PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK

Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved An excerpt from The Land of Promise , by Robert B. Thompson

The rest of God is not Heaven. The land of promise is not Heaven. The land of promise is the earth and the nations of the earth. The rest of God is the place of abiding in the bosom of the Father until all our enemies have been made our footstool by means of the sovereign working of Christ in us.

The land of promise of the Hebrews was described specifically in several passages of the Old Testament writings. The land of promise of the Christians also has been set forth specifically in the Scriptures. In many instances we Christians have little or no idea what our promised land is. Therefore we cannot address ourselves to the struggle as we should.

We must look to the Holy Spirit to interpret the Old Testament type of the land of promise for us. As we do we can set ourselves toward the true goal of the Christian life and not become weighed down with the aimlessness, carelessness, and indifference to spiritual growth that so readily can overtake the person who has no clear mark toward which he or she is pressing.

For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:)

Table of Contents

Foreword Introduction War Legal and Actual Possession Following the Spirit The Inheritance

PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK

Foreword

Do you know what the Christian land of promise is? Is Heaven the goal of the Christian warfare? Or is Heaven a station along the way while God’s conquerors are being prepared to invade the land of promise?

Did Christ come to earth in order to bring us to Heaven so we may live there forever? Is this what the Scriptures teach?

The land of promise of the Hebrews was Canaan, an area filled with demon-worshiping tribes. The children of Israel were directed by the Lord God to enter Canaan and take possession of it. They were to slay without mercy the inhabitants of the cities. The purged Canaan was the "rest of God," the permanent abiding place of the Lord’s people.

Is the conquest of Canaan a type of our entering and taking possession of Heaven?

 Pressing Toward the Mark explains the goal of the Christian warfare and sets forth the steps that lead to the fullness of victory in Christ.

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. (Philippians 3:14)

There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)

Introduction

The objective of Israel in the desert was to enter and occupy Canaan. Canaan was the "land flowing with milk and honey."

 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8)

The Sinai wilderness through which Israel wandered for forty years is a hot, forbidding desert. There are wells and springs, a short rainy season in winter, and some vegetation. But on the whole, the Sinai wilderness is a place of mountains, boulders, and sandstone hills, relieved by several oases.

By contrast, the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is a productive and delightful place in which to live. The geographical features permit extensive farming of grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. The abundance of pasturelands makes the raising of livestock a profitable undertaking.

The mineral resources include iron, copper, and petroleum. With hard work the Israelites were able to live in abundance. During the reign of King Solomon the nation of Israel achieved a prosperity equaled by few other world cultures.

Even today the land of Israel is viewed by the large nations as having strategic importance when viewed from the standpoint of world politics.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews suggests that the wilderness wandering (Chapter Three of Hebrews), and Canaan itself (Chapter Four—the promised land "rest") are symbolic of the nature of our Christian discipleship and the goal of that discipleship. The "rest" of Hebrews is typified by the land of Canaan as well as by the resting of God on the seventh day of creation (Hebrews 4:4-8).

The Book of Jude also applies the wilderness wandering to the perils of our journey.

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)

Therefore when we present the pilgrimage of the Hebrews through the wilderness and their invasion of Canaan as a type of our Christian experience we have solid backing in the New Testament.

Exactly what, then, is the Christian land of promise, the land "flowing with milk and honey"? What is the ultimate victory of the Christian battle? Toward what are we moving? Of what joy and blessing are the third and fourth chapters of Hebrews speaking?

There is more to the Christian inheritance than our initial acceptance of Christ, since the letter to the Hebrews, which was written to experienced Christians, uses the expression "any of you should seem to come short of it." Come short of what?

Is the Christian’s promised land Heaven? Paradise? The new Jerusalem? The resurrection from the dead? Christ Himself?

These terms are not all synonymous except in a broad sense. They all have to do with the promised land, the "rest" of Hebrews, Chapters Three and Four. But it may be true that the Lord’s people are not always certain how the above terms are related.

The land of promise of the Hebrews was described specifically in several passages of the Old Testament writings. The land of promise of the Christians also has been set forth in the Scriptures but it is much more comprehensive than the Old Testament goal.

The redemption that is in Christ has a specific beginning, a specific working out in our life, and a specific conclusion—a goal, a "mark" toward which we are to press (Philippians 3:14). All of the goal is summed up in Christ. As we proceed in our book we shall endeavor to set forth some particular aspects of the goal.

In many instances we Christians have little or no idea what our promised land is. We are as a runner with no finish line, a contender for an uncertain prize, a soldier given unclear commands, a sailor on a ship with no destination—at least none that is known to us. Therefore we cannot address ourselves to the struggle as we should.

Other than the prospect of Heaven we are not sure precisely what we are to be accomplishing, what our inheritance in Christ actually is. But the Apostle Paul was pressing toward a "mark"; and we know from the context of Philippians 3:14 that Paul’s "mark" was not referring to Heaven.

We are not sure precisely where we are going, what our inheritance in Christ actually is.

We do know we have been saved from wrath and we believe we shall go to Heaven when we die. Beyond that we are not too clear where we are going, what we will be doing, or what we ourselves will be like.

We must look to the Holy Spirit to interpret the Old Testament type of the land of promise so we can set ourselves toward the true goal of the Christian life and not become encumbered with the aimlessness, carelessness, and indifference to spiritual growth that can so easily weaken Christian fervor.

In this book, Pressing Toward the Mark , we will be pointing toward Christ Himself—the full grasp upon all that He is—as the fulfillment of the land of Canaan. It is apparent that the Apostle Paul viewed Christ Himself as the "rest" of God, the goal of the Christian discipleship.

Would you like to journey with us as we press on to the possession of the fullness of God’s promises in Christ?

 War

And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:22-24)

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)

God did all the fighting when the Hebrew slaves made their exodus from Egypt. God struck the land of Egypt with plagues, finally slaying the firstborn of man and animal. The Pharaoh of Egypt opposed the release of his slaves but God broke the back of his resistance. No armed rebellion of the Hebrews themselves was necessary to accomplish the obtaining of their freedom.

Christ Himself, with the assistance of no human being, paid the full price for our redemption on the cross of Calvary. The Son of God came into full confrontation with the God of this age, and by His obedience to the Father totally destroyed the authority over mankind maintained by Satan. Jesus—and Jesus alone—destroyed the authority of the devil.

But when the Israelites entered their land of promise, they had to fight. God helped, intervening on their side in many instances. But the Jews had to fight!

Can this be true also of us Christians? Is it a fact that while Christ accomplished our initial salvation by Himself, we also must fight (with God’s help) fierce battles against a vicious and determined enemy in order to enter our inheritance, into the "rest of God"?

There is a time when the Christian is to be a sheep, wandering in the wilderness of instruction under the guidance of the Good Shepherd, sometimes fighting minor skirmishes as the Lord leads. But the day will come when the Christian becomes a soldier in the Lord’s army and follows his Commander in Chief, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty in battle, into the crushing assault on all the forces of the enemy.

The kingdom of darkness will be destroyed by Christ acting through the Church, the Body of Christ!

Because the battles of the Lord are fought by the army of angels as well as by the army of Israel it was necessary for Joshua to meet the commander of the angelic troops.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? (Joshua 5:13)

How often has the Christian Church, and how often have we as individuals, attempted to fight the battles of the Lord using only human strength and wisdom and material resources? But when we come up against strongly entrenched positions of the enemy we begin to understand that the Lord Jesus fights in the spiritual and in the natural realms at the same time.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. As soon as we achieve victory in the spirit realm, victory is possible on the earth. The cooperation of spiritual and human forces, as the Holy Spirit directs, is necessary before the fortresses of Hell can be demolished.

Through the Lord Jesus Christ, God will destroy completely the entire kingdom of unclean spirits from the least to the greatest. Total victory is ahead for the Church, the Body of Christ. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8).

The mission of Christ (the Anointed Deliverer) is to break the yoke of Satan and set men free. Christians are to take up this mission, following the Lord Jesus wherever He goes, being filled to overflowing with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

After coming across the "Red Sea" (being baptized in water into the death and resurrection of Christ) we soon find ourselves, not in any promised land of power, glory, and excellent fruits but in a "waste howling wilderness," in an uninhabited desert, spiritually speaking.

The "wilderness" experience is the school of the Holy Spirit. In the wilderness we learn to "eat manna" (to depend continually on Christ for our life, our strength, our wisdom, our holiness and righteousness). We are taught to "follow the cloud by day and the fire by night" (to wait patiently for the leading of the Holy Spirit; to walk in the blessings that come during the "day," and also to follow the judgments of God’s Word through the "nights" of our discipleship).

We learn how to be healed spiritually and physically by gazing at the "brass serpent" (by looking to the redemption that flows from our Lord Jesus on the cross). We understand that God means exactly what He says and that those who disobey the Lord’s revealed will for their lives soon find themselves in difficult and painful situations.

We Christians are taught many lessons in the wilderness. It was in the wilderness, at Mount Sinai, that the Ten Commandments were issued by the Lord. In the Christian experience it is in struggling faithfully through problems and troubles, as we attempt each day to follow the Lord, that we begin to come under the law of the Spirit of life. Trouble, perplexity, persecution press us into Christ so He can be formed in us.

One of the principal reasons for wandering in the wilderness is preparation for war. When a Christian is first redeemed he may not be wise or strong enough to stand up successfully during vigorous spiritual combat. Think about the meaning of the following passage:

 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)

This was a long unpleasant detour to the south!

We learn valuable and eternal lessons during our "wilderness wandering" if we respond readily to the Holy Spirit and are good students. We are taught how to follow God; and we become strong in the Lord provided we exercise faith, courage, perseverance, and single-minded resoluteness in our determination to follow Christ all the way to the fullness of the realization of the promises of God (Hebrews 3:14).

The knowledge and strength we gain in the wilderness will make it possible for us to stand when God begins to bring us against the enemies who are in possession of our inheritance, our rest, our land of promise. Every trace of sin, rebellion, and self-seeking must be purged from our personalities.

If God were to bring us immediately into spiritual victory, responsibility, and power it is likely we would be tricked into deception by the cunning devices of Satan. The wilderness is not a good land, and Satan does not press us too much as long as we are wandering about in a hot desert wasteland, so to speak, far from the rich treasures of the Lord.

God calls us from our bondages and then promises that He is taking us to a glorious and fruitful land of peace and joy. The land of promise is our inheritance. It is the rest of God, the abiding of God in His people and they in Him. It is the land of fulfilled dreams, the impossible come true, the end of the rainbow.

However, there is a problem with the fulfillment of the glorious dream, with the end of the rainbow. It was a problem for the Hebrews and it is a problem for Christian believers. The difficulty is this: the land of promise is occupied. It is not vacant, ready to be taken over by God’s flock. Our land of promise is occupied at this time by God’s enemies.

The land of promise of Israel was occupied by savage tribes who practiced devilish idolatries, including the worship of their sexual lusts and the burning of their children in the fire as sacrificial offerings. Their abominable, degrading, demon-possessed patterns of behavior had been intensifying the wrath of God during the time Israel was multiplying in Egypt.

It was God’s intention to use Israel as the sword of His judgment against the Philistines, just as it now is God’s intention to use the Christians as the Holy Spirit-directed Word of God, the fiery Word of judgment, against the kingdom of Satan. The land of promise, in whatever form it takes, always is occupied by evil spirits until, in God’s appointed time, they are driven out by those who are obedient, holy, and anointed with the Spirit of God.

 When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: (Deuteronomy 7:1,2)

Legal and Actual Possession

God has given Christians many things to possess: their own spirit, soul, and body, the nations, the earth, the heavens, all of God’s creation. All things belong to those who are coheirs with Christ. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Revelation 21:7).

 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; (I Corinthians 3:22)

God has given all things to us legally through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. In actuality , however, many of the good parts of our inheritance are still occupied by a hierarchy of wicked spirits. The only answer to the illegal occupying presence of wicked spirits is war—Spirit-led, determined, consistent, never-say-die war!

How else can one take possession of an occupied territory?

There can be a difference between the legal and the actual possession of something. In most instances we actually possess the things we own legally—our car, our house, our clothes. But when the car is stolen or the house burns to the ground or the clothes are lost, we can see at once that there may be a difference between legal and actual possession.

We still own the car but someone else is driving it. We still own the house but it is a blackened ruin. We still own the hat but we left it somewhere and it no longer can keep our head warm. When someone steals our car we still own it but we no longer possess it. We cannot drive the certificate of title to work.

The state government may authorize the funds to provide a college education for every citizen of the state. The state "gives" each young person and adult a college education, so to speak. But the state does not give him or her a diploma. The person must go to school before he can claim to be a college graduate.

The King of England granted certain rights of settlement to pioneers in what is now New England. The king gave them a charter but the settlers had to set forth and possess the rocky and forested land by years of backbreaking labor. They encountered severe hardships and fierce opposition while making their homes in the New World.

The difference between the legal and the actual possession of a place or thing is an important distinction and must be understood by anyone who wishes to make a success of the overcoming Christian life.

God has given us all things by Christ. Do we possess all things?

Christ died for the sins of all men. Do all men have their sins forgiven?

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)

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)

Through the lashes laid on Jesus all of us were healed from every sickness. Have all been healed?

 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; (Psalms 103:3)

The Holy Spirit is ready to enter the dead spirit of every person. Does everyone have the Spirit of life from God?

 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)

God has given to us perfect peace and joy through Christ. Do all Christians have perfect peace and joy? It is the will of God that every Christian stand perfect and complete in Christ, sanctified in spirit, soul, and body. Is this true of every Christian?

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23)

We cannot gain our inheritance in Christ other than by taking up our cross and following the Lord with total diligence. We must stake out our claim and then follow the Lord faithfully until we inherit all that God has promised.

 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:3,4)

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14)

In the above four passages we can observe the difference between the legal and the actual possession of the land of promise; between our legal position in Christ and our actual experience of living the Christian life.

Notice the emphasis on our position in Christ, in Romans 6:6 and Colossians 3:3 (quoted above). According to these two verses we have already attained the summit in Christ by simply believing in Him. Our "old man," that is, our first personality with all its strengths and weakness, its good points and its bad points, has been assigned to the cross of Christ.

God considers, and directs us to consider, that our first "self" has been crucified with Christ. By so regarding us, God is legally free (from the Law of Moses) to bring forth a new personality, destroying our fleshly, sinful nature in the process.

It is true that we are dead. Also, our new spiritual life, having already been raised in and with Christ, is now at the right hand of the Father, far above every other title, authority, and power in the universe.

The fact of our death and resurrection in and with Christ is very uplifting as we meditate on the consequences of it. It is spiritual reality. God has declared it to be true. It is His Word. Even though we may not see as yet the full outworking of what God has declared concerning us, what we laid hold on in water baptism, yet we know our position in Christ is an established fact before God Almighty and we begin to live out the truth of it as the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and strength to do so.

If we should become proud spiritually because of our position in Christ, the next two passages bring us down to earth:

 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:3,4)

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14)

If we are striving to be a Christian, most of our daily living is occupied with resisting the world, our fleshly nature, and the devil. We battle against lust, hatred, covetousness, pride, idolatry, jesting, unthankfulness, selfish ambition, and so forth. Such temptations are common to people—Christians and non-Christians alike.

When we overemphasize our legal position in Christ our testimony may become intellectual, doctrinaire, static. There is too much fussing about words and verses and not enough pressing forward in the spiritual combat that characterizes the Christian warfare.

When, on the other hand, we overemphasize our actual experience of living the overcoming life, we may tend to lose the anchor, foundation, and regenerative guiding force and principle of Christianity, which is identification with the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If we are not careful we can become discouraged while struggling against sin, not accepting the victory won for us by Christ.

If the Christian is to live the overcoming life, one of conquest over temptations, challenges, and pressures, and if he is to progress toward the character transformation and consistent dwelling with the Godhead that are part of the plan of redemption, then he must develop a balance in his life between the legal position in Christ and the actual experience in Christ.

The correct concept of the position of our old nature is that we have been crucified with Christ. Our task is to maintain by faith this attitude toward ourselves and our problems whether or not our actual circumstances and patterns of behavior reveal that we indeed are dead and risen with Christ.

It does no good to keep "digging up the grave" in order to see if we really have been planted in death with Christ. We are to take by faith the legal, doctrinal, visionary position that our natural man, our old nature, has been crucified with Christ and our new born-again inward nature has been raised with Him. Then we are to leave the rest with God. We have been obedient to His Word. The remainder is His responsibility.

Growing in grace means we are closing the gap between what God has declared about us and what other people can see to be true. Maturity in Christ is that condition in which our legal position before God is identical with our actual experience of being crucified and resurrected with Christ; of being in the image of Christ; of being in Christ and Christ in us; of being fruitful; and of possessing dominion over every aspect of our inheritance in Christ.

As we follow the Spirit of the Lord, legal possession becomes actual possession; the position becomes the experience.

 Following the Spirit

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

What does it mean to be "led by the Spirit of God"? Are the Christian churches being led by the Spirit of God? Are the individual Christians being led by the Spirit of God? Does being led by the Spirit refer to the average kind of Christian experience most of us have?

Some Christians say, "The Lord told me this; the Lord told me that." Are they the ones who are being led by the Spirit?

The experience of being led by the Holy Spirit of God is an important one, according to the eighth chapter of Romans, and is part of the working out of the redemption that is in Christ. A study of Romans 8:1-8 will indicate that our appropriation of the righteousness that flows from the shed blood of Christ depends on living each day in disciplined obedience to the Spirit of God.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

To live in the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to be led of the Spirit require that we be disciplined, Scripture-reading, praying Christians. Much experience is needed if we are to learn to distinguish between the many false voices and impulses with which we are besieged each day, and the guiding and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

We must begin to give time to cultivating our spiritual life. Learning to live and walk in the Spirit of God is a lifelong program and makes increasing demands on our devotion as we grow in the Lord. The final result—that which the Spirit is seeking—is that we be conformed to the image of God and that we come into perfect oneness with the Father and the Son.

Oneness with God is not brought about in a moment, although we can be "perfect" each day if we will be obedient and cooperative with the lessons that are presented to us one at a time.

 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

Each true child of God is learning to be led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God guides and empowers us in three areas of personality and activity:

. The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

. Internal conquest.

. External conquest.

 The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed among all the members of the Body of Christ. The result of the operation of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit is the creation of Christ in the believers and the eventual assembling of the perfected saints into the unified, fully mature Body of Christ, the Body of the Servant of the Lord who is to bring the blessing of Abraham to the peoples of the earth.

 Internal conquest has to do with victory over sin in the life of the Christian. The result of internal conquest is complete release from the power that causes us to act, speak, and think in a manner displeasing to God. It is victory over the devil, over the spirit of the age in which we live, and over the impulses of our fleshly nature.

External conquest has to do with breaking the yoke of sin in the area of responsibility assigned to the Christian, whether it be his home or the nations of the earth. Eventually, sin and sinners will be destroyed out of the heavens and the earth. In order to be saved from the wrath that will be exercised through the sons of God, every creature must bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Each Christian will be free from sin and his environment will be free from sin.

To be led of the Spirit of God is to be guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit in service (gifts and ministries), in living a godly life (internal conquest), and in rulership (external conquest). The last area, rulership, will be more fully expressed when the Lord comes.

Ministry and conquest are not synonymous but they influence each other. The Christian life of victorious faith requires that we follow the Holy Spirit both in ministry and in conquest.

 Conquest has to do with the formation of Christian character and with the development of the ability of the Christian to follow Christ into the land of promise, into his inheritance, into the rest of God, into the subjugation of the earth. The Christian learns and becomes able, by means of many graces and experiences, to express the will of Christ in each situation in which he is placed.

Conquest is the process of redemption, moving us from chaos of spirit, soul, and body, all the way to the image of Christ and perfect union with God. Conquest includes the total destruction of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin. Every trace of satanic influence is to be removed from our personality.

Conquest is the move from the bondage of "Pharaoh" to the liberty of the law of the Spirit of life, and finally to rest in the land of promise. Conquest proceeds in terms of a permanent change in the image and behavior of the Christian, commencing with the subjection of his will to the will of Christ and continuing through dominion over all the works of Satan to eventual rulership over God’s creation.

Conquest is an eternal transformation of the entire personality of the Christian, making him fit to rule with God in the restoring of what was lost in Eden; bringing him to perfect fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 22:17).

 Ministry, on the other hand, is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Ministry is temporary (I Corinthians 13:8-10) whereas the formation of the conquering personality is eternal. The Holy Spirit does not give a Christian instant, actual dominion over God’s works except in the legal, visionary, potential sense. Rather, God guides and enables the Christian as he fights his way into his land of promise. The gaining of our inheritance in Christ takes a while to accomplish.

But the gifts of ministry are given by the Spirit as "talents" to each member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:11). The gifts come as impartations, although it may require a period of time before the Christian learns to develop and operate his ministry in an edifying and fruitful manner.

Perhaps the difference between conquest and ministry can be seen clearly by looking at the purpose of each. The purpose of conquest is to set the Christian eternally free from all things, spirits, people, circumstances, motives, temptations, and every other hindrance and bondage that would prevent him from ruling with Christ, from abiding in Christ, from resting in God, from flowing with the life of the Godhead.

Ministries and gifts from the Holy Spirit assist in guiding and enabling the Christian as he moves toward the position of total conquest, of dominion in Christ over all things. Ministry helps form the conquering personality. Ministry is a method while conquest is the final result.

 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23)

The Inheritance

There are three concepts, three platforms of redemption that appear as we commence the study of the parallel between the redemption in Christ and the journey of the Hebrew people from Egypt to Canaan.

The first concept is that of God’s chosen people in slavery in Egypt, and their coming out, in fulfillment of God’s purpose, in accordance with His eternal wisdom and strength.

The second concept concerns the pilgrimage of God’s chosen people through a barren wilderness.

The third concept involves the battles of the people of the Lord as they make their way into their inheritance, "the land of milk and honey."

The first of the three platforms of redemption, which is God’s chosen people coming out of Egypt, is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God when an individual, through Christ, escapes from bondage to the spirit of the evil age in which we live.

The bondage of the unsaved man or woman, boy or girl, is not that of the physical earth. Until we understand that the land of Egypt is a type of the spirit of the age and not a type of the planet Earth itself, it is difficult for us to understand the events and the goal of our Christian discipleship.

The land of Egypt is not a symbol of the physical earth. Egypt is a symbol of the spirit of the world. Pharaoh is a symbol of Satan. People are not in bondage to the earth itself.

The earth was created by the God of Heaven and He declared that it is good (Genesis 1:10). The earth is good. There is nothing wrong with the earth except the curse of thorns and wearying labor that God placed on it because of sin. Rather it is the spirit of evil dominating the earth that is producing the repulsive fruit of sin. The blood of Jesus has the power to cleanse us from this filthy spirit.

During the process of becoming a Christian we accept the blood atonement made by Christ as the payment for our sins. We are baptized in water as a sign of our forsaking the world. The Lord God gives us a new heart and spirit. God plants the Divine Seed, Christ, in us and gives us His Holy Spirit. We are born again of the Divine Nature. By these acts of redemption God rescues us from the authority of Satan and moves us into the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).

God does not move us from the earth when we are saved. He moves us from the spirit of the world. It is important that we grasp the difference between being redeemed from the earth and being redeemed from the bondage of evil. If we remain in the belief that God is performing His works of grace in us so He can move us from earth to Heaven we will not understand the plan of redemption.

 The purpose of redemption is not to move us from the earth to Heaven. The purpose of redemption is to move us from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of Christ.

The redemption of the Christian believer is not to move from the earth to Heaven. Rather, it is to move from the control of Satan to the control of Christ. An understanding of this distinction makes a great difference in the way in which we view God’s working in us. For if we regard Heaven as the land of promise and the earth as Egypt, we will sit down spiritually and wait for Jesus to come and take us to the land of promise in the sky.

If we regard the fullness of our inheritance in Christ as the land of promise, and bondage to the will of Satan as Egyptian slavery, we will take up our cross and follow the Lord. We will put on an attitude of battle and of overcoming the enemies of Christ until we bring ourselves and our environment into subjection to God’s will, as the Holy Spirit enables us.

Waiting for Christ to carry us to Heaven, and bringing ourselves and our environment under subjection to the will of God in Christ, are two very different approaches to the Christian life.

As we have stated, the first area of conquest is that of God’s chosen people enslaved in Egypt, and their coming out of Egypt in fulfillment of God’s purpose for them, by His wisdom and strength.

When we receive Christ as our Savior we are declaring that we desire to leave the bondage of Satan and enter the Kingdom of Christ, the rule of Christ. God in His love and mercy has made it possible for us to do that. God points us toward the land of promise, the land of milk and honey: perfect rest in God in Christ, freedom from sin and rebellion, conformity to the image of Christ, and authority and responsibility as one of God’s eternal kings and priests.

There is a land of tremendous glory and joy toward which we are pressing. The land will be ours in solid reality one day if we do not remove our eyes from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second of the three platforms of redemption is that of God’s chosen people wandering in a barren desert.

What is the Christian counterpart of the wandering of the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai? Any experienced disciple of Christ can give the answer. It is the period of transition from obedience to Satan to obedience to Christ. It is the time when we are endeavoring to master the Divine curriculum. The wilderness is the school of the Holy Spirit.

As soon as we receive Christ as our Savior we are brought out of Egypt (the authority of the spirit of the world) by the power of God. But we are not immediately in the land of promise. Rather, we find ourselves in an intermediate position.

We know from the Scriptures and we feel in ourselves that God has accomplished something for us and in us. Our life has been changed. The Scriptures have become understandable to us, although not all at once. We possess the certainty that God has called us out of the world spirit and that we have a new heart and a new spirit with which to serve Christ.

There still is much confusion, a multitude of problems, doubts, fears, unbeliefs, dilemmas, whereas the Scriptures promise peace that passes understanding, a light burden, joy such as the world cannot give, miraculous power, and rest in Christ. The transitional area, in which the Christian has been delivered from the spirit of the world but is not as yet enjoying the fullness of victory in Christ, the fullness of resurrection life promised to us by the Lord Jesus, is the Christian wilderness wandering.

The wilderness is a place of necessary lessons and experiences for us. We have much to learn about God, about ourselves, about the enemy and his ways. We learn God’s laws and God’s ways while we are making the transition from the life of the flesh to the life of the Spirit.

The wilderness is not an enjoyable situation in which to be, and attempts to make it enjoyable can remove us from God’s will unless we are following the Lord closely.

When God imprisons us by circumstances, as He often does with His saints, we cannot escape from God’s prison before God’s time without breaking God’s laws. To attempt to live in a paradise in the world requires that we do so at the expense of other people. But to take what we want when it brings pain to other people is not acceptable to the Lord. We will be judged and punished for our selfishness some day—as indeed we should be.

The Lord understands well that if we were brought immediately from Egypt to the land of promise we would never learn about Him because of the multitude of enjoyable circumstances and things that would then be available to us. Also, we would not be able to stand in battle for the possession and maintenance of the land.

God keeps us in difficult circumstances for a considerable period of time because of the transformation that must occur in us if we are to lay hold on the fullness of our inheritance in Christ. Every pain, every tear, every doubt is necessary. God is loving and never for one moment allows us to suffer without a reason. All things and experiences are bringing us toward an unimaginably great inheritance in and with Christ. Our task is to be patient and to follow the Holy Spirit as He administers the necessary experiences and blessings to us.

Peter describes the wilderness of testing:

 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

The third area of conquest is that of the people of the Lord battling their way into Canaan, into their inheritance, into the land of milk and honey. The land of promise, the fulfillment in the Kingdom of God of the Hebrew land of milk and honey, is the realization of God’s promises of life, love, joy, power, glory, peace, and victory in Christ.

The Christian's land of promise includes the following:

. His perfect rest in the plan of God for his life.

. The Lord’s approval and blessing on him when the present life is over.

. Untroubled abiding in the Person of Christ.

. The total destruction of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin in and around him.

. Perfect conformity to the image of Christ.

. The indwelling of the Godhead in him.

. The fullness of fruitfulness and rulership over all the works of God’s hands.

All of these positions, transformations, and rewards are in Christ, of Christ, and through Christ. Christ Himself is our "Mark," our Rest, our Inheritance. Our goal is to come to know Him. When we possess Christ we possess all aspects of the Divine inheritance.

One of the most important areas of the promised land of the Christian is the earth itself.

 The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. (Psalms 115:16)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

It is the will of God, as the Scriptures point out in several places (Daniel 7:18; Isaiah 60:12; Revelation 20:6; for example) that Christ and the saints rule in the earth. The earth itself and the nations of it are a substantial part of the fulfillment in the Kingdom of God of the Old Testament land of promise.

There are two main dimensions of the Christian’s land of promise. The first part is our complete reconciliation to God through Christ such that we actually live in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. The second part has to do with the rewards to the overcomer—the glorified body, our participation in the first resurrection, the crown of life, rulership with Christ over the nations, being created a pillar in God’s eternal Temple, and our eternal position on the throne of Christ.

Our reward is great in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a realm of authority. In the Kingdom of God we have Divine acceptance, fellowship with the Son of God, spiritual authority, access to the Father, power to overcome evil and harm, resurrection life, love, peace, and glory.

All of these blessings are in the power of the Father alone to give. They are our rewards, our treasures in Heaven. These gifts are part of our land of promise. Our Kingdom rewards are in Heaven in the present hour because this is where the Lord Jesus is.

Included in our inheritance is absolute dominion over the earth—the rule of the rod of iron.

Our citizenship is in Heaven but our place of conquest is in the earth.

The Lord God gave dominion over the earth and over all the works of His hands to mankind. In order for Christ to receive dominion over the earth He had to become part of mankind, even though in the beginning He had created both the earth and mankind.

In order for Christ to become part of mankind He had to be born of a woman; for there is no other manner in which one can become part of mankind—one of the heirs of salvation—other than by being born of a woman. Such is the established plan of the God of Heaven.

Rulership over the material universe belongs to mankind alone. But we perish in our bodies, losing our ability to remain on the earth, because of the death that works in us as the result of sin. Christ has appeared, being born of a woman, that He might be Son of Man as well as Son of God; for it pleased the Father that in all things Christ have preeminence.

Through His death on the cross Christ destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus is the Firstborn of the new creation. The new creation is the uniting of the Divine with the human in such a manner that the visible expression of the invisible God can abide on the earth and govern the handiwork of God Almighty.

The relationship of Heaven to earth is similar to that of a colonizing power to its colony. The earth is a colony of the mother country, Heaven. The Almighty Emperor is God the Father. He has given full authority and power to His Son, Christ. God expects that His Son be obeyed in all matters great and small.

The earth and its inhabitants have been given to the Son by the Father as a land of promise:

 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalms 2:8,9)

The most important aspect of the Kingdom of God is the will of God. The doing of God’s will in the earth is the goal of the Christian Church: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

The goal of the efforts of the Christian Church is to bring the rule of Heaven into the earth. The coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth is synonymous with the doing of God’s will in the earth. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done . . . ." The performing of God’s will in the earth requires overcoming and casting out Satan by the authority and power of Christ.

It is important to understand we are fighting our way downward toward the doing of God’s will in the earth. We begin above, not beneath, the powers of darkness. We commence the conflict from a position of eternal salvation, already possessing eternal life in the Presence of God Almighty.

 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:6)

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (Ephesians 1:21)

In Christ we already have been raised to the highest throne in the universe. We can go no higher. We shall never go higher. We now are fighting our way downward toward possession of the earth. The rule of Satan will be broken first in the heavenlies (Revelation 12:8). Then the rule of wickedness will be destroyed out of the earth (Revelation 20:3).

We already are in possession of resurrection life in the Presence of God. Now we are moving toward resurrection life in the earth. This will require the destroying of sin out of the earth because eternal life and sin cannot dwell together.

The Christian’s task is to close the gap between his experience and his position in Christ. The gap is the distance between our body on the earth and our reborn inward nature, which is at the right hand of God in Christ. To possess the Kingdom of God we must bring our throne life down into the earth to the point that we can live righteously in the earth: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

The saints, under the Spirit of Christ, are moving toward dominion over the earth.

 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. (Psalms 37:9)

The earth and its peoples belong to Christ. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalms 24:1).

Heaven is an actual area and we hope to go there when death brings down our mortal body to defeat. But it is the earth and earth’s peoples that are the destiny of Christ and His saints.

The heart of Christ is in the earth. The earth is the possession of Christ. The nations are His inheritance. We may not be overly concerned about the nations but Jesus bears the nations on His heart as a mighty longing.

The Father has given Jesus the nations of the earth as His inheritance. Jesus desires this gift. When Christ is created in our heart our desires are directed toward the earth, toward delivering and teaching the peoples of the earth; especially the Jews for they are particularly close to the heart of Christ.

We are coheirs with Christ of the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.

The rest of God is not Heaven. The land of promise is not Heaven. The land of promise is the earth and the nations of the earth. The rest of God is the place of abiding in the bosom of the Father until all our enemies have been made our footstool by means of the sovereign working of Christ in us.

Reader, grasp God’s rest for yourself. Do not come short of it. "Sell all" and give yourself wholly to the things of Christ. Such is the exhortation of the Book of Hebrews. Some of the believers will press through to God’s goal for them. Why shouldn’t you be included in the group of victorious saints?

If you should die before the consummation of the promises, make certain you die in faith. Do not stagger in unbelief at God’s majestic promises. Be strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that what He has promised He is able to fulfill to the uttermost—for you!

Behold these promises afar off, as did Abraham. Confess you are a pilgrim and stranger in the earth. Lift up your cross and take a step toward the vision of the fullness of Christ. Do not look back—even one time. Push on against every temptation, every distraction. Endure hardness as God leads, with the eyes of your faith fixed on Christ.

As you draw closer to Him, His Glory will transform you until you are in the image of Christ and in restful union with the Godhead. The saints in light are cheering you on for without you they cannot "be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:40).

You are a warrior, a fighter in God. The hordes of Hell will come against you but God is leading you against His enemies. You are bringing the Presence of God Almighty into the land of promise. Your unwavering faith, given to you and maintained by God’s impartation of grace to you, is providing the means by which God can judge and cast out the enemy.

The true disciples of Jesus, striving for God’s perfect will, have their eyes fixed steadfastly on the full, perfect attainment of that for which they have been grasped by Christ. Christ has laid hold on us with the end in view of our full grasp of the inheritance that God the Father has promised to the heirs of salvation. Christ is desirous that all of His beloved younger brothers return His grasp by cooperating with the Holy Spirit until they possess Himself, His image, His Life, His dominion.

At His glorious appearing each of us will rise to meet Him in the air but each will receive a different reward. The special place in the land of promise we stake out for our own, as Christ directs and gives us the desire, is possible of complete attainment by us. There is a unique reward for each disciple whom Jesus chooses.

How much of a claim we are able to stake out, to grasp, to hold, depends on the faith and diligence with which we seek Christ. It is foolishness to believe that a careless believer with one eye on Christ and the other eye on the things of the flesh will inherit the fullness of the promises of God in Christ. The Scriptures state the rewards will be given to the overcomers.

What is your attitude toward God’s land of promise, God’s rest? Is your heart like that of Joshua and Caleb? (Numbers 14:7-9). Do you believe that the Lord God of Heaven is able to give you complete victory over the enemies in your "land"? Or are you of the same spirit as the remainder of the Israelites who provoked God with their unbelief and complaining? (Numbers 14:11,12). Do you have a willingness to fight, as did Jacob, who took his inheritance out of the hands of the Amorites with his sword and bow? (Genesis 48:22).

Ask God for a vision of Christ. Make the possessing of the fullness of Christ the first and greatest desire of your heart. Reach out for the boundless glory of resurrection life. Believe that your personality can and will be created in the image of Christ. Continually desire and groan for the redeeming of your mortal body from sin and the putting on of your house from Heaven, your body of eternal glory and power.

Determine to rule all things through Christ. Let your thoughts be full of sharing in the majesty and authority of Christ. Submit yourself to God always so that you can inherit with Christ the highest throne of the universe. It does not matter what you suffer to get there, it matters only that God desires that you inherit all things (Revelation 21:7).

Be serious in your quest for God. Set out immediately and straightforwardly to find the Lord. Do so with all the integrity and diligence of which you are capable. God is a rewarder of every soul who sincerely seeks Him. He will not disappoint you. You will inherit your possessions in the land of promise!

"Give me this mountain!" Caleb cried.

 And Joshua blessed him, and gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. (Joshua 14:13)

Jesus, your "Joshua," will not disappoint you. You will inherit your "Hebron" in the land of promise!