been understood, apparently, since the days of the Apostles of the Lamb.

You are going to Heaven. That is established. But this is not the challenge of the hour. The challenge of the hour is to be competent to return with the Lord and to govern the nations with a rod of iron.

The Lord told us that many who are last shall be first. Maybe He meant that many of those who are to rule in the Kingdom will come forth in the last days.

What is the nature of this "new thing"? Toward what are we to be pressing with all the diligence of which we are capable?

The goal is maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. The goal is to win Christ, to know Christ, to live by the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

Of particular concern is actual righteousness of behavior. The believers of today are not perfect, just forgiven, as they like to proclaim. Now we must press forward from forgiveness, from imputed righteousness to actual righteousness of behavior.

In other words, it is time to become true Christians.

In our day the witness of God has been destroyed in many nations, including the United States of America, by the unrighteous behavior of the believers.

We now are entering an age of moral horrors, due primarily to the fact that the churches are not giving off the light of righteous behavior. God is insisting that this change, that His saints begin to live righteously. The righteous behavior of the Christian people will provide a light, a sanctuary, during the spiritual darkness that is settling in.

There is much evangelism, but then the work of God is ruined because the Christians are not living righteously.

There is not only the destruction of the witness today, we have to consider also the return of the Lord with His saints to establish justice on the earth. It is not possible for there to be one unrighteous member of the Body of Christ in that hour. If there were, the installing of the Kingdom would come to a halt. God will not work where there is unrighteousness.

Each member of the Body of Christ has been called in righteousness.

Think for a moment.

Truthfulness is one aspect of righteous behavior. How do people of the world react when they discover a Christian is a liar? Do they have any confidence in His God? Since the Christian is the witness of God, is he saying God is a liar? The unsaved know better than this!

This is why the Americans are turning to the Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim religions. They are disgusted with the behavior of the Christians and their churches.

The Muslims regard Americans and their Christian religion as the work of Satan. This is the result of the overemphasis on grace and imputed righteousness.

The stress on imputed righteousness to the exclusion of actual righteousness must change or our nation will be destroyed and another nation that will observe the laws of righteousness will take its place of leadership and power.

If you are a liar you are bearing a false witness of God. The people of the nations understand that someone who claims to belong to God is not going to lie. Yet lying is common among Christians.

What would you think of someone who claimed to be an evangelist who turned out to be a liar or immoral or not scrupulously honest with money? Would you trust him or her? Would you trust the Apostle Paul if he were a proven liar? Would you believe Jesus came from God if He were a known liar? Would you?

Will people believe your "witness for Christ" if they know you are a liar?

"Oh, but I will tell them I am not worthy but Christ is worthy."

It doesn't work that way. You can't tell people to do as you say but not as you do. They won't follow you and they won't follow Christ.

 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. (II Corinthians 3:2)

The world cares nothing for our imputed righteousness. They are waiting to see the light of good works and they are not seeing it in the Christians of America.

Then we think about the coming of the Lord. Picture Jesus coming on His white war stallion followed by the saints in white linen. Do you know what that white linen is? According to Revelation the white linen of those who follow Jesus in the Day of the Lord is "the righteous deeds of the saints."

Suppose one of those riders has a spotted robe. Do you think he will be permitted to ride with the army?

Do you truly believe Christ will bring lying, immoral, covetous people with Him to set up the Kingdom of God on the earth?

We see, then, that righteous behavior is an absolute necessity if we expect to be raised from the dead, and then ascend to meet the Lord, at His appearing. The righteousness of the Kingdom of God is first, imputed; but then if it does not proceed to actual righteousness the believer remains clothed with a dirty robe. He or she will not rise to meet the Lord at His return.

Faith that we can gain righteous behavior. When we think about our own unrighteous character, and then read that we are to come to maturity as measured by the full stature of Christ, we have to make a decision. We can say, as so many are stating today, it is not possible for us to get rid of our sin. As long as we are in the world we have to sin. But when we get to Heaven, or when the Lord returns, we will be free from sin.

Not only is this unscriptural, according to the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, but it is not reasonable.

First of all, sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God. Sin is a spiritual phenomenon. Sin did not originate in the Garden of Eden, in the adamic nature of man, but in Heaven. Sin came down from Heaven and entered the garden. How then can we claim that going to Heaven will deliver us from sin?

As to the idea that when Jesus returns we will be delivered from sin, this is true but only for those who have followed the Lord diligently. The Day of the Lord will be a time of revelation and judgment for all people, including the believers.

Deliverance from sin is a reward for obeying the Lord. In the Day of Judgment, each of us will be rewarded according to the choices we have made. If we have done all in our power to follow the Lord, overcoming sin as He has enabled, we will be delivered from the last vestiges of sin. But if we have been wasteful, negligent, careless, we will be rewarded accordingly.

The Day of the Lord will not deliver us from what we are but will reveal what we are. If we are a faithful, diligent disciple, then this will be revealed and we will be rewarded accordingly. If we have been lukewarm we will be vomited from the Lord's mouth. We will not be clothed in the white garments of righteous conduct.

So we must face our own behavior today. Either we have faith that the Lord Jesus can deliver us totally and fill us with His own righteous personality, or else we do not have faith that the Lord Jesus can deliver us totally and fill us with His own righteous personality.

Either we believe He can make us a new creation or we do not believe He can make us a new creation. If we remain undecided we have already decided He cannot change us. There is no middle ground.

Either we have faith for moral transformation or we do not have faith for moral transformation. In the Day of the Lord we shall be rewarded for the choice we have made and our consequent behavior.

What righteous behavior is. The elements of righteous behavior are, we believe, generally agreed on throughout the world, from the natives in the bush to the largest cities. Perhaps the only people who are confused in the area of righteous behavior are the Christians.

Let us list a few of the several elements of righteous behavior. Many of these come from the same root. Perhaps there are important ones we have missed that you may wish to add.

Remember, the list is not infinite but finite. These qualities are not only possible but required of every member of the Body of Christ who is chosen to work with the Lord in the establishing of His Kingdom on the earth.

Truthfulness.

Covenant keeping.

Sincerity.

Purity.

Gentleness.

Kindness.

Mercy.

A forgiving nature.

Honesty

A wholesome fear of God.

Obedience to God.

Faithfulness.

Courage.

Avoiding spiritism.

Purity of speech.

Patience.

Endurance.

Humility.

Justice and fairness of behavior.

Being slow to anger.

Being a peacemaker.

Do not stagger at the list. These virtues can be dealt with one at a time very successfully.

You do not have to set about to transform yourself. The Spirit of God will show you (probably already has pointed out to you) the areas He is ready to work on now. Your part is to recognize that until hindering bondages are removed and Christ's Nature installed in their place your present witness is harmed and your readiness to rise to meet the Lord at His appearing is endangered.

If you do not take these elements of needed change seriously you will continue to trust in imputed righteousness. But the Kingdom of God will pass you by. You cannot go against the Word of God and prosper. The believer who continues to sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

There is a negative and a positive dimension of righteous behavior. The negative dimension is deliverance from that which is unrighteousness. The positive dimension is the forming of Christ's righteous Nature in us. It is not enough to be delivered from sin, we also must be filled with Christ's righteous personality. Jesus Christ is ready and willing to perform both of these works of righteousness for each believer who will look to Him in faith.

Righteous behavior is absolutely necessary if we are to be a true Christian.

Our change from unrighteous behavior depends on our having faith that such transformation is not only necessary but possible through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Righteousness is righteousness. The world knows what righteousness is even if the Christians do not.

How we gain righteous behavior. Now we come to the issue: what does the New Testament say about the way in which we should regard the establishing of righteousness in our personality.

 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; And to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; And to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, (II Peter 1:3-10)

First of all, we note (above) that "His Divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness."

Everything we need for godliness!

Through our knowledge of Him, who called us by His own glory and goodness, we have everything we need for life and godliness.

There is no need for us to wonder or to hesitate in indecision. Through Jesus Christ we have everything we need for eternal life and godly character and behavior. It is up to us to lay hold on that which already has been given to us.

Are not God's own glory and goodness adequate to transform our moral character? From these God has given us great and precious promises. Through His promises we are able both to participate in the Divine Nature and also escape the corruption in the world that proceeds from evil desires.

We understand, therefore, that the Scripture gives us a basis for faith—faith that God indeed will bring each member of the Body of Christ to maturity in righteousness.

How are we to respond?

We are to add to our faith goodness. We are to add goodness. How do we do this? By laying hold on the very great and precious promises found in the New Testament, promises that have to do with the Holy Spirit crucifying the old nature and bringing forth the new creation of righteous behavior.

We are to add knowledge to our goodness, the knowledge of the Lord we gain by taking up our cross and following Him each day. The Scriptures guide and comfort us in our distress, but the knowledge of the holy comes from experience. Day to day pours forth speech. Night to night reveals knowledge. It is in the nighttime of trials that we gain the knowledge of the Lord.

We are to add self-control, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit, to our knowledge.

We are to add perseverance to our self-control.

We are to add godliness to our perseverance.

We are to add brotherly kindness, also a fruit of the Spirit, to our godliness.

We are to add love, a fruit of the Spirit, to our brotherly kindness.

We add these to our faith by seeking the Lord every day. Thus we become a new creation of righteous behavior.

Now, notice the importance of these attributes of character: "If we possess these qualities in increasing measure they keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of Christ." It follows that if we do not possess them we remain ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of Christ. If we are ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of Christ we will not participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood.

When we do not add these qualities we are nearsighted. We are blind. We have forgotten we have been cleansed from our past sins.

If we add these things to our faith we will never fall away from the Lord.

It is up to us to make our calling and election sure, and we do this by making certain that we grow in righteous behavior.

 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 12:1)

Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles us and prevents us from running the race of righteousness freely and swiftly. We throw it off. There has been much teaching that Christians are simply unable to deal with sin in this manner. But the Scripture informs us otherwise.

Most of the sins we commit are habits, such as swearing, lying, stealing, reading pornography. We can stop these if we choose, calling on the Lord to assist us.

Sometimes a sin hangs on in spite of our determination to cease practicing in it. In this case we are bound. We are being forced to behave in a manner of which we do not approve. This means we have lost control of ourselves.

What we must do in this case is to go to the elders of the church and ask for deliverance. No doubt a spirit is involved. This can be cast from us so we can gain the victory in prayer.

If we are to maintain victory over a behavior, once having gained it, we must continue to practice the principles of discipleship found in the New Testament. If we do not, the bondage may return and leave us worse off than before.

The Lord Jesus warned us about this, about leaving our house swept and put in order but empty of tenants. Get Christ into your house!

 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:4)

We see from the above that a struggle against sin is part of the normal Christian discipleship. We have to pray and then use our own will in refusing to practice ungodliness. Some believers are brought further than this and are tortured or martyred because of their refusal to sin, resisting to the point of actually shedding their blood.

 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)

It is up to us to crucify our sinful nature. We do this, as we have said, by praying, making a sincere effort to cease sinning, presenting our body a living sacrifice to God, and continuing in all the principles of godly living set forth in the New Testament.

 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame. (I Corinthians 15:34)

Because of the sinning of the Christian believers numerous people of the world are ignorant of God. There is no witness of God apart from the good works of the believers.

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

We must keep a firm control over the appetites and lusts of our physical body. If we do not, our body will lead us into sin and we will disqualify ourselves from having any reward in the Kingdom of God. No matter how great may be the results of our ministry, we will be cast from the Presence of Christ if we give way to our flesh.

 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:13)

All people, including Christians, are tested in this world. God is faithful and makes a way of escape for the Christian so he or she can go through the test without sinning against God.

 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

God assists our pursuit of godliness by sending suffering on us. As we note from the verse above, if we allow our suffering to drive us to prayer the result will be we turn away from sin and live according to the will of God.

 "Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (Hebrews 12:6)

When suffering comes upon you, go to the Lord. Do not blame Satan or people. Go to the Lord. If you are a believer it is highly possible you are experiencing God's discipline. Be very thankful because the end will be peace and holiness. Peace and holiness are highly desirable attributes of behavior and are found in every true member of the Body of Christ.

 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2:12)

The unbelievers may be ready to blame us for all their troubles, but if we continue in godly, righteous behavior they will be forced to acknowledge their error and will give glory to God in the day when He visits them.

 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)

The contribution of the evangelist is necessary as the Lord adds to the Church daily such as should be saved. But the witness to the world consists of the godly character and behavior of the believers.

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

Righteousness and praise can spring up in the sight of the nations of the earth only as the members of the Body of Christ are righteous in behavior.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)

Righteous character and behavior require the evil to be removed and the good added. As we follow the Spirit of God, cooperating with Him in every detail, He casts out the evil and fills us with the good. Love is infinitely more than the absence of hate.

Love, joy, and peace are not the fruit of the Christian but of the Spirit. Such qualities cannot possibly come from Adam though he try with all his might. They can come only as a human being meditates in the Scriptures to discover how he should be behaving and then goes to the Lord for help. The Lord gives His Spirit to those who obey Him, and it is the Spirit who creates the image of Christ in us.

If we hope to be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord in the air we must be righteous in character and behavior. No believer who has not added the qualities of personality described in Second Peter has any hope of ascending to meet the Lord in His Day. Such moral transformation (another way of saying the formation of Christ in us) is absolutely necessary if we are to participate in the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We must have faith that Jesus is able to transform us. The Christian churches often have maintained it is impossible to rise above sin while we are in the present world. The Scriptures do not agree with this point of view.

 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:12)

The New Testament informs us we can gain victory over sin through Jesus Christ. This will not take place in our personality until we are willing to mix faith with the Word of God.

Righteous behavior comprises those kinds of actions that generally are considered by Christians and non-Christians alike as being righteous and godly. They correspond to the voice of conscience. The only people on earth, apparently, who are confused concerning the nature of righteous behavior are the Christians.

If you want to know what righteous behavior is, ask an unsaved person.

We have listed several verses of Scripture that exhort us to stop sinning and do the will of God, to exercise a strong hand over our flesh. The Spirit of the Lord will enable us to do this and will add the Virtue of Jesus Christ to us.

The choice is ours. We can choose to be the slave of righteousness and thus be qualified to be a member of the Body of Christ, the Servant of the Lord.

 Don't you know that 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. (Romans 6:16,17)

It is a case of obeying the form of teaching to which we have been committed.

We can choose to obey the teaching and live, or we can choose to be a slave to sin and thus kill our own spiritual life, our hope of attaining the first resurrection from the dead. The Judgment Seat of Christ will evaluate the choices we made during our lifetime and reward us accordingly.

The wages (for all people, including Christians) of sin is spiritual death. The gift of the opportunity to attain eternal life has been given us from the Lord. Will we receive it and act on it?

 I will take hold of your hand.

It is a good thing to hold the hand of God. But because of the pressures coming upon us in these days we need to have God hold our hand.

Due to the spread of sin throughout the world the prevalence of demon spirits and rebellious angels is increasing. The crimes committed in the United States are so heinous as to be beyond description. We are becoming accustomed to children shooting other children in school, to people chopping up bodies and leaving the parts in different locations. It seems there is no end to the horrors. Yet the government keeps on playing political games, fiddling while Rome is burning.

But if we consent to be the bondslave of Jesus Christ, God has promised to hold our hand. When God is holding our hand we can walk on the very brink of disaster as safely as though we were home in bed—in fact more safely.

When you lay down at night do you say, "Lord, you alone make me dwell in safety"? It is a good idea. A few months ago a spider bit my eye while I was snuggled "safely" under the blankets. What does this teach us about safety?

Here is a marvelous promise. If we are God's servant He will hold our hand.

How safe a child feels when Dad is holding his hand. How safe we ought to feel when God is holding our hand.

What can harm us if we are walking with God as His servant?

 I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.

God wants every member of the Body of Christ now, and throughout the ages to come, to be a covenant for the people, a light for the nations of the earth.

The old covenant can be written on tables of stone, on parchment, on paper, on the walls of our house. The new covenant can be written only on the human mind and heart.

What we term the "New Testament" is actually a record of people who themselves are the new covenant.

When Christ is formed in us, people can approach Him through us, and God through Christ. All that people need is found in God but they are unable to approach Him. They cannot see Him. When they pray they usually hear no response. God is far away in Heaven, somewhere beyond the galaxies.

But when we are the bondslave of Christ, people can come to Christ and God through us and receive their needs and desires. For this purpose each member of God's elect was called and chosen to be the Presence of God (Immanuel) throughout the creation.

We ourselves are being made the covenant of God with His creatures. This is the role of the royal priesthood.

A covenant is an agreement between two parties. One promises to do something and the other agrees and enters the covenant.

The Old Covenant consisted of the Ten Commandments plus the remainder of the statutes of the Law of Moses. The Ark of the Covenant was so named because the Covenant, the Ten Commandments, was carried in the Ark.

God spoke the words of the covenant to Moses. Then the Israelites were to obey them. When the Israelites obeyed the Law of Moses, God was bound by the covenant to bless them, give them victory over their enemies, prosper them in material possessions, and keep them in health.

Because the Jews had only the adamic nature to enable them to keep the terms of the Covenant they failed on many occasions. God was not satisfied with them and issued a new covenant.

The new covenant is not written with ink but with the Spirit of God. The new covenant cannot be written on parchment or paper but only on the mind and heart of man. The new covenant is not a covenant of the letter, as was the Law of Moses, but a covenant of the Holy Spirit. The letter of the Law kills but the Holy Spirit gives life. The first covenant was a covenant of condemnation. The new covenant is a covenant of righteousness.

The old covenant can be learned by devout, intelligent people and then communicated by speaking and writing to the students.

The words of the New Testament can be learned by devout, intelligent people and then communicated by speaking and writing to the students. A rigorous exegesis can be made of the various passages and then the text can be expounded.

But the new covenant itself cannot be communicated in this manner.

 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. (II Corinthians 3:2)

When the new covenant is to be formed in a group of people it first must be written on the heart of the apostle sent to them. This does not mean the apostle must first experience the new covenant and then tell the group about it. Rather the birth and formation of the covenant in the group must be birthed and formed in the apostle. Aaron must carry Israel on his shoulders and over his heart, so to speak. The apostle must be a "father" to the group.

"Written on our hearts." It is the apostle who travails with birth pains. But it is in the group that Christ is formed.

The new covenant is Christ written in the mind and on the heart. As the apostle is brought down to death the Life of Jesus raises him from the dead. The superabundance of eternal resurrection Life flows from the apostle to those around him and they live also. Christ is formed in them. They become the new covenant.

Paul cried out from the Praetorian barracks, "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice." Because the exultant paean rose from a saint in travail the exhortation comes with fertile force. People are transformed. The course of nations is affected.

The new covenant is the eternal law of God (made flesh in Christ) formed in the personality of people who eat that flesh and drink that blood, the flesh and blood of the covenant. It is their responsibility to obey the law placed in their mind and heart. If they do, the blessing of God will abide on them.

The Lord Jesus said He would not drink of "this fruit of the vine" until He drank it new with us in His Father's Kingdom. Because the resurrected Christ ate the honeycomb we have no doubt He literally will drink new wine with us when the Kingdom comes.

Would we be stretching His saying if we pointed out that when we open the door to Him we dine with Him on His body and blood within our own personality? Perhaps this is a transcendent fulfillment of His promise.

Not everyone may have been in a position to read the writings of the Apostle Paul, but they could read Paul himself. They could follow him as he followed Christ. When they did, God blessed them.

Perhaps the people of the nations were not able to understand all that was said by those in whom the covenant was formed because of Paul's travail. But they could read those people. They could follow them as they followed Christ. When they did, God blessed them.

Every member of the Servant of the Lord, of the Body of Christ, is being made a covenant with the nations of the earth. Christ is being written in our mind and heart through the travail of others, through their gifts and ministries. Now we are the covenant of God with the nations of the earth. When they are willing to read us and follow us, God will bless them. But the nation and people that will not read and follow the saints will never be blessed by the Lord.

 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 3:3)

If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. (Zechariah 14:18)

During the Kingdom Age the nations of the earth will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles by coming to be received and blessed by Christ, Head and Body, to enter the Divine covenant communicated by the saints.

We can see instantly that none of these marvels can take place until the members of the Body come to the stature of the fullness of Christ. But the Word says we indeed will come to this fullness and the nations indeed will come and be blessed. Will we indeed be a part of the fullness and the blessing? We will if we obey the Lord today.

 A light for the Gentiles.

As we have said, the only moral light to guide the conduct of people is Christ, and Christ in His saints. The moral light, the testimony, is the righteous behavior of God's elect.

There is a time to preach the mysteries of the Gospel. But what the world is waiting to see is the Character of Christ, the new covenant, in the believers. The Gentiles will glorify God when they observe the godly behavior of the believers. But until they do they will view us as charlatans, as the Christian churches are often regarded in America.

It is our own fault! We Christians lay great emphasis on our religious antics. The world is waiting to see truth and integrity. How long are they going to have to wait? Until we are "raptured" and they see us no more? What moral light will guide them then?

We need to wake up. The world is descending into Hell and the believers in the Western democracies are having their fun and playing their games.

Some of the believers in other places are being tortured and slain for the Gospel's sake.

 To open eyes that are blind.

In the case of the Lord Jesus He opened physical eyes and spiritual eyes. God wants us to do the same. We ought to pray fervently that God will give us the ministry and gifts we need to do the work of the servant.

Perhaps we have not because we ask not.

The peoples of the earth need their spiritual eyes opened and sometimes their physical eyes. It isn't going to happen until God empowers His Servant. Let us pray to this end, for the opening of blind eyes is an integral part of the covenant we are being made.

 To free captives from prison.

Sometimes we become enraged over the abortions, the homosexuality, the drugs, the rapes, and the other abominations of our culture. There are American Christians in the Midwest who wish the whole West Coast, especially California, would drop off into the Pacific Ocean because of the abominations that are practiced.

If we had eyes to see what really is present in the dens of lust we would be horrified by the horrible ghouls that have the people enslaved. We would want to deliver them from the chains that have them bound. We need to pray that God will open our eyes to the spirit realm so we can see the bondages that encase the minds and hearts of so many Americans. Then we would have compassion. Then we could pray effectively.

As long as God leaves us on the earth we should pray that God will help us to grow to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. Then we will be able to free the captives instead of cursing them.

The weapons of our warfare are not fleshly but mighty through God to the tearing down of the strongholds that compel the abortions, the homosexuality, the drugs, the rape, the murder. People are being driven by demons. How can they help themselves? It is the role of the Body of Christ to free the captives, but not by our own wisdom, strength, or talents. Only as we wait on the Lord and inquire in His temple.

If we don't minister in the rest of God how can we bring other people into the rest of God?

 To release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Picture the citizens of the nations as prisoners in a huge dungeon. The floor is straw. They are thrown garbage each day for their food. There are a few iron-barred windows but so high off the floor they cannot see out, and so they huddle in the darkness.

This is a true picture of the nations of our day, be they rich or poor. They are eating garbage, sitting on the floor and unable to reach the light, huddled together in the darkness, competing with each other and killing each other for a little dry straw.

Across town the Christians are playing ring-around-the-rosy in their churches, jumping up and down next to their pews so they will be able to go up in the rapture.

But then comes a member of the Servant of the Lord, powerful angels at his side, the Glory of the Spirit of God on him and in him. He commands the jailer to stand aside. He reaches for the massive door of granite and steel. The great lock melts away like mist. He pulls and a sliver of golden light reaches across the floor. The prisoners rush to the door.

This is exactly what will take place in the last days. When darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people, the Glory of God will rise on the members of the Servant of the Lord, on those who are competent to work with Christ in the work of the Jubilee of release.

It is not a time to curse the darkness but to pray and ask God to help us become the fruitful member of the Body He has called us to be. The outlook is bright with the promise of God.

 I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. (Isaiah 42:8)

I am the LORD!

The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. In what day? In the day when we surrender our self-will and self-seeking to God and permit the Father and the Son to sit on the throne of our life.

Salvation occurs in three stages: basic salvation, being filled with the Spirit of God, and entering union with the Father through Christ. It is the third stage that is the goal of redemption.

God will not give His glory to another. To receive the Glory of God we must become one with Him.

As we enter the third stage of salvation, union with the Father through Christ, we understand the meaning of "the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." Gone is our desire to exalt ourselves, our ambition, our lust for preeminence. In its place is a quiet rest in God.

The Lord Jesus is our example. He did not grasp His relationship to the Father. He was a lowly, humble man. He was at home among the poor. Always in every situation He gave the glory to God. He was at rest in the Father, totally free from the need to exalt Himself.

Every member of the Servant of the Lord must permit the Spirit of God to deal with him or her until the desired state of oneness with Christ and God is attained. As long as we are seeking our own glory we make all sorts of blunders in our relationships with God and people. But when the Lord alone is exalted we are fruitful.

The world is not waiting for you or me. The world is waiting for God. Jesus Christ came to bring God to people. Now He is the Vine and from the Vine are growing branches. On the branches are being formed the fruit of righteousness and praise. When the nations behold our oneness in God, and the resulting fruit, they will believe that God has sent Jesus Christ.

We would so much like for the world to believe in Christ. Jesus said the world will believe when we are one in Him and the Father.

The Lord appoints some to preach the Gospel to mankind. But of more importance is the witness given by the members of the churches. When the world sees Jesus in us they will believe.

Throughout Church history the workers have proclaimed the Gospel. Much good has been done. But the testimony of the churches themselves has not been as godly as one could wish.

We would like the glory of God for ourselves and for others. But God will not give His glory to another. It is only as we are one with Him, as the Lord Jesus is, that God is free to share His glory with us.

 Or my praise to idols.

We have many idols in America: money, sexual lust, violence, power, entertainment, drunkenness. Much of God's dealings with us has to do with the removal of the power our idols have over us.

Christ is under God. We are under Christ. The remainder of the creation is to be under us, for it is appointed to the royal priesthood to govern and judge mankind and the angels. Christ continually is removing the gods that are between Himself and us and forcing them under our feet. How we howl in pain and unbelief because of this process! But if we cooperate with God's Spirit there finally is peace and rulership. Christ will have nothing between Himself and us.

 See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you. (Isaiah 42:9)

Our is the age of communication. God also is a communicator. If you want to know what has taken place and what will take place in the future, spend time in prayer each day.

The media pride themselves on furnishing us with facts. And so they do. But they do not furnish us with truth.

Facts tell us what something weighs, what it looks like, what color it is, when it took place, where it took place, the names of the people involved, their ages, and so forth. They may make a prediction for the future based on the facts at hand. This kind of information is highly prized in our culture.

But none of this is truth.

Truth is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He helps us to see clearly and objectively what is a fact in the material world. But He is able to do infinitely more than this. Christ informs us of the significance of the thing, person, or event. Also He tells us of the outcome—which may be quite different from that assumed from the facts.

If you want truth, spend time talking to Jesus. He is the Truth and the only truth.

The media is one huge lie, designed to bring to pass the desires of the sponsors (which usually is the acquiring of money). The reason all sale prices end in 99 dollars or 99 cents is to give us the impression the item is cheaper than it actually is. Most of what we hear from the government is "spin," that is an interpretation of an event that prejudices the reader in the direction desired by the politicians.

What happened to integrity and truth? Diogenes, get out your lantern. It is needed in America.

The newspapers are slanted. It all is one massive lie. We do not know what really is taking place or why it is taking place. We are the dupes of the super-powerful and wealthy of the world. We are the dull slaves known as "consumers."

It is harmful to dwell on this garbage. All we need to do is keep talking to Jesus. He will tell us the truth concerning the past, present, and future.

If you want the eleven o'clock news, then get on your knees at eleven o'clock.

It is important for us to understand our times correctly. Jesus will give us all the knowledge, understanding, and truth we need to survive. He is absolutely dependable. The Servant of the Lord will finally prevail over the politicians, the wealthy, the powerful of the world. There is nothing they can do about it except fall on their faces before the living God!

The creatures of God are full of eyes. God knows all things and in our time we will know all things. Righteousness opens our eyes. Sin blinds us.

 Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. (Isaiah 42:10)

Sing to the LORD a new song.

There always is a newness about Jesus Christ. The Christian discipleship is a prolonged, difficult journey through numerous obstacles. We can become weary and frustrated as our expectations are not fulfilled.

If we keep praying and do not become discouraged and quit, there come seasons of refreshing. All of a sudden the Lord appears. Then everything is new. We are refreshed in spirit, soul, and often in body. We renew our strength. We mount up as with wings.

Of those who are lifting up themselves, even the youngest and strongest will finally collapse. But the faithful who wait on the Lord will not grow weary or become faint. They always are singing a new song.

The firstfruits unto the Lord sing a love song to Him. They alone know the tune and the words. There is a reward for seeking the Lord.

 His praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, all who live in them.

We notice in the tenth chapter of Revelation that the great angel of the days just preceding the return of the Lord, stands on the oceans and continents.

God is the Lord of the whole earth. His praise is destined to arise from the ends of the earth, the seas, the continents. It is the responsibility of the Servant of the Lord to install righteousness and praise in every area of our planet. This indeed shall take place!

 Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands. (Isaiah 42:11,12)

It is the members of the Body of Christ who will bring such rejoicing to the world.

The "desert" undoubtedly is speaking of the Arabian Desert and its cities. Kedar was one of the sons of Ishmael and refers to Bedouin Arabs.

Sela, the rock, was an Edomite settlement, a rocky plateau 3700 feet above sea level—hence "let them shout from the mountaintops." We see here that when Christ returns there will be joy and shouting among the Arabs.

Revival yet shall come to the Arab nations. Pray always for the Arab people because the Lord will get fruit for His table from among them.

Again, the people who live on the islands of the sea will be praising the Lord. All the nations of the earth will rejoice when the Lord returns except for the great centers of commerce and education that will be part of the Antichrist system. They will attempt to prevent the coming of the Lord but they are doomed to total destruction.

Truly the creation has been made subject to futility; but it shall be released, at the coming of Christ and His Body, into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

 The LORD will march out like a mighty man, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. (Isaiah 42:13)

The Church for some years has been at Pentecost. Pentecost is the fourth feast of the Lord. The next, the fifth feast, is Trumpets. The Blowing of Trumpets announces the war between righteousness and wickedness.

In order for justice to be brought to the earth Satan must be cast out. The casting out of Satan is the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The price of redemption was paid on the cross of Calvary. But Satan will not release his slaves. The only solution is force, the force of God's Spirit.

The Blowing of Trumpets has two aspects, one personal and one kingdom-wide. The personal fulfillment of Trumpets occurs as the Lord Jesus Christ comes against the enemy in the lives of His people, declaring war against the powers of darkness. The kingdom-wide fulfillment of the feast of Trumpets will take place when the Lord Jesus descends with His overcomers and drives Satan from the earth.

We are not accustomed to this role of the Lord Jesus. But the change is taking place today. The Lord is taking off His Moses hat and putting on His Joshua hat.

Whenever change takes place among people an uproar is created. So it is today. The believers, naturally, want to cling to the familiar. They want to sing "Savior Like a Shepherd Lead Us"; "I Come to the Garden Alone"; "Sweet Hour of Prayer." Who could blame them? These hymns of the faith have brought the Christians through many a stormy trial.

But new choruses are coming forth having to do with war and battle: "Our God Is an Awesome God"; "He Is the Living God, Enduring Forever"; "Blow the Trumpet in Zion." Our own assembly is probably on the growing edge in this regard and some of our choruses have been composed by our own musicians, such as "Faithful and True."

On occasion the people will march around the church while the only sound is the drum, some of the worshipers carrying banners, including our great banner with Christ on His white horse descending to make war against His enemies.

There always have been war hymns, such as "Onward Christian Soldiers"; and "Stand Up for Jesus." But there now is much more of a sense of immediacy accompanying these, at least for our generation.

The worship team on the platform must envision themselves as an advance guard, driving the enemy from the congregation until the people are lifted into the prophetic milieu. The presence of demons in the United States is increasing daily. The battle continually intensifies. The believers coming in to worship are torn and bleeding from what they have encountered during the week. It is the responsibility of the worship team to mount the attack until the Spirit of God is predominant.

The platform during the worship is no place for casual conduct, banter, or any kind of foolishness whatever. It is to be all-out war and nothing less! All confusion and indecision must be settled in prayer prior to the commencement of the service. Nothing should be said or done that brings the congregation down from the heavenlies or focuses their attention on themselves or on the worship team.

The song service should start strong and keep up the militant and worshipful attitude, even during the slower choruses.

The team leader is free to make exceptions to the above principles but only as he or she is directed by the Spirit, never casually.

Make no mistake, the battle has begun in earnest!

We are in a time of transition, and change is always difficult for people.

One of the radical changes is the identification of the earth and its peoples, rather than the spirit Paradise, as our land of promise. It may take another generation or two before we are able to grasp that we are heading toward victory in the earth rather than life in a mansion in Heaven.

 The Lord will march out like a mighty man. Like a warrior he will stir up his zeal. With a shout he will raise the battle cry. He will triumph over his enemies.

Can you picture this? Can you picture your Jesus shouting for the battle? Do you believe He can triumph over the enemies in your life? Do you believe He can triumph completely over His enemies in the whole world?

Lift up the everlasting gates of your soul and the King of Glory will enter your personality. He is knocking today. Open the door.

But who is He? He is the Lord, strong and mighty in battle. Let Him in and He will dine with you on His own body and blood. Then you will be part of the Bride—as terrible as an army with banners.

Let me give you another view of the "rapture." Listen: With a shout. With the voice of Michael, the leader of the warrior angels. With the trumpet of God.

Did you ever think of the catching up of the saints as the beginning of war against the enemy? Do the words and phrases accompanying the rapture sound like the evacuation of the believers so they won't be harmed, or is the attack and invasion of the Lord of Hosts brought to mind?

Are the saints being caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air so they can descend with Him and destroy Antichrist? What is your opinion?

 He will triumph over His enemies.

Never think that Christ will be content with anything but total victory.

When we study the relevant prophecies we see that the forces of darkness are going to be crushed under the feet of the Christians. They will be ashes under our feet. Satan will be crushed under the feet of the Church.

Our Lord has been waiting patiently at the right hand of God until His enemies are made His footstool. The enemies of Christ will be brought down by Christ working through the members of His Body. He will make the place of His feet glorious, those feet of fiery bronze.

We are the feet of the Lord. Therefore we must be baptized with fire until every trace of Satan has been burned out of us. The judges of the earth must first be judged. God is ready to do this for you and me today.

Armageddon with a capital "A" cannot be fought until armageddon with a lower-case "a" is fought and won in you and me. The Word of God is a two-edged sword, meaning that as we judge we are judged. Until the sin and rebellion have been removed from us we cannot serve as kings and judges of mankind and the angels.

The inner armageddon has begun. Prepare yourself to be led by the Holy Spirit against all the worldliness, lust, and self-will in your personality.

It had to come sometime! At some point the Church must be delivered from its spots and wrinkles! How can we expect to gain Paradise and bring it to the earth until first we get past the angel guarding the tree of life?

 For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. (Isaiah 42:14)

For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back.

What an extraordinary statement?

Yet, if we think about it, it is true. Consider the horrendous sins being committed in America today. We wonder why God doesn't come down and put a stop to the outrages, the fraudulent practices of those in positions of authority, the murder of babies, the lying, stealing, and perversions of justice that are common.

There are awful practices taking place in Sudan as the Muslims attempt to stamp out Christianity. Yet leading nations keep on trading with Sudan and the abuses are not being publicized sufficiently and dealt with. The love of money nullifies conscience.

Child prostitution is widespread in many nations in our day.

God remains silent. He has held Himself back.

Does God know? Indeed He does! Does God care? Indeed He does! God is patient, not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance.

In the meanwhile God is building the Body of Christ, the army of judges that will put an end to sin in the earth.

 But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.

Woe to the wicked of the world when God cries out, gasps, and pants. What will be brought to birth? Righteousness, justice, obedience to God.

The whole creation is in the throes of birth. Eventually every person (who is saved) and every thing will be made new in Christ. We are on the threshold of life, of a new day, of a new world. Have you been made new in Jesus Christ?

God will visit the earth. The blood of the innocent is speaking from the ground. God knows the sparrow that dies, how much more the babies that have been aborted, the children that have been molested, the poor that have been denied their proper wages, those who have perished from famine while the wealthy of the world are spending billions of dollars to get rid of their excess fat?

We are near the birth of the Kingdom of God. The signs are all around us. Our redemption is drawing near. It is not a redemption from life on the earth but from sin and self-will.

 I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. (Isaiah 42:15)

God is not going to attack the physical mountains, the hills, their vegetation, the rivers, and the pools, at least not in the context of this verse.

The mountains and the hills are the mighty of mankind that are lifted up.

Their vegetation is the fruit of their doings—doings not sponsored by or approved of the Lord. The works of the flesh.

The rivers and the pools portray the life of the flesh, the "waters" of education and information in which people trust. Ours is a day of rivers of information and pools of knowledge. There never has been a time in history when so much information has been available to so many people.

The assumption is that an increase in knowledge is a good thing in itself. It is not. There are many things more important than knowledge. A righteous, God-fearing character is vastly more important than a head full of knowledge.

Children today are expert in the use of the computer and the Internet. Yet in the realm of God and moral behavior they know virtually nothing. We are producing monsters. One day they will turn against us. They are amoral creatures, not understanding right and wrong. They will murder each other.

The government of Antichrist will emphasize money and education. These are gods in America. They are idols. The child who will survive in the future is the one who has been taught to follow Jesus. The Lord will be his or her Protection when God begins to cry out and pant because of the wickedness in the earth.

When God arises He will bring down that which is highly exalted, and all the proud works of the flesh. The "Herod's temples" will lie in ruins. The rivers and pools of man knowledge and wisdom will dry up and will be seen for what they are—an endless and unproductive pursuit of that which is not truth.

The learned man in that day will say, "I have spent my life pursuing vanity. All my knowledge is not helping me enter the Kingdom of God. The little children who love Jesus and sit at His feet are drinking of the fountain of life while I am weak and sickly because of the emptiness and deadness of my soul.

"I have played the fool. The poor and ignorant of the world are rejoicing in the majesty of the Lord but I am rejected. Had I only known! Perhaps I can find a child to help me."

 I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. (Isaiah 42:16)

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.

Every member of the Body of Christ must become blind if he or she is to see.

God does not lead those who see but those who are blind.

When we say we see we mean we are living according to the understanding of our human mind. This is blindness. The human mind is an enemy of God and cannot behold His Glory.

There are only two ways in which people can live. We can live according to our human mind or we can live by committing each decision of our life to the Lord. To live according to our human mind and sight is to live in the flesh. To live by committing each decision to the Lord is to live in the Spirit of God.

The righteous live by faith, that is, by committing each decision to the Lord.

It is the Lord's will that every saved person learn to live in the Spirit of God.

The Lord Jesus always lives in the Spirit of God, in the sabbath rest of God. He does not think His own thoughts or speak His own words. He is the dwelling place of the Father, the eternal House of God.

In the Father's House, which is Jesus Christ, there are many rooms, many places of abode. The Lord Jesus went to the cross and then ascended to the Father to prepare a place for us in Himself.

We can never find fulfillment as "man" until we become a room in the Father's House.

When we deliberately choose to walk in the light of the Lord, God leads us in ways we have not known. He guides us along unfamiliar paths. These are ways and paths, the old ways and paths, that lead to eternal life and joy, to freedom from sin and self-will, to perfect peace and contentment. But we never will walk these paths until we are willing to be blind to the things of the present world.

God created us in the present world with eyes to see what is around us and a brain to interpret what we behold. But He hides Himself and says, "Seek me."

We then have a choice. We can continue on as a seeing animal but blind to God, or we can turn away from our human reasoning and begin to walk by faith in God. The decision is ours.

 I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.

How often the way is dark before us! Tragedy strikes! We are filled with dread. The future is bleak. The way is rough indeed.

Now we have a choice. We can strive to solve our problems according to our own resources or we can turn to God. If we turn to God He will change our darkness into light. He will make the rough places smooth.

These wonders may not take place overnight. But we can be certain they indeed shall take place if we do not turn away from the Lord in fear and unbelief. God watches over His Word to perform it.

 These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

As the various gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ operate we are built up to maturity as measured by the full stature of Christ. We come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

The unity of the faith does not mean we all agree on points of doctrine. Points of doctrine are the product of the natural mind. As we learn blindness we grow in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. We find that God will do what He has promised. We become assured that God will not forsake us.

No Christian who has not matured in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God is prepared to appear with Christ in the day when He returns to establish His Kingdom on the earth. The immature believer would cause endless problems for those around him because of his insistence on acting according to his own perception of what he is to be and do. He is in no position to bring justice to the nations because he himself does not live in the faith and knowledge of Jesus. He is still walking by natural light.

He may be permitted to enter the Kingdom of God but he will not be allowed to bring confusion and weakness into the army of the Lord. He is not as yet an integral part of the unity of faith and knowledge that each member of the Body of Christ must have in order to be qualified to return with the Lord.

The Christian churches of today are filled with believers who do not know the Lord, who have not come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. It is imperative that Christ empower and direct all the gifts and ministries of the Spirit so many will be brought to maturity in preparation for His appearing.

The Lord Jesus will not forsake us if we are willing to become blind that we may by led by Him in ways we have not known.

 But those who trust in idols, who say to images, "You are our gods," will be turned back in utter shame. (Isaiah 42:17)

We have many gods in America. Money probably is the chief of the American gods. We trust in money for survival, security, pleasure, and achievement.

Following closely on the heels of money is sexual lust in every perverted form. Sexual lust, including pornography, is an American sickness.

Entertainment ranks high among American idols. What would happen to our culture if every television went dead? Could we survive? What would we do?

Violence is esteemed in America. While we moan about the amount of crime traceable to television programs and the current music, no one has the power to stop the promoting of violence. It is too popular.

Professional sports are worshiped in America. Money that should be spent on social needs is lavished on stadiums, sports arenas. Even Christians regard endless discussions of football and baseball as an acceptable use of time. They redeem the time by telling who won what game. Can you imagine the Lord Jesus spending His time reading the sports page of the newspaper? Sports are an American idol.

The American Christian sitting back in his recliner, reading the comic strips, watching football on the television, has no idea he is in the middle of a war. Bullets are flying everywhere. He is being wounded and does not realize it. A trap is being set that may bring him down to spiritual destruction. Soon it will be sprung. He is not aware of it as he feeds his idols.

Popularity and bigness are looked on as meritorious and valuable without too much regard for the destructiveness or constructiveness of the factors involved. The idolatry of bigness has seriously affected the Christian churches in America, almost always necessitating a watering down of the strict requirements of discipleship.

Partying and drunkenness are favorite American idols. "Let's have a party!" Christians love parties. They play silly games while their brothers and sisters are being tortured and killed in Sudan, China, and Peru.

"Oh, but we are having fellowship." No you're not. If you were having fellowship you could pray, speak in tongues, prophesy, pray for the sick, sing in the Spirit, talk seriously about the Lord, with no change in the social milieu. Try these at your next "fellowship" and you will know whether you are having a party or fellowship.

"Nice things" are idols in America. We must have "nice things." In India the villagers stick buffalo dung on the sides of their huts to dry out. The people of India, even the poorest, place great value on interpersonal relationships. They get along somehow without "nice things."

What if the Lord told us to worship in a chicken coop or cellar? Could we do so even though the surroundings were not "nice"? Could we do so with grace and joy? If not we need to go to the Lord about our problem with "nice things."

Judgment is hanging over America. The day may come when we are forced to live like so many in the third world countries, our children playing in the mud with the chickens and goats. Would this affect our worship of God? Let us hope not for many dear Christian people worship God in such an environment.

All we have mentioned are idols. They are worshiped in America.

Each of us has many idols residing in our personality. Your idol is something you would have a terrible time letting go of if the Lord should call for it.

Much of our Christian discipleship consists of the Lord putting these idols beneath our feet. The process is painful. The Lord Jesus will have nothing between us and Him just as there is nothing between Him and the Father—no other relationship, circumstance, or thing.

If we refuse to come to God unless we can carry our idols with us, not permitting Him to remove them from us today, we will be "turned back in utter shame" when the Body of Christ appears with the Head to bring justice to the nations.

"I am the Lord. You shall have no other gods before Me!"

 "Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the LORD? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing." (Isaiah 42:18-20)

Perhaps the greatest battle we have in becoming part of the Servant of the Lord is that of turning away from our own thoughts, our own "sight," and learning to look to Jesus for everything.

During the two thousand years of Church history tremendous emphasis has been placed on doctrinal correctness, on believing what the authorities desire we believe about God, Christ, and the Christian religion. However, what we believe has little or no bearing on our salvation except as our belief leads us to Jesus.

There is no salvation in belief itself.

The Pharisees were orthodox in their belief but murdered Christ.

Yesterday a young man wrote me asking about the Godhead. It seems he has been a Christian for a month or so and already he is being confronted with people who want to argue about the relationship of Christ to the Father.

I wrote back that such spiritual truth cannot be fully comprehended by the physical brain and to avoid the discussion. I exhorted him to follow Jesus closely and in time Jesus would bring him to the Father. Then he will understand that he is in Christ and Christ is in the Father. That is all we need to know about the Godhead.

It is so difficult to direct our mind constantly toward Jesus instead of relying on our thought processes, but it becomes easier as we practice looking to the Lord for everything. Of course we have to be practical and observant in the world. But all the decisions we are making continually need to be addressed to the Lord in prayer.

The Lord's servant is blind. The Lord's messenger is deaf. Do you remember the young prophet who listened to the older prophet and was killed by a lion? The Lord told him to return immediately but he listened to someone else. He still could have ignored the older prophet and gone on his way but he began to reason.

The Lord's messenger must listen to the Lord. Some people have attempted to call me down from the wall but they have not succeeded as yet. They reason, reason, reason why I should come down and listen to them. When I inquire of the Lord he tells me they are speaking foolishness.

I think it was C. S. Lewis who said the demons love to reason.

On occasion I have wrestled with the Lord because of the severity of my preaching. When I go to the Lord He says, "If you won't preach it I will get someone who will."

God's messenger must be blind and deaf to all distractions. He must be so committed to the Lord that if he is martyred because of his message it is of little consequence to him.

The Lord's servant sees all that is around him. He can hear what is being said. But he pays no attention to all of this. He goes straight on as the Lord leads him, trusting in the Lord Jesus, keeping the Lord always before him so he may be full of eyes in front and in back, like the four living creatures around the Throne of God. He knows where he has come from and where he is going in the Lord.

Until we become blind and deaf to the distractions around us we cannot see what God is seeing. The disciples showed Jesus Herod's Temple. The disciples were impressed with its grandeur. Jesus saw a pile of rubble. He had "eyes in front" to see as the Father sees.

Do you want to see and hear what God is seeing and hearing?

 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. (Isaiah 42:21—KJV)

When we become blind and deaf to the compulsions and advice of our fleshly mind we live righteously. We, as Christ always does, see past the letter of the law and act in a manner pleasing to the Lord. The moral law of God then becomes great and glorious instead of a heartless religious ritual.

There are Christians who have a religious spirit. They fasten on particular Scriptures and will not budge from these even though it is obvious to everyone else the letter of the Bible in this case works against righteousness.

We have to know the heart of God or else we can be trapped by what appears to us to be Bible law.

One striking instance of this is the insistence by Christians that all who have not heard the Gospel will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. While such a point of view may be deduced from cutting and pasting a few "precious promises," there are other passages indicating that people are judged only by the light they were given.

But the person with the religious spirit will cast aside all compassion, the welfare of those for whom he is responsible, such as his children, all reason, and plunge ahead to destruction while he is quoting Scripture. This is the spirit that murdered Jesus. Its basis is religious pride—perhaps the closest of all spirits to the nature of Satan.

The Servant of the Lord is deaf and blind to such impalings on the words of the Scriptures. He or she goes straight to Jesus and asks His opinion. He may end up eating the showbread with the blessing of God.

The Lord Jesus did not do away with the intent of the Law of Moses. He magnified it and made it glorious. The Sabbath commandment changes from an injunction against throwing a light switch on Saturday to thinking, speaking and acting in the Presence of God seven days a week, seeking His pleasure in all we are and do.

 But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, "Send them back." (Isaiah 42:22)

Although the above verse is directed at Israel, God's elect, let us think for a moment about the plight of the nations who should have been taught righteousness by the example and doctrines of the Christian churches. The Western nations have been largely Christian. Now other religions are becoming increasingly significant in their cultures.

Many of the Western nations pride themselves on democracy and freedom. They are anything but free.

The United States of America views itself as the great champion of liberty, of freedom of thought, speech, and action. But if one looks closer it is apparent that horrible bondages exist. There are areas of the larger cities in a state of anarchy. The bloodthirsty gangs are contained but by no means conquered.

Washington, D.C., which according to the image of "liberty" that is being projected by our spin doctors, should be the garden spot of the universe. In fact it is a crime-ridden area featuring drugs and violence.

If we are so free and wonderful what is the need for more police and more prisons? Why would a person be safer at night in a jungle than on the street of a large city? Have you ever thought much about what goes on at night in New York City? Los Angeles? San Francisco?

And this is the land of promise?

In San Diego, a place of marvelous climate and natural beauty, the local paper is filled with accounts of murder, suicide, rape, robbery, child abuse.

From sea to bloody sea!

We are living in an image of glorious things. But ask the parents of the student who has just been murdered in school how they feel about the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I am not unpatriotic. I volunteered to serve in the Marine Corps during the second world war when I was seventeen years old. I talk about America because I live here. The same is true in England, France, Germany, Italy. In Italy they have kidnaped tourists, removed their organs, sold the organs to people who need transplants, and sent the tourists out to enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere. Beautiful Italy, the home of the Catholic Church.

Beautiful England where there is explicit sexual perversion on the television.

Beautiful Holland, once a bastion of righteousness, has now joined the race to the kingdom of smut.

Scandinavia, a Christian heritage dating back a thousand years, filled with pornography.

All these nations are associated with Christianity and may think of themselves as "Christian" nations.

They may be lovers of liberty but they are not lovers of righteousness. Their spiritual chains are clanking on the ground.

 But this is a people plundered and looted.

If we could see in the spirit realm the people of the large Western nations (the wealthy nations compared with many other countries), they would appear as poverty-stricken captives, worshiping their idols of money and lust, their apparel threadbare, spiritually starved, groveling at the feet of the demons who whip them along.

 All of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons.

Sin has cast them into the pit of gloom. This is why so many Americans suffer from clinical depression. Suicide is common, even among young people. Alcohol and drugs are used to escape the reality of life in America. There are drugs for sleeplessness, indigestion, overweight, drugs to elevate and drugs to depress.

The parents of the adolescent child who has run away from home think back over the years, remembering they have given their youngster every possible material advantage. Yet their darling girl has left to live with her lesbian partner. Their little boy, only yesterday playing with his computer games, has raped and murdered his girlfriend. The pretty little granddaughter is at the police stations because they found the baby she had tried to flush down the toilet.

We are free, it is true—free to live in the worst of all bondages.

 They have become plunder with no one to rescue them. They have been made loot, with no one to say, ‘send them back.’"

With no one to say, "Send them back."

How many times do the evangelists have unsaved people (not even troubling them to come down to the front) repeat after them "I accept Christ in my heart." Then the evangelist says, "Now you are a Christian."

This is not how you "send people back, back to God." According to the Book of Acts, the message of forgiveness must be accompanied by the commandment to repent. We are to be saved by repenting, receiving Christ, and being baptized in water as a sign we have turned back from the world.

Apart from a thorough, utterly sincere turning back from the world and its ways there can be no act of salvation.

Repentance and a godly life are as necessary to salvation as belief that Christ died for our sins. One is not acceptable to God without the other.

 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Acts 11:18)

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20)

It is repentance, a turning away from sin and the embracing of righteous behavior, that brings eternal life. And repentance can be proven only by our actions, not by our words alone.

If you didn't repent when you were "saved," why don't you repent now! You will begin to make progress in eternal life when you do.

The churches are not rescuing the prisoners of covetousness. Many of the churches are preaching grace, the supposed "pre-tribulation rapture," the mansion in Heaven. How does this deliver the prisoners from the chains of sexual perversion?

It is time for the members of the Body of Christ to come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. It is time for us to grow up in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Our neighbors are frantically looking for someone who can deliver them spiritually and physically from the grip of the oppressors.

Our governments promise much but they themselves are bound. Their most worthy intentions are soon rendered useless by evil people who always manage to profit by walking on the backs of the meek.

There is coming a better day. That day is the Day of the Lord, the day when the Lord Jesus Christ appears with an army of righteous saints at His back, mature Christians who have accepted the sufferings and denials that were necessary for their moral transformation.

God would have you join His army. Are you willing to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow the Lord Jesus?

 Which of you will listen to this or pay close attention in time to come? (Isaiah 42:23)

It is time now to pay close attention to what God is saying, some twenty-seven hundred years after Isaiah wrote these words. We are "in time to come."

One of the admonitions concerning the convocations of Israel, the feasts of the Lord, was that the Israelites should stop their daily work and observe the celebration, fixing their attention on the Lord. So it is today. The face of Christianity is about to be transformed. We are changing from Christ as the Shepherd to Christ as the Commander in Chief. Entrance into the land of promise is at hand. We have not gone this way previously.

We are nearing the time when the wrestling match will be concluded with Satan's shoulders being pinned to the mat. God is calling for saints who will overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their life to the death.

The Scriptures are being unveiled. The knowledge of the Kingdom is increasing rapidly. Such knowledge presents unparalleled opportunity and unparalleled danger. It is the opportunity to ascend the Throne of Glory. The danger is that we will attempt to formulate spiritual principles and by these proceed to "build the Kingdom" apart from being crucified and raised with the Lord.

Will we attempt to use our ministries and gifts to "save and deliver a lost and dying world" or will we turn back to Jesus and let Him use us as He will? Do we love the things of the Spirit or do we love Jesus? This is the momentous issue of our day. It will be over this very issue that the Charismatic movement will divide into the False Prophet, on the one hand, and the godly remnant on the other.

Whenever we avoid our personal cross, for whatever reason, we put ourselves in clear danger of being subject to the divinely sent "strong delusion."

We are to press into the rest of God, the place in God where we are living in His Presence and His will through Jesus Christ. The miraculous soon will be evident in the world as never before. Only those who have died in Christ and are living in Christ will be kept from being deceived by the miracles.

Only those who have guarded the word of Christ's patience will be guarded from deception when the temptation comes to dive into the spiritual excitement without going continually to the Lord for direction. It is not enough to be "doctrinally correct." It is not doctrinal accuracy that will protect us during the hour of temptation, it is the patient, patient, patient waiting on Christ while all around us there are "evidences of revival and spiritual success" (all in the name of Jesus, of course).

Those who insist on measuring everything by their "doctrinal accuracy" will end up throwing out that which is of Christ along with that which is not of Christ. The answer is a closer walk with Jesus, not a picking apart of what is taking place with the hope of finding something "wrong" in order to prove the work is not of God. Having been in this way for fifty-four years I have not found any true work of God within which there was not something that could be criticized.

There always is a danger when God moves that people will wander off into some unfruitful area. Let us "send them back." Let us encourage people to return to Christ, to iron righteousness, to fiery holiness, to stern obedience to the Father. Then we will find the old paths. Then we will be quieted by the waters of Shiloah. Then we will have an easy yoke and a light burden. Then there will be green pastures. Then there will be waters of the Spirit to swim in. These blessings are all out there waiting for us when we go back to the Lord.

 Who handed Jacob over to become loot, and Israel to the plunderers? Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned? For they would not follow his ways; they did not obey his law. (Isaiah 42:24)

Here is a concept that needs to be stressed today. When we do not follow the Lord's ways, when we do not obey His law, God hands us over to become loot for the enemy and prey for the plunderers.

So often today when Christians get into trouble they are told to rebuke the devil. We are not to go to the devil with our problems but to the Lord Jesus. Our problems are coming from the Lord in the hope we will turn from our lawlessness.

The way of the transgressor is hard. God makes it hard. It is true that God uses the devil to cause us pain. But the solution is not to turn to the devil but to the Lord.

A messenger of Satan attacked the Apostle Paul. Paul did not turn to the devil with his problem, he asked the Lord to remove it from him. In this instance it was the Lord who was teaching Paul to lean more on Himself.

People are very slow to blame God for their problems. They are quick to blame people, Satan, or their circumstances. They become bitter and unforgiving, not realizing it is God who is making them loot for the enemy and prey for the plunderers.

When we are in trouble we are to go to God in prayer in order to find out why we are hurting. We are to cease our sinning and make sure we are living as a Christian, praying, meditating in God's Word, giving, serving, assembling with fervent disciples. We must be ready to obey God whenever He asks something of us.

If we will take up our cross and follow Jesus, and go to the Lord repeatedly in prayer, we eventually will gain the upper hand of our problems. After we have suffered for awhile God will establish, strengthen, and settle us.

It is of the greatest importance the believer does not fall into the trap of believing everything harmful to him or her is coming from the devil. Satan has no power over any believer who is serving the Lord. God becomes jealous when we are ascribing such power to Satan and may leave us in Satan's hands, seeing we admire him so much.

It is time today for the Christian churches to turn to the Lord. Then they will find the Lord Jesus always sits as the king over every flood of evil. It is He, not Satan, who has the power to save and heal us.

 So he poured out on them his burning anger, the violence of war. It enveloped them in flames, yet they did not understand; it consumed them, but they did not take it to heart. (Isaiah 42:25)

God is not the Santa Claus we in America believe. It is true God is Love—a love far beyond our feeble power to grasp. God is good—a Goodness far beyond our coarse nature to comprehend. All this is true.

God also is Wrath and Jealousy, a wrath and jealousy far beyond our human mind to grasp. He is the Consuming Fire of Israel. The six thousand years of agony because of the one disobedience of Adam and Eve portray the fiery wrath of God.

When God's people (not the world always) transgress God's laws, he pours out on them His burning anger and the violence of war. God told the Israelites through Jeremiah that due to famine the fathers would be eating the children and the children their fathers. Are we too sensitive to read this? Are we so sensitive and deluded we think God has changed one bit?

The preachers of today tell us we have nothing to fear at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Apostle Paul warns us that the Judgment Seat will be a time of terror.

"Depart from Me into outer darkness." This is a terrifying fate, reserved for the Lord's servants who do not serve Him with their whole heart.

It is true that the guilt of our sins was removed on the cross of Calvary. It is true that God's judgment is on the works of Satan in our lives.

But the Judgment Seat of Christ has to do with our choices, whether we made good choices or bad choices. We cannot forgive our sins. Neither can we remove Satan from our personality and throw him into the Lake of Fire. These can be accomplished only by the Lord God.

But there are things we can do and for these we shall be judged. We can use our talent. We can bring extra oil for our lamp. We can choose and ask for deliverance from sin and self-seeking. These are things we can do. If we do not, the punishment is very severe.

We cannot forgive our sins and we cannot cleanse ourselves from all unrighteousness. But we can confess our sins. If we do what we can do God will do the rest. If we do not do what we can do we indeed shall be punished very severely. The program of salvation cost the blood of God's Son. We are not to take it lightly.

The question is, when we are enveloped in flames will we understand? When we are consumed by the fires of Divine judgment will we take it to heart?

There is hope for the wicked individual who turns back to God. There is no hope for the person who, being reproved again and again, hardens his heart and stiffens his neck. He shall be cut off suddenly without remedy.

When we are bound with a particular sin we should be sorry for our behavior. We cannot remove the spiritual kings of wickedness that drive us. But we can turn from our worldliness and self-seeking and live as a disciple. This we can do, it is a choice we make. This is true repentance.

When we repent in this manner, God will help us put to death the spiritual forces that drive us to sin.

This is true repentance and true deliverance.

 Isaiah, Chapter Forty-three

 But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1)

From the verse above we see that the Servant of the Lord, the subject of the passage we have been expounding, is Israel. "Israel" refers to all of God's elect whether they were Jewish or Gentile by physical birth. The physical people and land of Israel were "Israel" before the Lord Jesus rose from the dead, and now Gentiles have been grafted on the olive tree.

The Church of the Old Testament and the New Testament are one elect, one Israel of God, one fold having one Shepherd There is one new man in Christ, all the elect of God being brought together by the cross. The same Spirit that was on Moses dwells in every true Christian, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.

The Israel of God is the Servant of the Lord, the Body of the Christ, the one who will return with Jesus and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

 Fear not, for I have redeemed you.

From the time God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to the present hour the elect of God, true Israel, have been redeemed from among mankind by the Lord God. They no longer are of the world. There is an impenetrable wall separating them from the nations of the earth. They are the called, the elect, the firstfruits to God from among mankind.

The redeemed of the Lord are holy. They are not holy because they are more righteous or morally pure than other people (although they are being made this way by the Holy Spirit). They are holy because God has called them closer to Himself than is true of other people. They are priests of God. No person takes this honor to himself. It is God who calls the priesthood.

Not everyone is called. An even fewer number are chosen. There is Israel, there are the Levites, there is the house of Aaron.

All of the elect from the time of Abraham were redeemed on the cross of Calvary. They all belong to God. God has given them to Jesus Christ. This is true Israel, the Body of the Christ, the Servant of the Lord.

 I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

God has called every member of the elect, the Church, from the beginning of the world. He has known their names from that time. From the hour of their physical birth the Divine calling has rested on them.

This does not indicate other people are lost and on their way to Hell. It is the wicked who go to Hell, not those who are not called to the priesthood.

Our call to the elect has to be established, according to the Apostle Peter, by our adding righteous behavior to our personality. It is only as we walk in righteousness that we are protected from falling away from our election.

 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, (II Peter 1:10)

God has called you by name from the beginning of the world. Do not fear, it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. Do not permit the goodness of God to you to lead you into carelessness. Rather turn to God with all your heart and prove yourself worthy of the heavenly calling. Press toward the mark set before you until you lay hold on that for which you have been grasped by the Lord.

 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

Every saint of God passes through the waters and rivers, and walks through the fire. There is no way of escaping severe problems because it is through these we gain the knowledge of the Lord and thus are able to bear witness of His faithfulness.

The people of the world also pass through the waters and rivers, and walk through the fire. No temptation overtakes the believer except that which is common to man. This present world is the valley of the shadow of death.

The difference is, God makes the way of escape for His servants. They pass safely through the waters as did Noah and his family. They walk across rivers as did Elijah and Elisha. The flame does not set them ablaze, as was true of the three Hebrew men at the time of Daniel. However, the heroes of Nebuchadnezzar's army were slain by that very flame.

The unscriptural teaching of the "rapture" emphasizes the removal of the believers before they are required to pass through the waters or rivers or walk through the fire. This is not the way God works. God saves us in the midst of tribulation. Eleven thousand people are destroyed all around us, but the destroyer cannot touch us provided we are obeying the Lord. We are under the Passover blood. The angel of the Lord shuts the mouths of the lions.

It is in the servants of the Lord that the Word of God is refined seven times.

The fiery trial of our faith, faith more precious than gold in the sight of God, will result in praise, glory, and honor when the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed.

We cannot speak the Word of God with the desired authority and power until that Word has been proven in us. The Word is proven in us as God permits us to be brought to the edge of disaster (so it seems to us) and then faithfully delivers us.

The greatest good any of us can gain is to come to know the Lord. As Paul said, "O that I may know Him!" We can obtain some knowledge of the Lord through studying the Bible. But God is not a philosopher. He is blood, fire, and a sword (in addition to many other things). We come to know Him as we go through the floods and furnaces of the present life, and this is the purpose of our discipleship in the world.

 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:3,4)

What is God saying when He proclaims he has given Egyptians and Arabians to ransom His elect? The humanistic world of today is ready to tell God this isn't fair; He can't do this. All people are equal and must be treated the same. God cannot choose one nation over another.

We can say such things all we want to. It makes no difference. God will do what He will. The nations are a drop in the bucket to Him. God laughs when the creatures of the mud shake their fists at Him.

Does this mean God hates the Egyptians and Arabians? Not at all. There are splendid Egyptian and Arabian Christians in our day. They too are part of true Israel, God's chosen.

God is no respecter of persons. Whoever works righteousness is accepted by Him. God is willing that all repent, that none perish.

The point is, God is creating a nation of priests to represent Himself throughout eternity. The rest of the world just has to accept this. The spirit of democracy has no power to control or judge God. The nation that assists God's elect will inherit the Kingdom of God, the people will enter eternal life. The nation that refuses to assist God's chosen will be led away into the fire.

God can do as He will. It is fortunate for us that God is faithful and compassionate because there would be nothing we could do about it if He were evil.

God calls His priests. No man takes this honor to himself. The priests are the firstfruits of mankind and receive the double portion of God's Spirit.

By the same token the priests are the first to be judged. We see the sorry spectacle of the Jews throughout their history as they have been battered about more than any other race. When they serve God they are blessed above all people. When they rebel against God they are punished above all people.

We have no choice in the matter. If we are called to be a member of the royal priesthood, a saint, a holy one, then we must give this calling the best of our time and energy. If we do not we will be punished severely and may lose our birthright.

 "My sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him and serve him, to minister before him and to burn incense." (II Chronicles 29:11)

Those who are not called to be a member of the priesthood will not understand what I am writing about. But let every individual take care how he or she treats a Jew or a Christian when they are trying to serve the Lord. Whoever harms them, or even refuses to help them, is harming Christ Himself. Whoever harms Christ is harming God.

God never forgets those who help or harm Him. All people and incidents will be brought forth in the Day of Judgment in perfect clarity and detail. We cannot be certain the sun will rise in the morning. But there is one thing of which we can be sure: there is a day of judgment on the horizon.

 "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!' and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made." (Isaiah 43:5-7)

There will be two great gatherings in the last days. The physical Jews will be gathered to the land of Israel. Spiritual Israel, the Church, will be gathered together as one entity, the Body of Christ. There is no power that can prevent these two gatherings, for God has spoken.

True Christians can feel these two pulls. We want to see the Jews return to Israel and, in fact, wish to return with them. Jerusalem is the city of every true Jew, even those who are Jews by faith in Jesus Christ though not Jews by physical birth.

There is a movement today among Christians to join together. To be reconciled one to the other is a worthy motive. It is especially true that when we hold a grudge against anyone or any class of people we are to go to God and get this bad attitude taken care of. It is not of Jesus Christ.

We are going to have to be careful with the desire for "togetherness." Ultimately we will not be reconciled properly to others until we are reconciled to God. Ultimately we do not find God through people but people through God. The desire to try to reach God by gathering people together is of the spirit of the Tower of Babel.

Today the Spirit is calling for reconciliation to God. We are to press into God fervently and continually. There is much in our personalities that still is in rebellion against God. The trumpets of war are sounding in the spirit realm, the war of Christ against His enemies in His Church.

 Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

Salvation always boils down to an individual proposition. God wants to know you and me personally. He wants us to know Him personally. He wants us to look to Him in every detail of life.

Much will arise in the coming days that will cause us to fear. We can gain total victory over fear only as we walk in close, personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our togetherness with other people can never provide that confidence. After all of the support and appreciation from our group we still have to come home at night and face the terrors of the darkness. Our brothers and sisters cannot help us then, only the Presence of the Lord Jesus.

Overcomers are always addressed one at a time: "To him who overcomes."

 I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.

Notice the power of Divine election that always operates in connection with the Servant of the Lord. It is God who gathers His elect.

Jesus said, "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd" (John 10:16). The power of the Divine call operates on the Jews after the flesh and the elect after the Spirit.

Noah and his family did not have to go out and gather the animals. Their task was to build the ark. Our task is to build the ark, the members of the Body of Christ. Once that is done the members of the Body will flow together and no power can prevent the resulting oneness with Christ and God and with each other. This is why any effort to bring together the Christian people always must be viewed with caution. We are to prophesy to the bones. It is the Spirit of God that will form the bones into the army of the Lord.

It is the spirit of Babylon that seeks to build a tower in order to bring together the members of Christ into one organization.

The thought of what can be accomplished by gathering the believers together into one organization or enterprise is provocative, but if you think about it this is how denominations get started. The intentions are the best but the method is human, not Divine.

Once we put our hand on the Ark, so to speak, we die—even though our intentions are seemingly pure. It is best to follow the Spirit of God carefully and permit Him to operate the Body, even though it seems at times everything will fall into the mud.

It is time today to bring the Body to the stature of the fullness of Christ. The work will not be accomplished by the efforts of people no matter how well intentioned. The work will be done by the Spirit of God, and this is the meaning of the symbolic "two witnesses" of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

 Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth.

The members of the Body of Christ can be found in every part of the planet. It appears impossible that such widely spread people can be formed into one Church without spot or wrinkle. But they (not all the church members, not all the "believers") indeed shall be gathered and shall be perfected.

It is not our responsibility to gather and perfect the Church. This is the responsibility assigned by the Father to the Spirit of God. Our responsibility is to live for the moment, to moment by moment do what the Spirit guides us to do. This is where our responsibility begins and this is where it ends. Once we get grandiose ideas of how we are going to "do great things for God" we are on the path that leads to spiritual death. We may continue with the form of Christianity but the Spirit will have departed. He will not be used by man!

This is not to say God cannot guide us to plan or to build. But when we begin to plan and scheme we must keep in mind that it is very, very easy to get ahead of God. The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. It is desperately sick and beyond cure, as some translations have it. Only God can read the heart and finally cure the heart.

 Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

This reminds us of a statement of Paul:

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, have been called according to his purpose. 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 8:28,29)

Each member of the Body of Christ has been called by name from the beginning of the world. Each member was formed and made for the purpose of revealing the Glory of God, and the history of man is divinely ordered to this end.

Each member of the Body of Christ has been predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ so He becomes the Firstborn among many brothers. We have been predestined. Whether our destiny, our birthright, ever is brought to fulfillment depends on our response.

Every aspect of our redemption is an opportunity. Nothing is inevitable. We can press forward and grasp the mark set before us with diligence and conscientiousness that surprises even God, thus obtaining indescribable glory in the Kingdom. Or we can tiptoe along the line of least resistance until finally we are overtaken by Satan and destroyed.

It appears that God's people are continually being chastened lest they wander off the course even a little bit.

One thing is certain: he who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully shall reap bountifully. We shall get out of our redemption what we put into it.

 Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. (Isaiah 43:8)

There are many voices in the land in our day; various ideas of what should be done; the Spirit of God is falling here, the Spirit of God is falling there; ten thousand people have come here, a hundred thousand people have come there.

The False Prophet, in the name of Jesus, will perform "great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth."

According to our understanding, the "first beast" is the Antichrist. Antichrist is man-centeredness in the political realm. The second beast, the False Prophet, is man-centeredness in the spiritual realm. If you will notice carefully, much that is done in our Charismatic circles today is believer-centered. It is not Holy Spirit-centered although from what is said it appears at first to be Spirit-centered.

Actually man is in control and what is done is done to bless man, not to bless God. Oswald Chamber said we must cease the "passions for souls" and get a "passion for Christ." This sounds strange to our ears because we are so man-centered without realizing it.

If we are not mistaken it will be professors of belief in Christ who will be deceived into endorsing the Antichrist system of world democracy. They will support the world plan to relieve human pain by calling on the Lord Jesus to confirm their efforts with miracles. The great signs that follow will deceive the inhabitants of the earth.

There already have been instances of Charismatic leaders being invited to the White House in order to gain their support. From what we have heard these leaders regard the President as a Christian. Yet some of the secular writers view the President as perfidious. Will history view him as another Washington or Lincoln, who were true Christian men from what we have heard?

Why would Charismatic leaders look to our President as being a Christian? Is it not because they are not hearing from Christ even though they do many wonderful things in his name?

 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)

The Lord Jesus warned us there would be deception in the last days. We just did not realize it would be so sophisticated, so effective, so difficult to detect, so similar to the truth.

The true elect will be kept from deception. The true elect are blind and deaf to the powerful currents of the world. They are regarded as garbage. They do not fit somehow. They are looked on as "losers." Other Christians are popular and are esteemed even by the mighty of the world. Their names are found everywhere. But not the little flock who wait patiently on the Lord Jesus, who are comforted by the Holy Spirit.

But when their time comes God will lead them out. They see what God wants them to see. They hear what God wants them to hear. They are a handful of corn on the top of the mountains but their fruit shall shake like Lebanon. The man-centered will prove to be flesh, grass, a fine show today but cast into the oven tomorrow.

 "All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of them foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, "It is true." (Isaiah 43:9)

The world has decided in favor of the ridiculous hypothesis of evolution—ridiculous in terms of the probability of any such complex creature as a flea being formed according to the concept of the survival of the fittest. We see from this the intellectual bias of those who would reject the idea of a coming day of judgment. The doctrine of evolution reveals the extent of their inability to interpret the "former things."

The world is moving in the direction of liberal thought in the area of morality, an area reserved for the judgment of God alone. The nations are gathering together to plan their economic programs, their military alliances, their projects concerning global warming and world health.

The world is becoming man-centered not God-centered.

From ancient times the wise of the world have projected plans to improve the condition of human beings, this scheme, that utopia, the next philosophy. But the Words of Jesus Christ have prevailed. There have been wars and rumors of wars, plagues, famines, natural catastrophes. People are not evolving into superior creatures.

America represents the best the world has to offer. Our nation is the fruit of the efforts of scientists, political sages, educators. Surely we have created the garden of God so all live in abundance, free from dread.

The truth is, we have a nation noted for its drunken violence and immorality. The average American is relatively rich in material goods but his or her home often is the scene of savage conflict and destruction.

Right or wrong?

 Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, "It is true."

Let the exalted leaders of our nation bear witness to the rest of the world showing the marvels of our way of life. Let them exhibit the homes to display the deplorable situations there. Let them cease the image building and "spin," and testify to what actually is taking place at night on the streets of New York City, Detroit, Miami, Los Angeles. where a person foolish and reckless enough to be out at night is fortunate not to be shot, robbed, or raped.

The serious student may conclude there is no more joy and contentment, peace and safety, than there were in households and cities a thousand years past.

From the time of Abel it has been the righteous who have enjoyed the peace and prosperity that only the Lord God can bring. Reality does not change. The Words of God stands true eternally. Whoever serves the Lord finds life and joy. But the wicked always are as the sea, tossed here and there by the spiritual winds that blow ceaselessly across the land.

As far as our country being the garden of God is concerned, what good is all our money and our "nice things" when our homes have been destroyed? How many American men have left their wives and children to fend for themselves, have embraced a paramour of little integrity, and then have come down to the hour of death to discover they have lost their honor, have betrayed those who trusted in them, and have wasted their life chasing money—money which never brought them lasting joy, peace, health, or respect. Now they will pass into the spirit realm completely unprepared to meet Christ and God.

This is not an intelligent way of life!

God says, "Get your witnesses and prove you are right and I am wrong."

But the fact remains, God alone has been correct all along. Yet people keep on "learning" and never come to the knowledge of the truth.

But some do, and they are worthy of our best efforts.

 "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10)

It seems that today we have "witnessing" confused with "evangelizing." Every member of the Body of Christ is called to be a witness of God. Not every member is called to be an evangelist.

The ministry of evangelism is given to certain members of the Body of Christ, and like all other gifts and ministries is given to some who are spiritually mature and some who are carnal. The evangelist brings the good news of God's salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is no special gift of witnessing. Each Christian is to be a witness of God, to let his or her light shine in the world. The members of the Servant of the Lord are taught throughout their lifetime to know and believe God. God has chosen them and deals them endlessly, night and day, year after year, teaching them of Himself.

Their role is to know and believe God, to learn of His faithfulness, His love, His wrath, His dependability, His power, His ways of doing things, His Kingdom, and His eternal plan in Jesus Christ.

The witness is not a purveyor of doctrinal truth, of theology, he or she is a witness of the Person of God. The witness can say to people, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" (Philippians 4:9).

Paul was saying, "I know the Lord. I know what He desires. If you will learn from me, receive from me, hear from me, and see in me, and put these things into practice, God will be with you."

This is a witness of God, a witness formed by the Lord. He does not tell what he has learned from studying but what he has seen with the Lord.

The witness knows and believes God and understands that the Lord, He is God and there is no other!

 Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.

Our minds are not such we can comprehend that God always has been, that He has no beginning. We are unable to grasp eternity and infinity.

God is God. There are many religions in the world, many gods, many demons that are worshiped. But there is only one true God. "Hear O Israel, the Lord thy God, the Lord is one."

Jesus Christ is the Son, the Expression of the one true God, whom Jesus calls the Father.

God has created all of us through Jesus Christ, Christ being the Administrator of God's creative power. Every human being is a worshiper. Unlike an animal, man is made to worship.

We worship relationships. We worship things. We worship circumstances. In America we worship money, physical lust, violence, entertainment, pleasure, sometimes the demons themselves, as in the case of witchcraft. Often Americans worship their own children or other family members.

God will permit no worship other than that addressed to Himself. Much of our Christian life is occupied with the removing of our idols from our personality and putting them under our feet there they belong. This can be a painful process at times, but a program in which every member of the Body of Christ must be totally successful.

When you pray, ask God to remove all idols from you life. Ask Him not to answer you according to your idols but to expose and remove them. Your prayer will be heard and answered if you persist.

 Conclusion

Now is the time for the Body of Christ to come to the stature of the fullness of Christ. The wheat of God is to come to maturity. The tares also will come to maturity.

The days ahead will be filled with spiritual darkness, although the greatest revival of history, the latter-rain outpouring, is at hand. Antichrist will be given authority to reach into the very heavens and tear down some of the host of God. When people call on God their prayers will be hindered at a high level. Deception will abound.

At the same time the throne of God will be established in the hearts of the godly remnant. There always will be deliverance in Mount Zion and in the remnant whom the Lord will call. But the remnant will be driven from the large cities of the earth, from the areas where Antichrist is governing.

The Christian religion and churches, as we have known them, will gradually be resolved into Babylon the Great, on the one hand, and the godly remnant on the other. The remnant will be removed from all participation in the Laodicean churches and from the spiritual delusions of the False Prophet.

There shall be a bride without spot or wrinkle who emerges from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved.

In order for the true members of the Body of Christ, today found in numerous denominations and groups, to come to the stature of the fullness of Christ, all that is of the world, of bodily lusts, and of self-seeking must be burned out of them. Every member must reveal in his or her personality the iron righteousness of Jesus Christ, fiery Divine holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. There is to be no spiritual blemish of any kind whatever in those who will rise at the coming of Christ, be drawn up to Him, and then descend to judge and destroy sin from the earth and to govern the nations of the saved.

In other words, we are facing all-out war. God is arising to face Satan. Christ will come to grips with Antichrist. The Holy Spirit will keep the saint from the delusions of the False Prophet.

Any Christian is welcome to join the ranks of the remnant, to become a functioning member of the Body of Christ. Every one of us must seek God earnestly for the ministries and gifts that will enable us to do our part in bringing the whole Body to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

The Spirit is speaking that this present year, 1998, will be a period of intense spiritual warfare and activity. Many will fall away from the true faith in Christ. Traps will be set by the adversary and sprung on those who did not watch in prayer, who were casual concerning their discipleship, who were too busy to find God's will for their life, who wasted their time on activities that, while not sinful, were nevertheless not part of the plan of Christ for them, who were amassing money and property, given to parties, material things, occupied with following the antics of professional athletes, surfeited with entertainment and vacations, who idolized their children, indulging them and hovering over them so they were protected against the rigors of life, smothering them with affection but not rebuking them sharply when they behaved wilfully and arrogantly.

Parents who worship their children will be dealt with by the Lord as He lovingly but firmly breaks these unwholesome ties.

Multitudes of people who, generally speaking are righteous but who are not pleasing the Lord with their behavior, will suffer many pains and afflictions in the days ahead. It is the responsibility of the members of the Body of Christ to bring the Presence of God to them, to guide and encourage them. In order for us to offer this kind of assistance we ourselves will have to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

We see then we are in a time of the greatest opportunity and the greatest danger. We will prove ourselves unworthy of the Kingdom of God if we do not take advantage of the grace of God available to us in the present hour—grace that will bring us to the stature of the fullness of Christ.