THREE DEATHS AND THREE RESURRECTIONS: VOLUME ONE
SALVATION Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
There are three major phases of the Divinely provided redemption that is in Christ. The three phases are not like three rungs on a ladder we are to climb or three grades in school we are to attain. Rather, the three phases are as three facets of one diamond. They are three dimensions of the one redemption that we possess, entire and whole, when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
The redemption that is in Christ is a powerful work, a broad work, a perfect work. It includes the growth of the believer to spiritual maturity, which is the image of Christ; the growth of the Church, the Body of Christ, to the Bride of the Lamb without blemish of any kind; and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The believer is "born again" into the Kingdom of God and baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Church, the Body of Christ. The saint then fights his way, by the wisdom and power that the Holy Spirit gives, into the "throne" phase of redemption. He must "overcome" if he is to rule with Christ and be Gods son.
In order to enter each of the three areas of redemption we must die the specific death God has ordained. If we are willing to go through the "deaths" God has decreed, we will receive the accompanying resurrections.
Christ asks you: "Will you be saved?"
If your answer is yes, He will bring down your old nature into crucifixion with Him and will raise you in the likeness of His resurrection. You will be protected from wrath by His blood, received of the Father, made alive by the Spirit of God, and born again by His Divine Substance placed in you.
Christ asks you: "Will you follow the Holy Spirit in sanctification?"
If your answer is yes, the Holy Spirit will furnish you each day with the wisdom and power to put to death the deeds of your body. Your fleshly lusts will be brought into subjection to the will of the Spirit. In their place will flow deeds, words, and thoughts that glorify God and testify of the redeeming authority and power that are in Christ. You will be holy and behave in a holy manner.
Christ asks you: "Will you lose your life for My sake and the Gospels?"
If your answer is yes, He will teach you obedience in the school of suffering. He may demand every one of your rights and privileges as a person and as a Christian. Will you allow Him to treat you in this way without grumbling and complaining? Is there any point at which you will refuse Christ?
If you will obey the Lord through every testing He will raise you to His throne. The fullness of fruitfulness and dominion will be yours.
Table of Contents
Our need for redemption Redemption: past, present, and future Redemption in the Scriptures
Death of the self-will From self-centeredness to God-centeredness The three areas of the heavenlies
The Altar of Burnt Offering The Laver, and water baptism The linen fence Lighted by the sun
Passover Three major convocations Unleavened Bread Firstfruits
Passover night; then and now Crossing the Red Sea Pharaohs army destroyed Moses ministry: Part One
Gods comprehensive plan The first day The second day The third day Summary of the first three days
Three outpourings of the Holy Spirit Healing commences with tearing The glory of the first outpouring Following on to know the Lord
Captured by the Holy Spirit The seal of the Holy Spirit
The millennial perfecting of the Church Today: the Gospel of the Kingdom
The positive and negative work of the Spirit The ninefold fruit of the Spirit The relationship between the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit The negative aspect of redemption Thirtyfold fruitbearing Fruit, more fruit, much fruit
Waters of judgmentthen and now The numbers of the Ark Salvation, and the first level of the Ark
Revelation, Chapter 12: wrestling with the enemy War in the heavens The blood of the Lamb overcomes
Samuel and Saul The anointed King approaches
The wilderness: a place of struggle The "bread" temptation
Three Questions Christ asks you: "Will you be saved?" If your answer is Yes, He will bring you through death and resurrection. Christ asks you: "Will you follow the Holy Spirit in sanctification?" If your answer is Yes, He will bring you a second time through death and resurrection. Christ asks you: "Will you lose your life for My sake and the Gospels?" If your answer is Yes, He will bring you a third time through death and resurrection. What are your answers to His three questions?
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God that he hath given thee. (Deuteronomy 16:16,17)
There were three times each year when the Hebrew men were to gather together before the Lord. The three times were as follows:
The feast of Unleavened Bread.
The feast of Weeks (Pentecost).
The feast of Tabernacles.
The week of Unleavened Bread began with the slaying of the Passover Lamb. It included the celebration of the Firstfruits of the barley harvest.
The feast of Weeks is known to us more commonly as Pentecostan Anglicized form of a Greek word related in meaning to the number "fifty." The feast of Weeks came a week of weeks (seven weeks) after the high Sabbath of Unleavened Bread. Forty-nine days elapsed, and on the fiftieth day the assemblage of Pentecost was called.
The week of Tabernacles occurred during the seventh month. The seventh month (Tishri) commenced with a memorial day announced by the blowing of Trumpets. The Blowing of Trumpets was followed on the tenth day of the month by the solemn Day of Atonement.
The feast of Tabernacles was celebrated from the fifteenth through the twenty-first day of this seventh month, with an eighth day of rejoicing (Simchat Torah ) occurring on the twenty-second day.
The three convocations, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, constitute one of the most significant types of the plan of redemption to be found in the Scripture.
There are three major phases of the Divinely provided redemption that is in Christ. The three phases are not like three rungs on a ladder we are to climb or three grades in school we are to attain. Rather, the three phases are as three facets of one diamond.
They are three dimensions of the one redemption that we possess, entire and whole, when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.
The three areas of our redemption are pictured in the Scriptures in a number of ways, in addition to the three feasts of Israel, and these portrayals enable us to gain additional insight.
The Outer Court, Holy Place, and Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Exodus 40:18-30).
The three divisions of the journey of the Israelites, which were the exodus from Egypt, the wilderness wandering, and the entrance into the land of promise.
The water to the ankles, knees, and loins (Ezekiel 47:3-5).
The hundredfold, sixtyfold, and thirtyfold (Matthew 13:8).
The fruit, more fruit, and much fruit (John 15:2-5).
The three stories of Noah's Ark (Genesis 6:16).
The three means of overcoming Satan: the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and loving not our life to the death (Revelation 12:11).
The three "days" (Hosea 6:2; Luke 13:32).
The manifestation of Christ's glory on the third day (John 2:1-11).
The three testings of Christ (Luke 4:1-13).
The three "cities" in which the saints are overcome: Sodom, Egypt, Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8).
Be alert as you study the Scriptures for events that had to do with a three-day period of time (Joshua 1:11; Nehemiah 2:11; Exodus 19:15; Jonah 1:17; and so forth).
Christ rose from the dead on the third day.
These dissimilar and widely scattered examples may seem to be unrelated at first glance and their "threeness" coincidental. A closer look may show that many of the examples portray much the same thing and yield further understanding of the meaning of the redemption that is in Christ.
Paul speaks of being "caught up to the third heaven" (II Corinthians 12:2), and so it appears there are at least three heavens. Since Hebrews 9:21-24 informs us that the Tabernacle and its vessels were "patterns of things in the heavens," we may conclude that Heaven itself is in three divisions, and that we can learn a great deal about the redemption that comes to us from Heaven by studying the Old Testament types, as well as by meditating on what Christ has done and is doing in the earth. This we will do in subsequent chapters.
The redemption that is in Christ is a mighty work, a broad work, a perfect work. It includes the growth of the believer to spiritual maturity, which is the image of Christ; the growth of the Church, the Body of Christ, to the Bride of the Lamb without blemish; and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The believer is (1) "born again" into the Kingdom of God and baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Church, the Body of Christ. The saint then (2) fights his way, by the wisdom and power that the Holy Spirit gives, into (3) the "throne" phase of redemption. He must "overcome" if he is to rule with Christ and be God's son (Revelation 3:21, 21:7).
In spite of the "threeness" it is one redemption, one Lord Jesus Christ, one blood of the Lamb of God, one God the Father of whom and by whom are all aspects of the one redemption.
We have given the title Three Deaths and Three Resurrections to our book. This is exactly what occurs. In order to enter each of the three areas of redemption we must die the specific death God has ordained. If we are willing to go through the "deaths" that God has decreed we will receive the accompanying resurrection.
The deaths are just thatdeaths. The resulting resurrections are so glorious the deaths soon are forgotten.
"No man can see God and live." Therefore we die that we may live eternally in His Presence.
It is our understanding that the greatest of all revivals of human history is in progress today in the Church of Christ. The third death, which we will be describing with the help of the Holy Spirit, never before (as far as we know) has been called to the attention of the churches as a defined doctrine, to any great extent. Yet, the third death is the one that will bring us into the authority and power the Lord Jesus has promised to His Church.
The doctrine that the Holy Spirit is giving us in these days is not new, actually. It is apostolic. It has been contained in the Scriptures since they were written. There have been many outstanding saints throughout the centuries who have pressed into close fellowship and union with God through Christ. These have been blessed individuals. Now God is increasing the understanding of the Church as a whole. Perhaps this "latter rain" revival of understanding and experience began with the Protestant Reformers.
We have been in a period of restoration for the past several hundred years. The scriptural teaching concerning the maturing of Christ in us, which the Holy Spirit is unfolding, is straightforward, clear, and brings peace and joy to our hearts.
Sometimes the development of redemption in our life involves of necessity a fiery trial for a seasona "death" out of which can come newness of resurrection life.
There are three major symbols of Judaism: the Altar, the Lampstand (Menorah ), and the booth. Let us proceed to investigate the three gifts of God's grace that the three symbols portray.
We shall begin our study with the meaning of the word redemption, and an overview of the three dimensions of our full redemption in Christ.
To redeem a person or thing is to restore him or it to the original or rightful owner by means of paying enough money or other compensation or by means of regaining possession by force.
We speak of redeeming property on which money was lent, by paying off the mortgage. We regain, release what had been taken from us.
The terms redeem, redeemer, and redemption are employed throughout the Scriptures. The concept is that of restoring to the original owner or releasing from bondage or captivity someone or something that has been brought under the power of one who did not possess him or it in the beginning.
The person or possession has been taken over by forfeiture or force by someone who is wiser, richer, or stronger. If the original owner ever is to gain back his goods or freedom the act of redemption must take place. The first owner may redeem himself or his property or someone elsea redeemermay assist him.
The redeemer must have enough money or strength, or both, depending on the conditions of servitude. The redeemer must produce the price of redemption. He must use force also if the mortgage holder is not willing to release the property when the price has been paid.
In the case of the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus, Chapter 25), a person who redeems another person must be his close relativesomeone near of kin who redeems his weaker or poorer relative.
Our need for redemption. Every man, woman, boy, and girl born on the earth, with the exception of Christ, is in need of redemption.
Every one of us was created with a spirit, a soul, and a body. We were made in the image of God Almighty. God created us from the clay of the ground and placed us in a paradise on the earth.
Our ancestors, Adam and Eve, chose to disobey the Lord God. As a result the whole race of mankind came under the authority and power of Satan, sin, sickness, and death. There is not a man, woman, boy, or girl born into the world who possesses the price or power to redeem himself or any other person from the kingdom of darkness. We are born under the sentence of death and judgment. Because of this we live out our lives on earth in misery.
No matter how righteously an individual lives (and there is none who is thoroughly righteous except God and His Christ) there still is the guilt of his "father and mother," Adam and Eve, hanging over his head. Payment must be made for inherited sin as well as for acquired sin.
We human beings do not possess the payment for the guilt of sins that we have committed or for the guilt that we have inherited from Adam. "In Adam all die." Therefore, we must accept the payment that God has made by the blood of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. "In Christ shall all be made alive." (I Corinthians 15:22).
The Lord Jesus has chosen to become our near relative, naming Himself the Son of Man as well as Son of God. By becoming our near relative He is qualified to redeem us, according to the laws set down for the Year of Jubilee, the year of redemption (Leviticus, Chapter 25).
Our Redeemer has appeared. Apart from Him we are captives without hope. He has the authority and power to deliver usspirit, soul, and body. Christ's blood is the payment for our redemption. It alone avails to pardon the guilt of our sins. There is no other payment that God will accept.
Any person, young or old, rich or poor, who rejects the blood of the Son of God, Christ, as the payment for his redemption is rejecting the only means of being redeemedof being saved from Divine wrath.
If you never have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, the Passover Lamb of God, put this book down now and receive Christ by faith.
It would be an exceedingly great tragedy for you or for any other person to be required to stand before God Almighty in the Day of Judgment in the filthy rags of your own self-righteousness, now that Jesus already has paid the price of redemption for you and stands ready to receive you.
Accept Christ as your Savior now before you continue reading.
Redemption: past, present and future.
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:12)
Although our redemption was purchased in its entiretyonce for all timeon the cross of Calvary, it manifests itself in our lives as a process. Therefore we can say that our redemption is past, present, and future. We were redeemed the moment we received Christ as our Lord and Savior; we are being redeemed by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit; and we shall be redeemed in our bodies when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven with the saints and holy angels.
Our redemption is confirmed when we continue faithfully to the end of our discipleship.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)
As we have stated, man is spirit, soul, and body. Our spirit, soul, and body already have been purchased, provided we have accepted by faith our personal Redeemer and have been baptized in water according to His commandment.
We do not experience the fullness of the fruits of the Divine redemption the moment we receive Christ. It is necessary that we press forward each day in faithful discipleship in order to lay hold on the redemption of our spirit, our soul, andwhen Jesus returnsour mortal body.
When Christ was crucified, He carried our sins out of the camp and descended with them into the interior of the earth. He left them there in the "land not inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22). No matter what we may have done in this life, as soon as we receive the forgiveness of God through Christ our sins are gone! buried! removed! There is no guilt left behind.
We now are without condemnation in Christ. We who have believed in Christ have left the authority of Satan and are under the authority of Jesus. It is the Lord's intention that sin no longer be able to rule us (Romans 6:14).
Yet there still is apparent in most of our lives the power of sin, the bondage, the hold that the committing of sin has on us, the lusting, murdering, hating, criticizing, evil speaking, coveting, envying, idolizing, unforgiving that we (saved and unsaved alike) cannot seem to stop. These all are proceeding from the law of sin that is working in our flesh.
If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:7)
The above verse may be explained as follows: when we conduct ourselves in a righteous and holy manner we are accepted of God. When we disobey God, then Satanthat author of all sincrouches at our door desiring to snare us. Each sin we commit denotes a certain amount of enslavement to Satan, although we may not realize it. To the degree that we practice a sin it has power over us; it holds us in bondage. Through our Redeemer, Christ, we are able to overcome sin.
Isn't it true in your life that there are some actions or attitudes that are difficult to refrain from practicing, although the doing of them results in more grief than the sin is worth? The reason you or I may continue to behave in a manner of which we ourselves do not approve is that Satan is exercising dominion over us. The impulse or desire is ruling us against our will. The force of the sin is binding us even though we have received Jesus as our Savior.
We have stated that the work of a redeemer may include two aspects: the payment of the price, and sometimes the imposition of force. The blood of Christ redeems us from the guilt of our sin but it is the power of the Holy Spirit, acting on the authority of the blood, that conquers the force of the sin that binds us. In order to gain entrance through the gates of the new Jerusalem we must be delivered from both the guilt and the power of sin. There is no sin in the holy city.
We now (if we are confessing our sins and gaining victory over them) are in the process of being redeemed from the power and effects of sinfrom all that remains in our personality of the person and ways of Satan. The Body of Christ is to have nothing to do with Satan, the "prince" of this world. The almighty Christ can and shall release us nowin the present age.
The deliverance phase of redemption is taking place in the life of the faithful saints as the Holy Spirit brings the sins we are committing to our attention, and we confess them to God as sin. God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. He provides the grace so that in the future we will not remain bound in sin.
The Lord Jesus is accomplishing more than saving us in our sins. He is saving us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).
We are not debtors to our flesh that we are obligated to live according to the appetites of our flesh. We who belong to Christ have crucified our flesh with its appetites and lusts and are learning how to live in the holiness of the Lord. Our powerful Redeemer is enabling us to strip away the graveclothes of sin that compel us to serve sin, and by the power of His Holy Spirit to repent, to confess them, and to walk in newness of life each day of our Christian experience.
If you are a Christian but are continuing to practice some sin concerning which the Spirit of God has reproved you, confess that sin to Christ vocally, clearly, and specifically. Do not make a vague statement to the Lord. Come to the point in frankness and honesty. God cannot be deceived.
When you confess your sin, God will forgive you and cleanse you through your High Priest, Christ. Christ has the authority and the power to forgive you and to deliver you fully. It never is God's will that one of his sheep walk in known sin. Christ has the power not only to deliver you from sin but also to break all the bondages in your life, including the bondage of sicknessone of the effects of mankind's sinful condition.
If you are a Christian and are suffering from sickness in your body, believe Jesus for your healing. Healing is included in your redemption. Jesus died so that you may be "preserved blameless" in body, soul, and spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23).
Sometimes the most devout Christians are required to endure sickness and affliction for a season. After we have petitioned the Lord for our healing, and have thanked Him for His goodness and mercy toward us, we are to rest in Christ.
Never give up. Keep on believing in the redeeming virtue of Christ and you will receive your healing, according to the wisdom of God, unless it is time for the Lord to take you to glory. Christ has healed me several times and also members of my family. He will heal you if you will seek His will for your life.
Only believe. All things are possible to the person who believes God. Come to Him and see for yourself.
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)
We have explained that our redemption is past, present, and future, and we have considered our past redemption on the cross of Christ along with our ongoing redemption through the power of the Holy Spirit. The completion of our redemption is coming in the future. Jesus counseled us to rejoice when we behold the signs of the end-time coming to pass. He exhorted us to rejoice because these signs reveal to us that our redemption is at hand.
The redemption that is coming with the appearing of the Lord Jesus will bring incorruptible bodies to the saints and liberation to the remainder of the creation (Romans 8:21).
If you are a Christian and are worrying about the economic situation, the riots and unrest, the rise of the Antichrist, wars, rumors of wars or anything else, it is time for you to be encouraged in the Lord. Ignore these fears. Look away to Christ. Jesus is coming again with unlimited authority, power, and glory to bring deliverance to His Church, and to the nations of the earth that will receive His lordship over them.
The fullness of redemption is coming with our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no person, power, spirit, or anyone or anything else that can hinder the Lord. He is coming and bringing redemption to all who will accept His blood atonement and His absolute rulership.
Do not continue to worry about what men or devils can do. Look only to Jesus and you will not have a care except to please Him. He is your Redeemerpast, present, and future.
Redemption in the Scriptures. The Scriptures have much to say on the topic of redemption. It is one of the principal subjects of the Word of God. The twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, which has to do with the Year of Jubilee, is of help in the study of the concept of redemption. There are so many additional scriptural references that it is not practical to quote them all. The following are a few of the many passages:
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities. (Psalms 130:8)
And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible. (Jeremiah 15:21)
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; (Psalms 107:2)
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: (Job 19:25)
And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38)
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)
And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)
But of him are ye in Christ, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (I Corinthians 1:30)
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (Galatians 3:13)
In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; (Ephesians 1:7)
Which is the earnest [pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14)
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people [people for God's own possession], zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12)
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:15)
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (I Peter 1:18,19)
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9)
From these and other Scriptures we can see that a work of redemption was wrought on the cross of Calvary. Redemption is deliverance from the guilt and power of sin. We shall understand this more as we study the three areas of redemption in depth in subsequent chapters. Let us begin with an overview of each as a ground on which to expand our concepts.
The first area of redemption is that of salvation. The burden of the evangelist is that people may receive salvation.
What does it mean to be saved ? From what are we saved, and toward what are we moving?
To be saved means to possess God's guarantee that when the Day of Wrath comesand it surely is coming!the believer will be kept from destruction by the power of God. God is coming to the earth to judge the works of men and devils. The judgment that is just over the horizon is terrible.
People today, including Christian people, have talked themselves into the belief that God is a kindly old gentleman who will do good but not harm. Paul warns: "knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (II Corinthians 5:11). We Christians need to gain some idea of the terror of the Lord before we really can appreciate what it means to be saved from wrath. In fact, it is the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom.
The next coming of Christ will be so frightful that no words of ours can portray adequately what the world is about to face. The most terrifying scene that ever has appeared on the earth will seem like child's play when compared with the wrath of God that will be poured out under the administration of Christ and His saints.
Following the glorious and terrible return of the Lord, He and His victorious saints will rule for the thousand years of the Kingdom Age (Millennium). After the Kingdom Age the Lake of Fire will appear. The Lake of Fire is no mere symbol of God's anger, it is a real lake, a prison of eternal torment. It is reserved for the devil and his angels and for all others who reject the lordship of Christ.
There is a lake that burns with the pungent smell of burning sulfur. There will be angels, demons, and people in it.
God has determined to judge and bring to an end the heaven and the earth that He created and to punish the angels who rebelled against Him. The root of the problem is Satan and the rebellion that took place in the heavenlies. This is the source of sinwhere sin began.
Sin was introduced into the Garden of Eden by the serpent, not by our ancestors, Adam and Eve. Yet because of their sin, we who are their descendants, and all of the creation, are under the curse of sin and death.
In Christ is salvation in the Day of God's wrath. Christ bore on Himself the sins of the whole world. The judgment of God came on Christ and He was crucified. In Christ, God brought to an end the first creation. In Christ, God brought judgment on the evil lords of darkness and destroyed their authority and power.
God in Christ conquered Satan.
Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost. If any person, young or old, will receive Christ by faith and hold that faith, patiently serving the Lord throughout all the testings and tribulations of life, he or she will be saved in the Day of the Lord.
"He who endures to the end shall be saved." Some will gain an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of Christ while others will be saved "yet so as by fire."
Perhaps you as an individual are not making a success of the Christian discipleship, at least not in your own opinion. If you will keep your hope steadfast in the Savior and not turn your heart away from Him in discouragement, pride, lust, or rebellion, you too will be saved in the Day of Judgment, the Day of the Lord.
Heaven is a real place, a Paradise of peace and joy. Heaven is the most wonderful dream of people in solid and enduring form. To be received into Heaven when we die requires our accepting Christ in obedience to the will of God. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
Salvation includes the first death and resurrection. Salvation is a first reaping of our life. It is a reaping to Christ. It is an instant death by faith, potentially destroying the ability of our old nature, our sin and self-will, to dominate us. We say potentially because the actual destruction of sin and the transformation of our personality depend on our working out in hope, faith, and obedience that which God and we declared to be true in our baptism in water.
As we will see in the next chapter, water baptism portrays what will become a fact if we follow Christ faithfully: the death of our first personality and the creation of a new personality. This, our new life, is raised up to be hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:1-4). This is the first resurrection (the "first resurrection" in terms of the model presented in this book, not the first resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6).
The righteousness of Christ Himself is imputed (ascribed) to usfreely given to us. It is the grace of God in action. We now are without condemnation and are invited and welcomed to enter boldly into the Most Holy Place in Heaven before the Father, there to make our needs and desires known to Him who sits on the throne of the universe.
We are accepted in the beloved Son, Christ. The holy angels rejoice and the bells of Heaven ring because a prodigal son has returned to his Father's house. From now on, death holds no terrors for us. When we die our spiritual personality is received into the realms of light to dwell with God and the Lamb, and with the holy saints and elect angels.
We had been dead spiritually, being cut off from God because of our inherited and acquired sin. Now, through the atonement made by the blood of the righteous Jesus, we are accepted of God. God's Holy Spirit has taken up His abode in us for eternity (John 14:16,17). The Spirit of God is eternal Life in us and the guarantee of the more complete redemption yet to come. All past transgressions have been forgiven. The covering of the "Passover blood" shields us from the wrath of God. Christ has been born in us.
In the preceding paragraphs we have described the salvation phase of the Divine redemption that comes only through Christ. Every person who would have eternal life must appear here. We must receive Christ personally as our own Lord and Savior and be baptized in water. Then the Holy Spirit causes the Life of Christ to be born in us. We are "born again."
The only way a man, woman, boy, or girl can enter the Kingdom of God is by being born again. Until a person is born again he can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God.
Our death with Christ on the cross and our new birth into the Kingdom of God are the first death and the first resurrectionthe first area of redemption.
The first area of redemption is that of salvation, of acceptance by the Lord, of passing from death to life, of remission of the guilt of past sin by the blood of Christ. The grace of God is given freely to us through Christ and we are received as a child of God.
We are using the terms salvation, sanctification, and conquest to describe the three areas of redemption we are discussing. Our usage is arbitrary. The word salvation covers all three areas and is so used in the Scriptures. The way we use the terms constitutes their definitions in this book.
The second area of redemption is that of sanctification. By sanctification is meant the setting apart of the Christian as holy to the Lord. Many Christians have had a genuine experience of salvation but have stopped there. They never have cooperated with the Holy Spirit in the task of directing their daily behavior into ways pleasing to the Lord Jesus.
In the first area of redemption, initial salvation, we die to the world and are raised in Christ.
In the second area of redemption, sanctification, we die to the works of the flesh, the fleshly nature, and are raised into the life lived in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after of the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:4,5)
The second area is the area of the testimony, the area of the Holy Spirit. He predominates in this area as He leads us, instructs us, builds us up in preparation for our presentation to the Lord Jesus Christ as the glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. The area of sanctification is one of conquering sin, of instruction in godliness, of the testimony of the Person, will, and way of God Almighty, of preparation for greater transformation and blessing yet to come.
Here the Holy Spirit enables us to live by the Scriptures and to bring other people to the Savior. The Holy Spirit leads us as we share with them our personal experiences with Christ. He imparts to us gifts and ministries. Through the anointing of the Spirit the Word of Christ is confirmed in our life, sometimes with powerful signs and wonders.
The Holy Spirit works night and day to form Christ in us. He intends to bring us into the image of Christ and into oneness with Christ. If we will cooperate with Him, He will set us apart each day as holy to the Lord. He is the Holy Spirit.
It is the will of Christ that the members of the Body of Christ begin to follow the Holy Spirit into putting to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13). If He is not leading us into conquest of the deeds of our flesh we are not sons of God. No person walks in peace and fellowship with Christ and continues in known sin.
Although our deliverance from the bondages of the flesh takes a while to accomplish (we are not delivered into sinless perfection overnight), yet our redemption in this area is as definite, as certain, as is our initial step of salvation. The Book of I John holds forth the idea that Christians are not to continue in sin, that whoever is continuing to sin is not walking in Christ and has neither seen Him nor known Him.
In time past we have not understood how to overcome our sinning, and so we have put our trust in Christ and have left the problem with Him. Now the Lord is showing us that if we will allow the Holy Spirit to do so, He will enable us to wash the robes of our conduct in the blood of the Lamb, becoming sparkling white in the righteous conduct that God requires.
We must learn to judge ourselves through the Holy Spirit. Little by little we achieve the victory of sanctification of spirit, of soul, of body. In this manner we purify ourselves in preparation for His glorious appearing (I John 3:1-3).
We may say that the area of sanctification is a reaping to the Holy Spirit just as the area of initial salvation is a reaping to Christ. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always work together in all aspects of our redemption. Nevertheless, dividing the Christian redemption into these three areas for the purpose of analysis may be helpful to us as we ponder the meaning of redemption and atonement.
Sanctification is a second death and resurrection. In sanctification we become dead to the life lived in the impulses of the flesh and mind. By the power the Holy Spirit provides we are raised into freedom from the need to keep on serving the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes. The second area of redemption is a place of wilderness wandering, of learning the ways of God, of coming under God's law of the Spirit of life, of Christ pruning back the fruit of our life and the bearing of more fruit, and of daily manna from the Lord.
In the area of sanctification the Church, the Israel of God, begins to be formed into an army. The Body of Christ moves toward maturity as the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah, Chapter 42).
However, the fullness of the development of God's warriors and servants takes place in the third areathat of conquest, as we shall see later on.
In the first area, salvation, we Christians are so occupied with what we are receiving from God that not too much is accomplished from the standpoint of what we will return to God in the way of service. Growth in service comes to us if we follow on to know the Lord. We begin to exercise a priestly role as we learn more about how to please the Lord and serve Him.
Spiritual warfare rages about us as we press on past initial salvation into the fullness of sanctification and victory. There yet is much evil in the Christian churchessometimes more than is found in the world. It may be recalled that when Pilate was faced with the Lord Jesus Christ he wanted to release Him, but he was prevented from doing so by the leaders of God's chosen people.
The rulers of Israel howled for Christ's blood. Here is Satan working in a religious setting. Pilate represents the world. The leaders of Israel represent religious activity and church government. When the world would have set Christ free the church authorities demanded He be crucified.
This is an example of the problems of covetousness and self-seeking that exist at the second level of spiritual life, the level of ministry and church activity. Today the world is evil and becoming worse all the time. There is increased satanic activity in the world and abominations are being committed. When Christ pours out His Spirit in these last days there will be persecution from the churches as well as from the world. Satan will be cast down from the heavenlies into the earth, and his thrashing about in the earth will be expressed both in the world governments and in the religious organizations.
The battle against sin, against the kingdom of darkness, is taking place in every true believer in Christ. The battle against sin cannot be waged successfully in unsaved people because the world is dead in sin. The Holy Spirit of God is dwelling eternally in the believers in Christ. Therefore in them there is a struggle going on night and day.
Satan is striving to maintain his hold over the conduct of each Christian. The Holy Spirit in each Christian is attempting to bring him or her into deliverance from having to obey the spirit of the world, Satan, and the lusts of the body. Also, his or her self-will and self-love are in the process of being "crucified."
The Christians who are pressing forward in the Lord Jesus Christ are gaining the upper hand over sin. Victory requires a period of time for its accomplishment. The Lord God of Heaven has promised that He will deliver even the lords of darkness into our hands and that we will destroy them until they have been utterly consumed (Deuteronomy 7:23).
Through the wisdom and power of Christ, and in His time, we will be able to tear down the strongholds of Satan in the heavenlies. Every spirit will be brought under the feet of Christ, who will use the members of His Body to crush the evil armies of wickedness (Romans 16:20).
When a Christian confesses a sin, and gains victory over that sin through the authority of the blood of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, the victory constitutes a judgment of Christ on the particular sin and on the spirit performing that sin.
The members of the Body of Christ are to walk in absolute righteousness and holiness of deed, word, motive, and imagination. God's judgment is on His own household in these days. God can have no fellowship with the evil works of darkness and neither can His children. We must learn to put to death the deeds of our flesh by the wisdom and power the Holy Spirit provides.
The second area of redemption, that of sanctification, is a protracted actual death of the compulsion to sin that resides in our flesh. It is a protracted spiritual resurrection as we change from walking in the sins of the flesh to walking in the holiness of the Life of the Holy Spirit.
The "dying" and "living" consist of a long series of lessons in learning how to resist sin and how to live, speak, think, fight, and minister in the Spirit of God. Such sanctification of behavior requires a period of time, and sometimes we become discouraged "in the wilderness" of testing.
There will come an end to the instruction, at least for the present stage of our transformation into the image of Christ. We will "graduate" eventually. We must not allow ourselves to become weary in the battle. Our end will be glorious if we do not faint.
In the preceding paragraphs we have discussed the sanctification phase of the Christian redemption. Every person who would be a member of the Body of Christ must appear here.
We must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Upon entering the Life of the Spirit we begin to receive power to minister, and also power to bear the fruit of the image of the moral Character of Christ (Galatians 5:22,23). The law of the Spirit of life guides us in putting to death the deeds of our body. We must confess our sins as the Spirit directs and empowers. We must submit ourselves to God, draw near to God, and resist the devil.
Only then are we prepared and equipped to enter the third aspect of our full redemption.
Salvation from Divine wrath is the first area of redemption. Salvation requires that we leave the spirit of the world, and includes the birth of Christ in us.
Sanctification is the second area of redemption and has to do with learning to follow the Life of the Holy Spirit rather than the life of the natural man. The natural man is the human, soulish, flesh-and-blood personality that was born of our human parents. The natural personality has a strong tendency toward the lusts of the flesh, covetousness, and self-exaltation.
One of the results of the process of sanctification is the elimination of unclean spirits from our personality.
Conquest is the third area of redemption. Conquest is the level at which we gain victory over every enemy of God and man, particularly over self-love and self-seeking. Such victory begins with salvation, is developed during sanctification, and attains its fullest expression as we follow Christ into obedience to the Father.
Such victory in our lives is made possible by the blood of the Lamb, by the testimony that the Holy Spirit works in us, and by our willingness to love not our own life to the death (Revelation 12:11).
Initial salvation, the first area of redemption, makes it possible for us to enter the plan of redemption.
Sanctification, the second area, is a school. It is the place where we make the transition from the life of flesh to the life of the Spirit.
Conquest, the third area, is the final result, the goal of the first two areas. In the realm of conquest we enjoy the fruitfulness and dominion promised to the heirs of the Kingdom of God.
Conquest comes in a third death and resurrection. The blood of Jesus leads the way toward conquest. The Holy Spirit testifies to us, in us, and through us, moving us along toward the rest of Godthe place of total victory in Christ. The final victory depends on our willingness to allow God to slay our will. We must be willing to deny our self. Death to our will is the deepest of the deaths that we die. It leads to the fullness of resurrection glory.
In initial salvation we are assigned to the death of Christ and we share with Him in His stupendous resurrection from the dead.
In sanctification we die to the desires of our flesh and mind and are raised into life lived in the Life of the Holy Spirit of God.
In conquest, the third area of redemption, we die to the deepest level of self the origin of our identity. God has His own methods of touching the center of our being, often using suffering as a tool.
Death of the self-will. If we allow the Lord to enter the source of our individuality we will be raised into the fullness of fruitfulness and rulership in God the Father as one of His eternal servants (Revelation 22:3; Philippians 2:5-9).
All living creatures, whether physical or spiritual, have wills of their own. Mules, men, and angels all have wills of their own. In bringing us to the fullness of conquest God does not take away or destroy our will; rather, He transforms it until our will corresponds to His will.
It is difficult to die to the deepest levels of the will, even for the most devout Christian. We are glad to be saved from wrath and to be accepted of the Father. We are thankful to be delivered from the sins of the flesh and the other bondages that Satan places on human beings.
The re-creation of the will, the death to what in many instances is lawful, is not easy to accept. However, death to our self-will and self-exaltation leads to the highest realms of fruitfulness and service to God.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. (Mark 8:35)
It is not easy or pleasant to lose one's life.
There are many flaws in the human will. These flaws must be corrected by the grace of God working through the Lord Jesus Christ before we can serve as kings, priests, and prophets in the Presence of the Lord God of Heaven. Christ was probed for these flaws during His three temptations (Luke, Chapter Four). Christ passed the tests with honors.
Some of the more prominent of the flaws of the will include: presumption, personal ambition, disobedience, double-mindedness, suggestibility, man-pleasing, self-aggrandizement, stubbornness, pride, self-pity, self-destruction, self-preservation.
We Christians are to walk in the way that Christ directs us and not attempt to force spiritual results before the Lord prepares the time and place. There is a significant difference between presumption and aggressive faith, although sometimes we must be prayerful in order to distinguish between the two.
Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (Psalms 19:13)
Presumption leads to sin and defeat. Faith leads to victory in the Lord.
No person can serve the Lord and personal ambition at the same time. He will end up hating one and cleaving to the other.
Some of the principal motives behind the desire of the elders of Israel to crucify the innocent Christ were their envy, personal ambition, pride of station, desire for self-glorification, and instinct for self-preservation. They were fearful that Christ was threatening their position as the leaders of the Jews.
An uncrucified will can lead to tragedy. Jonah was a disobedient prophet. The nation of Israel, from the time that the people demanded a king until the carrying away into Babylon, witnessed few periods in its history when God was able to bless the nation because of obedience to His ways.
It requires the resources of Heaven and earth in order for the Holy Spirit to create obedience to the Lord in the will of a human being. We by nature are disobedient to the will of God. We must learn obedience, and it is a difficult curriculum.
A double-minded person is unstable in all his ways and cannot proceed in the plan of redemption because he cannot make decisions. Double-mindedness is a flaw in the will.
The Christian who is suggestible is unable to proceed straight on in God's will because he is open to all voices. Do you recall the prophet who was led into disobedience by the suggestion of an older prophet? (I Kings, Chapter 13).
It is well that we "salute no man by the way," so to speak, but steadfastly go about our business in the Lord without being led astray by the suggestions of others. We are not recommending that we refuse to heed the advice and counsel of other Christians, because it is a fact that there is wisdom in the multitude of counselors. Rather, we are speaking of being led off course by suggestions and by not bringing each decision that we make into careful prayer before the Lord.
It is impossible to be a true prophet of the Lord if we are given to man-pleasing. Jesus never went out of His way to "sell" the Gospel or to please His listeners. "The fear of man brings a snare."
If we fear the faces of clay that are looking at us we never will be free to declare the whole counsel of God. We must prepare the Divine food and make it palatable so the sheep will be inclined to eat. However, we never are to hold back what the Holy Spirit is speaking in order to gain the approval of our audience.
Neither self-pity nor harsh criticism of ourselves is pleasing to the Lord or has any place in the Kingdom of God.
We have so much to be thankful for that self-pity is inappropriate. It is impossible for one to be God's prophet, priest, and kingGod's servant, in other wordswhile being subject to presumption or personal ambition or disobedience or double-mindedness or suggestibility or man-pleasing or self-pity. Christ is able to correct these flaws in our will so that our will begins to correspond to the will of God.
From self-centeredness to God-centeredness.
In the first death and resurrection, that of salvation, we pass from spiritual death into spiritual life in the Presence of God.
In the second death and resurrection, that of sanctification, we pass from sinful behavior to holy behaviorbehavior free from the lusts of the flesh.
In the third death and resurrection, that of conquest, we pass from self-will to God's will, from self-centeredness to God-centeredness, from self-love to the love of God, from self-seeking to the serving of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As soon as we possess the fullness of Divine Life in body, soul, and spirit, perfect liberty in body, soul, and spirit, and perfect obedience to the Divine will in body, soul, and spirit, having been joined perfectly to God through Christ, then we have been redeemed fully. We are able to receive the fullness of the abiding of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
The product of all three deaths and resurrections is our acceptance by the Lord God and our rest in Him. In the third death and resurrection we die to the imperfections of our will and are raised into the Presence and fellowship of the Father. It is a reaping to the Father. It includes the crucifixion of our self-will.
How blessed to be released from the bondage of having to have our own way! God strikes down our youthful glee, our striving for position and preeminence, our impulsive enthusiasms. We rest in His will.
The means to the righteousness of the first resurrection is the blood of Christ. We overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb of God.
The means to the liberty of the second resurrection is the Holy Spirit, who brings us into accord with the written Word of God. We become and we declare the Word of God, and this testimony overcomes the accuser.
The means to the fruitfulness and rulership of the third resurrection are the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. We overcome the accuser by loving not our own life to the death. This is the path to the throne of Christ.
We see that the third death requires a period of time for its accomplishment. It is a protracted death to our tendencies toward presumption, toward the desire to be pleasing to our hearers, to gain the admiration and support of people. The third resurrection is a protracted entering into rulership with God and into restful service to Him in our land of promise.
As soon as we have been saved from wrath, set free from the bondages of sin, and transformed from self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness, we are ready for the making alive of our mortal body. This will occur "in the twinkling of an eye" for those who have prepared themselves, at the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The fullness of the inheritance will be assigned to those who are faithful to God in each of the three areas of redemption.
The third death and resurrection is typified by the crossing of the Jordan River. It is a change from Christ as Moses, the shepherd, to Christ as Joshua, the commander of battle. It is the throne phase of Christianity.
The Body of Christ, which is the Body of the Anointed Servant of the Lord depicted in Isaiah, Chapter 42, must be in the image of the Head, of the Divine Substance and Nature of the Head, and in union with the Head. Such maturity will be achieved in us by the three areas of redemption proceeding from the grace of God working through the Lord Jesus Christ.
As soon as God has brought His sons through the three areas of redemption it will be time for the Lord Jesus to appear, the hour of the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19). The entrance of Christ and His brothers into the earth will cause the Battle of Armageddon, the confrontation between Christ and Antichrist.
Prior to Armageddon the sons of God must come to know Christ, to know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Then they will be prepared to put down all opposition to the rule of Christ. Christ is King of all kings and Lord of all lords. The creation, whether of the heavens, the earth, or the spirit realms in the interior of the earth, must bow the knee to Him.
Are we willing to have the "sentence of death" in ourselves until we do not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead? Are we willing to be troubled on every side, perplexed, persecuted, cast down, as we attempt to follow the Lord? Are we ready to say yes to the death of the "I will"?
If we consent to die the death God requires of us as an individual we will cross the Jordan, speaking figuratively, and begin to conquer our land of promise. We will enter the Most Holy Place and abide there. We soon will be eating the "old corn of the land" with the Lord Jesus. Eventually we will know and understand as we are known and understood.
We have termed the third area the conquest phase of redemption. Every believer who would rule with Christ must appear here. We must learn to depend on the power of His resurrection, and that power will be wrought in us as we are willing to share in His sufferings. This is the route to becoming part of the Servant of the Lord and to fighting alongside of the Lord in His war against His enemies.
We must accept the sentence of death in ourselves and learn to trust in God who raises the dead. We must never attempt to serve God out of ambition or presumption or neglect to serve Him because of fear, double-mindedness, or disobedience.
Experience teaches us to serve from our position on the cross and to bear our own cross behind Jesus. Our personal cross converts us from the rule of self to the rule of Christ. The cross is the wisdom of God.
Until a disciple consents to serve Christ after this fashion he may be alive to God and he may have victory over many of the sins of the flesh. However, he still is in bondage to his own will. Now he is to allow Christ to bring him over Jordan until he can testify: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: . . . ." (Galatians 2:20).
The material creation is waiting in the chains of corruption and futility until God's sons have died to their self-centeredness, until King Jesus rather than King Self is sitting on the throne of their personality (Romans 8:19-21).
Death to self is the third area of redemption. From this vantage point the sons of God will be revealed.
Redemption includes the establishing of a relationship with God such that freedom from the guilt, bondage, and effects of sin is obtained along with release from the bondage of self-will.
The person who is wise, whether he or she is young or old, will turn away from everything else in life, if need be, in order to more perfectly lay hold on the fullness of redemption. It is the Father's good pleasure to bring many sons through every aspect of redemptionall the way to the full measure of the Glory of God.
There is no route to complete redemption other than by battle against the adversary. Satan is our enemy. He will utilize every device to block our attempts to escape from his influence. But Christ is greater than Satan.
One of God's greatest joys arises from beholding His son or daughter lay hold on the grace and virtue He has provided through Christ and by them escape from every unclean influence. God anoints us with the Holy Spirit when we love righteousness and hate lawlessness, and when we are perfectly obedient to Him.
The three areas of the heavenlies. It seems to be true that each of the three areas of redemption has its counterpart in the heavenlies. We live spiritually in the heavenlies and physically on earth at the same time. The saved begin to experience the joy and peace of Heaven while they yet are on the earth. However, the material creation and the spirit realm are not joined together at the present time.
Before Adam and Eve rebelled against the Word of God the material creation was alive through the union of the spirit realm with the natural realmthe condition that would be true today if the earth had not been placed under the curse of God.
Satan entered the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve were not spiritually mature enough to resist his wiles. Heaven withdrew from the earth. The union of God's Spirit with the material realm was dissolved. God placed cherubim to guard the way of the Tree of Life so that Adam and Eve would not be able to receive eternal life into their personalities while their flesh and souls were in rebellion against God.
When we Christians die we enter realms of spiritual light, if we have been faithful to Christ. We are placed among people and angels who are received of the Lord God. The realms of spiritual light will serve as a place of rest for us until it is time for the restoration of the union of God's Spirit with the material realm. Then we will be reunited with our body.
The first level of Heaven is the place where we are accepted of God and enjoy the love, joy, and peace that follow acceptance by Him.
The second level of Heaven seems to be the realm where we minister before God as prophets and priests by the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The second realm appears also to be that of spiritual activity and battle. Some passages of the Scriptures give us insight into the turbulence and conflict of the second area (Job 1:6; Daniel 10:13; I Thessalonians 2:18, Revelation 12:7; for example).
The third level of Heaven, that which Paul visited either in vision or physically is the area of the Throne of God and of the Lamb. Paul refers to the third Heaven as Paradise (II Corinthians 12:4). God's will is performed at this highest level of government and authority. Christ abides at the third level, as do the most holy, glorious, and powerful of the angelic creatures (Psalms 103:19,20).
The third level is the domain in which we rule in Christ with fullness of authority and power. It is the third area of redemption. Jesus has promised us that if we are faithful in overcoming we will be raised to sit with Him in the throne of glory.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Every Christian, through the blood of his Redeemer, has access to the Throne of God, there to offer adoration and to make his needs known to the Father. The extent to which the believer is able to abide in the Presence of God in every situation depends on his willingness to allow the grace of God to work full redemption in him.
The first death we must die, as the Divine redemption is worked out in us, is our entrance into the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. It is death to the world.
The first resurrection we are terming salvation. The first resurrection results in our being preserved from destruction throughout all the coming Divine judgments. It is the beginning of life in the Kingdom of God.
The second death is our baptism into the Body of Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is death to our fleshly, animal life, making possible the working out in practical holiness and testimony our new life in the Spirit of God.
The second resurrection we are terming sanctification. The second resurrection is to life lived in the Spirit of God, with the resulting holiness of behavior, and testimony to the Person, will, way, and purposes of the Father.
The third death is the laying down of our will in obedience to the will of God. We may suffer delayed gratification of what we desire fervently. We may be required to continue doing things that are unpleasant. We may be "carried" where we do not choose to go (John 21:18).
The third resurrection we are terming conquest. The third resurrection brings us into oneness with Christ in God, with the resulting achievement of the fullness of the Glory of God. We have been redeemed fully when every aspect of our personality is perfectly at rest in the will of God and lives as an integral, eternal part of Christ.
There are other titles we could have assigned to the third area of resurrection, such as "consecration," or "perfection," or "throne-life." The term conquest suggests the warfare necessary to entrance into the promised-land rest of God, and speaks also of the life of victory in Christthe dynamic, faith-filled Christian discipleship that keeps on marching toward the "city that hath foundations."
Christ asks: "Will you die to the world that you may live in the Kingdom of God?" If your answer is yes, He will bring you through death and resurrection.
Christ asks: "Will you follow the Holy Spirit into the holy Fire of God's Person, allowing your animal passions to be crucified? If your answer is yes, He will bring you a second time through death and resurrection.
Christ asks: "Will you lay down your life for My sake and the Gospel's?" If your answer is yes, He will bring you a third time through death and resurrection.
What are your answers to His three questions?
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."
"The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."
We have employed the term salvation to denote the first area of redemption because of the familiarity and acceptability of the word to so many Christian people of various doctrinal beliefs and denominational affiliations. Salvation is the part of our redemption that has to do with survival and preservation in the Day of Judgment that is coming.
Being saved means we shall pass into the realms of light when we die physically; that we shall escape from the wrath of God, from Hell, from the Lake of Fire; that we shall live forever in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
The "amazing grace" of salvation is the song of Christians at every level of spiritual maturity. God is good, and it is His desire that every person on earth have the maximum opportunity to receive His forgiveness and blessing. Once we were prodigals but now we are back at the Father's house. This is what salvation is all about.
The first area of redemption has its counterpart in the history of the children of Israel. When we are delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of God's dear Son, Christ, we escape from slavery to the "pharaoh" of the world. Salvation is our covering with the Passover blood, our "crossing through the Red Sea" (water baptism), our readiness to begin our "journey through the wilderness" (the tribulations and testing that take place in the present life).
Important to our salvation are the imputing, the assigning, of righteousness to us on the basis of the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ; our ceasing to attempt to find favor with God by our own schemes for righteous living; our identification with Christ's death and resurrection, and the birth of Christ in our heart.
Let us look at some of the statements the Scriptures make concerning the first area of redemption. These statements are in the form of Old Testament illustrationtypes, as they are called. An example is the Ark of Noah, as we shall see presently.
One of the greatestif not the greatestof the types of Scripture is the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Exodus, Chapters 25-40). The three areas of redemption can be seen clearly in the Tabernacle.
The three areas of the Tabernacle correspond to the three areas of redemption. They are as follows: (1) the Courtyard; (2) the Holy Place; and (3) the Most Holy Place.
The Courtyard portrays the initial salvation experiencethe first area of redemption.
The Holy Place is the second area, the realm of the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the Body of Christ.
The Most Holy Place is the area of the conquering Christian discipleship where the saint battles his way into the Presence of God. The Most Holy Place represents the fullness of glory, the spiritual "rest" that results from obtaining victory over the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes (covetousness), and the pride of life (self-love and self-will).
There was a hanging of cloth located at the entrance of each of the three areas of the Tabernacle. The first hanging was the gate of the Courtyard. The second hanging was the door of the Holy Place. The third hanging was the ornate veil that opened into the Most Holy Place.
The hangings were of dyed linen. The colors were the same on all three hangings. Each hanging was dyed blue, purple, and crimson on a background of pure white linen. The colors were blended artistically and intricately.
The blue symbolizes the fact that redemption comes down to us from Heaven.
The purple portrays the Divine royalty of the Lord Jesus Christ; and also that He combines in Himself the blue of Heaven and the red of humanitybeing both Son of God and Son of Man (blue and red make purple).
The crimson speaks of the blood of God's Lamb that paid for our redemption.
The white reveals the righteousness that is both imputed (ascribed) to and wrought in the believer by the redemption God has provided in Christ.
The first of the three hangings was the gate that led into the Courtyard.
And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four. (Exodus 27:16)
The gate was about thirty feet wide and seven and one-half feet in height. In order to come into the Tabernacle area an Israelite had to go through the gate. The Courtyard of the Tabernacle represents the domain of the Kingdom of God, the realm of the saved of the earth.
Outside the Courtyard of the Tabernacle is outer darkness, symbolically speaking. Inside is salvation, acceptance by the Lord, redemption, righteousness, justificationeverything that is pure, beautiful, lovely, desirable.
If a person desires the blessing of God he must go through the gate. The gate of the Courtyard represents the first death. The Courtyard of the Tabernacle represents the first resurrection.
The large area (about 75 feet wide and 150 feet long) surrounding the Tabernacle building (Exodus 27:9-18) represents, as we have said, the first realm of redemption. Placed inside this area, and in line with the door leading into the Holy Place, were the Altar of Burnt Offering and the bronze Laver.
The Altar of Burnt Offering portrays Christ on the cross of Calvary.
The bronze Laver typifies water baptism and also the washing of water by the Word of God (Ephesians 5:26).
We see then, in terms of this major type of the salvation experience, that we must come through the death of the gate in order to receive the atonement, the reconciliation to the Father.
The atonement has been made for us by the offering of the blood of the Lamb, Christ. The washing of water baptism signifies our sincere repentance and death to the world. The corresponding resurrection is to God's forgiveness and the assigning of righteousness to us on the basis of the atoning blood of Christ.
The Altar of Burnt Offering. The Courtyard typifies the first work of salvation in us, the beginning of our redemption from slavery to the gods of the present evil age. The bronze Altar of Burnt Offering, by its large size and the sights, sounds, and smells that surrounded it continually, dominated the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, just as Calvary dominates the salvation God has given to us.
And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits. (Exodus 27:1)
The bronze Altar was the largest of the seven pieces of furniture of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, being about seven and one half-feet square and four and one-half feet high. It was constructed of acacia wood covered with bronze. All the animal sacrifices of Israel were offered here (Leviticus, Chapters One through Seven).
When an Israelite went through the gate of the Courtyard, the first thing he encountered was the Altar of Burnt Offering. God always meets man at the cross. There is no way into the acceptance of God other than through the blood of the cross of Christ. The bronze Altar represents the beginning of our redemption, made possible for us only by our acceptance by faith of the atonement (reconciliation) made for us at Calvary.
When we come to the cross of Christ we signify that we have come to the end of our self-righteousness and now are ready to receive the righteousness of God through Christ. We cannot please God in our own moral strength. By accepting God's atonement for our sin we receive full and complete forgiveness for all we ever have done that was out of keeping with God's standards of righteousness and holiness.
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [appeasement] through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:24,25)
When we receive by faith the blood of the cross we acquire a full pardon for all transgressions. We receive an imputed righteousness, a righteousness assigned to our account on the basis of the righteousness of Christ. We then are perfectly justified (declared to be righteous) in the sight of God.
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. (Romans 4:6,7)
The Laver, and water baptism.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. (Exodus 30:17,18)
The Laver was a basin made from the bronze of the looking glasses of the women who assembled at the door of the Tabernacle. Less is said about the Laver than any of the other holy furnishings of the Tabernacle. The Laver was fairly small and may have been carried on the march with the Altar of Burnt Offering.
The Laver was to be used by Aaron and his sons. Each priest was required to wash his hands and his feet before entering the Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The Laver was placed between the Altar of Burnt Offering and the door of the Tabernacle, in line with them.
It is easy to see that the bronze Laver represents water baptism and the spiritual realities that water baptism portrays. Water baptism is an important aspect of the beginning work of salvation.
"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved."
"Arise, and wash away your sins."
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Water baptism is an act of obedience toward God. For this reason we must be baptized in water as soon as we receive Christjust as soon as possible.
The water, as we have seen in the preceding chapter, represents death to the gods of the world, death to the first creation, death to our own past life and personality. The water is the death of Christ on the cross of Calvary, and through the act of water baptism we become identified with His death and participate in it. Our coming up out of the water is our participation in His glorious resurrection. It is our entrance to eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
If the believer understands he is entering the death and resurrection of Christ he is ready to be baptized. A child can learn this in three minutes. If we will believe and be baptized we will be saved in the Day of Wrath (Mark 16:16).
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3,4)
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: (Romans 6:5)
From now on we are determined that the "glory of the Father" shall be the source of our life. We will choose not to walk in the old ways of lust, malice, and wickedness but in "newness of life"in a life that is showing forth the praises of God because of His love toward us through Christ.
Christ's death was a cruel scene to behold. He suffered three years of persecution and perversity climaxed by the physical pain of crucifixionthis in addition to the spiritual agony of becoming sin for us, with the resulting separation from His Father!
Well may we shrink from such a death! But we are to enter Christ's death willingly, suffering the persecution, perversity, harassment, and physical pain the Spirit of God brings our way. The glory of Christ's resurrection more than compensates for the pain of His crucifixion (Romans 8:18; II Corinthians 4:17).
Before we were baptized in water our old nature often was successful in making us accept slavery to sin. We had no new nature, no Glory of God in Christ, to help us behave any differently.
Now we possess the Spirit of life from God and His blessing on us. We are without condemnation in the sight of God. By continually availing ourselves of the grace of God we can refuse to obey the dictates of our old naturethe old self that is being cast aside as the shell of a peanut is cast aside when the meat of the nut has been obtained.
For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. (Romans 6:7-9)
As soon as we come up out of the water of baptism we are alive in Christ. We are on our way toward the fullness of eternal life, a fullness of redemption that eventually will include our mortal body. Our new personality is married to Christ. Our new man is alive forevermore, being free from the guilt and power of sin (I John 3:9).
Christ lives before God in righteousness. By faith in Him we share in that righteousness. God beholds us in Christ as we take our stand on resurrection ground.
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:10,11)
Our goal now becomes to be transformed fully into Christ's image. The transformation will take place as we walk in the Spirit of God. When we first receive Jesus we are immature in godliness. The devil, taking advantage of the weakness of our flesh, constantly is challenging the truth of what was declared to be true in our water baptism. And so by faith, as long as we live, we keep on asserting that we have died in Christ and have been raised in Christ.
We overcome by placing resolute faith in what the Scriptures state God has accomplished through Christ. We are not baptized in water again each time our faith is challenged. God does not lie.
When God tells us to regard ourselves as dead to sin He is not directing us to assure ourselves that the wrong things that we do are not sin. Rather, He is inviting us to lay hold on His graceon His power that now is available to usin order to stop sinning.
Because we have accepted Christ, been baptized in water into His death, and been raised with Him in newness of life, we have a choice. Before we received the Lord we were members of the kingdom of darkness. Our souls were lost in sin. Our bodies were bound in sin. The Holy Spirit was not guiding our spirit. Only our conscience prevented us from giving ourselves over to the deepest sins of the flesh.
Now that we have passed from death to life, Christ has been planted in our heart. Our spirit is being moved by the Holy Spirit of God. We have the authority and the power to choose to learn to live in righteousness, in holiness, in obedience to God. We possess the authority and power to choose to resist our fleshly nature, our self-love and self-seeking, and the wicked spirits of the kingdom of darkness.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. (Romans 6:12)
If we draw near to God and submit to Him we can resist Satan and he will flee from us. We possess eternal life and the authority to be children of God. We have assurance that when we die physically we shall be received into the spirit realms of light. We are known of the holy angels of God. When Christ appears we shall appear with Him in glory.
Therefore we can say to the tempter, "Get thee behind me."
When we cry, "Father," God answers, "Here I am!"
We have the grace of God in Christ, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, to help us conquer the lusts of our flesh. Our past is clean and we have been accepted of God. Are we then to creep into a cocoon and wait for Christ to appear?
We must continue working, speaking, thinking, imagining. Little by little, as we are able to profit from the process, the indwelling Holy Spirit gently and powerfully enables us to rise above the bondages of our flesh and spirit.
Water baptism represents an instant death and an instant resurrection and ascension. Our redemption cost the Lord Jesus a price we never will comprehend fully, but it is given to us as a gift, offered in love and joy. Let us, therefore, receive the gift of God in the loving, joyful spirit in which it is given. Then let us follow on to know Himto grow in the grace and the knowledge of God.
The linen fence.
And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long [150 feet] for one side: (Exodus 27:9)
All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass. The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass. (Exodus 27:17-18)
The Courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was a large area, rectangular in shape, enclosed by the linen fence described in the preceding passage. The material of the fence was white linen.
The impression of the Tabernacle area, whether the viewer was standing outside or inside the fence, was one of whitenesssome fifteen hundred square cubits of white linen. Each of the sixty posts holding up the linen was capped with silver, and it appears there was a silver rod running through the posts from post to post ("filleted with silver"). The posts were set in sockets of "brass" (probably bronze).
What a picture of the redeemed of the Lord the Courtyard is!
The fine-twined (fine twisted) linen portrays the righteousness of Christ that is given freely to every human being who believes in Christ and receives Him. The righteousness is first assigned to us, and then created in our personality.
The silver typifies redemptionthe price paid for our release from the kingdom of darkness.
The bronze sockets placed on the desert ground, and on which the posts stood, speak symbolically of God's judgment. Righteousness is always based on Divine judgment. God must test by fire every word, every thought, and every action before righteousness can be established.
Every man, woman, boy, and girl who receives Christ is saved from wrath and comes through the gate into the courtyard of righteousness and redemption. Every person outside the linen fence is lost in outer darkness.
Lighted by the sun.
The Courtyard of the Tabernacle was lighted by the sunlight. The Holy Place was lighted (at night) by the golden Lampstand. The Most Holy Place was lighted by the Shechinah (Glory of God) shining from the Mercy Seat. The three different sources of light have spiritual significance.
The first area of redemption, that of guiltlessness before God, is lighted by natural light, figuratively speaking. Calvary is for all the world to see. It is needful that Christ be lifted up in the clear view of all people so they may see, believe, and be saved (John 3:14).
Christ was not crucified in the Most Holy Place of the Temple of Herod so no one could observe what happened except the high priest of Israel. Christ was led outside the city of Jerusalem and there hung up high on a cross so that all people, young and old, Jewish and Gentile, could behold the judgment of God on the sin offering. The crucifixion of Christ did not occur in secret but out in the open for all to see.
The Altar of Burnt Offering was five cubits square and three cubits high. The slain animals were lifted up in the sight of all and placed on the dirt with which, apparently, the bronze Altar was filled. The Holy Spirit of God reveals Christ so that the unsaved can "behold the Lamb of God."
Therefore, Christ is to be preached in every place: from cathedral to theater, in the home and on the beach, by all the communication media from magazine to satellite.
It does not matter, as Paul says, whether Christ is preached in sincerity or in insincerity provided Christ is preached. The Holy Spirit guides us into the lifting up of Christ, and when He is lifted up all people are drawn to Him.
The Courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Congregation represents the domain of the Kingdom of God. The Tabernacle building, with its Holy Place and Most Holy Place, portrays the Church, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the holy city, the government of the Kingdom, the place of the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
The Church of Christ possesses the keys to the Kingdom of God: that is, the authority to govern the Kingdom. All persons who are part of the Church are part of the Kingdom of God and are kings and priests of the Kingdom.
We can study the relationship of the Church to the rest of the world in the following passages:
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23)
The above verse is referring to the holy Jerusalem, which is known in the Scriptures as the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, the Church, the Body of Christ, the elect of God (Revelation 21:9).
The Scriptures refer also to the nations of saved people who are not part of the Church.
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)
In Daniel 2:44 we notice the following statement:
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
The Kingdom of God is destined to fill the whole earth (Daniel 2:35). The Church, the new Jerusalem, will be the center of government for the earth just as the Tabernacle building governed and gave significance to the Courtyard of the Tabernacle.
All persons who are saved in these days are brought immediately into the Church (Acts 2:47) because the purpose of the present age is to build the Church, the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb.
Each member of the Church of Christ is invited to press forward to a place of service and responsibility in the Kingdom of God. The fullness of the inheritance will go to the conquerors. In order to conquer we must give our whole attention to following the Lord Jesus (Revelation 3:21).
The believer in Christ passes into spirit realms of light when he dies. However, the spirit realm is not the eternal home of the redeemed of the earth (in spite of our beloved hymns). As soon as the new earth has been created, all the saved will be placed on it. There will be "nations of them that are saved" living on the earth forever (Revelation 21:24).
We have stated previously that there are spiritual or heavenly counterparts of the workings of redemption in the earth. When we grow from one level to another in the Lord Jesus Christ it is as though we pass from one spirit realm to another.
There seems to be a close relationship between the earth and what must be the lower or first Heaven. Satan is referred to as the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). It is likely that there was a close link between Heaven and the Garden of Eden. The Greek term translated heaven in the New Testament writings does not distinguish between the spirit realm and the space above the surface of the earth. In fact, in the Scriptures, "heaven" sometimes is presented as being not much higher above us than are the clouds of the sky:
These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, . . . . (John 17:1)
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:10,11)
And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7:56)
It seems clear from the above verses that the spirit Heaven is not beyond the galaxies but begins immediately overhead.
The Garden of Eden, as we can observe, was a joining of two worldsthe spiritual and the material. This dual quality was revealed in the tree of life and in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, neither of which is a tree that grows in the natural world. Also, we are not accustomed to having reptiles speak and advise us.
The two worlds were mingled and working together in the Garden of Eden and no doubt in the remainder of the material creation. Adam and Eve enjoyed the fullness of the blessing of both the material and spirit realms just as God has ordained for the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
Christ reflects in His Person the union between the spiritual and material domains. Each saint who is changed into the image of Christ will reveal in himself the union between the two domains. Each saint will be filled with Christ who in turn is filled with God the Father. This is the Kingdom of God.
The establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth is the integrating of the righteous spirit realm with the material creation. The coming of the Kingdom will restore to the earth all the heavenly blessings that were lost in Eden. This is why the coming of the Kingdom is "Good News."
When the Kingdom of Heaven rules in the earth, all that is of sin and rebellion is judged and removed. The inhabitants learn righteousness. The spiritual quality is restored so that the material world once again possesses its rightful inheritance of peace, joy, and animation. The restoration of rightful inheritance is termed redemption.
Unfortunately, sin entered Eden, and God cannot dwell where there is sin. The spirit part of the Garden of Eden and of the physical creation withdrew, leaving only the dead material formdead because of the absence of spiritual life. The material realm is little more than a prison when the spiritual qualities are not present to give life, peace, joy, and the Presence of God. The physical world is the "valley of the shadow of death" when it is cut off from its spiritual counterpart.
When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ and are saved we become heirs and citizens of Heaven. Although we do not see the fullness of the effects right away, the spiritual blessings of Heaven gradually come to us. Our material existence is touched with the life and climate of Heaven. Our life on earth takes on peace, joy, and an inspiration that is unknown to the unsaved who must depend on material resources in order to draw any pleasure from life.
The unsaved are poverty stricken though they be millionaires when compared with the least person in the Kingdom of God.
When a true Christian dies he immediately passes over into the spirit realms of light, there to dwell in the beautiful, peaceful, joyous world of the redeemed souls and the holy angels of God. This is one of the benefits of being saved.
All levels of Heaven touch the material world in many ways. The third Heaven is the place of supreme authority. In the Lord Jesus the third Heaven strode among men and laid down the terms of the Kingdom of God. Christ was crucified by His own consent. If He had wished He could have resisted. He possesses the power to dissolve the galaxies into their original energy.
When an adult or child receives Christ, Heaven reenters the material world, pointing toward the glorious day when the earth again will enjoy the fullness of the blessings of the life and joy of the spirit realm.
On the advice of Satan, sin entered the material creation. Judgment and death followed immediately as they always do. The kingdom of Satan then was established on the earth. To the day in which we live, the kingdom of Satan still is corrupting the earth.
God has planted the cross of Christ, the beginning aspect of redemption, in the center of Satan's kingdom. The cross still is in the world, in the center of the kingdom of darkness. All who embrace the cross pass from the authority of Satan to the authority of Christ.
Christ met Satan on the cross, and the authority over the earth and its inhabitants passed into the power of Christ. Although Satan still has his kingdom in the earth, any individual who chooses to do so can pass from the power of Satan to the power of God by receiving Christ as his Lord and Savior.
There is a close relationship between what takes place in the spirit realm and what takes place on the earth. In the lower spirit realm, in the vicinity of the surface of the earth if we can think of it that way, the cross of Christ has been established, and is available as a gift to every person who will accept it from God.
Here on the earth, where the vilest of sins are practiced under the advice and inspiration of Satan, and where the joyous qualities of the higher heavens have been lost, we pass from the kingdom of darkness to the authority of the Kingdom of God as soon as we receive the Lord Jesus Christ. We receive in our soul in a small measure the joy and peace of Paradise.
This is not the end of our struggle against the rulers of the darkness of the world, as we understand from Ephesians 6:12. It is the all-important beginning. From this point onward we are to fight our way into the fullness of victory in Christ, relying on the Holy Spirit to bring us into freedom from all guilt, tendencies, and effects of the kingdom of darkness.
The feast of Unleavened Bread was the first of the three occasions on which Israel is called together by the Lord God.
Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16)
The first convocation, that of the week of Unleavened Bread, includes these three celebrations: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and the feast of Firstfruits.
The Passover celebration, one of the most important periods of the Jewish calendar, takes place on the fourteenth of Abib (also known by the post-exilic name Nisan ).
The week of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days, from the fifteenth through the twenty-first of Abib. The first day of the week of Unleavened Bread, the fifteenth of Abib, is a high Sabbath, and is referred to as the feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:23:6).
The sixteenth of Abib, the second day of the week of Unleavened Bread, also is important, being the day of the feast of Firstfruits.
Passover. All Jews, and manyperhaps mostChristians are well-acquainted with the Passover story.
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: (Exodus 12:3)
And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:6,7)
And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)
Passover is the first of the seven Levitical feasts (Leviticus Chapter 23). The first three of the seven feasts are grouped together and referred to as "the feast of Unleavened Bread" (Deuteronomy 16:16). Passover is the only one of the seven feasts ever to be celebrated in the midst of the Egyptians.
There was one actual Passover, that which occurred over three thousand years ago. However, the feast of Passover has been celebrated annually ever since the Jews left Egypt (perhaps missing a few times due to difficult circumstances). These subsequent observations commemorate the original Passover. The feast of Passover gives Christians insight into salvation, the first area of redemption.
It is worthy of note that the blood on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses of Israel was for a token, a sign. Nothing was said about the sins of Israel when the Passover was instituted by the Lord.
The Passover was an act of salvation, protecting the Israelites while the death angel struck the Egyptians because of their worship of demon gods. The Law of Moses had not been given as yet and so the people of Israel were largely ignorant of the moral demands of the Lord.
This is true of our initial salvation. God invites us to be saved by the blood of His Passover Lamb, Christ. He does not concern Himself with many of our specific sins until Christ has been born in us and the Holy Spirit has begun the work of sanctification.
We do not achieve victory over sin in order to enter salvation. Rather, salvation works in us and gives us victory over sin.
God knew of the multitude of sins that were practiced by the Israelites. He brought them out of Egypt first and after that gave them His holy Law and the various sacrifices by which an atonement could be made.
God did not appear to the Israelites and reprove them for their sins, and then offer the Passover as the solution to their problems of the sins of the flesh. God did not speak to them concerning adultery, fornication, sorcery, hatred, backbiting, idolatry, covetousness, timidity, fear, and so forth, although we know from their behavior in the wilderness that they were filled with such tendencies. Provision for sins and trespasses was made later, when the Law of Moses was given.
The Lord Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save the world. The Holy Spirit works with the unsaved along one line: "Look to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
When the Lord approaches the unsaved men and women of today He does not raise the question of the need for forgiveness for specific sins, except to point out to them their miserable state of bondage. Rather, He invites the person to receive His pardon and to sprinkle the blood of protection on himself and his household.
If a person will apply the blood of the cross by faith, he and his family will not be destroyed when God acts against Satan and the host of unclean spirits that are in rebellion against Him. If the unsaved person were to try to justify himself by disciplining his own behavior it would be of little spiritual profit. He must accept the blood as the atonement for his sins.
When a human being applies by faith the Passover blood of Christ to himself and his household he enables the Lord to "pass over" him and strike down the gods of the world, the evil lords of darknessSatan and his army of unclean spirits. By this means the believer is rescued from the authority of the kingdom of darkness and the Lord is able to begin the work of judging and destroying the wickedness from his personality.
At the time of the original Passover the Lord came down to execute judgment against the gods of Egypt, of which there were many. Eight of the gods were as follows: Phtah, Neith, Ra, Chnubis, Ammon, Mendes, Thou, and Osiris.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. (Exodus 12:12)
When this judgment took place the Passover blood was the token, or sign, so that when the destroyer from God went through Egypt to execute God's destruction against the gods of Egypt the people of the Lord would be saved.
Consider, if you will, the kindness and the terror of God: kindness toward the unsaved person who is in bondage to sin; terror toward the spirits that practice wickedness and uncleanness.
Three major convocations. The seven feasts of Leviticus, Chapter 23 were grouped into three major convocations (Deuteronomy 16:16):
The first three feasts constituted the first calling together of the men of Israel. This convocation was termed the "feast of Unleavened Bread."
The fourth feast constituted the second convocation, known as the "feast of Weeks" (Pentecost).
The last three feasts composed the third convocation, the "feast of Tabernacles."
It may be noted that we are including the blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the week of the feast of Tabernacles as one convocation, referring to all three observances as the feast of Tabernacles.
As far as we know, nowhere in the Scriptures are the blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement referred to as part of the feast of Tabernacles. We are not expert enough in Jewish tradition to know if the commandment to "appear before the Lord thy God in the place that he shall choose" included Trumpets and the Day of Atonement as part of the third convocation, the feast of Tabernacles.
It is likely, however, that the last three were combined as the feasts of the seventh month. The "Days of Awe" (of Jewish tradition) include the blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, relating these two holy days. The week of Tabernacles began only five days later.
However, it is in the spiritual fulfillment that the grouping of the last three becomes compelling, from our point of view. The Lord of Glory comes with the blowing of Trumpets. He then cleanses His Father's House, in fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Now the House is clean and God and His Christ can settle down to rest in Their eternal Temple, fulfilling the feast of Tabernacles.
The convocation of Unleavened Bread, as we have stated, consisted of the Passover, Unleavened Bread, and the feast of Firstfruits. We have just discussed the meaning of Passover as applied to the first area of redemption.
Unleavened Bread. The significance of the week of Unleavened Bread is that of putting away the leaven of the old creation. When Jesus died, the first creation of God died on the cross in Him. The first creation is that of Genesis 1:1; the second creation is that of Revelation 21:1.
Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. (Exodus 12:15)
Leaven, as used here, is a type of sin. It can be seen from the preceding passage that God did not want leaven in the camp of Israel at any time during the week following the Passover. The prohibition against leaven reveals to us that each person who comes to Christ for salvation must put away the wickedness that characterizes the old nature and come to Christ in the sincerity of repentance. The convert must renounce and forsake his first life and look to God for a new life in Christa life in which the leaven of the evil of the world is not present.
Paul informs us that we are dead to the old leaven of sin and he directs us to "keep the feast" with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (I Corinthians 5:8). When the Apostles preached Christ they included repentance from ungodly living as a major part of the message. Receiving Christ must be attended by the determination to live from this time forth in a manner pleasing to God. It is impossible to truly receive Christ apart from the attitude of repentance.
This was true also of the original Passover. Its observance would have been meaningless had it not been followed by the exodus from Egypt.
When we come to Christ we are not merely attempting to make ourselves presentable to God by renewed determination to behave in a desirable manner. Rather, we count our old life (and the whole world, in fact) as crucified on the cross of Calvary. We are born again of the water and of the Spirit of God.
None of the leaven of our old life is to be brought forwardnot one speck. "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17).
Sometimes a convert to Christ attempts to hold on to some of his or her old ways of behaving. It is not long before he or she is forced to choose between Christ and the old nature. God commands us to put away every trace of the evil practices of the world and of our soulish nature. The Lord has for us a new life of righteousness in Christ into which He intends to bring us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
Firstfruits. Firstfruits is the third of the seven Levitical feasts. It is included in the week of Unleavened Bread, which is the first of the three annual convocations.
As we have stated, the week of Unleavened Bread lasted from the fifteenth through the twenty-first of the month Abib. The feast of Firstfruits occurred on the second day of the week of Unleavened Bread, that is, on the sixteenth of Abib. It is believed that Christ rose from the dead on the day of the feast of Firstfruits. According to the Scriptures, He rose on the third day. (Passover was the first day. The first day of the week of Unleavened Bread, a high Sabbath, was the second day. The feast of Firstfruits was the third day.)
Barley was the first grain of the wheat harvest to ripen. The main part of the celebration of Firstfruits took place as the first sheaf of barley to be cut was brought to the high priest to wave before the Lord. This ceremony marked the beginning of the barley harvest, which meant the commencement of the grain harvest. (Pentecost celebrated the end of the wheat harvest.)
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. (Leviticus 23:10,11)
What does the feast of Firstfruits teach us about salvation, the first area of redemption?
We have seen that salvation is a first reaping of our life to Christ. God accepts and sanctifies our whole personality on the basis of the shed blood of His beloved Son, even though only a portion of our personality has been touched by His Divine Life.
When we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit communicates with our spirit and we receive eternal life. We are born again by the water of baptism and by the Holy Spirit. At this point most of our personality remains unconverted. The whole is received of God because a firstfruits has been blessed by the Lord.
The feast of Firstfruits portrays our coming up out of the water of baptism and entering our new life in Christ, the old leaven of Egypt (the world) having been left behind and remaining under the judgment of God.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
We now are risen with Christ. What part of our personality is risen? Not our body, for our body will rise at the appearing of Christ. It is the new man of the heart, the portion of Christ that has been born in us, which always is raised up "to God, and to his throne" (Revelation 12:5). When Christ has been born in us He immediately is caught up to the Throne of God. Our new life has its beginning in the heavenlies.
Because God has accepted the part of us that has been born again our entire personality is set aside as holy to the Lord. God already views us as having been perfected and glorified through Christ. The Lord envisions and receives the final result before the work has been completed in us. This is the principle of the firstfruits.
If the firstfruits is holy to the Lord, the harvest is holy to the Lord. The acceptance by the Lord of the new man of our heart signifies that God will bring the remainder of our personality into a harvest of righteousness, to the praise of His Glory.
Because part of us has been born again and is risen with Christ we ought to be following after the heavenly thingsthe treasures that are located where Christ sits on the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven. Our longing and desire should be centered on the throne of Christ while our inclination toward the things of the world should be growing increasingly weak.
The reason for our change of affection is that we have died to the present evil world and the roots and springs of our life now are hidden away in Christ in God. The fullness of our personality never again will be seen on the earth until Christ returns. Then we shall be revealed together with Him and share with Him the riches of the glory of His Kingdom. We are coheirs with Him.
If what we possess now is but the firstfruits of the Spirit, can you imagine what will be true of us when God has completed the harvesting of our life in Christ?
Another of the major types of redemption is the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.
The first area of redemption, that of salvation, is portrayed in the events that occurred from the time that God slew the firstborn of man and animal in Egypt to the hour when the people of Israel stood on the eastern bank of the Red Sea, having crossed through the midst of the water by a miracle. The exodus corresponds to our own deliverance from the authority of the kingdom of darkness.
The second area of redemption, that of sanctification, is revealed in what took place from the eastern bank of the Red Sea, at the beginning of the wilderness wandering, until the Israelites arrived at the eastern bank of the Jordan River, ready to follow the Ark of the Covenant across the Jordan into the land of promise.
The second aspect of redemption is our learning to walk in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit guides us into putting to death the deeds of our body, into the transformation of our character, into ministry as a member of the Body of Christ, into all truth.
The third area of redemption, that of conquest, is typified by the various episodes and battles that occurred from the time Israel was ready to cross the Jordan River, a disciplined army prepared for battle, until Canaan had been brought under the control of Israel.
Conquest, the third aspect of redemption, has to do with total victory over sin, over self-love and self-will, over the world, over the devil. Included in conquest is unreserved obedience and service to God.
We understand from Joshua 1:4 that the land of promise of the children of Israel included more than the area of land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The eastern boundary actually extended as far as the Euphrates River.
During the reigns of David and Solomon, Israel may for a short season have occupied all the land of promise. But the sluggishness and unbelief of the people of God prevented a permanent fulfillment of the promise. The Israelites compromised with the inhabitants of Canaan and never were free from the wickedness that God had directed them to destroy utterly. Their conquest of the land fell short of God's will.
Conquest begins in our life when for the first time we accept Christ as our Savior and Lord. We then can be in victory each day of our discipleship, one day at a time. In any given situation we can serve and obey God, as He helps us. Then the morrow brings a new challenge in which we must come to the place of obedience and service, by the Lord's assistance. Fullness of conquest requires a period of time for its achievement.
Justification and the new birth occur instantly on our acceptance of the atonement made by Christ. Our acceptance must include repentance from worldly behavior. There can be no saving faith in Christ that does not include sincere repentance. Faith apart from the works of repentance is a dead faith.
Sanctification, the program of learning to walk in the Holy Spirit, is developed in us as we gain experience. Each day brings with it testings and problems that reveal the bondages of sin remaining in our life. The time will come when Satan has no more part in us and we will have nothing more to do with unclean behavior.
Of course, such freedom from sin and rebellion will be much easier to maintain after Satan is locked in the bottomless pit. The environment in which we will be living throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age will be conducive to righteous, holy, and obedient conduct.
When we, through Christ, have gained victory over every area of our conduct and environment, as the Holy Spirit leads, the process of redemption will be approaching completion as far as we are concerned.
After that, our personal transformation into the image of the Substance and Nature of the Lord Jesus Christ will proceed into an eternity so tremendous in scope that our minds cannot conceive of it. We will be gazing on the Face of the Father for an infinite period of timetime so long in duration that a trillion years is a moment so brief as to be not worth considering. Eternal life is life without end.
The Face of the Father has this characteristic: any creature who beholds His Face, even for the briefest period of time, either perishes or is transformed eternally (Exodus 33:20; II Corinthians 3:18).
Beholding God's Countenance throughout eternity will result in a transformation of our substance, nature, and form that is inconceivable at this time. God is so great that an eternity of eternities will not suffice for our transformationwe shall keep on being changed into His image and likeness.
The first area of redemption is revealed in the events that transpired from the destruction of the firstborn of Egypt to the crossing of the Red Sea. The first area of redemption is a coming out. The second area of redemption is a schoolthe school of the wilderness wandering. The third area of redemption is an entering into our inheritance.
We come out of the present evil age. We wander in the wilderness of the world learning the lessons of the Holy Spiritlessons that teach us of the Person, purpose, will, and way of God. After that, we enter the fullness of God in Christ, becoming like Him, becoming one with Him, abiding in Him and He in us, and serving and ruling in Him and with Him.
"Let my people go!" God commanded Pharaoh. "Let my people go into the wilderness and serve me!"
"Never!" responded Pharaoh of Egypt. "They are my servants and they are idletalking about leaving their tasks and serving Yahweh. Who is this Yahweh that I should turn over my servants to him? Am I not Pharaoh of Egypt? Let the Hebrews serve me!"
Calamity after calamity fell on Egypt as God prepared the way for the release of His servants. Then came a shaft from the hand of God that ended the ability of the Egyptians to resist. The firstborn of humans and animals died at midnight, the fifteenth of Abib.
The grief of the Egyptian people undermined their will to attempt to hold their slaves any longer. They had kept God's "firstborn son," Israel, in cruel bondage. They paid for it with the lives of their firstborn.
The exodus of the Jews from Egyptian captivity on the night of the fifteenth of Abib is one of the most vivid pictures of salvation to be found in the Scriptures.
The exodus portrays how a person is saved. The believer sprinkles the blood of Christ on his life by faith and then he comes out from the present wicked age. He repents, that is, he turns away from the wicked practices of the world and begins to seek after the righteous ways of the Lord.
The convert does not leave the earth, he leaves the wicked practices of the world. Meanwhile, God judges the unclean spirits that had kept him in bondage to sin and death.
Salvation often is presented as an exodus from the earth and a journey to the promised land of Heaven. This is an incorrect concept, although we Christians do pass into spirit realms of light when we die physically. The Christian pilgrim is not making his way from the earth to Heaven. Rather, he is moving from the rule of Satan to the rule of God in Christ.
To be redeemed is to be brought under the rule of God in Christ. Entrance into Christ is entrance into our land of promise. Heaven is a glorious realm that all the redeemed of the Lord will enjoy. But Heaven is the realm of spirits. God has not established the plan of redemption in order to bring us out of the material realm and into the realm of spirits. If God wanted mankind to abide forever in the realm of spirits He would have created mankind in the realm of spirits.
God's intention is to bring us into union with Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is our eternal destiny, our land of promise. When our union with God through Christ has been established we bring the rule and blessing of Heaven with us wherever we go, just as Jesus did and yet does. Wherever the Lord Jesus is, that place is the Throne of God. Christ Himself is the fullness of the light and glory of Heaven.
And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn. (Exodus 4:21-23)
Passover night; then and now.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:12,13)
The spirit of the age in which we live is wicked. The deeds, words, and thoughts of people increasingly are an expression of the evil lords of the darkness of the worldrebellious spirits who have their thrones in the heavenlies.
God never allows sin in the earth to remain unjudged for a long period of time, for the "earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof, the world, and they that dwell therein." We of today, if we are living in the Spirit, understand that judgment and destruction are at hand. We must make sure that the blood of God's Lamb has been sprinkled on us and on our household. When the Lord's executioner sees the blood of Christ he will pass over our household and continue on his way, carrying out the judgments of the Lord God.
And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. (Exodus 12:29)
The judgment described above took place exactly as the Lord had stated. When God announces that He will do something, He does it. The oldest son of Pharaoh died. The oldest son of each prisoner in Pharaoh's dungeons died. The firstborn of each cow died.
The created universe suffers when God executes His judgments. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," Paul declared. The only protection from the wrath of God is the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. There is no other covering.
And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. (Exodus 12:30-32)
When God's call comes to a person his environment suffers until he performs God's will for his life. You may recall that the disobedient Jonah brought a boatload of sailors into the peril of their lives because he was fleeing from the will of God. The Lord causes the circumstances of our lives to push us into His will.
And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35,36)
The true disciples of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Gentiles, are the salt of the earth and will inherit the earth. When they ascend to meet the Lord in the air, sudden destruction will fall on the whole world. The Body of Christ is the source of all the blessings in the earth. Apart from the Church of Christ the world would be a place of torment and insanity.
When Israel was led out of Egypt by the Lord the country was left a shamblesa ruined nation. When the Christian Church is led out from the earth by the Lord the world will be left in ruins. Then the Church will reappear with Christ and restore all things of value (Isaiah, Chapter 61).
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:40,41)
It is helpful to ponder the foreknowledge of God and the manner in which he controls all things so that His will is done. Every person appears to be exercising his free will in terms of circumstances that arise, but God knows the end from the beginning and plans accordingly. Notice the words of God to Abraham:
And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (Genesis 15:13,14)
So it is with us. God knows the choices we will make throughout our lifetime. He knows the period of time we will be in bondage and when we will be delivered. He understood that the Christian Church would fall into apostasy after the first century and that revival would come under the Protestant Reformers. God knew when you and I would be born. His mind is clear concerning when He will bring righteousness and sin to maturity and deliver His Church from the bondage of the world.
Let us not accept, from our assurance of God's foreknowledge, a spirit of inevitability. Every phase of our redemption is a window of opportunity. If we seize the opportunity we will proceed to the fullness of God's plan for us. If we do not seize the opportunity we will lose that which had been designed for us. Let us make no mistake about the conditional aspect of redemptionsalvation is always based on our response!
When the people of Israel left Egypt they were referred to as the "hosts of the Lord." They were not a weak group, barely escaping with their lives from a mighty Pharaoh. They were a nation of importance, two or three million strong, vigorous, being led by God Almighty. Egypt was left in ruins and the hosts of the Lord were singing the anthem of victory.
And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand [proudly and defiantly]. (Exodus 14:8)
The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. (Acts 13:17)
When the Church of Christ ascends from the earth to meet the Lord in the air, it will not be a weak group of believers barely escaping with their lives from a victorious adversary. The Body of Christ in that day will be the greatest power in the universe, being filled with Christ and God in Him.
The army of the Lord will be resurrected, will ascend in clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and then will return with Christ for the purpose of overturning all the governments of the earth. The evil forces in the heavenlies and on the earth will be destroyed utterly. The wicked will be uprooted and cast out, leaving them neither root nor branch in the earth or in the air above the earth. The Israel of God will sing the anthems of victory forever, world without end.
And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. (Exodus 13:5)
The Israelites were not brought out of Egypt just for the sake of bringing them out, nor were they brought out from Egypt in order to wander in the wilderness. The people of Israel were brought out of Egypt with the understanding that they would be brought into a specific land of promise.
We Christians were not called out of the world by the Spirit of the Lord so we would wander for the remainder of our life in a wilderness of fear, doubt, confusion, and the bondage of sin and self-will. Rather, we were called out of the world that we may enter a relationship with Christ that is free of unrighteousness and uncleanness and filled with the Person, Substance, and Nature of Christ.
Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life, and the Goal of redemption. We were led out from the kingdom of Satan so we may enter the fullness of God in Christ.
Notice that the Lord directed Israel to observe the Passover every year after the original Passover had taken place. This is God's wayto have an idea repeated, repeated, repeated until it becomes part of the substance and nature of people.
In our day, God is giving understanding of the Scriptures that some of us have never had before. Yet we never are to abandon the first principles of redemption. We never are to "remove the old landmarks." The beginning teachings of the Gospel of Christ are to be repeated throughout the year, every year, all the while that we are moving on with the Lord. In that way, new believers are established on firm ground and the older saints become mature in the faith.
There are numerous and varied aspects of the Divine redemption and we must hear and learn of these aspects many, many times before they become an eternal part of our personality. The repetition of the first principles of redemption is especially important when the Lord introduces a new level of Christ to the Body, because the believers become confused and need a fresh relationship with their foundation. (As soon as Israel marched through the Jordan River the new generation had to be circumcised.)
Notice also that the week of Unleavened Bread, as was true of some of the other observances as well, was to be observed in the land of promise (Exodus 13:5 above).
The week of Unleavened Bread was instituted in the wilderness. An important part of the week, the feast of Firstfruits, could not be celebrated in the wilderness because the people owned no farms and reaped no crops. They could not wave the barley sheaf in the wilderness in observance of the feast of Firstfruits because they possessed no fields of barley. They were eating manna at the time.
So it is with the Gospel of Christ. We are in the wilderness, so to speak. Yet, Christ makes spiritual demands on us in the written Word to the degree that people often give up in despair. We need to take heart. Christ gives us many commandments and concepts that will find their most complete fulfillment in future ages. However, we must be diligent with what He has given us now if we hope for a greater portion of redemption in the future.
There is coming a day, and it is not far off, when the whole earth will break forth into singing before the Presence of the Lord. In that hour the Church will be the center of the government of the earth, will be one in the Lord, and indeed will be the light of the world.
Even though we see the vision of the future glory and righteousness we do not minimize the importance of what is taking place in our lives now. There are incredibly great rewards for the disciples who will make the effort necessary to become a conquering saint, for those who will go over into the land of promise, as did Joshua and Caleb, and bring back the fruit of the land for Israel to see.
Ours is the day of the "two witnesses." Those who will exercise faith, courage, and diligence may go across Jordan, to speak figuratively, and bring back the blessings and power of the Kingdom Age so that the members of the Body of Christ may observe the blessings, experience the power, and be inspired to press forward toward the prize held out in the heavenly calling that is abiding on us.
It is possible, by the grace of God in Christ, to overcome sin and self-seeking nowin this world. Victory is available to "whoever will." The deciding factor is our faith, our willingness to believe and obey God.
The vision of the future serves as a source of hope and strength for the saints who are struggling against sin. We take heart because the Lord shall deliver us from our sinful body. As soon as the Kingdom Age begins it will be easier to serve God than it will be to sinjust the reverse of the present wicked age in which we now are living.
Christ and His brothers will be ruling the earth from the positions of authority in the air presently occupied by the evil lords of darkness. Then the Spirit of righteousness will fill the world, just as a godly person of today influences his surroundings.
People will be able to relax and enjoy the blessings of the Lord in a world filled with righteousness, peace, joy, andbest of allthe Presence of God in Christ. The enemy will be bound, unable to bring pressure on people. Serving God in righteousness will be as effortless as breathing.
We should not regard the age in which we now are living as being anything more than what it isa hideous distortion of God's creation. The world in which we are attempting to survive is the valley of the shadow of death. Only as we touch Christ do we obtain any relief from the poisonous spiritual atmosphere that surrounds us and crushes us with its foul sin and death.
The age to come will be free of the atmosphere of sin and death because the Church, through the Lord Jesus Christ, will root out and destroy the evil personages who are entrenched in the heavenliesthe gods of this age. Then the fullness of the promises of the Scripture, of the prophecies of Isaiah for example, will be brought to pass in the earth.
Do not give up no matter what happens. If you will choose to become a warrior in Christ and stand in your place, your reward will be great in the Kingdom of God. You will have the satisfaction throughout eternity of realizing that you pressed through to the righteousness of God in the days when it nearly was impossible to do so. With the help of the Holy Spirit you wrestled successfully against the spirits that are in rebellion against the will of the Father.
And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: (Exodus 13:14)
Let us repeat the concept that redemption is an act of strength. When a person comes to Christ for salvation, all the strength of God is at his disposal in order to break every hold that the enemy has on him. We enter the fullness of Christ from a position of enormous spiritual strength, the strength that God gives us. "By strength of hand the Lord brought us out."
When Christ comes for His Church, in the Day of the Lord, He will do so from a position of spiritual strength and victory. The resurrection and ascension that will take place are not a flight of a persecuted group of believers whom God is shielding from trouble. The resurrection of the saints will be the "spoiling of the Egyptians." The rising of the Christians to meet the Lord in the air will leave the world in ruins.
The Church, the "daughter of Zion," will mock the evildoers and despise their ability to do anything at all. She will crush under foot the powers of darkness, openly triumphing over them through the Lord Jesus. God will exercise His almighty strength in bringing the Church out from the chains of this age. Those who resist God's redemption of His Church will succeed only in heaping wrath on themselves.
The conquering saints will bring the Lord's vengeance on all disobedience as soon as their own obedience has been brought to the full. Satan will be crushed under the feet of the Church of Christ.
The latter (harvest) rain of the Spirit will be poured out, according to the Scriptures, and we are in the early stages of it now. After the latter rain will come the burning sun of persecution and trouble to bring God's wheat (Christ in the Church) to maturity.
The fiery trials of the saints are not the wrath of God. They are the "sun" that is needed to bring the wheat to maturity. As soon as trouble and persecution have worked their perfect work of patience in the saints, the Lord Jesus Christ will arise in and upon the Church and the saints will inherit the earth.
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: but God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:17,18)
As soon as we believe in Christ, God could take us straight into the fullness of God in Christ and into our inheritance as God's kings and priests. However, the evil lords of darkness, the fallen angels, who rule the present age and for whose thrones we are contending, are so much superior to us in spiritual warfare that we soon would turn back in dismay and discouragement.
Therefore the Lord brings us into seasons of instruction and testing until we learn enough about God and His ways to enable us to attain and maintain a place of victory in Christ.
It is the Lord who leads us into the wilderness just as the Holy Spirit led Christ into the wilderness of temptation. Christ is so perfect that He needed only forty days in the wilderness. Israel required forty years. Some of us need more than forty years because we learn slowly.
The children of Israel went up by their ranks out of the land of Egypt. They were God's army on the march, the host of the Lord. But the Israelite soldiers were neither disciplined nor experienced in combat when they evacuated Egypt on that fateful night. By the time they crossed over Jordan, under the direction of a warrior rather than a shepherd, they then were the sword of the Lord.
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. (Exodus 13:21,22)
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
The guiding Presence of the Holy Spirit is all-important to the Church. What a different record church history would be if the churches of Christ always had followed the leading of the Holy Spirit of God!
The Presence of God in Christ has come to His Church in the days in which we live. The time has arrived for the outpouring of God's Spirit to an extent never before experienced in the history of the earth. In these days of the harvest-rain revival the true Church of Christevery blood-washed saintwill come to know the leading of the Holy Spirit as never before. The world spirit will grow increasingly rebellious and foul.
The false church"believers" who never truly have become disciples of the Lamb of Godwill cooperate with the world government in an attempt to solve the social and economic problems with which our world is plagued in the present hour.
God is directing the true Church into the proper relationship with Himself so that He may finish His work in the earth. The leading of the Holy Spirit is of importance to the Church.
We are to "follow the cloud and the fire." No longer are we to sit down and figure out how to do God's business. Instead we must learn how to follow the Holy Spirit, individually and corporately, in the major decisions of life as well as in the smallest details of daily living.
The people of Israel were led by the cloud and by the fire the moment they left Egypt. The Holy Spirit is ready to lead each Christian believer from the moment he accepts Christ. It is easy for us to lose sight of the Holy Spirit.
We follow the "cloud" by day. A cloud speaks to us of refreshing rain and coolness in the heat of the desert. There are many times in our Christian experience when we walk in the light and blessing of the Lord's Presence.
We follow the "fire" by night. In the Scripture, fire portrays testing, judgment, the Word of God. When it is night and we cannot see our way we must follow the written Word of Godthe Lord's judgments in written form. The testings and afflictions of the night lead to joy in the morning provided we adhere faithfully to the Word. The Scripture is the "light that shineth in a dark place" (II Peter 1:19).
We must learn to hold steady by day and by night. We are not to become excited or careless when God is blessing and the outlook is pleasant. There is a temptation to lose our watchfulness in prayer when problems are being solved on the right hand and on the left. We need to keep ourselves in readiness for the night that is coming.
We must also learn not to become discouraged when we are facing problem upon problem with no apparent solutions, and the Lord Jesus Christ seems to be far away (actually He never leaves us). This is the time to follow the written Word of God.
We know from the Word that God is a present help in the time of trouble, and so we lay hold on His written Word and do what it says, faithfully and consistently. Nighttime does not last forever, it is followed by the daylight. We are to follow the "fire" all through the darkness until the day comes with its clouds of refreshing rain.
When we are in a season of darkness we have the Scriptures to read and trust in so we do not become lost.
God never removes from us the cloud by day nor the fire by night. In many instances we choose to look toward other leadership rather than toward the cloud and the fire. We turn our eyes toward men, doctrines, systems, impulses, enthusiasms, plans to save ourselves, our church, the world, and so forth.
It is not always easy to keep our gaze steadfastly on the Lord and to follow Him without wavering. There are many distractions that draw us away from the guiding of the Holy Spirit. Also, there are voices that counsel us to "step out on faith" just as Jesus was counseled to leap from the roof of the Temple.
The Spirit never wavers. He always is there, ready to rescue us from our own devices and to move us on toward the land of milk and honey.
But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon. (Exodus 14:9)
When we first become saved our experience may be glorious for a season. Then, while we are marveling at the goodness of God, Pharaoh comes after us. Questions arise in our mind about the desirability of being one of God's saints.
We were delivered from slavery to the king of darkness by the Passover blood, and he is not willing to lose a valuable slave. We received Christ by faith and now are ready to be baptized in water (the Red Sea). Here comes Satan bringing fear and doubt with him. We are caught between Pharaoh and the Red Sea. If we hesitate we will be captured by the enemy. Going forward into the sea (death to the world) appears to be the end of usa dreadful alternative.
We cannot merely stand still. Pharaoh pushes us toward the decision. How often it is true that the forces of evil push us toward the good things of the Lord! Sometimes we do not realize that if we will go forward with God He will make a way through the most impossible situations.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: but lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. (Exodus 14:15,16)
There is a time to cry to God. Then there is a time to go forward. If we will wait on the Lord, seeking His will carefully and patiently, He tells us, as He did Moses, when it is time to go forward.
This was a time of going forward. God already had made provision for Israel and was about to perform one of the most astounding miracles ever recorded.
When a person who does not know Christ attempts to flee from the bondage of Satan, Satan is able to run after him and catch him. But when an individual follows Christ into the water of baptism, the person goes through safely but Satan is caught in the middle of the water and is destroyed. Such is the power of water baptism when performed in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Water baptism is a representation in the material world of a judgment that occurs in the spiritual world.
And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. (Exodus 14:19,20)
There is an important spiritual principle illustrated in the preceding passage. Notice that the angel who was leading Israel moved around to the rear of the Israelites. The angel was a cloud and darkness to the Egyptians but gave light to the Israelites. The angel stood between Egypt and Israel. The same angel was trouble to Egypt but blessing to Israel.
So it is that the one Spirit of God brings destruction to the kingdom of darkness but eternal life to the Kingdom of Christ. The same Spirit that brings death to one is life and blessing to the other.
The same waters that destroyed the people and animals of the whole earth lifted Noah and his family to safety. The same fire that burned away the bonds of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego killed the warriors whom Nebuchadnezzar had appointed to throw the Hebrews into the furnace.
The same trouble that comes to the world and to religious hypocrites in the last days will bring the true Church into unity and maturity in Christ. God's elect are to fear nothing. Everything that happens to them when they are serving the Lord is working toward their transformation into the image of Christa highly desirable outcome.
Calvary brought an end to the authority of the evil lords of darkness, but Calvary brought salvation to the believers. The waters of baptism are the route to eternal life for the believer but certain destruction on every spirit that would attempt to keep the believer in bondage.
Crossing the Read Sea.
And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. (Exodus 14:21)
Notice the expression, "and the waters were divided." Before we were saved, the "waters" of our life were one whole. After we receive Christ, however, a division enters us. The Word of God divides the soul and spirit. The spiritual side of our nature begins to be separated from the fleshly side of our nature.
Instead of being one whole person we now are an "old man" and a "new man." The old man is passing away and the new man, Christ in us, is being fashioned in the image of God.
In the beginning of the first creation God formed the heaven and the earth. The earth we understand, for it is the material domain in which we live in our body.
The heaven is not nearly as clear to us. When reviewing all that is said about heaven in the Scriptures, it appears that there is a close relationship between space and the spirit realm. The Scriptures do not portray the "heaven" of our traditionsa place located beyond the galaxies of stars. Rather, the "heaven" of the Word of God is the realm of spirits, and the Throne of God seems to be located not much higher than the clouds.
The purpose of the "heaven" of the first chapter of Genesis is to serve as a division between the waters. The waters below the heaven typify the animal nature of mankind; the waters above the heaven typify the spiritual nature of mankind.
God termed the waters under the heaven, "Seas."
When we come to the second creation, as set forth in Revelation 21:1, we find that there is a new heaven and a new earth. God will create a new canopy of space and a new material environment for His transformed children.
There no longer will be a sea.
The purpose of the thousands of years between the creation of the first heaven and earth and the second heaven and earth is that the "sea" may be removed. The "sea" represents what is wicked and animal in our personalities.
Throughout the existence of the first heaven and earth, the heaven serves as a division between what is of the Spirit of God (the waters of spiritual life that are above the firmament of heaven) and what is of Satan and our animal nature (the waters of evil that are below the firmament of heaven). When we die physically, the heaven (the spirit realm) continues to keep our spiritual personality separate from our body.
The Christian discipleship consists of many graces and acts of God that keep on converting our life from what is earthy to what is heavenly. God is making all things new. We are being transformed from soulish, animal creatures into life-giving spirits (I Corinthians 15:45).
After the Kingdom Age the first heaven and earth will be folded up and tossed aside. Only the spirit realm will remain. Then, out from the spirit realm will appear a new material world. God, the Lamb, and the Church (the new Jerusalem) will become visible on the new earth, descending from the new heaven. There also will be nations of saved people ruled by kings living on the new earth.
No longer will there be the "sea." What is saved for the new heaven and earth reign of Christ will be the material expression of the righteous Spirit of Christ. The wicked spirits that corrupted the life "below the firmament of heaven" will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
This is why it is supremely important to live as a conquering saint; for all of our personality that is not filled with Christ will be lost for eternity. Only the part of us that we have surrendered to eternal life will survive the fire of God.
Christ (Heaven) in the saint creates a division between the spiritual nature of his personality and the wicked, animal nature of his personality. The division of the personality of the believer, plus his conversion to the heart of a child, accounts for the fact that "the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Luke 16:8).
Sometimes unsaved people appear to have more poise and less personal trouble than do Christians. The unsaved individual is bound in sin and death. The "waters" of his life are a mixture of good and evil, even the good being adamic and not fit for the Kingdom of God. No division of the personality has occurred.
The saint, on the other hand, is being transformed by the Holy Spirit from what is earthy to what is heavenly. Flesh and blood (our animal personality) cannot enter the Kingdom of God. It is our new spiritual man who enters the Kingdom of God.
Our fleshly nature loves sin and death. Our human mind is the enemy of God. We must be filled with the Spirit of God at all times in order to keep our first personality under strict control. We see, therefore, that the personality of the saint is divided because of the entrance of Christ (the "firmament of heaven") into him.
Pharaoh's army destroyed.
And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. (Exodus 14:28,29)
The destruction of the Egyptian army is a prophetic picture of what happened to Satan's power on Calvary, what happens to Satan's power when we are baptized in water, and what will happen to Satan's power when Christ returns.
When Christ was crucified He entered the waters of death. God the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, parted the waters of death before Christ. Christ was able to shed the sins of the world that He was bearing and come up victorious on the other side of death. The forces of Satan were destroyed at this point because the waters of death closed in on them.
When we entered the water of baptism we entered participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. The waters of death parted before us and then closed in on the evil power of sin which had kept us in bondage all our life. We emerged in the resurrection of Christ. The water of God's judgment closed on the "old man" of our life, rendering him powerless to overcome our new life of righteousness in Christ.
When Jesus returns, the waters of physical death will roll back and God's people on the earth will pass through from mortality to immortality. The forces of darkness and wickedness will attempt to follow (in the Battle of Armageddon) but the waters of Divine judgment will flow back on them and they will be prevented from harming the saints in any manner whatever.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is physical death.
Moses' ministry: Part One. The three stages of the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan are as follows: (1) the exodus from Egypt; (2) the wilderness wandering; and (3) the crossing of Jordan and conquest of Canaan. The first two of these three stages are connected with the ministry of Moses.
Moses represents the ministry of Christ during the Church Age (the period of time during which the Church is called out from the world, and the Body of Christ is brought to maturity).
Joshua represents the ministry of Christ during the Kingdom Age (Millennium). We can, during the Church Age, reach forward toward Kingdom blessings if we will set ourselves to follow on to know the Lord. In this case we become as Joshua and Calebtwo witnessesbringing back part of Canaan into the wilderness while the remainder of Israel is wandering about in the school of the Holy Spirit.
There are at least four principal ways in which the ascended Christ ministers to His Body through believers whom He has chosen: (1) as an apostle; (2) as a prophet; (3) as an evangelist; and (4) as a pastor-teacher. He is one Lord Jesus Christ but He expresses Himself through people in these four types of ministry.
During the first stage of the journey of Israel, that of the exodus, we may say that Moses ministered as an apostle, a prophet, and an evangelist. During the second stage of the journey of Israel, that of the wilderness wandering, Moses ministered as an apostle, a prophet, and a pastor-teacher.
During the exodus stage, Moses came to Egypt as God's apostle and prophet. He came forth from the Presence of the Lord with a mission to perform pertaining to a specific group of people. This is the ministry of an apostle.
Moses stood before Pharaoh telling Pharaoh of the immediate burden of the Word of the Lord and warning Pharaoh of the consequences of resistance to God's will. This is the ministry of a prophet.
Then Moses and Aaron stood before the people of Israel and commanded them to get ready to come out from all that was familiar to them, and to enter the wilderness. God's spokesmen brought to Israel the good news that God knew of their hard bondage in Egypt and had prepared for them a land of milk and honey. This is the ministry of the evangelist.
Moses is one of the clearest examples in Scripture of an important principle of God's way of working. God chooses a person. When men set out to do something they create committees and institutions and then give their allegiance to them. But the Lord works in terms of an individual with whom He deals until he or she comes to know the Lord.
In one way of viewing the circumstances, Moses actually was the destruction of Egypt and the exodus. He stood as the Presence of God Almighty before the Egyptians and before Israel. God assigned enormous status and glory to Moses, becoming familiar with Moses as He has with few people. Moses was a man set apart by the Lord to represent Himself in the earth. Although Moses on one occasion was tempted into presumption because of his extraordinary responsibility, he carried through successfully his mission in the earth.
The moves of God in history have been associated with outstanding men and women whom God has chosen for a specific mission. This is true today. Sometimes these gifted people are able to serve God faithfully throughout their lifetimes. On other occasions they fail because of the weakness of the flesh.
Perhaps we are close to the time when both righteousness and sin will come to such maturity that the personalities of men will be swept aside and God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, will confront one another. In that day the Lord Jesus will be seen in His majesty and fierceness as He works through His Body in the fullness of the anointing and power of God Almighty. No man will be able to work in the period of darkness that is close at hand. God always is able to work and will work.
The Lord is seeking believers who will surrender their lives to Him to the point where He can use them with irresistible power against the enemy but who never will appropriate the glory to themselves. They will remain as humble, obedient vesselsfit for the Master's use.
God is ready to empower the "Moses" ministry of evangelism as never before: "Look to the Lamb of God. Come out of the ways of the world and be baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News."
It is the will of God that powerful signs and wonders follow the preaching of the Gospel in the days in which we live, just as in Moses' day.
The seven days of creation are one of four major symbolic portrayals of God's plan of redemption in Christ (the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the feasts of the Lord, and the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan being the other three).
It appears that an evil rebellion in the household of God occurred prior to the creation of the heaven and the earth. Rather than execute judgment immediately, God decided to accomplish several purposes by a comprehensive plan.
At the outset the plan was drawn up in the mind of God and completed in detail. The rebellious angels were cast down from the part of the spirit realm that is holy, that is blessed with the Presence of God and His Christ. Divine light and glory were removed from the wicked spirits and they were bound in "everlasting chains under darkness," there to await the Day of God's judgment (Jude 1:6). It may be true that the casting down of the evil one from the high and holy spiritual domain took place before the "beginning" referred to in Genesis 1:1.
God's comprehensive plan. Some of the purposes that God intends to achieve by His comprehensive plan are as follows:
The exaltation of His beloved Son, Christ, to the highest throne of the universe, after a period of testing and refinement in the area of obedience.
The creation of a wife for the Lamb on the Substance of the body and blood of Christ.
The creation of a living temple in which God can dwell and through which He can rule and communicate with His creatures.
The creation of brothers in the image of God's Son.
The creation of righteous, nations of the saved of people over whom God in Christ rules through the Body of Christ.
The creation of an environment for God's children that is constructed from the union of the holy spiritual domain with the material domain. This union will produce a physical environment that is holy, righteous, and obedient to God in Christ.
The holy physical universe will be imbued with eternal, incorruptible spiritual life so that it is animate, radiant, and responsive to the saints (the fish bringing the temple-tax; the stilling of the storm; the sun and moon standing still; the Red Sea parting; the trees of the field clapping their hands and the little hills skipping like lambs; Balaam's donkey speaking; Jesus rising up into the clouds without regard to gravity; and so forth).
The complete vindication of God's righteous and holy ways, as dramatized by the history of the events on the earth. Earth's history is serving as an eternal lesson to the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth who love righteousness as well as to those who love and practice wickedness.
The casting down from preeminence, the imprisonment, and the eternal torment of all of God's creatures who are found in rebellion and wickedness.
These purposes were established in the mind of God. Then the plan for the accomplishment of these purposes was drawn up in detail. Included in the plan are the fall of Adam and Eve, the crucifixion of Christ, and your redemption and mine.
Although God never tempts or causes anyone to sin, God has arranged the universe and every creature therein so His plan will be carried out precisely. God knows in advance what each creature in the heavens and on the earth will do if he or she or it is placed in any given situation. This particular power of the Lord is termed "foreknowledge," in the Scripture. God does all things according to His foreknowledge. He always remains in control of every event that comes to pass in the heavens and on the earth. God is God.
Now that all this has been accomplished in the Divine vision and counsel, the purposes established, the plan drawn up, we come to the "beginning."
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
In the beginning of what? In the beginning of God? Certainly not! If that were the case, the heaven and the earth would be older than time itself. "In the beginning" means the point at which God began to accomplish His purposes in Christ.
God always creates the "heaven" first, and then the "earth." After that, He brings the earth into proper relationship to the heavens, as He did in the second day of creation.
God established the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ before He created people. Then He created people. After that He brought the crucifixion and resurrection into the lives of people because God knew that people must eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood in order to inherit properly the fruitfulness and rulership assigned to mankind.
The period of time (if it actually was time as we know it) in which God's creatures existed in the spirit heavens before the physical heavens and the earth as we know them were created, may be so vast as to be inconceivable by our minds.
The length of time during which the spirit realm was in harmony, before the rebellion of the angels probably extends into another dimension of existence that does not permit measurement by mathematics.
The few thousand (or millionit does not matter) years in which our planet has been in existence is such a recent development from the spiritual viewpoint that the scope of geologic time is a "new thing." The angels of the heavens still are amazed at the new thing that God has wroughtthe creation of the physical universe.
Mankind is a newcomer to the scheme of things, as viewed by the inhabitants of the heavens, as is also the planet on which we struggle. Our full transformation into the image of Christ, into the Word of God, may require trillions upon trillions of years.
Our fleeting experience of life in the physical, soulish body, the body of our humbling, may be comparable to that of an unborn child. We are being fashioned in the dark places of the earth, so to speak. We only have been conceived to this point and as yet have not seen the light of spiritual day.
We are not speaking "doctrinally" because it is a fact that we have been born again and spiritually alive now. We merely are viewing the overall working of God.
The earth and its inhabitants were created in six days. It is a real world and the first chapter of Genesis is a literal, factual account of the material creation.
We must keep in mind that there also is a spiritual quality present in the creation. As we have mentioned previously, there is evidence in the first two chapters of Genesis that the creation represents an intersection and interaction of the spiritual and material realms.
Our thinking is bound by time and space but God's workings are not bound by time and space. We cannot understand the first chapter of Genesis or the events on the earth from purely scientific thinking.
For example, scientists tell us that no new energy is being added to the physical universe. Yet we know that the crowning work of the sixth day of creation, that of creating man in the image of Christ, is continuing to this hour and that both energy and direction are being applied to this end on a daily basis by the Lord God of Heaven.
When Jesus was on the earth He created energy and mass at will. He stilled the storm. He multiplied the loaves and fish. The principle that no new energy is being added to the universe applies only in the instance that Christ is not intervening in the lives of people.
The heaven and earth came into existence at the Word of Christ. The authority and power of Christ maintain the existence and order of the universe to this day. The universe is held in place and governed by the Word of Christ's power. The size and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ is incomprehensible to us at this time.
The "light" that shone in the darkness of the first day of creation came directly from Christ because there were no celestial bodies in the firmament for the first three days.
Our customary means of measuring time were not present during the first three days, so the expression "the evening and the morning were the first day" may or may not signify evenings and mornings as we understand them.
We find also that the trees of the Garden of Eden in at least two instances bore spiritual rather than physical fruit. And the serpent spoke! These demonstrate an intersection of the spiritual and material realms.
The physical creation resulted from spiritual activity and has a spiritual basis to this day. The creation did not come into being from things we can observe and measure. This is why an education that does not include a mastery of the Scriptures is quite incomplete.
Today the material creation is largely devoid of spiritual life and animation, but this is because of the sin of mankind. The physical universe responded happily to the Lord Jesus in joyful anticipation of the Day when the creation itself is delivered from the bondage of corruption and brought into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
God created the heaven and the earth with the intention of bringing to pass the several purposes we mentioned earlier. Therefore nothing occurs randomly on the earthrandomly in the sense that it is subject purely to chance. There is a superior intelligence that guides the physical universe because of the will of God concerning His purposes in the earth.
We have stated that the seven days of creation are a type of God's plan of redemption in Christ. A person commences "without form and void." Then the Spirit of God "moves on the face of the waters" of his or her life. When the work of redemption has been completed the person is in the fullness of the image of Christ and is at rest in God.
The first day. In terms of the three areas of redemption, salvation, sanctification, and conquest, the first area is typified by the first three days of creation. Let us see if these three days provide insight into our salvation.
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1,2)
The above passage describes the physical creation. It also is a portrayal in type of the beginning of the redemption of each saved human being. Every individual was created by the Lord. Before we receive Christ there is a formlessness in our personality, a lack of harmony and direction. There is chaos in our life.
We sleep, eat, work, reproduce, and play during the span of life appointed to us. These activities are mere existencenothing more. The human being who is limited to these five conditions is living in shallow waters indeed.
In addition to mere existence, every human being is invited to receive God in Christ. There is an exceedingly great capacity in every person to receive Christ and to be transformed into the image of Christ. This capacity may be compared to a depth of water. No individual ever finds satisfaction in his or her life until the Spirit of God begins to move on the face of the waters of his personality and to bring forth what God has ordained.
Before we receive the Lord Jesus Christ our personality is formlessan empty, meaningless waste. Some people come to this conclusion early in life and others toward the end.
The bottomless well of spiritual potential, of which we have been speaking, is covered with darkness. The animal life of the fleshthe eating, reproducing, working, playing, sleepingcontinues on. The true inner meaning and significance of the person, the bulk of the iceberg, is submerged in the darkest of nights.
However, the Spirit of God is "brooding on the face of the waters" of each human life, waiting for the creative Word of the Father.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)
No person can come to Christ except the Father draw him. Christ died on the cross for every individual, but we cannot grasp that fact until the Spirit of God opens our eyes.
When God speaks the light appears. Our eyes are opened. We behold the Lamb of God on the cross. The Spirit reveals to us that here is the answer to our chaotic condition; here is what we were created for; here is the meaning of our existence and the way to eternal life. The light of God reveals the crucified Christ and the resurrected Christ. The moment we accept what the Spirit reveals to us we are saved. We pass from death to life, and that life is our light, our understanding of the world and our existence in it.
From where did the first light come (Genesis 1:3)? One fact is establishedit came from God. Light always must have a point of origin. The light of Genesis 1:3 had a spiritual origin although it illumined the material world. Here is a point of intersection of two worldsthe spirit realm and the natural realm.
The light that opens our eyes to God's redemption comes from the Holy Spirit. The light that gives us understanding of God's Word comes from the Holy Spirit. The Glory of God and of the Lamb is the source of light of the new Jerusalem. Natural light illumines the natural world and spiritual light illumines the spiritual world. When spiritual light illumines the natural world we have a point at which Heaven is joined to the earth.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:4)
Again, we have an unusual factor in the creation. We cannot mix light and darkness. Darkness, as we know it, is nothing more than the absence of light. The darkness of Genesis 1:4 must have been more than merely the absence of light because the light and the darkness were mixed together until God separated them.
We can observe such a mixture in the realm of spirits. When a person first receives Christ he receives spiritual light. There also is spiritual darkness in him that is more than the absence of the Light of Christit is the power of darkness. God begins to help us discern the difference between the light and the darkness that are in us.
Our Christian discipleship is occupied with dividing the light from the darkness that is in us.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:5)
God always names things. This is so they can be distinguished and classified, becoming identifiable. (The branch of science that classifies objects is termed taxonomy.) One of the characteristics of the Satan-inspired age in which we live is the attempt to perpetuate and increase confusion in the moral realm. We are advised not to name any behavior as being sinful but to keep human behavior, as much as possible, in a gray area of overlap and confusion.
A recent concept termed "whole language" appears to take the stance that no written text has an absolute meaning but must be interpreted by each reader. Here is an expression of the perversity of the world we are attempting to survive in.
God works in terms of objective absolutes. Satan works in terms of subjective vagaries.
God never authorizes confusion. God brings all matters to clarity, identity, simplicity, and peace. Sin brings obscurity, confusion, complexity, and lack of harmony. It is the way of God and His children to run to the light so that every deed is shown to have been performed in God.
Sometimes God hides the origin and meaning of a thing or situation, but it always is with the intent of bringing it eventually to clarity. God calls sin, sin and righteousness, righteousness. He desires that we do the same. We are unable to overcome and resist sin until we name the sin for what it is.
Jesus made a practice of calling people by name (sometimes changing their name) and of commanding devils to give their names. Our power in a given situation increases as we are able to name the factors at hand. John the Baptist's father was speechless until he gave his son the name commanded. Then he was able to speak. The Lord God brought the animals to Adam "to see what he would call them."
Let us be counted among those who name things for what they are and who strive for clarity and simplicity. God leads us toward simplicity and straightforwardness in all situations. Satan loves the dark and complexity and works in the dark so that we are unable to determine what is taking place. The person who practices truth loves the light and comes to the light so his deeds may be shown to be of God.
When first we are saved, God begins the long process of separating the light from the darkness that is in us.
. . . the evening and the morning were the first day. (Genesis 1:5)
This may or may not have been a day as we understand the term. As a rule, the Scriptures mean exactly what they state. Yet there was no sun to rule the day. There were no clocks to record time nor human beings to perceive the passage of time.
This well could have been a twenty-four hour period. It is no problem to God to work in twenty-four hours, twenty-four minutes or twenty-four hundred years. Some day God will show us how He created everything and then the question will be settled.
However, the spiritual symbolism here is important. We need to understand that God's workings begin in the dark and end in the light.
We have pointed out already that the plan of redemption began with the state of rebellion in Heaven and is proceeding toward the day when Christ reigns in the fullness of the light of righteousness and holiness.
In our individual lives we begin in spiritual darkness but we end in spiritual light if we receive Christ. Now the world is approaching the darkest hour of history, but the dawning of the Millennial Jubilee also is at hand.
If we realize that the Day of the Lord follows the cycle of evening to morning, rather than the customary morning to evening, we will not become discouraged when we are invited to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. We understand that the morning is about to break on this dark world and the shadows will flee away as the Sun of righteousness arises with healing in His wings.
The second day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. (Genesis 1:6)
The firmament is an expanse called "heaven." If we study the description of the expanse of heaven, in the first chapter of Genesis, it appears that the expanse of heaven is space. Space begins at the upper limit of earth's atmosphere and extends to infinity, as far as we can tell. The text of the first chapter of Genesis appears to mean there is water beyond outer space, and that the expanse of space, the firmament, serves to separate the waters that are on the earth (including earth's atmosphere) from the waters that are beyond outer space.
If this is the correct interpretation of Genesis 1:6, the unimaginable greatness of the power and majesty of God and of the scope of His creation is brought forcibly to our attention.
The symbolism of the firmament is understandable to us. Before we are born again in Christ, our life is one unfathomable "deep," we may say, comparable to a ocean of water many miles in depth. There is no classification of any part of the waterit is all one mass.
Mixed together in the "waters" of the unregenerate person are spirit, soul, and body. Our spiritual personality is indistinguishable from our animal nature of survival and reproduction. But God, as we have stated, brings all matters to clarity.
God introduces "Heaven" into our lives in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ in us serves to "divide the waters from the waters." A "heaven," a consciousness of spiritual realities, appears in our life. As we grow in Christ we gradually become able to distinguish between what is earthly and what is heavenly or spiritual.
Soon, by the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, our new born-again spiritual nature begins to gain control over our earthly, soulish nature.
The Divine Nature is created in us as we partake of the body and blood of Christ. The Word of God divides our soul and spirit. The Wife of the Lamb begins to emerge from our personality just as the butterfly emerges from the cocoon. The fleshly, animal part of us gives place to the new creation.
As the "expanse of heaven" does its work in us we gain in spiritual maturity because we become increasingly able to distinguish between the natural and the spiritual. We move toward clarity and simplicity of personality, whereas before we were all one confusing, competing array of forces.
Both the Red Sea and water baptism typify the expanse of heaven that enters us dividing the "waters from the waters." These two symbols reveal that as we enter the death of Christ the waters of death part, allowing us to cross over to resurrection ground without harm. Christ is the "expanse" who divides the waters so we can be redeemed from the hand of the enemy.
The enemy of our soul cannot follow us through the expanse. The waters of death close in on him and his authority and power over us are destroyed.
The first fact announced concerning the new heaven and new earth is that there is no more "sea," no more swirling, foaming waters of wickedness from which Antichrist can emerge (Revelation 21:1; 13:1).
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. (Genesis 1:8)
Again we find God assigning a name to His work. It reminds us of the Scripture, "There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." And, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Names are important. The Name of Jesus is the greatest power in the universe. It is the Name that is exalted above all other names.
We have, in the preceding paragraphs, thought about the first two days of the creation in the light of their physical and spiritual meanings.
The work of the first day resulted in the separating of the light from the darkness.
The work of the second day produced the dividing of the waters that are under the firmament from the waters that are above the firmament.
The first two days were days of division.
We have seen that the first two days give us insight into salvation, the first area of redemption. But what of the third day of creation?
The third day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. (Genesis 1:9)
First, God makes us aware of the difference between righteousness and sin and shows us our need of the Savior. He divides the light from the darkness so we can perceive that we indeed are sinners.
Next, God commences the work of separating the spiritual part of our nature from what is soulish. We start to grow in the image of Christ.
Gradually, God enables us to observe the Life of Christ commencing to grow in us. The "dry land" appears. We begin to regard our soul as a farmer might regard a section of land, an area in which valuable crops can be grown. God is ready now to plow, plant, irrigate, cultivate, and to perfect the crop He desires, which is Christ in us. Christ is the "precious fruit of the earth" (James 5:7).
And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:10)
We learn from the first chapter of Genesis that the planet Earth at one time was the nucleus of a body of water. The water served to keep the earth protected until God was ready to do something with it. People also are protected until God is ready to do something with them.
"God saw that is was good." Let us never forget that the earth and its creatures are "good" in the sight of God. God has not given over the earth or its peoples to Satan. No matter how the distress and perplexity of mankind increase in the last days of this age, the earth remains the Lord's along with its inhabitants.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (Genesis 1:11)
Vegetable life began on our planet during the third day of creation. There was no animal life until the fifth day. The beginning of vegetable life typifies the first marks of righteousness that accompany the receiving of Christ as Lord and Savior. Every new Christian is conscious of sin and righteousness and attempts to please the Master by serving Him. The convert desires to let his light shine, bringing honor to the holy name of his Lord.
These early efforts at godly behavior are the beginning of our new life in Christ. They are the firstfruits of redemption, as we found in the waving of the sheaf of barley in the third Levitical feast.
The Substance of Christ has been born in the new Christian. His sins have been forgiven. His new born-again nature has been raised with Christ into Heaven to the right hand of the Father. If he spends some time in prayer each day and meditates in God's Word he will grow in the Lord.
If God's wrath should pass over the land to execute judgment against the gods of the world, the new believer and his household have a covering of the blood of God's Lamb over them. If the convert should die he goes into the part of the spirit realm reserved for the righteous. There he enjoys the fellowship of the redeemed and of the holy angels.
The evening and the morning were the third day (Genesis 1:13).
Summary of the first three days. We have seen that the first three days of creation portray the first area of redemptionthat of salvation. We have discussed the fact that each person starts out as a depth of water, so to speak, at the center of which is an "earth" that is formless, empty, waste, wild. The Spirit of God broods on the face of the waters, on the human personality.
Then God speaks. Light appears. God separates the light from the darkness. We become aware of the presence of sin and of our need for the Savior. Then the expanse of Heaven is created in the midst of the waters of our being and we understand that there is a spiritual, a heavenly aspect of our personality.
Our "old man," our original personality, enters the crucifixion of Christ. Our "new man," the new creation in Christ, is raised in Christ to sit with Him at the right hand of God. There now exists in us a division caused by the separation of the part of our life that is in the heavenlies from the part of our life that is on the earth.
A firstfruits of our new personality, Christ born in us, is eternal Life and ascends at once to the Throne of God. This is symbolized by the waving of the sheaf of barley during the Levitical feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10).
There are several verses in the New Testament indicating that the Holy Spirit, who is abiding in each true Christian, is a firstfruits, a pledge of the fullness of the greatly enlarged redemption that is yet to comethe harvest of our entire personality to the Lord.
Which is the earnest [pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:14)
The division of our life by the "firmament of heaven" is just the beginning, a first move in the program of redemption. Our spirit, soul, and body must experience the remaining processes of redemption. The soul is being redeemed as it is being transformed from within and from without.
We are transformed from within by the growth of the Substance of Christ that is nourished by the body and blood of Christ continually being fed to us by the Holy Spirit. Our soul is being transformed from without by the Holy Spirit's utilization of circumstances to "hammer" our new man into shape, and also by the transforming power that flows from beholding the Glory of God wherever and whenever we behold His Glory.
Many Divine operations now are working in and upon us, re-creating our soul in the image of Christ. Our new nature, meanwhile, is filled with the Life of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is teaching us to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit (II Corinthians 7:1).
The believer who is undergoing the program of redemption is an example of the intersection of the material world and the spiritual world. We are on earth and in the heavenlies in Christ at the same time. We really are on the earth, no doubt about it. We really are in the heavenlies in Christ, no doubt about that either.
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:6)
The redemption of the body is yet ahead of us and will occur at the return of the Lord Jesus. If we have gone through the other processes of redemption with the Lord we will be ready for the redemption of our mortal body. If we have not gone through the other operations, those that are taking place in us now, we will not be ready for the redemption of our mortal body when Christ appears.
The redemption of the mortal body will be instantaneous, not a drawn-out program as in the case of the transforming of our soul into the image of Christ.
As soon as the light of Christ has shone in our heart and has been distinguished from the darkness that is in us, and the expanse of Heaven has entered us, the protective "waters" covering our soul can be drawn back revealing that our personality no longer is without form and empty, a wild wasteland, but is beginning to be adorned with beautiful vegetation. The vegetation includes edible plants and fruit trees. The new creation is emerging.
As soon as a man, woman, boy or girl receives Christ, his or her life begins to acquire a symmetry and grace that never was present before. Also, there grows in the new nature that from which other people can draw wisdom and strength in order to assist them as they press into their own inheritance in the Lord.
The entrance of Christ into the human personality we have just described is the Kingdom of God. It is the foundation of the new Jerusalem, the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
We have stated that the three areas of redemption (salvation, sanctification, and conquest) do not occur in sequence in our lives but rather are aspects of one redemption, from which application is made as the Holy Spirit perceives the need.
In the spiritual sense, the six days of creation still are taking place. Not only are the six days repeated each time another person receives Christ but it is true also that the several aspects of redemption are at work all the time in every Christian.
We still are learning to distinguish between light and darkness. Isn't that true? Our life "above the firmament" (in Heaven) still is being perfected (Hebrews 12:23). We still are growing a garden, the fruit of the Spirit, in our personality. The remaining aspects of redemption still are working within and without.
How unsearchable are the riches of Christ!
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the : his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
Three Outpourings of the Holy Spirit.
There are to be three principal outpourings of God's Holy Spirit under the new covenant: the first day, the second day, and the third day.
When we are drawing attention to the overall plan of redemption it is necessary that we do not lose sight of our present opportunities. God's Holy Spirit always is available to the individual Christian as he pursues the will of Christ for his own life. It is not wise to become so involved with the historical acts of God to the point that we are left with the impression that we must wait for some momentous happening before we can seek Christ.
The reason each of us does not have more of God than we do is that we do not take advantage of our inheritance in Christ. We do not possess because we do not ask. Only our lack of faith stands between us and revival in our own life and circumstances. It always is God's will that when two or more Christians gather together in Christ's name that Christ Himself come to bless the assembly with His power and glory. In many instances our deadness and dryness are due to our own lack of faith and obedience.
Nevertheless, it may be helpful and heartening for us to understand the plan of redemption from the historical view, as God works in the earth perfecting the Body of Christ and making the necessary preparations for the establishing of His Kingdom, His will, on the earth.
The three outpourings of the Holy Spirit are as follows:
The first appearing of Christ and the outpouring of power and revelation on the Christian Church of the first century.
The second outpouring of power and revelation, commencing with the Protestant Reformers and continuing to this day. We believe that the second outpouring will increase in intensity and scope until the extent of the Glory of God on the Church will exceed by a wide margin that of the first century.
The second revival, the latter rain, will peak and then be withdrawn for a season. It will be withdrawn for two reasons: so that the sun of persecution and testing can bring the wheat of the Church to maturity, and so that the forces of evil can attain maturity. The wheat and the tares will grow to maturity side by side until the end of the age.
The third of the three outpourings, the Kingdom-Age Jubilee. Just prior to the appearing of Christ from Heaven, and in conjunction with His appearing, the fullness of the Presence of the Godhead will enter the Body of Christ in fulfillment of the Levitical feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:39; John 14:18-23; Isaiah 60:1-3). Then the Lord Jesus will appear in the clouds of the heaven and the Holy Spirit will be poured on the earth to a degree we cannot imagine in the present hour. The Glory of God will cover the earth just as the earth originally was covered with water. The Glory of God will be everywhere.
The new heaven and earth reign of Christ is not really a fourth outpouring of the Spirit; rather, it is "waters to swim in." In the new heaven and earth reign of Christ, the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the earth rather than in Heaven. At that time the Holy Spirit cannot come down to earth from Heaven as a "rushing mighty wind" because He will be abiding in His Fullness in the earth for eternity.
The Christian Church is the new Jerusalem. The Throne of God is being fashioned in the hearts of the members of the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit always flows from the Throne of God. The saints will enjoy the fullness of the Presence of the Spirit forever.
Healing commences with tearing.
Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (Hosea 6:1)
The Lord has torn us and He will heal us. He has struck us and He will bind us up. God's process of healing commences with a tearing, His process of binding up commences with a striking.
The Day of the Lord begins with the evening, the darkness. It is in the latter part of the Day that the light and the joy appear. We always must keep that order in mind or we will become discouraged when the darkness is pressing us down.
Each of the three resurrections we are describing in this book commences with a death. There is no route into a deeper phase of redemption other than by the indicated death, the necessary judgment. The three hangings of the Tabernacle portray the three deaths.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, That ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 16:20-22)
Whenever the Lord prepares to bring forth an individual or a church into an increase in the joy of His Presence, He causes the individual or the church to go into sorrow and travail. Our deeper experiences with God often are preceded by a period of trial and heart searching. Then the enlargement comes. It can be true also of an assembly of people that God will bring a group of believers through a travail of spirit just before He adds to their spiritual strength.
If we would know the power of Christ's resurrection we must be willing to carry our load of Christ's sufferings.
The glory of the first outpouring.
After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. (Hosea 6:2)
So great was the outpouring of the first of the two "days," the first-century outpouring of God's Glory, that the account seems legendary when compared with the condition of the Christian Church during the subsequent centuries.
Nearly two thousand years ago Christ came in the Fullness of God. Christ walked on the earth in the power of the coming Kingdom Age, in the glory of the Kingdom Jubilee. Jesus did not communicate with the people of His day through a ministry or gift of the Spirit as we do. He Himself is the Fullness of the Spirit of power and revelation. Christ does not see dimly as in a mirror. He knows and understands just as He is known and understood by the Father.
Yet, Jesus was tested and required to walk by faith. At the necessary time God turned away from Christ until the sin offering could be made. Then Christ ascended. As part of the power and glory of His ascension He gave gifts of ministry to His Body, the Church. All these gifts are part of Christ Himself. Christ came to the first-century Church through the ministry of the apostles, the prophets, the teachers, the word of knowledge, and so forth.
There was a powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit on the ministries of the early churches, an anointing that resulted in the spreading of the Gospel to the ends of the earth; that resulted also in the writing of the New Testament. The writings of the Apostles have been the judge of all spiritual activity that has taken place since that time.
Then, it appears, the first anointing was lifted.
God knew that mankind was not ready to possess the full flowing of the Holy Spirit just as God knew that Adam and Eve would be unable to possess the Garden of Eden. It is one matter to be visited with the Presence of God. It is quite a different matter to be able to maintain that Presence successfully.
The church of the first century paralleled the life of Abraham. Abraham wandered in the land of promise as in a strange land four hundred seventy years before his descendants crossed the Jordan and began the conquest of Canaan. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not able to occupy so large a territory. Also, the sin of the Amorites had not come to the time of judgment (Genesis 15:16).
Therefore the Lord directed Jacob into Egypt as the place where the children of Israel were to multiply until they were numerous enough to become an invading force, and until the sin of the Canaanites had descended to depths sufficient to merit judgment and destruction from the almighty God.
The first-century revival was a parallel situation. The Church was not spiritually developed enough to occupy the earth. Also, the sin and rebellion of the peoples of the earth had not reached the depths sufficient to justify the judgment and expression of God's wrath that has been determined.
The Apostles and the early Church wandered as Abraham in the land of promise, so to speak. Christ realized that His Church was not strong enough at that time to occupy the earth, which is His ultimate plan. Also, the fierce wrath of God, kindled from before the foundation of the earth, was not ready yet for its awful exercise.
The first-century revival was as a season of planting seed, as well as a first reaping of the earth. The ministry of the early Church was dominated by the Apostles. Christ called multitudes of people out of the bondage of the spirit of the world as He ministered through and with the Apostles. Also, the believers went everywhere preaching the Word.
We understand from Paul's writings that considerable confusion existed in the young churches. Apparently the transition from Moses to Christ gave the Jews severe theological problems. There was dissension even among the Apostles themselves. Peter and James were advocating circumcision while Paul was teaching doctrine so new and complex that some were misunderstanding it and going off into error (II Peter 3:16).
Not all the Christians were certain of Paul's apostleship because he had not been one of the twelve. We find in the beginning of several of the Epistles that Paul felt it necessary to affirm his apostleship. It must have been discouraging to Paul to discover that Judaizers and other misled teachers were following behind him and undoing the work he had accomplished by so much travail and pain.
It seems that Paul was not a popular teacher much of the time and that his physical appearance was not attractive. The attendance at his meetings may have been small. The latter part of his life was spent in and out of custody. Some of the Epistles were written from the confines of a Roman jail.
We may have a mistaken concept of the first-century revival. Although God the Father ministered through and with Christ for three years, it appears that the contemporary historians were not impressed enough with that fact to discuss it. It was accepted for centuries that the historian, Josephus, wrote of Christ. Now it is believed by some scholars that the references to Christ in Josephus are additions inserted several hundred years after the death of Josephus. This may or may not be true.
Rome was the greatest civilization of the world, but Jesus of Nazareth apparently did not accomplish enough visible work to excite the interest of most of the empire, at least not during His lifetime on earth. The same condition of obscurity was true of the first churches. We may think of the early Christian churches as a fantastically popular movement alight with the Glory of God. It is more likely that the early assemblies consisted in the main of small groups of quite ordinary people meeting in homes, making a sincere effort to please God just as we do today.
The stupendous Glory of Christ and of the Church was not visible to the eyes of the unsaved just as the golden Lampstand of the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was not visible to the curious. The Scriptures portray how the working and Glory of God appear to the eyes of the Holy Spirit, not to the gaze of the unconverted.
If we could see with the eyes of the Holy Spirit what is occurring in the Body of Christ today we might notice that it exceeds in glory that which took place in the first century. We need to ask the Lord to anoint our eyes with His ointment so we can see as He sees.
The first "day" of Hosea was a time of planting seed. It was characterized by the ministry of Christ in and with the Apostles and by the spreading of the Gospel throughout the earth. It was characterized also by the establishing of the definitive Scripture, the New Testament writings.
When we contemplate the magnitude of the ministry of the early Apostles it can be seen that the first-century churches were influenced greatly by themthe Apostles being lifted to such high status that "fear came upon every soul."
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. (Acts 5:12,13)
The exaltation of the Apostles apparently caused multitudes of believers to be added to the Lord. The supremacy of the ministry of the Apostles was a necessary part of the infancy of the Church.
We do not fall into the temptation of idolizing men if we keep in mind that the ministry of the Apostles was nothing more nor less than the ministry of Christ Himself, God's Apostle, being exercised through them. Peter, James, John, Thomas, Paul, and the rest were ordinary men, as we can observe from the account of their actions. Christ will use whom He will.
This same type of exaltation took place when Moses, another "apostle" of the Lord, was commissioned to wrest Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. Few people have stood on the earth in the power in which Moses appeared before the supreme authority of Egypt. At the word of Moses the land was reduced to shambles. Moses, an imperfect individual, was lifted to a high station of preeminence. The lifting up of a human being was a necessary part of God's plan. Someone had to represent God before the earthly ruler, and Moses was chosen.
Men had to stand before the forces of Satan at the time that God gave birth to the Christian Church. The Apostles were chosen, and called by name.
The conversion of the Apostle Paul is an extraordinary example of the sovereign manner in which God calls leaders in terms of His own purposes and grace. No one could claim that Paul was a righteous man seeking God during the period he was murdering the Christians. Paul was filled with pride, self-seeking, and the frantic energy of an ambitious man seeking the approval of other men so that he may increase in fame and power. This was the spirit of the Pharisees who murdered Christ.
Yet God, in His grace and mercy, according to His own predetermined purposes, struck Paul down and used him to explain the transition from the Law of Moses to the redemption that is in Christ. Also, Paul set forth the concept of the Body of Christno other writer uses this term.
We have seen, then, that the first "day" of Hosea typifies the revival of the first century. It was a time of calling Israel out from the spirit of this age, of explaining the mysteries of the plan of redemption, of the ministry of the Apostles of the Lamb.
There were many other ministries given during the first century, and Paul points toward the necessity for the variety of ministries in the Body of Christ. The Apostles in particular stood before "Pharaoh," as it were, and called the people of God into the spiritual wildernessthe proving grounds of the Holy Spirit.
God understood that the first-century Church could no more hold the glory of the new covenant than Abraham could hold the land of Canaan. God dipped into human affairs in the first century, laid the foundation of the Body of Christ, and gave a blessing to His people. Much of the glory withdrew with the death of the Apostles. (God issues His Glory to specific individuals.)
The following generation of church leaders and officials lacked the spiritual power and authority to do more than quote the Apostles of Christ. After a few more generations of Christians had come and gone, the glory and revelation of the first-century Church was a dimming memory and men began to apply to the churches their own notions of what God desired in the earth. The inevitable took placethe Christian Church, that seamless robe of Christ, became fragmented into competing schools of thought.
Let us never lose sight of one fact. The revelation of Christ in the first century was a Divine intervention that occurred in the will of God. The people concerned were no more remarkable, no more holy, no more deserving than we are. At any time God can intervene with a restoration of the same power and revelation or (as actually will occur) with a magnificently greater outpouring of the power and revelationthe promised latter rain of the Spirit.
Following on to know the Lord.
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6:3)
The way to come to know God is to "follow on to know the Lord." We cannot just read about the Lord and master factual information. We must get up each morning with the intention of being obedient to the Spirit of God.
No person comes to know God in a moment. Considerable time, much seeking, as Paul informs us in the third chapter of Philippians, is required in order to come to know Christ.
The "going forth" of the Lord is as the dawning of the day. We are in the "night" of the Lord in the present hour. The Day is at hand.
How does Christ come to us? He comes to us as the "rain." The seed (former) rains of October soften the clods baked hard by the half-year drought of the summer (in Israel) so the ground can be plowed and planted. The harvest (latter) rains of March bring the wheat to maturity.
We may say, therefore, that the first "day" of Hosea is the day of the seed rain, and the second "day" may include both the harvest rain and also the seed rain (Joel 2:23).
The third "day" is the period when "he will raise us up," the time of our resurrection from the dead.
And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ancles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over. (Ezekiel 47:3-5)
The "river" of Ezekiel typifies the Water of the Holy Spirit in the earth. The sixth chapter of Hosea, which we have just mentioned, portrays the coming of the Lord as the rain. In Ezekiel we see the same coming of the Lord portrayed as a river flowing in the earth.
The River of God always flows from the Throne of God, from the Temple of God. We are the Temple of God, as Paul tells us plainly (Ephesians 2:21).
Jesus declared: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).
Notice the source of Ezekiel's river:
Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; . . . . (Ezekiel 47:1)
The "house" is the Temple of God. Christ is the "door" of the Temple of God.
. . . waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: . . . . (Ezekiel 47:1)
The term "eastward" refers to the dawning of the Day of the Lord. Do you remember the instruction of Hosea: "His going forth is prepared as the morning"?
The man "that had the line in his hand" went toward the east. As he progressed toward the east, toward the "morning," toward the coming of the Lord, the waters rose on Ezekiel who is, in this instance, a type of the saints of Christ. The man with the measuring line advanced four thousand cubits before the waters reached their fullness.
The number four symbolizes the fullness of the Holy Spirit, four being the number of the Lampstand.
The "line" with which he was measuring represents the judgment of God. As we have stated previously, the working of God in us always is preceded by a "death"a judgment on our person. After God has measured (judged) us and our ways with His "line," He turns and blesses us with an increase of the Holy Spirit. Each time we go deeper in the Spirit there must be a more penetrating and complete judgment of our person and ways.
The three judgments symbolized by the man with the line in his hand bring us as far as the waters "to the loins" (just above the hips). After that, the waters become so great as to be our total environment, as will be true during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
Waters to the "ankles" speaks of the salvation experience.
Waters to the "knees" (the Christian walk) portrays the sanctification (holy living) experience.
Waters to the "loins" (the area of reproduction and strength) represents the conquest experience.
The "waters to swim in" is the complete mastery by the water, as will be true when we are immersed eternally in the Fullness of the Spirit of God during the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. After we are totally redeemed we are to give back our personality to the Lord and be ready to be a vehicle for His Glory as it is directed toward other people.
Captured by the Holy Spirit.
We can witness this same "taking" of the individual by the Spirit of the Lord, in Isaiah 28:9-13:
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.
Notice the expression: "for with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people." Paul applies this passage to the speaking in tongues that we Christians do (I Corinthians 14:21).
"This is the rest," Isaiah claims. So it is that speaking in tongues, as well as the other manifestations of the Holy Spirit in us, brings us into the rest of God (Hebrews, Chapter Four), into the perfect will of God in Christ.
The man with the line in his hand, and the above passage from Isaiah, both portray a progressive capturing of us by the Spirit of God. The Spirit takes the Word of God and uses it as a hammer to break the rock of our heart into pieces. The Word of the Lord breaks us down each day as the Spirit applies it "precept upon precept, precept upon precept, rule upon rule, rule upon rule, here a little and there a little."
The purpose of the hammering on us is that we may "go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken."
"Go, and fall backward" refers to our turning away from the works of the flesh.
"Broken" speaks of our coming to the end of our own ability, and trusting God for the work of redemption. Our proud will is broken and we learn to trust in the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of Christ.
Coming to the cross for salvation is such a blow to the pride of the person who has trusted in his own merit, ability, and strength to make himself acceptable to God that some individuals never can take that step of faith and humility. Their pride prevents them from coming to the foot of the cross for salvation.
"Snared" reveals the actions of the Holy Spirit in bringing into captivity to Christ our deeds, words, thoughts, motives, and imaginations. We do not come into holy behavior overnight. We do pass from death to life, from the authority of Satan to the authority of Christ, and are forgiven all our sins, the moment we believe in Christ.
However, the change in us from unrighteous behavior to holy behavior requires a period of time for its accomplishment. It is command upon command, rule upon rule. We fuss, kick, complain, resist, but the Spirit of the Lord gently leads us into paths of righteousness for His name's sake. We are "snared" by the infinite wisdom of the Holy Spirit as He directs our circumstances until we come willingly into the kind of behavior that is pleasing to the Lord.
"Taken" is the end result of the dealings of the Holy Spirit with us. The waters of the Spirit come up to our "loins," up to the source of reproductive power and strength. We are not just broken, we are not just snared, we are taken as well. Our will is so transformed by the Spirit of God working through the Word of God that we choose to perform the will of God. We begin to please God by our thoughts and actions.
When we first were saved we continually were opposed to the will of God, our human mind being an enemy of God. After God completes His deepest workings in our nature we will long to do the things that please Him. Our greatest joy will be to act in the manner that God desires. Our will shall be synchronized with God's will so that the two wills, God's and ours, shall coincide in all matters great and small.
Sometimes people who are well-placed in their vocation are heard to say: "I feel guilty about picking up my paycheck because I am so happy in my job." There are those who would not cease to perform their tasks even if they possessed millions of dollars because they are enjoying so much what they are doing. Yet, their work may be difficult and challenging.
That is the way it is with us when the Spirit of God completes His work in us. We desire to do what God desires that we do. Here is an important dimension of the rest of God. "It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).
God enjoys opening His hand and satisfying the desire of every creature. However, there are seasons during our training when He cannot do this. His will and our will are opposed for a time. There is a prolonged withholding of our most intense desires so we may be perfected. At the end of the period of restraint we shall discover that God's will and our will have become one will and we then shall receive the desires of our heart.
May God soon bring us to the place where we are "taken" by the Spirit of God such that our will corresponds to His will. Our joy is His joy. Our plan is His plan. Our sorrow is His sorrow. Our desire is His desire. Our judgment is His judgment. Only then will we be fully in the rest of God. Then the Father and the Son can find rest in us.
We do not come permanently into the fullness of the rest of God the instant we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. There is a progressive capturing of us by the Spirit of God.
In the illustration of Ezekiel's river, the first death and resurrection are portrayed as the measuring of a thousand cubits and the bringing of us through the waters until they are to the ankles. The number one thousand suggests a "day" of the workings of God.
You may recall that the dimensions of the Tabernacle building were ten by ten by thirty cubits. This totals 3,000 cubic cubits. The first three judgments of the man with the line in his hand include 3,000 cubits, suggesting that the two thousand years of the Church age, and the one thousand years of the Kingdom Age, have been accomplished and we now are ready for the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.
The first judgment of God, that which brings the waters to the ankles, is the judgment brought on Christ at the cross of Calvary. It is the judgment on the gods of the present evil age (the prince of the world is judged). Calvary is a work of judgment, from God's viewpoint.
If we enter it, the first judgment brings us to the place where the Holy Spirit is up to our ankles, so to speak. We still maintain control over our actions, over our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations. Much of what we do and say is mixed with the lusts and desires of our flesh and human mind.
The "ankles" experience is close to the shore. We can run back up on the beach if we change our mind about serving the Lord. We definitely have entered a new environment, the Kingdom of God. Although most of our personality is still "dry," our feet (direction of our life) are submerged in the Holy Spirit of God.
If we are willing to follow the man with the line in his hand (the Holy Spirit), He will lead us into deeper waters.
The seal of the Holy Spirit. Part of the act of salvation is the "renewing of the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). Every true Christian has the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in him, the Spirit of eternal life.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5)
Little ponds of water on the beach are stagnant until the tide comes in and the ponds are renewed by the water from the ocean. Each human being is as a stagnant, dead pond until the Holy Spirit breathes the breath of life into him during the first step of salvation.
After the blood of Christ has been applied to our life, the "oil" of the Holy Spirit comes upon the blood. We then are "sealed" to the coming Day of Redemption, the Day of the Lord.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest [pledge; guarantee] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14)
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
Most of us have seen the seal of a notary public or that of a university or government. The seal is pressed into a document, thereby making it an official instrument of the issuing institution. So it is that God seals us with the Holy Spirit. The sealing establishes us as belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the preceding passage we can notice the expression, "which is the earnest of the purchased possession (our entire personalitybody, soul, and spirit)." The term earnest means a pledge, down payment, firstfruits, foretaste, guarantee. We receive an initial indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ. The waters are "to the ankles." It is the beginning of life lived in the Spirit of God.
After we receive the pledge of the Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of greater glory yet to come, we then are to live each day before Christ in such a manner that our whole personality gradually is brought under the control of the Spirit of God. Learning to be led of the Holy Spirit requires time and much experience. It demands the attention of our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength.
The Holy Spirit opposes our flesh and soul in many decisions and our flesh and soul oppose the Holy Spirit in many decisions. We ourselves decide whether the victory of the moment goes to the Holy Spirit or to our fleshly nature. As we attend to the Spirit, the influence of the Holy Spirit increases in our life. We may have known people who possess a continuing strong Presence of the Holy Spirit.
We are not speaking now of the powerful anointing that accompanies an outstanding ministry. That is another matter. The anointing for outstanding ministry is not always associated with godliness of character, unfortunately. The anointing for ministry lifts when the minister no longer is being utilized.
We are speaking, rather, of those ordinary Christian people who walk before the Lord so conscientiously that the Holy Spirit abides on them. The increased fullness of the Holy Spirit is more than the first installment given to every believer, it is more in the area of the waters "to the knees," or "to the loins."
Every true saint without exception has the down payment, the earnest of the Holy Spirit. If any individual does not have this sealing on him he does not belong to God, the King.
Receiving the pledge of redemption by being "sealed" is not the full measure of the Holy Spirit that the believer is destined to enjoy. As we sow to the Spirit each day, patiently waiting on the Lord, accepting the Spirit's judgment on every action, every word, every motive, every imagination of our heart, we receive a greater portion of the Holy Spirit.
The holy anointing oil that was employed to anoint the priests of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is a type of the Holy Spirit. Every priest had the oil placed on his ear, thumb, and toe (Leviticus 8:23,24). The high priest of Israel had the oil poured on his head (Leviticus 21:10) and was known as the "anointed priest."
The holy anointing oil was to be used only in the ministry of the Tabernacle and never was to be placed on the flesh of people. (Exodus 30:32). The fact that every member of the Body of Christ is anointed with the Holy Spirit, the "oil," reveals that every member of the Body is a priest of God.
The touch of the Holy Spirit on our "ear" (hearing the Lord's voice) on our "thumb" (the works of our hands) and on our "toe" (the way we walk in the world) sets us apart as a holy priesthood to the Lord God of Heaven.
We always can tell a true Christian because there is a touch of the Holy Spirit on him or her.
The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem. (Luke 13:31-33)
Jesus was saying that He was going to perform His ministry for so many days and then be crucified and resurrected. However, there is prophetic revelation here. The first two days are equivalent to the first two days of the sixth chapter of Hosea, and the third day is the Day of the Lord, the Kingdom Age. The Church of Christ will be perfected during the Kingdom Age.
We can observe the same pattern in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The building in the fenced area consisted of the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The two places were ten cubits high but the Holy Place was twice as long as the Most Holy Place. It was twenty cubits in length whereas the Most Holy Place was only ten cubits in length.
The Holy Place represents "today and tomorrow," while the Most Holy Place represents the "third day."
This design teaches us that during the Church Age (today and tomorrow) the ministry of Christ is to be characterized by the casting out of demons and the doing of cures.
The millennial perfecting of the Church. During the thousand-year Jubileethe glorious age of the Kingdom of God that is just over the horizonthe Body of Christ will be brought to perfect love and holiness. This will be the fulfillment of I Corinthians, Chapter 13. In the Kingdom era we shall see Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61 as well as John, Chapter 17 brought to mature expression.
During the present Church age we must continue to rely on the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit. We still "see through a glass darkly." In the age to come we shall know and understand as we are known and understood by the Lord. We shall be clothed with power and revelation, just as Jesus on earth was anointed during the first century. In place of bits of power and revelation that come and go we shall possess the abiding Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might (Isaiah, Chapter 11). This is "that which is perfect."
Jesus is "walking" during the first day and the second day, that is, during the present Church era. He is casting out devils and performing cures. During the "third day" His Body will be brought to the perfection of unity and maturity that God has determinedto the "measure of [maturity as measured by] the stature of the fulness of Christ." The Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, will attain its full stature, ready for its manifestation in the new earth as the Wife of the Lamb (Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22).
The first "day" of Jesus' walking was the outpouring of the first century, as we mentioned in the section entitled, "Hosea Six: First Day." Jesus' own ministry, as we have stated previously, was characterized by the most extraordinary miracles. Jesus Himself was (and always is) the fullness of the Kingdom Age brought into the earth.
The Glory of God resting on the Apostles and the early Church was extensive, although it does not appear that the greater works Jesus promised (John 14:12) were in evidence. Jesus Himself dwelled in a much greater fullness of God's Presence than was true of the Apostles. But the fullness of Christ's glory has been promised to the Church (John 17:22).
The casting out of demons and the doing of cures were carried on by the first-century churches. Paul declared: "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power" (I Corinthians 4:20). The Gospel of the Kingdom must be seen in action as well as heard.
The Kingdom of God is manifest in driving out demons and healing the sick. If these two actions are not occurring along with our preaching we are presenting only one-half of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. When Christ is "walking" demons are being cast out and the sick are being healed. The deeds come first. It is what Jesus began to do and to teach.
Today: the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is God's will today (we believe from the Scriptures and from the current burden of the Spirit) that the Gospel of the Kingdom be presented in the fullness of Divine power to every man, woman, boy, and girl on the earth. Today is the Spirit's hour.
Our task is to cry to God night and day until He sends us forth to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. We are not to go in presumption, in our own strength and wisdom. Rather, our business is to cry to God until He commands us to go forward. When He does, demons will be driven out and the sick will be healed. He is Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
The outpouring of Kingdom power in the first century was outstanding. Jesus walked in the Apostles and in the other ministries and gifts of the early Church. He revealed His Glory. The Good News of the Kingdom of God spread to the ends of the earth. Multitudes were brought into the Kingdom and added to the Church, the Body of Christ. It was a brief revival in terms of time, but it seeded the world with the Word of God concerning Christ.
As great as was the first-century outpouring, the greater works are yet to come, as Jesus promised. He has "kept the good wine until now." The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former.
God always is moving toward the fulfillment of His will in the earth, that is, that His Kingdom come and govern and bless the nations. The Glory of God shall cover the earth, as the Lord swore to Moses. The "water" of God's Spirit will cover the "sea" of mankind until wickedness has been removed from the nations of the saved.
We are in the last of the last days. There will be many heroes of faith who will come forth in the end-time performing mighty works and finding favor in God's sight. Many who are last will be first, as Jesus prophesied concerning the time of the end.
Perhaps we are in the second day, the "tomorrow," now. Jesus is walking in Kingdom power, casting out demons and doing cures to a greater extent than was true in former periods. Let us walk in Him and He in us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:22-24)
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7,8)
The concept of the Christian bearing fruit unto God is familiar to believers. We can notice, in the preceding two passages, three facts that are true concerning the fruit of the Christian discipleship:
The fruit is the "fruit of the Spirit," not the fruit of reformed flesh.
Bearing the fruit of the Spirit has both a negative and a positive aspect. If the believer does not bear fruit he comes under the curse of God. If he does bear fruit he receives blessing from God.
It is not merely a good thing to bear fruit, it is essential if we are to inherit the Kingdom of God. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is the evidence of the presence of the Kingdom of God and is the Kingdom of God. The fruit of the Spirit is the moral image of Christ created in the human personality.
The fruit of the Christian discipleship is the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit takes of the Substance of God, of the grace of God, of the Word of God, of the Virtue of God, and applies these aspects of Divinity to our life. Our personality is as bare soil. We have nothing to offer the Spirit except an honest, sincere heart.
No Divine good can come out of human beings, out of flesh and blood creatures. "The flesh profiteth nothing." This is a difficult concept for us to accept, but until we accept it we continue to wear ourselves out attempting to bring about some of the scriptural commandments and promises by our own efforts.
We cannot create in ourselves the moral image of Christ by our own ability. It is a hopeless task. We cannot make gold out of wood, and we cannot create the fruit of the Spirit by human effort. What is Divine is Divine and what is human is human. Divinity cannot be created by human wisdom and strength.
The Holy Spirit employs three elements in bringing forth fruit in the Christian: (1) the Substance of the body and blood of Christ, which is the Substance of God, added to our new born-again inner man; (2) the Word of God given to our mind, which results in the transformation of our mind into the mind of Christ; and (3) the power for living and ministering that is the resurrection Life of the Spirit Himself.
The operation of these three elements is, and continues to be, possible only because of the atoning authority of the blood of Christ shed on the cross. The blood of the Lord Jesus forgives and keeps on forgiving the believer, thereby making it possible for the Spirit of God to bring him into righteous, holy, and obedient behavior. If the blood of Jesus did not keep on forgiving us and cleansing us from sin, God could not receive us into the long process of fruitbearing.
It is the anointing of the Spirit that enables fruitbearing. The flesh can do little except to use the will power it possess to do what Christ has taught us.
It is not enough that we are anointed by the Spirit for ministry. A powerful, "successful" ministry is no substitute for godly behavior. Ministries and gifts are one aspect of the Spirit's operation in us; but the Holy Spirit also is leading us and forming us in the realm of moral re-creation.
It is possible to accept the Spirit in ministries and gifts, and then to neglect the Spirit's work in us pertaining to moral re-creation. Some outstanding ministers have done this.
The opposite error would be to accept the Spirit's work in us pertaining to moral re-creation, concentrating on our own moral perfection, and then to neglect the Spirit's desire to use us to build up other people by our ministry and gifts.
Every Christian has a ministry and gifts from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives a gift to every member of the Body of Christ. The Body is built up by that which every joint supplies.
We can see that the Holy Spirit performs many works in us. Among these are the assigning of ministries and gifts and giving wisdom and power to use them; creating the fruit of righteous, holy, and obedient conduct; enabling us to put to death the deeds of our body; giving personal counseling, comfort, admonition, and guidance in our daily life; and inspiring us to keep on pressing forward in Christ.
The Holy Spirit has been charged by the Father with the responsibility for bringing forth the perfect Wife of the Lamb.
The positive and negative work of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is righteous and holy conduct, and the absence of the lusts of the flesh. We understand, therefore, that there is both a positive and negative aspect of redemption. The creation of godly behavior is the positive aspect. The destruction of unclean and rebellious behavior is the negative aspect.
There is both light and darkness in the Christian personality. The Holy Spirit separates the light from the darkness, naming each element of our being for what it is: light or darkness.
God is refining, refining, refining our nature. Each deed, word, motive, imagination, attitude, fleeting thought, is named as being light or darkness. We cannot keep up with this much analysis but the Holy Spirit can and does.
Our task is to stay filled with the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, and to work in cooperation with the Spirit as He provides the wisdom and the enabling power. This is true of our moral re-creation, of our ministry to the Body of Christ, and of our witness to the world of Christ's atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and soon return in His Kingdom.
The ninefold fruit of the Spirit. Let us look first at the "light," at the positive aspect of the redemption of our moral conduct.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith [faithfulness], Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
The love of which we are speaking is Divine love. Divine love is free from self-seeking, from pride, from self-pity, from sentimentality, from indulgence, from pettiness. The love that comes from God is deep, strong, pure. The love of God can rebuke and embrace with equal power. It is eternal but never blind. Human love often is weak and filled with self-seeking. It can turn to hate in a moment's time because it is, to a certain extent, based on love of self.
God's love created in us is not based on love of self, it is fashioned from Divine Substance and imparted to us. It is as high above our love as Heaven is high above the earth. When God's love is revealed in us it results in peace. It has a constructive effect on everyone around us. The Spirit's fruit of love proceeds from the Father and it never fails. God's love flows from Him and creates His image in the earth.
God's love does not turn away from the cross.
Joy is another aspect of the Divine Nature. Human joy depends on comfortable circumstances and pleasant prospects. Divine joy flourishes in impossible places: on the sick bed, in the midst of persecution, in a prison cell.
Divine joy is a well deep in the heart of the saint. Trouble, confusion, distress, pain, worry, come and go in the life of the believer. They float on the surface of the sea of his life. Underneath is a joy that the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.
There is a gulf between Divine joy and fleshly pleasure. It is written that in the last days men will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. We see the fulfillment of that prophecy today as people give themselves over to orgies of riotous living until the scenes of Hell itself are appearing on the earth. The pleasures of the flesh are frantic, demonic, destructive, God-defying, and everything else that is evil.
Christ lives in the fullness of joy. Yet, His life on earth was conducted in the shadow of the cross. No other man ever has experienced such undeserved rejection and perversity as He. His joy always was with Him, sustaining Him in all circumstances, keeping Him always cheerful, always full of hope, always ready to share happiness with those around Him.
The Christian who has the abiding Presence and work of the Holy Spirit in him is not dependent on the circumstances about him to give him joy. His joy comes from Christ and it will sustain him no matter what comes to pass in the earth.
The peace created by the Spirit is familiar to God's saints. God's peace comes from above and overcomes all trouble. Sin brings torment, confusion, worry, frantic activity, unrest, lack of security, God's peace is calm, untroubled, full of faith. God's peace passes understanding because it does not depend on outward circumstances, Christ gives us His peace.
There is no peace to the wicked. When God beholds wickedness in us He chastens us as His dear children. The chastening is not pleasant but it produces righteous, holy, and obedient conduct in us. Righteous conduct brings rest and peace to our spirit, soul, and body.
Sin is on the rise today in the world as never before in the history of mankind. Sin always is accompanied by unrest. We witness that unrest throughout the earth. No matter how much turmoil there is in the world, the saint of God will enjoy peace, provided he pays close attention to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will bring about consistent, continual peace in the heart of the Christian regardless of what is taking place in his environment. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isaiah 26:3).
Longsuffering is another important aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. God is a patient Person. The Holy Spirit is patient. Christ is waiting patiently until His enemies have been made His footstool.
It is well for us that God is patient in His dealings with us or we would have been destroyed long ago. God is waiting patiently for the precious fruit of the earth, for Christ's righteous image in us to come to maturity.
Whenever we think of Jesus an image of longsuffering comes to us. He endured all types of problems, waiting patiently for the Father to bring about justice and goodness in the earth. Much trouble and confusion come our way when we grow impatient. Can you think back in your own life to situations that would have worked out better if you had been patient until the correct solution came?
The violence, hatred, murder, and every other kind of evil work that fill the earth today stem from the lust that compels people to demand gratification now. "If we cannot have what we desire now, we will tear down everything and everybody around us." God is not pleased with this attitude.
One of the foundations of successful Christian discipleship is the willingness to accept delayed gratification cheerfully. There are many thingsoften good things in the Lordthat we desire, but they do not come. They do not come. This is where longsuffering is revealed. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life" (Proverbs 13:12).
Some of the most glorious changes that occur in our personality result from God denying us something we desire greatly or keeping us doing something we think we "cannot bear for another day." How truly God understands us! How hopefully He waits for the moment when we have been fashioned to His liking and can now receive our desire without impairing the necessary transformation that is taking place in us!
We must learn patience if we are to be saved to the extent God desires. Although God is quite capable of acting with lightning speed, He ordinarily works very slowly (from our point of view). His actions are deliberate, thoughtful, and complete. His workmanship always is perfect and we are His workmanship.
God never wastes time, money, personnel, or any other resource. Our glory comes right on the second of schedule; and if we are praying consistently for our desire we do not have to worry that God will be late. Our answer will not come in advance of schedule because that would result in an imperfect work.
The testing of our faith produces patience, and patience causes us to be "perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Patience is as important as love, joy, and peace. We will make shipwreck of our Christian experience if we cannot learn to settle into the harness of longsuffering and allow God to take all the time He requires to perform His task perfectly and completely.
Gentleness is part of the Personality of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every teacher of the Scriptures must be gentle. God is gentle with us. The wisdom that comes from above is gentle and peaceable. The Holy Spirit came down upon the Lord Jesus in the form of the gentle Dove.
When the Spirit came as tongues of fire on the early Church it was for the judging of sin. The Spirit comes to us also for the judging of sin. As soon as sin has been destroyed out of us the gentleness of the Holy Spirit becomes manifest to us.
All people desire to be dealt with in gentleness, particularly if they are being threatened with pain of any kind. The way of the evil princes of darkness is to come against people with harshness and fear. God, who possesses the power to cast His creatures into the Lake of Fire, visits us with gentle entreaty, bearing patiently with us in the hope that we will turn and choose His righteous ways.
Patience and gentleness are related in that each allows a person the opportunity to be certain in his mind about the steps he is taking. Harshness beats us with a whip if we do not jump on command. Gentleness invites us to choose the good way, and then waits quietly to see if we will perceive the wisdom and mercy of what is being offered.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are gentle. If we would be in the image of God we must become gentle in nature. The Lord Jesus is able to act roughly, as in the case of the overturning of the tables of the money changers in the Temple. When Jesus appears He will exercise wrath and violence that will crush all opposition. There is savagery in God. We can witness that savagery in the wild animals God has created.
One of the greatest mistakes that people make concerning God is the belief that the meekness and gentleness of Christ are the only nature of God. God is as much in the raging lion as He is in the cooing dove. Fortunately for us, God prefers to work with His creatures in meekness and gentleness.
God desires that all His children put on the meekness and gentleness of the Lord Jesus Christ and treat other people meekly and gently. It is not proper for us to rage at our brothers and sisters in the Lord when they are not fulfilling our desires or meeting our standards.
God's gentleness makes us great. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to remove all strife and harshness from our spirit so we can learn to be gentle as He is gentle.
The quality of goodness is that of good will toward all individuals. When people come to us they know that our attitude toward them will be one of endeavoring to help them in their need.
God is good. He is good to us. Jesus informed us that there is none good but God. True faith maintains that God is good and that if we will come to Him and perform His will we will be given an egg and not a snake. If we are to be in the image of God we must be of such a nature that people always will understand that we will treat them with generosity and good will. The Holy Spirit teaches us to be good. He works in us character that is good by nature.
We learn to be wise as serpents in "catching" people for God, but our craftiness is free from all malice and all desire for personal gain. Our intent is innocent and full of hope that people will receive from us increased ability to enter the Kingdom of God. Goodness is not self-seeking but attempts to provide benefits for everyone. Goodness does not avenge itself but trusts in God for mercy and judgment.
There is terrible wickedness taking place in the earth today and it is growing worse. Some of the evil is so perverse, so virulent, so loaded with the serpent's poison, that the best-intentioned Christian barely can escape its infections. The wicked practices can be found in the household of faith as well as among the people of the world.
No matter how righteous we think we may be, how mature in Christ, if we are not exceedingly diligent and prayerful there may come a point at which we begin to fight back. But evil never can be overcome with evil. Evil can be overcome only by good. We cannot overcome the devil's fire with fire of our own making.
In no way can a righteous individual, whether Christian or not, extract from his own personality enough goodness to counteract the evil that is in the world today. There is but one source of goodness that contains enough virtue to overcome the wickedness and perversity of the present age. The source of goodness of which we are speaking is the body and blood of Christ.
If you draw near toor even speak aboutsome of the evil that is upon us today you will be contaminated. Either in the world or in the churches you will encounter it. When you do encounter it, no matter how good your intentions may be you may find yourself fighting back. It scarcely is possible to be touched by today's virulent perversity and demonic wickedness without being pulled down by it into fretting and rage.
When we call on God to fill us with the body and blood of Christ we begin to experience the Goodness from Heaven coming down into us as a transfusion of Life. We then receive enough Divine strength to keep our gaze on the Lord and to ignore the wickedness in which we are immersed.
This is how Jesus was able to survive the perversity and malice that were His daily portion. He kept His gaze steadfastly on the Father, being filled continually with the Holy Spirit. He was able to keep on showing goodness and mercy to all.
Goodness is part of the image of Christ that is being created in us by the many aspects of the grace of God.
Faithfulness is an important part of God's character. Can you imagine what our life would be like if God were not faithful?
Perhaps we do not spend much time considering what would be true if God had Satan's nature. What if God were not faithful to keep His promises? What if God said one thing and then did another? Indeed, if God were like Satan if would be far, far better for us if we had never existed!
"Faithful" is a name given to the Lord Jesus.
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11)
The Lord Jesus is the faithful Witness of God.
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5)
No person can make a success of the Christian discipleship if he does not faithfully follow and obey the Lord.
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. (Matthew 25:21)
Ours is a day of covenant breaking, of not keeping the promises we have made. This is because people love pleasure more than God. We place the highest value on the pleasure and "rights" of people. Because of the curse that is on the world due to the sin of Adam, we cannot make our life one of continued pleasure. If we are determined to live in pleasure we must keep on breaking vows we have made.
It appears that most believers are not oriented properly to the plan of salvation. They were not told when they were baptized in water that they were entering Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. As a result they are unwilling to submit to the discipline and rigors of discipleship.
The only individual who will be made a partaker of Christ is the one who has patiently, faithfully endured to the end. He has kept faith with the Lord Jesus. He has clung to the Lord through every danger, every trial, every snare. He promised to serve Jesus and he has kept his word, by God's help.
One could hardly overemphasize the importance of the quality of faithfulness in the Christian personality.
The faithful saint knows that God exists and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently. God is taking pains to teach us faithfulness. Have you ever wondered why God works so carefully all through our life to teach us to hold faithfully to His Word, knowing we shall die and pass into the spirit realmthere to be able to know beyond doubt that God exists?
It is because faithfulness is not limited to the knowledge that God exists or that Jesus is His Son and Christ. The demons know beyond doubt that God exists and that Jesus is the Holy One of God.
Faithfulness includes the conviction and the courage that impel people to seek God in the assurance that such seeking will bring them the joy for which they were created. Our faithfulness is measured by the degree of diligence with which we seek the Presence of the Lord.
The person who is faithful to God will be faithful to man. It is impossible to be faithful to God and yet be treacherous toward man.
Many Christians spend their time and energy seeking an assortment of things and circumstances, but few believers are devoted to faithfully seeking the Lord in order to bring the will of God into the earth. Yet, such constant seeking is the expression of what the Holy Spirit means by "faithfulness."
God brings the believer into circumstances in which his faithfulness is tried exceedingly. Is this happening to you?
Faithfulness maintains our relationship to God.
Our faithfulness is our personal testimony concerning God's Character.
Faithfulness keeps us seeking after God with all our strength. Faithfulness is compounded from love for God, perseverance, trust, hope, and courage. Faithfulness is dynamic, continually being in motion toward God. Faithfulness grasps God and will not let Him go.
God gives us His own faithfulness because human beings are treacherous and conniving by nature. The person who has the faithfulness of God will leave everything this age has to offer and choose God over all else. The faithfulness of the believer rests in the faithfulness and will of God, and is restless until God's will in every situation and at all times has been perceived and acted on.
Faithfulness enables the believer to stand fast in the most rigorous testings of obedienceto the point of sifting his identity as a person. Yet he cannot let go of God because God is his All in all. We humans do not possess so much as a mustard seed of faithfulness until the Holy Spirit begins to create faithfulness in usthe faithfulness that is the fruit of the Spirit.
The reason God spends our lifetime teaching us faithfulness to Himself is that faithfulness is as necessary in the spirit realm as it is on the earth. The angels who were in the heavenlies with God fell into sin because they chose not to remain faithful to God. Sin commenced in Heaven. Sin was introduced into the Garden of Eden by creatures from Heavencreatures who at one time had lived in the Presence of God in Heaven, had heard his Word, and refused to be faithful to God.
The development of faithfulness in us is for the purpose of insuring that never again will there be a rebellion against God. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit being developed in each true believer in the present hour will serve God and every creature now, in this world, and also in the ages of eternity yet to come.
Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) while faith is a gift of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12:9). Let us think for a moment about the fruit of faithfulness and the gift of faith.
They are different in the level of maturity they represent.
The gift of faith is a tool of ministry. It is as "manna" being given for the nourishment of Israel during the years of testing in the wilderness. The fruit of faithfulness, on the other hand, is part of the character of the believer. It is as the "old corn of the land," the food grown in the land of promise.
Ministries and gifts are given in a moment, although the effective use of them requires considerable practice. We keep on learning how to become more skillful, more productive in the exercise of the gifts God has given us.
In presenting the Word of God, for example, we learn by practice to hold forth the food in such a manner that the "sheep" will eat. The best of spiritual food may not be accepted by God's people if they are offended by the manner in which it is offered. Also, we learn how to fight off the enemy as he attempts to prevent our using our spiritual ministries and gifts.
However, unlike the ministries and gifts, the fruit of the Spirit is not given in a moment. The fruit of the Spirit must grow in the believer's personality, and like most growing things it is slow in developing. Manna drops from above in a short space of time. Corn must be grown with patience.
The gift of faith is given to Christians selected by the Holy Spirit according to the design God has in mind for bringing to maturity the Body of Christ.
The fruit of faithfulness is to be borne by every Christian, and does not represent a means to the maturing of the Body of Christ but the maturity itself. The gift of faith is a means to the final result of the plan of redemption. The fruit of faithfulness is the final result itself: it is the image of Christ.
As we have stated, faithfulness is part of the fruit of the Spirit. The remaining eight aspects of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, and temperance) have to do with what we are and the manner in which we respond to the people who are around us. Faithfulness, on the other hand, as well as benefiting the people around us, is the anchor that secures us in the Person of God Himself. The faithfulness that is the fruit of the Spirit has to do with the manner in which we respond to God and His Word.
Faith, hope, and love are three massive pillars in the temple that is the saint. The greatest of the three pillars is love. God is love and without love we cannot abide in God or know God. Faithfulness also is a pillar, for it is impossible to please God unless we are a good and faithful servant. Our faithfulness is our personal testimony of the trustworthiness of God and it is proclaimed by what we do. We reveal our faith in God by our faithfulness to God.
The quality of meekness is that of humility, of teachableness, of submission to the will of God. We maintain the attitude toward God that we have no confidence in ourselves but always are looking toward Him, always are learning from Him and leaning on Him, always are ready to move with Him in any circumstance. A meek and quiet spirit is of great price in the sight of God.
The same attitude of meekness, humility, and quietness of manner is extended toward other people. We are interested in what they say and we learn from them. We are able to receive the admonitions and exhortations of the elders. In fact, we can learn from all personsChristians and non-Christian alike.
We do not push our way into prominence, making certain our will is performed and that other people know who we are. Just because we are Christians we do not take an arrogant attitude toward non-Christian people; rather, we consider the merit of what they say and do. Our way is one of kindness and gentleness, trusting in God to remedy injustice.
There is a world of difference between meekness, on the one hand, and fear, man-pleasing, cowardice, double-mindedness, insecurity, false humility, and weakness, on the other hand. Jesus was the meekest Person who ever walked on the face of the earth. Yet He was without fear. Christ did not strive to win the favor or to gain the support of His listeners. He never was cowardly. He never acted with double-mindedness, never lost His security in God, never moped about in false humility attempting to impress people with His piety.
Christ never shrank back in weakness from the problems set before Him. Jesus was commanding in His Person. Yet He was meek and lowly of heart.
Meekness proceeds from courage rather than from fear. A coward is not strong enough to be meek. It is the fearful person who shouts, fights, and demands his way. Meekness speaks only to please the Lord, never to please the listeners. Meekness acts bravely. A coward cannot succeed as a Christian because of the necessity for going against the opinions of people and for fighting the forces of darkness.
Meekness never is double-minded but submits to God and does His will. Double-mindedness is compounded from self-seeking and fear, while meekness is neither self-seeking nor fearful. If you are a fearful person, God will give you courage if you ask Him. Meekness is not insecure but rests in the promises of God. Meekness is truly humble, being unmindful of its own humility. False humility is a deceitful image covering a bonfire of pride and self-will. Meekness glories in God alone, seeks not its own advantage, and has nothing to hide. Meekness is the fullest expression of strength and courage.
The weak, fearful person acts and speaks in confusion, sometimes boisterously, sometimes timidly. The believer who genuinely is strong in the Lord and in the power of His might can afford to take the lowest place, can afford to be unnoticed, can afford to be quiet and confident. His security and strength flow from the heavenly sanctuary.
There are legions of the most powerful of God's warrior angels, a terrible army indeed, who instantly are ready to come to the aid of the least of God's saints. Only the believer in Christ can be truly meek because no person on the earth other than the Christian has absolute power and authority in continual operation on his behalf.
Temperance is self-control. Someone has declared that the fruit of the Spirit is a ladder with love at the top rung and self-control at the bottom. Another viewpoint is that the fruit of the Spirit is one fruit and there are many different parts that interact until the whole fruit has developed.
We may have observed already that love is related to kindness, gentleness, and goodness, that meekness is related to faith, that peace and joy go together (how could one have joy apart from peace?). Also, self-control (temperance), while it may not sound "heavenly," nevertheless is an important basis on which the structure depends.
Self-control is the ability to behave in moderation according to the needs at hand. The immoderate person is in bondage to some thing or some person. The believer who would press on to complete victory in Christ must employ self-control in eating, in playing, in working, in ministry, in his relationships with people, and in everything else he does.
The present evil age is one of excess, of gluttony, of the clutching to one's self with violent passion the things of the world. Satan drives human beings to covet more and more. Yet no matter how much money or "fun" one manages to grasp, there never is enough. Covetousness of the riches and pleasures of the world is a tormenting fire that burns its slaves with the flames of Hell.
"Be content with such things as ye have," the Scripture commands.
"Be content with your wages," John the Baptist advised those who came to him.
We may not see the wisdom of this. We may be under the impression that a man's life consists of the abundance of the things he possesses. In actuality the things possess the man although he may not realize it. How many people throughout history have turned away from Christ because they were pulled down to Hell by lust for the things of the world? We are to use the world but not abuse the world. God has given us richly all things to enjoy but God desires that we be in bondage to none of them.
The moment that God requires of us that we give up something or some relationship, we are to do so promptly and as cheerfully as we can. It does not matter who or what the person, thing, or circumstance may be. When God requires it we give it up. Obviously God, who has promised us green pastures and quiet waters, does not bring us into pain or anguish or confusion unless He intends to perform something marvelous in us or for us. If we cannot surrender to God what He demands, we are in horrible bondage. We are guilty of idolatry.
Self-control (temperance) keeps our relationships with all people and all things under our strict control. God and Christ desire that we yield cheerfully to their strict control over us. If we will accept their control over us, and keep strict control over our own personality, our relationships with all things, people, and circumstances will be attended by contentment and enjoyment.
We may observe in the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews that the creation is to be under the rulership of God's sons. God and Christ are in authority over each of the sons of God. Nothingabsolutely nothingis to come between God and Christ and the sons of God.
Before we became a Christian there were many people and things to which we paid homage. We did not realize that we were in bondage to them, but our ignorance does not alter the fact of our bondage. A substantial part of the redemption that is in Christ consists of the Lord removing from their position of power over us the people and things we idolize. Sometimes the process of removal is painful for a season. The end result of God's dealings with His obedient saints is deliverance and peace for them.
When we have matured in the fruit of self-control we will be able to think and do the things that are God's will for the given occasion. Whatever the will of God in Christ is, that is what we do. No deed, word, motive or imagination proceeds from us without our approval. This is what self-control is.
At present our self-control may rule to a certain extent, but no doubt there still are problem areas. As we press forward in Christ, the Lord uncovers and corrects the areas that still have control over us. It is God's will that we be perfectly free in Him so that we always can choose what is right and be able to follow through with the performance of what is right.
In the seventh chapter of Romans, Paul expresses our frustration when we do the things of which we do not approve, when we have lost control of ourselves.
Included in the plan of redemption is the ability created in us to behave always in a manner of which weunder Christapprove. Anything other than this indicates there still are areas in our personality in which the fruit of self-control has not come to maturity.
How wonderful to be always in control of one's own conduct! Jesus always was in control of Himself. He never was in bondage to any person, any thing or any situation. He remained the Master. If we will permit Him to do so, He will work that mastery in us. Whether we are eating, playing, working, ministering, or whatever else we may be doing, we are to be in control over our own personality.
He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Proverbs 16:32)
Perfect self-control is not possible apart from Christ. It is the will of God that each member of the Body of Christ come to the place of self-control in Christ.
The Divine salvation produces in us the fruit of the Spirit, which is the nature of Christ. The final result of redemption is our full abiding in the Father and the Son.
In order for the Father and the Son to abide in us the fruit of Spirit must be created in us, and in order for the fruit of the Spirit to be created in us the Father and the Son must abide in us. The more of God we have, the more fruit we bear. The more fruit we bear, the more God enters us and invests Himself in us.
The relationship between the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit. The contrast between the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit can be studied in I Corinthians, Chapter 13.
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. (I Corinthians 13:8)
"Charity" is the fruit of the Spirit. It is the love of God. Charity cannot be given us as a gift of the Spirit, it is grown in us as the fruit of the Spirit.
Charity is never mentioned in the Scriptures as a gift but it is the first and most important aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. "Love," as well as the remainder of the fruit of the Spirit, never "fails," never comes to an end. It is our permanent possession throughout eternity.
The gifts of tongues, knowledge, prophecy, and the remainder eventually will vanish because they are the means to an end and not the end itself. They are scaffolding.
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. (I Corinthians 13:9)
To each member of the Body of Christ is given a ministry and gifts of the Spirit. In order to obtain the full revelation of the Holy Spirit we must have every member of the Body of Christ, for each has a part of the manifestation of the Spirit and he or she is to contribute that part to the development of the Body.
In the case of the fruit of the Spirit, each Christian is to have in himself the complete maturing of each of the nine dimensions of the fruit of the Spirit. We are to possess some of the gifts but all of the fruit.
The ministries and gifts are given in pieces but the fruit is to be perfect and complete. There will be no member of the Body of Christ who eventually is not perfected in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. This fruit is the image of Christthat to which we have been predestined (Romans 8:29).
The fruit of the Spirit is one whole, and that fruit is Divine love. All nine of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are the expression of the love of God that has been created in us.
It is not our love for God, as though we were able to create virtue from our own flesh and soul. It is God's Divine love wrought in us by the operation of the Spirit of God.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (I Corinthians 13:10)
"That which is perfect" comes. It is not something we do or a place where we go. That which is perfect is the full revelation of Christ in and to the believer. The full revelation will be in the possession of each member of the Body of Christ before God has finished His work under the new covenant (Hebrews 8:11). However, God is not setting a limit on what we can attain now if we will follow on to know the Lord.
When Jesus appears we will come to know Him to such a degree that the gifts of tongues, prophecy, healing, and so forth no longer will be necessary. "We shall see him as he is" (I John 3:2). What need will there be for prophecy when we can talk to the Lord face to face? What need will there be for the gifts of healing when the Healer Himself becomes available to every member of the Body of Christ?
The Day of the fullness is close at hand, and we will come to know Christ perfectly if we will set ourselves to follow on to the perfect Day. As soon as Christ has come to unity and maturity in His Body, the ministries and gifts will pass away. In that day, every member of the Body of Christ, from the least to the greatest, will know the Lord. The feeble will be as David. A "small one" will become a strong nation. The fullness of the Spirit will be our portion and we shall walk as Jesus walked on the earthnot in the partial revelation of gifts but in the full revelation and power of God in Christ.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (I Corinthians 13:11)
The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are things of childhood when compared with the fruit of the Spirit. When we are young spiritually we need each of the ministries of the Spirit. In fact, the reason for the immaturity of the Christian Church today, and for its divided condition, is that many of the saints are not operating in the realm of gifts and ministries. They are not giving their part to the Body, and they are not receiving all that they need from the Body for their growth in Christ.
However, God has determined that every member of the Body is to come to the "measure of [maturity as measured by] the stature of the fulness of Christ." In the days in which we are living, God is restoring every one of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit so that the Body of Christ may come to maturity and unity. As soon as the Body has come to maturity, to the fullness of the stature of Christ, the ministries and gifts no longer will be needed. Ministries and gifts are the means to the end. The end is Divine love, which is the fruit of the Spirit, the image of Christ.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (I Corinthians 13:12)
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (I John 4:16)
The reason we make so many mistakes in our ministries and gifts is that we are operating largely in the dark. We behold glimmers of light, and we give expression to that light, assisting our fellow Christians to the best of our ability. When Jesus appears we shall be able to see and understand perfectly.
There will be no more groping and muddling our way through life, speaking and acting with incomplete understanding of what is taking place. We will hold conversations with our Lord just as Moses did. There will be no more yea, yea, or thus saith the Lord. We will know the Lord Jesus, speak to Him, hear what He has to say, ask Him questions.
If we desire to understand His will for us, all we will have to do is ask Him. He will answer us plainly, not in dreams, visions, symbols or promptings from the written Word.
How does such fullness of knowledge come about? How do we partake of the "old corn of the land" instead of this light "manna" that comes today and is no good tomorrow?
The process is as follows: the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, along with the other aspects of the plan of redemption, produce the fruit of the Spirit in us (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance). The mature development of the fruit of the Spirit is the image of Christ, the image of God to which we have been ordained (Genesis 1:26; Romans 8:29).
As soon as the image of Christ has been created in us, the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit can come and abide in us, and we in them, to a far greater extent than is true of our experience in the present hour.
The coming of the Father and the Son to abide in us (John 14:23) will result in our being in possession of the fullness of the knowledge of God, and the following then will be true of us as it wasand always will betrue of the Lord Jesus:
And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. (Isaiah 11:2-5)
The above passage is a description of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is a description also of each saint, each member of the Body of Christ, when the grace of God has brought forth its work in us.
God never will place the Head, Christ, on a body that does not respond perfectly to the Head. God never will present to the Lamb a wife who is not a counterpart, a complement, a helpmate for Him. The Body of Christ will be just as the Head, for the Body is being created on the Substance of the Headon the body and blood of Christ Himself.
Think about the meaning of the following verses:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
There will be no more need of the word of wisdom because every believer will possess the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, just as Jesus did and yet does.
There will be no more need of the gifts of knowledge, of faith, of miracles because the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, will abide on and in each member of the Body of Christ. This will be made possible because the member will have had created in him the fullness of the fruit of the Spirit, the fullness of the image of Christ.
The relationship between the gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit can be summarized as follows:
The gifts are part of the means by which the fruit is brought to perfection.
The gifts are given to the Christian in a moment, at the time that he is baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ or at some point after that. The fruit must be grown with patience. The gifts are the temporary means to an endthat the fullness of the image of Christ may be formed in each member of the Body of Christ.
When the Body of Christ comes to the fullness of stature, the complete revelation of the Holy Spirit will abide on each member and the incomplete ministries and gifts will pass away, having accomplished the task of bringing each of God's elect to maturity in Christ.
The negative aspect of redemption. The negative aspect of redemption has to do with the destruction of what is evil in us. It is the removal from us of the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit. God is separating the light from the darkness in us. The Light is the Substance of Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, the image of Christ. The darkness is the sin and rebellion in us and is the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit.
As soon as we begin to examine the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit we can see that we are in the realm of the adversary. Let us take a look at the negative side of our personalitythat which must be destroyed out of us by the Lord.
Love is the first aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. The opposite of love is hate. Hate is foremost among the qualities that characterize the enemy, the adversary. Satan is a murderer. He is the personification of hatred. He has filled the earth with bitterness, malice, backbiting, anger, wrath, evil speaking, competition, violence, gossip, slander, jealousy, envy, and war.
The devil sets person against person, nation against nation. He is the creator of the divisions between the young and the old, between man and wife, between father and son, mother and daughter. He is the accuser, the whisperer, the evil speaker, the author of suspicions. Satan pierces the human mind with jealousy and rage.
The root of murder and all its branches grow in the appetites of the flesh of man, and the flesh of man is set on fire by the fire of Hell. One of the fiercest of the fires burning out of control is the fire of hatred. God is love personified. The adversary is hatred personified.
The negative aspect of redemption is the destruction of hatred out of our personality. The positive aspect of redemption is the creation of Divine love in us and the healing of the damage done to our personality by the hatred that at one time lived in us.
Hatred is more than the absence of love. It is an evil force dwelling in our flesh, being part of the law of sin that abides in our members.
Love is more than the absence of hatred. It is Divine Life that can dwell in us and overcome the hatred to which the flesh is prone.
God is destroying evil out of us and creating good in us. He destroys Satan in us and creates Christ in us. He brings His love to His heavenly Kingdom. Satan and his hatred are cast into the Lake of Fire. God abhors mixtures. He prefers that everything in His creation have integrity in itself. God not only creates Christ in us but also destroys wickedness out of us.
It is not enough to possess Christ, we also must accept the judgment, destruction, and removal of the wickedness that dwells in us. Both works proceed simultaneouslyadding the Substance of Christ to us and putting to death the evil.
When our "eye is single" our whole body is full of light. A house divided against itself cannot stand. When there is both good and evil in us we are in conflict. Either good or evil must triumph. We cannot continue for long without a decision. We will come to love the good and reject the evil or we will come to love the evil and reject the good.
We make the decision. If our decision is the correct one (and the Lord will help us if we call on Him), God will fill us with His love and remove the hatred and anger from us.
When we obey the will of the Spirit of God, being obedient to His guidance and walking in His counsel, the love of God grows in us. The love of God is not fleshly love but is of Divine Substance and enters us from above. The quality of God's love is as high above our love as the heavens are high above the earth.
Satan, who desires to be like the Most High, expresses a counterfeit that he terms "love." When combined with the soulish love of people it teaches human beings to ally themselves against God. The soulish, satanic love of people is often mistaken for genuine love, and is preached by humanists everywhere. But one would be safer dwelling with a pride of lions than with humanists filled with their kind of love.
Humanistic "love' is a thinly disguised lust and sometimes leads to immorality and sexual perversion. Humanistic love turns to hatred and rage in a moment of time.
Howbeit he would not hearken unto her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, Arise, be gone. (II Samuel 13:14,15)
The strength of God's love is as strong as God is strong and is as eternal as God is eternal. Our human love is sentimental and self-centered. God's love is pure, clean, healing, liberating.
When we give way to the will of the adversary, being obedient to his guidance and walking in his paths, the hatred that is from Satan grows in us. This hatred is not restricted to fleshly hatred but is of demonic substance. It originates in the spirits of Hell. The quality of the hatred of the adversary is so violent, so ugly, so void of compassion, that the flesh of man cannot contain it all.
The evil men of history are expressions of this foul hatred, but we have not as yet witnessed the most wicked exhibitions of Hell. The culmination of evil has been reserved for the last days, and we now are entering the end of the present age when we will see the full fury of Hell rage on the earth.
We are wise if we choose quickly whether we wish to have the fruit of the Holy Spirit growing in us or the fruit of the adversary. It is not possible to remain neutral. The night is coming when the individual no longer will be able to choose how he or she behaves. The spirit realm is approaching war. Christ will confront Satan. Each person will be moved by one power or the other.
The opposite of joy is sorrow. Sin appears to be enjoyable for a while but eventually brings sorrow, remorse, and torment. The enjoyment sin brings always is accompanied by remorse, grief, destruction, lawlessness, and every other tormenting factor. The individual walking in sin is a person of sorrow, not of joy. It is only the Christian who possesses joy in the midst of severe problems.
The sinner possesses sorrow while abiding in the land of plenty. There always is fretfulness and misery when one is living in contradiction to the laws of God. That which is pleasurable at first is soon followed by disgust, dissatisfaction, unrest, irritation, problems, grief, and trouble. Those who abide in the palaces of pleasure must obtain their measure of satisfaction from alcohol or from some type of drug or other excess.
The servant of the Lord discovers peace and blessing in unlikely circumstances. His anthem of praise and joy ascends from the prison cell. His chains form a ladder that reaches from earth to Heaven. Surely hatred and misery will follow the sinner all the days of his life but there will be goodness and mercy for those who love the Lord.
The opposite of peace is unrest. How true it is that sin brings unrest! We behold sin being practiced without restraint in the world today. Following that sin always and inevitably, be it the sin of an individual or of a nation, is the wild unrest and confusion that sin creates.
Endless amounts of money, intelligence, and time are being applied today in the search for an end to violence; but everywhere we turn there are new accounts of astonishing crime and viciousness of all kinds. Violence, unrest, and confusion are increasing, and will continue to increase because sin is becoming more virulent and perverse.
The fruit of walking in the appetites of the flesh is a continual state of uproar in spirit, soul, and body. Peace is an exceedingly precious treasure but it is the exclusive property of the Holy Spirit of God. There is no peace for the wicked. The fruit of abiding in the Spirit of God is a deep, imperturbable kind of peace that endures through the most difficult circumstances and holds equally steady during seasons of refreshing.
We are free to choose between the fruit of sin (hatred, grief, and unrest) and the fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy and peace).
The quality of longsuffering characterizes the saint of the Lord The opposite of longsuffering is impatience. Impatience demands that we break every law of God and man until we obtain what we desire and feel we must have. We must have it at once. Such impatience produces every evil work.
Much that truly is worthwhile and good in life requires patience for its accomplishment, attainment, or winning. Trees grow slowly. One of the prime disciplines of Christian discipleship is that of bearing cheerfully throughout seasons of delayed gratification, accepting self-denial, so we may achieve our desires in God's way and in God's time.
The saint goes to his knees in prayer and beseeches God for the needs and desires of his heart and life. These desires are purified, and in God's time the blessing comessometimes a thousandfold more glorious than the saint could have asked or thought.
Evil forces are not patient. The murderer who wrenches and rapes his surroundings in the insane passions of his dark lusts never can obtain satisfaction. Each conquest adds to the inferno mounting in him. His impatience and lust never can be satiated and will drive him into Hell, there to torment him throughout eternity.
Gentleness (kindness) is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God. The opposite of kindness is harshness and roughness the violation of human dignity and the forcing of people and circumstances.
The ways of God are peaceful, full of hope and good will. The ways of sin are rough, brutal, harsh, unkind, creating fear, confusion, worry, and every other wicked attitude and atmosphere. Human beings, and animals also, respond readily to kindness and gentleness. No one enjoys being beaten harshly into performing a task or obeying a command.
The Spirit of God invites us to accept the goodness of God and leads us gently into eternal life. Evil spirits come with deception, driving us with harshness and fear in the path that leads to destruction of spirit, soul, and body.
God is capable of sudden, violent action; but this type of treatment is reserved for His enemies. His manner is that of kindness when he is bringing us along in the program of redemption. Jesus' sheep know His voice. They will not follow the voice of a stranger.
Our part as people of God is to be adults in understanding but children in malice. We are to be gentle to all people, apt to teach, patient. If we behave in this manner, the Holy Spirit will present Christ to our listeners. We must not force anyone to do God's will. We are to invite each person in kindness, and then leave the rest of the task to the Holy Spirit, who is gentle as a dove.
In time past the Christian Church, in certain instances, has attempted to carry out the program of the Kingdom of God by treating people harshlytorturing heretics, strangling them, burning them at the stake. Can you imagine the Lord Jesus torturing a "heretic," a heretic being someone who is confused concerning theology? The Catholic Church has tortured and murdered heretics and, as far as we know, has never repented of its past history of violence.
The Lamb is never harsh with His Bride. Strong Christians are not to be harsh and impatient with weak Christians or with the unsaved. Those who are confused in doctrine or in the ways of the Lord are to be instructed with patience, understanding, and mercy.
There are instances when the saint must be stern. The Holy Spirit will provide the necessary wisdom on such occasions.
The opposite of goodness is badness. The badness of sin is evident, the grasping, murderous, harsh, self-seeking behavior of those who are bound in sin is familiar to us. The bondage of sin teaches its victims to hate, to hold back good, to treat other people with suspicion and contempt, to grasp what is desired without regard for the consequences to others.
We can observe such "badness" in the earth today where some people are starving to death while others are on diets because of overweight and their governments are throwing away food or paying farmers not to grow crops. There can be no justification or excuse possible for such selfishness. It is of sin, as is all the virulent and contagious badness that surrounds us.
The rich man was put in Hell because he was mean to a poor man.
The saint of God may be infected when he comes in contact with the malice and perversity that abound in the world. The malicious evil may pierce the man of God even in the churches and he may be tempted to fight back. The body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ are the only antidote for the poisonous spiritual atmosphere of our times.
When Christ's body and blood dwell in us we possess sufficient virtue to overcome evil with goodthe Good of God in Christ. There is no other good powerful enough to counteract the perversity and rebellion around us. It is an evil without precedent in history.
Some are claiming that Satan has come down to the earth. They may be correct. For example, recent newspapers have reported such things as a father attempting to kill his own son for the insurance money. Such deeds go against every human instinct involved in the relationship between father and son.
Apart from the influence of demonic badness a father will give his life for his son, and do it cheerfully. A normal father gives all his strength and wisdom so that his son may be lifted into a stronger position in God than he himself has known.
This type of crime (a father murdering his own son for money) has always been in existence but it is more prevalent now. It is a demonstration of how the spirit of the age grows more wicked each day. In addition we have fathers molesting their own children and thus destroying them psychologically.
Little children are being arrested for murder, in our day, in the United States of America.
At the rate in which "badness" is coming to maturity it is difficult to imagine what we can expect to be true twenty years from now. It should neither surprise nor alarm the saint of God when the world plunges downward into the deepest flames of Hell. Only God can prevent it.
There is one thing of which we can be sure: the fruit of the Holy Spirit is goodness, and the Christian's opportunity and responsibility is to walk each day in the Holy Spirit of God. As he conducts his life in the Spirit he will discover that "badness" is being destroyed from his nature, and in its place is growing generosity, kindness, good will, guilelessness, and gentleness toward all individuals. Such goodness is not of the flesh, it is God's goodness that is created in us by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus exclaimed: "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Matthew 19:17). Only God is good. His Spirit alone causes the Spirit-filled saint to grow increasingly kind and generous of nature while the world is set on fire by malice and greed.
The opposite of faithfulness is treachery. Faithfulness is our testimony concerning God's trustworthiness and integrity. Faithfulness is revealed more by our actions than by our words, although our confession in words is important. The first sin committed by humans was an act of treachery, of not keeping covenant with God.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil was growing in the midst of the Garden of Eden. God had stated: "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
The adversary came in immediately: "Ye shall not surely die." Here is the challenge to faithfulnessthe concept that God is unable or unwilling to do what He says.
Then followed this abominable suggestion: "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Here is the secondary challenge to faithfulnessthe concept that the Lord is attempting to deprive us of something of value.
Two concepts are present when there is an unwillingness to be faithful to God's Word: (1) the belief that God may not perform what He has declared; and (2) we shall be happier if we disobey God because His intention is to harm us and make us miserable.
Adam and Eve knew there is a God. He was their Creator and had spoken to them. (Apparently, God was accustomed to walking in the Garden of EdenGenesis 3:8). Can you see that it was not God's existence but His trustworthiness and goodness that were being questioned?
The problem of treachery, as opposed to faithfulness, is not limited to belief in whether or not God exists. The fallen angels rebelled in unbelief when they were very well aware that God existed. Only a fool doubts the existence of God; for even though God is invisible we can behold His handiwork all about us. The bodies in space, and space itself, had to originate somewhere. The understanding of this is helpful, but it is possible to know of the existence of God, as do the demons, and still to be doomed to eternal fire, as is also true of the demons.
The question is one of our trust in God's intentions toward us. Will He really perform what He has stated He will do? Is He helping us or hurting us? Can God be trusted? Is He actually a rewarder of those who seek Him with diligence? What is your answer? Is God faithful?
Our answer is revealed more by our actions than by our words. Our faithfulness is portrayed by our response to God's Word.
Adam and Eve revealed their lack of faithfulness toward God's Word by eating the forbidden fruit. By partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they were proclaiming: We do not believe that God can or will do what He has promised. We believe that we shall be happier if we decide what is good for us. We shall pursue our own path no matter what God says or does not say. It is perfectly all right to disobey God.
This is what the unbeliever declares by his behavior.
As the fruit of faithfulness grows in us we act more and more in line with the Word of God without too much regard for the apparent results to ourselves. We behave as though every Word of God is unchangeable and will be fulfilled to the least detail. The proclamation of our actions is that each of God's dealing with us will result in our benefit, no matter how painful the operation may be.
The mature fruit of faithfulness does not deviate from God's Word but abides in absolute confidence in God's trustworthiness. The fruit of faithfulness is exemplified in the life of Christ.
The concept that we can be faithful to God's Word and that He will do good to us, that we are not obligated to rob and murder other people like beasts of the jungle in order to survive, is difficult for the unbeliever to accept. The uproar among the nations of the earth today is due to unbelief in the existence and faithfulness of God.
People are attempting to persuade each other that there is no Heaven, no Hell, no Day of Judgment, no eternal glory no eternal punishment; that the Scriptures are the work of the genius of men and therefore are subject to the evaluation and criticism of men.
If some of these unbelievers could find it in their hearts to trust in God's goodness, the demon spirits would howl with rage and then would toil without ceasing until their slaves returned to the insane clutching of things and relationships. These same forces of darkness made certain that Adam and Eve did not continue to walk in fellowship with God!
The Lord Jesus is our example of perfect faithfulness to the Father. We Christians are not always faithful to the Lord although our experiences teach us that God is dependable and that He will bring us into pleasant paths if we will be faithful to His Word.
The cross of Calvary reveals to us that God's thoughts toward us are loving. Our unbeliefthat which causes us to act treacherously toward God's Wordmust be judged and removed from us. As we confess to God our unbelief and lack of faithfulness He will forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Then we are to accept the faithfulness and constancy that God gives us and act in this manner.
When we use the measure of faithfulness with which God has blessed us, steadfastly performing His will, especially in seemingly insignificant tasks, God will nourish our faithfulness with His Divine faithfulness and our portion of faithfulness will become stronger. If we diligently seek Him He always will reward our pursuit of Him. If we do not use the faithfulness we already possess, it will not be increased.
If we are sick, or a member of our family is sick, we may not have the faith that God will heal the sickness. We can, however, exercise faithfulness and call for the elders of the church and have the sick one prayed for. By so doing we are demonstrating faithfulness to God's Word.
When God sees that we have been faithful to His Word He may add to us the faith to believe for the answer. We cannot exercise faith we do not possess; we are required only to keep on pressing forward faithfully in obedience to God's Word, as the Holy Spirit directs and enables.
As we gain experience in walking in the Spirit of God we begin to recognize the leading of the Lord. As soon as we are reasonably certain that God has spoken to us, our ever-increasing faithfulness will enable us to trust in and act on the personal revelation of God's will. Successful walking in the present-day voice of the Lord requires experience and practice.
The sons of God are called to be led by the Spirit of God. If we succumb to the wickedness of unbelief and disobedience to God it will destroy our pursuit of Christ, prevent our pleasing God, and insure that we turn back into the wilderness, never to enter the land of promise (Hebrews, Chapter Three).
And, as we stated previously, if we are faithful to God we will be faithful in our obligations toward people. It is utterly impossible to be faithful to God and yet be treacherous toward people.
Integrity includes faithfulness. In the United States we see throughout the land, beginning with the government, a turning away from integrity. The earlier concept that a mans word was his bond, is scorned. The marriage contract is broken as readily as it is assumed. Treachery, graft, fraud, bribery, lying, deception, are the order of the day. This is the nature of Satan.
The opposite of meekness is arrogance and unteachableness. It is difficult for the Lord to work with the person who is not meek. God has so much to teach, so much to impart. If we rush about in hardness of heart, determined to assert our own will at every point, there is no room in our life for the meek and gentle Jesus. We have all the answers and solutions. We think we do not need the Lord's help.
The meek and quiet soul, on the other hand, is listening continually for the voice of the Holy Spirit of God. The meek are taught by the Lord, therefore they inherit the earth. The brash, unteachable person will not accept the gentle ways of the Lord. He leaves no room for Christ in his inn, so to speak. The world and the flesh are strident, garish, self-seeking. The realm of unclean spirits is a noisy, frenzied environmentraucous, loud, harsh, full of yelling, fighting, quarreling, strife, and debate.
The Spirit of the Lord is quiet, unassuming, seeking the good of others, often slow to act, soft-spoken. There is a willingness to allow others their place and a desire to be constructive and helpful. There is harmony, peace order, understanding, and enough time to think and be sure of what one is doing.
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." Thank God that this is so! When the world is filled with meek people it will be a wonderful place in which to live. We shall find rest for our spirits, souls, and bodies.
Temperance is the ninth aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. The opposite of temperance is excess or lack of self-restraint. Self-restraint is another term for self-discipline. God is a disciplined Person and He desires that we be under self-discipline in Christ.
One of the characteristics of the age in which we are living is the teaching and practicing of the concept that discipline is harmful. We witness a thrusting against government, against law, against any rule that prevents people from indulging their lusts and appetites. People are drunk on the pleasures of the world.
There is a tendency to rebel against any person or institution that enforces the law. Whether it is a parent, police officer, schoolteacher or other authority, the belief is that he or she is harming us by not allowing us to follow our impulses. We must be free to do what we desire or we will defy or destroy those who are hindering us.
There is a destructive doctrine that teaches that if a child is disciplined by his parents or teachers he will not learn self-control. Just the opposite is true. The untended child does not grow toward self-control just as an untended garden does not grow orderly rows of flowers.
An untended garden brings forth weeds and the pattern of flowers is disorderly. The untended child grows the weeds of rebellion, despising of authority, arrogance, willfulness, self-centeredness, self-love, self-will, pride, hatred of God, and every other wickedness one can imagine.
God insists on government and authority. God always acts in terms of established authority, discipline, law, control. No part of God's creation is left unsupervised.
The nature of the kingdom of darkness is rejection of law, rejection of discipline, rejection of anyone and anything that attempts to bring about self-control.
Our world today is reflecting an increase in the activities of the hordes of Hell. The demons have but a few days left in which to rampage through the earth. In order to expand the scope of their activities they have suggested subtly, through "educated" people, that the way to lessen crime and the other evils of our age is to provide increased permissiveness for children and to remove the traditional restraints on social behavior. The lessening of controls has just the opposite effect from what is desired, and the children grow toward maturity in chaos of personality.
Those who practice undisciplined social behavior, whether it is in the realm of premarital sexual conduct, perversion, homosexuality, drugs, or violence, end up in hopeless slavery to their own lusts, bringing themselves and their loved ones down into the dark regions of those chained in despair. They become ill physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They pay a fearful price for rejecting the laws of the Holy One of Israel.
One of the methods of science is the manipulation of variables, and careful observation and measurement of the results of such manipulation. An observer can examine the results of our current practice of removing restrictions on behavior. We are endeavoring to solve existing social problems, but the results are a heating up of the social environment rather than a cooling off.
If one removes the pressure cap from the radiator of his automobile engine, the engine will heat up rather than cool off. Children left to themselves "heat up." They become disorderly rather than calm and controlled. On some occasions children do not enjoy the lack of supervision and will ask for adult guidance and control.
Lack of self-control is a curse in the earth today. The rejection of the discipline that is imposed externally by the laws of the land, and also internally by our own conscience, leads us directly into problems. God expects the law to be obeyed, and the judge and the police officer, more often than not, are ministers of God.
If the Christian breaks the law or strikes another person or acts dishonestly, he or she will be arrested. Being a Christian requires self-control in the matter of obeying the law regardless of how the law may inconvenience us or limit our "freedom."
Excess (lack of self-restraint) is evident in many areas of our lives. Eating more than is necessary is a sin against the body and results in health problems. Working too much breaks down the health, and in addition takes away from the time that should be given to waiting on the Lord. Too much entertainment and play make the believer frivolous. We are in a war, and five unguarded minutes are long enough for Satan to lead us into a trap. Getting out of that trap may require five (or twenty-five) years of anguish and diligent prayer.
Self-control is required also in religious duties. The Lord is not pleased with the Christian who sets a regimen for himself that shuts out his family. Time and attention are required in order to raise a family.
If a believer is part of a family it is God's will that sufficient time and attention be given to wholesome family relationships. This is especially true of a father and mother, because if time and attention are not devoted to the needs of the family, family stability will break down. God will not hold the family together while the father and the mother are excessively active in religious work. The children may develop severe problems while the parents are "serving the Lord."
As we learn to walk in the Holy Spirit our whole personality is brought under discipline. God teaches us to behave in prayerful moderation, always being aware of the effects of our actions. One of the best ways of determining whether we actually are being led of the Spirit is to observe the results of what we are doing. If we are being led by the Holy Spirit there will be signs of Christ in our conduct and in the effects of our actions.
We cannot always see and understand everything that God is working in us, but the Lord always remains ready to verify His dealings with unmistakable signs of love, peace, joy, lawfulness, holiness, and the other qualities of the life lived in the Spirit of God.
If it has become necessary to us to force people and situations, to injure our health, to break the law, to yell, bluff, lie, to act defiantly and rashly, we should consider prayerfully what we are doing, for the Holy Spirit does not act in this manner.
Would you like to examine a rogues gallery? Then let us look at the opposites of the fruit of the Spirit and you will gain a glimpse of unregenerate humanity, and of the unseen forces of evil who originated these opposites and who daily feed and strengthen the practicing of them, whether or not the practitioners are Christians: hate, murder, wrath, sectarianism, competition, misery, sorrow, anguish, pain, remorse, grief, torment, confusion, unrest, strife, fighting, uproar, impatience, desperation, explosiveness, turmoil, emotional instability, stealing, harshness, cruelty, bossiness, forcing, driving, rape, rudeness, boisterousness, badness, malice, wickedness, self-seeking, rebellion, stubbornness, craftiness, spitefulness, self-love, high-mindedness, insolence, unbelief, scornfulness, hatred of God, fear, timidity, double-mindedness, insecurity, unteachableness, pride, haughtiness, self-importance, intemperance, grasping, selfishness, self-will, jealousy, greediness, perversion, hoarding, arrogance, drunkenness, treachery, lying, stealing, sorcery, self-pity, self-centeredness, disobedience to parents and authorities.
These rogues are not pretty companions but they are some of the wicked spirits that are prominent in our age. God has stated that those who practice such things are worthy of death (Romans 1:32). Such behaviors characterize Christian people as well as non-Christians because they are our attributes until the work of redemption has been completed in us.
The program of redemption judges and removes these qualities from us and develops their opposites in us. Their opposites are the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:19-23)
The "word of the kingdom" is not merely a spoken or written word that comes to the mind and causes understanding in terms of a person's background, as is true of human words. The word of the Kingdom is the Word of Godthe Substance of God. God is in His Word. Christ is the Word of God made flesh.
By the term the Word of God, in this instance, we are not referring to the Scriptures. We are speaking of the living Word. The Word of God is alive, carrying Divine Life in itself. It brings understanding as it is taught and imparted by the Spirit of God. The Word of God transforms us by renewing our mind (Romans 12:2), and it comes to us also as the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, entering and re-creating our personality.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
The Word of God does not grow in us in the same way that a new idea "grows" in a person or in a group until the mind is captivated by it. Rather, the Word of God grows in us in an organic sense, bringing forth the image of Christthe fruit of the Spirit. The Word of God truly is the "Seed" of Divine Substance.
God's Word is creative. A human could declare, Let there be light. Unless he turned on a switch or lighted a candle or lantern, light would not appear. When God commands, Let there be light, or Let there be stars, or Let there be animals and people, these forces, masses, and living creatures appear. We understand, therefore, that there is a difference between the word of man and the Word of God. There is a difference in kind.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus compares the Word of God to seed. All seed comes from living organisms, and each seed contains in itself a code that controls growth so that a living organism in the image of the parent can be produced. There is nothing in nature that more reveals the genius of God than the manner in which a large organism (even a human being!) comes from a small seed.
The living Word of God is much more than the written words of the Scriptures, although the Scriptures are the record that we possess of the words of people who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures are the "more sure word of prophecy" and our infallible guide to faith and conduct. Yet, the living Word of God is much more than Hebrew or Greek or English or German words and sentences written on paper. The Word of God is ChristHe who was with God from the beginning, who is God, by whom all things were made.
When Christians give forth the words of the Scriptures on earth, the Holy Spirit moves in the spirit realm bringing the Word of God in spiritual Substance, provided the Holy Spirit is working together with the Christian ministry. If the ministry is not working in the wisdom and enabling power of the Holy Spirit, the words of the Scriptures do not compose the living Word of God.
The scriptural statements are accurate, interesting, and usefulbut this is true of thousands of other books. The Scriptures do not become the Word of God to us until the Holy Spirit breathes life into the statements. The letter of the Scriptures does not bring life in itself, for "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life" (II Corinthians 3:6)
When the Holy Spirit sows the Word of God, the living Substance of Christ, the Divine Seed falls into the hearts of people. The hearts of people are as several types of "ground." In some instances, as we notice in the parable of the sower, there is momentary growth but no lasting fruit.
The limits on what the Divine Seed can become in the human heart are not placed there by the heart itself. The limits are established by the coding in the Seed. The heart merely is groundnothing more. If the heart is not sincere or is filled with worldliness, the Seed is not able to bring forth the Goodness that is in it. But the quality of the fruit of the Seed depends only on the quality of the Parent from whom the Seed came, although its growth can be limited by our response.
When the Divine Seed falls into an "honest and good heart," taking root there, Divine Life begins to multiply. If beneficial conditions prevail throughout the period of germination and growth, the mature plant will develop into a son of God, in God's image and of His Substance and Divine Nature. The nine-dimensional fruit of the Spirit is the image of Christ's Divine Nature, and it is the fruit of the Seed described in the parable of the sower.
If we tend to the Seed that has been sown in our heart, the image of God will be brought forth. The Seed will reproduce the Parent, for that is the law that God has established concerning seeds. The Divine Nature of the Parent is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and temperance, in addition to all the other attributes of God.
There is more to the image of God than the nine characteristics mentioned here. For example, under appropriate circumstances God is jealous, wrathful, and exercises vengeance on His adversaries. He roars out of Zion. God, our Father, is clothed with majesty and power. He breathes out fire and destruction, charging on His enemies as a hurricane. He soars in fierce independence in the heavenlies and above the heavenlies and has His way in the storm.
The fury of the gale, the thunder, the lightning, reveal God as much as do the calm and the singing of birds that follow the rain. Because we are God's children, made in His image, we will be able to behave in these ways at some future time.
Such behaviors are "adult" and we may not be mature enough for them. We are far too susceptible to evil for God to allow us to charge about in fury breathing fire on our enemies. We do not trust a child with a large caliber rifle. But the day comes when he is old enough to be trusted with a rifle, and even required to accept it and carry it in defense of his country. So it is true that one day we will judge all sin and destroy it from the earth.
If we are willing for God to have His full way in the development of the Divine Seed that is in us, the result will be a complete maturing of the Divine Life and Character. The Seed comes from God and it is able to bring forth in the image of God.
As the Word of God grows in us our original personality undergoes a transformation. Our old nature is occupied with eating, working, sleeping, playing, and reproducing, because it is of the earthearthy. The new man being created in us is born of the Divine Seed.
As the new man develops, the old nature is brought into frustration and impotence and our first personality resents this loss of power and liberty. As the new man gains and the old man loses it becomes increasingly clear that this is a battle to the death. When first we become a Christian, the conflict between the old and the new may not be evident to us because the adamic personality may be able to perceive only the benefits to us that flow from accepting Christ.
As the years go by and the Seed comes under the training of the Holy Spirit, our old personality commences to experience loss. Our familiar patterns of acting, speaking, planning, and imagining are challenged, and in many instances our personal liberty must be sacrificed to the current manner in which God is working in and with us. The program becomes so involved that we can understand neither the process nor the goal.
At some point along the way we may decide to bring to a halt the tearing apart of our self by the Spirit of the Lord. This is as far as we desire to go. We have endured all we care to put up with of the seemingly endless dealing, probing, and pruning of the Spirit of God.
Our willingness to stop the program of redemption is the reason why some bring forth thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold. The Seed of Christ is capable of bringing forth the whole image of Christ, but the believer may or may not be willing to endure the blows to self that the Divine re-creative process requires.
The title of our book is Three Deaths and Three Resurrections and the content of the book has to do with the three aspects of the plan of redemption. We are explaining redemption as the process of destroying the evil out of us and the creating of the image of Christ in us. The goal of redemption is our complete union with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
We have applied the term salvation to the first of the three aspects of redemption, sanctification to the second aspect, and conquest to the third. Like every other description or model of the Lord's workings, ours is incomplete. Hopefully it is useful. We are pointing out, in the immediate text, that thirtyfold fruitbearing is related to salvation, the first aspect of redemption.
Every person who is saved has the touch of Christ on his life. It is impossible to be brought into the Kingdom of God, into the area of escape from the destructive wrath of God that will sweep throughout His creation, unless one has been touched by Christ and the mark of Christ has been left on him. We must be "sealed" to the Day of Redemption.
People bring forth the nature of Christ to different degrees, as indicated by the parable of the sower, but every person who will be carried over into the new heaven and earth reign of Christ (and that is what it means to be "saved") must possess at least a "thirtyfold" amount of Christ in his personality. When God passes among His creatures He looks for the image of His beloved Son, and when He does not find that image, judgment will follow (Matthew 22:12).
Thirtyfold fruitbearing has several requirements:
A person must accept the blood of the cross for the atonement for his sins. He must repent, turning away from the world, and be baptized in water (if it is possible), for this is God's commandment.
He must confess Christ before people, stating and truly believing that Christ is his Lord and Savior. He must accept the Spirit's right to dwell and rule in him. He must, by faith, as demonstrated in the Communion service, partake of the body and blood of Christ.
He must cleave to Christ, forsaking all other gods, and must accept in utmost sincerity the fact of his participation in the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ His Lord, as portrayed in water baptism.
All persons who bear fruit to the extent mentioned in the preceding three paragraphs will be saved provided they maintain faith in Christ throughout their life on the earth. It is not enough to begin in faith. In order to be saved, one must keep on with that same trust and hope in Christ firmly to the end. "He that endureth to the end shall be saved" (Matthew 10:22).
If we maintain throughout our life a firm commitment to the salvation that is in Christ, and a clear testimony to our personal redemption through His blood, obeying the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us, we will be saved.
The thirtyfold level of fruit-bearing represents a grasp on the salvation that is in Christ. Such a grasp will bring the believer through to the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. The individual is saved and possesses a measure of eternal life.
Fruit, more fruit, much fruit.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:1-5)
In keeping with our concept of three aspects of redemption we shall speak of the bearing of fruit at three levels: (1) fruit; (2) more fruit; and (3) much fruit. The Vine, abiding in the Vine, and being pruned, are concepts stressed in the above passage.
There is only one true Vine, only one true planting of God in the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ is the true Vine and spiritual Israel is His Body. All other religions are manmade. Christ is God's Son and in Him exclusively resides the Divine blessing.
God the Father is the Vinedresser. God attends to the proper growth and fruitbearing of the Vine.
God is the One who cuts away dead branches and prunes back the living branches. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away."
Abiding in Christ means cleaving to Him each day, setting aside time for prayer, the study of the Scriptures, and assembling with fervent fellow believers wherever possible. It means obeying the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The expression abiding in Christ is not referring to accepting Christ as Savior and then walking in our own path and doing whatever we please. We must sow to the Spirit of God each day of our life, and this is possible only if we take up our cross and follow Him. We must give time and effort on a consistent basis to seeking the Lord's will for us.
If we abide in the Vine, keeping ourselves in His will, we shall begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, faith, meekness, gentleness, will increase. The test of whether we truly are abiding in Christ is the demonstration of the moral image of Christ in our personality. If there is little or no moral image, then there is little or no abiding in Christ. When we do not abide in Him we do not bear fruit.
There are seasons of severe testing and pruning in our Christian discipleship during which it appears we are going backward rather than forward with respect to bearing the fruit of the Spirit. These are exceptional periods. If we truly are abiding in Christ, the nature of Christ finally will be seen in us as the result of our fiery trials. "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:20).
We need not strain in order to bear the fruit of the Spirit. It is the fruit of the Spirit. It comes forth naturally when we are living in the Spirit. The Divine fruit appears in its season, breaking through our wicked nature with irresistible force just as a blade of grass will grow through a tiny crack in the rock.
We cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit by the striving of our flesh. The flesh of man brings forth the wicked works of the flesh. The Spirit of God brings forth the righteous and holy works of the Spirit.
. . . every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:2)
Grape vines will be bulging with fruit one month but in another season will be pruned back nearly to ground level. A vinedresser who knows his business will prune to an extent that an untrained person would consider to be destructive. Yet, skillful pruning results in an abundance of fruit. God prunes us so we may bear more fruit, which is His goal.
Jesus informed us that God will prune every fruitbearing branch. Pruning is death to a part of us. When God goes to work on us with His pruning equipment we do not enjoy the process; but our end is glorious if we do not give up and turn away from the Lord.
We grow along one line for a while, bearing fruit in many directions. Then circumstances occur that cut us back down to the ground. These circumstances are God's pruning tools. We may not recognize this and as a result may begin to fight back. We may blame people and fret over the situations that upset us. If we are abiding in the Holy Spirit we finally will come to see the hand of God behind the trouble.
Sometimes God will prune until all that we have accomplished lies in ruins around us. This is the time to draw near to God and resist the devil. We must learn to be patient in such instances because nothing touches the servant of the Lord apart from God's specific will and directions.
An important first pruning of our life occurs when we receive Christ, when we come to Him in our sins and receive forgiveness through the blood that He shed on the cross of Calvary. God commands us to repent and be baptized. Water baptism symbolizes death to the world, the devil, and our old nature and patterns of behavior.
To repent is to turn around and go in the opposite direction. We were on our way to Hell, being filled with the unclean works of the flesh. When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ we are to come out of the world and confess that we no longer are part of the world, having chosen to become a Christian. We forsake our former works of filthiness, lying, hatred, covetousness, stealing, and begin to demonstrate the righteous ways of the Lord Jesus.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3)
As soon as we accept Christ His Word cuts through the wickedness that is in our life and we begin to lay aside the unclean works of darkness. This is the "appearing of the dry land," the first bearing of the fruit of the Spirit of God.
Whether or not we press forward to the next two levels of "more fruit" and "much fruit" depends on us. If we are willing to put forth the time and effort required for abiding in Christ we will come to another place of pruning that will result in the bearing of more fruit.
If, however, we become careless, do not pray, do not meditate each day in the Scriptures, do not fellowship with fervent believers, do not obey the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and begin to drift back into our old ways, becoming filled to excess with the pleasures of the present age, we will begin to lose our connection with the Lord Jesus Christ. Soon the signs of withering will appear.
We will become apathetic toward prayer, toward gathering together with the saints, toward seeking the things of the Kingdom of God. The Spirit will warn us; but if we keep on ignoring the reproofs of the Lord, allowing our heart to become hardened, we will be cut out of the Vine by the Father.
If we have come to know the Lord, and then allow ourselves to go back into sin, it may prove to be difficult indeed to regain our joy and fellowship with the Lord. Anyone who has witnessed a person who has known Christ but has fallen and is attempting to get back to the place of joy and victory, will testify that it is a sobering sight to behold. God is not mocked and His Word is eternally true.
God has warned us about the need to remain in the Vine, Christ. If, in spite of all His provisions and entreaties, we keep on ignoring His salvation, there remains only a fearful looking for of the fiery judgment that will destroy the Lord's adversaries.
We are not speaking here of some conscientious believer who has stumbled. Satan often beats such with accusation after accusation. The disciple who has erred can be restored immediately to full and improved fellowship upon the confession and repentance of his sins.
Rather, the problem arises when there is long-term backsliding. It is this condition that brings fiery judgment and the need for tearful, sincere, sometimes anguished, remorse and repentance.
If we have received Christ we have begun to bear fruit. His Word has pruned us already. Now we must prepare our hearts so that the Vinedresser can prune back our works according to His expert knowledge. After He prunes us we shall bear more fruit.
Later, when we are more mature in the Lord, we may endure a more severe pruning. As difficult as that later trial may prove to be, the end result will be much fruitthe fullness of the image of Christ and the abiding in us of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.
The Lord never afflicts us in order to enjoy our distress. All His work in us is for the purpose of bringing us forth in the image of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28,29)
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. (Genesis 6:14-16)
Noah's Ark symbolizes safety in the Day of God's judgment. The expression "saved" refers to protection in the Day of Wrath so that one comes through judgment safely and is not destroyed. Noah, his family, and selected animals were "saved" and the Ark was the means of their salvation.
Although we may not always think about it as such, it is true that the world came to an end during the life of Noah. Every creature was killed, including the fish that apparently were forced into unfamiliar and harmful waters by upheavals in the floor of the oceans. The destruction was total.
The earth on which we live will experience three periods of Divine wrath, the final one resulting in the dissolution of the planet Earth and the starry heavens.
The first occurred during the life of Noah.
The second will occur at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The third will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, at which time the physical universe will be folded up and tossed aside by the Lord, just as one might discard old, worn-out clothes.
The Ark of Noah represents the limits of the area of salvation, the boundary beyond which salvation does not occur, and is equivalent in symbolism to the linen fence that surrounded the Courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Every creature in the confines of the Ark was saved. Every person "within the fence of the Tabernacle" is saved because that area is dominated by the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering that represents the cross of Christ.
Every creature not in the confines of the Ark was lost, was destroyed by the judgment of the Lord. Every person outside the linen fence of Christ's righteousness will be destroyed because he or she has not been protected by the blood of Christ.
Waters of judgmentthen and now. The flood of Noah is a type of the destruction that will take place on the earth at the time of the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:37). The Day of Wrath is at hand, and we can observe even now the signs of the times as we see that both evil and righteousness are increasing on the face of the earth. We know from the Scriptures that godliness and sin (wheat and tares) will come to maturity side by side on the earth, and then the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in flaming fire, executing vengeance on those who disobey God.
The "flood" is coming, and the ark we are building is that of the protection of Christ. We enter the protection by receiving the blood of the cross as the covering on our life. When God sees the blood He will pass over us and we shall be saved. Therefore we warn all people of the wrath to come and of deliverance from wrath through the blood of the Lord Jesus.
Notice that as the water of judgment rose the Ark was lifted up. The water that destroyed all life outside the Ark was the force that buoyed up the Ark and kept Noah and his family safe. The greater the flood of waters the higher went the Ark.
God did not use one force to destroy the creatures of the earth and a different force to save His elect. The waters of judgment lifted up the saved so they could continue to breathe air. So it will be in the Day of the Lord. There is no reason for God's elect to fear the judgments of God that will fall on the earth in the last days. The greater the outpouring of judgment the higher in God the saints will ride. The force of the judgment will lift the disciples ever higher so they can "breathe good air" of God's Holy Spirit.
All we are required to do in order to be preserved in the Day of Judgment that soon is to come is to remain "watertight." God did not remove Israel from Egypt before He rained down judgment on the Egyptians, He merely placed His hand over the land of Goshen. "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee" (Psalms 91:7).
The Ark was made watertight with pitch, which is asphalt. The word pitch is related in the Hebrew language to the word atonement. This reminds us that the blood of Jesus is the "pitch" that makes our life "waterproof" (Genesis 6:14). The waters of judgment cannot harm us provided we remain in Christ and His blood is protecting us.
The force of judgment lifts us to safety as long as the water cannot get into our personality. If we do not have the protection of the blood of Christ the water of judgment will seep into our soul and we will die. Any sin or disobedience we habitually practice will permit the water to "leak into us."
The numbers of the ark. The numbers of the Ark are symbolic. Those with which we are dealing are eight, three hundred, fifty, thirty, and three. The fact that there are five numbers is interesting in itself because five is the number that typifies the coming of the Kingdom of God. Noah's Ark marked the end of one age and the beginning of another.
There were eight people saved in the judgment. Eight is the number of our covenant with God. Every Hebrew male was circumcised on the eighth day after his birth, thereby affirming the covenant of blood with God (Genesis 17:12). Milcah bore eight children (Genesis 22:23). Rebekah, a type of the Bride of the Lamb, came through Milcah. Jesse had eight sons, and one of them, David, is associated in the Scriptures with the Lord Jesus.
The firstborn of animals were presented to the Lord on the eighth day (Exodus 22:30). The person cleansed from leprosy was brought before the priest on the eighth day (Leviticus 14:10). The eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:36,39) portrays the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the eternal age.
The Holy Spirit employs the number eight as a symbol of the whole realm of the savedthose who enter eternal life because of having made a covenant with God by blood.
The Ark was three hundred cubits in length. Three hundred is the number that represents the salvation of the elect at the appearing of the Lord Jesus.
Gideon's army consisted of three hundred men (Judges 7:7). The overcoming of Midian at the hand of Gideon is one of the most remarkable portrayals of the appearing of Christ to be found in the Scriptures. This story reveals to us that the Day of the Lord will be a time of victory for the Church, not a whisking away from the earth of a defeated, weak Church in order to avoid harm at the hands of Antichrist.
The linen fence of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was three hundred cubits in length (100 + 50 + 100 + 50Exodus 27:18). The linen fence portrays the fact that all the saved will possess eternal life in the Kingdom of God but the unsaved will abide in outer darkness.
The Ark was fifty cubits wide. The number fifty is the number of Pentecost (a word that signifies fifty.) The Year of Jubilee, which was celebrated every fiftieth year, was the year of redemption, of freedom, of restoration (Leviticus, Chapter 25).
We learn from this that the Day of the Lord will be a period of an unparalleled outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the earth through the ministry of the Church of Christ; an era of redemption through deliverance from the yoke of Satan; a release into freedom for all God's creatures (except those who resist Christ) including the created universe (Romans 8:21); and a time of restoring to mankind all of its inheritance, including every good thing that was taken by trickery from humans in the Garden of Eden.
The Day of the Lord will include protection from wrath (the buoying up of the Ark on the face of the waters); the salvation of all who have made a covenant by blood (eight people) and their separation from the remainder of the people of the earth; the destruction of all evil in the earth; and salvation and eternal life for all who lay hold on Christ and endure to the end (three hundred cubits long).
Notice that the Ark had one window constructed in it (Genesis 6:16), and also one door that the Lord Himself shut (Genesis 7:16). There was but one window because God does not want us to gaze about at every sight on earth. He desires that our eye be "single," that we fasten our vision on His workings in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we look through God's "window" we observe His Glory in the earth. The earth is filled with God's Glory when we look with the eyes of the Spirit of God.
"There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1). We may behold the power of God's destruction fall on the wicked of the earth, but it cannot touch us provided we abide in Christ, in the Ark of protection. "Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked" (Psalms 91:8). Judgment cannot harm us as long as we remain "in the secret place of the most High."
We enter through the one door (Christ) and find safety. The day will come when the Lord shuts that door (Genesis 7:16).
In the ages to come God may show us the past scenes of earth's history so that these eternal lessons can be stamped deeply into our personality.
Can you imagine the panic that gripped the millions of people on the earth as the oceans and seas rose steadily because of the influx of water from within the earth and as the greatest rain of all history began to pour down on them? They realized suddenly that Noah truly had been speaking with the voice of the almighty God.
Satan, the cherub who had deceived them, now began to accuse them, scorn them, mock them, laugh at their terror in hideous delight, just as he will do to us if we ever turn away from Christ and are assigned to the regions of darkness for eternity.
The icy chill of death's horror pierced through the violence and merrymaking of the inhabitants of the earth. People ceased their buying and selling, their marrying and giving in marriage, and stared numbly, panic-stricken as the impossible began to take place.
Up and up rose the waters. Soon there was not enough room for everyone on the high levels of ground, and the people, accustomed to violence, began to fight each other for a place to stand in order to keep their heads above the water.
Those near to the Ark pounded on the sides, screaming with fright. To no avail. God Himself had closed the door. Noah would have opened it but God had closed it. The wail of the millions of dying people rose from the ground to be lost in the clouds. The Ark lifted from its platform and was driven before the winds.
Finally the waters closed over the heads of the strongest. The last fist was shaken at God. The obscenities and shrieks of rage and despair died away. Quietness reigned over the face of the earth. The world had been destroyed by Divine judgment. Man had met his deserved doom and had brought with him to destruction all other living creatures.
The silence that followed this most terrible of scenes was broken only by the howling of the winds and the swirling of the debris-laden waves. Soon the surface of the water was covered with millions of bloated bodies of people and animals. The grim scene bore to eternity a true testimony to the Character of God and the integrity of His Word. The soul that sins shall die.
The flood was tragic! Horrible! Sometimes our preaching today leaves people with the false idea that God has changed and no longer is capable of such an action. The Apostle Paul knew the terror of the Lord. "As it was in the days of Noah . . . "
We who teach are directed by the Holy Spirit to bring the love of God gently to people and to assure them that His mercy abounds and endures forever. If we do not reveal also the awful finality of God's judgment we have become false prophets and the blood of the sinning Christians is on our hands. We have been charged to instruct people in both the goodness and severity of God (Romans 11:22).
The sights and sounds of the violent, sinful peoples of the earth as the fountains of the deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened were terrifying enough. But they appear as child's play when compared with the sights and sounds that will occur when the Lord shuts the door of salvation. There will come a day, and we believe it is not far off, when God will say, "It is enough. Let the holy remain holy and the wicked remain wicked" (Revelation 22:11).
As soon as the dreadful edict is issued, Heaven will be closed to prayer. No more will people be able to enter the covenant with God through Christ. The period of salvation, of covenant, of redemption, will have been brought to an end.
The massive gates of the Kingdom of God will begin to close. The multitudes standing outside in outer darkness will realize that the opportunity for salvation has ended. They will rush to the door and pound on it, so to speak, just as the doomed pounded on the door of the Ark. God is the One who is closing the gates and His warrior angels are standing guard.
People will gnash their teeth in an agony of soul and mind as the blackness of a hopeless eternity closes in on them. The hosts of Hell, who are doomed already, now will have company to share their misery. The demons will mock, scorn, and terrorize the lost of mankind. They will express their rage against God by tormenting the lost souls who were created in God's image.
As the exiles see the city of God for the last time, the light, the peace, the joy, the children playing in innocence with the angels, they will realize that these scenes and experiences are denied to them forever. Adding to their torture will be the knowledge that God has been just and compassionate with them and that they knowingly have turned their back on the love of God in Christ.
When the gates of the city finally have closed and no more light can be seen, the lost will turn to the future that awaits them. When they look at the creatures with whom they have chosen to be associated for eternity, the lustful, the vicious, the murderous, the avaricious, the drunken, the liars, the witches, the fearful, the unbelieving, the perverse, the spiteful, understanding that never again will the righteous be available for prayer and counsel, their despair will be total.
The men and women of the days of Noah were certain that God never would destroy the earth. For one hundred years the righteous Noah warned them of the wrath of God to come. The people of those days scorned and mocked Noah and continued their pursuit of the pleasures of the world. The water came and the "impossible" turned into nightmarish reality. Then it was too late.
Mankind today is certain God never will destroy the world or eternally close the gates of Paradise against those who reject Christ as their Lord and Savior. People "know" that there is no Lake of Fire. Satan, a cherub who is in rebellion against God, has convinced the world that God will not do what He has said, and that if people serve God He will deny them what is good.
Satan has convinced the church people that they can keep on sinning and Jesus will keep on forgiving them. The lukewarm have never read and believed Jesus' teaching concerning the branch that does not bear fruit. They have never pondered the parable of the ten virgins. In spite of the numerous New Testament passages that warn us that the believers who continue in the works of the flesh shall reap corruption, today's pastors and their followers continue to teach and believe that every believer will ascend to Heaven in a "rapture" whether or not he or she has been a faithful and true servant of the Lord Jesus. This is a deadly error and those who are preaching and believing it stand in danger of an unbelievably dreadful future. Let the reader be warned!
The hour is coming when Divine judgment will be poured out and the words of the prophets will be fulfilled in terrifying reality. Then it will be too late for repentance. It will be eternally too late. God will not be mocked. Let us take heed to the salvation that He offers so lovingly and faithfully.
The Ark of Noah was thirty cubits in height. Thirty is the number that signifies the beginning of ministry. Joseph was thirty years of age when he stood before Pharaoh (Genesis 41:46). It is our understanding that Joseph typifies the Lord Jesus Christ who was thirty years of age when He began His ministry (Luke 3:23).
The Levites began their service of ministry in the Tabernacle of the Congregation when they were thirty years of age. The Tabernacle building was thirty cubits in length. The number thirty is common to the Tabernacle building and Noah's Ark, indicating that these two structures are related in symbolic significance.
The children of Israel wept for Moses thirty days (Deuteronomy 34:8). The change of ministry from Moses to Joshua occurred when Israel entered the land of promise. Our Lord Jesus has appeared, through the ministries and gifts given to His Body, as Moses. He calls His flock out from the spirit of the world and nourishes them during their discipleship "in the wilderness." In the future, the same Lord Jesus will appear in and with His Body as Joshua and will bring His army out of the wilderness and into the land of promise.
David was thirty years of age when he began his reign (II Samuel 5:4). David ruled in Hebron over Judah for seven years and six months, and then he governed in Jerusalem over all Israel, including Judah, for an additional thirty-three years. As we will see in a subsequent section, there is much of prophetic significance associated with the three anointings of David and with his capture of fortress Zion, his bringing of the Ark of the Covenant to Zion, his mighty men, and his gathering of materials for the building of the Temple of Solomon. Many aspects of the Kingdom of God that have been presented in symbolic form in David's career will be brought to pass when our Lord Jesus Christ appears from Heaven with His "mighty men."
There were three stories, three levels, in Noah's Ark, and three areas of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The three levels and areas portray the three areas of redemption that are the subject of this book. We shall be examining the three areas further in later chapters.
We have seen that Noah's Ark and the flood are rich in prophetic meaning, having to do especially with the wrath of God that soon is to fall on the world, and with the redemption that God has provided in Christ. The Ark of Noah portrays the realm of the saved. Everyone who truly receives Christ as Lord and Savior, repents, and is baptized, shall be saved.
Salvation, and the first level of the Ark. All three levels of the Ark were saved from destruction. The first level was submerged in (although protected from) the waters of judgment, while the second and third stories were closer to Heaven, so to speak. Lot is an example of the lower level of redemption, of a soul who is saved by the fires of judgment. Lot was a righteous man, the Scriptures inform us, but he chose to pitch his tent toward the well-watered, sinful Sodom.
Lot was saved "so as by fire" (I Corinthians 3:15). He lost his wife, symbolizing the destruction of his power to be fruitful and to possess dominionthe power assigned to men when they were created by the Lord God. Lot did not have an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God. He himself was saved but by a narrow margin of safety, and only because the Lord remembered the prayers of Abraham.
Abraham, on the other hand, gained an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God. He inherited the fruitfulness and rulership promised to mankind (Genesis 1:28; 22:17). Abraham witnessed from a distance the smoke rising from the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the fires of Divine judgment did not come near him. Lot lost everything, including his wife and sons-in-law, to the burnings of the eternal fire (Jude 1:7).
Many Christians will be saved by Divine fire that will burn away from them the works of their flesh and soul. They have chosen to remain in the lower level of the Ark rather than to press upward toward their heavenly calling in Christ. They may be saved into eternal life when Jesus appears because they have relatives who are interceding for them before the Throne of God. They will not receive the opportunities for authority and service that will be assigned to God's "Abrahams."
A person first must be saved or he or she will suffer the wrath of God. Then he has the choice of pressing upward in Christ into greater areas of redemption. Taking a chance on being saved "so as by fire" is risky. Lot came close to being destroyed along with his wife and sons-in-law, and would have been destroyed were it not for the intercessory prayers of his uncle, Abraham.
If we choose to remain at the borders of redemption after we believe in Christ we may be drawn back into the world and lose our salvation altogether. It is better to move along each day, following after and seeking the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
There are many "Lots" today in Christianity and many "Abrahams" praying for them. Hopefully each soul who begins in Christ will attain Paradise with Christ, as did the thief on the cross.
We must not cease pressing forward and upward in Christ. It is dangerous to abide in the hope that we will be saved anyway even though we are making no effort to serve the Lord. Both Hebrews, Chapters Three and Six, and John, Chapter Fifteen, warn us concerning the end of the branch in Christ that does not bear fruit. Let us be counted among those who follow on to know the Lord and who obtain an abundant entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Christ.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:10,11)
We have stated before that there is both a negative and a positive aspect of redemption, and that the final result of redemption is our complete union with the Lord Jesus Christ. The negative aspect of redemption is the destruction of all the authority, all the power, and all the effects of the "accuser of our brothers." The positive aspect of redemption is the creation in us of the nine-dimensional fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is the Character and disposition of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the three means by which the saints of Christ will accomplish the negative aspect of redemption: the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and the loving not of their lives to the death.
"The blood of the Lamb" refers to the first death and resurrection, as described in this book, which we have termed salvation.
"The word of their testimony" refers to the second death and resurrection, which we have termed sanctification.
"They loved not their lives to the death" refers to the third death and resurrection, which we have named conquest.
It is impossible to accomplish the negative aspect of redemption, which is the destruction of the personality and works of the devil, until each of these three means has been employed. Who of the Church of Christ of today will volunteer to be one of God's victorious saints, being willing and ready to lay hold on the grace of God that accompanies each of these means of redemption? Will you?
Revelation, Chapter 12: wrestling with the enemy. The twelfth chapter of Revelation is an important passage of Scripture from the standpoint of the negative aspect of redemption. This chapter describes the point at which the Church is able to bring the saints to the level of conquering the wicked lords of darkness.
Sin has a terrible grip on the world of today, as we know. It is true also that there is much sin being practiced by the members of the Christian Church, the Body of Christ. Why is this, when our baptism in water signifies that we have escaped the authority of Satan and now are free to serve righteousness?
Why doesn't every believer, upon receiving the Lord Jesus, enter a life of righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit? Why do the nations of the earth, now that the Prince of Peace has been born in Bethlehem, continue to destroy themselves with drunkenness, adultery, violence, covetousness, jealousy, gambling, worry, spiritism, and every other destructive practice?
The answer is that there are powerful, cunning rulers having wicked natures who are ruling the spiritual environment of the world. The Holy Spirit leads the saint into warfare against these rulers of the spiritual darkness of the present age.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [heavenly] places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Every saint is in a wrestling match. A wrestling match is brought to a conclusion only when one or the other of the wrestlers conquers his opponent. This is true of the wrestling match described in the sixth chapter of Ephesians, as quoted above. The saints finally will overcome the adversary; and when they do, the events of Revelation, Chapter 12 will occur.
Why is it that we cannot seem to finish the struggle today? Why do we keep on wrestling and not conquer the accuser? The answer to this is that we are not yet strong enough in Christ. We have not advanced to maturity in the plan of redemption, in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Father.
Before the saints are enabled to overcome the accuser the Body of Christ must grow further toward "the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). The ministries and gifts of the Spirit must become much more anointed in power and much more widespread among the members of the Body.
The level of righteousness, holiness, and obedience of the Church must be raised to the point at which Michael and his angels can be commissioned to cast down the "ancient serpent" from his present location in the heavens (Revelation 12:9).
The Christian Church has been assigned the authority and power to bind and to loose the spiritual forces. Whatever the Church looses on the earth is loosed in the spirit realm. The problems that we observe in the material world have their source in the spiritual world, and it is impossible to solve the material problems until the spiritual powers have been brought under control. It is impossible to "spoil the strong man's house" until the strong man has been rendered powerless.
If such is the case, and the loosing of the heavens and the resulting loosing of the earth are waiting for the maturing of Christ in the saints, how then can this maturing be brought about? If the creation is anticipating joyfully the Day when the sons of God usher in the Year of Jubilee (the Kingdom Age), how can the sons of God come to maturity and fullness of authority and strength?
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)
One of the principal purposes (if not the principal purpose) of the Church age is the strengthening of the believers until they individually and collectively attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The members of the Body of Christ are built up by that which "every joint supplieth" (Ephesians 4:16). This means the desired maturity will be brought about as each member of the Body exercises his or her unique ministry.
Overcoming strength is developed in the Body of Christ as the Holy Spirit creates in each saint the fullness of the image of Christ. Persecution, harassment, and other causes of suffering contribute to the development of overcoming strength in us.
Every member of the Body of Christ has been issued a ministry through the Holy Spirit. Some members possess many outstanding gifts while others are not as richly endowed. However, the number or visibility of the gifts is not the issue. The issue is the faithfulness of the believer in exercising his or her gifts. A Christian with one talent who makes good use of it is infinitely more valuable in building the Body than the believer who has ten gifts and brings none of them to full operation.
The final result of the exercise of the ministries and gifts of the members of the Body of Christ is the maturing and unifying of the Body. As soon as Christ comes to maturity in the Body, the opponent will be overthrown. It is this conquest that Revelation, Chapter 12 is portraying in prophetic symbolism.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: (Revelation 12:1)
The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, is a "great wonder in heaven." The Church is not of the world, it is of Heaven. Although the Church is constructed from the lowly folk of our planet, the character of the Church has nothing to do with the world. Its members are born from above (John 1:13).
The Church is clothed with the "sun," that is, with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Church is not naked in the spirit realm, neither is it clothed in the efforts of the flesh but with the Lord Jesus' own righteousness and glory.
The "moon" is under the feet of the Church. The moon represents all the created works of God, for God's works have no glory of their own but reflect the glory of their Creator. All the works of God's hands are under the power of the Church when the Church is abiding in Christ and Christ in the Church.
On the head of the woman is a crown of twelve stars. It is our understanding that the number twelve symbolizes the fullness of the family of God, and the stars are the outstanding saints who have turned many to righteousness.
There is no division between the true Israel and the Christian Church, they are one and the same. The Church of Christ is one Church, and it began with Abraham (one of God's stars) at the point when God called him from Ur of the Chaldees. The Church is the true and only Seed of Abraham, the fullness of Christ who is to be the Center of all the works of God.
All the saints of God, Moses, Elijah, Enoch, David, Daniel, Joel, Paul, John, on through Church history, are of Christ. The Gospel was preached to Abraham (Galatians 3:8). There is only one family of God (Ephesians 3:15). There is one Lord, one Spirit, one baptism, one salvation, one Seed of Abraham, one Church, one Body of Christ, one Wife of the Lamb, one Servant of the Lord.
We Gentiles have been grafted on the one true Vine. The oneness of all saints was portrayed on the Mount of Transfiguration where Moses and Elijah stood with Peter, James, and John beside Christ. The stars on the head of the woman in Revelation, Chapter 12 symbolize God's heroes of faith of every age.
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. (Revelation 12:2)
The Church is "with child" today, and in travail through the Holy Spirit because Christ is being formed in the Church. There will come a "delivery"; and when it comes, the accuser will be cast out of his stronghold in the heavenlies. The maturing of Christ in the Church in the last days of the present age will bring about the destruction of the kingdom of darkness whether that kingdom is found in the heavenlies or on the earth.
The cross of Calvary marked the beginning of the destruction of the kingdom of darkness. The cross of Christ always is the means by which redemption maintains its legal authority. All works of redemption proceed from the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (Revelation 12:3)
Not only is the Church of Christ a wonder in the heaven but the accuser also is a wonder in the heaven. There are two wonders in the heaven.
The Church and the devil are not wonders in the world, they are wonders in the heaven. The spiritual wrestling match has little to do with flesh and blood. The contest is between Christ in the Church and Satan; between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Genesis 3:15).
The dragon is red with the blood of murder. He has seven heads, indicating perfect wisdom. He has ten horns, denoting power to overcome the peoples of the world. He has seven crowns, symbolizing the authority given to him by God for his season of rulership.
No human being is equal to the accuser in wisdom and power. This is why the labors of the flesh are futilea waste of timewhen they are not being directed by the Holy Spirit. The accuser has supernatural wisdom, power, and authority. Christ, and only Christ, possesses superior wisdom, power, and authority. The woman is clothed with Christ, not with the weakness, uselessness, and corruption of fleshly righteousness, wisdom, and strength.
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
The Scriptures do not provide us with much information concerning the ancient rebellion in the heavens. There are a few scattered references, of which Revelation 12:4 is an example. We understand from these few references that there was a dreadful uprising against the will and rulership of the Father. The rebellion occurred prior to the creation of the heavens and the earth.
Sin began in Heaven and was introduced into the Garden of Eden by the accuser. The Divine plan of salvation and redemption cannot be understood apart from its role of judging the persons and the effects of that wicked rebellion.
The number of the creatures of the heavens appears to be exceedingly greatperhaps many times more than the number of people who have been born on the earth. The heavenly rebels may include an enormously large group of spirits. The disobedient angels will be cast down to the earth by Michael and his angels. This alerts us to the fact that wickedness will attain astounding proportions in the days to come. We must put on the whole armor of God if we expect to stand in the Lord throughout the evil period that even now is coming on the earth.
. . . and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
Here is the confrontation between the two wonders in the heaven. The Church is ready to bring forth the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." The dragon desires to prevent the maturing of Christ in the Church just as he attempted to destroy the Lord Jesus Christ while He still was a baby, and later at the hand of Pontius Pilate.
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
The "man child" is Christ in us, the fruit of the travail of the Church. The purpose of the "man child" (male Son), who is the Body of the Servant of the Lord, is to bring "judgment (justice) to the Gentiles" (Isaiah, Chapters 42 and 43).
Christ, Head and Body, is this "Servant of the Lord." At the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head will be joined to the Body. Then the fullness of the ministry of the Church will commence (John 17:21; Romans 8:17).
Joseph in Egypt is a type of the members of the Body of Christ, who are sorely tested and afflicted throughout their lives on earth. When the Lord Jesus appears, the members of His Body will come into the fullness of fruitfulness and rulership just as Joseph came into the fullness of fruitfulness after he had been tested by the Word of the Lord. Like Joseph in prison, we are to minister today diligently and faithfully according to the ability and faith that God gives.
The fruit of our labors is the building of the Body of Christ, as Paul pointed out in Ephesians, Chapter Four. When the time for the fullness of fruitfulness and rulership arrives, the Servant of the Lord will bring salvation to the nation of Israel (Romans 11:26); will strengthen unto righteousness and victory in Christ every heir of the new covenant (Isaiah 42:3); and will bring justice, mercy, and deliverance to the nations of the earth (Isaiah 42:1,6).
The peoples of the earth are destroying themselves for lack of judgment and justice. The leaders of the nations are well intentioned, in some instances, but they possess neither the wisdom nor the power to bring peace and material prosperity to earth's inhabitants. The problems of the earth are caused by the evil lords of the heavenlies, the rulers of the spiritual darkness of the present age. The most diligent efforts of conscientious men and women are frustrated continually by the opposition of Satan and his hordes of demons.
Yet, God loves the inhabitants of the earth with His boundless love, and so He is preparing for them the Deliverer, ChristHead and Body, who will minister throughout the earth. Christ will destroy all the works of the devil. He will bring the knowledge and Presence of God to all the men, women, boys, and girls of the nations that are spared in the Day of the Lord (Matthew 25:34).
The nations of this earth will be shepherded with the "rod of iron," which is the symbol of the Millennium. The Millennium is the thousand-year Kingdom Age during which the laws of the Kingdom of God will be enforced by the authority and power of the King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ.
Iron, as spoken of symbolically in the Scriptures, typifies the strength of irresistible government. "The fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron, forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise" (Daniel 2:40).
A rod of iron is the controlling rule of God that crushes all resistance. When Christ rules during the Kingdom Age there will be no successful resistance to His rule, even though the peoples of the earth are not of a perfect nature at that time.
There will be no nation that is exempt from the government of Christ. He will shepherd all the nations of the earth with His rod of iron (Psalms 2:8,9).
. . . and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
Every bit of Christ that has been formed in our heart has been caught up already to God and His throne. Our life already is hidden with Christ in God. Our resurrection and bodily ascension to meet Christ in the air, which will take place when Christ appears, will be an outward expression of the spiritual transformation and resurrection taking place in us now.
Each member of the Body of Christ is in a struggle. We are endeavoring, by the grace the Spirit imparts to us daily, to conquer the world, Satan, and our adamic nature. Sin presses us down to the bondages of our flesh, but Christ who is being formed in us is pressing us upward to the Throne of God. The battle rages as we go through the necessary experiences with the Lord.
How is it faring with you? What force is being victorious in you? Is the world conquering you or are you conquering the world?
Christ who is being formed in you is at home only on the highest throne of the universethe Throne of God Almighty. If Christ is being formed in you He is reaching up toward His natural realm of authority and liberty. Your old nature is being used by Satan as a weight to keep you pulled down into the disobedience and lust of life lived in the wisdom and energies of the flesh.
If you will remain obedient to the Holy Spirit, resting in His wisdom, authority, and power, He will bring forth Christ in you. The power of the living Christ will surge upward toward God and His throne.
Finding our abiding place and rest at the right hand of God does not happen overnight, as to its practical working out in our life; although legally and positionally we rise with Christ when we emerge from our baptism in water. Becoming established in the resurrection life of Christ is a process that demands our attention and strength twenty-four hours of every day of our Christian pilgrimage (Philippians 3:10,11).
Christ is being formed in the Church. As soon as He is formed He proceeds upward to the throne of His Father. When this act of creation reaches the required level in the Church, which is the establishing of the Kingdom of God in Heaven at the right hand of God, it will be time for the Kingdom to be brought into the earth. Michael, the chief angel, will be enabled by the Father to conduct his forces in the successful engagement of the enemy. The latter will be hurled into the earth and then destroyed out of the earth.
The tremendous power of Christ is in every true Christian. If the disciple will follow on to know the Lord, Christ, who is in him or her, will be caught up to God and to His throne. Christ always sits on the Throne of God, having all authority and power in the heavens and on the earth.
We of ourselves can do nothing at all. Christ who is being formed in us is the Heir of all things.
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (Revelation 12:6)
The "woman" is the Church of Christ, the Body of Christ. Christ is being formed in the Church. As soon as the task of bringing forth Christ has been completed, the Church will flee into a place prepared of God in the wilderness. The Lord Jesus will nourish and protect His Church throughout the three and one-half years of very great trouble and darkness. (It is possible that the number three and one-half is symbolic rather than literal.)
God always shall provide for His Church. The promises of Scripture will hold true just as solidly throughout the great tribulation as they do today.
There is no need for the Church of Christ to be fearful concerning the spiritual and natural calamities that will take place during the closing hours of the present age. The Church always will be maintained in a place "prepared of God," and always will be nourished by the Divine riches of God's Glory that are contained in Christ.
The concern of the Church is the bringing forth of the unified, mature Body of Christ. As soon as that has occurred the Church will be well provided for throughout all the events yet to come.
War in the heavens. The reason for the rebellion, sin, and war in the earth is that there is rebellion, sin, and war in the heavens. The problem of pride and disobedience has its source in the heavens. There is war in the heavens, and until that war has been resolved earth will continue to suffer murder and violence of every description.
The war in the heavens results from the fact that there are two antagonistic camps: the holy angels who chose to serve God and to do His will, and the unholy angels who chose to follow the adversary. These two sets of opposing heavenly beings are engaged in a warfare that is dimly understood by humans.
. . . Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (Revelation 12:7)
The fight between the two camps of angels is power against power. All power comes from the Lord God Almighty. Therefore the outcome of the struggle depends on the Lord God. The hand of the Lord God is moved in terms of His own decisions concerning right and wrong, righteousness and sin, holiness and uncleanness, obedience and disobedience, and according to His own ultimate purposes.
God always has retained the power to render the dragon and his followers incapable of action. Why, then, has He not empowered Michael long ago to cast these evil angels out of the heaven?
The answer is that the woman (Eve) was deceived by the dragon, and it is through the Seed of the woman (ChristHead and Body) that God will destroy the authority, the power, and the effects of the rebels of the heaven (Revelation 12:8).
This is the first time that Michael and his troops have been able to cast out of the heaven the dragon and his angels. Why is it possible at this time? It is possible because the "man child" (male Son) has been born and caught up to God and to His throne.
In order for the male Son to be born in the Church and caught up to God the saints have had to overcome the adversary. By the blood of the Lamb, by their unrelenting adherence to the Word of God, and by loving not their lives to the death, the saints have broken through the walls of sin and have come into the Light of God. The result is, God gives Michael and his angels the power to remove Satan from his position in the heavens.
All of the creation, both the heavens and the earth, is awaiting the revealing of the sons of God. The Son of God, Christ, was revealed two thousand years ago. Now we are drawing near to the manifestation of the sons of God, who will be revealed so that they may destroy the works of the devil. Michael cannot defeat the fallen lords of darkness until the firstfruits of the saints, the holy remnant, have been made perfect in obedience.
God will avenge Himself of all disobedience as soon as our obedience has been fulfilled (II Corinthians 10:6).
Every creature in the universe looks forward to the maturing of the Church of Christ because God has assigned to the Church the authority of judgment. Whatever the Church binds on the earth is bound in the heaven and whatever the Church looses on the earth is loosed in the heaven. The Church holds the keys of the Kingdom of God, the key of David.
Christ in the saints will come to the level of maturity and judgment required for the victory of Michael. The army in the heaven and the army on the earth (Mahanaim the company of two armies) work together in the war against the ancient dragon.
The army in the heaven possesses the spiritual power. The army of saints possesses the legal authority through Christ. The captain of the Lord's host (Michaelthe captain of the warring angels) must meet with the ministry of Joshua in the Church, so to speak, before the invasion of the land of promise can be launched successfully.
Thanks be to our God forever! Satan's place never again will be found in the heaven. What a victory! Sin was born in the heaven and now, finally, it has been overcome and cast out. What a struggle! What a wrestling! Victory is certain through Christ.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: . . . . (Revelation 12:9)
It was the serpent who deceived Eve and Adam. He is the ancient serpent, dating back to a period before the creation of the heavens and the earth. He is the adversary, the accuser. He deceives and destroys the nations of the earth. He is the father of lies.
. . . he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)
The evil lords of darkness, of Ephesians 6:12, are cast out of the heaven and into the earth. What a time of rejoicing for those who dwell in the heavens! What a time of darkness for the earth!
Can you imagine the state of the earth when a multitude of enraged, frustrated, wicked angels are deposed from their heavenly vantage points and forced to live among mankind? The earth is close to Hell now; but in the future the earth will become the very suburb of Hell, for the lords of darkness will be dwelling here among people.
This is the righteousness of God. The evil spirits and the people whom they have deceived are in agreement concerning the conduct of life on the earth. Why, then, should they not dwell together?
Those who love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ will shine as the sun in that day.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: . . . . (Revelation 12:10)
Jesus declared: "If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you" (Luke 11:20). The Kingdom of God is associated with the casting out of evil spirits, which is the negative aspect of the Christian redemption.
The casting of the dragon and his angels out of the heavens is the coming of salvation. It is the coming of power. It is the coming of the Kingdom of our God. It is the coming of the authority of His Christ.
The "loud voice" may be that of Gabriel who is one of the chief messengers of God. It is not a weak voice, it is a strong voice. The proclamation thunders throughout the boundaries of the heaven: "The salvation, the power, and the Kingdom of our God have come. The authority of God's Christ has come."
. . . for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)
The expression "our brothers" reveals that the elect on earth and the elect in Heaven are one family. Paul charged Timothy before God, Christ, and the elect angels (I Timothy 5:21). The holy angels who chose to obey God have an interest in the outcome of the Christian travail. The army in Heaven and the army in the earth have much in common: each is composed of servants of the Lord God of Heaven.
Notice the phrase, "the accuser of our brothers." One of the principal works of the dragon is holding before God the imperfections of His saints. The adversary is intent on bringing down to destruction every person that he can. The Lord's hands are weakened when His saints sin because the accuser then can emphasize to the Lord that God's chosen people are doing exactly as Satan does, therefore God is unjust to blame Satan when His own elect are practicing pride and disobedience (II Samuel 12:14).
God's hands are strengthened when He can demonstrate that His children will obey Him even when it becomes very unpleasant for them to maintain their trust in God. Then the accuser can find nothing to say (Job 2:3).
The accusations go on day and night concerning the elect. If Satan can discover a fault in one of the elect he magnifies it constantly to make sure that God is taking it into account. It is easy and convenient for one Christian to criticize another Christian because Satan already has provided the atmosphere for such criticism. We join in with Satan when we criticize our brothers and sisters.
When the Body of Christ has come to full stature the saints will possess the wisdom and strength required to overcome the evil age in which we are attempting to live righteously. As soon as Christ has been formed in the saints and has been caught up to God and to His throne, the accuser will be cast out of the heaven into the earth and his angels with him.
All God's creatures will profit from this victory. The atmosphere of the whole heavens will be purified by the removal of the nagging voice that constantly has repeated before the Father the shortcomings, the failings, the sins and disobedience of His saints. The nations will suffer at first but later will be brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
The blood of the Lamb overcomes.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)
In these three means of overcoming the dragon we find the three deaths and three resurrections that are the topic of this book. Since we are, in the present section, emphasizing the first death and resurrection, we will discuss the overcoming of the dragon by the blood of the Lamb.
There is ultimate authority and power in the blood of Christ. It is the one factor that makes it possible for God to accept us in our imperfections. When we come to Christ as an unsaved person the blood is spread over us as a protection against the wrath of Godwrath directed primarily against the evil spirits. The blood gives us firm standing before God Almighty, boldness before the Throne of God, before we are capable of one righteous act.
Then, as we abide in Christ, the righteous and holy fruit of the Spirit begins to grow in us. It is a slow but tangible process. Our nature begins to change into the righteous nature of Christ. In the meantime we sin often. If we are walking in the light of God's will, the blood covers our many sins and God continues to accept us.
When the Holy Spirit calls a sin to our attention we are to confess that sin and allow the blood of Christ to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The accuser keeps on pointing out to God our sins and failings but the blood of the Lamb keeps on covering our iniquities. As long as we are obedient to the Holy Spirit, the blood of Christ keeps us in right standing before God. This is how we overcome by means of the blood of the Lamb.
The Lord Jesus Christ gives us to eat and drink, in the spirit realm, of His body and bloodHis Divine Substance. The Wife of the Lamb is created on the body and blood of the Lamb of God. We must by faith keep on eating His flesh and drinking His blood. If we do not we have no life in us. Christ is the Tree of Life. As we partake of Him we keep on nourishing the Divine life in us.
There is evil in the earth today. One can notice the poisonous atmosphere of perversity that fills the environment, not only of the world but to a certain extent of the Christian churches as well. There is a depth of sin and rebellion that results in deeds that obviously are proceeding not from human nature but from the nature of Satan.
When we come in contact with this poison we are affected. If we are not abiding in the body and blood of the Lamb we may begin to fight back, attempting to meet this perversity with some evil of our own. We may endeavor to fight the devil's fire with a little fire of our own making. Whenever we do this we are reproved by the Holy Spirit.
The only possible manner in which evil can be overcome is by good. Not by the good of the flesh, however. We may have the best of intentions concerning overcoming evil with our own good, but the evil that surrounds us today is so poisonous that our good soon is overcome.
We are not able, in our own strength, to combat this sin and rebellion, this foulness, this perversity, this uncleanness, this satanic influence. There is only one remedy. It is the body and blood of the Lamb. Though the circumstances about us are conspiring to pull us down into the realm of hating and fretting, the body and blood of Christ are powerful enough to overcome all evil and to enable us to walk on our high places in God.
We can forgive all people and all circumstances through the heavenly virtue contained in the body and blood of Christ. By His body and blood we can overcome all evil no matter how poisonous. Try it and see for yourself!
It is not the Lord's will that you be bowed down with the evil of your surroundings. You cannot fight successfully against all the problems that are coming your way. Turn the battle over to the Lord. Ask Him for the renewing virtue of the body and blood of Christ to help you overcome the evil that is around you. You will receive a victory you never realized was possible, even though the circumstances may not change. The change may occur in you.
As we proceed along in our discipleship we come to realize that our daily conquering of the accuser depends on the blood of the Lamb in four ways:
The blood is our Passover protection from the overflowing wrath of God Almighty that is directed continually against the gods of the world.
The blood of the Lamb is our compensating, continuing righteousness as we proceed to bring forth the fruit of the Spiritthe moral image of Christ created in us.
There is authority in the blood to enable us to cleanse ourselves from unrighteous behavior.
The blood is our necessary drink that nourishes the Divine Substance of the Lamb in us.
These four elements of the grace of God are vital to our successful pursuit of overcoming strength.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
We Christians are not wrestling against flesh and blood. Our kingdom is not of the world or else we would fight with physical arms and violence. Our fight is against the armies of evil in the spirit realms. We are wrestling in the Spirit against rebellious lords, against authorities, against the rulers of the darkness of the present evil age, against spiritual powers poised on the heavenly vantage points.
The fight will not continue forever. The hour will arrive when we will conquer the enemy by the grace of God. That period is portrayed symbolically in Revelation, Chapter 12, and is the first of the three means by which we succeed in overcoming the accuser is the blood of the Lamb of God, Christ.
It is not a hopeless, eternal struggle. The conclusion is at hand. The Victor is the Lord Jesus Christ who first conquered on the cross of Calvary, who now is conquering, and who will conquer yet further through His Body, which is the Church.
The creation awaits the victory in the spirit realm. Heaven is intently observing the victorious saints on the wrestling mat. Salvation, power, the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ will come as the result of the triumph of the blood of Christ working on behalf of and within the saints.
How inspiring it is to realize that there will come an end to the struggle and that the saints finally will conquer! As soon as the "man child" (male Son) has been brought forth to God's standard of fullness and perfection, Michael and his angels will sweep the foe from the heavens. What an occasion of highest jubilation for the inhabitants of the heavens! What a time of hideous darkness for the inhabitants of the earth!
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (Revelation 12:12)
Let us who are of the Church of Christ be faithful to Him who has called us to be soldiers in His army. Let us walk in the light of the Holy Spirit, thereby laying hold on the all-powerful grace that is in the blood of the Lamb. It is by His blood that we will be successful in our struggle to overcome the ancient serpent, the lusts of our fleshly nature, and the poisonous atmosphere of the present wicked age in which we are attempting to please Christ.
Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. (I Samuel 16:13,14)
David was anointed king on three occasions.
The first anointing is described in the above passage.
The second anointing occurred immediately after the death of Saul, when David was anointed king over the house of Judah (II Samuel 2:4).
The third anointing installed David as king over the nation of Israel (II Samuel 5:3).
The three anointings of David typify the gradual extension of the power of the Lord Jesus in each of us, and also the extension of the power of Christ over the earth.
Samuel and Saul. Perhaps most of us are acquainted with the history of Judge Samuel and King Saul. The Israelites were not content with the rule of their judges and so they demanded of Samuel, the last of the judges and a prophet, that he anoint a king to rule them.
Samuel complied with their request but he did not approve of it. God mentioned to Samuel that Israel had not rejected Samuel but had rejected God Himself (I Samuel 8:7).
Saul, a type of the rule of the flesh and soul, was anointed by Samuel and set up as king over Israel. Saul never was able to please the Lord. He was a rallying point for the people and provided them with someone to idolize and serve in place of their invisible God.
Saul managed to keep himself in trouble with God and with Samuel. His rule was wholly unsatisfactory, just as the rule of the human mind in the Christian churches is wholly unsatisfactory and always in opposition to the Spirit of God.
God rejected Saul as king over Israel and picked David as the Divine choice. David of Bethlehem was anointed by Samuel. God told Samuel that this was a royal anointing and that David was to be king over Israel. However, Samuel did not announce the significance of what he was doing when he anointed David in the midst of his brothers because Saul was the ruler at the time. Saul would have put David to death immediately had he realized that Samuel had anointed David king over Israel.
When we first become saved we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, not just as Savior but as Savior and Lord. It is a while before some of us understand what we have donethat we have chosen to become a bondslave of Christ.
We may acknowledge Jesus as Lord (or else we could not enter salvation), but several years may pass before we become willing to allow Christ to rule our conduct and our decisions. Many Christians live out their lives without allowing Christ to rule them.
When we begin as a Christian, the Lord Jesus has been anointed King over our heart, soul, mind, and strength, just as David was anointed king over all Israel by the prophet, Samuel. Yet our flesh and soul still may be dominating our behavior just as Saul remained in command over Israel even though David had been anointed king.
As was true in the case of Samuel and David, the anointing of the Holy Spirit has come upon Christ who has been born in us, although our flesh remains in the bondage of sin, and King Self is enthroned in our heart. We may attempt to use the things of Christ to bless our fleshly, self-centered rule, just as Saul used David as a captain and a court musician. We maintain Saul (our self-will) as lord of our life while endeavoring to use the Lord Jesus to help us accomplish our own ends.
From the moment Samuel anointed David, Saul's removal from the throne was in sight. From the moment we accept the Lord Jesus Christ, our self-centered first personality is doomed. Our "old man" may cling to power for quite a while and cause our new nature much confusion and trouble. But from the time we accept Christ our natural life is scheduled for destruction.
After we receive Jesus as Savior and Lord we find that we now have two natures in us. There is the proud Saul, the flesh, who loves the praise of men. At the same time there is that "King David" in us who has been anointed and who is God's choice as ruler over us. Saul prevails for a season but David is destined to emerge as the permanent king.
Early in our Christian experience it appears that Christ never will achieve His purpose of being Lord over us. We become aware of the powerful hold our fleshly nature has on us. But in spite of what may be true of our nature, God wisely and powerfully is moving us toward the place where Christ is not only our Savior but also our personal Lord.
After David had entertained Saul for a while by serenading him, there came into view a giant by the name of Goliath. In spite of Saul's height and imposing personality he was not able to overcome Goliath. All Israel trembled at the daily challenges and the armies of Israel hid in their trenches.
David did not tremble. He placed his trust in the God of Israel and killed the giant with a simple weapon, using no conventional armor.
So it is with us. The newly-born Christ in us is able to accomplish with ease the deeds that our puffed-up fleshly nature cannot perform although it is full of self-confidence and boasting. Our old nature begins to understand that its end has come and that there is a new nature in us.
It is this way with Christian churches. There has come an anointing of the Holy Spirit on the churches in the present hour. God has rejected the fleshly attempts of man to bring about the Kingdom of God and is teaching us and directing us to lay aside our own wisdom and resources and to look to Him for the building of the Church.
The flesh and the Spirit may dwell together in the churches for a season, but eventually it will be demonstrated in the members of the Body of Christ that the Holy Spirit of God can perform the works of the Kingdom that never were accomplished by human efforts.
Then persecution will come because religious flesh will not tolerate the removal of its own prestige and the giving of all the glory to Christ.
Christ will not dwell in peace with the rule of men. He is our King today and also our coming King. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The day of the rule of flesh in the world and in the churches is rapidly coming to a conclusion.
We as individuals may attempt to use our experience in Christ to better our fleshly position. We may not be doing this deliberately but sometimes this is the case. Our religious endeavors may be serving self rather than the Spirit.
Jesus intends to be our Lord as well as our Savior and He demands unswerving allegiance and obedience from us. No longer are we to attempt to use Christ merely as a beneficial addition to our life. He is to become our life and we are to lay down our own plans and ambitions so His needs may be serviced.
There are many people in our day who have received Jesus as Savior but never have accepted the lordship of Christ.
Apparently Saul had not really given serious consideration to David until the victory over Goliath. Then he suddenly woke up to the fact that David existed. He asked: "Whose son art thou, thou young man?" (I Samuel 17:58). It began to enter Saul's mind that David was a challenge to his preeminence.
After we have been Christians for a season and have entertained our flesh and soul with the things of Christ, our self-centeredness wakes up to the fact that Christ will interfere with our desire to build ourselves up and to adorn ourselves with the praise and approval of men.
"Whose son are you?" our flesh asks.
The answer returns: "I am the Son of God. I am your Lord."
Soon after this the daughters of Israel began to sing about the "thousands" of Saul and the "ten thousands" of David. Saul exploded with envy and hurled his javelin at David. From then on Saul was determined that David must die.
We come to seasons in our pilgrimage of faith when our old self-seeking nature begins to realize that either it or Christ must prevail in our situation. There can be only one master of the house.
As Christ begins to come to maturity in the Christian churches, the denominational governments and forms may be pleased for a season. The gifts of the Spirit are attractive. The religious institutions will seek to use the things of the Spirit to serenade themselves. Eventually, however, the fleshly rule of the denominations will understand that it has its "thousands" but Christ has His "ten thousands."
When the leaders of the denominations, and of the independent churches as well, recognize that Christ Himself intends to command the undivided allegiance of His saints, they may turn their attention to the task of attempting to destroy the Spirit of Christ. They may reject the Seed of Abraham, the elect of God who are in the Christian churches but who are not married to the churches.
The days ahead of us will witness the persecution of the saints by the religious organizations, by some of the men and women who today are prominent in Christianity. The Lord's followers are not to be alarmed but are to stand fast in Christ. They are to keep their gaze steadfast on Him, knowing that the final, glorious victory has been assigned already to Christ and His true Church by the Lord God Almighty. We are more than conquerors through Christ.
David was forced to flee from the cities of Saul. He came to the cave Adullam (I Samuel 22:1). There David gathered to himself the distressed, the debtors, and the discontentedabout four hundred men. Four is the number of the anointing.
The feast of Pentecost was the fourth of the Levitical feasts.
The Lampstand was the fourth of the holy vessels of the Tabernacle and dominated, by its light and its ornamentation, the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
These four hundred men were the beginning of David's army, his mighty men, those who were trained by him in the wilderness and who later came into power with him.
Notice that it was the distressed, the debtors, and the discontented. So it is in the churches today. Many are at ease in Zion. Then there are those whose hearts yearn toward Christ, toward the Life of the Spirit of God.
They are distressed because the Presence and power of Christ are not more in evidence in the churches. They are debtors because they have not succeeded too well under the present regime. They are discontented because their own lives are coming short of the holiness and fruitfulness they desire and hope for.
These are people who do not fit the present system of Christianity. They gather themselves together with their Lord, who also is out of the camp of acceptability at this time. It is from this group of misfits that Christ is forming His mighty men, His heroes of faith. When He comes into glory they will come into glory with Him.
It always has been so. There was a large, well-established religious organization in Israel while John the Baptist and Jesus were bearing witness of the Person and will of God. The priests and Pharisees did not run out to join themselves with Christ. They were succeeding well in their society. They made sure that they were not in distress, in debt, or discontented, even if it meant robbing widows and orphans in order to maintain their own prosperity. Those whom Christ called were not, for the most part, prominent in the social structure of Israel.
Saul made several attempts to destroy David but to no avail. God watched over David. God through Samuel had anointed David king over Israel. Fleshly Christianity, whether of an organization or of an individual, eventually will fail. Christ who is being formed in us is destined to reign at the right hand of God for eternity.
Christ must remain "in the wilderness" for a season even though He has been anointed King. Let us go outside the camp with Him, bearing His reproach. When He is revealed we shall be revealed together with Him.
There is much to be accomplished while we are wandering in the wilderness. The army of the Lord is being formed and trained now in preparation for the return of Christ to the earth.
Saul drifted further and further from the Presence of the Lord and finally was slain in battle. Saul was not slain by David but in a war with the Philistines. We Christians are not to fret ourselves concerning the conduct of the wicked of the earth or the blind religious people. We are not to attempt to harm other people. God will execute all judgment in His own time and in His own manner.
David could not return to receive his rightful kingdom until Saul had been slain. Christ's lordship over our lives cannot be established until our old nature has been brought down to defeat by the circumstances into which the Holy Spirit leads us. The reign of human nature over the Church of Christ is coming to an end. Saul, the flesh, has had his day. The head of man cannot be placed on the Body of Christ.
Our Lord Jesus stands at the door of our heart, requesting that we receive Him as King. Will we do it? Will we open up the everlasting doors that the King of Glory may enter?
The anointed King approaches. God has chosen the Lord Jesus as the rightful King over all God's creation. Christ has been anointed King. Even though it appears at times that Christ always will remain on the fringes of the affairs of the earth, God cannot be mocked. The King that God has anointed is waiting patiently until His enemies have been made His footstool.
When the Day of Christ arrives there will be no authority or power in the heavens or on the earth that will be able in any manner to prevent Christ from ascending His rightful throne.
In our hearts Christ has been anointed King. Now He may be in exile in the wilderness of our life, abiding in the cave Adullam while Saul, our self-centered nature, rules our motives, words, and deeds. Our fleshly nature may be reigning over us but Christ is our God-appointed Lord.
How long will we permit this unlawful state to continue? Why do we not "speak a word of bringing the King back?" Why don't we choose now to go outside the camp with Him and become one of His mighty men? If we do, we will sit at His table in His Kingdom just as Christ promised His mighty men, His apostles.
Sooner or later every other leader, every other rulership, must yield to Christ, whom God has appointed. The yielding will be either voluntary or by the force of His iron rod of righteousness. David was terrible in battle because God was bringing his enemies under his feet. Saul made a strong start but proceeded to lose in battle because his heart was not steadfast with God.
Christ also is terrible in battle, as His enemies soon are to discover. Let us not be enemies of Christ. Let us gladly and willingly accept His lordship over our life. Then we shall be able to rejoice when He receives the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession.
Christ will receive His Kingdom just as certainly as David received his. One day He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over this earth. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:1-4)
The three temptations of Christ, as recorded in Luke, include the three major ways in which each son of God is tested. These three trials correspond to the three deaths and resurrections that are the topic of this book.
Each son of God is tested concerning the issue of physical comfort and survival on the earth.
Each son of God is tested concerning the issue of serving sin or serving righteousness.
Each son of God is tested concerning the issue of personal achievement and steadfast obedience to the Father's will.
These three tests become progressively more difficult and pursue us throughout our lifetime just as they pursued Christ throughout His lifetime. Christ was tested in all the areas in which we are tested.
We are applying the meaning of the three testings of Christ only to those sincere Christians who are doing their best to serve the Lord each day. Jesus was walking in the Spirit, not in the appetites of the flesh, when He was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness of temptation. If you are walking in disobedience your troubles are resulting from your sinning and are a judgment from the Lord (I Corinthians 11:32).
As soon as we are set apart by the Holy Spirit as Christians we are led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness of testing and instruction, not into the fullness of fruitfulness and rulership promised us in the Scriptures.
When the Holy Spirit, the Anointing of the Servant of the Lord, came upon the Lord Jesus, He returned from the place of the anointing and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Notice that it was the Holy Spirit who led Christ into the wilderness. It is not the devil who leads us into fiery trials it is the Spirit of the Lord.
Do not make the mistake of blaming people or circumstances for your problems. You have been directed into your present distresses by the Lord provided you are following Him in daily discipleship. Do not become angry or discouraged because of what people do or what happens to you. These problems are necessary for your growth in Christ.
If you lash back at people and fight against your circumstances you only will cause harm to yourself and those around you, just as Peter caused harm when he cut off the ear of Malchus at the time of Jesus' capture. Peter accomplished nothing by so doing, and you will accomplish nothing if you lift the hand of the flesh against your enemies except to "cut off their ear so they cannot hear").
Look to God and learn the lessons that accompany each trial and are the reason for the trial. Then you will blame neither people nor circumstances and your heart will remain free of bitterness and discouragement.
The wilderness: a place of struggle. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness of testing. Christ was tested by the devil, not by the Holy Spirit. Although it is the Spirit who leads us into the problem area, the testings are caused by the devil.
The wilderness of temptation is a struggle for our inheritance in the Lord. It is not a place to be foolish or careless. We are sifted by the devil and much comes out of our nature for examination. Our eternal destiny is determined by our responses in the wilderness of testing.
Christ ate nothing in those days, indicating that the wilderness is not a place of comfort and ease. No chastening for the present seems joyous but grievous. We must arm ourselves with a mind to suffer. It is good to be very cautious, not indulging ourselves, when we are under pressure.
If we cannot accept the thought of suffering and are unwilling to suffer for the sake of the Kingdom of God, it is impossible for us to reign with Christ. If we are to know the power of His resurrection we also must experience the fellowship of His sufferings.
Afterward Christ was hungry.
Our struggle in the wilderness leaves us famished for the good things of lifeand for life itself. It is a period of deprivation. Sometimes our friends cannot share the burden of our situation. We are the only ones who feel the thorns. The lack of sympathy and understanding from other people makes the experience even more painful.
During the time of hunger the devil came to Jesus. Satan began to speak after the forty days of fasting had been completed. The devil speaks to us when we are weak. He waits until we have been weakened by circumstances. Then he moves in with his counsel.
And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, . . . . (Luke 4:3)
Satan did not say, Since you are the Son of God, but If you are the Son of God.
He approaches you and me in the same manner. He always raises the question of our position in God, hoping to deceive us into reacting in some unholy way, either in doubt, discouragement, fear, anger, or presumption. Our trial begins with the raising of the question of our calling and our relationship to our Father in the heaven. But the Word of God remains true: "As many as received him, to them gave he power (authority) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
The "bread" temptation.
. . . command this stone that it be made bread. (Luke 4:3)
The "bread" temptation is the first problem many people encounter when the call of God comes to them: If I serve God, how will I eat? How will my children eat? Where will my clothes and my house come from? How will other people treat me? Who will take care of me if I do not use all my time and ability to take care of myself?
It is not a question of sin but survival that causes concern to many would-be disciples of the Lord Jesus. People often have refused to serve God because they have placed the acquiring of material goods, and their own safety and comfort, ahead of the seeking of the Kingdom of God. "After I figure out how all the expenses will be met I will serve the Lord."
We are not advocating that people should quit their tasks in the world and trust God for food. The issue here is that of placing our lives and safety in the hands of God, making the serving of Him the first and most important consideration of our thoughts and actions, or else making our own survival and comfort the most important consideration of our thoughts and actions. Who is our God, money or the Lord?
Everyone has to eat, has to be clothed, has to support his family. God understands this better than we do. God has promised that He is to be depended on to provide our needs.
"Consider the lilies."
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God."
We need to meditate on what Jesus has stated concerning the responsibility God has assumed concerning the material provisions for our survival and comfort, and then decide whether or not the Lord can be trusted (Matthew 6:24-34).
The first temptation is the issue of bread. Mankind seems determined to prove that people are animals whose business in life is that of working, eating, playing, sleeping, and reproducing. If these areas are taken care of man is complete and satisfied.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the life of the animal. An animal eats, plays, sleeps, reproduces, andin some instancesworks. If it works, the dog does so in order that it may be able to eat, play, sleep, and reproduce. Man can reduce himself to the animal level if he chooses to do so. He can abide as a creature of the dirt and dwell in filth and degradationfar worse off than a well kept animal.
However, people are the offspring of God, not of apes. The Spirit of God calls men up from the dirt of the ground so they may ascend to their lawful place among the stars. God calls us up and up while the world and our flesh drag us down until we are living as hogs in a pen.
We make the choice. Can man live by bread alone? That is the issue. Can people have a significant life on the earth apart from the Life of God, apart from the fellowship and blessing of God their Father? Or is it necessary that people partake continually of the Substance of God so they may truly live in this age and possess eternal life in the ages to come?
"Command this stone that it be made bread," says the tempter. "Turn all your God-given resources to the task of human survival. The most important aspect of life is the food you put into your mouth."
Notice that Jesus demonstrated His faith in the Father by not commanding the stone to be made bread. This is somewhat different from the current "faith" teaching.
"Eat, drink, and play. This is the whole meaning and purpose of existence. Do not pay attention to God's Word because He is not trustworthy and His desire for you is that you may be deprived of what is necessary and desirable for your stay on the earth." Such is the counsel of the devil to us in the first temptation. How will we answer?
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4)
There is more to life than food. A human being possesses a body, a soul, and a spirit. Vegetables and meat nourish the human flesh; but in addition to these calories and nutrients people must receive the nourishment that comes from the Divine Life of God. When people do not receive on a consistent basis the nourishment that comes from God's Presence, the soul and spirit wither and die, and the body itself suffers from lack of the healing, invigorating touch of the Lord.
Christ Himself is the Tree of Life. The fruit of the tree of life gives us eternal life and the leaves of the tree are for our healing.
As Christ is created in the Church, the members of the Body of Christ become part of the Tree of Life. They become life-giving spirits (I Corinthians 15:45). The fruit of the righteous person is a tree of life bringing forth fruit in season (Psalms One).
No person can live by natural food alone. If we do not partake of the Life of God there is no real life in us. We are as an animal that comes forth from the dust and returns to the dustalthough our soul must give an account of itself to God.
Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. (John 6:27)
God the Father has authorized His Son, Jesus, as the only One who can provide the true bread by which people gain eternal life.
And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35)
Many of the Jews began to follow the Lord Jesus when they realized He had the power to multiply loaves and fish. It was not the fact of the miracle that attracted them but the desire to have a ready supply of food. Jesus reproved them for their shortsightedness and presented Himself as the food and drink that a person must receive if he is to live in the Kingdom of God.
Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:53,54)
Christ Himself is the Word of God made flesh. He is the Substance of God Almighty. When we by faith partake of the body and blood of Christ we are partaking of the Life of God.
The Life Substance of God nourishes our being. The Life of God creates eternal life in our spirit and soul and will extend to our mortal body in the Day of Christ. The revealing of the eternal Divine Life that is in us will take place with the appearing of our Lord and Savior, Christ.
There is no true life apart from Christ. Whoever has not received the body and blood of the Lord Jesus is dead. He may possess a beating heart and walk in conscious existence on the earth. He may be highly educated, talented, wealthy, handsome, personable, and athletic.
But he is dead! His "life" proceeds from vegetables, grains, animal flesh, and dairy products. He is as the grass of the fielda fine show for a brief period but destined soon to wither and pass away. All flesh is as grass. It flourishes for a short time and then perishes (Isaiah, Chapter 40).
The combined efforts of the nations of the earth to improve the human condition are useless. People apart from Christ are little more than highly intelligent animals. Civilization is a pitiful spectacle of the helpless groping of mankind for light and peace.
God loves His offspring even though He always punishes them for their sins. Man was created in the image of God. He is destined to sit on the highest throne of the universe. However, this ascent is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ. People remain in darkness and death until they eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood.
Christ is eternal Life. When we eat Him and drink His blood we receive into ourselves the Divine Substance of God. Just as natural food builds muscle and bone, so the Word of God in Christ builds spiritual substance in the human personality. We cannot live by natural food alone. We are so constituted that we must partake of the Substance of the Lord God or we soon dissolve back into the dust of the ground.
Christ is that Bread from the heaven.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57)
Christ lives by the Father.
When we humans go several days without food we become listless. The vital force leaves us and we drag about in misery. We, in this sense, live by food. Without food we pass away.
So it is in the spirit realm. We must keep on partaking of Christ. We are to eat Him and live by Him. As we keep ourselves in the place where Christ can come to us and nourish us, our spiritual life grows healthy and strong. We receive the body and blood of Christ by prayer, by meditation in the Scriptures, by the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit, by fellowship with other Christians.
As believers we are to make a conscious effort to seek Christ and to receive His Life on a continuing basis or we will turn away and devote our energy and attention to pursuing the things of the flesh.
The most important task of the Christian discipleship is to abide in the Vine, in Christ. Abiding in the Vine requires ceaseless diligence and giving ourselves to the mind of the Spirit of God. Being a saint is a full-time business.
When we are faithful in seeking the Lord, He keeps on nourishing our personality with His body and blood. This is the true food and drink of mankind. The body and blood of Christ are eternal Life.
People are concerned about their survival, particularly in the area of food and drink. Satan attempts to occupy us solely with the pursuit of the survival and comfort of our flesh. Soon we may find ourselves working at two or three jobs, leaving no time for Christ.
We may justify our excessive concern with material provisions by claiming that our family needs the money for this thing or that situation. The fact is, we have deprived ourselves and our loved ones of the one requirement of lifethe Presence of Christ, the living Word of God.
It is better for us to possess little of the substance of the world if poverty will help us to be rich in the blessings of God.
The Lord Jesus has stated that God will insure we are provided with food, clothes, and shelter. It is our responsibility to spend part of each day in the diligent seeking of the Lord. If we do not spend time seeking the Lord we truly have robbed ourselves and those who depend on us of the elements of spiritual survival. We shall be seen in the end to have wasted our lives, having turned aside from the glorious inheritance the Lord has offered to us.
How foolish and tragic! Such a needless impoverishment of a human being when the Lord Jesus stands ready to supply the spiritual food by which we obtain eternal life!
Let us make sure we are not among those who are throwing away their lives by ignoring the Bread whom God has given. Let us rather seek first the Kingdom of God, being aware that He who cannot lie has advised us that all the necessities of life will be added to us if we put Christ in first place in all that we think and do.
Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Can you notice the immediacy here? God speaks and we live, moment by moment, moment by moment. We live because of Christ as Christ lives because of the Father. How does that sound to you? Is that kind of living something you desire?
The concept presented in this book is that there are three areas of redemption. We have termed the first area salvation. The meaning of salvation, as we are using the word, is that we have been separated from the ranks of those who will be destroyed because of God's wrath on sin. In the Scripture, however, the term salvation sometimes is employed to denote the entire scope of transformation into a son of God (Hebrews 2:3).
The concept of salvation is that of deliverance from destruction, whereas the entire plan of transformation includes not only deliverance from destruction but also the removal of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin from us; the creation in us of the image of the Lord Jesus Christ; and our incorporation into the Being of Christ in God.
One of the clearest types of basic salvation, as we have seen, is the story of Noah's Ark and the flood. Noah and the flood portray in symbolic form the events attending the coming of our Lord and Savior, Christ. The destruction came from below and from above.
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of the heaven were opened. (Genesis 7:11)
The "six hundredth year" speaks of the time when the Church comes into the image of God, the number six being the day of creation when man was made in God's image.
The citing of the exact day of the calendar ("the seventeenth day of the month") refers to the fact that God is specific about the judgment to comeit is a precise day and hour and in no manner will be left to random occurrence. The demons will not be tormented "before the time."
The "fountains of the deep" were broken up, indicating that the first part of the trouble will be the horrendous calamities and catastrophes that will result from the casting of Satan and his angels into the earth by the hand of Michael and his army (Revelation 12:12).
The "windows of the heaven were opened," portraying the wrath of God that will be poured from above after the natural disasters of earth have wreaked havoc on the planet.
Noah's Ark typifies all who are to be saved from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9). Those who are abiding under the blood of Christ need have no fear concerning the destruction that soon is to come on the world. The forces of judgment will serve to buoy up the believers in Christ.
Here, then, is the meaning of salvation in the Day of the Lord. Salvation is deliverance from the wrath that will be poured on the world because of its wickedness, and includes also the inheritance of peace and joy in Christ throughout the endless ages to come.
If we believe in Christ, are baptized in water, turn from our wicked ways, and serve God during the remainder of our years on the earth, we will be saved in the Day of Judgment. This is God's promise to us. We will be spared as was Rahab of old.
We have discussed salvation, the first area of redemption, from several viewpoints: the gate and Courtyard of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the first major convocation of the Levitical feasts; the exodus from Egypt; the first three days of creation; Ezekiel's river to the ankles; thirtyfold bearing of the fruit of the Holy Spirit; the lowest level of Noah's Ark; the blood of the Lamb; the first anointing of David; and the first temptation of Christ.
It is of the greatest importance that a person be saved from the Divine wraththat he or she believe in Christ as personal Savior and Lord. Apart from a saving knowledge of Christ there is no opportunity for proceeding to become all that God has determined concerning us. Apart from Christ we face a dreadful future.
Let us assume that our reader has believed in Christ as Lord and Savior. Where do we go from here? Is there more to the Divine plan of salvation than escape from the wrath of the Day of Judgment?
Yes, there certainly is. Do you have the desire to press forward in Christ, in His plan of redemption? Let us go on from here and consider what the Lord God of Heaven has in store for us.
Christ asks you: "Will you be saved?"
If your answer is Yes, He will bring you through death to the world and resurrection with Him to eternal life.
You then will be able to escape the wrath that soon is to fall upon the world. You will be permitted to stand before the Son of Man. You will abide as one of God's redeemed children throughout the measureless eons of eternity.