SURVIVING SPIRITUALLY—A DEVOTIONAL
A Thirty-one Day Devotional Guide to Spiritual Survival In The Coming Days by Robert B. Thompson
Compiled and Edited by
Copyright Š 999, 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
In a day when self-help books overflow from our bookshelves, perhaps there is room for one more written for the purpose of enabling us to stand strong in the troublesome days before the Lord Jesus returns. This thirty-one day devotional developed from the book Spiritual Survival in the Coming Days is centered around ten critical actions that can enable us to prepare for the coming storm:Set aside a place and time for prayer each day. Meditate in the Scriptures continually. Place everything on the altar of God. Live in and by Christ. Put on the whole armor of God. Learn to live in the heavenlies. Confess and renounce your sins promptly. Do not fret yourself. Look only to Jesus. Set yourself aside for God's purposes.
Just as God prepared Joseph long before the drought hit Egypt, so God is willing to prepare each of us individually so that together we can bear witness of His power and glory no matter what envelops the environment around us. Let us be faithful, take heed, and work while it is yet day before the night comes and no man can work.
Edward J. Reiter
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36NIV)
The Bible, the prophets, and the various forces in the world are warning us that great catastrophes may soon come upon the United States of America. If this is true, we Christians need to prepare ourselves to survive spiritually. We must be living so close to the Lord that we will be a lighthouse of peace and assurance when the American people are terrified. If we will obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles found in the New Testament, we and our loved ones will be kept by the power of God during the darkest of hours.
But if we are a casual Christian, not praying, not reading the Bible, not looking to Jesus and carrying our cross, we have no scriptural assurance that we or our loved ones will be spared during the coming days of judgment.
The Bible tells us that God brings the nations to righteousness by means of judgment. America needs to be turned to righteousness and so we can expect Divine judgment to fall on us.
My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:9NIV)
We are foolish indeed if we think God is ignoring the late-term abortions, the gambling, and the murders and rapes.
We are foolish indeed if we think God is ignoring the violence and filth we are permitting our young people to assimilate on the basis that such sources of violence and crime are "protected" by our Constitution.
We are foolish indeed if we think God is ignoring the sinful conduct of numerous Evangelical Christians.
We are foolish indeed if we think that Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and other nations are not contemplating the destruction of the United States.
We have been deceived if we believe God is going to "rapture" out of America the lukewarm Christians of our day, sparing them suffering when so many devout saints have been tortured and martyred in the present century.
Ask the Lord Jesus for yourself whether what we are saying is true. You will hear nothing from Him about a pre-tribulation rapture or how much God loves America or how He is pleased with our nation.
What you will hear is the need for repentance on the part of the churches of America. You also may hear the Lord tell you to set your own household in order because of the judgments that are at hand.
God will protect us and our loved ones provided we turn to Him with all our might and begin to do what we have been commanded by Jesus Christ and His Apostles. But being a church member will not save us, and taking the "four steps of salvation" without then becoming a disciple will not save us.
If we continue to practice our business as usual, not really taking up our cross and following the Lord like a true Christian, we will suffer along with the unbelievers. In this case we will be no help to them. We will be as panicked as they are when destruction comes. We will not be a light guiding them toward Christ.
If we will do what Christ and His Apostles have commanded, we can follow Jesus throughout whatever comes to pass and know the peace that passes understanding. And we can bring peace to others when the world is in flames.
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. (Psalms 4:8NIV)
We American Christians agree that we ought to have a "prayer closet." But we don't always have one.
It will not be possible for any of us to stand in the day of trouble that is at hand unless we have a time each day when we pray. By a time of prayer each day I do not mean we think good thoughts. I mean we have a place where we go and wait on the Lord.
Our problem in America is that of time. We have so many responsibilities and cares that the idea of stopping and spending a half hour in concentrated prayer does not appeal to us. But if we do not do this we soon will be deceived and led away from the Lord and into sin.
We are so busy with all of the material cares of life that we do not have the time or strength to pray. Some of us hold down two or three jobs. When we get home at night (or early in the morning) we flop in front of the television, hoping to get some rest. But we are mistaken in this. Time spent in prayer will bring rest, peace, and the solution to our problems. Watching the television does not do this.
Because of the fortress of God's Presence that surrounds each Christian we cannot possibly be harmed by Satan. Satan has to deceive us into moving away from God in some manner before he can harm us. Only the believer who spends time with God each day will be alerted to the deceptions of the enemy.
There is no substitute for daily prayer.
For most of us, the best time to pray is in the morning. Sometimes, however, this is impossible and we have to choose some other time of day. We absolutely must set aside at least a half hour a day to really pray and talk with the Lord.
Until we have experience in prayer we may find prayer a boring experience. There are so many needful and interesting things to do in America that talking to an invisible Person is not all that pleasant. This is because we do not have enough experience in prayer.
First we must set aside a place and time to pray. The Lord may meet us immediately. On the other hand, we may find that things are dry and five minutes seems like a half hour.
If we persist, there will come a time when the Lord meets us. Then we will begin to learn how to pray in the Spirit. I am not referring to praying in tongues, although being able to pray in tongues makes it easier, I think, to become accustomed to praying in the Spirit.
To pray in the Spirit of God means to become involved with the burdens that are coming from the Lord. We enter these and pray along with that which God is praying.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18NIV)
We are to pray "in the Spirit," being alert to what God is saying. When our prayer time becomes an interaction between God and us it becomes far more pleasant. Instead of dreading spending a half hour in prayer we begin to look forward to it. And we begin to see specific answers, which helps.
We used to use the expression in Pentecost, "praying through." All experienced prayer warriors know what it means to pray through. You come to the Lord with a heavy concern or fear of some kindsomething that is oppressing your spirit. You pray until the oppression lifts, until you know God has heard you. When you realize God has heard you, you can be sure your prayer will be answered in the best possible way.
And if we know that he hears uswhatever we askwe know that we have what we asked of him. (I John 5:15NIV)
Whenever you are bearing a heavy cross of some kind, your fervent desires are being denied, you are forced to remain in an unpleasant situation for years perhaps, you can survive by continually praying that God will release you into more pleasing circumstances.
When you are doing this, be sure to thank the Lord for your blessings. You can carry your cross successfully if you get your mind off what you do not have and think about what you do havethe good things God has given you. If you do not do this, but think only about what you cannot have, your cross will grind you to powder.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6NIV)
Give thanks always to the Lord, and always let your requests be made known to Him. Remain faithfully in your prison. Put your hopes beyond the grave, your treasures in Heaven. And pray! pray! pray! Do not faint, but keep on praying.
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1NIV)
We must set aside a place and time to pray each day, as I said. But in addition to this we must keep on praying during the day and night as we have opportunity.
Pray continually; (I Thessalonians 5:17NIV)
To the beginning Christian, the idea of praying continually may seem an impossibility. As we mature in the Lord we find that there are so many problems that praying continually is the only way in which we can endure the day.
God sends problems upon us to keep our eyes focused on Him.
When we face a problem we can accuse other people and become bitter, or we can use the problem to drive us to God. Thus every problem and crisis becomes a golden opportunity to press closer to Jesus.
I understand that viewing problems in this manner seems idealistic and unworkable. I admit it does take character, effort, and courage to look always to Jesusespecially when something of a threatening nature takes place.
But every time we respond to a crisis or problem by going to Jesus we become stronger in this procedure. Life becomes much more peaceful and less threatening because we find that the Lord keeps on delivering us. He becomes increasingly real to us until we can tell when victory has been gained.
If we do not learn to take every crisis, danger, and problem to Jesus immediately, looking to Him for strength and wisdom, we will not be able to stand in the dark days facing us in America.
The written Word of God is of tremendous importance. However the Apostles placed prayer as the highest priority.
But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. (Acts 6:4)
The first of the ten practices necessary for spiritual survival in the coming days is that of prayer. Numerous Evangelical Christians do not pray enough even to cope with the present distresses. If we cannot live the victorious Christian life in the present hour, what shall we do when greater trouble comes?
If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5NIV)
God will reward you richly if you make a practice of daily prayer. Try it and see!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalms 1:2NIV)
Sometimes American believers state they cannot understand the Bible. My suggestion is, get one of the newer translations. They are much easier to read than the King James, although the King James is a fine translation and faithful to the Greek text.
In any case, it is not going to be possible for you or me to stand during the age of moral horrors unless we do as the Bible exhorts: meditate on the law of God day and night.
Ours is an age of communication. We are transformed by what we see and hear. The Bible enables us to throw off the death that prevails in our culture and to hold fast to our faith in Jesus Christ.
When I first became a Christian I was influenced by the Navigators. They impressed on me that it was essential to read the Bible continually and adhere strictly to it.
The verse they gave me was:
Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8NIV)
I was given a Scofield Bible and taught about the state of grace that supposedly shields us Gentiles from God's scrutiny; about the pre-tribulation rapture; about the coming of the Lord Jesus to catch away His waiting Bride to Heaven.
In obedience to the Lord, who called me to minister while stationed in Sasebo, Japan, I went to Bible School. After receiving the baptism with the Holy Spirit, the Lord began to teach me the Scriptures. It was a definite spiritual experience, and I questioned the source of it for a period of time. I was not certain of the validity of what I was understanding until years later when experienced, responsible Christians received what I was declaring.
I have come to the conclusion that much Evangelical teaching is not scriptural. We are repeating venerable traditions Sunday after Sunday, believing them to be in the Scriptures. Some are but some are not. For example:
There is no Bible basis for the prevailing Evangelical belief that to be saved is to make our eternal home in Heaven. The Bible says that the goal of salvation is to be conformed to the image of Christ and to become one with other believers in Christ in God. Our objective is not a change of place but a total change in what we are so we can live and serve in the Kingdom of God wherever we are, especially on the earth after the resurrection from the dead.
Our tradition speaks much of going to Heaven. The Bible does not. Rather it emphasizes the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
There is no Bible basis, as far as I can tell, for the belief that the new covenant is a state of grace that primarily affects Gentiles. Rather the new covenant is the power of God in operation through Christ that produces a new creation of righteous behavior. The new covenant is not a state of grace that prevents God from seeing our behavior. Rather the new covenant is the writing of the law of God in our heart and mind until old things pass away and all the elements of our personality have become new. This is what the Bible says.
The Bible does not teach we are "covered by the blood" so that God does not see our behavior. The covering of the blood refers back to the first Passover and means that when we are trusting in Christ the angel of destruction will pass over us when executing judgment on the gods of the world.
The blood of Christ keeps us without condemnation as we walk in the light of God's Word and confess our sins. It does not serve as a covering that prevents God from witnessing our behavior. There is no scriptural basis for this, while many passages warn us of the consequences of our behavior.
To teach that God does not see the behavior of Christians because they are in a "state of grace" goes against several clear statements of the Apostle Paul. Yet this is the prevailing Evangelical belief.
There is no passage of Scripture that declares Christ is coming to take His Church to Heaven. I think this idea must be derived from First Thessalonians, where Paul was comforting the living believers with the thought that when Christ comes He will bring the deceased believers with Him; and that the living believers will not enter the Kingdom before the deceased believers or have any advantage over them.
When all have been raised or changed, the entire body of believers will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, to greet Him and be ready to descend with Him; for this is the hour of resurrection and the Day of the Lord. It signals the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon.
To then use this passage as a way of proving that living Christians will not experience suffering but will escape to Heaven is so unscriptural as to be not worthy of further discussion. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is simply totally unscriptural and is preventing the believers from preparing themselves for the trouble that is ahead.
The recent teaching that all Christians should be rich is against the writings of the Apostle Paul. The recent teaching that by faith in faith we can command the universe is more of the Hindu religion, possibly, than of the Christian Scriptures. The recent teaching that Christians are to take over the government of America is not scriptural. Our task at this time is to bear witness of Christ, not to govern the secular society. The recent teaching that we are to command the Holy Spirit, or angels, has no scriptural basis whatever.
A few years ago a Christian pastor reported that Michael and Gabriel had visited him and taught him. At first I believed this, but then I realized the two angels were reinforcing the lawless-grace teaching that is prevalent. Immediately I perceived they were not of God, for they brought a gospel different from Christ and His Apostles. This "visitation" came to nothing because it was not from the Lord. If Michael and Gabriel ever appeared to anyone at the same time, we can be sure the history of the world would be changed. It is certain the two highly placed angels would not contradict the Apostle Paul, who maintained that if a believer lives according to his sinful nature he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If we are to stand in the days of darkness we must know what the Bible says.
The unscriptural faith-prosperity teaching gained the ground it did among Charismatic believers because they did not go to the Scriptures but were led about by their religious feelings. They became subject to spirits that did not come from the Lord Jesus.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15NIV)
The above verse is quoted frequently by us fundamentalists, but we are not adhering to it. We are not correctly handling the Word of truth.
One of the main reasons we are not cutting a straight course in the Word of truth has to do with the way we treat the many seeming inconsistencies of the Scriptures.
The Scriptures contain many seeming inconsistencies, such as Paul's teaching that we are saved by a sovereign Divine act of God, and yet we shall be barred from the Kingdom if we live according to the sinful nature.
The proper manner in which to address the seeming inconsistencies is to accept both as the truth of God, saying Amen! to each. Instead of doing this we seize upon the one that pleases our flesh, such as the sovereignty of God in the plan of salvation, and ignore the passages that present the other very necessary dimension of Divine truth.
Because we make axioms of our favorite verses, deducing truth from them while ignoring or explaining away passages that do not agree with our deductions, we are in doctrinal chaos today.
It is obvious from the ninth chapter of Romans that salvation comes as the Potter decides to make from the same piece of clay one vessel to honor and one to dishonor. God hardens Pharaoh's heart, whether we are willing to accept this or not.
It also is obvious from the Books of Galatians and Ephesians, and other writings of Paul, that if we continue to be the slave of sin we will die spiritually.
So we choose Romans, Nine and explain away Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, I John, and the other texts that insist we must keep God's commandments if we expect to be saved.
We simply are not cutting a straight course in the Word of truth no matter how many times we swear allegiance to the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Received Text.
We are not making our way prosperous because we have departed from the Scriptures. The moral light of the Evangelical churches in America has been all but extinguished because of our traditions.
We are obligated to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We do this by praying often for wisdom and strength that we may consecrate ourselves to the will of God.
However, this is not the new covenant. The new covenant takes place as Christ, the living Law of God, is written on our mind and heart.
The point is, Christ will never be formed in us until we begin to keep, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
This is the meaning of the following verse:
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19NIV)
The "word of the prophets" is the Scriptures and the "morning star" is Christ rising in our heart.
We Americans have ready access to many versions of the Scriptures. In some places in the world, such as China for example, some of the believers have only a page torn from a Bible, or no Bible at all. God assuredly beholds this discrepancy.
The Kingdom principle is: "To whom much has been given, of him shall much be required."
If we permit our time to be spent on the numerous opportunities and attractions of the American culture, and do not spend time each day meditating in the Scriptures, we most certainly shall be held responsible. We can expect many chastening blows in the Day of Resurrection, possibly.
Who knows what a Chinese believer might accomplish if he or she had an entire Bible?
Where we have been deceived by the ministers of today who are seeking their own advantage and are teaching traditions rather than the Bible, we shall be held accountable.
We may rage at our teachers when we are left behind, or thrust into outer darkness, at the coming of the Lord. But God will not excuse us. We had a Bible. We could have studied it. If we did not test the "apostles," that is our fault. Our teachers may be required to spend eternity with us, kept from the light of Christ's glorious Presence; so they would do well to make friends with us.
If we are to survive in the coming days we must make a practice of praying each day at a definite time and place, as possible. When it is not possible we are to pray that God will make it possible for us to have a set place and time to pray.
If we are to survive in the coming days we must know the Scriptures. We must test each of our beliefs against what the New Testament actually says. Our traditions will not stand the fire unless they conform to the written Word of God.
Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. (Luke 9:23,24NIV)
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days of trouble we must place every relationship, every circumstance, and every thing we possess on the altar of God.
Notice the phrase "deny himself," in the above verse. This is one of the secrets of the victorious Christian life.
The American culture teaches us that we deserve to have everything we desire and to have no trouble along with it. I have never heard a television advertisement proclaim that we are to deny ourselves in order to please Jesus Christ.
In other words, the concept of deliberately denying ourselves something we want fervently is anathema to the American ideal.
This means if we are to be a genuine Christian we must go against the values of our social group. We have to be different.
Much Christian literature of our day tells us how to get what we want. These books often are popular and make considerable money for the author.
How many Christian books of our day tell us that if we are to enter the Kingdom of God we must deny ourselves?
You know, we are dealing with two difference entities. One entity is the Christian religion. The other entity is the Christian discipleship. These are not the same at all and their respective values often are quite different.
One can be a member of the Christian religion for his or her entire lifetime and never become a disciple. Since in the New Testament the terms "Christian" and "disciple" are absolute synonyms, we can say that one can be a member of the Christian religion for his or her lifetime and never become a Christian.
The very starting point of becoming a Christian is to declare we have left everything to follow Jesus. There is no other starting point. There are other starting points for the Christian religion but none for the Christian discipleship.
After our clear declaration that we have left everything to follow Jesus we are to be baptized in water as a sign we have died with Christ on the cross and have been resurrected with Him and have ascended with Him to the right hand of the Father.
This is how we begin the Christian life. We can't slide into it, we have to come to God and tell Him we are determined to lose our life in Him and save it in Him.
We can see there are not as many Christians in America as one might wishnumerous church members but not that many Christians.
After we take this first basic step of salvation, we must spend the rest of our life working out our salvation with fear and trembling. Our fear is that we will come short of the Glory of God; short of the rest of God's perfect will; short of that for which we have been grasped by the Lord.
A major aspect of our discipleship is that of God removing our idols from us and placing them under our feet.
It is so easy to make a good start and then to not bear lasting fruit because we were sidetracked along the way!
It is a race and we must run it to win. If we do not, we may not continue to live a victorious Christian life in the coming hour of darkness.
The disciple must "take up his cross daily and follow me." He absolutely must deny his most fervent desires and ambitions and take up his cross each day and follow the living Lord Jesus.
What is your cross? It is that which you desire desperately and cannot have without breaking God's laws. It is that situation you detest but cannot escape without breaking God's laws, without going against the Lord's will.
There is no way in which we are going to emerge victorious and be able to help others in the days to come unless we are willing to set aside our own life to do God's will. There is no other way! If you try to get around your cross, God Himself will send a powerful delusion on you. This is what the Scripture states. You did not receive the love of the truth!
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."
Much Christian literature of our day deals with physical survival in the day of trouble. No doubt these books will help some. But we must remember that if we place our main emphasis on saving our life we will lose it. We need to be more concerned with pleasing God than with keeping ourselves and our family alive, although this may sound harsh to the believer who has been imbued with humanistic values.
Paradoxically, if we are willing to lose our life for Christ and His Gospel we will succeed in saving our own life, the lives of our loved ones, and the lives of those who hear us. But if we cling to our own life we stand to lose everything.
The ways of God are as high above us as the heavens are high above the earth.
"Father, we do not always understand You but we trust You."
If God asks for our possessions, our talents, our home, our family, our health, our life, we are to yield the treasure to Him. Anything we are unwilling to give to God is an idol and is keeping us in bondage, although we may not realize this.
When we love a person, circumstance, or thing more than we do God we are breaking the first and most important commandment.
You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3NIV)
If we love our family more than we do Christ we are not worthy of Christ.
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 10:37,38NIV)
There was a man who trusted in his possessions to save him, just as numerous Americans trust in money to secure their future.
Then he said, "This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:18-21NIV)
When a man works to guard his family against being deprived in the future, he should first make certain he is doing God's will. For he does not know whether he shall see the light of another day.
If we are rich toward God we are prepared for every eventuality. But if we are not rich toward God, we should remember we are only a few heartbeats from eternity.
Two years ago I was in an ambulance racing toward a hospital. I was on my back on a stretcher, having a heart attack.
My emotions were mixed. I was concerned for the welfare of my family. But what a wonderful feeling to know I was right with God, and if I were to go to God at that moment, I would hear "Well done, good and faithful servant"; and my family would be taken care of by the Lord in a much better fashion than I ever could were I to remain alive.
Let me tell you, when you are facing death, all that matters is how it stands between you and God. Nothing else is of equal importance.
We may be approaching war in America. If so, the streets may run with blood. Should this prove to be true, we want to be sure we are obeying Christ.
The earthquake comes or the bomb drops. We are caught miles away from our family. The roads are blocked. The telephone lines are down. People all around us are screaming in panic.
If we have been serving God with all our might, having laid down our life that His will might be done, we can be confident our family will be taken care of one way or the other (maybe brought up to Paradise to be with Jesus!) and we ourselves, should we die, will go to be with the Lord and with them. What a marvelous insurance and assurance to have!
But let us say God has reminded us time and time again that we have been putting off doing His will. Suddenly the disaster strikes. There is no time to repent. Our life and the lives of our loved ones are at stake. Our children do not know the Lord because we have not been setting the right kind of example. We have been too busy enjoying the many interesting aspects of the American culture.
Now where are we? Maybe downtown without our family. Are they dead? Are they wounded? Will God take care of them even though I have been careless? Do I have any passage of the Scriptures that comforts me with the thought that even though I have not served the Lord He will take care of my family anyway? Do I have any scriptural basis for this hope?
Would harm come to my beautiful little daughter? Harm came to many beautiful little daughters in Yugoslavia recently. On what scriptural basis would God make an exception for me?
The Bible says if we dwell in the secret place of God's perfect will, no plague will come near our house. But what if we have not been doing God's will, not abiding in Christ as we should? What then?
And what about ourselves in the hour that is likely to arrive? What will we hear from Jesus Christ? It may be, "Depart from Me, you lazy slave, you did not use the talent I gave you. Angels, place this man in the darkness away from My Presence."
"But I accepted Christ years ago!" Friend, the outer darkness is not for unbelievers but for careless, unfaithful servants of the Lord!
"Will I ever see my family again?" Who knows? You were not faithful to God. Maybe He will give your family to someone who has been more diligent with the things God gave him.
I am not making all this up. This is the reality of the future. Best read the Scriptures for yourself and see if I have overemphasized the danger we all are facing if we do not lay down our life for Christ and God, placing everything on the altar of God that He may do with us, and with that which belongs to us, as He pleases.
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days we must set aside a specific time for prayer on a daily basis.
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days we must continually meditate in the Scriptures, memorizing them, finding out what God has promised, studying them to determine if our faith is founded on the Scriptures or merely on the traditions of our group.
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days we must place everything on the altar of God. We must deny ourselves, take up our personal cross, dwell in our personal prison, and follow Jesus diligently and faithfully until He releases us. We must put our treasures in Heaven, not on the earth where they can be ruined or removed from us.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4NIV)
What does it mean to "remain in Christ," to "abide in Christ?"
When Christ spoke this to His disciples, it was not possible for them to remain in Christ. Christ was a person and they were peopleseparate individuals. They could not live "in" Jesus.
Since Christ was crucified and rose from the dead, it now is possible for us to live in Christ and Christ to live in us. We can live "in" Jesus.
But what does it mean to live "in" Jesus and Jesus "in" us?
The Father's House is Jesus Christ Himself and those who are part of Christ. Christ through His death on the cross has made it possible for us to dwell in God through Christ and for Christ to live in us.
Paul claimed that he was no longer living but Christ was living in Him.
The Lord Jesus prayed that we might be one with each other in Christ in God as Christ and the Father are One.
Here surely is the supreme mystery and end of the Gospelthat Christ is in us, the Hope of glory.
I have thought for fifty years about the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, and have written about it for thirty-five years, at least. Tabernacles is the next spiritual feast after the feast of Pentecost, and is ready for our participation now. In fact, it is the "Tabernacles experience," not a removal from the earth, that will enable us to survive in the coming days.
God is ready to enter His people through Jesus Christ. Are we ready to enter Christ to the same extent?
One of the big differences between the Pentecostal experience and the Tabernacles experience lies in the demands made on us by each of the two spiritual interventions in our life. Pentecost requires that we yield to the Holy Spirit to the point of speaking by the Spirit. Tabernacles requires that we turn over our entire life, particularly our self-will, so that the Father and the Son may make Their eternal dwelling in us through the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.
In basic salvation we die to the world, so to speak, and come alive into the Kingdom of God.
In the Pentecostal experience we die to sin as the Spirit leads us to put to death the acts of our sinful nature.
In the Tabernacles experience we die to our self-will that we may enter resurrection ground. Canaan is a type of life lived in the fullness of the Presence of God through Christ, and then a type of our inheriting the saved nations of the earth.
If we are to survive in the coming days of spiritual oppression we must learn to live in and by Jesus Christ. It is not enough to have our flesh anointed with the Holy Spirit. We ourselves must become the dwelling place of God through Christ. Only then can we bear the fruit of Christ's moral image that the heavenly Father is hoping for.
We die to the world by choosing to die with Christ and to come alive with Christ.
We die to sin by following the Holy Spirit.
But our death to self-will we cannot control. It is organized and operated by the wisdom of God. Only He knows the crosses and prisons that will produce the perfect rest in Himself He desires for each one of us.
We must be made barren so to speak; for the new Jerusalem is composed of those who have endured barrenness in the Lord that they might bear eternal fruit.
Many call to us to come down from the wall, to come down from the cross. We choose to ignore them because we trust only in the Lord. We will not attempt to take our spiritual gifts and callings and use them according to our own notion of how the Kingdom of God should be built. Yet we do not languish in passivity, we labor to enter the rest of God.
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 2:20NIV)
We read passages such as the above and assume the learning of them somehow makes them true in ourselvessome kind of doctrinal stance that all Christians take who are on their way to Heaven.
Not so! While it is good to memorize Galatians 2:20, it has to be lived out in the realities of life. We must experience the sufferings and death of Christ until it no longer is our self-will that is dictating our actions but Christ who actually is living out His Life in us.
Then we live by faithfaith that Christ will give us the continual strength and wisdom we need to overcome the hurdles placed in front of us.
By the way, don't waste your time rebuking the devil. When you are afflicted call on the Lord. Your problems are coming ultimately from Him, although God may permit Satan to afflict you as was true in the case of Job.
It was Satan who afflicted Job. But imagine how inappropriate it would have been for Job to spend his days rebuking the devil for destroying his family and possessions!
In the present hour we are becoming "too smart for our spiritual britches," as the old American saying goes.
The solution is not arrived at by our proud flesh rebuking the devil in some kind of spiritual engagement. The solution is arrived at as we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, looking always and only to Him that He might either remove the problem or else give us the strength to endure until deliverance finally does come.
We are crucified each day that the Life of Christ might increase in us. The Life of Christ shall increase in us if we bring each decision, no matter how small, to the Lord for His solution. In this manner we live in Christ and He lives in us. Such leaning on the Lord is to be true of us every minute of every day and every night, and must always be increasing as we go from glory to glory. This is the normal Christian life.
Thus we arrive at the rest of God, which includes transformation into the moral (and, when the Lord comes, outer) image of Christ and also untroubled rest in the very Center of the Person of God. This is where Christ dwells and He wants us to be with Him where He is.
One of my favorite chapters is the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. In this chapter the Lord Jesus tells us that it is His flesh and His blood that are eternal life, and that it is as we eat His flesh and drink His blood that we are made candidates for the resurrection that will take place when He appears.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57NIV)
The above verse indeed is remarkable. It informs us that we are to live by and because of Him, by and because of Jesus, as He lives by and because of the Father.
Is there a more wonderful statement in any language?
Now, to what extent does the Lord Jesus live by and because of the Father?
To the extent that in the present hour it is difficult for us to determine whether Christ and the Father are one Person; whether Christ is the Father (as some believe); whether there are three Gods in One or whether Christ is a Manifestation of the Father; and so forth and so on.
It appears that today the Lord is willing to reveal the mystery of God, but only as we experience this mystery of all mysteries, not as we come to understand it through study.
The truth, as I think I am experiencing it, is that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three Persons. The Father is the Greatest of all and the Son and the Spirit do His bidding.
The Son is the Servant of the Father, there is no scriptural doubt about that. The Son learned obedience to the Father by the things the Son suffered. This is perfectly clear in the Scriptures.
The fact is, the Son is so much a part of the Father, and lives so totally by and because of the Father, that They become indistinguishable. It is somewhat like the marriage of Adam and Eve where Eve was actually Adam in another form, every part of Eve having been fashioned from a part of Adam.
This is marvelous enough, and I think it is scriptural. The Father has made the Son, who proceeded from the Father's own Being, both Lord and Christ.
Thus the Lord Jesus Christ is God to us, and we are to worship Him, He having been established in this exalted state by the Father. Christ Himself is not the Father, however.
There is something yet more marvelous.
We are being made an eternal part of this Oneness.
As we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood, we are learning to live by and because of Him just as He lives by and because of the Father.
To live in and by Jesus Christ means to look to Christ for every thought we think, every word we speak, every deed we perform. We have been born of Him and we are to live by His body and blood, which are given to us every time we turn aside from our adamic impulses and seek His will. Christ has been conceived in us and is being formed in us.
When we keep His commandments the Father and He will come and make Their eternal home in us.
All that we are is to be Christ and Christ is to be all that we are. There is no end to this development until we arrive at maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Anything short of the fullness of Christ in our personality is loss for us; loss for Christ; loss for other people.
When we are living in and by Christ we are living in resurrection life, for He is the Resurrection and Life. In order for Satan to overcome us he would have to overcome the resurrection life of Christ. This, of course, He cannot do.
Let us, as Paul, strive continually to gain Christ, to know Him, the power of His resurrection, what it means to share His sufferings. Relatively speaking, everything else we possess or encounter is garbage. In Christ is the fullness of all that God Is. As a member of the race of man, we have been created to be the Throne of God. When we are less than this we cannot possibly find fulfillment, perfect peace, perfect joy.
If we are to survive spiritually we must set aside each day a place and time for prayer.
If we are to survive spiritually we must meditate in the Scriptures continually. Then we will not be drawn into the next new flap when it comes alongand it surely will! Recently I heard that some Christians are not paying their bills because they have been told we are in the Year of Jubilee. It is difficult to believe that God's people would be so easily led astray. They wouldn't be if they would meditate in the Scriptures and pray each day.
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days we absolutely must place everything on the altar of God. Not to do so leaves us open to the deceits of Satan, who always is looking for our weak spot. One idol is enough to prevent us from receiving the rewards assigned to the overcomer.
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days we must learn to live in and by Christ. The human personality by itself will be helpless in the face of the powerful spiritual tornadoes on the horizon. We shall be blown about as so many bits of straw.
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (Ephesians 6:11NIV)
It is not the devil's power that is the problem, it is the devil's "schemes." Satan is extremely cunning and he has studied the new race of man for thousands of years. He knows the personality profile of each one of us and understands our weaknesses and strengths.
We hear Christians say, "He that is in me is greater than He that is in the world." They puff out their chest and suppose they will roll over Satan if he gets in the way.
If they will read the context of this passage in First John they will discover that John is speaking of truth and of deception. The problem is the devil's ability to deceive us.
When the Christian churches boast about their power over Satan he merely laughs. They may sing triumphantly in church about their victory over Satan, and then be deceived by him on the way home.
Since Satan works by deception, and the center of operations of deception is our mind, we see therefore that the increase of communication technology represents a major opportunity for Satan to deceive people through their thought processes.
We can pray much and still be deceived, although prayer is one of the best ways of detecting and avoiding deception.
We can read the Scriptures much and be absolutely sound in theology and still be deceived, although the study of the Scriptures is one of the best ways of detecting and avoiding deception.
We can determine resolutely that we are going to serve Christ with all our heart and still be deceived, although it is of great importance that we proclaim clearly our determination to serve Christ and Christ alone. We cannot even begin as a Christian until we decide once and for all to live only by and in Christ.
As far as I know, the issue of deception revolves around the personal cross of the believer. It is in carrying our cross of suffering and denial that we are best kept from deception. Deception often works in terms of Satan holding something before us that we desire intensely, and then working in our mind until we imagine how we are going to have what we want; how God is going to circumvent His own Word by giving us something that is against the Scriptures because we are "special."
Whenever we try to make a heaven of this cursed world we open ourselves to deception.
Fellowshiping with other fervent Christians is very helpful in avoiding deception. Many times God will reveal to another saint that we are in deception; or the Pastor may be moved to preach about the issue we are struggling with.
But remember this: no matter how determined a believer you are, no matter how resolved to live in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father, you still can be deceived. If you do not think so you are deceived already.
Pray always that you not be led into temptation. Never, never, never let down your guard. The officer who gives in to the complaints of his men and does not post a guard on a rainy, cold night, no matter how far from the battle, may have his scalp affixed to the belt of a more diligent warrior by the next morning.
We are in a battle and Satan has no mercy. He desires your destruction. He cannot overpower you unless you permit it, and so he must deceive you in some manner. Never underestimate Satan's ability to deceive you.
If you find you have been deceived, or think you may be deceived, humble yourself. Seek help from mature saints of the same gender as yourself. God is always willing to hear your prayer, forgive you, and deliver you. But you may have to reap what you have sown, just as did King David.
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13NIV)
The above verse points out the destructive impact of the unscriptural teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture. Even though God's people have experienced every conceivable suffering and torment from the beginning of the Christian Era, they are being taught today that they will not experience "the day of evil."
Is this not directly contrary to the Scriptures? Does Paul say we of the twentieth or twenty-first century shall be removed from the earth before the day of evil arrives? Does he not exhort us to prepare to stand in the day of evil?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18NIV)
We are to learn how to stand in the mighty power of the Lord if we are to stand in the day of evil. We are to remember we are not wrestling against human beings but against the fallen lords of darkness who in ancient times held posts of authority and honor in Heaven around the Throne of God.
We are going to be tempted in the coming days to fight against the moral depravity that has taken such a hold on America. Only the person who looks continually to the Lord Jesus will be able to resist the temptation to fight back on a human level. Only the person who lives a holy life and prays much will be able to conquer the forces of evil who are determined that demons and not righteousness will guide the American society.
Perhaps some Christians are led of the Lord to fight in the political realm. But the emphasis in Ephesians is on standing against spiritual powers, and this can be done only by the blood of the Lamb, by conforming our testimony to the Word of God, and by loving not our own life to the point of death.
Notice that Paul speaks of defense, of standing, not of attacking. Christians of today are being urged to attack the enemy. The time to attack the enemy will be when the Lord descends from Heaven. Our military posture in the present hour is to be one of defense. It is our carnal nature that desires to charge off and defeat the enemy. When we do this we often are deceived and overcome because the Lord has not blown the trumpet of attack.
Of course our red-blooded carnal nature wants to attack. But the General is telling us to build our defenses, and this sometimes requires many years of the most boring waiting and patience.
Anyone with military experience will tell you that one of the most difficult features of life in the armed services is the periods of waiting and boredomespecially during wartime. A soldier who disobeys orders and acts on his own may bring other soldiers to harm and may be punished.
The first issue is that of the belt of sincerity, of truth. Much of what is being preached in Evangelicalism today is not Bible truth but tradition. Since the warriors belt keeps his armor in place and supports his sword, we enter the battle in disarray. We must abandon our notions and buy the truth; and sometimes we have to buy the truth with self-denial.
The physical strength of an individual is in his loins, his hips. When we are girding up our loins with traditions instead of Christ, the Word of God, we simply do not have the strength required for the severe spiritual battles that are just ahead of us. Truth is not learned in a seminary. Necessary knowledge may be gained, but not truth. Truth is a Person. It is only as we possess the living Lord Jesus Christ that we possess truth.
The breastplate of righteousness covers our heart. Almost all of the current Evangelical doctrines of today, from the "state of grace" error to the "prosperity message" work against the actual righteousness that the Spirit of God desires to create in us.
Imputed (ascribed) righteousness is not meant to represent a departure from God's goal of having friends who practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Rather, imputed righteousness is a legal device, we might say, that enables us to start on the way of righteousness with a clean slate. God hears us because of the atonement made by Christ on the cross of Calvary, and helps us as we begin to turn aside from the sinful nature and seek to walk in the Spirit of God.
When, however, we attempt to use imputed righteousness as a permanent way of relating to God, and do not set aside the sinful nature and walk according to the Spirit of God, righteousness no longer is imputed to us. We have broken the covenant.
The moral strength of the Christian churches, as well as of the American secular society who, perhaps without realizing it, look to the churches for moral light, has been all but totally destroyed by the concept that imputed righteousness is a new way in which God relates to man.
So our heart is exposed today because there is no breastplate of righteous behavior protecting us. If we do not begin at once to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles so that Christ may be formed in us, we never shall stand spiritually in the coming day.
The scepter of Christ's Kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. When we as a Christian are not growing in righteousness each day, becoming a new righteous creation in Jesus Christ, we cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God. Paul proclaims this very fact in his epistles.
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 5:19-21NIV)
Our feet need to be shod with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. During the hour of distress we are approaching, the unbelievers will be in a frenzy of fear and anxiety. There will be no peace.
If we have prepared ourselves today, possessing the peace that passes understanding today, and knowing how to bring this peace to others, we will be a wonderful witness of God in the time of trouble. We will be on the Rock and will be able to help other people.
But if we have wasted the present hour with the lusts and pleasures of the flesh, the pursuit of riches, the variety of entertainments of the American culture including professional athletics, we will not have God's peace when the axe falls and will be of no use to ourselves, our loved ones, or other people.
Satan shoots flaming arrows at us, often in the form of some perverse actions on the part of other peoplesometimes other people in the church. These flaming arrows have the potential of setting our entire personality on fire.
This will be more true in the days to come than ever before, especially if we have real persecution of Christians in America. We need to be able to wield the shield of faith in God's Word so swiftly and effectively that the flaming arrows of the evil one are intercepted and extinguished before they reach our heart.
If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. "See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to work havoc; No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD. (Isaiah 54:15-17NIV)
This promise will hold true for us if we really are the servant of the Lord and not just a casual Christian. These words from God are a shield that we can use to intercept the flaming arrows of Satan.
We put on the helmet of salvation, which protects our head (and mind, figuratively), when we put our faith in God's Word that through Jesus Christ He has forgiven our sin and we now are without condemnation. As we said before, this certain knowledge of being a saved person in the sight of God comes as we actually walk before Him, confessing, denouncing, and renouncing our sins as we encounter them.
Some of the teachers of today, in order to provide assurance to believers who feel for one reason or another that they may not be pleasing God, overemphasize the role of forgiveness in the plan of salvation. The idea is, if you make a profession of belief in Christ you can forget about any possible condemnation.
While this may help for a season, it eventually will break down because it is not scriptural. It might be better to find out what behavior is troubling the distressed individual, face it directly, and present God's plan for dealing with bondage.
We have the opportunity to confess our sins, and then through the Holy Spirit to eventually conquer them completely. God will work so as to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we pray, God will help us to make any amends or repayments that should be made. It is wise to wait on the Lord and not just attempt to relieve our guilt by blurting out something that will injure another person, our wife or husband for example.
The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, and there is none other like it in the universe. By the Word of God the elements were brought into being and fashioned. By the Word of God they will be removed and a new creation brought into existence.
However, we must remember that the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, not the sword of the Christian. As the Pentecostal-Charismatic churches become increasingly sophisticated in the current unfoldings of the Word of God, many efforts are made to utilize our newfound knowledge to our own ministerial or personal advantage, or to heal the wounded of mankind.
This approach is not scriptural and will lead only to the False Prophet.
We are not to attempt to move mountains by faith, or to cast out demons, or to perform any of the other acts of authority and power that are the inheritance of the sons of God. Neither are we to try to command the angels nor the Holy Spirit. We are not even to pray to the Holy Spirit!
Our task in the present hour is to seek the face of Christ to find out what He desires that we do. When we do what Jesus commands us to do, then the Holy Spirit always will be present to wield the Word of God. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him.
There is no problem of power as far as the Christian churches are concerned. Jesus Christ retains all authority and power in the heavens and upon the earth.
The problem is one of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. If we are not living in a righteous and holy fashion before the Lord, He doesn't even know us. It is possible to work miracles in Jesus' name and still not be known by Him. This is what the Scripture teaches.
Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" (Matthew 7:21-23NIV)
We have to do God's will if we are to enter the Kingdom of God. Many believers who prophesied, drove out demons, and performed many miracles, all in the name of the Lord Jesus, will be driven from His Presence because they did not live righteous lives.
What good does it do us if we have a tremendous worldwide ministry of powerful miracles and then are driven into the outer darkness? We receive the acclaim of people while we are alive but after we die we are rejected. We of the Charismatic movement of today need to think deeply about this issue.
As far as obedience to God is concerned, we learn this by patiently enduring suffering.
Iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God. If these are true of our personality and behavior the Spirit of God will wield the Word of God through us according to the will of the Father. But to try to go out and "do great things for God," as currently is encouraged, is not wise. Remember, it is possible to use the name of Jesus to perform mighty deeds, even when the Lord does not know us. So we should concentrate on knowing Christ and everything else shall follow.
As we mentioned before, praying in the Spirit is necessary if we are to live the life of victory in Jesus. Praying according to our fleshly mind is better than no prayer at all. But in order for prayer to be effective and enjoyable we need to learn how to get hold of God and pray along with Him according to His will.
The best prayers there are, are the ones God invites us to pray: "Ask of Me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance."
If we are to survive spiritually in the future we must each day set aside a place and time for prayer.
If we are to survive spiritually we must meditate in the Scriptures continually.
If we are to survive spiritually in the days to come we must place all of our treasures on the altar of God, ready to give any one of them to Him when He asks for it.
We must live in and by Christ so we can stand under the enormous spiritual pressures that are to come along with the increasing immorality.
If we are to survive spiritually in the coming days we must put on the whole armor of God, being always prepared to defend ourselves. The hour of attack will come later, when the Commander in Chief appears in the air and we go to meet Him.
Part of our defensive posture is that of remaining alert and praying for our fellow saints. Remember, one of Satan's chief weapons is that of criticism, gossip, and slander. We must never, never, never think or speak evil of another person, especially a brother or sister in the Lord. Christ is very displeased when we wound His Body in this manner.
Satan obtains many victories in the Christian churches by inciting the unwary believers to gossip about and slander other Christians. Such behavior is common in the churches because God's people do not understand spiritual warfare.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1NIV)
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis we read that God separated the waters into the water that was under the expanse of the sky from the water that was above the expanse of the sky.
The separation of the waters is a type, I believe, of the manner in which God redeems human beings.
When Adam and Eve sinned God could have destroyed them and started over. But I don't think this was His plan. Rather, He removed their spiritual nature from their bodies, after nearly a thousand years, and permitted their bodies to return to the ground from which they were fashioned. God separated their spiritual natures from their bodies by placing a heaven between them, just as He did the heaven between the waters.
This is what happens to us when we truly receive Jesus Christ and are baptized in water. We assign our first personality to the cross with Christ. Then we count that our inward spiritual nature has been raised with Christ and has ascended with Christ to be seated at the right hand of God.
This is the principle of the firstfruits. Our personality has been harvested in part, beginning with our inward spiritual nature.
Now our body and probably our soul remain on the earth. Our body and soul are battling to save our personality, and he who endures to the end shall be saved.
How we behave on the earth is directly affecting our life in the heavens. We are constructing a building, one might say, before the Throne of God. If we practice that which is good, our heavenly building, or robe, reflects the goodness. If we practice that which is bad, our heavenly building reflects the badness.
When the Lord returns He shall bring our building with Him. Our body shall be raised from the dead and then clothed with our house from Heaven. We shall reap what we have sown.
One might ask, "Can we ever lose our place in Heaven at the right hand of God?"
It is my point of view that we can. I think Satan can tempt us to the point that we actually are cast down from the place we had in Christ. We can lose our eternal life. Not only does the New Testament teach this but I have seen it happen in a human being, so I am not really open to reasoning about how we never can lose our eternal life.
It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. (Daniel 8:10NIV)
Paul says something interesting:
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4NIV)
The issue is, is Christ our life? Are we truly thinking, speaking, and acting at all times in the Person and Presence of Jesus Christ? If not, He is not our life. Think about the following passage.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, Made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressionsit is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7NIV)
The above verses indicate we already are as high as we ever can go in the spirit realm, for the Throne of Christ is the highest of all thrones.
We really and truly have risen and ascended with Jesus Christ in our inward nature. This is not just a figure of speech. Heaven is all around us and we already are there, in this sense. But we have to be very careful that no one takes our crown, for it is possible to have the crown of life and then lose it!
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:22,23NIV)
If our spiritual eyes were opened we would see, as did the servant of Elisha, that we already are in the city of God in our inward nature.
How helpful it is now, and how supremely helpful it shall be in the coming age of moral horrors, to continually lift our imagination into the heavens and think about the part of our personality that is present there.
One of the important activities of prayer is to go window-shopping in Heaven. This is fun. Imagine who will meet you when you die. Imagine what you would like to do in Heaven. Set your hopes and thoughts on things above. When a loved one falls asleep, picture him or her in Heaven with Jesus. It will help to alleviate the intensity of the grief. They have not been destroyed; they are with Jesus.
Our American culture is so terribly materialistic that we do not spend enough time in the heavens. We are in bondage to all our things without realizing it.
Have you thought much about dying? If our spiritual nature already is at the right hand of God, what will it be like to die? Will our soul join our spirit at the right hand of God?
And what about the Day of Resurrection? Will our soul and spirit be brought together and then return with the Lord to join our resurrected body?
And what about the "house from Heaven" that Paul speaks of?
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4NIV)
Where has our "heavenly dwelling" been all this time?
I do not pretend to know the answer to these questions. But I love to think about them because they lift me above the anxieties and cares of life that so easily can tear us down from our high place in God.
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22NIV)
If we are to live victoriously in Christ during the horrors of earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and war, we mustwe absolutely mustbecome citizens of two worlds, the present world and the heavenly world.
If we are not able to lift ourselves into the heavenlies in this manner, praying and trusting in Jesus in the midst of chaos, we will be frantically screaming like everyone else.
If we are to survive spiritually in the future we must set aside a place and time for prayer each day.
If we are to survive spiritually we must become a person of the Word, meditating in the Scriptures continually.
If we are to survive spiritually we must place all that we are and possess on the altar of God.
If we are to survive spiritually in the days to come we must always be living in and by Christ.
If we are to survive spiritually we must put on the whole armor of God.
If we are to survive spiritually throughout the future calamities, the days of evil, we must be at home on earth and in the heavenlies. Part of our personality is on earth. The other part is at the right hand of God in Jesus Christ. If our earthly life should perish, there is no problem. Our eternal life is in Heaven at the right hand of God. There is no destructive power that can reach us there unless, as I said, we choose to live in the flesh to the extent that we are torn down from our position in Christ.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9NIV)
The Apostle John has written to us so we shall stop our sinning.
Then John tells us what to do when we sin. We are to confess our sins to Christ. This does not mean we just list them; it means we confess, denounce, and renounce them with all vigor. We turn aside from them. We declare them fit only for the Lake of Fire.
When we do this, God forgives us immediately. Then He either delivers us at once or else He sets in motion the machinery that will result in our being cleansed from all unrighteousness. All unrighteousness!
One of the first "Christian" principles I encountered when I went to Bible school is that as long as we are in this world we have to sin. One would look long and hard in the New Testament to find a passage that says we are doomed to sin while living in the world.
In fact, the Bible teaches the opposite.
Paul warns us in the sixth chapter of Romans that if we choose to be the slave of sin we shall die spiritually: "The wages of sin is death."
Then He proceeds in the eighth chapter to advise us that we owe our sinful nature nothing that we should live according to its lusts and appetites. In fact, if we live according to our sinful nature, Paul teaches, we will die spiritually.
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 8:13NIV)
Now it is absolutely true that each Christian has in his or her personality a sinful nature. But the Books of Romans, Hebrews, and First John, in particular, warn us that if we keep on living in our sinful nature we shall reap corruption, not salvation.
Current Evangelical teaching announces that this is not the case. But it is! Evangelicals have departed from the Word of God!
Man is God's throne. We shall judge not only other people but the angels as well. We were created as God's response to the rebellion on the part of His angels.
As such, we have the power of judgment. The moral judgments a Christian makes are of the greatest importance.
Two armies fight the battles of the Lord. The army of angels and the army of people. The angels do the actual fighting. The people are the judges, to the extent Christ is living in them.
Now, when the Spirit of God points out an unscriptural behavior in our personality, it is of extreme importance how we respond. If we justify the behavior it remains in us, in spite of our belief that somehow something will be done about it.
If we, instead, confess the behavior as evil, its proper home being the Lake of Fire, God will honor that judgment. He will bind that spirit and hand it over for sentencing.
When we confess and renounce our sins we are judging them in the spirit realm. When we do not do this we are judging them to be acceptable to God. Since the Lake of Fire maintains authority over all sin, whether or not the sin dwells in a Christian, and we have not denounced them as unfit for the Kingdom of God, when the Day of Judgment arrives we ourselves will be hurled into the Lake of Fire whether or not we name of name of the Lord Jesus.
There shall be no sin in the Kingdom of God. If the Spirit of God points out sin in our life, and we do not judge it as unworthy of the Kingdom, then we have judged ourselves unworthy of the Kingdom.
This is the doctrine of eternal judgment mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
We are not to be careless about confessing our sins. The moment God shows us something is wrong in our life we are to go to the Lord immediately. That little sin has the potential of removing our crown from us.
The Christian churches of today are dwelling in the Twenty-third Psalm. We need to move over to the Twenty-fourth Psalm and learn about the Lord, strong and mighty in battle. We must open the doors of our personality to Christ and learn spiritual warfare from Him.
Moses is dead, so to speak. Joshua is ready to lead us across Jordan and into our inheritance. This Christ will do in the darkest of the hours that lie ahead of us. But we must not be as indecisive generals but move swiftly, diligently as Christ leads us. The enemy is cunning but he is no match for Christ. However, the enemy laughs at the inept practices of many of the Evangelical churches. They are dwelling in silliness and foolishness, jumping up and down next to their pews in preparation for an unscriptural "rapture." The enemy has nothing to fear from them.
We must come to understand, we Evangelicals, that the enemy does not fear us. The enemy fears only the Lord Jesus Christ. As long as Satan can keep us occupied with our church programs he is safe. He will keep us interested in these if he can.
But when a believer chooses to lay down his own life, to judge his behavior as evil when the Spirit so leads, to bear his cross after the Master, it is then that Hell is terrified. For when Jesus comes on the scene the demons scream in terror.
How different church history would have been had the believers spent time with the Lord, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, learning to live in and by the Lord Jesus. If this had been true I do not believe any cathedrals would have been constructed. But I think the history of the world would have been changed for the better.
I believe the Lord Jesus is preparing the young people of today to be shining lights during the spiritual darkness that is approaching. We must teach them how to live righteously, how to be holy, how to obey God sternly. For without actual righteousness and holiness of behavior, and stern obedience to God, the Lord Jesus cannot work His wonderful works.
The revivals of the past have brought us this far. Now we need to concentrate on following Jesus into the battle of the ages. It is a new day. Saul's armor is useless. It is time to hear from the Spirit of God what we are to do.
If they will follow the ten guidelines we are presenting in this work I think the youth will have a better chance of standing when the floods of ungodliness wash away the foolishness that goes on today in the Christian churches.
If we are to survive in the coming days we must set aside a place and time for prayer, and we must do this each day without fail.
If we are to survive in the future we must make a practice of studying the Word of God and meditating in it.
If we are to be victorious when the rebellious spiritual lords are forced into the earth we must have all that we are and possess in the hands of God. Our treasures must be safe in Heaven.
If we are to bear a triumphant witness of Jesus Christ when Satan openly manifests his person to people on the earth we must be living in and by Christ. Our church affiliation will not mean much in that hour or terror. We must be standing on the Rock!
If we are to serve God during the night when no man can work we must put on each day the whole armor of God, not neglecting any piece.
If we are to help those around us when people are dying by the thousands we must be living not only on the earth, where the chaotic conditions are, but in the heavenlies at the right hand of God where all is peace, joy, and total victory.
If we are to survive spiritually during the coming days we must make a practice of confessing our sins clearly and promptly, as the Holy Spirit leads us into battle. We must master the art of "lightning war."
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalms 37:7NIV)
Paul gave us a commandment:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. (Philippians 4:8NIV)
Fretting, that is, thinking about things that are not true, not noble, not right, not pure, not lovely, not admirable, not excellent or praiseworthy, leads to sin.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fretit leads only to evil. (Psalms 37:8NIV)
I do not know about other countries of the world, but I do know that in America people sit in front of their television, or read their paper, and fret about what is taking place in the world. Even among Christians, fretting is not considered to be sin. But it is because it goes against the admonition of the Scriptures.
Fretting because of the evil we see in the world is against the will of God for us. We have been exhorted to rejoice in the Lord at all times. We have been told that if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will grant us the desires of our heart. Why are we fretting?
Fretting is part of our sinful nature. We fret because we perceive injustice, or because matters are not going the way we think they should. We forget that all things are working together for good for those who love God, who have been called according to His eternal purposes in Christ. Fretting is a sign we are living in the flesh. We are not setting our mind on things in Heaven. We have not placed our treasures there. We are clutching the earth and trying to make it over according to our own understanding.
The Bible states that Jesus sits as King of the flood. Jesus is in absolute control over every person and circumstance. When we fret because of what is taking place in the world we are doubting the power and wisdom of God.
Fretting causes us to hate other people. We forget that our warfare is spiritual and not of the flesh. The problem is that of the fallen spiritual lords who reside in the heavens. The weapons of our warfare are not those of human effort or ability. God is willing that all people be saved, even the most wicked. But we curse those who are behaving in a manner of which we do not approve. We should be praying for them, rather!
In the days to come we shall see injustice, moral perversions, the wickedness of the world's leaders as they seek their own glory and benefit while announcing how they are benefiting mankind. We shall hear the pronouncements of the social philosophers, the educators, the psychologists as they seek to legitimatize pedophiliac behavior and other abominations. Every vileness imaginable shall come forth in the near future. How are we to respond? We are to laugh with God. I may have lost some of my readers by saying this, but let me explain.
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. "Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters." The One enthroned in heaven laughs; The Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." (Psalms 2:2-6NIV)
"The One enthroned in heaven laughs"! What is God laughing about? He is laughing because the mud of the earth is endeavoring to break through the constraints that God has placed on mankind. The problem arises when God stops laughing!
It is this understanding of God's supreme power and control, His determination to give Jesus Christ the kingdoms of the world for His inheritance, that causes us to laugh with God as the "ants" crawling around on the ground shake their fist at their Creator.
But how can we laugh when newly born infants are having their brains sucked out so as not to inconvenience the mother? She must have her "reproductive rights," you know.
We laugh with God, not because a horror is not taking place, a horror protected by the American Constitution, but because the little one is taken by the angels and carried into the Paradise of God. There is no tragedy here as far as the infant is concerned. The tragedy involves the doctor who murdered the human being and the mother who authorized the murder. The proud and rebellious among us suppose they have managed to evade the laws of conscience. But they have succeeded only in hanging themselves, as did Judas.
The laugh we laugh is not one of merriment because the doctor and mother have hung themselves. The laugh we laugh is with God. It is the laugh of the Conqueror, the One who knows that He controls all things and His enemies shall one day know His terror. It is a laugh of confidence, of future joy and peace, of perfect faith in God, His righteousness, His love, His almighty power.
The next time you read the paper and note the abomination of the day, laugh with God, but not because you delight in evil. God never delights in evil. You laugh because you know the innocent shall be avenged and the meek shall inherit the earth.
It is not true, as one lawyer said, that while the meek may inherit the earth the lawyers will win in court. The truth is, the meek shall inherit the earth and also win in court.
God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, ultimately shall prevail. This is why we laugh along with God. It is the laugh of total confidence in God.
One of the greatest evils and destructive forces of the coming days will be that of fretting. If Satan can persuade us to curse what is taking place he can rob us of our peace, our joy, our confidence in God. In a manner of speaking, when we are fretting we are acknowledging that Satan is triumphing over Jesus Christ. We are giving honor to the adversary.
No matter how perverse and morally wrong the future conditions may become, just remember that God is in control. He easily could have prevented Adam and Eve from sinning in the beginning. He could have spared mankind the six thousand years of howling insanity we have endured, all the sickness and pain that have been part of it. But God is bringing forth sons, sons who will govern the creation throughout eternity. God's sons must be totally aware of the nature of evil and the consequences of rebellion against God. They must be proven and proven again in the fires of earth. This is the reason God permits the destruction of the nations to continue.
God, the Potter, has made much of the circumstances of earth expendable in terms of His supreme purpose of bringing forth brothers of Jesus Christ. Nations rise and fall like flowers in the field. But the royal priesthood continues on its path toward perfect conformity to the image of Jesus Christ and perfect, untroubled rest in the Person of God through Christ.
The future is bright with promise, although the history of the earth will continue its path downward toward the depths of wickedness of the personality of Satan. In the darkest hour the light of God will rise on the saints. The Commander in Chief will descend from Heaven. The kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. He keeps the best wine until the last.
The path of the righteous shines as the light until the rising of the Son of righteousness.
There is great glory ahead of us. Therefore we lift our eyes from the cesspools of earth knowing that not one hair on the head of the righteous will perish; all will be raised in the day of resurrection.
We know also that every wicked word and act will come up for judgment. Those who managed to evade punishment in this world, who slipped and slid around in their cunning treachery, will be held in the iron hand of God and give an answer for every point of their behavior. They will not be able to trick their way out of punishment in that day, as they have managed to do on the earth.
So we rest in God. We do not fret ourselves when we see wicked people puff themselves up and receive the acclaim of the multitude. We know their day will come soon enough. Rather we make sure that we are pleasing God ourselves so we may rest in the day of trouble.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableif anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things. (Philippians 4:8NIV)
We have been commanded: Think about what is true!
Think about what is noble!
Think about what is right, what is pure, what is lovely.
Think about what is admirable.
Think about all that is excellent or praiseworthy.
Because of the ascendancy of wickedness in America it is extraordinarily difficult to turn aside from our fretting and dwell on that which is true, noble, and right. Most of what we read about in the newspaper is false, ignoble, and wrong.
This is why we have to set aside a place and time for prayer each day.
This is why we have to meditate in the Scriptures continually.
This is why we have to place everything on the altar of God.
This is why we have to live in and by Christ.
This is why we have to put on the whole armor of God.
This is why we have to learn to live in the heavenlies.
This is why we have to confess and renounce our sins promptly.
If we do not do these things we will keep falling back into fretting. But God will help us think about things that are wholesome, even when we are living where the throne of Satan is.
The Bible is true. We do have eternal truth to dwell upon.
The heroes of faith of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews are noble. We can choose to think about them.
God's ways always are right. We can dwell on them.
The aborted fetuses and little children who play in the holiest area of the Paradise of God are pure. We can think about them.
The Lord Jesus Christ in His palace is lovely. We can think about Him.
The wisdom of God in bringing forth His eternal Kingdom is admirable. We can meditate on that.
The ways of the Lord are excellent. Think of how He has guided you throughout your lifetime! This is something to consider.
All that God does through Jesus Christ is praiseworthy. This is undeniable.
We are to think about such things continually.
The next time you read the paper or watch the television, and you are tempted to fret about the incredible wrongness of it all, think about the Bible; about the heroes of faith; about God's righteous ways; about the infants in the Paradise of God; about the Lord Jesus Christ in His ivory palace; about the wisdom of God; about the ways of the Lord; about how God has guided you throughout your lifetime; about all that God does through Christ.
Force yourself to dwell on these things. Realize that Christ is in control of the world. To fret and chafe about the conditions of the world is to reveal your lack of faith and confidence in God.
The weapons of our warfare are not physical but spiritual. The Christians will never succeed in substantially removing evil from our nation by politics or armed rebellion. This is to fight Satan's fire with our own fire, and Satan is the master of fire.
If we Christians are to change the moral decline of the United States, the first thing we must do is to make sure we ourselves are living in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God. Having made certain that this is the case, we are to lift up holy hands and pray! pray! pray!
Then we are to do whatever Christ tells us to do. We cannot solve all the problems of war and famine, but we can do the one thing that Christ directs us to do, whatever that may be.
Having obeyed the Lord fully, we then are to rest with God and laugh with God. We are to be joyously triumphant in Christ at all times, knowing that righteousness will prevail in the end.
We see, then, that fretting is a sign of ignorance and unbelief. We do not know what God has promised; and if we do, we do not believe it enough to rest in God's power and love.
When we are fretting we are giving a bad testimony to our family and friends. We are portraying to them that Satan is triumphing over Jesus Christ. Also, we are not showing a heart of compassion toward the people who are being victimized by Satan.
We may rail against the homosexuals. But one of the most anointed of today's composers of Christian music is a converted homosexual. Who knows what Christ will do with someone who today is trapped in wickedness? We are not to curse those who are bound but to pray for deliverance for them. We know this is the right thing to do, but Satan causes us to rage against his work in other peopleso utterly perverse is evil!
I keep repeating the following. This is because none of these can be omitted without jeopardizing our spiritual well-being during the spiritual oppression of the future.
We absolutely must set aside a place and time for prayer each day.
We absolutely must meditate in the Scriptures continually, if we are fortunate enough to own a Bible. In some places in the world it is against the law to own a Bible.
We absolutely must place everything on the altar of God.
We absolutely must live in and by Christ at all times.
We absolutely must put on the whole armor of God.
We absolutely must learn to live in the heavenlies as well as on the earth.
We absolutely must confess and renounce our sins promptly.
We absolutely must stop fretting. We have many wonderful things to contemplate and we must force ourselves to think about them. The evil in the world is going to come to maturity. If we have not made a practice of refusing to dwell on the evil, and forcing ourselves to consider the marvels of God, we may lose out with God altogether because of our cursing the darkness.
I know of a good Christian man, a truck driver, who became so angry over the cheating and self-seeking of his dispatcher that he would go down at night and slash tires. I guess I heard the dispatchers name a thousand times, because my friend, the driver, would bitterly complain about how so-and-so was cheating the drivers.
I know that when I was in public-school work I came into conflict with people who were of a liberal persuasion, to say the least. The perversity of their reasoning and actions would result in my complaining to my wife when I got home.
Audrey would say, "They're getting to you, Bob."
Then I would pray until I could let go of the evil and think about the Lord. It wasn't easy, but I survived.
Had I not learned to ignore the perversity I might have done something that would have brought harm to others or myself.
Truly, we must gain the victory over fretting, because fretting leads only to sin.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2NIV)
It would seem that keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus would be the easiest thing in the world. But it isn't. There are many things each day that call for our attention.
The classic scriptural illustration of keeping our eyes on Jesus is as follows:
Lord, if it's you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water. Come, he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me! Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt? And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (Matthew 14:28-32NIV)
We all know the story. Peter asked the Lord, "Tell me to come to you on the water."
There is an important lesson in the above sentence. Peter did not attempt to exercise presumptuous faith by jumping out of the boat and walking on the water. He looked to the Lord for directions.
The so-called faith message of our day emphasizes that we should speak the creative word and command the elements. This is to have faith in faith. Here is the basis for the False Prophet of the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. We are to pray always to Jesus and not to go around trying to cast out demons and get what we want "by faith." We are not to seek to use the name of Jesus in this way. This is not Christian faith but metaphysical faith, and the adamic nature remains in control.
Jesus said one word: "Come." But eternity was in that Word, as it always is in the Word of Jesus Christ.
We must never get down out of the boat until the Lord speaks.
Peter's desire to experience the miraculous power of Christ is commendable. How many wonders we ourselves could experience if we spent more time in God's Presence! There are more gifts ready to be handed over the balconies of Heaven than there are people who care enough to ask for them.
But no matter how fervent we may be, or how certain we are that we can perform the miraculous, we must pray until the Lord speaks and gives us Divine faith.
Peter asked. Jesus spoke. Then Peter got down out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus, not just in any direction where whimsy might direct him but toward Jesus. Peter apparently was gazing at the face of Jesus.
And then something changed. Peter noticed the wind.
How often it is true that we step out in faith and walk toward the Lord. Then Satan bangs on his pots and pans until we take our eyes off the Lord.
Then we begin to sink.
Peter did the right thing. He did not say, "I believe, I believe, I believe," hoping to generate enough faith to deliver himself.
Peter cried out to the Lord.
This is the error of the current "faith message." It counsels us to look to our faith instead of to the Lord. The problem is, the faith it proclaims is not the faith of the Scriptures but metaphysical faith, that is, the effort of the adamic nature to believe the miraculous.
I have been healed miraculously of arthritis and near-sightednessnear-sightedness that I had from an early age. In neither case did I first make an attempt to believe nor "speak the word of faith." The healings were sovereign acts of the Lord. The only faith I was required to exercise was a determination to keep that which had suddenly and sovereignly taken place.
When my knee began to hurt again, I jumped up and down on that leg and told my knee it had been healed and I was not going to accept anything less.
The point is, I was walking on the water and Satan was trying to get my eyes off Jesus and onto the symptoms. It was Jesus who initiated the healing, not I. My part was to go with the flow, as we say.
Peter cried out, "Lord, save me." The Lord Himself reached out his hand and caught Peter. Peter did not set in motion "faith principles" or anything of the kind. Peter was dealing with the Man, Jesus of Nazareth.
May we always deal with the Man, not with spiritual principles!
Then Jesus rebuked Peter. "You of little faith. Why did you doubt?"
Peter doubted because he took his eyes off the Lord and considered the howling wind, the tumultuous state of his surroundings.
One thing Satan cannot tolerate is to have people fasten their eyes on Jesus. He demands attention and worship.
I spoke previously of the current practice of addressing Satan when we are afflicted in some manner. We are not to address Satan or rebuke demons unless Jesus tells us to do so.
The name "Israel" means he struggles with God. As Jacob of old, and as also was true of Job, our struggle is with God. Even in the case of the wicked lords in the heavenlies, we fight against them by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and by loving not our life to the death. In other words, we fight against Satan by interacting with God.
Our presumptuous flesh desires to ride gloriously into the battle, trusting in the name of Jesus. Satan enjoys this immensely. While we are hurling defiance against the enemy, preening ourselves on our spiritual might, Satan sneaks in behind us and leads us astray.
Satan could not care less about what we think we can do in terms of spiritual warfare. Satan is terrified only of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is only as we are filled with God and moving in God that we can do any harm to the enemy.
The New Testament does not counsel us to rebuke Satan. Rather, it warns against this.
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animalsthese are the very things that destroy them. (Jude 1:8-10NIV)
If Michael the archangel did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against the devil, what do we think we are doing?
The Bible counsels us rather, to draw near to God and resist the devil; not rebuke the devil, resist the devil.
The point is, if we first draw near to God, and then refuse to yield to the temptations of Satan, Satan will flee in disarray.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7NIV)
We of today do not submit ourselves to God, we yield to temptation such that we are not living a righteous, holy, obedient life, and then we attempt to rebuke the devil. We are totally unscriptural, and unrealistic in terms of spiritual facts. The result is we are continually being deceived.
We of the Pentecostal-Charismatic persuasion are covered under a superabundance of spiritual formulas ranging from how to lose weight to how to take control over the fallen lords who govern the geographical areas of the world. Isn't it dandy how informed we all are, how ready we are to be raptured into Heaven so we can watch the 144,000 Jewish evangelists without the Holy Spirit preach the Gospel of the Kingdom (which they themselves cannot enter because they cannot be born again without the Holy Spirit) in the face of Antichrist?
Just think! We have ten thousand years to praise God for His "grace," meaning we have never become a new righteous creation but God accepts us in our moral uncleanness. It truly is a come-as-you-are party.
Then, after we have had seven years of lolling around in the Paradise of God, we suddenly shall be summoned to the rallying point where the Lord Jesus is gathering His troops. We shall be issued armor, a sword, and then mounted on a war stallion.
The Lord Jesus will sound the trumpet. At that time we, who had supposed that we would be reclining forever on our couch in our mansion, find ourselves hurtling down through the clouds to form our battles lines on the dried-up bed of the Euphrates.
Then we will begin to ride toward the forces of Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the armies of the earth who have drawn up their battle lines on the plain of Megiddo.
We shall then ride to the attack, having been prepared to confront the wicked by seven years of ease in our mansion, being able to eat all the ice cream we want without getting fat.
After all the wicked fall over in a faint, we then will ride to Jerusalem where our Lord, Jesus Christ, will be crowned King on the Temple Mount. At this point we, who never have lived the victorious Christian life, will cheer and cheer because God refuses the see the sins of Gentiles and welcomes the prodigals as they return home with their whiskey and their girlfriends.
Now the Lord will tell us what city we will govern, and we will ride off with our rod of iron. If any of our citizens resist our will we shall hit them over the head with our rod of iron, because we have never learned to control our temper.
This is the garbage that is being preached. The believers remain dwarfed spiritually because the preachers stand in line to tell them how wonderful they are, how God loves them so much He would never, never permit them to suffer one teensy-weensy bit, and they can forget about their sinful behavior because Jesus has "done it all" for them.
This is how it goes today in the Charismatic movement.
The truth is, we are facing devastation in the days ahead, and it appears few Evangelical believers are prepared to stand spiritually. They may have dried beans stored up so they won't go hungry, but their spiritual nature already is starving.
The only way out of this confusion is to look to Jesusnot to the formulas for health, wealth, and happiness, but to the Lord Jesus. He Himself is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. When we fix our gaze on Him, He will lead us to a place of spiritual growth. We may suffer for a while when He requires us to deny ourselves. But how much better to suffer for a season now if it means we will be secure in Him when the bombs fall.
If we will look to Jesus we can save ourselves and our family.
But if we continue in the American religious foolishness, always seeking new ways in which we can improve our condition without it really costing us anything, we will be totally unprepared for the future.
We prepare ourselves today by setting aside a place and time for prayer.
We prepare ourselves today by meditating in the Scriptures continually.
We prepare ourselves today by placing everything on the altar of God.
We prepare ourselves today by living in and by Christ.
We prepare ourselves today by putting on the whole armor of God.
We prepare ourselves today by learning to live in the heavenlies.
We prepare ourselves today by confessing and renouncing our sins promptly.
We prepare ourselves today by refusing to fret about the prevailing evil.
We prepare ourselves today by fixing our eyes on Jesus, absolutely refusing to look at Satan or to consider him in any manner. He is not our god.
Jesus is our Lord. Let us consider Him always and not the spiritual darkness around us. Christ is greater than all and we are absolutely safe in Him.
One of the greatest of the needs confronting us Evangelicals is that of guiding the believers to the area of service God has for them.
Prior to the Protestant reformation it was generally agreed that the priests would officiate at the altar and the people would assemble and participate as they were directed. There was a considerable gap between the priesthood and the laity.
Since the Reformation the concept of the clergy and the laity has continued, because it is kind of a natural arrangement. It is obvious that there must be people in charge of the assembly. Also, church government appears to proceed on a more effective basis when one person is regarded as being the final decision maker.
So it is understandable, since the senior pastors are often full-time employees of the church, that the believers give their spiritual proxy to the pastors.
It is time now for the Body of Christ to grow to maturity, and since the Body cannot grow to maturity apart from the gifts and services of all the members of the Body, we must begin to encourage the believers to discover and operate that which the Spirit has given them.
There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:6,7NIV)
It is obvious, just as there is no part of the human body that has no purpose, that there is no part of the Body of Christ that has no purpose, no functionnothing to contribute to the growth and well-being of the Body.
But because of the concept of the clergy and laity, many, if not the great majority, of Evangelical believers who are not professional ministers do not regard themselves as being on the same level as the clergy.
And because of the richness of the American culture, the demands it makes on us for material survival and prosperity, we often are quite content to let the clergy perform their spiritual work while we attend and pay the bills.
The day for this arrangement is over. Every believer who intends to be part of Jesus Christ must find his or her role and begin to function. Obviously this change in role expectation is not going to take place overnight.
It is with the full operation of the members of the Body of Christ in mind that Paul wrote the following words:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis 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 ishis good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2NIV)
To correctly orient ourselves to our ministry we must decide once and for all that our body will be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. We simply must set ourselves aside for God's purposes. If we do not we will be viewed as a servant who has buried his talent.
We are no longer a part of the world system, the world spirit. We must make certain that we are not conformed to the ways of the world. What this means to the individual believer must be worked out between him or her and Jesus. So many Christian believers of today are worldly! They do not look or act like Christians. They have been taught that God is not concerned about our outward appearance, how we look or act.
But He is!
We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The battle today is for the mind and for truth. Satan cannot harm us when we belong to God unless he can deceive our mind such that we walk out from under God's protection.
Our mind is renewed as we take the ten steps we are elaborating, such as setting aside a place and time for prayer each day; meditating in the Scriptures continually; placing everything on the altar of God; and so forth.
We are being transformed in personality as our mind is being renewed, and this is why Satan is so anxious to fill our minds with his ways, particularly the minds of the young people.
Some time ago the motion picture "Titanic" was popular. As pastor of the church, I warned the congregation that this picture was just another worldly influence and it was to be avoided.
There were people who did not understand my concern because "Titanic" did not portray the violence and lust of many other films. And it did have historical interest!
I saw immediately that Satan's plan was to present a picture that was not as bad as some and had historical interest. Then the Christian parents would agree to allow their young people to view it.
Satan succeeded very well because the majority of Evangelical Christians are asleep spiritually. There were scenes in "Titanic" which decidedly are of the present world. They renew the mind in the wrong direction. Satan, being a very wise creature, is often content with small gains knowing they will lead to greater victories for him in the future.
We cannot possibly test and approve what God's will is until we have been transformed by the renewing of our mind. The reason most American Christians do not know their place of service in the Kingdom is they have not been transformed by the renewing of their mind. Their mind still is conformed to the American culture.
Paul goes on to say:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3NIV)
God has given each one of us a measure of faith for ministry. We are not to be lazy and bury our talent; neither are we to be presumptuous and attempt to launch ourselves forth as "God's man of faith and power." We are to appraise our situation as objectively as we can and serve the Lord with the abilities He has given us.
Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4,5NIV)
We need to think more about the Body of Christ and less about the numerous denominations and churches that dot the countryside in America. My wife and I pastor a denominational church and recognize the value of such. However, above and beyond our churches and denominations there is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the one Kingdom of God, the Christian Church. All true Christians are members of the one Body, the one Church. We form one body and each of us belongs to and is part of all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; (Romans 12:6,7NIV)
Notice how the term "grace" is employed in the above verse. Divine grace includes much more than forgiveness. Divine grace is the Presence of God in Jesus Christ to enable each believer to attain the fullness of salvation.
We each have a gift. Whatever our gift is we are to use it in proportion to the faith God has given us, not falling behind or pushing ahead of our proper role in the Body.
In some churches there is a presbytery that prophecies over people and lays hands on them, in this manner helping them to discover and operate their gifts. This procedure is scriptural and I have seen it used many times.
But I have noticed that if the individual does not present his or her body to God as a sacrifice, and live as a cross-carrying disciple, the prophecies are not fulfilled in them. The word spoken over them was true but they did not do their part.
The penalty for not using what has been given us by the Holy Spirit is severe.
For some of us it will mean a change in our customary lifestyle if we are to take the time to find out the role we are to play in the bringing of the Body of Christ to full maturity.
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:13-16NIV)
It unquestionably is true that if the Body of Christ is to come to maturity, then each member must contribute his or her part to the process. The Body is not mature in the present hour, due in part to the absence of the gifts and ministries that are resident but not functioning in the believers.
If we do not use our talent it will be removed from us and given to another who has been more diligent. Then we ourselves will be driven into the outer darkness. This is clearly the Word of Christ and we are foolish indeed if we allow ourselves to be talked out of it by "every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming."
Who are these who would deceive us in this manner? Is it not self-serving ministers who worship their own belly? This was the case in Paul's day!
God will not pardon us because the ministry has deceived us with soft words. He will ask us why we did not test those who claimed to be ministers of Christ.
We understand all this is true. But what do we do about it? We set ourselves aside for God's purposes, even though it means a radical change of our lifestyle.
I tell you the truth, Jesus replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel Will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fieldsand with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29,30NIV)
I am speaking now to the ordinary believer, the ordinary church member. You and I must absolutely be prepared to leave all with which we are familiar, if it comes to that, in order that we may do what God has called us to do. Your contribution is as important as mine. I have had to set myself aside to do what God has called me to do, and so do you. I am a public-school educator by profession. God made me know that I was to leave my profession and teach what He has shown me. This I have done and God has supplied all my needs. If I have helped even one person to walk in the ways of righteousness I will count my life to have been spent well.
If you are to stand and help your loved ones and other to stand in the spiritual oppression of the future you absolutely must:
Set aside a time for prayer each day.
Meditate in the Scriptures continually.
Place everything on the altar of God.
Live in and by Christ.
Put on the whole armor of God.
Learn to live in the heavenlies.
Confess and renounce your sins promptly.
Refuse to fret.
Look only to Jesus.
Set yourself aside for God's purposes, for Christ and His Gospel.
None of the ten practices I have set forth can be omitted without endangering your future and the future of those who trust in you.
When we are living so as to please the Lord we have absolutely nothing to fear. King David was attacked continually by enemies outside of Israel and within Israel. David knew well the oppressive terror of destruction and death. Yet David found comfort and perfect safety in the Lord.
I love you, O LORD, my strength. (Psalms 18:1NIV)
David loved the Lord and thought about God at all times. He prayed much and meditated continually in the Scriptures. David's life and possessions always were dedicated to the Lord and he lived in and by the Lord. David wore the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. God taught David's hands to war. David contemplated the Glory of God at all times and sang about it in his Psalms. He was quick to confess his sins when they were pointed out to him.
It was David who wrote that we should not fret ourselves. David had set the Lord always before him, and so he was not moved.
I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalms 16:8NIV)
David was called out to be the king of Israel, and thus he served God until his death at the age of seventy. He was a man after God's heart and an example to all of us in his love for God even though, like us, he was not perfect. Because of his friendship with God and faithfulness to God, David could claim:
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. (Psalms 18:2,3NIV)
The day of terror may come to us sooner than we think. David had such experiences.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. (Psalms 18:4,5NIV)
What did David do in that hour?
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalms 18:6NIV)
Brother, Sister in the Lord, God never, never changes. Destruction and death have always been the portion of mankind, especially for Jews and Christians. We are as sheep for the slaughter. Right now in the United States we Christians are in an abnormal situation of peace and prosperity when compared with the record of history.
How long such blessings will continue I cannot say. But I can say that the state of the world, the sins of the American people, including the Christians, and the proclamations of those with the spirit of prophecy, cause us to believe that our circumstances may change in the not too distant future.
If we or our loved ones should die, that is preferable to life on the earth, as Paul said. Then we are in a much better place if we have been serving the Lord. But let me say once more that the casual Christians of our country, of whom there are multitudes, cannot be certain that they will be greeted by a smiling Jesus. We have been neglecting our salvation, letting down our guard because of the ease and prosperity of our nation. Unless the Scripture can be broken, we are heading toward the terror of the Lord. Death will prove, for us, to be out of the frying pan into the fire.
Why don't both of us, you and I, look once more at the ten acts of preparation we have presented in this booklet. If we will faithfully practice these from this time forth, we will save ourselves, our families, and others in the day of spiritual famine, just as Joseph saved himself, his family, Egypt, and other countries because he had made preparations during the years of abundance.