PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD
PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We have been saved by the blood of the Lamb. We have received the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit is preparing the way for the Father and the Son to settle down to rest in us.
PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD!
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Ephesians 3:16NIV)
The rest of God, the Kingdom of God, is the experience of God and Christ settling down to untroubled rest in our personality. Such is the supreme goal of the working of God in the plan of redemption.
First we must receive forgiveness through the blood of the cross. The blood provides us with the authority to press toward the rest of God.
Next we must receive the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God is the One who works in us to prepare the way for the Father and the Son to come to us and make Their eternal abode in us.
We may think of the coming of the Spirit of God to dwell in us as "the Pentecostal experience."
We may think of the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us as "the Tabernacles experience."
We are using these two phrases, which are derived from the seven feasts of Israel, for ease of communication, not to start a new spiritual movement.
Let us turn to the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John and notice the progression from Pentecost to Tabernacles.
Notice carefully the announcement of the Pentecostal experience:
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever The Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:16,17NIV)
The Spirit of God lives with us forever and will be in us.
As we proceed in the fourteenth chapter we notice a further step.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23NIV)
Perhaps the reader will think of the coming of the Spirit, and the coming of the Father and the Son, to be the same experience. This view is understandable. However, I dont think such is the case.
In the first place, the Father is the Father. The Son is the Son. The Spirit is the Spirit. They are One in the sense of being one God over all. But in Person they are unique individuals. The Holy Spirit is not the Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit did not die for our sins. The Holy Spirit is not our Lord. The Holy Spirit is not King of kings and Lord of Lords.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a Person in His own right. He is not the Father and He is not the Holy Spirit.
Christ learned obedience to God while on the earth. Christ Himself said the Father is greater than He.
You heard me say, "I am going away and I am coming back to you." If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28NIV)
In Psalms David said: "The LORD says to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (Psalms 110:1NIV).
"The LORD" is the Father. "My Lord" is the son, or Christ, or the Lord Jesus Christ. If One speaks to the Other in this manner, how then can they be the same person? This is foolishness.
For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand Until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:34-36NIV)
I could quote many more examples to demonstrate that while the Father, the Son, and the Spirit compose one God, they nevertheless are unique Persons.
Therefore it is my opinion that once we receive the Holy Spirit He sets about to prepare the way for the coming of the Father and the Son to settle down to untroubled rest in us.
Perhaps most believers can agree with this thought.
Lets turn now to Pauls prayer for the believers in Ephesus:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, From whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. (Ephesians 3:14,15NIV)
God has one family. The family includes the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and all of us who are part of the Lord Jesus. We all are called by the name of God. This does not mean we are the Father, it means we are an integral part of His family if we are part of the Lord Jesus. This is important to remember, because the unscriptural philosophy termed "Dispensationalism" drives a wedge between elect Jews and elect Gentiles.
There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called One Lord, one faith, one baptism; One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6NIV)
How do you imagine Paul would pray concerning the one family of God, people who had been saved through the blood and filled with the Spirit of God?
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, (Ephesians 3:16NIV)
Pauls prayer for us Christians today is that our Father, God, might, out of the abundance of His riches, strengthen us with power through His Spirit who dwells in our inner being.
Did you ever conceive of the work of the Spirit in us as being that of strengthening us? I wonder to what end God is strengthening us out of His glorious riches! Such strengthening obviously is an important aspect of our salvation. Dont you agree?
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, (Ephesians 3:17NIV)
We are strengthened through the Spirit in order that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.
Faith is required if we are to press past the Pentecostal experience into the rest of God.
The great battle each believer must engage in, if he or she is to press forward to the place where Christ is abiding in untroubled rest, has to do with Gods will versus our will.
Babylon is symbolic, in the Bible, of our self-will, which ultimately is expressed in ecclesiastical institutionalism, in Antichrist, in the False Prophet, and in Laodicea. We are in the rest of God when every aspect of our personality is content to abide in the will of God.
There are only two kingdoms of significance. One Kingdom is that of God. The coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth always results in the doing of Gods will in the earth. Even the Lord Jesus submitted Himself to the will of God, for Jesus always dwells in the Kingdom of God, in the rest of God, and He Himself has become the Kingdom of God and the rest of God.
The other kingdom is that of self-will. Satans kingdom includes himself and all others who refuse to relinquish their right to exercise their own will.
Here is the tremendous battle facing each believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit. Shall we consent to turn aside from our own will and permit Jesus Christ to do with us as He will? Or shall we insist on retaining our self-will?
We have spoken of the dwelling of the Spirit in us as being the "Pentecostal experience" and the coming of the Father and the Son to abide in us as being the "Tabernacles experience."
For fifty-five years as a Christian I have known the conflict and the suffering that the Spirit employs in order to bring us into the rest of God. I do not claim to be totally there but I am pressing on the upward way.
Now I am seeing other stalwart, experienced believers who have come as far as Pentecost, and currently are in the throes of death to self-will. I pray for them as others have prayed for me that their faith does not fail. The issue is always one of faith. Christ dwells in our heart by faith.
Why is this? It is because God permits Satan to test us, Satans goes right to the most strongly entrenched idol in our personality. We had no idea it was present in us. We still may not believe it.
When that idol is touched, the testing, the sifting begins.
Perhaps we have been prominent in the ministry. This make the sifting even more difficult. Our religious pride enters in. To believe we could have been mistaken all these years is threatening to us.
We just cant let go of this idol we have been worshiping. It is too much a part of us. And so we struggle with God.
Israel means "He struggles with God."
Maybe you are experiencing just such a test right now. Brother, Sister, let go! Let go! Let go!
I know I am speaking death to you. I have been there. But I know also that I am speaking life to you if you will just let that idol go! Dont try to reason it out. Dont expect anyone to understand. Just let that idol go! It may tear the heart out of you, but let it go!
You have to slay your own bull of consecration. God hands you the knife. You scream, "Not that!" Yes, it is that. Either you will run about, asking this one and that one if they think it is God talking to you. You will put out fleeces. You may become bitter at the tools God uses to get at the idols in your personality.
People cannot advise you correctly. They will seek to keep you comfortable. But you are wasting your time. If Abraham had asked Sarah if it really was the Lord who was asking for Isaac, Abraham would never have started up Mount Moriah.
You have to die, you know. Christ suffered and you have to enter His sufferings. If you do not, the new creation will never be formed in you. You will abide alone without fruitfulness.
We all have to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. We have to endure hardness! Do you think the cross is a pretty scene? Can you smell the death? Can you hear the screams? They are coming from your adamic nature, the only person who can keep you out of the Kingdom of God.
There are ten thousand reasons why you should hold on to this most carefully guarded part of your personality. None of these reasons are valid. You will scheme, plot, manipulate, and employ every device you can think of in order to keep your way with God and hold on to your idol. You will not be successful.
Listen to me. You will never lose anything by giving it to God, unless it is harmful to you. If God wants you to have it He will restore it in His time. You cannot ever lose anything of eternal value by trusting God.
Now can you see why the Bible says Christ dwells in our heart by faith? The issue is one of relying on Gods faithfulness, just as the Lord Jesus had to rely on Gods faithfulness when He took on Himself the sins of the world.
Can you imagine the horror Christ would have experienced if God had put on Him the guilt of the sins of the world and then abandoned Him? God did not fail Christ. He will not fail you. You can count on this.
The two kingdoms are Babylon and the Kingdom of God. Babylon is the kingdom of self-will. "Let us build a city." "Let us make three tabernacles."
The Kingdom of God is the kingdom of Gods will. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
What kingdom do you want to live in, the Kingdom of God or the kingdom of self?
Then let your idol, that which God is calling for, go!
This was the issue raised in the Garden of Eden. Were Adam and Eve to do Gods will or were they to take matters into their own hands?
God finished everything in six days, all the way through to the new heaven and earth reign of Jesus Christ.
While He was creating He developed a place in His Kingdom for youa specific task and role designed for you. Then God rested.
Are you going to strive to turn away from your self-will and enter Gods rest so you may find yourself in your foreordained role? Or are you going to spend your life creating your own heaven and earth? The choice is yours: stay in Babylon and create your own heaven and earth, or turn aside from your anxious striving and ambitious undertakings, endeavoring to assure your own survival and security, your own pleasure, and your own achievement, and trust the Lord for your security, your pleasure, and your achievements. Which is it going to be? You cannot have it both ways.
The expression "the righteous live by faith" means the righteous choose to look to Jesus Christ for every decision of life. The unrighteous strive anxiously to establish their own security, their own pleasure, and their own achievements.
The issue always is one of faith; and not just faith per se, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great gulf between faith itself, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We never are to use faith as a metaphysical principle to obtain what we desire, or think we ought to have. We are to have faith in Christ!
Why does the Father, from whom the whole family of the elect is named, strengthen us through His Spirit?
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, (Ephesians 3:17,18NIV)
The end result is that we may be filled with Gods love. Paul says the same thing in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. John states the following:
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (I John 4:16-18NIV)
The above is not speaking of human love, of our attempts to love one another, although such efforts often are worthy. Rather the reference is to Divine love, the love of God in Christ in us. It indeed is a powerful force that fulfills all Paul claims for it in First Corinthians. Paul maintains that such love is perfection, and when it comes to us, tongues and other manifestations will pass away, being no longer necessary.
We are not there yet. We need all the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ if Christ is to come to maturity in His Body. But we can look forward to the coming of perfect love so as Christ is, we also shall be.
I would submit to you that the coming to abide in us of the Father and the Son, mentioned in the fourteenth chapter of John, is pretty much the same as the coming of perfect love to us. I cant see any significant difference in the Scriptures.
What does Paul add to his prayer for us?
And to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19NIV)
Think of it! "Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God"! All the fullness of God!
How would you like to be filled with all the fullness of God?
You shall be if you permit the Holy Spirit to have His way with you.
The Spirit will convict you until you come out of the ways of the world and begin to think, act, and look like a Christian. If you do not know how a Christian should think, act, and look, ask an unsaved person. A believer is liable to talk to you about how you should not concern yourself because you are saved by grace, and you do not need to hear this.
The Spirit will convict you concerning all the passions and lusts of your flesh. Worldliness and lusts are easy to get rid of once you make up our mind you want to be delivered. The Spirit has ample power.
How much power is being exercised toward you when you declare that you want no more worldliness or fleshly sins in your life?
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:20NIV)
Does that answer the question?
But now we come to the real problemself-will. Are you willing to let go of your grasp on your idols, the idols that to you are not clearly sinful, just part of your personality?
Shortly after I was converted the Lord dealt with me about my love for classical music. He advised me to quit practicing on the piano. I did this and was rewarded with an astonishing peace that truly passed my understanding.
A Marine Corps chaplain asked me to help out by playing in a talent show on board ship. I told him the Lord had instructed me not to play the piano. I do not know what he thought of this.
It wasnt until my second year of Bible school that I felt released to return to the piano. One thing led to another until I graduated from college with a minor in music and took a job teaching high-school music. While I was in college there were times when I practiced for several hours a day.
When the Lord restores, He restores. I play in church frequently, but music no longer is an idol to me. I can take it or leave it.
Do you see what I mean? Everything has to go when the Lord asks for it.
What do you think would have transpired if Abraham had refused to offer Isaac? Isaac does not symbolize deliverance from sin but deliverance from self-will. Not my will but Yours be done. Can you say it and mean itconcerning every relationship, every thing, every circumstance? If you cannot, you have an idol. You cannot pass from Pentecost to Tabernacles until you give the Lord Jesus the key to every room of your heart. "He will be Lord of all or He will not be Lord at all."
Your Creator is asking you to do His will rather than your own. He wants to find His rest in you. Are you willing to let Him have His way? The Spirit who dwells in you desires to prepare the way of the Lord.
All the ministries and gifts of the Spirit operate for the purpose of making you and me the house of God.
This purpose is expressed as follows:
When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebelliousthat you, O LORD God, might dwell there. (Psalms 68:18NIV)
The purpose of the gifts is to create the dwelling place of God.
The Apostle Paul, quoting from the above Psalm, expresses the purpose for the gifts and ministries as follows:
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13NIV)
It is interesting to note the idea that precedes Psalms 68:18:
Why gaze in envy, O rugged mountains, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the LORD himself will dwell forever? (Psalms 68:16NIV)
Gods mountain is Zion, or Christ. The mountains that gaze in envy at Zion represent spiritually ambitious people who are operating from their self-will. Pilate understood that the elders of Israel crucified Christ because of envy.
So it is true that when you decide to live in Gods will, forsaking your own religious ambitions, you will be slandered by those who also are religiously ambitious but refuse to bow to Gods will. They will tear you to pieces if they can, just as they crucified Christ. Pay no attention to them. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Whoever departs from wickedness and lawlessness often makes himself the prey of Gods elect.
There are three great symbols of Judaism: the altar, the lampstand, and the booth. The altar speaks of the fact that God requires every person to meet Him at the altar of sacrifice, that is, at Calvary.
The lampstand tells us that it is Gods will that every individual live in His Spirit rather than in his or her own strength and abilities.
The booth portrays Gods intention to dwell through Jesus Christ in every saved person. After God has put every spirit under the feet of Jesus, then the Lord Jesus Himself will be subject to God so God may be All in all.
Mankind was created in order to be the chariots of God.
There are three great feasts of Judaism: Passover, Pentecost (Weeks), and Tabernacles.
Passover tells us that if we are to escape the bondages of the world we must eat the Passover Lamb. The Passover Lamb is the Lord Jesus Christ. We can escape the world and prepare ourselves for the resurrection from the dead only by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. There is no other food and drink that will give us eternal life and raise us from the dead in the last day. The body and blood of Jesus Christ are the covenant God has given to us.
Pentecost refers to the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our Sinai, our law of the Spirit of life.
We do not always hear this taught, but the scriptural truth is that we are without condemnation only as we live according to the Spirit of life and turn aside from the deeds of our sinful nature. This concept is presented clearly in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans.
You would think from what is proclaimed today that if we make a confession of Christ we are without condemnation forever no matter how we behave. Such is not the case, and millions of American Christians are in deception concerning this. If this were true, new-covenant grace would be an alternative to righteous behavior, and the new covenant would represent a change in Gods goal for man.
The truth is, we are free from condemnation only as we walk in the Spirit of God, only as we walk in the light of Gods will each day.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4NIV)
It is clear if we live according to our sinful nature, the righteous requirements of the Law of Moses are not fully met in us. We remain under condemnation even though we have "accepted Christ." This is the truth of the Scripture and we ignore it at the peril of our soul.
As soon as we receive the Holy Spirit He begins the work of strengthening us so Christ may enter us in His fullness. The Spirit prepares the way of the Lord that the Father and the Son might find Their eternal home and rest in us.
The third and final celebration, the feast of Tabernacles, or Booths, includes three subfeasts: the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and then the feast of Tabernacles itself.
Since the Spirit is taking us past Pentecost today, these are the three experiences we are facing.
The Blowing of Trumpets means the Lord Jesus Christ is coming to His churches today to declare war against His enemies that dwell in us (worldliness, lust, and self-will) and also to prepare us to ride behind Him when He appears from Heaven to install His Kingdom on the earth.
The Day of Atonement refers to the reconciling of our personality to God as we turn aside, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, from our worldliness, lusts, and self-will. The Day of Atonement is a time of judgment against all that is not of God. It is the removal of the tares from the wheat.
Up to this point we have been sealed by the Spirit, protected from the Lake of Fire. If we are willing to let go of the darkness in our personality, we will emerge unscathed. The Lake of Fire will no longer have any authority over us.
But if we are not willing to let go of the darkness in our personality, clinging to our worldliness, our lusts and passions, and our self-will, then we ourselves will be cast into the Lake of Fire. No spiritual darkness of any kind whatever will be permitted to enter the Kingdom of God, the new Jerusalem.
The final part of the feast of Tabernacles, which is the feast of Tabernacles proper, is telling us of the coming of the Father and the Son to settle down to rest in us. The climax will arrive when we have been filled in our inner nature with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, our flesh and bones have been raised from the dead, and our resurrected body is clothed upon with a glorious house from Heaven. This is the Omega of redemption and the first resurrection from the dead.
Such is the mark that has been set before us. Will we, as Paul, set aside all else that we may attain the first resurrection from the dead? Or is there some relationship or possession that is of greater importance to us? Paul counted everything as garbage that he might arrive at the fullness.
The Spirit of God is ready to prepare the way of the Lord in your personality. Are you ready to please God by offering yourself to Him that He might have a house in which to dwell for eternity?