THE REAL YOU
THE REAL YOU 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 Bible says if you have joined yourself to Christ you are dead. You have been crucified with Christ. You have a new life and it is Christ. Your new life is hidden with Christ in God. Your new life will not appear until it appears together with Him at His coming.
So you exist in two forms of life. Your first life still breathes on the earth. It is a corrupt, rebellious nature. Your new nature has been raised with Christ far above all other authority, far above every other title that can be given.
Each day you decide by your thinking, speaking, and actions which life is the real you.
Table of Contents
Introduction We Already Are There The Real "You" How We Nourish and Build Up the Real "You" Why Bother With the First, Dead "You"? Our Good Works Were Ordained From the Beginning Tearing Down the Host Conclusion
THE REAL YOU
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1—NIV)
The above statement is central to our understanding of the new covenant.
"You have been raised with Christ." Notice this is past tense. You already have been raised with Christ. You already are seated with Christ at the right hand of God.
Perhaps we tend to think of such statements as being figurative, or "nice," or something we say in church. But the fact that we have been crucified with Christ and raised with Christ is the very essence of the new covenant.
Obviously (from the Scripture) we no longer are alive on the earth. Our true life is at the right hand of God. Yet we know we indeed are alive on the earth (or in the spirit realm with the rest of the dead, because the truth we are teaching here has no relationship to whether we are alive in our old nature on the earth or in the heavens).
We are alive in that we think, we speak, we act, we plan, we remember, we choose. Although by faith we testify we have been crucified with Christ and are risen with Him, yet in another sense our original personality is living and moving about on the earth. How we behave in our original personality is of the greatest importance in the Kingdom of God, in nourishing and establishing our new life at the right hand of God in the heavens.
And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:19-21—NIV)
The Lord Jesus is seated forever at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms. The Lord Jesus will never leave the right hand of God, even though today He comes among us on earth when we are gathered in His name. Also He is here on earth wherever the true saints are, for we are the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
When the Lord Jesus returns in His glory He still will be at the right hand of God, "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:64—NIV)
He will return to earth while He is seated at the right hand of God, and people will be able to see Him in His majesty.
The Lord Jesus always dwells at the side of God, leaning on Him just as the Apostle John leaned on Jesus.
No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known. (John 1:18—NIV)
Notice carefully the tense of the verb: "who is at the Father's side." Thus the Lord is always at the Father's side even though He performs works among us.
This same multiple presence is to be true of us. We always are to be hidden with Christ in God even though we are on earth, or, as we said previously, in the spirit realm among our loved ones and friends, having fallen asleep as to our life on earth.
Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:5,6—NIV)
Notice the tense of the verbs. It is clear we already have been raised with Christ and are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
Another related passage is as follows:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, (Hebrews 12:22—NIV)
We already have come to Mount Zion. If our spiritual eyes were opened we would notice we are surrounded with saints and spirits.
The Lord Jesus had finished His work on earth and then was waiting to go through the agony of His crucifixion.
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. (John 17:11—NIV)
Notice that even though the Lord Jesus never left the side of the Father, yet He says, "I am coming to you, Holy Father." This remark concerning His Presence in Heaven and on the earth at the same time is important. It reveals He actually was on the earth at one time. We must never fall into the trap of regarding our present life on the earth as an illusion or of no consequence. What we do on earth, even though we already are present with Jesus in the Father, is of the greatest significance.
When Jesus prayed He never prayed to the Father in Himself, although the fullness of God was dwelling in Jesus. The Lord lifted up His eyes to Heaven and prayed. This is important for us to remember in the present hour when there is a danger of regarding Christ in us in such a manner that we pray to "the Christ in us," or imagine that by joining many people together in whom Christ is dwelling that there is more power than if only one person were praying or working.
Christ is at the right hand of God in Heaven and we are there in Him and with Him. We always pray to God in Heaven in Jesus' name, never to the "God who is in us." Yet as we press forward in Christ the day will arrive when we are filled with all the fullness of God.
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:20—NIV)
You may have observed by now that as we approach the hour when the Kingdom of God invades the earth there are many false ideas that can lead us astray. This is why we must meditate in the Scriptures day and night, pray without ceasing, and, above all, patiently carry our cross after the Lord. We must pray always: "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one."
A verse that has been a favorite of ours for fifty years is as follows:
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. (Revelation 3:12—NIV)
Once we overcome the wickedness and distractions that fight for our attention God makes us an integral part of His eternal dwelling place. We will never leave that position again. We will always be busy somewhere in the great Kingdom of God, either on earth or in the heavens (or in other worlds if such exist). But in another very real sense we still will remain as a pillar in the Temple of God.
Although, like our Lord Jesus, our presence can be in different places at the same time, it is important to keep in mind that each presence is real and significant, not an illusion. The idea of our present life on earth being nothing more than an illusion is part of Gnostic philosophy, not Christian doctrine.
It is true also that even though our present world is a shadow of the realities of the spirit realm, the shadow is real and significant in the sight of God and we must treat it as such.
I suppose the greatest danger of today is not that we will think of the heavens as being the only reality and life on earth an illusion, although some may be in this trap. The most common problem we have, particularly we Americans, is regarding our present life on earth as being the truly significant fact while we tend to think of "our life in Heaven" as a kind of unreal Oz in which people and angels float around for eternity doing nothing but resting.
The one truly fatal mistake any individual can make is to place too much importance on the present life and miss the opportunities we have to establish ourselves with Christ at the right hand of the Father. For when we die there is nothing we can take with us except our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1—NIV)
Who is the "you" that has been raised with Christ? It is obvious it is not the same "you" that is here on the earth. We have two different "yous."
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3,4—NIV)
Who is the "you" that died? Now we have two "yous," a "you" that has been raised with Christ and a "you" that is dead.
Who is the real "you"? As you can understand, this is a most important question.
The "you" who has been raised with Christ is hidden. He will not appear to onlookers until Christ appears. The entire Christ, Head and Body, will appear to the world at the same time. Thus we enter the joy of the Lord, not just our own joy but the joy of the Lord. He and we enter the fullness of joy at the same time.
He is waiting until His enemies have been made His footstool. We know from Paul's writing that Satan will be crushed under our feet. So the enemies of God and man will finally be crushed under the feet of the Church because Christ is in the Church.
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the travail of the woman, the Church, as Christ is formed in her.
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5—NIV)
First we notice that Christ who is being formed in us is a son, a male. Whether we are a man or woman, boy or girl, that which is being formed in us is a ruling spirit.
Christ who is our life, who is being formed in us, is destined to govern all nations with an iron scepter. We are not speaking of being saved, or of enjoying Heaven, we are referring to ruling! It is the Ruler who is being formed in us.
The "you" of our personality who has been raised with Christ and is now hidden in Him at the right hand of God is a ruler!
Each of us makes a decision each day. We recognize that the most important "you" of our personality is the one who is in Heaven at the right hand of God, waiting to return and govern the nations, or else we spend almost all of our time and strength living in the "you" who is on the earth, the "you" who is supposed to be dead, according to the Scripture.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2—NIV)
Perhaps the reader by this time, if he is a Christian, has decided his real "you" is the one hidden in Christ at the right hand of God. Colossians claims his first "you" is dead, and so there is nothing to be gained by focusing on that which is dead.
But practically, how do we nourish and build up the real "you," the eternal "you," the one slated to enter the joy of the Lord?
First we must set our mind on things above, not on earthly things. The crux of the matter is right here.
This does not mean we are to ignore the conduct of our old nature, as in the teaching of Gnosticism. Later we will discuss the role of the old nature under the new covenant.
Nourishing and building up the new man, the one at the right hand of God, is largely a matter of priorities, of where we place the emphasis of our life.
In America there are numerous opportunities for anyone who desires to take advantage of them, opportunities for education, to make money, to develop a talent, to gain political office. None of these is sin as such. The problem is, they consume our time and energy to the point Christ is not formed in us. We neglect our salvation. We are diverted away from the one important issue in life—that of establishing our position at the right hand of the Father.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by praying without ceasing. We must never become so occupied with the affairs of this life that we forget to pray about every decision we make.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by receiving the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Every time we deny ourselves, turning away from that which we desire when we know it is not God's will for us, we are given the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm to strengthen us against evil.
We nourish and build up our real "you" as we resist the sins and rebellions of our first personality, putting them to death by the wisdom and strength the Spirit of God gives us.
We nourish and build up our real "you" as we cheerfully carry our personal cross of denial and disappointment, remaining in the prison where God has placed us.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by gathering frequently with fervent Christians.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by reading and meditating in the Scriptures each day.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by praying to God for the wisdom and strength to keep the commandments given to us by Christ and His Apostles.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by praying for the gifts and ministries of the Spirit and then using our gifts and ministries to build up the Body of Christ.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by walking in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by sharing our material means as God directs.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, knowing that God has promised to supply our needs.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by aiding the poor and the afflicted, as God directs and enables us.
We nourish and build up our real "you" by doing all the things associated with wholesome Christian living and discipleship.
We can choose to spend our life eating, sleeping, playing, working, and reproducing, satisfying all the appetites and passions of our flesh, attending church when it is convenient; or we can choose to make establishing our position with Christ at the right hand of God the most important business of our life.
When we die we will stand in the spirit realm next to our body. Our soul then will be sent to the location where it belongs, where it fits. If we have faithfully sown to the real "you" of our personality, our new man will remain hidden in Christ at the right hand of God while we rest in the spirit realm, waiting for the appearing of Christ.
Then, when Christ appears, our true life will appear with Him, that which has become a life-giving spirit.
But if we have largely neglected the real "you" of our personality, we will be raised at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age to receive from the hand of God that which our works deserve. I am speaking now of Christian people.
For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:2—NIV)
We know our body is dead because of sin.
But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10—NIV)
We know we are to count that we have died with Christ on the cross.
For we know our old self was crucified with him so the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:6,7—NIV)
Our old self, that is our old nature, the first "you," was crucified with Jesus (we are by faith to regard this as a fact).
The purpose of crucifying the old nature is to do away with the body of sin. The body of sin includes all the bondages of sin we have inherited and acquired. The old nature is our first personality, the first "you." The body of sin is alien to our first personality but resident in it.
In order to get at the body of sin and destroy it the Lord has condemned our entire first personality, the good and the bad of it, to the cross.
The destroying of the body of sin releases us from slavery to sin. This is much to be desired.
The statement "because anyone who has died has been freed from sin" probably is not referring to the fact that when an individual dies physically he or she is automatically released from the guilt of sin or the bondages of sin. It seems to us more likely that our guilt goes with us when we die unless we have received the forgiveness of Christ and are abiding in Him. Also we are not at all certain we are freed from all the bondages of sin by virtue of dying physically. If such were the case, death would be our deliverer. We think only Jesus Christ can remove the chains of sin from us.
What then does Paul mean when he says, "because anyone who has died has been freed from sin"?
We think Paul means when we choose to count ourselves crucified with Christ we no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses. Therefore Christ can forgive us and deal with us as He will without regard for the requirements of the Law. Remember, a large part of the people addressed by the Epistle to the Romans were Jews and Paul was forever assuring them that righteousness no longer is found in obedience to the Law of Moses but by looking to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well then, we find as far as God is concerned our first personality is on the cross with Christ. Our new born-again nature, that which is of Christ and is Christ, for Christ is now our Life, is at the right hand of God in Heaven.
Having established these two facts, let us proceed.
The great bulk of the Bible is written to the first, dead personality. Almost all of the Old Testament and almost all of the New are addressed to the first, dead "you."
One of the massive errors of contemporary Christian thinking, a philosophy borrowed from the Gnostics, is that our behavior on earth in our body is not truly significant as far as our eternal salvation is concerned because we are "saved by faith alone." What Christians mean by this is not actual faith in the faithfulness of God but belief in a theological position. This is pure Gnosticism.
The truth is, the new covenant is fulfilled only as we in our old, dead personality, by praying without ceasing, keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles; not the ceremonial statutes of the Law of Moses which were a covenant with Israel, but all the laws and principles that are part of the eternal moral law of God—the law written in the conscience of human beings.
Our new position in the heavens can be established only as we do what the New Testament commands. Our old, dead personality must hoist its cross on its shoulder and follow the Master. To not do this is to partake of the dead religion of churchy "Christianity" and never become a Christian, a disciple of the Lord Jesus.
What are the steps in establishing our position at the right hand of God?
First we must recognize that numerous Christians of our day, particularly in America, are emotionally distraught to the point they cannot function in their families and scarcely on their jobs. We refer to them as "dysfunctional."
As the dysfunctional believer presses forward in the program of discipleship he or she may become aware that his or her personality is in need of healing.
The Bible bookstores are filled with new titles designed to instruct people in healthy emotional living. Also there are numerous ministers who stand ready to help people back on their feet emotionally.
Our own church performs as an emotional clinic at times as we engage Christian professionals who counsel those suffering with personality problems of one kind or another.
Just about all of us American believers can be helped by marriage and family counseling.
The counselors that help us are not only learned in psychology but also anointed by the Lord. Apart from the anointing of the Holy Spirit it is not possible to lift up those who mourn in Zion until they are clothed with the garment of praise and become oaks of righteousness.
Part of becoming a disciple involves achieving emotional stability. As we look to Jesus for every decision of life we may find ourselves, in one manner or another, being brought to emotional health and strength.
We are to lay down our own life in order to find His will and do it. A very important aspect of discipleship is that of learning what Christ and His Apostles have commanded, and then going to the Mercy Seat in Heaven that we might gain the wisdom and strength necessary for keeping those commandments.
As we diligently pursue the program of salvation, presenting our body a living sacrifice to God, we are fed on the body and blood of Christ—that which occurs in the invisible spirit realm, of which the Communion service is an outward symbol. Christ's body is the only true food and Christ's blood is the only true drink, for these are our eternal life and will raise us at His appearing.
As we zealously live the Christian life, gathering with fervent disciples, doing all that is commanded with the help of the Lord, we are establishing our position at the right hand of God.
The first, dead "you" is obeying God. The real "you" is being formed in us. He is in us and at the same time at the right hand of God. As soon as Christ is formed in us He is caught up to the Throne of God in Heaven. He is in two places at once.
In the Day of Resurrection we will be raised from where we have been interred. Our real "you" will overtake, possess, and make alive our old "you." Our robe from Heaven, our new body, will overtake, possess, and make alive our mortal body. We will become an integrated personality once again, a personality governed by God and Christ who are indwelling us.
The gold of Divinity will cover the wood of our humanity on the inside and the outside. Now we are a son of man and a son of God, that which God has destined man to be. Now we are authorized and competent to govern, under the Lord Jesus, all the works of God's hands.
When we appear, as is true also of the Lord Jesus, we will be seen at the right hand of the Majesty on High. We have become an integral part of the resurrection and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. We now are a pillar in the eternal Temple of God. This will be true of us forever.
Let us emphasize once again, none of this will take place unless we are faithful and diligent in following the Lord in the program set before us today. We are not to measure ourselves against other people, only against the Word of God. We are to take nothing for granted. Satan will do all in his power to prevent our reaching the heavenly mark set before us. People will take our crown of rulership if we are not utterly diligent in attending to that which God has given us.
We have been called to the right hand of God. Our business now is to make our calling certain, to establish beyond question our position in Christ in God.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21—NIV)
There is a remarkable statement in the following verse:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10—NIV)
Here is a most amazing statement! We are God's workmanship.
We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works.
God prepared these good works in advance for us to do.
All we have mentioned thus far could be considered the good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Or, the good works could refer to the various roles and tasks the saints will perform in the Kingdom of God, such as serving as living stones in the house of God or as members of the Bride of the Lamb.
However, I am inclined to believe the "good works" of Ephesians 2:10 are works of righteousness, holiness, and especially obedience to God.
If I am correct, God, probably from the beginning of time, prepared righteous, holy, and obedient works for us to do. We will perform these good works, not in our own adamic nature but as God's resurrection grace results in our change into the moral image of Christ and our entrance into untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10—NIV)
Now, let's see if we can make some sense out of such a statement—that God prepared from the beginning of the creation, say for example, kindness, moral cleanliness, and faith in God that we as His workmanship are to do.
First of all, where did unkindness, immorality, and lack of faith in God originate?
Before the creation of the physical world it appears there was a rebellion in Heaven. Satan and those who followed Him decided they would do as they pleased without obeying God.
I would suggest that kindness and all other works of righteousness, moral cleanliness and all other works of holiness, have always been in the Nature of God.
It may be true that the angels knew little or nothing of unkindness because they had never experienced anything other than kindness. Perhaps they had no name for kindness because they had never encountered the opposite; no name for moral cleanness because they had never encountered the opposite; no name for obedience because they had never encountered disobedience.
This may or may not be true. We do know two things:
Before Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they had no real knowledge of righteousness or unrighteousness.
God however knew good and evil.
Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22—NIV)
Whether the "Us" included creatures other than the Godhead is difficult to determine.
It seems that Satan was the first to disobey the Father. Out from his disobedience flowed murder, moral filthiness and all the other sins. Sin always originates with disobedience to God.
The fallen angels now were eternally bound with unrighteousness, moral filthiness, and disobedience to God. They could not change no matter how hard they tried, just as we cannot really change without help from God through Jesus Christ.
God then decided to teach the angels who did not rebel, and to judge the angels who did rebel, by giving them audio-visual lessons operating by means of the dust of the ground that God termed "man."
God created man from the clay and at the proper time wrote the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are a judgment against Satan and the wicked angels. All of the commandments have to do with relationships—with God and with other people.
By means of the commandments and statutes of the Law of Moses, God defined righteousness and holiness. God emphasized obedience by testing Abraham, and later Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Now the angels and man have a lexicon of behavior, a dictionary of good and evil. Apparently no such lexicon existed prior to the creation of man, except in the Personality of our Creator.
Prior to the giving of Divine grace through Jesus Christ, prior to God's lifting us to His right hand, prior to the issuing of the Spirit of God, prior to God making us His workmanship, we had a lexicon but not the wisdom or power to do much about it, at least not to the extent demanded of those who would be God's sons and kings, who would be at His side and lean on Him forever.
But now through the manifold working of the new covenant, the issuing of resurrection grace and all that goes with it, the Divine Nature and power of God are making it possible for us to do the good works that God before ordained we should perform.
God prepared such a behavior as kindness for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as honesty for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as truthfulness for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as forgiveness for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such attributes as love, joy, and peace for us to manifest so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as not taking His Name in vain for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such an attribute as purity of heart for us to exhibit so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as holy love apart from lust for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as obedience for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
God prepared such a behavior as faithfulness for us to practice so the obedient angels, the wicked angels, and mankind could behold this aspect of God's Nature.
Our first "you" has been so corrupted by Satan and his demons that try as he might our first "you" cannot illustrate the lexicon of behaviors that compose God's righteous, holy, faithful Nature.
But the new "you" illustrates the lexicon of behaviors perfectly. The new "you" does not sin because he has been born of God.
As to the good works of God's workmanship being a lesson to the angels:
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:10—NIV)
It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (I Peter 1:12—NIV)
Observe that when God's elect sin it gives the wicked angels opportunity to blaspheme God.
"But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die." (II Samuel 12:14—NIV)
Notice that when the saints overcome the accuser of the brothers Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death, it is the heavens that rejoice at the removal of unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." (Revelation 12:10—NIV)
As to the good deeds of God's workmanship being a lesson to mankind:
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—NIV)
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—NIV)
Notice that when Paul tells us we are risen and shall appear with Christ, the first thing he discusses is our need to turn away from sin:
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Ephesians 3:4,5—NIV)
"He that has this hope in him purifies himself," First John says.
We can understand from the above that when God's grace through Jesus Christ does not result in the doing of the good works that God has prepared for us to do, we have received the grace of God in vain.
How often do Christian teachers quote Ephesians 2:8,9 without including verse ten, without referring to the context from verse 15 of Chapter One of the Book of Ephesians, thus giving a totally false impression of the nature and purpose of the Christian salvation. This is a shameful practice which hopefully will cease in the near future as we are confronted with the realities of the spirit realm and of the Kingdom of God.
We are in the closing days of the Church Age. God is emphasizing the bringing of the Body of Christ to maturity, also the forming of the saints into an army.
We see the evidence of Satan and his demons all around us. The tares of rebellion and wickedness are coming to maturity. But so is the wheat.
The original sin was disobedience, both in the heavens and on the earth. It is through total obedience that the victory will be won. We must love not our life to the death if we are to tear down the strongholds of Satan.
God is ready now to apply His lexicon of righteous, holy behavior to the angels and to mankind. But He must have people who can illustrate in their personality the righteous, holy, and obedient behavior defined in the lexicon. Until such behavior is forthcoming there can be no successful judgment of mankind and the angels.
There are seven feasts of the Lord.
The churches have been at Passover, the first feast, at salvation through the blood of the cross.
The churches have been at Pentecost, the fourth feast, at the work of the Holy Spirit in producing the testimony that can overcome the accuser.
Now we are facing the final three feasts of the Jews: the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The spiritual fulfillment of these three feasts has been reserved for the end time, for the period when lawlessness and wickedness have come to maturity. To experience the last three feasts we must love not our life to the point of death.
The Blowing of Trumpets portrays the coming of the Lord of Hosts to His churches to wage war against the work of the enemy in His people.
The Day of Atonement signifies God will reconcile us to Himself by destroying out of our personality worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, and disobedience.
The feast of Tabernacles shows us that God and Christ will enter the saints, who thus have been cleansed, and dwell in them forever. The saints will then be the Throne of God. This is why they must love not their own lives to the point of death. It is so God and Christ may live in their personality without their human self-will causing confusion and wasted energy and time, if not a complete diversion from God's purposes.
Those who choose to cooperate with the Holy Spirit until they are completely reconciled to God will be firmly established at the right hand of God. They have chosen to die in the Lord. Their righteous works follow them because these works are coming from God Himself and cannot be overthrown by the enemy.
The saints will bear a tremendous witness in the last days, the time just prior to the coming of the Lord. But the witness will be overthrown to prepare the way for the Antichrist. Then the end of the Church Age will be here and the saints will appear with Christ at the right hand of the Father. Then the world will believe it is God who has sent Jesus Christ, and those who believe will enter the Kingdom of God. They are the saved nations, the inheritance of Christ and the saints.
During these last days the Throne of God will be established in the hearts of the saints, in preparation for the coming of the Throne to the earth. There will be deliverance in the remnant of the saints throughout the darkest of the days yet ahead. This means people can go to the remnant to be helped during the horrible moral and spiritual darkness of the closing days of the Church Age.
The earth and the heavens are to be shaken. Why? So all rebellion can be removed from the Kingdom of God.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26—NIV)
In order to bring forth and destroy all rebellion, God will give Antichrist power to conquer the saints and enormous authority over the nations of the earth.
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 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 13:7,8—NIV)
Antichrist will have power to reach up to the heavens and attack the host of saints there. All of God's creatures must be tested, tested, shaken until God is certain all rebellion has been removed from His creation, particularly from the "stars," the rulers.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:10-12—NIV)
The power (horn) of Antichrist will grow in the spirit realm until it reaches and touches those who are hidden with Christ in God. They of all people must be absolutely free from rebellion and self-will.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens.
This is referring to the power and authority of wickedness and moral evil we are entering, the hour of temptation. If you wish to be guarded against it you will have to guard carefully, in the present time, the word of Christ's patience.
It threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them.
This reminds us of another passage.
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4—NIV)
I go back and forth on the above verse. Are the "stars" referring to the fallen angels or the saints who are established in God? It probably is referring to the saints. We say this because after a third of the stars had been swept out of the sky, Michael and his angels drove Satan and his angels from the heavens. It doesn't make sense that Satan would have flung a third of his army of angels to the earth before the war against Michael, troops that could have assisted him in the battle.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (Revelation 12:7—NIV)
So maybe we better stick with the "third of the stars" being the saints, as in Daniel 8:10. The passages are not speaking of nominal Christians or the righteous dead who compose the great "sea" of people in the spirit realm awaiting the Day of Christ. Rather it is the stars, the host, who are at issue. These are the life-giving spirits who are at the right hand of God, the governing priesthood.
To someone who would protest we cannot have a place at the right hand of God and then be torn down, let us respond by saying it happens every day. We begin our Christian journey at the right hand of God, at least by faith. For this is the declaration of the Word of God. Our effort as a disciple is to maintain that which already has been given us by the sovereign grace of God, to guard our crown.
To those who would object, saying we could not be lifted to such a high position in God and then fall we have only to call to mind the parables of the sower and of the vine. In the parable of the sower there were two kinds of ground in which the Divine Seed actually had germinated, the plant had grown, and then the organism had been overcome. Christ had started to live in the personality and then had been choked out or starved out.
Also, branches in the Vine that did not bear fruit were cut from the Vine, from Christ. So we go against the Words of Jesus Christ Himself, and lean on our deductive reasoning, when we state that once we have a position in Christ we can never be torn back down to the earth.
Also we have the Apostle Paul saying in different ways in his Epistles that if we continue to live in the sinful nature we will die spiritually, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The New Testament could not be clearer in its numerous statements concerning being saved out of Egypt and then being destroyed.
We have seen in our own day outstanding Christians who have been swept from their position in Christ and flung to the earth where they can gorge themselves on human flesh. Lust and personal ambition always had been in their heart, even when their life was hidden with Christ in God. But the right circumstances caused the lust and personal ambition to be revealed and they were torn down from their place of rulership. Is this your understanding?
It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host.
The Prince of the host is the Lord Jesus. Even in our day we see the self-will of man exalting itself, placing itself on a level with the Lord Jesus Christ. Some have said Christ was a well intentioned teacher who failed in his attempt to persuade the Jews of his philosophy. Thus Christ is no worse or no better than anyone else. How little such people understand of the Lord of Glory!
It took away the daily sacrifice from Him.
This probably indicates that Antichrist no longer will permit people to receive the blood atonement, insisting he alone is God. Remember, he will have power to enter the heavens. Thus he will know when people are endeavoring to accept Christ. He will be able to hinder their prayers. Remember also that some of the emperors of Rome demanded that an offering be made to them by each citizen once a year.
The place of his sanctuary was brought low.
This very well may indicate Antichrist will have the power to depress Christians until they are unable to worship God. We are not speaking of the godly remnant who have been driven into the wilderness. The Throne of God is in the remnant and Antichrist cannot touch them. We are referring rather to the multitude of professing Christians who still are part of Babylon the Great, the worldwide denomination now embracing all religions, that has its headquarters at the site of ancient Babylon.
Because of rebellion.
The Hebrews term translated "rebellion' is peshah. Here is the key to the whole end-time scenario. God is seeking out rebellion wherever it may be found, beginning with those who are closest to God.
The host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it.
Even the saints closest to God, and those who have been forgiven through the blood atonement, will be tested, tested, shaken, shaken, by means of the authority and power given to Antichrist. You, dear reader, will be tested, tested, shaken, shaken. God wants to determine if there is any rebellion remaining in you.
"Not My will but Yours be done," the Son of God cried out in His agony.
So will you utter such a cry if you have been predestined to be seated at the right hand of God.
The original sin was rebellion, self-will, and God wants it driven from His creation. If He dealt so sternly with His own Son, what do you think will happen to the rest of us?
It prospered in everything it did.
As I sit here typing away, the daily paper is telling of the abominations taking place in the United States. Our country is unwittingly being handed over to the enemy by self-seeking politicians. It is not apparent as yet that this is what is taking place, but those of us who are older know it is happening. A country once strong with Pilgrim fiber is growing rotten at the core. It is only a matter of time before it is taken over by a more disciplined culture, probably by one of the countries, or a group of countries, from the East.
Antichrist will prosper. This is God's will for a season until rebellion has been thoroughly dealt with.
Truth was thrown to the ground.
Please keep in mind that the issue is not power. Christ and those whose life He is are seated far above all other authority and power. Rather the battle is one of truth.
The authority and power of Satan were destroyed on the cross of Calvary. Antichrist possesses only the authority and power permitted him by Jesus Christ in order that God may search for rebellion in the personalities of those destined to govern the creation.
Thus the battle rages around truth. If Antichrist can persuade one of God's stars to believe a lie he can entice that member of the royal priesthood to think, say, or do something that will cause him to be torn down from his place at the right hand of God, just as prominent ministers have been torn down in our day.
There is only one protection from the deceptions of Antichrist. Our protection is the cross we carry behind the Lord Jesus. The cross attacks the self-will, the rebellion that dwells in the convoluted labyrinths of our heart. The cross enters there and cuts away the rebellion and sin we have inherited from Adam and Eve and their descendants.
If you will bear your cross as patiently and as cheerfully as you can, laying down your life for the Gospel's sake, Christ will protect you during your hour of temptation. But if you wrench yourself from the prison in which God has permitted Satan to place you, you will be deceived. No matter how much you read your Bible and plead for righteousness, you will be deceived if you do not stay in the prison where you have been placed.
Be like the Apostle Paul. Count all you have gained as loss for Christ. Regard all of your personal ambitions, coveted enhancements of your personality and position, as so much garbage. This is your protection from the deceptions of Antichrist.
Wait patiently for the Lord. Do not kindle sparks and walk in the light of your own fire. This is what Abraham did and Ishmael, the wild man, is still, after thousands of years, attacking the descendants of Isaac.
There will be no peace in the creation of God, in the heavens or on the earth, until all rebellion and self-will have been removed, beginning with the nobility, the saints. The saints then will govern the creation forever, insuring that never again will a person, human or angel, act outside of the will of God.
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:3-5—NIV)
The main point of the present essay is that God is preparing a governing priesthood, people who will rule all of God's creation for eternity.
In creating the Kingdom of God, God began with the King. The King had to be proven perfect in obedience and then had to make an atonement that would appease the justice of God concerning the behavior of every member of the Kingdom.
The Lord Jesus made an atonement not only for our sins but also for the sins of the whole world.
Next in order is the royal priesthood, the judges of the creation. This is the emphasis in our day. Every member of the priesthood is located for eternity at the right hand of God. No matter where he goes throughout the universe a part of him (to put it in our terms) remains at the side of God and is leaning on God.
A lot of time and effort goes into the preparing of a king, judge and priest. This is why God deals with us night and day, day and night, examining every nuance of thought, word, and action. We are brought into countless situations to call forth all that is in our heart.
The human heart is so deceitful it is possible not even God knows all that is in it. Therefore God keeps bringing us into circumstances that will reveal what is in our heart. Then God judges us according to what we did.
This is important for every saint to remember. God does not judge us according to what we think we are, our "good intentions." God's perfect judgment requires that He wait until we actually do something. Then He judges the deed so we as well as He understand that the Divine judgment is righteous.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2—NIV)
"To test you in order to know what was in your heart."
The future rulers of the universe will be tested, taught, tested, taught, tested, taught seemingly endlessly. In the meanwhile our life (which is Christ) is hidden at the right hand of God and the remainder of our personality, including our mortal body, remains under the blood of the atonement.
If it becomes obvious we are not going to pursue the program of moral transformation, are not going to press into rest in the perfect will of God, then the program of salvation will cease and we will be set aside to wait for the final judgment. We may become ill or even die prematurely. We will not be raised when the Lord appears. When we are raised from the dead, at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, we will be judged fairly according to what we have done.
The Bible states we will not escape punishment if we neglect our salvation.
Those who are raised in the first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord appears, have already been judged. Their sentence is to appear with Christ in the fullness of Divine Glory. They were judged as God brought out what was in their heart, showed it to them, and they confessed the area of darkness and turned away from it. Then God forgave them and removed the darkness from them. This is an eternal judgment.
When the Lord appears they will appear with Him as the judges of men and angels. The Apostles of the Lamb will sit on twelve thrones judging the tribes of Israel, as Jesus stated.
Who is the real "you"? Is the real "you" the dead "Adam" who was born of your mother and father and now is waiting to go to Heaven by grace? Or is the real "you" the son of God who is hidden with Christ at the right hand of the Father?
It is up to you to decide whom you want to make the real "you."