LESSONS ON THE ROAD

TO TRUE DISCIPLESHIP

LESSONS ON THE ROAD TO TRUE DISCIPLESHIP

A STUDY GUIDE SERIES: BOOK TWO

Five essays on the victorious Christian life by Robert B. Thompson

Compiled and Edited by

Edward J. Reiter

Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface

The Pursuit of Life

    Summary#1

    Questions#1

Making the Glory Our Own

    Summary#2

    Questions#2

The Cross Is the Only Entrance

    Summary#3

    Questions#3

In the Fire With the Lord

    Summary#4

    Questions#4

Keep My Commandments!

    Summary#5

    Questions#5

Answer Guide

Bibliography

About the Author

Preface

With so much technology available before us, what are we in pursuit of today and what place does eternal life have in our daily existence?

How do we treat the things which God has given us so freely in Christ? Are they treasures to us or merely stepping stones to our own desires?

Through which door have we entered our religious experience, one based on the traditions of men, or one based on identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

How do we respond to frustration, to not getting our own way when we want it, with patient trust in God or with anger and acting out?

What place do the commandments of God have in our lives—honor and obedience, or avoidance?

The answers to the questions above may reveal much about the current state of Christianity as a whole, as well as the condition of our individual hearts.

This book is not only an effort to provide scriptural answers to these questions but also aims to provide the guidance necessary to grow into obedient followers of Jesus Christ.

Each essay is followed by a summary review and five questions drawn from the reading. An answer guide is provided at the end of the book.

May God enable us to increasingly learn and master our lessons on the road to true discipleship and grow into His fullest measure of righteousness, holiness and obedience.

Edward J. Reiter

Escondido, California

October 1999

The Pursuit of Life

Eternal Life

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10—NIV)

Current Christian teaching and preaching associate eternal life with going to Heaven to live forever. The truth is, eternal life has nothing to do with going to Heaven. Eternal life is a kind of life by which we live. Heaven is a place.

Salvation is not a plan to move us from one place to another. Salvation is a program that changes us from what we are so we can be acceptable to God wherever we are.

In the beginning Adam and Eve were flesh and blood creatures. The life of flesh and blood was never meant to be eternal. This type of life was intended to be a beginning, temporary form of the creation of man. True human life is life lived in the Spirit of God.

The Lord placed the Tree of Life in Eden so man might have the opportunity to bring eternal life into his personality. Many of the elements of Eden were allegorical. The serpent stands for Satan. The dust the serpent was condemned to eat was human flesh. Satan was forced down from his high place in Heaven onto his belly on the earth.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the eternal moral law of God. The Tree of Life was the Lord Jesus Christ.

Had Adam and Eve partaken of the eternal Life of Christ while the condemnation of sin was upon them they would have lived forever in a state of alienation from God. God in His mercy drove them from the garden so He might restore them at a later time.

Since that time our flesh has been increasingly contaminated with sin. We are born in sin. There is a law of sin in our body. The expression "living in the flesh" found several times in the New Testament does not mean inhabiting a flesh and bone body, for when we are raised from the dead we still will have a flesh and bone body. Rather living in the flesh means living in the sinful inclinations that have become part of life as a human.

In order to save us from our body of sin and death the Lord Jesus Christ shed the blood of atonement on the cross. This step was necessary in order to give us access to God in Heaven, to remove the condemnation resting on mankind, on all the children of Adam and Eve.

But forgiveness of sin is the merest beginning of our salvation, as essential as it is. If our sin were forgiven but we were forced to remain in sinful flesh, we indeed would be condemned to a miserable existence.

From the first century Satan has influenced Christian thinking. Satan has advised the churches that God has forgiven our sins so we can leave the earth and go to the spirit realm to live forever. Eternal residence in Heaven has become the supposed goal of redemption. Lately there has been added to this the concept of a "rapture" to bring people to Heaven more quickly, that is, before they die.

This is not the Divine program. The Divine program has as its purpose the removing of sin from the inward nature of man, and then, at the return of the Lord, the raising of the flesh and bone of man and the clothing of his frame with a body of eternal life.

Once man has been raised he is able to live once more on the earth. Also a kingdom is being perfected, a kingdom that will govern man so he does not fall into sin again.

The main purpose of the two thousand years of the Christian Era has been the developing of a Body for Christ. Christ, Head and Body, is the Kingdom of God, the royal priesthood that will come from Heaven and install the rule of God on the earth. When all the creation has been made subject to Christ, Christ will turn over the Kingdom to the Father and God will be everywhere in His creation, all things having been gathered together in Christ.

To be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. (Ephesians 1:10—NIV)

The reason Satan has fought so hard to convince Christian people that their goal is to go to Heaven is that Satan views the entire physical realm, including the bodies of all people, including Christians, as his proper, rightful domain. As long as we go to Heaven, Satan maintains control over his "dust." But when we attempt to gain control over our body, or any other part of the earth, Satan will fight fiercely. Satan and all the wicked will fight against Jesus Christ and His saints when they return to install the rule of Christ over the earth.

Our goal as a Christian is eternal life. What we have now is a deposit on the salvation, the fullness of life that is to come. We have been sealed by the Lord to indicate He has set us aside to the day of redemption, the day when the Lord Jesus returns with our reward of eternal life.

We are spiritually alive now, but we will be truly alive, spirit, soul, and body, when the Lord returns—provided we have chosen to live in the Spirit of God rather than in the fleshly pursuits of our body.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

Those who belong to Jesus Christ will be made alive when He comes. This means their body will be redeemed by being filled with the Holy Spirit of Life.

Because our goal is eternal life, spirit, soul, and body, our goal is the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection from the dead is the "blessed hope" of the Christian life, the hope we shall not perish but have eternal life.

Our Goal Is a Transformation of Personality

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,  that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16—NIV)

Adam and Eve perished because of their sin. Christ came that we should not perish but have eternal life, especially including immortality in the body.

Our Christian tradition has corrupted this verse to read: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not go to Hell but go to Heaven.

But isn’t this the same thing? Not at all! If that is what God meant, that is what God would have said.

There is a Hell and there is a Heaven, make not mistake. But salvation has to do with the restoration of what was lost in Eden. The concept of Hell and Heaven may seem suitable but it actually has a deadly effect when applied as the goal of redemption. For the believers are under the impression that even if they are not changed morally they still will go to Heaven by grace. Therefore many of them lead mediocre Christian lives.

But if they realized the goal of their salvation is not residence in Heaven but the transformation of what they are; and that wherever they are, they are going to be in personality that which they have sown while living on the earth, they would not be so careless.

If they have continued to live in the flesh while a Christian, they are going to reap corruption in the day of resurrection. Should they be admitted to the new world of righteousness, they will be there in their corrupt state. I don’t think this is what they are envisioning.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise  will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2,3—NIV)

Can you see from the above passage that what is important is not where you are but what you are?

Some will rise to everlasting life—a state of being, not a place.

Some will rise to shame and everlasting contempt—a state of being, not a place.

Some will rise to incredible glory—a state of being not a place.

Our goal as a Christian is not to go to another place but to be transformed in spirit, in soul, and finally—at the Lord’s return—in body.

Two Aspects of Resurrection

Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment. (John 5:28,29—NIV)

But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. (Luke 20:35,36—NIV)

Look carefully at the above two passages. Do you see the incongruity here? The same incongruity appears elsewhere also.

First, John 5:28,19. All who are in the tombs shall hear His voice and shall come forth. It is our belief that only the physical body is in the tomb, the soul and spirit being somewhere in the spirit realm. I think most Christian people believe this.

So Jesus is saying the body of every person who has lived and died on the earth shall one day hear His voice and come forth from wherever he or she has been interred. This seems clear to me.

But Luke 20:35,36 appears to contradict this. Jesus said here that only those considered worthy will take part in the resurrection from the dead.

The same concept of being found worthy to attain the resurrection from the dead appears also in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, where we find the Apostle Paul, toward the end of his career, striving with all his might to gain Christ, especially that he might participate in the resurrection (Greek: out-resurrection) from the dead.

In John, Christ is saying all shall be brought forth from the tomb. In Luke, Christ is saying only those considered worthy will be resurrected.

It is evident that there are two aspects of resurrection. There is no truth more vital to the understanding of American Christians than the fact that the resurrection from the dead has two distinctly different aspects.

The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the doctrine of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth have both been lost to us since the first century. They are being restored today because of the closeness of the end of the Church Age.

You and I will one day be raised from the dead. This is a fact and it cannot be changed in any manner. Whether we like it or not, our physical flesh and bones are going to be brought forth to stand once again on the earth.

The power that operates in assembling the parts of our dead body and animating them so they stand on the earth is not, according to my understanding, the eternal Life of God; because extremely wicked men will be raised from the dead and they will never experience the eternal Life of God.

Rather, the power that assembles and animates our flesh and bones will the same power of God that operates the universe, that created the galaxies. The eternal, incorruptible resurrection Life of God is another matter. This is Life issuing from the Person of God through Jesus Christ. It is not just power it is the Presence of God. It is the full experience of this life that is our goal, not just the power that operates the universe.

There is nothing we can do about the beginning, primary aspect of the resurrection. What is at issue is what happens after the assembling and animating of our flesh and bones. If we have cooperated with the Spirit of God in the transformation of our personality; if we have denied ourselves, taken up our cross, and followed Jesus Christ throughout our discipleship; if we have presented our body a living sacrifice to God as our act of worship; then our flesh and bones will be clothed with a degree of eternal life in proportion to the faithfulness with which we have served the Lord.

I do not think all believers will receive the same amount of eternal life at the coming of the Lord. It may be true that the degree of life we shall receive depends on our willingness to be pruned, to lay down our life. Christ will give to each according to his or her work, according to my understanding. An abundance of eternal life is a prize well worth striving for.

If, on the other hand, we as a Christian have not cooperated with the Spirit of God in the transformation of our personality; if we have not denied ourselves, have not taken up our cross and followed Jesus Christ during our lifetime on the earth; have not presented our body a living sacrifice to God as our act of worship; then our flesh and bones will we clothed with a spotted garment that reveals the corruption in our inward nature.

In the day of resurrection our body will reveal what is in our inward nature.

Can you see what I mean when I say the knowledge of the two facets of the resurrection is vital to our understanding?

The Law of Cause and Effect

There are two sets of outcomes of our behavior. One set comprises outcomes of place. The other set comprises outcomes of state of being.

The two outcomes of place are Paradise, and torment. The two outcomes of state of being are the fullness of eternal life, and a diminished degree of eternal life all the way down to total corruption of personality, especially regarding the body.

In the New Testament, the people who will be sent to torment are the goat nations, Antichrist, the False Prophet, those whose names are not found in the Book of Life, and those with the personalities described in Revelation 21:8..

The people who will experience a diminished degree of eternal life, all the way down to total corruption of personality, are the believers who chose to not obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19—NIV)

I know modern Christian teaching sets aside such verses as Matthew 5:19 as not applying to Christians. This is a terrible error in thinking. It has made the teachings of Christ invalid. The modern philosophy of Dispensationalism and all of its tenets and assumptions should be discarded immediately, for it is destructive of God’s plan of restoration.

Also, if Jesus is not speaking (in Matthew 5:19) of the Kingdom that we must be born again to enter, of what kingdom is He speaking? Are there two kingdoms? This is nothing but confusion. There is only the one Kingdom of God and it comes from Heaven. There is no other kingdom, and to teach that there is, is to adopt a misleading private interpretation, thus departing from the mainstream of the Scripture.

We understand, most of us, that the wicked belong in the Lake of Fire. Revelation tells us of the personalities that shall find their home in the Lake of Fire along with Satan and his angels.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8—NIV)

The Lake of Fire is an outcome of place.

But when the Apostle Paul speaks of the believer who continues to walk in the appetites and desires of the flesh and soul he never speaks of Hell or the Lake of Fire. Rather the consequence of living in the flesh instead of following the Spirit of God each day is set forth as not inheriting the Kingdom of God, or spiritual death, or destruction.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21—NIV)

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13—NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8—NIV)

Now I understand numerous Christian teachers will not accept that these warnings apply to Christian people, protesting that we are "saved by grace." But it is obvious from the contexts of the three passages that Paul is speaking to Christians. To say otherwise is to demonstrate questionable scholarship, a bias not worthy of a sincere investigator.

Stop and think. If the Apostle Paul, writing in the name of Jesus Christ, states that if we continue to live in the sins of the flesh we will not inherit the Kingdom of God, we will die spiritually, we will reap destruction, shouldn’t we take heed to the warnings and not attempt to gainsay them or pretend they are not in the Bible?

Paul is not saying we will be thrown in the Lake of Fire if we live in the appetites of the flesh rather than praying, meditating in the Bible, and gathering with the saints. Rather Paul is pointing toward the principle of cause and effect, the unchangeable Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. We Christians are going to reap what we sow.

Where we are placed in the day of resurrection depends on the judgment of Christ. Grace and mercy can intervene here, perhaps, and also the intercession of the godly for their relatives and friends. I say "perhaps" because I know of no clear passage that gives us such assurance.

But one thing I do know beyond all doubt. And that is we are going to reap what we sow. We are going to be clothed with our own conduct, with a robe created from our actions on the earth. If we have spent our days in the appetites and passions of the flesh, doing what Christ and His Apostles have commanded us not to do, then the results will be visible for all to see in the robe handed to us after our flesh and bones have been raised to stand on the earth. We may then be permitted to enter the new world of righteousness. But think how we will feel as we consider the way we appear to those around us—especially in the sight of our disappointed Lord!

Believers sometimes maintain they are "eternally secure" because the Bible says some will be saved as by fire.

First of all, we do not know how hot that fire will be or how long it will burn us.

Second, we are not considering that we will be entering the new world of righteousness with no reward, no glorious body of eternal life, possibly with a stunted appearance or as a child who is beginning life once again. When we see those who have lived a victorious life in Christ and now are great mountains of fire and glory, realizing that such a state could have been true of us, we will understand being saved as by fire was not the best route to take into the Kingdom of God.

Every person will reap what he or she has sown in this present world. There is no grace, no mercy, that will change this Kingdom law. Where we will be placed is another matter. But what we are in personality, our state of being, will reflect what we became during this life.

The Struggle To Attain Eternal Life

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12—NIV)

The Christian faith is a fight until the day we die. The purpose of the fight is to gain eternal life, to lay hold of eternal life. Eternal life is the prize, the goal.

The following verse often is misunderstood.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23—NIV)

This verse is sometimes preached to the unsaved. Paul was not writing to the unsaved but to the Christian church in Rome.

The gift of eternal life is not a gift that is handed to us. This is not what Paul is saying. The context will reveal that Paul was speaking to people who had been baptized in water. Paul was warning them that if they, having received Christ, then choose to be the slave of righteousness and of God, the result will be eternal life. But if they choose instead to be the slave of unrighteousness, the result will be spiritual death.

Consider the verse just prior:

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22—NIV)

Being set free from sin and slavery to God leads to holiness. The result of freedom from sin, slavery to God, and holiness is eternal life.

Eternal life is a result of choosing to be the slave of righteousness.

Eternal life is a gift only in the sense that God has made it possible for us to attain life. The initial portion of God’s Life given to us when we first receive Jesus Christ is intended to enable us to gain more life, and more life, and yet more life, until our inward nature is filled with the fullness of God’s Life in preparation for the redemption of our body.

We must fight the good fight of faith. We must lay hold of eternal life.

The goal of the Apostle Paul was eternal life. As you read the following verses you can see that the aged apostle was single-mindedly pressing toward attaining the resurrection that is out from among the dead. Paul understood it was not the fact that his flesh and bone would be raised at the coming of the Lord that is so desirable. Rather Paul was intent on what would take place afterward, that is the clothing of his flesh and bones with a glorious robe and crown of eternal life.

Can you see in the following that pursuing eternal life is a fight to the finish?

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Philippians 3:8—NIV)

That Paul, toward the end of one of the most fruitful of all Christian lives, was laying all aside that he might "gain Christ" is an overwhelming indictment of the way the Gospel is preached in our day. Many of us are not preaching the Gospel at all. The Christian message in America in many instances is a Hollywood, Disneyland, frothy, superficial tea party compared to the message and life of the Apostle Paul.

Paul was losing all things that he might gain Christ. That he might gain Christ!

Where does this leave us? Think of it!

And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Philippians 3:9—NIV)

From the context of verse nine we see what the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith really means. It is not just the light mental assent that we of today refer to as saving faith. It is a life sold out to God in every detail. The righteous live by this total reliance on God.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:10—NIV)

Paul was pressing forward to gain a full knowledge of God, of the power of the resurrection of Christ, and to share in the sufferings of Christ, living in conformity with the death of Christ on the cross.

Again we see that the true Christian salvation is a lifelong pressing toward Christ, especially toward experiencing the power of Christ’s resurrection and experiencing Christ’s sufferings and the death of the cross.

Paul was pursuing the fullness of eternal life. The land of Canaan, the rest of God, is life lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and then the enjoyment of all other aspects of our inheritance. We have to fight our way into such incorruptible life, as the Spirit guides us. The enemy will resist us every inch of the way, because part of our inheritance includes the nations and uttermost parts of the earth—people and territory Satan claims for himself.

Pressing through to the fullness of the inheritance God has for us is a struggle, a battle all along the way, make no mistake about this. But total victory can be ours if we will keep our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus.

And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11—NIV)

Here is one of the major statements of the entire New Testament for it sets forth the goal of our discipleship. But it simply does not fit our current teaching.

Obviously Paul is not speaking of merely coming back to life for, as we stated previously, this is going to take place in any event. Rather Paul is referring to the first resurrection of the dead, the resurrection of the royal priesthood. The participants in the first resurrection will have been found worthy to be clothed with a glorious robe and crown of eternal life and righteousness.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6—NIV)

The kind of resurrection we will have after our flesh and bones have been animated may be, after the forgiveness of our sins through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the most important event we will experience in all of eternity. It is so utterly important for it will determine our rank and opportunities for service in the Kingdom of God.

Now, what was Paul doing in order to attain the first resurrection from the dead and the accompanying life and glory? Paul was laying aside every part of his life so he might gain Christ, gain the power of His resurrection, gain participation in His sufferings. This is what every believer must do if he expects to attain the resurrection to life and glory.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12—NIV)

Christ has taken hold of us that we might attain the resurrection to life and glory. But we have to respond with a single-minded laying hold on the eternal life to which we have been called. Such a response requires our complete attention, patience, diligence, and perseverance. It is, as I have said, a fight to the end.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13,14—NIV)

I am forgetting what is behind. I am straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize.

The goal, the prize, is the fullness of eternal life, the redemption of the body.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

Paul wanted to be delivered from the body of sin and death. Paul wanted to be able to live a righteous life in God’s sight without having to wrestle continually with a body full of sin. He realized the Lord Jesus has come to do just that—to free us from the sinful body so we can live in a manner pleasing to God.

Notice, in the context of the verses we have just read, that Paul had in mind the redemption of his body, its change into the likeness of the body of Christ.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21—NIV)

I think most Christians believe when the Lord comes they will receive a body like His. What they do not understand is that such a change in our body will take place only as we have sought to gain Christ in the same manner as Paul.

The idea that we can take the "four steps of salvation" and then live as an average American, occupied with the idols of money, entertainment, lust, the occult, and violence, spending hours each day watching Hollywood presentations on the television, and then by grace be carried up to Heaven and receive a body like Christ, is very far removed from scriptural reality. To receive a body like Christ requires a life of continual cooperation with the Holy Spirit as He deals with the worldliness, lust, and self-will of our personality.

The standard of Christianity in America is so far below the biblical standard that a vast, comprehensive religious awakening must take place if an entire generation of believers is not to be lost to the purposes of God. I think God is ready and willing to move wonderfully in America, but we must start preaching the commandments of Christ and His Apostles rather than the prevailing grace-rapture-heaven mythology.

We will not make our way prosperous or please the Lord, neither will the Lord heal our country, until the Christian people begin to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, praying always for the strength and wisdom to keep His commandments and those of His Apostles.

We must be found worthy of eternal life, worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37,38—NIV)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1—NIV)

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:5—NIV)

Salvation Will Come in the Future

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11—NIV)

One of the current imbalances in our teaching today is that of not perceiving salvation as a program. The Bible teaches clearly that there is an initial point of receiving Christ, then there is an outworking of the program of salvation. But the fullness of salvation will come in the future. The fullness of salvation is the redemption of our body, the raising of it from the dead and the filling of it with eternal life.

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28—NIV)

What we have now is a deposit on eternal life. We have been sealed by the Lord until the day of redemption arrives. The day of redemption is the time when our body is adopted by the Lord. Our body presently is dead because of sin. In the day of redemption it will be made alive by the power of Christ.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30—NIV)

The particular error of today’s teaching is that all we have to do to prepare for the day of redemption, for receiving the fullness of life in our resurrected body, is to make an initial profession of faith in Christ. This is not at all true. In order to receive the bodily redemption we must press toward this goal every day of our discipleship. Even the aged Paul said he had not attained but was pressing toward the mark.

In order to prepare for the full resurrection of the body we must first attain the inward resurrection. The inward resurrection is attained as we turn away from the world, presenting our body a living sacrifice.

The inward resurrection is attained as we confess our sins and through the spirit of God put them to death.

The inward resurrection is attained as we wait patiently in the imprisoning circumstances in which we are placed, permitting the Lord to deny us—sometimes for many years—the most intense desires we have.

Until we have been resurrected inwardly, living in the Spirit of resurrection, we have no hope of an outward resurrection. God will never place a body like that of the Lord Jesus on a sinful, disobedient inward nature—not by grace, mercy, or any other means.

The resurrection to life must be attained by the most diligent application to the pursuit of Christ of which we, with the Lord’s assistance, are capable. Nothing less will gain the prize of eternal life in the body.

Some may object that we are saying we are saved by works. Of course we are, if by works one means following Christ diligently every day. When Paul was contrasting faith and works he was not contrasting faith in Christ with godly behavior, he was contrasting faith in Christ with the Law of Moses. True faith always is expressed in the right kind of works, which is the diligent pursuit of Christ every day of our discipleship. Apart from such a pursuit of eternal life, there is no genuine faith, only mental assent to the facts surrounding Christ.

We receive Christ at a certain point and our sins are forgiven. Then we are born again of the Spirit of God.

Each day from that point we are to turn away from the world, from the lusts of our flesh, and from self-will. We are to pursue eternal life. If we do not, if we do not bear the fruit of Christ’s moral image that God is looking for, we will be removed from the Vine, from Christ. In this case we will not gain the immortality we are hoping for. We have sown to our fleshly nature and most assuredly shall reap destruction in the day of resurrection.

But the Bible says "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." Precisely so. We are to believe in Christ, be baptized in water, and then keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. If we do not we will reap destruction in the Day of the Lord. If we do not keep His commandments we do not truly believe in Christ.

A doctor may be able to heal us, to save us from an early death. But if we do not do what he says we will not be healed. It is as simple as this. Faith that the doctor can heal us is not sufficient. We have to do what he says. So it is with faith in Jesus Christ. He can save us from spiritual death, but only if we do what He says. Merely believing He can save us is not enough; we must keep His commandments. If we do not we neither really believe in Him nor do we love Him.

The salvation that is coming in the future is the redeeming of our body with the eternal Life of the Spirit of God. But in order to gain the prize we must do what Christ and His Apostles have told us. Eternal life is our goal and we must lay hold of it. We must fight the good fight of faith if we expect to arrive at our destination.

Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5—NIV)

We are at the last time now, and this is why the Lord is making the Scriptures clear to us. He is preparing us for the mighty acts of redemption that have been prepared for the age of moral horrors we are entering.

The Firstfruits of the Holy Spirit

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:23,24—NIV)

Notice in the above passage that we were saved in the hope of the redemption of our body. This hope indeed is the rightful "blessed hope" of the Christian Church. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. The righteous live in the hope of the redemption to come with the appearing of Jesus.

The expression (above) "the firstfruits of the Spirit" refers to the fact that one day the entire material creation, including those people who are saved, will be released from corruption by the Holy Spirit. We have now a deposit on that which one day will make alive our mortal body and also release the prisoners of the earth.

At one time we were a living soul. Now we are being made a life-giving spirit— not a living spirit but 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—NIV)

As we said earlier, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life. We cannot eat of Him and gain immortality except as we overcome the corruption in the world caused by lust. We have to overcome the world, Satan, our fleshly lusts, and our self-will—our fierce desire to maintain our own identity apart from oneness with God through Christ. We desire to save our life, but if we would gain Christ we must lose our life.

When we become an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ we also become a tree of life, a source of eternal life to other people. The more of Christ we gain the more life we have to give to the dead people around us. When we suffer it is so the Life of Christ can raise us up. Then there is an overflow that reaches others.

The Spirit and the Bride say "Come! Drink the water of life freely!"

In Ezekiel, the forty-seventh chapter, we find that after we enter waters to swim in, the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we become a tree of life growing on the bank of the River of Life. Then we return to the nations of the earth, and the water coming from us causes that which is dead to live.

The promise made to Abraham was that the nations would receive eternal life, and so they shall.

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:14—NIV)

"Out of our inward being will flow rivers of living water," the Lord promised. But this was not spoken at the feast of Pentecost but on the eighth day of Tabernacles. The twelfth chapter of Isaiah was being chanted at that time:

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3—NIV)

Our inheritance is not only to be filled with the fullness of God, of eternal life, but then to be able to impart that Life to others as the Lord leads us. In fact, one of the main roles of the Christian Church will be to bring release to the saved nations of the earth.

If we are to move past Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles we must permit the Lord to deal with our self-will. The Charismatic move is in danger today of becoming part of the False Prophet. The False Prophet is he who attempts to use the power of Christ while still living according to his own will.

We have a choice to make today. We can attempt to take the things of Christ to a "lost and dying world," as they like to say, or we can return to Jesus Christ and wait patiently for Him. We can press into the power of His resurrection and into the patient enduring of tribulation that is part of His sufferings.

Those who run with their gifts may have immediate success and appear to do great things. But eventually they will dry up if they are not being refreshed with the ocean of God’s Spirit.

But those who wait on the Lord will continually renew their strength. They are becoming part of the Lord, part of His Glory. They are not working for Him. Rather they are moving as part of His Life. Thus the River of God in them is always full of water—water that will be needed in the future because death will be everywhere. Only in Mount Zion will there be deliverance, in the remnant whom the Lord is calling to Himself in the days in which we are living.

The goal is before us. It is the fullness of life lived in the Spirit of God—spirit, soul, and body. In order to arrive at the resurrection to life and glory we must, as Paul, set aside every other compelling interest and give ourselves to the pursuit of Jesus Christ.

No tongue could ever describe the incomprehensible authority, power, and joy that have been set before us as our inheritance. Let us not be as the foolish Esau who, being so intent on his immediate desires, sold that which proved to be, as a result of his shortsightedness, forever unattainable.

Let us follow Paul as he marched forward to the attainment of the crown of righteousness and eternal life.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:7,8—NIV)

Summary#1

The Christian faith is a fight until the day we die. The purpose of the fight is to gain eternal life, to lay hold of eternal life. Eternal life is the prize, the goal.

One of the current imbalances in our teaching today is that of not perceiving salvation as a program. The Bible teaches clearly that there is an initial point of receiving Christ, then there is an outworking of the program of salvation. But the fullness of salvation will come in the future. The fullness of salvation is the redemption of our body, the raising of it from the dead and the filling of it with eternal life.

The kind of resurrection we will have after our flesh and bones have been animated may be, after the forgiveness of our sins through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the most important event we will experience in all of eternity. It is so utterly important for it will determine our rank and opportunities for service in the Kingdom of God.

Every person will reap what he or she has sown in this present world. There is no grace, no mercy, that will change this Kingdom law. Where we will be placed is another matter. But what we are in personality, our state of being, will reflect what we became during this life.

Salvation is not a plan to move us from one place to another. Salvation is a program that changes us from what we are so we can be acceptable to God wherever we are.

Questions#1

1. Christian thinking has been influenced to conclude wrongly, that "eternal residence in Heaven has become the goal of redemption." State a more accurate description of the purpose of the Divine program of redemption:

2. Considering the "law of cause and effect," summarize the two outcomes of our behavior:

3. What passage from the Book of Philippians describe how the Apostle Paul was not content to be just forgiven but was pursing Christ with all his might?

4. Paul the Apostle forgot what was behind him in order to focus on the prize. What prize was he pursuing?

5. List three verses which place a portion of our salvation in the future:

Making The Glory Our Own

I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. (Luke 15:18-20—NIV)

The basic story of life is that of the prodigal son. It is the story of mankind, of Samson, of Israel, of the Christian Church, of each one of us.

We are given something wonderful, but because of the ease with which it was received we really can't appreciate it. In one way or another we have to make it our own.

To have and to hold something, especially for eternity, we have to receive it twice.

This is true of our health, isn't it? As a young person we are likely to take our health and energy for granted. If we do not follow principles of healthy living we may find by the time we are fifty we wish we had followed a better diet and had exercised. Regaining our health can be a very arduous undertaking, that is, if we have another chance at health.

The same is true of our home, or our marriage, or job, or anything else that came to us without too much effort. We may become careless and the next thing you know we have lost our home or marriage or job or money and may or may not be able to retrieve it. Gaining back what we have lost can be extremely difficult if not impossible.

This was the case with Israel.

God blessed King David because David had a heart for God and endeavored to live righteously. The result was David had marvelous success in conquering the nations around him. Garrisons were established from Edom to Lebanon, from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates.

Solomon inherited a mighty empire. God continued to bless the son of David until Israel was exceedingly wealthy—prospering in every area. The Israelites were all officials or soldiers. Slaves from the surrounding tribes did the manual labor.

Rulers came from many countries to hear the wisdom of Solomon and to behold the magnificence of the Temple of God and the palace of Solomon with its ivory throne flanked with the twelve lions. The wall surrounding Jerusalem was constructed from huge stones cut precisely at the quarry and then brought to the city.

The Temple of God itself was a marvel, an impregnable fortress of marble and gold, situated on a high point of the mountain on which Jerusalem was built. The total wealth of the nation of Israel at this time would be difficult to estimate.

The kingdom of Solomon is an example of great value given to a king and his people, a value gained by a previous ruler whose hands were stained with the blood of numerous battles.

Things of great value that are given freely are often lost by those who were not involved in acquiring them.

Solomon sinned later in his life and from that time the handwriting was on the wall. Israel became the two warring nations of Israel and Judah. Little by little the power and grandeur of the original kingdom were eroded until Israel was carried off captive by the Assyrians and Judah by the Babylonians.

The Babylonians broke down the wall and set fire to Jerusalem, including the Temple of God. The glorious conquering nation was reduced to a handful of poor people who finally, in direct defiance of the Word of the Lord to them, fled from Jerusalem to Egypt, taking the Prophet Jeremiah with them.

Majestic Israel, the most powerful nation of the world, was brought down to a pitiful handful of poor, disobedient people, living in Egypt, worshiping the "queen of heaven."

This is what can happen to any of us, no matter how blessed we are, if we do not obey the Word of God. It is going to happen to America very soon if the Christians do not turn from their fleshly ways and begin to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

After seventy years in Babylon God stirred up Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia, to encourage the rebuilding of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. A number of the families that had been led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon obeyed Cyrus, leaving the comforts of Babylon to return to the ruins of the Temple, a broken-down wall, and a desolated city surrounded by enemies.

What a contrast between the kingdom of Solomon and Jerusalem when the exiles returned to rebuild the Temple, the wall, and the city! What a discouraging task! The elders wept when they remembered the original Temple.

So it is with us prodigals when we come to ourselves and decide to return to our Father's house.

But all is not lost! If God permits us to regain what was forfeited, it now becomes our own. We appreciate the value of the gifts that once had been given to us so freely. We have struggled and fought over every inch of territory, taking it back from the enemy. Now it is ours and, depending on what the particular treasure is, if it has died and been raised in Christ, it is ours for eternity.

Sometimes we are in the condition of Nehemiah. We are living in luxury. But then God makes us aware that His work, His Church, is in great need.

We feel badly about this and go to prayer. Then we know what we are to do. But it involves leaving our comfortable situation and setting out to rebuild, under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, that which has been lost.

We now are in the valley of decision. This is a genuine crisis. If we turn back to our luxurious living we will find that eventually we have lost everything. If we choose to give up that which is familiar and pleasant so that God's house may be built, we gain an inheritance in God and His people of infinitely greater value than the approval of a worldly king.

Perhaps you are at such a point right now. You are pretty well situated in life as a middle-aged person, or a young person with a vision of what you intend to accomplish in life. Or you may be an older individual who thought your useful years were concluded.

But you feel a stirring in your soul. It might be the Lord. Do you dare inquire further? Do you dare to think of changing your "secure" position? Or will you withdraw because of fear of the unknown or because you do not want to leave your comforts.

Perhaps you are part of a church that is very vital, in which the Lord's Presence is felt Sunday after Sunday. You may not realize it but you may be warming your hands at someone else's fire just as Solomon was warming his hands at David's fire so to speak.

Someone paid the price, you can be sure, if you are sensing the Lord's Presence at every service. Wouldn't you like it to be true of you that you know the Lord for yourself? Suppose you were called to another place. Could you bring the holy fire with you? How would you like to make that sense of God's Presence your own so that no matter where you went you could bring it with you?

Eliezer the servant of Abraham referred to the God of his master, Abraham. God was not Eliezer's God but the God of the one who was willing to obediently offer his cherished son as a burnt offering.

How would you like God to become your God and not just the pastor's God?

You can, you know. But, like Nehemiah, you may have to leave the familiar (only as God leads!) and go into another place (perhaps not geographically) that is unfamiliar and seemingly dangerous if you are to make the Glory of God your own.

Nehemiah had to spend a lot of his own money and he received little thanks for it. But the wall around Jerusalem finally was rebuilt.

In the first century the Glory of God and the fullness of the revelation of the new covenant rested on twelve men, including the Apostle Paul. We know from the Epistles that the churches themselves were about as carnal as we are today.

Then, in the wisdom of God, the Apostles were martyred and the spirit of wisdom and revelation was not transferred to the godly Christian religious leaders. Not having the same Spirit of revelation as the Apostles of the Lamb the Christian scholars began to make commentaries and translations.

The Bible was copied laboriously by hand by the monks for several hundred years. Then, when the Catholic traditions had grown far removed from the Bible, the Lord raised up the Reformers.

From the time of the Reformers to the present hour the work of restoration (the latter, or spring rain) has progressed an inch at a time. That which had been given so freely was now in the process of being restored, but at what a price as the established Christian organization fought fiercely to hold onto its traditions.

Righteousness by faith and not by doing penances was one of the first glimmers of original truth. There followed the priesthood of the laity. Water baptism by immersion. The reality of the born-again experience. Belief in the literal return of Jesus Christ. The need for personal holiness. Speaking in tongues and the ministries and gifts of the Spirit including miraculous healing. The concept of the Body of Christ.

In keeping with the restoration of apostolic truth, the unveiling of the major types, such as the Tabernacle of the Congregation and the seven feasts of the Lord, has given us pegs on which to hang the many facets of the Divine revelation.

The understanding of the new covenant given to the Apostle Paul, apparently as he spent years in Arabia, was given by him so freely to the churches. Yet Christian Jewish teachers of the Law of Moses apparently had little trouble enticing the Gentile believers away from the purity of Paul's doctrine. They did not realize that in the Apostle Paul they possessed the very oracle of Divine revelation.

We seldom realize the value of what we have been freely given until we lose it.

To this very day the transition from Moses to Christ is not preached clearly, only in mumblings about how we are not under the Law but under grace, with no real understanding of what is involved in the transition, in numerous instances.

The massive centerpiece of Paul's teaching, the Divine mystery of Messiah in us, is not preached or understood to the present hour. We still are occupied with our carnal reasoning about being with Christ in Heaven while reclining at ease in our mansion. The original Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has been replaced with the traditional going of the Church to Heaven to be with Jesus. The mystery of the Gospel, that Christ is in us, is not ordinarily emphasized.

What bloodshed, hatred, and division mark each tiny step forward in regaining the original revelation! How the established churches resent any alteration of their treasured traditions! Only men and women, boys and girls, of unquestioned obedience and loyalty to Christ Himself, dare challenge the status quo at any point of Church history.

As soon as any new doctrine, such as speaking in tongues, has been restored, the reproach moves forward to a new restoration of Divine truth. The scouts and pioneers move out ahead of the wagon train. There is dangerous territory out here, lots of poisonous water holes, enemies, diseases. It is always so when people pioneer new territory. But the pioneers gain ownership of great holdings of real estate, like the middle of downtown Dallas, as they say.

Of the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, only the Ark of the Covenant retained its carrying poles when the tribes rested. The Ark of God is always on the move!

Well, where is the reproach today? Speaking in tongues has been regained worldwide, even among many of the historic churches. The cry that "tongues are of the devil" grows increasingly faint with each passing year.

As soon as a part of the original revelation has been established, a number of traditions spring up like dandelions among the grass. So it is today in America where, as far as I know, speaking in tongues was first restored.

What is preached today in the Bible-believing churches does not, for the most part, correspond with the teaching of the Apostle Paul. What is heard over and over again each Sunday morning is grace-rapture-Heaven, grace-rapture-Heaven, grace-rapture-Heaven.

One would suppose that grace-rapture-Heaven was the main emphasis of the New Testament, appearing in nearly every one of the Epistles.

The truth is, grace, as it is preached today as an alternative to righteous behavior, is not emphasized in the New Testament. Grace is shown to be the power of God in Christ to enable us to slay our carnal nature and begin to bring forth the fruit of righteous, holy, obedient behavior.

The so-called "rapture" of the saints, as it customarily is preached, is never at any time presented anywhere in the Scriptures. The catching up of the saints after their resurrection from the dead is taught in the Book of First Thessalonians, but this is not a special disappearance of the saints prior to the Day of the Lord. It is the historic return of Jesus to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

In any case, any person who read the New Testament carefully would never say that the catching up of the saints was emphasized in the Epistles. Yet today it is emphasized because the preachers are willing to please their listeners with the thought that they will not be on earth during the dark days we are approaching.

The doctrine of the "pre-tribulation rapture" of the believers is a tradition, not a truth of the Scriptures.

If most of what we are hearing today is unscriptural tradition, as was true of the doctrine of penances at the time of the Reformers, what is being restored at this time? Where does the reproach lie that always accompanies the forward move of the Spirit? What is it that has to be restored stone by wearying stone, bar by dangerous bar, lock by unpopular lock?

There are several such areas of truth being restored. Central to the restoration is the fact that it is time for Christ to come to maturity in His Body. This necessitates a change from the pastor-do-it-all service to widespread participation by the members of the Body, particularly in the area of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit.

Following the pattern of the last three feasts of the Lord, the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles, feasts that follow Pentecost, we can look for the following in our time: An emphasis on war and the idea of a militant approach to entering the Kingdom of God. An emphasis on confessing and putting to death through the Spirit the sins of our personality, including worldliness, lust, and self-will. An emphasis on Christ being formed in us, and then the coming of the Father and Christ to dwell in the new creation that has been formed in us.

Generally speaking, it is time for the members of the Body of Christ to come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Two other insights are of great importance.

First, the goal of salvation. An understanding of the goal of salvation is critically important if one is to understand what the Spirit is saying today.

Our traditional goal is to go to Heaven to live forever. Added to this is the hope of a beautiful mansion where we will visit forever with our friends, doing little of significance for eternity.

You will not find anywhere in the Bible that the goal of salvation is to bring you to Heaven where you will recline in your mansion and visit with your friends. The goal of salvation is to change you into the moral image of Christ and to bring you into untroubled rest in the center of God's will. The purpose of such change and such rest is that you might serve Christ forever in His Kingdom, that you might work with Him in bringing justice to the nations.

The second insight concerns the nature of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ and the reason for His return to earth.

The current tradition is that the purpose of the coming of the Lord is to carry off His Bride to Heaven. You will not find such a notion anywhere in the Bible.

The purpose of the coming of the Lord is to establish His Kingdom on the earth and to bring justice to the nations.

In line with this purpose the Lord will raise His saints, His army, from the dead and clothe them with glorified bodies. Then they will be caught up together with the living saints to meet the Lord in the air, in the place of the spiritual thrones from which the world is governed.

Then the Lord will descend, followed by His victorious saints, and drive evil from the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will be crowned King of kings on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. From there He and His saints will go forth and govern the nations, teaching them the eternal moral law of God.

Because the Lord's purpose in coming is to call His army to Himself, the lukewarm Christians of our day will be left behind. Only the called, chosen, and faithful members of the royal priesthood will be resurrected at that time and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

Remember the parable of the ten virgins? Do you see that half of the virgins, all Christians but not all with the Life of Christ developed in their personalities, went to be with the Lord and the door was shut in the face of the other half?

So it will be at His appearing.

Now let's think about the truth that is to be restored in our day and see if we are willing to forsake our unscriptural traditions and bear the reproach that always accompanies the restoration of the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. We are entering a time of spiritual warfare. The hymns and choruses are becoming militant. Pageantry in the form of banners may be employed to emphasize the songs of war. No more are we to be just a crowd of believers. It is time to be disciplined as good soldiers of the cross. The lackadaisical approach to salvation no longer will suffice. It is time for war in the spirit realm.

Are we willing to be identified with those who are calling the churches to war instead of lulling them to sleep with the unscriptural teaching of the "rapture"? Christ has forgiven our sins through the blood of the cross. Now He is ready to finish the job by taking away our sins. Because of this we must come to understand that Divine grace is not an alternative to righteous living but the power and wisdom through Jesus Christ to live righteously.

If you decide to help build the wall against sin, if you teach that God is not seeing us through Christ, as the unscriptural tradition states, if you portray God as ready to judge the worldliness, lust, and self-will in His churches with a view to removing them from us as we confess them and turn away from them, you are going to face much criticism and unbelief. But this is the wall that must be built in our day.

The churches are filled with unjudged sin. It is not true that God does not see this sin. He does and He wants to remove it from us. He wants us to judge our own conduct as sinful, as He directs us, and confess the sin, renounce it, and by His Spirit drive it from us.

Our Christian teaching concerning the grace of God, and the unscriptural "state of grace," is so deeply entrenched that to challenge it is to seriously disturb the supposed security of the believer. Because of their fear they will howl with unbelief.

Yet, it must be challenged for it is not scriptural. The days we are approaching will be so dark spiritually that the only reality we can be sure of is what the Bible states. The Bible does not state that God sees us through Christ, or God sees us through the blood, or we who believe are living in a state of grace such that our behavior does not affect our salvation. The Bible does not teach these things any more than it teaches we are going to a mansion in Heaven.

It is time to get back to the Bible. Can you say Amen?

The removal of our sins is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament Day of Atonement. It is time for Christ to be formed in us. We have supposed that because we have received the blood atonement and have a portion of eternal life that we have the fullness of Christ. The Galatians had received the blood atonement and had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Yet Paul was travailing in birth that Christ might be formed in them.

We are dead with Christ on the cross, the Bible says, and we have been raised from the dead with Him and have ascended with Him to the right hand of God in Heaven. This is where our born-again life resides. Because of this we must spend the remainder of our time on earth turning away from the passions of our flesh and soul and cultivating our new life in the heavens. We absolutely must keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, and God will help us to do this if we ask Him.

As we set our mind on things above and live a fervent Christian life, Christ will be formed in us to a much greater extent than we have realized would be possible. The forming of Christ in us is in preparation for His return and the coming of the fullness of the Father and the Son to dwell in us in fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles.

There is so much more of God for us!

When we tell God's people that there is more of God for us this side of Heaven we may encounter some opposition. Yet one of the main doctrines of the entire Scriptures has to do with the building of the eternal house of God. The house of God, the tabernacle of God, is the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the future government of the earth. This work has not been completed as yet. There is more to be done in our day.

When we have come as far as Pentecost we have the authority through the blood, and the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, to begin to enter the Kingdom of God. Specifically we have the authority, wisdom, and power to put to death the sins of our flesh and to embrace all the grace of God, including the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It now is time to enter the Kingdom.

The truths we have set forth above have to be restored. We have to make them our own by much prayer and by stern obedience to God. The average American Christian who has taken the "four steps of salvation" and whose discipleship consists of attending church on Sunday morning is in no condition to cope with the age of moral horrors we are entering. If he does not at the present hour turn to Jesus Christ with a desperate desire to get more of God he or she will not be ready to go with the Lord when He returns. The door will be closed in his or her face. You can count on this!

Don't wait for or expect your pastor to find God for you. In fact, he may not even understand what you are talking about. You have to find God for yourself.

The wall against sin has been broken down because of the current false teaching of grace. You may have to leave your comfortable, familiar situation, like Nehemiah, in order to put your own stone in the wall.

None of the understanding that is coming forth today is an addition to the Bible. The concepts of spiritual war, of the removal of our sins, of the forming of Christ in us, of our change into the moral image of Christ, of our entering untroubled rest in the center of God's will, of the return of Jesus Christ to call up to Himself His army, of the coming of Christ and His saints to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth, are all found clearly in the Scriptures. We do not have to cut and paste verses together to support them as we do our traditions, such as having a mansion in Heaven, living in a state of grace, or being caught up to Heaven in a "pre-tribulation" rapture.

Today is a time for all of God's leaders to go back to the Bible and verify their doctrinal emphases. Some may be surprised that their favorite expressions, such as God seeing us through Christ, or our being covered with the blood, are not found in the Scriptures. Actually, the purpose of the blood is to forgive us and keep us free from condemnation as we are gaining the victory over sin, not as we wait to be carried to Heaven by grace. We wash our robe in the blood of the Lamb. But the blood is not our robe. The blood is as Divine soap that cleanses our robe. But the soap is not our robe. It is the righteous nature of Jesus Christ expressed in our person and behavior that is our white robe, and it is kept clean by the blood of the Lamb as we confess our sins and turn away from them.

We are trusting in the blood of Christ to keep God from seeing our behavior. This is not the purpose of the blood of Christ. The purpose of the blood of Christ is to forgive the saints and then make it possible for them to be so transformed morally that their godly character is a purified white robe that will cover their nakedness in the day of resurrection.

We see therefore that God is restoring truth today, just as He has in every generation. Those who are not hearing from the Lord will cling to their traditions. They will, as such always do, slander those who have entered the death of the cross and are waiting on the Lord Jesus. The believers who press into Jesus may be physically attacked, tortured, or even killed in the days to come. But what is that! The saints have always left bloody footprints in the snow.

We want to be among those who leave everything that we may build the wall against sin, the wall of the Kingdom of God. We want to be one of those who make the Glory our own, not just an onlooker who is warming his or her hands at someone else's fire.

We want to know God for ourselves and hear from God ourselves. We can, you know, if this is what we desire above all else.

When something of value is given to us freely we usually do not appreciate it. But when we have to regain it by a long, arduous, painful, sometimes dangerous struggle, we truly appreciate it. And, as I stated previously, in some cases the Glory we have gained, if it has been crucified and risen with Christ, is our treasure for eternity.

The Lord be with you as you press into Him.

Summary#2

To have and to hold something, especially for eternity, we have to receive it twice. We seldom realize the value of what we have been freely given until we lose it.

But all is not lost! If God permits us to regain what was forfeited, it now becomes our own. We appreciate the value of the gifts that once had been given to us so freely. We have struggled and fought over every inch of territory, taking it back from the enemy. Now it is ours and, depending on what the particular treasure is, if it has died and been raised in Christ, it is ours for eternity.

When we have come as far as Pentecost we have the authority through the blood, and the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, to begin to enter the Kingdom of God. Specifically we have the authority, wisdom, and power to put to death the sins of our flesh and to embrace all the grace of God, including the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It now is time to enter the Kingdom.

It is time for Christ to be formed in us. We have supposed that because we have received the blood atonement and have a portion of eternal life that we have the fullness of Christ. The Galatians had received the blood atonement and had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Yet Paul was travailing in birth that Christ might be formed in them.

God is restoring truth today, just as He has in every generation. Those who are not hearing from the Lord will cling to their traditions. They will, as such always do, slander those who have entered the death of the cross and are waiting on the Lord Jesus. The believers who press into Jesus may be physically attacked, tortured, or even killed in the days to come. But what is that! The saints have always left bloody footprints in the snow.

Questions#2

1. What lesson do we learn from "the basic story of life"?

2. What lesson can we learn from the "kingdom of Solomon"?

3. By studying the three feasts that follow Pentecost what can we look forward to taking place in our time?

4. Identify two insights of great importance to understanding what the Spirit is saying today:

5. List three areas of truth being restored today:

The Cross Is The Only Entrance

Introduction

A religion is a set of beliefs and practices by which a group of people hope to please God. Judaism and Christianity are religions.

However, Judaism and Christianity have a dimension not true of other religions. They include interaction with the living God. The individual can come each day and commune with God. He does not need to pursue his beliefs and practices blindly, as a person would pursue some scheme in the hope of obtaining a result.

The difference between a religion and the unique quality of Judaism and Christianity can be observed in the Garden of Eden. The relationship of Adam and Eve to God was not a "religion" in the way we ordinarily use the term.

Yet it may be observed today that for most followers of the Judaic and Christian religions, the worshipers are not in vigorous daily interaction with God. They pursue the practices of their religion but they do not know God.

They know the house of God but they do not know God Himself. He is not real to them on a daily basis.

The reason many Christians are adherents of a religion but do not enjoy the relationship with Jesus Christ they could have is that they do not enter through the cross. They come to Jesus as an adamic personality and remain an adamic personality throughout their life.

Those who are unusually fervent may be busily engaged in the work of their church. They may make a profession of faith in the blood atonement. They may be active in the work of evangelism. They may speak in tongues. They may demonstrate other gifts of the Spirit. They may even go to another country as a missionary. But they still may be putting a religious dress on the adamic nature.

The reason for this is they were not taught when they were baptized in water that they were entering Christ's death on the cross and rising in His resurrection life. They never have learned that they are to count themselves crucified with Christ and risen with Christ. They may have memorized Galatians 2:20 but it is not a living experience with them.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20—NIV)

Too Hard! Too Strict!

I am afraid the Christian ministry to a great extent is presenting a gospel that is pleasant to the adamic nature. The pastors and evangelists are not demanding that the believer give himself or herself to crucifixion and resurrection with Jesus Christ.

The reason I say this is that in several instances it has come back to me that people reading my books or listening to the tapes respond by saying "This is too hard! This is too strict!"

I am appalled at this reaction! They do not say what is too strict or what is too hard. Their response is in general terms.

When I inquire as to what is being taught in other churches that the Christians should object that my teaching is too strict, the problem seems to be that the other ministers are saying that if we sin it is regrettable but grace covers all misbehavior, whereas I am declaring that if sin is not confessed and turned away from the results can be disastrous.

I do not think many of these believers really want to sin or intend to sin. They just want the assurance that in case they do they still will go to Heaven by grace. I cannot promise them that because it is not what the Apostles taught.

I notice also that if I stress they must lay down their life and make Jesus their Lord, they must count themselves as dead with Him and raised with Him, they must obey His will no matter what it is, they must keep His commandments, people are driven off. They can attend numerous churches in the area that do not make such demands on them. We are too hard, not "nice" like the other pastors.

They really are not being logical about this. The issue is not whether a message is too hard or too strict or how nice the pastor is. The real question is whether the truth is being preached. Looking for an easier, less demanding message is something like setting your clock back two hours so you can get more sleep. You still will be late for work!

"No One Can Keep God's Commandments"

Another issue of our day concerns doing God's will and keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Ever since I have been a Christian I have heard it said that no one can do God's will, no one can keep His commandments.

Of all the lies that Satan tells mankind, the lie that no one can do God's will or keep God's commandments is the most effective in keeping Christians immature. To say such a thing is to slander God's righteous, loving nature as the Father of us all.

The statement that we cannot keep God's commandments or do His perfect will, and therefore must be kept in a blind state of automatic forgiveness, is a total, slanderous, hideous, abominable, disgusting, unreasonable, unscriptural, horrific lie.

Don't ever repeat such garbage. You put yourself on the side of Satan when you do.

Divine grace was not given to us because God has given us impossible commandments (Satan is the one who gives impossible commandments!). Divine grace has been given to us that we might attain our destiny as a son of God and a ruler of the works of God's hands.

Our first personality is a living soul. It never was meant to be anything more than stock on which God grafts Christ.

Paul's frequent expostulations about not being declared righteous by works but by grace has nothing to do with our inability to do what God has said. Paul's purpose was to lift our eyes from the temporary restraints of the Law of Moses so we could receive without hindrance the grafting of Christ onto our personality.

The Law of Moses was added because of the sinful nature of man until Christ, the true Life of man, came on the scene. The Law of Moses could not make the fallen adamic nature righteous because of the law of sin operating in us. Nevertheless, throughout the history of Israel God required that His Law be obeyed, and severe consequences attended every transgression.

The reason Israel and Judah were carried into captivity is that they disobeyed God's laws!

God forgave all the transgressions of the world through the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Now He wants us to turn our eyes from Moses and look to Jesus for salvation.

Our salvation in Jesus is not a case of God adding more laws through Christ and His Apostles so we are totally discouraged and flee to Divine grace to keep forgiving us while we continue in our adamic nature.

God saves us by commanding us to go to the cross of Calvary. We are to assign our first personality to death on the cross. We do not struggle to kill it, we reckon it to be dead. We reckon also that our new born-again nature has risen to be seated in Christ in God on the highest throne of the universe.

That we are crucified and risen with Christ is a position we must adopt forcefully, diligently, consistently, every moment of our life. Otherwise we are merely a member of the Christian religion, not a true Christian at all.

God has no intention of saving our adamic personality. God is not saving what we are, He is saving us from what we are.

We cannot begin as a Christian until we count ourselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ. The cross is the only door to the new covenant.

Graveclothes

Now we are dead with Christ. Now we are risen with Christ and at the right hand of God. This is the only proper orientation to the new covenant, to the Christian salvation.

What next? We are to look to Jesus constantly so we may have a continual interaction with Him. Anything less than this is not the Christian salvation.

We are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He guides and empowers us to put to death the deeds of our sinful flesh. These are graveclothes that must be removed after we are raised from the dead, just as in the case of Lazarus. Anything less than this is not the Christian salvation.

We must pray every day and read the Bible. As we do the Lord will speak to us concerning the commandments found therein. These are to be obeyed. They are not too hard! They are not too strict! They are to be obeyed by us while we still have an adamic nature.

There are hundreds of commandments in the New Testament but we only keep them one at a time. There is no commandment or invitation in the New Testament that we cannot keep with the help of the Lord. Absolutely none!

Satan has run a huge bluff on the Christians, telling them God is too hard! God is too strict!

Read the New Testament and find a commandment that you cannot keep with the Lord's help. Immediately you will find, "Be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect." Do you think Jesus would command such a thing if it were not possible? Jesus does not mean we are to attain our own standard of perfection, He means we are to do each moment what we know to do and what God enables us to do.

Is our Father in Heaven so unwise and unloving that He is ready to saddle us with a number of frustrating commandments? If you think so you do not know your Father.

Some of the commandments of the New Testament are comprehensive, such as "present your body a living sacrifice." Most are simple and direct, such as "if you have a gift of teaching, then use it."

God does not expect you to do what He says in your own strength. He is always ready to give you the wisdom and strength, guiding you every step of the way, so you can keep the words of the New Testament.

You must keep your eyes on Jesus.

You must obey the Spirit when He speaks to you.

You must read the Scriptures and find out what you are supposed to do.

You must attend a local congregation and submit to the leadership, as God guides you.

These commands are not too strict or too hard. They are the normal Christian experience. Whoever is saying you do not have to live like this is the unfaithful steward who told the customers to cut their bill in half. He is unfaithful to his Master and currying favor with you. He and you will spend eternity together.

These are serious words I have written to you. But then, these are serious times in which we live. The conflict of the ages is at hand. God is ready to shake earth and Heaven so all who have the tiniest bit of rebellion and disobedience in them will be shaken down from the place of power. The Divine Throne is being purified. The Kingdom of God is at hand and will drive all sin and rebellion from the creation.

You will stand if you take your place on the cross, and then at the right hand of God with the Lord Jesus. Otherwise your "Christianity" will be found to be nothing more than a dead religion, even though you talk in tongues, prophesy, and work miracles.

Jesus doesn't know us until we do what He says. He has told us through His Apostles to enter His death and His resurrection. He absolutely will accept nothing less. Ask Him and see if I am correct in this!

Now let's turn to the church in Smyrna. The comments made to the angel of the church in Smyrna reveal some aspects of our death and resurrection in Jesus Christ.

Revelation 2:8

When we declare ourselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ, God takes us at our word. Our death releases us from the authority of the Law of Moses. Our death makes it possible for God to begin to judge us, for it is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment.

Now that we are dead with Christ and risen with Christ the work of reconciling our personality to God begins. Our new born-again nature is hidden with Christ in God. This is a firstfruits of our personality. The remainder of our personality, the part on earth, must be reconciled to God.

We must be reconciled to God in the area of depending on God rather than the world for our security and survival.

We must be reconciled to God in the area of how we behave. To walk with God our behavior must be righteous and holy. God's Spirit is ready to enable us to conduct ourselves in this manner.

The last and by far the most difficult area of reconciliation is our self-will. We absolutely must be crucified with Christ so in all matters great and small we say "Not my will but Yours be done."

We have established our position as dead with Christ and risen with Christ. Now we must follow the Holy Spirit as He removes the graveclothes of worldliness, lust, and rebellion and replaces them with trust in God, righteousness, holiness, and obedience. The Life of Christ that fills our born-again nature in the heavenlies must fight its way down into the remainder of our personality on the earth. If we pursue Christ to this extent the last enemy in our personality, physical death, will, at the appearance of the Lord, be driven from us so we are alive in Christ in spirit, soul, and body.

As we fight the good fight of faith we are brought through a wilderness of difficulties and afflictions. This is why the Lord Jesus addressed Himself to the church in Smyrna as follows:

To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. (Revelation 2:8—NIV)

The pathway becomes so grueling at times that we despair of life. We do not know when our testing will end, and not knowing makes it very difficult to continue.

This is why the Lord refers to Himself as "Him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again." These words will not mean much to you until you are going through a hard place with the Lord. Then you will understand why it is so utterly important that Christ is the Last as well as the First; the one who came to life again as well as the one who died.

When we are going through our hour of darkness we can remember vaguely what it was like before our trial. But now all is changed. There is much darkness whereas before there was much light. What we need to know is: "Can Christ bring us successfully through this nightmare? Will He finish in us what He began?"

The purpose of such blackness and death is that every aspect of our first personality may indeed die with Christ on the cross, not just in our faith but in our actual experience. It is not that we are attempting to kill ourselves. It is that we recognize we have died and have risen and are experiencing the reality of it.

When we through the Spirit put to death the deeds of our body we merely are recognizing as a fact that which God and we declared to be true when we were baptized in water. It is of great importance that we realize we are not dying by inches. We have died with Christ and have risen with Him. That is established for eternity (unless we can be pulled down from our high place in God). The daily dying we do is a recognition of what already has been accomplished.

There are two ways in which we can be defeated in our pursuit of the crown of life. One is by looking to God to do more than He is willing to do. The other is by trying to do that which only God can accomplish. Either extreme will bring us to defeat. We must keep the two in balance.

When teachers emphasize "Jesus did it all" our experience becomes stagnant. We cease obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

When we adopt a religious spirit and try to control our worldliness, our lusts, and our self-willed nature by our own determination, we soon become discouraged and angry with people and God because of our lack of joy.

The right way to fight the good fight of faith is to:

Count ourselves crucified with Christ.

Count ourselves risen with Christ.

Look always to the Lord Jesus in all we do, every decision we make.

Follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us in putting to death the deeds of our flesh.

Obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

We absolutely must take up our personal cross and follow the Master at all times.

Jesus is the First and the Last. What He began in us He will finish. We must have a deep appreciation of the faithfulness of Christ if we are to survive the program of reconciliation to God, the process of salvation that works as God judges and removes the evil of our personality and plants Christ in us.

Revelation 2:9

I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9—NIV)

It seems the other Christians are filled with every good thing but we are afflicted. It appears the other Christians are prosperous while we are poor. They are fruitful but we are barren.

Sounds like Job, Sarah, Hannah, and Jeremiah. But it is the barren who end up as the new Jerusalem while those who were not called to such crucifixion do not attain such resurrection.

And then there is the synagogue of Satan.

I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

The synagogue of Satan consists of imitation Christians. They say they are God's elect but they are not.

At one time Satan, a cherub, covered the Throne of God with his wings. He was always in the midst of the Shekinah, the Glory of God's Presence.

He fell because of self-centeredness. Now he no longer can experience the Shekinah, the joy and peace of the Lord God.

Therefore Satan always goes to the most fervent assembling of Christians he can find, because the Shekinah is there. Satan wants to sing, dance, revel in the Presence, speak in tongues, work miracles, prophesy. This atmosphere was his environment for untold ages. Now he can only experience God's blessing secondhand.

We Christians are so immature we cannot perceive Satan's presence among us.

But Satan is bound with the spirit of accusation, of gossip, of slander. Therefore he looks for the believers who have never counted themselves dead with Christ. They are very much alive as adamic personalities while they are rejoicing in the Presence of God.

Because these believers are alive in the adamic personality they are a vehicle Satan can use to express his desire to gossip, to accuse, to slander. This is why there is so much gossip, accusation, and slander in the Christian churches.

The prophets always are murdered by Israel. The common people heard Jesus gladly and gave glory to God. But the priests and elders murdered Him because Satan was in them and envied the Divine Glory that Jesus enjoyed.

From the time that Cain murdered Abel, the people who really know the Lord have been murdered by those who envied their relationship to God.

He who departs from wickedness always become the prey of religious people.

Whenever God moves, those who are part of the previous move cry "This is the devil!"

In spite of the obvious Presence of God in the Pentecostal churches for the last century, there still are Christians who say, "Tongues are of the devil."

It is the devil who is saying "tongues are of the devil" because the devil is compelled by his nature to slander the work of God.

God is moving today. He is restoring the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. He is stressing righteous behavior, holiness, truth.

Some Pentecostal people are slandering what God is doing. This is because they have never been crucified with Christ or risen with Him. They are imitators. Christ does not know them. They are of the synagogue of the accuser of the brothers.

It may well be true that a significant number of the Christian believers throughout the two thousand years of the Church Age have been of the synagogue of the accuser. Christ never added them to His Church. The Father never gave them to Christ. They were brought in by the carnal devices of the Christian religion, which always is striving to make proselytes.

As we look around us in America today we can see that few Christians have taken up their cross and are following Jesus. The majority have not been crucified with Christ and therefore have not risen with Him.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4—NIV)

Their pastors and evangelists are preaching grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture, heaven, heaven, heaven. They speak in tongues, prophesy, and cry out for the fire of the Holy Spirit. They "get souls saved." They are filled with religious activities. But they do not know Jesus. When they hear the Gospel of the Kingdom they say, "This is too hard. This is too strict."

They know the house of God but not God Himself. You can tell who they are when you hear them accuse, criticize, gossip about, and slander other believers. They are the synagogue of the accuser of the brothers.

How many genuine Christians are there in the United States of America? As many as there are believers who are taking up their cross daily and following the Master; who have been crucified with Christ and have risen with Him; in whose mouth gossip, accusations, and slander are never heard; who do not complain that God's commandments are "too strict, too hard."

These and these alone are God's people. The remainder merely are members of the Christian religion. Because they are not carrying their cross, because they have not died with Christ, because they are not keeping the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, it is likely they will become part of the False Prophet and will participate in the Antichrist system.

The False Prophet is the Christian who is seeking the power of Christ but who is unwilling to die that Christ's will may be done. It is the False Prophet who will give life to the Antichrist government of the last days, and who will persecute viciously the true saints.

Do you remember how many hundreds of thousands of true Christians the Catholic Church has murdered through the centuries? The vicious persecution and murder exercised through the officials of the Catholic Church originated with Satan, did it not? Yet the Catholic Church claims to be composed of Christians. This is an example of the synagogue of Satan.

The Protestant churches are daughters of the Catholic Church. The same spirit of murder is in them but it expresses itself in gossip and slander.

God is preparing His Throne for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Everyone who is part of that throne, all the stars of God, shall be shaken, shaken, shaken until all self-will has been removed. Only that which has died in Christ and has risen with Christ, and then has been established by utter faithfulness and obedience, shall remain as part of the Throne. Then the Lord Jesus Christ will appear with those whose life He is. All these shall appear together at the right hand of God that they may govern the nations of the earth.

You will be shaken in the days to come, make no mistake. Don't ever seek to save your life in the sense of resisting God's will for you. If you do you will certainly lose it. Remain faithfully in your prison. Never mind those who slander you, keep your eyes on Jesus. The children of the barren are more than those of the married wife.

Revelation 2:10

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)

God will allow Satan to put you in some kind of prison to test you.

Satan is hoping he will be successful in pulling you down from your place around the throne. God is hoping the self-will shall be burned out of you. It is a kind of gamble.

Peter and the other Apostles were arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom. They had never been converted from their self-will to the will of God. Therefore they were not fit to be in the Presence of the King.

Peter was turned over to Satan. Jesus did not prevent the sifting of Peter but prayed for him that he would remain faithful.

So it shall be in the last days. All the stars of God will be turned over to Satan that they may be sifted. Jesus will pray for us that we shall remain faithful. Those who ride with Him in that day are called, chosen, and faithful.

We must remain faithful to the point of death. We must place all of our treasure in Heaven, realizing we may never have the desires of our heart until Jesus returns in glory. Is this too hard, too strict for you? If it is, think carefully about the Christians families that were fed to the lions in the arenas of Rome; about the families that lived in the catacombs in order to escape the moral pollution of the Roman culture; about the Christians of today who are being murdered and raped in Sudan; about those imprisoned in China. Then say the Gospel of the Kingdom is too strict, too hard when it demands you place all your treasures in Heaven!

It is the crown, the rulership, that is at issue. The crown of life is the authority and power to govern by the power of incorruptible, resurrection life. There is no other power as great as this.

We will be knocked about for "ten days," a specific time. Christ will always be in control of our testing. We are being tested to see how we will respond under a variety of circumstances. God will not issue the authority and power of indestructible resurrection life to anyone until God is absolutely certain that the individual will not repeat the folly of Satan.

We are seeing some of the stars fall in our day. The Internet is proving to be a means of providing satisfaction in the area of physical lust. Because of the preaching of grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture, the believers do not have the inner strength to resist the freely offered indulgence in lust. Even the pastors and evangelists succumb because they believe their own teaching.

Where sin abounds grace much more abounds. This means that in the day of increased temptation there is a greater portion of Christ being given to those who ask for it. We are to pray for rain in the time of the spring rain, and Jesus Christ will come to us as the rain.

If we keep the word of His patience, that is, if we keep on bearing our cross after Him while the synagogue of Satan is having so much "spiritual success," Christ will guard us during the days of increased moral temptation. This is His promise, not to those who merely take the "four steps of salvation" but to those who guard the word of His patience.

Revelation 2:11

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation 2:11—NIV)

Not everyone has an ear to hear in our day. This is because the ability to see and to hear comes only as we keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles and walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Unfortunately righteous, holy, obedient behavior is not often taught in the Christian churches. In its place is offered the mythological "God sees you through Christ and you can never be lost no matter how you behave."

The statement "He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death" needs a great deal of attention in our day.

The first consideration is: we don't think of people being "hurt" by the second death but rather of their being cast into the Lake of Fire to be tormented forever.

The second consideration is: only the overcomer, the victorious saint, has the guarantee in writing of not being hurt by the second death. This means that the believer who is not living a victorious life, which is true of the majority of believers in America at the present time, has no guarantee of not being hurt at all by the second death, whatever this expression means.

When the believers of our day hear about what it means to live victoriously in Christ they say "This is too strict. This is too hard."

They say this because their teachers and pastors are telling them all they have to do is love everybody and if they sin Jesus will forgive them. Maybe this is the modern version of the victorious Christian life.

Christianity is due for a massive shakeup. Instead of a rapture there is going to be a rupture, a breaking open of the prisons of unclean spirits that refer to themselves as the Christian churches. Whether they are Catholic or Protestant, God is ready to clean house. All immorality, covetousness, greediness, hatred, gossip, slander, backbiting, divisiveness, drunkenness, slothfulness, self-seeking, haughtiness, arrogance must be driven from our midst.

Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD. (Isaiah 52:11—NIV)

All the corruption in the churches of today is there because we Christians have not entered salvation through the cross of Christ. We talk about the cross, we may wear a cross around our neck, we may wave a cross at the demon-possessed in order to drive out the unclean spirit, we may even trust in the blood of the cross as the atonement for our sins. But our Christian life does not begin until we go to the cross and die with Jesus, and then rise with Him to the right hand of the Father.

Because crucifixion and resurrection with Jesus Christ are not being emphasized in our day we have multitudes of believers who believe in Christ, speak in tongues, and exercise other gifts of the Spirit, but are vulnerable to deception because they have never given over their self-life to crucifixion. They are very much alive in the adamic nature. Therefore they are an imitation of Christ. Christ does not know them. They are not part of Himself. The Spirit of God has fallen on their flesh but they themselves, although they claim to be born again, have never actually been born again because Adam is still alive.

Christian teaching for the most part is Gnosticism plus an assortment of myths, such as "Jesus is coming to take His waiting bride to Heaven." But God in His goodness and love has come to us in America and is ready to purge His churches with Divine fire.

There is no reason you cannot maintain your position at the right hand of God and return with Him at His appearing. But you will have to turn from the carnality, sin, and self-seeking in today's churches and seek Christ with all your might—diligently, consistently, at all times.

You will have to enter through the cross.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:14—NIV)

Summary#3

The reason many Christians are adherents of a religion but do not enjoy the relationship with Jesus Christ they could have is that they do not enter through the cross. They come to Jesus as an adamic personality and remain an adamic personality throughout their life.

The reason for this is they were not taught when they were baptized in water that they were entering Christ's death on the cross and rising in His resurrection life. They never have learned that they are to count themselves crucified with Christ and risen with Christ. They may have memorized Galatians 2:20 but it is not a living experience with them.

Because crucifixion and resurrection with Jesus Christ are not being emphasized in our day we have multitudes of believers who believe in Christ, speak in tongues, and exercise other gifts of the Spirit, but are vulnerable to deception because they have never given over their self-life to crucifixion. They are very much alive in the adamic nature. Therefore they are an imitation of Christ. Christ does not know them. They are not part of Himself. The Spirit of God has fallen on their flesh but they themselves, although they claim to be born again, have never actually been born again because Adam is still alive.

That we are crucified and risen with Christ is a position we must adopt forcefully, diligently, consistently, every moment of our life. Otherwise we are merely a member of the Christian religion, not a true Christian at all.

God has no intention of saving our adamic personality. God is not saving what we are, He is saving us from what we are.

We cannot begin as a Christian until we count ourselves dead with Christ and risen with Christ. The cross is the only door to the new covenant.

Questions#3

1. Characterize how Judaism and Christianity differ from other religions:

2. Explain how a person might appear outwardly religious but not have a living relationship with Jesus Christ:

3. Once we have firmly taken the position that we are dead with Christ and risen with Him, various aspects of our personality must yet be reconciled to God. Identify three areas of reconciliation:

4. List two ways "in which we can be defeated in our pursuit of the crown of life":

5. Identify six ways in which we can "fight the good fight of faith":

In The Fire With The Lord

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)

"I will give you the crown of life"!

To be given the crown of life means we now have the authority and power to rule, under Christ, all things, circumstances, and relationships of the creation as they impact on us.

God the Father rules over all. Under God is the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the Lord Jesus Christ is His Church. Under the Church are all the works of God's hands. This is the hierarchy of government of the universe.

So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas  or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, And you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. (I Corinthians 3:21-23—NIV)

For he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28—NIV)

It is God's will that His Church govern, under Christ, all the works of His hands. God created the Church in response to the rebellion of the angels. Whereas the angels at one time were highly exalted in positions of authority and power, now they are ministering spirits. Their role is to serve God's sons. God has assigned all government to His sons. They are the rulers and judges of mankind and the angels. They are the royal priesthood.

But beginning with the firstborn Son, the sons of God must be brought very low. They must be imprisoned. Their most fervent desires must be deferred. They must be compelled to do that which is distasteful—sometimes for many years.

The Israelites, God's holy nation, had to be brought very low before they could be entrusted with the land of promise.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3—NIV)

The Apostles were arguing about who would be the greatest among them. The Lord Jesus warned Peter that Satan was going to test him, to sift his personality to see what was in there. Jesus did not offer to save Peter from the testing, nor did the Lord save Job when Satan desired to test him. But Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:31,32—NIV)

Then there was Joseph. The marvelous thing about Joseph was that though he was imprisoned he never became a prisoner in personality. The moment the Lord released him he was ready to govern Egypt.

And he sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, Till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the LORD proved him true. The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, To instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom. (Psalms 105:17-22—NIV)

"Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."

As we have stated, God is the Head of Christ who is the Head of the Church which is the heir of God's creation.

However, each one of us Christians has many relationships, things, and circumstances that stand between us and Christ. They govern us. They are our god and idols. They are chains that keep us in torment.

We do not know what they are. So God permits Satan, as He did in the case of Job, to put is in the fire of suffering, in some form of prison. We are shut up and cannot come forth. All of the older saints understand exactly what I am talking about.

As soon as we are imprisoned, the gods that stand between Christ and us begin to act up. We then have a choice. We can pray for deliverance and remain faithful to God, or we can force an escape from our painful, frustrating circumstances. When we do this we may break God's laws and we may obtain our own happiness at the expense of the happiness of someone who trusts us or is dependent on us. This the Lord will not accept and will send torment on us.

We hear Christians plead, "God wants me to be happy." Tell that to the Coptic Christians in Egypt or the Christians in Sudan, or China, or Peru who are being tortured and killed for their faith. God did not put us in this world to be happy but to be tested and to learn to trust Him. Our happiness will come later if we are faithful. But if we are not faithful to what we know to be God's will in the present life we will receive torment in the next. And grace and mercy will not save us from this no matter what the preachers of today are claiming.

The Christian man or woman who leaves his or her partner to live with another in order to be "happy" will soon realize he or she went from the frying pan into the fire.

The purpose of the fiery trial the saints endure is to free us from the gods that would rule us, to remove all of the forces and things that stand between us and the headship of Christ and put them beneath our feet. At times this is a very painful process. We love and worship our gods and want to serve them. To have them wrenched away from their position in our personality and crucified tears at our soul. But we can receive nothing from God of eternal worth until first it has been crucified with Christ and then resurrected with Him.

While we are in prison all sorts of things come forth from our personality—spirits we did not realize were present in us. If through Christ we confess those that are sinful, denouncing, renouncing, and resisting them with all diligence, drawing near to God at all times, we will overcome them. If we remain faithful to the point of death we will emerge as king over our circumstances. We will govern all things by the power of eternal life.

There is another promise to the believer who overcomes throughout his fiery trial. It is that he or she cannot be harmed by the second death.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:11—NIV)

The second death is eternal separation from God. It is the Lake of Fire, the final prison.

The Lake of Fire has been given authority by the Father over certain types of behavior. The Lake of Fire retains this authority, even when we become a Christian. To have a personality that cannot be hurt by the second death, by the torment that follows Divine judgment, is a very desirable achievement.

The purpose of putting us in prison is that we might be delivered from those behaviors that result in the torment of the second death.

Let's take a look the kinds of personality that God will not permit in His Kingdom. They are found in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation. The cowardly. The unbelieving. The vile. The murderers. The sexually immoral. Those who practice magic arts. The idolaters. All liars.

When we are in prison God deals with us concerning cowardice, fearfulness, timidity. These will keep us from entering our land of promise.

Resolute courage is required if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. Fear and faith cannot dwell in the same heart at the same time.

Often the fear of physical death is the basis for our fearfulness. God will deliver us from the fear of physical death if we ask Him.

When we are in prison God deals with us concerning our unbelief. While we are living comfortably in a secure position we may think we have faith in God. But when we are severely tested we may lose our faith in God, or become angry with God or people. We are unable to believe that God is still with us. It is the imprisonment that reveals our fundamental unbelief. The Lake that burns with fire and sulfur has authority over the unbelieving personality.

When we are in prison God deals with us concerning any vile practices found in us. Sometimes believers are willing to harm another believer in order to secure an advantage for themselves. This is vile behavior. On one occasion I heard an older man continually insult and deride a female relative, possibly his wife or sister. She took all this meekly, probably having experienced it for many years. This is vile behavior.

It has happened locally that thieves have broken into a warehouse filled with toys for needy children and have stolen them. This is vile behavior. Sexually molesting or abusing a child is a vile behavior. Aborting a fetus for no good medical reason is vile behavior. Forcing our will on everyone around us is vile behavior. Taking credit for someone else's accomplishment is vile behavior. Starting a rumor about a person is vile behavior. Those who would separate friends are an abomination to the Lord.

Dishonesty, treachery, and lack of integrity, such as we see in the American government today, are vile and never shall be admitted into the Kingdom of God. Such behaviors are destined for the Lake of Fire. They can be hurt by the second death.

Some members of our government claim to be Christians who are saved by grace. Yet they continue in their vile behavior. Their "grace" will deposit them in the Lake of Fire.

When we are in prison God deals with all forms of murder that are in us. These forms can range from actually killing someone physically to gossip and slander. Gossip and slander are so common in the Christian churches that it appears pastors and teachers have given up trying to remove such actions. But gossip and slander absolutely ruin the testimony of a Christian assembly.

Gossiping and slandering are direct works of Satan. As such they are to be confessed as abominable sin, denounced, renounced, and driven from the Christian personality. All types of gossip, slander, spite, revenge, bitterness, hatred, backbiting, come under the category of murder. He who hates his brother or sister is a murderer and has no eternal life in him.

All such hate and divisiveness belong in the Lake of Fire. The second death retains authority over them and can torment the individual who practices them whether or not he or she is a Christian.

When we are in the prison of testing God deals with sexual immorality. The United States of America is the world headquarters for sexual immorality. Hollywood is responsible for much of this as its giant sewer pipes pour forth moral filth from its cavernous cesspools of perversion and infidelity.

Divine judgment is not slow to respond to this thrusting aside of God's laws. Multitudes of Americans are afflicted with one or more kinds of venereal disease.

Much of the world views America as a Christian nation and an immoral nation. Think of the kind of testimony "Christian" America is giving to the world! It is no wonder the Muslims rage as they do about the "great Satan."

This is not to excuse the spirit of murder in the Muslims, but it does point out that America is sick and may already, as David Wilkerson has pointed out, have lost its place as the leader of the world.

God will never, never, never permit a nation to continue in the lusts of the flesh in the manner that is true of America at the present time. Every form of sickness, disability, and weakness will enter our country. Many of the politicians are becoming fatuous, vacuous, foolish children who are amazed at their own silly behavior. We see this also in some of the leaders of England—that nation that once stood for righteousness and strength.

America will not be able to defend herself against the warlords of more disciplined nations that are biding their time, waiting to conspire against the United States. Sexual immorality has destroyed the backbone of America and it will be unable to resist the onslaughts of the future.

Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. But whoever engages in sexual activity in an unlawful manner can be hurt by the second death.

When we are in prison God deals with us concerning the practice of magic arts. I never thought I would live to see the day when Satan was worshiped in the United States. But I was wrong.

There have been many recent incidents of young people going on a rampage of murder. Sometimes the newspaper gives hints that Satan worship, the burning of incense, or a similar practice is associated with the murderers. You would think that the public would wake up and realize that the worship of Satan results in vicious criminal acts.

But I guess our worship of the god of free speech prevents our taking effective steps to prohibit the worship of Satan.

The idea of being a witch, or having spiritual power, appeals to people, sometimes to Christian people who want to control other people with their "words" or their dark, mysterious utterances.

There is a definite place in the Christian assembly for prophecy and words of wisdom and knowledge that come from the Spirit of the Lord. But these are to be administered in a down-home fashion, as plain and ordinary as your muddy work shoes. We are not to stir the pot, mutter incantations, or peep and mutter.

Speaking creative words, the word of faith, imaging, and so forth that have become fashionable are too close to the practice of magic arts to be comfortable. We do not bring the Lord's will to pass by imagining what we want or by making positive statements. We are to ask forthrightly in Jesus' name and look to the Lord for the answer. We are not to have faith in faith but in God!

At some point we may have expressed "faith" and a miracle occurred. Then we are put in prison and the miracles stop taking place. This is God's goodness to us so we do not get in the habit of trying to use spiritual principles in this manner and thus depart from a close fellowship with the Lord.

When we are in prison God deals with us concerning idolatry. As we said previously, God is over Christ who is over us. Any relationship, thing, or circumstance that has a hold on us is an idol. Only Christ, no one and nothing else, is to be our Lord, our Head. All else that we worship must be brought down and put beneath our feet. Much of the Christian experience consists of the Lord casting down our idols and putting them beneath our feet.

Physical lust is an American idol.

Romanticism is an American idol.

Trust in money to keep us safe and bring us happiness is an American idol.

Food is an American idol.

Professional sports are an American idol.

Education is an American idol.

Violence is an American idol.

Witchcraft is an American idol.

Entertainment is an American idol.

Material goods are an American idol.

Comfort is an American idol.

Sometimes children are idols; on other occasions they are murdered.

All of these stand between us and Jesus. When we are put in fiery prisons these gods are burned out of us—that is, if we respond in our prison with prayer, faith, and steadfast faithfulness.

When we are in prison God deals with us concerning telling the truth.

God Himself is so pure, so forthright, so straightforward, always dwelling in the light of transparent truth.

Jesus Christ demonstrated the same straightforwardness while on the earth, never trying to "sell" the Gospel.

We humans have been "wounded in the heel." We do not stand upright. Our name is Mr. Con Man.

We are full of guile. There is nothing like one of God's prisons to burn the guile out of us so that we stand upright and tell the truth.

The mark of God's firstfruits is that they are free from guile.

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5—NIV)

The very essence of Satan is the lie. All Satan is, does, and says is a lie. There is no truth in him. He lies and is the father of lies.

Because of this, our whole world, which rests in the lap of Satan, is one monumental lie.

Satan is the wrong way, the lie, and the death.

Jesus Christ is the true way, the truth, and the life.

(There is no way in which to make the world spirit acceptable to God. Whoever loves the ways of the world is the enemy of the Father.)

The world-spirit cannot be made acceptable to God.

Antichrist is the personification of the world-spirit. This is why the Book of Revelation has so much to say about Satan. As the world-spirit comes to maturity it will be exemplified in Antichrist. Whoever goes the way of Antichrist is heading toward fiery burnings in the Presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, He, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12—NIV)

The only people who will be able to escape the deceptions of Antichrist are those who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to the Lord Jesus. We Christians need to start obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. If we do not our nation will be visited with catastrophes of every kind.

There will be increasing pressure on God's people to accept and conform to the ways of the world. We are looking for some dramatic "Antichrist" to come on the scene. This is not the danger. The danger is the slow, insidious seeping of the ways of the world into the Christian churches. I think this is especially true in America which is so rich in the things of the world.

But all of the "glorious" culture of America is part of the great lie of Satan. We are urged to present our body a living sacrifice that we not be conformed to the world but transformed by the renewing of our mind. Our mind is attacked daily by the proliferation of media, including the newspapers, television, and Internet.

The American culture is a lie that says if we indulge in sexual lust and perversions we will find fulfillment and joy. The end of these excesses is torment and destruction of our personality.

It is a lie that says if we pursue our romantic dreams we will find our castle in the sky and joy. The end of these romantic visions is delusion and cruel disappointment.

It is a lie that says if we amass enough money we will be safe and find joy. Nothing of true value, such as health, protection from accident, or the love and respect of our family and friends, can be purchased with money.

It is a lie that says if we eat all we want at every meal we will find comfort and joy. The end of overeating is all kinds of serious physical ailments.

It is a lie that says if we entertain ourselves with professional athletics we will be pleasing to God and find joy. The Bible tells us to redeem the time because the days are evil. Sitting and watching professional sports on television is not what the Bible means by redeeming the time. Many of our brothers and sisters in other countries are being tortured and killed for the Gospel. And we should be occupying ourselves with professional athletes who are little more than court jesters, a great noise of very limited significance?

It is a lie that says an extensive education will bring meaning and joy to our life? The only important matter in life is to know God and walk with Him. Education more often than not is a hindrance to walking humbly with God.

It is a lie that says if we learn and practice the ways of violence we will find safety and joy. Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. The way of the Lord is one of meekness and peace, not forcing our will on others by means of violence. God is our protection, not physical strength or weapons.

It is a lie that says witchcraft will bring us hidden powers and joy. Witchcraft will bring us under obligation to Satan. Once we use Satan to get what we want we will then discover that he demands payment for his services. And he will never let go of us once he has us! Fortunate indeed are those who, through the Lord Jesus Christ, have managed to escape Satan after they have become indebted to him by seeking his assistance.

It is a lie that says continual entertainment will bring us contentment and joy. I do not believe it has ever been true before in the history of man that people have been exposed to the amount of entertainment furnished today by television. Yet watching television does not bring true rest and joy; it only postpones the facing of our problems.

If entertainment would actually bring contentment and joy, several major cities of the United States would not be in a state of near anarchy as gangs and drug dealers take over streets and neighborhoods. Inside the homes the people stay glued to the television screen or Internet monitor, being protected from the monsters that roam the streets by the steel bars on their windows—monsters who want to steal their little boys and girls and make them sex slaves or offer them as sacrifices to Satan. This is America as we approach the next millennium.

It is a lie that says if we possess enough material good, houses, furnishings, lands, automobiles, yachts, we will find peace and joy. If we look about us we see that the rich are no more peaceful or joyous than the poor. The poor person who lives by trusting Jesus is infinitely more peaceful, infinitely more joyous, than the wealthy individual who is occupied continually with increasing the size of his horde of gold and terrified he will lose some or all of it.

All of our experience in life, knowing people and reading about people, reveals clearly that the wealthy are no happier than the poor. Yet this delusion persists—if we only had millions of dollars we would have joy. This is not true and objective observation proves it is not true. The only lasting joy there is is that which is found in knowing God through the Lord Jesus.

We of America really need to be careful that while we are in the world we are deceived by the lie that the world is. There simply is nothing in the world we need or want, whether we are young or old. It is God who supplies our needs and our wants, although He may use people or things of the world to do this.

Are you living a life separated to God? If not you already are receiving the mark of Antichrist even though you profess to be saved by grace.

When God puts you in a fiery prison, don't try to save your life. God is burning the lie out of you.

A disclaimer is needed here. We always are to pray that God will give us the desire of our heart, even release from our fiery trial. We never are to just accept trouble believing it is the Lord's prison. Be careful of this. We are not masochists. We do not enjoy pain. We always are to seek God that we not suffer unnecessarily.

Remember this, because some have not sought healing believing God had afflicted them so they would not be lifted up in pride. They might have been healed had they prayed earnestly. Don't get fooled by this. Always pray that you may be delivered and have joy returned to you. Eventually it shall take place. A gloomy Christian is a defeated Christian. We can find joy wherever we are, although some of our trials are quite painful for a season.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (I Peter 5:10—NIV)

Cowardice, unbelief, vileness, murder, immorality, witchcraft, idolatry, and lying are removed from their hold on us and put beneath our feet as we wait faithfully in the prison where we have been placed.

When the Lord has you in a place of waiting, be careful that you don't bolt and set out to "do great things for God."

Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10,11—NIV)

God has given us a splendid example of what it means to walk in the fire with God. It is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

These three heroes of faith were bound in their clothes and thrown into a superheated furnace. Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the furnace because the three young men were in the fire with Jesus.

The remarkable thing is that the fire had no effect on the three saints other than to burn away whatever they were bound with.

And the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. (Daniel 3:27—NIV)

When Nebuchadnezzar called to them the three walked out, no longer being bound. How marvelous to be in the fire with the Lord?

When you are going through a really severe testing you may believe you are not going to survive. All is lost! But when you emerge you will discover nothing really was destroyed except your bondages.

Does suffering really remove our bondages?

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

Yes, suffering changes us so we do not desire to sin any longer. Suffering is a part of the program of redemption.

Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3,4—NIV)

We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

Hebrews informs us that all the sons of God are chastened that they may learn the peaceable, righteous ways of the Lord.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11—NIV)

No person having sound mental health desires trouble or suffering. Yet it is only as we suffer that we rule with Him. Otherwise our idols and self-serving pervert our judgment, preventing us from being bread for the spiritually needy.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)

God permits Satan to put some of us in prison in order to test us. We are not to be afraid of what we are to suffer.

We shall be persecuted for ten days.

One of the most difficult features of the Lord's prisons is that we do not know when our suffering will end. If we only knew we could scratch the days off on the granite wall of our cell. But for all we know the confinement will continue until we die.

If we are going to come through the Divinely appointed experience successfully we must place all of our hopes and dreams beyond physical death. We must lay up our treasures in Heaven because we have no idea how long our troubles will last.

If we set a time, saying, "After ten years I will take myself out of this prison," you can be sure that you will be left there for ten years to see what you will do.

No, you accept the fact that you may be delivered only by physical death. Then you will last through the trial. Indeed, it may in fact be relieved only by physical death! Abraham may actually be required to sacrifice Isaac!

We do not know when our pain will end. But we can be positive of one thing. God is in absolute control, just as He was Job. Our trial will not continue one second longer than God finds necessary to remove the idols that stand between Christ and us.

We shall receive the crown of life if we remain faithful to God. Then we can live before Him, free from those forces that were keeping us in miserable bondage. We did not realize, before we were released, how bound we actually have been.

Another great blessing is that we have no more fear of the torment that comes from Divine judgment on sin and rebellion. The second death can no longer hurt us in any manner. The Lake of Fire retains no authority over any part of our personality. We can approach God in utmost confidence.

So, as in all things, we enter our land of promise by overcoming the challenges placed before us. Life on the earth is so short, and eternity is so long, let us serve God with complete diligence and obedience while we are here.

We have a long, long time during the next life to contemplate our present decisions and actions.

Summary#4

It is God's will that His Church govern, under Christ, all the works of His hands. God created the Church in response to the rebellion of the angels. Whereas the angels at one time were highly exalted in positions of authority and power, now they are ministering spirits. Their role is to serve God's sons. God has assigned all government to His sons. They are the rulers and judges of mankind and the angels. They are the royal priesthood.

However, each one of us Christians has many relationships, things, and circumstances that stand between us and Christ. They govern us. They are our god and idols. They are chains that keep us in torment. We do not know what they are. So God permits Satan, as He did in the case of Job, to put is in the fire of suffering, in some form of prison. We are shut up and cannot come forth.

The purpose of the fiery trial the saints endure is to free us from the gods that would rule us, to remove all of the forces and things that stand between us and the headship of Christ and put them beneath our feet. At times this is a very painful process. We love and worship our gods and want to serve them. To have them wrenched away from their position in our personality and crucified tears at our soul. But we can receive nothing from God of eternal worth until first it has been crucified with Christ and then resurrected with Him.

The Lake of Fire has been given authority by the Father over certain types of behavior. The Lake of Fire retains this authority, even when we become a Christian. To have a personality that cannot be hurt by the second death, by the torment that follows Divine judgment, is a very desirable achievement.

The purpose of putting us in prison is that we might be delivered from those behaviors that result in the torment of the second death.

God has given us a splendid example of what it means to walk in the fire with God. It is the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

These three heroes of faith were bound in their clothes and thrown into a superheated furnace. Nebuchadnezzar saw four men in the furnace because the three young men were in the fire with Jesus.

The remarkable thing is that the fire had no effect on the three saints other than to burn away whatever they were bound with.

Questions#4

1. What verses from the Book of Deuteronomy help explain why the Israelites had to be brought low before being entrusted with the land of promise?

2. If God places us in a prison of circumstance what are two responses we can make?

3. Identify one purpose of the fiery trial saints endure:

4. List the types of behavior over which the Lake of Fire has authority:

5. List three verses which help us understand that suffering can change our personalities by removing our bondages:

Keep My Commandments!

Introduction

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (I John 2:3-6—NIV)

"Must walk as Jesus did"! Must behave as Jesus did, think as Jesus did, speak as Jesus did, act as Jesus did. The Lord Jesus is our example and our guide.

We Christians do not understand the New Testament. We do not understand the new covenant. We are not walking as Jesus did or obeying His commandments, in many instances.

Whether because of Gnosticism or Dispensationalism, we cannot see what is in front of us, what the New Testament is saying.

Gnosticism is a philosophy that existed in the early Christian era. Gnosticism emphasizes the difference between the body and the spirit of man. Gnosticism points toward the restoration of the spirit of the individual to the heavenly abode and probably is a main reason why the Christian hope has changed from the original coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth to our going to Heaven to live forever. Gnosticism presents specialized knowledge as the means by which our spirit is freed to return to Heaven.

A basic concept of Gnosticism is we can be pious in our spirit while our body indulges in sin. Gnosticism, with its emphasis on spirit and knowledge, while disregarding our bodily conduct, presented a threat to the early churches.

If you will read the Book of First John with the teaching of Gnosticism in mind you will see why scholars believe the Apostle was resisting Gnosticism. The Gnostics, because of their belief, would not bring their bodies under control, and they would never accept the fact that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. The Gnostics would never accept the idea that any aspect of the flesh of man could bring salvation.

Thus we can see clearly that present-day Christian teaching is a watered-down Gnosticism. Its doctrine is correct as regards the redemption that is in Christ, but its goal and methods of operating are clearly Gnostic.

The effect of Dispensationalism has much the same effect on our thinking. The idea of Dispensationalism is that the new covenant is a dispensation of grace such that how we behave is quite secondary in importance. We are saved by our belief system apart from our actual behavior in the body. This again is Gnosticism.

The understanding today is that we do not have to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. As long as we believe the doctrines concerning Christ it is not too important how we behave in our body. This viewpoint is a blending, a syncretism of Gnosticism and the Apostle Paul's teaching concerning Divine grace. The blend is an utterly destructive force in current Gospel teaching.

Yet we say we believe in the full verbal inspiration of the holy Scriptures. Do we? Have we not in fact claimed the Scriptures do not mean what they say when they warn the Christians of the necessity for keeping the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles? Have we become Gnostics?

Do we really believe the Book of First John is inspired?

Let's see what it says:

We know we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

How do we know we have come to know Jesus Christ? We know that we know Him if we obey His commands.

What if we do not keep His commands? In this case we do not know Jesus Christ.

Can we not know Jesus Christ and still be "saved"? How can we be saved if we are disobedient to God? Do you believe we can disobey God and still be saved? I don't!

"But I am saved by grace." What do you mean? Do you mean you can disobey the commandments of Christ and God will overlook your behavior? Where did you ever get such an idea?

The Bible says the only way we can know Christ is by keeping His commands. If we do not keep His commands we do not know Him and He does not know us.

The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

What can we say about the Christian who claims to know Christ but does not do what Christ commands?

The Bible says he or she is a liar!

Why would the Holy Spirit inspire the Apostle John to speak in such strong terms? No doubt it was because of the pressure being put on the churches by the Gnostics, who taught that salvation has to do with specialized beliefs one holds and not with our behavior in the flesh.

I have become convinced that the modern Christian doctrine of grace is actually a form of Gnosticism and not the new covenant at all.

All we have to rely on is the written Word. Our current doctrine is not in line with the written Word. Therefore it is incorrect even though believed by the great majority of the blood-washed children of God.

But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him.

God's love will never be made complete in us until we obey His written Word. This is what the Bible teaches.

The formation of Christ in us depends directly on our keeping the commands of Christ in the Gospels and given through His Apostles in the Epistles.

The idea we are saved by grace (forgiveness) apart from righteous, holy, obedient conduct is a lie, and a very successful one from Satan's viewpoint. It is antinomianism, a teaching compatible with Gnosticism.

This is how we know we are in him.

The only possible way in which we can be certain we are in Jesus Christ is that we are keeping His commandments and those He gave us through His Apostles. When we are not keeping the commandments found in the New Testament we have no guarantee we are in Christ, even though we feel like we are; even though everyone we trust says we are; even though we have taken "the four steps of salvation"; even though we feel like we have God's blessing.

Only those who are "in Christ" will be resurrected and caught up to meet Him in the air. No believer who is not keeping Christ's commandments will be resurrected and caught up to meet Him when He appears. Anyone who says otherwise is deceived. The truth is not in him or her.

Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Jesus walked in righteous, holy, obedient behavior. If we claim to live in Him we must behave as He did. If we claim to be in Him but do not keep His commandments because we believe we are "saved by grace" and our behavior does not matter, then we do not understand how new-covenant grace operates. We are living in deception.

Are we saved by grace or by works of righteousness we have done?

We are saved by the Divine grace that always results in righteous behavior. When the grace we have does not result in righteous behavior it is not the true grace of God but a form of Gnosticism. It is a false grace. How can we be sure? Because it is not according to the Bible.

Notice what John says at the end of his epistle:

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (I John 5:20—NIV)

John apparently was resisting the philosophy of Gnosticism. He states (in the second chapter) that the reason for writing his epistle is that we would not sin. After numerous exhortations commanding us to live righteously John concludes by saying, "He is the true God and eternal life." John said this because the god preached by the Gnostics was not the true God but a philosophy. So it is today. The current Christian teaching is not the true God but a philosophy, a philosophy that does not bring forth a new moral creation in Jesus Christ.

Notice the following three statements from the Book of Revelation, the one book bound with a curse on anyone who adds to it or subtracts from it:

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17—NIV)

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (Revelation 14:12—NIV)

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14—NIV)

"Which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Because of the destructive model known as Dispensationalism we suppose that the above three passages from the Book of Revelation are referring to Jews who have the testimony of Jesus Christ, because Christians are not supposed to be keeping any commandments. Dispensationalism resolves the numerous inconsistencies in its doctrine by saying "this passage refers to Jews"; or "this is Jewish ground." What a wretched business this is! Why don't we just refer to any passage that inconveniences us as "Jewish ground"? Why not throw out the whole Bible as "Jewish ground" and be done with it!

The whole New Testament is Christian ground and is to be obeyed!

The true Christian keeps the commandments of God and has the testimony of Jesus Christ according to the Apostle John, who wrote the Gospel of John, three epistles, and also the Book of Revelation from which we are quoting.

"Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Who is John referring to, Jewish Christians? But what about the Gentiles? Can it be said of them that they are the people who have the faith of Jesus but do not keep God's commandments? This is absolute nonsense. If this is the case, the Book of First John is written only to Jewish Christians.

If First John is written only to Jewish Christians, then we Gentile Christians need to cut it out of our New Testament along with the hope of seeing Him and being like Him when He appears. Are you ready to cut First John out of your New Testament? If not, you had better start keeping Christ's commandments if you desire to be found in Him when He returns.

The Lord Jesus said to the Jew, Nicodemus, "You must be born again to see or enter the Kingdom of God." This was said by a Jew to a Jew and recorded by John, the Jew. Is this therefore "Jewish ground"? Are Jews the only people who must be born again to see or enter the Kingdom of God? It is time to wake up. We Christians do not understand the new covenant! We have been deceived royally by the enemy.

Satan desires to prevent us from keeping the commandments of the New Testament because when we do Christ is formed in us. When Christ is formed in us Satan's kingdom has come to an end. Satan has no fear of the Church, only of Christ being formed in the Church. This is why in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation Satan is attempting to devour not the Church but He who is to be formed in the Church as the members keep God's commandments.

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. (Revelation 22:14—NIV)

You may tell me that you are going to eat of the tree of life and enter through the gates into the new Jerusalem by grace, that is, by forgiveness. I am going to respond to you that you never will enter the new Jerusalem solely by forgiveness. According to God's holy, unchanging, eternal word the only way you can eat of the tree of life and enter through the gates into the holy city is by washing your robes.

How do we get a clean robe?

The next verse tells us.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:8—NIV)

The only way a believer can wash his robes is by confessing his sins and then turning away from them. The fine linen of the saints is not imputed righteousness but the actual righteousness produced by the righteous acts of the saints.

But what about the Great Commission? Aren't we to go to every nation and tell people they can enter Heaven by grace without keeping God's commandments?

I know this is how the Great Commission is viewed today. But do you know what the Great Commission actually states?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20—NIV)

I can hear the Dispensationalists saying, "But this is Jewish ground because we are saved by grace. We do not have to obey everything Christ commanded."

Oh no! We are commissioned to teach the nations to obey the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Gospel is not that we do not have to keep God's commandments (out of which bottomless pit was this teaching drawn?) but that God is ready to forgive us and furnish us with Divine assistance so we can begin to keep His commandments.

Grace is Divine assistance—the authority, power, and wisdom to serve God. We have made grace an alternative to righteous behavior. Can you imagine such an error?

Did the Lord Jesus say we are to keep His commandments?

If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15—NIV)

Oh, I forgot. "This is Jewish ground. This statement was made by the Lord prior to His resurrection and was superseded by the writings of the Apostles."

Then how about being a room in the Father's house, found in the same chapter? Is this venerable hope of the Christian people also Jewish ground? The hope of being a room in the Father's house also was given by the Lord prior to His resurrection. Was this hope also superseded by the writings of the Apostles? Are the Jews to be the only rooms in the Father's house?

John said:

Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work. (II John 1:9-11—NIV)

Jesus Christ taught us to keep His commandments. The modern Christian teaching is Gnostic heresy, the very doctrine John was resisting.

The Jews do not have the grace of the new covenant to enable them to keep the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ. Only born-again Christians have this kind of Divine enablement.

The modern teaching of grace produces unrighteous, unclean, disobedient behavior—the very opposite of the intended effect of the new covenant.

The solution, and the only solution, for the current distressful condition of the Christian churches is not a "rapture" to Heaven (another falsity of Dispensational theory). It is repentance, that is, a turning to God and the keeping of His commandments.

You cannot build your house on the rock by giving mental assent to the blood atonement and the coming of the Lord. You build your house on the rock only by keeping Christ's commandments.

It is time for a reformation of Christian thinking.

The Commandments of Jesus by Inference

It appears that most of the commandments given by Jesus were given by inference, although He issued a few direct commandments.

It appears also that most of the commandments given by Jesus' Apostles were given directly, although a few were by inference.

In any event, whether the commandment was inferred or expressed by Jesus in the Gospels or by His Apostles in the Epistles, every commandment found in the New Testament comes from Jesus Christ and is to be viewed as God's commandment. They are not just suggestions or good ideas, they are commandments.

We cannot keep the commandments of Jesus Christ in our own strength. We have to keep on coming to the Throne of Grace to receive the strength and wisdom necessary to keep the commandments. The Holy Spirit will always help us do what the Word declares. This is why the Spirit of God is here among us!

Let us now look at a few of the commandments Jesus gave us by inference. These are the commandments referred to in the Book of First John.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3—NIV)

Didn't the Lord put this nicely? But we get the point. We by inference are being commanded to be poor in spirit. If we choose to be poor in spirit, and the Holy Spirit will help us if we ask Him, we will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

But what if we are not poor in spirit? We will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Can I be prevented from inheriting the Kingdom of Heaven and still be saved?" I can just hear someone asking this, so determined are we believers to not do what the Lord said.

The answer is, "You will not inherit or enter the Kingdom of Heaven, your eternal abode will be outer darkness."

But what about "grace"? If you call on God in Jesus' name, God will send you the grace to be poor in spirit. You simply cannot use new-covenant grace as a way of entering the Kingdom of Heaven while you remain rich in your own ways.

The Christian churches of today are attempting to use new-covenant grace as a way of getting around the commandments of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine such doctrinal chaos? Such a religious mess? It is no wonder the people of the United States have little confidence in the Christian people or their churches!

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4—NIV)

Aren't Christians supposed to be happy all the time? If you are happy all the time you will not be comforted by the Lord.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. (James 4:8,9—NIV)

Jesus by inference commands us to mourn. James directly commands us to mourn. Every commandment issued by the Lord Jesus can be found in the Epistles, if I am not mistaken.

Look at these wonderful commandments!

Come near to God.

Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

James is addressing Christians.

Grieve, mourn, and wail.

Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.

If we ask God to help us keep these commandments He shall. Then He will comfort us, and the comfort of God far outweighs in value any gloom we experience.

I am not suggesting weird behavior at this point. It is, however, a wise and righteous person who shuns the levity and foolishness that so often abounds in the Christian churches. We are living in serious days and we need to be watchful in prayer at all times lest we be deceived by the enemy.

There is nothing wrong with being serious, and the Lord Jesus is commanding us to keep ourselves in a sober frame of mind, always ready to weep with those who are being afflicted.

The Christians of the early centuries had many opportunities to grieve, mourn, and wail. Let us keep in mind that our nation is filled with behavior that is abominable to God, and Divine judgment cannot be far off. Let us always remember this and not conduct ourselves in a frivolous, silly manner. Then we will not be knocked off our feet when disaster strikes. Also we will be able to comfort others. When someone is hurting they do not wish to be approached by gleeful people but by those who weep with them and comfort them.

This is what the Lord is commanding.

Will we be comforted because we are being "saved by grace"? No, we will be comforted because we are mourning.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5—NIV)

By inference the Lord Jesus is commanding us to be meek. Meekness is patience, humility, gentleness, submission to authority and teaching. The opposite of meekness is impatience, pride, harshness, and resistance to authority and teaching.

Who will inherit the earth—those who have "taken the four steps of salvation"? Numerous people who have taken the four steps of salvation and fill the Christian churches are impatient, proud, harsh, and resistant to authority and teaching. Their number is legion.

The question is, Who will inherit the earth? The answer God gave us is: "the meek."

Here is the mammoth Christian misunderstanding. We are looking to Divine grace to provide an alternative to meekness so we can be impatient, proud, harsh, and resistant to authority and teaching and still inherit the earth.

Now I ask you, do you really believe God gave us grace through the Lord Jesus Christ so proud, haughty, arrogant, unteachable believers can inherit the earth?

If you believe this with all your heart, join the majority of Christian people.

Do we realize we are making the words of Jesus Christ of no effect by our traditions? Do we even care this is so?

Am I teaching we can be meek, refuse to receive Jesus Christ, and still inherit the earth?

I am teaching nothing of the kind. The Bible tells us clearly that to refuse Jesus Christ is to refuse the Divine salvation, to choose darkness over light.

Rather, I am maintaining that the purpose of Divine grace is to make us meek, patient, humble, gentle, and accepting of authority and teaching.

If grace does not change our personality in this manner it has been made worthless for Kingdom purposes.

The Word of Jesus Christ cannot be altered in any manner. It is the meek, and only the meek, who will inherit the earth.

I have heard that Dispensationalism teaches the Jews inherit the earth and the Gentiles inherit Heaven. This is the insanity, corruption, and destruction that proceeds from the teaching of Dispensationalism. The arrogant, haughty Gentile believers inherit Heaven, Paradise, the angels, God Himself, while the arrogant, haughty, quarrelsome Jews inherit the earth.

No, Brother, and Sister, the Jews and Gentiles who are part of the Lord Jesus Christ are the one Seed of Abraham. Christ through His Spirit teaches the Seed meekness. Then we are heirs of Heaven, earth, the angels, the new Jerusalem, the saved nations of the earth, and God Himself.

Jews and Gentiles who are not part of Jesus Christ will be judged by the Lord and receive their proper reward when standing before the White Throne.

If Christians threw away their commentaries and read the Scriptures, I think the world would be a better place.

Whew!

We have mentioned three commandments the Lord gave by inference: that we must be poor in spirit if we would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven; that we must mourn if we would receive the Divine comfort; and that we must be meek if we would inherit the earth.

There are many more such implied commandments found in the Gospels. They are to be read, prayed over, and obeyed as the Lord helps. If we obey them Christ will be formed in us. If we do not obey them Christ will not be formed in us and we will be cut from the Vine, from Christ.

Let us now look to see if Christ gave us any direct commandments in the Gospel accounts.

The Direct Commandments of Jesus

The first words of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus were a direct commandment. Both John and Jesus said the same thing:

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Mark 1:4—NIV)

The time has come, he [the Lord Jesus] said. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15—NIV)

"Repent and believe." "Repent and believe." "Repent and believe."

These are direct commandments given by the Lord Jesus.

Our whole Christian life is to be one of repenting and believing. This is how we enter the Kingdom of God.

You may notice in the Book of Acts that the Apostles invariably commanded repentance when they preached the forgiveness available through Jesus Christ.

To repent and believe are one act, actually. True belief always results in repentance.

Since to repent is a "work," repentance is not always preached today. The preaching is "believe and receive" not "repent and believe." There is a world of difference between "believe and receive" and "repent and believe."

To repent is to turn away from the world, the lusts of the flesh, and self will. Each day we are to renew our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each day will bring to our attention a new area of our personality from which we need, by the Lord's help, to turn away. Each day we press into the Kingdom of God.

Our salvation is not a one-time occurrence. Salvation is always "today." The moment we cease repenting and believing, in that moment the forces of decay and death press into our personality.

The moment we cease brushing our teeth the forces of decay seek to enter. Tooth decay is always present, looking for an opportunity to cause harm. Worldliness, lust, and self-will are always present, looking for an opportunity to bring death into our personality, to drive from us the Kingdom of God.

"Repent and believe." This is one of the greatest commandments of all and the means by which we enter the Kingdom of God.

Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mark 1:17—NIV)

It is my personal point of view that one of the most damaging burdens placed on today's Christian believers is that we all are supposed to be personal workers; we all are to go out into the world and get souls saved; we all are to have "a passion for souls."

Whenever there is a damaging burden it has originated with Satan. What does Satan have in mind by oppressing believers with this unscriptural responsibility? It is to get their minds off the Lord and onto their own dead works. It is to keep the believers in guilt and confusion because the great majority of them do not have the Divine grace that will enable them to be a personal worker or to go into all the world and "save souls." Neither do they have the "passion for souls" (where did this unscriptural concept originate?).

It is scriptural to have a passion for Jesus. It is not scriptural to have a passion for souls. I think this expression reveals the influence of Humanism.

This writer has on occasion felt the passion of Christ for particular people and in one instance for an entire nation. I expect to visit that nation in the day of the Lord. That emotionally wrenching experience will probably be vindicated at some point.

But usually I go about my business without any great "passion for souls." I always have a passion for Christ but not always for souls. I must be a heartless believer, although I am giving my life, in obedience to Jesus, to attempt to explain the way the new covenant operates.

The Lord did not command us to go fishing but to follow Him!

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (I Peter 3:15—NIV)

If we live in Christ and walk as He walked, people will be drawn to us. Then we can respond to their questions. This is what the Bible teaches and what we ought to do.

Christian believers announce with one voice that "we ought to go out and get souls saved; we ought to have a passion for souls; we all have been charged to evangelize; we must bear witness to everyone we meet."

In the meanwhile many such "evangelists" often live like the devil himself with their gossip, slander, backbiting, selfishness, self-centeredness, manipulations to get their own way, divisiveness, covetousness, arrogance, haughtiness, impatience, immorality, spiritual pride, party loyalties, and everything else of evil report. Instead of being peacemakers they bring hatred and division wherever they go.

The Christian churches are bywords in America because of the evil works of the so-called Christians.

The Lord did not command us to be fishers of men, please note carefully. He commanded us to <MI>follow Him<D>. When we follow Him He always makes us fishers of men.

First He has to get our personality straightened out. What fish is going to be drawn to a blind, deaf novice thrashing around in the water and using the wrong kind of bait?

This is what we are until we follow the Lord and He makes us a fisher of men.

There are all kinds of fish and all kinds of bait and techniques for catching them.

Each one of us is a unique kind of bait. The Lord instructs us until we are using the right technique, some for trout, some for cod, some for eel.

It may be true for most of us that the "fishing" we do we are not even aware of. It is the fruit of a personality walking continually in the light of the Presence of Christ. There is rest and refreshing in this.

As far as I'm concerned, we could do without the work of proselyting being enjoined on the newly converted!

As Oswald Chambers says, when the people around us sense our desire to proselyte them they smell the gunpowder and are repulsed. Yet Brother Chambers has proven to be quite a successful fisherman!

We are commanded to leave all and to follow Christ. Whoever obeys the Lord's command will be made a unique bait for specific fish that the Lord desires. Let Christ build His own Church. You concentrate on following Him as closely as you can.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets. (Luke 6:22,23—NIV)

Christ commanded us to rejoice and leap for joy when people hate us, when they exclude us, when they insult us, when they reject our name as evil—all because we belong to Jesus Christ.

This commandment runs directly against our evil, adamic nature. It crucifies us. In order to obey it we have to pray fervently until the fires of the flesh are extinguished. Then the light and the glory of the Holy Spirit enter us and we can rejoice and leap for joy.

All people, including Christians, have a problem when they believe they are being treated unjustly. When we are persecuted unjustly in any manner our adamic nature comes to the front. The desire for revenge is tremendous but the Spirit of God is stronger.

If we avenge ourselves, or develop a bitter, hateful attitude, continually speaking angrily of those who have harmed us, Christ will not be formed in us. If Christ is not formed in us we will be cut from the Vine whether or not our doctrine is correct and we have taken "the four steps of salvation" (actually there are four billion steps of salvation!).

We have not been given an option. If we are to be the children of the prophets, to have a great reward in Heaven, we simply must obey God's commandments.

We have seen then that by inference and direct commandment the Lord Jesus instructed us how we should behave. To ignore these commandments, saying we are saved by grace and do not have to keep them, is to ignore and disobey God. Let no person be so foolish as to believe he or she can ignore and disobey God and then be saved by grace and mercy. This is the great error, the massive satanic hoax of our day.

Let us proceed to the Apostles. When the Apostles issued a commandment, either by inference or direct injunction, it was Christ who was speaking in them. Most or all of the commandments given by Christ in the four Gospels can be found in the Epistles in one form or another. There was no change because we passed from the Gospels to the Epistles! It is all one Christ, one set of commandments. Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, not by the Apostles themselves.

The Commandments of the Apostles by Inference

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

At this point the Apostle Paul did not directly command us to crucify our sinful nature with its passions and desires, he merely said that such an action is true of all who belong to Christ Jesus. A few verses earlier Paul stipulated that if we live according to our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But in actuality Paul is commanding us to crucify our sinful nature with its passions and desires. If we do not do so we will not inherit the Kingdom of God, and it will be true of us that we do not belong to Jesus Christ.

If we do not crucify our sinful nature, presenting our body a living sacrifice, Christ will not be formed in us. Will we be "saved" anyway? If one can be saved without inheriting the Kingdom of God, without belonging to Jesus Christ, maybe it is true that we will be saved anyway (whatever that would mean).

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8—NIV)

While Paul did not command us in so many words he actually was requiring that we renounce our sinful nature and walk in the Spirit of God. He declared plainly that if we do not do so we will not reap eternal life. Divine grace does not operate to destroy the Kingdom principles of cause and effect—never!

But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (Hebrews 3:6—NIV)

The writer of Hebrews does not command us to hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. He merely warns us that if we do not do so we will not be part of Christ's house.

However the writer by inference indeed is commanding us to hold faithfully to our courage and our hope in Christ. He reminds us of the Jews who were saved out of Egypt and then perished in the wilderness because they did not continue in faith in God.

The Apostles not only issued indirect and direct commands but also portrayed Christ's commandments by their lives of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Paul's efforts to bring material support to the poor believers is an example of the attitude Christ would have us take toward those in need.

We are way out of balance today with our bloated justification, a warped, poisonous doctrine that destroys God's intention under the new covenant. Will the Christian churches of America ever recover from the false doctrine that is prevalent?

The Direct Commandments of the Apostles

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28—NIV)

The above verse is a death blow to the American Christian. He would not dream of working with his hands in order to share with those in need.

He might steal, or he might refrain from stealing. But if he works it is to support himself and his family. If he is making more money than he needs he will store it in the bank or invest it in stocks and bonds.

To work in order to share with those in need is very, very difficult for the American believer—as difficult as leading a camel through the eye of a needle.

What do we do with such an "impossible" commandment? We go directly to God's Throne in Heaven, as we must with every other commandment of the New Testament, and gain the wisdom and strength needed to obey this direct injunction.

The Apostle Paul did not issue this command in order for it to be ignored. He was hearing from Christ and passing on the Word to the Christians of Ephesus.

We Americans worship money, not God but money. The American who does not look to money for security, survival, happiness, success, is quite rare. We are in a culture driven by money, that holds up money as the highest good.

The American believer has a hard time entering the Kingdom of God because of his worship of money. If he does not gain victory over his trust in money, over his worship of money, over his amassing money, Christ will not be formed in him.

No person can serve God and money! Mammon, the god of riches, is the only one of the multitude of Roman and Greek gods that the Lord Jesus mentioned as being a rival of the God of Heaven.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24—NIV)

All true Christians are required to come out of the ways of the world, to not touch the uncleannesses of the world. We are in the world but not of the world.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2—NIV)

"Offer your bodies as living sacrifices." "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world." "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

We Americans are quite worldly. We are conformed to the world by magazines, the newspapers, the television, the motion pictures, by billboards, by our schools, and now by the Internet.

To keep from being harmed by our culture would be impossible if we were not able to go to the Lord continually for the wisdom and strength to rise above the moral pollution.

We are not to go to the motion pictures if there is any profanity, any allusions to sexual activity outside of marriage, any witchcraft, any violence, any drunkenness, any smoking, or any amassing of money. We are not to expose ourselves or our children to that which we have been commanded to renounce.

Does this sound strict to you? It is! We Christians who are members of the royal priesthood are required to be holy as our God is holy. Without holiness no individual will ever see the Lord, will ever be able to serve as a ruling priest.

There are numerous things to do in place of going to the theater that are righteous, holy, and will impress our personalities and those of our children with that which conforms us to the image of God.

The same holds true for television, the Internet, even books. We as Christians have been commanded to come out from the world and cleanse ourselves through the blood of Jesus and the Spirit of God. If we do not, Christ will not be formed in us.

If this appears to you to be excessively strict it is because the Christian churches in America are in a backslidden condition. Our concept of the normal Christian life is skewed in favor of worldly, sinful behavior.

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; That each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, Not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; And that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. (I Thessalonians 4:1-6—NIV)

Here are four direct commandments, given by the Apostle Paul by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

"You should be sanctified."

"You should avoid sexual immorality."

"Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen."

"No one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him."

Are we to keep these directives or is Divine grace an alternative to observing them? The truth is, Christ will not be formed in us if we do not, through the Holy Spirit, keep these admonitions. They are God's own commandments enjoined on us!

Conclusion

If we love Jesus Christ we will keep His commandments.

Christ has given us the blood atonement, access to the Holy of Holies in Heaven, water baptism, the Holy Spirit, His Substance conceived in us, the body and blood of the new covenant to eat and drink, the Word of God, Christian friends and the assembly of fervent brothers and sisters in the Lord, the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, and sometimes opportunities to serve.

All of these are to help us keep the commandments of God. The Jews of the old covenant did not have many of these supernatural aids; neither did they have commandments as strict as ours. The Jew was commanded to set aside his own life one day a week. We have been commanded to set aside our own life seven days of every week, twenty-four hours of every day. We have been commanded to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus.

We have been given much more grace than were the Jews. We have been issued much stricter commandments than were the Jews.

Christianity has suffered incomprehensible harm by the doctrine that Divine grace relieves us from keeping God's commandments. What would be true of the twentieth century if all the believers in Jesus Christ had prayed to God until they were able to keep the commandments found in the New Testament?

America is in a deplorable moral state today—the immorality prevalent in our culture is incredible—and we are going to suffer for it. If enough Christians repent of their sins, turn to God, and pray for righteousness, God may be willing to restore righteousness to the United States. But His way of doing this may not be pleasing to the flesh.

Let us all keep God's commandments. Let us join our prayer with Amos that righteousness will roll on as a continual stream in our government, in our churches, in our schools, in our families and homes, in our own hearts.

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24—NIV)

The righteous Lord loves righteousness. The holy Lord wants us to be holy as He is holy. Our Father requires total obedience on the part of His children.

Iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father.

This is the cry of the Spirit today, His call to the churches.

Will you answer that call, saving yourself and those who hear you?

Summary#5

Christianity has suffered incomprehensible harm by the doctrine that Divine grace relieves us from keeping God's commandments. What would be true of the twentieth century if all the believers in Jesus Christ had prayed to God until they were able to keep the commandments found in the New Testament?

The understanding today is that we do not have to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. As long as we believe the doctrines concerning Christ it is not too important how we behave in our body. This viewpoint is a blending, a syncretism of Gnosticism and the Apostle Paul's teaching concerning Divine grace. The blend is an utterly destructive force in current Gospel teaching.

Satan desires to prevent us from keeping the commandments of the New Testament because when we do Christ is formed in us. When Christ is formed in us Satan's kingdom has come to an end. Satan has no fear of the Church, only of Christ being formed in the Church. This is why in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation Satan is attempting to devour not the Church but He who is to be formed in the Church as the members keep God's commandments.

The formation of Christ in us depends directly on our keeping the commands of Christ in the Gospels and given through His Apostles in the Epistles.

The idea we are saved by grace (forgiveness) apart from righteous, holy, obedient conduct is a lie, and a very successful one from Satan's viewpoint. It is antinomianism, a teaching compatible with Gnosticism.

When the grace we have does not result in righteous behavior it is not the true grace of God but a form of Gnosticism. It is a false grace. How can we be sure? Because it is not according to the Bible.

The modern teaching of grace produces unrighteous, unclean, disobedient behavior—the very opposite of the intended effect of the new covenant.

The solution, and the only solution, for the current distressful condition of the Christian churches is not a "rapture" to Heaven (another falsity of Dispensational theory). It is repentance, that is, a turning to God and the keeping of His commandments.

You cannot build your house on the rock by giving mental assent to the blood atonement and the coming of the Lord. You build your house on the rock only by keeping Christ's commandments.

Questions#5

1. Identify three commandments the Lord Jesus gave us by inference:

2. Define in practical terms what it means to repent:

3. Jesus commanded us how to respond when people hate us for belonging to Him. Summarize this process:

4. Identify two direct commandments from the Apostle Paul:

5. Summarize the assistance God has given us to enable us to keep His commandments and how this differs from the covenant He made with the Jews:

Answer Guide

The Pursuit of Life

1. The Divine program has as its purpose the removing of sin from the inward nature of man, and then, at the return of the Lord, the raising of the flesh and bone of man and the clothing of his frame with a body of eternal life.

Once man has been raised he is able to live once more on the earth. Also a kingdom is being perfected, a kingdom that will govern man so he does not fall into sin again.

2. There are two sets of outcomes of our behavior. One set comprises outcomes of place. The other set comprises outcomes of state of being. The two outcomes of place are Paradise, and torment. The two outcomes of state of being are the fullness of eternal life, and a diminished degree of eternal life all the way down to total corruption of personality, especially regarding the body.

3. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (Philippians 3:8-10—NIV)

4. The goal, the prize, is the fullness of eternal life, the redemption of the body. Paul wanted to be delivered from the body of sin and death. Paul wanted to be able to live a righteous life in God’s sight without having to wrestle continually with a body full of sin. He realized the Lord Jesus has come to do just that—to free us from the sinful body so we can live in a manner pleasing to God.

5. And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11—NIV)

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28—NIV)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30—NIV)

Making the Glory our Own

1. The basic story of life is that of the prodigal son. It is the story of mankind, of Samson, of Israel, of the Christian Church, of each one of us.

We are given something wonderful, but because of the ease with which it was received we really can't appreciate it. In one way or another we have to make it our own. To have and to hold something, especially for eternity, we have to receive it twice.

2. The kingdom of Solomon is an example of great value given to a king and his people, a value gained by a previous ruler whose hands were stained with the blood of numerous battles.

Things of great value that are given freely are often lost by those who were not involved in acquiring them. Solomon sinned later in his life and from that time the handwriting was on the wall. Israel became the two warring nations of Israel and Judah. Little by little the power and grandeur of the original kingdom were eroded until Israel was carried off captive by the Assyrians and Judah by the Babylonians.

3. An emphasis on war and the idea of a militant approach to entering the Kingdom of God.

An emphasis on confessing and putting to death through the Spirit the sins of our personality, including worldliness, lust, and self-will.

An emphasis on Christ being formed in us, and then the coming of the Father and Christ to dwell in the new creation that has been formed in us.

4. Generally speaking, it is time for the members of the Body of Christ to come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. Two other insights are of great importance.

First, the goal of salvation. An understanding of the goal of salvation is critically important if one is to understand what the Spirit is saying today. Our traditional goal is to go to Heaven to live forever. Added to this is the hope of a beautiful mansion where we will visit forever with our friends, doing little of significance for eternity.

You will not find anywhere in the Bible that the goal of salvation is to bring you to Heaven where you will recline in your mansion and visit with your friends. The goal of salvation is to change you into the moral image of Christ and to bring you into untroubled rest in the center of God's will. The purpose of such change and such rest is that you might serve Christ forever in His Kingdom, that you might work with Him in bringing justice to the nations.

The second insight concerns the nature of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ and the reason for His return to earth. The current tradition is that the purpose of the coming of the Lord is to carry off His Bride to Heaven. You will not find such a notion anywhere in the Bible.

The purpose of the coming of the Lord is to establish His Kingdom on the earth and to bring justice to the nations. In line with this purpose the Lord will raise His saints, His army, from the dead and clothe them with glorified bodies. Then they will be caught up together with the living saints to meet the Lord in the air, in the place of the spiritual thrones from which the world is governed.

Then the Lord will descend, followed by His victorious saints, and drive evil from the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ will be crowned King of kings on the Temple Mount in the city of Jerusalem. From there He and His saints will go forth and govern the nations, teaching them the eternal moral law of God.

5. We are entering a time of spiritual warfare.

Christ has forgiven our sins through the blood of the cross.

Now He is ready to finish the job by taking away our sins.

It is time for Christ to be formed in us.

The Cross Is the Only Entrance

1. A religion is a set of beliefs and practices by which a group of people hope to appease or please God. Judaism and Christianity are religions.

However, Judaism and Christianity have a dimension not true of other religions. They include interaction with the living God. The individual can come each day and commune with God. He does not need to pursue his beliefs and practices blindly, as a person would pursue some scheme in the hope of obtaining a result.

The difference between a religion and the unique quality of Judaism and Christianity can be observed in the Garden of Eden. The relationship of Adam and Eve to God was not a "religion" in the way we ordinarily use the term.

2. The reason many Christians are adherents of a religion but do not enjoy the relationship with Jesus Christ they could have is that they do not enter through the cross. They come to Jesus as an adamic personality and remain an adamic personality throughout their life.

Those who are unusually fervent may be busily engaged in the work of their church. They may make a profession of faith in the blood atonement. They may be active in the work of evangelism. They may speak in tongues. They may demonstrate other gifts of the Spirit. They may even go to another country as a missionary. But they still may be putting a religious dress on the adamic nature.

The reason for this is they were not taught when they were baptized in water that they were entering Christ's death on the cross and rising in His resurrection life. They never have learned that they are to count themselves crucified with Christ and risen with Christ. They may have memorized Galatians 2:20 but it is not a living experience with them.

3. Now that we are dead with Christ and risen with Christ the work of reconciling our personality to God begins. Our new born-again nature is hidden with Christ in God. This is a firstfruits of our personality. The remainder of our personality, the part on earth, must be reconciled to God.

We must be reconciled to God in the area of depending on God rather than the world for our security and survival.

We must be reconciled to God in the area of how we behave. To walk with God our behavior must be righteous and holy. God's Spirit is ready to enable us to conduct ourselves in this manner.

The last and by far the most difficult area of reconciliation is our self-will. We absolutely must be crucified with Christ so in all matters great and small we say, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

4. There are two ways in which we can be defeated in our pursuit of the crown of life. One is by looking to God to do more than He is willing to do. The other is by trying to do that which only God can accomplish. Either extreme will bring us to defeat. We must keep the two in balance.

When teachers emphasize "Jesus did it all" our experience becomes stagnant. We cease obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

When we adopt a religious spirit and try to control our worldliness, our lusts, and our self-willed nature by our own determination, we soon become discouraged and angry with people and God because of our lack of joy.

5. The right way to fight the good fight of faith is to: Count ourselves crucified with Christ. Count ourselves risen with Christ. Look always to the Lord Jesus in all we do, every decision we make. Follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us in putting to death the deeds of our flesh. Obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We absolutely must take up our personal cross and follow the Master at all times.

In The Fire With the Lord

1. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3—NIV)

2. As soon as we are imprisoned, the gods that stand between Christ and us begin to act up. We then have a choice. We can pray for deliverance and remain faithful to God, or we can force an escape from our painful, frustrating circumstances.

3. The purpose of the fiery trial the saints endure is to free us from the gods that would rule us, to remove all of the forces and things that stand between us and the headship of Christ and put them beneath our feet.

4. The Lake of Fire has been given authority by the Father over certain types of behavior. The Lake of Fire retains this authority, even when we become a Christian. To have a personality that cannot be hurt by the second death, by the torment that follows Divine judgment, is a very desirable achievement.

The purpose of putting us in prison is that we might be delivered from those behaviors that result in the torment of the second death. The cowardly. The unbelieving. The vile. The murderers. The sexually immoral. Those who practice magic arts. The idolaters. All liars.

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

Not only so, but we  also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3,4—NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11—NIV)

Keep My Commandments!

1. We have mentioned three commandments the Lord gave by inference: that we must be poor in spirit if we would inherit the Kingdom of Heaven; that we must mourn if we would receive the Divine comfort; and that we must be meek if we would inherit the earth.

2. To repent is to turn away from the world, the lusts of the flesh, and self will. Each day we are to renew our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each day will bring to our attention a new area of our personality from which we need, by the Lord's help, to turn away. Each day we press into the Kingdom of God.

Our salvation is not a one-time occurrence. Salvation is always "today." The moment we cease repenting and believing, in that moment the forces of decay and death press into our personality.

3. Christ commanded us to rejoice and leap for joy when people hate us, when they exclude us, when they insult us, when they reject our name as evil—all because we belong to Jesus Christ.

This commandment runs directly against our evil, adamic nature. It crucifies us. In order to obey it we have to pray fervently until the fires of the flesh are extinguished. Then the light and the glory of the Holy Spirit enter us and we can rejoice and leap for joy.

All people, including Christians, have a problem when they believe they are being treated unjustly. When we are persecuted unjustly in any manner our adamic nature comes to the front. The desire for revenge is tremendous but the Spirit of God is stronger.

If we avenge ourselves, or develop a bitter, hateful attitude, continually speaking angrily of those who have harmed us, Christ will not be formed in us. If Christ is not formed in us we will be cut from the Vine whether or not our doctrine is correct and we have taken "the four steps of salvation" (actually there are four billion steps of salvation!).

We have not been given an option. If we are to be the children of the prophets, to have a great reward in Heaven, we simply must obey God's commandments.

4. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (Ephesians 4:28—NIV)

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2—NIV)

5. Christ has given us the blood atonement, access to the Holy of Holies in Heaven, water baptism, the Holy Spirit, His Substance conceived in us, the body and blood of the new covenant to eat and drink, the Word of God, Christian friends and the assembly of fervent brothers and sisters in the Lord, the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, and sometimes opportunities to serve.

All of these are to help us keep the commandments of God. The Jews of the old covenant did not have many of these supernatural aids; neither did they have commandments as strict as ours. The Jew was commanded to set aside his own life one day a week. We have been commanded to set aside our own life seven days of every week, twenty-four hours of every day. We have been commanded to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus.

We have been given much more grace than were the Jews. We have been issued much stricter commandments than were the Jews.

Bibliography

The essays, summaries, and answers for this study guide series were provided from the following works of Robert B. Thompson, as published by Trumpet Ministries, Inc., Escondido, CA. Copyrights for the original and revised manuscripts if indicated. To view these materials click on the hyperlinks found below:

The Pursuit of Life (1999)

Making the Glory our Own (1998)

The Cross Is the Only Entrance (1998)

In the Fire With the Lord (1998)

Keep My Commandments (1998)

About The Author

Born in Portland, Maine, in July 1925, Robert B. Thompson spent his formative years along the rugged coastline of New England. He was converted to Christ in 1944 while serving with the U.S. Marines in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. A year later, after the conclusion of WWII, he was called to preach the gospel while stationed in Sasebo, Japan.

A former educator, lecturer, and public school administrator, he holds the degree of Doctor of Education from the University of Rochester, New York, and possesses three Life Credentials in the State of California. After many years of work in secular education the Lord burdened his heart to write concerning the works of redemption which come after the Pentecostal experience.

He and his wife, Audrey, have served since February 1976 as pastors of Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway, California. Dr. Thompson has authored more than two hundred books concerning the Christian salvation.