A SUMMARY OF KINGDOM CONCEPTS
From A Scribe for the Lord Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I believe that God has given some insight into His Word. This booklet sets forth many of those understandings with the hope they will provide wisdom and strength for those who will fight the coming battles for the possession of the earth and the nations thereof.
Table of Contents
A SUMMARY OF KINGDOM CONCEPTS
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Born of God. One of the first concepts that came to me in the early days had to do with the meaning of being born again, born of God. I think the idea of being born of God, or born again, has come to mean an acceptance of the theological facts concerning Jesus Christ. We have believed in the blood atonement, repented of our sin, been baptized in water, and thus we have been born again.
I dont believe this is true. In the first place, the Apostles, as recorded in the Book of Acts, never preached that we must be born again in order to be saved from the Day of Wrath. Also, the expression "born again" is not found in Pauls writings. This infrequency of usage does not correspond to todays emphasis that being born again is equivalent to being saved from wrath.
The main usage of the term "born again" was by the Lord Jesus when He said that being born again was required if we are to see and enter the Kingdom of God. Being born again has to do with the Kingdom, not with being saved from Hell or from Divine wrath.
Many Americans claim to be born again. Yet we often do not see in their lives evidence of the righteous behavior of the Kingdom of God. No new creation can be observed.
The association of being born again with the Kingdom of God is that it is the Kingdom that is born in us when Christ is born in us. Faith in Christ is one matter; repentance from our former way of living is another. The blood atonement is yet another consideration while water baptism is something else again. Being born again has to do with the Life of God being conceived in us. These five factors all play a role in our salvation, but perhaps they should be considered separately.
To be born again is not merely to have a change of mind!
To be born again is to have the Divine Seed of God planted in our personality. The Seed comes from God. It is not human. It is Divine. It is supernatural. It is new Divine Life.
As soon as we have been born again there are two distinct natures in us: that which came from Adam and that which now comes from God. Our Christian life consists largely of crucifying the adamic nature and growing in the Divine Nature.
Christianity has suffered much because it is not made clear to people that being born again is to have Gods Nature conceived in us. The believers attempt to save their original adamic nature. They are under the impression that God is going to save what they are and bring it to Heaven. The truth is, God will never accept our adamic personality. Gods salvation kills the adamic nature on the cross and then brings forth a new nature, a new creation, a true brother of Jesus Christ.
The cross and resurrection of the believer is the mainspring of the Christian salvation.
Satan has no fear of church people who are vital, living in the paths outlined in the New Testamentthe righteous paths that people everywhere approve. But when someone is willing to take up his personal cross of self-denial, allowing the Spirit to put to death his first personality, Hell trembles.
Hell does not love a righteous person and will flee from him when he resists temptation. But Hell trembles and is destroyed when someone is willing to be crucified with Christ that Christ might live in him.
The Kingdom of God is not found in the philosophy of Christianity, a philosophy which espouses the welfare of all people. Rather, the Kingdom of God is found only in the power of the Holy Spirit. The one proceeds from the natural human desire to be a better person and to help make a better world. The other proceeds from Divine election as the individual struggles with God. The reproach of the cross is on him.
He cries out as the Divine surgeon cuts away all that he treasures and replaces it with Christ. The world will approve of the good, righteous person, and such God accepts. But the Kingdom of God is installed when someone turns away from his own life, takes up his cross, and receives moment by moment the Person of Christ. The world will never understand or accept that individual or approve of him or her. He has chosen to cross the Red Sea of the life of Adam. Satan and the world spirit cannot follow him in his journey toward resurrection life.
Until this is thoroughly understood Christianity is only another of the worlds numerous religions, another discipline by which men hope to please God and earn enough merit to guarantee their acceptance into Paradise when they die.
The Kingdom of God is not Heaven. The Kingdom of God is that which is born in us when Christ is conceived and formed in us.
There are two aspects of having Christ in us. The first aspect is that of the conception and formation of the Divine Nature in us. For this to be true we must take up our personal cross and follow the Master, permitting the Holy Spirit to guide us in the crucifixion of our adamic personality. Christ is formed in us through the travail of the ministries of the Body of Christ.
The second aspect of having Christ in us is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell for eternity in our transformed inner nature. God will never dwell in Adam. He will walk with Adam in Paradise but He will not dwell in Adam.
The Fathers only House is the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only to the extent that Christ has been formed in us that God can dwell in us; for He dwells in Christ in us.
First Christ is formed in us. This is the new creation. Then the Father and the Son come to dwell in the new creation that has been formed in us. The Father and the Son are not formed in us. What is formed in us is the supernatural Divine Nature that has come from the Father and is planted in our personality.
It is as though a man had a son and then came and dwelled in his son. This, of course, is not possible in the human realm. If it were possible, it would be true then that the son would be in the image of his father, having been born from his father and then indwelt by his father.
The consequences of being born again are not always stressed. All of us know of the miracle of the seed, how a great oak tree can come from a small seed. Do we stop and ponder how all the characteristics of a tree can be in a tiny seed?
So it is with God. All the characteristics of God are in that seed, the living Word of God, that is planted in us. When the seed matures it will be a son of God in very truth, not as a figure of speech.
Our body shall be adopted. But our inward nature is truly born of God, and thus Christ rightly can refer to us as His brothers.
The divinity, if I may use the term, of the Christian is a fact of the Scriptures. However, it proves to be a controversial subject. Some have pointed out that there always will be a difference in kind between us and the Godhead. This is not true. The born again experience cannot possibly be understood as long as we refuse to realize that whatever is born of God is of Gods Nature.
This does not mean, of course that we become God, or the Father, or Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or anything other than ourselves. It is that we now are a new kind of humanity, a humanity that first was born of woman and then born of God.
When the Apostle Paul stated that he was living no longer but Christ was living in him, he was maintaining that his life now is both human and Divine. Paul is still Paul. But his new personality is a blend of that which is authentically human and authentically Divine. He is a son of God in the truest sense.
The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is authentically human and authentically Divine. In Gods economy, the Lamb can marry only that which is authentically human and authentically Divine. There can be no mixtures in the Kingdom.
There is confusion in Christian thinking concerning the nature of the Trinity. The truth is God the Father is a Person. The Lord Jesus Christ is another Person who has proceeded from the Father. The Holy Spirit is yet another Person who is the Life Force of the Father and the Son.
The Father and the Son are distinct Persons. Whenever we, in an attempt to be dutifully reverent, present Jesus Christ as the Father in another manifestation, we go contrary to the sense of the Scriptures. Jesus Christ is the Son of the Father, not the Father.
God has given all things to His Son. This means the Father is greater than the Son because it is the greater who is able to give to the lesser. The lesser obeys the greater, and Christ always obeys His Father.
Otherwise, the agony in Gethsemane is impossible of comprehension.
I do not care to argue theology. The Godhead cannot be defined by human reasoning, it can only be revealed through our experience.
The practical effect of making the Trinity an unfathomable mystery is that we then cannot relate to it. We cannot become one with God through Christ in any real sense if the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three manifestations of one Person and forever are different in kind from us.
The truth is, the Father is the Father. He is not the Husband of the Wife of the Lamb. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, He is not the Father. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God. He is not the Lamb and He did not die for our sins. We have made the relatively straightforward, biblical Father and Son relationship one inscrutable Person to whom we cannot possibly relate, except as a dog relates to his mastercertainly not as a son to his father.
Current Christian teaching stresses the oneness of God to the point that it truly can be accused of "oneness" teaching, that is, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are two other manifestations of the Father. This is not true. It is not even orthodox, as far as I know. Yet this error appears to be prevalent in Christian thinking.
That which is born of God is of God in the truest sense of the Word. Properly nourished it will develop into a genuine brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to this family relationship with our Father, with God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, that we have been called.
The Bride of the Lamb. No aspect of the Kingdom of God is more important than the marriage of the Lamb. The Word of God, the Christ, the Anointed Lord, has never before had a complement, a helper suited to Him.
The story of Adam and Eve really is an allegory, in addition to being the history of actual human beings. It is telling us that God has determined His Son will no longer be alone but will have someone with whom He can communicate and who will reveal His Glory in the creation of God.
The account of Adam and Eve tells us much about the relationship of the Lamb and His Wife. We often refer to the "Bride of Christ." But the Scripture refers to the "Bride of the Lamb." This is because we eat the Lamb. We are made one with the Lamb by eating Him.
Christ is the Passover Lamb. The important aspect of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt was not that of the escape of human beings from physical slavery. The Centerpiece of the exodus is the Passover Lamb. The Jews left the slavery of Egypt and put on the chains of slavery to demons. But whoever eats the Passover Lamb and lives by Him is forever free from slavery.
The only free individual is the one who is the slave of Jesus Christ, as the Icelandic poet, Halgrímur Pétursson, maintained.
"He called their name Adam." So it is true that marriage to the Lamb is such total union with the Lamb that their name is the Lamb, so to speak. Those who live by the body and blood of the Lamb are totally, eternally one in Christ in God.
Eve was Adam in another form. Every part of Eve was formed from Adam. There was nothing of Eve that was not Adam.
Adams first remark upon awakening was: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man."
There are no "queens" of the Kingdom of God. This is because a queen is not the same person of the king and can, in fact, be hostile toward him. She is a separate person with a will of her own.
The various Christian organizations may view themselves as "queens," but they are queens of Babylon, not of the Kingdom of God. We are not separate from Christ, if we are the Wife of the Lamb. We forever are an integral part of the Lamb.
When the slain Lamb appears in the sky, the "eagles" who live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood shall be caught up to be with Him forever. Correct doctrine will never raise anyone to meet Christ in the air. It is His body and blood in us that will raise us.
One time when I was in Iceland the Lord revealed to me the nature and power of the love that motivates the Lamb in His dealings with His Church. The intensity of the Divine love changed my understanding of the new covenant, particularly the Communion service. It made the Song of Solomon real to me.
I understand now that all of our religious doings are only the necessary scaffolding of the building. When we are ready to come up out of the wilderness leaning on our beloved, the scaffolding will be swept away and we forever will be an integral part of His Personality. There is no temple in the new Jerusalem for the entire city is the throne of God and of the Lamb.
The holy city is the glorified Church, the wife of the Lamb.
Brothers of Christ. The fact that the elect have been predestined to be the brothers of Christ, He being the Firstborn among many brothers, brings many concepts to our attention.
For one thing, it tells us we have been truly born of God. Being born again is not a mere figure of speech referring to our adopting the Christian belief system.
It tells us that when the Lord rose from the dead He became the Firstborn of many sons of God. The Lord, the Word, the Christ chose to become human in order that He might raise up an entire company of sons of God. The sons are not as great as He, of course. But make no mistakeGod has given birth to them and they indeed are sons of God in the truest sense of the word.
We were not from the beginning, as is true of Jesus Christ. But by the will of God we are coheirs with Him of all the works of Gods hands.
"Go tell My brothers I ascend to My Father and your Father; to My God and your God." This is what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene. There are awesome implications in this statement!
One hindrance to our full grasp on the promises of God is an understandable sense of reverence when we are approaching Divinity. We are not God, not as holy as God, and we know this. It is well that we do.
But when our reverence causes us to stagger at the promises of God it becomes a hindrance. The angels understand that we have been made in Gods image. We can relate to God and one another in a manner impossible to angels. They are not male and female.
We laugh, we cry, we trudge along wearily under the pressures of life. We are dust, and to the dust we return when our feeble frame expires. None of this is true of the angels.
There is no scriptural evidence I can think of that angels are capable of love, and love is the single most defining characteristic of man. Satan and his followers wish they could love, but love forever is denied them. They exist in hate, corruption, and destruction and inspire people to exist in the same manner.
We have been made in Gods image, but to attain to that image fully we have to be born twicethe first time of Adam and the second time of God.
The angels have been reduced (or exalted!) to the role of the servants of Jesus Christ and His brothers. However we are not, as currently is being suggested, to attempt to tell the angels what to do. Jesus Christ alone is the administrator of the Kingdom of God at this time. Whether He chooses to share this administration when He returns remains to be seen.
One of the dangers of our day of increased revelation is presumption! We had better back off and look to Jesus before we attempt to control the Holy Spirit and the angels!
Christ, Head and Body. The Book of Isaiah tells us of the Servant of the Lord, the Anointed Deliverer who is to come and establish justice on the earth. The Servant of the Lord is ChristHead and Body.
The purpose of the Church Age is to call out from the nations of the earth an elect. Each of the elect is to be ministered to by the gifts and ministries given by the Holy Spirit until he or she comes to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
It seems there are some truths of the Scripture that were given to the Apostle Paul alone. It is clear that the transition from Moses to Christ was explained only by Paul. This may be true also of the concept that the Church is the Body of Christ.
I capitalize "body" on occasion, although realizing we are human and not Divine, because of our relationship to Jesus Christ. We are not God; that is certain. But because we are being made an integral part of Christ, as close to Him as our body is to our head, it seems reasonable to once in a while point out that the Church is more than merely human. It is the lampstand of God, that is, it partakes of the Divine Nature through the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need to think much about the idea that the Word of God is being enlarged. He who was with the Father from the beginning is being added to. Branches are growing out from the Vine.
The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the Church. This means it also is the very Body of Christ. This signifies in turn that the city is a living entity which, although being installed for eternity on a high mountain of the new earth, nevertheless has the power of multiple presence, as is true of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps we need a more exalted vision of the Church. We are so accustomed to thinking of the churches primarily as social groups which are endeavoring to do the will of God in the earth.
But the Churchthe Bride of the Lambthe Body of Christthe eternal Tabernacle of Godis the revelation of God; the incarnation of God. How could it be otherwise in that it is the Body of Christ?
The name of God, the name of the city of God, the new name of Jesus Christall will be inscribed on us. Whoever of the saved nations sees us will understand this is the seed whom Lord has blessed; these are the priests, the ministers of our God. The peoples of the earth will come to our light, which actually will be the light of Christ and of God in Him. Then we shall inherit nations of people whom God has determined to save from destruction.
Truly the Church Age might be termed "the Age of Presumption." We have taken matters into our own hands. Instead of waiting for our directions from the Head we have gone forth in our own wisdom, strength, and talents to do the work of the Kingdom of God. We are as an individual afflicted and handicapped by a severe motor dysfunction. On the one hand we are paralyzed. On the other hand our movements are uncontrollable. This is not too harsh an indictment on us. It is the truth!
Hopefully in our day there will be some members of the Body of Christ who absolutely will refuse to put their hand on the ark of Gods Glory. They will look to Jesus instead of to themselves. They will hear the end-time call of the Spirit of God: "Not by might nor by My Spirit says the Lord." They will wait for the Lord to tell them what to do.
Will you and I be among those who cease from our own works and enter Gods rest, into the place where we are so joined to the Head that we respond to His every desire, just as in a healthy body the members are instantly responsive to the brain?
I think the churches have somewhat misunderstood the purpose of the Church Age. We are attempting to save the nations. If one will study the Scriptures it can be noticed that the worldwide revival we are looking for will take place at the time of the Lords return. We have the cart in front of the horse. We are focusing our attention on the needs of the world. God is focusing on the spiritual needs of His Church; for it is only through a mature Church that God can govern the saved nations.
When the Apostle Paul sets forth the various gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ he stipulates that their purpose is to bring each of us to the stature of the fullness of Christ. For some reason, perhaps because of a humanistic desire to "save souls," to "win people to Christ," we speak of the God-given talents of the members of the churches as being for the purpose of evangelizing. But this is not what the Scripture states. If we do not go by the Bible, how can we expect God to bless us and make our way successful?
This is not to say the churches are not to go into all the world and make disciples, commanding them to keep the Words of Jesus Christ. We are to do this. We are to preach the Gospel to every creature because we do not know whom the Lord has chosen for His Church.
But if you will look carefully at the Book of Acts you will find expressions similar to "as many as were appointed to eternal life believed."
I do not know whether it is due to democratic ideals, or to a reaction against Calvinism, or to some other factor, but we of today in America simply will not accept the fact that God makes some vessels for honor and some for dishonor. We will not accept that God would harden Pharaohs heart. We may say we believe in the full verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, but when we come to predestination and foreknowledge we draw the line.
The truth is, we Christians of America are so filled with humanism we will not permit God to be God. He has to work by our ideas of fairness or we wont cooperate. Yet we are dust, and God does as He will with the dust, even though His actions are not democratic. Salvation is of the Lord. It is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Can we accept this, or will we seek to somehow mix the sovereignty of God with human goodness?
I understand and teach, more than most Christian ministers perhaps, that there are things God must do and then actions we must take if the plan of salvation is to operate. However, it is as I have stated: we are dust, and in the final, ultimate sense, God does as He will with the dust. It all is of God even though our decisions and actions are critical.
One may exclaim, "I do not understand how you can say that God does as He will with people on the earth, appointing some to honor and some to dishonor, and yet maintain that our decisions and actions are genuinely critical and we shall be judged on the basis of what we have done." Even though we may not at first be able to reconcile this seeming contradiction, it remains true that both aspects are perfectly, totally, true. Perhaps we are going to have to permit God to be God until we come to a more mature understanding of His Word.
One of the major problems of theological thinking is the affinity we have for deductive reasoning. We take a pleasing verse, use it as an axiom, and deduce truth from it. Even though it renders numerous passages invalid, we proudly announce that we subscribe to the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.
Truth can be gleaned from the Scriptures only by inductive reasoning. We are to take every passage and shout "Amen!" We let God be God. Then we can truly claim to subscribe to the plenary verbal inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.
Let me tell you that God is God and He does as He will with the peoples of the earth. He gave the whole nation of Egypt in order that He might show His glory through Israel.
When God has brought the full number of members of Christs Body to sufficient maturity, then, and only then, will Christ return. He will return with His Body and establish justice on the earth.
We first must come to the unity of the faith. This does not mean to the unity of doctrine but to the oneness that exists among people when each person is looking only to the Lord Jesus for life and behavior. The reason Christians are in such conflict today is that they are living and acting according to their own will. As long as this is true they cannot possibly be one in Christ in God.
Only when we all are looking to Jesus for our decisions will we be in the unity of the faith. Then the world will believe that the Father has sent the Lord Jesus. So the emphasis today should be on building up the saints to the stature of the fullness of Christ, while not neglecting the work of evangelism.
The nations are in turmoil and will continue to destroy each other until the Prince of Peace returns. The Prince of Peace indeed shall return, but only when His Body is ready to work with Him in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
It can be seen that God has called out from the ranks of mankind an elect, an Israel, a Wife for the Lamb, a body for Christ. According to the Scripture, this has been accomplished by the foreknowledge of God. It is not a democratic procedure. It is an arbitrary, sovereign work on the part of Almighty God.
God is the Potter. We are the clay. In fact, we are less than clay. We are dust. How dare we challenge the Creator in our own presumption? He can do whatever He wishes.
Yet, let no man question the love of God for us. Calvary answers for eternity the question of Gods love and good intentions toward us.
We must keep in mind also that everyone who has been predestined to be a brother of Christ must respond appropriately and diligently. It is entirely possible for someone to take our crown; for our talents to be removed and given to another. We must continually press toward a full grasp on that for which we have been grasped. To neglect so great salvation is to bring wrath upon uselect or not!
We understand, therefore, that the purpose of the two thousand years of the Church Age has been to create a body for the great Head, Jesus Christ. As the human body is subject to the head, so the Body of Christ is to be subject to Christ.
It is to this fullness that you have been called, dear Reader. So do not become impatient as God works with you night and day to prepare you to be bread for the multitudes whom God will save when you are able to bring Christ instead of yourself to them.
The Coming of the Lord. We Christians hold an unscriptural concept concerning the coming of the Lord. We think the Lord is returning to take His Church to Heaven. There is no scriptural basis for this tradition, as far as I have been able to determine.
There is abundant Old and New Testament to support the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return with His saints to establish justice among the nations.
Some are teaching that the Lord will return before His second coming in order to catch up His people so they will escape Antichrist and the great tribulation. This is pure mythology. There is no indication whatever of this concept in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, in the first chapter of Second Thessalonians, or in any other major description of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.
We ought not to be teaching that which is not found clearly stated in the Gospels, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.
Our unscriptural teaching that the Lord will return before His historical second coming to catch up the saints so they will not suffer has a negative effect on the spiritual maturing of the believers. They remain as silly, undisciplined children jumping up and down next to their pews in the hope that any moment now they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
There is an age of moral horrors on the horizon. The believers simply are not prepared for the catastrophes we are facing in America. They are not going to be able to serve as a witness of Gods faithful protection. They will be screaming in terror along with the unsaved because they have not prepared themselves to stand in the day of evil. The unscriptural "any-moment-rapture" myth is leaving them unprepared to stand in the day of evil, in direct opposition to Pauls exhortation in the Book of Ephesians concerning preparing ourselves for the day of evil.
How long will it be before Christian people wake up to the fact they have been deceived?
An intelligent high-school senior who knows his or her Bible can easily refute the arguments set forth by the rapturists.
The main support (as far as I know) for the "rapture" myth is the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians. This passage is not speaking of the going of the Church but of the coming of the saints with the Lord Jesus to raise their bodies from the dead. Then they, along with the living, shall rise to meet the Commander-in Chief in the air so they may descend with Him in the battle we term "Armageddon."
The "rapture passage" of the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians was not written to comfort the living saints concerning Antichrist or the great tribulation. It was presented by the Apostle Paul to comfort the living saints concerning the saints whose bodies are sleeping in the groundthat the living would not go before them into the Kingdom.
Any intelligent believer can read the "rapture" verses in First Thessalonians and see if I have interpreted the text correctly.
Most rapture teaching I have heard has been an emotional appeal to the fears of people, not a solid exegesis or scholarly exposition of a given text. The teaching jumps from passage to passage while interpreting the verses out of context, and in terms of a preconceived model or philosophy of interpretation.
If todays teachers and preachers would offer expositions of the New Testament instead of a constant repetition of their favorite topics, such as being raptured to Heaven by lawless grace, I think the Holy Spirit would be poured out on us.
One thing is certainthe Bible does not teach that the Lord is coming to catch away His Church to Heaven but will descend with His Church and drive evil from the earth. We really ought to stick with the Scriptures!
The Continuity of the Testaments. After reviewing some of the ideas of the philosophy termed "Dispensationalism" I have come to the opinion that this model of interpretation of the Scriptures is decidedly harmful. It certainly is anti-Semitic!
One of the major harms done by the concept of the "dispensation" is a destruction of the continuity of the Testaments. It is conjectured that the Christian salvation is not part of the Old Testament promise; that it is not a part of the utterances of the Hebrew Prophets.
The truth is, the New Testament flows naturally from the Old as one unbroken revelation of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no such thing as a "Gentile dispensation" or a "Gentile Church." These are not scriptural concepts, although they have been repeated so many times the believers have accepted them as biblical truth.
The one revelation of the Kingdom of God began with Adam and Eve and flows in one unbroken line, one seamless robe, through to the new Jerusalem. It is true that God keeps giving more grace, more of Himself to those He has called. But at the same time he has increased the demands on His elect. More grace, more demands.
God has one goal in mind: all of His children will act righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. However, religion always obscures this one goal.
The Jews obscure the goal by emphasizing slavish obedience to minutia they have derived from the Law of Moses. The Christians obscure the goal by telling us God does not care particularly how we live as long as we profess belief in Christ.
Such Jews do not know God and such Christians do not know God. As Stephen protested, we always err in our heart. We just cant understand what God is saying to us.
The Book of Hebrews tells us clearly that God has given us a new covenant because the old covenant did not produce righteous people.
So how do we define the new covenant? We say that God has given up on us and doesnt really care how we live. He has given His Son to overcome sin for us and now all we have to do is believe that He did this and we will go to Heaven on this basis.
The prevailing interpretation of the new covenant is so unscriptural as to be ridiculous. It truly would be laughable if the results were not so horrifically destructive of Gods intention.
No matter how God moves, men (with Satans assistance you may be sure) always manage to frustrate and sidetrack Gods loving intention.
We Christians are not separate from the Hebrew Prophets. Rather, according to the Apostle Peter, the Prophets were speaking to us rather than to their contemporaries.
The first Christian assembly comprised 5,000 Jews, all rigorously practicing the Law of Moses. Did you know that? The Christian Church never was and never shall be Gentile. If you will read in the Gospel accounts the angelic announcements and prophetic declarations that accompanied the birth of the Lord, you will discover that the Gospel primarily is a Jewish covenant and blessing. We Gentiles have been grafted on the Jewish olive tree.
All of the Messianic promises found in the Old Testament apply first to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then to those who are coheirs with Him. No Messianic promise is made to Jews or Gentiles as such, only to the one Seed of AbrahamJesus Christ and those who are an integral part of Him.
The problem with Dispensational theory is that it cuts us off from the Prophets and we are left with no clear destiny. And so the unscriptural myth about mansions in Heaven continues to be unexamined.
Our goal as Christians is not eternal residence in Heaven. We would not enjoy this. We are not angels. Our inheritance is first God, and then the nations of the earth. God and people are the only inheritance worth having.
God advised Jesus to pray for the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. The Lord Jesus advises us to pray the same prayer.
You know why we have gone so far astray in our doctrine? We do not pray and read the Bible. If Christians would pray and read their Bible, instead of endlessly rehearsing their unscriptural traditions about lawless grace and eternal life in Heaven, they soon would learn about the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Today we must provoke Gods people to reexamine their traditions in the light of the Scriptures.
One thing is certain: if you cant find your belief set forth plainly in the New Testament, in context, it might be a good idea to go to the Lord about it.
The Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement is described in the sixteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus. This was the one day of the year when the High Priest could go behind the Veil of the Tabernacle, or Temple, and sprinkle blood upon and before the Mercy Seat.
The main ceremony of the Day of Atonement involved two goats. One goat was slain and an atonement was made with its blood.
The second goat was also a goat of atonement, or reconciliation, but it was not slain. Rather the sins of Israel were confessed over this goat and it then was led away into the desert.
These two goats portray an extremely significant truth. It is that the Divine salvation includes not only the forgiveness of sins but also the removal of sins from us. I do not mean the removal of the guilt of our sins but of the sin itselfthe body of sin of which the Apostle Paul speaks.
The Day of Atonement follows the feast of Pentecost. This means that after we receive the Holy Spirit, God will begin to deal with us concerning worldliness, the lusts and passions of our sinful nature, and our self-will. We must be reconciled to God in these three areas before we can be considered to be in the moral image of Christ and in the rest of Gods complete will.
As an experienced Christian you may find that the sins and rebellion of your personality are becoming obvious. You are not to ignore these leadings of the Spirit and claim that God sees you only in Christ. This is not the approach indicated in the New Testament. There is no New Testament passage to my knowledge that informs us God sees us only in Christ; but there certainly are passages that teach the contrary.
There are only two ways in which a human being can livein the life of his flesh, or in the Life of the Spirit of God. It is Gods will that every human being walk in the Spirit of God rather than in the life of his or her flesh. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
It is your job to walk in the Spirit of God each day. It is the Spirits task to bring your sins to your attention. It is your responsibility then to cooperate with the Spirit as He enables you to put to death the sin or rebellion under scrutiny.
This process is an eternal judgment of sin. Once you confess your sin and turn away from it with the Lords help, it never again will be mentioned to you. It is an eternal judgment.
But if you ignore the Spirits warning and do not confess your sin, do not seek the Lords help in turning away from it, you will be judged for your disobedience at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Do not let anyone deceive you. Just because you profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ does not protect you from being revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ. I know this is taught but it is errora terribly destructive error at that!
All of us will appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ, just as the New Testament states. We will be judged concerning the good and the bad we have practiced in the body.
If we have been faithful to the Lord, patiently carrying our cross after Him, confessing and turning away from our sins when they are shown to us, and serving in all good works, then we shall receive, at the Judgment Seat, the good we have practiced as He has enabled us.
But if we have not been faithful to the Lord, have not patiently carried our cross after Him, have not confessed and turned away from our sins when they are shown to us, have lived to ourselves without giving of ourselves for the benefit of others, then we shall receive, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the bad we have practiced. We shall be beaten with many lashes, or even thrown into the outer darkness, or into Hell itself.
Today there is tremendous deception concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ. But the truth is as I have stated it. The reader, if he may be of another opinion, should at least read once again the New Testament and see what it says about the negligent believer in Christ. After all, it is your future destiny I am concerned about. I am not nearly as interested in being correct in my doctrine as I am about the future welfare of the believers. Unless there is widespread, thorough repentance in the United States, a multitude of professing Christians, when they die, are not going to find themselves in a glorious mansion. Rather they will awake to find a frowning Christfrowning because they have not been utterly faithful to that which has been given to them.
In America we have every material advantage and every spiritual advantage. Much of the world has neither. Brother, Sister, we are going to be held accountable, and "grace" will not excuse our conduct in that hour.
And truly, the great concern is not what we will face when we die but in the day when we are raised from the dead. Then all we are and have practiced will be revealed, and we shall be clothed in our own doings. This is what the Bible teaches.
Whether or not you believe this, you are going to face the consequences of your actions in the day of resurrection. The Lord did not come to change what you shall reap but what you are sowing today; for it is certain each one of us is going to reap what he or she has sown. And grace will not intervene in that day.
The Day of the Lord. As I understand it, the Day of the Lord will last throughout the thousand-year period often referred to as the "Millennium," but which I term the "Kingdom Age." I think the purpose of the thousand years is to prepare the Bride, the new Jerusalem, for her descent to the new earth as the eternal dwelling place of God.
The Day of the Lord will begin with a resurrection and end with a resurrection.
The resurrection at the beginning is for the royal priesthood, the Lords victorious saints. This resurrection must be attained.
The resurrection that will occur at the end of the thousand years is the general resurrection. It will include all who were not raised in the first resurrection. It is at this second resurrection that the determination will be made whether an individual will be brought forward into the new heaven and earth reign of Christ, or whether he or she will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and separated from God forever.
The Apostle John refers to the resurrection at the beginning of the Kingdom Age as the "first resurrection." It is for the blessed and holy royal priesthood.
As I interpret the language of the Scripture, most people will be spared the Lake of Fire. But they will be ushered into eternal life in the Kingdom in various states of personality.
If we of today would aspire to the resurrection and catching up when Jesus appears, then we must, as Paul stated, attain to this resurrection by leaving all else aside and pursuing Christ with all the diligence we can muster. We must learn to live in the power of His resurrection. We must choose to share His sufferings and be conformed to His death.
The current notion that all who have made a profession of Christ will be raised and caught up when He appears is contrary to the Scripture. The rewards we associate with being a Christian, as described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, are assigned by the Scripture to the overcomersto the believers who have pressed through to victory in Jesus.
It is demonstrably true that numerous Christian believers are not living in victory in Jesus. To teach them they will be rewarded with authority and power even though they have not lived victoriously in the Lord Jesus is cruel and heartless beyond belief. We indeed are a false prophet, a false shepherd, when we tell the American believers of today they will rule with Christ over the nations.
The best numerous American believers can hope for is to be saved as by fire. This means that all of their inheritance and most of their personality will be burned away and they will enter eternity as a naked spirit. Why is this? Because they have not served Christ. They and their teachers who curried favor with them are facing a frightful future. Most of the punishments outlined in the Gospel accounts are directed toward the Lords servants, not the unbelievers.
I know this is true because it is what the Scriptures state; and the Scriptures cannot possibly be changed even though we American Christians think we are so favored of God that He would never let us suffer. We are greatly deluded.
It still is not too late to turn away from our lukewarm discipleship and seek the Lord with a fervent heart. But the day may come when we have passed the point of no return. Then, like Esau, we will seek the inheritance but it is lost to us forever and ever.
The Disciple. The Great Commission directs us to go out and make disciples from all the nations of the earth, commanding them to keep the directives given by Christ and His Apostles. We do not do this. We go out to "save souls," telling them they are not obligated to keep the commandments contained in the New Testament because they are saved by grace.
We do not go out to bear witness. We go out to "save souls" and build churches. This is why we do not bear a true witness. We are so anxious to draw people into our denominational framework that we compromise the Gospel of the Kingdom. We "sell" the Gospel. This means we do everything we can to make it attractive to people.
The Lord Jesus never did this. He spoke in parables so people could not understand and be converted. Christ explained the parables only to those God had given Him. He accused the Pharisees openly, rebuking them with harsh words.
The Apostle Paul did not attempt to sell Felix on the Gospel. He spoke to Felix of righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come until Felix trembled.
The Book of Acts is not so much a record of the Apostles "saving souls," in the sense of urging their listeners to make a profession of faith, but of Gods preachers bringing the good news of forgiveness through the blood of the cross and warning people everywhere to turn from their sins and bring forth the evidence of deep repentance.
When we try to "save souls" and build a large church we are apt to trim the demands of Christ so people are not offended.
The Lord Jesus never did this. He spoke plainly to His followers: "If you are going to be My disciple you have to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you once put your hand to the plow and then look back, you are not fit for the Kingdom of God. If you love your family members more than you do Me you are not worthy of Me. If you do not take up your cross and follow Me you are not worthy of Me."
Do we hear this preached today? No indeed we do not. Rather, as in the case of at least one assembly, we fill peoples coffee cups during the taking of the offering so they will feel comfortable and happy and have fun.
We are much more concerned about the growth of numbers than we are with the spiritual growth of individuals. We are sowing our traditions and personal ambitions and we are going to reap corruption in the days to come.
One can be an American Christian in all the customary meanings of the term and yet not be a disciple of Jesus Christ. A disciple of Jesus Christ is an individual who in his heart has come out from the world, who is denying himself and seeking Christ with all his might. His whole lifeevery part of itis centered on the Lord Jesus.
A disciple will turn down a promotion on his job if he judges that it will in any manner affect his fervent pursuit of Christ. He is learning, learning, learning every day of what it means to walk with God. Every day he is more proficient in recognizing good and evil and more capable in the desire and strength to reject the evil and choose the good.
Every day his natural strength is being broken and he is living more and more by Gods strength and wisdom. He is being fed the hidden manna, the body and blood of Christ, and he is living in this Virtue.
There is absolutely nothing in his life, no thing, no relationship, no activity, no circumstance that he will not give to Christ promptly if it is asked for. He is being freed from all idolatry.
It is Jesus! Jesus! Jesus everywhere and in everything. This is what it means to be a disciple of the Jesus Christ. Nothing short of this is acceptable.
We understand, therefore, that the churches in America are filled with "Christians" but not with disciples. If one can find a single disciple in a large Christian assembly it is a cause for rejoicing.
If I am hearing correctly from the Lord, we are due for enormous catastrophes in America. No doubt the great majority of church members will follow the secular government wherever it leads them. But there will be a godly remnant who will follow only Jesus Christ. Suffering and persecution may cause a division between the lukewarm and the fervent believers.
Eagles Wings. The concept of eagles wings is important for us to understand. The idea merely is that God carries us Himself until we are ready to fly.
Right here can be identified one of the most weakening of the Christian errors.
On the basis of the fact that Jesus Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly, and then suffered the penalty imposed on those who break the Law of Moses, God is able to ascribe (impute) righteousness to whoever chooses to come under the lordship of Jesus. This is what Paul meant when he taught that we no longer can gain righteousness by keeping the Law but must receive the righteousness of God by faith.
What this means is that when we trust in Jesus Christ for our righteousness we are credited with perfect observance of the Law of Moses.
This truth has been taught clearly by numerous godly Christian teachers and preachers.
However, the proviso stated by Paul, that this ascribing of righteousness depends on our following the Holy Spirit, has not received nearly the attention that has been given to the idea of ascribing righteousness to those who come to Christ in faith.
Thus we have fatal error at the heart of Christian teaching.
We have made the ascribing of righteousness the only critical aspect of our salvation. We forget the mother eagles expectation that someday we shall be able to fly on our own.
It is not Gods intention that the brothers of Christ, the members of the Bride of the Lamb, the members of the Body of Christ, the living stones in the Temple of God be people whose only righteousness is that which has been ascribed to them. No deliverance from sin and rebellion has taken place. The work of Satan has not been destroyed. They still are practicing immorality, hating, stealing, coveting, and so forth.
No, this is not Gods intention under the new covenant. God gave us a new covenant so we could be transformed from the image of Satan to the image of God.
I guess all true Christians realize that no sinning will take place in the new world of righteousness that is coming from Heaven. We just have not been taught that deliverance from sin will take place in the present world. In fact, I have read Christian writings that imply we always will be sinners who are saved by grace, meaning we still will be morally unchanged but God will always see us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We will praise God for ten thousand years because He has received us into His Presence even though we remain unchanged.
The truth is, we have come to the point in history when the Lord is ready to deliver His people from worldliness, lust, and self-will. All that is not worthy of the Kingdom shall be removed and cast into the fire.
Yes, we start off being carried on eagles wings. We are held to be righteous in Gods sight because of the obedience and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this is not intended to be the scope of our salvation. Our salvation includes transformation into the moral image of Christ, and untroubled rest in the will of God.
As soon as we have believed in Christ, have turned away from the ways of the world, and have been baptized in water, we are to present ourselves to the Lord as candidates for change into His image. Each day the Lord will give us something to overcome. Each day we are to pray for the wisdom and strength to overcome the problems of the day. This is how we grow in Christ.
If no change is taking place in our behavior, if we are not growing in the ability to judge between good and evil, and in the willingness and strength to choose the good and turn away from the evil, then we are not being "saved," so to speak. We are in a state of arrested development. For salvation is not a change from earth to Heaven but from Satan to God.
It is not at all the Lords will that we be carried forever on eagles wings. We are to grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ. God wants sons who can represent Him throughout His creation, just as the Lord Jesus represents Him. He is not looking forward to an eternity of dealing with helpless, self-centered babies who continually are seeking attention and are of no use whatever for the fulfilling of the numerous roles and tasks of the Kingdom.
The End-time. I will tell you what I think is going to take place from now until the Lord returns.
First of all, I believe God is telling me that catastrophic trouble is coming to the United States of America. During this time of trouble there will be periods of revival and spiritual refreshing. Repentance, turning away from sin and disobedience to God, will be emphasized.
Perhaps this season of revival will blend in and become part of the promised "spring rain," the revival of unprecedented power symbolized by the "two witnesses" of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
I think this harvest revival will bring the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation on the earth, according to the promise of the Lord in Matthew 24:14. When the witness has been given to Gods satisfaction, God will withdraw the power of the revival. Then the results of the revival will be tested. Because lawlessness will abound, the love of the majority of those who became Christians during the "latter rain," spring-rain revival will grow cold.
A person will arise who will personify the antichrist spirit that has been in the world since the first century. He and the religious leaders will cooperate as the headquarters of the great religious Babylon is built on the site of the original Tower of Babel. Religious Babylon will include all the religious efforts of man, including Christianity.
Antichrist will demonstrate self-will in the establishing of democratic government. The False Prophet, whether an individual or not I do not know, will demonstrate self-will in religious matters. The False Prophet will support Antichrist; that is, Christians who are able to exercise the power of the Lamb, but who are led by their own self-will and reasonings, will support a government that professes to be dedicated to providing the needs of all the peoples of the world.
The true saints, the remnant, will be driven from the cities of the earth. At this time, I believe, the Throne of God will move from Heaven into the personalities of the godly remnant.
All the while that Antichrist and the False Prophet hold sway in the centers of civilization, there will be salvation in the remnant who are hidden away. But in the cities of the earth it will not be possible to be saved by accepting Christ, nor will it be possible to receive the Holy Spirit. Antichrist will have enough spiritual power to block the prayers of the unfortunates who did not choose to be part of the remnant.
When the morally darkest hour arrives, and people are speaking of worldwide peace and safety because there is no more tormenting witness of God, the power of God will return to the remnant. Then the sky will be opened and the Lamb of God will appear.
The deceased victorious saints will descend with the Lord and pick up their bodies from their place of interment. The remnant who are still alive on the earth will be changed from mortality to immortality. Then the entire company will be caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.
The saints will ascend the thrones that govern the creation. Then the Lord and His saints will descend on the white war stallions and drive wickedness from the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ will be crowned King of kings on Davids throne in Jerusalem. Then He will send out His saints to govern the nations that have survived the Battle of Armageddon.
The only people who can look forward to these last days with confidence are those who truly are abiding in Christ. A mere profession of having been "saved" will not be enough. We must be really living in Christ, serving Him each day, if we hope to stand in triumph before the Son of Man.
The Christian people in America need to be warned that the events of the end-time will be "out of the frying pan into the fire" for all except those who are genuine disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Eternal Life. Eternal life is the central message of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Contrary to popular opinion, eternal life is not the same as Heaven. Eternal life is a kind of life. Heaven is a place. An individual can be with or without eternal life in Heaven or on the earth.
God did not give His Son so whoever believes in Him would go to Heaven, as we usually preach, but would have eternal life.
You cant go to Heaven today unless you die, but you certainly can have life today. So we see there is a difference between Heaven and eternal life.
Eternal life is the Life of God that comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life.
There are two kinds of life: flesh and blood life, and the Life of God. Flesh and blood life is a temporary kind of life, subject to corruption, and cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God. Eternal life is eternal, is not subject to corruption, and is an aspect of the Kingdom of God.
Eternal life can be experienced in degrees. There is life, and then there is more abundant life. Paul told Timothy, who certainly was saved and had a portion of eternal life, to lay hold on eternal life.
When we receive Christ as our Savior we are given a portion of eternal life. Then the fight is on. Our sinful nature desires to maintain its own ideas and life. The eternal life that is in us desires to increase so that our fellowship with God may increase.
Death and life struggle each day for mastery over us. If we obey God in all matters, living as a Christian should, observing the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, God will deliver us from sin and rebellion one step at a time. Each deliverance from spiritual death causes spiritual life to increase in us.
If we do not observe the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, if we do not live as a Christian should, then we are not undergoing the process of deliverance from sin. Then we are in danger, as in the parable of the sower, of losing the life that had been given to us.
The ten virgins went to meet the Lord. Five were too low on oil, on the Life of God. They were not permitted to go to be with the Lord.
We must remember that one of the supreme goals of the Christian salvation is the redemption, the adoption of our mortal body. This means that the same Holy Spirit we have now will make alive our body at the coming of the Lord. This is a goal held before us. As Paul says, we must lay aside all else that we may attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead.
If we, as a Christian, insist on living in the sinful nature, we will not attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead, the first resurrection, the resurrection to life and glory. We will be held over to the second resurrection and receive the reward of our works.
Paul warns us that if we live according to the sinful nature we will die, that is, we will not have a life-filled inward personality in the day of resurrection and thus are not eligible for the filling of our resurrected body with Divine Life.
So we Christians, perhaps without realizing it, are in a struggle to press through and overcome the last enemy. If we faithfully follow the Lord Jesus in all matters, then, when He comes, we will receive eternal life in our body. But if we do not follow the Lord Jesus in all matters, then, when He returns, we will find ourselves in a state of corruption.
Whoever sows to his or her sinful nature will experience corruption in the day of resurrection. It is not only that we may be consigned to a place of torment, rather we will receive directly what we have practiced. The acts of our sinful nature shall be returned to us such that we are bound by themperhaps for eternity!
The believers of today must be made aware that their supreme goal is not to go to Heaven when they die but to attain to life in the day of resurrection. It is what takes place regarding us in the day of resurrection that is so utterly important to us, not only what happens when we die.
The doctrines of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment are hardly known today. Yet, according to the writer of the Book of Hebrews, they are but elementary principles of the Kingdom. We certainly have lost much of the original revelation given to the Apostles of the Lamb!
Faith. The term "faith" is used a great deal in Christian circles, but I think we may be using it incorrectly at times.
The Protestant Reformers contrasted faith with the works of the Catholic religion. But today faith is being contrasted with godly behavior. Todays interpreters of the New Testament are claiming that Paul taught we are saved by belief in correct theology instead of by godly character. They are contrasting faith in Christ with righteous behavior, which they incorrectly term "works," thinking this is what Paul meant.
Whenever Paul spoke of "works" he meant the "works of the Law of Moses." He was not referring to righteous behavior, which is one of the principal outcomes of Divine grace.
That New Testament faith is not belief in theological statements, no matter how accurate, is demonstrated by the fact that the writer of the Book of Hebrews, when giving examples of faith, used the heroes of the Old Testament. Never once is it emphasized that their doctrine was correct. Never once is it emphasized that they employed aggressive faith by deciding what they thought God ought to do and then daring God to do it.
The faith of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews is not the magic we think of today, where we can think or speak what we want and it comes to pass magically.
The faith portrayed in Hebrews is not natural faith, as when we sit down in a chair and believe it will hold us.
Rather, faith is obedience to the vision God has given us because we understand that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him diligently.
Biblical faith does not proceed from the soul of man but from the Spirit of God as a gift to us so we may do Gods will. We are to think soberly of ourselves according to the amount of faith God has given us.
True faith in God always results in godly character and behavior. Faith apart from righteous behavior is dead. Righteous behavior is the very life of faith.
We are not to try to "get things by faith." Rather we are to keep an open heart before God so we understand what He has said in His Word and also to us personally. Then we are to pray and hope for the promise of God to be fulfilled in our life. It is in the period of waiting between the giving of the vision and its fulfillment that the saints are formed. Faith actually is our grip on Gods faithful Character.
True Bible faith requires much courage and perseverance in order to achieve its ends. This is the faith of the patriarchs and prophets of old.
When the Bible states the righteous shall live by faith, it does not mean the righteous hold to their doctrinal position and ignore their behavior. It means rather that the righteous look to God for every decision of life rather than leaning on their own wisdom and strength. It means the righteous are humble rather than proud and arrogant. The just shall live by faith has nothing to do with belief in any theological system or doctrinal position but with a way of living.
The Feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles is the last and greatest of the feasts of the Lord. The celebration of Tabernacles lasts for seven days followed by the climactic "Rejoicing Over the Law" on the eighth day. The joyous ceremonies of the eighth day portray the first day of the week of eternity.
It was on the eighth day of Tabernacles, that great day of the feast, that the Lord Jesus told us whoever believes in Him will have a well of water created in Him that will bring eternal life to whoever drinks thereof.
Pentecost symbolizes the rain from Heaven. Tabernacles reveals to us that Gods intention is to create His Throne in us so eternal life will come forth within us. Then the Spirit and the Bride can invite whoever will choose to do so to come and drink freely of the water of eternal life.
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah was sung during the feast of Tabernacles. We know we are passing from Pentecost to Tabernacles when our testimony corresponds to the twelfth chapter of Isaiah:
We shall be found praising the Lord at all times.
We will understand what it means for God to be angry with the sin and rebellion in our personality, just prior to His comforting us. Every Christian whom God is bringing into the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles will pass through a season of pain and problems in order that all that is not pleasing to God can be brought into the open and removed.
If you are going through such a trial right now, do not despair. God is faithful and will bring you forth as pure gold. It is the Valley of Achor, and you yet shall sing as in the days of your youth. You will come up out of the wilderness leaning on your Beloved.
Better to pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ now rather than later.
God Himself is becoming your salvation. You will be able to trust the Lord and not be afraid, even though you may not have conquering faith right at this point.
You used to play volley ball with God: "I will do this and now You do that."
In the fulfillment of Tabernacles you find yourself on the same side of the net with God. The Lord Himself has become your Strength and your Song. It is not that He merely gives you strength and a song, He Himself is the Strength and the Song. He Himself has become your Salvation. You no longer are holding Gods hand. He is holding your hand. Much safer this way!
The Throne of God is being established in you for eternity. Now you will be able to bring forth eternal Life to other people, and to do so is to experience the absolute fullness of love, joy, and peace.
No longer will you boast about your church or your religious attainments. God will be the focus of your attention. Christ will be lifted up in you and He will glorify the Father. You will urge others to give thanks to the Lord and to call on His name, just as you have done. You will exhort all who will hear you to proclaim to the nations the marvelous things God has performed and urge them to exalt His name alone.
You will sing to the Lord continually because of the perfection of His wisdom and works, and the world will hear you. Because you have become one with Christ the world will believe that Christ was sent by God Almighty; He did not come as a man seeking his own glory.
It is an occasion for shouting and singing by the people who are dwelling in the Person of God through Christ, and He in them. It is the Holy One of Israel who is in us and with us forever.
This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. It is in order that we might enter such fullness of God that we are given the authority of the blood and the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit.
The Feasts of the Lord. As I stated previously in these Memoirs, the seven feasts of the Lord are an illustration I use to describe the program of salvation.
The feasts and their symbolism is as follows:
Passover tells us of the blood of the Lamb that protects us when the destroyer executes the Divine judgment.
Unleavened bread shows that God wants us to repent of our sinful ways and to be baptized in water as a sign we are crucified with Christ, we are leaving the spirit of the world, and we are ready to walk in newness of resurrection life.
Firstfruits speaks of the born-again experience in which a firstfruits of our personality, our inward nature, comes alive in Christ and is brought up to abide in Christ at the right hand of God.
Pentecost symbolizes the outpouring of the Spirit of God on us. The two loaves of wheat baked with leaven remind us of the portion of the Spirit given on the Day of Pentecost, and then of the double portion of the Spirit that is to be poured out in the last daysthe latter-rain outpouring.
This is as far as we have come in the Church Age. The last three feasts will be fulfilled spiritually during the period from now until the Lord returns.
The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of the Lord of Hosts to declare war on Satan, beginning with Satans presence in and influence on the believers.
The Day of Atonement foretells the time when Jesus Christ deals with the worldliness, lust, and self-will in His people, utterly removing and destroying these evil influences. We think the Day of Atonement has begun and will extend throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
The Feast of Tabernacles shows us that Gods ultimate intention is to dwell in people, not just with them.
Because we are leaving Pentecost and entering the last three feasts, we are encountering the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. This means there will be increasing emphasis on spiritual warfare as Jesus descends to confront His enemies.
You may be in a church in which the music is becoming militant. There are songs about God being a man of war; about the Lord Jesus coming on His great war stallion followed by His saints clothed in white. We are being taught in the newer choruses about the Lord of Battles.
We also are hearing about Joels army. We of the churches have been an undisciplined mob up to the present hour. We went where we desired and did pretty much as we wanted. If we despised the pastor we told him so and left the assembly and went where we pleased.
For those on whom the hand of the Lord is resting, the day of such willful behavior is over. Either we will obey the Lord strictly and those whom He places over us, or we will be left behind as the cloud and the fire move forward.
The Day of Atonement is the day of reconciliation. We have been reconciled to God legally through the blood of the cross. Now it is time to be reconciled to God in our personality.
If we are worldly we cannot have fellowship with God. God is not at all pleased with the spirit of the world. We cannot love God and at the same time love the spirit of the world, finding our survival and security in the things of this life.
If we are full of the lusts and passions of the flesh, we cannot have fellowship with God. God is Light. He will not have fellowship with moral darkness. If we would draw near to God we must be holy as He is holy, not by imputation but by actual spiritual cleanliness of thought, speech, and action. The Holy Spirit is able to produce such holiness in us if this is what we desire and will pursue.
If we are moved by our self-will, self-centeredness, self-seeking, self-love, we cannot possibly have fellowship with God. God has given a cross for each one of us to bear. If we will bear our cross patiently, remaining in the prisons in which God places us, our self-will shall be destroyed and we will press into untroubled rest in the Father through the Lord Jesus.
But if we refuse to deny ourselves, refuse to give to God our idols when He asks for them, insist on having our own way, forcing our way out of all the prisons the Lord provides in order to destroy our self-will, then we cannot in any manner enter the Kingdom of God. We can pray to Jesus, use faith, ask for grace and mercy, read the Bible continually, and wait on the Lord all night. But until we are willing to yield to God and do things His way we are a destructive force in the universe. We will slander those who love Jesus.
The original sin was Satans self-will. His self-assertion is the source of all other sin. As long as we are alive in our own will, even our Christian or ministerial will, we will destroy the work of God all around us. We can speak in tongues, prophesy, work miracles, all in the name of Jesus. Thousands of souls may make a profession of faith in Christ. But in that Day we will hear, "Depart from me."
The greatest problem of Christianity of every age is the self-will of the ministry and the people. It is self-will that caused the death of the millions of martyrs who refused to bow to the demands of the popes, priests, and Protestant kings and queens. It is self-will that produces turmoil and division in the little storefront church.
Until we are willing to permit God to crucify our self-will we are an enemy of God and man.
The primary characteristic of the individual who is walking in the life of the adamic nature is his insistence on having his own way. He will have a childish tantrum if his desires are thwarted.
"Not My will but Thine be done."
There is only one legitimate will in all the universe, and that is the will of the Father as it is expressed through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The seventh and last celebration, the feast of Tabernacles, portrays the will of God for all mankind. It is that God dwell in every person.
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us, not Christ with us.
The Fathers house is Jesus Christ. There are many place of abiding in this house, many rooms. Christ went to the cross, and then to Heaven, that we might live in God and He in us.
If I understand the Scriptures, some people will reap Christ a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. How much of Christ we reap depends on two factors, as I see it: first, our Divine calling; second, our willingness to be pruned.
I picture the new world of righteousness as being inhabited by four basic kinds of people: those who have reaped Christ one hundredfold; those who have reaped Christ sixtyfold; those who have reaped Christ thirtyfold; and finally those who are lost forever to the Presence of Christ.
If I am correct, the Church, the elect, the new Jerusalem comprises the hundredfold and sixtyfold. The saved nations, who are the inheritance of the Church are the thirtyfold. The lost have no part of Christ. They have chosen to reject Christ in favor of being able to pursue their own will.
Christ is seen to be in everyone (except the lost) in the new world, and God in Christ. All is subject to Christ. Christ is subject to God, as the Scripture teaches.
I think this is what the Scripture means by saying there is "no more sea." I believe this means there will be no people in the Kingdom who do not have a portion of God in them; no more mass of the wicked who can be driven by self-seeking leaders.
It seems to me that in our day God is emphasizing the hundredfoldthose who have a passion for the holiness of God, who want only to dwell in the center of the consuming Fire of Israel. It is well to have a genuine passion to dwell in the fullness of the Fire of Gods Person, a hunger that cannot be measured; a thirst that cannot be quenched, at least for now. We must have more and more and more of Gods holiness. This is a gift well worth desiringan utter passion to do Gods will to the fullest.
How does God dwell in us? Remember, Jesus Christ is the house of God and the only house of God. We can only be the house of God to the extent that Christ dwells in us.
First Christ must be conceived and formed in us through the travail of the ministries of the Body of Christ. Then the Father and Christ as Persons come and dwell in the Substance of Christ that has been formed in us. We will have to possess a glorified body, I believe, before we will be able to receive the fullness of God and Christ.
Thus we are being made the eternal temple of God, the chariot of God through which He can move throughout His creation.
Those who overcome the challenges placed before them, in the present hour, will receive all the rewards mentioned in the first and second chapters of the Book of Revelation. Actually these are not gifts that will be handed to us at some later time. They are abilities we are gaining today, to a great extent. They are steps in our progress toward attaining to the first resurrection from the dead.
Let us think then of the pattern of the spiritual fulfillments of the last three of the feasts of the Lord:
We now are entering the Blowing of Trumpets, the beginning of the attack on the enemy. The Lord is changing from the good Shepherd of the Twenty-third Psalm to the Lord, strong and mighty in battle of the Twenty-fourth Psalm. This is taking place now.
The fulfillment of the Day of Atonement also is upon us. We supposed that the sin question had been settled when we came to the cross. Indeed, the question of the guilt of our sins was settled. But the removal of the power sin has over us is just now beginning. The identification and removal of the darkness in our personality actually is a manifestation of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
If we are willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit we can pass through the Judgment Seat and be prepared to be changed into glory when the Lord appears.
But if we cling to our worldliness, lust, and self-will, we will not be prepared to be changed into glory when the Lord appears. We will suffer much in the days ahead because we are not dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and therefore are not under Gods protection.
It means vastly more to be a true Christian than currently is presented in the Christian churches in the United States of America. The truth is, we are badly backslidden and need to return to the Lord.
The feast of Tabernacles is beginning now as Christ is being formed in us. The Church is in travail that Christ might be formed in the members of His Body. But the fullness of Tabernacles, which is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell forever in that which has been formed in us, and the final filling of our body with the incorruptible Life of the Holy Spirit of God, may be a bit ahead of us. But the all important preparation must take place now.
The fullness of the Tabernacles experience cannot be experienced in one dramatic moment. It requires the step by step progress that occurs as we pass through the spiritual fulfillments of the preceding six feasts. Yet, for all of that, we have all the feasts when we have Christ. It is a matter of working out that which we already posses.
It is though God has freely given us a grand piano. Now we have to learn how to play it.
I like to think of the fulfillment of the seven feasts as being a spiral staircase. We keep ascending, but we keep coming back to the same feast but now on a higher level. I know the blood of Passover is more real to me than ever before; repentance and water baptism are more meaningful; the born-again experience is more comprehensive.
We are not climbing rungs on a ladder, we are experiencing more and more of the one Lord Jesus Christ.
The understanding of "Christ in you" began with me in the late 1940s, as I mentioned previously. It remains as the centerpiece of my doctrine. All that God has done with me over the last fifty years has been an unfolding of that one glorious revelation.
I remember when Brother Elmer Fullerton taught us that there was more to come after Pentecost. I was so lifted up at the thought that I actually had an out of body experience while sitting in my Greek class in Bible school, if you can imagine. I had to make myself come back down from the ceiling into my body so I could remember the Greek lesson I had studied diligently.
Those were glorious days, but today the revelation of Christ is much, much more glorious. I hope it is that way with you.
The First Resurrection. There shall be two resurrections of the dead. The first will occur when the Lord returns, at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The second will take place at the end of the Kingdom Age.
It is taught commonly that the first resurrection is for all saved people and the second is for those who are lost. I do not believe the Scripture bears this out.
If we will look carefully at the description of the first resurrection, as it is presented in the early verses of the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we will note that it is the resurrection of an elite priesthood. Nothing is said or implied that the first resurrection is the event during which all saved people are raised from the dead.
If we will look carefully at the description of the second resurrection, as it is presented in the last few verses of the twentieth chapter, we will see that the wording does not suggest that all are lost who are raised at that time. In fact, the text suggests the oppositethat a minority are thrown into the Lake of Fire.
We see, then, that our tradition does not follow the text of the Scripture.
Paul stated, in the Book of Philippians, that he was endeavoring to attain to the resurrection (Greek: out-resurrection) from the dead. Since the Lord Jesus stated that all the dead shall hear His voice and come forth, it appears that there is a special resurrection of the governing priesthood that must be attained, and then a general resurrection of mankind in which the majority come forth, no attainment being necessary.
All of this makes sense. The practical import is that if we expect to be raised (or transformed) when the Lord appears, we must be qualified for this experience. How do we attain to the first resurrection? According to the Apostle Paul in Philippians, we attain to the out-resurrection by laying aside all else and seeking to gain Christ.
Because of our unscriptural traditions, the idea that Paul, toward the end of his life, was seeking to gain Christ, does not make any sense at all. Why would Paul seek that which is so freely given when we first come to Christ?
The answer is, our traditions are incorrect. Although we come to Christ in a moment of time (no attaining is required), and our sins are forgiven, this is just the beginning of the program of salvation. If we would maintain and profit from that which we have been given we must lay aside all else and press forward toward the out-resurrection. We must learn to live by the power of Christs resurrection and be willing to share His sufferings and be conformed to His death.
We understand, therefore, that the great majority of Christian believers in the United States of America will not be raised when Jesus appears and placed in the ranks of the army of saints. They are not saints! They are church members with only the most elementary understanding of the Divine salvation, of the Kingdom of God. They are not at all prepared to assume the thrones that govern the creation and descend on the white war stallions in the attack upon Antichrist and the False Prophet.
They are feeding on candy, not the body and blood of Christ. They are being taught by ear-ticklers, not by men and women of God who are dying that their hearers might live.
Mankind will be judged at the second resurrection. The first resurrection is for the victorious saints. They will return with the Lord and take up their bodies from the ground. Then they, and the living remnant, will ascend to meet the Lord in the clouds. They will meet the Lord as He comes so that He and they may descend and destroy all the works of the enemy.
We of today, because of our traditions, talk about the importance of going to Heaven when we die. Going to Heaven when we die is not the issue presented in the New Testament. The concern is what happens to us in the Day of the Lord. I think if you will read both the Old and New Testaments carefully you will find very little emphasis on going to Heaven when we die. Both Testaments deal with the Day of the Lord and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Because we are approaching an age of moral horrors during which spiritual oppression will rest heavily on us we need to return to the Scriptures. Only then will we have the strength and wisdom to stand during the evil day.
The Firstfruits of the Bride. There is, I think, abundant Old and New Testament evidence that the Christian Church will be divided temporarily into two segments: a militant remnant who will govern with the Lord during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then the balance of the Church who will descend together with the militant remnant as the new Jerusalem, the holy city. This will take place after the final resurrection and judgment.
In the Old Testament we have several types that portray a temporary division of the one Christian Church into two segments:
There is the account of Gideon in which a remnant gained the victory for all Israel. The story of Gideon may be the clearest of the Old Testament types of the coming of the Lord.
Then there is the temporary separation of the Ark of the Covenant from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, during the rule of King David.
It also is true concerning David (a type of Christ) that he governed Judah for several years before he became king over all Israel.
And then there is the design of the Tabernacle of Congregation. The tent, a type of the Christian Church, was divided into a Holy Place and a Most Holy Place.
Have you ever noticed the emphasis placed on Davids "mighty men"? It is remarkable that of all the various vocations pursued by the Jews, one of the principal distinctions was between Davids outstanding fighters and then the remainder of Israel. This emphasis on war persists in the New Testament with the exhortation to "fight the good fight of faith" and to "put on the whole armor of God."
In the new Testament we see separate pronouncements of the marriage of the Lamb, divided by the thousand years of the Kingdom Age. The first occurs in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, when the Bride is clothed in the white robes of her righteous conduct, and soon after appears as an army following the Commander in Chief.
The second announcement is found in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, when the entire Bride of the Lamb descends to the new earth as the holy city.
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation imply a division between the victorious saints and the remainder of the churches of Asia.
For example, when speaking to the angel of the church in Sardis, the Lord warns that only a remnant, a "few names," will walk with Him in the white robes of the royal priesthood. What about the majority of believers in Sardis? Are they to be thrown in the Lake of Fire?
Probably not, although the Lord warns them of the danger of having their names blotted from the Book of Life.
We know there shall be some who will be saved as by fire. There are the greatest and the least in the Kingdom of God, according to the Lord Jesus. We realize that some reap Christ thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred.
There were the multitude, the seventy, the twelve, and finally the three on the Mount of Transfiguration.
There is Zion, who comprise the warriors, and then there is Jerusalem.
It may be true that one of the most deadening of the "grace" teachings is that because we are saved by grace and not our own efforts, we all shall receive the same reward; all have the same standing in the Kingdom of God.
This is not true. There are some for whom places at the right hand and left hand of Jesus Christ have been prepared.
Each one of us has his own mark, a mark given from the beginning of the world. We shall be eternally joyous and fulfilled only as we find our predestined place in the Kingdom of God, whether it is a highly exalted role or one of far less preeminence. Neither personal ambition nor sluggishness are permitted in the Kingdom.
If we cannot cheerfully clean up behind the horses in the royal parade we will never have a place in the front chariot.
Predestination is not inevitability. If we do not diligently use the Kingdom talents we have been given, whether ten, or five, or one, what we have been given will be removed from us and entrusted to another, and we shall be thrown into the outer darkness. This is what God has stated clearly.
So we set aside all else, forgetting the past, and press forward toward that which God has set before us as an individual. Let as many as are perfect be thus minded, for this is the mind of the lowly Jesus.
The Four Aspects of the Divine Decree. When the Lord God created man He made four decrees:
Man is to be in the image of God.
Man is to be male and female.
Man is to be fruitful.
Man is to have dominion over the other creatures.
Such is Gods eternal will concerning mankind.
There are to be two fulfillments of the Divine edict. The first fulfillment to a great extent is somewhat animal in nature. The second is of the Divine Life of God.
To the present hour, the only man that ever lived on the earth in the eternal fulfillment of the proclamation concerning the image of God is the Lord Jesus Christ.
As far as male and female are concerned, whether some form of gender will persist into the new world remains to be seen. However we do know that we are to be one in Christ in God. This is a true and eternal expression of male and female. Such union can never be true of angels for they were not created in half as we have been. Angels do not need another person to complete them.
We have been called to bear the fruit of the moral image of Christ in ourselves and then in other people.
Our dominion has been extended to cover all of the works of Gods hands.
I think Christianity as a whole has missed the mark throughout two millennia. No doubt there have been notable exceptions. We have missed the mark by not recognizing clearly the two distinctly different creationsthe temporary flesh and blood, and then the Divine.
God has no intention of saving our first personality. Adam simply cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Gods provision for the first, adamic creation is the cross. The world has been crucified to us and we to the world.
Christianity has been a religion in which the first, soulish creation seeks to adorn itself so God will bring it to Heaven to be with Him. One might as well expect a pig to be a suitable guest in the parlor. The proud, stubborn, self-seeking, conniving natural mind of man always is the enemy of God.
We can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God until we are born again of the Divine Nature. That which is born in us is Christ. It is the Kingdom of God. It is of God. Everything that God intends to preserve from our first nature must die in Christ and then be raised again in Christ. Nothing of the old sinful nature can remain in the Kingdomabsolutely nothing!
What then do we become? We become as our Lord isson of man and son of God. Our adamic nature serves as a root on which is grafted the Divine Life of God. Our physical body is adopted. The coexistence of the human and Divine constitutes a new kind of humanity which can fulfill perfectly the four aspects of the Divine fiat concerning man.
The Four Great Types. Four major types of the Christian salvation may be found in the Old Testament. The four major types are as follows:
The seven items of furniture of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
The seven feasts of the Lord.
The six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.
The seven major points of Israels journey from Egypt to Canaan.
Since I have discussed the four great types at length in other books and booklets, let me just point out some of the main features so the reader can grasp the general idea.
We can group together the first of the seven elements of each of the four types as follows:the Altar of Burnt Offering of the Tabernacle; the feast of Passover; the creating of light and the separating of the light from the darkness; and the exodus from Egypt.
Can you see that we have borrowed the first item of each of the four types? Can you see that these four examples portray the beginning of our salvation in Christ?
We have the Altar representing the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary.
The Passover Lamb whose blood protects us from the destroyer.
The creating of the Light of Christ in us and the separating of that light from the darkness that is in us.
Finally our exodus from the world and the beginning of our pilgrimage toward our inheritance in Christ in God.
The seventh element of each of the four types tells us about the goal of our salvation.
We have the solid-gold Mercy Seat, representing the fullness of the Glory of God that we are pursuing.
The feast of Tabernacles, reminding us that Gods eternal purpose is to dwell in us.
The Sabbath rest showing us that we are pressing toward that place where we are at peace concerning Gods eternal purposes in us.
The possession of Canaan, signifying life lived in the fullness of Christs eternal incorruptible resurrection Life. Salvation has a definite beginning, a definite program specifically designed for each one of us as an individual, and a mark, a completion and fullness toward which we are to be pressing every day of our Christian life.
We are not "saved," in the total sense of the term, until we press through to the fullness of God. It is he who endures to the end who finally is saved to the extent the Lord desires.
The Goal of Salvation. We already have mentioned the somewhat revolutionary, yet totally scriptural, concept that the goal of salvation is not eternal residence in the spirit Paradise. Although the idea of "making our home in Heaven" has been part of the Christian tradition for centuries, this objective is not found in the Old or New Testaments.
The Bible presents our future destiny as that of having an inheritance in the Kingdom of God, the rule of God that will come to the earth at the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ from Heaven with His holy angels.
Obviously, many of our definitions and ideas are in need of review.
We are not saved to go to Heaven; we are saved to participate in the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. In order to participate in the installation of the Kingdom on the earth we have to be changed into the moral image of Jesus Christ and also brought into untroubled rest in the center of Gods Person and will.
This what the Christian salvation does for usit changes us into the image of Christ and brings us into union with God through Christ. When we are in Christs image and our will has become one with Gods will we then are able to participate in the several Kingdom roles God has prepared for us.
The following are some of the Kingdom roles and tasks for which we are being prepared. It is well to think of these as needs and desires that the Lord has, not exalted positions we are fortunate enough to attain. It does not matter whether or not we desire them, the point is that God has prepared them for us to fulfill and expects us to submit ourselves so Gods needs and desires can be met.
A part of the Bride of the Lamb.
A living stone in the Temple of God.
A member of the Body of Christ.
A vehicle for the end-time revival.
A restorer of Paradise on earth.
A member of the royal priesthood.
A witness of God.
A son of God.
A brother of Christ.
An overcomer of the accuser.
A governor of the nations.
A judge of men and angels.
A wall of defense around the Glory of God.
A revelation of HimselfGod in Christ in the saint.
A full, mature exercise of each of these Kingdom roles requires that we be brought to the stature of the fullness of Christ and into untroubled rest in Gods will for our life.
Can you see how totally different the above goal of salvation is from the traditional "make our eternal home in Heaven"? Salvation is not pointed toward our being in Heaven or on the earth. It is not a case of location but of what we are in personality and behavior. This is one of the major understandings of the Scripture that must be pursued in our day if we are going to develop the strength required to stand throughout the age of moral horrors that is upon us.
Grace and Faith Versus the Law of Moses, not Versus Righteous Behavior. A second revolutionary though scriptural concept is that when the Apostle Paul contrasted faith and works he was not speaking of a profession of doctrinal belief versus godly behavior. Yet this interpretation of Paul has persisted mightily since the Reformation.
First of all, by "faith" Paul means a life lived in dependence on God, not a doctrinal position. The righteous shall live by faith means by humble dependence on God rather than by independence of thought and action (the American ideal).
By "works" Paul means the works of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision. He is not referring to honesty, faithfulness, and truthfulness.
We are justified by placing our faith in Christ and living in Him rather than by obeying the statutes of the Law of Moses.
This misunderstanding of Paul has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian churches.
A careful study of Romans and Galatians will reveal clearly that Paul is not seeking to turn people away from righteous behavior but from the works of the Law of Moses.
In other passages Paul insists that if we do not live righteously we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
It is this sort of insight into the Bible I was referring to previously when I stated that after having received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, or the Holy Spirit, or whoever, began to instruct me in the meaning of the Scriptures.
There is no scriptural support whatever for the idea that we are saved to spend eternity in Heaven. There is no scriptural support whatever for the idea that the Lord Jesus Christ will return and catch away His Church to Heaven.
There is no scriptural support whatever for the concept of a state of grace that causes God to see us through Christ so that our unrighteous behavior is viewed as Christs righteous behavior.
Think of it! A major part of Christian teaching is not found in the Scriptures. It must be time for a reformation of Christian teaching and thinking.
While it is true that God forgives our sins through Christs blood when we first place our faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit sets out immediately to guide us in putting to death the sinful nature that we may be released to walk in newness of life.
We remain without condemnation provided we keep on abiding in Christ and following the Holy Spirit at all times. Any doctrine other than this will lead the believer into Divine judgment and possibly a total loss of inheritance.
I can support my doctrine readily and clearly from passages kept in context. It is impossible to support any other viewpoint without removing verses from their context and deducing doctrine from them. It is not true, as has been said, that we can prove anything we want from the Bible, unless we are willing to take certain verses, use them as axioms, and deduce a philosophy from them.
The Scriptures were given as holy men wrote by the Spirit of God. The only way they can be interpreted accurately is by holy men who are moved by the Spirit of God. No part of the Scripture can be interpreted properly by our own study and reasoning. We must go to the Lord to find out what God is saying.
If we leave the Scriptures as they are without superimposing a philosophy upon them, and then pray, the Lord may be pleased to give us the true interpretation.
The blood atonement, the crucifixion and bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His coming again in the clouds of glory with His holy angels, have been taught faithfully by Christians. But upon this sure foundation has been constructed a mythology about a "state of grace" leading to eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven, a mythology that simply cannot be supported by an unforced examination of the New Testament.
It is time now for us to return to expository preaching and teaching so that the believers can perceive what the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles taught. The Great Commission requires that we do this.
The spiritual battle of the last days will be that of error against truth. The generation that will be involved in this titanic struggle will not be able to stand if they are trusting in an unscriptural state of grace and an any-moment rapture that will carry them to Heaven so they can recline at their ease in their mansion.
We must clothe ourselves with the whole armor of God so we can stand in the day of evil and so we can return with the Lord Jesus and install the Kingdom of God, the will of God, on the earth.
The Great Tribulation. The "rapture" teaching focuses on the undesirability of living on the earth during the "great tribulation." The great tribulation is the period of unprecedented trouble mentioned by the Lord in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew.
The problem with this emphasis is that the sufferings of the end time are not to be feared by the saint. The Apostles taught that we must enter the Kingdom of God through many hardships. Tribulation produces patience in us. It is redemptive.
The real danger of the last days will be deception and the abundance of sin. Because of the increase of wickedness, not suffering, the love of the majority will grow cold.
The "rapture" emphasis on escaping suffering shows that the rapture doctrine is not of God. It is popular among those who are living in the adamic nature. They desire to save their life. This is the motive of the "rapture" doctrine.
The true saint concentrates on pleasing the Lord. He is not afraid of suffering. He embraces the cross and is willing to share the sufferings of Christ and be conformed to His death on the cross.
When we hear people speak of escaping the great tribulation and Antichrist we know they are not hearing from the Lord and pressing into Him. They are striving to preserve their own comfortable existence. The victorious saint does not fear suffering or death. His greatest fear is that he will not please the Lord Jesus in some area of his life. Isnt that the truth?
Another point of confusion has to do with the difference between tribulation and wrath. As we have said, tribulation is redemptive. It creates the peaceable fruit of righteousness in us. Wrath is not redemptive. It serves only to destroy that which is sinful, and eventually the sinner himself if he does not repent immediately. God has appointed us to tribulation but not to wrath.
There is a purpose for the great tribulation. It is to prepare the Church for the coming of the Lord. Numerous Christians in America today are lukewarm. The coming tribulation will force the believers to become hot or cold. Each Christian will be forced out of the valley of decision. He either will press into the Lord, finding his survival and security in Him, or he will spend his time and strength attempting to save his life.
So let us turn away from the unscriptural hope of being raptured to escape tribulation. Not only is such a doctrine completely without biblical foundation, it is an exercise of the adamic man who is seeking to save his life rather than to lose it in Christ.
Holiness. The gift of God basically is freedom from slavery to sin. The gift of freedom from slavery to sin and of the ability to be a slave of God leads to holiness. Holiness makes us eligible to receive eternal life.
We are to be holy because God is holy. What does this mean? It means that God is our Father. We have been born of God. We are His children and therefore are to be like Him in every way.
In what manner is God holy? We can kind of sense what this means, although it is difficult to explain in precise terms. It means there is no spirit in God that is not totally pure, totally clean. God is free from all unclean spirits. God is pure.
Holiness means also that God is filled with Life that has infinite, eternal powerLife that is the opposite of unclean spirits. God's attitudes and motives insure that His thoughts, words, and actions are righteous.
We know what unclean spirits are. They include all forms of lying, moral filth and passions, murderous rages, pride, seeking to be preeminent, malice, envy, treachery, fear, cowardice, impatience, lack of self-control, unclean speech, foolishness, slander, love for the things of the world. The lake that burns with fire and sulfur has authority over all such attitudes and behaviors.
None of these attitudes and behaviors is found in God. God is humble of heart, always truthful, always kind, always faithful, always pure of thought, speech, and deed. God is high above impure attitudes and behaviors, which are the spawn of Satan.
God did not create man with these destructive impulses. They have originated in Satan as he chose to follow his own will rather than the will of God. Such unclean bondages came down to us from the wicked lords in the heavens. We did not choose them and many of us desire to be free from them. They bring misery and corruption into our life on the earth.
Purity of personality and behavior is to be true of every one of God's people. But there is another dimension, a dimension that is not part of our moral transformation. We are holy because God has called us out from the ranks of mankind. In fact, this is the meaning of the term "church."
So we see we are holy because God has called us to Himself. We have been called to be "saints," that is, holy ones. And such we are, even before our personality and behavior have been cleansed. After we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God sets about to cleanse us from all uncleanness (to sanctify us.)
Every human being is to be wholly righteous in behavior, and Christ is able to make us so. But holiness, as distinct from righteous behavior, is a calling, and it is by degrees. We see this in the case of Aaron, the Levites, and the children of Israel. All were called out from the nations of the earth to be holy. But Aaron was more holy than the Levites; and the Levites were more holy than the remainder of the Israelites. But all composed a holy, called-out nation.
The Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was more holy than the Courtyard, because God declared it so. Those who served in the Holy and Most Holy Places had to conduct themselves in a more dedicated manner than was true of the other Jews. The Nazirites were more holy than the other Israelites and were not free to eat and live like other members of their race.
Let's think for a moment about the several aspects of holiness:
Actual holiness of personalityfree from unclean spirits and having Christ formed in us as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
Holiness by our calling as a saint, as a holy one, as a member of the royal priesthood.
Holiness by rank in the Kingdom of Godcalled to a high place in the Kingdom. This means we have more eternal, resurrection life than is true of those of lesser rank.
Holiness by relationshipchildren are holy, having God's blessing on them, because of a believing father or mother.
Holiness by God's designationthe Tabernacle of the Congregation, or the ground where Joshua was standing.
Holiness by contact with that which is holythe flesh of a sin offering is an instance of this.
Holiness by being consecratedset apart to God for His special purposes. This was marked by special injunctions concerning food and dress for the Israelites.
We understand therefore there is holiness that has to do with God's statements concerning people, buildings, or locations, and then there is actual holiness of personality. Holiness of personality means unclean spirits have been removed from us and Christ has been formed in their place.
God is utterly holy, utterly free from spiritual uncleanness. God has called us to be separate from the world; to be members of a holy priesthood who offer holy praise to the Lord God, lifting up clean hands in adoration.
Holiness is characterized by cleanliness of thought, speech, and action, and also by separation to God as His special possession.
The Apostle Paul informs us that the children of Christian people are automatically holy, showing that holiness is a calling apart from our behavior.
The very Spirit that has been given to us is the Spirit of Holiness. Being given the Holy Spirit means we have been chosen to be a member of the royal priesthood, who will serve God and govern the members of the nations of saved people for eternity.
The New Testament frequently refers to us as God's elect, meaning we have been chosen out of the world to be holy to the Lord, just as though we were a member of the Aaronic priesthood. On us is written: "Holiness to the Lord."
What if someone who is called to be a saint continues in unclean behavior? He or she will be chastened by the Lord.
You can count on being punished if you do not fulfill your role as a saint (holy one).
Image and Union. Historically the Christian churches have viewed eternal residence in Heaven as the goal, the result of being saved. However venerable this tradition may be, it is not scriptural, neither in terms of the Old Testament nor the New.
The goal of salvation has two aspects. The first aspect is that we be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, first the moral image and ultimately, at His return, the bodily image. The second aspect of the goal of salvation is untroubled rest in the center of Gods Person and will.
To be in Christs image but not to be resting in the Fathers Person and will would be to bring a rebellious christ into the universe. Satan desires to be like the most High but would never be content to rest in the Fathers will.
We hear Christians today saying they want power. This is a dangerous desire. We ought to say we want to be in the image of the Lord and to be in the center of Gods will. Why do we want power?
To be in Christs image and at rest in God has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven or with gaining power with God.
We do not press forward into the image of Christ and into union with God through Christ in order that we might have power or that we might minister. We press forward into the image of Christ and into untroubled rest in God in order that we might please God and serve Him in His Kingdom.
We do not have to wait until we are in the perfect image of Christ and perfectly at rest in Gods will in order to minister to people or to serve Christ in His Kingdom. But the more perfectly we are in the image of Christ, and the more completely we are dwelling in Gods rest, Gods will, the higher the quality is of our ministry to people and our service to Christ in His Kingdom.
So let us rejoice in the thought of going to be with the Lord when we die, but at the same time follow the Holy Spirit diligently as He fashions us in the moral image of Christ and leads us into perfect rest in Gods Person and will.
Israel There has been considerable confusion about who or what Israel is and where the land and people of physical Israel fit in Gods plan for the present and future.
Some are saying that the Christian Church has replaced physical Israel in the plan of God. This position is contrary to the Apostle Pauls express statements in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans.
Others are claiming that the promises of God in the Old Testament refer only to physical Israel and not to the New Testament Church. This is not true according to Peters statement that the Prophets were not addressing themselves but us upon whom the ends of the age have come.
A Gentile Church is not a scriptural concept. In the Book of Galatians Paul said that the one Seed of Abraham is Christ and all who are part of Christ.
Some teach that there will be a Gentile Church in Heaven and a Jewish Kingdom on the earth. This is against the text of the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation that tell of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from the new sky to remain on the new earth. That the new Jerusalem is the Christian Church can be seen by the fact that the Throne of God and of the Lamb reside in the holy city, and this could never be true of physical Israel.
What, then, is the truth? The truth can be seen in the figure of the olive tree, of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, and also in the "one new man" of the second chapter of the Book of Ephesians.
The olive tree is Jesus Christ. At one time the olive tree, Christ, was with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob. Then, when Christ came to earth, a number of Jews did not receive Him and thus were cut from the olive tree. But a remnant did receive Christ and remained in the olive tree. Sometimes the believers forget that the first Christian Church, the Body of Christ, was composed of five thousand Jews, all keeping the Law of Moses.
So today the olive tree comprises a remnant of Jews and a remnant of Gentiles. However, Paul told us clearly that after the full number of Gentiles have been grafted on the olive tree God will turn once again to the physical land and people of Israel.
Paul said, in Romans, "all Israel shall be saved." Paul told us also, in Romans, that to be a member of Israel is by promise. So true Israel includes all whom God has elected: at one time just physical Israel; next, a remnant of physical Israel and a remnant of Gentiles; finally, physical Israel once again.
The Scriptures are quite clear in terms of what I have just stated. All of the promises in the Old Testament concerning the Messianic Kingdom are directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ, the one Seed of Abraham, and those who are part of Him without regard to race. Thus there is no need for confusion. There is only the one "new Man" who includes elect Jews and elect Gentiles.
The Judges of Men and Angels.One of the major operations that will be conducted in the Kingdom of God is that of judgment. God no longer judges people, He has committed all judgment to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has committed the work of judgment to the members of His Body, provided they are abiding in Him and are filled with His Spirit.
When the Lord returns, his true, victorious saints will receive immortal bodies and will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Then they will be placed on the thrones that govern the creation. At the last judgment, according to my understanding, they will be with Jesus when the angels and mankind are judged.
This means that the victorious saints must be judged prior to the Lords return, for they cannot judge angels or mankind before they themselves have been judged.
Today is a period of judgment for us Christians. Judgment has begun in the household of God. All of the worldliness in us, all of the sins and passions of our flesh and soul, all of the filthiness of our spirit, all of our self-will and self-seeking, must be identified and confessed to the Lord.
We must utterly renounce all sin and rebellion. When we do, an eternal judgment is exercised on our behalf. The Lord forgives us and then through His Holy Spirit removes the love of the world, the love of sin, and the love of self from us. No spiritual darkness is permitted to remain in the Body of Christ. The Bride of the Lamb must be without spot or wrinkle, not by imputation but by actual deliverance.
Whatever we do not confess and renounce, when prompted by the Holy Spirit, is an idol. There are to be no idolaters in the Kingdom of God.
God is ready now to execute an eternal judgment in every believer who is willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Ask and you shall receive. It is important to remember that the judgment falls on Satan when we confess and renounce our sins.
The Judgment Seat of Christ. Paul tells us we all must be revealed before the Judgment Seat. The Judgment Seat of Christ began when the Lord rose from the dead, according to Peter, and will conclude when Christ and His saints sit on the great white throne and judge mankind, at the time the earth and the heaven flee from the face of God.
What we have done while on the earth will be examined at the judgment seat. The good we have done will be returned to us at that time. Also, the bad we have done will be returned to us. It is not our heart that is at issue here, it is what we have actually done. As humans we like to believe we really are good in our inner nature even though our deeds are wicked. This is a game we play with ourselves. The truth is, a liar is an individual who lies, not an individual who believes in his heart that he lies.
There is enormous confusion today over the fate of the Christian at the Judgment Seat, most Christian teachers claiming the believer has nothing to worry about because he or she is "saved by grace." This is little more than Satan saying "You shall not surely die."
The reasoning behind the contemporary position is that Christ judged sin on the cross, therefore we cannot be judged for our sins at the Judgment Seat.
While this reasoning is understandable, it is superficial. It is incorrect.
It is true rather that what Christ accomplished for us on the cross made it possible for us to be delivered from sin. The blood atonement is not an eternal amnesty for those who continue to sin. The most casual study of the Epistles will prove my statement to be true.
What, then, is the answer?
The answer is, Christ removed the authority of Satan on the cross. Then Christ set in motion a program of salvation that leads to total deliverance from sin so that in the day of resurrection we will reap life instead of death.
First, we cannot release ourselves from the chains of sin. Only the power of God can break the chains of sin. We were born in sin. We did not ask to be born with sinful tendencies. God, who always is equitable, does not condemn us for being born in sin. Even though God does not condemn us for something over which we have no control, it still is true that sin always result in spiritual and physical death.
Second, Christ on the cross made an atonement for the sins of the whole world.
Third, when we receive the blood atonement by faith, our sins are forgiven. However, the sin nature remains.
Fourth, the Holy Spirit begins to lead us to confess our sins and turn away from them.
Fifth, when we diligently confess, denounce, and renounce our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is an eternal judgment. The particular behavior we have confessed and turned away from will never be mentioned at the Judgment Seat.
Sixth, in addition we are to pray each day, read our Bible, gather regularly with fervent believers, give, serve, and otherwise obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, receiving help to do this from God as we come boldly (although politely) before His Presence.
We cannot deliver ourselves from sin. We always are to exercise self-control as we are able, but only the Spirit of God can actually remove the life from the elements of the sin nature.
Therefore, at the Judgment Seat of Christ the emphasis is not on the fact that we have a sin nature, because this we do not have the power to remove. Rather the judgment will be on what we were able to do, such as pray, read our Bible, give, serve, use our self-control, obey the Lord when He speaks to us personally, and so forth.
Deliverance from sin is a reward for following the Holy Spirit in confessing and renouncing our sin, and for obeying, with Christs help, the numerous commands found in the Gospels and the Epistles, as well as the personal word of Christ to us.
Then we are rewarded for being delivered. The reward is eternal life.
When we obey the Holy Spirit we are delivered from sin. As we are delivered from sin we receive more life. Every time we receive more life we have more ability to be delivered from sin, which in turn results in more life. It is a cycle progressing upward to the perfect day of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. In the meanwhile the authority of the blood atonement is forgiving our sin.
If, however, we do not follow the Holy Spirit in confessing and turning away from our sin, if we do not pray each day, read our Bible, gather with fervent believers as possible, give, serve, and otherwise obey the commandments found in the Gospels and the Epistles, if we do not obey Christ when He speaks to us, we will not be delivered from our sin nature. We will continue to walk in sin even though we claim to be a Christian.
In this instance we did not do what we could and so God did not do what only He can do. He did not break the power of our sin nature. Therefore we keep on sinning. We remain unchanged. And (although not always taught) the atoning blood does not keep on forgiving our sin. We have broken our part of the covenant.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ we will be handed the consequences of our behavior while in the world, even though we have professed faith in Christ. Our end will be corruptionthe corruption we have practiced. The believer who persisted in lying will be given a spirit of lying. The believer how persisted in sensual lust will be given a spirit of sensual lust. The holy shall remain holy and the filthy shall remain filthy. What we sow we shall reap.
There may be no greater need in Christian teaching than the clear affirmation of what the Apostle Paul has stated. We all must be revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The good we have practiced will be given to us. The bad we have practiced will be given to us.
God, through Jesus Christ, gives us the opportunity to change what we are sowing so that in the day of resurrection we will reap eternal life. If we do not lay hold on this grace of transformation we will be judged as having neglected our great Divine salvation. As a result we will be sorely punished, and may in fact find ourselves in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
Satan is telling the believers "You shall not surely die." He told that to Adam and Eve. But they did die and all their descendants after them have been born in slavery to sin.
How about you? Are you going to take the chance that the current Christian teaching is correct even though it goes against the specific teaching of Jesus Christ and His Apostles?
When I first was saved I was told to stick with the written Word of God. This I intend to do, as Christ helps me. What is your response?
The Kingdom of God. The first understanding the Lord gave me had to do with Christ in us, as distinct from Christ being merely with us.
At some point I became aware of the Kingdom of God. This sounds strange, but for many years after I became a Christian I had little or no consciousness of the Kingdom of God. I was vaguely aware that the Jehovahs Witnesses emphasized the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
I cannot remember when it dawned on me that being saved was somehow related to the coming of Gods Kingdom to the earth. I knew that John the Baptist spoke of the coming of the Kingdom, as did the Lord Jesus. Lately I have been noticing that the Apostle Paul actually preached the Kingdom of God rather than our being saved to go to Heaven when we die.
Slowly but surely I have been making the mental leap from the idea of salvation having to do with going to Heaven when we die, to the idea of salvation having to do with the coming of Christ in His Kingdom to govern the nations of the earth.
Now I see the teaching of the Kingdom of God in both the Old Testament and the New. In fact, apart from an understanding of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, many passages of the Bible do not make sense or do not appear to apply to us. Numerous verses in both Testaments just have to be ignored because they are not related to anything we understand.
The Book of Psalms, for example, states clearly that God is coming to govern the nations of the earth.
When Paul spoke of the dangers of sinful conduct he warned of losing our inheritance in the Kingdom. Paul said nothing about sin keeping us from going to Heaven when we die.
It is absolutely amazing that we should be so familiar with the idea of going to Heaven when we die, of making our eternal home there, when nothing of the kind appears anywhere in the Scripture.
For how many centuries have the Christian churches prayed, "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven"? Did we have any idea what we were asking?
We go to a funeral. The minister talks about how wonderful it is to be in Heaven. Then we all pray "Your Kingdom come; Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven." I think this inconsistency is termed compartmentalized thinking. This means we keep inconsistent ideas in two separate areas of our mind.
Is there a Heaven? Of course! God, the holy angels, and the saints are there as far as we know. Actually the Scriptures do not speak much of what it is like in Heaven.
We Christians have an extensive mythology concerning Heaven, part of our thinking being based on near-death experiences of various believers.
I have no doubt that people have seen their loved ones in a glorious, park-like setting.
But what people describe is not Heaven as such, but Paradise. Paradise at one time was on the earth. Deep in our adamic consciousness is the memory of the garden where we were created. Without realizing it, we do not want to go to Heaven and stand on a sea of glass, we really desire to return to the garden where man was created.
You might wonder, "If Paradise is in the third Heaven now, and it indeed is, why does it make any difference whether we want to go to Heaven or to Paradise?"
The reason is, Paradise was on the earth at one time, was withdrawn to Heaven, and will return to earth after the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints cleanse the earth from sin.
What we really desire is to return to an earth from which the Divine curse has been removed. We want to live on a glorified earth, not in Heaven with the angels. We were not created there and would not be satisfied there.
Of course, we want to be where the Lord Jesus is. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve. Christ will be seated on the throne of David in Jerusalem, and we want to be there.
The reason we shall be raised from the dead is so we will be able to live once again on the earth, not so we can pick up our body from its place of interment and then return to heaven, the home of the angels. We would not desire that if it were offered to us, once we have seen what the earth will be like after the Lord and his saints have removed all wicked influences.
What God is creating now is a Kingdom, a government. The purpose of the government of Christ is to remove sin from the earth, and then to prevent its return. This is why we have to overcome sin and rebellion in our own personality before we can be permitted to be part of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
There is no point in God returning Paradise to us if there is no Kingdom that is strong enough to prevent sin from occurring again. This is why God is training victorious saints, saints who through Christ have managed to conquer every force that has come against them. They shall sit on the throne with Jesus Christ and judge the angels and the nations. They shall rule forever from their headquarters, which is the new Jerusalem.
There is a real Heaven and a real Hell, make no mistake. But Jesus Christ did not come to bring us to Heaven or deliver us from Hell. There is no scriptural support for this prevailing myth.
It is true rather that the Lord Jesus Christ came to deliver us from spiritual death and give us eternal life. Eternal life is a kind of life by which all saved people are to live. Heaven is an actual place, not a kind of life. Salvation does not change where we are but what we are.
If our goal is Heaven we have to wait until we die in order to go there. Meanwhile we trust that God will overlook our wicked disposition and take us to Heaven anyway after we die.
But if our goal is to be a part of the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, then every day we have to make the effort to enter the Kingdom. We have to work with the Spirit as He removes from us every thought, word, and behavior that does not belong in the Kingdom of God. We enter the Kingdom of God now, not after we die.
We see, then, that whether we adopt the mythological goal of going to Heaven when we die, or the scriptural goal of entering the Kingdom of God today, has a practical effect on the diligence we apply to our Christian walk.
God invited the Lord Jesus to pray for the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth as His inheritance. Although the Lord had created the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth, He had to come as a baby and grow up to be crucified in order to possess that which He Himself had created.
Because we are coheirs with Christ, our inheritance is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. The nations and the farthest reaches of the earth are a far, far more valuable inheritance than is Heaven.
The true effort of the new covenant is not to bring us to Heaven, it is to create Christ in us so we will be able to help ourselves and others to maintain Paradise once it is entrusted to us for the second time.
The Love of Money. The Apostle Paul stated that the love of money is the root of all evil. This seems like too strong a statement. But when we consider the wickedness in the world of today, and then realize how many of the wicked acts proceed from the lust for money, we are more willing to follow Paul in this.
Of all the gods of the Greeks and Romans, the Lord Jesus mentioned only Mammon, reputed to be the Syrian god of riches. No man can serve the true God and also Mammon. He must select one or the other as his god in whom he trusts.
Most of us Americans worship money. Perhaps we do not realize it, but we do.
"Covetousness is idolatry," Paul said.
Our god is he or that which we trust to provide security and survival, pleasure, and achievement. The reason we Americans seek to amass as much money as we can is so we do not have to trust God to provide for us. We may express all sorts of justification as to why we want to store up more money than we need, apart from a reasonable provision for the future. The reason for our anxiety is that we are afraid there is no God, or if there is He is not able or willing to take care of us.
Overcoming trust in money is not easy. However, if we truly desire to be like Jesus and trust God for all our needs, the Lord will cause the needed transformation to take place in our personality.
It is not impossible for the American economy to suffer a severe setback in the near future. If it does, God still will provide our needs. God can take care of every need we have at all times even if our entire nation becomes bankrupt. God is not at all bound by the American economy.
Our task is to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Gods task is to perfectly fulfill His promises concerning us.
The Manifestation of the Sons of God. Paul stated in the Book of Romans that the creation is eagerly awaiting the revealing of the sons of God. There are believers in our day who are viewing the revealing of the sons of God as an endowment of miraculous power that will be given to us in the last days. However, I think Paul is speaking of our returning with Christ to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
We are in the Church Age at the present time, and shall continue to be in the Church Age until the return of the Lord. This means that the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit will continue to travail in birth pains until the members of Christs Body come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
That the creation is bound with chains of sin and rebellion against God is evident. The consequence of such spiritual bondage is pain, insanity, uproar, sickness, bewilderment, and death. The whole planet is in an agony of torment and confusion.
What is the solution? Certainly not education. There is as much pain and bewilderment among highly educated people as there is among the uneducated. Certainly not democratic government. The United States of America is not a model of peace and righteousness. Some of our cities are in a state of near-anarchy.
The only solution to the pain of the world is the return of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, we may note that Paul did not say the creation is eagerly awaiting the revealing of the Son of God but of the sons of God. I do not think this statement of Pauls is emphasized enough.
The fact that the creation shall be brought into the liberty of the glory of the children of God through the revealing of the sons of God gives us a true picture of our future, and also of the demands placed on us in the present world.
If we are to return with the Lord Jesus Christ, then our concept of eternal residence in beautiful mansions in Heaven is a fairy tale.
In addition, we have some growing to do. The Christian churches in their present state are not producing many believers who are prepared to return to the earth and cause Gods will to be done here as it is in Heaven.
The truth is, we have been taught that it is not essential we do Gods will because we have been "saved by grace." It is not necessary that we come to the stature of the fullness of Christ because we have been "saved by grace."
It is not necessary that we go through fiery trials with the Lord because we have been "saved by grace."
It is not absolutely necessary that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus each day because we have been "saved by grace."
It is not absolutely necessary that we present our body a living sacrifice to God because we have been "saved by grace."
The expected result of the current teaching is spiritual babies. They do not know the Consuming Fire of Israel. The only righteousness they understand is that which is given to them with no effort on their part.
They know nothing at all about holiness, except it has something to do with the way women used to wear long dresses.
To them, God is a kindly, loving grandfather who spoils His children, making no uncomfortable demands on them.
Such is the mythical Gentile church.
Obviously, such a crop of infants is not competent to descend with the Lord Jesus on the white war stallions and drive the powers of wickedness from the earth. In fact, they would not ride in ranks behind the Lord. They would do as they do today: they would charge at each other with their spite, envy, and malice; or they would decide to ride off in another direction as it pleased them. Such is the bumper crop of self-centered infants we are raising in the Christian churches.
Too strong? Then why are pastors of large churches installing coffee bars so the "worshipers" will be completely comfortable and stuffed before, during, and after the service? Our destiny is our mansion in Heaven where we can continue to stuff ourselves without becoming overweight. The concept of riding behind Christ and installing Gods will in the earth is the farthest thing from our mind.
The statement was made to me that only Christ will fight in the Battle of Armageddon, because if the believers had to fight they would get their robes dirty. Honestlysomeone actually ventured that idea.
It is Gods will that you and I follow Jesus Christ in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. We are to pray every day that our personality will be thus transformed. Only mature believers will be resurrected when the Lord returns, be gathered to Him in the air, and then descend with Him to release the groaning material creation.
The immature believers will not be resurrected when the Lord returns. Neither will they be gathered to Him in the air. Why not? Because this first resurrection is for the members of the royal priesthood; for the soldiers of the army of the Lord; for the brothers of Christ to whom has been assigned the authority of judgment; for the members of the Body of the Servant of the Lord who will bring justice to the nations. These are they who will rise in the first resurrection. Anyone else would only bring confusion to the work of God, just as the immature do today.
If you want to be revealed to the creation in that Day, then get busy and follow the Spirit of God today. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
The Nations of the Saved. Of the many scriptural doctrines being restored to the churches in our day, one of the most surprising appears to be that of the nations of saved people who are not part of the Church. Yet without an understanding of the saved nations, much of Isaiah, for example, becomes difficult of interpretation.
In fact, the very term church means "called-out." The emphasis on the Church is not on those who are saved, although the members of the Church are saved. Rather the idea is that of an elect who are called out from the ranks of mankind to be a firstfruits to God.
The concept of the firstfruits is very important in the Scriptures. Because God had slain the firstborn of the Egyptians, the firstborn of every creature in the land of Israel, whether human or animal, had to be redeemed with money or by death.
The firstborn, or firstfruits, always belonged to the Lord in a special way. Whatever opens the womb was the Lords portion.
The Church is not merely mankind but is taken from mankind to belong to God as a representative of mankind. Once the firstfruits has been waved before the Lord, then the remainder of the harvest can be gathered.
We see, then, a whole new concept, as far as our thinking is concerned. The Church is not the only group of individuals who are to enter eternal life. The "sheep nations" also will enter eternal life, into the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of the world.
The Church properly is the Kingdom, the government of God. The saved peoples of the earth will be governed and blessed by the Church.
We of the Church are Gods elect, having been predestined from the beginning of the world. We are Israel, including those who are Jewish and Gentile by race.
The purpose of the Church Age has been to call out from every nation Gods elect, those ordained to eternal life. Because we do not know who the elect are we have been commanded to preach the Gospel to every creature. Then God will draw to the Lord Jesus those whom God has called to be part of His firstfruits.
Remember, the Lord said, "You did not choose me. I chose you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit."
The fruit that we bear is the moral image of Christ in our own personality, and then in the personality of others.
Sometimes we are told we will have precious jewels in Heaven. This is part of our mythical eternal residence in a mansion in the spirit world.
The truth is, our inheritance, since we are coheirs with Christ, is people. In fact, the only inheritance worth having is first the Lord (always the most important inheritance of the royal priesthood), and then people. All else is nothing more than environment.
As soon as Christ gives you His love for people you will understand what I am talking about.
The grand design, prefigured in the arrangement of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, is the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Church, dwelling on the new earth so the nations of saved people can go up from time to time and be refreshed by the Presence of God in Christ in the saints. These are the trees of life growing by the River of Life, the eternal incorruptible resurrection life of the Holy Spirit.
The saints will govern saved mankind for eternity, because Christ is in them and God is in Christ. Thus when all have been brought into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Father will then be All in all. This is the wheel in the wheel, as described in the Book of Ezekiel.
All the elect are the seamless robe of the one Lord Jesus Christ. The nations of the earth will walk forever in the Light of God streaming from the persons of the saints in whom the Lamb is dwelling. The Throne of God and of the Lamb is in them forever.
Apart from the nations of saved people we would have no inheritance. We would be priests with no one to love and serve. We would be kings with no one to govern and guide.
We certainly must be drawing near to the return of Christ in His Kingdom, for it appears even such a basic understanding of the Kingdom of Godthat it will govern the nations of saved people on the earthhas not been common knowledge until the present hour. Yet, this is the very meaning of what the Church is and will do throughout eternity.
The garden of Paradise cannot be installed and maintained apart from saints who have come to know the Lord. And this is why you, dear reader, are going through the pains and problems of the present hour. It is to provide you with the knowledge of the Lord so you may be equipped to return with Him and revel in the love of the people whom God will bring to you as your inheritance. For they will not come to drink of your adamic personality but of the Life of Christ that has been formed in you through the fiery trials of earth.
The New Covenant. I do not understand why the new covenant is not preached more often. In fact, I am not sure what we Christians are preaching. It appears we have made up a new kind of salvation that does not appear in the New Testament. Maybe this is what Paul meant by "another gospel."
The new covenant is found in the Book of Hebrews, quoting from the Old Testament where the new covenant is announced.
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 8:10)
The first thing we notice is that the new covenant, the Christian covenant and the only Christian covenant, is made with the House of Israel and the House of Judah. The new covenant cannot possibly be made with a Gentile. We must become part of Jesus Christ if we would partake of the new covenant. Jesus Christ, and those who are an integral part of Him, whether Jewish or Gentile by race, are the true Israel of God.
Next we see that God was not pleased with the old covenant because the Israelites did not please God by their behavior. We Christians must come to understand that the new covenant is not an alternative to keeping Gods commandments; it is the wisdom and power to keep Gods commandments.
The new covenant is this: "I will write My eternal moral law in their minds and in their hearts."
It is not the Law of Moses that is written in our mind and heart, it is the eternal moral law of God, of which the Law of Moses is an abridged, covenantal version.
The moral law is written in our mind so we can understand it, and in our heart so we have a desire to obey it. "I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart."
Actually, Jesus Christ is the moral law of God made flesh. As He is written in our mind and heart, the law of God is written in our mind and heart.
When we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood we are taking into our personality the law of God.
The end result of the new covenant is that we become the personification of the law of God. The new Jerusalem, the glorified Church, is the highest form of the law of God, and is the covenant of God with saved mankind.
As we follow the Holy Spirit He writes the law in our mind and heart one small line at a time. Line upon line; command upon command; the law is created in our personality. This is the new covenant.
We are to be living epistles that everyone can read.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the Epistle of God made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word of God.
When we are born again the Word of God is born in us. If we follow the Holy Spirit He will cause that which has been born in us to increase until it transforms all that we think; all that we say; all that we do.
I repeat, I do not understand how we have put together that which is currently preached as the Gospel of the Kingdom, the new covenant of God with man. The current "four steps of salvation" scarcely resemble the new covenant. The "four steps" were derived from verses plucked here and there from their contexts. They are not aimed toward our transformation so we might reveal God; they are aimed toward our escaping Hell and going to Heaven when we die. This is so far removed from the biblical new covenant as to be hardly related.
Truly, we are in great need of a reformation of Christian thinking.
The Overcomer. The idea of the overcomer has been important to me since Bible-school days. "He who overcomes will be a pillar in the Temple of God" seemed to be a specially important verse.
When I arrived in Bible school, after being discharged from the Marine Corps, I noticed that the prevailing attitude was "Nobody is perfect. We all sin. The grace of God covers our sin. It is hopeless to try to overcome sin, it is not possible."
This description of the Christian life did not set well with me for some reason. It just did not seem right. In fact, I refused to accept it. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation continued to be inspiring.
A few years later I had a dream. Audrey and I were living in a trailer on a property owned by Brother Dowell on the outskirts of National City, near San Diego.
In my dream I was on a ship that was breaking up in a storm. The sailors were jumping over the side. The passengers were drowning in the water. The shore could be seen in the distance.
I jumped over the side. Having spent my boyhood days in a house overlooking the West Shore of West Haven, Connecticut, I had spent a good deal of time in the Atlantic Ocean and so I had no fear of the water.
As I was kind of treading water, looking at the shore, and about to strike out, I saw the sailors on the shore holding hands and playing some kind of childs game, like ring-around-the-rosy. I looked back and saw the passengers drowning.
Then I noticed that my feet were hitting the bottom. Lo and behold, the water was only waist deep. All one had to do was stand up straight and walk to the safety of the shore.
So I turned back to tell the drowning passengers to just stand up straight and they would have no problem walking to safety. At this point I woke up.
I pondered the dream for about three days, and then the meaning came to me. Christians are drowning in sin when they do not need to. The water is only waist deep, so to speak. All they have to do is stand up straight in Jesus Christ and they can overcome sin and walk to safety.
The sailors on the shore represent the churches of today that in many instances are playing childish games instead of pursuing the iron and fire of God and leading the believers to victory in Christ.
Since that time I have been preaching the victorious Christian life. It is entirely possible to overcome sin through Christ, to gain victory over sin. It is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary if we expect to receive the rewards designated for the overcomers.
Away with this teaching that we have to sin while we are in the world! The devil take this teaching! It came from him and belongs to him!
I am sure I will hear the old song, "Nobody is perfect. We all have to sin until we go to Heaven." What rubbish!
Sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God. Why, then, is it true that we will not be able to sin when we go to Heaven? On what basis do we believe such a totally unscriptural idea?
Jesus Christ came to earth to destroy the works of the devil. Christ has the power to conquer Satan in our personality.
I am not referring to being "sinlessly perfect" or any of the other objections that are raised. In the first place, our idea of perfection and Gods idea are two different matters. When Christ commanded us to be perfect He was not speaking of being perfected. Being perfect and being perfected are two different states of being.
An individual can only be perfect for the day. If he keeps on being perfect each day the point eventually will be reached where he or she has been perfected; and being perfect has nothing to do with being in Heaven, on the earth, or beyond the Milky Way galaxy.
What does it mean to be perfect each day? It means only that we have prayed and obeyed through the challenges of the day. We are not walking around in condemnation, we are praising the Lord and living in victory through Him. In this case the blood of the Lamb keeps us without condemnation even though we have not as yet been perfected.
If God speaks to us about covetousness, then we confess our covetousness, renounce it fiercely, receive our forgiveness, and, by the Spirit of God, turn away from it. Covetousness will die in us if we really want to get rid of it. The reason people do not get delivered from sin is that they do not confess and renounce it specifically with enough determination.
If you have confessed and renounced a sin, and it does not vanish immediately, do not become discouraged. You are in a battle. Keep on confessing and renouncing the sin, not in a stressful frantic manner but in an attitude of praise and confidence in Christ; and the first thing you know the power of covetousness in your personality will be broken.
"Walk in the Spirit," Paul said, "and you will not fulfill the lusts of your flesh."
Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. Read the Bible promise. Determine to make it your own possession. Then, nothing can prevent your receiving the blessing.
Whenever people tell you that a New Testament promise was for the Apostles, or no one is perfect, or as long as we are in the world we have to sin, turn away from them hastily. Their unbelief is keeping them from the blessing. Dont allow them to take your crown of rejoicing.
The bank of Heaven is waiting for you to make a withdrawal. Why are you standing around as a pauper in your rags when the King has invited you to His palace?
No, we will not listen to people as they dump the garbage of their unbelief on us. The base camps have been established by the godly. The summit is in site. The present generation is being invited to ascend to the heights of victory in the fullness of God. You can be a part of those who arrive at the top. Or you can wallow in your unbelief and settle for second bestor less!
You can tell from the tone of my writing that I have become disgusted with believers who choose to huddle in their fears and unbelief and refuse to answer the call of Christ to the life of victory. Oh well, we cant have conquering faith unless God gives it to us. But there certainly is no harm in praying for victorious faith!
At the present time, the overcomers, of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, are the only true members of the royal priesthood. The promises we ordinarily associate with being a Christian, such as ruling with Christ, are designated for the overcomer. And to the overcomers the rewards shall goand to no one else!
Either we are overcoming through Christ or we are being overcome because we are not choosing to believe Christ. There is no middle ground. There are the winners and the losers. All the glorious rewards are given to the winners. The losers are facing pain and chastisement.
You can be an overcomer. Jesus Christ has all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. The only factor that can prevent your being an overcomer is your own unbelief, disobedience, and fear. Get your eyes off yourself and off other people. Look steadfastly at Jesus. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and He will give you victory in every area. Christ has more power than the world and Satan have. No obstacle can stop you. Look at Christ and walk on the water for the rest of your life on the earth. The Lord will be proud of you and congratulate you when you stand before Him. "Well done, well done, well done good and faithful servant. Enter My joy, for I also overcame."
Responding to the Vision of God. God gives us a vision. In Gods time the vision will be fulfilled. The period of time between the vision and its fulfillment is critical for the saint. It is during this period of time that we are to patiently bear our cross after the Lord.
We think about Abraham. God gave him a vision concerning an heir. After several years Abraham decided to fulfill the vision. The result was Ishmael, the wild man. After a quarter of a century passed, the vision was fulfilled by the power of God.
The record of Christianity, for the most part, is that of human beings taking matters into their own hands. Denominations may commence with a vision from the Lord, but it appears that sooner or later they take matters into their own hands.
We humans find waiting for the Lord very difficult.
Sometimes nine camels are watered immediately, so to speak. But the tenth camel may be delayed for one cause or another. The reason it is delayed is that God is not ready as yet to fulfill the vision. If we plow ahead and wrench and force that which is hindering us, the result will be a wild man.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
What we hope for is the fulfillment of the vision. What is not seen is the fulfillment of the vision. So we are to patiently wait for God to do what He has promised.
The vision excites us because it speaks directly to that for which we have been created. We are joyous and ready to serve the Lord.
Then the years go bytwenty, thirty, forty. No fulfillment. What now?
Here is the testing of our faith and patience. If we go ahead in our flesh and seek to fulfill the vision, we will produce confusion. Apples eaten before they are ripe can cause considerable discomfort in the region of our stomach.
How blessed is that individual who grasps the vision by faith, and then waits while God prepares him or her, other people, and circumstances so once the vision is fulfilled it can be enjoyed without pain. "The blessing of the Lord makes rich and He adds no sorrow with it."
Not only was Ishmael a wild man, Abraham experienced considerable sorrow as he was forced to drive Hagar and Ishmael away. They nearly died in the desert before God intervened.
Hagar was Sarahs idea. Sarah too suffered pain as Hagar scorned her, and later when she saw Ishmael mocking when Isaac was weaned.
The true Christian life is one of patiently waiting for the Lord to fulfill His promises. The believers who are following their own understanding, walking in the flesh, will always mock those who are looking to the Lord Jesus for His will in every circumstance.
We know the current "faith" and "prosperity" teachings are not from the Lord because they insist we receive the answer right now. Such an attitude is contrary to the Scriptures.
One of the most difficult tests of the entire Christian discipleship involves waiting for God when there is something we desire intensely. We always ought to give thanks to God and let our requests be made known to Him. If we do not we may suffer needlessly.
We are not to attempt to smash down the door that is hindering what we think is Gods will. Once we break through that door we will find ourselves in an empty room. Had we looked around we probably would have seen another door that was open just a crack.
The Kingdom of God is always associated with patience. God is patient. Christ is patient. And we are predestined to be in Their image.
"Suffering produces endurance." "Let patience work its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, wanting nothing."
If we will guard the word of Christs patience He will guard us throughout the hour of temptation that is approaching.
The Rest of God. The writer of the Book of Hebrews warns his readers, experienced Jewish Christians, to be careful that they do not come short of the rest of God.
Just what is the rest of God? The writer of the Book of Hebrews proceeds, in the fourth chapter, to present three aspects of the rest of God.
The first aspect has to do with Gods work being finished from the beginning of the world.
The second aspect has to do with the Sabbath day.
The third aspect is associated with the possessing of Canaan.
Whoever would enter the rest of God must cease from his own works.
The rest of God is that state of being where we refrain from our own ambitions and do what God is commanding at the moment. The greatest liberty any believer can achieve is the point at which Gods greatest desire is his greatest desire. Such a state of rest and freedom is not attained to overnight, but it indeed is attainable if we will diligently pursue it.
The rest of God is based on the fact that God in six days created all events, all people, all things, all circumstances, through to the coming down of the new Jerusalem to the earth. Our own life and destiny is a part of the finished work of God.
Then God rested. We are to enter that rest by ceasing from our own plans and looking to God for all we think, say, and do. The Lord Jesus does nothing apart from the Father. We are to do nothing apart from Christ. When we are abiding in Christ, doing His perfect will at all times, we then are in the rest of God, the eternal Sabbath. This is the only kind of life worth living. This is an important part of our Canaan, our land of promise.
But numerous enemies are entrenched in the good things God has for us. They are entrenched even in our own body, soul, and spirit.
So in order to dwell in untroubled rest in God through Christ we have to continually pray and believe God until we are able to conquer every enemy that would keep us from dwelling in untroubled rest in God.
The exhortation of the Book of Hebrews is that having begun as a Christian we must be careful that we do not die in the wilderness of unbelief and disobedience. We must press forward in faith each day until we are living in the perfect center of Gods will through the Lord Jesus Christ.
We can do this, you know, if we are willing to give our whole attention to it. This is the mark set before us, the heavenly calling. For this we have been grasped, and we are to lay aside all else that we may lay hold onto that for which we have been grasped.
We have to forget that which is in the past if we are to reach forward to the goal of participation in the first resurrection, the resurrection out from among the dead, the resurrection that will occur at the return of the Lord.
As the Apostle Paul would say, "Let as many as are perfect be thus minded."
Restoration. The concept of restoration is central to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
In the beginning God gave us a wonderful worldall that heart could desire. In addition, God Himself was present on the earth.
Then, due to the evil suggestion of Satan, we lost our paradise on the earth. The Divine curse fell on us. Adams descendants were born in sin and rebellion. Sickness, death, and every other corruption soon took the place of the peace and joy of the Garden of Eden.
But all is not lost. God has given us a program through Jesus Christ by which all that we forfeited shall be restoredand much more added. There will be a new sky and a new earthprobably vastly larger than the original. It will be a new world of righteousness. All sin will be gone forever. There will be no more sea of people who do not have a portion of Christ and God in them. This we have to look forward to.
Instead of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, the glorified Church will descend from Heaven through the new sky to rest forever on the new earth. God will be present on the earth once again, this time dwelling in Christ and the saints.
God in Christ in the saints will be available to whoever chooses to come up to the new Jerusalem and ask for life, healing and guidance. Jerusalem will be the very Throne of God.
The story of mankind is that of restoration. We receive the blessing freely; we forfeit through our foolishness what was given to us; then we begin the long process of seeking to regain what we lost. Once we regain our inheritance we do not lose it again because we have come to understand the value of it.
This is the story of Adam and Eve, of the prodigal son, of Samson, of the Christian Church, of all of us. We might say we can receive and hold nothing of value until we have obtained it twice.
God is not going to restore eternal residence in Heaven to us because the world of spirits is not what we lost. What we lost was visible fellowship with God and Paradise on the earth. What will be restored is visible fellowship with God, and Paradise on the earth. What was lost shall be fully restored.
The various jewels and pearls of the new Jerusalem speak of the perfected character of the saints. The jasper wall represents the resistance to sin that is formed in us as we struggle to conquer sin through Christ. The gates of pearl are created as we patiently deal with the irritations and frustrations of life on the earth.
The future is glorious indeed for those who receive and obey Jesus Christ. The future is grim indeed for those who refuse to come under the lordship of Christ, who seek to preserve their own way.
We have been given another chance to serve God in a paradisiac environment. Let us make the most of it. He who overcomes will inherit all that God has promised us.
The Resurrection. The resurrection from the dead is the central hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. No other religion, to my knowledge, offers the hope of people returning to resume life on the earth in a flesh and bones body.
The resurrection from the dead threatens Satan kingdom, which consists of the nations on the earth and the earth itself. Satan is not at all concerned that we return to Heaven, his original home. Satans fear is that Christ and His saints will return and take over the kingdoms of the world.
We spoke previously of the fact that the resurrection will be divided into two parts: the first resurrection, composed of the royal priesthood; and then the second resurrection in which all other people who have lived on the earth will rise and stand before Christ and His saints to be judged according to their works.
Christians often state that they want to make Heaven their home when they die. We have fantasized an entire world and have furnished it with what we think would be desirable. Yet, almost none of the world and furnishings we think of as Heaven can be found anywhere in the Scriptures.
The truth is, our concern should not be what happens to us when we die. The Scriptures are vague on this point. The real issue is what will happen to us when our body rises from the dead.
Every individual who has lived on the earth will be raised in either the first or second resurrection. The power of God will put our body back together again just as in the beginning God made man from the dust of the ground.
It is what happens to us after this that is important. The Scriptures teach that we will be clothed in our own works. We will reap what we have sown. Our body will correspond to what has been developed in our inward nature.
When we die our body sleeps in the ground. We hope our inward nature will go to an area of peace and joy.
But in the day of resurrection, in which we all will participate, our flesh and bones body will be reassembled and once again house our inward nature. It is right at this point that we either will be clothed in the Glory of God or in the corruption of the adamic nature.
The resurrection is the focus of concern, not what happens when we die. For no matter where we go when we die we will be awaiting the day of resurrection.
The problem with the current "rapture" teaching is that it ignores the resurrection and emphasizes the catching up of the believers. The result of such an unscriptural emphasis is that the majority of Christian believers expect at any moment to be caught up to Heaven without first having been resurrected or transformed! This is a tremendous error in Christian thinking.
The primary goal of redemption is the adoption of our body so that it is filled with the Life of God. The Apostle Paul groaned for the adoption of his body so he would be free from the compulsions of sin.
Such groaning is unknown to us today. Rather we are groaning for an unscriptural "rapture," which is not even an act of redemption. The catching up of the saints to meet the Lord at His coming is for the purpose of assembling the army of God. The redemption ceases when we are resurrected or transformed. The catching up is an act of Kingdom power. That it is not an act of redemption is illustrated by the fact that while the types and statements of the Old Testament speak of the resurrection, no type or statement has to do with the catching up of the saints.
Jesus Christ was raised from the dead on the third day, the day of the Jewish feast of Firstfruits. Jesus Christ was caught up into Heaven forty days after His resurrection. To my knowledge there is no symbolic feast celebrated forty days after Firstfruits.
However, fifty days after Firstfruits is the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Following the type, the Holy Spirit fell on the waiting disciples on day of the Jewish feast of Pentecost.
"When the day of Pentecost was fully come..."
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is physical death. This shall take place when the Lord returns. What we will face in that day depends on our behavior today.
Those who are living in total consecration to Jesus will be raised (or transformed) when He returns, and then clothed with the Glory of God. This completes their redemption. Then they shall be caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.
Those believers who are not living in total consecration to Jesus will be judged by the Lord and His saints, as we see in the Book of Jude.
In no case will the lukewarm, pleasure-loving, self-serving Christians of the United States of America be suddenly caught away to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation. To teach or believe such a thing is to invite a dreadful future because of our lack of preparation. Such a hope is not scriptural, only a manmade tradition.
The Royal Priesthood. The Church is the royal priesthood. It has been chosen by the Lord to govern, guide, and bless the members of the nations of saved people on the earth.
It appears that throughout the history of the Christian Church there has been little understanding of this role of Gods saints. The unceasing emphasis on our eternal residence in Heaven leads away from the idea that one day we will be governing, guiding, and blessing the peoples of the earth.
Each true Christian has experienced the seemingly endless dealings of the Lord with him or her. Every thought, every word, every action is brought up for review it seems.
The reason for this careful training is that we are being prepared to be priestsrepresentatives of God to man and of man to God.
Priests must be holy. Holiness has to do with spiritual purity and with our nearness to God. Righteousness has to do with our behavior toward people. Holiness has to do with our behavior toward God.
Sometimes Christian people, who are willing to obey the laws of righteousness as those laws control their conduct toward other people, do not understand the importance of holiness. For example, a Christian might be gentle and trustworthy with regards to his wife and family. Yet he can see nothing wrong with smoking one cigarette on his way to work, knowing that no one is being harmed by the smoke he is blowing into the air.
He is a righteous man at heart, considerate of other people. But he cannot understand how God could object to smoking a cigarette occasionally.
He understands righteousness but not holiness.
Consider: we are being made in the image of God.
Can you imagine the God of Heaven with a cigarette hanging from His mouth? Or even a cigar or pipe?
We know that God, surrounded by His elders, would not be smoking a cigar.
How do we know this? We know it because we all have a sense of what is holy. We know a holy God does not smoke cigars. We do not picture Jesus Christ smoking a cigarette or pipe. We have an inner sense of what is holy and what is not.
A Christian should never watch a moving picture or television show that he knows Christ would not watch. Why not? Because it is not holy.
Under Old Testament law, it was a sin if a Nazirite came near a dead body. This is not a sin of righteousness but of holiness.
It appears to me that our current generation of Christian believers is not, for the most part, sensitive to the issue of holiness. They will go with their family to a moving picture in which there is profane language, or witchcraft, or sexual innuendoes.
Would such be comfortable if they knew the Lord Jesus was sitting next to them when foul words were being spoken?
The Book of First John tells us that as Christ is, so are we in this world. We are to walk as He walked.
We may know something about righteous behavior. Now we must learn about holiness, about spiritual purity, about closeness to our holy God. "Be holy for I am holy," commands the Lord. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Why not? Because only the pure in heart are permitted to see God.
If we are to please God in the present hour we must return to the ways of holiness, no matter how much we are criticized by other Christians who are certain that the grace of God excuses their conduct. They are ready to go to the beach and display their nakedness. They do not understand the holy God of Israel. They do not understand the ways of holiness.
Our dress should be modest. We are not to go to extremes in any direction. Our speech should be free from moral filth. The same is true of our actions. We are a chosen generation, a holy nation. Let us keep this in mind and dress, think, speak, and act accordingly.
Believers are not usually referred to in the New Testament as "Christians." The term employed by the Apostle Paul is saints. The term saint means "holy one."
The Second Death. There are eight behaviors over which the second death maintains authority:
These eight behaviors bring the one who practices them to torment and eternal separation from God.
What Christians may not always understand is that the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, always maintains authority over these behaviorseven when they are practiced by a Christian.
Cowardice always belongs in the Lake of Fire.
Unbelief always belongs in the Lake of Fire.
Vile behavior always belongs in the Lake of Fire.
When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the atonement for our sins, the Lake of Fire is forced to withhold its claims for a season while the Lord seeks to assist us in overcoming the specified behaviors. Those who conquer these unlawful behaviors can no longer be tormented by the second death. The second death has no authority over them. They could walk on the Lake of Fire without being harmed.
But if we refuse to permit the Lord to remove such behavior from us, then we eventually will find ourselves in the Lake of Fire even though we profess faith in Christ. Divine grace provides us with the opportunity to be forgiven and delivered. But after we have been forgiven, if we do not bear the fruit of righteousness and holiness that God is looking for, then we are in clear danger of having our name blotted from the Book of Life and being thrown into the Lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
It truly is appalling that the Divine warnings concerning wicked behavior are hidden from the understanding of Christian believers because their teachers and pastors are so willing to curry favor with them. But the fact remains: the second death always retains authority over these eight behaviors whether or not we are taught the truth of the Scriptures.
In the Book of Daniel we are informed that God has determined to make an end of sin. This means that when the new Jerusalem descends from Heaven through the new sky and finds its eternal rest on the new earth, there will be none of the eight forbidden behaviors practiced by any member of the new Jerusalem or any member of the saved nations.
All who practice the eight behaviors, including Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, the rebellious angels, and people who have refused to be delivered by the Lord Jesus, will be present in the new world but incarcerated in the Lake of Fire.
In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew we are told that in the last days the Lords messengers will remove from His Kingdom all behavior that offends God, and then all people who offend God. The idea is that if we will not surrender the behavior, then we ourselves will be cast into the Lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
How would you like to live in a new world in which there is no sin whatever?
I think sometimes that Christians believe we still will be sinners while we are in the new Jerusalem but we will be forgiven by "grace." No, this is not the case. This would mean that the new world would be no different from the churches of today. And we certainly do not desire this!
All sin will be removed from the creation, not by virtue of dying and going to Heaven but by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. This work of the removal of sin, which is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, has begun today and I think will continue throughout the thousand-year period sometimes referred to as the Millennium. Every believer in Christ can now present himself or herself as a candidate for complete release from worldliness, lust, and self-will. It is a slow but thorough process.
If you doubt this is taking place today, I invite you to pray and ask the Lord to start you on the program of reconciliation to God through deliverance from the love of the world, from the lust and passions of the flesh and soul, and from self-will. Then cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He begins to set you free from every behavior over which the Lake of Fire retains authority.
"He who overcomes shall not be harmed by the second death."
Shattering the Power of the Saints. Twice in Daniel and twice in the Book of Revelation we are told that God will permit the saints to be overcome, that the power of the saints will be shattered. This shattering will take place under Divine supervision in order that Antichrist may be revealed fully.
The Book of Romans informs us that there is no power that can separate a saint from Gods love. We understand that. Nevertheless the Bible is clear that after the great latter-rain revival, God will permit the saints to be overcome by Antichrist; this is to say, they will not be able to bear witness in the major cities of the earth.
The saints will be overcome by three powers, sometimes working in their own lives to cause them to fall from their position in Christ, and sometimes working in other Christians or in the secular population resulting in vicious persecution.
The three powers are described symbolically in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation as Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem.
Sodom represents the lusts of the flesh.
Egypt symbolizes the love of the world system.
Jerusalem portrays self-will, self-seeking.
The spirit of Antichrist has been in the world since the first century, according to the Apostle John. But after the great end-time revival, God will withdraw the power of the testimony so Antichrist can be revealed fully.
This indeed will be a dark hour, the hour in which no man can work. However, a remnant of anointed believers will remain on the earth, although hidden away according to my understanding. In this remnant will be the power of deliverance, the means of salvation for those who come to them. But it will not be possible in the cities of the earth to be saved or receive the Holy Spirit, even though there will be numerous theologically-correct churches, subsidized by the government, preaching and teaching from the Bible. The "dead bodies" of Gods witnesses, the Christian churches, will not be destroyed. But the Spirit of God will not be in them.
Satan will be given enormous authority in those days, being able to reach up to the heavenly host and tear some of them down to the ground that he may trample on them. We see this taking place today as prominent Christian ministers, who at one time had been positioned through Christ at the right hand of God, are deceived and torn down until they are wallowing in the lusts of the flesh.
Satan will be able to prevent the prayers of people in the cities from reaching through to God so great will be the spiritual oppression, as I understand the scenario. The reason for the shaking of the earth and the heaven is so that all that is not of Christ may be removed from every place of authority.
At the same time, as I understand it, the Throne of God will be passing from the Temple in Heaven into the hearts of the saints.
Thus we see both righteousness and wickedness, God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, the Holy Spirit and the False Prophet, coming to full expression in the earth before God announces the end of the universal drama and the kingdoms of the world become the Kingdom of God and His Christ.
Gods way in the world, and also in your life and mine, is to permit sin to be revealed so it may be dealt with appropriately. All that is hidden shall be brought to the light. That which has been whispered in secret shall be proclaimed from the housetops.
Suffering and Glory. Perhaps because of the rise of humanism, the idea has been advanced that Gods people are not to suffer. The principal manifestation of this persuasion is the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture," the stated purpose of which is to prevent Gods people from suffering under Antichrist or during the great tribulation.
The pre-tribulation-rapture doctrine is an evidence of the love of pleasure that runs deep in modern Americans. It is no surprise that the "rapture" doctrine is so popular in America. It is no surprise either that the "Jesus did it all," lawless-grace teaching, although wildly unscriptural, is so readily received.
The last days, according to the New Testament, will be characterized by a great deal of deception. There is only one action that we can take that will guard against deception: denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord Jesus each day.
We can read the Bible constantly, pray a great deal, and still be deceived if we are seeking to make this present world a pleasant place to live. It is because of the love of pleasure that we have received the "rapture" deception and the lawless-grace deception. There is widespread doctrinal error in the Christian churches because we love pleasure and tend to reject the iron discipline required in the Kingdom of God.
The fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter has as its theme salvation by means of the fiery trials of the judgment of God on our personality. The chapter begins by exhorting us to arm ourselves with a mind to suffer, because suffering in the flesh purges sin from us.
"The righteous are saved with difficulty," Peter maintains. This is referring to the fact that we have to endure fiery trials if we are to escape the bondages of sin and self-will.
We know that suffering produces perseverance in us, and persevering during the trials of the Christian discipleship results in our being made perfect, lacking nothing that pertains to salvation.
The Apostle Paul claims that we must suffer if we are to rule. It is through suffering that God conquers the rebellion that is in us. The original sin, the mother of all other sins, came into existence when Satan rebelled against the Father. God will never accept rebellion against His will on the part of any creature, angelic or human.
Therefore those who would rule under God must suffer every kind of trial, pain, prison, frustration, irritation, until there is no flaw in their stern obedience to the Father.
We must live in the power of Christs resurrection, and through this power share in the sufferings of Christ, being conformed to His death on the cross.
The Lord Jesus Christ has been with God from eternity. Yet, Christ learned obedience in the earth through the things He suffered here. The level of obedience required of those who would govern in Gods Kingdom can be attained to only through suffering.
Therefore let us profit from our suffering, as Jesus did, patiently committing ourselves to God as we are denied the things, circumstances, and relationships we desire intensely. God is faithful. When we have suffered according to His will He shall give us the desires of our heart and add no sorrow with them. He is a faithful Creator and we can safely commit to Him every aspect of our life.
Survival and Security, Worship, and Achievement. These are the three pursuits of life. Every son of God is tested in each of these areas.
Every healthy human being is intensely concerned about his or her survival and security in the world.
Every healthy human being is intensely involved in seeking that which he or she desires above all else. This is the realm of idolatry, worship, and joy.
Every healthy human being has a desire to express himself or herself by some accomplishment, by some contribution or expansion of his or her personality.
When all is said and done, there are only two ways of behaving in this present world. Either we utilize our own intelligence, strength, and talents or that of other people to gain survival and security, pleasure, and achievement, or else we trust God in His own way and time to provide survival and security, pleasure, and achievement for us. There is no third way to approach life, as far as I know.
The Lord Jesus (as we all are) was tempted with bread (survival and security); with the kingdoms of the world (pleasure) and with jumping from the gable of the Temple (achievement). The Lord passed the three tests by appealing to the written Word of God. The Word is His testimony.
We shall be tested in these three realms, and we too must overcome by adhering strictly to Gods Word. This is how we overcome the accuser.
God has promised us survival and security in the world. Either we will attempt to create our own survival and security or we will trust Gods Word and enter His rest.
God has promised us fullness of joy. Either we will attempt to create our own joy or we will trust Gods Word and enter His rest.
God has promised us fruitfulness and dominion. Either we will attempt to create our own fruitfulness and dominion or we will trust Gods Word and enter His rest.
The three realms are those of worldliness, sin, and self-will. We can flee from trust in the world by calling on the Lord for strength.
We can overcome sin by following the Holy Spirit carefully and confessing and turning away from our sinful passions.
The third realm, that of self-will, is by far the most difficult area of challenge. It is the "mother" of sin, so to speak. Until we are willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, we cannot possibly be His disciple and we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
All sin proceeded from the "I will" of Satan. Until through Christ we are able to lay down our life, not seeking to save our life and follow our own will, there remains a door in our personality through which Satan can enter.
The Temple of God. The building of the eternal Temple of God is one of the main subjects of the Scripture.
Part of Gods reaction to the rebellion of the angels appears to be the movement of His throne from His palace in Heaven into the personalities of mankind, His new creation. In fact, it appears that man was created to be the eternal Throne of God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only man ever to appear on the earth who truly is in Gods complete image in body, soul, and spirit. As glorious as the Lord Jesus is, the most significant aspect of His personality is that He is the dwelling place of God, the eternal Temple of God. God has created all things through the Lord Jesus Christ and upholds all things through the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Christ has been formed in us and is dwelling in us, it may be said that the eternal Throne of God, the Temple of God, has been formed in us and is dwelling in us.
The Book of Hebrews states that God has given to man authority over all the works of Gods hands. This is true only when Christ, the Temple of God, is dwelling in man.
The Book of Isaiah tells us that God is looking for a house. In Acts we notice that Stephen brings this desire up to date. God is still looking for a house. Paul informs us that we Christians are being constructed into a holy temple in the Lord.
Heaven is the Throne of God and earth is His footstool. But Jeremiah prophesies that Jerusalem finally will become the Throne of God. The Book of Revelation announces that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be located forever in the holy city, the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church.
There is no temple in the new Jerusalem because the entire city is the Temple of God, and the Throne of God and of the Lamb is located therein.
What an awesome concept this isthat we are being made the dwelling place, the Throne of God Almighty. This fact adds a most significant dimension to our Christian experience. We are not just being saved to go to Heaven; rather, we are being made the Temple of God, the Throne of God.
Now, what does this fact mean in practical terms? It means that our salvation is not merely a case of our being forgiven. We have to take up our cross and follow the Lord each day of our discipleship so that a place may be prepared in us in which God may rest.
Since Christ is the only Throne of God, the only Temple of God, Christ must be formed in us if we are to serve as the dwelling place of God. Christ cannot be formed in us until we are willing to lay down our own life, our own thoughts, our own desires, our own plans and ambitions, that the Life of Christ in us may be fully developed and expressed.
God will dwell only in Christ. If we want God to dwell in us we must work with the Holy Spirit until Christ is formed in us. Christ is the dwelling place of God.
God will not dwell in our adamic nature, only in Christ.
In Gods house, His temple, there are to be many rooms. Gods Temple is Christ. So we are saying that in Christ there will be many rooms in which God can dwell. We are those rooms, those living stones in the great Temple of God.
Since this is undeniably the truth of the Bible, let us lay aside all else that we may be crucified and Christ may live in us.
This is why we were createdto be the dwelling place of God. Until we die to our first personality and Christ is formed in us and is living in us, we will never enter that state of being for which we originally were designed.
The Thousand-year Kingdom Age. Between the first and second resurrections from the dead there will be a thousand-year period, whether the thousand years is a symbolic or literal expression of time. The thousand-year period often is referred to as the Millennium. I choose to refer to it as the "Kingdom Age," for it will be characterized by the rule of the rod of iron.
The Kingdom Age will begin when the Lord Jesus returns to earth. The Kingdom Age will terminate when Satan is released from the bottomless pit and leads the nations in rebellion against the saints.
Now, here is a remarkable thing: the nations have been taught by the saints during this age. Yet, at the end they still are willing to rebel against their kings and teachers. So great is the spirit of rebellion in mankind!
One may wonder why God would insert the Kingdom Age in between the coming of Christ and His saints to govern the world, and the descent of the new Jerusalem through the new sky to be installed on the new earth.
Why this delay in the beginning of eternity?
I would venture three reasons.
First, to prepare us for the fantastic Divine Glory of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. After all, we shall see the very Face of God!
Second, to give us an opportunity to learn more of Christ as we share with Him in the task of governing the nations of saved people on the earth.
Third, to bring to maturity the members of the Church who were not qualified to rise to meet Christ at the time of the first resurrection. For whatever reason, they had not led a victorious Christian life, and yet they are an important part of Gods elect.
I do not mean to imply by this that we can lead a careless life now and we nevertheless will be a part of the new Jerusalem. Not at all! If we do not press through to victory now, only Jesus Christ will decide whether we will ultimately be permitted to be part of His Church, or what our destiny will be. Make no mistake about this. If we are not faithful in that which is least we would not be faithful in the greater and the greater will not be entrusted to us.
Yet it is true that the victorious saints constitute only a minority of Gods elect. The victorious saints are as Davids mighty mena part of Israel but distinguished by prowess in war.
The story of Gideon is a portrayal of the last days. The battle was won by a handful of Israelites, but the remainder of Israel profited from the victory. So it is true that the Lord will call up His mighty men when He returns, and they will win the victory on behalf of the entire Church.
From my point of view, one of the principal purposes of the thousand-year Kingdom Age is to bring to maturity the weaker members of Gods elect. Victory will be brought to the "smoking flax and the bruised reed." I think that during the thousand years the stronger members of the Bride of the Lamb will assist the weaker until the entire new Jerusalem is ready for its descent to the new earth.
The Three Stages of Redemption. There are three parts to the program of salvation. First, we are forgiven through the authority of the blood of the cross. Second, we are given Gods Holy Spirit so we will have the wisdom and power to achieve Gods purpose in our life.
We have been forgiven, and we have wisdom and power. But forgiven and given wisdom and power to what end? This is an important question in our day, for we now are at the point that God is ready to reveal to us what His objectives are.
It is the third part of salvation that is the Divine goal for man. We have been forgiven that we may reach the Divine goal. We have been given wisdom and power that we may reach the Divine goal.
The Divine goal set before us is that we might be the dwelling place of God through Jesus Christ. To attain to this supreme goal we must be conformed to the moral (and finally bodily) image of Jesus Christ, and we must be dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of Gods will.
The purpose for our being made the dwelling place of God is that God might be able through us to relate to all of His other creatures. As it is now, God is separated from His rebellious creation. His holy Character prevents His associating with that which is unholy, whether cherubim, seraphim, angels, people, priests of the order of Melchisedec, or whatever other creatures there may be in the universe.
Man is to be the chariot of God, the house of God. Jesus Christ is the chief Corner Stone of the great dwelling place of God.
In order to attain to Gods eternal purpose in us we must experience not just two, but three works of grace.
The first work of grace is forgiveness through the blood of the cross.
The second work of grace is that of being filled with Gods Spirit.
The third work of grace includes Christ being formed in us, and then the Father and the Son coming to dwell in that which has been formed in us.
In association with the three works of grace, there are three deaths and three resurrections we are to experience.
The first death is death to the world. The first resurrection is into the Kingdom of God.
The second death is death to sin. The second resurrection is into spiritual freedom.
The third death is death to self-will. The third resurrection is into the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion.
Two thousand years of Church history have established the first two works of grace. Now God is ready to bring us into the final death and resurrection, and into the place where Christ and the Father can make us Their eternal dwelling place.
The Throne of God. From the Throne of God issue rulership, judgment, mercy, and blessing. All of creation is governed from the Throne of God, although it often appears to us that the wicked are in control. The truth is, the wicked are never in control. God always is in total control of all that transpires in the creation.
It has pleased God to give all of His authority and power to the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to receive such unimaginable authority and power, Christ first had to be perfected in obedience in the earth. Because of the perfect faithfulness of Christ, He now is seated on the Throne of God.
The Lord told us, in the Book of Revelation, that He has overcome all the enemies that have sought to destroy Him and now is seated with His Father on His Fathers Throne.
Then the Lord told us that whoever would overcome as He overcame would be given the right to sit on the Throne of Christ.
There is no other verse in the Bible that promises to the saint such an exalted position. This promise may be found at the end of the third chapter of the Book of Revelation.
I will tell you what I believe this promise means. I believe that Christ sits with the Father on the Throne of Christs Personality. The Father was on the Throne of Christs Personality. Then, when Christ overcame all that came against Him He was permitted to sit down with His Father on the Throne of His own Personality.
In the same manner, we invite the Father and Christ to sit down on the throne of our own personality. When through Christ we overcome all that comes against us during our discipleship, we will be invited to sit with Christ on the throne of our own personality.
Every one of us was created with a throne room in his or her personality. When we first come to Christ we must turn that throne over to Him. If we prove absolutely faithful the day will come when we are invited back on the throne of our own heart. Then we are one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
From our life, then, will proceed government, judgment, blessing, and mercy. It will not be we who are providing government, judgment, blessing, and mercy but Christ who is dwelling in us. However it is not Christ who is providing government, judgment, blessing, and mercy but God who is dwelling in Christ.
This is our eternal destinyto be incorporated into Jesus Christ until we are one Whole with God just as Christ Himself is one Whole with God. This is what it means to be the Wife of the Lamb. This is what it means to be a member of the Body of Christ. This is what it means to be a part of the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
The Two Beginnings. In the beginning God through Jesus Christ created the spirit world and all its inhabitants, the sky, the earth, and all its inhabitants. Satan, apparently, was one of two cherubim who guarded the Throne of God in Heaven.
Then rebellion entered the creation, commencing with Satan.
Satan and the angels who followed him were removed from their places of authority in Heaven, and many of them of high rank, it seems, appear to have occupied thrones in the air above the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, and through His death on the cross made an atonement for the sins of mankind. When the Lord Jesus Christ cried out on the cross, "It is finished," the end of the first creation had arrived. For all intents and purposes, the entire first creation is dead and ready to pass away.
Then God raised Christ from the dead. Now a new creation has come into view. Every person who is baptized in water is stating that his first, adamic life has been concluded and he now has risen with Christ to walk in the life of the new creation.
One of the greatest errors in Christian thinking is the perception of Christianity as a religion whereby people who follow the rules will go to Heaven when they die. This is not what the Christian salvation is. The Christian salvation asks us to renounce our first life, to count it crucified, to regard it as having died with the first creation. Now we are to count that we are alive in and with the Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of God.
The mainspring of our salvation is crucifixion and resurrection. All of our personality must be brought down to the death of the cross. The Life of Jesus Christ must enter us. We must live by His body and blood. We must become as much a part of Him as He is of the Father. This union with Christ is the Kingdom of God.
Eventually all things in the heavens and upon the earth shall be brought under one Head, under Christ. All things in the heavens and upon the earth shall find their meaning in Christ. This is the new creation, the Kingdom of God.
Thus there have been two beginnings of two distinctly separate creations. Christ is the Beginning of both creations, the old and the new. It is essential to our life as a Christian that we understand clearly that God is not going to save any aspect of the old creation. God is making all things new in Jesus Christ.
Two Kinds of Righteousness. The subject of righteousness is found throughout the Bible. God is righteous and requires righteousness of all who would walk with Him.
There is a form of righteousness found in the writings of the Apostle Paul that does not appear in any of the other covenants God has made with man. It is referred to as imputed righteousness (ascribed righteousness). The concept is that the Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly and then died as though He were a sinner.
On this basis, God is willing to impute or ascribe to any individual who will receive Christ the same righteousness that would be true if the believer had kept the Law of Moses perfectly.
However, there is a proviso, as mentioned in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans. The perfect righteousness of the Law of Moses will be ascribed to us provided we turn aside from our sinful desires and follow the Spirit of God.
Because we humans have such a struggle with our sinful nature we have forgotten the proviso. The Christian salvation now is preached as though the new covenant consists almost exclusively of imputed, ascribed righteousness.
No more deadly misunderstanding of the new covenant would be possible. The result of the adoption of imputed righteousness as though it is the primary righteousness of the new covenant, or the only righteousness of the new covenant, has destroyed the testimony of the Christian Church throughout the centuries.
We do have a religion to which a person can subscribe and receive forgiveness of sins. But the power of Divinely-inspired morality is largely absent from our midst. In fact, Christians vigorously resist the thought that true salvation always results in moral transformation. They will have none of it. The only righteousness there is under the new covenant is that which is imputed, they insist. Let no one dare talk about a necessity for righteous behavior. We are saved by faith alone, not by a faith that lives in works of righteousness as Pastor James claims.
So now we have a Kingdom of God which is no kingdom at all. It is a house of cards. We humans always will be miserable sinners. But God keeps on imputing righteousness to us because we profess faith in Christ. What a disaster!
When the Bible commands us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness it is not referring to imputed righteousness but to actual righteousness. The new covenant makes us righteous in thought, word, and deed if we diligently follow the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of ascribed righteousness is to give us a clear conscience so we can turn away from the Law of Moses and follow the Spirit of God. If we do not understand this, but instead regard imputed righteousness as a new way in which God has chosen to relate to man, we have invented the worst of all possible religions.
In fact, it appears that every other religion of the world understands what righteousness isall except the Christian religion.
Ask a Christian of your acquaintance what he thinks righteousness is. He most likely will respond: "I am not righteous, only Christ is righteous. God sees the righteousness of Christ in me."
If you said that Christ commanded us to let the light of good works shine in us he would not believe you. He probably would become very confused and accuse you of legalism.
There are two different forms of righteousness. One is the righteousness that is ascribed to us because we have placed our faith in Him who justifies the ungodly. The other is the actual righteousness of the new covenant in which we become a new creation. The eternal moral law of God is written on our mind and heart.
God wants us to cease attempting to create our own righteousness by following the Law of Moses or any other moral code. God desires that we seek Christ each moment of each day, obeying the Spirit of God, until the fruit of the moral character of Christ is revealed in our life.
If there is no transformation of character, if there is no new righteous creation coming forth, then we may be a member of a Christian assembly but we certainly are not abiding in Christ. We are a member of the Christian religion but not a disciple of Jesus.
It is no wonder the Muslims call America "the great Satan." They know America contains many Christians. Yet moral filth pours forth from Hollywood. And while numerous Christians deplore the moral filth coming from Hollywood, they themselves have not been transformed morally because of unscriptural doctrine. They are trusting in imputed righteousness but are filled with worldliness, malice, slander, hatred, unforgiveness, stubbornness, self-will, lying, stealing, immorality, drunkenness, pride, haughtiness, meanness, selfishness, witchcraft, bitterness, and every other behavior that will never be accepted in the Kingdom of God. Because of this lack of Christian morality, Hollywood and the secular government have no moral light to guide them.
The leaders of our government that do profess to be Christians are trusting in grace to bring them to Heaven. Meanwhile our government seems to have more than its share of fraud and corruption. The Christianity is in name only.
This is the condition of the United States of America as we enter the third millennium. God is not waiting for more spiritual babies clothed in the diapers of imputed righteousness. He is looking for a people strong in righteous behavior, set in battle array, who are prepared for the age of moral horrors we are entering.
The Two Witnesses. I understand that the Christian world regards the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation as being two patriarchs or prophets from the Old Testament. I think this is an incorrect interpretation.
To begin with, our charge as a Christian Church is to bear witness of Christ in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. In order to accomplish this we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it does not make sense that the Lord would go back before the new covenant, before Christs death and resurrection, to obtain witnesses of the coming Kingdom of God.
Jesus said he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than any of the Prophets. I do not understand why scholars believe that the Christians are so spiritually weak God has to go back in time and bring up someone from the dead to bear witness of the return of Christ. Do you?
In the eleventh chapter of Revelation we find that the two witnesses are symbolized as two lampstands and two olive trees. The reference is to the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. The interpretation is that the Temple of God will be completed "not by might nor by power but by the Spirit of God."
The lampstand of the Bible, being pure gold, always represents Deity. Bible scholars understand that the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation symbolizes Christ. Gold speaks of Deity, never of humanity.
The other use of the figure of the lampstand involves the seven churches of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. The seven churches are shown as golden lampstands because they are the churches of Christ, who is Deity.
In the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah we notice not two lampstands, but one. That Lampstand is Jesus Christ. The two olive trees pouring olive oil directly into the seven cups of the lampstand symbolize the double portion of Gods Spirit, such as rested on Elisha.
Where then did the second lampstand come from? It is my point of view that the second lampstand is the Body of Christ that has been formed during the Christian Era.
If I am correct, the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation is referring to Christ and the members of His Body who are on the earth, ministering under the power of a double portion of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness to every nation of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
This testimony of unprecedented power will continue for the first half of Daniels seventieth week. In the middle of the week God will withdraw the tremendous anointing and permit the witness to be overcome so Antichrist can be revealed in his fullness.
When the second half of the week, the time of Antichrist and the great tribulation, has been concluded, the Holy Spirit once more will come upon Gods remnant and the light of the Glory of God will be seen on them. At the same time, the Glory of the slain Lamb will appear in the sky and Christ will send down the deceased saints to regain their bodies from the place of interment. Then the living remnant will be transformed and all the saints will be caught up together to meet the returning Lord in the air.
It is my opinion that the anointing that will rest on Gods end-time witnesses will be part of the great harvest-rain outpouring promised in Joel, Hosea, Zechariah, and James.
The Wall. When one reads the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation it can be seen that the great jasper wall is emphasized, along with the gems adorning the twelve foundations of the wall.
Why the emphasis on the wall of the city?
The reason is, the creating of the wall is a main purpose for the six thousand years of world history.
Originally God placed man in Paradise on the earth. Man was deceived by wickedness. God, because of His holy, righteous nature, was compelled to withdraw from the earth, leaving behind a curse.
God does not want this to happen again. Therefore He is creating a wall to forever keep sin from entering His Presence, and away from the Tree of Life.
If there had been a wall around the Garden of Eden, sin could not have entered. Never again will there be an unwalled Paradise.
The wall against sin is the Lord Jesus Christ. He also is the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
The Lord Jesus Christ loves righteousness and hates iniquity. Christ will never permit sin to enter the Presence of God.
Now Christ is being formed in us. When Christ has come to maturity in us we will love righteousness and hate iniquity. The truest indication that Christ is growing in us is that we are becoming ever stronger in our ability to discern good and evil, and to choose the good and absolutely reject the evil.
God has the power to instantly remove all wickedness from a human being, leaving him as free from a sinful nature as was true of Adam and Eve.
Why doesnt God do this for us when we first receive Christ as our Savior?
The reason is, God is intent on forming Christ, the Wall against sin, in us.
If Christ were to put us back in Paradise before the wall against sin had been formed in us, you know what would happen. We would fall once again.
The reason for the six thousand years of insanity on the earth is so angels and men might witness the result of yielding to Satan, and also to create a wall in people so they may be able to govern Paradise when it has been placed once more on the earth.
There probably is an actual wall and actual gems in its foundation, around the new Jerusalem. But beyond all doubt, the wall represents the defense against sin being created in the saints, and the gems in the foundation refer to the Divine Virtues being formed in the saints by the heat and pressure of life on the earth, just as obedience was formed in Christ by the heat and pressure of life on the earth.
All sin must go, and Jesus Christ has the power to this for you. Dont wait to die, hoping that when you go to Heaven the wall will be built in you. Walls against sin are built on the earth, not in Heaven. Sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God.
These are troublous times in which we are living, and the wall against sin is being built right now.
War. How we would love to put an end to war on the earth. But there never will be peace on the earth until the Lord Jesus Christ and His saints have driven all wickedness from the presence of mankind.
Because of the presence of sin there always has been and always will be war on the earth. War comes from the self-seeking and hatred found in the human heart. There is self-seeking and hatred in us because Satan has access to our personality. Until Satan and his self-seeking and hatred have been removed, there always will be wars and fighting among the members of mankind.
War actually is a spiritual phenomenon. There is war in the spirit world against Christ and His holy angels. We read of this struggle in the Book of Daniel.
We ourselves are fighting against highly placed spiritual authorities located in the heavenlies.
The rewards found in the second and third chapter of the Book of Revelation are designated for those who conquer in the struggle against wicked personalities.
Speaking in terms of the seven feasts of the Lord, the Christian Church has come as far as the fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost. The fifth feast, the celebration following Pentecost, is the Blowing of Trumpets.
Those of us who are pressing forward in Christ are experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets. Our choruses are becoming militant. We are being trained in the discipline that always must be true of an army, in this case an army of judges that will return with the Lord and drive all wickedness from the creation.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Hosts, is standing before us. He is ready to declare war on the enemies in our personality: the love of the world, the lusts and passions of the flesh, soul, and spirit, and especially our stubbornness, rebellion, and self-seeking.
The coming of the Lord to drive evil from the members of His army of necessity must occur prior to His worldwide appearing; for at His worldwide appearing He will invade the earth with His army riding behind Him. No person can ride behind Christ in the attack of Armageddon until that individual first has been subjected to the scrutiny of Christ in every tiniest aspect of his or her personality.
The Lord is standing before us today. He is asking us to open the everlasting doors of our heart. If we will do this, He will enter us and dine with us. We eat His flesh and drink His blood. He dines on our worship and obedience.
We eat at His banqueting table in our own heart and His banner over us is love. At the same time He declares war on all of His enemies that are in us.
We who are experienced Christians find that sins we thought had been removed from us long ago are now raising up in us. Instead of coming to the conclusion we are backslidden, or trying to hold the sins down, we are to confess them specifically to the Lord (and to other people if indicated), denounce them with all our might, renounce them with all our strength, calling on Jesus Christ for assistance.
These evil compulsions dwelling in our personality are His enemies and our enemies. It is time now to drive them out of our land of promise, beginning with our own personality.
The trumpet of God is sounding in the heavens. The armies of Michael are preparing themselves to descend with Christ. No doubt some type of preparation is taking place among the deceased saintsperhaps more similar to what is taking place in us than we have any idea at the moment.
We are in a new day. The old patterns of the Christian religion will persist throughout the reign of Antichrist. But those who have ears to hear are moving past Pentecost into the Blowing of Trumpets.
We are ready to remove sin from the creation, beginning with our own personalities. We are not continually emphasizing our imputed righteousness, we are coming to maturity in the knowledge of good and evil. We are implacable concerning all sinall sin!
We read in the Book of Daniel that God is ready to put an end to sin. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God, the doing of the will of God, to the earth.
How about you, dear reader? Is it in your heart to put an end to sin? Do you believe that Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devilnot to forgive the works of the devil but to destroy them utterly, completely, perfectly, totally, and for eternity?
If so, then prepare your heart to ride on a white war stallion behind the Lord, for if you have prepared yourself you will appear with Him when He appears for every eye to see.
Right nowtodaydeclare your love of righteousness and your hatred of wickedness. Follow the Holy Spirit as He makes known to you the sin and self-will in your own personality. Every idol in you must be brought down and crushed. All sin must go. Be merciless toward the sin in yourself. Give it no quarter. Get help from other Christians when you need it.
God has charged His angels with folly and has created mankind and the earth to be the place of His Throne for eternity. The enemy was defeated on the cross located on the earth, and will be defeated in you on the earth if you will follow the Holy Spirit diligently, putting to death the deeds of your body as the Spirit guides and enables you.
The Witness of God. We need to understand the difference between witnessing and evangelizing. In the majority of instances when the term "witnessing" is used today we really are referring to preaching the Gospel and evangelizing. There is an abundance of ministry, of preaching, in the United States at the present time, but the witness of God is nearly dead.
A witness is not necessarily a preacher, but every preacher should be a witness. However, many times the preachers of the Gospel of Christ are actually, in their behavior, bearing witness of Satan. They lie, steal, sometimes commit adultery or fornication, and molest children. They often are covetous. Sometimes they are unmerciful in their actions toward other people. They seek their own advantage. They gossip and slander. All this is true, in some instances, of the preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
They are ministers but not witnesses.
The Lord Jesus told us of the truest form of witnessing: "Let your light shine in the presence of people so they may see your good works and glorify God."
We of today place heavy emphasis on ministry and personal evangelism; but if someone points out the need for righteous behavior he is attacked as being a legalist, a Pharisee.
In other words, we are not truly ministering the Gospel, we are proselyting, making converts to our theological belief. We are exercising our religion and therefore will always slander and oppose Christ wherever He is found.
You just dont go out and fish for men. You just dont go out and "witness." Jesus Christ alone can make a fisher of men. Jesus Christ alone can make you a witness of God so that you, in your God-given wisdom, win souls to the way of righteousness by your personality far more than by your words.
God makes witnesses of Himself that He alone is God. We must see God, hear Him, touch Him, before we can bear witness of Him. Any lawyer can tell us that.
How do we see, hear, and touch God? Seeing, hearing, and touching God take place throughout a long, rugged discipleship.
We are in deep water but do not drown. We go through the fire, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but are not burned.
We endure every conceivable difficulty and frustration. We have the sentence of death in ourselves and become as dead-living people. God keeps raising us up, and in the raising the witness of God shines forth.
We learn of Gods faithfulness when we are brought to the brink of disaster and then find that God appears on the scene just in time to save us.
We learn of Gods provision when we have great needs and only Gods faithfulness keeps us surviving and moving ahead.
We learn of Gods keeping power when thousands fall around us and we escape all harm.
In our day, as no doubt has been true throughout history, people are being brought to the brink of despair. Families are breaking up. Young people raised in Christian homes are dabbling with drugs and perverted sexual behavior. Anarchy controls the streets in some of our cities.
When we are facing divorce, the breakup of our home, or some other severe tragedy, we do not need to hear a young, inexperienced "minister" tell us how we ought to trust God and be happy. We need someone who can portray to us how God has raised him from the point of death and never failed him. We need to feel the strength, courage, and faith of someone who himself or herself has proven God on the battlefield of life.
When we are morally tempted we need the prayers of Gods witnessesthose who also have been tempted and through Christ have overcome.
Only God can make a witness. The Holy Spirit can give a new Christian a ministry or gift, but that does not make him or her a witness of God. A denomination can install someone as the pastor of an assembly, but that does not make the individual a witness of God.
A witness of God is someone who has seen God, who has heard God, who has touched God, who has walked with God. All else in Gospel work has its place of usefulness. But only as we walk through the fires, dangers, and pressures of life on earth with our hand in Gods hand do we gain the knowledge of the Holy and become a witness of the Person of God, His way, His will, and His eternal purposes in Jesus Christ.
Working Out Our Salvation. The salvation that is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ has a specific beginning, a specific program, and a specific conclusion. We are not "saved" until we endure to the end.
One of the harmful errors of current Christian teaching is the emphasis placed on an initial acceptance of Christ as our Savior. In fact, accepting Christ has become a ticket to Heaven rather than a start on the narrow way that leads to eternal life.
We do not just slide into salvation by trying to reform our behavior. There must come a specific point in time when we decide to trust in Christ rather than ourselves for salvation. We must place our faith in the blood of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.
We can now say we are "saved," if we like. However, it is more accurate to say that Christ has forgiven us and now we are going to follow Him and walk in newness of life.
Part of our misunderstanding arises from our definition of what it means to be "saved." When we define being saved as holding a ticket that will admit us to Heaven when we die, we are in error. Holding a ticket that will admit us to Heaven when we die is not what it means to be saved.
To be saved, in the scriptural sense of the world, is to be saved from the world and brought into the Kingdom of God; to be saved from the lusts and passions of our sinful personality and to be brought into freedom from the bondages of sin; to be saved from our adamic will and thinking, and all idolatry, and brought into the rest of God, the abiding place in the center of Gods fiery Person.
To be saved is to acquire a hatred of wickedness and a love for iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God.
We have seen then that salvation is a lifelong discipleship. Each day we should be further from the chains of worldliness, lust, and self-will. Each day a part of our adamic personality should die and the Life of Christ should be formed in its place. Each day we should be further from the person and works of Satan and closer to the Person and works of God.
Receiving Christ is the beginning of our transformation from Adam to Christ; from the old creation to the new creation. Each day we are pressing into more abundant eternal life. Our adamic personality is decreasing and Christ is increasing. Each day God is making all things new in our personality. The gate is small and the way is narrow that lead to eternal life, that lead to the Father. And we are going through that gate and walking on that path every day.
We finally will be "saved" when, in the day of resurrection, we receive back our body from the dead, and our body then is clothed with the eternal, incorruptible resurrection Life that proceeds from the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This is because it is very easy to start on the way of righteousness and then to be deceived back into the cesspool from which we were rescued. We have to watch carefully that no one take our crown. The way to God is filled with pitfalls and snares of every description. We do not fear and tremble because Christ cannot keep what has been committed to Him; rather we fear and tremble lest we be deceived and led away from the covenant we have made with God.
Peter informs us that the righteous are saved with difficulty. The fiery trials mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter are for the purpose of driving worldliness, lust, and rebellion against God from our personality. How many people have started out believing in Christ, and then have turned away because the path that leads to life brought pain to them and they were required to give up that which they desired so intensely!
Yet, it is the way of the transgressor that is hard. It is true that the way of the disciple requires much self-denial. But everyone suffers. We cannot escape suffering by turning away from Christ.
There were three crosses on the hill. God was crucified. The saved thief was crucified. The unsaved thief was crucified.
You are going to suffer while you are in the world. If you spend your entire life attempting to have your own way, to save your own life, to escape suffering, you will betray those who trust in you, harm many others in your mad plunge toward self-gratification, and when you die (or perhaps even before you die) you will suffer at the hands of an angry God who is disgusted with your lack of integrity.
Let us, therefore, patiently work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It will not be too long before we stand in joy before a glad King who invites us to share His Kingdom.
A few more weary steps and we shall be home. Dont quit. He has kept for you the best wine until now.
A Concluding Comment. Of the various errors present in current Christian teaching, the common denominator probably is the misunderstanding of the role of imputed righteousness. This misunderstanding has created an unscriptural "state of grace." The concept of the "state of grace" is that God has given a covenant (not found in the New Testament) by which a Gentile can make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ and on this basis, apart from any significant moral change, be admitted to Heaven upon his or her death.
It is not possible a more deadly interpretation of the Apostle Pauls explanation of the transition from Moses to Christ could be advanced. The product of this error is people who believe in a doctrine but are not practicing righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. Thus we have an exact opposite of Gods purpose in providing a new covenant.
The very foundation of Christian thought is unscriptural. The blood of Jesus Christ, instead of being a means whereby sinful man may begin the process of transformation into a new righteous creation, is presented as an alternative to moral change. We are being conformed to the image of Christ legally, not in actuality.
Current Christian teaching is much more Gnostic than it is scriptural.
The Kingdom of God is a real kingdom in which Gods will is performed on the earth as it is in Heaven. It is at hand. Jesus is coming soon. Therefore Gods people must begin to make the change from imputed to actual righteousness, for our assignment is to appear with Christ and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The Christian church in Jerusalem was composed of orthodox Jews, all keeping the Law of Moses diligently. They still observed the Sabbath, circumcision, the kosher laws, and all other aspects of the Law. The Law! The Law! The Law!
Here comes Paul, the Jew of the Jews, facing this mentality. What would you have done? How would you have felt?
Anyone who pioneers doctrine had better resign himself to a small circle of Christian friends.
Paul was tough and argumentative. When He was in Jerusalem he went to the Temple and practiced the rituals of the Law. But when he was addressing groups of believers that included Gentiles, such as the churches in Rome and Galatia, he propounded what God had revealed to him concerning the new covenant.
So, as we read in Romans and Galatians, Paul emphasized that we no longer are under the Law but under grace. Paul did not stress that when we accept God's grace in Christ we go to Heaven apart from moral transformation, Paul was saying that we do not have to keep the Law any longer because we now obtain righteousness by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
The issue is not admittance to Heaven, it is that of obtaining righteousness, that is, a state of being and behavior pleasing to God.
But as always we err in our heart. We have misunderstood Paul and have perverted his doctrine to mean God no longer is greatly interested in how we behave ourselves.
You know, Satan is a lover of religion and willingly joins with us in our religious practices, our hymns, our worship, even our gifts and ministries. None of this concerns Satan. In fact, Satan would be delighted if the entire Church was caught up to Heaven, singing "Onward Christian Soldiers" as they passed through the clouds.
Only one issue concerns Satan: our change from unrighteous behavior to righteous behavior. All Hell groans in dismay when one person ceases to fornicate, or lie, or steal, laying hold on the grace of God in Christ for the wisdom and strength to overcome sinful behavior.
Satan has managed to persuade the elect of every age to discover in their religion a way of avoiding the necessity for radical change of behavior.
Satan convinced the Jews to concentrate their thinking on whether it was lawful to chew a breath mint on the Sabbath day.
Satan introduced the philosophy of Gnosticism to the early Christians, the philosophy that teaches our behavior in the body is not as important as the religious knowledge we embrace. (Todays Christian teaching is more Gnostic than it is Christian.)
Satan convinced the Catholic Church to do penance instead of repent. This is a subtle but totally effective method of substituting religious practices in place of actual moral transformation.
Satan has persuaded the Christians of today that while we ought to do good, it is not absolutely necessary that we do so because we have been "saved by grace."
All of these departures from the text of the New Testament have as their purpose avoiding the need for a change in our behavior.
Of great significance, if we would understand the participation of Satan, is the stress on "You shall not surely die."
In current Christian teaching there almost always is agreement that we ought to try to do what the Bible says. (There are some grace extremists who insist we ought not to try to do what the Bible says because then we are adding works to grace.)
As I said, most Christians agree that we ought to do what the Bible says concerning godly behavior. But they insist that even if we do not, we still will go to Heaven by grace. Even if you fornicate, lie, steal, hate your brother or sister, are unwilling to forgive those who have offended you, worship money instead of God, refuse to stay in Gods prison, refuse to carry your cross behind the Master, "You shall not surely die!"
Thus we have developed a grace mystique, a sovereign declaration of God to Gentiles that if we profess belief in Jesus Christ we will go to Heaven whether or not we turn away from our carnal nature and walk in the Spirit of God.
One has to give credit to Satan for His cunning. He has managed to convince the bloodwashed that it is not critical how we behave; all that is important is our religious posture toward Jesus Christ.
We even have developed an unscriptural "state of grace," meaning we are exempt from the judgment of God on our behavior.
At the Bible study last night I stressed the scriptural definition of salvation: Salvation is conformity to the moral image of Jesus Christ and entrance into untroubled rest in the center of Gods Person and will.
Romans 8:29 tells us we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ.
I John 1:7 informs us that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin as long as we walk in the light of God, that is, in Gods Presence and will.
How must Paul feel when he looks down and witnesses the teachers and preachers of our day taking his arguments against the Law of Moses to mean we no longer have to live righteously in order to please God.
I told our students that there are many devout, intelligent Christian scholars who profess belief in the full, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. These dedicated men and women proclaim that every verse in the Bible is inspired by the Spirit of God.
Then they state we are righteous in Gods sight and on our way to Heaven when we proclaim Jesus as Lord and maintain that God has raised Him from the dead, even though we do not become a new righteous creation in Christ.
But several times in the four Gospels as well as in the Epistles we are warned that if we do not change our behavior we will be punished severely and may not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Then I asked the students, "How do you think Christian scholars respond to this obvious inconsistency?
Some said the theologians respond by claiming the verses of warning are directed toward the unsaved, even though the epistle may be addressed to the saints.
Others stated that the scholars maintain the warnings are directed toward the Jews.
One of the newer twists is that the verses in the Bible that have to do with salvation are inspired but the remainder of the Scriptures are not.
There are those who teach that the Book of Hebrews, a book of warning, is for the Jews only, not Gentiles.
One of the more familiar evasions of the commandments of Christ and His Apostles is that such commandments were given only to reveal how helpless we are and must flee to Christ for forgiveness and salvation. In other words, God does not really expect his commandments to be obeyed.
Yet Jesus said, "If you love me, keep My commandments."
Do you know of any other devices to avoid the necessity for moral transformation?
As I said, most Christians say we ought to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles as well as we can. But if we do not, there is no problem because we go to Heaven by grace; we are saved by grace.
"You shall not surely die" even though you do not do what God has said.
If I am hearing correctly, there are some ministers who are beginning to preach righteousness. If such preaching and teaching take hold in the United States we will have a revival and many will turn to God. I certainly trust this is taking place, because the familiar grace-rapture-Heaven emphasis leads only to the destruction of the believers.
Mike Clardy, the pastor of our sister church in Huntsville, Alabama, told me about a little girl who was baptized in water. The child professed that she was going to follow the Lord.
When the girl told this to a relative, the relative "asked if it didnt mean that she had asked Jesus into her heart and that now she was saved."
I sensed the death in this understanding of water baptism and it made me upset.
After I calmed down, I thought about what was wrong with the response of the relative.
In the first place, according the Scripture the Apostles never told people to ask Jesus into their heart. The Apostles preached repentance and forgiveness through Christ.
The idea of asking Jesus into our heart comes from the third chapter of the Book of Revelation. The Lord is addressing the lukewarm Laodicean "believers" who were conducting their own religion apart from the Lord.
But just what is wrong with the conventional "let Jesus into your heart and be saved"? The child was correct. The Christian salvation is not a case of letting Jesus into our heart so we are saved. The Christian salvation is a program of forsaking our former way of life and following the Lord.
What is the difference between the two concepts? The difference is awesome!
Being "saved" by letting Jesus into our heart, while it may be a way of coming to the Lord, is used as a ticket to Heaven. It has little in common with "small is the gate and narrow the way that lead to eternal life."
We have made a religion out of what is supposed to be a daily fellowship with the Lord.
The true Christian life begins, not ends, when we put our faith in Christ, repent of our former way of life, are baptized, and then take up our cross of self-denial and follow the Master.
Are we saved when we "ask Jesus into our heart"?
At that moment, yes. But then we must work out our salvation each day. If we do not we quickly become as a dog returning to its vomit; a pig returning to its wallowing in the mud.
We are saved at some point. Then we continue through the program of salvation. We finally are "saved" when we endure to the end.
What we have today is a religion, not the Christian salvation.
The whole idea is to abide in Christ every second of every day. We do this by continually looking to Christ for every decision we make throughout the day and night. We pray without ceasing. We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We cultivate the Presence of the Holy Spirit, of eternal Divine Life.
Anything less than this is nothing more than church membership and the Christian "religion."
The Lord wants us to be tough. What does it mean to be tough? It means to not break when we are pressured, twisted, and stretched. We can keep from breaking by looking to Jesus and praying without ceasing.
But if we view our salvation as some point in the past when we "asked Jesus into our heart" we may "break" and turn away from the Lord.
I do not know what the future holds but I do know who holds the future. How about you?
The little girl is going to follow Jesus. Her relative probably will continue to live her life in the world until her strength fails and she is in a nursing home. When she dies she will find that she wasted the talents and abilities given to her by the Lord. For her, to die will be out of the frying pan and into the fire.
But the little girl, if she keeps on following Jesus, will keep on walking by His side as she leaves this world and enters the next page of her existence.
I woke up this morning (or was it last night?) with a keen sense of standing before the Presence of God. My son, Marc, said that sometimes it is more polite to just stand before the Throne of God than to barrage God with petitions.
"The Lord God before whom I stand." How wonderful to stand before God, as did Elijah and Elisha!
Today the Lord spoke to me several times. He said, "I am going to play hardball." As I have reflected on this, I believe the Lord means He is going to chasten His people severely. As many as Christ loves He rebukes and chastens..
I know how the expression is used in the world. It means, "I am going to stop treating you gently. I am going to use every means I have of getting what I want, of accomplishing my goals."
I suppose the future will reveal what Jesus is saying by emphasizing that He is going to play hardball. It came through strongly and repeatedly.
The message I preach is one of utmost sincerity and integrity. The children and young people have no problem with it; neither do new Christians.
The people who present an endless problem are those with several years experience in Christian churches. They bring with them two spirits: one is the spirit of gossip and criticism; the other is the spirit of hypocrisy. They are accustomed to sitting in church and listening to the Gospel challenges. Then they go out and live as they please. They know the minister is not presenting his body a living sacrifice to God and they, the congregation, have no intention of doing so either.
I think it is true that in every Christian church there may be found one or two true Christians, true disciples of the Lord. The remainder are religious people who are not carrying their cross. They do not deny themselves and lay down their life for the Gospel.
This worldly spirit is maddening. It weakens the hands of the men of war. Such congregations may have numerous programs, but they accomplish little of eternal value in the Kingdom of God.
Last night I did a great deal of loud preaching because I could feel this hypocritical spirit pressing on me. I told the congregation that the older people could be a Joshua or Caleb if they wanted to. Otherwise we are going to have to wait until they die before we get rid of this spirit that has one foot in the Gospel and the other in the world.
I told the people that if they are waiting until they are sixty-five years old so they can buy a vacation trailer and tour the United States they already are backslidden. This is not what it means to be a Christian. The history of those believers who have been drowned, broken on the rack, burned at the stake, tells us what it means to be a Christian.
There are billions of people in the world who do not have the material comforts we have, nor the spiritual understandings and blessings of worship. And we rich Americans are to plan how we can retire and do nothing in our old age? Ill tell you what. We will end up in a nursing home waiting to die. We have chosen to be useless and God will grant our desire.
I reminded the listeners that Christian theology is filled with unscriptural traditions. I pointed out that our current "I am saved by grace" does not fit what the Lord said about the gate being small and the way narrow that lead to eternal life; that we are not saved until we endure to the end. What an unscriptural mess we are in today!
"Dear Lord, remove this "business as usual" and spirit of criticism and gossip far from me. Let me never again for eternity be stressed by the traditional church lethargy and insinceritynever, never again! And Lord, please do not permit the traditional church spirits to come near our children and young people!"
We have talked a lot about Revelation 2:7the right to eat of the tree of life. It seems to me this is speaking about gaining immortality in the body, for this is what was lost in the Garden of Eden.
The doctrine of the resurrection to eternal life, the restoration of what was forfeited in Eden, has been hidden from the Christian churches since the days of the Apostles. First the doctrine of the resurrection of the body was obscured by the emphasis on spiritual resurrection and living in Heaven forever. Then the doctrine was clouded by the emphasis on the catching up of the believer in an unscriptural "rapture" into Heaven.
Now the Spirit is restoring to us the understanding that the filling of the physical body with eternal life is the central hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The resurrection of the body to eternal life has nothing whatever to do with Heaven. We are forced into the spirit world by the death of our body because of the sin of Adam. Removal from the earth through physical death is a an enemy, a defeat. Once we regain immortality in the body we are free to live on the earth, in Heaven, or wherever else we desire to remain.
God did not create the marvelous physical body so that it could be destroyed by sickness and death. He created it to be the permanent home of Himself, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the saint. And so it shall be at the coming of the Lord, if we have overcome through Christ the death that has warred against us.
No one ever will be given the authority to eat of immortality until he or she overcomes. To overcome does not mean to "accept Christ." Accepting Christ is the authority and power to begin to overcome. To overcome is to emerge in victory over the forces of sin and death that war against us.
To sin is to die. To put sin to death is to move toward immortality.
No sinful person, believer in Christ or not, will ever enter past the cherubim and the flaming sword and eat from the tree of life. The tree still is guarded, waiting for those who, through Jesus Christ, press past all opposition and enter rest in the center of Gods perfect will.
It may be true that we are going to bring more of what we have become into the spirit world than is commonly believed. The idea that once we "accept Christ" our troubles are over, and by grace we will enter Paradise when we die, does not appear to be scriptural. For this reason we ought to be concerned about what we are becoming, with Gods help, in the present hour. This may be a truer understanding of the Divine redemption than the idea that all God requires is a statement of belief in Christ.
Let us make immortality in the body our goal, as it was Pauls, for this is the eternal life that God gives us through His beloved Son.
I find it marvelous that God has given me such a passion to do His will. And then He rewards me for doing His will. Incredible!
In the Future. My vision of the future is that there is coming a time of great trouble to America, accompanied by a nation-wide revival of repentance.
Here is the problem: the current Christian teaching is that Christians live in a supposed state of grace. This means that no matter how we behave, God sees only the righteousness of Christ in us. I understand that this travesty of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is taught rather commonly.
Now stop and think. If such were the case, and it is not, then there is no basis for repentance. If God sees only the righteousness of Christ in us, then of what are we to repent?
We ought to be nice, I suppose, and appreciate what Christ has done for us, and on that basis make an attempt at least to stop lying, stealing, gossiping, fornicating, and using profanity. But if we dont, we still are going to be brought into Paradise when we die and receive the same reward as the most diligent disciple. Oh, maybe we wont have quite the same reward, but it will be enough for us. This is what we assume.
I do not know about the rest of the population of the world, but the average American loves pleasure and is accustomed to many luxuries that are not possessed by a great part of earths multitudes. He will reason as follows: "If I "accept Christ" (which is really not acceptance of Christ at all but nothing more than a profession of belief) I can live my life rather comfortably and still be ushered into Heaven when I die.
He may make an attempt to live righteously, but given the interesting things and experiences available to most Americans, plus the ever increasing demon hordes that are inciting us to immorality, violence, and covetousness, he is not going to take up his cross of self-denial and follow the Master. He is not going to permit the Holy Spirit to strip away his worldliness, sensual lusts, and personal ambition. He simply is not going to do this!
Therefore there can be no permanent revival until there is a reformation of Christian thinking. We must come to understand that the teaching of the "state of grace" is unscriptural. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to earth merely to forgive the works of Satan in us. He came to destroy the works of Satan in us. This He has the power to do when we ask.
But we are not going to pay the price of self-denial that becoming a new righteous creation requires until we realize that in the Day of Resurrection we are going to reveal in ourselves the choices we have made.
In that Day, those who have practiced moral filth will be given a spirit of moral filth. Those who have walked in the ways of the Spirit of God will receive eternal life.
I know the above is true. How do I know? Because it is thoroughly scriptural. Therefore, it must be true that at some point the Holy Spirit will take what I have written, or what a writer who has written in a similar fashion has declared, and spread it throughout the world. The Lord is a businessman. He is not going to permit His Church to be destroyed by false teaching when there is correct teaching available.
I do not know how or when the Holy Spirit will fill His Church with the truth of the Scriptures. But I firmly believe He shall. In that hour we will experience true repentance, as the Lord shows us the spiritual darkness that dwells in us, removes that darkness with our cooperation, and then fills us with Himself.
It has been pointed out by investigators that the behavior of Christian people is no different from the behavior of the non-Christian people. This would be predicted by any intelligent person, given the fact that the churches are preaching only forgiveness, very little about righteous behavior. In the future, hopefully, Gods ministers will begin to preach forgiveness through Gods grace to the unsaved, and righteous conduct by the power of Gods grace to the saved. Only then will the Christian people be the lights of the world.
We read in the newspaper how someone murders his children or his family members, or rapes a helpless individual, or performs some other heinous deed. We wonder, "How could he do that?" But the truth is, such foulness could be true of any one of us if the Lord Jesus Christ doesnt prevent the demons from entering him or her. In the future the bizarre crimes we see today will multiplied greatly as the demonsand finally Satan himselfare given free reign on the earth. In that day, only Christ can prevent us from performing some gruesome act.
When we show our love to God by obeying Him, He rewards us by setting us free from the bondages of sin. This is what salvation isrelease from the bondages of sin, that we might have eternal fellowship with God.
We know from the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew that the time will come when all that is offensive is removed from the Kingdom of God. So the future is bright with promise.
We are approaching a new world of righteousness, as Peter says. The inhabitants will not be sinning people who are being "saved by grace." The citizens of the new world will be righteous in behavior, having been made so by the power of God.
Let us look up to God and declare that we want to be part of that world in which there is no sin, only righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 14:21))
I have noticed in myself that I do not have enough energy to do more than precisely what is needed. There is no strength left to get into mischief. Thats good, isnt it? My prayer is that God will take this dust and use it as He will, making it an expression in the earth of His thinking, desires, saying, and doing.
Jesus prayed for the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth as His inheritance. Jesus prayed also that those whom God had given Him would be one in Him as He is one in the Father. Then Jesus prayed that if it were possible the cup of suffering would be taken away from Him.
The first two prayers shall be answered. The time shall come when those whom the Father has given to Jesus shall be one in Christ in God. Then the world shall believe that it is God who sent Jesus, and that God loves the saints as He loves the Lord Jesus. The third prayer was not answered because it was necessary for the third not to be answered in order that the first two might be answered.
So it is with us. God gives us a vision, and then we pray for what He has shown us. When things happen to us that we do not want to happen, we must keep firmly in mind that the things we do not want to happen to us do so in order that the things we do want shall take place.
Mark tell us that the Lord worked with the Apostles confirming the word with signs following. But my desire is that I will work with the Lord, not the Lord with me. It seems to me that this is what Jesus did. God did not work with Jesus, Jesus worked with God. Jesus said He watched what the Father did, and then he did the same.
Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. (John 5:19,20)
It seems that today there are so many plans advanced to build the Kingdom of God, one wonders what would happen if some of us ceased from our own plans and just watched Christ as He watched the Father. Do you suppose if we did that, Christ actually would do something and we could come along for the ride, as it were? The elephant pulls the Log while the mouse accompanies Him, chirping merrily.
Yet I know it has to be the sword of the Lord and of Gideon; but I think we must make certain that it is mostly the Lord who is doing the work, while Gideon blows the trumpet and the jar of his earthly personality is broken so the Light of Christ within may be revealed. It must not become Gideon and then the sword of the Lord. Gideons role is to blow the trumpet of Gods Word; but it is the Lord who kills the Midianites.
"Father, we pray in Jesus name that Your perfect will shall be done in all matters. Make us, who are but dust, the revelation throughout Your creation of your Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. Amen."