IF YOU LOVE ME...
IF YOU LOVE ME . . . Copyright Š 2008 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The only persons who will survive the dark days that are ahead are those who are abiding in Christ. In order to abide in Christ and Christ in us we have to keep His commandments.
Perhaps many Christians would agree with the fact that we must abide in Christ and we must keep His commandments. However, the spirit of Antichrist, the spirit of the Lawless One, has perverted Christian doctrine until numerous Christians no longer believe it is necessary we keep Christ’s commandments. "We are saved by grace," we proclaim, and while we ought to try to keep Christ’s commandments we are saved by grace operating through our faith. We are fundamentally inconsistent.
Either we have to keep Christ’s commandments in order to abide in Him or else we do not have to keep Christ’s commandments in order to abide in Him. One position is correct and the other is incorrect.
The Christians are expecting to be "raptured" before Antichrist appears. The truth is, Antichrist, the Lawless One, has been with us from the first century. He already has brought his lawlessness into the Christian churches. We have become lawless because of false doctrine.Table of Contents
IF YOU LOVE ME . . .
It is God’s will that all of His creatures, angels and humans alike, keep His commandments accurately, completely, joyously.
Modern Christian teaching insists we do not have to keep God’s commandments because we are saved by "grace." We think this teaching has destroyed the moral stature of the believers in Christ!
Secular governments, who without realizing it look to the churches for moral guidance, have no light to guide them, no good works to cause them to glorify God, when Christians do not keep God’s commandments.
We have been deceived because we are looking for an easy, comfortable way to serve God. We have been deceived because we are not taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus. We do not understand the grace of God, supposing it to be an alternative to godly behavior. The grace of God in Christ is an alternative to the Law of Moses, not to godly behavior.
It is God’s will that we abide in Christ, and He abide in us, for eternity. In order to abide in Christ, and He in us, we absolutely must keep His commandments—all of them.
Sometimes it is said, "It is impossible for us to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles and this is why God gave us Divine grace."
We are correct if we mean by this we are unable to keep God’s commandments in our own strength and need His wisdom and strength. We are incorrect when we mean that God has given us a continuing grace of forgiveness such that it is not necessary for us to keep His commandments and do His will.
It is not only possible for us, through God’s grace, to keep the commandments found in the New Testament but absolutely essential if we are to abide in Christ. If we do not keep His commandments we do not love Him.
It is not the purpose of Divine grace to serve as an alternative to keeping God’s commandments. The purpose of Divine grace is to enable us to keep all of God’s commandments, in the meantime keeping us without condemnation while we are pressing along in the light of God’s will.
The following sections of this text will deal with several related issues:
The necessity for keeping Christ’s commandments if we intend to abide in Him and He in us.
The lies Antichrist has injected into Christian thinking in order to prevent us from keeping Christ’s commandments.
The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles—God’s provision for His people as the tares of lawlessness come to maturity.
As we have already stated, the current Christian doctrine maintains that while we should do what the Bible says, it is not absolutely necessary to live righteously because we are saved by grace.
One of the first major declarations of the Lord Jesus is as follows:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)
It is maintained that this word of Jesus no longer applies because now we are saved by grace. Some are claiming that the commandments of the Lord Jesus in the four Gospel accounts apply only to Jews.
What about the requirement of being born again? This is found in the Gospel of John. Was this addressed only to Jews?
What about abiding in the vine and the other parables, such as the parable of the sower? Are these addressed only to Jews?
Are we being consistent and scriptural when we maintain the commandments of Jesus are not binding on Christians?
The original sin was that of disobeying God’s commandment that Adam and Eve not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They suffered terribly and mankind after them because of one simple act of disobedience.
Now it is being taught we do not have to obey God. If we will believe in the Lord Jesus we no longer have to obey God. It no longer is required of us that we keep His commandments.
The Lord Jesus obeyed His Father’s commandments but we do not have to. Does this make sense when we are His brothers and sons of the same Father?
For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. (John 12:49)
Is it true that the Lord Jesus obeyed the Father so we do not have to?
If you love me, you will obey what I command. (John 14:15))
Does this statement of Jesus apply to Christians?
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. (John 14:21)
Does this statement apply to Christian believers?
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)
Is it true we must obey the teaching of the Lord Jesus if the Father is to love us and if the Father and the Son are to make Their abode with us?
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)
Sometimes the claim is made that all this has changed since grace has come. It is true that Jesus kept His Father’s commandments and dwells in His love but we do not have to do this. We are saved by grace, and while we ought to try to be good, the love of the Lord Jesus for us certainly does not depend on our keeping His commandments. This means that Jewish people must keep Jesus’ commandments and if they do they will abide in His love. But we Gentiles are not required to keep the Lord’s commandments because we are "saved by grace."
Does this mean the Jews are still under the Law of Moses and must keep the commandments and statutes of the Old Testament? This is shown to be an unscriptural concept as we think about what Paul said to the Jews in the Book of Romans. Or is it true rather that the Jews that lived during the time of the Lord Jesus were free from Moses and were to keep the commandments of Jesus but now Gentile Christians do not have to keep the commandments of Jesus?
The first Christian Church comprised five thousand Orthodox Jews, all keeping the Law of Moses. Were they suddenly different from the Jews who followed the Lord Jesus?
Some are saying that the four Gospel accounts do not apply to Christians. Let us see if any other part of the New Testament stipulates we are to obey the commandments of Jesus and His Apostles.
If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. (I Corinthians 14:37)
Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; (I Thessalonians 4:1-5)
If we do not obey the commandments given by the Apostles of the Lamb can we still enter the Kingdom of God by grace?
And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
Was the above written to Christians?
And all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia: (Galatians 1:2)
To keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, (I Timothy 6:14)
But what if I do not keep the commandments of the Apostles, will I be saved anyway?
If you do not keep the commandments of the Lord and His Apostles you will be treated as a disobedient, lazy slave. You will not be made a partaker of Christ!
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:14)
Holding fast the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end means pressing along in the light of God’s will, praying for grace that we may obey the Word of God. Being made a partaker of Christ depends on our doing what we have been commanded.
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (II Peter 2:21)
If we are not going to walk in the way of righteousness, if we are going to turn from the holy commandment, it would have been better if we had never heard of Christ.
I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (II Peter 3:2)
We have to keep the commandments given to us by the Apostles of Christ, and also the commandments given by the Hebrew Prophets except those having to do with the ceremonial requirements of the Law of Moses.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. (I John 2:3)
The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:4)
But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: (I John 2:5)
Here is the relationship between keeping the commandments of the Lord and His abiding in us and we in Him. We know we are abiding in Him and He in us when we are keeping His word, His commandments.
If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. (I John 2:29)
How do we know when the Lord Jesus dwells in an individual? By noticing if that person is obeying the laws of righteousness.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (I John 3:4-7)
And receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. (I John 3:22)
The only manner in which anyone can abide in Christ and Christ in him or her is by obeying Christ’s commandments. If we love Christ we will keep His commandments. If we do not keep Christ’s commandments we do not love Him and He is not abiding in us nor we in Him. This is what the Scripture declares. The Scripture is God’s Word and absolutely truthful or it is not.
If what we are teaching is correct, current Christian teaching is incorrect. We have allowed ourselves to be deceived by trusting in our traditions and experiences rather than in the written Word.
Another reason is that we have a very cunning, skillful adversary who has blinded Christians to the truth. We will be speaking about the adversary in a moment.
We of today interpret the Great Commission as "go out to a lost and dying world and tell the people that Jesus loves them and has forgiven their sins."
The truth is, the resurrected Lord Jesus told us to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to observe the Lord’s commandments.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19,20)
"Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
The Book of Acts informs us that the apostles and evangelists of the Lord indeed did go forth to several countries, beginning at Jerusalem, and bore witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus. They proclaimed repentance and forgiveness of sins in the name of the Lord Jesus. In this manner they gained disciples.
Then the Holy Spirit inspired Paul, Peter, John, James, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews to record that which the early leaders were teaching the disciples, that is, the commandments of the Lord under the new covenant. The Epistles of the New Testament primarily are exhortations to holy, righteous, obedient living. They are not a repetition of the fact that God continues to forgive our sins no matter how we behave. The teachings concerning grace versus works that are found in the writings of Paul, such as in Romans and Galatians, are not contrasting Divine grace and godly behavior. This would be to negate the main exhortations of the Epistles. Rather the Apostle Paul was continually presenting his case against the keeping of the Law of Moses, not against righteous behavior!
Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
God is a God of law. From the time of the Garden of Eden to the present moment there are laws and expectations that people are to obey.
God sometimes changes His covenant with mankind, as He did when He superseded the Law of Moses with the new covenant.
God changes the provisions He makes for us so we may please Him, but God never, never, never changes His goal for His creatures. God’s goal for His creatures always has been, is now, and forever shall be, that they practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God as they keep His righteous commandments.
One of the errors of contemporary theology concerns the concept of dispensations. The idea is that under the Law of Moses people were required to practice righteousness, but now under the "dispensation of grace" people no longer are required to practice righteousness. This would mean a change in God’s goal for man signifying a change in God’s moral Character. A change in God’s moral Character would be the worst of all possible calamities such that the most fortunate of all people would be those who never came into existence.
In the beginning Satan transgressed the laws of God by seeking to set his throne above the stars of God, striving to be equal to or superior to the Logos (Christ) and ultimately to the Father Himself.
The moment mankind was created Satan came and introduced the idea of disobeying God. From that day to the present mankind has been bound with a spirit of disobedience.
The patriarch Abraham was tested severely in the realm of obedience to the command of God. Abraham passed the test.
Some four hundred years later God issued the Ten Commandments and the supplementary ceremonial laws. There were numerous Jews who sought to obey God’s laws and in some instances were successful, as in the case of Ezra, the priest, and the father and mother of John the Baptist. But for the most part the inheritance of the adamic nature in the Jews, as in all other people, caused them to find it exceedingly difficult to observe the holy commandments given by the Lord.
The righteous commandments have been given but the Jews, the members of the royal priesthood, find it difficult to obey them.
What do we do next? The answer being given today is that we recognize that we cannot keep the Law of Moses, or any other righteous commandment, and must come to God through grace. We will inherit all that has been designated for the sons of God on the basis of an eternal forgiveness.
Part of this answer is correct. Part of it is so incorrect that the Christian churches contain a multitude of "believers" who trust in the blood atonement, have received the Spirit of God, and have no idea what to do after this.
God replaced the Law of Moses with the new covenant. Instead of trusting in our traditions, why don’t we go to the Scriptures and see what the new covenant is. Is it an excuse for our lawlessness or is it something else?
But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Hebrews 8:8-10)
If the new covenant were an overlooking of sin, if this were why it is superior to the Law of Moses (superior from man’s standpoint, certainly not from the Lord’s) then it would say something like this:
Because My people have not obeyed My holy laws I am going to make a new covenant with them. If they will put their trust in the righteous Jesus I will not regard their behavior any longer. I will see them only through Him. I no longer will expect them to keep My commandments. I will have fellowship with them and bring them to Heaven to live forever solely on the basis of their belief in the merits of My Son. (Thompson 1:1)
The result (however unintentional) of the doctrine of Dispensationalism, along with the other three errors we will mention later, is the creation of lawlessness in the Christian people, and consequently in the nations of the earth because the Christian’s are the only moral light of the world.
What does Hebrews say is the new covenant?
"I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Instead of being a plan for creating lawlessness on the part of the royal priesthood, the new covenant is designed to remove the moral law of God from the stone tablets and write them in the mind and heart of the believer.
Is the new covenant only the eternal forgiveness of the sins of God’s people, or is it primarily a device for creating the laws of God in the personality of the believer?
Some will agree that the new covenant is intended to result in a change in our behavior but still insist that we do not have to do anything, Jesus does it all from within us. Is this what the Scripture teaches?
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)
Is the above something we are to do? Will Christ do it for us? What if we don’t submit ourselves to God each day?
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1—KJV)
Is this something we are to do?
Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
And so on and on and on in the New Testament.
God expects us to be lawful. To be lawful is to keep the commandments of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles, and of the Old Testament where applicable. The only true Christian is the one who meditates in the Word of God each day and seeks God’s help in doing what the Word teaches.
One may agree with all we have said and still insist we ultimately are saved by a grace that exists apart from a transformation of our personality, apart from the creation of a new righteous character. There are two problems with this position. First of all, the demonic pressures of lust, violence, and covetousness in the day in which we live are so great that if we trust that no matter what we do we will be saved by belief in Jesus, we will fall. We will be overcome by sin.
Second, we misunderstand what Divine grace is. Divine grace includes the written Word of God, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Spirit of God. These are given to us so we can reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God through Christ. Receiving grace in this manner always results in the desired change in our behavior. And it is this change that itself is salvation. We are saved from sin and brought into the Presence of God.
To claim we are saved even though we are still sinning is to claim we are healed when we are still sick. It is acceptable to state we have faith that Jesus is able and willing to remove all sin from us. This is to point toward our land of promise. But then we do not sit in Egypt. We follow the Holy Spirit through the wilderness of testing. Then we have to fight our way into the land of freedom from sin and take possession of it.
The Lord God does all the fighting when we come out of Egypt. But we have to fight, as helped by the Lord, in order to enter our land of promise.
The grace of God does not change what we reap, it changes what we sow.
The grace of God did not appear to only forgive the drunkard, it appeared to make him sober. It is the change from drunkenness to sobriety that is salvation.
The Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world. His name is Jesus because He saves His people from their sins, not in their sins.
When our belief in Jesus does not change us from a lawless person to a lawful person then we are not being saved. We have received the grace of God in vain. We are turning the grace of God into an excuse for lawlessness, which is precisely what Satan has in mind. Satan knows that God will have no fellowship with a son who does not obey His Father.
Righteousness, that is, righteous behavior, is one of the great themes of the Bible. Righteousness and lawfulness are closely related. To be righteous is to be accepted of God. To be lawful is to do what God has commanded both in the written Word and also addressed to us personally through the Spirit of God. It is impossible to be regarded as righteous by the Lord when we are not keeping His commandments, not obeying what He tells us to do.
Under the Law of Moses righteousness was gained by keeping the laws and statutes God had given.
Please notice carefully that the blessing of Abraham was not because of his faith alone but because of the way his faith worked out in practice.
I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws. (Genesis 26:4,5)
And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness. (Deuteronomy 6:25)
The very heart of Judaism is the keeping of the commandments and statutes of the Lord. The Law of Moses was the covenant God made with Israel. To be righteous and yet not obey God’s commandments would be unthinkable to a righteous Jew, and this may be one reason why the Messianic congregations in some instances are going back under the Law.
The same is true under the new covenant. God has given us commandments to observe. If we do not carefully and diligently observe to do them we will never be regarded as righteous by the Lord.
First, we are to repent of our sins, receive the forgiveness of God through the Lord Jesus, and be baptized in water. Our confession of faith, repentance, and baptism in water result in our being regarded as righteous. We must repent and be baptized if we are to be saved. Our salvation commences with obedience to these two commandments.
Second, we are to come out of world and its wicked malicious ways, not having fellowship with spiritual darkness and sin.
Third, we are to count that when we were baptized in water we took our place with Christ on the cross and now have entered the Kingdom of God. A firstfruits of our personality, our new born-again spiritual nature, has been raised to the right hand of God in Christ.
Fourth, we are to pray continually so we are living in the Spirit of God. As the Spirit reveals the worldliness, lust, and self-will of our personality we are to seek grace from the Throne of God in order to overcome these sins and rebellions. We are to confess our sins to the Lord, and sometimes to other people, that we may be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness.
Fifth, we are to meditate day and night in the Old Testament and the New so the Spirit of God may teach us how we are to think, speak, and act. We are to put sin to death through the Spirit of God.
Sixth, we are to seek the gifts and ministries of the Spirit so we may be able to build up ourselves and other members of the Body of Christ. We are to watch the Lord carefully and obey Him instantly should He call us to any kind of full-time ministry.
Seventh, we are to live before people in a godly manner so they may see our good works and glorify the Father.
Eighth, we are to put on the whole armor of God that we may stand in the evil day.
Ninth, if we would be the Lord’s disciple we must turn away from the world, take up our personal cross, and follow Jesus as our Lord and Master.
Tenth, as we pray, read the Word, obey God, keep ourselves unspotted from the world, serve, give of our means, Christ will be formed in us. As Christ is formed in us we begin to do God’s will by nature. This is what is meant by "I will put My law in their minds and hearts." Now we are in the rest of God and delighting to do His will. We now are totally lawful and therefore totally righteous in God’s sight.
Sometimes we are accused of preaching works. Please note that when Paul referred to "works" he meant circumcision, the feast days, not eating pork, and other aspects of the Law of Moses. In actuality the New Testament is filled with works of righteousness that the saints are to perform, through the grace of God.
God’s Kingdom comprises those who do God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. Satan has little to fear from "Christians" who are not obeying God diligently and sternly.
The interpretation of the new covenant as a "dispensation of grace" that excuses lawlessness is not a harmless mistake in theology that one may adopt or reject at will without significant consequences. The witness of the Christian churches has been destroyed. The light of good works is not seen and so people do not glorify God.
The incorrect understanding of the new covenant is the result of four philosophies that have invaded Christian thinking. The end result of each of the four philosophies is lawlessness. Combined they have robbed today’s churches of their moral and spiritual strength.
The "four horsemen of error" are as follows:
The concept of humanism, that is, of the importance of human beings, is the product of philosophical thinking over the last several hundred years. The democratic form of government reflects humanistic thinking in that it emphasizes the rights of the individual over the rights of society.
It is interesting to note that in the United States of America several of the larger cities are in a state of anarchy because the rights of the individual are stressed over the rights of society.
Christians need to realize that neither democracy nor free-enterprise capitalism has anything to do with the Kingdom of God. It may be true that democracy is a mortal enemy of the Kingdom of God and that Antichrist himself will come from a democratic environment.
The beast will come out of the sea, that is, out from the mass of mankind as mankind makes itself God.
Humanism is man making himself his own god.
We see the influence of humanism throughout the Christian churches. The pastors, teachers, and evangelists always should be reminding their listeners of the demands of God. As spokesmen for God they should be ready to anger their congregations if necessary when sin is being practiced.
The true pastor often is in an adversarial relationship with his congregation and fostering a love-hate response. Wasn’t this true of Moses and Israel? Moses was a true pastor if there ever was one; yet the people on several occasions wanted to stone him.
If you are a pastor and the people are always gushing over you with "love," maybe you better ask the Lord for a report card.
Jesus did not always say "nice" things.
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; (Matthew 10:34-37)
And this from the Prince of peace! But peace can never come until first there has been a sword to cut away the evil.
Today we say nice things, positive things. Why? Because we want people to love us. Why? So we will be popular and they will come to our church.
The demands of God for obedience, for righteous, holy behavior, are stern, very demanding, inflexible. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, our engine of death, and follow the Master. We are to stay in God’s prison and be faithful unto death.
Such is not often preached today because of the influence of humanism. People are exalted but God is not exalted. The idea that suffering is an important part of the program of redemption is often rejected. The "rapture" error no doubt is a product of humanism for the accent is on people escaping suffering, not people growing in righteousness.
The ministers are afraid of the people and are seeking to please them. One can never teach people to obey the rigorous laws of Christ and His Apostles and please the people at the same time.
The pleasing of people, the rights of the people, man-centeredness, humanism, is one of the four great horsemen of error. The spirit of humanism creates lawless Christians, Christians who follow their own pleasures rather than the laws of Almighty God.
The second of the four horsemen is the of error of Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a philosophy that was in existence before Christianity and has strongly affected Christian theology. It is believed that some of the early Christians became Gnostic in doctrine.
Gnosticism has influenced Christian thinking in two aspects:
The belief that matter is evil and spirit is good.
The belief that salvation comes through special knowledge.
Both of these aspects have promoted lawlessness, exactly as Antichrist intends they should.
The first idea, that matter is evil and spirit is good, has led to the concept that eternal residence in the spirit Paradise is the goal of the Christian salvation. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament reveal clearly that eternal residence in the spirit Paradise is not the goal of the Christian salvation.
The goal of the Christian salvation is to fill the material creation with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the Kingdom of God and its eternal location is this earth and then the new earth. The Kingdom is in the spirit Paradise now but this is temporary, lasting only until the firstfruits of the Church has been made ready to appear with the Lord Jesus.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth. When the Lord God created the material realm He pronounced it "very good." Evil came to the material realm from the spirit realm. The evil lords of spiritual darkness are still affecting the material realm from their place in the heavens. The material realm cannot be filled with the Lord Jesus until first the wickedness is driven from the heavens.
To view eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation is to make any biblical definition of salvation impossible and to render the Scriptures incomprehensible.
Limiting the definition of Divine grace to an eternal amnesty apart from a transformation of the individual from lawlessness to lawfulness has arisen because salvation is viewed as an escape from this world and entrance into a sinless Paradise. But sin began in Paradise!
An individual is not fully saved until he has been delivered from the influence of Satan and brought under the influence of the Lord Jesus in spirit, soul, and in body when the Lord appears. Mere entrance into the spirit realm, even into the paradisiac spirit realm, accomplishes no change in the individual. Entrance into the spirit realm is not what the Gospel means by "salvation" nor does it result in salvation.
We have been greatly influenced by Gnosticism. Because of the Lord’s statements that we are to lay up our treasures in Heaven, and Paul’s teaching that we should set our affection on things above, the philosophy of Gnosticism appears to have much in common with Christianity. Some of Plato’s teaching also lends support to the idea that it is the spirit realm that is the desirable place to be.
This hardly is the case. The truth is, Gnosticism and Christianity are opposite in concept and in the behavior they produce—or should produce. Gnosticism produces lawlessness by regarding our physical behavior as being of little importance or else as being so evil that unscriptural ascetic practices are required. Christianity regards righteous physical behavior as being of primary importance. We Christians, as will all people, shall be judged according to what we have done in our body.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)
Gnosticism, by its emphasis on the inherent evil of matter and the inherent good of spirit, produces lawlessness.
The second aspect of Gnosticism is the emphasis on specialized knowledge as the basis of salvation. It is this influence that fastens on such passages as Romans 10:9,10 and concludes that the person who holds such specialized knowledge and makes the correct confession is saved (meaning to make his eternal home in the spirit Paradise). Wrong goal and wrong way of getting there.
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:10)
Many cults use the device of lifting certain passages out of context and building their own model of interpretation around them. Some of the current elements of Christian theology, such as antinomianism (lawless grace) and Dispensationalism, are cultic. Christian theologians choose "key" verses and build a model of biblical interpretation around them.
Romans 10:9,10 (above) is an exhortation to the Jews and Gentiles concerning the nature of true Israel and is part of Paul’s argument that we no longer are under the Law of Moses. Paul is saying we no longer are to gain righteousness by the Law but by faith in Christ. The two verses do not compose an inclusive formula that we are to take out of Chapter Ten of Romans and use as part of "four steps of salvation."
Paul would never teach that the Divine salvation does not of necessity produce righteous behavior. Paul’s emphasis is that adherence to the statutes of the Law of Moses may hinder our gaining the righteous behavior that is the product of the Christian salvation alone, the righteous behavior that results as we put to death the deeds of our body through the Holy Spirit.
We cannot look to both Moses and Christ at the same time. Moses produces righteous behavior by obedience to what God has commanded. Christ produces righteous behavior as we offer our body a living sacrifice to God, counting ourselves crucified with Christ and living by His Life. Both Moses and Christ produce righteous behavior.
But Divine grace must never be considered an alternative to righteous behavior!
Paul’s clearest exposition of what it means to live as a Christian is found in the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans. This chapter points out that if Christians choose to serve sin they will die spiritually. If all Christian leaders would preach the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans exactly as it is written our present article would not be necessary. It would be easy for us to detect the influence of the Man of Lawlessness.
Because of the Gnostic emphasis on specialized knowledge as the means of obtaining union with God the Christian churches neglect the New Testament emphasis on godly behavior, assuming it is our belief and confession that result in eternal residence in the spirit Paradise.
The end result is lawless people—precisely what Antichrist, the Lawless One, desires.
Antinomianism is an evil offspring of Gnosticism. Antinomianism maintains that people are saved by grace through faith apart from any observance of the laws of God. The term means "against law." The dictionary defines antinomianism as follows: "The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace." (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright Š 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from INSO Corporation. All Rights Reserved.).
Antinomianism is the prevailing doctrine of Christians. Whenever it is preached that Christians must obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles the modern believer cries "legalism!" "Pharisaism!" But if some preacher, following his own doctrine, leaves his wife and takes up with another woman, his brothers (who encouraged his antinomianistic preaching) cry "shame, shame, shame!"
Why do we cry shame when a minister of the Gospel commits adultery? Our doctrine states that God sees us only through Christ. However, our conscience and common sense know something is amiss.
It is obvious that the philosophy of antinomianism has heavily influenced Christian thinking. But such a philosophy would be totally foreign to the Apostle Paul.
Antinomianism produces lawlessness to the utter delight of Antichrist.
The fourth of the four horsemen of error is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism may prove to be one of the most destructive models of interpretation ever to influence Christian thinking. Dispensationalism has produced lawlessness in the Christian churches:
By its teaching that Israel and the Christian Church are two separate entities.
By its teaching that God has one kingdom for people of Jewish birth and another, heavenly kingdom for people of Gentile birth.
By its teaching that the Lord Jesus is returning to "carry His waiting bride to Heaven."
By its teaching that the "dispensation of grace" was not revealed in the Old Testament but is a special parenthesis in God’s dealing with man.
By its teaching of a "pre-tribulation rapture" that will prevent the suffering of Gentile Christians.
Primarily by its teaching that we now are in a dispensation of grace, meaning we are saved (brought to the spirit Paradise) by an abstract unconditional amnesty unrelated to our conduct, apart from any transformation of our personality from unrighteous behavior to righteous behavior.
These five doctrines of Dispensationalism are unscriptural. They have effectively produced lawlessness in the Christian churches. What a joy Dispensational theology must be to the Lawless One!
Let’s take a look at the five teachings of Dispensationalism we have mentioned.
Israel and the Christian Church are two separate entities . It is true, of course, that the physical land and people and the Christian Church are separate entities. But true Israel, the elect of God, comprise all who are part of Christ whether Jewish or Gentile. When the Lord Jesus and His saints descend from Heaven they will remove sin from the physical Jews. Those Jews will be born again into the Kingdom of God. All Israel will be saved.
The Kingdom of God will come to physical Jerusalem. Antichrist knows this. His purpose is to separate the Christian Gentiles from the physical Jews and send them off to Heaven. As long as this is true the Law will never go forth from Zion or the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem—exactly as Antichrist intends.
God has one kingdom for people of Jewish birth and another, heavenly kingdom for people of Gentile birth. This is an anti-Semitic teaching. The Gentile Christians will govern a kingdom in Heaven (completely without scriptural support) while the Jews govern a kingdom on the earth.
Since righteous behavior always is a case of spiritual power, earthly Jews can never create a righteous kingdom on the earth. Only the Lord Jesus has sufficient power to compel obedience. By the teaching of the two kingdoms, one earthly and one heavenly, Antichrist seeks to preserve his lawless reign on the earth.
The Lord Jesus is returning to "carry His waiting bride to Heaven." The emphasis of the Old Testament is that the Lord Jesus is returning to earth to establish justice and righteousness for the nations. The purpose of the Lord’s return is not to carry off the light of the world to Heaven, it is to rule the nations with a rod of iron until they are willing to obey God’s commandments.
He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:4)
The most elementary knowledge of the Hebrew Prophets will reveal that the Lord Jesus will return to the earth to compel obedience on the part of the saved nations. Of course, His saints will be with Him, ruling from Jerusalem.
The "dispensation of grace" was not revealed in the Old Testament but is a special parenthesis in God’s dealing with man. This aspect of Dispensational teaching has destroyed our understanding of the Old Testament. Christian people are left without a scriptural destiny.
The truth is, our destiny is found in the Hebrew Prophets. The new covenant is not a special parenthesis not found in the Old Testament. The new covenant was prophesied by Jeremiah.
"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
The new covenant can never be made with a Gentile. There is no covenant for Gentiles, only for the royal priesthood, the house of Israel. It is only as we become part of the one true Seed of Abraham, Christ, that we can enter the new covenant.
A "pre-tribulation rapture" that will prevent the suffering of Gentile Christians. The teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture is unscriptural. It proceeds from the spirit of humanism. The idea is that Christians must not suffer. Given the past and present record of Christian suffering, how can any Christian believe or teach that Christians are not to suffer?
An age of moral horrors is on the horizon. The Man of Lawlessness will make his appearance. The issue will be truth and righteous behavior. Antichrist is making sure that Christians do not prepare themselves to stand in the evil day that is coming by telling them there will be no evil day.
Any teaching that does not stress righteous, holy, obedient behavior is not of God. Dispensational teaching does not stress righteous, holy, obedient behavior. It presents a lawless grace that points toward a Gnostic paradise in the spirit realm.
We now are in a dispensation of grace, meaning we are saved (brought to the spirit Paradise) by an abstract unconditional amnesty unrelated to our conduct, apart from any transformation of our personality from unrighteous behavior to righteous behavior.
The Scriptures do not present a dispensation of grace. The Scriptures present an old covenant and a new covenant. Both covenants are directed toward God’s Israel. Both covenants require righteous behavior although they produce righteous behavior by different means.
How Satan must laugh! The Christians are looking for a world leader or a super computer that causes them to take a mark on their right hand or their forehead. We believe there actually will be a prominent Christian leader who will become the biblical Antichrist, the Lawless One. But the truth is, the doctrine of the Lawless One is being preached from Christian pulpits.
We do err when we underestimate the abilities of Satan.
Perhaps we should take a closer look at what the Scriptures have to say about Antichrist, the Lawless One.
The Books of Second Thessalonians, Daniel, and Revelation may be our principal sources for our understanding of the Lawless One who is to come. The Book of First John tells us that Antichrist comes from the Christian churches and has been with us from the first century.
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (I John 2:18,19)
(John may have been reacting to the teachings of the Gnostics.)
The Lord Jesus warned the Jews to flee when the abomination that makes desolate stands in the Holy Place. We think that Antichrist will take his seat in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem proclaiming himself to be the only true and living god. This is the climax of lawlessness and will usher in every form of desolation and the great tribulation. Lawlessness, man-centeredness, always creates desolation, as we can observe in the major nations of our time.
Let us turn now to the Book of Second Thessalonians and begin our study of Antichrist, the Lawless One, the individual who refuses to keep the commandments of God and His Christ.
Second Thessalonians, Chapter Two. Evidently Paul’s reference to the coming of the Kingdom of God and the saints rising to meet the Commander in Chief in the air caused some of the believers in Thessalonica to quit their jobs and spend their time going from house to house talking about religious matters.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (II Thessalonians 2:1,2)
Notice we are speaking now of the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is the time when the Lord Jesus will appear with His saints and holy angels. It is the same day spoken of in I Thessalonians.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)
There is only one Day of the Lord, one appearing of the Lord, not two as taught in Dispensationalism. The one Greek term parousia is used throughout First and Second Thessalonians whenever there is a reference to the coming of the Lord.
Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (II Thessalonians 2:3)
The Day of the Lord will not come until there is a worldwide rebellion against authority and Antichrist, the Man of Lawlessness appears, the man who will be destroyed by the coming (parousia ) of the Lord.
Some Christian teachers hold that the coming of the Lord will occur prior to the rebellion and the revelation of the man of lawlessness. They are contradicting the Scripture.
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. (II Thessalonians 2:4)
Antichrist first will establish himself in the hearts of people, including many believers in Christ, so that the individual becomes a law unto himself. Then the Man of Lawlessness will take his place in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, sitting between the wings of the cherubim of glory, proclaiming himself to be the true and living God. This is the end result of the current teaching of humanism, of the rights of the individual to choose his or her own path.
Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. (II Thessalonians 2:5,6)
The prominent person who will be the final Antichrist has not been revealed as yet. It is possible that a president of the United States will portray that which will be true of Antichrist. Our president will make a profession of Christianity and attend a Christian church. Yet his words and actions will often be lacking in integrity.
He will be the product of the prevailing Christian doctrine that has been so heavily infiltrated by humanism, Gnosticism, antinomianism, and Dispensationalism. His voice will be Jacob’s but the hands will be the hands of Esau.
Our president will not lay down his life, take up his cross, and follow the Master. Yet he will conceive of himself as a Christian. He will gather Christian leaders in a State Department building and discuss with them various world problems.
This is how Antichrist will operate. He will be a lawless man who seeks the cooperation of the Christian churches. He will flatter the church leaders, even Christians, and they will join with him in his programs. They will cooperate because they are walking in blindness.
The president will welcome all efforts of the churches to promote humanistic ideals, to feed the hungry, to clothe naked. The moment the churches begin to stress righteousness, holiness, stern obedience to God, that we must lay down our life and follow Jesus, that the Kingdom of God is coming to the earth and Jesus will rule, then the president, and all who are like him, will seek to undermine the Lord’s influence.
We shall see this take place in the days to come.
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7)
Lawlessness is a "secret power." It is not an obvious sin like adultery, drunkenness, or murder. Lawlessness works in the realm of deception. Christian people do not recognize their self-will as being sin, yet self-will and rebellion are the greatest sins of all.
No doubt these same individuals who sometimes are ready to break the rules of their church, school, or place of employment would not fellowship with a believer who was an adulterer, drunkard, or murderer. Yet they do not see that they themselves are lawless persons. Lawlessness is a secret power that presents itself as wholesome individuality and a desirable freedom to choose one’s way. We of today admire the person who is "in control."
All such self-guidance is Antichrist.
The One who is holding back the power of lawlessness is the Holy Spirit of God in the saints. God will give Antichrist tremendous authority and power as well as great wisdom in the days to come, as we will be seeing presently, and many saints will lose their testimony because of the abundance of sin and lawlessness or because of the fear of persecution.
When the testimony of the saints has been overcome, then the power that holds back the secret power of lawlessness will be taken out of the way.
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." (Daniel 12:7)
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. (II Thessalonians 2:8)
The purpose of the coming of the Lord is to drive the spirit of lawlessness from the earth and to establish justice and lawfulness. It is not to remove the Church to Heaven. At the coming of Jesus with His saints, the Man of Lawlessness will be overthrown and cast into the Lake of Fire along with the False Prophet, the spirit of religious seduction.
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (II Thessalonians 2:9-12)
The important thing to notice is that the issue concerns the love for truth. Those who refuse to love the truth will be sent a powerful delusion by the Lord. They have delighted in wickedness, in lawlessness. They will cooperate with Antichrist. Their reward for doing so will be to be tormented in the Presence of the Lamb and His angels.
Those who believe we can disobey God’s commandments and still be acceptable to God will be increasingly deluded until they are a member of one of the Laodicean churches that is subsidized by Antichrist.
Today the Lord Jesus is warning us to repent and begin to live in a righteous manner. If we do not we will continue to be deluded until finally we are facing the angry Lamb of God.
We are blowing the trumpet in Zion. We are warning God’s people. It is not only the unsaved who stand in peril, it is the Christian believers!
Daniel, Chapter Seven. It appears that the Apostle Paul gained much of his knowledge of the Lawless One from the Book of Daniel.
The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:24,25)
He will try to change the set times and the laws because he is lawless. The important thing to notice is that the saints will be handed over to him for a specified time (which we believe to be the second half of the prophetic week of years).
It is very difficult for today’s Christian to believe that God will hand over the saints to the Lawless One. Do you remember that Peter was to be tested by Satan? Jesus did not prevent the test, because the test came from the Father. Rather, Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.
God tests us, as He did Abraham, to see if we will obey Him. He turns us over to Satan to be tested in the realm of obedience. The test is for a specified time and always is under the Lord’s control.
But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. (Daniel 7:26)
The saints will judge the world and judge angels. They are the court. They have suffered under the Man of Lawlessness and they will be the ones who judge him. Lawlessness will be destroyed out of God’s creation forever.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)
In spite of the worldwide scope of the age of moral horrors that is upon us, in spite of the perversity and degrading moral filth that will abound, it all shall come to an end. The Lord Jesus shall prevail. All of His enemies will be put beneath His feet. He who loves righteousness and hates wickedness will finally prevail. So will you if you abide in Him and keep His commandments.
Daniel, Chapter Eight. Our study of Antichrist continues.
Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. (Daniel 8:9,10)
The Lawless One will grow in spiritual power until he ascends into the heavens. He will cast down to the earth some of the stars of God. We think that the stars include both angels and humans. All who have been lifted to preeminence will be tested by the spirit of Satan, just as was true of the Apostle Peter.
God is putting an end to rebellion. The test, the shaking, has to do with our obedience to God. Abraham was tested concerning obedience. The Lord Jesus was tested concerning obedience. Some of the present stars will disobey God and will be cast to the earth, just as has happened to prominent ministers of our day. Other stars will take their place in God’s palace—people who have obeyed God under the most strenuous testing imaginable.
It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. (Daniel 8:11)
Now we are at the heart of the moral horrors that are to come.
During the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16) two goats were employed during the principal ceremony. The first goat was slain and its blood sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat. The second goat was brought before the High Priest. The priest confessed the sins of Israel over the living goat and it was led away into the wilderness.
In eons past, before the world was created, there was a great rebellion against the Father. Sin entered the universe.
Sin must be dealt with in two ways. The guilt must be forgiven. Then the sin itself must be removed. Sin is not an abstraction. Sin always is connected with a personality. He who commits sin is of the devil.
The first goat was the goat of appeasement. The shedding of the innocent blood pointed toward the sacrifice of God’s Son on the cross of Calvary. The atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross appeased the Father concerning the sin that had entered the creation, and the atoning blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in Heaven.
However, the removal of sin typified by the second goat has not occurred as yet. Christ is at the right hand of the Father waiting until His enemies are made His footstool.
Although the sanctuary in the heavens has been purified by the blood of Jesus, sin is still present—even in the heavens!
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. (Hebrews 9:23,24)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
We who are striving to obey God’s commandments are not struggling against flesh and blood but against the rebels in the heavens, the stars of God.
When a firstfruits of the Church finally overcomes Satan by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and by loving not their life to the death, then Satan and the other rebellious "stars," whether angelic or human, will be thrown down to the earth.
His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. (Revelation 12:4)
We need to understand that everything shall be shaken, beginning in the heavens. The shaking shall go right up to the Throne of God. All that has not been established in Christ shall be cast from the Presence of God.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, (Hebrews 12:26-28)
There can never be a peaceful doing of God’s will on the earth until first the heavens have been shaken and all rebellion removed.
Let us look at our verse once again.
It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. (Daniel 8:11)
The Prince of the host of God is the Lord Jesus, as we understand it. Antichrist removed the daily sacrifice from the Lord. It may be difficult for us to realize but the day will soon come when the whole world is worshiping the Lawless One. And this after the latter-rain revival has brought the witness of the Kingdom of God to every nation on earth!
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
The place of Christ’s sanctuary is the hearts of the believers. The sanctuary will be brought low in that many who have worshiped the Lord Jesus will be deceived and begin to worship the Man of Lawlessness.
The Lord warned us to be careful that our crown not be taken from us. If we are not faithful in the things of God our place of ruling in God, our "stardom" if you will, will be removed from us and given to another, as in the parable of the talents.
When a Christian leader, a saint, succumbs to worldliness, or lust, or unforgiveness, or self-will, that is the bringing low of Christ’s sanctuary.
Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:12)
There is rebellion against God even in the saints. This will be manifest in the last days. When Peter and his fellow apostles strove among themselves concerning who would be greatest in the Kingdom, that was Satan expressing himself. Satan stated that he would put his throne above the stars of God.
You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain." (Isaiah 14:13)
What was Jesus’ response? "Satan has desired to sift you as wheat."
Satan will sift all the stars of God before the Kingdom of God finally comes to the earth. Satan will sift you and me!
"Truth was thrown to the ground." The battle revolves around truth. Is Christ the truth or is Lucifer the truth? Which one is the true day star that announces the Day of the Lord? What is your answer? Your answer will be tested by every conceivable device in the days to come.
Christ has the power to keep you from all spiritual harm, but only as you have in you the love of the truth. Numerous Christians of our day love their traditions and they hold to them, but they are not seekers after truth. If the truth disturbs their comfort they turn again to their traditions just as did the Pharisees of old.
Are you a lover of truth or of your church traditions?
Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to him, "How long will it take for the vision to be fulfilled—the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, the rebellion that causes desolation, and the surrender of the sanctuary and of the host that will be trampled underfoot?" He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated." (Daniel 8:13,14)
The above passage informs us that the Father has everything in control. He knows exactly how long a time His program for removing lawlessness will require. This will be very important for us to understand in the coming days because it will seem as though the spirit realm is out of control.
The Lawless One will be given authority and power to reach into the very heavens, thus interfering with our prayers. This will be the hour of darkness when no person can do the works of God in the cities of the earth.
It will be impossible to pray to God. It will be impossible to touch Christ for salvation. It will be impossible to receive the Holy Spirit.
Only in the godly remnant of saints, Jewish and Gentile, hidden away under the hand of God, will there be salvation and deliverance. Those who come to them will be under the protection of God.
The Throne of God presently in the highest Heaven is in the process of moving to the hearts of those who keep the commandments of God. This is what it means when it says the present sanctuary will be surrendered and then reconsecrated.
Heaven has been the Throne of God to this point. But in the future Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, will be the Throne of God.
At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17)
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:3)
The moving of His Throne from the spirit heavens to the hearts of the new creation, man, is God’s answer to the spirit personages who rebelled against Him in eons past. This is why He who sits in the heavens is laughing at those who would cast aside His restraints.
It really is a joke that such lowly (compared with the archangels and cherubim) creatures as human being are to become the Throne of Almighty God. But this exactly is what is taking place. Man was created to be the eternal Throne of God, the ruler and judge of all other creatures.
Don’t you think that’s funny? I do.
Seventy sevens [seventy weeks] are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
Seventy prophetic weeks have been decided upon during which rebellion will be removed from the creation and eternal righteousness will be established. All that has been prophesied will be completed, not one word spoken by the Prophets will fall to the ground. The vision will be marvelously fulfilled. The Holy of Holies in the heart of the Lamb and His Bride will be anointed with the Spirit of God.
Revelation, Chapter Thirteen. As we have said, the Lord Jesus no longer will be worshiped by the nations. The Man of Lawlessness will establish himself as God. Whenever people worship other people they actually are worshiping Satan.
Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" (Revelation 13:4)
It may be difficult for us to imagine a time in which Satan and the Man of Lawlessness are worshiped throughout the earth. But it is beginning now. We have become so sinful in the United States that people are ready to elect to the highest offices of the land people who generally are regarded as immoral and lawless. The commentators in the newspapers are decrying the fact that there is no outrage over the alleged lawless deeds taking place in our government.
One commentator said that Americans are seeing in their leaders, as in a mirror, their own treacherous, fraudulent character.
Not too many years ago the American people prided themselves on honesty, hard work, and integrity of character. But no more. The decline has taken place rapidly. Americans have become liars, filled with wickedness, dull of hearing except in matters dealing with their own comforts and fun.
If America, and perhaps other large nations, continue with the present moral slide downward, it may happen in the fairly near future that people will be worshiping Satan and his offspring, the Lawless One.
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. (Revelation 13:5)
It is helpful for us to know that God has all in control. The great boastings of those who are in rebellion against God may appear impressive at the time but they soon will come to a shameful, terrifying end.
He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. (Revelation 13:6)
We used to believe that once we died and went to Heaven all would be joy and peace. It may be true that there will be a great sea of people who will be kept safe in God’s garden while the conflict is taking place.
But God’s warriors, His warlike remnant, will be attacked again and again until their obedience has been established beyond doubt. These are the warriors who will overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the death.
They are the "host." The Lord Jesus is the Lord of Hosts, the host of warrior angels and the host of warrior saints.
The Lawless One will blaspheme God, slander His name, slander God’s dwelling place, and slander those who live in heaven. Satan will stand before the woman, the Church, and seek to kill Christ who is being formed in her.
If you are living a victorious Christian life you now are in a travail to bring forth Christ in your personality, for the forming of Christ appears to have been reserved especially for the last days. It is the coming to maturity of the wheat of righteousness.
If Christ is being formed in you (He is the Ruler of the world to come), Satan will do everything in his power to deceive you and to cast you down to the earth. Be careful you do not lose your crown. Some prominent ministers of our day have lost their crown. But if they repent and turn again to God they will yet gain the white robe of righteousness.
Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. (Daniel 11:35)
The battle is being joined in our day. The issue is obedience to God, the keeping of His commandments. Where do you stand in this struggle? Have the four horsemen of error clouded your mind until you no longer can see what is written in the unchanging Scriptures?
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7)
It is difficult for us to understand why the Lord God would give such power to the Man of Lawlessness until we recognize that in so doing the Lord is bringing rebellion to a head. God is willing that all rebellion come to the surface so it can be judged and removed. This is the second goat of the Day of Atonement, the goat of removal.
Numerous believers of our day have been brought into the churches on the basis of a relatively superficial "decision for Christ." There still is much rebellion against God in their hearts. They must be tested again and again until it is certain they will not bring rebellion into the Kingdom of God. We must be proven worthy of the Kingdom.
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)
If we are to be found worthy of the Kingdom we must patiently endure the tribulations that come upon us. The rebellious will not patiently endure tribulation and so they will remove themselves from the Kingdom.
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
Many people who claim to be Christians in the present hour, who worship with us in the churches, are not true saints. They have been told it is not necessary to keep the Lord’s commandments. They will fall away to the Man of Lawlessness in the days to come. The Divine fire will test everyone. Then the true saints will shine as the sun in to the Presence of their Father in Heaven.
Those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will survive every test. They are the true saints. They always keep God’s commandments.
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." (Revelation 14:9-11)
The above is a warning to Christians as well as to all other people. Several passages of the Book of Revelation have to do with Antichrist. The Man of Lawlessness is a bigger issue than we might think.
It is not that some monster is suddenly going to appear on the scene and torment all believers. Rather the spirit of Antichrist is here now and has brought tremendous error into the Christian churches.
How do we know when we are the servants of Antichrist? When we are not keeping the commandments of Jesus. We can show our love for the Lord Jesus only by keeping His commandments.
The Christian churches are filled with people who are not living righteous lives. They are worldly. They are filled with lust, violence, covetousness, witchcraft, strife, gossip, slander, lying, self-will, and every other evil work. They are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They are spiritually dead although alive in the flesh.
If they do not turn away from their worldliness, their lust, their bitterness, their self-will, they will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. They already have the mark of the Lawless One on their hand (their actions) and their forehead (their motives and imaginations).
They sit with us in the churches but they have eyes full of adultery. They have turned the grace of God into an excuse for lawlessness. They have no intention of presenting their body a living sacrifice to God or of taking up their cross and following the Lord Jesus. They simply will not keep God’s commandments and their pastors and teachers rush to assure them they are eternally secure. They have been deceived. They and their leaders will suffer much in the days to come.
This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
We who are serving the Lord must wait patiently for the Lord. Meanwhile we are scorned by those who say they are "Jews" but are not. They are the synagogue of Satan, the adversary. They do not keep God’s commandments. They are ready to slander us but God is our helper. Let us remain faithful to the Lord Jesus. Our day shall come.
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)
Here is the Lord’s provision for His faithful saints. We must die in the Lord. We must cease from our own plans and ambitions and enter the rest of God.
Revelation, Chapter Twenty. The spirit of Antichrist is the spirit of self-will. We must die to our self-will. We must become completely obedient to God. We must be "beheaded," so to speak.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
The only way in which we can keep from worshiping the beast or his image, from receiving his mark on our forehead or our hand, is to be beheaded because of our testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.
Those who are willing to lose their own life (their own head) so God’s commandments may be honored will rise to meet the Lord Jesus when He appears. They will be with the Lord forever because like Him, they always honor and keep the commandments of God.
Those who save their life, maintaining their own way before God, will be judged in that day and appointed to their proper reward.
There are three great symbols of Israel: the altar, the lampstand, and the booth.
The altar represents the atoning death of Christ on the cross of Calvary.
The Lampstand represents the Holy Spirit by which all saved people are to live.
The booth represents the ultimate purpose of God—that God might dwell in the heart of each saved person as he or she lives in perfect obedience to God’s commandments.
Thus far in the Christian Era we have learned of the altar. We have come to understand that our sin cannot be forgiven except through the blood of God’s Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot save ourselves by our own good deeds. We must receive the Divine atonement if we would be acceptable to God.
We have learned of the lampstand. We now realize that life lived in the strength and wisdom of the adamic nature is death. The adamic nature of each human being is hopelessly corrupt. No matter how hard we try we end up sinning and rebelling against God and dying spiritually as a result. The things of the Spirit of God are foolishness and an abomination to the adamic nature.
It is only as we live in the Spirit of God that we find the wisdom and strength to keep God’s commandments. We are to be governed by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. The Spirit of life makes it possible for us to escape the law of sin and death that governs the adamic nature. We cannot possibly please God except as we leave the life and things of this present world and look to the Spirit of God for every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and acting.
The atoning blood of the Lord gives us authority to enter the Kingdom of God. The Spirit of God provides the wisdom and strength that we may learn to live in the Spirit of God.
But it is the booth that is God’s ultimate intention. It is God’s desire to leave the spirit realm, the heavens, and to dwell on the earth in the heart of each person. Each saved individual is to become a booth, a dwelling place for God through Christ.
Man was made to be the chariot of God. Whatever other creatures there may be in the universe, it is man who is to be the eternal dwelling place, the throne, the tabernacle, the temple of God.
Christ is being formed in us. Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal Temple of God. We are the living stones, the many rooms of the Father’s house.
The only manner in which we can find our place as part of the eternal Temple of God, the Body of Christ, is by carefully obeying all we have been commanded.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)
If we are willing and obedient we will eat of the good of the land. If we are stubborn and rebellious we will dwell in a dry place.
God has reserved the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34) for the last days. As Satan comes to maturity in the Man of Lawlessness and in all others who are a law to themselves, so Christ will come to maturity in each believer who keeps God’s commandments.
Christ is the eternal habitation of God. As Christ is formed in us the habitation of God is formed in us. When Christ has been formed in us the Father and Christ will come into the new living stone and make it Their eternal abode.
No human being is able to stand against Satan and His Lawless One. But God will roar out of Zion. That is, those people who have become the tabernacle of God will be able to stand because God in Christ in them is far, far greater than Satan. They will overcome Satan because they have loved not their lives to the point of death and now God and His Christ are forever dwelling in them and destroying the enemy through them.
No other power is as great as God and His Christ!
God’s provision for the lawless era is to enter His saints and be their inner strength. This is what is means to die in the Lord, and this is why those who die in the Lord are blessed and their works follow them. Their works follow them because it is God in them who is doing the work.
Only those who are filled with God and Christ will be able to escape being deceived by the Lawless One.
Our is a wonderful age and a terrible age. The wheat and the tares are coming to maturity. The issue is that of obedience to God. The wheat obey every Word of God—they live by the Word of God as it proceeds from His mouth.
The tares are the children of the Lawless One. They live according to their own will. They have no intention of keeping the commandments of God, of being the bondslave of Christ, of taking up their cross and following the Lord Jesus.
Christian teaching often appeals to the tares. It informs the tares that if they make a profession of belief in Christ they can live as they please. They will be brought to the spirit paradise that they may live in bliss forever whether or not they ever learn to keep God’s commandments. It seems impossible that anyone would believe such an unscriptural doctrine but this lie accounts for the "faith" of the majority of Christians of our day.
It appears that few believers in our country fear God or intend to obey Him sternly and diligently.
Few Christians of our day realize that Antichrist already has deceived numerous believers.
Few Christians of our day realize we are approaching an age of moral horrors without precedent in history. The scenes of lust and perversion we see today are only a prelude to the uncontrolled, wild orgies yet to come.
Democratic government is protecting sexual perversion by law. Recently the government of America has set aside a national monument to honor the victims of AIDS. Yet AIDS is associated with drugs and promiscuity. Why isn’t there a national monument honoring those who have died of cancer or heart disease? With all due compassion for those who are suffering the horrible symptoms of AIDS, isn’t it true we no longer are able to judge righteous judgment? Is someone who died from AIDS to be honored in the same manner as those buried in Arlington National Cemetery, the place of distinction for those who have died in defense of their country?
This is just the beginning. The television and the Internet are making sin increasingly available.
Before long we shall see people shaking their fist at God because of the destruction that is to fall on America, at one time the home of God-fearing, industrious, morally clean people who honored integrity of character. Of course, there always has been sin in America. But nothing to compare with what is taking place today.
If you wish to stand before Jesus in victory, then begin to keep His commandments. Study your Bible. Ask the Lord to cleanse you from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Ask the Lord to baptize you with fire—fire that will burn away all rebellion and disobedience to God.
Keep Christ’s Word. If you do, the Father and Christ will make Their eternal abode in you. This will be your salvation and safety during the dark hours that lie ahead of us.
If you love Jesus you will keep His commandments.