YOUR APPEARANCE

YOUR APPEARANCE 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.

The idea that the Christian salvation has as its primary purpose that we might escape Hell and live forever in Heaven probably has been borrowed from other religions. Escaping torment and entering Paradise, although these two states are mentioned in the Bible, really is not the emphasis of the New Testament. The focus is on gaining the fullness of eternal life.

One concept that is stressed in the New Testament, however, is how we will appear in the Day of Resurrection. We need to think more about this.

YOUR APPEARANCE

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15)

The first two people on the earth were naked, to begin with. This is very surprising. Throughout the Scriptures being naked is regarded as shameful. Why would God not clothe Adam and Eve as soon as they were created?

Why would God permit you and me to be born with a rebellious nature—spiritually naked?

God has His ways, doesn’t He?

Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves. This was man’s first attempt at religion. All religion, no matter how clothed in ornate structures and ceremonies, is nothing more than fig leaves unless it truly was begun by the Lord.

God clothed Adam and Eve with garments of skin, which He might have done anyway had they not gotten ahead of God.

But God has a covering for people that surpasses in glory the skins of animals.

The Christian Gospel continually announces that if we believe in Christ we will escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die. Would you believe me if I stated that the Bible never presents the Lord Jesus Christ as the way in which the wicked escape Hell? There certainly is a Hell, and there certainly is a Heaven. But salvation is not a means of escaping Hell and going to Heaven.

Search the New Testament and see how many passages state Christ came to save us from Hell, or that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of salvation.

This is all mythology.

The Lord Jesus told us if a part of our body causes us to sin we should cut off that part rather than to be thrown into the fire. Jesus did not say if a part of our body causes us to sin we should believe in Him and be saved by grace. Yet, this is what we teach.

No, the Lord did not come to save the wicked from Hell. The wicked belong in Hell and the righteous belong in Paradise. Isn’t this obvious?

The Lord came to forgive our sins and guide us into righteous behavior until we are worthy to enter eternal life and Paradise.

But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, (Luke 20:35)

The New Testament emphasizes our need to pass from spiritual death into the eternal Life of God which is in Christ Jesus.

The New Testament emphasizes also our appearance in the Day of Resurrection. In the present world we can conceal what we are. We can present a handsome or beautiful appearance and be rotten inside. But this is not true in the spirit realm. When we die, and in the Day of Resurrection, we shall be seen for what we truly are.

Do you want to be seen for what you truly are? Are you naked spiritually? If so, this is how you will appear in the future. And there are no fig leaves available.

The New Testament speaks of a robe, or a house from Heaven. If we desire to be presentable in the age to come we need to think now about how we are going to appear.

The present essay concerns our appearance. How important is our appearance? People tend to judge others by their appearance before they become acquainted with them. Isn’t this a fact?

Most of us are concerned about our appearance. We want to look handsome or beautiful. Throughout history fashions have changed. Sometimes wealthy people clothe themselves with expensive garments whereas poorer people have to be content with what they can afford.

In the world to come we want to be seen as someone of worth. Let’s begin with a statement from the Book of Daniel that has to do with our appearance in the Day of Resurrection.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2,3)

Can you see the emphasis on appearance? The issue is not whether we are in the flames of torment or in Paradise, it is how we appear.

Some will awake in the Day of Resurrection to find they are regarded as shameful and contemptible. They are seen as shameful because they are spiritually naked. They have lived according their sinful nature, and have reaped destruction with regard to their appearance.

Those who lead people to righteousness appear as stars. Their glory will guide the creatures of God for eternity.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. (Genesis 1:14,15)

Speaking of reaping destruction:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

Think carefully about the above passage. Don’t forget, Paul was writing to the Christians in Galatia.

If we live our life (Christian or not) in the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul, then out from that sinful nature we will reap destruction. This means when we are seen in the world to come we shall be viewed as shameful and contemptible. Our nakedness has proceeded from our sinful nature. We have been clothed in our own works.

Whereas those who have, through the Holy Spirit, turned aside from the lusts and passions of their flesh, have sown eternal life. In the Day of Resurrection they shall be clothed in the glory of that eternal, incorruptible Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

How would you like to be permitted into Heaven looking like the ugliest of toads? This is what we are suggesting when we speak of today’s lukewarm American Christians being "raptured" into Heaven. They are spiritually naked, and there is nothing in Heaven or between here and Heaven that will clothe them—at least there is nothing whatever in the New Testament that suggests going to Heaven will clothe us or flying through the air will clothe us.

In actuality, no "toads" will be permitted into Paradise. We will be placed with people who look like we do. We see this in the following graphic passage:

"From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:23,24)

The people who have been saved will have the opportunity (or perhaps be required!) to go and look on the dead bodies of those who have resisted God’s will. This agrees with Daniel 12:2, that some are raised to shame and everlasting contempt.

It is interesting that it is the "bodies" of the rebels that are viewed with disgust. If we keep on yielding to our flesh in the present world, then, Christian, or not our appearance in the ages to come will be shameful and loathsome, as eternal worms continue to feed on our flesh. Indeed, we have reaped corruption and destruction.

When the New Testament speaks of our being clothed with glory it does not show this happening during an ascension or by virtue of entering Heaven.

In fact, the parable of the talents teaches us that the coming of Christ will not change what we are (except outwardly if we have overcome worldliness, lust, and self-will), but will reveal what we have become during our life on earth.

Those who continue to serve Christ throughout the great tribulation will gain for themselves a robe of righteousness, as they turn away from sin and keep on washing their robe in the blood of the Lamb.

Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:13,14)

Actually, in the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed in our righteous conduct. As we keep turning away from sin and embracing the body and blood of Christ (which we are given to eat and drink in the spirit realm every time we turn away from sin and choose the Presence and way of Christ) a robe of righteousness, a house of resurrection life, is formed before the Throne of God in Heaven. When the Lord returns He will clothe us with our wonderful house. Then think how we shall appear!

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

We will not be clothed with a legally imputed righteousness in that hour but with the actual righteousness of being and behavior that have been developed in us as we have interacted each day with the Lord Jesus.

Notice carefully that the Bride has made herself ready. These are the victorious saints who have attained to the first resurrection. They plus the balance of the Church will appear when the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been concluded. But at that time it will not be said of them they have made themselves ready. Rather, they have been made ready by others.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

It is this author’s opinion that the victorious saints who attain the first resurrection will help prepare the undeveloped members of the elect. This does not mean, however, that we can neglect to serve Christ today and then expect to be brought to maturity in the ages to come. Rather, we will be condemned as a lazy, unprofitable servant.

That the victorious saints are a minority, a remnant of the entire Church, can be seen in the Words of the Lord to the church in Sardis.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:4,5)

The problem has to do with soiling our clothes. When we Christians sin we have some choices to make. One alternative is to claim we are saved by grace and it doesn’t matter too much if we sin. A second alternative is to blame other people and hope by doing so we excuse our behavior.

A third alternative is to confess our sin, turn away from such behavior, denounce it and renounce it with all our might, and turn to God for renewed fellowship, being determined we never will do that again!

The third alternative is the only acceptable response to sin. Every time we confess our sins and turn away from them our robe, our appearance is washed until it is clean and sparkling.

The believers who are not as faithful in washing their robes will be seen for what they are in the Day of Resurrection. They will be shameful and contemptible, being clothed with dirty garments.

Can you see what we mean when we say the issue is not whether we are in Hell or Heaven but how we appear?

Who would want to be in Paradise wearing dirty clothes?

As we stated previously our robe is not cleansed by the fact that we have died and passed into the spirit world. We have to clean our robe now, in the present world, according to the Bible.

You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17,18)

We have to buy white clothes right now. The Lord does not say, "Don’t worry. You are saved by grace. When I come I will give you clean clothes."

Yet this is what is being taught in our time, isn’t it?

We need to repent not only of our behavior but of our being willing to listen to unscriptural doctrine that tickles our ears! God has sent delusion on us because we are not lovers of the truth!

What does the Lord Jesus say about His return? Does He say we are not to worry because He will change us when He appears?

"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15)

No, when the Lord appears we will be exposed, not changed, unless we have done His will and are ready to receive a glorious robe from Heaven.

The following two passages are used to prove we will be made perfect when the Lord appears:

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51,52)

But when we read the entire New Testament, we see that the above two passages are speaking of those who have been prepared in advance for the donning of eternal life from Heaven. They do not indicate we can give way to our flesh today and then be transformed into spiritual giants at the return of the Lord.

When we read the remaining verses of the third chapter of the Book of First John we find the sternest of all admonitions concerning living in sin today.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6)

The Day of Christ for numerous Christians will be a period of agony. They will be held in the outer darkness but will be able to see in a distance the light and glory of the Lamb and those who love and serve Him.

This is no mystery. Those Christians today who gossip about and slander their fellow believers are already living in the outer darkness. They are ugly in appearance, waiting for the coming of the Lord to reveal clearly what they are.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. (I Corinthians 4:5)

In fact, the whole world is waiting to see what God has created in His sons. The nations will witness the marriage of the Lamb. In that day the wicked will be destroyed but the meek of the earth will be released from the chains of corruption and futility.

Just as today, when we are living in Christ, the wicked are condemned by our behavior but the meek are encouraged and strengthened.

Our tradition says that after we die we will go to a mansion, a house in Heaven. The truth is, in the Day of Christ we will be clothed with our house from Heaven.

But how is this robe, or house, constructed?

In the Book of Second Corinthians the Apostle Paul tells of his numerous sufferings. He says he has the light of the Glory of God in himself but it is concealed in an earthen vessel.

Then he goes on to mention pressures, persecutions, perplexities. Paul claims that all these are necessary so out from his death the eternal Life of Christ can flow out to other people.

Meanwhile something permanent is happening to Paul. As his body thus is sown to the death of the cross, a robe, or house, of surpassing glory is being created before the Throne of God in Heaven. His daily death and resurrection are forming a house of glory that will be given him, in the Day of Resurrection, and determine his appearance for eternity.

Can you see the issue is not that of going to another place, to Heaven? The issue is how one will appear.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17)

The troubles Paul was experiencing were achieving something. They were achieving a weight of glory far heavier than the momentary troubles. The more trouble, accompanied by the necessary resurrection, the heavier Paul’s body in Heaven became.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (II Corinthians 4:18)

The above verse reminds us that the Lord Jesus advised us to put our treasures in Heaven. One of the greatest of all treasures will be the kind of body we will have in the Day of Resurrection.

Now we know if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (II Corinthians 5:1)

A building from God. An eternal house in Heaven.

In the Father’s house there are many such rooms.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, Because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:2,3)

The issue is one of appearance, of nakedness. Notice we do not go to our house in Heaven. Our house in Heaven will come and clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.

When you and I are clothed in the Day of Resurrection, will there be a glorious robe of incorruptible, resurrection life that has been designed for us through our behavior? Or will our yielding to the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul result in a filthy, threadbare garment that causes shame and contempt to be our portion?

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

Have you ever heard a believer groan in his or her longing to be clothed with a heavenly dwelling?—that mortality may be swallowed up by life?

You probably have not.

Why is this, when Paul is supposed to be guiding us in our discipleship?

It is because we do not understand the program of salvation. Our point of view is that by accepting Jesus we have our pass out of Hell and our ticket to Heaven, where we will recline forever in a mansion doing nothing of significance for eternity. This is all religion—fig leaves—it is unscriptural and not part of the Divine salvation.

Today the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is being restored to us. We know now that we are not being saved so we can go to Heaven and recline in a mansion forever. We are being saved so we can return with the Lord Jesus and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

If we are to return to earth with the Lord, we will have to be like Him in moral character and also in appearance. We will ride behind Him on the white war stallions and drive evil from the earth.

Paul was a righteous Jew. He saw the Christian salvation as a means of solving the conflict between his sin nature and his desire to please God.

When we Gentiles are saved we do not see our salvation as means of solving the conflict between our sin nature and our desire to please God. Rather we understand grace and salvation to be the means of escaping to Hell and going to Paradise. In this we are somewhat similar to Muslims and other religious people.

We are not preaching the Gospel today but a collection of myths and traditions.

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:5)

The Lord Jesus went to the cross, and then ascended with His atoning blood to the Mercy Seat in Heaven, in order to make a place for us in the Father’s house, that is, in the great eternal temple of which the Lord Jesus is the corner stone and the capstone.

He has prepared a place for us. In the verse above we see that God has made us for this purpose—that we might be a room in His house. The Holy Spirit whom we have now is a guarantee that what God has promised, God will do.

We would like to go home and be with the Lord. But while we are here in our mortal body we strive to please Him, knowing that one day we will be revealed before the Judgment Seat.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

The word "appear" does not mean merely to be present but to be exposed. The Lord Jesus will give us what we have practiced while living in the body on the earth.

If we have done good things, these good things will appear and be given to us.

If we have done bad things, these bad things will appear and be given to us.

The only manner in which the bad things can be removed is by confessing them as sin, by denouncing and renouncing them with all the determination we possess, and by turning to God with the resolve never, never, never to do such things again. This is an eternal judgment, as mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. In other words, we can be revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ while alive in the world and can have the bad erased. Then we can proceed to create a white robe to cover our nakedness.

It is appointed to men after this to die, and then the judgment. When we truly enter the crucifixion of Christ, being made conformable to His death, the work of judgment begins.

According to Peter, the Lord judges the living and the dead. In the day in which we are living there is a great emphasis on the judgment of the Lord’s people. This follows the symbolism of the feasts of the Lord, in which the Day of Atonement follows the feast of Pentecost. We have been at Pentecost. We are moving into the Day of Atonement, the period when God’s creatures will be reconciled to Himself in actuality, not just legally as in the case of imputed righteousness.

If we are abiding in Christ we are longing for the hour when our outward form is made like His outward form. If this is our hope, we must work with the Holy Spirit so our inward character is made like His inward character. We must be resurrected on the inside before we can be resurrected on the outside. Does that make sense to you?

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)

If we truly are one of His saints, and not just a member of a Christian church, the Lord will reach down and transform our body. I think this may be a very personal, intimate experience as He proves to His beloved the faithfulness of His promise.

But how does He appear?

Not as a theologian weighed down with assured emendations and the complexities of Hebrew and Greek exegeses until the burden is more than one can bear.

Rather, He comes skipping on the mountains of spices. (Are you skipping with the Lord today? If not, why not? He wants you to skip with Him.)

Come away, my lover, and be like a gazelle or like a young stag on the spice-laden mountains. (Song of Solomon 8:14)

And how does He appear?

He gave three disciples a foretaste:

And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. ((Matthew 17:1,2)

But today:

I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, And among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. (Revelation 1:12,13)

The above is His image and our image; His appearance and our appearance.

Such shall be true of us provided we overcome through His grace the evil that comes against us.

The Lord covers us today with His righteousness until we have had a chance to cooperate with the Spirit in the task of transforming our character into His image. But this covering is as a detour until the highway has been completed.

It is God’s will, of course, that the initial, legal covering be a temporary provision, just as was true of the skins that clothed Adam and Eve (which depended on the sacrifice of animals), until we have had a chance to work on a heavenly robe, a house that will be brought to us by the Lord when He appears.

Let us keep in mind every day that we can put weight and glory on that house by obeying the Spirit strictly, especially in the matter of turning away from sin and learning to live by the body and blood of the Lord.

But if we choose instead to yield to the impulses of our sinful nature, then out from that nature will proceed corruption and destruction.

In this case we will be found naked in the Day of the Lord.