Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Bible tells us that when the Lord returns, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. Perhaps our assumption is that everyone who terms himself or herself a Christian shall return with Him and be raised. I would like to question this assumption.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
From my point of view, if all the passages of the Bible were to be removed except one, I would choose the part about abiding in Christ to be the passage that is left. To abide in Christ for eternity is, or ought to be, our goal. I know there are many other critical aspects of redemption, such as the blood atonement. But it seems to me that most of these other aspects, or perhaps all of them, lead to our abiding in Christ.
When we are abiding in Christ we are with Him, just as He promised
Where Jesus always is, is in the center of the Presence and will of the Father. This is where we also are to be at all times.
Being with Jesus where He is, is a major portion of our land of promise. It is not all of our land of promise, but it is a great and essential part.
There are so many enemies, forces, pressures, perplexities, temptations, distractions, that war against us incessantly, seeking to remove us from our place of rest in Christ. It is the fight of faith. By faith we resist everything that would pull us down from our high place in God.
Much experience is required before we are able to recognize these hostile forces and deal with them successfully. However, it is God’s will that we, through Christ Jesus, overcome every adversary, emerging from the fray dwelling in untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.
We can attain such total victory, you know.
When I first got out of the Marine Corps, at the conclusion of World War Two, I went to Bible school. The Lord had called me to preach while stationed in Sasebo, Japan.
When I entered Bible school I was a happy believer. I had not been raised in church, and so I knew nothing of what took place among Christian church-people. I had been saved roughly three years, and all I knew was the fellowship of Christian marines. We met frequently in a Quonset hut in Hawaii, and later in a wooden Japanese barracks.
The students and teachers at the Bible school were good people, but I don’t think they ever had heard that we can live in victory. The idea seemed to be that while we are in the world we are going to sin, and God understands this and asks us just to do the best we can. Then He will save us and bring us to Heaven by grace.
I don’t know what is wrong with me, whether I am belligerent, or stubborn, or what. Audrey tells me I am a maverick.
Whatever the problem is, I could not settle for the idea that we are condemned to sin and must always go around with our head down, wishing we could do better, and hoping God is patient with us.
So I made my own covenant with God, and tried to live in peace with everyone else. I think God must have put faith in my heart (or pride, or something else) that it is possible to do God’s will, even though we do have sin in us and are living on the earth.
I have made many mistakes over the subsequent 54 years, but have never given up on the idea that Jesus Christ has enough power to enable us to resist sin successfully.
There is no dark secret to remaining in the center of God’s perfect will. All we have to do is abide in Christ. When sin comes against us, we go to the Throne of Grace for help. And we get victory every time we do this.
It is my understanding now, from the Book of Hebrews, that continuing in known sin is not permitted under the new covenant. The assumption is that when the Spirit of God points out any sin in our life, we then are to confess the sin and turn away from it. In the meanwhile, the blood atonement keeps our conscience absolutely clear before God.
Well, I did not understand the theology of the Book of Hebrews while I was in Bible school. I guess God felt like giving me a desire to please Him totally. (Perhaps it is a streak of perfectionism in me. Do you suppose?)
It really is a matter of abiding in Christ. Each day that we abide in Christ we are faced with a new battle; a new problem. And each day there is grace to overcome that problem. Some form of darkness faces us each day, and sufficient grace is given to us each day.
Let’s say we are irritated by the personality of a fellow believer. He always has to be regarded as important. No matter where he is or what he is doing, he is on center stage. This is irritating, to say the least.
So we are faced with this darkness in his personality. What do we do? We go to Jesus immediately. Jesus does not want us to be irritated. He is not irritated and He doesn’t want us to be irritated.
Jesus gives us compassion and understanding. We rise above this pettiness. We might be led to pray for the brother. In any case, we stay with the Lord until this irritation is completely gone. And it shall go! “Resist the devil and he shall flee from you.”
I’m old enough now that I can read people pretty well. It is a good thing for me that I am able to forgive and forget. Otherwise I would be in a bad state most of the time.
All of us have strengths and all of us have weaknesses. The wise pastor accepts the strengths of people, and waits patiently as the Lord works with their weaknesses. We must be patient with one another. Do you agree with that?
We are facing an age of physical and moral horrors. If we are to rest in the center of the Presence and will of God, we absolutely must gain victory over fretting about the evil we will be witnessing. If Satan cannot tear us down by seducing us into wicked actions, he will tear us down by provoking us to fret about the wickedness we are beholding in the world. We are not to fret about the evil! Not one time! And Christ will give us victory over this. Fretting is a form of saying God does not know what He is doing in the world. Remember—God can put a halt to evil any time He chooses to do so!
Jesus said if we would rest in His Person and will we would bear fruit. The fruit we bear is His image, just as humans produce their own image in their children.
When we continue to abide in Christ, His Personality comes forth in us a little bit at a time. Then it is carried over into those whom we are affecting. Thus the image of Christ is to be spread throughout the creation. “Israel shall blossom and bud and fill the face of the earth with fruit.”
When Christ appears, God will bring with Him those who fell asleep in Him.
What does it mean to live in Christ and to fall asleep (die) in Him? It means much, much more than merely professing to believe the facts of theology, or to attend church regularly. It helps to believe the facts of theology and to attend church regularly, but this is not what it means to be “in Christ.”
To be “in Jesus” means to be living in Him just as you would live in a house. You are with Him at all times. He is in your thoughts continually. You do nothing without looking to Him for His directions.
You try continually in every way to please Him. You act no differently during the week than you do in church on Sunday morning. Jesus is your Life, your Strength, your Song, your Joy. It really is marriage, the deepest union possible.
Each time you turn aside from your sinful nature and follow the path of righteousness, you are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of Christ. Soon you are living by His body and blood. His body and blood are His Life, His Resurrection in you. When He appears, it is His body and blood that will raise you to Him.
This is the meaning of, “Where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered.” The slain Lamb is the Carcass. The eagles are those who feed on the slain Lamb.
No closer union with Jesus is possible, than that of living by His body and blood.
How many believers that you know are living in such union with Jesus? These are the ones who will return with Him, in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.
“But Brother Thompson, you are setting the standard too high! There won’t be many people who will return with the Lord and be raised from the dead!”
Am I indeed setting the standard too high? Or is it possible that the standard in America is so low it is somewhere in the mud?
Think about the heroes of faith described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Have I set the standard too high for them?
Yet, he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than any of them, until they too are born again.
The truth is, we are in great deception in America. The Bible is the only reliable standard. I know you agree with that. How high is the standard set by the Bible?
Are we supposed to present our body a living sacrifice? How many believers in America have presented their body as a living sacrifice? Can it be said of us that we are “in Jesus” if we do not present our body a living sacrifice?
The Lord Jesus told us we could not be His disciple unless we turned away from the world, denied ourselves, took up our cross, and followed Him each day. How many believers in our county have turned away from he world, denied themselves, have taken up their cross and are following Jesus each day? How many in your church? Can it be said of us that we are “in Jesus” if we have not taken up our cross each day and followed Him? Can we be in Jesus if we are not a disciple?
People are apt to judge truth by what they see around them. They compare themselves with their group, their country, their world. They do not often compare themselves with the saints of the Bible. Yet they fancy that they will be perfectly at home with people like Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and the Apostle Paul.
We are in a backslidden state in America. I think God is going to have to do three things if there are going to be many believers in America who will return with the Lord.
God will have to pour out His Spirit on us.
God will have to raise up leaders who turn away from our dead traditions and begin to preach what the Epistles declare.
God will have to send much tribulation on us, because we enter the Kingdom through tribulation.
I can’t see any other way. The foolishness continues. The games are played in church. People are living in the flesh and talking about being carried up to Heaven to live in their ornate mansions. There is lack of integrity in the people, and especially in the ministry. The sign of success is crowds of people on Sunday morning, although no one knows if any of this multitude are actually growing in the ability to recognize good and evil and in the strength to embrace the good and renounce the evil.
We see signs of life as thousands of young people meet to pray and consecrate themselves to the Lord. But they will fall back into their old ways if we do not have scriptural doctrine that challenges them to grow into spiritual giants. “Grace-Heaven-rapture” is not going to produce spiritual giants of righteousness.
And so the play continues. But unless I am mistaken, we are going to find that God is not impressed with numbers of people. He will do what He has promised in His Word. The victorious saints will inherit everything. Those who led defeated lives will be dealt with in a variety of ways, some losing their talents; some beaten with lashes, many or few; some being driven from the Lord’s Presence into the outer darkness.
God has mercy on the weak; not on the lazy, careless servants, but on the weak. He will work with the bruised reeds until they are strong in righteousness. But those who play games with God will be beaten at their own games. With the cunning, God shows Himself more cunning.
Let us, as many as who will, turn again to the Lord God. Let us turn away from the American way of death and seek the Lord. If we will confess our sins and turn away from them, seeking the Lord with our whole heart, He may yet spare our nation.
But if things continue as they are; if Hollywood continues to spew out its filth; if the politicians keep catering to those who are blatantly sinning, murdering their offspring, committing acts of sexual perversion, you can be sure that the fires of judgment will not be long in coming to America.
The dead in Christ, and only the dead in Christ, will return with the Lord and be raised to stand once more on the earth in glorified form. Then they shall join the living saints and be caught up to meet the Lord of Hosts in the air. From there they will descend and put an end to sin on the earth.
You can be one of these if you wish; but you will have to seek the Lord with your whole heart that you might be found worthy to stand before Him in that Day.
If, however, you continue to live as most American Christians do, you will not be raised from the dead when the Lord appears.
We believe Jesus died and rose again and so we believe God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)
(“In Christ”, 3557-1)