A CHANGE OF THEOLOGY (EXCERPT OF THE THEOLOGY OF ROBERT B. THOMPSON)
Copyright © 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved.
“A Change of Theology” is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Table of Contents
Not by “Faith Alone”
A Change of Theology
Divine grace is the favor of God given to us through our Lord Jesus, apart from obedience to the Law of Moses. The purpose in giving us Divine grace is that we might be conformed to Christ’s internal and external image and brought into perfect, complete rest in the center of God’s will. The end result is a new creation of righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
Christ Himself is Righteousness. When we receive Christ as our Savior, righteousness is ascribed to our actions and holiness is ascribed to our person. Then the program of redemption commences. Our first personality is crucified, and Christ begins to gain control of our actions. Thus, that which at first was ascribed to us is now seen in our daily behavior toward people and displayed in our attitude toward God.
Christ Himself is Holiness. As we cooperate with the Spirit of God in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature, which is the new-covenant fulfillment of the practice of circumcision of the old covenant, Christ begins to grow in us. In other words, holiness begins to grow in us. Thus that which at first was ascribed to us is now being worked out in us as we keep increasing in the desire to become part of God.
Unlike righteousness which is absolute, holiness becomes part of us in stages. Christ is formed in us to an extent that is in agreement with our predestined role in the Kingdom of God: some thirtyfold; some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold.
We see this pattern in the Israelites. The entire nation was regarded as holy people separated to God for his special purposes. Then we see the Levites, more holy than the rest of the people. Then, the sons of Aaron. Then, the High Priest. Also, the Nazarites were set apart as unusually holy.
None of this was true of righteousness. All were required to be righteous in behavior. Generally speaking, righteousness has to do with our dealings with people. Holiness has to do with our dealings with God.
As I have stated, Christ Himself is Holiness. As He is formed in us, Holiness is formed in us. It is God’s supreme desire to dwell in people. However, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will not dwell permanently in the children of Adam. We must be born again. Christ must be conceived and then formed in us. Christ formed in us is a new creation. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will dwell only in the new creation; in Christ formed in us; only in the Holiness formed in us.
When the holy city, which is the assemblage of the glorified bodies of the God-filled saints, comes from Heaven through the new sky to be established on the new earth, it then it can be said truly that “Emmanuel” has come. God now is with mankind forever.
Not by “Faith Alone”
I do not pretend to be a Church historian. I have gathered from what reading I have done that the concept of “faith alone” was a reaction against Catholic theology, especially against indulgences and penances, including self-abuse. The cry went forth by the Reformers: “We are not saved by religious works but by faith.”
Whether or not my conclusion is correct, this watchword currently is being used to mean that we are not to attempt to obey Christ and his Apostles. Salvation, it is maintained, is a sovereignly imposed work of God and we are not to seek in any manner to add to it. We are saved by faith alone.!
Perhaps we ought to try to do good, as long as we keep firmly in mind that our behavior has no impact on our salvation, which is by “faith alone.” This is what is claimed by so many of today’s Christian teachers.
However, trying to do good doesn’t go very far in our demon-infested atmosphere!
The faith that is stressed by the “faith alone” proponents is not Bible faith. Bible faith is obedience to the written and personal Word of God, not belief concerning the several facts relating to Christ. Belief in Christ has come to mean belief about Christ, or about theologic facts.
Since Satan and all his helpers are only too aware of the several facts relating to Christ, it is quite obvious that belief about Christ does not bring about salvation from Hell, or eternal life. Satan and his helpers, while well versed in the facts concerning the “holy One of God,” are of Hell and have no eternal life.
The last two verses of the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews may reveal that obedience and belief are synonymous:
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19—NASB)
If we believe in Christ we will obey him. How could we say we believe in Christ, and then not do what He and his Apostles have commanded? This assuredly is a delusion.
The third chapter of the Book of Hebrews is using the account of the Israelites attempting to conquer Canaan as an example of our attempting to enter the rest of God. The rest of God is that place where we are resting in the fullness of the inheritance God has promised us, and God is resting in us.
Some of the aspects of the rest of God to which we are to enter, are as follows:
We have been promised that if we overcome we will sit on the highest Throne with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will be termed “God’s sons.”
We will inherit all that God makes new after the present heavens and earth pass away and the new world of righteousness comes into view.
We will be filled with all the fullness of God, the same fullness that has been written concerning our Lord, although Christ remains the supreme Head and Lord of all.
We have a physical body now, which even the angels do not have. Also, we have the opportunity to attain to the resurrection of our inward nature so we will be qualified and competent to have our body filled with eternal resurrection life in the Day of Christ.
- We will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron.
- We will be loved by the Father as He loves his Firstborn Son.
- We will receive the glory which has been given to the Lord Jesus.
- We will be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus.
- We will dwell in Christ as part of the Father.
- We will be crowned with righteousness and eternal life.
- We will be more than a conqueror through Christ.
- We will be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
- We will attain to the standard which is the full measure of Christ.
- We will bear much fruit—reproducing Christ’s image in ourselves and others.
- We will inherit the nations of the earth.
- We will bring justice to the nations of the earth.
- We will inherit the farthest reaches of the earth.
- We will be a living stone in the eternal Temple of God.
- We will receive an eternal, Spirit-filled body in the Day of Resurrection.
- We will know the Father.
- We will see God.
- We will be a member of the Royal Priesthood.
- We will be a brother of Jesus Christ.
- We will gain total victory through Jesus Christ over all sin and disobedience.
The problem with entering the rest of God, that which has been promised to God’s Royal Priesthood from the beginning of the world, is that there are enemies living in our inheritance. We have to fight continually to make our way into the good things of God. Instead, we have created a doctrine of “grace” that permits the enemy to live with us in peace. No deadlier device could be invented by our enemies.
In addition to the current perversion of the intent of the Protestant Reformers, we have misunderstood the Apostle Paul’s use of the term “works.” We of today are defining “works” as attempts to live righteously, to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
If Paul meant that “works” were our attempts to overcome our sinful behavior, and we are not saved by “works” but by faith, contrasting godly behavior with “faith,” he would be contradicting much of what he had written in his epistles, including Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians.
The expression “the righteous shall live by faith,” means that we are not to follow our self-will but to walk hand in hand with Christ, looking to Him for every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and doing.
When Paul spoke of “works” he was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision, not to our efforts to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles. Such a simple misunderstanding but so profoundly destructive of the moral character of Christian people!
A third force driving the current misunderstanding of salvation by faith is the influence of the religion of Gnosticism. This ancient religion has invaded Christian thinking from the days of the Apostles, apparently. Since Gnosticism emphasizes the primary virtue of knowledge and of man’s spirit, viewing the flesh and the rest of the physical realm as evil, it does not emphasize righteous conduct.
In actuality, righteous conduct is the scepter of Christ’s Kingdom. There is no Kingdom of God apart from righteous conduct.
Gnostics teach that since our flesh is evil, it does not really matter how we behave. The issue of importance is the special knowledge we receive.
There is no question in my mind but that the prevailing Christian understanding that spirit is good and flesh is evil, and that if we profess correct knowledge concerning Jesus Christ we will enter a spirit realm superior to the physical world, is far more Gnostic than it is apostolic. The truth is, once the spirit world becomes one with the physical world, when Christ returns, this new world of righteousness will be far more wonderful than either the present physical world or the spirit world.
The Bible teaches us that when God made the physical world, including people, He pronounced it “very good.” The evil came from the spirit world in the form of the serpent. Interestingly, one branch of the Gnostics claims to have received secret knowledge from a serpent.
The philosophy of Humanism, which began about 1400 A.D., is powerfully affecting the thinking of people today, including Christian believers. Humanism discards supernatural factors in favor of human reasoning and values. Humanism is the agent behind the current movement to do away with the thought of Hell, the idea being that God is too “good” to put anyone in Hell. All people eventually will be brought to Heaven because of God’s “love” for human beings.
Our Lord Jesus stated that if our eye offends us we would do well to tear it out rather than to have our whole body throne into Hell. Yet Christian ministers of our day are playing with the notion that there is no Hell. They are in love with themselves and their congregations. They are not prophets of God or witnesses of God. They do not understand the goodness of God because they do not understand the severity of God!
So we see we have four forces affecting the current teaching of salvation by faith alone.
First, the change from the Reformers’ use of the term “works” to refer to Catholic religious practices, to the modern definition of “works” as attempts to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles. Thus we are saved by “grace” rather than by obeying Christ and his Apostles, it is maintained.
Second, the misunderstanding of Paul’s use of the term “works.” Whereas Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, the term “works” currently is used to mean any effort on our part to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles.
Third, the Gnostic emphasis on spirit as good and flesh as evil. The Christian redemption is pointed toward the resurrection of our physical body. We will answer to Christ at the Judgment Seat for what we have done in our body, whether good or evil. We will reap corruption rather than a body of eternal life if we continue to live in the desires of our sinful nature.
Fourth, the deadly epidemic of humanistic thinking that suggests God loves people too much to assign them to Hell or to the Lake of Fire. The teachers of Humanism do not understand that, after making every effort to convince people that the Lord Jesus Christ is their lawful King and must be obeyed diligently, God will incarcerate people in areas of torment.
The people who are admitted to the new world of righteousness will aid in preserving righteousness, love, joy, and peace. If the willfully disobedient, those driven by self-love and self-will were permitted to enter the paradise that soon will come to the earth, they would destroy the righteousness, love, joy, and peace, in short order.
During my career as a public school teacher, I noticed that if unruly children were permitted to disrupt the class, the obedient children were distressed. They wanted to do their studies. They were pleased when the teacher disciplined the trouble makers. For this reason there indeed is a Hell and a Lake of Fire.
One self-willed individual would destroy the righteousness, love, peace, and joy of Paradise, bringing misery to all those whose desire is to serve the Lord Jesus. Therefore God, in his unfathomable love for his creatures, indeed will remove incorrigible people from his new world of righteousness; just as a loving, strong teacher will remove an incorrigible, unruly child from a classroom.
It is apparent that Satan is determined Christian people shall not live in a godly manner. Why do you suppose this is? Why does Satan emphasize that we will go to Heaven regardless of how we behave? Why does Satan emphasize knowledge about Christ (referring to knowledge as “faith”), while minimizing the importance of our obeying the commands of Christ and his Apostles?
Why does Satan point toward eternal residence in the spirit world (Heaven) as the goal of salvation? Why does Satan emphasize a pre-tribulation “rapture” of God’s people so they are removed from the earth and confined in the spirit world?
Why are our attempts to obey Christ regarded as an affront to God’s plan of salvation?
The answer to these questions is that Satan regards the earth and the bodies of people as his domain. He desires to have unhindered control of the bodies of people. Satan would be pleased if every devout Christian were removed to Heaven so Satan could inherit the earth.
What then is the result of trusting in faith (knowledge; belief) alone to present us faultless before God?
There are at least two primary results of relying on our faith (belief and knowledge about Christ) instead of pressing forward in Christ each day as we endeavor to overcome the aspects of our personality that are not in the image of God.
First, we do not have the rod of iron righteousness created in us that is necessary if we are to govern the nations with the Lord Jesus. The rod of iron is created as we renounce that which is evil and embrace that which is righteous. Actually, we ourselves become a rod of iron that one day shall enforce righteousness.
Second, we cannot enter the rest of God, which is our goal. The rest of God can be entered only as we overcome through Christ the enemies currently striving to maintain their residence in our inheritance.
Let us deal with the first issue, that of the rod of iron righteousness. As we strive to obey Christ each day, both as to his general will found in the Scriptures and also his specific will to us as it is impressed upon us personally, spiritual iron is formed in us. As we follow the Spirit of God, renouncing evil behavior and embracing righteous behavior, we are fed in the spirit realm with the “hidden manna,” that is, with the body and blood of Christ.
The body and blood of Christ are the power of endless resurrection Life. They contain far greater power than any other form of life. If we persevere in obeying Christ, we finally gain the crown of righteousness and life. In the Scriptures, eternal resurrection life follows righteous behavior. We shall govern the works of God’s hands throughout the endless ages of eternity by the power of an endless life, by the rod of iron righteousness, by the Life of Christ.
If we are content to receive the righteousness ascribed by initially receiving Christ, and then do not press forward into righteous behavior, the Life of God we were given at the first will leave us. We will be spiritually dead. No rod of iron righteousness will be formed in us. We then will be unable to preserve the righteousness, love, joy, and peace of Paradise when God returns Paradise to the earth.
Righteousness is ascribed to us when we, in obedience to God, first place our confidence in Christ. But if after that we do not obey Christ, we no longer are regarded as righteous. We no longer will be qualified or competent to be clothed with immortality when the Lord returns to earth and thus work with Him in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
How many millions of “Christians” are looking forward to a pre-tribulation “rapture” into Heaven, or to being changed into immortality when Christ appears? Their hope is in vain, unless they are serving Christ diligently day and night. Their hope does not conform to the Scriptures, only to the traditions of today, which are based on misunderstanding, self-love, and a touch of Gnosticism.
Going to Heaven by “faith alone”? Not if the Bible is the Word of God!
If no rod of iron righteousness has been formed in us, we are not competent to install the Kingdom of God on the earth when the Lord returns. If we have not lived as an overcomer, we are not qualified in terms of the Scripture to receive the promises to the overcomer, which include governing with Christ. Faith (head knowledge; mental assent) alone leaves us incompetent and unqualified to have fellowship with Christ and to rule with him.
Faith apart from a new moral creation is “dead.” True faith lives in behavior.
The second deadly result of the “faith alone” error is that we accept the enemy in our personality and surroundings. We compromise with him. He dwells in and with us without being dislodged. He steadfastly enjoys that which God has offered to us.
Spirits do not have a physical form. Satan and his angels do not have gender, as people do. Therefore Satan and his demons use every device they know that will enable them to enter and influence people. In this manner they maintain their position in that which God has given us, especially our physical body.
How many times did God tell the Israelites to totally destroy the Canaanites who were living in the area God had assigned to them! The Lord commanded the Jews to show no mercy. The reason for this destruction was that God knew if Israel permitted the Canaanites to live among them, the Jews soon would be worshiping the idols of Canaan.
And when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. (Deuteronomy 7:2—NASB)
The original land promised to the Jews included a far greater area than is viewed today as “Israel.” All of the east bank of the Jordan to the Euphrates, and the land of the Hittites, for example. But the Israelites were not faithful to obey God.
Had they done what the Lord commanded, it is possible they would to the present hour have the full possession of the land promised to Israel. But, as in the case also of us Christians today, they were not diligent to wipe out the enemy. They compromised, using the aliens to serve in various sorts of duties, such as cutting firewood.
The Israelites fell further and further away from the Lord’s commandments until they were conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. It is a sad story. They never again were able to regain the glory they had experienced under David and Solomon. To this day the small part of their inheritance that they have held onto is being threatened. What a lesson we can learn from this!
But we have not learned the lesson. We have allowed Satan to frighten us. Our heart in many instances is not set on possessing the marvelous promises that have been made to us, such as being a coheir of Christ; sitting on the Throne of Glory with Christ; being filled with the Fullness of God; attaining to the inward resurrection in preparation for the giving of eternal life to our body in the Day of Christ. All we want to do is to flee to Heaven where we will live in a mansion and do nothing of consequence for eternity.
Yet we know from the Book of Revelation that the marvelous promises found therein are to whoever conquers the enemies that have come against him or her. Still we speak of grace, grace, grace, faith alone, faith alone, faith alone. How ridiculous!
We cannot enter our inheritance in Christ until we are willing to fight the enemy in Jesus’ name until he is totally destroyed. There is no question of compromise. The enemy, Satan, is to be crushed under our feet, as the Apostle Paul wrote.
We do not waste our time rebuking Satan. There is no scriptural basis for the believers rebuking Satan. Rather, we resist the devil. We fight by patiently carrying our cross behind Jesus; by practicing righteous behavior; by obeying our Lord diligently every hour of every day and night.
Who among us has a heart to fight, not by rebuking the devil but by resisting the temptation to do what is evil? Who among is ready to discard the unscriptural notion that all we are to do is believe that Christ has done it all for us?
Christ has not done it all for us! It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. If Gideon does not do his part, neither will the Lord. We cannot enter our inheritance in our own strength and wisdom. But Christ will enable us to be more than a conqueror if we put on our armor and hold up the shield of faith. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, by far the most powerful weapon in the universe.
But the Spirit will not wield his sword until we stand resolutely in Christ and obey Him every moment of every day and night.
“Faith alone?” By no means. The Apostle James informs us that faith without works is dead. It is only our self-love, spiritual laziness, ignorance of the Scripture, and perhaps cowardice, that cause us to be unwilling to press with all our might toward the fullness of the inheritance. Yet the Apostle Paul exhorted us to maintain the attitude of conquest, using himself as our example.
Spiritual growth is an increase in the ability to recognize evil, and the willingness and strength to totally reject the evil and embrace righteous behavior. This is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is our Lord Jesus Christ.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14—NIV)
A Change of Theology
I have concluded that numerous theologians do not know the God of Israel, in that they have deduced a sovereignly imposed salvation not affected by the behavior of the believer.
When we make eternal residence in Heaven the goal of salvation, and add to this the idea that there is absolutely nothing we are to do to get there, God has done it all and asks only that we believe He has done it all, we have a witches brew of poison that prevents spiritual growth.
Such a destructive concept is arrived at by cutting and pasting certain verses removed from their contexts, and then deducing doctrine from the collage. The effect of this widespread doctrine has been a lack of moral strength in so many Christian churches. Our political leaders in America, no longer able to receive moral guidance from the Christian churches, have been reduced to blind, pragmatic decision-making The end result will be the removal of the United States of America as a significant power in the world.
God made America great. The removal of God will leave America a crippled society.
We are not saved from earth to Heaven but from the image of Satan to the image of God.
He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. “Shall be saved”! This means that instead of being destroyed in the Day of Judgment, the believer will be permitted to endure the rigors of redemption. We enter the Kingdom of God through all sorts of tribulations. Patience is required if we are to endure this sometimes painful, dangerous program.
We are being “saved” today if we are accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ, whether we are in the body or in the spirit world. To be fully saved is to be at rest in God’s Person and will. This means we have grasped that for which we have been grasped and are instantly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in every aspect of our being and doing.
I came to Christ in 1944. I was taught by fellow Marines that the purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive us, since we are unable to meet God’s righteous demands. Then we would be eligible to go to Heaven when we die. Since that time, probably before you were born, I have found this to be the prevailing doctrine of most, if not all, Christian churches.
According to the Scriptures, this is not the purpose of the grace of the new covenant. The purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive all of our sins so we will be able to leave the Law of Moses and focus on the work of the Holy Spirit as He creates the Life of Christ in us. As the Life of Christ is formed in us, we begin to meet God’s righteous demands. The objective of the new creation is to create us in the image of God in order that we might please God and have fellowship with God wherever we are.
If we are to make a success of our life in Christ, and attain to our destiny, we must honor God in all our ways and always do what pleases Him.
The entire Bible is about righteous behavior. Under the old covenant we are to obey the Law of Moses. Under the new covenant we are to obey the Spirit of God, the Law of the Spirit of Life, in every aspect of our behavior, the New Testament writings serving to keep us from deception.
The purpose of imputed, ascribed righteousness is to get us started on the path of actual righteousness.
God imputes righteousness to the believer under the old covenant when he obeys the Law of Moses. God imputes righteousness to the believer under the new covenant when he seeks Christ and obeys Him. The writings of the Apostles must be obeyed until the believer is able to walk with Christ.
It is not true that there were no righteous people under the old covenant. The Old Testament speaks of those who were righteous before the birth of Jesus Christ.
The above statements are key to my theology. What I write cannot be understood apart from this viewpoint. My book, Godwill Castle, must be viewed in the light of the statements above.
As far as I know, the expression “accept Christ” is not found in the major translations of the Bible. Rather, we are to abide in Christ for the rest of our life.
We teach today that if a person says, “I accept Christ as my Savior,” God will overlook his behavior now and receive him to an eternal residence in Paradise when he dies.
The truth is, if we hope to be saved from wrath, we must receive Christ as a living Person, not as a statement of doctrine. Then we must count ourselves dead to the world and alive in Christ. From now on we are to be seeking to do his will at all times.
We have died with Him and we have been resurrected with him. Living like this brings us into fellowship with God whether we are in Heaven or on the earth.
This is the true God and eternal life.
Perhaps I might introduce my theology by explaining what it means to be “born again.” If we truly receive Christ, and not just adopt the theological position of a church, the Spirit of God deposits the Divine Seed in us. This is conception.
Another way of looking at what takes place is that our inward spiritual nature is born of God. We now have a physical, exterior nature that has not been born of God, and a new nature that has been born of God and is seated with Christ at the right hand of God. Each day we choose to support and nourish our life that is hidden with Christ in God, or to support and nourish only our life which is of the earth.
After conception occurs the process of gestation. This is a long, difficult pilgrimage through a wilderness of problems, frustrations, pains, and bewilderment.
If we survive the process of gestation without running away from God, the cells become an embryo and the embryo becomes a fetus. Finally the child is capable of breathing on its own, and so it comes forth and the umbilical cord is cut, we might say. It is at this point that our personality has been born again of God and we more fully can see and enter the Kingdom of God.
Why don’t we ask the unsaved (and Christians also) if they will receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord? When they do, the “Savior” part will take care of itself. The Lord Jesus Christ already has purchased us with his blood. When we are willing to obey him, He will forgive our sins.
Why does religion emphasize belief in doctrine rather than direct obedience to the living Christ? Perhaps it is because by stressing belief rather than obedience, man can remain in control of his salvation.
Actually, true belief and obedience are the same thing. We see this in Hebrews 3:18,19.
If an individual makes a profession of faith in Christ, and then lives according to his sinful nature, does that individual really believe in Christ? Is that person really saved? The answer given today by numerous evangelical pastors and teachers is, “Absolutely yes!” The scriptural answer is, “Perhaps yes, perhaps no, depending on several factors.”
The doctrine that teaches we receive Christ as a ticket to Heaven without any change in our behavior is so unscriptural, so illogical, as to appear silly when placed against the truth of the new moral creation and the consequent fellowship with God.
The concept of a “grace” that allows people to be willful, self-centered creatures and yet walk with God in Paradise is a product of humanistic thinking. It is man’s way of attempting to change God until He is conformed to what rebellious, sinful people desire.
We may suppose that it is a loving God’s way of sparing people from having to endure the consequences of immoral behavior. It is not. It would be an abandoning of God’s knowledge of right and wrong so that people will love Him and not be angry with Him.
Since sinful, rebellious people do not love their neighbors as themselves, God would not be sparing them pain by overlooking their behavior. Rather, because of his lack of character, God would be letting people destroy themselves. Satan would really enjoy a God who issued a grace that releases people from any form of punishment when they disobey God’s commandments.
We can see this disaster operating when parents will not discipline their rebellious children because they want their children to “love” them. Such parents betray their children by not correcting them, because life itself sooner or later will reward undisciplined people with the consequences of their actions. This pattern of indulgent parents is fairly common in the United States and produces delinquent young people.
The truth is, no one “gets away” with anything. If the self-willed individual does not reap corruption in the present world, he or she assuredly will in the next world. The current doctrine of “grace” assumes an indulgent God, and the product is sinful, rebellious people.
We speak of people being saved. But what do we mean by “saved”? Does being “saved” mean we go to Heaven when we die, or does it refer to a change in us that is independent of a place, such as Heaven? Does it refer to fellowship with God wherever we are?
It appears to me that we pastors and teachers should begin to emphasize the difference between the current erroneous view of the meaning of the term “grace,” and the understanding of what Divine grace actually is under the new covenant.
The only thing grace replaces is the Law of Moses. “The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Now that the Law of Moses has been replaced, we have to obey Christ through the Spirit of God instead of by learning and obeying the Law of Moses. Divine grace is not an alternative to righteous behavior, to obeying Christ and his Apostles. Rather, grace is the means whereby righteous, obedient behavior is accomplished.
I was not raised in a Christian home. While in the Marine Corps, during World War Two, I was placed in a tent with another Marine, a Baptist boy who had had Bible teaching. This took place at the U. S. Marine Corps Sixth Base Depot (I believe I have the name right). This particular military depot was on the island of Oahu, which is part of the Hawaiian chain.
When we went back to Oahu a few years ago, I could not find this installation.
The Baptist boy (Gene something or other) told me about the plan of salvation in Christ, as he understood it. Gene’s explanation included the concept of “grace” as described in the notes of the Scofield Bible. So I became grounded in Dispensational theology, including the “pre-tribulation rapture” of everyone who would make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
After hearing Gene’s explanation, I sought God until I had a definite born-again experience. I have further described, in Godwill Castle, my born-again experience on Oahu, and also my subsequent call to the ministry, which occurred in Sasebo, Japan.
My understanding of “grace” as the God-given alternative to righteous behavior was maintained throughout Bible school (1947-1949), although during my time in Bible school the Lord began to give me insight into his Word. Nevertheless I continued in my belief in Dispensational theology for several years after Bible school, until I was teaching the fifth grade in an elementary school in Palo Alto, California, 1967 or thereabouts.
Prior to this, the Lord had intervened in my life, impressing on me some wonderful truths from the Old Testament. This would have taken place, probably around 1950. A Bible teacher by the name of Oliver Ellenwood came to the tent in San Diego where we were worshiping. J. O. Dowell of the Assemblies of God was the pastor of the tent, which was on the border of National City, next to San Diego.
Brother Ellenwood had excellent charts and he taught from them. During one of his lectures, Brother Ellenwood mentioned, in passing, the seven feasts of Israel. I had never before heard of these seven celebrations. But the moment Brother Ellenwood mentioned them I had a strong witness that the seven feasts of the Lord were a topic I should pursue.
And pursue them I have, for several decades. These Jewish celebrations are an excellent series of events for the portrayal of the program of salvation, of redemption. They begin with the Passover, speaking of God’s Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. They conclude with the feast of Tabernacles, the forming and dwelling of the Fullness of God, the Throne of God, in the believer.
The sixth of the seven observances is the solemn Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur of the Jews). On this one day only, the High Priest of Israel was permitted to move past the ornate Veil into the Most Holy Place. When he entered he sprinkled the blood of the slain goat upon and before the Mercy Seat, which was placed on the top of the Ark of the Covenant.
The ceremony of the Day of Atonement included the confession of the sins of Israel, laying these sins on the head of a living goat and sending that “scapegoat” into an uninhabited area. This action also was referred to as an “atonement.”
Thus, there were two significant Divine actions symbolized by the two goats of the Day of Atonement. The first action was the removal of the guilt of sin. The second action was the removal of the sin itself; in other words, deliverance from the compulsions of sin. Atonement cannot be made apart from the shedding of blood. The removal of sin was based on the blood of the slain goat.
So it is today. The removal of sin that has begun today gains its authority from the blood that was shed on the cross of Calvary two thousand years ago.
I am speaking now of my experience in about 1950. I believe God spoke to me clearly at that time that the Day of Atonement portrays judgment on the sin in God’s people, the removal of their sin, as symbolized by the removing of the scapegoat from the camp. They already have been forgiven and now are awaiting the removal, the Day of Redemption.
From then until the present hour (1950-2011) I have grown in my understanding of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. I am aware now that the fulfillment has begun in our day and will continue until the final resurrection and judgment, which will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, or perhaps even longer. Ultimately, the presence of sinful desires, of all rebellion against God, shall have been removed entirely from the creation.
In about 1965 I began writing the concepts that had been developing in my mind since 1948, when I was a student in the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego. I commenced work on a book titled, The Tabernacle of the Congregation.
Please keep in mind that my beginning instruction as a Christian had been in Dispensational theology. In this theology, minimal or no importance is placed on the numerous New Testament exhortations and warnings concerning righteous behavior. I was reading my Bible through the “grace screen,” which prevented me from seeing what the Apostles actually had written.
In fact, in some extreme cases, the Bible teachers of today are saying the important thing is that we profess belief in Jesus Christ. Our behavior is almost of no consequence. We are saved by “faith alone.” Of course, the “faith” they are referring to actually is “belief” in a certain theologic position, not the genuine faith of the Prophets and Apostles.
I know now that obedience to Christ and his Apostles is more important than “belief” in Christ, unless by belief we mean obedience to Christ.
I started a chapter, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, titled “The Holiness of the Tabernacle.” As I thought about the concept of the holiness of the Tabernacle, and the numerous statutes concerning the Tabernacle itself as well as the conduct of the priesthood, I began to wonder what the New Testament said, if anything, about the behavior of the believers in Christ. Can you imagine such blindness! But this is the result of accepting Dispensational theology.
(Pastor Frederick Richards the Third, in my book, Godwill Castle, is the sad fruit of Dispensational teaching.)
When I first became a Christian it was impressed on me by fellow Marines (1944) that the Bible is God’s Word, what we might refer to as the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. I was to meditate in it, memorize it, and obey it. This in spite of the adherence of these friends to Dispensationalism. Like so many today, they had inconsistent compartments in their thinking.
So now, many years later, I resolved to go through the New Testament to determine if there were any admonitions to godly behavior, and if so, were they expressed as being important to our salvation. I proposed to write down all I found and then think about them. I began with the Gospels. After all, God’s very Word is more to be relied on than is true of theology.
Many of Jesus’ exhortations to godly behavior are by inference, like “blessed are the pure in heart.” The Lord Jesus did give us some moral guidelines, and informed us of the consequences of not following them. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” I can just hear our scholars of today saying, “This does not apply to those who are saved by grace.”
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Our scholars would exclaim, “But grace supersedes these commands! Anyway, these commandments of Christ are directed toward the Jews,” the scholars would respond.
It seems to me inconsistent to say the commands of Christ in the Gospels are superseded by grace, or apply only to those of the Jewish race, and then insist that we must be born again, when this advice was given to the Jew, Nicodemus. I began to think to myself, “There is something not right here!”
I listed the moral guidelines I found in the four Gospels, noting the warnings of not obeying them. I did not have too much of a problem with Jesus’ instructions, with reconciling them to the grace teaching I had had; although I noted that He said if we love him we will keep his commands. However, I was not fully persuaded as yet that I had been taught error.
Also, the Book of Acts does not have much to say about righteous behavior, except some remarks about works that signify repentance. However, I did notice in Acts that the Apostles in their preaching stressed repentance and did not once portray salvation as asking Jesus to come into our heart.
I was not completely convinced my theology was incorrect until I came to the Epistles of the Apostle Paul and of the other Apostles of the Lamb. When I began writing down the exhortations to godly behavior found in the Epistles I soon gave up. I did not want to spend this much time—the list would have been far too long. The few admonitions I began with soon convinced me that I indeed had been taught error.
Then I looked to see if Paul’s exhortations contained warnings that if we did not live righteously there would be severe consequences. I discovered in Galatians and Ephesians that if we believers in Jesus Christ continue to live in the desires of our sinful nature we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. We shall reap corruption. I would regard that as a serious consequence, wouldn’t you?
The sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans warn us we shall die (not attain to the redemption of our body in the Day of Resurrection) if we continue to practice sinful behavior.
I do not know who wrote the Book of Hebrews. But this Book alone proves that the current teaching of unconditional grace is an error of great magnitude; although there are scholars who attempt to prove, by using principles of the Greek language unfamiliar to most of us, that the passages of Hebrews do not mean what they state clearly.
I began to understand that I had been grievously deceived and that the theology of multitudes of fundamentalists is in error!
When we read a command in the Bible, or the Lord speaks to us, are we then to say, “No, I can’t do this. I must be saved by the grace of forgiveness”?
Or are we to pray, “Lord, help me to do what you have commanded”?
What is your answer to this question?
You know, my favorite saying, since I discovered I had been taught error, is, “iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father.” This has been my watchword for many years. I hope it is carved on my tombstone.
Interestingly enough, while I am writing these comments, someone sent me an email warning me that if I taught “stern obedience to the Father” it would cause some believers to lapse into self-righteousness.
This doesn’t make sense to me. How could seeking to obey the Father cause self-righteousness? I agree that endeavoring to strictly observe some religious program might cause self-righteousness. But obeying God?
There are some who teach that we have been commanded to obey the words of the New Testament. It is not necessary, they say, to hear from Christ because He already has spoken in his word. “When the Bible speaks, we speak. When the Bible is silent, we are silent.” This attitude will certainly produce self-righteousness.
It is true rather that we always must seek Christ concerning every scriptural commandment in order to gain his wisdom and strength that we may apply and obey the commandment properly and promptly.
In his Sermon on the Mount Christ commanded us not to resist anyone who would sue us or borrow from us but to give him what he asks. To obey this commandment without going to Christ for his wisdom is to invite self-righteousness. To obey Paul’s commandments about women teaching, without going to Christ for his wisdom, is to invite self-righteousness and perhaps to go against God’s will.
The new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the Scriptures. To seek to obey the commandments of Christ and His apostles without looking to Christ for wisdom and help will produce a religious, self-righteous spirit that will not bring forth the fruit of righteousness and holiness we desire. It also will create division among the believers, if they hold to the letter of the Scriptures and do not look to the Lord Jesus for wisdom.
The idea that we are not supposed to attempt to obey God, but only to profess belief in Christ, is so pervasive in Christian thinking that the thought of “stern obedience to God” threatens some who “believe in Christ.”
My secretary just told me of a bumper sticker she saw recently on a car ahead of her. The sticker read: “Christians are not perfect, they are just forgiven.” My secretary knows we have been commanded to be perfect, and we can be perfect for the day—we just haven’t been perfected as yet.
The bumper sticker reveals the depth of the misunderstanding of the Gospel that appears in Christian thinking. I was taught in Bible school that no one really is able to obey God, and that the world is waiting for someone to obey God completely because then amazing events will transpire. Can you imagine such foolishness? I actually was taught this.
Where do you suppose the teaching is coming from that insists no one can obey the Father and there is no need to make much of an effort to do so?; obedience to God is not necessary and will lead to self-righteousness? I think I know where it is coming from. Christian teaching today is pitifully, destructively in error! It is coming from the one who counseled: “You shall not surely die if you disobey God.”
There may be scholars, who hold the Bible to be inerrant, who will declare that the passages I found in my search, and the stern warnings in the Book of Hebrews, have nothing to do with those who have “accepted Christ.” These teachers will direct the warnings toward the Jews, or the unsaved.
Such misdirection, misapplication, of the Apostle’s warnings, is not defensible. It is clear evidence of the willingness of Bible scholars to defy sound principles of interpretation, even common sense, in order to prove to God’s people that they “shall not surely die” even if they practice the works of the sinful nature. I am not certain whether they are trying to please people or to make room for some sinful practice of their own.
It seems clear to me that the whole crowd of evangelical believers who press the point that the thief on the cross entered Paradise without having lived a godly life are trying to convince themselves that their misbehaviors will not affect their going to Heaven to live in a mansion. They must be motivated either by fear that they cannot gain victory over sin, or else by a desire to not give up their sins. “Lord please forgive us for this which we are about to do”—this sort of thing.
There must be some reason why they have been led astray so easily by the false teaching that is going on.
I think the Spirit is saying that there is going to be much American blood shed in the future. It really behooves us, if we wish to stand in that day, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord. The current grace-rapture-Heaven teaching is unscriptural and will leave the Christian unprepared for the Divine judgments that will fall upon America.
This reminds me of evolutionists who defy all common sense by teaching that the physical creation came into being by random occurrences. It makes one wonder if they are seeking to convince themselves that there is no God so they will not have to answer for their behavior!
Perhaps ministers of the Gospel, who insist that the exhortations of Christ and his Apostles do not apply to those who have made a profession of belief in Christ, are leaving room for themselves and their hearers to sin. There has to be some explanation why intelligent, devout scholars cannot understand the New Testament.
Recently I gave my secretary, a college-age girl, a statement to read by a well known Bible pastor and teacher describing how Divine grace overlooks our sinning. My secretary has been raised in our church and has never heard the current “grace” doctrine preached. She was amazed. She said (and I thought this was quite perceptive!), “it sounds as though he is inviting people to sin.”
This certainly is a man-pleasing spirit, perhaps resulting from the entrance of the philosophy of Humanism into Christian scholarship. When pastors attempt to please people by their preaching they are the blind leading the blind.
“We have been saved by a sovereign grace and our behavior is inconsequential” will be maintained, even though the position of the Bible scholars could be disproved easily by a high-school student who knew his Bible.
I now was convinced that Dispensational theology is nothing less than a sophisticated form of rebellion against Christ and his Kingdom.
In fact, it is by the act of continually controlling the desires of our flesh and blood nature that we gain the character needed by the future rulers of the Kingdom of God. The current doctrine of grace removes the need to continually overcome the desires of our fleshly nature. Thus it prevents our becoming a ruler in the Kingdom of God.
And as far as the pre-tribulation rapture is concerned, a removal of believers in Christ lest they suffer at the hands of Antichrist or during the Great Tribulation, there is no sound scriptural support for this common teaching. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine disarms the believer with the result he will not prepare himself to stand in the evil day. The verses used in its support are not supported by their contexts.
The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is just another man-pleasing teaching, not worthy of scholarly investigation.
These two doctrines, sovereign grace that relieves us of the necessity to live righteously, and the pre-tribulation rapture, which is a handmaiden of the “grace” error, have destroyed the moral strength of the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The two doctrines eventually will be viewed as destructive errors in Christian theology.
Let me add that the doctrine of the so-called “rapture,” whether pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation or post-tribulation, is not of God. At no time is God going to remove his Church from earth to Heaven in order to protect it from Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.
The basic “rapture” passage in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians is describing the coming of Christ with all the saints of history to call up to Himself the victorious Christians so they may descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth. The description is of the coming of the Lord, not the going of the Church. This can be understood clearly by any person who has an unbiased mind.
In the time to come, the doctrine of the “rapture” will be viewed as an error in Christian thinking.
It is my point of view that the current moral decline in the United States, which assuredly is leading our nation to destruction, is due largely to these two doctrines (Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior, and a “rapture” to deliver the believers from suffering); since the Christian Church is the main source of moral principles for our government and our citizenry.
From the time of the writing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to the present I have written about many topics, including the disaster in Christian thinking termed “Dispensationalism.” In actuality, the purpose of the Christian Gospel is to produce people who have been made righteous in behavior through Divine Virtue (grace) so they may participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Dispensational teaching wars against this purpose.
The Bible is rightly termed “the good Book” because it is supposed to make people good. Just as simple as that!
Another product of my newly found willingness to depart from current Christian thinking is the discovery that the Bible, New Testament and Old, does not view permanent residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation.
Rather, our goal, our land of promise, is the possession of the Fullness of God, an inheritance of people, and the farthest reaches of the earth itself. I have described my thoughts on the goal of salvation in a book titled, The Land of Promise.
The current doctrinal errors, such as Divine grace as a substitute for righteous behavior, and the unscriptural “pre-tribulation rapture,” are based on the concept that the goal of salvation is to bring us to Heaven when we die. If we substitute the scriptural goal, which is change into the image of Christ and untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will, for the current “mansions in Heaven” goal, then the current errors are seen for what they are. I will have more to say about this later.
While I am slaughtering sacred cows, let me mention also that the way the Trinity sometimes is defined can be misleading and cause problems. If the Trinity is defined as three Persons forming one Godhead, all in perfect oneness, all Divine in Substance, then there is no problem.
However, when the Trinity is conceived as three Gods, all equal, then we have two problems. The first problem is that we rightly can be accused of polytheism, a concept the Jews and the Muslims find repugnant.
Please notice, in the following passages, that Christ is not equal in knowledge to his Father, and that He is required to obey his Father. The Father is Christ’s God. The Father made the universe through Christ.
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2—NIV)
You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28—NASB)
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17—NIV)
He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” (Matthew 20:23—NASB)
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:7,8—NIV)
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36—NASB)
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, (Revelation 1:1—NASB)
If you think about it, our will is our uniqueness as a person. When our Lord said to the Father, “not my will but yours be done,” He was revealing beyond all question that He and the Father are two different Persons, although united in will by the choice of Jesus.
I think numerous Christian theologians would object strongly to the concept that the Father is greater than the Son. They may contrive a tortured explanation as why these straightforward comments do not mean what they state. In this they are found to be at fault. Whenever we have to set forth a complex explanation as to why a passage does not mean what it says to the ordinary reader, we probably are in error.
Scholars do this sometimes by resorting to elements of Greek grammar that most of us are not familiar with, and make statements that are contradicted by clear teaching of the New Testament.
Not only can we not understand the simple statements of the four Gospel accounts, when we insist that the Father and the Son are equal in authority, but we make genuine fellowship with our older Brother impossible.
God the Father has chosen the Word to be Lord of all the creation. It is as though God has removed himself from his creation (of course He hasn’t) and has entrusted everything to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible says Christ is subject to God the Father. Why, then, is the position maintained that there are three equal Gods, or that there is one God in three forms?
Each saint is called to be an eternal part of Jesus Christ. Thus he or she becomes a part of the invisible Father, just as the Lord Jesus is.
By saying that Jesus Christ is not equal to his Father, we are not subtracting from his Divinity or Lordship. Rather we are adhering to the New Testament Scriptures. After all, the Father has decreed that all of the creation shall be summed up in Christ. He is Lord of all.
It simply is not scriptural that there are three equal gods, all at the same level of authority. Now we see our great Lord Jesus Christ as He worships the Father, and invites us to worship the Father. We are entering a true, living fellowship with our Lord Jesus as his brothers.
You know, there is a technique used in corporations for getting rid of a lower-level executive who is not functioning profitably but who is too popular to just fire. They refer to this technique as “kicking him upstairs.” By this they mean, promoting the non-productive person to what appears to be a higher-level position in the company where he cannot do as much harm.
This is what theologians have done with the Lord Jesus. They have “kicked Him upstairs” to where we cannot have a friendly relationship with Him as our Brother. Maybe they do this so they can build his Church without pausing to see how He wants it built, worshiping Him afar off as they go about their business carrying out their own plans. That is the way it appears sometimes!
The dear Catholic people seem to look to Mary more than they do to Jesus. Have they kicked Jesus upstairs? I really doubt He is pleased with this. I think He wants us to know him. Paul exclaimed, “That I might know Christ,” not “that I might know Mary.” The idea that we have to go through Mary to get to Christ is so totally unscriptural it is a marvel the Catholic scholars, who obviously are erudite, cannot perceive this.
Of all people, Mary, the mother of Jesus would be the first to reject any notion of her being the way to Jesus. If we asked Mary anything, she would respond, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” We have fellowship with Jesus, not with Mary. We are not called to be brothers of Mary, or to be created in Mary’s image, but brothers of Christ.
How happy it makes Jesus when we seek to enjoy fellowship with Him as our Brother, as a Son of God as we are, although in a vastly higher position of authority. How happy that makes us! Because of Him we have before us an eternity in which to grow and develop until we truly are God’s sons and brothers of Jesus Christ in the truest, fullest sense of the Word.
Our Lord Jesus has been born of God and born of man. Such is true of us also when we have been born again. We have been born of man and then born of God. But it may require a long time for us to grow, under Christ, into the fullness of our new personality.
Adam came from the ground and is of the ground. Eve came from Adam and is of Adam, in that sense. Christ came from God and is of God. The members of the Bride of the Lamb came from Christ and are of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ, as a Man, is the only Begotten of the Father, and then the Firstborn of the resurrection. We also have been born of the Father and will be raised from the dead by the power of the Father, our body being “adopted.” Thus it is true that Jesus Christ, although Lord of all, is our Brother, we having the same Father. The Father is our Father and the Father of the Lord Jesus. The Father is our God and the God of the Lord Jesus.
For myself, I care little or nothing about theological niceties. Rather, my purpose in dwelling on this point is not to attempt to be more correct than someone else, it is to invite everyone into the fellowship I have with Jesus.
When Jesus and I talk it is Brother to brother, Friend to friend. We do not use King James English or even a stilted palace language. We converse in common language: “How are you doing,” this sort of thing.
I want you to know Jesus as your very best Friend, just as I do.
That which seemed clear to me was not, apparently, clear to other believers. As a result, I often yelled when I preached. I was known by some as “wild man Thompson.”
Please understand: I was not yelling at the people or angry with them. My frustration was directed at what appeared to be unnecessary error in Christian thinking, at least in the part of Christendom I was familiar with.
If you wish to hear some of those early sermons, as I sought to combat the unscriptural doctrines emphasized in those days, such as the “faith” and “prosperity” notions, “eternal security,” the pre-tribulation rapture, the sovereignty of grace such that righteous behavior is not essential to our salvation, you can order early recordings from Mount Zion Fellowship (P.O. Box 1522, Escondido, California)
Why was I so upset? I think you would be too if you were placed in a culture that insisted two plus two equals five or that the earth is flat.
Someone said if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes accepted as truth. I suppose this is a fact, if the lie is what people wish to believe. This is Satan’s way, isn’t it? It appears to me that most people do not seek truth; they seek for that which will make them comfortable and, hopefully, secure.
If people persisted in the idea that the earth is flat and the sun is in an orbit around the earth, in spite of what you showed them to be the truth, how would you feel? How would you react? Would you be a “wild man”?
The people who taught me Dispensational theology when I was a new Christian were sincere, dedicated Christians. While I was with them in the Marine Corps I could see they were living the life of prayer and obedience to God. They were influential in bringing many Marines to Christ prior to the major battles of World War Two, in which some of their converts were killed.
They were true disciples, no doubt about that, and I am very thankful for the part they played in bringing me to Christ. It may be a fact that their innate sense of what is godly and right kept them from the destructive conclusions of Dispensational theology.
So my frustration was not directed at them or toward any group in particular. It was just my immaturity being demonstrated as I mishandled what the Lord Jesus had graciously shown to me.
The people of Mount Zion, our church, have told me I have calmed down a lot. This probably is due to the fact that now there are numerous believers who are aware of the error of the “grace” and “pre-tribulation-rapture” messages. They represent only a small fraction of the ranks of Christendom, it is true. But I notice that here and there the Light flashes in someone’s heart.
I have given up attempting to anticipate who will gain understanding of what we refer to as “the Kingdom message” (for want of a better term). It is obvious that it is a waste of time to try to explain to someone what the Spirit of God is saying today, unless the Spirit himself is touching the mind and heart of the individual.
But as I said, there now are many Christian people who understand that the Christian must walk in the way of righteousness, both imputed, and also created in him as Christ is formed in his personality. To seek to use imputed righteousness as a permanent means of maintaining fellowship with God, ignoring the critical need for moral transformation, is to abort God’s intention under the new covenant.
Because of these sturdy pilgrims who can explain their faith from the Scriptures, I am able to relax somewhat. I still get excited at times and yell, thinking, I suppose, that the louder I speak the more that truth will be established.
There you have it. I have been busily writing the insights I believe the Lord Jesus has given me. In fact, I still am attempting to make what I am seeing just as clear and simple as possible so everyone can understand it. I have sought to share what I believe is truth.
The doctrine of “grace” as a means of God having fellowship with unchanged man, and bringing him to live forever in a mansion in Paradise, is extremely insidious. Once it gets into our thinking it is extremely difficult to dislodge. We always feel if we do not do what Christ commanded we still will be on our way to Heaven. It has taken many years of thought before I have been able to identify what precisely is wrong with Dispensational theology.
You know, the Lord Jesus said He would return and receive us to himself so we would be with Him where He always is. The Lord Jesus wants us to be with himself. This is the voice of love calling to us. He wants us to be with him!
Most of us are oblivious to what Christ desires. We do not care about being “with him.” We want to go to Heaven where we can live in a mansion, have fun all the time, and not have any problems. We do not really care about Christ or what He wants. We just want to go to Disneyland in the sky.
We simply are in love with ourselves, not with Christ!
Tell me I am incorrect!
I, along with many others in our day, am endeavoring to build up the highway of holiness so God’s redeemed can walk on it and not stumble. It is time to build the wall against sin. Until the wall against sin is constructed in the churches, Satan will be able to enter at his will and destroy whatever we build.
Dreadful sin is being practiced in the United States at the present time, and the indications are our traditional moral standards are going to be removed to an astonishing extent. All the political activism the Christian leaders can undertake will keep being weakened and destroyed until the wall against sin is built.
The believers of the first-century churches were as sinful as we are. The time for deliverance from sin had not come as yet. But it is here now!
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. (II Corinthians 12:20)
It is interesting to observe how God has waited during the hundreds of years of the Christian era before installing the climactic work of redemption, during which time scholars have developed fanciful ideas about going to Heaven to live forever. But no matter. Now we are seeing that Christ will come to the earth and justice shall prevail. The meek shall inherit the earth. The proud boasters will occupy a dry land in which there is no water of refreshing.
How often it is true that God allows us to misinterpret the Scriptures, and to not perceive the darkness in our own personality, until the time comes for practical actions and understanding to take place. Our God never wastes anything. He withholds understanding until it is needed for our redemption. He gathers up the fragments after we have been given the right amount of food.
God understands that if people have light they are not able to walk in, it becomes death to them.
Everyone who has ears to hear and a heart to understand can now experience the glad message: “The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news.”
I trust that the foundation of truth laid during my life will not crumble and vanish after I die. There are faithful people who can carry it on.
You know, God is making man in his image. This means that sin and self-seeking must be removed from him, and he must be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The reason for this is that God desires to embrace man as part of himself. This is not true of angels, who cannot enter union with their Creator.
There are five parts of the legacy I would like to leave with people on the earth, when I enter the true, eternal world. The first is that our goal is not eternal residence in Heaven. Our goal is the full possession of God; change into the moral image of Christ; untroubled rest in the Center of God’s Person and will; the people whom God gives us as an inheritance; and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are coheirs with Christ!
The second is the firm understanding that Divine grace is not a substitute for righteous behavior, a new way in which God relates to people. Rather, it is an improvement upon the Law of Moses in that the eternal moral law of God now is written in our heart and mind.
It is time now to build the wall against sin in the lives of God’s people.
The third part of the legacy is that all saved people are supposed to walk humbly with Jesus now and forever, listening to Him and obeying Him in every circumstance. We are to work with Him as He builds his Church, not try to work for Him and attempt to build his Church according to our own notions.
The fourth part of the legacy is new to my thinking. I have been somewhat aware of the importance of the resurrection of the physical body. Now I see that the resurrection of the body is a central aspect of the Divine redemption. The physical, material aspect of our salvation has been neglected and the tradition of Heaven being our eternal home has gained enduring strength. We will not need a physical body when we are in Heaven, it is assumed.
The truth is the opposite. Redemption includes the making alive of the physical body, at the coming of the Lord. The purpose of the redemption, the resurrection, of our mortal body, is that we might resume life on the earth. Man has been created as spirit, soul, and body. Until the body has been redeemed, redemption has not accomplished its intended work.
Ordinarily when the New Testament speaks of eternal life, as in John 3:16, the reference is to immortality, that is, eternal physical life. Up to the present hour, God has been working on the new birth, the transforming of our inward nature, because such transformation is the prerequisite for the making alive of the outward nature. Thus the change of our body from death to life is the crowning act of redemption, the restoration of that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, the destruction of the last enemy.
When we make living in a mansion on a golden street the crowning act of redemption we miss the central message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The resurrection of our physical body, our body being a mere seed when compared with the body that shall come forth from the seed if we are willing to die in Christ, will take place when the Lord returns. We are sowing this seed, our physical body, during our lifetime on the earth.
A fifth area I believe I am to communicate has come to me while writing Godwill Castle. This is, the nearness and practicality of the spirit world (Heaven).
I was especially moved this morning (3/24/2010) as I noted in the newspaper the terrible pain and grief of the King family of Poway, California. Their daughter, Chelsea, an outstanding high school senior, was raped and murdered. If they but knew it, their lovely daughter is not now a ghost robed in white with a pumpkin for a head. She still is the same buoyant girl, busily engaged in something of interest to her. Best of all, they can look forward to that day of all days when they die and the same Chelsea they always have known receives them with open arms and glad smile into the real, eternal world.
I believe Chelsea will be dressed in her normal fashion.
I think this terrible tragedy has given the lively community of Poway a reminder of God and of the serious purposes of life on the earth.
Three or four years ago I became unusually aware of the spirit world, after having been a Christian for over sixty years. Instead of being “up there somewhere,” the spirit world appears to be all around us. “We have come to Mount Zion,” as it were. This new awareness has persisted until the present hour.
I think Jesus intimated to me that so many people will be facing death in the fairly near future He wants us all to realize that dying is nothing to fear. The Book of Revelation speaks of the death of a third of the population of the earth.
But to him who overcomes the desire to preserve his own life so he may enter God’s Person and Life, will be given all things of the new creation. God will be his God and he will be God’s son.
Let each of us then pray that for eternity we will be found abiding in the very center of God’s Person and will. There we always shall have righteousness, love, joy, and peace.
I have been concerned about children who are afraid of dying—and other folks as well. So I have written three books: Heaven—God’s Wonderful World; Godwill Castle; and John and Mary Visit Heaven. Every one of us, children and adults alike, should be looking forward to our death as children look forward to school being out for the summer.
The following is from a letter I received yesterday.
“Thanks again for sending me the book (Heaven—God’s Wonderful World). It has arrived and I managed to read the first chapter to my daughter last night. She got all excited and said: ‘Mum, death is wonderful.’… Well, I wish I was like her. We are going to read it every day, so she can make a picture for herself. I think she`s planning to color the pictures as well… Many thanks.”
What are deceased people doing in the spirit world? They are happily working at the kind of activities they enjoy. The social climate is wholesome.
If they behave in a manner that interrupts the peaceful atmosphere of the spirit world, such as thievery or violence, they are taken to a place of instruction and an effort is made, by people and angels, to correct the warped personality.
If they are a wicked person, one who consistently has lived to himself and has harmed other people, they are placed at death in one of the areas of the Land of Darkness, there to await the Day of Resurrection. In the Day of Resurrection God will make the decision whether to attempt to redeem them or to throw them into the Lake of Fire.
God will make every effort to save an individual into the new world of righteousness. Some, however, will never accept the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be banished from God’s Presence, and from human society, for eternity. Hopefully such wretches will be few in number.
This is my understanding in the present hour.
If we have been a decent person, and have not knowingly rejected the lordship of Christ, dying and passing into the spirit world is like awakening from a nightmare. Our present world is “the valley of the shadow of death,” as King David mentioned.
I had not written for about a year. Then, when this increased awareness of the spirit world occurred, four books came into my consciousness and I began writing them. The first and perhaps the most important, is Godwill Castle. This was followed by Heaven—God’s Wonderful World. As I stated previously, these two works are designed to allay the fears of children when they are facing their own death or the death of a loved one. I have a great concern for the welfare of children.
Then I wrote John and Mary Visit Heaven.
Finally, I thought I had better describe my theological position, an understanding with which the three books are in harmony; and so the present book came into being.
It is important for believers now and in the future to hold the present world lightly, realizing they will enter their true, eternal life, for which our life now is a preparation, when they die. Thus there is no reason whatever to fear death, unless we are a truly wicked person. Most people are not truly wicked, just confused about the meaning of life and the reality of the eternal world.
Every thought, word, and action of our life is to be worked out in continual interaction with the Lord Jesus. This is the “rest” of God, mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. This is the best possible way for anyone to live.
If you want to live this way, tell the Lord Jesus about it. He really does answer prayer! Tell God you want always to live by the Life of Jesus.
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15—NASB)
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13—NIV)
(“A Change of Theology”, 3734-1)