ROLES AND TASKS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
ROLES AND TASKS OF THE KINGDOM OF GODCopyright Š 2012 by Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Introduction. I have listed these roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God in other places. I thought I would go into more detail at this time.
It is my impression that God's people often visualize themselves reclining in a mansion, doing nothing of significance for eternity. The thought that Christ may have called us for a purpose may be a new idea to some.
We of today are at the beginning of the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth. How do I know this? Because I use the seven feasts of Israel as a guide to my thinking concerning the program of redemption.
For two thousand years the Christian churches have been oriented toward eternal residence in Heaven as being the goal toward which the Divine redemption has been bringing us. The Gospel of the Kingdom has been the Gospel of Heaven. You may have noticed of late that there is an emphasis on the Kingdom of Godmore so than previously. This is because the original Gospel is being restored.
Pentecost is the fourth of the seven feasts of Israel. The twentieth century might be termed "the Pentecostal century," in that speaking in tongues has come forth from relative obscurity to be found in numerous Christian churches of many doctrinal persuasions.
The obvious question is, if the program of redemption has been following the pattern established by the seven feasts, and Pentecost is number four, what is the next feast? What follows Pentecost?
The fifth of the seven feasts is the Blowing of Trumpets, sometimes referred to as "the year of kings and contracts." We might refer to this observance as New Year's Day. The Jews celebrate it as such. It is the beginning of the business year.
The beginning of the religious year is marked by the celebration of the Passover. Thus the Jews have two overlapping years, with the Blowing of Trumpets falling on the seventh month of the religious year.
From now on, wherever Christians are hearing the voice of the Spirit of God, the emphasis will be on the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We are in the days leading up to the installing of the Kingdom. The Kingdom actually will be installed when the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven with His saints. Obviously, there has to be preparation for this worldwide event. I like the expression in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation which speaks of the seventh angel being about to blow his trumpet. He has not blown it as yet, but is about to blow it.
Where are we now, in this great plan of redemption?0 We are being alerted to the nearness of the coming of the Kingdom, as I have suggested. The customary Christian activities are being pursued, just as the customary Jewish ceremonial activities were being pursued, during the time of King David, at the place of the Tent of Meeting while it was located at the high place in Gibeon.
But at that time the heart of the Tent of Meeting, the Ark of the Covenant, was in a tent that David had erected for it in David's city of Zion. Later, when Solomon was king, the Ark was returned to the Holy of Holies in the temple that Solomon had built on Mount Moriah, the place where Isaac was to be sacrificed.
So it is today. While the usual Christian activities are being carried on, the heart of what God is doing, in preparation for the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth, does not seem to be widely understood. The heart of what God is doing would be represented by the Ark of the Covenant in its tent in Zion, the city of David.
The Day of Atonement, the time of the forgiving and removing of sins, could not be celebrated at the high place of Gibeon because the Ark of the Covenant was not in the Holy of Holies of the Tent of Meeting. I do not know if it was celebrated in David's city of Zion at that time, but I rather doubt it. During the Day of Atonement, the whole Tent of Meeting was involved, not only the Ark in the Most Holy Place.
This separation of the Ark from the rest of the Tent of Meeting seems to me to portray the present condition of God's people. There are the millions who keep on with the church activities we are accustomed to. However, there are some of the Church who are discontented. It seems as though something holy is missing. Perhaps it is the Presence of God.
In any case, the Holy Spirit is telling those who are hearing, that it is time now for the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, that is, the part of that celebration that had to do with the scapegoat, the goat of removal.
We have enjoyed the first part, the blood offering for the atonement of our sins. But the second part of the Day of Atonement, the actual removal of the practice of sin, has not been as well known. Well, that time is here now.
When our Lord returns, He is going to bring His saints with Him, and also transform the bodies of those believers who are living on the earth at the time of His return. However, the necessary preparation for our being transformed at that time, is that we pass through the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.
There is a "first resurrection" of the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood, the Royal Priesthood being the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb. The firstfruits (Revelation 14) of the Church will be transformed and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
What I am saying is that not everyone who has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ is prepared to be transformed when He appears and to be caught up to meet Him at the staging area in the air. Many alive on the earth at the appearing of Christ will not be competent to descend with Him and work at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
I am certain that my saying the one Body of Christ shall be temporarily divided into believers who are prepared for His coming, and then the larger set of God's elect who are not as yet ready to serve as kings and priests over the nations of the earth, may be viewed with dismay, or even unbelief.
But let us be reasonable. It may be true that most people who profess Christ are by no means ready to mount the white war stallions and come crashing through the clouds to confront Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet. This is ridiculous!
Examine the typical Christian assembly. The people have not been through the program of confessing and turning away from their sinswhich is the heart of the Day of Atonement. They are bound with the love of the world; trust in the world for survival, security, and pleasure, the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit; and self-will. Until we set aside our own life and learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, we cannot overcome the Accuser. We are in no condition to confront Antichrist and the False Prophet.
How many Christians do you know who actually have chosen obedience to Christ over the pleasures of the flesh; who have taken up their cross of deferred desires; and are patiently plodding along behind the Lord Jesus?
When I was in Bible school, many years ago, I was told that no one can really obey God, and this is why He has given us grace. I did not believe that then and I do not believe it now. God expects us to obey Him in every matter. When we have a difficult time obtaining release from our idols, we are to call upon the Lord. He has the power to enable us to obey Him totally and completely.
I have not found too many Christians who are that intense in their consecration that they truthfully can say they are obeying Christ in every area of their lives. Satan has deceived God's people into believing it is impossible to please Him. It is not! The one who never can be pleased is Satan!
So it is true that today's baby Christians, who continually are exhorted to go out and bring in more babies, are in no condition to mount the white war stallions and accomplish the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God. Rather, they believe that Christ is going to take them to Heaven when they die, or rapture them to Heaven, whichever comes first. so they can recline comfortably in their mansions for eternity.
Please tell me if I am mistaken, and that in actuality all of those who have "accepted Christ" are prepared to govern the nations of the earth; are ready to walk with the Consuming Fire; and have enough faith to stand in victory before Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan himself.
And now to the some of the numerous roles and tasks that are required in the Kingdom of God, once it has been installed upon the earth.
To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb. I feel confident that this is the holiest calling of all. You know, in the current teaching of "grace," the idea is that we Christians continue to live in the filth of the flesh, but by "grace" God does not see our sinning. But that would mean the Bride of the Lamb is a poor wife for the Lamb, wouldn't it? I do not believe He would be attracted to her. Do you?
The idea that God would give His Son a morally filthy bride would probably not be acceptable to most Christian people. But isn't that what we are declaring when we say we are saved by "grace" even though we keep in sinning and disobeying God?
Think carefully about the following verses:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
"His Bride has made herself ready." The Bride is clothed in "fine linen, bright and clean." Bright and clean indicates that she is righteous and holy, doesn't it? Or does that mean she is bright and clean by imputed righteousness? I don't think so!
His Bride actually is righteous and holy. But how did she get that way? How did she pass from ascribed righteousness and holiness to actual righteousness and holiness? The answer is, "she made herself ready."
The Bride washed her robes in the blood of the Lamb. How did she do that? By confessing and turning away from her sins. When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is the promise of God in His Word.
The above applies to the "firstfruits" of the Bride. But how about the majority who were not ready to work with Christ when He appeared?
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)
Again, the Bride is beautifully dressed for Christ. This would signify that she is righteous and holy in her person and behavior. But now notice, it says she is prepared, not that she has made herself ready, as in the case of the "firstfruits."
It is my point of view that the firstfruits, who were transformed and caught up when the Lord appeared, have two main responsibilities during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The first responsibility is to bring to maturity the immature members of the Bride. The second is to install the Kingdom of God on the earth, governing the nations with a rod of iron.
Notice what Paul says in the Book of Ephesians:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
The expression "a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" could not possibly be describing imputed righteousness. Somehow the Bride has become radiant with Christ's perfection.
The answer is, "by cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word." Jesus said on one occasion, "Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you." But how does this work?
When we hear or read the words of the New Testament, the Spirit of God will point out to us areas of personality that are unclean. Then we are to confess those areas as being clean and, with the Lord's help, turn away from them; stop doing them.
Here we see the tremendous damage done by the current "grace" teaching. When we read or hear the rebuke of the New Testament, we shovel it aside, saying, "I am saved by grace, not by works of righteousness I have done." When we do this, the Word does not cleanse us from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
We simply do not understand Paul's teaching of "grace," thinking it means that by grace we are prepared as a bride beautifully adorned for her husband. We are not! We still are living in the filthiness of our sinful nature. We are not ready to go with the Lord when He appears.
We now are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. This period of cleansing and reconciling us to God will continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
If we would not miss the day of our visitation we must, without delay, go to the Lord and ask Him to guide us through the Day of Atonement. As the Spirit of God points out to us where we are unclean, we are to bring that area to the Lord immediately that He may forgive us and strengthen us so we can turn away from it in the future. This is how we are washed by the Word. This is how we make our robe white and clean.
To be part of the Temple of God. We do not often think of God having needs. But He does. Perhaps foremost among those needs is that of a dwelling place for Himself in which He can rest and through which He can associate with His creatures.
This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?" (Isaiah 66:1)
"Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me?" says the Lord. "Or where will my resting place be?" (Acts 7:49)
Since Isaiah was repeated at the time of the death of the first Christian martyr, I think we can regard it with special significance.
We know God's Throne is in Heaven, in Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. But sitting on a throne, and having a house are two different matters.
I wonder if we of the Christian churches give enough thought to this need and desire of God's. I know that in the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "In my Father's house there are many rooms." The term "mansions" is really not appropriate here. The Greek term means places of abode, not as we use the word "mansion" today.
This verse (John 14:2) often is interpreted that God's house is Heaven, and the mansions are where the believers go when they diethere to recline in splendor for eternity, having no responsibilities.
Kind of ridiculous, isn't it, in terms of the Kingdom roles and tasks we are presentingall of which have abundant support in the Scriptures.
The true interpretation of the verse is, "The beginning of God's eternal home is the Lord Jesus Christ. God dwells in Christ and finds rest in Him. But there are going to be many more rooms in the great house of God. The Lord Jesus Christ went to the cross, and then to Heaven itself, to make a place for us in God and for God in us."
We often sing in our church, "Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary. Pure and holy." That is the idea, isn't it? We were born to be the dwelling place of God; and the events of our life are for the purpose of accomplishing that destiny.
This sounds like a good idea. But when it comes right down to it, for us to become a room in the eternal temple of God means that Christ must be born and formed in us so that God and Christ can come and dwell in that which has been formed in us. God will not dwell in our flesh-and-blood animal nature.
It is a question of setting aside our own life that we may live by the Life of Christ. As Paul said, "I am not living my own life. Christ is living in me." This is what has to take place if we are to become the resting place of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the house of God. We are living stones to be used in the construction of God's house.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
In the final two chapters of the Book of Revelation, the glorified Christian Church appears as the Tabernacle of God. The Tabernacle of God, the Christian Church, is brought to perfection in Heaven. It is the heavenly Jerusalem, spoken of in the Book of Hebrewsthe spirits of righteous people made perfect.
The new Jerusalem, the holy city, comes down from Heaven through the new sky and settles forever on a high mountain of the new earth. There it wipes away the tears of the saved people taken from the nations of the earth. Death is abolished.
The new Jerusalem is composed of the members of the Body of Christ, now in resurrected, glorified bodies. Out from them flows the Holy Spirit as a river. They, along with the Lord Jesus, are the trees of life from which the citizens of the new earth obtain refreshing and healing.
The saints see the Face of God, and govern His creation. God is doing all of this, of course, through Christ. They have made Their eternal home, their resting place, in the saints.
What a marvelous destiny we have. But we must keep in mind that it is the overcomers who inherit all this Glory. To overcome is, through Christ, to gain victory over every force that comes against us, seeking to tear us down from our high place in God.
There is no reason why you and I cannot be counted among the ranks of the victorious saints. Right at this time God's firstfruits are being tested and refined. They will be transformed and then caught up to meet Christ in the air when He appears.
Then the members of the firstfruits will lend a hand to the remainder of God's elect so that they too can gain victory over all that is not of the image of God. The Bride has to be made ready in the beauty of holiness before she descends upon the new earth.
So we can see that we are wise if we make the effort to serve Christ faithfully in the present hour. The rewards for doing are incomprehensibly great. But in any case, our Father has needs; and those who love Him will want to do what they can to help meet those needs.
To be a member of the Body of Christ. The term "Christ" means the One anointed with oil to do the work of the Servant of the Lord. When we receive the Holy Spirit we are baptized into the one Body of Christ. Our destiny is to be responsible for our part in the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God.
The Holy Spirit gives a gift to each member of the Body of Christ whereby he or she can build up his or her fellow members of the Body to maturity. That is the first task of each of usto build up our fellow Christians. When we are mature it will be clearer to us what our role is as a part of the Servant of the Lord.
Notice this pattern:
And provide for those who grieve in Zionto bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)
The above tells of the work of members of the Body of Christ in building up each other until we all are "oaks of righteousness."
Then, when we are mature, we will minister to the people whom God has saved from the nations of the earth:
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4)
If I am correct in my understanding, God views Christ, Head and Body, as one "Christ"one anointed Servant of the Lord who will bring justice to the nations:
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (I Corinthians 12:12,13)
It appears to me that the coming of the Lord Jesus must be a long way off, according to our measurement of time. As we look at the thousand competing denominations that bear the name "Christian," the idea that we all form one Body of Christ; that we are to build up each other until we become "trees of righteousness": and that our destiny, when Jesus appears is to work with Him in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth, is denied by the Gospel of Heaven that we preach.
The Gospel of Heaven is grace-Heaven-rapture. The way "grace" is taught does not envision the building of God's people into oaks of righteous behavior. Rather, the doctrine of grace implies that we already are oaks of righteousness because we are identified with the Lord Jesus, who Himself is an Oak of righteousness.
The way "Heaven" is presented does not envision our working with the Lord Jesus at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. Rather, the idea is to go, after we die, to a mansion in the spirit world. There we shall do nothing of significance for eternity, except to praise God that He sees us perfect in Christ even though we are quite immature and self-willed.
The way the "rapture" is presented assumes that when Jesus appears, everyone who has "accepted Christ," no matter how worldly, sinful, and self-willed, will be caught up to Heaven before he or she could possibly be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. The idea that spiritual babies are neither qualified nor competent to be raised, caught up to Christ in the air, and then descend with Him on the white war-stallions to face Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet, is not often mentioned where the doctrine of the rapture is popular.
This is why I wonder if perhaps the return of Jesus will not be for some time yet. What will have to happen to change the casual church-attenders of our day into fervent saints who continually are building up each other to maturity, looking forward to the time when they can work with the Lord Jesus at the task of bringing justice to the nations?
It is difficult to picture, isn't it? Yet we know that what God has ordained, and what Jesus Christ has prayed for, most certainly shall come to pass.
It may be true that the purging from the churches of those people who are not truly of Christ; who never have taken up their cross; who never have spent years of patient waiting in the Lord's prisons; who never have set aside their own life that they might live by the Life of the Lord; will have to occur before we see an emergence of the true Body of Christ.
I expect this purging will involve extensive persecution. I am not happy with this thought, of course. But I have learned that the more painful our experiences are, the greater is the Presence of Jesus with us. If there is intense, prolonged persecution of the saints, then there shall be an intense, prolonged presence of Jesus among us. And that is worth everything.
To be a son of God. The idea of Christians being sons of God is so common that I wonder if we are aware what an astounding relationship this is. So much is included in the term "son"! We have no trouble with the thought of the Lord Jesus being the Son of God. But I rather think we are under the impression that somehow His being a son and our being a son are two different states of being.
Perhaps the following passage sheds some light on this topic:
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Psalms 2:7-9)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1)
When we think about these two different passages, they give one the feeling that the Word somehow underwent a change. He originally had come forth from the Father in a manner incomprehensible to us. He was with God, meaning He was a Being separate from God.
I don't believe the expression "the Word was God" means that the Word was the One whom Jesus refers to as the Father. Although since He was the Word of the Father, He certainly included all that the Father Is.
"He was with God in the beginning" probably means at the time God through the Word spoke the creation, both spiritual and physical, into existence. This would not be the beginning of God the Father, for He is without beginning.
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2)
Paul wrote the following concerning Christ:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. (Colossians 1:15,16)
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession." (Psalms 2:7-8)
I don't know about you, but the above passage appears to me to indicate that after God through the Word created all things in Heaven and on the earth, God the Father revealed to the Word all that the Father had in mind when through the Word the spiritual and physical worlds were spoken into existence.
Can you imagine the feelings the Word had when this decree was made by the Father? God the Father was telling the Word that the nations and the earth, which God had created through the Word, were to be the inheritance of the Word, provided the Word asked for such to be given to Him.
I doubt that the Word understood at this time that He was going to be required to buy the inheritance by dying on a cross. It is God's way to reveal His plans at the time such information is required. It may have been true that the Boy of Nazareth became aware of what He was to suffer, as He studied the Scriptures while growing up. I do not know when He became aware of the "cup" He was to drinkperhaps in Gethsemane.
Well, this is a profound matter indeed! We do not know much about the Word, what He looked like; what kind of form He had; if He had genderprobably not; if He was body, soul, and spiritprobably not; precisely how and when He came into being.
But then the Father said: "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."
What day is "today"? In my opinion, it was the time when Jesus was born of Mary. Sometimes God announces a matter a long time before we can see it happen. As far as God is concerned, it already took place. We just do not see it as yet.
As I understand it, the birth of the Word as a flesh and blood human being was the greatest event of world history. The Word became flesh. God joined the ranks of earth's population. It staggers the mind!
He became a Son, by being born of a woman. The Seed was of God. the egg was of Mary. Other children were born to Mary after that, but that seed was from Joseph. Those children were related to Jesus in that Mary was their mother and were nourished by the same milk.
It was God's intention that the Lord Jesus be fully a human being, although the activation in Mary was not of human origin. This was necessary if the Lord was to be without an inherited sin nature. He had to be the perfect Lamb of God without the blemish of sin.
Now we have a Son of God and a Son of man. He was tempted in all manners that we are that He might serve as our compassionate Priest. Jesus was, in addition to being born of God, a genuine human being. The Word indeed became flesh!
As I mentioned before, exactly what kind of Person was the Word before He became flesh? Was He even a Person as we understand the term? Did He have a will of His own; or was He the Word of God, the Expression of God, in a greater meaning of the term "word" than we can grasp? It is certain that the Man, Jesus, had a will of His own, as we see in Gethsemane.
So we will have to leave our speculations at this point. All we know is that somehow the Personage known as the Word, the Creator of everything that exists, became flesh, and now is known as the Lord Jesus Christ.
We do not refer to Him now as the Word of God but as the Son of God. We also are termed the Sons of God, after we receive Christ and are led by the Spirit of God. Yet many of us feel that somehow we are not sons of God in the same sense that Jesus is the Son of God. This feeling can be detrimental to the plan that God has for each of His new sons.
We have spoken already of Jesus' prior existence as the Word of God. We understand also that God has given Him all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. He is the Head of all things to the Church.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18)
Pay attention to the words "beginning" and "firstborn." These help us to understand that as He is the Son of God, so are we sons of God in a true sense.
He is the beginning of what? Should we say, the beginning of the new things that God is creating? Could the Lord Jesus be the beginning of many brothers, many sons of God?
And what about "the firstborn from among the dead"? The "Firstborn"! Who will be the secondborn, the thirdborn, the fourthborn? The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn of the new creation. Is it true that after Him there will be a company of sons who are raised to eternal life as He has been raised to eternal life?
It is my belief that when we were baptized in water we entered the death of Christ on the cross. We also entered His resurrection life. If we give way to that resurrection life, setting aside our own life, the day will come when our body is raised to eternal life. In this case, we will be born from among the dead just as the Firstborn was.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of Godchildren born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12,13)
So we understand that we actually have been born of God when we are born again. Our second birth was not of our natural parents but of God. Jesus birth was unique, in that He was born of God but in a human parent. In our case, the Seed is from God but it does not develop from its human environment but from the body and blood of Christ that are given to it on a continuing basis, provided the believer is not yielding to the sinful nature but is following the Holy Spirit.
To sum up: we actually have been born of God, although in a somewhat different manner than the Lord Jesus. We really have been born of God. If we continue to follow the Spirit of God, the day will come, when the Lord appears, when we are born from the dead. Born of God, and born from the deadjust like the Lord Jesus.
I am of the opinion that we will grow in Christ after we dieand on into the endless ages of eternity. The Word-Jesus has the advantage over us in that He was with God from ages past. We have just begun to be with God and in God; but we have eternity to grow into the image of Christ.
Our present problem is our flesh and blood life. There are so many distractions, so many enemies, that it is difficult to keep in mind that our present life is temporary. It soon will wither and die.
But the eternal resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus has been grafted into us. It is of supreme importance that we keep to a minimum our involvement in the things of the present world and endeavor at all times to live by the Life of Jesus.
We increasingly are able to live by the Life of Jesus as we talk to Him all day long and into the night. We face so many small and great decisions each day: when to go, when to return, when to speak, when to be quiet, and so forth. We can make our decisions based on our knowledge and experience, or we can keep asking Jesus for wisdom.
We can keep thanking Him when all is going well, and asking for His help when things are not going welland thanking Him when He answers. In this manner we learn to live by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have been called to be formed into the image of Christ, and to be His brothers. It is up to us to make our calling and election certain.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
To be the light of the world. The Lord Jesus said that we are to be the light of the world. This will be true literally at the time of the new heaven and earth.
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:23,24)
In this instance, the light is the Glory of God. However, when the Lord first spoke of our being the light of the world, He was referring to something else. Yet, the effect is the sameit illuminates the path for people to walk in .
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)
The "something else" is the good works of people who have been changed into righteous behavior by partaking of the Life of Christ.
In order to make people feel better, I suppose, and to keep them coming to church, we have invented a doctrine of "grace." Our doctrine has nothing to do with Paul's explanation of the transition from the Law of Moses. Our doctrine of grace says our behavior has little to do with our salvation. This certainly is not what Paul was teaching.
Think for a moment about the Lord's command: "that men may see your good works." If my understanding is correct, our teaching of grace does not include good deeds.
"Grace," as it is presented today, goes against the command of the Lord Jesus. How can we inspire people to praise our Father in Heaven if we do not do good deeds.
We may say, our doing good deeds have nothing to do with our being "saved." But the Bible teaches us differently:
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)
How can we be "saved" (meaning to go to Heaven when we die) if we disobey Christ by not doing good works, and frustrate the plan of God by not doing the good works which we have been created in Christ Jesus to do.?
I am of the opinion that if we do not show the light of Christ by our good works today, we will not bear the Glory that lights the new earth.
I will tell you what I think. I think today's teaching is, for the most part, unscriptural. The Statements of Faith, generally speaking, are true and scriptural. Christ was born of a virgin. He is the Son of God. He was crucified to make an atonement for our sins. He is coming again to install His Kingdom on the earth.
These all are true statements, but we do not receive eternal life by believing them. How do I know that? Because Satan and His demons know that these doctrines are true, and yet they have no eternal life!
What then is the source of eternal Life, if it is not found in the Statements of Faith of the Christian denominations?
The Source of eternal Life is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. We have been "created in Christ Jesus to do good works." If we are not becoming a new creation of righteous, holy behavior, we are not abiding in Christ. If any person is in Christ, he or she is a new creation in behavior, and sometimes in appearance also.
So we see that while our Statements of Faith are scripturally true, there is no life that comes by believing them. The Life comes when we are living in Christ, and not until. If the Statements of Faith lead us to Christ, then we are to live in Him at all times. If we do this, then a change in our behavior shall follow.
A true Christian thinks the thoughts of Jesus; speaks the words of Jesus; and does the works of Jesus. That is how we can tell whether or not a person is "saved."
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (I John 3:10)
The Christian teaching of today to a great extent is destructive of the Kingdom of God.
To be a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival. When speaking of the end-time revival, I am not referring to the spring rain, that which is symbolized by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. Rather, I am alluding to the great worldwide harvest of souls that will come when God pours out His Glory on the Body of Christ.
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." (Isaiah 60:1-3)
The Lord Jesus said that the Glory of God would bring into oneness the members of the Body of Christ.
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (John 17:22)
It is my opinion that Isaiah, Chapter Sixty will take place at the next appearing of the Lord Jesus. He will raise the bodies of his saints, clothe their bodies with incorruptible resurrection Life, and catch them up to Himself.
Then He will descend with His saints to install the Kingdom of God upon the earth. There first will be the Battle of Armageddon, in which the army of Antichrist will be totally defeated. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Then, after Joel's army has cleansed the earth of the residue of the works of Satan, the saints will return with the Lord to Jerusalem, I think it will be at this time that Isaiah, Chapter Sixty, will be fulfilled.
People from all over the world will see the Glory of God hovering over the elect. They will be drawn to Jerusalem to be blessed by the God of Heaven.
Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:4,5)
There never before has been such an ingathering of souls, nor shall there be until the Lord returns. On this occurrence, the world will realize that the Lord Jesus has come from God.
You know, I wonder if we understand what is going on at the present time. We suppose that this is the hour to save the nations of the earth. But in the Great Commission, the Apostles were not charged to save the people of the nations but to make them disciples.
Here is the picture as I see it. The two thousand years of the Church Era have been for the purpose of calling out from the world the elect, God's Israel, the members of the Royal Priesthood. Each of these people has been chosen from the foundation of the world to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus and to be His brothers.
You notice in John, Chapter Seventeen, how the Lord spoke to those whom the Father had given to Him, telling them they were not of the world any more than He is of the world. They have been called out from the world to be one with Him and the Father.
In the Book of Acts you will see such expressions as, "as many as were ordained to eternal life believed"; and, "I have much people in this city."
Such expressions, as well as Jesus' prayer in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, inform us that Christ is dealing with an elect group of saints whom the Father has given to Him. He is not teaching the world or praying for the world.
Just as in the case of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Levitical Priesthood, God chooses some people to be closer to Him, to be more holy, than is true of other people. We may say it isn't fair, or whatever else is prompted by the spirit of Humanism in us. But it is a fact, and we need to accept it and get used to it. God is the Potter, and He will do with people as He pleases.
The Church is the Royal Priesthood. It was called out of the world in the vision of God thousands of years ago. One by one the elect are born and throughout their lives are being conformed to the image of Christ.
When the Lord appears, the true members of the Body of Christ will flow out of the denominations. They will be raised from the dead, as I stated. They will be caught up to Christ and then will descend with Him. Christ will have His headquarters in the city of Jerusalem, and from there the saints will go forth to their appointed places to rule over those people of mankind who have survived Armageddon and the purging accomplished by Joel's Army.
We are to preach the Gospel to every creature. Those who believe and are baptized now have the right to be children of God. Then the work of forming them into disciples begins. Those who remain true to Christ, gaining victory through Him over all the ungodly forces that come against them, shall be saved as members of the Royal Priesthood.
They must learn to think as Christ is thinking; to speak as Christ is speaking; to act as Christ as acting. They shall be distributed among the nations as kings and priests of God, bringing justice, deliverance, and God's Presence to mankind.
Many of the people of the nations are rebelling today because they are being treated unjustly. They are crying out for justice. No political maneuvers, no outstanding leaders, no military force, no philosophers or educators, no financial dealings, will bring the justice people are seeking.
Justice will be brought to the saved peoples of the earth when Christ and His saints descend from Heaven. Then elements of Paradise will be restored to the earth and maintained by God's kings and judges.
The fullness of Paradise and justice will not be accomplished until after the final resurrection and the new sky and earth have been created. The people who have been saved of the nations will populate the new earth. Then the glorified Christian Church will descend from Heaven through the new sky and be installed on a high mountain of the new earth.
Now the Kingdom of God will reign throughout the new earth for eternity.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6,7)
To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations. The Paradise of God, which today is in the heavenly Jerusalem, was at one time on the earth in the country of Eden, apparently in the Middle East. It is a garden. It is described in the early chapters of the Book of Genesis.
The garden in Eden gives us an idea of the kind of environment God envisions for mankind. The history of mankind has not produced a garden. Rather the world has experienced one chaos after another, as people have killed each other for power or money.
I saw in the paper today (February 11, 2012). a little Syrian girl, perhaps six years old. She had dressed her doll as a dead infant. This picture sums up for me the state of the world. Physical death is greatly to be preferred over life on the earth; because in the spirit world there are no little girls that dress their dolls as dead infants.
There is only one reason why the earth's history has been so sordid. It is that people live their own lives instead of giving their life to Christ. It is true today, even among Christian people. We prefer to pursue our own desires and ambitions rather than to find the will of Christ in every instance and do it.
When the Kingdom of God has been installed on the earth, then God's willand only God's willshall be done.
When Christ returns with His saints, the will of God will be enforced on the earth with a rod of iron. That rod of iron is being formed in the personality of each believer who chooses of live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. (Isaiah 32:1,2)
The nations will resist the will of Christ. But their insistence on following their own will shall be smashed to pieces.
We can see from this that only those believers who live by the Life of Jesus will be raised at His coming. It appears to me that the majority of church-attenders have no intention of turning over their plans and schemes to the Lord. There are some that do, however. They will ascend to meet the Lord Jesus when He appears.
Christ and His saints shall destroy the armies of Antichrist, and then shall go forth through the earth to drive into the spirit world all demons and all wicked people. Then the Lord's kings and judges will govern the nations of people left alive upon the earth.
At this time, the knowledge of the Lord will fill the earth, due to the Presence of Christ and His saints.
They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
My understanding is that the verse above is not referring to the new earth, which is to be created after the final resurrection, but to the present earth after Christ returns and before it disappears in a fiery explosion.
During this period, which I term the Kingdom Age (Millennium), the members of the Royal Priesthood, the saints who have returned with the Lord, will minister to the people left alive on the earth. They will bring eternal life to the "dead sea," the peoples of the nations.
Before we can restore and maintain Paradise on the earth, with its Tree of Life, we ourselves have to pass from being a living soul to being a life-giving spirit.
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)
The water of eternal life must flow from us to the nations of saved people, as it shall for eternity.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2)
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. (John 7:38)
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
The water of eternal life flows only from the Throne of God. We cannot serve as a tree of life until God's Throne has been created in us. This means that we always are ready to do God's will.
He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim ina river that no one could cross. He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Sea. When it empties into the Sea, the water there becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live." (Ezekiel 47:5-9)
Before we can serve as a tree of life and maintain Paradise on the earth, we must pass through several judgments until we are in water of the Spirit deep enough to swim in. This means we have set aside our own life and now live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, just as Paul did and no doubt still does.
We will be positioned for eternity on the bank of the River of eternal life. From this vantage point we will give eternal life to those from the nations of saved people who come to us to receive the Life of Christ.
Paul tells us the creation has been made subject to frustration:
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)
For what is the creation waiting in eager expectation? The creation is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God. The Lord Jesus, the great Tree of Life, will appear with His brothers, who through Him also have become trees of life.
Christ, Head and Body, by the anointing of the Spirit of God will go through the earth breathing eternal life into the dead sea of mankind. We saints have the firstfruits of the Spirit. When we have been filled with the Spirit in our inner and outer personality, we will bring the eternal Life from the Throne of God that abides in us, to everyone who is thirsty.
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17)
One of the Kingdom roles of the members of the Wife of the Lamb will be that of a tree of life along the bank of the river of life. Their task will be to bring eternal life to the dead, frustrated people of the world who live in futility, that they might be set free from slavery to the corruption of the Antichrist world system, and enter the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
To be a member of the royal priesthood. At one time physical Israel was a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites. (Exodus 19:5,6)
But we find the Apostle Peter saying to Gentiles that now we are the chosen people, the royal priesthood. This means that the physical land and people no longer are the royal priesthood; although we understand from what Paul wrote that after the full number of elect Gentiles have become part of Christ, part of the Olive Tree, God will turn again to the land and people of Israel.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (I Peter 2:9,10)
It is clear that we who have chosen to be a part of Christ are to serve God as priests. What does this mean? It means that for eternity we shall be known to the saved people of the earth as those who represent God and are able to bring the Presence and blessing of God to them.
And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)
In the passage above we can see the two different sets of saved people. The "you" are the members of the Body of Christ, of the Royal Priesthood. The "nations" are the people who are not of the elect, not of the Church, but who have been saved during the Kingdom Age and most likely will be saved over to citizenship on the new earth, if their name during the final resurrection is in the Book of Life.
I have spoken often of the two groups of saved people who are described in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation. The one group consists of the Church, the Tabernacle of God. These are the saints, the members of the Royal Priesthood, of the Wife of the Lamb.
Then there are the nations of the earth to whom the saints minister eternal life, and healing. It is surprising to me that an understanding of the two groups is not commonly taught. I have come to the conclusion that it must not have been God's will for us to have this understanding previously, because it certainly is clear in the Scripture.
I cannot see how an individual can understand the Bible without realizing that there are two groups of saved people: those whom God has elected to be members of the Royal Priesthood, and the remainder of mankind. Since there are relatively few members of the Christian Church, do people believe that everyone else will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire?
If there are not many people from the nations of the earth whom God is please to make members of the new world of righteousness, whom would the Royal Priesthood serve as priests?
At one time in history, the physical Jews were the Royal Priesthood. Did this indicate that everyone else in the world was destined for Hell?
Have you ever thought about the account of the sheep and the goats, as recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew?
The Son of Man is sitting on His Throne. All the nations are gathered before Him. He separates the people, putting the sheep on His right hand and the goats on His left hand.
From what I have heard Christians say, I think they are under the impression that Christian people are part of the sheep and the goats, and therefore they should visit the sick. They are not. These are people from the nations, not from the Church.
Where then are the Christians? They are with Christ, judging with Him, because it is written that the saints shall judge the world.
The following passage tells about the Christians:
The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
The Christians are "these brothers of Mine" who will be with the Lord in the Day of Judgment. Christ was separating the members of the nations into sheep and goats, depending on how they treated "these brothers of Mine."
What is the destiny of those who were not kind to "these brothers of Mine"?
Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matthew 25:41)
What is the destiny of those who were kind to the brothers, that is, the "sheep"?
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)
"Then they (the goats) will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous (sheep) to eternal life." (Matthew 25:46)
Here is an interesting thing. The sheep inherited the Kingdom of God and eternal life on the basis of being kind and helpful to Christ's brothers. Although it is not always preached, the truth is that God accepts the works of righteous people. This does not mean, of course, that an individual can reject Christ when Christ is presented to him, and save himself or herself by charitable works.
So we see we have two groups of people who have eternal life: there are the brothers of Christ, and then there are those who helped the brothers of Christ. The helpers, the people of the nations, are the inheritance of the brothers of Christ. They are included as citizens in the Kingdom of God, although the saints are the governing body of the Kingdom of God.
To be a witness of God. The Lord Jesus Christ was the truest Witness of God who has walked on this earth. He portrayed and told of the Person of God, God's will, God's ways, and God's eternal purpose in Himself.
If we would be a true witness of God, we must have the thoughts of Christ in our mind; we must tell and portray the truth about God's Person, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Christ. God creates witnesses of Himself. We must be willing to set aside our own life, and suffer if it need be, if a true witness of God is to be borne.
We must walk with God for many years before we even begin to be His witness, although we always can preach the Bible and tell what we think is true of God. Also, the Holy Spirit helps us bear witness of God with many Divine enablements, including signs and wonders.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:10,11)
Can you see in the above passage that in order to be a witness we must learn who God is? We learn who God is as we encounter the problems of life and notice how God so faithfully helps us through them.
To know Christ---that is the important thing. Paul set aside His own life, counting everything else as so much garbage, that he might come to know Christ.
In our own country, America, the Christian testimony is not as strong as we might wish. There is an abundance of preaching. But the lives and actions of the preachers sometimes are not what people expect of Godparticularly the emphasis on money.
There is a vast difference between preaching the Gospel and being a witness of God. A true witness of God brings the Presence of God with him or her. It is this sense of God's Presence that people all over the world desire. The various religions do not count for much. It is the Presence of Christ that draws people to God.
Throughout the history of the world, prior to every major move forward in the plan of God to reconcile the world to Himself, there have been two witnesses of what the future was to hold.
The first set of two witnesses was Adam and Eve. They revealed what God has in mind for the form of mankind.
The second set of two witnesses was Abraham and Sarah. They pointed toward the separation of God's elect from the remainder of mankind.
The third set of two witnesses was Moses and Aaron. They brought the moral Law into the knowledge of people and angels.
The fourth set of two witnesses was God and Christ. They made us realize that the Godhead is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The fifth set of two witnesses was the Holy Spirit and the Apostles. They announced the advent of the eternal life that eventually will fill saved mankind.
We of today are approaching the sixth set of two witnesses. They are the Lord Jesus and His saints. They will tell us of the approach of the Kingdom of God.
Can you see how God's witnesses not only tell what God has in mind but portray God's will for eternity. Mankind, even though glorified, will always have the same form.
There always will be a separation between the Church and the world. The moral law, of which the Ten Commandments are representative, always will guide the conduct of people and angels. The moral law is what God is in personality, although it is greatly amplified in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The knowledge that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the greatest revelation of God we ever could know. Not only that, but the Lord Jesus has invited us to become one with the Godhead through Himself.
The eternal Life that first was made available to us through the Holy Spirit and the Apostles will increase until all saved people are living by and in the Spirit of God.
The sixth set of two witnesses, those described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, shall announce the Gospel of the coming of God's Kingdom to the earth.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The above verse tells us of the testimony of the two witnesses of the closing days of the Church Age. The Gospel of the Kingdom was changed in ancient times into the Gospel of Heaven. In our day the original Gospel of the Kingdom is being restored. All of the errors, such as the teaching that Divine grace is an alternative to the new creation of righteous behavior, shall be swept away by the fires of judgment.
We must make straight the way of the Lord. That which is exalted must be brought down. The valleys must be elevated. The rough places must be smoothed over, and the crooked way straightened out.
The sixth set of two witnesses is Christ and the members of His Body. In the present hour the self-life is being removed from those who are living close to the Lord Jesus until they cry out incessantly "not my will but Yours be done." Total selfless obedience is required before the two witnesses can be entrusted with the power of the seven thunders.
When this final witness to every nation has been given, the anointing will be lifted. The love of the majority of people who received Christ during this "latter rain" of the Spirit will grow cold because of the abundance of sin in the world. This is the second half of Daniel's seventieth week. It shall conclude with the carrying up to Christ of those who bore the witness, the blowing of the seventh and last trumpet, and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
When I say the sixth set of two witnesses is Christ and His Body, I do not mean that the Lord Jesus literally will be where people can see Him. Rather it will be similar to the fourth set of two witnesses, which is composed of the Father and Christ. The Father was in Christ, so only one Person could be seen.
So it will be in the two witnesses we are discussing. The world will see only the saints, because the other Witness, Christ, will be dwelling in the saints.
This is why, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, Christ told the people of the nations that what they did to His brothers, they did to Him.
Awesome days are ahead of us. The pouring out of the spring rain, resulting finally in the powerful witness of Christ in the members of His Body who have been prepared to participate in the testimony.
We now are in the days of preparation for this terrific event. We must confess our sins and turn away from them. Also, of prime importance, is that of remaining in the prison where we have been placed until the self-will, self-love, and self-seeking are burned out of us. Until this is true we are neither qualified nor competent to participate in the testimony to all nations.
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there." (Revelation 11:1)
Measure and count the worshipers at the Altar of Incense. It is at the Altar of Incense that we die to self-seeking and endeavor to do God's will at all times.
The seventh set of two witnesses consists of God and His Tabernacle, His Church. They will usher in the new world of righteousness, which will endure for the endless ages of eternity.
To be salt. The Lord Jesus said we are to be "salt".
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." (Matthew 5:13)
A little salt makes many different kinds of food taste better. So it is that there are people who make the nations who live on the earth "taste better" to God.
While I was in Bible school, I was reminded of two passages in the Old Testament.
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30)
Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city. (Jeremiah 5:1)
I said to the Lord (if you can imagine the effrontery of this), "You will not be able to say this while I am alive. Show me what you want, give me the grace to do your will, and I will do it."
Now as bold a statement as this is, to make to the living God, I meant it. At the time I had no wife, no brothers or sisters, my mother was in the hospital, and my father was at sea somewhere. I was kind of reckless in those days, as you can tell.
But you know what? I meant exactly what I said at the age of twenty. You know something else? I still mean it at the age of eighty-six.
Now that I am through bragging, I will tell you the practical application of this. God wants each one of us to build up the wall and stand in the gap before Him. When we do this we become "salt."
God loves the people of the world. But when He looks down at us He sees every form of chaos and carnage. God sees little children being abused; and this is a terrible grief to God.
But here and there, throughout the world, there are believers who are "salt." God remembers their love for Him and faithfulness to Him. They are so precious to God that the corrupt mass of humanity becomes palatable. It is as though God has found a treasure in a field, and has purchased the entire field so He might own the treasure.
Given the horrible conditions in the earth as I write, I encourage each of us to be "salt." Let us be counted upon, whatever stress we may be under, to be offering obedience and praise to our loving God. I think this will please Him and enable Him to work patiently with mankind until He has brought forth a treasure, a Firstfruits from among us, and ultimately a new world of righteousness in which the rulers and citizens have been completely reconciled to God.
To be an overcomer of the Accuser. The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us of an unprecedented event: Satan and his angels are cast out of Heaven and into the earth by Michael and his army.
And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled downthat ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
I do not believe this has happened as yet, although we may be in the beginning of it. Can you imagine what it will be like on the earth when Satan and his wicked angels, who always have been in the air overhead, are thrown down into the earth?
There are enough demons harassing us now. I cannot imagine what it will be like when Satan and his angels are here to trouble us.
We might ask, "Why hasn't Michael driven Satan out before now?" The answer is, there have not been enough saints living in victory to make it possible for the Father to give Michael the needed strength.
Victories in the heavenlies have to be gained in the earth, it appears, and victories in the earth must be gained in the heavenlies. "Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven." There obviously is a relationship between spiritual conditions in the heavenlies and spiritual conditions on the earth.
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)
It appears that the "brothers" gained victory over Satan's accusations. The result was Michael and his angels received the strength necessary to drive Satan and his angels from their heavenly positions.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
It is my opinion that in the day in which we are living there are many believers who are meeting these conditions. It may be true that they are able to meet these conditions because Christ is being formed in them. There is evidence in the Scriptures, which I have written about previously, that there will be an increase in the last days of the growth of Christ within the saints. The woman, the Church, is giving birth to the male son.
And what are the conditions a believer must fulfill if he or she is to overcome the accusations of Satan?
He must place his trust in the blood of the Lamb for forgiveness, and must be partaking regularly of the body and blood of Christ. We are given to eat and drink of the body and blood of Christ each time we gain a victory over temptation.
The word of his testimony must be the truth of God's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of Christ. His testimony must be engraved and manifest in his thoughts, his words, and his actions. His testimony must correspond to what is written in the Scriptures. His testimony must be seen as well as heard.
The critical condition is that he follow the Holy Spirit in setting aside his own life and each day to a greater degree lives by the Life of Jesus. No human being can overcome the accusations of Satan. But the Life of Christ that is being formed in us is able to overcome the Accuser, thus making it possible for Michael and his angels to prevail.
I am not certain when the casting down of Satan and his angels will occur, but it appears to be part of the several Divine events reserved for the closing days of the Church Age.
To be a governor of the nations. Whether we are speaking of using our talents conscientiously, or of being rewarded for living a victorious life in Christ, we are assigned the role of being in a position of rulership.
I don't know about you, but I am not looking forward to governing nationsor anyone else for that matter. I am interested in being a warrior-judge in Christ's army; but the thought of ruling over people somehow does not appeal to me. I am sure it will appeal to some, as we see how politicians strive to hold office.
Now, perhaps it means that this is one of the rewards for diligent service to Jesus, and there are other prizes for being faithful to Christ. In any case, if that is what Christ desires for me, then I will obey Him, which is my custom.
It is certain that in today's world, much or most of the trouble is being produced by those who govern. I can picture a world in which each of today's political leaders was replaced by a saint who is living by the Life of Jesus. What a change for the better that would be!
The people would be governed by someone who loved and obeyed Christ; who was scrupulously fair; who could not be bribed or otherwise pressured to do evil; who loved each of those he or she governed; who was filling the atmosphere with love, joy, and peace. Can you imagine such a world? Well, such a world is coming when God has accomplished the goal of reconciliation that is His objective.
If we are to have such a new world of righteousness, we are going to need rulers who live by the Life of Jesus. We are going to need a multitude of them, because there are many areas of human activity that require someone to be in charge.
The Bible says that in His Presence is fullness of joy. At His right hand there are pleasures forevermore. And the Word cannot be broken!
So perhaps some of us who do not care to occupy our time and energy with governing people, either will be given a desire to govern people, or else will be provided with joyful alternatives.
We cannot go against the Bible, so God will work it out somehow.
Maybe you look forward to ruling. I hope the Apostles enjoy judging the twelve tribes of Israel I sure would not look forward to that!
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 22:5)
To be a soldier in the army of the Lord. If my understanding is correct, there are two instances in the New Testament when the army of the Lord is active. The first is found in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation:
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
I believe the term "armies" is plural because there are two armies: the army of judges, led by the Lord Jesus, and the army of warrior angels who do the actual fighting.
The second is found in the second chapter of the Book of Joel:
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2)
I understand that some believe the above verse to be describing locusts. I believe rather that it is one of several instances in the Old Testament when Kingdom truth is couched in the language of physical circumstances. The inner spiritual meaning is hidden.
From my point of view, it possibly could be speaking of a plague of locusts. However, the language appears to be a bit strong for an invasion of locusts:
At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. (Joel 2:6)
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. (Joel 2:10)
Such mighty signs in the heavens usually are associated with the return of Jesus Christ.
The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)
Can you imagine the Lord thundering at the head of a swarm of locusts? Neither can I.
I will give you what I believe is true of the two events, the invasion descried in Revelation, Chapter Nineteen, and second in Joel 2:2.
I believe Revelation Nineteen is referring to the calvary charge at the time of the Battle of Armageddon. I think there are two armies, an army of saints led by the Lord Jesus who will perform the act of judging mankind. An army of warrior angels led by Michael, who will do the actual fighting.
All judgment has been assigned to Christ and His saints. I do not believe angels have the capability of making moral judgments. Only God, Christ, and the saints have the ability to decide between right and wrong.
The cavalry charge of Revelation Nineteen will result in the Battle of Armageddon. At which time the armies of Antichrist will be overcome and the birds will eat their flesh. Satan will be bound and thrown into the Bottomless Pit. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
If I understand the events correctly, the second chapter of the Book of Joel is describing the cleansing of the earth after the Battle of Armageddon has been concluded successfully. The institutions of the Antichrist culture will be destroyed. The demons will be dismissed to the spirit world. Also, wicked people will be drive from the earth into the spirit world.
This is a cleansing of the earth that will occur after the Battle of Armageddon has resulted in the defeat of the lords of spiritual darkness.
All, or part of those, who are raised when the Lord appears will participate in both events. They will make the judgments that will be required at both scenes of conflict. The angels will carry out the decisions made by the saints.
The cleansing of the earth by the judges and the warrior-angels may be met with some resistance; but nothing to compare with the resistance offered by the disciplined armies of Antichrist at the Battle of Armageddon.
The armies of Joel, the judges and warriors, will be clothed with the authority of Christ. In a disciplined manner they will drive from the earth all that is unclean; all that will not bow the knee to Christ.
They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. (Joel 2:7,8)
You can see from the passage above that most of the church-goers of our day do not fit this description. They are not warriors. They do not scale walls like soldiers but complain and blame each other for their troubles.
They jostle and criticize each other, gossiping and speaking evil of their fellow Christians. Their paths often are crooked because they are not convinced that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. They do not plunge through the defenses of the enemy but exclaim that as long as they are living on the earth they are compelled to sin.
Such is the case with many of the believers today. If we are to be ready to be resurrected or transformed when Christ next appears, we are going to have to be disciplined and endure hardness as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus.
I do not know what means Jesus is going to employ to turn His sheep into soldiers. But such change will have to take place before Jesus returns, or there will be few church-members who are ready to meet the Lord.
To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God. I would assume that most of us have read about the wall that surrounds the new Jerusalem, as we notice in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation. I think it possible that the wall represents the separation between the world and the Church; and also prevents those who practice sin from entering the Holy Place of God.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)
It may be true that the wall expresses the resistance to sin that has been created in the members of the Body of Christ.
When we think back to the event of the garden in Eden, we realize that if Adam and Eve had had in them the resistance to evil, the rod of iron righteousness, that Christ forms in those who pursue the life of victory, Satan would have had no chance to bring his destruction into the world.
God knew in advance that the first people had no such protection. So I think we can view the subsequent thousands of years as the working out of a plan that would build in God's children a resistance to sin.
After creating a historical background for what was to come in the future, God provided Christ's sacrifice as a means of reconciling people to himself. By placing our faith in the blood atonement, we can approach God with a clear conscience. We know that our sins have been forgiven. Thus the work of reconciliation began.
But forgiving people their sins does not accomplish that which God desires. God wants people who not only are forgiven but who have a wall against sin created in them. This work has begun today, as the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement. It is my opinion that the work of reconciliation will continue until the final resurrection of the dead.
That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (II Corinthians 5:19)
God must be reconciled to us and we must be reconciled to God.
I guess ours is a special day. As I read Christian literature if appears that forgiveness is considered to be the primary work of redemption, of reconciliation. But that cannot be! If we remain forgiven sinners, God's purpose has not been accomplished. If we do not have a wall against sin created in us, then the work of redemption has failed of its purpose.
Indeed, if the Divine redemption stops at forgiveness, then all is lost. We have a miserable future to look forward to. It would be better if we never had been born, if redemption stops at forgiveness.
If often is stated today that God sees us through Christ. The idea seems to be that when God looks at us He sees the righteousness and holiness of Christ instead of our unrighteous and filthy behavior. Our love of pleasure lends itself to this sort of conclusion. We are joyful. We have been forgiven. And it cost us nothing. Of course, it cost God and Christ a great deal. But who cares! We are on our way to Disneyland in the sky. Whoopee!
Now consider for a moment: why would God be satisfied with such an arrangement? We would be living in victory because we are identified with Christ. We would be a spotless wife for the Lamb because we are identified with Christ. We would be in the image of Christ because we are identified with Christ. This is not salvation, it is delusion!
God started with animal sacrifices. He then moved to the sacrifice of His Son. These interventions had as their purpose to enable people to draw near to God with a clear conscience. Now God could speak to them and they to God.
In our day, God is saying, "It is not my desire that you remain sinners. I have forgiven you so that now I can deal with your bondages. I want you to be in My image in truth, not by an ascribed righteousness. The imputed righteousness has served its purposeyou are able to draw near to me in confidence. But I, who see everything, see your corrupt personality. You are as Lazarus. You have come forth from the grave; but you are bound with graveclothes."
"My redemption includes infinitely more than forgiveness. I have in mind for you to be literally in my image in every sense of the word, not just in a declaration based on unreality. If you will cooperate with My Spirit, He will lead you into further steps of redemption until you actually are in the image of Christ's Personality and living in untroubled rest in the very center of My Person and will."
"Your redemption will not stop there. I will raise you from the dead and clothe your resurrected flesh and bone with a body fashioned by the Spirit of God. Your new body will include both the good and evil you have done, unless you have in advance confessed and turned away from the works of your sinful nature."
"The new righteous creation, soul, spirit, and body, that you shall be, marks the finish in you of the work of redemption from sin and Satan. From now on there is an eternity of fellowship with God and service in My Kingdom. You will live in a state of love, joy, and peace. I will be reconciled to you and you will be reconciled to me."
"There absolutely are no limits to your future growth and opportunities for service in My Kingdom and fellowship with Me. I am the almighty God who stretched forth the heavens and its occupants. There is nothing impossible to Me. The only limit to what you shall experience in the future will be imposed by the limitations of your faith and obedience. All is possible for you if you will keep pressing forward in Christ."
Se we see that God is in the process a building a wall. That wall will serve to keep sinful people from entering the holy places of God in the new Jerusalem. Our challenge today is to move past the forgiveness phase of redemption to the deliverance and transformation phase of redemption.
God is hoping that each one of us whom He has redeemed from the authority of Satan by means of the blood of His Son, will now proceed to obey God until he is a wall against sin.
This is God's purpose for us. If we are willing to follow the Spirit of God until we are able to resist the temptation to sin, God will be very pleased. We have justified His faith in paying the price for our forgiveness and now deliverance and transformation.
From this point forward, having overcome the evil that has come against us, we can have untroubled fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We can walk with God as did Enoch. God now has a new son. Christ now has a new brother. There is a new member of the Bride of the Lamb.
The world now has a true witness of God. Soon people will be able to comes to us and drink freely of the water of eternal Life. There ultimately will be rulers who will bring justice to the nations of the earth. There will be no more crime. Little children can play safely with the animals in the Kingdom. There will be a gate in the holy city through which people can enter and be refreshed in spirit, soul, and body.
All of this is possible for God and Christ, and for the world, if you and I will be willing and obedient. I am in for the duration. How about you?
To be the revelation of God in Christ. God is invisible to us. I rather suspect He is invisible also to people in the Spirit worldperhaps also to those who reside in Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem.
It appears likely that the four living creatures, the cherubim, portray in external form the Nature of God, with their four facesthe lion, the ox, the eagle, and the man.
The following passage gives us some insight, I believe:
Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
The "body" is that of the Lord Jesus Christ. I suppose that many would derive from this passage that God is one Person in three manifestationsas Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While a certain part of this understanding is true, in that God is in all Three, yet it is clear enough from the New Testament that there are three distinct Persons, three wills, in the Godhead. "Not My will but Yours be done."
If we do not perceive that there are three Persons in the Godhead we will not understand God's plan to increase the revelation of Himself in the saints.
In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Christ discusses the fact that the Church is separate from the rest of mankind. It appears this separation began when God called out Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees.
The separation in its final form is set forth in the great wall that separates the new Jerusalem from the rest of the world.
It is not unlikely that it is difficult for members of the Christian churches to really understand they no longer are part of the world. Once Christ has come to us and given us eternal life, we no longer are part of the world. This may appear undemocratic. But if it were not so, the churches would be nothing more than local social institutions.
The Christian Church is the Bride of the Lamb, the Body of Christ. It is anointed with the Holy Spirit of God because the Church is holy. The Church is sanctified by the Spirit, and is able to bring deliverance to those of mankind who are oppressed because it is anointed by the Spirit for that purpose. In fact, the physical body of the saint is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Because numerous churches in the Western nations are organized much like a business, the fact that the churches are Lampstandsthe prophets of God in the local neighborhoodsis not always made clear. That the members of the congregations actually are members of the Body of Christ, while the Christian people would not deny that title, is not a present truth that materially affects the thinking and attitudes of many who attend the services.
Perhaps in the day in which we live, we pastors should impress upon the people that we are more that clubs of well intentioned people. We are an integral part of the revelation of the invisible God in that we are members of Christ's Body.
How we view ourselves has an impact on how we treat our discipleship. If we consider ourselves to be nothing more than members of a social group, then exhortations to holiness of person and behavior are little more than a nuisance to us. But if we picture ourselves as revelations of the invisible God, we realize that holiness of person and behavior are of first importance.
In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus prayed that we Christians would be oneand not only one, but one in Christ in God. For this to be true, our attitude toward denominational divisions and loyalties must undergo some change. The world will never believe that it is God who has sent Christ into the world until we are more one in Christ than is true today.
I think there is a general awareness that we are entering an era of change. There certainly is political unrest. Also, the sins of the flesh seem to be abounding, particularly in the United States. There is a cynicism in the writings of the newspaper columnists that certainly is not sympathetic to anyone who desires to bring God into a discussion of the problems of the world.
I wonder if this attitude prevailed in Sodom prior to its destruction.
Having been a Christian for more than 65 years, God and Christ are very real to me. Yet, when I read and listen to the current media, it seems as though I am living on a planet remote from the remainder of mankind.
But I have lived long enough to know that the Bible is true; and what God says shall happen, shall happen, no matter how the scoffers scoff!
Based on the prayer of the Lord Jesus in John 17, I would not be surprised if before too long the true disciples of Jesus become one, and one revelation of God. I believe this is God's intention. God certainly is not revealed in a multitude of competing denominations who, it appears to me, often do not trust one another.
I am not pointing toward a giant Christian organization. There will be such an organization, but the Spirit of God will not be in it. To the contrary, the true saints will remain as they always have beena persecuted minority of humble individuals who are not organized, except possibly for arrangements made by apostles and prophets. Such a change of Christian structure must occur if the prophecy of the Lord Jesus is to be fulfilled.
Notice in the following passages the wall that separates the Church from the world:
I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. (John 17:14)
To what extent is the Lord Jesus Christ not of the world? Christ is of God. He is an integral part of God. He is the Servant of the Lord whom God has chosen. Christ was in the beginning with God, and through Him God made everything that exists.
While we are not as elevated as Christ is, yet we are not of the world any more than He is of the world. This is what Jesus said, although we may find it difficult to believe.
We are wary of exalting ourselves, and that is normal and praiseworthy. However, we are not worthy of praise when we do not believe everything the Lord Jesus has stated. Of course, we wish to be humble. But if God has chosen us to be part of the revelation of Himself, then we are not to decide we are not worthy and hold off in unbelief.
The truth is, we have been elected by the Lord to be members of the very Body of Christ, the Body of the One who has been anointed by the God of Heaven to bring into being the Kingdom of God. We are called "saints," (holy ones) because God has set us aside for His special purposes.
It is our tendency, as I said, to view the local church as a business, and as a social gathering. While this may be true, that is not the essence of what the local church is. It is the Presence of God in the world. It is the witness of God. It is Divine by its calling; and, as the members keep partaking of the body and blood of Christ, it is Divine in Substance.
The local church is the revelation of God among men. While people cannot see the invisible God, it is God's plan that they can see God in His churches.
In our humanistic, democratic viewpoint, we speak of many roads leading to God. This is not true. Only the Lord Jesus Christ and those who are an integral part of Him are the revelation of the One true God. Such a concept may be despised by many people in our day; but it certainly is the truth!
The following passage may well be the most sublime prayer in the entire Bible:
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (John 17:20-25)
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you." To what extent, is God in Jesus and Jesus in God? This carefully about this. We saints have been called to this total oneness.
This oneness is not "unity," as we often use the word. The oneness spoken of here is total, complete unionthe union that is true of God and Jesus. You can see immediately that denominational and ecumenical unity are different in kind from the union that is true of the Father, the Son, and the Saints. Human unity depends on mental agreement. Divine union is a coalescing, a fusion, a growing together of personalities until Oneness is obtained.
It is this fusion, of which human marriage is but the dimmest reflection.
Now, here is the point. It is our Lord Jesus Christ who has prayed for this total union, the same union that exists with the Father and Himself. When the union has been perfected, then Christ and we will be both human and Divine. Naturally we resist the idea of our being a partaker of Divinity; and the thought would be sacrilegious were it not of the Scripture.
It is useless for us to hem and haw about whether human beings can become part of the Divine Godhead. It is what the Scripture says; and it accomplishes nothing if we stagger about in unbelief.
It is not a case of our vaunting ourselves, it is a matter of obeying what God has determined. Christ Himself did not grasp His heavenly calling but took upon Himself the form of a servant. In like manner, the thought of being part of the revelation of God should result in humility, not in arrogance, on our part.
Becoming part of Christ indeed will result in humility, if we take such union correctly. We want to be part of Christ rather than just a partner of Christ. And God has His ways of humbling us, doesn't He?
So we will not trouble ourselves because God has called us to be in His image. If this is what God has spoken and desires, then our part is to say "Amen." I know you will hold with me on that.
"May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
All of us want the world to believe that it is God who has sent the Lord Jesus Christ to us. Isn't that so? If such is true, then denominational loyalties can prove to be a hindrance to the world's perception of Christ.
Each true saint has been called to be one with each other and with Jesus and God. It may be true that the various forms of chaos that the Spirit seems to be indicating are facing us in the future, may be one force that will bring true union to the people of God.
We can spend millions of dollars and untold hours of effort to convince the people of the world of the Divine origin of Jesus Christ. Then we send blindness upon them by exalting our denomination. This should stop, don't you agree?
"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one." The troubles in the world will be one force that will bring true union to the members of the one Body of Christ. Another force will be the Glory that God has given Christ. I do not know what form that Glory will take, but I imagine it will be a greatly increased amount of the Presence of Jesus among us, accompanied by mighty signs and wonders.
"I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." The true union I have spoken of is not a oneness of doctrinal understanding. It goes far deeper than that! It is a union that results from Christ being in me and Christ being in you.
Paul spoke of that oneness:
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
When such maturity has been attained to, then the saints will flow together. As was the case in the building of the Temple of Solomon, the stones have been carved in advance so there was no sound of a hammer or saw at the building site.
People will not have to compromise and adjust their beliefs, as in the case of ecumenical unifying. Christ in one saint will embrace Christ in another saint, and so on and on until the true Church is one. It is my understanding that such union will occur before Jesus returns. It will take place in the saints whom Christ brings with Him, and to those who are alive at the time of His return.
When Christ is in us, then God also is in us. It is one Church, one Body of Christ, one revelation of God in Heaven and upon the earth. While God Himself remain invisible, He can be seen in ChristHead and Body.
"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." Jesus prayed that we would be with Him where He is, that is, in the center of God's Person and will. Jesus said this in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. "That they may be with Me where I am."
It appears to me that people fasten on the "mansions," in John, Fourteen. They do not hear what Jesus is saying, when He exclaims, "that they may be with Me where I am." They don't seem to care about Jesus, just about the thought of living forever in a mansion in Heaven. Am I mistaken here?
"Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me." We know that it is God who has sent Jesus. But the world will not know that it indeed is God who has sent the Lord Jesus until we are one in Christ and God and They in us.
I don't know about you, but I sometimes get the feeling that the believers do not realize that Jesus came to bring us to the Father. In fact, the Father does not appear to be real to them.
The Lord Jesus did not come to point people to Himself, except as they come to Him in order to come to the Father. The Lord Jesus is not the stopping point. He is the Way to the Father, not to Himself.
He said in another place that He is the only One who knows the Father, as well as those to whom He reveals the Father. I am beginning to wonder if one of the changes that will occur during the present century is that the Christian churches will become more aware of the Father.
In that Day, the Lord said, we would know more about the Father than we do now. That "Day" is the day in which the Lord alone is exalted. We are approaching that "Day," but we still are exalting ministers and denominations. This has to cease if we are to come to know the Father.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)
We of the elect, of the Christian Church, are called to be the brothers of Christ. When you stop to think of it, this is a marvelous promise. How can we be the brothers of Christ? It is because we have been born of the same Father.
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." (Hebrews 2:11,12)
We may be somewhat amazed at being called the brothers of the Lord. But Jesus is not amazed. He is very happy at the prospect. He has been an only child from before the creation of the world. Now He has brothers, born of the same Father. Isn't that wonderful!
Of course, we are not as great as He. The Father has given all things into His hands. He has all authority in Heaven and upon the earth.
Christ is ready to share His inheritance with us. But He cannot do this until we come to maturity; or, I should say, until He comes to maturity in us. Then what a time of rejoicing there will be as all the brothers, including the Lord, sing praises to their Father.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)
"Go to My brothers." Isn't that marvelous? Can't you just hear the joy in the Lord's heart? He has gone through a suffering far, far more intense than any suffering we ever will experience. It was not just the scourging and crucifixion, it was the threat that He never again would be with the Father. It was this threat, I am certain, with which He was taunted by the demons.
But now the suffering and danger is past. He has paid the price. He has overcome Satan. The royal Prince has been victorious. Now He is returning to the embrace of His Father, and to the paeans of praise in Heaven.
But more than this, He has paid for a company of brothers; not only the eleven disciples whom He knew so well, but a vast host who were to come after them, bearing their cross, beginning perhaps with the Apostle Paul.
No athlete who has won a trophy; no musician who has completed successfully a royal performance; no explorer who has erected his country's flag on new territory; could ever approach in exultation the Lord Jesus as He prepared to ascend to His Father.
However, I believe His greatest joy was in realizing He now had a company of brothers with whom He could share the spoils, the inheritance to be bestowed on Him by His Father.
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." Now, here is a wonderful thought. Jesus has made the Father known to us and will continue to make the Father known to us so that the love God has for Christ may be in usand that Christ Himself may be in us.
It seems to me that for two thousand years the Christian churches have spoken of Christ being with us. This is true in the celebration of Christmas. It is true also in the celebration of Easter. Christ has come. He has been with us. He has returned to Heaven. He is coming again to be with us.
This is not the mystery of the Gospel. This is not the Gospel of the Kingdom. The central truth of the Gospel is that Christ is to be born in us; to be formed in us; to come to maturity in us. When Christ has been fully formed in us, then Christ and the Father will come and make their eternal home in us. Since the Holy Spirit already is in us, we then will be filled with all the fullness of God.
This is the mystery of the Gospel. This is the Kingdom of God. It is to this that we have been appointed, and is the reason for the struggles we have as we seek to set aside our own life and live by the Life of Jesus.
If Christ merely were to be with us, that would be a wonder exceeding all other wonders. But that fact that Christ is to be formed in us, and then the Father and He are to descend and inhabit that which has been formed in us, is another whole realm of experience.
We of God's elect, who are called to be part of the Body of Christ, have begun as flesh and blood human beingsnot too different from other mammals, except that we are more intelligent, and also have a spiritual nature that responds to God and other spirits. This is not true of any other animal.
We are intelligent, flesh and blood, animals. Any doctor will tell you that.
But we are dead spiritually. Then along comes the Prince of Life. He, under the direction of the Father, gives us eternal life, the Life of the Spirit of God, in our inward nature. It is our acceptance of the atonement made on the cross of Calvary that authorizes Him to do this.
Not only is the eternal life of the Spirit of God in us, but a part of Christ Himself has been planted in us. Also, we are raised with Christ to the right hand of the Father.
As we keep wending our way through problems, overcoming through Christ all forces that would tear us down from our high place in God, we are fed in the Spirit the body and blood of Christ. These are resurrection life, which we are fed in anticipation of the day when Christ returns and issues eternal life to our physical body.
What is taking place in the intelligent animal? God is being formed in him or her. The Divine Nature is being formed. He no longer is merely an animal. He is growing into a son of God in all that this signifies.
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)
You can understand that this is a profound change in what we are. We still are human beings, but transcendently so. We now are true brothers of Christ, being born of man and born of God.
No man has seen God at any time. But through the Church, the nations will be able to see and be ministered to by God who is dwelling in Christ who is dwelling in us.
Let us not, therefore, be weary and faint as we struggle against sin. The rewards set before us far, far surpass any comprehension of such that we have at this time. But it is God who has promised, and He is utterly faithful to those who are faithful to obey Him in all matters.