PRESSING PAST PENTECOST: FIFTEEN (EXCERPT OF THE FEASTS OF THE LORD)
“Pressing Past Pentecost: Fifteen” is taken from The Feasts of the Lord, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries.
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Confession of Sins Is Not New
Judgment Begins with the House of God
Lazarus, a Type of the Blowing of Trumpets
Judgment Liberates Christians
Purging the House of God
The Feast of Tabernacles Typifies Perfection
Redemption Has a Definite Completion
God, the Master Builder
The Finish Line
Paul’s Attitude Toward Perfection
The Goal of the Christian Discipleship
The First Resurrection
The Cross and the Crown
A New Creation
As soon as we begin to confess our sins (Christian counterpart of the Day of Atonement) we notice that a transformation actually is taking place in our personality. It is not the same old hoping somehow, someday, God will do something about the imperfections of our nature. A difference in our personality is becoming evident to us and to those around us.
Gradually a reshaping of our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations occurs. We can observe the difference in ourselves. The Holy Spirit of God takes the blood of the cross into the depths of the deceit of our being, bringing the judgment of God on the evil nature that has roots and branches throughout the infinitely convoluted core of our personality.
We are astonished at the intricate maze of subtleties that can be uncovered in the “desperately wicked” heart of a believer. We realize in our spirit that this is the beginning of the Year of Jubilee for the earth. The Kingdom of God has come to the earth and it has begun in us.
It is not a new gospel, as we said before. The foundation of Christianity is the Rock, Christ, Jesus, and Him crucified and resurrected. The foundation has been laid well by the Christian ministry.
The experience of confessing sins under the direction of the Holy Spirit comes to us with the force of uplift of a “new year.” Victory in spiritual warfare transforms our doctrines we have upheld so faithfully into the flesh and bone of reality.
Confession of Sins Is Not New
We do not intend to leave the impression that the Christian churches never before have experienced the confession of sins under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Just as speaking in tongues has been in evidence throughout church history whenever Christians have come before God in sincerity, so it has been true that conviction of sin in the believers also has been in evidence.
The writings of the Christian saints will demonstrate, we believe, that their individual histories illustrate the kinds of relationships with God we are suggesting in our book. The Holy Spirit made them aware of the condition of their hearts and of their words and deeds, just as He is making us aware of our sins and rebellions in the present hour. There is nothing new about the confession of their sins by Christian believers.
The fullness of God has been available to every believer since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the first century. The churches have gone through dark and troubled days since then. It is time now to turn to the Lord and seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength until He comes and rains righteousness on us (Hosea 10:12).
Judgment Begins with the House of God
We must purify ourselves through the authority of the blood of Jesus and the power of the Spirit.
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
And everyone who has this hope [of being like Jesus] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (I John 3:2,3)
We Christians hope to be like the righteous Jesus when He appears. This is a vain hope unless we obey the Spirit now. “And everyone who has this hope [of being like Jesus] in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The Lord cannot be much clearer than that.
Judgment always begins with the house of God. The nearer we are to the Lord the stricter the judgment is. We of all people shall be examined concerning every one of our sins. The prophets never can speak comfortably to Jerusalem until “she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40:2). Jerusalem, the family of God, receives the double portion of blessing and anointing and also the double punishment for her sins.
On occasion the Lord may wink at the ignorance of the world. But God never overlooks one spot or wrinkle in His Church. The Lord will present to Himself a glorious Church, “not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing” (Ephesians 5:27).
Any teaching contrary to this may entice the disciple into the delusion that practical, daily holiness of life is not a necessary part of Christian discipleship. Such a concept of the Gospel can lead only to destruction.
Lazarus, a Type of the Blowing of Trumpets
The Christian who has accepted Jesus as his Lord, has been born again, and has been baptized with the Holy Spirit, but who has not had the opportunity to confess his sins under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, may be compared to Lazarus, the friend of Jesus.
The raising of Lazarus on the fifth day is a picture of the personal “Trumpets” experience, of spiritual resurrection from the dead. Lazarus was raised from the dead by the Spirit of the Lord but he came forth bound hand, foot, and face with graveclothes.
We too have been raised from the dead by the Spirit of Christ. But the graveclothes of the sins of the flesh are hindering us from acting as we would. Now Christ commands: “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44).
It may be noticed that Lazarus had received new life from Jesus. Yet, his hands, feet, and face were bound, preventing him from conducting himself as he wished. Jesus had the power to strike off the graveclothes with a word, just as He did the chains of Peter in jail (Acts 12:7). However, Jesus commanded the people standing nearby to untie Lazarus.
So it is with us. Jesus possesses the power to cast off all our bondages with the Word of His power. But in His own wisdom He directs people to remove our bondages from us. Sometimes we become quite upset at this process.
Judgment Liberates Christians
We do not have to be afraid of God’s judgment on our life. Daniel tells of three Hebrew men who were thrown into a furnace that had been fired up until it gave off terrific heat. When the three emerged from the furnace the only change in them was that their bonds were gone.
The three saints did not come from the furnace naked, everything of value to them destroyed. They came out clothed—not a hair of their heads singed (Daniel 3:19-27).
They had been bound and thrown into the furnace by heroes of Nebuchadnezzar’s army. Because the furnace had been heated excessively, and the warriors had to approach close enough to cast the three Hebrews into the flames, the fierce flames and blistering heat given off by the oven killed Nebuchadnezzar’s men. But the saints walked out as though they were going for a stroll in the park.
No fire can harm the faithful saint who is willing to be taken by the Lord through the fires of judgment. We know Christ was present in the furnace because four men were seen walking about in the flames.
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” (Daniel 3:25)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. (Isaiah 43:2)
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; (I Peter 4:12)
The Lord Jesus never forsakes us no matter how hot the fire gets (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:38,39; Hebrews 13:5). “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever” (Psalms 125:1). “He will not allow your foot to be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber” (Psalms 121:3).
Purging the House of God
The Christian Church is the new-covenant counterpart of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. God’s throne (the Ark of the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle) is being created in the hearts of the believers (II Corinthians 6:16).
God has no intention of making a sinful, self-willed heart His eternal home (I Corinthians 6:15-20; II Corinthians 6:16-7:1). The Christian, therefore, should be diligent in confessing his sins as they are revealed to him by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:13).
We have come now to the time in our Christian experience when the Lord desires to drive the money changers, so to speak, from the house of God (the hearts of the believers, not the buildings in which they assemble).
He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)
John the Baptist said concerning Jesus: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:11,12).
We are to be baptized not only with the Holy Spirit but also with the fire of God’s judgment on the sins we are practicing. We can stand in the Day of Judgment if we will anchor our hope inside the Most Holy Place (Hebrews 6:19). If we choose to do so, we can avail ourselves of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, in this manner cleansing ourselves from our sins.
The following passage describes the Christian Day of Atonement:
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another [with God], and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:7-9)
We are of the opinion that the above-mentioned confession, forgiveness, and cleansing is the Christian fulfillment of Israel’s Day of Atonement.
John the Baptist commanded the people of Israel to repent, to confess their sins, and to be baptized. The Holy Spirit brought forth the ministry of John just before it was time for the Lord Jesus to be revealed.
In the same manner the Day of Atonement comes just before the feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles typifies, we believe, the coming of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit to dwell forever in the believer (John 14:23).
In concluding our study of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement we would like to add two more concepts.
The first concept is that the reconciling of the believer to God through Christ, which is the meaning of the term make atonement, includes more than casting out the sins of the flesh. In addition to our fleshly sins we have inherited a self-seeking, self-centered, self-willed, rebellious nature.
The lusts of the flesh are alien to us. They are residues of Satan that continue to cling to our flesh because they draw nourishment from us.
However, self-will is not alien to us. It is our own corrupt personality. We are to confess our pride, self-centeredness, and rebellion in the same manner in which we confess the lusts and hatreds of our flesh.
The process of deliverance from the rebellion of our personality includes the sufferings of the cross. Our personal cross is the remedy for our rebellious personality. It is only as we suffer that we are permitted and enabled to reign with Christ, because it is our cross that slays the pride, stubbornness, rebellion, and self-centeredness in us.
God develops and proves our obedience to Himself by requiring us to bear our cross after the Lord Jesus. He who is not willing to obey God in all that God requires of him can never be reconciled completely to God.
The second concept is that of the program of reconciliation. First, the Lord Jesus was made perfect in obedience through the things He suffered.
Next, the members of the holy remnant that God is calling are being reconciled to the Father by deliverance from bodily lusts, and from rebellion of personality.
After the warrior-remnant has been purified, all of the elect, the true Israel, will be reconciled to God.
Finally, every member of the saved nations will be reconciled to God.
The thousand-year Kingdom Age is for the purpose of reconciling all Israel and the saved nations to God. There then will be one last testing and purging. After that, the Father will remove the earth and the heaven that now exist and replace them with a new heaven and a new earth. On the new earth will be placed the Wife of the Lamb and the saved nations.
“Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:34)
‘Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.
‘And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. (Leviticus 23:39,40)
‘You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths,
‘that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’” (Leviticus 23:42,43)
So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles,
“when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. (Deuteronomy 31:9-11)
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’”
Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2,3)
On the last day, that great day of the feast [Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God [the Church] is with men [the saved nations], and He will dwell with them, and they [the nations] shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
The Feast of Tabernacles Typifies Perfection
The feast of Tabernacles portrays God resting in us and our resting in Him. Tabernacles is the seventh feast, the last feast, and—as we might expect—points toward the fullness of redemption.
If one believes in the symbolism of numbers in the Scriptures it is interesting to note that Tabernacles, a festivity lasting seven days, is the seventh feast and was observed in the seventh month. Seven is the number of perfect redemption. There seems to be no doubt God intends for the feast of Tabernacles to be associated in our minds with perfect, complete redemption.
Redemption Has a Definite Completion
Salvation, the redemption of the human being, has a definite commencement, a definite program, and a definite completion. Jesus is the Finisher as well as the Author of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). God declares: “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 21:6).
There is no part of the plan of salvation that is vague. It is well for us that salvation does have a definite fulfillment and that we do have something specific, a mark, at which to aim. Sometimes the race becomes strenuous indeed (Hebrews 12:12)!
It is the writer’s point of view that the concept of redemption having a definite consummation needs the careful attention of the Body of Christ. We are not teaching that Christians will not discover new wonders in the depths of God forever. Neither are we suggesting that our growth in Christ ceases when we pass into the spirit realm or even after the Day of Resurrection.
Our God is so much greater than all our visions of greatness that there are no words in any language that can convey to us an idea of the extent of the Glory of God. We know we have been born of Him, are His sons, and are in the process of being created in His image.
The definite completion and fulfillment of which we are speaking has to do only and specifically with the plan of redemption, with the removing of us from all that is of Satan and the uniting of us with all that is of God.
The seven feasts of the Lord seem to reveal that God’s working in the creation of the Church, His living temple, starts in a definite manner and attains completion in a definite manner.
A specified completion of salvation may be a new idea to many of us. The Christian experience is one of the growth of a seed to maturity, deliverance from the hand of the enemy, and union with God through Christ. If there were no point of maturity, deliverance, or resurrection and union, no point at which the saint is redeemed, some of the passages of the Scriptures would not admit to a simple, direct interpretation.
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of [maturity as measured by] the stature of the fullness of Christ; (Ephesians 4:13)
“To a perfect man.” “To the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” There is nothing vague about these words, no uncertain drifting, no aimlessness. This is the expression of a builder who has seen the blueprint.
The redemption that is in Christ has a specific Divine beginning, a specific Divine completion, and a specific Divine process and program from start to finish. The work is of God. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”
God, the Master Builder
God is a builder, a creator. Any person who has ever built or created anything knows that every bit of effort and material that goes into the work takes its significance from the completed piece. The builder works on and on with the finished product in his imagination. His motivation arises from his anticipation of the joy and satisfaction he will derive from possessing and sharing his creation.
The process of creating is altered if the piece never can be completed, if the parts never can be shaped and put together so there is function and beauty in the product.
The Finish Line
What joy can be had from knowing that no matter how hard or how long one perseveres at something he can never complete it? He can never arrive at the goal?
One of the strongest motivations of the victorious saint is that he indeed can complete what God has given him to do:
“I have glorified you on the earth. I have finished the work which you have given Me to do. (John 17:4)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (II Timothy 4:7)
What runner can drive his body to the last searing thrust when he knows there is no finish line?
It is no marvel that numerous Christian believers do not become enthusiastic over the concept of the perfecting of the Church, and of themselves as individual members of the Body of Christ. They do not believe the goal actually is attainable. Why try?
Paul’s Attitude Toward Perfection
Paul does not speak as though the goal of the Christian discipleship is unattainable:
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Philippians 3:12-15)
These are not the words of a builder with no product in mind. These are not the words of a runner on a track with no finish line. These are not the words of a man with no attainable goal.
Nor are these the words of most of our churches. One is more likely to hear, “Do your best, but everyone knows that no person in this world is perfect.” With our mouth we confess defeat rather than the Divinely given victory that is in Christ our Lord.
It is a fact that no one except God and His Christ is perfect. At the same time, it is possible and expected that we attain the goal God has set for us as an individual. If we do not, we are courting the outer darkness. The Lord takes no pleasure in laziness and disobedience.
Sometimes we seem to believe the goal of the Christian discipleship is an external event in time or place, such as the coming of the Lord Jesus or our going to Heaven when we die. The Jews missed their Christ by expecting Him to appear in an outward display of physical power. It is possible to have an incorrect hope and goal.
Perhaps if we would note carefully the words of Paul in Chapter Three of Philippians we would gain understanding concerning the goal of the Christian discipleship. Since the feast of Tabernacles portrays the fullness of redemption, we might, by studying Philippians Three, gain insight into this last and most joyous of the feasts of the Lord.
The Goal of the Christian Discipleship
In verses four through six of the third chapter of Philippians, Paul recites his background and accomplishments as a Hebrew. Then he declares, “Those I counted loss for Christ” (verse 7).
Right here is the goal of redemption. It is right at this point that we can miss the logic, sequence, and scope of God’s plan of redemption.
The goal of the Christian discipleship is not an external event in time or place, such as the second coming of the Lord or our going to Heaven. These two events assuredly will occur literally, and many Christian churches regularly and in good faith present these as the goals of the Christian discipleship. They are not.
The fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, the fullness of redemption, is the winning of a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our confusion may arise over the location of the point in our Christian experience at which we believe we possess Christ in His fullness, or at least in the only fullness possible before we die or before the Lord returns.
Some set the point of maximum attainment at the born-again experience. Paul had been born again at the time of the writing of Philippians.
Some set the point at speaking in tongues. Paul was speaking in tongues more than anyone else before he wrote Philippians (I Corinthians 14:18).
Paul had known to the full all our fundamentalist and Pentecostal experiences, some others besides, and was able to look back on many years of fruitful ministry—all before he took pen in hand to write to the saints in Philippi.
Well then, what does Paul mean, “That I may win Christ”? (Philippians 3:8).
In terms of the doctrines commonly taught in our churches, Paul’s words are mere platitudes—the sort of well-intentioned but largely meaningless religious “talk” one hears so commonly in the Christian churches. Paul’s words do not fit with the current understanding and teaching of the Christian plan of salvation.
Either Paul’s concept of the Christian discipleship is incorrect or our concept is incorrect.
Some of the terms Paul uses are repeated by us. However, the background of understanding and experience in which he uses them and the background of understanding and experience in which we repeat them do not always agree. The voice is Jacob’s but the hands are Esau’s. We use Paul’s words to support our notions and practices.
When we bring our doctrines in line with the burden of the Holy Spirit, the writings of Paul will be comprehensible to us and will flow naturally and in an unforced manner in the course of our teaching. We will not have to bend Paul’s words around our doctrines, taking favorite verses from their context and using them in a cut-and-paste, promise-box fashion. We need the whole counsel of God.
God has placed a goal before us Christians. The goal is the full possession of Christ. We should be directing our attention toward the Divinely ordained goal. We may be stagnating in a lagoon of doctrinal “correctness” when the Lord Jesus is saying to us, “Speak to the children of Israel that they go forward.”
If we are genuine Christians we possess Christ in a measure. But there is more of Christ that is available to us, a definite more, not a vague, try-to-do-good, never-get-there kind of more, that we are to gain here and now.
The Holy Spirit is encouraging us to press forward and possess the good land, the definite, attainable land He has promised in His Word.
Back to Philippians 3:8:
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8)
“Excellence of the knowledge.” We Christians know about Christ, but do we know Him ? Have we set knowing Jesus—really knowing Him—as the goal of our discipleship?
It is possible for a church-attender to know all about the ways of the “house of God,” about the vocabulary and customs of his or her group, and still not know the God of the house of God.
One may become well acquainted with Bethel (the house of God) and still not be acquainted with El-Bethel (the God of the house of God).
There can be a wide gulf between people who are active in a church and people whom God has called to His side, even though both groups attend the same worship services and are faithful, dependable members.
God comes to a person as to Abraham of old. God calls him or her out of much that is familiar. God reveals Himself in one manner or another, and then tests, prods, and deals with His saint seemingly endlessly.
The disciple is drawn to the limits of consecration many times. God is in all his thoughts. He may become an enigma, a “speckled bird,” to the other church people. They in turn are little comfort to him in his quest for God. Their church routines may seem trivial to him, and at times, abominable.
When the Holy Spirit moves in a church the whole assembly may be brought closer to Christ. Or a few fervent believers may find it necessary to leave the group even though they suffer inconvenience and loss of fellowship from having to do so.
Those persons who are more involved in the church than they are in Christ may remain with the organization because it is more understandable and significant to them than is the invisible Kingdom of God. At such a time of tearing apart there may be much grief of mind and heart on both sides, and sometimes misunderstanding and bitterness for a season.
The separating of the Bride from her family is inevitable because it is a necessary part of the plan of the Father to draw out for His beloved Son a holy and devoted bride from the peoples of the earth (Psalms 45:10; Song of Solomon 6:9).
“For whom I have suffered the loss of all things,” Paul continues. The “all things” is referring to Paul’s religious accomplishments that were the chief joy of his life as a Pharisee. “And count them but dung, that I may gain Christ,” he exclaims.
Let us repeat this idea because we hold that it is the concept of the feast of Tabernacles. Winning Christ is our goal, not things, not experiences, not secrets of a successful Christian experience, not ways of manipulating God to do what we wish, not religious accomplishments, not what we can get from God, not spiritual power, not power in prayer, not a big church, not going to Heaven, not coming down from Heaven, but Him! Him! Him! Him!
Every other affection and pursuit may lead to idolatry. It is God Himself who is our Goal. Christ is being formed in us so we can receive the fullness of the Lord God of Heaven. It is God in Christ who is the Goal of the Christian discipleship.
When we possess Christ we possess everything God ever has been or has done. We possess everything God ever will be or will do. It has pleased the Father to include in Christ all the Substance and Nature of His own holy Being. Christ is the perfect and complete revelation and fulfillment of all that God Is.
It is not, as some have supposed, that Jesus and the Father are the same Person. It is that the Father, because of His unfathomable love for His Son, has given all of Himself to His Son. He who possesses the Son possesses everything of value including the fullness of the Divine Godhead.
He who does not possess the Son is void of eternal life. He is an intelligent animal, made in God’s image, with the potential for becoming a child of God. Without Christ he is not a child of God. The Spirit of God is not in him. If he resists the Son there is nothing left for him but “a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” that will destroy those who oppose the Presence and will of the Son, Christ.
The reason why it is so difficult for us to follow Paul’s thinking in Philippians, Chapter Three is that we believe we already possess Christ. We have been born again so we possess Christ. We have spoken in tongues so we possess Christ. We have attended church all our life so we have Christ. We have experienced marvelous answers to prayer so we have Christ.
If a person believes he already has attained something or is in possession of something he is not going to lay all else aside and, at the expense of considerable inconvenience and self-denial to himself, devote his time and strength to seeking it.
The confusion concerning the goal of the Christian discipleship may be part of the explanation why Christians come to a halt in their spiritual progress.
The truth of the matter is that we do not possess Christ in the measure indicated by the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of Philippians, in the measure typified by the feast of Tabernacles.
There remains much of the promised land to be possessed. Let us press forward in the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit of God. Let us march on to the fullness of the rest of God. Let us not be unbelieving, fearful of heart, always ready to compromise and share our inheritance with the world, the flesh, and Satan. Our goal is the possession of Christ. The world, the flesh, and Satan have no part in Him.
and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; (Philippians 3:9)
Notice that Paul, in the third chapter of Philippians, contrasts the possession of Christ with his former life as a “Pharisee of the Pharisees,” a keeper of the Law of Moses.
This contrast brings to mind a conflict that exists in the Christian churches of today, a division that can be observed from the time of Abraham. We are referring to the difference between people who are seeking the Kingdom of God by their own works, and people who are seeking the Kingdom of God by faith in God’s working.
These two approaches are in opposition to each other. They cannot be reconciled. Spiritual fellowship is impossible. To use a figure of speech, there are two nations struggling in the womb of the churches. One group is attempting to make spiritual progress and to build up the church in numbers by human wisdom and effort. The other group is an elect, a remnant whom God has called from the world and whom the world despises.
The two groups are intermingled in the pews of our churches. They are the modern counterparts of Ishmael and Isaac, Hagar and Sarah, Esau and Jacob. They both are of the family of Abraham. One is of the earth and emphasizes earthly things. The other is being drawn eternally toward the heart of God. One group understands only the visible world of flesh and blood. The other is endeavoring to learn to live and act in the Spirit.
It is not that one group is always wicked and the other is always righteous. It may be recalled that Esau in some respects was a more honorable man than Jacob, although Esau despised his birthright. Jacob lied and stole under the supervision of his mother, Rebecca, who, under other circumstances, is a type of the Bride of the Lamb.
There is a distinct difference between the good people of the earth and the elect in whose hearts God has placed the Divine calling. There will be a continual stress and tearing as long as the fabric of the churches has been woven from these two kinds of material (Revelation 3:4).
“But that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness that is of God by faith: that I may know him.”
“That I may know him,” Paul cries, after his years of Christian discipleship and ministry.
Hopefully, God will give many of us Christians such single-mindedness of purpose, such a burning desire, such a well-defined goal. Each of us can choose to be among God’s elect, if we wish. We can choose to be one who seeks Christ with a whole heart (Joshua 24:15; Jeremiah 29:13).
The First Resurrection
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Greek: out-resurrection] from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
Paul sought the fullness of the knowledge of Christ. The knowledge of Christ is not merely a mental understanding of a Person. It is an embracing of the Person, a knowledge that is union with the Substance, nature, and all other elements of Christ’s Personality.
Such union with Christ results in resurrection to eternal life. Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
There is a resurrection and ascension that will take place at the appearing of Christ. But that resurrection and ascension is not the general resurrection of the dead, the time when all come forth, some to the resurrection of life and others to the resurrection of judgment.
The resurrection and ascension that will take place when Christ returns is the resurrection of the firstfruits of His Body, of those whose life He is (Colossians 3:4).
It is an “out-resurrection,” a resurrection from among the dead, from among those who are waiting for the Day of Resurrection.
The goal of the Christian discipleship is to enter Christ’s Life and sufferings until they become our life and our sufferings. We cannot do this of ourselves Such identification and union can be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit of God.
We must attain to the first resurrection now—while we are living in the world. The resurrection and ascension that will take place when Christ appears will be the outward manifestation of an inner, spiritual resurrection that had taken place previously.
If it is your desire to be part of the appearing of Christ you must become one with Him in His life now. You must eat his flesh and drink His blood until you are living by Him as He is living by the Father. Those who live by Christ now are the eagles who will be gathered to the slain Lamb, the Carcass, when He appears in the heavens.
It is not possible that a believer who is not living by the life of Jesus can be raised in the first resurrection. The first resurrection is not for doctrinally correct believers, it is for those whose life Christ is.
Paul continually was seeking to know Jesus in the sense of becoming one with His Life, so when the members of Christ’s Body are raised to meet Him at His appearing, Paul will be among them. Attainment to the first resurrection must be accomplished now, during our discipleship.
It appears we have a point of doctrine turned upside down. We think of Heaven as something to be attained and the first resurrection of the dead as being an external event that will provide all believers with a body like the Body of Christ whether or not they have lived as a saint in the world.
The truth, as we understand it, is the reverse. Going to Heaven after physical death is the birthright of all sincere believers in Christ. Unless we fall away from our faith in Him and go back into sin, into a rejection of Christ, we will go to a holy part of the spirit realm when we die.
We do not have to fight our way into Heaven. Heaven is not the land of promise. Heaven is a wonderful Paradise in the spirit realm—a real place. It is a change of environment for us while God is preparing His temple and His Kingdom. Heaven is a staging area for the army of the Lord, a place of waiting for the future kings of the earth.
The out-resurrection from the dead, of which Paul spoke in Philippians, Chapter Three, is something to be attained. Indeed it is! “Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:6). These are God’s rulers, the victorious saints, the all-powerful royal priesthood whom God is preparing to rule with Christ.
These are the judges, the sons of God whose coming the Hebrew Prophets have foretold (Isaiah 53:12; Joel 2:2; Micah 5:3; Obadiah 21; Zechariah 14:5).
Revelation, Chapter Two mentions that the victorious saints will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron. There is a spiritual law that dictates as follows: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him.” We learn to suffer with Him now, in this life. We learn to overcome and to govern our own heart with a rod of iron now, in the present life.
The burden of the Lord today concerns the sons of God and their ministry of judgment during the Day of the Lord. If we would be on solid scriptural ground it would be a good idea to use the term first resurrection or out-resurrection, rather than rapture. The term first resurrection brings us into the mainstream of the concepts present by Paul and John, and by the Hebrew Prophets as well.
The Day of the Lord, the return of Christ to the earth in the same manner in which he departed, will be accompanied by maturity and overcoming strength on the part of the disciples. Both the wheat and the tares will have come to maturity in that day.
The coming of the Lord is a revolution and spiritual triumph that is related to the birth of the ruling Son, as described in Revelation, Chapter 12. The ruling Son represents Christ who is being formed in the saints in the present hour.
The teaching of the “rapture” is leading the believers into a false sense of security regarding the events of the Day of the Lord. Because of this unscriptural doctrine the saints are not growing in spiritual maturity nor are they prepared for the persecution and tribulation that are at hand.
Earth’s problem is the sin of its inhabitants. The earth is a beautiful place in which to live. The purpose of redemption is not to pull people away from man’s God-given home!
Earth’s problem is not physical, it is spiritual. The spiritual problem arises from the fact that the spirits of the nations come from fallen angelic rulers who are enthroned in the air above us.
The spiritual bondage will continue until the members of the Body of Christ overcome the accuser. As soon as they overcome the ancient dragon, he and his followers will be hurled down from their thrones.
When Jesus appears, those who are part of His Life will receive their bodies from the dead. Then their bodies will be transformed by the flowing of power from His body. After that they will rise to meet him in the air, there to be seated on the thrones recently vacated by Satan and his followers.
The essential action that will change the present age into the Kingdom Age is the seating of Christ and the members of His Body on the thrones that govern the earth. They are the kings from the East, as we understand it.
Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared. (Revelation 16:12)
The coming of the eternal, righteous rulers cannot take place until we have attained the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. Christ must enter us, cast out all that is of darkness, and take His rightful place on the throne of our personality. Only then will we be eligible and capable of being raised at His coming.
Have you stopped at the born-again experience? Have you stopped at the “tongues” experience? To do so is not wise. We must press forward until we are “filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).
The Cross and the Crown
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, (Philippians 3:10)
If we would reign with Christ we must accept the suffering that God sends to perfect us.
Wasn’t one of the sources of Jesus’ suffering summed up in these words, “He came to his own, and his own dd not receive Him”? We have stated that the feast of Tabernacles represents perfection—the fullness of redemption. Whoever wishes to press through to God’s mark of perfection may not always be surrounded with admirers. He or she may walk alone for a season.
The cleavage between Joseph and his brothers represents the separation that occurs between the multitudes of Israel and those whom God calls to Himself in a special manner.
They are dreamers of dreams, these called-out ones, and sometimes they are foolish enough to believe their brothers will listen gladly to their dreams of glory and authority. They may finally end up in a pit, cast out by their own (church) families.
Sometimes the world, as in the case of Joseph, is quick to perceive the gifts and abilities of the cast-out ones. In the end, the called-out victorious saints will serve to sustain the family of God (and the world also). These are the hundredfold Christians and they are a firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
(Make sure that you do not separate yourself from your brothers in Christ through your foolishness and pride. It probably is true that Joseph could have handled his revelations more wisely than he did.)
The rejection by one’s spiritual family (Israel) occurred in the life of Jesus. The common people heard Jesus gladly. They always do. The world to this day recognizes the extraordinary gifts of Jesus of Nazareth. But His peers in Israel, those who should have embraced Him as the Israelite of the Israelites, cried for His blood. Here is a cruel cross—to be cast out by your own.
It is not that your gifts and ministries are to become inaccessible. Your service must remain fruitful for those people for whom it has been designated. Jesus’ ministry brings salvation to all people to whom He has been sent by the Father.
It is you yourself, the way you do things, that may be incomprehensible—therefore suspect—to your brothers.
You may walk alone some of the time. Yet you are not alone. You are sharing the sufferings of Him who rose early to be with His Father, who listened always to the voice of the Spirit rather than to the world, Satan, His own desires for pleasure or comfort, or the self-seeking elders of the Jews.
Jesus, like Paul, was free from all men. Suffering and rejection accomplish that for us.
If we would obtain resurrection life we must learn what it means to share in the sufferings of Christ. The cross and the crown always go together. There is a daily crucifixion of our self-life, and sometimes physical suffering and mental and emotional distress, as we follow Christ to the place of victory.
In the fourth chapter of II Corinthians, Paul describes the continual crucifixion and resurrection of the disciple:
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.
Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead,
who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,
you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many. (II Corinthians 8-11)
The above passage is a description of the manner in which resurrection life is created and developed in us while we yet are in a mortal body. It is to the process of continual dying and continual living brought to the full that Paul is referring when he teaches concerning knowing the fellowship of His sufferings and attaining to the resurrection from among the dead.
When resurrection life has been developed in us, and we have learned to live in it, move in it, obey it, rest in it, be empowered and guided by it, then—and only then—will we be ready to be clothed with our “house which is from heaven.” Isn’t this what Philippians 3:9-11 is declaring?
The fullness of the “Tabernacles experience” includes the eternal indwelling of the Godhead in us, we having been clothed with a righteous, powerful “house” possessing incredible abilities and energies.
The indwelling of the Godhead, the spiritual renewal of our mortal body, the clothing with our house from Heaven, and the ascent to the throne in the air, constitute the first resurrection.
Movement to and from Heaven, from the material realm to the spirit realm and back again, is no more essential to the first resurrection than driving across town is essential to owning an automobile or flying to Alaska is necessary for owning an airplane.
Movement into the air is associated with the first resurrection from the dead only because the Body is being joined to the Head, and because the vacated spiritual thrones located in the air are to be occupied by Christ and His saints. Otherwise ascension has nothing to do with resurrection.
The nature of the first resurrection is the development of the Life of Christ in us and, when this has been accomplished, the extension of that Life into our mortal body. Attaining to the out-resurrection is equivalent to attaining to the fullness of eternal life (Romans 8:11).
Back to Philippians 3:10,11:
… being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead.
“Paul, you have attained. You are the Apostle to the Gentiles. You, of all people, are part of the resurrection from among the dead.”
Paul responds, “Like you, I must press forward until the resurrection life in me has filled every aspect of my personality. The resurrection body will clothe only a resurrected personality.
“The Lord God of Heaven has no intention of clothing an infantile, self-centered, fleshly self-life with an eternal house having the capability of transcending all limitations of space and time. Let us not deceive ourselves along this line. What a believer sows he shall reap.
“I do not count that I have attained as yet.”
“Paul, you are just being modest. You can’t mean what you are saying. If you are pressing forward to attain Christ, to arrive at the resurrection from among the dead, where does that leave us? You are just saying the platitudes we have come to expect from religious leaders.”
“No, I am not speaking platitudes. The fact is, I am not as yet perfect!”
Notice that resurrection and perfection are linked together in Paul’s mind.
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Greek: out-resurrection] from the dead.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Philippians 3:11,12)
God has called us to a glorious resurrection rest in Him, both in our inner man and in our body as well—the two eventually must and shall go together. We must fight our way by faith into our possessions under the leadership of the Spirit of God. The fullness of the “Tabernacles experience” is the perfecting of the resting of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit in a transformed Christian personality.
The mortal body then will be “eternalized,” shall we say, by being clothed with a heavenly body of truly magnificent capabilities. The heavenly body will have desires toward holiness rather than toward sin.
The inner perfecting and clothing-over is the true nature of the first resurrection from the dead. It is the reward of the overcomer. Changing one’s location is of little spiritual significance. The royal priests, being clothed in immortal, glorified bodies, will be able to appear and disappear, and go from one point to another with the speed of thought. We shall have a body like that of the Lord Jesus.
The members of the Body, of the Wife of the Lamb, will be raised from the dead at the appearing of Christ. Then they will be caught up to meet Him at His coming. The resurrection and the ascension are a witness to the nations of the earth that the true government, the Kingdom of God, finally has come to bring righteousness, peace, and joy to the earth. The wicked nations will be destroyed. The righteous nations will enter eternal life.
The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead, the Beginning of the new creation. Our resurrection will be patterned after His.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus was characterized by the rejoining of His spiritual Personality with His flesh and bones, and then by the clothing of His flesh and bones with the most extraordinary capabilities. It is to the earlier resurrection, the out-resurrection of the royal priests that precedes the general resurrection of the dead, that the Apostle Paul was seeking to attain.
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, (Philippians 3:13)
What could a man with the background of Christian experience and ministry of the Apostle Paul have been striving to reach? Whatever it was, it remains as the goal of the Christian discipleship. Since the feast of Tabernacles typifies the fullness of salvation, we may say that Paul was seeking to attain the “Tabernacles” fulfillment.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
Perhaps the most important idea contained in the thoughts we have presented on the last few pages is that there is a definite, attainable “goal” toward which the Christian is to be pressing. We are to be awaiting with joyful expectancy the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven. But at the same time we must be pressing toward that goal, as Paul teaches. The goal is the fullness of the indwelling of Christ in us. He Himself Is the Resurrection and the Life.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Philippians 3:15)
(“Pressing Past Pentecost: Fifteen”, 3556-1)