WHY BEING BROUGHT TO PERFECTION IS SO IMPORTANT
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica. Used by permission.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
"The whole measure of the fullness of Christ."
Have you ever heard it preached that each Christian is to "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ"?
Neither have I.
Why is this? It is because we do not understand God's plan for us; what our destiny is.
The common understanding is that we have been saved so we will go to Heaven and not to Hell when we die. The Scripture does not teach that this is why God has chosen us to be a member of the Body of Christ.
If eternal residence in Heaven, living in a mansion and having nothing of significance to do, and we go there by "grace," then being brought to the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ" has no serious meaning. It might be nice to become mature, but it is not what we desire strongly enough to make a change in the way we live.
How did the Christian Church decide that obtaining eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of the Divine redemption? There is not a single verse in the entire Bible that teaches this; and numerous passages that reveal it is an error in our thinking.
To my knowledge, the expression "go to Heaven" does not appear in the Bible.
Where in the Bible does it describe our future life in Heaven, what it would be like? Revelation, Chapter 21 and 22 are describing our life on the new earth, not in Heaven!
So all our ideas of what Heaven is like does not come from the Bible. We are facing difficult times in the United States, and we need to stand on the Bible promises, not on our traditions.
Why would it be so important for us to be changed into the image of Christ if our destiny is to relax in a mansion in the spirit world, having nothing to do? I readily can understand our desire to escape the pains and problems of earth and to enjoy a paradise where all is serene. But that is not why God has predestined us from the beginning of the world to be in the image of Christ.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Can you see the sense of what I am saying here?
Is there any passage of the Bible that tells us why it is so important that we grow to maturity in Christ?
Yes, there is. It is in the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)
You might not have trouble believing the Servant of the Lord is Christ. But isn't it true that we are the Body of Christ; and the Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, needs His Body in order to fulfill His commission from the Father?
Can your head do anything apart from your body?
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)
The Servant of the Lord, of Chapter 42 of the Book of Isaiah, is Christ–Head and Body.
This means that you and I are members of the Servant of the Lord. So we can understand, in Isaiah, Chapter 42, the reason for God choosing us to be in Christ's image; and why it is so important that we be brought to perfection.
The Christian Church is the Body of Christ, the Wife of the Lamb, the Royal Priesthood.
God has chosen us and delights in us. He has set a task before us. It is to bring justice to the nations.
As we read the newspaper we can see the frightful conditions in the world today. I would say justice is needed. Wouldn't you?
Justice is not going to come through political processes, or education, or military action. Matters just keep becoming worse. In California public education, the teaching of perverse sexual activity is reaching down to the fifth grade of the elementary school. These are ten-year-old boys and girls. Such education will bring the wrath upon us because of its ungodliness.
So we cannot count on education to bring justice to the nations. The educators apparently do not pray and look to the Lord for wisdom, or they never would bring such abominations into the public-school curricula.
There is a movement in the United States in our day to limit the possession of firearms. While such limitations might do some good, it will not prevent a person bent on killing someone from doing so.
We are blind in the United States—staggering about in moral vomit and wondering why there are so many catastrophes.
There only is one answer to the confusion in the world, the glaring inequalities. The answer is the return of Christ, Head and Body, to enforce righteous behavior on all people.
"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope." (Isaiah 42:3,4)
Such healing of the world indeed shall take place. God has proclaimed it. The weak shall be protected and grow in strength. Justice shall be established on the earth. All the ends of the earth shall place their hope in Christ–Head and Body.
The grade-school children shall not be taught the ways of Satan but the ways of God, our Creator.
And just who is going to change the world? The Lord Jesus Christ at His coming. And not He alone, but those who are members of His Body.
Now, picture to yourself the frenzied wrath of the wicked. Satan regards the peoples of the earth as his possession. How do you think he and his followers are going to react when their place in the earth is taken from them and the Lake of Fire awaits them?
You are correct. They are going to do all in their power to resist the coming of the Servant of the Lord. They will not give up easily but will fight with all their strength to perpetuate their evil in the earth, just as the Amorites and Hittites fought to remain on their farms when the Israelites, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the Word of God, invaded their homeland.
The fiercest, most vicious struggle of the world's history is just ahead of us, as the strength of the nations is crushed at the hands of Christ and His saints, and righteous behavior is enforced.
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one "will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)
"Will rule them with an iron scepter."
"Is victorious and does my will to the end."
While we are endeavoring to live in victory we are tested again and again. Every time we call on Christ and gain the victory over the temptation, we are fed in the spirit world with the hidden manna, the body and blood of Christ.
The body and blood of Christ are the scepter of iron righteousness.
Now, why is it so important that we have the scepter of iron righteousness formed in us? It is so we can govern in righteousness, resisting the evil that is still in the personalities of those whom we are ruling. There will be a residual evil even though Antichrist and the False Prophet have been placed in the Lake of Fire, and Satan in the Bottomless Pit.
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, (Isaiah 42:6)
God has called you and me in righteousness. We begin with imputed, ascribed, righteousness. But then we are required to live a victorious life in Christ. This means that our imputed righteousness must translate into actual righteousness of thinking, speaking, and acting. This change in us occurs as we turn over our life to Christ, the "Morning Star," that His Life may take the place of our life.
Can you see why it is so important that we be brought to perfection in Christ? If our destiny were to be eternal rest in a mansion in the spirit world, such a radical change in our behavior would not be necessary.
May I interject a thought at this point. The purpose of the return of Christ to the earth is not to carry off His Church to Heaven. It is to establish a staging area in the air. From the staging area He will send down the victorious saints that have come with Him that they may regain their bodies.
Then He will transform the living saints and catch them up to Himself, along with those who have returned with Him from the spirit world.
All shall be mounted on the white war stallions.
Then the two armies, the army of saints and the army of angels (the double camp, Mahanaim), shall descend and crush Antichrist and the armies of the earth under his control.
Come back, come back, O Shulammite; come back, come back, that we may gaze on you! Why would you gaze on the Shulammite as on the dance of Mahanaim? (Song of Solomon 6:13)
If we are living the life of victory in Christ, we yet shall dance the dance of war along with the warrior angels.
As I have stated, we have no idea of the ferocity with which the evil spirits and people in the earth will respond to the coming of righteousness.
If you are living a careless Christian discipleship, waiting to die and go to Heaven, let me warn you that you will not be resurrected and be caught up to meet Christ in the air when He returns. You simply are not prepared to force righteous behavior in the world. You have to be righteous yourself before you can lead others to righteous behavior. This is true even today, isn't it?
When we think about what is ahead of us, as God employs us to cleanse the evil from the nations of the earth, we can understand that most of us are not ready for such an undertaking.
Let's look at another passage that bears upon the subject of the Servant of the Lord, Christ–Head and Body.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
The two passages above are telling us why the Holy Spirit anoints us at this time and gives us gifts and ministries. They are to comfort those in Zion, in the Christian Church, who are grieving.
The gifts and ministries are to make each member of the Body of Christ an oak of righteousness, that is, of righteous behavior.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. (Hebrews 12:22,23)
God desires that we appear with Christ and bring justice to the nations of the earth. In order for this to come to pass, we must be strengthened in Christ. This is the purpose for the gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ.
Wonderful gifts and ministries have been given to us by the Holy Spirit. But we have to covet them earnestly. We have to pray for them. Without the operation of these gifts and ministries, the members of the Body cannot possibly come to the fullness of the stature of Christ.
I do not know how many of the saints who are deceased and in the spirit world in the present hour are competent and qualified to appear with the Lord Jesus and bring justice to the nations of the earth. Maybe a great multitude. Maybe only a few.
How many living saints are competent and qualified to appear with the Lord Jesus and bring justice to the nations of the earth? Perhaps many. Perhaps only a few.
Jesus reminded us that in the days of Noah, only eight people were saved.
It appears to me that, in America at least, we are impressed with multitudes of people. We assume they must be traveling on the correct road. Surely, when Jesus comes, most or all of those who profess faith in Christ will be resurrected and caught up to meet Him in the air.
But what if it were only a few!
Jesus said narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and few find it.
I think our problem is, we do not believe the Bible. The philosophy of Humanism has gained such a foothold that we could not believe that only five or ten people were prepared for the Lord's appearing with twenty-five people.
Have you ever noticed that the Israelites of the Old Testament were in rebellion as often as not. So who do we read about—Moses, Abraham, Elijah, Noah---a handful of people.
One time God said He went through the Jewish nation and could not find one person who told the truth; one person to stand in the gap and make up the hedge before Him.
Today we would say, "If God will accept just a few people, we do not want anything to do with Him." Such is our attitude at this time. It may be true that the fear of God has largely vanished from America.
But given all we know, it is not impossible that only a few people alive on the earth at this time will be ready when Jesus comes.
"As it was in the days of Noah." Only eight people were saved. It is true also that Christ preached in the spirit world to the millions who had drowned, perhaps giving them a chance to receive Him as their Lord and Savior.
No doubt there were millions of people on the earth when Enoch was taken up to God. I wonder what Enoch's family and friends thought of this. Would God take to Himself just one person?
Only three of the disciples saw Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Many are called but few are chosen. Then the chosen are tested, tested, and tested again until they are proven to be faithful.
They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)
Broad is the road that leads to destruction and the majority are traveling on it.
The Apostle Paul said that to present our body as a living sacrifice, doing God's will perfectly, is but our reasonable service. How many Christian people of our day are presenting their body a living sacrifice that they might do God's will perfectly?
Millions, I hope. But what Christians often say is, "While we are this world we have to sin, so God will take us to Heaven by grace." This hardly is a testimony of victory, would you say!
I am not suggesting that the multitude of believers who are not living a victorious life are all going to be cast into Hell or the Lake of Fire. I do believe, however, that many American Christians will have their Kingdom resources given to another while they themselves will be cast into outer darkness.
It is true also that those who were given much and did not respond appropriately will be beaten with many lashes, whatever that means.
I think it is certain that those left behind will be governed by those who were more diligent.
The most dreadful period of time those who were not ready will experience will be the interval after the victorious saints are resurrected and caught up to meet Jesus in the air, and the hours or days or months before they descend from the staging area to attack Antichrist and his armies.
Please keep in mind that Satan already has been driven from his throne in the heavens to the earth, by the faithful brothers. Satan will be furious beyond description. Antichrist and the False Prophet also will be residing in the earth.
Woe unto those who have to live here while Christ and His army are preparing to descend.
"Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."(Revelation 12:12)
It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:28-30)
Why is it that so relatively few may be ready when the Lord appears? It is due, at least in part, to the monstrous perversion of Divine grace that is taught in our day.
Did you ever hear a preacher say, "God sees you through Christ. You are clothed in His righteousness. When you lie, God sees the truthfulness of Christ. When you fornicate, God sees the moral purity of Christ?"
It is true that when we first receive Christ, we and our family come under the protection of the Passover blood. This is so we will not be judged along with the world. God deals with our sin at a later time; but He does deal with it sooner or later. God simply cannot have fellowship with unrighteousness!
How many believers are proceeding blithely, unaware that they are not having fellowship with Christ because of their sinning?
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
"After we have received the knowledge of the truth."
But if just one person sins unintentionally, that person must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering.
The priest is to make atonement before the Lord for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made, that person will be forgiven.
One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner residing among you.
But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or foreigner, blasphemes the Lord and must be cut off from the people of Israel. Because they have despised the Lord's word and broken his commands, they must surely be cut off; their guilt remains on them. (Numbers 15:27-31)
The blood of Christ keeps us guiltless before God only when we are unaware we are sinning. But once the Spirit of God calls to our attention some sin we are committing, and we keep on without confessing and turning away from that sin, then we are guilty of willful sin.
There is no sacrifice in the Law of Moses or the new covenant for willful sin, only for sins committed unknowingly.
I understand there are false teachers and pastors in our day who will dispute what I have just written, insisting that God does not see the sins of Christian believers. Their destiny may be to dwell forever in the darkness with the people they have deceived.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)
I believe we are at a critical time of history, as far as the Gospel is concerned. No doubt there will be a great deal of suffering in America in the days to come. But that is a good thing, isn't it, because Peter has told us that when we suffer we cease from sin.
So there we have it. Our destiny is to appear with Christ and bring justice to the nations of the earth. God has given us ministries and gifts to make us "oaks of righteousness" so we can bring justice to the oppressed people of the world.
But I must say that one doesn't hear of many churches that are pressing the believers to seek God's will for what He wants them to do with their life. If this continues, not many people are going to be prepared to appear with Christ.
But what does the Bible say about Christ and those who are part of His Body?
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:4-6)
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:10,11)
Does the above sound like anything you would be interested in?
For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (I Timothy 4:8)
Godly character and behavior hold promise "for both the present life and the life to come"!