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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

When one considers some of the statements of the New Testament the conclusion can be drawn that there are only a few members of the royal priesthood—few compared with the number of people who regard themselves as Christians. It seems impossible that such should be the case; but if the New Testament is the inspired Word of God, and if every passage is backed up by the full weight of the Godhead, then today’s American Christianity is not what is meant by Christian discipleship.


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

When one considers some of the statements of the New Testament the conclusion can be drawn that there are only a few members of the royal priesthood—few compared with the number of people who regard themselves as Christians. It seems impossible that such should be the case; but if the New Testament is the inspired Word of God, and if every passage is backed up by the full weight of the Godhead, and I am basing my life and testimony on the fact that this is the case, then today’s American Christianity is not what is meant by Christian discipleship.

The letter from which the above verse is taken was addressed to “The angel of the church in Sardis.”

Since the expression “have not soiled their clothes” cannot apply to those who never were believers, we conclude that of the Christian people in Sardis, those who had made a statement of faith in Jesus Christ, only a few will walk with the Lord in the white robes of the royal priesthood.

This is a fearful pronouncement! Can it be true of the churches of our day?

I have written much about the Church within the churches, about the remnant, about the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb. Yet this morning as I woke up it hit me with renewed force. Of the multitudes of Christian believers throughout the Church Era, only a relatively small minority will govern with the Lord as members of the royal priesthood.

The number of scriptural examples, both Old and New Testament, of a small number of true saints in the midst of God’s chosen people, is so great that I will leave it to the reader to pursue the topic in some of my other writings. One need only to think of Gideon’s army. However, the most dramatic examples are found among the Prophets. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Elijah, Elisha, and many others, reveal that of the entire nation of Jews, only one or two people were hearing from God.

Yet the Lord stated He had seven thousand faithful people who had not bowed the knee to Baal—this small group among the millions of Israelites.

Ezra, Nehemiah, Samuel, Daniel come to mind. These are God’s stars. We are guided by the testimony of God’s stars, not by the multitudes of Israel who, more often than not, were immersed in their sins.

Can this be true today? I think it is. I think in most Christian churches there are only a few who truly are disciples of Jesus. The remainder may be fine people, hard working, honest, friendly, compassionate folk. I believe they will be saved from destruction in the Day of the Lord.

But how many of them have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and are following the Lord Jesus closely every moment of every day? How many of them are always interacting with Jesus, looking to Him for every decision they make? How many of them are presenting their body a living sacrifice that God’s perfect will might be done?

My experience among Christian people has been limited to the few churches I have visited at home and abroad. I have seen numerous excellent people, but not many whom I would regard as actual disciples of the Lord. They know all about the house of God, but they do not know the God of the house of God.

I am not overly concerned about this. I know full well that no individual can come to Christ except as the Father draws him or her; and this is true at every level of salvation. The desire to serve Christ passionately is a gift from God. So I do not point the finger at a believer when he is not consumed with the desire to do God’s will.

One can consider Abraham. Here is a man, without the benefit of the born-again experience or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who did not own a Bible such as we have today, and yet he was ready to offer to God as a burnt offering the child of promise. But, according to Christ, he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than Abraham.

Probably the most enigmatic passage in the Bible is found in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. The aged Apostle announced that he still was pursuing Christ. He still was attempting to attain to the resurrection from among the dead.

Today we do not even know what he meant by attempting to attain to the resurrection from among the dead. Consider: if Paul, toward the end of his life, believed he had not as yet attained to the resurrection from among the dead, where does that leave us?

I will tell you where it leaves us. Either we are to disregard Paul’s statement, or else we must confess that only a few rare individuals attain to the resurrection from among the dead. Our decision today is to disregard the passage as having no real application to Christians.

The truth is, we do not understand what it means to be a disciple, much less what it means to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead.

The Lord Jesus informed us that if we do not forsake all we hold dear we are not worthy of Him. This means most American Christians are not worthy of Christ. Not only are they unwilling to forsake all they hold dear (such negative preaching!), they are demanding that Christ respond to their every request so they may live a happy, fulfilled American life.

If the New Testament means exactly what it says, there hardly are any members of the royal priesthood in America in the present hour. It is true we have millions of believers who regard themselves as Christians, but I think they are nothing more than members of a religious faith.

I am speaking analytically. It is not my intention to condemn anyone. I am not saying we must rush out in a frenzy and try to do the impossible. But I am suggesting that any person who is interested in what I am saying might consider going to the Lord to find out exactly where he or she stands in the present hour.

According to the Scripture, we have eternal life the moment we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord. This means we, who previously were nothing more than intelligent dust, now have within our personality a portion of Divine Life.

But Paul advised Timothy to lay hold on eternal life. The Lord told us if we choose to lead a life of victory in Himself we will be given to eat of the tree of life; also we will receive a crown of life.

So there is eternal life and then there is more abundant eternal life.

We American are so fleshly we think having more abundant life means we have more energy to play volleyball at the beach.

Actually, having more abundant life means we are less of the dust and more of Christ. We are on our way to becoming a life-giving spirit in the image of Christ.

There are thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and one hundredfold in the Kingdom of God. The difference among these three levels of attainment is the degree of Christ, of eternal life, possessed by the believer.

Eternal life is the authority and power to govern. The priesthood governs by the power of endless, incorruptible resurrection life.

This means the sixtyfold will govern the thirtyfold. The hundredfold will govern the sixtyfold and the thirtyfold. Christ will govern all three, and God governs Christ. This is the hierarchy of the Kingdom of God.

I get the impression that the Lord, in the present hour, is especially seeking those who are desirous of the hundredfold experience. It may be there are thrones still vacant—the eternal thrones that will govern, for endless ages, the works of God’s hands.

Those who aspire to the hundredfold degree of eternal life must prepare themselves to be dealt with rigorously by the Lord. Each of them will be brought down to the essence of his or her personality. The essence of his adamic personality may of the nature of loving pleasure, or physical lust, or romanticism, or the love of money, or the desire to rule, or the worship of a talent such as music or art.

You can count on this: the Spirit of God and Satan are going to seek out your unique personality profile. What you are in essence is going to receive the sentence of death. Then you will writhe on the cross while you make up your mind whether to pursue God in your agony or whether to come down from the cross and try to settle for a lesser role in the Kingdom.

God may or may not permit you to do this, although He is not willing that any perish.

If you are called to a high throne you will be judged accordingly. You will not be judged as though the mark set before you is of a lesser position in the Kingdom.

A few names have been found worthy to walk in the white raiment of the holy priesthood!

When Jesus returns, if I am correct, only the members of the royal priesthood will be resurrected. They will ascend to meet Him in the air and then descend with Him and assist in the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. This is a Gideon’s army, and God is with them.

Every believer is welcome to be a member of the royal priesthood. But so few are willing to deny themselves!

Denying oneself is the key to receiving the fullness of God.

To not deny oneself is to follow one’s own self-will.

It is interesting to note that in the current response to the recent terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City (I am writing this in September of 2001), the great cry in America is we must not let them (the terrorists) take away our cherished freedom. Individual freedom is being held up as the greatest good, the central value of America. The Statue of Liberty symbolizes this value.

Probably most Christians accept this emphasis on personal liberty as being their own central value, and they are ready to fight to preserve it.

I truly wonder if we are correct in this.

You know, the Lord Jesus did not speak much about the desirability of personal freedom. In fact, He proposed the opposite. He claimed that if we do not deny ourselves (the very opposite of personal liberty) we are not worthy of Him, not able to be His disciple.

Halgrimur Péterson of Iceland wrote that the only free person is he or she who is the slave of Jesus Christ. Was he scriptural in stating this?

How many American Christians conceive of themselves as the slave of Jesus Christ?

“Don’t tread on me.” Well, God wants to tread on our right to be our own god.

It is not at all possible for us to walk with Christ in the white robes of the royal priesthood until we have died to our self-will, died to our right to express ourselves as we please; to think as we please; to speak as we please.

Marriage to the Lamb of God is the strictest of all disciplines. It is the ultimate discipline!

We Christians are to be patriotic citizens. But if we would be realistic we must agree that we also are citizens of Heaven, and that in Heaven freedom of expression is considered idolatry. The saints and angels know only he who does God’s perfect will at all times has been delivered from the curse of idolatry.

How many Christians in America understand and agree with what I have written in this brief essay? First of all, am I correct? If so, how many genuine Christians are there in America? How many are willing to surrender their right to be themselves in order that the Lord Jesus Christ may be undisputed Ruler of all they think, say, and do?

These are the only members of the royal priesthood, and they may be few in number in America in the twenty-first century.

Yet all are invited to the ranks of the victorious saints.

(“A Few Names”, 3675-1)

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