MUSINGS, BOOK ONE 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 following short articles are thoughts that have occurred to me through the years. Perhaps they will be a help to younger Christians who are making their way through the wilderness of the present world.
Table of Contents
MUSINGS, BOOK ONE
The Greatest JoyThe greatest joy or the greatest sorrow anyone can experience is to see, after he dies, the results of his life on the earth.
Two fairly strong impressions came to me as I was praying this morning
One had to do with the fact that after we die we will be able to see what happened to people in the world as a result of our life. My thought is that the greatest joy we will ever experience will result from being able to observe people who were encouraged to serve God because of what we did and said. The greatest torment we will ever experience will result from seeing people whose lives were destroyed because of what we did and said.
It is written of Jesus that He will see the travail of His soul and be satisfied. How wonderful to be at rest in the spirit realm and realize you were true to your loved ones and friends. Also, that other people were able to find a strong relationship with the Lord Jesus because of your example.
How frightening is the prospect of being able to observe a husband or wife, or children whom you betrayed. What remorse will tear your soul when you think of those who trusted in you, only to find they were relying on a self-centered, faithless person!
We will not need much more of a Heaven, or much more of a Hell, than the opportunity to contemplate the effect of our life on earth on other people. If you are reading these words you still may have a chance to insure that you will not experience unbearable agony of remorse when you pass into the spirit realm and God shows you what you left behind; or even worse, if the Lord reveals to you what could have been had you been faithful.
The supreme joy that can be set before us is the knowledge that when we do become invisible to people in this world, we can continue to see them growing in Christ, standing firm in faith and righteousness. We know one day we will be reunited with them.
Lets make sure today that we are creating this kind of future for ourselves. The opposite is too fearful to contemplate!
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. (I Thessalonians 2:19, 20)
Persisting in Immorality The nation or individual that persists in immorality will soon be destroyed.
The second strong impression was more familiar, because I have had it many times. It is the approach of catastrophe to our country. I even envisioned invasion, although I do not see how this would be possible. Yet two friends of mine have had dreams or visions of having to hide from enemy forces.
There is no doubt Divine judgment is resting on our nation. I have the feeling from the Lord that it will be worse than we can imagine.
The Lord has spoken to me consistently for some thirty years that America will experience great trouble, and yet in the midst of this trouble there will be an outpouring of His Spirit. Those who are willing to follow Christ and live righteously will save themselves and their loved ones; although I do not say they will not suffer, just that their faith will not be destroyed.
We Americans are like spoiled children. I suppose the rest of the world understands this. We have been given so much by the Lord. But we are wasting our talents on pleasure, on our own enrichment and satisfactions.
We are going to be punished for this. Such a beautiful land we have been given, and yet Hollywood is pouring moral filth through the great trunk lines of modern communication techniques. We are polluting the world, and so God has raised up enemies who are determined to destroy us.
We ask, "Why do so many of the peoples of the world hate America? We have been generous on many occasions, giving tons of food and supplies to needy countries."
No one can deny this.
But now we are using our mighty resources to insure that every American has access to all the pleasure and comfort he or she desires, including the opportunity to spend endless hours giggling at the antics of the depraved actors and actresses, the mindless gibberish of the situation comedies and talk shows.
How many people in the world are subsisting on the barest necessities of life?
Worse yet, how many people in the world are without the Gospel while the well-to-do American Christians are amusing themselves by jumping up and down next to their pews in anticipation of their supposed imminent deliverance from trouble?
I think the Lord has told me plainly that we are facing very difficult times in the days ahead. I cannot say how soon, only that trouble is on the way.
The wise individual will do everything in his or her power to serve Christ, making this the number one priority of his or her life.
The foolish believer will continue with his attempts to accumulate money in the hope of having several years of retirement living, doing nothing other than entertaining himself. His destruction will come suddenly and may include his loved ones. He has not been faithful to God. He has failed his generation, and men will burn him in the fire when he has been pruned from the Vine, from Christ.
We have failed the world, and the world will repay us without realizing it is exercising God's judgment.
And Ill say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." But God said to him, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?" (Luke 12:19, 20)
If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:6)
Wicked People Wicked people and babies have one thing in common: they seek their own welfare regardless of the harm to other people.
We are not particularly pleased with the idea of putting babies in context with wicked people, because babies are not wicked. However, it is true that babies seek their own welfare without regard to the welfare of their parents. Let the parents say "Amen"!
The wicked are older babies. They seek to fulfill their own desires no matter whom they hurt. Unlike babies, the wicked are able to do more than just cry.
One of the most tragic examples of an older baby is King Herod. He was so afraid he would lose his throne he had all the children two years old and younger killed. He gave no thought to the anguish of the mothers. Herod's welfare was at stake. Never mind how other people felt.
Adolf Hitler was another older baby. The Jews were an inconvenience to him, so kill them all. What did it matter how the Jewish people suffered? Adolf was not having his way, and this cannot be allowed to happen!
Do you know someone like that, a person who must be pleased no matter who suffers, who is inconvenienced? They are not pleasant to be around. Many believers are like this, because they still are living in the adamic nature.
One principal characteristic of the adamic nature is an insistence on seeking satisfaction at the expense of others. The relatives and friends of such an individual are continually being forced to make peace lest the older baby be displeased.
The world is building up to another conflict. The dogs of war are barking. Soon they will be biting. Why? Because there are people who could not care less about the welfare of others. They have goals they wish to accomplish, and they must get what they want no matter who is injured.
One of the main differences between an immature person and a mature person is the degree to which the individual is willing to suffer loss if it is necessary another person, or other people are to be suitably benefited. If we must be pleased no matter how other people are affected, we are a baby though we may be elderly in years.
If a marriage is to succeed, one or the other, or both partners, must be mature. If neither is mature, there will be endless strife as each person insists on having his or her own way.
The Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life that we might be set free from sin. Now it is our turn. Will we lay down our life that other people may be benefited?
If not, while other believers are receiving their crowns of glory and righteousness, the angels will hand us a diaper.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
The Most Powerful Witness We are approaching the most powerful witness of all time Christ working with His Body, empowered by a double portion of Gods Spirit. He has kept the best wine until now.
I realize the popular view of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation is that it is a portrayal of two bearded patriarchs from the Old Testament who will breathe fire on the nations. Various candidates have been mentioned, such as Moses, Elijah, Enoch, and Elisha.
There are at least two objections to the view that the last great witness will be given by saints from a lesser covenant.
First, the Lord said he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than the prophets.
Second, the background of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation is the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah.
The fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah presents one lampstand and two olive trees. The eleventh chapter of Revelation speaks of two lampstands and two olive trees.
The Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation portrays Christ. The two lampstands of Revelation represent Christ and His Body, His counterpart. The two olive trees symbolize the double portion of the Holy Spirit.
Students of the Tabernacle know full well that the solid-gold Lampstand can represent only Christ, only Christ. Gold speaks of Divinity. The Lampstand is the One anointed with the Holy Spirit of God. It is only as He is in us that we can be referred to as a lampstand, the light of the world.
The seven churches of the Book of Revelation partake of the Divinity of Christ. They are lampstands. They are the Presence of God in the earth, His witness.
Zechariah tells us the meaning of the lampstands and the olive trees. It is that the Temple of God will be completed, not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
The word to the churches of our day is: "You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses."
The most wonderful days imaginable are ahead of us. There is coming the revival of the spring rains. Prepare yourself to be greatly used of the Lord to bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation on the earth.
"Dear Jesus, we pray for the Holy Spirit. Send the power! Send the power! Send the power just now!"
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)
Minor Details If we are not diligent in taking care of the minor details, the minor details may become major issues!
In America we use an expression Dont sweat the small stuff. This means, keep focused on the major problems and dont be buried under details that eventually will solve themselves.
This often is good advice. We dont want to waste our time making mountains out of molehills. We dont want to be found counting paper clips when the dam is about to give way.
However, there is a substantial part of any enterprise that is made up of seemingly trivial details. The American pastor and his church board are faced with an array of details, such as safety precautions for all persons involved in the church; careful background checks and vaccinations of those who work with children; many safety requirements for all church field trips; meticulous accounting procedures for all handling of money; adequate liability and property insurance; a good rapport with the local community; property maintenance and so forth.
Some pastors are careful with details. Others like to occupy themselves with their sermons and other major undertakings, and figure the Lord will take care of the details.
Sometimes Christians schools are not careful when sending children on a field trip. Car or bus tires and brakes are not checked. Attention is not paid to insuring that every child has a seat belt. The record of the driver may not be checked to make certain there have been no speeding tickets.
The Lord will take care of the kids. Dont sweat the small stuff!
But then something happens. A volunteer falls off a ladder and there is no liability insurance. Someone with latent tuberculosis infects the babies in the nursery. A drunken driver crashes into a car carrying children on a field trip and three of the children do not have seat belts.
A van carrying young people has a blowout because of bald tires. An individual starts coming to the church and is eager to work with young children. Three months later parents complain that their children have been molested. The pastor has not been recording all the money that has been given. Expensive musical instruments have been stolen and no one was designated to make sure the doors are locked when the building is not in use. The people across the street have made a request of the church and have been arrogantly ignored. They take up the matter with the city council. A door comes loose from the hinges and falls on a small child.
Any one of these incidents could have been handled before it became a major issue, if the church officials had been diligent in taking care of details. We didnt feel we had the time or strength to take care of the details. We will find the time and strength after something happens!
The Lord will take care of it. Dont sweat the small stuff.
Right. The Lord will take care of it, but only after we have been diligent in taking care of the necessary details.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; (Romans 12:11KJV)
Amateur Christians There are amateur Christians who talk about Christ and lead their casual church lives. Then there are professional Christians, so to speak, who are struggling upward in the night as they seek Christ; seek Christ; seek Christ. It takes all the determination we possess if we are to keep up with the Holy Spirit as He prepares us to be joined to Christ.
There are householders who plant grass. This does not make them a farmer.
There are people who cook dinner. But this does not make them a chef.
There are individuals who know first aid. But this does not make them a doctor.
All of us can do many things. But the professional is someone whose life is focused on one area of expertise. It is his livelihood, and he has spent many hours disciplining himself so he can make a success of his chosen vocation.
The same applies to the Christian life. There are amateur Christians. They usually (but not always) are members of a church. They sing Christian songs. They talk Christian talk. They go to church on Sunday morning and listen to the Pastor hold forth on a subject that is close to his heart.
Among these amateur Christians there are a few professionals.
They often are church members. They sing Christian songs. They talk Christian talk. They go to church on Sunday morning and listen to the Pastor.
But such activities are the least part of their commitment to Jesus Christ.
They are like the Apostle Paul. They forget what is behind. They press, press, press forward with all their might. Day and night they are consumed with the Lord Jesus. They always are praying, always are thinking about the Word of God.
You know, there are rewards for such intense diligence of which the amateur Christians understand little. There are thrones to be gained thrones that one day will govern all the works of Gods hands.
There is a body to be received at the Day of Resurrection, a body like that of the Lord Jesus. The amateur Christians suppose because of their token commitment they will be arrayed in royal splendor. The Bible does not promise this.
There are people to inherit. We speak of streets of gold and backyards full of diamonds. This is nonsense. Money and mineral wealth will have little value in the world to come. Loving relationship are what make Heaven heavenly.
Best of all, there is a place in the Center of Gods Person that is home to the fervent saint. This is where Jesus always is, along with all who have forsaken all to follow Him.
The amateur Christian may be spared Hell and be permitted to be a citizen of the new eternal world of righteousness that will be created in the future. But he or she will never comprehend the wealth of God that has been promised to the overcomer.
And so the professionals struggle upward in the night while most of the Christians are tending to their fleshly pursuits.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
"I Dont Know You!" The Lord Jesus knew there would be wicked people who would be active in Christian work. This is why He warned those who prophesied in His name, drove out demons, and worked many miracles, that He did not know evildoers and would drive them from His Presence.
According to the four Gospel accounts, the Epistles of the Apostles, and the Book of Revelation, God wants people to be righteous, holy, and obedient to God. The Apostle Paul went so far as to tell the believers that if they lived according to their sinful nature they would not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Yet today we do not hear much preaching about living righteously but about the grace of forgiveness, about going to Heaven to live forever, and about how we soon will be caught up to Heaven to avoid suffering and the rule of Antichrist.
There are sundry other topics that are stressed, such as the need to get other people saved, the benefit of giving liberally to ones church, and how Christians can live a fulfilled life.
The various topics that are preached are based on the concept that once we accept Christ our need to live righteously has been set to one side in favor of believing Christ has saved us.
Our assurance of going to Heaven to live forever is based on the idea that even though we do not behave righteously, Christ has saved us and we have been forgiven all our sin.
The same is true of being caught up to Heaven and the need to get other people saved. The concept is that we have been forgiven and are on our way to Heaven, and we are indebted to other people to tell them about the free ride to Heaven.
But what if the current preaching is incorrect? What if Christ is more concerned about our behavior than He is about our frequent declarations of faith and our efforts in ministry? What if it really is true that we can prophesy, cast out demons, and work miracles in His name, and yet be driven from His Presence if we are living a sinful life?
I know at least one prominent minister of the Gospel who has a reputation for sending out his workers to persuade widows to make out their wills to him. My own wife was saved in a meeting in which the evangelist, it was determined later, was a fornicator. How many of todays prominent and less prominent ministers of the Gospel are covetous, dishonest, immoral, or arrogant, and yet are seeking to be preeminent in church work? How many pastors are watching pornography on the Internet?
Is it really true that the New Testament is about godly behavior, or is it about going to Heaven by forgiveness? Which is emphasized, the grace of forgiveness or godly behavior?
I wonder how many are willing to search the New Testament and find out.
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:20, 21)
A Sense of Gods Timing One of the great needs we have in Christian work is for a sense of Gods timing.
One can notice some unusual features of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ that is, unusual compared with the way we do things today.
One is the fact that He would go where there were many people waiting to be healed and would touch only one.
A second is that He would tell people whom He healed not to tell anyone. Our thought today is that you should tell everyone when a miracle is performed. Get the word out!
A third unusual feature is His statement concerning the parable of the sower. I was taught in Bible school that Jesus spoke in parables so people would remember what He said. But the Lord explained that He taught in parables so people would not understand Him, because if they did they would be forgiven.
When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables, so that, they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven! (Mark 4:10-12)
You know, the above is really troubling. We would not accept today that Christ spoke in parables so people would not understand and be forgiven. Although God said this, we would find a way around it.
I am not certain the problem here is merely that we do not have a feel for Gods timing. This is true in many instances. But there is something deeper here. There appears to be a democratic, humanistic spirit that has infiltrated Christian thinking such that we cannot accept Gods way. This may be symptomatic of a deep rebellion against God, an unwillingness to let God be God and save and heal whom He will in the manner He chooses.
There is something fundamentally off base in the Christian approach to the Kingdom of God. We do not care about Gods will or His demand for righteousness, only in enabling people to escape Hell and go to a place of joy.
I truly wonder how many Christian leaders of today would be willing to face the fact that we may not know what we are doing!
Then he touched their eyes and said, According to your faith will it be done to you; And their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, See that no one knows about this. (Matthew 9:29,30)
Similar to a Nazarite The true Christian is to be similar to a Nazarite in dedication to God.
Sometimes you will hear Christians say they are not sure whether it is permissible to drink beer, or to play golf on Sunday, or to go to the movies, or to swear just a little, or to smoke one cigarette.
I am not commenting whether these activities are good or bad. That is not my point. The point is, this is not how the victorious saint speaks. Rather he is trying to find out how much more of Christ he can gain, not what he can do and still not go to Hell.
One can read in the Old Testament about the Nazirite. The Nazirite of his free will chose to make a vow of holiness to the Lord. During the time of his vow he could not drink or eat anything from the grapevine not even raisins. He could not cut his hair. He could not go near a dead body, not even that of his father, mother, sister, or brother. If someone died suddenly in his presence, he was regarded as having sinned because he was in the presence of a dead body. He had to bring a lamb as a sin offering, and the prior days of his vow did not count because he became defiled during his separation.
We Americans of today are so accustomed to judging everything in terms of our own comfort, even God, we would view such a religious practice as grossly unfair. It would never occur to us that the God we worship (actually the Lord Jesus Christ, for He was the Lord of the Old Testament) gave this ritual, and therefore it must be righteous and holy. How could it be otherwise if it was the Lord who issued the ordinance?
But we American Christians are haughty, proud, thinking we know all about God and Christ, and actually understanding nothing at all. We have boiled down the majestic Gospel of the Kingdom until it consists of four steps of salvation, which we are to take and by virtue of this undemanding ritual become great kings and lords who will govern the creation for eternity.
We say we are not under law but under grace. By this we mean we have been forgiven and are under no law. We do not realize the law of the Spirit of life is infinitely more comprehensive and demanding than the Ten Commandments. Marriage to the Lamb requires that we enter the rest of God, the abiding place in the Center of Gods Person and Presence where our entire personality becomes part of the will of God.
Will we ever gain understanding of the Kingdom of God? I think we shall. But it will not happen until Divine judgment so changes the American way of life that we have to look to the Lord Jesus Christ for every breath we breathe.
Wonderful days are ahead of us in America days of awesome opportunity and terrible danger. Those who are modern-day Nazarites as it were, wholly dedicated to God, will have incredible experiences of Divine Glory. Those who try to keep one foot in the Gospel and one in the world will be hung between Heaven and earth, as was Absalom, until they are pierced through with the Antichrist spirit they have chosen.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)
In Heaven or On the Earth By ascending into Heaven, Jesus showed us that once our flesh and bones have been raised we can, at our will, be in Heaven or on the earth.
You know, we Christians need to give a lot more thought to being raised from the dead.
The original Gospel was the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, the resurrection of the dead to be judged.
Then, because of Eastern influences, the Gospel was changed to the going of the dead to Heaven.
I dont know when the overemphasis on grace entered our religion, but the effect has been that Christians need have no worry of being judged after they die because their judgment was completed on the cross.
In the middle of the last century the doctrine of the rapture was added, completely wiping out any thought of the resurrection of the dead. Who needs to worry about being resurrected from the dead when we already have been eternally forgiven and are in Heaven walking on streets of gold?
The above is a witches brew if there ever was one. Anyone with brains would predict that such a vision of the future would produce people of little spiritual and moral growth.
The Lord is restoring truth today. Now we understand, from the Scriptures, that the goal and destiny of the saints is not eternal residence in Heaven but on the earth: first on the present earth when the Lord returns, and then on the new earth.
As for the overemphasis on grace and the concept that the judgment of Christians was completed on the cross, the truth is our sins were forgiven on the cross, but our salvation consists of a baptism with fire that burns away our worldliness, our sinful lusts, and most importantly of all our self-will and self-centeredness.
As far as the rapture is concerned, it is a deception designed to keep the saints from preparing for trouble. We indeed shall be caught up into the air when the last trumpet sounds, but it is so we can meet Christ in the air and return with Him along with the victorious saints of history. The catching-up is not for the purpose of bringing us to Heaven.
The blessed hope of the Church is not the rapture, it is the resurrection. It is the resurrection, the overcoming of the last enemy, that is the climax of redemption.
Perhaps the most needed of all the truths being restored is that how we have lived the Christian life will determine the kind of resurrection we experience. Some will experience incredible glory. Some will reap partial glory, and others less than that.
Some will receive no house from Heaven to clothe their resurrected flesh and bones and will be sent to whatever place Christ decides.
Christian, it is well worth your while to lay aside all else and serve the Lord with all your heart. You may not be alive tomorrow. But one thing is certain: you will be raised from the dead in your flesh and bones and you will receive at that time the eternal life, or the sin, that you have practiced.
This is what the Bible says.
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)
Holiness is addictive The closer we draw to God the more we desire to draw even closer.
I love holiness. How about you?
I think in the ordinary mind holiness is associated with individuals cloistered away from people and giving themselves to prayer and meditation, or with peculiarities of dress or behavior. Cathedrals and other kinds of churches are often regarded as holy.
I have a different understanding of holiness.
I picture holiness beginning at the Center of Gods person and proceeding outward in concentric circles. The closer to the Center the more holy a person is.
Righteousness has to do with our relationships with people. Holiness has to do with our relationship with God.
It appears from the Bible that while God requires righteousness of every person, holiness is a calling. Aaron was called to be the high priest of Israel, and as such was holier than everyone else. It wasnt that Aaron acted in a certain manner and therefore God called him to be close to Himself, it was, as nearly as we know, an arbitrary choice on Gods part. It was after he was selected that Aaron was required to act and dress in a specified manner.
On the other hand, the Nazirite chose to take a vow and act in a holy manner.
Every true Christian has been chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ. We did not choose Christ, in this sense, Christ chose us. No person can come to Christ and be chosen except as the Father draws him or her.
You would think today that being a Christian operates on some kind of democratic process, or random responses. Not so. No person can believe in Christ and be saved apart from Gods direction. It seems like we are making the decision, but it is God who is working in us to will and to do His pleasure.
The proper name for a Christian is saint. Saint means holy one. To be a saint is to be called out from among the remainder of mankind to be especially close to God.
Sometimes the Jews are heard to complain that they have suffered because God has made them a people separated to Himself. Some Jews would just as soon sell their birthright, I think, if they could be more accepted by the people of the world.
The same is true of Christians. Christians sometimes resent the fact that other people can smoke, drink, swear, go to filthy movies, gamble, and do whatever else they please. They would just as soon sell their birthright, like Esau, if they could satisfy their hunger for the world.
Of all the foolish attitudes people can have, the highest place belongs to those who wish they had not been called to be saints.
How wonderful to be called to live in the Center of the Consuming Fire of Israel. How utterly marvelous to be one with God, to partake of His Holy Spirit. Nothing compares with such a state of being absolutely nothing!
Holiness is addictive. Once we get a taste of what it means to be part of God and His holiness, we crave more and more and more.
I understand such a craving is a gift; but if we do not have it, I am certain God would not be displeased if we asked for it!
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. (I Peter 1:15,16)
God Wants Us To Pray God is so powerful and abundant in resources that He always is glad for us to call on Him for help with the least matter, every minute of every day and night.
I think sometimes we dont want to bother God. We have some little problem in our life, such as someone we see each day who bothers us, or we have a little sore on our finger, or the clerk in the store wasnt polite to us, and we think, I dont want to ask God about this. It is too small a matter. God is trying to run the universe and I certainly am not going to bother Him with such a trivial matter.
There are two things we dont understand. We do not understand the greatness of Gods power, and we do not understand how willing yes, anxious He is to have us call on Him.
It is hard to believe God has so much power that He can raise everyone who has ever lived on the earth, reassembling their flesh and bones even if they have been vaporized by an atomic explosion. We stagger at this thought, until we contemplate that at one Word of Christ all of the sky, outer space, and all the bodies of the firmament will pass away, and after that Christ will call into existence a new sky and a new earth.
In other words, we always are coming short of the glory of God.
Life is made up mostly of details. There are large issues, to be sure. Sometimes we are wise enough to ask God if we should move; if we should change our job; if we should get married, and to whom; if we should get an operation; if we should buy a house.
But think of the number of details we face each day, the numerous decisions we make from the time we get up until we go to bed at night!
It may be true that the poorer we are the fewer decisions we have to make. If we have only one suit or one dress we dont have to decide which one to wear.
But even the poorest of people have to decide whether to go here or there, what to do if they feel sick, what friends they want to be with, whether to remain angry with someone or forgive them, what to do if their car breaks down (if they have a car), whether to accept a particular job.
Sometimes people, even Christians, enter marriage because of their passions without asking God about it. Later they may regret what they have done.
Do you realize God wants us to ask Him about everything we do, say, and think? God wants to be in every one of our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
You might think such a relationship is impossible. It is not. It is waiting for you to take advantage of it. God wants you to pray about everything you do, to pray without ceasing.
God has the time, the willingness, and the power to help you with the least of the details of your life.
As soon as you wake up in the morning call on the Lord. Call on the Lord as you are putting on your shoes. Call on the Lord when you wash your face and brush your teeth. Call on the Lord when you are eating breakfast. If you have no food, ask the Lord for food. Ask the Lord to improve your situation if you are desperately poor.
Dont try to speak words of faith or to practice other sorts of metaphysics. Dont use some kind of formula. Call out to God in Jesus name and He will help you.
God wants to be with you and help you. Do you want to be that close to God?
Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:24)
Like Father, Like Son I want to be just like my Father in Heaven. Dont you?
The Lord Jesus came to forgive our sins so we could be acceptable to God. This does not mean we have changed; it means rather that Gods sense of justice has been satisfied. Now He can receive us.
Next He works with us through the Holy Spirit until our personality is pleasing to God.
The Lord Jesus is our elder Brother. He rejoices greatly when He can bring another son to the Father. Christ brings us to His God and our God; to His Father and our Father.
Getting to know the Father is the most wonderful opportunity available to mankind.
The Apostle Paul spoke of getting to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings. This has been my lifelong goal.
Lately it seems Christ has been making me more aware of the Father.
You know, it often is true that religion does not correctly portray God sometimes this is true even of the Christian religion.
I dont think the ordinary person in America is repulsed by God or Christ. I think the ordinary person is repulsed by what he sees of religion and sometimes by the way Christian people behave.
The Hollywood-style flashy approach to evangelism is distasteful. Unsaved people know instinctively that this is a money-making racket. I know numerous individuals accept Christ under the ministry of such evangelists. Nevertheless, such showiness is not a true witness of God.
There seems, at least in our day, to be a distinction between ministering and bearing witness.
The pleading for money is certainly a poor testimony. Is God impoverished that His servants have to accompany their service with drawn-out appeals for money? Is this a true testimony of the Creator of Heaven and earth, or is the minister building something of his or her own choice?
Can you imagine a prominent evangelist sending out his agents to persuade widows to change their wills in favor of the evangelist? Can you imagine the evangelist investing in real estate and begging for money from old people who share a can of cat food with their cat? Is this a picture of our Father in Heaven? Does He endorse such behavior?
Think of the heretics who have been murdered by the Christian churches, or the other mean things that have taken place in the name of Christ. Think of the cathedrals surrounded by poverty.
Other religions are not exempt. Many of us know of Aztec human sacrifice. Today the Muslim people, although they claim the Koran does not teach this, and I believe them, are associated with the murder of innocent people in several countries of the world, including Pakistan and the Philippines.
Why do people who claim to be serving God do the works of Satan? It is as the Lord Jesus said to the Jews of His day, You are of your father, the devil, and the works of your father you will do.
The Lord Jesus is the perfect witness of the true Nature of our Father in Heaven. He received and loved little children. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil. He made no appeals for money. He was a simple, plain Man at home with the lowliest of people.
This is what our Father in Heaven is like. He is not actually represented by any religion I know of, including the Christian religion.
The trend today among some Evangelical churches is to market the Gospel. Can you imagine using modern marketing techniques to persuade people (whether or not the Father is drawing them to Christ), to join our group so we can be heralded as a church-growth expert? It does get a bit much at times!
The Kingdom of God is created as the living Word is sown in the hearts of people. Sometimes no evidence of germination is shown for ten years. How then can a minister preach and invite closure by inviting people to accept Christ, and then count them as saved? Is this what the New Testament teaches us to do? Is this what Jesus did? Is this how God works?
You know, we need to love our Father in Heaven and look to Him constantly that we might portray to all people His true Personality. Then we need look to Him for our proper place of ministry, not taking anything for granted.
Unless I am mistaken, there is going to be a great need in America in the near future for the average person to come to know God through Jesus Christ. People are going to need help surviving the chaos we are facing.
But where are the American people to find God? Wont it have to be through people like you and me?
Lets you and I be counted among those who are becoming more like our Father each day. The Lord Jesus will help us do just that.
All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)
Periods of Opportunity There come periods of unique opportunity in the Kingdom of God. In the present hour the fullness of the inheritance is available. Who will take advantage of the Divine offering?
I suppose one of our problems as Christians is we imagine the great moves of God took place in the past or will take place in the future. Tremendous miracles and visitations took place in the past. The coming of the Lord in the future will put an end to our ordinary life. All will be different and marvelous. Today is business as usual.
My guess is that an inability to see the opportunities of ones own time has always been true. I doubt the Israelites following Moses had any idea how significant their pilgrimage was to prove to be. And as for the villagers and officials of the time of Jesus of Nazareth I seriously doubt they had any concept that the God of Sinai was trudging along their dusty streets.
How do you feel about this? Do you suppose they would have acted differently if they had understood the Rabbi from Nazareth was the Lord of Israel?
How about the weak Pilate who went against his own conscience in order to protect his position in the Roman Empire? What would he have done had he known he was judging his Creator? His wife tried to warn him!
We understand the Jews had in mind that when Christ came he would re-establish the Throne of David. They missed the day of their visitation because they were not hearing from God in prayer.
It is a continuing marvel to me how different living in Christ can be from the pursuit of religious activities.
Lets think about today. What is available now, not what it will be like when the Glory of almighty God appears in Heaven and the angels descend surrounding the huge emerald cross in the sky (if that is what is going to take place),
We have believers jumping up and down next to their pews, practicing for an unscriptural rapture.
We have an extraordinary emphasis on getting souls saved and church growth. I am not certain how much of this emphasis is from the Lord. I know it is a good thing to get souls saved, but how about some growth taking place in those who already are church members?
Do we Christians actually know what we are doing, or are we guessing and making assumptions? Maybe it would be a good idea to find out what Christ is doing.
First of all, we have to believe Christ is active today and has some ideas of His own. I wonder what they are? Maybe they are not the same as what we imagine. It would be something if we are spending all this energy and building babylon instead of the Kingdom of God!
Ill tell you what I think Christ is telling us today. I think He is saying we are in the time He spoke of when He said many who are last shall be first. I think we are in the time of the spring rain. I think we are in the time of the greater works. I think we are in the time of the best wine.
I believe also, if I am hearing the Lord correctly, that He wants some of us, at least, to slow down and listen until we are able to flow with the Life of God. I dont think we have to strain over working Gods works. The Lord didnt strain or fret when He was here. He kept away from people during the night and listened to what God had to say to Him. Personally, I think on many occasions He slept up in the woods. If He had stayed in the homes of people they would have talked so much He would not have been able to hear what the Father wanted Him to do the next day.
What is God saying to us today? I think He is telling us the great Thrones of Glory, the thrones of the Kingdom of God, are waiting for us to decide we want Gods will more than our own. I think they are available now as never before.
It is interesting how one can miss the day of his or her visitation. Think about the average villager in the days of Christ. What an opportunity to make an effort to get close to God. It staggers the mind!
If I am not mistaken, we are in a greater period today. The Bible is opening up. Mysteries that have been hidden to wise men, prophets, and commentaries are being made so plain the most ordinary of us can see the vast panorama of Gods eternal plan in Christ.
What a vast plan it is! It makes our traditional profess Christ and go to Heaven to live forever seem to be a pitiful patchwork of religious guesswork. When we come to Christ we can drink deeply of His Divine Life until we can see the enormous scope and the simplicity of the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom opportunities of today are to be taken at the flood. The person who ventures all in God will gain all. Whoever is willing to give the best he or she has will be given the best God has. And the best God has surpasses our most glorious imaginations.
We must be close to the return of Christ; for when one looks up to see what the heavens are telling us there is beauty; there is music; there is dancing; there is a new world of righteousness, peace, and joy, in the Holy Spirit.
The point is, however, that right now each believer is invited to let go his grasp on the present world culture and spend time getting acquainted with Jesus. He is willing to bring us to His Father and His God. He has a special place in His Kingdom for each one of us.
You know, it doesnt matter whether we will sit on a mighty throne governing much of the creation; or serving in a minor position. God is not impressed with greatness but with faithfulness. We will be totally joyous and fulfilled as long as we are where He wants us.
Dont let the present hour pass until you are certain you are hearing from the Lord Jesus Christ and are doing His will perfectly. In the future the love of the majority will grow cold. But this need not be the case with you. You can press forward until you lay hold on that to which God has appointed you. If you turn many to righteousness you will shine as a star to the ages of ages.
Can you hear me? God said you will shine as a star.
I dont know exactly what that means, but I am certain it will far, far surpass any state of glory we can envision at the present.
Whoever is willing to set aside his own life and press through to victory in Christ will inherit all the works of Gods hands.
Are you one such determined individual?
Repent, then, and turn to God, so your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, And that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. (Acts 3:19-21)
Eternal Security The doctrine of eternal security proceeds from an arrogant, rebellious spirit.
It is clear from the New Testament that any one of us can choose to walk away from the grace of salvation. Given the numerous passages that reveal that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling, how can we account for the fact that many sincere, intelligent Christians subscribe to the doctrine of the security of the believer?
If it is in an attempt to soothe the anxiety of fearful believers, then we would suggest this is not a satisfactory device. It is not connected to spiritual reality.
One time I was admitted to the hospital because of pain in the region of my chest. The examining physician was a young man. In order to allay my fears of a heart attack, he told me the pain almost certainly was a digestive malfunction. He inquired about the intensity of my working day. When I told him, he was positive that indigestion was my problem. Then he gave me some excellent suggestions as to diet, pace of work, and so forth. He was benevolence itself and was ready to send me home.
Meanwhile an older man, an orderly, had taken a blood sample to the laboratory. When he came back, they wheeled my bed upstairs and put me in a room in the coronary unit.
It seems hospitals can tell from enzymes in the blood whether there has been heart damage and there was.
The point is this: the young doctor was anxious to relieve my anxiety about a heart attack. However, before the week was out I was sent to surgeons who inserted two stents in a main artery. I was close to death. Thirty percent of men die from their first heart attack.
If you are tired in the morning you can set your clock back four hours. If you get up at six oclock, set the hands back to two oclock. That way you get four more hours sleep. Right?
The problem is, it really is six oclock and not two in the morning. Your technique did not change reality.
So assuring the lukewarm believer that he or she has nothing to worry about because of eternal security may give temporary relief, but there is a day of reckoning ahead.
The same is true of those who are trying to hoist God on Pauls statements in Romans, Chapters Three through Five.
The wages of sin is spiritual death. This is written to the believer, not to the unsaved. No amount of theological contortions will ever alter this fundamental truth one iota.
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (II Peter 2:20, 21)
Who Are the Brothers of Christ? Who are the brothers of Christ? Those who choose to do God's will.
Several times in the New Testament the brothers of Christ are mentioned:
The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)
Jesus said, Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God. (John 20:17)
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (Hebrews 2:11)
I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.
I do not know of any other religion in which God referred to His followers as His brothers. Do you?
The Lord Jesus spoke of the almighty God as His God and His Father. True enough!
But then to state almighty God is our Father and our God makes us the true brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no getting around it! We are genuine brothers of Christ.
Of course, the writer of the Book of Hebrews already said Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers because we are of the same family as He.
I am not sure we make enough of this fact in these days; not that we should be glorifying in the fact that we are sons of God. Jesus didnt!
I have always liked the verse that says God foreknew some people and predestined them to be brothers of Christ. This idea is not popular in our democracy. We would say the idea that God would know in advance certain people and predestine them to be in the image of His Son is not politically correct. Thats unfortunate, because it is what God has written.
Because we are true brothers of Christ we have to be changed into His image. We cant go around in the image of the devil and claim to be brothers of Christ. This is ridiculous! We must submit to the Holy Spirit as He changes us.
If we claim to be a Christian, a brother of Christ, and then act in a hateful, malicious manner, what are people to think? If we as a Christian engage in activities that are immoral, will other people think Jesus is like this?
No, they will not. Good people (and there are lots of them in the world of all nationalities) know God when they see Him; and all our religious posturing fools no one but ourselves.
The people of the world will be judged on the basis of how they treated the Lords brothers. Personally, I believe this goes all the way back to Abel and other heroes of faith. There always have been people who have shown forth the righteousness of God in their lives, and it is possible they would be counted as brothers of Christ, in this special sense.
Of all the criteria that might be employed to identify the brothers of Christ, I think the Lords statement while He was speaking to the crowd may be definitive.
You remember Jesus mother and brothers were standing outside (evidently this episode took place in a house.) Somebody told the Lord that His family members wanted to speak to Him.
His reply was astonishing: Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
Whoever does the will of my Father in Heaven!
Would you have answered like this if your family was wishing to talk to you? Would I?
Maybe his family thought He was getting too worn out and needed to rest. Lets use a little wisdom here this sort of thing.
I dont know, of course. But it does show you how immature we are. I think we probably regard our own blood or married family as being closer to us than people we dont know who are performing Gods will. Is this possible?
If it is, we have some growing to do. For Christ, and nothing else, is our Example!
I dont think the Lord is impressed about our crying grace grace as much as He is our doing His will faithfully and consistently. How do you feel about this?
Do you want to be a brother of Christ? Do I? Then we need to pray for the strength and wisdom to perform Gods perfect will on every occasion.
He replied to him, Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Pointing to his disciples, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother. (Matthew 12:48-50)
We Belong to God Before We Belong to Christ We belong to God before we belong to Christ!
This is nothing more than a point of interest, and I do not wish to belabor it. I guess it is more real to me than to most people because of the way I came to Christ.
I was not raised in a Christian home. But I always believed in God. I can remember praying while a boy. I trusted there was a God and I hoped my prayers would be answered.
I knew little or nothing about Jesus Christ. Christmas was for toys and Easter was for chocolate eggs.
At the age of eighteen I came to a philosophical dead end and saw no meaning to life. I prayed that if there were a God, He would show me and give me faith. I needed some kind of goal, something that would make sense to what seemed to be a pointless existence.
A fellow Marine explained the Gospel to me. This gave meaning to life, but now there was an issue. Should I transfer the hope and trust I had in almighty God, to Jesus Christ? Maybe that never was an issue with you, but it was with me.
I decided that if this is what God wanted, I would do it. And so I did. In obedience to God I began to pray to Jesus Christ. I transferred my worship to Christ.
I belonged to God before I belonged to Christ.
Perhaps this is the reason the Father is so real to me. I wonder sometimes if Christians realize there is a Father who is not the same Person as Jesus.
Now, having been a Christian for some fifty-seven years, both Jesus and the Father are real to me. The Lord Jesus is as an elder Brother who is helping me please my Father and become more like Him each day.
The following passages are very real to me. How about you?
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. (John 14:1)
I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:6-9)
Perfectly Human Christ makes us perfectly human. Sin makes us less than human. Religion can also, if we are not careful.
I guess the problem is, what do we mean by human?
By human I mean we have an understanding of people, a sense of humor, we are friendly, we have integrity and honor our contracts. We are the kind of person you would want to have living next door to you.
We are merciful. We are honest and helpful. Our neighbors know we can be counted on to assist them if they are in trouble, if we are able to do so. We are kindly, and as sociable as our type of personality allows.
Sin can make us less than human. When we read in the paper today of some of the actions of people, we wonder if they indeed are human. Recently there was a rash of the rape and murder of young girls. The little girls were used, and then thrown in the bushes like so much garbage. Such behavior is worse than that of an animal.
We read of thieves stealing toys that were donated so poor children would have a merry Christmas. There have been incidents in which the boyfriends of divorced women have beaten or shaken a baby to death; or, in one case, put the baby in hot water until it died. Animals have been tortured for no reason other than to amuse their torturers.
I wonder if such behavior takes place in countries other than America. Is the brutalizing of women, children, and animals taking place in other parts of the world? God help us all!
Sin makes us less than human. Religion can too. How many Christians have been martyred by other Christians because they would not agree with the teaching of a particular sect. This is a reason to murder someone? How long have the Christians in Ireland been at each others throats?
When you think of the ruler of the synagogue being indignant because Jesus healed a woman who had been bent over for eighteen years, you can begin to understand how religion can make us less than human.
Come back next week and get healed, he directed, not on the Sabbath. Can you imagine such inhumanity and after eighteen years!
Sometimes Christians lose the common touch. They think and act like they are better than non-Christians. The Lord Jesus was not like this. He was a friend of sinners. He was at home among the lowliest of people, and He wants us to be at home among the lowliest of people.
The religious leaders of His day were not pleased with the Lords willingness to associate with sinners. Who, then, were the greatest sinners?
Christians sometimes suppose they are Gods pets. They imagine their arrogant behavior is excusable because they make a profession of Christ. On occasion there is something not quite human, not natural, about the behavior of Christians.
The truth is, each of us has a debt to pay to the unsaved. Since we have been called to be members of Gods governing priesthood, we are obligated to show in ourselves Gods Person and will. We are to be the servants of all.
The true saint grows more human each day, able to understand, think like, and get along with the most ordinary people.
The Lord Jesus Christ is a perfectly human Person. He is our example. Let us be just like Him in every way possible.
In this way, love is made complete among us so we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. (I John 4:17)
Flowing With the Life of God The highest state of being available to man is to flow with the Life of God. This means Christ must deliver us from all other motivations and urges.
The Lord Jesus invited us to abide in Him. This is a simple request, isnt it? When we try to just rest in the Lord we find many forces seek to tear us down from our high place in God. Some of these forces are external, such as worries about the future or the health of our family. Others are internal, such as the desire to be accepted in the Antichrist world system of the needless acquisition of a surplus of money. It is easy to forget, in America at least, that the true saints are in the world but not of the world.
Sometimes we are driven with physical lust, or the desire for preeminence or fame, or fear, or a compulsion to be perfect (according to our own standards). In America, some people eat too much food while others starve themselves to be fashionable. There are men who are driven by the desire to be tough, or to excel in the martial arts. Americans are sometimes thought of as being dedicated to violence.
There are numerous urges and motives that drive us, as well as an abundance of pressures from the outside. I do not know how it is in other countries and cultures, but in America there are many distractions and worries, including opportunities for personal advancement of one kind or another.
Yet, the Lord Jesus invites us merely to abide in Him. I say merely, understanding how difficult of fulfillment is this simple, straightforward request.
In the Christian churches there often is this pressure to do things for God. It seems there hardly is a church where the members are directed to wait on the Lord, to be still and know God is God. There are social problems to correct; there is a world that is full of sinners who are sliding into Hell every day; there is a new sanctuary to be built. There is always something, it seems.
Americans tend to be doers rather than meditative philosophers. There may be countries where the person given to meditation and tranquility is honored, but this is not the chief characteristic of Americans. Why do you sit there? Dont you know the world is going to Hell? Do something!
A certain amount of ambition is healthy, and there are many needs worthy of our attention. But our chief duty is to abide in Christ, to flow with the Life of God in every area of our being and doing.
Abiding in Christ is a continually dynamic enterprise. As soon as we find rest in Christ at one point, He steps back and says, Abide in Me here. We always are being challenged to abide in Him, to rest in Him. Have you found this to be true in your life?
Every idol in our life, every cherished dream, desire, or possession, has the potential to get us out of our rest in God. The Holy Spirit always is dealing with some aspect of our being or behavior, teaching us to release what we are clutching. It is impossible to flow with the Life of God while we are clutching a relationship, a thing, or a circumstance. We must let go and let God have His wonderful way.
There is no state of being more to be desired than that of simply abiding in Christ; flowing with the Life of God. The Book of Hebrews refers to this state as Gods rest. At the beginning of the world, God has assigned to each of us a specific role in His Kingdom. Then God rested. Our principal task in life is to cease from our own works and enter Gods plan for our life.
A simple, simple invitation. But because of the multitude of forces within and without, a lifelong struggle.
Labor to enter that rest. At first glance, somewhat contradictory concepts. But oh so true in actual practice!
For anyone who enters Gods rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10,11)
The Wicked Are the Greatest Fools of All The wicked are certain evil will prevail; that they are wiser than God. They are the greatest fools of all!
You know, one of the greatest problems Christians have is that of seeing the wicked prosper. This especially true if the wickedness is causing harm to the Christian.
The believer sees the perversity as the wicked (sometimes a professing Christian) gets away with unjust actions, and yet boasts royally of being a fine person, or a fine, upright Christian.
This is hard to take! Here you are, being hurt by the actions of this older baby, and God doesnt remove him or her from the earth. In fact, the unrighteous actually are prospering in the things they are saying and doing. Their tongue walks through the earth as they slander those who patiently are looking to the Lord.
The 37th Psalm cautions us not to fret when we see the wicked prospering. This is very difficult and requires much prayer if we are to cease fretting.
Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (Psalms 37:1, 2)
Fretting tears us down from our high place in God.
We are approaching an age of moral and physical horrors. God wants us positioned solidly at His right hand in Christ. Here we are to remain throughout the coming troubles.
Satan will parade his actions before us constantly in the hope we will disobey God by looking at Satan rather than Christ. Even though Satan may not be able to seduce us into sin, he still gains victory over us as we become angry, fuming about the injustice of Satans actions. We lose the sweet perfume of Christ when we do this.
God is using the wicked to get you out of your little, familiar dollhouse. You have known about the house of God. Now God is acquainting you with the God of the house of God.
But first there are these miserable trials and perplexities. Will they never end!
If you take the fretting Psalm, the 37th Psalm, and turn the numbers around, you have the 73rd Psalm. This also is about our attitude toward wicked people.
A psalm of Asaph. Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits. They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. (Psalms 73:1-9)
If you are being tested in the realm of fretting over wickedness, you will recognize Asaphs distress.
Notice that Asaph realized that God is good to Israel, to the pure in heart.
But if this is the case, what about the bad people who were prospering? Asaph was so foolish as to envy them as they paraded around in their arrogance.
Asaph couldnt make any sense of this situation. It was too depressing for him to dwell on it. Then Asaph went to prayer.
When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (Psalms 73:16,17)
The wicked are the greatest fools of all. They ought to know God is not going to bless them in their wickedness, that there is a day of reckoning coming. But they are blind to this fact. God has not given them a heart of understanding.
God warns us not to avenge ourselves. It is not that those who have harmed us will not be punished; they indeed shall be. But God wants us to walk joyously with Christ and ignore the posturings of the wicked, knowing that God will avenge us in His time. Vengeance belongs to God, not to us!
Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. (Psalms 73:18-20)
It is necessary offenses come, the Lord Jesus said. Why is it necessary offenses come? It is so the righteous will be pressed closer to Christ; closer to Christ; closer to Christ. Actually, the wicked are doing you a favor.
If we really knew what was going on we would say to those who are harming us, Thank you so much for helping me get closer to Christ. On the other hand, maybe we better not. They might take it the wrong way.
So no more fretting! If California declares home-schooling illegal, as they seem to be threatening to do, then we do not fret. We say, This also will work for good to those who love God.
Faith is required, isnt it? Faith that God knows, God cares, God desires to bring us to perfect joy and has the power to do so.
Let the nations rage against God. God laughs in the heavens at the spectacle of the ants of the ground boasting against God. But woe to the wicked when God stops laughing!
God is loving and good. God has done and is doing all in His power to rescue people from the person and ways of Satan.
But those who choose Satan over God will one day find themselves imprisoned with Satan in the Lake of Fire. God knows that one wicked, self-seeking individual would destroy the Paradise God is preparing for those who love Him.
Dont fret. You are on the winning side. As soon as God has removed from you the urges and motivations that keep you miserable, He will bring you to perfect peace and joy. Then you will see that the wicked were no more than a tool in Gods hand, and an evil vapor that one day will blow away, never to be seen again.
A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace. (Psalms 37:10,11)
Chariots of Fire I think the chariots of fire always surrounded Elisha; they did not appear for the special occasion. God gave His angels charge over Elisha, and gives His angels charge over all who abide in Christ. We need to have our eyes opened!
Elisha, by revelation, was informing the king of Israel of the battle plans of the king of Aram. Of course, this enraged the king of Aram. He sent a strong force to Dotham to capture Elisha.
By the next morning an army with horses and chariots had surrounded Dotham. The terrified servant of Elisha asked his master what they should do.
Dont be afraid, the prophet answered. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them. (II Kings 6:16)
Then Elisha prayed the Lord would open his servants eyes.
The hills all around Elisha were filled with horses and chariots of fire.
Evidently Elisha could always see the horses and chariots of fire.
I have known for many years about this incident. I always had supposed the horses and chariots of fire came because the king of Aram had sent his army to capture Elisha.
But there is no evidence that Elishas protectors had come because of the current threat. Perhaps it is true that this heavenly bodyguard was always protecting Elisha.
Why would one person warrant such supernatural protection? Probably because Elisha represented the Lord. He stood before the Lord at all times and proclaimed His Word to Israel.
The kings of Israel were not known for their righteousness. Elishas character was above reproach. His very presence reminded Israel of the holiness of God.
Satan would have removed Elisha if he could, so there would be no testimony of the Lord in Israel. But Elisha was too well protected.
If we abide in Christ, in the secret place of the most High, the promise is that He will give His angels charge over us. You know, this protection is going to be terribly important during the age of physical and moral horrors we are approaching.
If you really serve the Lord with diligence, it always will be true that those who are with you are more than those who are with the wicked.
It is very important that we are known to the angels of God. We shall be known to the angels if we are bearing a true testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are the ones who will be watching out for us in the day of trouble.
Elisha prayed that God would open the eyes of the servant. God did this. Perhaps we need to pray that our eyes will be opened.
I know we have to walk by faith. But God answered Elishas prayer, and I see no reason why He will not answer ours.
I know I am praying to this end. If we are to set our minds on things above, as Paul exhorted, it certainly would help if we could see a little bit of the heavenlies once in a while.
I am not advocating foolishness. I am speaking to solid Christians who are patiently bearing their cross after the Lord. Lets you and I ask God to open our eyes so we are conscious of what is taking place in the spirit realm.
They used to say, We dont want to be so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. I dont believe is the problem today. I believe we have become so earthly minded we are no heavenly good.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1, 2)
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (Psalms 91:11)
A Few Small Fish Accept the large with grace, but always be thankful for the small blessings of God.
What started me on this topic was a clause I noticed during my devotional reading. It is found in the Gospel of Mark, where the Lord Jesus was feeding the crowd by a miracle.
The words I noticed are as follow: They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also.
Now the Lord already had taken the seven loaves of bread and given thanks. You would think the Lord would have thanked God for the bread and the fish, and then distributed them.
No, He gave thanks for the seven loaves and gave them to His disciples to set before the people. Then the Lord took a few small fish and gave thanks for them also.
That was what struck me, He gave thanks for them also.
I commented to Audrey at the time, because it seemed so unusual.
But isnt it the truth? We are likely to give thanks for some great blessing in our life (sometimes we dont even do that). But how about the few small fish, the daily blessings and answers to prayer. Do we take them for granted?
We dont get much rain here in Southern California. So when it does rain, I thank the Lord for every drop, thinking what it means to us and to the little wild animals that trust God for their survival.
We have been short of annual rainfall for a couple of years now. This morning it spattered a few drops and then quit. I am praising God for those few drops.
Every Sunday morning Audrey and I praise God for the strength (we are in our seventies) and opportunity to serve God on one more day. I think there are many people in the spirit realm who would give anything to be able to serve God one more day on the earth.
I thank God when the weather is warm, for I was born in Maine and raised in Connecticut. I praise God when the weather is cold, because it rejuvenates me and I feel like a horse on a windy day.
I can still play the piano something to be thankful for. Many of my aches and pains have been worked out as I have insisted on keeping going. Something to be thankful for.
The dog is healthy. Something to be thankful for. There is enough food in the house. Something to be thankful for. I am confident concerning the future even if war does come; because I know the Lord will provide for me and my loved ones. I look forward to death like I used to think of Christmas when I was a boy. Such peace of mind is something to be thankful for.
I got up this morning warm, healthy, clothed, fed, and ready to serve God. Thank you Lord!
What about you? What few small fish do you have that you can be thankful for today?
He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them. (Mark 8:6, 7)
The Gifts and the Fruit The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
It seems to me there is considerable confusion about the gifts of the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe there is no confusion where you have been.
I think the Holy Spirit supplies at least three needs as far as the Christian Church is concerned.
The Holy Spirit distributes gifts and ministries to the members of the Body of Christ, and empowers their use. These are for the purpose of bringing the members of the Body of Christ to maturity as measured by the fullness of Christ.
The Holy Spirit empowers the members of the Body of Christ to bear witness to the world of Christs atoning death and triumphant resurrection.
The Holy Spirit dwells in each true Christian and builds up Christ in Him. The building up of Christ in the believer is the same thing as bringing to maturity the fruit of the Spirit, as far as I can see.
Gifts are just that gifts, and are given out as the Spirit deems wise.
The fruit of the Spirit is not a gift and cannot be imputed to us. The fruit of the Spirit, which is Christ in us, grows from a Seed and comes to maturity if it is tended properly.
One massive problem we have as Christians is distinguishing between spirituality and the gifts of the Spirit. Spirituality is the fruit of the Spirit. Gifts are given to us to produce spirituality, or the fruit of the Spirit.
The Spirit sometimes gives powerful gifts to immature believers. Whether the gifted believers ever grow to spiritual maturity depends on their willingness to humble themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus.
The Apostle Paul was concerned lest having preached to others he should lapse into the sinful nature and disqualify himself from receiving an inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
You may remember that the Lord spoke of those who had done miracles in His name, and yet He drove them from His Presence. He claimed He never knew them. They had practiced unrighteous conduct; and no amount of miracles excuses a sinful life.
It is easy for someone who has received a spectacular gift to be siphoned off into sin. This is particularly easy to do in America because of the ready availability of sin. The person with the gift forgets he is no better than anyone else, partly because other people begin to idolize him.
Sometimes when an evangelist or pastor ministers, people are saved, healed, and filled with the Spirit of God. Then it becomes known that the minister is an adulterer, or a thief. People then are confused and wonder if they were really saved or filled with the Holy Spirit. They were truly saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. It is just that the vehicle the Spirit used has disqualified himself from receiving his inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
We are not given gifts because we are holy or spiritual but to make us holy and spiritual. Gods people need to quit idolizing the ministry. We cause the Lords ministers to stumble when we begin to praise them instead of God.
God is willing to give gifts to any believer. We should covet gifts that appeal to us. We do not receive gifts when we are unwilling to ask.
Sometimes it is taught that we dont need the gifts anymore, because now we have the Bible. This is foolishness. The Bible plays a role in our salvation and the gifts and ministries play a different role. One of the reasons the members of the Body of Christ are so immature today is that the gifts and ministries of the Spirit are not operating in sufficient numbers or sufficient power.
We need to pray that God will restore the gifts and ministries to all the Christian churches.
But it is the end result that God is after. God is looking for fruit, and that fruit is the moral nature of Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, iron righteousness, fiery holiness, dauntless courage, and stern obedience to the Father. These are some of the attributes of Christ, and we are being made in His image.
The Spirit of God will form Christ in us, using His body and blood, if we take proper care of the Divine Seed. Finally the Father and the Son will make Their eternal abode in us. Then we will be filled with the three Members of the Godhead and, at the coming of the Lord, will be clothed upon with a body fashioned from Divine Life.
There will come a day when the gifts and ministries of the Spirit no longer are necessary. We shall have attained perfect love. But that day is not here yet, and so we must be faithful in praying that God will restore the fullness of the gifts and ministries to His churches.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)
Worrying About Pleasing People To worry too much about pleasing people is a snare. If you have a vision, and it is righteous, then look to the Lord and pursue your goal.
There was a man who came to Pergamum and bore witness there of Jesus Christ. He appeals to me. His name was Antipas. His name means against all. This suggests to me he believed what he believed and nobody was going to change him. We have to be like that sometimes.
The Lord was aware Satan had his throne in Pergamum. It appears Satan is stronger in some places than in others. No doubt Satans presence was demonstrated in an abundance of sin in that locality. Antipas went there anyway.
Whatever the situation was, Antipas was a faithful witness of Christ and was put to death in Pergamum.
The Lord spoke to the victorious saints in Pergamum. He said, You remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas. I get from this that the faithfulness of Antipas was an inspiration to the citizens of Pergamum and they did not permit the dark cloud of evil over Pergamum to sway them.
O to be an Antipas in these days!
The more the Internet brings the people of the world together as one family the more peer pressure increases. It didnt use to be that way. I notice that when the strict Muslims are ready to stone a woman for adultery, the world press goes into action and brings the pressure of public opinion against the Muslim judges.
The strongest of the nations are beginning to bow to public opinion.
This is hard on young people. The pressure on them to conform to the groups they are placed in can be overpowering.
I tell the young people in our church that when they do something they believe is wrong because of the expectations of their friends, they have lost their self-control the control of themselves. They are letting other people control them.
Whoever would be a leader must do what he or she believes to be the right thing, whether other people agree or not. When we do this, there always seem to be other people who follow.
This was Antipas, and the Lord commended him.
Lets you and I do what we believe to be pleasing to the Lord whether or not anyone else follows. Then at least we have peace, knowing we were true to ourselves, even in difficult circumstances.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)
Form and Substance The Kingdom of God always will have much the same form as we see today. The difference is, behind the form will be Divine Life instead of blood and the adamic nature.
It seems at one time there was only the spirit realm. Then God created the physical world. For hundreds of years scientists have been studying the physical world, from the smallest parts of atoms to the farthest observable galaxies. The physical world truly is an amazing realm.
I think in the beginning the physical world was much more imbued with Gods life than is true today. There was light for the first three days from no known source. The serpent spoke to Eve. There were unusual trees growing from the ground. How much of this is allegorical it is hard to tell. But it appears we are safe in saying there was more spiritual animation in the world of nature than is true today.
We know from the Scripture that at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age the earth and the heavens will flee from the face of Christ. The people who are to be judged are standing in the spirit realm, apparently, for there is no ground to stand on. They are clothed with flesh and bones, for their bodies have been raised from the dead.
One may wonder how anyone could be in the spirit realm in flesh and bones. Well, Enoch was caught up in his body. So was Elijah. So was Jesus. So there seems to be no trouble with being moved from the physical realm to the spirit world while still in our flesh and bones.
What animates the flesh and bones of mankind? Two things. Blood, which is the life of the flesh; and the sinful, adamic nature.
After the resurrected people have been judged, and either brought forward to eternal life or else thrown into the Lake of Fire, Christ will create a new sky and a new earth.
It is my point of view that the new sky and the new earth will be much the same as that with which we are familiar, except that there will be no more curse. I believe this for three reasons:
First, it is a new earth. If it were to be something different from an earth under a sky, such as we know, I think the Lord would have said so.
Second, God did not say He would make all new things but all things new. It still will be a physical world, such as that to which we are accustomed.
I think the expression there is no more sea is referring to multitudes of people who can be swayed to wickedness. Each person will be an important individual and will be known to God; not a member of a faceless crowd.
Third, because this is what we want, and God has promised to give us the desires of our heart.
We may think we want some bizarre kind of fantasy land with strange looking people and animals. What really is in our heart is the Garden of Eden. We want to be restored to a paradise, like the most wonderful scenes of earth minus all forms of the curse. We may not realize it, but we do not want all new things, we want all things new so we can enjoy the environment God has made for man.
The form of things that are is the form of things that shall be, according to my present understanding.
Jesus said the Kingdom of God is in us. This is true. The Kingdom of God consists of God in Christ in the saints governing the world.
The present world is unsatisfactory, not because of its form but because of its inner substance. Our body lives by the interaction of oxygen, flesh, and blood. This is not at all satisfactory. It is temporary, always diminishing with age.
But this is not the worst part. The soul and brain that direct the body have inherited a spiritual nature that always rebels against God.
The form of the world is satisfactory. The body and inward nature of people cause endless grief.
God has given us the Holy Spirit so our inward nature might be crucified and then resurrected in Christ. If we are faithful, a part of our wicked, corrupt nature dies and is replaced with the Life of Jesus Christ.
Our body, however, remains unchanged.
If we are faithful, and have submitted to the moral transformation that occurs through death and resurrection, the day will come when God will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones with a body fashioned from Divine Life.
New wine in a new bottle.
Our form will remain essentially the same, just as the Lord Jesus still is in the form of a man. It is what is behind the form that is the Kingdom of God.
Since this is true, the greatest mistake we can make during our life is to refuse to submit to the transforming death and resurrection through which the Spirit of God continually is leading us. If our inward nature remains unchanged, then, in the Day of Resurrection, there will be nothing on which to place a body of Divine Life. We will remain in the form of man but the inward nature will be sinful and rebellious.
The Kingdom of God is a seed that is planted in our personality. If we tend to it properly, it will transform our inward nature in preparation for the renewing of our body, our outward form, in the Spirit of God.
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)
With or Without Jesus Each one of us can choose to live his or her life with or without Jesus; with or without Life.
It really is simple, isnt it? We can choose to live with or without Jesus; with or without Life.
If we could see matters as they truly are, we would embrace Jesus instantly.
Why is this? It is because there is no true life in the human being. We really are an illusion. Everyone knows our body is mostly water. I read somewhere if all the space was taken out of us we would be about the size of a postage stamp.
Our body rapidly ages and then dies. For most of us, our mind loses its sharpness when we become elderly. We have trouble with our memory.
We are a fair show for a season and then, like a flower, wilt and lose our attractiveness.
We are an intelligent animal, having many animal characteristics. We may think we are physically strong, but in terms of universal forces we have no more strength than an ant on the ground.
It was the Book of Ecclesiastes that endeared me to the Bible. All is vanity. I was unsaved at that time, but when I read Ecclesiastes I said to myself, That is the truth!
Who is that individual who thinks he is important? He is less than vanity. He may think after he dies people will spend time thinking about how wonderful he was. They wont. Each person is too occupied with his own problems to dwell on the excellence of others.
The pianist spends his life perfecting the playing of Beethoven. Then he gives a concert. There are decent people in the audience who are entertained by his performance, and others are scoundrels who will go home and abuse their wives and children. And the musician has spent his life perfecting his talent to entertain these scoundrels!
The politicians vaunt themselves, hoping people will think they are important and capable. Some are little more than crooks. Others are idealistic who genuinely desire to improve the lot of their supporters.
They come into office determined to leave the world a better place. But then forces beyond their control frustrate their good intentions, and they end up with the rest, spending their energy on being reelected.
The preacher soft-pedals his message so he wont drive people away. He reasons that he cant help them at all if he drives them away. (What games we play with ourselves!) The result is he never arrives at the hour when he can let loose and preach the demands of Christ.
Into this charnel house of meaningless turmoil strides the Son of God Jesus, the Anointed Deliverer from God. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. He Himself is Reality, Eternity, Wonder, Glory, Joy. He is everything that anyone could desire.
He says to the bewildered, gloating, arrogant dust, Come to Me and I will give you life, peace, joy, and significance.
All who respond to His invitation become immortal children of God. The rest continue in their blind exercise of folly, imagination, and confusion.
Meaningless! Meaningless! says the Teacher. Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
A Great Mistake It is a great mistake to suppose people of other cultures are not as intelligent as ourselves.
The fact that God at Babel gave people different languages has hindered the various races from becoming familiar with one another. This lack of familiarity has made it easy for self-seeking leaders to incite people to war.
Sometimes we have a stereotyped opinion about people of ethnic backgrounds different from our own. While it may be true that races as a whole tend to have similar characteristics, the number of radical exceptions makes unreliable a prediction of behavior based on the race of a given individual.
We of the Western nations may suppose the citizens of emerging cultures are less intelligent than we. Here we are in error.
My own teaching of the Bible tends to be more difficult to comprehend than the familiar accept Christ; be baptized in water; join a church; go out and get souls saved.
For example, it has taken me years to come to a clear understanding of the transition from the Law of Moses to the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the Apostle Paul was continually being challenged by Jewish adherents to the Law of Moses, some of whom had received Christ as Christ but were attempting to add the new covenant to the Law of Moses, Paul emphasized that we are saved by faith and not by the works of the Law. He stressed this point so much that multitudes of Bible teachers have concluded that the Christian is not obligated to live righteously, just believe in Christ.
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. (Romans 11:5, 6)
It was some while before it dawned on me that Paul was struggling against the Law of Moses, not against righteous behavior. In fact, the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Romans are difficult to comprehend.
It is a temptation to those of us who are Americans to imagine that people from Africa or India should be presented with the Gospel in its simplest form. We certainly should not confuse them with an analysis of the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Romans.
The truth is, it is we Americans who have a problem with anything beyond the teaching of accept Christ and go to Heaven.
Although my contact with people of other races has not been as extensive as I would like, what communication I have had with people from Africa and Indian villagers has convinced me that they are as able, if not more able, than Americans to grasp the subtleties of Pauls explanation of the transition from Moses to Christ.
We Americans have an unrealistic pride in our intelligence. Such pride will not stand up under examination.
We indeed do greatly err when we imagine that people of less technologically sophisticated cultures are not as intelligent as we are. We harm ourselves and them in so thinking.
From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. (Acts 17:26)
Who Is Your Father? "You are of your father, the devil," the Lord Jesus said to religious Jews. Were these men examples of the tares mentioned in the Book of Matthew?
The Lord Jesus had been arguing with the Pharisees. Then He said to the Jews who had believed Him, If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
The wanted to justify themselves by reporting that they were descendants of Abraham; and then by claiming that God was their Father.
Jesus pointed out to them that they were not acting as though either Abraham or God were their father.
Then the Lord told the Jews that they were unable to understand Him because they belonged to their father, the devil, and they wanted to carry out the devils desires concerning Jesus.
You belong to your father, the devil!
What a thing to say to people.
We find in the parable of the wheat and the tares that some people are of God and some of Satan.
He answered, The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. (Matthew 13:37-39)
My personal opinion is that people are not born good or bad, but at a certain age (probably different from individual to individual) the Lord sows His Seed in them or Satan sows his seed in them.
Thus we have in the world children of God and children of Satan. I am not saying either one of these conditions is not reversible, given the right circumstances.
If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (II Timothy 2:21)
The leaders of the Jews certainly acted like the children of Satan. So did those Jews who followed after the Apostle Paul and sought to kill him and destroy his work.
And then, what have some Christians done to the Jews in time past?
I think we put too much emphasis on a persons religious affiliations and statements. As I see it, all such religious labels are worse than useless.
It is what kind of person we are that counts. If we act like God, then we are of God. If we act like Satan, then Satan is our father even though we claim to belong to Christ.
One of the great failings of all religion, and Christianity is no exception, is to place too much emphasis on religious affiliation. There are Christian ministers who always are seeking to advance themselves; who are not to be trusted with money; whose moral behavior is not beyond reproach. God is not their father and Christ is not their brother. They are of their father, the devil, and the works of their father they will do.
If we claim to be a Christian, then let us act like a Christian. If we say we are of God, then let us act like we belong to God.
Can you say Amen?
Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your fathers desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:43, 44)
Self-seeking An individual who thinks only of his or her own desires is an animal. He does not belong in the Kingdom of God, and is close to destruction.
On a certain day the disciples of the Lord argued about who would be considered as the greatest. When Jesus became aware of this, He told them that the greatest among them was the one who would be everyones servant.
I am not certain this is what they wanted to hear.
Then He said to Peter, When you are converted, or turn back, strengthen your brothers.
Jesus spoke to them about the importance of receiving little children.
He acknowledged that they were destined to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
James and John asked Him if they could sit on His right hand and on His left in His glory.
Can you see what the Lord was getting at? He promised them positions of rulership, but made them aware they would have to be converted until they were willing to be servants, and until their hearts were as those of children.
Here is one of the principal differences between the world and the Kingdom of God. Those who are prominent in the world seek their own welfare. Those who are prominent in the Kingdom of God seek the welfare of others.
Satan tests us, as he did Peter and as he did Jesus. We have to be delivered from the desire to promote our own welfare at the expense of others before we are worthy of membership in the Kingdom of God.
Most of us have to go through a tremendous conversion before we change from self-seeking to contentment in the will of God.
To grow to maturity is to change from self-seeking to seeking the welfare of God and of other people.
Perhaps when we are young we have a desire to be a great apostle. Then Christ shows us what this may mean in terms of our personal suffering. When the pressure becomes great enough, we begin to realize our motivation is faulty. We are bringing so much sorrow on ourselves that we lose our ambition to be an outstanding individual in the Kingdom. We are ready then to accept whatever position the Father offers us, just as long as we do not have to endure any more of a personal Gethsemane than is necessary.
God has His way of rooting out of us the self, self, self, self.
The problem with the world today is that the leaders are occupied with their own ambitions. These ambitions lead to crime and war.
Jesus spoke to James and John about a baptism, about a cup to drink. When they were faced with their cup, maybe, like the Lord Jesus in the garden, they asked if it might be removed from them.
There are sufferings so great that no amount of preeminence is worth the price.
Let each one of us be content with his own place in the Kingdom of God, and learn to put the welfare of Christ and of other people ahead of our own.
Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:24-27)
High Rank in the Kingdom Those of high rank in the Kingdom love God absolutely and obey God absolutely. When it is necessary, they deny themselves for the sake of the Lord, and for other people.
The Kingdom of God is like other kingdoms in many respects. Just as in other kingdoms, there are ranks in the Kingdom of God. Jesus spoke of those who are greatest in the Kingdom and those who are least in the Kingdom.
It is human nature to desire to be of a high rank in any kingdom or organization, although it is true that there are those without much ambition.
In the parable of the talents, and in His statement about greatest and least in the Kingdom, it appears the Lord Jesus recognizes and certainly does not express disapproval of our desiring to be a person of high rank in the Kingdom of God. In fact, the Lord seems to encourage our desire to excel.
I know in the current teaching about grace and Heaven the idea is presented that everyone is the same after we die and there are not really significant rewards. But this is not a scriptural concept. Crowns of life and righteousness are mentioned.
When the Lord spoke of many who are last in time being first in the Kingdom, He might have meant that many who are last in time will be of first rank in the Kingdom. This probably is a fact.
It appears the air about us is filled with lust, foolishness, murder, envy, unbelief, and every other kind of wickedness. To escape from the lusts and distractions found in America in our day requires an outstanding attempt to escape the cloying clutches of darkness. One has to be ferociously determined if he or she is to arise in the morning and lay hold on Jesus for the day. The customary weak demands of the churches of our time do not approach the desperate effort needed to keep our eyes on Christ at all times, and to maintain our treasures in Heaven.
Sometimes I feel a bit weird after I urge the believers to wrench themselves loose from the pull of our culture, knowing they can go to a hundred other churches in the county and participate in less strenuous activities good activities, no doubt, but perhaps not fierce enough to overcome the blanket of blandness that smothers us in America. As I see it, we must be terribly intense in our desire to follow Jesus, and so I hold the feet of all of us to the fire.
If we would be of high rank in the Kingdom of God we must love God absolutely and obey God absolutely. There must be nothing absolutely nothing! in our personality or behavior that competes with God for our attention and devotion. The moment God suggests we are to do something, or cease from doing something, at that very moment we are to obey strictly and joyously.
If we are in doubt concerning the will of God, then we are to take the time to pray and act cautiously until we are assured we are in Gods will. On occasion it is wise to seek the counsel of an older Christian, one in whom we have confidence concerning the quality of his or her discipleship.
Also, if we would be of high rank in the Kingdom, we must set aside our own desires, when necessary, in order to benefit Christ and other people. We cannot cling to our personal wishes and at the same time serve Christ.
It sometimes is true that what we must offer to God is costly!
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters yes, even his own life he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26,27)
Tested in Terms of Our Role Each person is tested according to his or her appointed place in the Kingdom of God.
We know, concerning Gods elect at least, each individual was appointed to a specific place in the Kingdom of God. This is apparent in Jesus response to the desire of James and John to sit at His right and left hand in His Kingdom. Jesus said: These places are not mine to give; but they belong to those for whom they have been prepared by the Father.
Now, here is a marvelous statement. First we notice that the Father retains authority over all that transpires in His Kingdom. Second, we see that specific places belong to specific people, and these places already have been prepared.
It reminds us of the Apostle Pauls striving to grasp that for which he had been grasped. Paul had been grasped for a certain role in the Kingdom of God. No doubt the grasping had occurred at the time the world began, before God rested. But Paul had to make certain he laid hold of it. The prize was before him and he had to attain to it.
This is the key to the concept of the rest of God, isnt it. Our task in life is to attain to that which God has already designed for us. According to Paul, we have to lay aside all else and press toward our appointed place in the Kingdom.
What a different meaning the concept of the appointed place gives to our whole lifetime on the earth!
It is evident that God directs our life in terms of His goal for us. Have you noticed that there come certain points of challenge in your life, and at each point you either obey or disobey God? It is a fearful thought that during these accidents and incidents of our life we are shaping our eternal destiny.
We know in the present life, those who are preparing for an elevated goal of some sort meet stiffer challenges than someone with lesser ambition. In the military the officer candidates are required to endure more difficult tests than is true of the enlisted man.
Think of the severity with which the Lord Jesus was tested. Consider the sufferings the Apostle Paul endured for the Gospels sake. Things of high value come with a high price tag.
So it is in the Kingdom of God. If God has selected you for a high rank in His Kingdom you can be sure you are going to be tested more rigorously than is true of those of lesser calling. Your love for God, faith in God, and obedience to God, will be examined to the limit in terms of your future responsibilities.
This is why the Lord Jesus responded as He did to James and John.
You dont know what you are asking, Jesus said to them. Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? We can, they answered. (Matthew 20:22)
The Givers and the Takers There are those who give, and then there are those who take.
I have noticed in life that there are those who continually are giving, and those who continually are taking.
Perhaps this is the way God wants things to be. I knows the Bible says the strong should assist the weak. The Bible also speaks of the bruised reed and the smoking flax. I think this expression is speaking of people who are not arrogant or defiant toward the Lord but who for one reason or another do not meet the Lords standard for them, or the standards other people apply, or even their own standards.
These are the weak, and they are numerous among us.
God commands us to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. This is pure religion.
Jewish tradition tells us the oldest son receives a double portion of the inheritance so he may look out for his younger brothers and sisters.
There is no doubt some individuals have been gifted with a passion for the victorious life in Christ, while others dont seem to have quite the same degree of desire to do the will of God perfectly. In this case, it is obvious the stronger are to do all in their power to assist the weaker and encourage them.
There is another side to this coin. It is that there are people who are like leeches. They expect other people to slave away so the lazy ones can enjoy life without having to lift their finger. Perhaps many of us have known of people who expect others to bear the brunt of life while they loll about doing whatever pleases them.
I suppose it will come as a surprise to these selfish individuals when they die to find out that there is no Mom or Dad to do their praying for them; to come behind them and clean up the mess. Then they will be dealing with Jesus Christ. They will find that He is not the weak, silly person they picture someone whom they can blackmail into letting them do as they please. Instead I think they will be placed with people like themselves. Can you imagine what a scene that will be, as each individual is attempting to get others to carry his load for him?
Oh well, there are the givers and the takers. The Lord loves the givers and helps them as they seek to strengthen those around them.
But the people who could have helped with the load but preferred to sit around enjoying themselves I think they are in for a horrid surprise!
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth. (Proverbs 26:15)
Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30)
Seeking Great Things for Yourself If you want to represent the Lord Jesus Christ, dont seek great things for yourself.
Do you know, there are some aspects of personal profit found in the Christian ministry.
In America, at least, the ministers of the Gospel, pastors of churches, evangelists, are usually respected members of society.
In some instances the ministry can be lucrative. Sometimes evangelists who are well known collect a considerable amount of money.
There are pastors who are scholars. Their income from their church gives them the opportunity to pursue their studies in Greek and Hebrew. Or they may obtain a position in a seminary where they can study and perhaps write articles or books.
Not the least of the benefits of the ministry is the love that comes from the congregation. Sometimes a pastor may be so fortunate as to remain in a church long enough to see children he or she dedicated as infants grow up until they become parents themselves. This can be emotionally rewarding.
However, the ministry can consist of years of arduous labor with little reward; little thanks. These sterling individuals are known to Christ. They will receive their reward in due time.
Sometimes a Christian missionary will be martyred. A native pastor was murdered in Burundi a week or so ago. Numerous Christian workers were martyred during the previous century.
People expect a Christian minister to be humble, selfless, giving while not expecting to receive. They expect him to be like the Lord Jesus in that he is not seeking great things for himself.
Today in America the television evangelists with their endless pleas for money have produced cynicism on the part of the public. When they see his expensive suits, his garish mannerisms, his witness for Christ is impaired. The average person understands a desire for wealth and prominence, for that is the way people are. But the average person does not expect to see these same desires in a minister of the Gospel.
American people, even the skeptical members of the press, know the real thing when they see it. They will report favorably on some man or woman who has given his or her life in some remote area of the earth, realizing this was an act of true sacrificial love. But when people see a minister conducting himself as a prominent, politically active, well-to-do figure, they know they are looking at their own. This kind of self-seeking they understand.
If we would bear a true witness of the Lord Jesus, then we need to be like Jesus. We dont necessarily have to be poor in wealth, but we certainly have to be poor in spirit.
To Baruch, Jeremiahs scribe:
The LORD said, Say this to him: This is what the LORD says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the LORD, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life. (Jeremiah 45:4,5)
Preparing for the Real Life If we would derive the most benefit from the present life we must develop and maintain: the unyielding premise that God is absolutely faithful, absolutely truthful, and absolutely all-powerful; unyielding determination to do Gods perfect will in every circumstance; unyielding compassion toward all of Gods creatures.
If we would understand our life in the present world we must regard it as a preparation for real life. Real life will begin when we are raised from the dead.
Where do we go after we die and before we are raised from the dead? A good question. I cannot answer this question. After about 58 years as a Christian, I still cannot answer this question.
Why not? Because there is so little in the Bible about what takes place after we die.
We see the rich man in Hell. We observe those who came out of the great tribulation appearing before the Throne of God, serving Him day and night in His Temple.
We witness Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.
We cannot count the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation as showing what happens after we die, because the vision of the new Jerusalem has to do with life on the new earth after we are resurrected.
The chapters in Isaiah about the leopard lying down with the goat take place on the present earth when the earth is filled with the Glory of God.
We have many traditions about Heaven, but these for the most part are based on the visions of saints, not on the written Word. So while they bring joy to us to think about them, they are not that dependable. Maybe God provided them to give us something pleasurable to look forward to.
Actually, the Gospel of redemption is not geared toward what happens to us after we die but what happens to us in the Day of Resurrection. All the creation is looking forward to the Day of Resurrection, when the material creation is to be released from its bondage to frustration and corruption.
Also, we dont want to be a spirit in the spirit world any longer than necessary. We want our body restored, raised from its place of interment and then clothed with the immortal robe that has been woven from our willingness to take up our cross and follow the Lord Jesus.
Being elderly, I am excited about receiving a renewed body. This present body is nearly worn out. My spirit is young and alive with all kinds of hope; but my body is becoming more and more a prison.
What do I look forward to in the Day of Resurrection? Returning with the Lord Jesus from wherever I have been placed in the spirit realm; taking up my flesh and bones from the ground; receiving the covering of immortality, having fellowship with the newly resurrected; and then rising together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Then, when we all are organized as an army, descending in the cavalry charge of the Battle of Armageddon and driving Satan and his forces from the earth.
After seeing the Lord Jesus crowned King on the Throne of David in Jerusalem, I will be sent to some part of the earth to insure that Gods will is done there.
I will have ready access to the spirit realm to help with the education of the members of Gods elect who have not as yet attained maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ. Yet a good deal of my time will be spent governing whatever people Christ assigns to me.
I know what it is like to work with children who are not Christians, because I was a public school teacher and principal. Those may have been the happiest, most rewarding days of my life to this point; although I have enjoyed pastoring our church. God has sent us wonderful people, and I hope I have been able to convey to them the truths of the Kingdom that have been given to me. Some of them will continue spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom, and I will see them again and rejoice with them over their fruitfulness.
This is the life that is ahead of me. It is something to look forward to, like I used to look forward to Christmas as a boy growing up in Connecticut.
But what about the interval between death and the Day of Resurrection?
I just dont know. Sometimes I picture myself, after dying, returning to where I was raised in West Haven, Connecticut. There I would get in my rowboat and row out to the breakwater. The breakwater that protected the West Shore from large waves coming off the Atlantic Ocean is constructed from huge boulders that rise above the surface of the water.
I cant remember how long the breakwater was. Your memory of when you were younger makes things larger than they were. But I would guess it was a hundred yards long, at least.
There was a lighthouse on one end. I used to walk on top of the boulders until I got to the lighthouse. This was a lonely place, you know, except for the seagulls.
Inside the lighthouse was a mechanism at the bottom. I guess the ocean currents kept a generator turning. There was a spiral staircase leading up to the light.
I could stand on the boulders and see our house, a couple of miles away.
Sometimes I picture the Lord suddenly appearing in my rowboat and getting off with me at the breakwater. There we would sit down and He would review my life with me. He would show me that different things that happened; the choices I made; how He intervened in each situation.
As I think about it, I believe this really is going to happen.
Sometimes I think about the magical quality of the snow falling on Crest Avenue. Our house was at the top of a small hill called Lucy Avenue. I think I would like to visit Lucy Avenue and watch the kids going down at night on their Flexible Flyer sleds, maybe back in time when I was part of that scene.
Then maybe, when I was ready, I would feel constrained to go looking for the holy city. I think it already is in Heaven, waiting for the day when it is ready to come down upon the new earth. It will come down to earth after the Day of Resurrection, of course.
I think I would be led to go to the great Temple of God, where His Throne is in Heaven. Then I think I would be brought before the Presence of Almighty God and assigned a role in His Kingdom. This would be the most awesome event of my life and your life when you are there.
One time I had a fleeting glimpse of a great palace. There was an august personage standing at the door. I think I will be permitted to go inside and perhaps have a place at the Lords table.
Even though I would go to the least distinguished place at the table, I know Jesus would look right at me.
I would like to sit on one of the park benches in Heaven and listen to the angel choirs. On two or three occasions I have been able to hear symphonic music. I love symphonic music. I guess there is a lot of it in Heaven.
Maybe someone would come up to me and say, You were an inspiration to me. Because of your writings I was able to pursue the life of victory in Christ. Wouldnt that be a wonderful thing to have happen?
No doubt the worst distress a human being could experience would be to look down on the world, after ones death, and see the trail of suffering and confusion left because of not having obeyed Christ.
No doubt one of the most marvelous experiences an individual could have would be to look down on the world after dying and see all sorts of beneficial situations that take place because we had done Gods will. I believe Christ and His faithful servants can see the good that takes place on the earth because of their obedience to God.
One time I saw a picture of C. S. Lewis at a dinner with some of his university friends. That so appealed to me that if they now are meeting in the spirit realm, I would like to look in on them and hear some of the conversation.
Audrey and I visited the Eagle and Child, the pub where Lewis and his associates would gather and discuss their writings. By itself it was quite ordinary. It would take Lewis and his colleagues to make it exciting.
Sometimes I see myself sitting on a veranda overlooking a street filled with children playing. Some rolling hoops, as we use to do. Others playing Kick the Can. Marbles in season was very popular.
Inside the house behind me there is a baby grand piano, where I take lessons from a master. Hopefully I will have bigger hands so I can do justice to the piano compositions of the classic masters. I know Catherine Marshall in a dream saw her husband, Peter, planting roses.
My conception of what the spirit world will be like after we die is that of a sort of dream world. To our consciousness it is real, but it still is not flesh and bone reality. We will have a form, but not our body as yet.
Our current teaching is that people will stay in the spirit realm forever. This is not so. The Gospel is pointed toward the hour when we come back to life on the earth. It is at that time we will receive our reward, not when we die.
The fact of the resurrection paints a different picture of salvation than that which is traditional. We are coming back to the earth in our flesh and bone body, just as the Lord Jesus did. At that time we will receive what we have done. If we have sown to the Holy Spirit we will reap eternal life in the form of a robe of righteousness that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones. If we have sown to our sinful nature, then all that will appear in the Day of Resurrection will be our corrupt nature. Where we will be placed after that depends on the judgment of Jesus Christ, for God will judge the world by Him.
Our life determines what will take place in the Day of Resurrection. If we develop and maintain the premise that God is faithful, truthful, and all-powerful; if we determine to do Gods will in every circumstance; if we show compassion toward all of Gods creatures; then this will all be revealed in the Day of Resurrection, and we will be rewarded accordingly.
If however we develop and maintain the premise that God a faithless liar who is unable or unwilling to help us; if we follow our self-will instead of obeying God; if we are malicious and unforgiving; then this will all be revealed in the Day of Resurrection, and we will be rewarded accordingly.
Our present life in the world is not our real life. Our real life is to come in the Day of Resurrection. But the way we conduct ourselves now is determining the experiences we will have when our real life begins.
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)
The Supernatural Is Natural The supernatural is entirely natural. It is part of the bigger picture.
Whenever there is a television play dealing with the supernatural it is accompanied by weird music, music suggestive of darkness, black magic, witches, goblins, haunted houses, evil mysteries. The music sets the mood of that which is unnatural and dangerous. This shows us how far man has fallen from his original position.
When reading the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis it is easy to see that Adam and Eve were accustomed to talking to God. God was present in the Garden of Eden.
When Satan appeared as a serpent, the woman did not express surprise when the serpent spoke.
There were at least two spiritual trees growing from the ground, unless the incident concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an allegory that never took place literally.
It appears the supernatural was entirely natural to Adam and Eve.
When the first two people sinned, the spirit realm withdrew from the earth and nature died. Thats what we have today a dead nature!
When the Lord Jesus spoke of casting mountains into the sea, or cursing fig trees, He was not challenging us to presumptuous faith. He was marveling at the degree faith had been destroyed in human beings.
The Bible says we have come to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. It is not that we will come, we already have come.
The Bible says if Christ is our life we already are in Him at the right hand of the Father. It does not state this will happen in the future; it says we have been raised and our life is hidden with Christ in God.
We have a difficult time with the idea of our already being in heavenly places in Christ. We cannot see into the spirit realm, so we imagine the right hand of God is far beyond the farthest galaxy. It is not. The spirit realm is all around us.
The Scripture states some people have entertained angels without realizing it. I dont believe when angels move among us they are accompanied by weird music. Several times angels have appeared to people in the Bible account. They always are seen as young men. They do not come in a bizarre setting, like our modern concept of a ghost. The angels behave in a natural, understandable manner.
The Lord Jesus appeared to His disciples several times after He was raised from the dead. They did not know what to make of this, supposing Him to be a ghost, or spirit. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.
Notice the Lords question: Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?
We would think the disciples had good reason to be troubled and have doubt. They were conversing with a Man they knew to be dead.
There is something implied in Jesus question. Can you see it? He is implying that they should not be troubled, not be doubting what they were seeing.
The supernatural should be entirely natural. It would be entirely natural if it were not for sin.
We think about Jesus walking on the water. A perfectly natural thing to do.
Jesus paid the temple tax with money taken from a fishs mouth. Why not? A perfectly natural thing to do.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. We ought always to be raising people from the dead. As Jesus said, they are not dead but asleep.
Jesus rose up into the clouds in the sight of the onlookers. A perfectly normal event in the Kingdom of God, just as Philip was carried from one place to another.
The Red Sea parted, as did the Jordan. They were supposed to if people were to get to the other side.
God fed the people in the wilderness, just as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fish. What is so unusual about that? The people were hungry.
The demons cried out when Jesus drew near. This is perfectly reasonable. The demons were afraid the Day of Judgment had arrived.
The three Hebrews survived the furnace. This had to be because a testimony was needed, a witness against the idol of Nebuchadnezzar.
In the future the trumpet of God will sound and the bodies of the witnesses of all ages will stand on their feet for everyone to see. We together with them will rise from the ground and meet Jesus in the air. Why not? What is so unusual about that? How else are we going to be organized into an army in preparation for our descent with Jesus?
These all are examples of the power of the age to come. God would like for them to happen among us in the present hour. But we are going to have to abandon the idea that supernatural events are something to be publicized or profited from. How can we expect God to do the natural and expected thing if we are going to advertise it in the paper and hold a big meeting?
If nuclear bombs are detonated in America, or deadly bacteria or viruses are unleashed, or powerful poisons are put into our drinking water, we will need to be comfortable in the spirit realm as well as in the physical realm. If millions are slain, the people of America will rush about in distraction, each one fearing for his life and the life of his loved ones. It is at that time that it will be especially important for Christians to be at home with the miraculous, so they can protect themselves and those who come to them for assistance.
We are not overly concerned with people dying by the thousands when we are living with one foot in the spirit realm and understand no great tragedy has occurred. The slain are safe in Gods hands, and He will raise them in the Day of Resurrection. We will be of little help to the unsaved if we are as panic stricken as they!
We need to become accustomed to the Presence of Christ and His angels.
Brother Fullerton told us Bible students that the Lord started to take him, in a vision, through the new Jerusalem. Brother Fullerton got so excited he started yelling in tongues and carrying on. Needless to say, the vision vanished. He said he could have seen the entire city if he could have controlled his emotions.
Years ago I saw the moving picture Darby OGill and the Little People. I think was the name of it.
In the picture Darby was brought to the cave, or palace, of the king of the leprechauns.
Darby said something like this: This is a nice place you have here, your Majesty.
I have never forgotten this. Instead of being overwhelmed at the sight of the multitude of leprechauns, and this extraordinary palace, Darby was just himself like he was greeting the neighbor next door.
I think this is the way the Lord Jesus wants us to be.
What if next Sunday the Lord Jesus, followed by His lords and councilors, walked down the aisle of your church.
Would you say Hi, your Majesty. Welcome to our church?
Or would you start screaming and yelling, falling on your face, or jumping around like the priests of Baal?
Would you remain calm and be thankful that Christ, who always has been with you when you assemble as a church, is now visible?
If we plan on being with the Lord when He appears, I think we better grow up and learn how to conduct ourselves around the Divine Nobility.
No, we do not need to hear weird music when we envision the supernatural. We are to recognize that man was with God in the beginning; and it was only because of mans unwillingness to obey the simplest of commandments that God found it necessary to leave the earth for a season.
Also, He wasnt treated well the last time He was here on earth.
But God does not leave a project unfinished. God determined to create man in His image; to make man male and female; to give man exceedingly great fruitfulness; and to install man as lord over the works of Gods hands.
This God is going to do. And He is going to do it on the earth, not in the spirit realm. The spirit realm is for the angels. The earth is for man. This is where man was created, and this is where man shall be.
So lets pray to God for faith to bring the supernatural into our life in a natural manner; not as a religious zealot who is seeking to profit from the works of God, but as a friend of God. We ought always to be living in a miracle and by a miracle, and not be astonished at anything that happens.
When the mighty works begin, let us tell no man, unless God directs us otherwise.
Why should we make a great thing out of that which is perfectly natural and expected?
I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, Go, throw yourself into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. (Mark 11:23)
A Multitude of Distractions Today, in America at least, one has to stay focused on the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness. There are a multitude of distractions that seek to hinder our entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Lord Jesus said From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.
I have pondered the meaning of this for several years.
The idea of forceful people laying hold on the Kingdom seems to go against the meekness and trust that the Lord advocates. This led me to believe the Lord may have been referring to King Herod, who forcefully stopped the witness of John the Baptist by killing him.
Are we to force our way into the Kingdom?
Lately I began to consider the problem American Christians have as they try to live the life of victory in Christ. What is it that makes it so difficult for them to lay hold on the good things of the Kingdom? Why do they have to fight so hard?
For one thing, our culture is materialistic. The emphasis is on the acquisition of money and the possession of material things. The advertisements in the various media howl at us all the day long that we will save money by buying this or that. It seems to me that we saved more money by not buying this or that.
The pressure is there. The credit-card companies do their very best to get college students hooked on buying more than they can afford, as though the card is some kind of free money.
Perhaps the mad rush to accumulate as much money and as many things as possible is a strong, determined enemy who must be overcome if we are to lay hold on the Kingdom of God.
Then there are the lusts and passions of the flesh and soul. Sexual lust in America is so prevalent it would be funny, if the effects were not so deadly. Young and old are chained with sexual lust. Sometimes with perverted forms of sexual activity. Homosexuals are endeavoring to make their practices appear to be normal if not desirable. They are working feverishly to advance their programs. All of this has to be overcome if we are to lay hold on the Kingdom of God.
There is an increasing number of people, such as teachers, doctors, and Christian ministers who are being imprisoned because of having molested children, both boys and girls. What a shame to see an individual who has led a constructive life in other areas, stumble and fall because he became attracted to that which is immoral. Pornography also is proving to be a hindrance to American Christians.
There are many opportunities available to Americans in educational careers, such as in computer technology, marketing, and various health services.
There is one particularly strong enemy of cross-carrying discipleship and that is the American love of pleasure, soft living and entertainment. How many churchgoers in America relish the thought of giving up their comfortable home and going to a foreign field? On the field there may be no fast-food restaurants, no customary (to Americans) utilities such as hot-water showers, perhaps no indoor plumbing at all or even electricity.
What if the Lord calls us to the mission field, perhaps to an area where there has been war or kidnappings? How are we to leave our comfortable American home and live in the jungle?
We Americans are accustomed to personal freedom, even over the welfare of society as a whole. The rights of the individual are proclaimed by lawyers, politicians, the press, and educators. We have to learn that in Jesus we have no rights as such and are liable to be treated unfairly.
Upward social and economic mobility is often regarded as desirable. The ambitious child or adult is regarded with favor. Sometimes waiting on the Lord comes into conflict with our personal ambition. Certainly regarding Jesus as our Lord and ourselves as His slave is not commonly preached in the churches of America.
In our day the Holy Spirit is warning us to spend time in prayer, in Bible study, in assembling together as fervent disciples. It requires a ferocious determination to wrench ourselves away from business as usual and to give ourselves wholly to Christ.
Our culture wars against us.
The lusts and passions of our flesh and soul war against us.
Our self-will and personal ambition war against us.
Sometimes our family or even our church wars against us.
Satan and his demons war against us.
Our doubts and fears war against us.
With all of these fears, pressures, temptations, and distractions, the American Christians has to make a heroic effort to serve Christ as Christ demands to be served.
There is no use comparing ourselves with the Christian church world, because more often than not we will hear God wants us to be happy; or we are saved by faith, not by works; or if we have faith we will never suffer but have plenty of money. Also, there is no need to prepare for trouble. We will be out of here (raptured to Heaven) any moment not; certainly before there is serious trouble.
In the light of all this, I guess what the Lord meant was this: John was the last representative of the Law of Moses. From now on the Kingdom of God is preached, and at this time, at least, a person has to make an all-out effort to break through every barrier and lay hold on the Kingdom.
Our church is as good as most, I suppose. We have intelligent, talented people. We have a strong worship program. We have excellent youth leadership. The pastoral message is on the growing edge of revelation, I believe.
The danger we have to look out for, along with similar active churches, is that we will suppose we have arrived, and as a consequence, not press forward with purpose and fire. If we slack off now we will not gain that which God has for us. We shall have missed the day of our visitation.
I believe God wants to perform mighty acts of power in our day. We will not receive that power if we do not keep pressing forward with all the strength and determination we possess.
Thank God for what we attained to thus far. But we have not reached the goal as yet.
I think in the ages to come it will be easier to lay hold on the Kingdom of God. But in our day there is terrific resistance, and only the most determined believers will gain that which God has for us at this time.
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (Matthew 11:12)
Antipathies and Affinities There is richer fruit to be had, and greater discernment, when one overcomes his natural likes and dislikes of people.
Have you ever met someone for whom you had an instant liking?
Have you ever met someone toward whom you felt a strong feeling of aversion?
I guess most of us, at one time or another, have had this feeling of affinity or antipathy.
I wonder why this is. Does the individual remind us of someone we have known in the past? Is he or she just so different from us that we dislike them?
Schoolteachers or coaches may have this problem. Sometimes a male teacher will feel an aversion toward a boy who is bookish. The boy does not like sports. He would rather go to the library alone and read, or work with his chemistry set.
The strong male teacher may despise this type of boy, wanting him to be rough, tough, good in sports, ready to fight.
Did God make only one kind of boy?
Sometimes a female teacher who is excellent in other ways will resent a gifted child.
On one occasion I know of, a first-grade teacher was holding up a picture of a camel and telling the class some of the characteristics of this animal.
A boy in the class spoke up and said: That is not a camel, its a dromedary. It has only one hump.
Actually a dromedary is a one-humped domesticated camel.
Whether the teacher knew a dromedary is one kind of camel, I do not know. Many teachers would have resented this boy as a show-off; and perhaps have been threatened by his knowledge.
This particular teacher was specially good with gifted children. She knew this type of child will blurt out when he or she sees something that is not right. He is not showing off nor is he proving his unusual knowledge. He is attempting to bring his environment into correct order.
So our special teacher, instead of rebuking the boy, said: Tommy, will you please come up and teach us about the difference between a regular camel and a dromedary.
Not all teachers work well with gifted children. Not all teachers work well with mentally handicapped children.
However, as we grow in Christ we discover we are gaining victory over our natural likes and dislikes of people.
I am not speaking now of the discernment of evil. I am referring to our normal adamic tendency to favor or reject people whom we hardly know.
There is rich fruit to be had when we refuse to react in terms of our affinities and antipathies, refusing to exhibit a preference for one type of person and an aversion toward another type of person.
Once we gain this victory we have keener spiritual discernment, because we are not judging according to our emotions. Also, we may discover the individual toward whom we initially felt an aversion, an aversion we were able to surmount through prayer, has qualities we have come to appreciate and enjoy. Likewise, the person we were drawn to initially may turn out to be someone of lesser attractiveness than we had imagined originally.
There are people who are unusually good at selling themselves and their point of view, and others who are not so gifted. We are wise when we pray much before we make a judgment concerning people, because sometimes those less gifted in communicating have more of worth to offer. Have you found this to be true?
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (John 5:30)
Offering a Sacrifice Without Cost There are those who desire a high rank in the Kingdom but who make certain it will cost them little or nothing. They will make way before the army of those who have left all for Jesus.
When Araunah the Jebusite offered to King David the site of his threshing floor, plus oxen for the burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for the grain offering, all without charge, David said: No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.
Remember, Araunah was a Jebusite, not an Israelite. It was kind of him to offer all this to David. This transaction was important, because the site of the threshing floor proved to be the site on which the Temple was constructed.
I will not sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.
I dont know whether it is a characteristic just of American Christians, or whether the problem is worldwide. But sometimes the believers attempt to serve God without it costing them anything.
The Christians want God and want the blessing of God. But they dont want to be inconvenienced. They dont want to go to the expense, or travel the distance, or take a significant amount of their time, if it is necessary in order to do what they believe is Gods will for them. They may want a nice church that has enthusiastic members and a forceful preacher. But they do not want to make a real sacrifice.
This condition is called lukewarmness, and it is prevalent in America at this time.
I realize there are numerous exceptions. There are some fiery disciples in America. But I am afraid they may be a minority.
Americans have embraced the Plymouth Brethren doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture. Even though any person familiar with the New Testament can easily disprove this widespread teaching, American believers are ready to embrace it. They are willing to accept the fact that Christians throughout history, and today in some areas of the world, have been and yet are being persecuted viciously. But they are Gods pets and must not be inconvenienced.
Against the Scripture and against all common sense, American believers will accept the idea that God will not permit these comfortable churchgoers to suffer and is going to carry them to Heaven so they wont be troubled by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.
Isnt this ridiculous? It defies everything Christianity has stood for during the Christian era. We Christians are accounted as sheep for the slaughter, as Paul said. The members of our Body, the Body of Christ, were fed to the lions in the arenas of Rome. And so we are to be carried to Heaven because God loves us too much to permit us to suffer?
When the faith message was prominent some years ago, a young man wrote to a missionary that if she would believe she would not have to suffer. When it was pointed out to him that the Apostles suffered, he said: They wouldnt have suffered if they had faith.
One time while I was in India I noticed that the pastor of the church had one of the so-called prosperity books. I guess he hadnt read it or practiced it. Neither had the people, for they were frightfully poor.
There have been great saints of the Church who have embraced suffering. The Apostle Paul knew Christs power was perfected as we are weakened.
The truth is, there is no way to make the offering Christ demands without it costing us something. Truly, the Christian way is one of peace and joy a far better way of life than that of the unsaved. Nevertheless, to serve the Lord as He demands to be served results in our being compelled to offer our body as a living sacrifice.
David said: I will not offer to God that which costs me nothing. Sometimes the believers are attempting to make their belief in Christ a method for giving them a better life, a better marriage, more money, perfect health, and every other good and fulfilling thing.
It is true that the Lord Jesus helps us in every area of life, when we ask for His assistance. But know this: when God is ready to claim you for His own, He will remove all that you trust in. You will be stripped bare, for God will have no other gods in your life. His name is Jealous, and He wants you for His own.
So rejoice and be exceedingly glad when God sets to work and demolishes your dollhouse. God has decided to save you from the American way of materialistic death. Let go of everything and rejoice that your name is written in Heaven. This is the way of the saints of all ages, and it never, never changes.
But King David replied to Araunah, No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing. (I Chronicles 21:24)
The True Christian The true Christian is the believer who takes up His cross and follows the Lord Jesus every day. The remainder may be fine people but they merely are churchgoers.
I have come to the conclusion that there are not many genuine Christians in the world.
While I was a boy growing up I had practically no concept of what a Christian is. I supposed a Christian was anyone living in the United States. I think this is the case with many Americans. They would be deeply insulted if someone said to them, You are not a Christian. Maybe it is not like that now, but it used to be.
If you are not a Christian, nor a Muslim, nor a Buddhist, nor a Hindu, then what are you? A heathen? Who wants to be called a heathen?
There are millions of people in the United States who refer to themselves as Christians; sometimes as born-again Christians. In fact, the newspapers often refer to Evangelicals as born-again Christians. In actuality, neither the newspapers nor most of the believers understand what it really is to be born again. Being born again is not referring to placing our faith in Christ and being baptized in water. Being born again means a spiritual transaction has occurred in our personality. We have received a portion of Divine life.
Now, what does it mean to be a Christian?
In order to determine what it means to be a Christian, we have to define what a disciple is, for Christian is another name for disciple.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts 11:25, 26)
Im not sure the believers in America are clear on this point. I think to many of them a Christian is someone who becomes part of a church; but what a disciple is, is not all that clear.
In other words, they might imagine it would be possible to be a Christian without being a disciple.
I dont believe, however, the Scripture would support the idea that one can be a Christian without being a disciple. How do you feel about this?
The disciples were called Christians.
A disciple is a Christian is a disciple.
So if we are going to determine what a true Christian is, we have to look in the New Testament for the definition of a disciple.
It seems to me that the Lord Jesus defined a disciple, a Christian, rather clearly.
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37, 38)
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters yes, even his own life he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26, 27)
In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Mark 8:34)
Then he said to them all: If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
How many Americans who consider themselves to be Christians fit this definition?
He must not love his father or mother more than he does Christ.
He must take up his cross of personal pain and follow Christ each day.
He must count his own life as nothing in comparison with his love for Christ.
He must give up everything he has.
He must deny himself.
Honestly, how many Christians do you know who accept the cross Christ gives them and set out after Christ each day, counting everything as loss, as garbage, in order to gain Christ?
Do you see what I mean? We have multitudes of churchgoers. But how many actual disciples are there?
Many churchgoers in America are fine people, but not all of them are Christians in the scriptural sense of the word. They are members of the Christian religion, not members of the Body of Christ.
Hopefully in our day there will enter into Christian teaching an establishing of the standard of discipleship. Otherwise numerous people who suppose they are prepared to meet Christ will be panic stricken when He appears.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of Gods mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1, 2)
Moral Transformation God wants moral transformation. This is the witness God wants borne in the last days the image of Christ.
There is a verse that defines and controls the events of the closing days of the Church Age;
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)
Notice it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that shall be preached: that is, the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth; not the going of the Church to Heaven, which is the main message of our day.
The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world. This means God will exert so much power that no nation will be able to prevent this testimony.
The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached as a testimony. Today we preach in order to get souls saved. This is why the demands of Christ have been compromised. God did not call us primarily to save souls but to bear witness of His Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Christ. Our task is to obey Christ and bear a true witness. It is the Holy Spirit who converts people.
We can be perfectly successful in bearing a true witness of Christ and yet not have a soul saved. We want success in terms of numbers of people. God wants success measured by an accurate representation of Himself and His will for man.
Today in America we have numerous ministries that reach out to save the lost. Meanwhile the testimony of God is not being borne in numerous instances. People want to see God in the Christians. They are not seeing God, they are seeing the works of the sinful nature.
Also, what is being preached is often more of humanism than it is of God.
What if you were to go to a nice community church and tell the people that unless they present their body a living sacrifice they are not genuine Christians; if they do not take up their personal cross of pain and follow Jesus every day they are not true Christians?
What would happen? A great many Christians would find another church in which the Pastor would tell them how wonderful they are and not to be so hard on themselves. I have seen this happen.
The great revival to come at the close of the Church Age is portrayed symbolically in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. The two witnesses are Christ and His Body. Christ will not be seen, but He will be working with the saints just as the Father could not be seen but was responsible for the Words and works of Christ.
Two attributes will characterize the tremendous, worldwide testimony of the closing days of the Church Age. First, and most important, Christ will have been formed in the saints to such an extent that people will behold the moral image of Jesus Christ. It will not be as it is today when the Christian ministry sometimes is immoral, covetous, and self-seeking.
The second attribute is raw power. The saints will be able to command miracles that will testify to the fact that God is with them.
What will they preach? They will preach the original Gospel message: The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.
Before God can empower the believers sufficiently to enable them to overcome the spiritual filth of the last days, moral transformation must occur in the saints themselves. They now will be required not only to tell about how wonderful Christ is but to reveal the moral character of Christ in their personalities.
They will be holy with the fiery holiness of the Lord Himself. Their minds, words, and actions will be morally pure.
They will have been purified from idolatry. This often is a painful process as God requires we let go of relationships, things, and situations that are dear to us.
God requires stern, total obedience. Sometimes believers will be heard to say: I know what God wants me to do, but... They do not realize it but they are being labeled in the spirit realm as rebels against the Father. By our words we are justified and by our words we are condemned.
God requires that we be completely free from presumption. We never are to be daring God, challenging God, testing God. The faith message of recent years is institutionalized presumption. God desires to be obeyed, not challenged to do something. It is Satan who dares us to put God to the test.
The witnesses of the last days must be humble, lowly, people, never seeking to glorify themselves. This is not always the case with some of the ministers of our day. It is apparent to everyone who is listening to them that they are arrogant. Their clothing, their cars, their mannerisms all speak of pride. They are not like common people, those who hear Jesus gladly.
The saints who bear the end-time witness of the Kingdom of God must walk openly before God, always seeking His direction in every detail of their life; always seeking to please God; always ready to ask Gods forgiveness and turn when they become aware of the displeasure of the Holy Spirit.
They must have a servants heart, being willing to set aside their own desires in order to meet the needs of other people.
The witnesses do not seek great things for themselves. They are intent on pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ. When He is satisfied then they are satisfied.
Last night when I was teaching the congregation, one of the members, reflecting on the moral state of many of todays believers, expressed doubt that such changes could take place in our midst.
They indeed shall take place. God has destined us to be in the image of Christ, and in the image of Christ we shall be.
We shall be in the image of Christ because, as the Scripture declares, Christ shall suddenly come to maturity in His people.
A birth is taking place today. God is exhorting us to be as a woman in labor, to fasten our attention on that which is being born in us.
The reason we have to be in the moral image of Christ is that it is this image, plus power, that are the two primary dimensions of the testimony that is to be given during the closing days of the Church Age, and then shall continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age until every saved individual is beginning to reflect the moral Glory of Jesus Christ.
We Christians have always maintained that the world must see Jesus in us. We must be living epistles, the Gospel in shoe leather. We have been correct in this, although we may have become resigned to failure.
Now we find as we look to God for holiness, for freedom from idolatry, for total obedience, for freedom from presumption, for humility, for an attitude of repentance, for a willingness to deny ourselves and not seek great things for ourselves, we actually are changing. Christ is being formed in us. The power for moral transformation is present.
In order to receive any part of salvation, whether we are speaking of deliverance from wrath, the born-again experience, physical healing, the gift of speaking in tongues, moral transformation, we first have to be certain the promise is found in the Bible. Then we have to grasp it for ourselves, not doubting that if God said it He means for us to have it.
God has stated that we have been predestined to be in the image of Jesus Christ. He has commanded us to put away all filthiness of the flesh and Spirit. He has declared that His Church shall be without any blemish of any sort whatever.
We have been called to have Christ formed in us, and the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We are to have a body like that of Jesus Christ. All these aspects of redemption have been promised to us.
We can say nobodys perfect; or everyone sins while in this world; or we are saved by grace; or whatever other excuse we wish to offer.
The truth is, it is our disobedience and unbelief that keep us from the fullness of God.
Whoever is willing to walk with God in the present hour can gain the fullness of God. God has made provision for him or her. All that is lacking is our total faith and total obedience.
Will you be a Caleb?
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)
Lay Hold on the Lord We are not to seek spiritual principles. We are to lay hold on the Lord our God.
We American Christians tend to be self-seeking. We are pursuing liberty and happiness instead of righteousness and obedience to God. Liberty and happiness are valuable possessions. Righteousness and obedience to God are even more valuable.
As we reflect on the history of the world we can see that righteousness and obedience to God sometimes led to loss of liberty and grief in the present world. There is no problem here, because righteousness and obedience to God lead to an eternity of liberty and happiness in the world to come, whereas if we sacrifice righteousness and obedience to God in order to preserve our liberty and happiness we may spend eternity in bondage and grief.
Because we Americans treasure our independence of action, our right to be me, the opportunity to do whatever we want with our life, we enter our Christian discipleship with severe handicaps. There is a cross that stands between our right to be me and the way of Christ.
One symptom of our desire to be in control of our life is the seeking of spiritual principles. How many books and tapes are there on the market that instruct us in spiritual principles: how to be healed; how to lose weight; how to have a happy marriage; how to be successful in business; how to, how to, how to?
I do not say that the insight offered by the mass of material cannot be helpful. I believe in many instances they indeed are helpful and profitable.
But if we are not careful, we get into the habit of following spiritual principles instead of seeking the Lord Jesus.
It is said an unforgiving spirit can cause arthritis. This very well may be true. But would we concentrate on forgiving or would we go directly to the Lord Jesus and find out what He is saying to us?
Give the evangelist a thousand dollars and you will get back ten thousand dollars! Have you ever heard this sort of thing? What we have here is a formula for wealth instead of a living God.
Is God actually a thinking Person or is he a formula for successful, pleasurable living?
Maybe for some reason God wants us to continue in our arthritis for a season while He is teaching us. (Horrors!) Maybe He is working out something in our life while we have financial problems. If so, we can give the evangelist every nickel we have and we still wont become rich.
I notice that the closer people are to God, the less successful these formulas are. God amply rewards those far off whom He is drawing to Himself, when they take the least step toward God. But an elder brother who has served God with all his or her heart does not get the royal treatment.
We are being made in the image of Christ. Therefore there are any number of forces operating in our life that are pressing us into God, while the weaker prodigal is dealt with delicately.
Lets think for a moment about Adam and Eve. Did they die because they were disobedient to God, or did they die because they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Perhaps from both causes.
But what do we gain from this lesson? Do we learn the spiritual principle that if we find out what is sinful we will die spiritually? Or do we learn that disobeying God has disastrous consequences?
Do we have here a principle we can master and use to avoid death? Or is the lesson that we must listen to God and do what He says? Is the important issue that of avoiding death, or is it fellowship with God?
The problem with the faith movement is that it invites people to have faith in faith. This is a soulish enterprise and not unknown in metaphysical circles.
Did Joshua command the sun, or did he first look to the Lord?
Did Moses challenge the Red Sea or did he first look to the Lord?
Did Daniel shut the mouths of the lions by proclaiming the word of faith, or did God intervene because Daniel had been faithful to pray three times a day when it was against the law of the Medes and the Persians?
Did Jesus Christ command the loaves and fish to multiply or did He listen to the Father and do only what the Father told Him to do?
I think if we are going to receive Gods power in the day in which we are living we must cease looking for spiritual principles, whether they are prayer, fasting, giving, or whatever. I think we need to go to Jesus, finding out what He is telling us to do, and do it.
I dont know about you, but I am not seeking power with God. I am seeking God. I want God. If He chooses to use me in His Kingdom, fine. If not, fine. His Kingdom is His business. I am His servant, His slave if you will, to do whatever He desires.
I have nothing to do with formulas for success because I know God goes in one direction and then another. He is not going to be bound with formulas that force Him to act in a certain way.
You can play volleyball with God if you want to, but I want to get on the same side of the net with God.
When faced with a difficulty we can attempt to solve the problem with faith, or we can call on the Lord Jesus for help. Which is it going to be?
In the last days there will be a spiritual power we refer to as the False Prophet. The False Prophet is the one who upholds Antichrist, the world spirit.
I will tell you who I think the False Prophet is. I believe he is formed from Christians who are seeking to use the power of God without taking up their cross of denial and following the Lord Jesus.
Man is in control. Man uses faith and brings down fire from Heaven. Man encourages the people of the world to be successful in the Antichrist world spirit of finance, becoming wealthy through faith.
I actually have heard it said Christians are to have control of the worlds money in the last days. This is the False Prophet upholding the Antichrist world spirit of money and education.
The truth is, Christians are as sheep led to the slaughter. We are not the head of the world system, Satan is. Our role is to be a witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ. We are not of this world. We are in the world as a testimony against the world. The world will hate us just as it hated Christ.
The Charismatic move is dangerously close to the False Prophet. If we are to save ourselves from terrible deception we had better cease our attempts to use Christ to build our own kingdom, and come before Christ in humility and repentance to find out what He is saying in our day.
God gave us the Pentecostal experience during the previous century. I have been in Pentecost for over fifty years. I know non-Pentecostal groups have known God and have accomplished great good in the Kingdom of God.
I have seen also that Pentecostal people have an insight into the Spirit of God that other Christian groups do not have. They will be able in the last days to hear what God is saying and to move with the Spirit of God.
But they have been led astray by a desire for the sensational; worse than that, by the desire to use the Holy Spirit of God to promote the ambitions of spiritual leaders. This ambition leads directly to the False Prophet, to the willingness to seek the power of Christ rather than the Person of Christ.
It is time now for us of the Pentecostal persuasion to turn back to the one who gave the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the twentieth century. We need to abandon the marketing of the Gospel as though it is some kind of product that we can export using the principles of merchandising.
We absolutely must repent of our personal ambition and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not in competition with other denominations to see how many conversions we can obtain. God did not call us to develop pages of statistics we can use to vaunt ourselves. Our job is to bear a true witness of Gods Person and to sow the seed of the Kingdom of God as He directs.
I dont think it is too late for us in the Charismatic move to change. The United States is heading toward terrible judgments. Our citizens are going to need Christians in their midst who are walking hand in hand with Jesus, who know Him, are hearing Him, and are obeying Him.
Also, if we are to be effective, we must undergo moral transformation so people are not seeing religious zealots who are attempting to convert them to their own party line; rather they are encountering friends who know Someone who can help them even when anthrax, smallpox, botulism, and who knows what else are filling the air; when exotic poisons are in the water supply; when radioactive fallout is causing cancer.
Gone will be the flashy television evangelist with his endless pull for money. Gone will be the seminars that show us how to be a successful Christian without really trying. Gone will be the soft, humanistic gospel that brings a mixed multitude into the churches.
What will remain will be those Christians who are living in and by a miracle; who are walking on the water; who are eating and drinking deadly things with no ill effect; who are raising the dead; who are escaping from the enemy by a miracle. These will be the Christians who will bring aid and comfort to the American people when chaos visits our fair land.
If you desire to be a help to your neighbors in the days ahead, then draw near to Jesus. Tell Him you are thankful for the spiritual knowledge you have, but what you primarily desire is a close walk with Him. Get to know Him. He always sits as King of the flood no matter how the waters rage.
It is Jesus who will save us in the last days. Not our knowledge of spiritual principles, or our ability to have faith or to speak the creative word, but the Lord Jesus.
We Charismatics have gotten off the track in some instances. We need to cease our metaphysical antics and get back to the One who holds the whole world in His hands. He will be our Fortress through the days of physical and moral horrors that are approaching America.
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6,7)
Numbering the People Denominations and churches seek large numbers of people. Why? Isn't it a fact that sometimes more can be accomplished in the Kingdom with a smaller group?
The church I pastor is small, maybe 90 people on Sunday morning. Sometimes I think we could do more if we had a larger congregation.
However, I know everyone by name even the babies. I have been in the church so long there are young people in their early twenties who either were born into the church or came as a baby. You know, this is great! These youngsters really know what I preach and are able to express themselves clearly. What a blessing this is!
I wonder sometimes what it would be like to pastor a church of 5,000 people. If I did, I imagine I would do a great deal with pageantry. In our little church we have much pageantry, drama, and so forth. The young people are skilled in the use of flags and banners.
If the church were much larger I would like to start each service with maybe five trumpets placed at different locations in the sanctuary. Then the triumphal procession would commence moving forward from the rear of the church. The young people would come holding up the great banners with the ramping Lion of Judah portrayed in splendid colors.
On the platform would be an orchestra. Perhaps there would be antiphonal choirs calling and responding, as in the days of Nehemiah. The problem with choirs, however, is that they tend to take the place of congregational participation. That would have to be worked out.
We have many talented people in our assembly. We work together to communicate the Gospel of the Kingdom. I could not possibly develop and maintain the two Internet sites we have, or handle the books and tapes that go forth from our church, apart from their help. I would not want a great number of people in our church if the church became just a business and the members were not actively involved.
The best part of our church is the family atmosphere. Sometimes during the Communion service whole families gather at the altar and receive the elements there.
Recently a lady called me up. I have no idea where she got my name. She called the church office, so probably she just picked a church out of the telephone book.
She attends a large church, maybe a hundred miles from here. She felt God had commanded her to perform a certain act, and she was not certain how to proceed. I could see her dilemma. It was a radical act. However, a lady that attends our church had been told to do a similar thing, and she did it with much fear and trepidation. The result was positive and obviously of the Lord. So I did not want to say yes or no to this lady.
I said, What does your pastor say about this?
She said, My pastor doesnt know me.
I said, Dont you have a small group leader?
She said she did, but he was away for the summer.
I could have just turned her off and told her to go to her pastor. Obviously she was uncomfortable with approaching this distinguished gentleman, so I felt maybe I should try to help.
Since it was not an unscriptural move that she felt led to make, I told her to pray much, take one small step, then pray some more, and so forth; and watch the fruit. When you are really trying to do the Lords will, He will show you if you are prayerful and watch carefully for the evidences of His approval or disapproval, and are not forcing something or acting out of some kind of passion.
I asked her where her husband was in this. She said he didnt seem to feel much one way or the other.
I havent heard back so I assume everything worked out for her.
Can you imagine being in a church for a season and having no one you can go to for advice?
To me as a pastor, the important thing is watching over the people. You rejoice when you see them grow in the Lord. When you know they are stumbling, you and your wife pray that God will help them.
I dont do much counseling. My wife is on the phone all day long, praying with people, leaving me time to write. Actually I counsel, as well as disciple people, in my sermons. I preach two times a week. Often people tell me that when they have a question it will be answered in the sermon. Other people who listen to the tapes tell me that when they listen to a tape it will solve a problem they had. I think this is because before I preach I ask the Lord to add Christ to each individual who is listening.
I absolutely cannot complain about the help I am getting from many people in the congregation. If I had a few hundred more, maybe there would be some who could help with translating my writings into languages not being covered now, such as Italian, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, or Hebrew.
Then too, I have thousands of audio tapes that I would like to have put in written form. They show the development of the major topics I preach, such as The Servant of the Lord, The Four Great Types, the transition from the Law of Moses to the new covenant, The Two Witnesses, the manner in which we cooperate with the Lord as He removes worldliness, lust, and self-fill from us, The Army of the Lord, and so forth.
I was taught the pre-tribulation rapture when I was first saved. Then the Lord showed me clearly, I believe, that this is an unscriptural doctrine. After that He revealed to me that our current teaching of grace is incorrect. We have misunderstood the Apostle Paul, and the Christians of today in many instances are not being transformed morally which really is the main work of the Kingdom of God in our lives.
You know what? As I began to understand some of the prevailing errors I became angry. You can hear the anger in the early tapes. Isnt that sensible? The people dont understand, so yell at them.
I dont yell much any more, maybe only once or twice during a sermon. I must be becoming a nice preacher.
Yes, I would like to have 5,000 people in attendance. But only if I knew everyones name, the names of all the young people, and the names of all the babies. I want to know each person well enough that I can watch over his or her spiritual condition.
If this isnt possible, if this many people would mean I was spending all my time on administrative details, running here and there with this problem and that problem, then leave me out. I am not in this business for the money, or fame, or success. Actually I am just doing my Friend, Jesus, a favor. He wants me to feed His sheep, so is what I am doing.
Maybe in the future there will be so much persecution we will meet in small groups hidden away somewhere. Perhaps that was the case with the Apostle Paul. I seriously doubt Paul ministered to large groups of people at one time. It may be true that the list of people Paul mentions at the end of some of his epistles included everyone in that church. Paul knew them all and prayed for them.
We American like bigness. We have a horrid habit of evaluating a church by the number of people who attend. A church with 200 members is twice as worthy as a church with 100 people. If you think about it, this is nonsense. Do you imagine Jesus feels this way?
Because our church is relatively small, I have often queried the Lord concerning the attendance.
Every time I do, He says to me, You take care of the Word. I will take care of the attendance.
Do you suppose this actually is the Lord? How come He isnt challenging me to go out and compel people to come in?
I always pray every service Lord, bring the people you want, not one more, and not one less.
And then I pray, Lord, according to Your will, bring us warriors, prayers, praisers, helpers.
I dont want people to come and sit there like ordinary churchgoers, just so the attendance will increase. All such people do is detract from the presence of God. They are not disciples, just American churchgoers. We need workers and warriors, not people who sit there each Sunday like the idols along the banks of the rivers in India.
When David numbered the people he got into trouble with God. Is this a warning to us not to number the people?
So success be hanged! I am content with the people the Lord sends (and the ones He sends meet needs we didnt even know we had). It is obvious He is taking me seriously when I tell Him it is His church and I want Him to build it the way He wants.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46, 47)
Unconditional and Conditional Love It is true that God will accept the repentant sinner unconditionally. But it is not at all true that God continues to love and bless us when we disobey Him.
It may be that the current doctrine of unconditional love is one of the signs of our time.
What do I mean by that? I mean we are so in love with ourselves we cannot imagine God doing anything to harm us. It is a symptom of the current perversion of grace.
One of the mountains of Christian thinking is the love that God has for the sinner. The story of the prodigal son may be the clearest of the Bible expressions having to do with the unfathomable love of God.
A sinner can commit crimes so foul that we dont even like to think about them, such as murdering his son or his wife in order to collect the insurance. And worse things than these are being practiced, at least in America.
But if the sinner comes to Jesus Christ and confesses his sin, he is forgiven. The guilt of his sin is cast behind Gods back. This is the part of the teaching of unconditional love that is scriptural.
We must remember, however, that no individual can come to Christ except as the Father draws him. So we cannot imagine that we can commit heinous crimes and then we can come to Christ and He automatically will forgive us. It is impossible to desire to repent or to come to Christ except as the Father wills. I think this fact either is unknown or else overlooked at times.
However, when we use the term unconditional love in our day, in many instances it is not referring to Gods love in receiving the prodigal, it means God is too loving to chasten the Christian severely, or even to send him or her into the outer darkness.
This doctrine has come directly from Satan. It is not love at all. It is a change in what God Himself is in the willingness of God because of His nature to judge and punish Christians.
We are really deceived on this point. We do not understand Gods love, and we certainly do not understand His wrath.
God is a loving Father. He also is very strict, as any true disciple of the Lord can tell you. When we do something wrong we may suffer for it for many years.
Does God love us? He certainly does. Will He chasten us severely? He certainly shall if we deserve it.
First of all, we must understand God is a Spirit. He is not a human being. The Lord Jesus Christ is a Human Being. But God is not. Neither is the Holy Spirit. They are not moved because we are not happy. They are dedicated to delivering us from all the works of Satan so the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us. They are not sentimental and are not moved by our tears when we are being chastened. They dont feel sorry for us.
There was a rebellion in Heaven eons ago. Satan decided to follow his self-will instead of Gods will.
Instead of throwing Satan into the Lake of Fire at that point, God decided to permit Satan to express himself so angels and people could see the result of choosing our own way instead of the way of God.
Eve and Adam disobeyed God on one occasion. The result of that one disobedience resulted in their being driven from Paradise, and the injecting of all of their offspring with a sinful, rebellious nature.
Now think for a moment. One sin. The result? Six thousand years of agony and backbreaking toil for the human race. One sin. Centuries of every conceivable kind of suffering and sickness.
All the pain you have suffered in your life has in the last analysis proceeded from that one transgression.
Would you conclude from this that God is strict and means exactly what He says?
Satan is hoping to escape the Lake of Fire. Satan is thinking that if he can get mankind to rebel against the apparent harshness of God he may be spared. He is mistaken. He, his angels, and those who refuse to separate themselves from him and his works, will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The Christian churches in America in many instances are filled with soft people who are in love with themselves. They suppose God is like themselves. Many American parents do not have character enough to discipline their children properly. They want their children to love them and will do anything to please them. In fact, many American children are idols that their parents worship without realizing it.
The criminal justice system is unable to function properly. The most cruel and unusual crimes are committed, but there is a widespread feeling the murderer should not be put to death. If he is put to death it is in clinical surroundings to make sure he does not suffer. Yet he may have raped a little girl, strangled her, and cut off her arms and legs.
This is the kind of soulish love that abounds in the United States of America. It presents itself as Christian mercy, I suppose. This is a delusion.
There is a Lake of Fire. There is an outer darkness. The flood of Noah actually happened. These facts ought to warn us that God is not the kindly old gentleman being pictured today.
The Apostle Paul warned us clearly that if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Did you ever hear this preached? Probably not. You may in its place have heard about grace, mercy, and unconditional love.
The Lord Jesus told us unless we forsake everything we can not be His disciples. Did you ever hear this preached? Probably not. You heard about grace, mercy, and unconditional love, and how you were going to be caught up to Heaven while the Jews suffered under Antichrist.
You were told that no Christian would ever hear anything negative at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Yet the Apostle Paul said, Knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men. The modern translations do not like the word terror. This preference is symptomatic of the current attitude toward Gods harshness.
Suppose you as a parent told your child that if he did not go to bed when he was supposed to he could not play with his toys for a week. Then lets say he went to bed an hour after he was supposed to.
What would you do? Would you do what you promised? What if you did not do what you threatened? What would the child do the next time you threatened him or her with punishment?
So it is with God. He is concerned about saving you from the bondages of Satan. God understands the terror awaiting you if you do not turn from your unrighteous ways. I am speaking about Christians now.
Do you think God will do exactly what He says, or do you think He will relent because of His unconditional love?
God said to His first two children: If you eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you will die.
Did they die? Yes, they died and we all died with them.
Dont you think God loved His very first two children? Of course He did, to an extent far greater than we love our children.
Yet, did He do what He said? Yes, He did exactly what He said. God knew the consequences of eating from that tree.
God has told us through the Apostle Paul that we will reap what we sow. This means in the Day of Resurrection we will be given, in the form of a robe from Heaven, the way we have behaved.
If we have been a liar we will be clothed with lying.
If we have been a bitter, unforgiving person, we will be clothed with bitterness and unforgiveness.
If we have been arrogant we will be clothed with arrogance.
We are going to reap what we have sown. This is what Gods Word says.
But how about unconditional love, mercy, and grace? Wont God change His mind and give us a body like Christ anyway?
No, He will not. God is not like us. He is not sentimental. He is loving but not sentimental. He does what is right in His sight, because what is right in Gods sight is the best thing for Heaven, earth, and all of Gods creatures.
It is this question that Satan raised in the beginning. Is it best to do what God has said or is it better to go against what God has said.
We need, many of us, to reread the New Testament and examine the warnings against unrighteous behavior. Never mind about grace, mercy, and unconditional love, just read what Gods Word says the parable of the talents, for example, or the foolish virgins.
Then say to yourself: This is Gods Word to me. Will He do what He has promised, or wont He?
Speaking of conditional love, have you ever noticed how many promises of the Bible begin with if?
Here is one of my favorites:
Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)
What did Christ teach us? He taught us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross each day, and to follow Him.
Now, what will happen if we do the things Christ taught?
The Father will love us, and the Father and Christ will come to us and make Their home with us. This is greatly to be desired. This is what it means when it says in Gods house are many abiding places. We become a room in that great House of God, which is the Lord Jesus Christ.
But suppose we do not obey the Words Christ and His Apostles have spoken and written?
A simple answer. God will not love us. We did not hear and obey His Son, so God does not love us and God and Christ will not make Their eternal home in us.
We really dont need many more examples. This one will do.
I am saying according to Gods Word, if we do not do what Christ has told us to do, if we do not abide in Him, if we do not forgive those who sin against us, if we do not learn to live by His body and blood as He lives by the Father, if we do not bear our cross patiently, following Him each day, then God will not love us and will not come and make His home in us.
This is conditional love, pure and simple. Do what I say and I will love you. Do not do what I say and I will not love you.
It is the same in the Old Testament. God said He would show love and mercy to those who kept His commandments, but those who despised Him He would repay to their face.
Who is telling us today that Gods Word does not mean what it states? Ill tell you who it is. It is Satan. Satan has deceived many Christian preachers into advising Gods people that even if they do not obey Christ they still will enter Paradise in any case.
Many preachers are telling their people they have nothing to fear from the Judgment Seat of Christ, thus making Pauls words of no effect.
One preacher recently taught that even though we do not bear fruit we still will not be removed from the Vine.
In the footnotes of one of my Bibles the statement is made that even if we do not endure to the end we still will be saved because of unconditional grace.
Other preachers are maintaining that the dire warnings of the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews cannot possibly apply to real Christians.
We have a deceived ministry in the United States. When the Christians die, or when the Lord returns, they will find they have been lied to. Instead of being ushered into Paradise they will be placed with others of like spiritual growth, there to await the Day of Resurrection in which they will receive the results of their conduct while on the earth.
How will the preachers feel when they stand before Christ and realize they have not told the truth of the Word?
How will the pre-tribulation rapture preachers feel in the days to come when other states of America, not just New York, are visited in such a terrible manner? Or were those New Yorkers worse sinners than the rest of the country?
We have been lied to and yet are being lied to. It isnt that Gods ministers are lying to us purposefully, nevertheless the results are the same. They are telling us what they learned from their professors in seminary. The professors in seminary are repeating what they were told when they themselves were in seminary. It is not a deliberate attempt to destroy the moral strength of the Christians in America, it is a masterpiece of deception produced by Satan.
How many of us will be prepared to stand and help others when the age of physical and moral horrors befalls us and we are not raptured into Heaven?
Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. (Luke 6:46-49)
Paupers or Princes? With Christ we are rich beyond imagination. Without Christ we are paupers although we possess all the material wealth of the world.
The Lord Jesus told the angel of the church in Smyrna that He knew of their afflictions and their poverty but they were rich!
They were paupers, but they were princes.
If there ever was an idea the Christians in America need to understand it is that material wealth is not necessarily a sign of Gods blessing; neither is poverty an indication that the believer is under a curse.
God loves poor people.
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5)
So the saints in Smyrna were poor in material possessions but rich in that which is of infinite value faith.
After many years as a Christian, I have come to the conclusion that material possessions more often than not result in spiritual death. Since the culture of America is extremely materialistic, spiritual death is prevalent.
Today as I write I am informed that God is working miracles in many of the poorer nations. The dead are being raised. Water is being turned into wine for the Communion.
We do not have this sort of supernatural activity in America to any great extent. Oh we have a lot of ballyhoo, shouting, uproar, but it reminds us more of the priests of Baal than it does the Man of Galilee.
But that quiet power that works miracles is not with us to any great extent.
On top of this, there are numerous ministers of the Gospel who are preaching that Christians should be rich. Can you imagine? Are they trying to be pierced through with many sorrows? Are they just anxious to be deceived, because riches are deceitful?
The Lord Jesus Christ was poor in material wealth, and told us it is quite difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Yet in the American churches you would think a poor man was a sinner who was not blessed by the Lord. Our culture has contaminated our understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
I am not claiming that being rich or being poor or somewhere in the middle is either good or bad. All I am stating is that our financial status is not a measure of our position in Christ.
Many years ago I was downtown in Los Angeles. I was alone, unmarried, looking for a restaurant to get breakfast.
I was wondering what church to attend. It was a Sunday morning, and I was not acquainted with the local churches.
I had looked at the church advertisements in the Saturday paper. I singled out two large churches that appeared to be fundamental in doctrine. After breakfast I was going to find one of them and attend.
A tramp came toward me. He had a bindle on his shoulder. You dont see these any more. The bindle consisted of a stick at the end of which were his possession tied up in a bedroll.
He asked me if I could spare a quarter so he could get a bite to eat. You can tell from the amount he asked for how long ago this was.
I said, Come with me. I am going to get breakfast. You can order what you like.
We found a kind of cafeteria. I got what I wanted, probably pancakes and eggs. He picked out what he wanted and we headed toward a table.
I had been exhorted ever since I had been a Christian that I was supposed to tell everyone I met about Christ. As we sat down I was prepared to do this.
After a couple of mouthfuls of food I prepared to do my preaching. But something stopped me. The tramp began to speak to me, and I felt I was to listen.
Can you imagine this scene? The restaurant was a busy place with people coming and going, so no one could hear what he was saying.
He started to tell me about Jesus. He said, Sometimes when I am walking along a country road I am singing Jesus is passing this way.
Why is this? he asked.
He said, You know, Jesus was a poor wandering beggar like me.
I was sort of stunned.
I dont remember what else he said. In my mind I was thinking about the huge churches I was considering attending that morning. And here was this tramp telling me that Jesus was a bum like himself.
Before I was finished eating he got up and went out the door of the restaurant.
I was in a trance. Suddenly I thought, I have been listening to an angel.
I jumped up and went to the door. I looked up and down the street. As you might have expected, there was no one in sight.
I have never forgotten incident. I love the song Jesus Is Passing This Way. I hope you know it. Its an old-timer. The newer choruses are not of that kind, and I believe there is a reason. God is calling us now to His Kingdom and to spiritual warfare, to moral transformation.
But the hymns like Jesus Is Passing This Way never lose their charm for me. There is something about the simple Man of Galilee walking along a country road that has an appeal all its own.
Something has gone awry in American Christianity. To think we would ever come to the place where we are speaking the word of faith to get money; or commanding our angel to get money for us; or prophesying that in the last days the Christians would have a corner on the money of the world so the unsaved would have to come to us to get the finances they need.
Brother Thompson, dont you know we are to be the head and not the tail?
Yes, I know about that blessing on Israel. I know also that if we keep on in the way we are going, with preachers attempting to order the Holy Spirit around and use Jesus to get rich, that we are going to be the tail and not the head.
The New Testament speaks of a retirement plan.
There was a man who built large barns. There he intended to store his wealth so he could quit working and just enjoy himself eating, drinking, making merry, and traveling around with his wife in his vacation trailer.
He had planned his retirement carefully.
God heard about this retirement plan and said to this senior citizen: You fool! I am going to require your soul tonight. Then what good will your barns do you?
Do you know what? The Bible provides many illustrations of the danger of being rich or the desire to accumulate wealth.
Think about Balaam, Gehazi, Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, plus the warning of the Apostle Paul that those who would be rich fall into temptation and a snare.
Jesus Christ was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver.
As I said, material riches probably are the chief cause of spiritual death, at least in the United States.
The believers in Smyrna were rich with the only true riches faith. They were tried in imprisoning circumstances. They were promised the crown of life if they were faithful unto death.
The Romans had several gods, as did the Greeks. Yet Jesus mentioned only one god as being a competitor of the true God. The competing god is Mammon, who I believe was the Syrian god of riches if memory serves me correctly.
No man can serve God and Mammon, Jesus warned.
The Apostle Paul said the love of money is the root of all evil. The newspapers of America are bearing this out, as we see the numerous scandals that have their origin in the love of money.
Sometimes believers say they want to make a lot of money so they can assist the churches. This is a game they play with themselves. God doesnt build His Kingdom with money but with the Holy Spirit.
Which reminds me. I read an article in a missionary-minded magazine that stated the Kingdom of God can be spread only in terms of the money available.
This is the mind of man talking. This is fleshly reasoning. I know from many years of experience that when we are obeying God strictly, money is never an issue. It is when ambitious preachers are building what they think is the Kingdom of God that money becomes an issue.
One of the ways God leads us is by controlling the flow of money. We can kick, scream, and beg as we seek to forge ahead in our own wisdom. But the true saint looks to the Lord, knowing that when God is ready to move, the money will be available.
The living God has control of all the money in creation. He does not depend on the wealth of man to perform His work. God work is done not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit. This will be especially true during these last days as Antichrist is permitted to exert power in the spirit realm.
Money will not serve to deliver us in the approaching age of physical and moral horrors. Only the Spirit of God will be able to save us and our loved ones.
As difficult as it is in America, let us to the best of our ability cease looking to money to solve our problems and to conduct the ministry. Let us look steadfastly to the Lord Jesus, knowing that He always will pay for what He orders. He does not forsake the righteous. In the days of famine we will be fed, even if the American economy suffers staggering losses.
Only the Spirit of God can protect us from the danger posed by the terrorists. Money cannot do this. We may flee with our gold coins into the remote areas of America. There we will be discovered and robbed. Perhaps we and our family will be murdered, or something even worse may take place at the hands of the demon-driven mobs.
No, the only safety is in Christ. We are not to flee with the unsaved. We are to stand and look to Jesus. He will deliver us just as He has the saints who have trusted Him in time past. They wandered through the earth and survived in caves. But Christ was with them. Money did not save them; the Lord Jesus Christ did.
All of us American should work diligently that we may provide for ourselves and those who are dependent on us, always remembering the poor. We can do this without becoming so involved in the corporate life of America that we have scarcely any strength left to pray, read our Bible, and gather with fervent disciples.
It is up to us to decide. Do we choose to be paupers, if need be, in material things but princes in the Kingdom? Or do we choose to be rich in material things and paupers in the Kingdom?
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:8, 9)
Dust or Eternal Life? We can return to the dust, or we can press on to the fullness of life. The choice is ours.
Mankind was created from dust. Of all the substances and elements in the world, dust may be the least useful. More than that, it is an annoyance. I never heard of anyone wanting more dust. Have you?
But dust we are and to the dust we shall return, unless we choose otherwise.
Into this pile of dust walks Eternal Life the Lord Jesus Christ by name.
Christ gives eternal life to whomever God sends to Him.
Lets think for a moment. What we are is dust. Agreed. But exactly what is dust? Not our soul. Not our spirit. Only our body.
The way the Lord spoke in the beginning, saying dust we are and to the dust we will return, you would think we were nothing but a body.
But we know from the Bible we have a soul and a spirit. Where did they come from? They came from God and He housed them in dust.
What is eternal life? Eternal life is the Life of God, of Christ. It is a kind of life that is not dust. It is real life, life that does not age, life that is righteousness, love, peace, joy, and unlimited strength and endurance. In fact, all one could desire is found in Divine Life.
God did not say the body that sins shall die, although the Apostle Paul stated that our physical body is dead because of sin. God said the soul that sins shall die.
God made man a living soul. We know also that man has a spirit just as God has a Spirit.
So then, if we are to have eternal life, the Life of God; or perhaps I should say if we are to be an integral part of the Life of God, then we must come to Christ for He alone is and has the Eternal Life of God His Father.
The Apostle Paul said if we live according to our sinful nature we will reap corruption, or destruction. Exactly what does that mean?
You know, I am not certain. It is difficult to picture what it means to reap destruction.
Most Christians believe the wicked will be tormented forever. Maybe this is what it means to reap corruption.
One thing seems certain to me. When our spirit is not in union with the Spirit of God, it is dead. It has no life. It reminds me of a tide pool that is too far from the ocean to be replenished at high tide. The small marine life in the pool goes up and down with the movement of the sea; but the water eventually evaporates and the life perishes.
Our soul appears to be the center of interest, as far as judgment is concerned. Perhaps it is true that it is our soul that decides to obey or disobey God. The soul that sins shall die. Meaning what? Probably that it is cut off from the Divine Life of God.
But what about our dust; our body? You know, the destiny of the physical body is of far, far more importance than we usually hear from the pulpit. The body actually is the focus of redemption, because it was immortality that was lost in the beginning.
When Jesus said God so loved the world that whoever believes in Christ shall not perish but have eternal life, He was referring to our body.
The blessed hope of the Church is that Christ will return and raise our body from the dead, making it immortal.
This is why the doctrine of the rapture is so misleading and destructive. The rapture teaching focuses on the believers being caught up to Heaven. This is not the focus of the New Testament. The focus of the New Testament is on the redemption of the body, the raising of it from its place of interment and the clothing of it with incorruptible, resurrection life.
How, then, does salvation proceed?
After we believe in Christ, repent of our sinful ways in the world, and are baptized in water, we are touched with the Holy Spirit that is, with the Life of God. Also, the Substance of Christ is conceived in us. The Substance of Christ constitutes a new Nature in us which immediately is carried up to Heaven and hidden with Christ in God.
What is left on the earth? Our soul, with its passions, lusts, and rebellious nature, and our body with its passions, lusts, and rebellious nature.
There are sinful tendencies that reside in the members of our body.
So now we have a new life in Heaven at the right hand of God, and a sinful soul and body on the earth.
Meanwhile our spirit has become united with the Spirit of God. According to Paul, our spirit can become contaminated if we do not purify ourselves through prayer and obedience.
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
Now the fight of faith commences, and what a fight it is!
What are we fighting for? We are fighting for eternal life. We who are dust want to gain Divine Life.
Our new spiritual nature already is in Christ in God in Heaven.
Now the task is to keep sowing to that new nature. This means we are to pray each day, read the Bible, have fellowship with fervent saints, give of our substance, serve, and do all else that is part of Christ living.
Meanwhile Satan will do all in his power to tear us down from our high place in God.
In the day in which we are living The Holy Spirit is ready to transform us morally. He does this by pointing out to us the worldly, lustful, self-seeking actions of our personality.
The Spirit does not show us all the problems in our personality at once. Little by little the Spirit leads us. As we become aware of our sinful behavior we are to confess our sins to God, denounce them as evil, renounce them, declaring we want nothing more to do with them, and then press further into Christ.
We are to engage in this moral transformation at all times, never giving up, never becoming discouraged, never taking anything for granted, never settling for halfway measures. Satan is to be removed from us entirely. We are to be desperate about this; vehement about this; forceful about this work of moral transformation. If we are not, if we are careless, frivolous, halfhearted, tending to compromise with sin, we will never be prepared to be raised from the dead when the Lord appears.
I hope you are hearing me clearly. We will not be prepared to be raised from the dead when Christ appears!
In many instances the true Gospel is not being preached in the United States of America. In its place we have a non-demanding pretty little philosophy that permits people to continue with their usual lives, not participating in the strenuous warfare necessary for moral transformation.
We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. Change into the image of Christ requires a rugged warfare throughout our lifetime on the earth, and may extend into the next world for all I know.
When God says He is going to change us into the image of Christ, He is not speaking only of the body. The body will be taken care of when the inward nature has been changed into the image of Christ, and not before!
Adam and Eve were in the image and likeness of God in their bodies only. Their inward personalities were not in the image of God, they were blank slates on which nothing had been written.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the first Man in the full image of God to have walked on the planet Earth. He alone is in the moral image of God. Now we, his younger brothers, are to be transformed into that same moral image. The time is now. The work is going on today. According to the major types of the Old Testament, the work of moral transformation takes place after salvation; after the baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is the great and glorious consummation of the Divine redemption.
The issue is eternal life, Divine Life, in our spirit, in our soul, and in our body. This is what Christ our Redeemer came to bring to us. He took care of the guilt of our sins by His atoning death on the cross; otherwise redemption would not have been possible.
Now Christ is working to accomplish redemption in our spirit, soul, and body. He will give us more eternal life, Divine Life that will enable us to be more than conquerors throughout the age of physical and moral horrors that is on the horizon.
We have to lay hold on eternal life. We have to attain to the resurrection that is unto eternal life in spirit, soul, and body. In America we are surrounded with spiritual death. The invisible demons are everywhere, constantly impacting on our consciousness; deceiving us; seducing us into sin. We have to look to Christ day and night if we are to emerge in victory.
We are in a time of marvelous opportunity and dreadful danger. The last shall be first in the Kingdom. The thrones that control the world are there, waiting for those who care enough to follow Christ all the way.
The dreadful danger is that having known of the victory that is possible, we neglect our salvation. Then we are flirting with the fire that will torment those who have succumbed to the Antichrist world spirit.
The issue is simple and straightforward. Either we are willing to remain as an animal, our life consisting of flesh and blood metabolism, or else we are determined to press forward into the fullness of Divine Life. If we fail it will not be because Christ has not made every provision for us, it will be because we were so foolish, so shortsighted, we chose to spend our days seeking the pleasures of the present world. This would be a stupid decision to say the least!
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10, 11)
Bringing Our Decisions to God The biggest problem we have as people is trying to make our decisions without God. If Eve had asked God's opinion she would have saved us 6,000 years of trouble.
You know, life is made up mostly of decisions. Think about today. How many decisions have you made since you got out of bed?
The great majority of decisions we make are minor. But sometimes we have to make a major decision whether to move or to stay where we are; whether or not to get a doctors opinion; whether or not to quit our job.
After having been a Christian for more than fifty years I have gotten into the habit of asking God about everything I do, no matter how small or how large the issue.
Being a pastor, of course I pray about what to preach at each service. I take nothing for granted. And we have no afterglow services that are kind of put together hastily after a major message. To me, every service without exception is a major move of the Kingdom of God. I look to God with all my might, even though I know there may be only a few people in attendance.
But there are a host of other decisions that have to be made that day: what to eat and drink; what clothes to wear; how much rest to take before the service; what to pray for while I am preparing.
All of us have many decisions to make during the day. When I was a schoolteacher I had numerous decisions to make during the day regarding the lessons, regarding the children. Im sure you have a multitude of decisions to make on your job.
Right now while I am writing, I am asking the Lord for help.
If any man lack wisdom, let him ask the Lord. God will not rebuke him for asking but will provide abundantly.
The old song goes, O what needless pain we bear; all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Truer words were never written.
Perhaps we think God is too busy to concern himself with the brand of cereal we buy. He is not! Gods concern is that He stands ready to assist us and we do not ask.
How much does God know about our life? Everything! How much does He know about our vocation or profession? Everything! In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
One night driving home from a meeting in Lemon Grove I was driving over a bridge. Underneath is a large valley filled with homes and businesses.
At one end of the valley is a dam. On the other end is the Pacific Ocean.
I said, Lord, if we have an unusually heavy rain, such as a hundred-year rain as they call it (meaning that about every hundred years we have a massive rain in our area), thousands of homes and businesses are going to be destroyed.
The Lord responded, I take no pleasure in seeing the homes of people destroyed, their personal effects floating about. But they will not ask My advice. If they had asked Me, I would have shown them how to get around this problem.
Does God care about our natural life? If I remember correctly, Dr. George Washington Carver was able to create many household items out of pine cones, clay, and whatever else was handy. God showed Dr. Carver how to make these items, and saved the economy of the South. The farmers had destroyed the soil by planting only cotton.
At present America is facing a dilemma concerning Iraq and terrorists. Divine wisdom is needed. Is our government praying or relying on our military power?
Are the Jews praying about the dilemma they have concerning the Palestinians, or are they trusting in the United States?
Are the Russians and the Chinese praying about their destinies?
God is so willing to help us with the smallest of decisions, such as how to treat a blister on our hand, as well as with major decisions, such as should we get married and to whom.
Why dont people great and small ask God for help with their decisions? Why are we so determined to live our lives without God?
The Apostle Paul advised us to pray without ceasing. This may seem impossible. It is not. As we cultivate the habit of asking God about every decision we make, like whether we should go to the store or not, or what we should buy once we get there, or what we should do about our headache, or whether we should follow the advice of a friend, the first thing you know we are praying about everything. We are praying without ceasing.
I do not like to turn the radio on in our car when we are driving. The talking or music seems to interfere with the channel that is open between the Lord and me. I am afraid of missing some nuance of advice, or warning, or encouragement, or revelation.
Believe me, I am not trying to be religious. I am speaking of the most practical of actions that of living in the Presence of God.
Have you ever run through a check of the Lord? Do you know what a check of the Lord is? It is a gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit.
You are about to do something. Suddenly you feel that nudge and you know you are about to make a wrong move. Has that ever happened to you?
You know what? If we are not walking carefully before the Lord, we plow through the check, the warning. Every time that has happened to me, and I ran through the check, I found out about the problem the Lord wanted me to avoid.
But you have to be living quietly before the Lord and looking to Him at all times. If you are charging around in your lusts and passions you will not hear the gentle voice of the Spirit of God.
It is neither difficult nor impractical to bring every decision of your life to the Lord. You have to draw on some source for your decisions, whether your knowledge, or experience, or someone elses advice. Isnt it so?
If such is the case, why is it more difficult to look to God for wisdom?
Ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, it appears people are bent on going their own way without God. This is why the world is in the present confusion. We are trusting in money, or politics, or education, or some other man-made device to bring peace and prosperity. Yet it does not happen, does it?
If President Bush waits to see what Saddam Hussein will do, our country may suffer incredible loss. And the president will be cursed for not acting.
If President Bush strikes first, there will be a hue and cry that he is playing politics or trying to be a cowboy.
He cannot win no matter what choice he makes, and he is intelligent enough to know this.
Being a Christian man our president undoubtedly is praying. I wish every member of the government would pray. We need to know what the Lord is saying. God knows the best way to solve the present problems, including the economic downturn. God knows, and God can and would solve every problem if we asked instead of trusting our own wisdom.
Will the United States turn to God for wisdom concerning these enormous issues? Will Israel turn to God for a constructive solution to the conflict with the Palestinians?
We would hope so. But it may not happen. In this case, God will save the individuals who do look to Him for every detail of their lives. The remainder may suffer greatly because they do not look to the Lord for help in their time of trouble.
God is great. God is good. God is vitally interested in every detail of your life and mine. Whatever we take for granted, not looking to Christ, is loss for Christ; loss for us; and loss for those who depend on us.
How simple and straightforward it is to look to God for every decision we make during the day, including what time we go to bed at night.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
Christ Is the Question: What will you do with Jesus?
Sometimes people say Christ is the answer. This is true. Christ is the answer to every problem people have.
It also is true that Christ is the question.
Was there really a person named Jesus Christ? Undoubtedly so. The New Testament certainly has the ring of truth to it. I personally have read enough literature to perceive the New Testament is not some humanly contrived account.
Not too long ago a girl from our church, who now is in college, asked me how she is to answer a young person from a Christian background who is questioning his faith. It seems sometimes when Christian young people go off to college they return minus their faith.
I am glad to say that our girl is standing strong and encouraging others.
There probably are all sorts of ways to prove there is a God and that Christ is His Son. But I answered this way: Tell the young man who is questioning his faith to ask God to reveal Christ to him. In other words, if you want to know whether or not there is a God, ask Him to show you.
This is what I did many years ago, and Ill tell you He has convinced me of His existence and that Jesus Christ is His Son. I know this now from the experiences I have had.
So lets assume there is a God and Jesus Christ is His Son. This poses a terrific question to every human being. If this is so, then the first priority of life is to find out what Christ wants you to do.
If God and Christ are really sitting up there looking at us, then how stupid it would be to ignore them and go about our business.
Think about the vanity of life. We spend years getting an education so we can earn money so we have enough to eat so we have energy enough to work. In addition we may wish to acquire a house or car or some other convenience or comfort.
But we truly are living in the valley of the shadow of death. If you dont think so, visit your local hospital. There are many hospitals in the region where I live in Southern California. I have never been to the hospital without having trouble getting a parking place. And the parking lot of the hospital where I go is huge.
You can go to the emergency room in the middle of the night, any night of the week, and there are people in the waiting room in various stages of distress. What does this tell us? It tells us that life is cruel.
Sometimes I look at the homeless people pushing their carts with all their belongings in them. These men and women at one time were happy boys and girls playing in the schoolyard. Now they are haggard, in dirty clothes, pushing their belongings down the street. At night they will try to find a place in back of a store or school where they can keep warm and sleep. No place to shower or even wash up. No money. No toilet.
Life beats the juice out of a person. We start off happy and confident, most of us. But life has a way of defeating us.
I notice how many television commercials are devoted to medicines that relieve stress and heartburn. People have a lot of worries: about their children; about their marriage; about their health; about their job; about their retirement. There always is something to worry about.
Tell me: Is life worth the trouble? Are you enjoying yourself right now? Will you be enjoying yourself ten years from now? Maybe, if you dont wake up some morning with cancer, or have a heart attack, or you child doesnt develop leukemia, or you are not raped, or your son doesnt become a homosexual or your daughter a lesbian so you cant extend your line through grandchildren.
Oh yes, a wonderful world we live in.
And now there is the threat of terrorism, of war, of deadly bacteria or radiation being released.
I came to the conclusion when I was nineteen that life simply is not worth living. Too much trouble considering the uncertainty of the good you get from it. It is a wonder I didnt commit suicide.
Someone told me about the Lord Jesus. When he did, he presented me with a question. What am I going to do about Jesus. Am I going to ignore Him? Am I going to say, Maybe it isnt true. Maybe its the product of someone who for whatever reason wants us to believe a lie.
So as soon as we hear about Jesus Christ we have to gamble. We gamble that the story is true, or the story is false.
If we are willing to bet that the whole account is a fabrication, then there is no more to think about.
If however we consider the consequences of making the wrong decision, and decide we are going to gamble that the story of Christ is true, then we have another decision. What are we going to do about it? What are we going to do with Jesus?
Not being completely stupid, I reasoned in this manner: If I gamble that the story is false, and I die and find out it is true, I am in the worst possible trouble. I am not willing to take this kind of chance.
If I decide to bet that the Gospel is a true account, then what am I to do about it? If it is true, then the only sensible thing to do is to find out what Christ wants of me. To believe it is true, and then to ignore Christ, is foolhardy. After all, I am going to die someday and I dont want to face some kind of eternal rebuke.
And so I thought to myself: I am going to gamble that the story is true. Furthermore I am going to do what Christ tells me to do. What do I have to lose? Life is full of trouble no matter what you do.
A year later while in Sasebo, Japan, the Presence of Christ came to me and called me to preach the Gospel. I told the Lord that whatever He wanted me to do I would do, without exception. This I have continued to do to the present hour, although having made many mistakes along the way. When I find out I am in error, I tell the Lord I was mistaken and I press on. He never rebukes me for this.
I have had many supernatural experiences in my life. They were not some form of self-hypnosis. They were objective happenings.
While we were in the Bay Area I saw an angel who directed us to our present location. We pulled up stakes and moved where we were directed. It certainly has proved to be of the Lord.
I studied probability theory while I was in the University of Rochester in New York. When I consider the odds that the pattern of my life has been random, the probability approaches zero. There is design. I can see it plainly. To say the events were random happenings would be dishonest.
So here is the question: What will you do with Jesus who is called Christ?
This is what Pilate asked. Pilate made an eternal example of himself by yielding to the Jewish mob, even after his wife warned him because of a dream she had had.
Pilate answered by saying, Let Him be crucified. Ive got too much at stake to worry about one Jewish teacher. Still, maybe He is the King of the Jews. But I just cant chance it. What would Caesar say?
I wonder what Pilate, Caesar, the scribes and Pharisees, and Judas are saying today. They took the chance that Jesus is not the Son of God. Now they know whether or not He is.
I am not that foolish. Reviewing my life, if there is no God and no Christ, I have lived a better life than if I had chosen to ignore the issue. Because of my foolishness, left to my own devices I no doubt would be dead by now.
Instead I have the respect of my family and friends, and my self-respect.
A few years ago I had a heart attack. What a blessing it was to know if I died on the operating table my family was taken care of, because of the faithfulness of the Lord, and I was going to a wonderful place.
I may be going in soon for a minor operation. Actually no operation is really safe because of the many unforeseen disasters that can happen in the best of hospitals. But I still am rejoicing because it is a win-win situation for me. If I get a staph infection in the hospital and die, my family is safe in the arms of Jesus and I am in a far, far better place. If I live I keep on preaching and serving the Lord, hopefully gaining in wisdom each day.
You cant lose with Jesus.
What will I do with Jesus, Pilate asked. This is the most important question you or I will ever answer. To answer incorrectly is to face a fearful future after death. To answer correctly is to insure the best possible life in this present valley of the shadow of death, and then an eternity of eternities in which, as C. S. Lewis puts it, each chapter is more wonderful than the previous.
What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ? Pilate asked. They all answered, Crucify him! (Matthew 27:22)
Deferred Hope That thing you desire so fervently will it really bring you lasting joy? You had better ask God about it!
The mark of a mature Christian is his willingness wait for the Lord's time. The immature Christian cannot bear to have his intense desires remain unfulfilled.
Sometimes we burn with passion about one thing or another. This emotion almost never is of the Lord.
Whether we are speaking or a relationship, a circumstance, or a thing, we never should be in a state of fierce possessiveness. You can count on the fact that this attraction is not coming from the Lord but from your soul and flesh.
I have noticed that when we are burning with desire, or are fearful, or excited, it is not wise to prophesy. Invariably the prophecy will be distorted.
The ways of the Lord are those of peace, joy, contentment, not burning desire.
Young Christians often experience some sort of flaming desire. They are positive God has spoken to them. Usually it is not God.
So what do you do? You pray! pray! pray! You wait! wait! wait!
If there is an elder or someone you trust, you might find it profitable to consult that individual. Sometimes even an unsaved person can give you good advice.
Ill tell you how Satan works. He loves to remain in the dark. He will counsel you to not tell anyone about your secret desire. They will never understand.
Satan works in the subjective realm. God works in the objective. The things that are of God are plain, simple, solid, down home rather than exotic. They are Sarah rather than Hagar.
If you are a romantic type of person, Satan will work in elevated tones. Symphonic music. Dreams and visions of castles and shining cities. You will be swept off your feet with desire, being certain God is lifting you into a better realm. You feel wonderful, raised to a new level of being.
This sort of thing almost always is Satan no matter how beautiful it may seem at the time.
Ill tell you one thing; this world is under a curse. When you try to make the present world a paradise you will enter the realms of deception. This world is the valley of the shadow of death. It is a rugged wilderness of trouble all the way, not a romantic vision of loveliness.
Some are led astray by their love of money, or adventure, or lust, or drugs, or a desire to be preeminent. Satan studies their profile and pitches his deceptions accordingly.
I guess it takes many years before the bonfire burns down to glowing ashes. You can cook over glowing ashes, not over a bonfire.
Do we wait until we have no more desire for this or that? You wait until the object of your affections becomes manageable. As long as it is, I simply will die if I dont get her, or him, or receive this thing, or that thing, or this or that happens to me, you can be sure you are dealing with an idol that you desire to worship.
You know, the strongest temptations we ever will have will be in the area that God has placed in our heart. The Lord Jesus was tested with His desire to govern the kingdoms of the world, because it is to this He has been appointed by the Father.
The problem is, Satan attempts to persuade us to take a shortcut. If the Lord Jesus had worshiped Satan in order to gain the kingdoms of the world, He would have lost everything.
It is the same with you and me. Satan will work on those areas that are our greatest strength, our appointed destiny. God has placed great joy ahead of us because He plans on giving us the desires of our heart. But first God has to make certain we will obey Him if we never receive what we desire so strongly. The Father tested the Lord Jesus in this manner.
Have you ever wanted something badly, such as a new car; and then a few weeks later you took it for granted. The truth is, nothing permanently satisfies a human being except the possession of the Lord Himself.
Have you ever wanted something badly, then began to feel it was not the Lords will, but grasped it anyway? How did it turn out? (You answer that.)
Do you remember Davids son, Amnon? He was madly in love with his sister, Tamar. Oh if I could only have Tamar how happy I would be.
Amnon raped Tamar, and then hated her. What a tragic series of results from this one act of passion, ending in Amnons murder by Absalom!
If we will delight ourselves in the Lord, He shall give us the desires of our heart. In His presence is fullness of joy. At his right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire comes it is a tree of life.
We cry out I thirst! I thirst! God brings us through the wilderness and feeds us with manna each day. He is doing this to test our heart, to see if we will obey Him when we possess the true riches in the glorious ages to come. God will have no disobedient sons who, having been equipped with mighty power, proceed to undo all the good God has accomplished as they rage about like Satan in their self-will.
I dont like to talk about keys to the successful Christian life. I point people toward the Lord, not toward spiritual principles.
But it certainly is true that all saints have one thing in common: God defers our most ardent desires sometimes for many years.
The higher rank you are destined to occupy, the greater the treasures that are to be yours, the more severely you are going to be tested in the realm of deferred hope.
This is difficult for American Christians. Any time you interfere with the immediate pleasure of an American you are asking for trouble.
This is why the personal cross of the believer is not preached very much in our country. We dont like to hear about being denied something we desire intensely. We talk about God being a good God, meaning He will never let anything happen to us that deprives us of pleasure.
I wonder how many American Christians can suffer tragic loss, and then look up to God knowing and stating God is seeking our good by permitting us to suffer pain. Anyone can praise God when he have everything he wants. But to praise God when we are so low we have to look up to see the bottom that is an act of majesty worthy of one of Gods future kings.
Yes, we American Christians are soft and spoiled. But God loves us. Therefore the future will be filled with all sorts of exercises in patience, courage, and trust. We will be made perfect and enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.
So the wise Christian will put all of his treasures, including his loved ones, in Heaven. As we say, he will put them all on the altar.
Then he will set out to serve Christ with a perfect heart, knowing full well that the whole universe is working for his good, to bring him into the moral image of Christ that he might be a brother of Christ. The stars in their courses are fighting against Sisera.
Look for the waters of Shiloah that run softly. In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. If you will serve the Lord diligently you will be singing and dancing in the heights of Zion when the world is in flames. Only then will you be in a position to help our citizens once the judgment of God begins to operate.
Be of good cheer. It is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the Kingdom. You may be being tested now, but better days are ahead. After you have suffered a while He will establish, strengthen, and settle you.
Put your hopes with Christ in Heaven. Think of what it will be like when you die and hear the Well done! of the Lord. And then picture yourself in the Day of Resurrection when a grateful Lord bestows on you all you have ever desired.
In His Presence is fullness of joy. You cant have fullness of joy until you have everything you desire.
All that you want must first be crucified. Then, if it will bring you perfect joy, it will be raised again in Christ. Then it is your eternal possession.
Whatever you do, dont reach out and grasp something you want until you are absolutely positive this is Gods will for you. Otherwise you are asking for a great deal of pain.
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. (Psalms 37:4-6)
We Have Not Because We Ask Not Cry out to God with all your might. Who knows what wonders He will show you!
It must be a puzzle to the angels when they consider the promises in the Bible, and how few people take advantage of them.
I guess there are reasons why we dont request and receive more of the treasures God has promised to those who ask.
One reason is we probably dont believe He will answer. We may have been a Christian for many years. Perhaps we have asked God several times for something, for a loved one to turn to the Lord, for example; and it hasnt taken place.
Of recent date is the idea of trying to bring answers into existence by speaking the word of faith. You know, speaking the word of faith is not the same as going to the Lord in prayer.
We may stagger at the promise of God. The Lord Jesus promised that whoever believed in Him would do greater works than He performed. We may figure, This is impossible. There is no use hoping I am going to do greater works than Christ, so whats the use of even considering it.
Another reason, in America at least, is we are too busy to spend the time to get serious with God. If we ask, and it doesnt happen right now, we figure it will never take place. We are used to computers and microwave ovens that act when we direct them to.
Sometimes people feel God is too busy to pay attention to their requests. After all, He is running the universe.
Then there is the famous God helps those who help themselves. The idea is, put feet on your prayers. Putting feet on your prayers is something like putting shoes on an eagle. Eagles dont get much accomplished while they are walking around, but they are impressive when they are soaring over the mountains (without shoes!).
We have many reasons why we do not pray for what God has promised. None of these reasons is worth a spoonful of dust.
We may have asked God for something and we dont have it yet. This is no reason to stop asking, hoping, and believing.
The Lord Jesus said we could ask what we will, in His name, and it shall be done for us. If this isnt true neither is John 3:16. God does not lie!
So we have to ask ourselves, How come I didnt get my answer?
We must realize God always honors His Word. The moment you ask for something in the name of the Lord Jesus you enter the covenant: Ask what you will and it shall be done for you.
You have asked. Now what? What happens is the mighty engines of God begin to turn in terms of your request.
God examines you and your request. He looks to see if what you are asking for is what you really desire, or if it something you just think you desire and will not bring you joy.
If you are a person of prayer you may note that God may modify your request. You have to kind of roll with the Spirit. It may be God knows that what you are asking will result in great misery. You do not want that, do you?
Of course not. So if you are patient, God will show you why what you are asking for is not what you really want.
You certainly dont want God to get tired of your asking and give you something just to get you to stop asking, when He knows it is going to make you miserable.
God hears when you pray. Lets say that God knows your request will bring you the joy you are hoping for. God also understands that if you received it now you could not hold it, just as Adam and Eve were unable to hold Paradise once they had it.
So what will God do? You guessed it! He will begin to work on you so once you get what you are asking for you will be able to keep it, and it will bring you lasting joy.
So there are good reasons why our answer may be delayed.
On the other hand, we may receive what we ask for the moment the prayer is out of our mouth.
As far as trying to get what you want by exercising faith, keep away from this. This is not true biblical faith. It is a way of affecting the unseen world by imposing your soul force. You dont want this. It is not a prayer to Jesus. It is your soul seeking to utilize power to get what it wants.
No true Christian wants any power that is not from Christ. Moreover, no true saint attempts to get power from Christ or get the power of Christ. The true saint is a worshiper of the Lord. He prays and listens to what the Lord wants. Then he obeys. He is not Gods man of faith and power. He is a slave of the great and powerful Christ.
There is a big difference here. We are to call on the Lord, not on our soulish faith.
Abraham did not stagger at the promise of God. When Abraham had no child, the Lord told him that his seed would be as the stars of Heaven. Abraham said Amen.
It is interesting that although Abraham had never seen anyone raised from the dead, as far as we know, yet he believed if he sacrificed Isaac, God would raise Isaac from the dead in order to keep Gods Word to Abraham.
Notice carefully that this was not a presumptuous attitude or action on Abrahams part. Abraham was forced into this dilemma as he obeyed God. He was not stepping out in faith.
Abraham considered the earth and the firmament and came to the conclusion that God is able to do anything He chooses to do.
If Jesus spoke of greater works, then greater works it is. I have asked since I was in Bible school to perform the greater works. I will see this come to pass some day, in this world or the next. God means exactly what He says.
We Americans are characterized by our ability to get things done. We are not a meditative people. We are in action. We are busy.
It is well that we are not lazy. We know from the Scripture about what happened to the man who buried his talent.
However, busyness and constant activity can interfere with our ability to serve the Lord properly. It takes time to pray each day. I do not mean to just get down and go through our shopping list. I mean to wait before God until we know He has heard us, and we begin to hear from Him. We have to cultivate diligently the ability to pray without ceasing.
This morning the handheld part of my cordless phone was not functioning. Out of long practice, the first thing I did was bring the problem before the Lord. I immediately received assurance that the problem would be fixed.
By ten oclock this morning the phone was working. I called up the technician at Panasonic. He walked me through the steps to correct what was wrong.
Perhaps some people would have fretted and become upset or even angry. The phone is only seven months old. They might have spoiled their whole day planning the best way to take advantage of the guarantee.
How much simpler to just go to the Lord and see what He has to say about it, and then receive the peace that comes when we know the Lord has heard and the answer is on the way.
What peace we often forfeit because we do not bring everything to God in prayer, as the old hymn goes.
Are you developing the habit of bringing everything to God in prayer; the small things as well as the great? Someone said you can cut wood faster if you will take the time to sharpen the axe. The same is true of prayer. Time spent in prayer now may save us a great deal of time later on.
God is never too busy to take the time to hear the slightest of our requests. It is we who are too busy, not God. How disappointed God becomes when one of His saints fails to bring a problem to Him, thinking that God is too busy to listen and answer.
God knows the sparrow that falls to the ground. God knows the number of hairs on our head. Not only that, He knows the molecular structure of each hair.
God is not a human being, He is the Power that brought into existence the entire universe. He knows the way of the ant as well as He does the path of the remotest galaxy. Yes, He wants to hear our slightest question. He is not too busy. We may be too busy to ask, but God is not too busy to hear and answer our request.
Did you ever hear someone say God helps those who help themselves? You know the motive behind this saying? It is that people want to be left alone to live their life without God interfering. It is an arrogant statement. It is the very opposite of the just shall live by faith.
As we pray, God may urge us to perform some difficult task. I know of a lady who was in great pain. God told her to get out of bed. She forced herself to push against the pain and get up. When she did she was healed.
This is not something we are to attempt, unless God so directs. We may make ourselves worse trying to step out in faith.
The true saint looks to God for every detail of life. We may look for formulas for spiritual success. God looks for a loving relationship with us.
And as far as putting feet on our prayers, which is a cynical way of saying it is fine to pray as long as we then go out and answer our own prayers, it is, as I said, like putting shoes on an eagle. Eagles are meant to fly. Prayers have wings, not shoes. They are meant to soar in the heavens.
It is commendable to be practical and to work hard. There is no place in the Kingdom for laziness, carelessness, for lack of diligence.
Prayer is not a substitute for hard work. Prayer is our lifeline, like the oxygen hose that attaches a diver to his ship. All the effort in the world will not accomplish our desires if we are cut off from the oxygen supply, from the Life that comes from above. The diver receives his life and instructions from above, as well as the pressure that enables him to resist the pressure of the water.
Let us think of our life that way.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3)
The Highest Form of Righteousness We are to press forward until we know the will of Christ at all times. This is the highest form of righteousness.
Right here, if we can get hold of it, is the answer to the perennial question concerning the transition from the Law of Moses to the new covenant.
Under the Law of Moses the individual heard or read what was written in the commandments, and he did them. Maybe he asked the Lord for help. If he was like we are today, he did not ask the Lord for help. He knew what he was supposed to do and he did it.
This is why the scribes and Pharisees reacted so weirdly when the Lord healed on the Sabbath day. Instead of using their common sense and realizing that a great blessing had occurred, or going to prayer to find out what God was saying about Jesus healing on the Sabbath, they proclaimed: This man is not of God. He works on the Sabbath!
Not really bright, you say. But this is what we do. The difference is we proclaim: Grace. We dont have to do what the New Testament states because we are saved by grace!
The scribes and Pharisees would not have dreamed of asking God if Jesus was from Him. They had the Law. What more do you need? You dont need God when you have the Law!
The same is true today. The believers dont ask God if He is with them while they are sinning. They dont look to the Lord. They just repeat their traditions.
No wonder the Holy Spirit spoke through Peter to the Sanhedrin as He did. The Holy Spirit is speaking the same way to us, if we could hear Him. He is reproving the Christian churches in America because we are not preaching the demands of Christ and His Apostles. We are hiding behind grace.
Do you think the believers ask the Lord if there is going to be a pre-tribulation rapture? They do not. They trust their unscriptural tradition because it makes them feel good.
Do you think the believers asked the Lord about the faith and prosperity errors? They did not. They wanted to believe the Lord desired to give them all they wished, and, like the scribes and Pharisees, they went on their way rejoicing in their religious blindness.
It appears God has never, under any covenant, been able to convince very many people of the simplicity of His way.
All God wants is for us to listen to Him and do what He says. That is all there is to it. The trappings of religion serve a good purpose only when they teach us how to listen to God and do His will.
This is specially true under the new covenant. The one sacrifice for sin has been made. It satisfies for eternity Gods demand for justice. The innocent has been slain on behalf of the guilty, so the guilty have been forgiven all their sins.
What God expects to get from this incomprehensible action, the sacrifice of His own Son, is people who will seek Him continually and do what He tells them to do. "Whatsoever He says to you, do it."
But what has He received instead? Spiritual babies living lawless, immoral lives, babbling about a "rapture" that soon will deliver them from the pressures of life on the earth. Since the 'rapture' sounds so wonderful, American Christians, who are always looking for ways to be a Christian without really trying, don't seem to care that this teaching can easily be disproved.)
What about the Law of Moses? It has been replaced. We are in such confusion today that the believers think we still are under the Ten Commandments. However, their position is (as nearly as one can tell) that we are under the Ten Commandments, but the only law is the law of love, and we are saved by grace in any case.
So we have millions of spiritual babies in the United States who by no means are prepared for the coming of the King of kings on His great war stallion.
It is a grand mess. Hard times are coming to our country, and these tribulations will drive believers, who never would have changed otherwise, to draw close to the Lord and abandon their foolish ways.
No, we are not under the Ten Commandments. Then what law governs us? The law that governs us is called by the Apostle Paul, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
How does that work?
It works as every moment of every day and night we look to Jesus so we know what we are supposed to do.
Are we supposed to read the New Testament? Absolutely! We are to read it each day. If we read it prayerfully, the Holy Spirit will make specific passages real to us. These passages will serve as spiritual food for the day.
We are to obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. When we have difficulty we are to come boldly to the Throne of Grace that we may receive the wisdom and strength we need to do what the New Testament commands.
What if we dont, but trust only in grace to save us? In this case, when we stand before Christ we will hear, Depart from Me. I never knew you, you wicked person.
Oh Brother Thompson, I cannot believe good ol Jesus would say that to me," a lady exclaimed one time in one of my home meetings. A few months later she was in jail. You may not believe this but I tell you before Christ it happened just as I have stated.
We are in a state of delusion in the United States. We have been told that God views us with unconditional love so no matter what we do, God forgives us and loves us. Anyway, we are about to be caught up to Paradise so we wont be harmed during the Great Tribulation.
We ought to know better than this! Have we never read the history of the Christian Church? Are we so numb in our brains that we cannot understand we in America today are not Gods pets that He should spare us while all the rest of His children (many of whom lived lives that would put us to shame) were tortured and murdered for the Gospels sake? Are we so lacking in intelligence that we cannot understand the unreality of such a position?
If we would take the time to pray and ask God what His attitude is toward American Christians in the present hour we would find that the Spirit of God is not speaking of a rapture. Rather He is warning us to press into Jesus that we may be able to stand throughout the age of physical and moral horrors that is approaching the United States of America.
The way the new covenant works is this: We receive Christ as our Savior and are baptized in water. Then each day we pray, read our Bible, and seek the Lord for that day. When the Spirit of God points out our sins to us, we are to confess them, denounce them as evil, and renounce them, declaring we want nothing more to do with them.
We are to gather with fervent disciples, all of us exhorting one another that we might live a godly life.
We are to give, serve, and cultivate whatever gifts and ministries the Spirit is pleased to give us.
We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus each day.
We are to live like this diligently, prayerfully, enduring hardness as good soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are to fight the good fight of faith, meaning we look to God for all things and do not trust our own abilities. We take nothing for granted but look to the Lord constantly.
This is the only acceptable Christian life. When we live this way we are in a state of freedom from condemnation.
This is how the new covenant works. The eternal moral law of God is being written in our mind and on our heart, line upon line, until Christ has been formed in us.
If I am hearing from the Lord, we are in a time of travail now, and Christ soon is to come forth in us to a greater extent than we have known or thought possible.
In the early days of the previous century the Spirit spoke to some people about tongues and told them tongues would soon come to them, as in the days of the Apostles. Suddenly they were speaking in tongues, although they had never seen this phenomenon occur previously.
I think today the Spirit is telling us that Christ soon is to appear in His people in a way greater then we have known.
The Apostle Paul stated that he was crucified with Christ and Christ was living in him. I believe this. I want this experience. I believe Christ in us will be the powerful witness of the closing days of the Church Age, as portrayed symbolically by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
To obey Christ at each moment of our life is the highest form of righteousness it is possible to have. The Law of Moses is as a slave who brings us to the school of Christ. The Law has served its purpose. Now we leave the slave and look to Christ in every matter of life.
It is not true, as is often preached, that we are "not under law but under grace." I understand this is a quotation from the Bible, the inerrant Word of God, and in the sense Paul meant, this statement is accurate and true.
But we interpret the expression to mean no law applies to us because we are saved by grace, meaning how we behave is somewhat irrelevant.
In fact, it is this misunderstanding that provides the foundation for the rapture error. The thought is, if we can just get to Heaven our problem is solved. We will be happy forever.
This is not the purpose of salvation, to bring us to Heaven where we will be happy forever. The purpose of salvation is to transform us into the image of Christ until we truly are brothers of Christ and sons of God. Then we must enter untroubled rest in Christ in God. Then we are charged with reproducing the moral image of Christ throughout the creation. The final result of this process is rulership over all the works of Gods hands, and the responsibility for judging the world and angels as well.
So to be caught up to Paradise in a so-called rapture would accomplish nothing whatever, except to remove the needed testimony from the earth.
When Paul spoke of our being caught up to meet Christ in the air he was speaking of the gathering together of the army of the Lord so we can descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Glorious days are coming, but the believers are not prepared. Many of them are spiritual infants, prattling about grace, Heaven, and the pre-tribulation rapture.
But God loves His babies and will take care of them, I suppose. But they will not be raised from the dead and ascend to meet Christ in the air when He returns, for they would only be in the way when the work of the Kingdom gets under way.
The King of kings will come from the East with His kings and lords. They will destroy the forces of wickedness in the earth and bring righteousness, peace, and joy to the nations of saved people on the earth.
You can be part of this if you wish, but you are going to have to give everything you are and possess to the Lord Jesus to use however He wishes.
This is the highest form of righteousness.
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
Righteous Conduct The scepter of the Lord Jesus Christ is the scepter of righteousness. This means the Lord Jesus will govern righteously and enforce righteous behavior.
Holiness is a right relationship with God. Righteousness is a right relationship with people.
Righteous conduct is not emphasized nearly enough in Christian preaching and teaching. In its place we have a legally ascribed righteousness that cannot serve the Kingdom purposes of God. Ascribed, imputed righteousness enables us to get started on the path of actual righteousness. Otherwise we would be so consumed with guilt we would not approach God. But now through the blood atonement we are without condemnation; we are free to escape the chains of Satan and be transformed into the moral image of Jesus Christ.
Lets think for a moment about the different kinds of righteousness.
First, there is the righteousness directed by our conscience. This is a very important kind of righteousness. There seems to have been born within us a sense of right and wrong. You can see this in a small child. Perhaps it is the eternal moral law of God written in the heart of man.
Religion often violates the righteousness of the conscience. We see this in heathen religions that urge the worshipers to eat the flesh of dead people. This is a disgusting thing to do, but such worshipers are compelled by the precepts of their religion.
We see religion violating conscience as the Pharisees sought to kill Lazarus after Christ had raised him from the dead. The Pharisees understood that people were coming to believe in Christ because Lazarus was brought forth from the cave.
We see the Muslim religion violating conscience as the suicide bombers murder civilians in the name of Allah. We see the Christian religion violating conscience when covetous evangelists rob widows; when heretics are burned at the stake; when people are advised that even though they are continuing to sin God loves them with unconditional love. Our conscience knows better than this!
Nature plus mans conscience guide us in the way of righteousness and of faith in God.
Many religions encourage righteousness. The Muslim religion is a good example with its emphasis on moral purity and abstinence from alcohol.
The Christian religion used to emphasize righteous behavior; but now that grace is being overemphasized, attempts to behave righteously are scorned as works or Pharisaism. It is as though the earnest disciple is trying to improve on the perfect righteousness of Christ.
There is the righteousness of the person who keeps the Law of Moses, as we see in the case of the Hebrews Prophets, and the mother and father of John the Baptist.
There is the righteousness ascribed to the individual who looks to Christ for salvation, and then seeks to follow the Holy Spirit each day. The righteousness ascribed to us by faith in Christ is the righteousness we would have gained had we obeyed the Law of Moses perfectly.
Then there is the righteousness of the Christian who prays, reads the New Testament, and with the help of the Lord does what is written therein. This is not an ascribed righteousness but an actual righteousness of deed.
The disciple, as he or she looks to the Holy Spirit for strength and wisdom, tells the truth at all times. He is honest, straightforward, acting without covetousness or envy. He forgives those who sin against him. He does not fly into rages but maintains a kindly attitude toward all, as much as possible. He is a peacemaker. He does not respond spitefully or slander people.
This is an actual, practical righteousness, not merely an imputed righteousness.
Finally there is the righteousness of the new covenant. This righteousness of behavior proceeds from the forming of Christ, the Divine Nature, in people. It is the image of Christ created in us, being built from the body and blood of Christ. It is supernatural. It is Divine. It is that which is perfect.
As we obediently keep the commands of Christ and His Apostles, Christ is formed in us. The Divine Seed does not sin. It is righteous by nature.
The moral image of Christ is the testimony the world is waiting to see. When the world sees Christ in us, then the people of the nations will believe it is God who has sent Jesus Christ.
There is a reason why throughout the Church Age, by one device or another, Satan has sought to convince believers it is not necessary to live righteously; or if it is necessary, it is not possible.
It seems to me that numerous priests of the Catholic churches emphasize the necessity for righteous behavior. However, the approach seems to be limited to a recognition of the frailty of man. The weekly sins are confessed and then the believer makes his own atonement by prescribed disciplines.
The Evangelical churches not only recognize the frailty of man, they teach that God has given grace as an alternative to righteous behavior.
Neither the Catholic churches nor the Evangelical churches appear to be aware there is enough power in the new covenant to destroy the works of the devil in man.
Our moral transformation can take place anywhere, I suppose, whether we are living on the earth or stationed somewhere in the spirit realm. But we have to respond to God at the time He makes us aware of our need, wherever we are.
If I am not mistaken, today the Holy Spirit is telling us that the power for moral transformation is present. If we will listen to the Spirit each day He will point out to us the areas of our personality that are displeasing to God. Then, if we will cooperate by confessing and turning away from our misbehavior, the Spirit will drive the unrighteousness from us.
In addition to this, I think we are going to experience much more of the Presence of Christ in us than we have known before.
God has determined, I believe, to provide an unprecedented testimony during the closing days of the Church Age. The testimony will be that of Christ within the saints. The saints will be one witness, so to speak. The other Witness will be Christ who will be revealing Himself in His people.
We will see Him, as He has promised, and the world will see Him in us.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19, 20)
For two thousand years the Christian churches have understood little beyond imputed, ascribed righteousness. I suppose we have understood that somehow, somewhere, at some time, God will clean us up. It is certain none of us desires to enter a paradise or a new Jerusalem filled with sinning people.
Well somehow is by the power of Christ working through the Holy Spirit.
Somewhere is here on the earth.
At some time is now. The hour is here now. The tares of wickedness are coming to maturity in the world. It is time for the wheat of righteousness to come to maturity so the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
The scepter of Christs Kingdom is a scepter of righteousness. There is no Kingdom of God apart from righteous behavior. There is no eternal life apart from righteous behavior, for eternal life always follows righteous behavior.
Gods Kingdom is first righteousness; then peace, which is the result of righteousness; then joy, which is based on peace. All of this is accomplished by the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God and is maintained by the power and wisdom of the Spirit of God.
If we will ask Him to, God will pour out righteousness on us. He is more willing to give us righteousness of personality and behavior than we are to receive it.
The Lord emphasized that when people see the righteous behavior of the followers of Christ they will glorify God. Imputed righteousness can never serve as the Divine testimony because it cannot be seen by the world.
Since the Christian churches of our day are counting on imputed righteousness to save them, believing this is all God desires, there is no testimony for people to see. This may be especially true in the United States of America, for I am afraid our citizenry has become somewhat skeptical concerning Christians and their religion.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, (Romans 14:17)
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (I Peter 2;12)
Adding Religious Practices to Christ To walk with the living Jesus, to be guided by him in every detail of life, is the highest form of law and righteousness. Any religious routine added to such guidance brings confusion and is loss for Christ.
People universally have a natural bent toward the practices of religion. In the United States there is so much emphasis on the acquisition of material goods that the idea of doing something just to please God is not always popular. Nevertheless numerous American people practice some form of religion, even if it is a self-directed sort of activity such as Yoga.
Because the true Christian salvation actually entails living in the Presence and guidance of the living God, and not some sort of combination of rules that one can follow, it is difficult for the believers to just look to Jesus and do what He says, without adding some observance to it in order to assure ones self that all requirements have been met.
Now here is the problem. There are some Evangelical groups that indeed do say there is nothing one is to do, just believe. The problem here is that while the believers do nothing and just believe, they are missing the other half of the new covenant that they do not understand, which is to live in the Presence and guidance of Jesus.
They are told they are going to Heaven by grace and there is nothing further for them to do except to "go out and get other people saved." Since most Christians do not have the Divine grace necessary to do the work of an evangelist, they end up just attending church and continuing with their daily life as usual. They live under condemnation to a certain extent because they are not doing all the pastor is telling them to do. While they agree with the teaching, they just dont have the grace to practice what is being taught, and so they continue with their ordinary life.
By the way, this practice of sitting and not doing what is taught produces a cynicism and hardening. Once this happens to the believers it is almost impossible to awaken them once God really does move. They have learned to let the preaching just go over their head and continue to play the customary church game.
Because of the void produced by the grace-rapture-Heaven-get other people saved emphasis, some believers are going to Jewish synagogues and embracing the Torah. Why do they do this? It is because they need something to adhere to during their daily life that makes them feel like they are serving God.
So they observe circumcision and the feast days, after all the warnings of the Apostle Paul against returning to the ordinances of the Law of Moses.
Now, adding circumcision and the feast days to the redemption that is in Christ is like gluing feathers on a horse. The feathers wont help the horse run any faster and they look out of place on the animal.
Why wont adding the Jewish observances help with our salvation? It is because our salvation is the forming of Christ in us; it is not the following of religious rules. Our guilt was removed completely through the blood atonement made on the cross. We continue without condemnation provided we are following the Spirit of God each day.
Right here is the problem: we do not understand the necessity for following the Spirit, and we dont know how to follow the Spirit. And so we just attend church and listen to the preacher tell us how we ought to go out and compel them to come in.
You cant follow the Spirit and observe any part of the Law of Moses or of any other religion. Why is this? Because the Spirit will never lead you to do this. In order to follow the precepts of a religion you have to take your eyes off the Lord and fasten them on your rules.
You can go out and evangelize if the Spirit guides and empowers you to do so, but otherwise you cant. God does not expect you to attempt to perform the work of the ministry apart from the Holy Spirit.
A believer has to learn how to follow the Spirit. How do we do this? We pray every day. We read our Bible every day. We gather together with fervent disciples, if we can find any. If we cant find any fervent disciples who are following the Spirit of God, we try to locate a church that is not confining itself to the popular traditions, and seek fellowship there. Or we meet in our home on a regular basis with others who want to be disciples of the Lord. Leaving an established church can be dangerous because fellowship is important, as is the oversight of godly elders. But it is better than sitting and fretting because of the unscriptural ideas that are preached today.
We need to learn to pray! This is difficult for us Americans because we are people of action. Also, it takes a while before we are enjoying our prayer time. At first our efforts at prayer may be nothing more than an unwelcome interruption of our busy schedule. But when we learn to wait on the Lord, our prayer time becomes the most enjoyable part of our day.
An important aspect of learning to walk in the Spirit is that of bringing every decision to the Lord. I mean every decision of the day, such as what to eat (if we have food); who to talk to and what to say; every aspect of your daily work; when to visit people and when to stay home; how to bring up our children. As the pressures of spiritual darkness come upon America we will have to learn to pray without ceasing if we are to survive.
In the meanwhile Christ is being formed in us.
Can you see what I mean when I say religious practices are a distraction? They do not add to the forming of Christ in us.
Of course, all of us have many duties. We have to do what is set before us. We may not have the option of choosing whether or not to perform the majority of tasks of the day.
Nevertheless we can pray about each step we take, asking for wisdom and guidance. This is how we learn to follow the Spirit of God. And those who are following the Spirit of God enjoy perfect righteousness in the sight of the Lord. This is how the new covenant operates.
Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
Removing Sin As soon as you clearly define a sinful behavior and utterly denounce and renounce it, you are well on your way to total deliverance from that behavior.
Ever since I have been a Christian I have been interested in gaining the victory over sin. Have you? It just seems like the right way to go.
Many years ago I came across the concept of what we used to call the death route. The idea was you were to reckon yourself dead. I preached this with all my might. I think I was on the right train but the wrong track.
Anyway, I was a preacher of sanctification. I thought I was doing pretty well.
There was a revival in Detroit, in a church named The Armory. It seems the Holy Spirit was leading people to confess their sins to one another. They claimed to be getting deliverance from sin this way.
An evangelist named Thelma Dotta Chambers came from that revival to San Diego, where Audrey and I were living at the time.
Now, put yourself in my place. I was preaching reckon yourself dead. This means sin was not active in your life because you were dead. Right?
Mrs. Chambers was not preaching that your sin was dead. She was teaching that your sin was alive and needed to be confessed.
Can you see any discrepancy here?
Well, I was ego-involved with my reputation as a Bible teacher and found this hard going. I didn't come out against Mrs. Chambers. I just didn't know what to do.
One night Audrey and I returned from National City, where Brother Dowells tent was located, to our trailer in Chula Vista. I looked in the mirror and asked the Lord if there was sin in me. I felt the reply was in the affirmative.
Without further ado, Audrey and I got back in the car and drove to where the evangelist was staying in North Park. I confessed whatever sins came to mind and Mrs. Chambers prayed for me.
Now, what is the problem? Paul told us to reckon ourselves dead. But obviously sin was still present and active. It was like sin came to life.
It is common teaching in the fundamental churches that the blood covers our sins and consequently God cannot see them. Well, is this true or not? Why should we confess sins that God cannot see, especially when we are dead to sin?
We have a little theological confusion here.
I knew now I was on the right track. I knew there was sin in my life. I knew also that James says we are to confess our sins one to another. Also, the Apostle John exhorts us to confess our sins that God may cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Well, without understanding the theology, I continued to confess my sins to my wife and to the brothers in the church. We had quite a revival going in the tent where we worshiped.
It has taken me several years to come to an understanding of how redemption operates. I dont claim to have all the answers, but I am clearer than I was back in those days.
I guess the first understanding that came was that Paul was not giving us a formula for deliverance when he invited us to reckon ourselves dead. I think a close study of the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans will bear out that Paul was not telling us how to get delivered; he was advising us how to orient ourselves to the Christian redemption.
Paul tells us in the sixth chapter that if we as Christians continue to serve sin we will die spiritually. If we would have eternal life we must choose to be the slave of righteousness rather than the slave of sin.
Where, then, does reckon ourselves dead fit in? I think Paul meant that to continue in sin is not consistent with our position of crucifixion with Christ. By faith we take the position that our first personality, our adamic nature, was crucified along with Christ. Now we have been raised with Christ and have ascended with Him to the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
Notice that this is not a formula for deliverance. It merely is explaining our spiritual position which we take by faith. Paul wrote this because people were deducing from the earlier chapters of Romans that Paul was saying it doesnt matter how we behave because we are saved by faith in Christ.
(There are a good many Christians who believe this to the present day!)
It is in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans that Paul tells us how to be delivered from sin. He says if we will put sin to death through the Holy Spirit we will live in eternal life. But if we continue in the acts of the sinful nature we will die spiritually.
So reckon yourself dead is an orientation, not a means of deliverance. The deliverance comes through our daily interaction with the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting to observe Gods method of dealing with the sins of mankind. First He provides an atonement, thereby removing the guilt of the sins of the world. Now God is free to deal with our personality.
One aspect needs to be made clear, because people often stumble over this.
When we receive Christ our sins are forgiven. But we still have a sinful nature. So the forgiveness aspect of redemption is decidedly incomplete. We are not acceptable to God when our sins have been forgiven but we still are sinning. (This could go on forever!)
Rather, the blood atonement is the entrance into the plan of redemption. The plan of redemption includes the total destruction of Satan and his works in our spirit, our soul, and our body. Redemption includes also the filling of our spirit, our soul, and our body with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness is extremely important of course. But it is the means to the end, not the end.
The types of the Old Testament reveal that the removal of sin from us will come toward the end of the plan of salvation, not at the beginning. For example: the Israelites were saved out of Egypt, a type of initial salvation. But it was many years later that the Israelites had to fight their way into Canaan. So it is now in the history of the Christian Church that we are being prepared to fight our way into our land of promise.
The blood of the Passover lamb protected the Jews from the destroying angel. They were under the blood, so to speak. Their sins were not mentioned.
Fifty days later they came to Mount Sinai. It was at this point God began to talk to them about their sins. At the same time God provided animal sacrifice so they could remain without condemnation.
Mount Sinai represents Pentecost, in the symbolism of the Bible. The Holy Spirit came down in tongues of fire (not as a peaceful Dove) upon the disciples because it is the task of the Holy Spirit to expose sin and remove it. This is the work of Divine judgment.
We may have thought we received the Holy Spirit in order to talk in tongues and also to receive power to minister. This is true. But the Holy Spirit has another role to play, and that is to purify the Bride of the Lamb from her blemishes.
The time has come for judgment to begin in the house of God.
First God had to deal with the sins of the Israelites, giving them the great moral law, the Ten Commandments.
Then God directed the Israelites to bring the moral law into the demon-occupied land of Canaan. Canaan was to be their rest once sin was driven from it.
The Jews failed to maintain their rest because they did not obey God.
Now we come to the actual plan of redemption, of which the journey of Israel is one of many illustrations.
The earth and its nations are our inheritance, our land of promise. The demons are occupying our land, our rest.
First God has to save us, that is, bring us out of Egypt.
Then God has to deliver us from our internal enemies, our worldliness, lust, and self-will.
Also, God has many things to teach us in the wilderness, such as learning how to live by the grace of God given to us each day; how to war against the enemy; how to be content with our role in the Kingdom; the importance of righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to God.
The day will come, and it is approaching swiftly, when it will be time to descend with Jesus Christ and enter our inheritance in the earth. We will bring Gods moral law with us, just as the Jews brought the Ten Commandments in the Ark of the Covenant.
The difference will be that Gods moral law will be carried in our personality, not in an ark.
Sin has been covered, to the present hour. We have been protected by the Passover blood. But such is not our inheritance. Our inheritance is the fullness of Gods Person, the fullness of resurrection life, the uttermost parts of the earth, and the people whom God saves from the nations of the earth.
Daniel tells us that God is going to put an end to sin.
Seventy sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
Sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God, as Satan exerted his will against the Father.
God has a tremendous plan to remove sin from His creation.
First God perfected the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience, and then placed Him on the highest throne of all.
Next in line come the victorious saints. They also will sit with Christ on His throne after they have been cleansed from sin and perfected in obedience.
After this the balance of the elect will be delivered from sin.
Then, the entire Church, the new Jerusalem, will work with the nations of saved people on the earth, teaching them to keep the moral laws of God.
In the year in which we live, the Holy Spirit is beginning the work of bringing the victorious saints to perfect victory in Christ. Every believer is invited to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this program.
No sin or disobedience whatever is tolerated. God has set out to put an end to sin.
When the Holy Spirit points out something in our behavior that is not in the moral image of the Lord, we are to confess it as sin; denounce it as wickedness; renounce it, declaring we never for eternity want anything more to do with this practice; and then draw near to the Lord and continue our discipleship.
I think, after many years of participating in the program of moral deliverance, that the important thing is to decide that you truly want to be delivered. Sometimes people come up and want the elders to pray for them that they may be delivered from a sin. If the deliverance is to be successful, two things must be true: first, they must have decided they are through with this behavior forever; second, they must serve the Lord as a dedicated disciple.
If a believer is not positive he wants to be rid of the sin, or if he does not follow Christ as a sincere disciple, the sin will come back to him in multiplied form. The unclean spirits found a house swept and decorated, but unoccupied.
If you are determined to be rid of sin, now is the time to take action. The waters are troubled now, so to speak. The Holy Spirit of God is ready to guide you in this work of judgment. The fact is that we are being revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ. If we hope to be ready to be raised from the dead when the Lord comes, and ascend to meet Him in the air, we have to be judged now.
Some are teaching that we will pass before the Judgment Seat of Christ after He comes and transforms us into immortality in the body. Can you see how impossible this is? Our transformation into immortality means we have successfully passed through the Judgment Seat. We have been sentenced to eternal life in the Presence of Christ. We shall be with Him forever. Are we then to be judged after this? Does this make sense to you?
If you will notice, when the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, is mentioned (Revelation 20:4-6), no books are opened. Why not? It is because these believers were judged previously.
Cant you just imagine the Apostle Paul saying: The Lord will come with His saints. They shall receive back their bodies from the grave. You who still are alive on the earth will be transformed into immortality. Then you together with them shall be caught up into the air to be forever with the Lord.
After that you shall be judged and receive the good you have done and the bad you have done.
Can you see how illogical the present teaching is?
As Peter tells us, God is ready now to judge the living and the dead. Both the living and the dead believers have to be judged in advance of the return of the Lord, or it will not be possible for us to meet Him in the air.
When you go to the Lord you will find out it is just as I am saying. The Holy Spirit is judging us.
Perhaps you have been a Christian for many years. Now you are being brought into circumstances that are causing your sinful nature to express itself. You are saying and doing things that are shockingly unchristian.
Dont be alarmed. This is the work of the Spirit to reveal to you what is in your personality.
You have a choice now, dont you? You can say, I am saved by grace so it doesnt matter how I behave. God sees me through Christ. Other people in the church are doing worse than I. I always do this; I inherited it from my mother. It is only a little sin. Gods unconditional love will take care of it.
These excuses make Satan very happy and comfortable. He has found a home in you and he would like to remain if it is alright with you.
Or, you can confess your behavior as sin. You can denounce it. You can renounce it with all the strength you have. You can tell the Lord that with His help you will never act like this again.
Right at this point you will decide your eternal destiny. If you are willing to judge the devil, you will go forward as one of the Lords victorious saints.
However, if you justify the works of Satan, you will miss the day of your visitation. The army of the Lord will march by while you are trying to decide how much of the world you want to give up.
I tell you, it is just as serious as this. Major issues are being decided in our day. The United States of America is facing terrifying events. Sin is everywhere. There is unrighteousness being practiced in the Christian churches as well as in the rest of the world. God is very displeased with the unrighteousness and soon will move to correct the situation.
Meanwhile God is looking for those of His churches who want to be free from sin. He will help them during this dreadful hour.
So it is up to you and me. We make our decision today. We do not sing the current song of how much God loves us. We show our love for Christ by keeping His commandments.
The righteous are being saved today by being brought through fiery trials. It is the trials that save us by burning the sins out of us. It is a difficult but effective process if we are willing to serve the Lord as we know we should.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? So then, those who suffer according to Gods will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (I Peter 4:17-19)
Speaking in Tongues Speaking in tongues is the entrance into the rest of God.
Audrey and I went to a Pentecostal Bible school in 1947. It was run by the Assemblies of God and was located in San Diego, California.
Audrey already had spoken in tongues. I had not. I was converted and called to preach while in the United States Marine Corps. I had not been raised in church.
The Lord directed me to Berean Bible School by closing every other door. Having been raised in West Haven, Connecticut, I wanted to go to Yale Seminary. But the colleges were flooded with men and women returning from the armed forces, and so Yale did not materialize.
It probably was just as well, because the little Berean Bible School was staffed with Pentecostal people who carried with them the flavor of the early days of Pentecost, and this was what God had in mind for me.
Being a cerebral type of individual it took a year before I could relax enough to speak in tongues. However, late one Sunday night in the midst of the confusion and frustration of trying to get a bus back to San Diego, I spoke in tongues.
The next morning as Truman Cumbie (a cotton picker from Floydada, Texas) and I were praying in the Berean chapel, I remembered that I had spoken in tongues. I tried it out. Sure enough, I could speak in tongues. I have been speaking in tongues ever since.
Honestly, I dont know how any Christian can get along without speaking in tongues. It is such a help to prayer!
I have been in enough non-Pentecostal churches to know what they are like. There are many dedicated, fervent disciples in the Evangelical and other churches. I have no negative thing whatever to say about any of them.
But I will tell you this: there is a difference in churches where people speak in tongues. There is a fluency in worship. There is an awareness of the supernatural realm.
One thing is certain: God knows what He is doing. When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Day of Pentecost the disciples spoke in languages used in the Roman Empire. Also there are other occurrences in the Book of Acts where the believers spoke in tongues.
The Apostle Paul said he spoke in tongues more than everyone else, and he stated that whoever speaks in tongues builds up himself in Christ.
Sometimes it is said the gifts are not for today, or tongues are not for today. This is all nonsense. If any part of the New Testament is not for today, then how do we know what parts were for then and what parts are for now? Once we start playing this game we are promoting a private interpretation of the Scriptures.
Anyone who wants to can talk himself out of Gods promises, but as for me I want everything God has for me. How about you?
There is no question that God has in mind that Christians speak in tongues.
Now that God is moving us forward to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles, in which Christ will appear to us and in us in a greater way than we have known, I think this further move will appear, at least first, among Pentecostal people.
Why is this? Because Pentecostal believers are kept apprised of the Spirits working through the Spirit of prophecy, which accompanies speaking in tongues.
Now, what is so important about speaking in tongues?
Speaking in tongues is the entrance into the rest of God.
What is the rest of God?
The rest of God is that place of abiding in Christ where we are learning to flow with the Life of God.
God has finished His works from the beginning of the world. Now His Word is performing all that God has designed.
We human beings are a bundle of commotion. We have the world, our lusts and passions, and our desires and ambitions pulling us and pushing us all the day long. But God knows exactly what we are to be thinking, saying, and doing each moment of each day and night.
We cannot enter the rest of God until we have faith that God knows what He is doing with us as a person. Isnt that a fact? If we think God doesnt know or care what is taking place in our situation, how can we rest in His Life?
Speaking in tongues is the way we enter the rest of God. When we speak in tongues we are speaking out from our spiritual nature rather than from our physical brain. We are speaking in and by the Life of God. This leads us into further aspects of the rest of God, such as prophesying words to ourselves or listening to what God is saying to us.
During their hour of prayer, some people keep a journal of the things God says to them.
I dont journal myself. But what often happens to me, as it did this morning, is that a proverb will come to my mind. Then I rush to the computer to write it down before I forget it.
This morning I heard: Are you troubled and confused concerning an issue? Dont try to think it through, pray it through.
I also heard two other sayings, one of which was already in Book One of Gold Tried in the Fire, which is on the Internet (www.wor.org/BooksMain.htm)
Jesus and one person constitute a majority.
The greater prophet rebukes the lesser. The Lord rebukes them all.
This last proverb already was in Book One. The other two I added to Book Two of Gold Tried in the Fire.
Do you see what I mean? Speaking in tongues leads us into the great universe of spiritual activity that contains the Presence, wisdom, and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I believe there are people who do not speak in tongues who hear from the Lord. But, as I said, you can notice the difference in churches where people speak in tongues.
Now we are moving forward into judgment. There are churches where people are aware we do not stop with the forgiveness of our sins but press forward in Christ, confessing and turning away from sin. It really is the beginning of the Judgment Seat of Christ.
When you go into an assembly where people are confessing their sins and turning away from them, you can notice the difference.
So speaking in tongues was given by the Lord to His Church. While we can reason that it is foolish, or we dont need it, or whatever else we can think of in order to avoid stepping into this area of supernatural activity, we are only robbing ourselves. It is Gods will that all speak in tongues, all prophesy, all pray for the sick, and all have visions and dreams.
Not all have the gifts of healing. Not all speak by the Spirit in known languages. Not all are prophets. These are offices in the Body of Christ.
But everyone can speak in unknown tongues, prophesy, apply Divine wisdom, and otherwise exercise supernatural abilities. The reason there is a paucity of gifts and ministries operating in the Christian churches is that we would rather plan our own way and employ our own abilities and talents rather than live in close interaction with the Spirit of God.
There are those who love the works of the Spirit. They always are looking to Christ for more of His Presence. They are entering the rest of God, learning to live by the Life of God.
And many of them speak in tongues frequently during the day and night.
Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and, This is the place of repose but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11, 12)
What It Means To Live by Faith The righteous live by faith in God rather than by their own arrogance and self-will.
The expression the righteous shall live by faith was the battle cry, so to speak, of the Protestant Reformation. It came about when the Reformers decided that people were saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by the religious practices of the Catholic Church.
The phrase appears four times in the Bible, once in the Old Testament and three times in the new.
The original statement is as follows:
See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright but the righteous will live by his faith Indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples. (Habakkuk 2:4)
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. (Romans 1:17)
Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, The righteous man shall live by faith. (Galatians 3:11)
But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. (Hebrews 10:38)
Paul adopted Habakkuk 2:4 and proved from this that people do not obtain righteousness by the works of the Law but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Pauls writing in Chapters Three through Five of the Book of Romans, and in the Book of Galatians lend support to the idea that God considers us to be righteous when we place our faith in Christ, apart from the works of religion.
The expression the righteous shall live by his faith has come to mean we go to Heaven by believing in Jesus Christ. There is absolutely nothing we are to do. We are saved by faith alone.
The position that the Christian has no responsibility for his salvation other than to profess belief in Christ is one of the most destructive ideas ever to come from the mind of man. It is completely contrary to the commands of Christ and His Apostles. The Christians keep on lying, gossiping, stealing, committing adultery, raging, causing division, and performing every other expression of their sinful nature, because they have been taught they are saved by faith alone. What an abomination!
In the case of Habakkuk, is the Prophet saying it does not matter how people behave as long as they believe in God?
Not at all. Habakkuk is stating the person who behaves arrogantly is not upright. The concept is that the person who is living by faith does not behave proudly. He is not puffed up. His trust is in the Lord.
Can you see how far current teaching is from the Scripture?
We say today that it does not matter if a person behaves arrogantly. He is saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. How he behaves is not an issue. The issue is his theological position. Thus we destroy the moral strength of the believers. Gods plan to change them into the image of Christ is thwarted.
In the case of the Book of Romans, Paul is saying the righteous will live by faith. What does Paul mean by this? He means this is how the righteous live; he is not referring to their theological position.
In several passages Paul proclaims that the believe who continues to indulge his sinful nature will die spiritually. He will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Since it is obvious this is what Paul said in his epistles, it must be true that Paul defines living by faith as looking to Christ always and living by Him rather than by the sinful impulses of the adamic nature.
In the case of the Book of Galatians, Paul is contrasting adhering to the precepts of the Law of Moses with trusting in Christ. Paul sums up his argument by announcing: I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet it is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me.
The Apostle Paul, after having served Christ for a number of years, rejected all ties to the Law of Moses. Paul felt that any observance of the Law of Moses was loss for Christ. Either we are righteous by living in the resurrection Life of Christ, or else we need to be circumcised and keep the Law.
Pauls whole life consisted of pressing toward life lived in the fullness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and coming to have fellowship with Christs sufferings.
To compare this with the current I am saved by faith alone is preposterous. It misses the point entirely.
In the case of the Book of Hebrews, my righteous one will live by faith is a prelude to the eleventh chapter. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, which, interestingly enough, is an account of people who lived prior to the Christian Era, is one protracted definition of my righteous one will live by faith.
What do we see in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews? Do we see even one instance of a theological position? We do not!
Do we see even one instance of the popular step out in faith? We do not!
What do we see in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews? We see men and women to whom God spoke and who obeyed God sometimes in a time of great difficulty.
If someone were to read the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, and then define faith, I think he would come up with something like: Faith is obedience to the revealed will of God.
The writer of Hebrews defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
How does this kind of faith save us? It saves us by maintaining our hope by serving God faithfully we earn for ourselves a desirable future, even though our goal is invisible in the present hour. Abraham was looking for a city that has foundations.
Anyone who comes to him must believe he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. This is the kind of faith the patriarchs had a belief in the existence of God, and also a conviction that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
The individual who claims to be saved by faith alone is not spending his life seeking God in order to claim the reward. Rather he is maintaining his theological position while pursuing his goals in the present world.
A Sunday school teacher told his class recently that he lied every day on his job but he would not lie about Gods Word. The truth is, he is in fact lying about Gods Word because he is implying that Gods Word does not prohibit his lying.
This is a true incident and happened in a faith alone church.
Our common sense tells us that the salvation that comes from the Lord Jesus Christ causes us to change from sinners to saints. When it does not do this we are confusing belief in the theology concerning Christ with actual faith, which is a grasp on the living Christ.
Hopefully, as we approach the age of physical and moral horrors that will engulf the United States and other countries in the near future, the ministers of the Gospel will lead their flocks away from the faith alone error into a true life of faith in the living Lord Jesus.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
The Day of the Lord Is Internal and External The Day of the Lord, the endless age when Christ alone is exalted, is being created now in the personalities of the warlike remnant.
The Lord Jesus laid His finger on a problem most of us have, when He said: The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, Here it is, or There it is, because the kingdom of God is within you.
The Kingdom doesnt come as we look around carefully. It is within us.
It seems to me both the Jews and the Christians have the same problem regarding the coming of the Kingdom of God, the Day of the Lord, to the earth.
The Jews were looking for the return of an exterior kingdom the Kingdom of David. But Jesus told Nicodemus if we are to see or enter the Kingdom we must be born again. I wonder what Nicodemus must have thought of that remark!
The same is true today. The Christians have become convinced that at any moment they are going to be caught up to Heaven in a rapture. But what the Lord is doing today is inside of us.
Why is it that we want an external kingdom to come, or to go to an external Heaven? It is because it is easier. If our salvation has to do with something external, with a change of our surroundings, we can rejoice and praise God.
But if our salvation has to do with a change of what we are, and is extremely demanding, then this is not such good news after all.
Actually it is the best possible news, but we do not realize it.
I live in Southern California, in the San Diego area. The weather here is probably as good as anywhere in the world. The scenery also is excellent.
Driving to church I marvel at the beauty of the landscape.
Last night, as we drove to the business meeting, the sun was setting. The sky was shot through with rays of golden light. I rejoiced, because it reminded me that in the next world there is beauty and joy for eternity.
But do you know there hardly is a day goes by that someone is not murdered in this area sometimes a child, or it may be a helpless homeless person. Inside the beautiful homes there is yelling and screaming. The parents are yelling at their children. The children are screaming at their parents. The parents are yelling and screaming at each other until the police are called.
Sometimes it is too late, and the husband or wife, or both, are dead.
This is taking place in one of the most desirable places to live that one could find.
Right here is the problem. Let us say God were to bring us over the rainbow to that glorious land, in which the sky is always alight with the Glory of God; a land in which the children play in the parks, secure in the knowledge they are surrounded with love.
Let us say a Christian man, married to a Christian woman, became so desperate because of the pressures of life that he shot his wife and then himself. This sort of thing happens with Christians, you know.
Now what? They go to Paradise in the spirit realm. There are no money pressures or health problems.
The wife says she wants to rest under a tree.
The husband says no, they should go looking for a friend who died recently.
Pretty soon they are having a heated argument. He stalks off and she sits under the tree crying.
You say, But this is Heaven. It could not happen here.
Lets think about that for a moment. Why couldnt it happen?
Because we change when we die? There is no scriptural basis for this whatever.
Because we change when we go to Heaven? There is no scriptural basis for this whatever.
What does the Bible say?
The Bible says that long ago, Satan decided to rebel against God and was able to convince many angels to rebel along with him. This is why we were born in sin, you know. This is why we are constantly bombarded with evil. It is because of the sin that originated in Heaven and still operates from the heavens.
Maybe you didnt know. Maybe you thought that our personalities were created with evil in them. There werent. The sinful tendencies we have are not organic, not physical compounds. They are spiritual.
Since this is the case, merely entering the spirit realm will not bring about the righteousness, peace, and joy we hope to have some day.
Our biggest problem is our self-will. This is the source of all sin, actually. It was Satans self-will that gave birth to all sin.
You know, self-will actually is the opposite of faith.
Now, think about it. Why would dying affect our self-will? Why would going to Heaven affect our self-will? Why would dying or going to Heaven increase our faith or our desire to serve God?
The Bible says Christ learned obedience in the earth through the things He suffered. Why would we learn obedience by dying or going to Heaven?
Brother Thompson, are you saying dying and going to Heaven wont change me? That is exactly what I am saying.
If such is the case, then our hope of going to a glorious land in another world is not based on reality. If we are going to bring our self-willed, unbelieving, disobedient personality with us, then the glorious land would be no different from where we are today, except we wouldnt have sickness and bills to worry about.
Maybe we could eat all we want to without getting fat, but that is not much to look forward to in my opinion. I can think of better things to do than stuffing myself with food.
Well, if people are going to be the same in Heaven, we have no hope.
The truth is, we do have hope, but it is not primarily the hope of more exciting surroundings, although these will come in time.
The hope is that Christ at some point will change us; because if we go to Heaven unchanged we are facing the same old disappointments, arguments, unrest, and grief.
We havent really understood to this point what salvation is all about.
Only last night I heard a song about how wonderful it will be when we die and go over there where we can renew old acquaintances. The traditions are with us.
However, as the Lord is leading us past Pentecost we are beginning to understand salvation includes a transformation of what we are in personality. It is challenging, painful, and demanding. The Holy Spirit is going to the root of the worldliness, lust, and self-will in us. We have to walk in openness before the Lord, being ready to repent instantly as the Lord points out to us the misbehaviors in our personality.
It seems to me that not every believer is going to accept this kind of overhaul of what he or she is. But there will be some, and these will prove to be Gods firstfruits. It is they who will be raised from the dead and given back their bodies when the Lord returns to earth. It is they who will govern with Him and assist the weaker believers. There are fabulous rewards for being willing to be transformed in the present hour.
All are invited to the work of moral transformation; but experience suggests only a handful of Christians are willing to serve Christ to this extent.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of Gods will in the earth. When the Lord says that the Kingdom does not come by observation, but is within us, He is saying the doing of Gods will is not going to come from without but from within.
We are looking for and hoping for the day when the Glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. But that Glory will not drop down as rain from Heaven. It will come from within those who have had the Throne of God, the absolute rule of God, created within them.
Can you see the wisdom of this? Such people can create and maintain Paradise, and govern other people until they also fit into a peaceful, holy, righteous setting.
The rulers, the victorious saints, are being formed now. They have to jump every hurdle placed before them. They are a militant group. Other believers are glad for the Presence of God they bring, but view them suspiciously at times. The weaker believers cannot understand what the more fervent are doing, why they behave as they do. The truth is that the weaker have not obeyed the commands of Christ. Therefore they are blind. Spiritual sight comes only as we obey Christ totally.
The day of the Lord is being formed within the victorious saints in the present hour. When the Lord returns, those whose life is Christ will return with Him. Out from them will proceed the Day of the Lord, the time when the Lord alone shall be exalted.
If you desire to be a source of the Glory of the Day of the Lord, then tell Jesus about it. There is no more wonderful life to be experienced than that of living in daily victory as the Holy Spirit works the moral transformation needed to enable you to bring the Kingdom of God into the earth.
But it will require all the diligence and perseverance you can bring to the struggle.
God, others, and you yourself will profit immeasurably if you are willing to leave this world behind and press forward in Jesus Christ.
Do it now, and rejoice for eternity.
The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day. Isaiah 2:11)
A Funny Story It is obvious worldly, lustful, self-serving believers are not fit to ride behind Christ in the Battle of Armageddon and then govern the nations of saved people with the rod of iron.
I will tell you a funny story.
Once upon a time the church members were caught up to Heaven in a rapture. Most of them had undergone no moral transformation. They had never denied themselves anything they really wanted. They had never taken up their personal cross of pain and imprisonment. They did not follow Christ each day, but they had practiced for the rapture by jumping and down next to their pews.
They had trusted in the grace of God to save them, meaning they had made a profession of belief in Christ and then had continued with their usual way of living.
Then the trumpet blew. On the way up, in the rapture, they had elbowed each other out of the way so they could be first in line. Once in Heaven they had been assigned to their mansions. Some had asked that they might be given a mansion in a different location because they were too near someone they despised. Others had wanted a bigger mansion. They said, I always have been rich and accustomed to better things than other people, so I deserve a larger mansion than the others.
For the next seven years they spent their time wandering about Heaven, looking at the scenes, gossiping about one another, stuffing themselves with food without getting heartburn.
By the end of the seven years they were bored and began to complain that there isnt anything to do.
Suddenly there was a terrible blast of a trumpet. They were drawn irresistibly to a war camp filled with great white stallions. Jesus Christ Himself was there with His warlords.
A loud voice ordered: Pick up your sword, shield, and spear. Mount up. It is time to invade the earth. We must fight against Satan and drive him out of the earth. Then the earth will belong to us.
The dear saints began to clamor: I dont want to go. I am afraid of horses. I am afraid of heights. Let someone else go. I am saved by grace. Maybe God will save Satan because of His unconditional love.
That is alright, little darlings, the Lord said. You go back to your nice mansion where it is comfy and warm. I love you too much to want you to do something you really dont want to.
At this point about eighty percent of the saints returned to their mansions. They could be heard to say: Those people who stayed are just showing off. They want us to think they are brave or something. It would serve them right if they were all killed.
Then they began to play musical chairs and gave gifts to one another.
They lived happily ever after well, almost happily. There was a good deal of backbiting and complaining. But as they said, No ones perfect. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and we are saved by grace.
For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:20,21)
Our One Opportunity This is your one opportunity in eternity. Make the most of it!
I remember when I was twelve years old. I though I would never arrive at the glorious age of eighteen. Eighteen seemed like a million years away.
Now I am seventy-seven years of age. I never wanted to be this old. After I was saved at the age of nineteen, I had hoped that I would soon go to be with the Lord.
It didnt happen and so here I am, still plugging away.
Then we consider eternity. Well, we cant really consider it. Our minds are finite in scope. We cannot grasp that which has no beginning, like God Himself; or that which has no end or no limit.
The Greeks, I think it was, said there could be no end of space. If there was an end, then it would be a wall. And there always has to be something on the other side of a wall. Good thinking!
I guess we will have to consider eternal life as a state of living in Gods Presence without ever losing consciousness.
The Bible teaches clearly that our behavior now will affect our condition in the next world. What we sow we are going to reap.
This being undoubtedly true, we better consider seriously the prospect of being conscious for eternity.
Probably the reason unsaved people fear death so much is the thought of just vanishing, like you never existed. You pass into nothingness. You are no more. That indeed is a fearful thought.
But it appears people will be conscious forever in one state or another. And right now we are determining what our state will be.
With this in mind the wise person will make certain he is doing Gods will to the very best of his ability.
The present world is not enjoyable for most people most of the time. The only way we can make it enjoyable is by sacrificing our integrity, by betraying those who trust us. I think we ought to recognize this and seek to please God in the midst of our problems. We can profit from our pain by using it to drive us into Christ.
We can safely place all our treasures in Heaven and defer our hobbies and nonessential activities to the next life.
I know one thing I am going to do. I am going to take some long walks in the woods. Do you think they have woods in Heaven? I hope so. I love the woods, but for many years I have been sitting in front of a computer. Why? Because I think Christ wants me to say some things to His people. So Ill save the woods until later.
Life is short at best. I want to meet a happy, satisfied Christ when I die. How about you?
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)
Persistent Unrighteous Behavior Grace does not cover persistent unrighteous behavior.
I suppose one of the biggest problems we have in Christian thinking has to do with Divine grace. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, John the Baptist says when he is contrasting grace with the Law of Moses.
One problem in our thinking is that we assume the Apostle Paul contrasted grace with righteous behavior. Paul would never do that. Paul contrasted grace with the Law of Moses, just as John did.
The Apostle Pauls idea of grace seems to be that if we are willing to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, and that God has raised Him from the dead, we will be counted righteous even though we have not obeyed the Law of Moses. You can understand what a relief this would be to Jewish people who were trying to please God under the Law.
Now we Gentiles have come on the scene. In many instances we are not seeking righteousness, as Paul was, but to escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die. We have seized on Pauls teaching concerning grace as a method of escaping Hell and going to Heaven.
We have turned what was meant to be a way of drawing souls to Gods righteous way into an excuse for an untransformed life.
We Gentiles understand grace to be an alternative to righteous behavior. We are not saved, we imagine, by living righteously but by grace. It doesnt matter how we live, we are saved by grace. Grace is our ticket to Heaven.
Can you imagine? The God of Heaven gave us the new covenant because the Israelites under the old covenant did not please God by their behavior. Now we are teaching that under the new covenant we do not have to please God by our behavior.
We have missed the point!
Grace frees us from the Law of Moses, but for what purpose? So we can be married to Christ. Marriage to Christ is much stricter, much more demanding than is true of the Law of Moses.
Under the Law of Moses we can read the precepts and then attempt to obey them. Under the new covenant, the covenant of grace, we are required to present our body a living sacrifice to God. We are to be crucified with Christ so Christ can live in us.
We are attempting to use grace as a sort of continuing righteousness, or as a shield that hides our behavior from Gods eyes. The truth is that grace does maintain us in a righteous state, but only as long as we are following the Holy Spirit and obeying Christ.
If, as Christians, we persist in unrighteous behavior, choosing to follow the impulses of our sinful nature, we will kill our new spiritual life. We see this pattern in the parable of the sower and also in the writings of Paul.
What I dont understand is how devout, intelligent scholars can maintain that the grace of God in Christ is a way of making people acceptable to God while they keep on sinning. This would be a change in what God is, in the kind of Personality He has.
If sinners can walk hand in hand with God without changing, then God has changed. This would be an incomprehensible disaster for all mankind. It would mean God had become like the devil.
I can understand how the average believer could misunderstand Pauls intention in Chapters Three through Five of the Book of Romans (although Paul presented a clear disclaimer in Chapter Six). But the preachers and teachers of today are taking the passages of the New Testament that announce with utmost clarity that the Christian life is one of moral transformation, and maintaining that the words of the Apostles dont mean what they say; that even if the believer continues to live in the sinful nature he will inherit the Kingdom of God and be received joyfully as a faithful servant.
What is being preached today in the Christian churches is error. I dont know how God will react to this debacle, but I do know the written Word tells us that true salvation results in moral transformation. It is the moral transformation itself that is salvation; that is eternal life. How then can we say we will be saved anyway even though we continue to sin?
Jesus tells us in Matthew that in the last days the messengers of God will come and remove from the Kingdom everything that offends. Maybe that day has come. Maybe that is why we can see clearly that those who persist in sin will not inherit the Kingdom. Perhaps the New Testament has been a sealed book and now the seals are being removed and we can perceive what is written there; for I do not believe we are any more intelligent than the scholars who have gone before us.
I used to become quite angry when I would hear of Christian teachers telling their students that no believer in Christ will hear anything negative at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when this explanation so obviously is contrary to what Paul wrote.
But maybe it is a fact that only the grace of God can enable us to see what is written. Maybe God has given us the grace of understanding today. If this is true, then we are in no position to boast or become angry. Perhaps our task is to keep on warning the believers in as many different ways as we can think of that God has not changed. The new covenant is a better covenant than the old, not because it excuses sin but because it transforms our moral nature a work the old covenant is unable to perform anywhere near as successfully.
The result of todays unscriptural teaching and preaching in America is moral decadence.
One thing is certain: apart from moral transformation there is no salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, not to forgive the works of the devil. Genuine salvation results in a new creation of righteous behavior. The sinful nature is done away with. The new nature is of God and does not sin because it has come from God.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils work. (I John 3:7, 8)
The Life of Victory in Christ To be an overcomer, a victorious Christian, is not a goal we reach. Rather the overcomer is someone who each day overcomes the problems set before him.
I think the idea that any believer can be a victorious saint is an important concept. At least it is to me.
I became a Christian while in the United States Marine Corps, in 1944 I think it was. Before that I did not know the difference between Christ and the Easter bunny.
When I got out of the service and began to associate with teachers and students in Bible school, those who knew something about church, I was told that no one can live without sinning. We all have to sin while we are on the earth. No one is perfect, and so forth. I was told also that the world was waiting to see someone who would go all the way with God. This seemed to be the contemporary challenge.
When I would say that we can overcome sin through Christ, I would be looked at sagely, mostly by the older Christians. Youll learn someday. You havent been through it yet, they would warn.
Being somewhat rebellious in nature, I refused all their wise counsel.
That was over fifty years ago. I am still refusing their wise counsel.
During those days I had a dream. I was on a ship that was breaking up. The passengers were jumping over the side and drowning.
I also jumped over the side and began to kind of dog paddle around, keeping my head above water. Then I noticed the water was only waist deep. I could stand up and walk toward the shore.
On the shore, in the distance, I could see the sailors playing ring-around-the-rosy. I guess thats how you would spell it. It is a childs game.
I turned around to go back to the passengers who were thrashing around in the water to tell them the water was only waist deep. If they would just stand up they could walk to the shore.
At this point I woke up.
I couldnt figure out what the dream meant. About three days later the interpretation came to me as clear as could be.
The Christians are living in condemnation and they do not need to be. Satan has convinced them it is impossible to overcome sin in the present life, and they are drowning in their fleshly behavior, while all the time victory over sin is readily available through Christ.
So I would like to tell you a simple truth. The overcoming life is not a standard you reach after you have gone through the most extreme ascetic exercises. The life of victory in Christ is the normal, expected way of living as a believer.
All you have to do is to look up to the Lord. Ask Him if there is anything He wants you to do. Tell Him you will do anything He says if He will provide the strength to do it.
That is all there is to the victorious Christian life. This is what it means to be a full-blown, full-fledged overcomer. Now youre one of them.
You may say, Brother Thompson, that is not true. No one can do Gods will like that. We all are trying, but we know we will have to keep sinning until we die and go to Heaven. No ones perfect.
You know, that kind of talk scalds me. Why dont people read what Paul said about quitting our sinning?
Have we been perfected yet? Probably not, most of us. But are we perfect? Yes, if we are doing all Christ has required today.
But dont we go through hard places? You can bet your boots we do.
Ill tell you what. We go through hard places whether or not we are a Christian. Ask your next-door neighbor if thats a fact.
Do we go through places so hard we have to sin? Absolutely not. Paul told us God always will make a way of escape for us.
If this is true, then who started the rumor that while we are in the world we have to sin, and that no one can do Gods perfect will?
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Killing the Sinful Nature The Holy Spirit actually possesses the authority and the power to kill the acts of the sinful nature.
Adam and Eve had neither a sinful nature nor a written law as far as we know. By this we understand the sinful nature is not a necessary part of man. It has been added to us because of Adam's disobedience and it can be removed from us through Jesus Christ.
If there is a truth more needed in the churches of today I dont know what it is: there is provision under the new covenant to kill the sinful nature.
I know there have been doctrines in the past that have spoken of a specific experience in which our sinful nature is killed root and branch. However, it appears this particular experience does not work for most of us. We might believe in it, but there still are those symptoms!
The general thought today is that the sinful nature cannot be killed. We have compromised. We have said God is not concerned about the sinful nature. He has given us grace so it really doesnt matter whether or not we sin. According to contemporary doctrine, the purpose of the commandments issued by Christ and His Apostles is to show us our need of a Savior. We are not expected to actually keep them.
Well, as far as I know, there is no scriptural basis for a sudden experience in which the sinful nature is removed root and branch. If there were, Paul would not have spent his time teaching us so often about yielding to the sinful nature.
It is true also that there is not a shred of evidence in the New Testament that God has given us grace as an alternative to living righteously. Nor is there a basis for believing the purpose of the New Testament commandments is merely to show us our need of a Savior and it is not intended we keep them. We are totally in error in this sort of thinking.
If one were not contaminated with the current doctrines, and read the entire New Testament, he would conclude that Christ died so God could forgive our sins, and then after that we are supposed to live a righteous life. He would notice also that if we yield to our sinful nature we are in clear danger of losing our inheritance in the Kingdom of God; and also of having our name blotted from the Book of Life.
No matter how we may protest, this is what the New Testament states. To reason around these simple truths, embracing what Paul wrote in Romans, Chapters Three through Five and ignoring everything else Paul said, is to wrest the Scripture to our destruction and the destruction of those who listen to us. It is to be a false teacher.
The moral strength of the Christian churches in the world has been destroyed because the Catholic and Protestant leaders have been ignorant of the new covenants provision for the killing of the sinful nature.
While there are several verses dealing with the necessity for gaining victory over the sinful nature, perhaps the clearest is the following written by the Apostle Paul, incidentally:
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
Now, lets think for a moment about the above verse.
Is it as inspired as John 3:16? Yes.
Is it addressed to Christians? Obviously. An unsaved person cannot put to death by the Spirit the actions of his or her sinful nature.
Does the verse suggest as long as we believe in Christ the actions of our sinful nature do not matter? No, it does not.
Does the verse suggest the only purpose of the commandments of the New Testament is to show us our need of a Savior? No. The implication is that we are to obey the commandments of the New Testament rather than indulge our sinful nature.
Well, then, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to continue with our traditions when they obviously are incorrect? This is an important question. Paul teaches us that if we do not love the truth, God will send delusion upon us.
If we live according to our sinful nature, our adamic nature, our first personality, we will die. Will we be saved anyway by grace? We will die. Will God save us because of His mercy and unconditional love? We will die.
If we choose to live as an ordinary person, not following the Spirit in the crucifixion of our adamic nature, we will die. If a Christian continues to lie, gossip, steal, use profanity, refuse to forgive someone, commit fornication or adultery, engage in a sexual perversion such as homosexuality, give way to rage, indulge in drunkenness and partying, he or she will die.
Will he be saved anyway because he once accepted Christ? He will die.
Though most Christians believe the contrary, he will die. The Word of God, the same Word that tells us of the plan of salvation, states he will die.
The Christian who continues in the sinful nature will die. This is what the Apostle stated. This is what is true.
If a believer continues to give place to his sinful nature, and doesnt die, then we all are lost. The Scripture has been found to be in error. Our sure foundation has been removed. We are as every other sinner in the world. We have no hope. The Word of God has failed us.
Perhaps there is a preacher who has found that by twisting the Greek he can make Romans 8:13 mean what it does not say. I havent read of such a mistranslation, but some modern Christian scholars are quite clever at distorting the Word of God. There were such teachers in Pauls time. Paul warned us about these who worship their own belly. Such will say anything if it will please their listeners and gain a following.
The next question is this: what is meant by we will die if we live according to the sinful nature?
Does it mean to die physically? No. There are any number of people who behave according to their sinful nature and live to be over ninety.
Does it mean to die spiritually? Yes, it does.
How can we lose eternal life once we have it? Easily. All we have to do is forget to keep enough oil for our lamp.
Eternal life is not a legal state which guarantees we will live forever. Eternal life is a kind of life. Just as we can lose our physical life, so it is true we can lose our eternal Divine Life by obeying the compulsions of our sinful nature.
The context of the verse has to do with the making alive of our physical body in the Day of Resurrection. Paul is warning us that if we insist on following our sinful nature our body will not be filled with Gods Life when the Lord returns.
Then Paul says: If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
What does he means by this? Paul means if we put the deeds of our sinful nature to death we will receive eternal resurrection Life in our physical body when Christ returns.
But wont every believer receive eternal life in his body when Christ returns?
I dont think so. Remember in the Book of Philippians where Paul said he was striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead?
If we as a Christian continue to live according to our sinful nature we will be raised from the dead at the voice of Christ, but our body will not be clothed upon with Divine Life.
But if we put to death the deeds of our sinful nature we will be raised in eternal life when the Lord appears.
Now, exactly how do we put to death the deeds of our sinful nature?
First of all, we cant put to death our entire sinful nature all at once. We have to deal with our sinful deeds one at a time, as the Holy Spirit directs us.
Notice it does not say if we put to death the misdeeds of our body, but if by the Spirit we put them to death. There is a vast difference between our dealing with our sinful nature and the Holy Spirit dealing with our sinful nature.
When we as Christians deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ each day, the Holy Spirit begins to point out the sinful acts we are committing.
Lets say we swear and say morally impure things. The Bible tells us to not let filthy words come out of our mouth but only those words that will build up the hearer in the Lord. Paul tells us we must rid ourselves of all such things.
Now, how do we put filthy language to death?
First, we have to make up our mind that such language is not accepted in the Kingdom of God. God will not accept it. Filthy talk brings spiritual death to our personality.
If we dont make up our mind that such talk belongs in the Lake of Fire and nowhere else, we will never get rid of it.
Determining that we actually want to rid ourselves of a sinful behavior is probably the most important part of the process of deliverance.
People will come to the elders and ask for deliverance from fornication, from drunkenness, from slander, from lying. They want to be delivered but they dont want to be delivered. These sins are part of their life. They know such deeds are displeasing to God but they cant imagine themselves not doing them.
They are double-minded. They will not be delivered.
The candidate for deliverance must be living as a fervent Christian. If he is not following Christ each day, then when the unclean spirit leaves him, that spirit will return with several others and the state of that person will be worse than before.
We must want to get rid of the behavior, and must be a cross-carrying disciple of Jesus.
We must denounce filthy language as evil. We cant just kind of waltz around, talking about how others do the same thing, or it runs in my family, or Im really not that bad, or it is a psychological problem. It is sin. It is wickedness. If you dont denounce it as sin it wont leave.
Psychologists often are a great help to us. But when it comes to putting to death the acts of our sinful nature, these acts must be confessed as sin.
What actually is taking place is a judgment of Satan. If you dont announce to the spiritual realm that this behavior is wicked, then Satan has not been judged and he will remain with you.
You may not believe your little pornography, or lying, or gossiping, or stealing, really is of the devil. The Book of First John tells us he who commits sin is of the devil. All sin can be traced back to Satan.
You must declare vigorously that you want nothing more to do with it ever again! You are through with it. You disown it. The spiritual realm is waiting to hear you say this.
Now you are to draw near to Christ and thank Him for forgiving your filthy language and cleansing you from all unrighteousness.
The next time you are tempted to use such language you will find you have the power to not do it.
If what I have written does not complete the work, then bring the problem to the elders of the church. Go after it and keep after it. Dont give up. You will succeed in putting the behavior to death if you dont give up.
You have to follow this procedure each time the Holy Spirit brings a sinful act to your attention. It becomes easier with practice.
You are passing before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Peter tells us that God is judging the living and the dead. This is in preparation for the return of Jesus Christ. Unless we have been judged and delivered we are not candidates for the resurrection that will take place when the Lord returns.
Sins were forgiven under the old covenant when the correct animal sacrifice was made. Sins are forgiven under the new covenant when we apply to our personality by faith the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary.
However, the new covenant goes a step further. It provides the authority of the blood and the power of the Spirit such that the actions of our sinful nature can actually be put to death. The fiery life can be taken from them if we will take the appropriate action against them.
Perhaps this is a further step in the Kingdom for our generation. I am not certain. I have not read about it in Christian books or commentaries.
But it clearly is scriptural that we are to cease living in our sinful nature, for if we continue to act according our sinful nature we stand in clear danger of reaping corruption in the Day of Resurrection.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)
Fulfilling the Law of Moses If we live in the Spirit of God rather than in the desires of our sinful nature, God counts that we have fulfilled the Law of Moses perfectly.
Being Gentiles we do not realize what a blessing the new covenant is. When we study the Old Testament we can get some idea of what it must have been like to remember all the details of the Law of Moses, particularly the dietary laws and the details of the sacrifices.
It seems every action of the individual was prescribed: the kind of clothes the Jews were to wear, how they were to cut their hair, what to do in case of a crime, the precepts concerning slavery, charging interest, leprosy.
There was the great moral covenant, the Ten Commandments. As the Apostle Paul pointed out, the Ten Commandments tended to make sin more sinful, rather than providing the kind of relief we get when we ask the Lord to help us overcome sin.
It is interesting to note that the Law of Moses was a yoke on the neck of the righteous Jew.
Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? (Acts 15:10)
I was first saved when I was in the United States Marine Corps; at that time I knew nothing about the Gospel. Within a few weeks of my conversion, an elder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church came from Honolulu to the base where I was stationed.
He convinced me that I was not to do any work on Saturday.
Have you ever noticed that the moment someone takes a step toward the Lord, he is tested?
A mature Christian Marine, Carl Hoferer, became so concerned over my getting into this bondage he became ill.
Meanwhile I received in the mail a copy of The Robe, by Lloyd Douglas. It was sent to me by my aunt, Gertrude Sallies.
While reading the book I came across a custom the Jews invented to get around the rule concerning a Sabbaths days journey. They would carry some extra spools on which scrolls were wound. When they had gone a Sabbath days journey they would drop a spool on the ground. Now they could go the same distance again, because they had established a residence by dropping the spool. They were permitted to go just so far from their residence; so by dropping a spool now and then they could go as far as they wished.
But I learned a valuable lesson. Obeying the Law turns your attention to the Law and how well you are keeping it. Following the Holy Spirit keeps your attention on Jesus to see what He wants each moment.
I do not despise those who, in order to honor the Law, eat certain foods or observe any of the feast days. These are entwined in their faith and are not sinful acts. But for those who can receive it, the program of Christian redemption retains no part whatever of the Law of Moses.
Even the Ten Commandments are superseded by the law of the Spirit of Life. The reason Christians do not commit adultery, for example, is not because adultery is forbidden in the Ten Commandments.
First, adultery is named by the Apostle Paul as an action that will prevent our inheriting the Kingdom of God.
Second, the Holy Spirit will never lead us to commit adultery.
This is why we do not commit adultery, not because it is prohibited in the Ten Commandments.
As far as the Sabbath is concerned, it is fulfilled as we give our entire life to the Lord Jesus, not speaking our own words or following our self-will. This is the true Sabbath rest of God, and it operates seven days a week.
The Law of Moses governs the natural man. But when we count ourselves crucified with Christ and risen with Him, we come under an infinitely more demanding law the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
But how about righteousness, the devout Jew might ask. How can we be counted righteous if we abandon the Law of Moses?
When we look up from the Law and place our faith in Christ, God views us as having fulfilled the Law perfectly. This is because Christ kept the Law perfectly and then died on our behalf. He paid the price for our sin. Now His righteousness is attributed to us.
The problem today is that Christians are taught they are not under the Law of Moses but under grace. They interpret this teaching of Paul to mean they are free to do whatever they wish. This is a totally destructive position.
We are free from the Law of Moses, and yet perfectly righteous, only as long as we are walking in the Spirit of God. When we choose instead to live according to our sinful nature, the Law of Moses condemns us to death even though we are a Christian.
The Law served until the one Seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ, came to earth. Now that Christ is here we are to follow Him. Christ always leads us to fulfill the intent of the Law, just as He always fulfilled the intent of the Law. The Pharisees, of course, could not understand Christ was fulfilling the intent of the Law when He healed on the Sabbath. Because the Pharisees did not look to the Lord, only to the Law, they could not understand how Christ could heal on the Sabbath and yet be righteous.
But He was.
And so are we when we live always in the Presence of Christ, obeying the Holy Spirit in all matters, in every decision we make throughout the day and night.
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3, 4)
The Victorious Personality Christ can remove our sinful nature and our sicknesses with a word. But the creation of the victorious personality requires obedience, pressure, and time.
Do you know Jesus Christ has enough power that with one word He could remove our sinful nature and our sicknesses? In fact, He could do this for everyone on earth if He chose to do so.
Audreys hairdresser, Terry, told me yesterday she was grieving over the cruelty in the world. She had just watched the movie about Anne Frank, the Jewish girl who was murdered during the Holocaust.
I talked to Terry about not fretting. I said, Terry, Satan knows you have just had some good news about your children, and you are going to sing a solo on television next week. Satan was pleased over the numerous troubles you have had over the last several years. Now he is saying, Terry is happy. We cant have that. Lets get her to focus on my work in the earth. Then she will be miserable again.
I told Terry that if she took her eyes off Jesus she would be of no use to the unsaved people around her. She would be as miserable as they are. God wants her to stay up in her high place with God especially during the chaotic days ahead of us.
Terry thanked me profusely. She said, I always knew was true. I just forgot.
You know, that is why the Bible tells us to exhort one another each day. It is because Satan is always trying to get our eyes off Jesus and onto his antics in the earth.
I spoke to Terry a little bit about Romans 8:28, 29. All things works together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose. For whom God foreknew He also predestined to be changed into the image of His Son that Christ might be the firstborn among many brothers.
I said, Terry, this is why God permits the present world to remain as the valley of the shadow of death. It is because He has a higher purpose in mind than our immediate happiness.
As I said before, Christ can remove all this evil with one Word of His power. But He has a reason for not doing so. He is creating brothers in His image.
Christ can remove the wickedness and the sickness with one word. But there are two operations on our personality that He has to perform over a period of time.
In order to perform the two operations Christ uses three elements: His Divine Nature; our cooperation; and the evil in our flesh and in the world.
When Christ has no more need of the evil in the world, He will remove it by the exercise of His power.
The two operations that must be performed are:
The destruction of our self-will.
The creation of His Divine Nature in us, which includes the implanting in us of an unshakeable determination to do Gods will.
While the sinful nature that dwells in our flesh, and sickness, can be cast out immediately, the destruction of our self-will and the creation of the Divine Nature in us cannot be accomplished immediately. These two operations require our obedience, pressure, and time.
The first part, the destruction of our self-will, is accomplished by suffering. This is why the Lord commanded us to deny ourselves, take our cross and follow Him each day.
Each one of us has a personal cross. If we carry it faithfully throughout our lifetime, it will destroy our self-will.
The cross often means the denial of our most fervent desires, or that we are required to remain in an undesirable prison of some sort.
The personal cross is particularly difficult for American Christians to carry because we have been taught that we are supposed to have everything we want. We are supposed to be happy and be in pleasurable circumstances at all times. We have a right to be happy, as the salespeople inform us as they wave their product in front of us.
I think it is right at this point, the necessity to submit to unpleasant circumstances, that numerous American believers lose the race. They will not achieve the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, because to maintain the vision and the determination to overcome all obstacles requires that they set aside their happy lives in the present world.
I have seen Christians who once were joyously fighting their way along the path that leads to the Throne, later lose their ability to see what God is doing because they settled back into their familiar, fleshly routines. God places delusion on them because they let go of their love of truth in order to remain in pleasant circumstances.
If we are to be changed into the image of Christ, to become a brother of Christ, we must patiently endure the suffering that is sent to us. There is no other way of accomplishing the destruction of our self-will.
In order to avoid such unpleasantness we have to sacrifice our integrity. We have to hold back part of the price of the land, as it were. Our fellow believers may not be able to discern the double game we are playing. But spiritual blindness follows inevitably.
Those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes have had the lie and the guile removed from their personality by the prisons they have had to endure in this world.
The first operation that must be performed, if we are to be changed into the image of Christ, is the destruction of our self-will. The second operation is the creation of the Divine Nature in us.
The Divine Nature is just that. It is the Nature of God that dwells in Jesus Christ. This nature must be formed in us if we are to be a brother of Christ.
God has given us His Word, the body and blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the born-again experience, the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, and every other gift and experience required to form Christ in us.
Part of the Divine Nature, the image of Christ, consists of patience, courage, and faithfulness. These are developed as we fight against the evil in the world and in our flesh. It would be so much easier if we were free from all forms of wickedness.
Yes, it would be infinitely easier to serve the Lord if we did not have demonic power attacking us from within and without. But muscle is formed by pushing against resistance. Patience is formed as we endure tribulation. Courage is developed as we keep on doing what we are supposed to even though we are afraid. Faithfulness is perfected as we refuse to turn away from God no matter how painful, difficult, and confusing are our circumstances.
So we see God has a reason for not removing all the works of Satan from us. He is using the spiritual darkness and forces to destroy self-will from us and to create the Divine Nature in us. Even our Lord Jesus learned obedience to God by the things He suffered in the present world.
All the events of history have been designed to bring forth the brothers of Christ. Once this task has been completed, the evil will be removed from the world and history will take a different course.
This is why we must never fret against the wickedness in the world. When God enables us to do good, we should do so. But fretting really is unprofitable, accomplishing nothing of value, and is rebellion against God. We are not acknowledging His goodness, His wisdom, and His power when we fret. Isnt that a fact?
No matter what takes place during our lifetime, Christ sits as King of the flood. He is in control of everything. He knows the sparrow that falls to the ground. He knows the number of hairs on our head. He holds the keys of Hell and death, and no one dies and no one is tormented apart from the full knowledge and consent of Jesus Christ.
At times we forget that the galaxies in outer space came into existence and are kept in their courses by the Lord Jesus. He knows everything there is to know, including the smallest detail of our life.
No matter what occurs in the future in America, we know the Lord Jesus will take care of everyone who is willing to turn aside from his own way and follow the Lord. There are thrones to be gained. There are people to be guided and exhorted. No harm can possibly come to anyone who is trusting the Lord.
But what if I die? You are concerned about dying or the death of a loved one? Are you so lacking in understanding that you would prefer the present world to that bright place into which the faithful are ushered when they die? Would you rather yourself or your loved ones remain here? Let us have more faith in God than this!
No, for us to live is Christ and to die is gain. Is gain! But we must remain here a bit longer that we may assist our fellow members of the Body of Christ, and also point the unsaved toward the path that leads to righteousness and life.
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalms 37:3, 4)
Streets of Gold The issue is not golden streets or the fires of Hell. The issue is change into the moral image of Christ and fellowship with God.
I am not certain how the Christian salvation was changed into a religion with all the trappings of a religion. I know the Catholic Church has convocations that are awesome to behold, with the pageantry and all that goes on. I am certain this sort of thing takes place in the mainline Protestant churches also.
I know also that none of this has anything to do with the Lord Jesus Christ, or Peter, or any of the other Apostles of the Lamb.
I do not know if any good is accomplished with ornate religious processionals and symbolism. No doubt the Lord gets something out of them. But they are so unlike the simplicity of the Lord Jesus!
Not having been raised in a Christian home, I have been able to glance about at the various forms of the Christian religion, and compare them with what took place with the Lord and His Apostles. I have come to the conclusion that Babylon the Great, mentioned toward the end of the Book of Revelation, stands for manmade religion.
Although I am the pastor of a denominational church, I can still see quite clearly the difference between denominational activities and what the Spirit of God does. Often they are not the same at all.
I spoke in a previous essay of a horse that had been ordered to play a pipe organ. The horse went to a church in which all the horses had been ordered to play a pipe organ. The pastor, also a horse, had received the same charge.
However, the horse pastor was a practical horse and he realized how impossible it was for a horse to play the pipe organ. So he created a horse religion. The horses were told that if they behaved themselves, when they died they would go to fields where they could eat all the clover they wanted and never get sick.
The horses were told also that if they were bad horses they would be put into a place where there was no clover, no hay, no mash, and they were whipped all day. But they were not to worry, because grace would take care of any bad behavior on their part.
The horses were quite content with their church and the prospect of eating clover after they died, and forgot all about their original charge, which was to play the pipe organ. They were not overly concerned with their behavior because their pastor told them on no account would they be punished for bad behavior.
What their pastor forgot to tell them was that God did not speak about clover and mash. God said if they would be willing to die to their horse personality and permit God to form Bach in them, they then could play the pipe organ.
This is a crude illustration but actually is not too far removed from what has happened in the Christian salvation.
Christ did refer to Hell, and showed the Apostle John the new Jerusalem in which there is a street of gold. But avoiding Hell and getting to walk on a gold street (which would be hard on the feet, I imagine!) most assuredly is not the emphasis of the New Testament. Nevertheless we have included these ideas in the religion we have created.
The emphasis of the New Testament is on godly behavior. We can achieve the moral stature presented in the New Testament about as easily as a horse can play the pipe organ. The Lord did not stop with presenting the commandments that Christians are to follow with His help; He told us if we are to enter the Kingdom of God we must be born again.
The Lord does not expect our adamic personality to attain to His moral image, although He has given us commandments that we can obey if we pray and seek His face. The Lord wants us to press on through until Christ is formed in us. When Christ is formed in us, we can behave as Jesus does because of the new Divine Nature that now controls our personality.
No, true salvation does not consist of religious trappings with the objective of some day walking on a street of gold. True salvation is the transformation of a human being from Adam to Christ. This is accomplished by the power of God, not by our striving although we have to do what Christ and His Apostles commanded. We can do what they have commanded by going before the Mercy Seat in Heaven and obtaining wisdom and strength. But the end of the program is the forming of the Divine Nature in us.
The Christian religion always is a murderer of Gods true servants. In the last days it will join with the Antichrist world government and drive Gods people from the cities of the earth. Finally, though, the world government will burn the manmade Christian religion with fire. There can be only one dragon per location, as C. S. Lewis taught us.
Just before the Lord returns, His Glory will come upon His elect, Jews and Gentiles, and great fear will fall on the wicked. Then they will be forced to see Gods witnesses of all ages ascend to meet the Lord Jesus in the air.
The era of self-willed religion and self-willed government will have come to an end.
After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, (Revelation 19:1)
Three Elements of Salvation There are three great elements of the Christian salvation. First there is the blood atonement. Second, the new righteous creation. Third, obedience to the Father. This is all there is to the Christian salvation, as far as I know.
Probably the best known aspect of the Christian salvation is the blood atonement. The Lord Jesus Christ gave Himself for us on the cross as a sin-offering. Since He had kept the Law of Moses perfectly, His normal reward would have been righteousness and prosperity in the present world and eternal life in Gods Presence in the next.
However, in the inscrutable wisdom of God, Christ received the wages of sin. The soul that sins shall die. The blameless Christ was put to death physically, and also was cut off from the Presence of God for a season. Thus He suffered the full results of sin physical and spiritual death. Because of this, His blood serves as a sin-offering to God.
Now Christ is able to transfer His reward to all who will receive Him. That reward is the normal reward of an individual who kept the Law of Moses perfectly: righteousness in the Presence of God, and the resulting eternal life. He received our reward and we receive His reward.
This is the blood atonement, the reconciliation to God, that is the foundation of the Christian salvation.
The second great element of the Christian life is the new righteous creation. I dont think this second element is as well known as the first.
I suppose most believers who are fundamental in faith know of Pauls statement concerning the new creation. But I think they view the new creation as meaning we have been converted in our mind from unbelief in Christ to belief in Christ. I dont believe the new creation is viewed commonly as an actual moral transformation in which the various aspects of our old, adamic nature are replaced by new characteristics that are from God.
The same fate has happened to the born-again experience. It too is interpreted to mean we have been converted in our mind. The idea that to be born-again means the Divine Nature of Christ has actually been born in us is not often explained, it seems.
The truth is that the new righteous creation, the newly born creature, is as essential a part of the Christian salvation as is true of the blood atonement. Where there is no new righteous creation there is no salvation. The concept that salvation is a movement from earth to Heaven, where we are to live forever, is a complete fabrication. God accomplishes nothing by moving us from one place to another. God is interested in a change in what we are as a person, not in our being brought from one place to another.
Moving an individual from earth to Heaven does not change what he or she is. The angels of God are continually moving from earth to Heaven, and this does not change what they are. How could it?
If we move from one part of the country to another it does not change what we are. If we move from one country to another it does not change what we are. If we go up in an airplane it does not change what we are. So why should our moving from earth to Heaven change what we are?
And as long as we are not changed we are not saved. Salvation is the program of removing us from Satan and bringing us into the moral image of Christ and into untroubled rest in Gods Presence and will. Moving us from earth to Heaven does not bring us into the moral image of Christ or into untroubled rest in Gods Presence and will.
Salvation is moral transformation with a view toward making us fit to participate as a member of Gods Kingdom. It makes no difference whether we are on the earth or in Heaven. We have to be in Christs moral image and at rest in God to be a member of the Kingdom.
The first great element of the Christian salvation is the blood atonement.
The second great element of the Christian salvation is the new righteous creation.
The third great element of the Christian salvation is obedience to the Father. The concept of stern obedience to God seems to have been lost to our generation of Christians.
American believers have been pampered endlessly with the unscriptural vision of God as a kind, loving old gentleman who never would punish anyone severely. His "unconditional love" (which is not quite a scriptural idea) is emphasized. His wrath is not spoken of. Divine wrath is a "negative" thought, and who wants to bring negative thoughts to a congregation? They will go to church somewhere else if you depress them with negative thoughts!
I have heard it said no one can do Gods will, it is too difficult. In actual fact, Gods commandments are not grievous. It is Satan who never can be pleased.
It is true that on occasion God brings us into extremely difficult situations. He then demands strict obedience. No foolishness is permitted. But such situations are rare for most of us. Ordinarily it is as easy to serve God as not. But we have to keep ourselves in a position where we can hear God. We do this by praying every day and reading our Bible.
Of late a spirit of presumption has assailed American Christians. I suppose it is part of the American character to want to get out and do something.
As a result, we hear of endless programs, seminars, trips to the foreign fields, guided tours to this place and that place, ways to build attendance, ways to get more money.
I honestly wonder how much of this activity is coming from the Lord Jesus.
What would happen if we all just did what was set before us and did not make any more plans until we heard from the Lord?
My personal opinion is that Christ is not looking to us to build His Kingdom. I think He is waiting to see if anyone is looking to Him to see what He wants to do.
Obedience is more important to God than is sacrifice, the Bible says. How can we obey if we are not spending time listening to God but are aflame with one ambition or another?
What if the whole church world stopped and listened to God? What would we hear from Heaven? I want you to develop more programs and hold more seminars? Or would we hear, Be still and know I am God?
I am under the impression the Lord Jesus Christ has a definite plan for America in the year 2002. I want to know what it is. Then I want to do exactly what God says, not one bit more; not one bit less.
I want our church to be the size God wants. I want our programs to be what God wants. I want our music to be what God wants. I dont want one single thing, circumstance, or activity that is not the express will of the Lord.
Suppose He says: Thompson, get out of there. Go into some other line of work. Quit writing your essays.
My answer is, Right away, sir.
There is the blood atonement. There is moral transformation. There is stern obedience to God. This is all there is to the Christian salvation, as far as I know.
The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)
Ask God To Help You You are going to have a difficult time if you do not ask God to help you.
The Bible says we ought not to depend on our own understanding but to acknowledge God in all our ways. Then God will give us a straight path to walk in.
It seems to me that this is one of the important lessons we learn as we are following the Lord Jesus.
Every day, it appears, we face one problem or another. Pretty soon we are buried under a load of worry and concern. What are we to do?
We are to call on the Lord. The Bible admonishes us to cast our burden on the Lord. The promise is He will hold us up.
The Apostle Paul stated that the pressures on him were so great as to cause him to despair of his life. But, he said, he had the sentence of death in himself that he should not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead.
In another place Paul expressed his desire to live in the power of resurrection life and to know Christs sufferings.
This is what our problems and pressures do for us: they press us into Christ.
Of course, we can spend our time blaming people, circumstances, or even God. In this case our tribulations will have not profited us only made us bitter and unforgiving.
A person who blames someone else for his problems is a baby. He has a lot of growing to do.
If you are following the Lord, recognize that the pain that comes your way is to drive you further into Christ. Let it be a prompting that reminds you to pray! pray! pray! Dont faint, pray! Dont try to speak the word of faith, pray!
You dont have to use King James language and pray a formal pray. Pray fervently in our own language. Help, Lord! Dont tell God how to solve your problem, just say Fix it!
Be sure to pray in the name of Jesus. Heaven comes to attention when they hear the Name.
The wickedness in the world will increase. God is going to judge all who practice unrighteousness. There will be difficulties of various kinds. You and I will not be able to survive in our own wisdom and strength. We will need help from the Lord several times a day and through the night.
Start practicing now. Ask God for help in everything you do.
God sent an infirmity upon the Apostle Paul such that Paul might be so weak that he would have to lean on the Lord for everything he did. On top of this, Paul was in jail. But the epistles of Paul have changed the history of the world.
If in this life you have learned to look to God for every aspect of life, then your time on the earth has been profitable and successful.
But if you go through life trusting in your own wisdom, strength, and abilities to enable you to prosper, your time on the earth has been wasted. It has only confirmed you in your rebellion against your Creator.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (Psalms 55:22)
The Spirit of Judgment The path to spiritual maturity is that of training ourselves by constant use to distinguish good from evil.
I may be the only one who believes this, but I think the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Lord Jesus Christ, just as He is the Tree of Life.
You might be deeply offended at this comment, because for so long we have regarded this tree as evil. But think for a moment. Was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil a good tree or a bad tree?
In other words, is it good to know good and evil, to be able to judge between them?
Would you be surprised if I told you that the ability to judge between good and evil, and the willingness to choose the good and reject the evil, is the evidence of spiritual maturity?
Does the Bible say this? Yes, it does.
I think the account of the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is an allegory. An allegory is a device in which characters and events stand for abstract ideas, principles of forces, so the literal sense has or suggests a parallel, deeper symbolic sense. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Electronic version).
Oh, Brother Thompson, you dont believe the Bible.
Yes I do, but it is apparent to me that these kinds of trees do not grow from the ground. There is no tree of life that you can eat from and gain eternal life, except the Lord Jesus Christ. Isnt that so? The same is true of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, unless you have faith in apples.
Now, let me ask you a sensible question: Do we gain eternal life by eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes or no?
Of course your answer will be Yes.
Alright. Where else can you eat and gain eternal life? Do you see what I mean? The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Tree of Life.
Now, how about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
What is Jesus? Isnt He the Word of God made flesh?
From what source do we gain the knowledge of good and evil?
The Word of God, right? Do you know of any other source? Can you go to the store and buy a fruit that gives you the knowledge of good and evil?
Remember, God said the trees of Eden were pleasing to the eye and good for food.
And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)
Did God say there was an evil tree in the garden? There is a world of difference between a tree of evil and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In fact, God said once Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree they would be as God, knowing good and evil. This being the case, we must insist that the knowledge of good and evil is part of the image of God, in which we are being made.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5)
I do not know of any source of eternal life and of the knowledge of good and evil other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you?
Why did God tell Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil if it was good for food?
Because they were not prepared to know their naked condition was shameful. God knew this knowledge would cause them to feel condemned and that they then would hide from God. Which they promptly did!
They died physically and spiritually on the day they disobeyed God, although their physical death was not evident for nearly a thousand years.
The problem was one of sequence. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life and had gained eternal life and bodily immortality in the Presence of God, the time would have come when God fed them from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in a way that would not have resulted in their fleeing from God because of guilt.
May we learn from this that even the things of God profit us only when we follow Gods timetable.
Now, how does all this apply to us today?
When we first come to Jesus our sins are forgiven and we eat of Him, who is the only Tree of Life.
Then the Spirit of God begins to lead us into the knowledge of good and evil. This is the Spirit of judgment that Malachi and John the Baptist said would be a baptism of fire on Gods people to cleanse them from sin.
This is where we are in Gods timetable today. We are being fed from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil a little bit at a time. As the Holy Spirit leads us to an awareness of some aspect of sin in our personality, we have the confidence through the blood of the cross, and the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, that enable us to cheerfully and willingly denounce and renounce the sins that have been active in our personality.
What we are experiencing is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, which comes after the feast of Passover (initial salvation) and the feast of Pentecost (the baptism with the Holy Spirit).
These are the three great acts of redemption: the blood atonement; the creating of Christ in us by the Holy Spirit; and reconciliation to the Father so He can live in us for eternity.
As we are being created in the image of Christ and are brought into untroubled union with the Father it is necessary we learn the difference between what is good and what is evil, and be willing and strong enough to embrace the good and renounce the evil. Otherwise we are as Adam and Eve first were created a blank slate not knowing the difference between good and evil.
Today is quite a time of growing, of moving forward, for the Christian churches. For so long we have been taught that our sins were taken care of. And so they were. They were forgiven through the blood of the cross.
But forgiveness, as marvelous and essential as this is, still leaves us with a sinful personality. It is this sinful personality that must be dealt with if we are to be created in the image of Christ and brought into untroubled rest in the Presence and Person of God.
In the same way that we accept Gods plan for salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit, we have to be assured from the Bible that God also has a plan to remove all sin from His people. Then, if we are to profit from the promise, we have to exercise faith, obedience, and courage.
I wonder how many of todays Christian people in America are determined enough to press forward into moral transformation? These, and these alone, are eligible and competent to be raised from the dead when the Lord Jesus comes again.
In a very true sense of the word, the current dealing of the Holy Spirit with our sins is the Judgment Seat of Christ. Remember that Peter, two thousand years ago, said the Lord is ready to judge the living and the dead. This means not only we but also those who have gone ahead of us into the spirit realm are being judged in preparation for the return of the Lord to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
We have been faithful in going to Christ to have our sins forgiven.
We have been faithful in receiving Gods Spirit so we can live by His Life and not by our own.
Now we must be faithful to confess and renounce our sins as the Holy Spirit points them out to us.
It is a further work of grace, but absolutely necessary if there is to be a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle. Dont you agree?
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 6:13, 14)
The Consuming Fire We are at the end of the age. God is ready to remove all sin from His creation, beginning with His Church.
I have written a great deal about the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement comes after the feast of Pentecost. This means after we are filled with the Spirit of God, the next major move is to cleanse us from sin.
God spoke to me in 1948, if you can believe, and said the next move of God would have to do with judgment on the sins of the Christians, as typified by the Day of Atonement. At that time I had never heard anyone so much as mention the Day of Atonement, so I guess it must have been the Lord.
Here I am, fifty-four years later, and I feel the time has come in a major way. Also, the scriptural passages that bear on this subject, and the profound implications, have increased greatly.
We now are at the end of the age. God is ready to remove all sin from His creation, beginning with His Church. If I am correct, the work of removing sin from His creation has begun at this time and will extend throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age, if not longer, as the saints govern the nations of saved peoples who will inhabit the new earth.
If we would understand the reason for and the operation of moral deliverance, it must be clear to us that there is a total difference between the forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from the actions of our sinful behavior. I think the difference between the forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from sinful behavior is muddled in the minds of numerous believers.
When we read an expression such as, Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, we perceive, Behold the Lamb of God who forgives the sin of the world. Dont we?
Do you see that there is a difference between takes away and forgives?
To forgive sin, and to remove sin, certainly are two difference operations.
God through Jesus Christ has forgiven the sins of the whole world, by the death of Christ on the cross. This accomplishes nothing at all in the Kingdom of God as long as we still are committing sin. Can you see this? God would be running Himself ragged for eternity forgiving our continual sinning.
If redemption forgives our sin but does not remove our sinful nature, then all is lost. We are doomed to spend eternity in our present miserable state.
But the placement of the Day of Atonement after the feast of Pentecost but just before the feast of Tabernacles reveals that God will forgive our sins by the blood atonement, give us wisdom and strength through the Holy Spirit, remove the sinful nature from us, and then come to live in us forever. This is the Divine schedule.
What an awesome time this is! I think Christ is beginning to stand up. Remember, the Bible tells us that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God until His enemies are made His footstool. This tells us there will come a time when His enemies are made His footstool, and when that time comes I think He will stand up.
We Christians usually assume the great works of God are in the past or the future. What if it were true that the greatest work after the death and resurrection of Christ, which are the foundation of all that follows, has started in our day? Maybe it has!
For six thousand years God has been planning for the present hour. All that has taken place has been for our benefit upon whom the end of the age has come. God is ready now to judge and remove all the damage that has been done by the rebellion of Satan and his angels.
The Protestant Reformation began the revival of what had been lost during the preceding centuries. Justification by faith apart from the Catholic works of penance; water baptism by immersion; the priesthood of the believer; the reality of the born-again experience; the need for personal holiness; the baptism with the Holy Spirit; the concept of the Body of Christ and its gifts and ministries; have all been restored to Christian understanding and experience.
We have been saved through the blood. We have been baptized with the Spirit. The gifts and ministries are travailing to bring forth Christ in us.
Now listen: None of this avails anything until we are changed into the moral image of Christ and brought into untroubled rest in the Father through Christ. And we cannot be changed into the image of Christ and brought into untroubled rest in the Father until the sinful nature has been removed from us.
Can you see this! Nothing is accomplished until sin is removed from the creation. As long as one creature has a love for the present world spirit, is yielding to the lusts and passions of his flesh and soul, or is pursuing his self-will, Gods universe is in chaos.
Prior to the present hour God has sealed us and kept us by faith until the hour of redemption should arrive, the salvation reserved for the closing days of the present age. Now the time has come to destroy the works of the devil (the purpose for the revealing of Christ), beginning with the Church.
Every trace of Satan shall be removed from the creation.
Christians have been bound for so long by Satan (all sin comes from Satan), that we have lost the faith that we really could be delivered from our sinful nature. We have adjusted to this fact by saying we are saved by grace whether or not we live righteously. We have found no way to be delivered, to be changed into the moral image of Christ.
But the time has come! Like any other act of redemption, such as salvation, Divine healing, or speaking in tongues, you have to see the promise in the Scriptures. Then you have to ask God for faith to believe it. Then you have to press into it. Isnt this a fact?
Well, look at the next verse:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
Conformed to the likeness of his Son. Changed into the moral image of Christ.
You have seen it. Your next move is to ask God for faith to believe it. Then you have to press into it.
We have taught in time past we will be delivered from moral bondages when we die and go to Heaven. There is no basis in Scripture for this belief. Sin began in Heaven.
We have taught in time past that we will be delivered from moral bondages when Christ appears. The only change we will experience when Christ appears is the change in our body. And that will take place only if we have achieved the inner transformation beforehand. Jesus Christ has no intention of placing a sinful moral nature in an all-powerful body. Can you seen the sense of this?
Are there passages in the Bible that show that Christ will appear and remove sin from His people? Yes there are. The following is a prophecy from the Old Testament:
See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come, says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiners fire or a launderers soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, (Malachi 3:1-3)
But isnt this a prophecy to the Jews? Indeed it is. All the Kingdom prophecies are to the Jews first, not to the unsaved Jews but to those who are part of Jesus Christ and thus of the Seed of Abraham. According to the Book of First Peter, we Gentiles who have received Christ are also part of the holy nation, the royal priesthood.
Does Malachi have a counterpart in the New Testament? Indeed it does:
The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:10-12)
There is a baptism with the Holy Spirit that enables us to speak in tongues and press into other gifts and ministries. The baptism with the Holy Spirit also guides us in living a morally pure life.
Then there is a baptism with fire. The baptism with fire is Gods judgment on the sin that is in us.
Here is an important aspect to remember. Gods judgment in the present hour is not on the believers. It is on the works of Satan that have the believer in bondage.
The believer is caught between God and Satan.
If the believer is wise he or she will get out of the middle. When the Spirit brings to his attention some work of Satan in his life he does not ignore it or blame other people. He confesses it as sin and with the help of the Spirit turns away from it.
God emphasizes specific acts of redemption at specific times. While all of the benefits of salvation are available to any believer who cares to pursue them, there are periods when God stresses initial salvation, or the baptism with the Spirit, or Divine healing, or worship. During that period the blessing seems to be easier to acquire.
Right now in many places the emphasis is on turning away from the sins that the Spirit shows us. The best thing for the reader to do is to try it. If you are reading this you probably are being dealt with already but you did not understand why sins you thought were taken care of long ago are now surfacing.
Dont despair. You are not backsliding. Confess your behavior to the Lord. Ask for help in turning away from it. See if you dont have a new power over it. Of course, you will have to be leading a dedicated Christian life in order for moral deliverance to operate correctly and the release to be permanent.
I guess we never thought we would see this day, but it is here.
Every aspect of redemption is in Christ. When you have Christ you have all of redemption. But redemption has to be developed as the Spirit leads.
If someone gave you a piano you would have all the works of Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, and Brahms. They all are in the piano, so to speak. But you have to take the time and make the effort to play these beautiful masterpieces. So it is with Christ. You can have Christ, and because of your lack of diligence, never experience the wonders that potentially are yours in Christ.
Another New Testament prediction of the coming time of moral deliverance is found in the Book of Matthew:
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)
Can you see that moral deliverance will occur at the end of the age? The messengers of Christ will be sent forth to remove from His Kingdom everything that causes sin. Then the righteous will show forth in themselves the image of Christ, a righteousness created in them by the Lord.
Remember, this is not an imputed righteousness. An imputed righteousness cannot be seen by others. It is a legal state only. We are referring rather to an inwrought righteousness, a new creation.
A passage in Hebrews has been important to my thinking:
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27, 28)
The Book of Hebrews is, of course, written to Christian saints. But notice that it points to a salvation that is yet to come.
It is my opinion that the coming of Christ mentioned here is not to the world but to those who are waiting from Him. His coming to the world is just that to the world. At that time every eye shall see Him.
The above coming is referring, I believe, to the appearing mentioned in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. That coming is to the disciples alone. The world will not see that appearing.
What salvation is yet to come? Obviously the salvation, the redemption mentioned in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew (above.) This is the hour when sin shall be removed from the Christian people.
Of course, we can choose not to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the work of redemption, just as we can refuse the baptism with the Spirit. In that case we will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, because the Lake of Fire retains authority over all sinful behavior.
The guilt of our sins was taken care of on the cross. We are speaking in this present essay only of our sinful nature and how God intends to deal with it.
It is customary to define salvation as our eternal residence in Heaven after we die. This is not a scriptural definition. The scriptural definition of salvation is total release from all that is of Satan and movement into all that is of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Until our sinful nature has been removed from us, we have not been saved in the fullest sense. Rather we have been authorized, through the atoning blood of the cross, to pursue salvation. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling lest we be deceived and get off the track.
A minute ago I mentioned the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. That is the chapter we have supposed is referring to mansions in Heaven. However, it is not talking about mansions in Heaven but about our abiding in Christ and the Father and Their abiding in us.
One verse in particular I would like to mention:
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
That you also may be where I am.
Where I am is not speaking of Heaven as a place. Several times in John, Chapters Fourteen through Seventeen, Jesus spoke of going to the Father. He never spoke of going to Heaven.
Where Jesus is, is in the center of the Presence and will of God not just in Heaven as a place. Christ is in God and with God. We know this is true, dont we?
Now this is a very important point, so dont miss it.
If we are to be with Jesus where He is, then we are to be in the very Center of the Presence and will of God, not just in Heaven as a place. Am I correct thus far? Can you say Amen?
What is God?
For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)
You see where I am going now, dont you?
If our God is a Consuming Fire, and we know from the Scripture that He is, then to be with Jesus where He is, is to be in the Center of the Presence and will of the Consuming Fire.
Do you believe this is a good idea? Is this something you actually desire? Or would you settle for a nice cozy mansion in Paradise? How your heart answers this question is very significant.
What must be true of us if we are to survive in the Consuming Fire?
The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning? He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil This is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him. (Isaiah 33:14-16)
The idea is, if you want to be with Jesus where He is, then you have to be transformed morally until you are in the image of Jesus and at rest in the Fire.
If I am correct in this, we now are at the beginning of the work that God has planned all along the removal of sin from His creation.
Judgment begins in the house of God, Peter tells us.
As I see it, the cleansing of the world will take place in four major areas:
The first great victory over the enemy was the blood atonement and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The judging and cleansing of the firstfruits of the Church, the Gideons army, is taking place today. The judging and cleansing of the firstfruits, then, will be the second great victory over the enemy.
The third victory will occur as the remainder of Gods elect are judged and cleansed from the sinful nature.
The fourth, and final victory will follow as the saved people from the nations, who are the inheritance of the royal priesthood, are judged and cleansed. This judging and cleansing of the saved of the nations will necessitate the rule of the rod of iron plus endless instruction, as the nations go up to Zion to learn the law and Word of God.
Right now, since we are the first to embrace the promise of God, the battle is terrific. Remember, our victory marks the end of Satans rule over the creation.
We have to see the promise in the Bible, and then we have to believe what God has said. God is going to make an end of sin! Can you believe this?
Seventy >sevens are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
To put an end to sin. To bring in everlasting righteousness.
Do you see it? Do you believe it? Then lay hold on it.
Many who are last shall be first in the Kingdom. There are thrones waiting for those who care enough to press forward in God.
Tremendous value comes at a tremendous cost. If we are to gain freedom from the sinful nature we are going to have to take up our cross and follow the Lord. There can be no holding back of any part of our being or behavior. All must be given to the Lord.
There is a firstfruits, a first reaping of the earth. They stand on Mount Zion and follow the Lamb wherever He goes. But first the lie, the guile that is part of human nature, must be removed from them totally. This requires a fiery baptism. How many will stand when the Messenger appears? Malachi asks.
How many care enough to turn away from the present world and embrace Jesus Christ to this extent? Those who do will enable God to direct Michael and his angels to hurl Satan and his angels to the earth.
Think of the good you will do for Christ, for Heaven, for others, for your loved ones, if you are willing to be one of those who press forward to the fullness of God
God has warned me clearly that the message I am presenting here is one of utmost seriousness and importance. Physical and moral chaos is approaching the United States. During that time the Lord Jesus intends to bring numerous believers into a much closer walk with Him. He will appear to them that He may bring them into the Consuming Fire where He always dwells.
Personally, although the Spirit has not told me this, I believe the Lord Jesus is starting to stand up. The time has come for His enemies to be made His footstool.
Can you imagine how important it is to Him that you and I join with Him in the effort to rid Gods creation, which is Christs and our inheritance, from all the works of Satan?
Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob. Selah (Psalms 24:3-6)
The Holy Spirit The sons of God obey the Scriptures and are led by the Spirit of God. The religious crowd study the Scriptures and are led by their self-will.
It is a fact that the whole plan of redemption is operated by the Holy Spirit of God. It truly is not by might, not by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
It is the Spirit who leads us to Christ, granting us the gift of repentance.
It is the Spirit who assigns the gifts and ministries given to His Body by the ascended Christ.
It is the Spirit who enables us to live a godly life.
It is the Spirit who gives us power and wisdom to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is the Spirit who will give eternal life to our mortal body in the Day of Resurrection.
After we believe and are baptized in water we come out from under the authority of the Law of Moses. We have counted ourselves crucified with Christ; therefore the Law no longer has authority over us.
Now we are to be guided in all that we do by the Holy Spirit. When we follow the Spirit in every aspect of our life, the righteousness that results from keeping the Law of Moses perfectly is ascribed to us.
As I said, the Spirit directs and empowers us in ministry.
There is another important work of the Spirit, one that is being emphasized in our day. The Spirit leads us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.
Perhaps the primary difference between the Christian religion and the Christian salvation is that the adherents of religion seek righteousness by some kind of behavior they can perform by their own understanding and talents. The adherents of the Spirit of God seek righteousness by looking to the Lord Jesus at every point of their life.
Living by the Spirit of God is an art. It requires daily practice, faith, and courage.
Those who merely are religious study the Bible and then figure out how to make it work. They are confident of their ability to make their plans from what they have read in the Scriptures. But they are not in daily touch with the Lord Jesus. They are not living by the Spirit.
This has always been the case with religion. The Pharisees were religious Jews. But they did not know the Spirit of God. This is why they crucified the Lord.
The tremendous output of preaching, teaching, and literature of todays denominations may or may not be sponsored by the Spirit of God. Much of it is the product of human planning.
But it is well intentioned human planning! It is accompanied by much prayer!
True enough. This also was the case with the Pharisees.
Good intentions are not enough, when it comes to the work of the Kingdom of God. We absolutely must be hearing from the Spirit of God.
The Christians in Galatia were being persuaded to go back to the Law of Moses. They believed that Jesus is the Christ, but they felt He came to enable them to keep the Law. Grace came into play when they failed to keep the Law.
The Book of Galatians may be the best set of instructions for those who are wondering about going back to some areas of the Law of Moses.
Paul cried out: After having begun in the Spirit are you going to be made perfect by the flesh? Paul was really distressed over this.
Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? (Galatians 3:3)
We might agree with Paul concerning the Galatians. But are we able to see what is taking place in our day?
There are monumental plans, seminars, convocations, etc., that have as their purpose the evangelization of the world. Computers are now playing an important role in identifying areas of need and compiling statistics.
But I wonder how much of this is being directed by the Spirit of God. I wonder if the Gospel is being marketed, the product being numbers of converts. I wonder if we truly know what we are doing.
If we could hear the Spirit today, what would He be saying?
Would the Spirit be saying, You dont have to make plans for the future because at any moment you are going to be carried into Heaven?
I myself have never heard the Spirit say that. Have you?
Would the Spirit be saying, You dont have to wait for me to tell you what to do; the Bible already directs you to go into all the world, get people saved, and build churches, telling the natives they do not have to obey the commandments of Christ because they are saved by grace?
I dont think so. In any case, the Great Commission is not to get people saved or build churches, it is to make disciples who keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
Ill tell you what I think the Spirit is saying to the Christians, in America at least. I think the Spirit is telling us to cooperate with Himself as He seeks to deliver us from our love of the world, the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul, and our self-will. If this is not what the Spirit is saying to me, then I simply do not know the Spirit of God.
Why dont you ask the Spirit of God what He wants you to do. Maybe He will tell you to jump up and down next to your pew so you will be prepared for the any-moment rapture. Maybe He will tell you to go door to door and compel them to come in. Maybe He will tell you to prepare yourself, and your loved ones as possible, for the age of physical and moral horrors that is approaching us in America.
Wait before the Lord until you are certain you are hearing from Heaven. I will promise you this: What you will hear from the Lord will be wonderful. His name is Wonderful and everything He does is wonderful.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13, 14)
Moving Toward the Goal Egypt is a type of our spiritual bondage in the kingdom of Satan, in the world. The journey through the Wilderness of Sinai is a type of our struggle to learn the ways of the Lord and to overcome our love of the world and our love of sin and self-will. Canaan is a type of life lived in the center of Gods will in the fullness of eternal life.
It appears there is a basic understanding of the nature of salvation that needs to be renewed in Christian thinking. It has to do with the fact that salvation is a process, a program, a discipleship that occurs over a period of time.
The teaching of today suggests salvation is a ticket: Accept Christ and you will go to Heaven when you die.
But what are we to do during the period of time between our accepting Christ and our death? I think in many instances it is being treated as though it were an open-ended period, without clearly defined structure or goals.
The goal is assumed to be eternal residence in Heaven. This goal, which is found neither in the Old Testament nor in the new, may have been derived from the philosophy of Gnosticism. According to Gnosticism, the material world is considered evil, and the goal is found in the spirit realm.
This is not at all a scriptural viewpoint. According to the Scriptures, the goal of salvation will include our residence on the earth in a superior bodily form.
The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan is one of four major types of redemption.
It probably is generally agreed that Egypt represents the world system.
I think Christians would not object to the idea that the journey through the wilderness portrays the Christian discipleship. However, I dont think Christians realize how specific this pilgrimage was. It was not an open-ended wandering. It was a Spirit-led journey toward a specific goal.
God led them by means of the cloud by day and the fire by night. God showed them when to make camp. God indicated to them when they were to move on.
God did not lead them along the caravan route, a much shorter way to Canaan. God deliberately led them down through the Sinai Wilderness so they would not face the hostility of tribes living at better locations.
The Jew learned many lessons along the way. It was during this time that they were given the Law of Moses and the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Also they were instructed as to their marching order.
The events that transpired in the wilderness took place for our benefit, according to the New Testament. We learn much about the Lord and His ways from reading of the experiences the Jew had in the wilderness.
There was nothing open-ended about this period! Neither is there anything open-ended about what happens to us after we come to Christ for salvation.
After we accept Christ, every moment of our life is designed by the Lord. The problems and temptations of each day are carefully orchestrated.
In fact, our life was planned from the beginning of the world. We were foreknown and predestined to be changed into the image of Christ; chosen to be revealers of the Glory of God.
But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased To reveal his Son in me so I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, (Galatians 1:15,16)
We may not have realized it, but God knows exactly what He is doing.
The idea of God choosing people from the beginning of the world to reveal His Glory may not sound very democratic, but it is what the Bible teaches.
We are so filled with humanistic philosophy we cannot accept some of the ideas presented in the Bible! We are trying to make the Bible fit human reasoning.
It may be true that the biggest problem in human thinking, an error that makes much of the Bible irrelevant, has to do with the objectives God has in mind. I have written a great deal about this subject the goal of salvation.
The goal toward which God is moving us accounts for every episode of our life. The goal is twofold: first, that we might be in the moral image of Christ; second, that we might be dwelling in untroubled rest in the Person and will of God. This is where Jesus is in untroubled rest in the Person and will of the Consuming Fire. He wants us to be there with Him forever.
Once we are in the moral image of Christ, and dwelling with Him in the Father, then we are eligible and competent to perform the numerous Kingdom tasks roles that are waiting for those who can occupy them. One major role is that of being a member of the Bride of the Lamb. Another role is that of being a member of the Body of Christ. Another is that of being a brother of Jesus Christ. Another very important role is to be a living stone in the eternal Temple of God.
And there are many Kingdom roles and tasks other than these.
This is why we go through the experiences that we do. We are not being tossed about by random forces. Every event of all history works together for one major purpose to fashion Gods elect into the image of Christ and to bring each one into the rest of God, the rest of flowing with the Life of God.
Today the goal of our salvation is presented as that of going to Heaven after we die. There we will live in a splendid mansion. We will be in the midst of unimaginable affluence, having access to an unlimited supply of gold, diamonds, and other forms of monetary wealth.
What will we do there for eternity? Who knows or cares! The point is we will have retired from the earth. No more problems, cares, sickness, death. We can do anything we want; eat anything we want; sleep all day if we want to.
Compare this with the scriptural vision of Jesus Christ and His warriors descending from Heaven and driving wickedness from the earth. After Christ is crowned King in Jerusalem He will send His victorious saints throughout the world so those who have been saved of the nations will have people who care for them and will rule them with justice.
The saints will have numerous problems as they cleanse the earth of Satan and his forces. But the events of their life on earth have prepared them to face pressures, temptations, and problems. They have lived in prayer on the earth and now they will continue to live in prayer.
Can you see there is a relationship between what is happening to us now and our future destiny?
The difference between the traditional vision and the scriptural vision is stark. Will Christians ever be taught the scriptural vision while living on the earth? I do not know. I am not even certain they will be taught the scriptural vision after they die. Maybe they will go to their mansions and pass the time with their friends. I would not be at all surprised if this is what happens.
But there are on the earth, and have been throughout history, people who walk with the Lord. Like Anna and Simeon in the Temple with the Baby Jesus, for example, or like the father and mother of John the Baptist.
The churches reach out and millions of people are converted. From these millions there may come forth fifty who walk with Christ and know what He is doing.
It doesnt take many! These are the victorious saints. To them has been given the creation of God. They shall appear with Christ and inherit the earth. In fact, they shall inherit all things!
Perhaps if more believers understood the issues we are facing they would be more zealous in serving the Lord. Maybe if they realized there are thrones of glory waiting for those who care enough to follow Jesus each day through every kind of difficulty they would be more diligent.
Or maybe the desire to press through the million and one problems that face us at all times is a gift from God. That may be a fact. Yet, who knows what God will do for any individual who sets himself or herself to walk with God!
We leave Egypt, the Antichrist world system, by being baptized in water into the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
After that our task is to follow the Holy Spirit. This is not an open-ended walk! Every day the Spirit has a curriculum He sets before us. We have to be really determined especially in America if we are to turn away from the distractions of life and keep our eyes focused on Jesus.
It isnt easy.
Do you remember Demas? He was an associate of the Apostle Paul. How would you like to be an associate of the Apostle Paul? Would you stick with him throughout his numerous trials and sufferings?
Demas didnt! Can you imagine? Demas was with the Apostle Paul, and turned away to the things of the world. Maybe he saw a racing camel he coveted, or perhaps an unusually fine tent. Or maybe one of the girls that served in the local heathen temple. Demas forsook Paul, having loved this present world.
Things of tremendous worth are purchased at a tremendous cost. We desire to sit on the highest throne with Jesus Christ. This is the promise to the victorious saint.
Do we imagine we are going to slide through life, attend church, sing a few hymns, and then be placed on a throne of such size, authority, and power it cannot be comprehended in the present hour?
We are going to rule and reign with Christ, we say. Have we any idea what we are talking about? Is God a fool that He would place immature, self-seeking, faithless, silly people on the mightiest throne of all?
No, God is not a fool. We are if we imagine such a ridiculous circumstance.
Our journey throughout life in this world is a time of instruction. Either we miss the point and bounce from one problem to another, or else we seek Christ diligently each day in order to determine His will for us.
Those who put their hand to the plow and then look back are not fit for the Kingdom of God, and certainly will not be assigned a high rank in the Kingdom.
God has His victorious saints, and I think they can be found in every Christian group. Some day they will be drawn together and the light from them will shine from the East to the West. Then the world will believe the God of Heaven is the One who has sent Jesus Christ into the world.
You can be one of the Lords mighty men, if you so choose. But you will have to turn away from unnecessary involvement in the world system. You will have to overcome through Christ the lusts of your flesh. And you will have to forsake your self-will and self-centeredness until Christ becomes All in all in your life.
And dont expect other Christians to bless you or encourage you, because they very well may turn away from you and gossip about you. Let them play their religious games, but you press forward in Christ with all your strength!
You can do it, and Christ will help you. But there isnt much time left in America, so you need to act now.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Overcoming Satan The blood of the Lamb is our power base. The word of our testimony is our activity. Loving not our life to the death is our protection.
The Bible says that there will be Christians who overcome Satan, the accuser of the brothers, by the blood of the Lamb; by the word of their testimony; and by loving not their lives to the point of death.
If we are to overcome Satan, each of these aspects is essential.
If it were not for the blood of the Lamb we could never overcome Satan. This is because of our guilt. It takes quite a period of time and continual obedience on our part in order for our sinful nature to be destroyed. Meanwhile the blood of Jesus keeps us reconciled to God in spite of our sins, rebellion, and foolishness.
As long as we are following the Spirit of God faithfully, walking in the light of Gods will, the blood is cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
In order to overcome Satan and his accusations we have to be showing forth in ourselves a true testimony of Gods Person, ways, will, and eternal purpose in Christ. The Holy Spirit creates this testimony in us.
There are two main areas of the testimony, both enabled by the Spirit. The first area is that of supernatural power. This includes all forms of the gifts of the Spirit, including prophetic utterance.
The second area is that of moral behavior. Our behavior must be in line with Gods eternal moral law.
If either of these two areas is lacking, supernatural power or acceptable moral behavior, we cannot possibly overcome Satan.
We see, then, that the first area has to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. The second area has to do with the Holy Spirit.
The third area in which we overcome the accuser has to do with the Father. It is stern obedience to the Father.
Each of the areas is essential. The third area, that of stern obedience to the Father, is the reversal of the original rebellion in Heaven. The first two areas lead ultimately to the third.
In order to obey God completely we have to die to our self-will, to our right to be ourselves. We never lose our uniqueness as a person, but we do lose our right to express ourselves apart from God.
I would venture that in our day there are two areas that need improvement. The first is moral behavior. Because of the overemphasis on grace as forgiveness, the Christians have forgotten grace teaches us to lead a godly life. God will not work with us when we are not living an upright, holy life.
The second area that needs improvement is that of stern obedience to God. We need to pay much more attention to finding Gods will and doing it.
We can see world events shaping up such that England, Israel, and America are being worked into a corner where they are going to have to stand against the Muslim nations and North Korea. I dont think China and Russia will be much help. It is to their advantage, perhaps, to stand by and wait until America and England have been weakened. Then they may make their move.
However, they may outsmart themselves, because the Muslim nations eventually will come against all people who are not Muslim. This appears to be their determination in the present hour.
As we read the paper we see that Israel is depending on the United States. I think England wishes to maintain a close relationship with America. Our President, thank God, is a man of prayer and there are others in the government who are devout Christians, from what we hear.
However, the bulk of our citizenry, or at least a substantial part, is given over to pleasure. They love their pleasures and comforts too much to waste their time praying.
We trust in our military strength, and we have courageous, dedicated members of the armed forces of our country.
But unless God helps us we are in for deep trouble. Our military will not save our country, Britain, and Israel, apart from Gods help. And God is not going to help us unless we do more than make a brief show of reverence by singing "God Bless America." There must be massive national repentance.
What must we do as individuals? We must place ourselves by faith under the protection of the blood of the Lamb. We must live our lives according to the moral law of God.
Finally, and most importantly, we must do as Paul commanded: we must present our body a living sacrifice to God.
The best protection we have against Satan is our death on the cross. When every part of our personality has been counted as dead, when we can say for me to live is Christ and to die is gain, then, and only then, are we invincible.
Satan always attacks us at some point in which we are asserting our natural life. When we have given all to Jesus, when we have remained without complaining in the imprisoning circumstances in which He placed us, Satan cannot harm us. In order to harm us he would have to overcome the resurrection Life of Christ; and this he is unable to do.
We can overcome Satan totally through the authority of the blood of the Lamb; by following the Holy Spirit as He creates the Divine testimony in us; and especially by loving not our life to the death.
If our whole nation would follow Christ in these three areas of victory, or even if the Christian people would do so, no other country could raise a finger against us. But we may be unwilling to deny ourselves and trust God to this extent.
Therefore in the future we may find Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen, and Pakistan arrayed against us. Meanwhile China and Russia will be licking their chops, waiting for the proud United States, the super-power of the free world, to suffer humiliating losses.
Our countrys only hope is that God will remember the missionaries who have gone from America and given their lives in Africa and other places, and that He will remember the humanitarian acts, such as feeding the poor and clothing the naked, that have characterized America. God is well able after all hope is gone to preserve this once great nation.
Hopefully by then the abortions, the sexual perversions, and the Hollywood filthiness and foolishness will be behind us as we struggle just to survive physically.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)
Moral Image and Power The final witness of the coming of the Kingdom is represented by the two lampstands of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. The forming of Christ in the believers is represented by the male Son of Revelation, Chapter Twelve. The same group of people participate in the end-time witness and in the inner formation of Christ.
I have written a great deal about the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. As I understand the symbolic portrayal, the two Lampstands represent Christ and His Body. The two Olive Trees speak of a double portion of the Holy Spirit resting on Christ and His Body to enable the witness that is to be given.
It is my opinion that this end-time witness is that of which the Lord spoke: This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
I think this is the promised latter rain mentioned in the Old Testament and the New.
What interests me at the present time is the nature of the testimony that will be given.
First of all, there are the works of destruction that did not characterize the testimony described in the Book of Acts, nor have they occurred throughout the Christian Era, to the best of my knowledge.
If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. These men have power to shut up the sky so it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want. (Revelation 11:5, 6)
The witnesses have the power to destroy, and to affect the course of nature. Perhaps the reason for this is that God wants to make sure no government will be able to prevent the giving of the testimony to any group of people. Does that sound reasonable to you?
But this still does not tell us what they will preach, the positive side of the testimony.
Matthew 24:14 tell us it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that will be preached. This is logical in that the testimony of the two witnesses will occur just prior to the taking over of the governments of the world by the Lord Jesus.
The witnesses will announce that the Lord is coming with His saints and holy angels to install the Kingdom of God on the earth. This is the Good News of the Kingdom.
Perhaps, as in the case when the Lord Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the coming of the Kingdom, the two witnesses will heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons.
But what will the witnesses themselves be like? What kind of people will be permitted to exercise such authority and power?
I think the key is found in the following verse:
But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. I think Christ is going to suddenly appear to those who are looking for Him and create His image in them.
Notice the fourth chapter of Zechariah, which is the prophetic background for Revelation, Chapter Eleven:
So he said to me, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty. What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of God bless it! God bless it! Then the word of the LORD came to me: The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. (Zechariah 4:6-9)
The point is this: The Cornerstone of the eternal Temple of God has been laid. At the time when the seventh angel begins to sound, the Capstone will be brought forth, and the Temple will be completed.
The Lord Jesus Christ is both the Cornerstone and the Capstone of the House of God.
Revelation and Zechariah tell us in the last days the Temple of God, which is the Christian Church, will be completed.
Notice particularly that the work will be accomplished Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit. This ought to be our watchword, our rallying cry from now until the Lord returns. The present hour is not the time for the thinking and efforts of talented believers.
Up to the present hour the Divine testimony has consisted primarily of teaching. My point of view is that the testimony that will be given during the closing days of the present age will result from a much greater Presence of Christ in His Church than we have known.
I think the Lord is coming to His people today as the Lord, strong and mighty in battle of the twenty-fourth Psalm. We are to open up the everlasting doors of our heart and let Him enter. He does not come as the gentle Shepherd. He is coming to us as the Warrior. He is declaring war against the enemies that live in His people.
Our part is to confess our sins when they are pointed out to us and to turn away from them with all the strength Christ gives us. His part is to put our spiritual enemies under our feet and His feet.
When Christ has cleansed His Church He can appear in us in an extraordinary manner. I think this will be the testimony to be given in the last days. When we are in Christ in God, and one with each other, then the world will believe. This is the testimony the world is waiting to see.
Christ will bear witness in and with us in the same manner that was true of Him in the first century. He will bear the testimony of a righteous, holy, personality, and He will bear the testimony of miraculous works.
Both of these aspects are vital to the testimony: we must have the moral image of Christ in us; and we must perform mighty works. The Church Era has seen enough sin and self-seeking in the Christian ministry.
The Lord Jesus prophesied that those who have faith in Him will do the same and greater works than He did two thousand years ago, because He has gone to dwell at the right hand of God in Heaven.
The Lord was not challenging our faith by so saying, He was prophesying of what will be true during the closing days of the Church Era.
Let me point out that the Lord will not give us this kind of power. He Himself will do the works. Our part is to listen carefully to what He tells us, and then to do exactly that.
Whatever He says to you, do it.
We should pray to be in His moral image. We should pray that He will do the same and greater works through us. We should and we must pray these things. We must also accompany our prayers with faith, joy, thanksgiving, and an attitude of keen expectancy, even though our prayers are not answered for many years.
Maybe it will be today! Maybe today He will tell me to stretch forth my hand, or to speak the word, or to go somewhere and do something there.
This is the attitude we must take in the present hour. The Lord has been speaking of His desire to reveal His Glory. Our part is to be strictly obedient, to put away our sins as the Holy Spirit directs and empowers us, and to listen! listen! listen with joyful expectancy to see what He is going to do!
Speaking for myself, I do not want power, other than that which Christ decides to give me. I do not want any spiritual secrets that will enable me to do this or that or get the other. I do not want and I reject any and all metaphysical approaches to power, such as speaking words of faith, speaking creative words, or using imaging to bring to pass what I desire. I want to live like the Lord. He did nothing of Himself. It was the Father who spoke and worked through Him.
I want it to be true of me that I am able to do nothing and say nothing except as Christ acts in me and through me. Do you feel that way?
The testimony to be given to the world will be that of Jesus Christ living and working in and through the faithful, believing members of His Body. They will reveal in themselves the moral image of Christ and work great miracles. It may be true that the acts of destruction they perform will not only prevent opposition to the testimony but also warn the world of the destruction that will occur when Christ returns from Heaven with His saints and holy angels.
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the birth of Christ in the Christian people. He ascends to God and to Gods Throne as soon as He is born. I understand this to be a portrayal of what happens when we are born again. Paul commanded us to set our heart on things above because we have died and our life now is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who has become our life, appears, we shall appear with Him and together we will install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The two witnesses announce the coming of Christ and His saints, the rulers of the nations of the earth, just before it takes place.
We are living in a terrible and wonderful time. There will be much deception from this time forth. We already see how devout Christian people can be deceived into believing false teaching such as an imminent pre-tribulation rapture, the so-called prosperity message, and the faith and imaging errors. I have no doubt there will be new delusions in the days to come that will draw away as many people into error as has been true of the misunderstandings I have mentioned.
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow Him each day. When we do this, the chance of our being deceived is greatly diminished. It is the personal cross of the believer that is the best protection from deception.
Terrible and wonderful days! Whoever chooses to pursue Christ diligently and live the victorious Christian life may succeed in pressing forward to the fullness of the inheritance. The opportunity is open to all. If we do not take advantage of all that is being offered today, we have only our own unbelief and disobedience to blame. Christ will give all needed assistance to anyone who cares enough to turn away from the distractions of the world and seek Him with singleness of purpose.
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
Placed Where We Belong There are several destinations available to the believers: the new Jerusalem; Hell; the Lake of Fire; the outer darkness. If we will be diligent in developing godly character, our destination will be the new Jerusalem; for people ultimately will be placed where they belong.
It seems to me that one of the problems in Christian thinking has to do with the idea of being placed in Heaven by means of grace, rather than being put where we belong. It is a kind of Christian schizophrenia.
I think we are of the opinion that if a thoroughly wicked man accepts Christ he will go straight to Heaven when he dies. Now, I am thoroughly convinced that no matter how wicked an individual is, no matter what heinous crime he or she has been guilty of, that individual can be saved by calling on Christ.
I thoroughly believe this. It is a rock in my thinking.
Having established the availability of salvation for whoever calls on the name of the Lord, lets do a little thinking about placement and environment.
Lets say there is a person who is a product of the contemporary culture in America. His idea of life is to have a good time as much as possible. He likes to gamble, swear, smoke, tell dirty stories with the boys, watch the late night talk shows on television, and spend a weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is his idea of Heaven.
Then we tell him if he will accept Christ he will be saved and go to Heaven when he dies.
But there is no place in the Paradise of God for gambling, swearing, smoking, dirty stories, late night talk shows, or anything that resembles the night life of Las Vegas. Instead we have holy angels, people who love to worship God, and innocent little children playing in the parks.
Why would the individual want to go to Heaven? He would hate every minute of it.
I will tell you why he wants to be saved and go to Heaven. He is afraid of Hell. He is afraid of being cast into tormenting fire. He certainly would not like to be where people are singing hymns and worshiping God. He just wants to escape Hell. He doesnt love God or Christ. He wants to be where he can continue to have fun, and that is just what many of todays preachers are telling him. Accept Christ and you have your ticket to Paradise.
We are guilty of false advertising. We are telling the person he would be happy in Heaven. The truth is, he would be totally miserable.
If he were permitted to enter Heaven he soon would ruin it for everyone else because of his personality. One sinner can destroy much good!
I suppose our assumption is that if an individual dies and goes to Heaven he automatically will be changed into a saint. There is no basis in the Scriptures for such an assumption, as far as I know. Do you know of any passage that suggests a person is changed by dying and going to Heaven?
Well, what about the thief on the cross? This example often is used by people who want to continue to sin and yet be saved.
We know only two things about the thief on the cross. First, he was guilty of a crime or he would not have been crucified. Second, he had faith that the dying Jesus actually is a King, and he wanted to be saved into that Kingdom.
Other than that, we know nothing of the mans life, whether he had heard Christ preach and was changed in his heart, or whether his crime was the only bad thing he had done in his life. All we know is he made a remarkable request, given the circumstances.
We know also that the Lord recognized the sincerity of the man, and his faith, and invited him to Paradise.
But this fact does not change at all what I am saying. If the man wanted to live according to his former way of life after being with Christ in Paradise, you can be certain he would be miserable being with Christ, and he would destroy his environment, just as sinners always do.
Our preaching of today does not follow the tenor of the New Testament! We simply are wrong in what we are advocating! We are preaching a free trip to Heaven when we ought to be preaching repentance and godly behavior.
If you will read Pauls writings carefully you will see the constant emphasis on godly behavior and the warning of what will happen if we do not live in a godly manner.
When Paul stressed grace, as opposed to works, he was speaking to people who were confused concerning the Law of Moses. Paul was not saying we do not need to live righteously because we are saved by grace! This is the current error!
Paul also stated in several places, although this emphasis is avoided in current preaching, that those who really receive Christ were destined to do so from the beginning of the world. They are Gods elect.
Paul says to the elect that they must repent and seek righteousness of behavior if they are to make their calling and election certain.
There are Gods elect, and then there are the people of the world. This is clear in the Scriptures.
But Gods Word to all people is identical. If you are to be saved into the new world of righteousness you absolutely must put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you must turn from your sins and live a righteous life.
Now, if we do not want to cease living according to the sinful nature, with its love of the world spirit, its lusts, its selfishness, and its desires for preeminence, then it is useless to speak of avoiding Hell and going to Paradise. It is rank foolishness! That is, unless, of course, we are utterly remorseful and desire to be changed. In this case, God will work with us endlessly until we receive a new heart and spirit.
But this is not what we are preaching today. We are making converts to a religion, promising them escape from Hell, and eternal joy in Disneyland in the sky, but not telling them this is unrealistic. Confirmed sinners who have no desire to change would destroy everything God is creating.
The Lord Jesus is not a ticket that one can purchase and then pass through the gates into eternal joy. Rather, the Lord Jesus is the Power and Wisdom that makes it possible for us to change so we belong in the presence of the saints and holy angels.
Now, how can we tell if someone is going to Heaven when he or she dies? Not by his religious statements but by his attitude and behavior.
If he behaves like the devil then he is of the devil and belongs with the devil. The Apostle John warns us to let no one deceive us on this score. John says everyone who is righteous behaves as Jesus does.
What we have today is a religious device to bring sinners into heavenly surroundings (where they would be utterly miserable!) with no effort on their part other than making a profession of belief in Christ. They do not actually have faith in the living Jesus. They have just accepted a religious formula.
We cannot tell who is a Christian and who isnt except by the persons attitude and behavior!
Those who follow their sinful nature are of Hell and belong in Hell. They do not belong with the saints. To tell them they can escape Hell by accepting Christ, without informing them that the purpose of accepting Christ is to be able to change into a pattern of behavior suitable to the Kingdom of God, is to lie to them.
Those who are of Heaven are heavenly in their attitude and behavior. Those who are of Hell are hellish in their attitude and behavior.
What then must we do? We must cease preaching free grace and begin to emphasize repentance. If you will read the Book of Acts carefully you will see that when the Apostles preached forgiveness they also stressed repentance, that is, a turning away from wicked behavior and an embracing of that which is righteous and holy.
There is no salvation apart from a new righteous creation. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, not matter how vehemently he claims to be a Christian.
But you know he appeared so he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devils work. (I John 3:5-8)
As I Live by the Father The goal toward which we are to be pressing is that of being filled with God and Christ at all times.
I have written a great deal about the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Tabernacles comes after the feast of Pentecost, and is one of the primary concerns of the Spirit of God in the present hour.
I have mentioned that the fulfillment of Tabernacles is in two dimensions. The first is that which happens to our personality. Our original, earthly personality must die on the cross with Christ. Our new personality comes into being as Christ is formed in us. This is the first dimension of the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. It is a change in what we are as a person.
The second dimension is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in the new personality that has been formed in us.
It is interesting to note that Christ was filled with the Presence of God. Yet when He prayed, He looked up to His Father in Heaven. Did you ever notice that?
I can remember back in the early 50's when the Latter Rain Revival was being preached. Much good was accomplished in those days, but there was some error. One of the errors was that since Christ is in us we do not need to pray like we used to. Sons of God march forward. This sort of thing. Since Christ was in us we had no more need of the gifts of the Spirit; also, no more need of the Communion service, although I do not see the connection.
In any case, the idea was that since Christ is in us we have all power. I suppose some even prayed to the Christ in them. They lost the objectivity of the Kingdom of God. Christ Himself did not pray to the Father in Him but to the Father in Heaven. How much more is this objectivity to be true of us!
Perhaps most of us are new at this sort of thing and need to patiently work our way forward until we know how to behave in the Kingdom of God.
One of the great errors of our time, as I have said in other places, is to try to put on our administrative hat, so to speak, and begin to command our desires into existence. Ministers are attempting to command the Holy Spirit. This is ignorance on our part.
Our example is the Lord Jesus. How many times did He tell us He did nothing of Himself. It was the Father who was with Him. The following passage reveals how the Father and Christ worked together.
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)
The Lord Jesus wants us to be in relationship with Him as He is with the Father. Do you believe this?
Notice that Christ can do nothing by Himself, but only what He sees His Father doing. Here is the way we should be living and behaving. We should recognize that we can do nothing by ourselves but only what we see Christ doing.
There is so much talk today of how we Christians are going to believe God and do this, that, and the next thing. We are going to work miracles. We are going to receive power and move mountains and empty hospitals. We are going to save the world. We! we! we! we! It is absolutely sickening. In fact it is the False Prophet, trying to get the power of the Lamb (the two horns) while speaking with the voice of the dragon (self-will.)
How many of us are willing to quit trying to play God and just wait until we can see what Christ is doing? Then we work with Him and do the same thing.
Personally I think this is the great need of the hour to hear from Jesus and not guess at what it is He wants and is ready to do.
We dont want God to give us power. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, it is said. A study of the lives of some of the workers of miracles of the past century will reveal that having power can be dangerous.
I dont see that Christ ever talked about getting power from God. He did speak of faith. But faith is our assessment of Gods Character, not some kind of magic that enables us to impress people or otherwise accomplish our desires.
What we need today is more of Jesus, not more of His power but more of Him. We need to be filled with God; filled with God; filled with God.
We need to learn to live by Christ as He lives by the Father. We learn to live by Christ by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. His flesh and blood are hidden manna given to those who faithfully are doing Gods will.
Every time we set aside our own will and ambitions we are given to eat of the body and blood of Christ. Perhaps most of us every day have an opportunity to choose to set aside our own will that we might do the will of Christ in a given circumstance. When we do this, when we choose to go Christs way instead of our own, we are given His body and blood in the spirit realm. In this way we learn to live by Him as He lives by the Father.
I believe the Lord is ready and willing to give revival today, revival characterized by righteous behavior on the part of the saints and also by demonstrations of miraculous wisdom and power. But He must have people who are unassuming, not exalted ministers who love the spotlight.
I am expecting to see ordinary believers to whom Christ will speak in these days, people who have waited on the Lord for years and who know His voice. When He tells them to do something they do it conscientiously and thoroughly, just as Moses did in the Old Testament. When the Lord, working along with their obedience to His voice, performs some mighty act, they remain unmoved.
I have often thought of what would happen if the Lord gave someone the power to multiply food. Can you imagine the sensational headlines, the reporters pushing one another and ruining their lawn and their peace, the involvement of government officials as they saw a means of solving one of the great needs of mankind?
Can you imagine the pressure on that believer to stay before the Lord and do only what the Lord said? He really would have had to have been prepared in advance.
Can you imagine how the Christian leaders would seek to use this sign to save souls? At one time pressure was put on William Branham by his advisers until he disobeyed what the Spirit was telling him to do.
How many workers of miracles have been able to just remain before the Lord and pray only when He said to do so? Dr. Charles Price, an outstanding evangelist of some years back, wrote that no matter how many sick were brought before him, he would pray only for those to whom the Lord directed him. Outstanding miracles of healing were performed.
Didnt Jesus behave that way? Do you remember the multitude who were waiting for the water to be troubled? Yet Jesus prayed for only one person.
Why? Because Christ was doing only what He saw the Father do.
We really have to get hold of this principle if we expect Christ to move in our day. There have been enough exalted evangelists. What we need now is saints who are living a righteous, holy life, and who do not advertise themselves as being some great person.
Kathryn Kuhlman used to say that she did nothing; it was Christ who did the healing. When you saw her in action you could see that she was doing nothing more than repeat what the Lord was telling her. When I saw her minister she did not lay her hands on the problem and make some great pronouncement, which would have called attention to herself. But the sick and disabled were healed!
I wouldnt be surprised if this difference between what we are going to do and what Christ is going to do becomes one of the major issues of our day. How many Christians ministers are ready to fade into the background and just permit Christ to do what He will?
I am not suggesting that a minister should not do what God clearly has called him to do, I am speaking rather of running ahead of God and trying to be some great one trying to have the largest crowd at a meeting, or the fastest growing church in the country.
I dont know about you, but I want nothing more to do with spectacular Christian programs, seminars, formulas for raising money or increasing attendance, ad nauseam. I want to hear from God. I want Christ to live in me so it no longer is I but Christ who is living.
More than that, I want to see Him work His mighty acts in our day. I want to stand by while He stretches forth the hand that upholds the stars in their courses. I want to see Him do the same works and the greater, that He promised.
We would see Jesus, the Greek visitors said. This is how I feel. I would see Jesus. What is your opinion of this attitude?
Come, Lord Jesus. Our world is in a turmoil. Our nation is not giving you the glory in the midst of its problems. We are looking to our togetherness as Americans, our courage, our ability to survive, instead of to reliance on You. We are in error in this. What will it take to turn us back to a public declaration of faith in God to save us?
You never change. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Have mercy on us and turn our hearts to You lest we perish in our stubborn self-will.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
Signs and Wonders Are Not the Destination The signs and wonders that the Lord performs are not the destination. They are signposts saying This is the way.
The work of God from the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapter of the Book of Revelation has been accompanied by miracles, by signs and wonders.
A rabbi ventured the opinion that an elder was greater than a prophet because the prophet depended on signs and wonders to validate his office, but the elder needed no such signs because he was an elder. How do you like that little bit of rationalization?
It really doesnt hold up. You will notice that when Samuel came to a town the elders trembled. Without question, the lesser trembles at the presence of the greater!
The Apostle Paul stated that the Gospel is not a matter of word but of power. Jesus told the Pharisees that they should believe in Him because of the miraculous signs He was performing.
It remains true to this day. When Jesus is in town, miracles take place.
I personally am a great believer in miracles. I have seen many answers to prayer during my life, but not many miracles. Yet I believe miracles are necessary for the preaching of the Gospel.
Why do we not have more miracles today? I may be incorrect, but I think it is because signs and wonders are not a destination. They point the way where God is going. Maybe when we get on the right track and go where God is going, He will restore power to His churches.
It is not a case of beseeching God for miracles, although it always is good to pray for more of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus advised us to do so. Rather, we should beseech God that we might know His will and be able to do it. We need to hear from God these days. There are many voices in the land, but I dont think all of them are the voice of God.
Today there is too much glorifying of ministers. We notice that the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven, are clothed in sackcloth. Sackcloth symbolizes humility and repentance. We must depart from the practice of sensationalizing the work of God and return to that which is simple and unassuming.
God will not give His Glory to another. I think it is important to realize if God is to work the way we desire, then we will have to decide in advance that we are not going to attempt to profit from what He does by making ourselves out to be especially important or holy. We are not to take the things of Christ and try to use them for our personal benefit.
Also, God wants to move us from Pentecost to the Day of Atonement, and finally to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. Pentecost has been wonderful and God has endorsed the Pentecostal message with signs and wonders.
Now God is moving past the feast of Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. The celebration of the Day of Atonement results in our being reconciled to God in our personality.
We have been reconciled to God legally through the blood of Jesus. Now it is time to be reconciled to God in actuality. Our sins have been forgiven. The guilt has been taken care of. Now it is time to deal with the sinful nature itself so we do not keep on sinning. God cannot have fellowship with us if we continue to yield to our sinful nature.
The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all unrighteousness while we are walking in the light of Gods will. But if we choose to obey the sinful compulsions that are in us, the blood no longer cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We then come under the judgment of God and are chastened so we will not be condemned with the world.
There is a tremendous difference between having our sins forgiven, and having the sinful nature destroyed out of us. Both forgiveness and the destruction of the sinful nature are part of the same redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ was revealed that He might destroy the works of devil. The time has come in the order of the operations of redemption for God to destroy the works of Satan out of His Church.
I notice that Christians have a great deal of trouble distinguishing between the forgiveness of sin, and the destruction of the sin nature. I cannot understand why this difference is so difficult to grasp. It seems like a straightforward idea to me.
Perhaps it is because for so long when the New Testament stated that Christ would take away our sins we thought it meant Christ would forgive our sins. That may be the reason why we seem to be so muddled over this simple and clear difference.
We want signs and wonders. We need signs and wonders. But we must get the correct message from them. They are not an end in themselves.
Of course, it is desirable that sick people be healed and that demons be cast out. However, the purpose of signs and wonders is to confirm the Word they accompany. Signs and wonders are not a device for raising money or building a large church. Signs and wonders are not desirable if people get the wrong message from them. And this can happen. Does the miracle at Lourdes validate the worship of the Virgin Mary?
Our main task today is to put all of our assumptions and traditions out of our mind and listen! listen! listen to what Jesus is saying! Then we are to obey Him implicitly.
It is my opinion that when we say and do what Jesus wants said and done, the mighty works will follow.
Lord, help us to hear from you and to do what you command.
Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:20)
Gifts and Ministries or Human Talents? The reason there is a paucity of gifts and ministries operating in the Christian churches is that we find it easier to plan our own way and employ our own abilities and talents rather than to live in close interaction with the Spirit of God.
I would assume numerous Christian ministers would like to have more of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit operating in the churches. We understand from the writings of Paul that the Body of Christ is built up by the gifts and ministries issued to His Body by the ascended Christ. The gifts and ministries are to work until we all come to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The Body of Christ cannot come to maturity until there is widespread operation of the gifts and ministries.
Why, then, is there such a lack of these gifts? Have you ever wondered about this?
Being a pastor of a denominational church, I am concerned about this lack. We have much prophecy in our church and have substantial exercise of the word of knowledge coming from visiting ministry and also from within the congregation.
It seems many ministers of the Gospel now have the ability to give personal prophecies over people. This is very encouraging. Perhaps the prevalence of this word of knowledge given through prophecy indicates that more supernatural events are on the way. I hope this is the case.
I am thankful for what we are seeing today. There certainly is more prophetic utterance in the churches than was true when I came into Pentecost, in 1948. However, I believe much more is needed. I dont believe the gifts of healing or of miracles are to be in the possession of just a few evangelists. They are available to whoever prays intensely for them. Yet it is true that gifts and ministries are not assigned to a local assembling but are for the building up of the entire Body of Christ.
Perhaps the main reason for the scarcity of the operation of gifts and ministries in the local assembling is the unscriptural idea that man is to be in control of the building of the Kingdom of God. The current rage seems to be to find out what formula we can employ to accomplish what we desire. We are not to be looking for keys to spiritual success. We are to be praying and confessing our sins to the Lord.
We need to hear from Jesus, as I have said so often. He is the one who is building His own Church. He wants to use people to do this. But they are to be listening to Him and doing what He directs, not looking to their own energies, wisdom, and talents.
The congregation is to be an orchestra. Everyone is to have something to contribute. It is not a case of Gods man of faith and power demonstrating how spiritual he is. We have altogether too much of this today.
As long as we are willing to employ our own abilities and talents to run the service, then there is not going to be an increase in spiritual gifts and ministries among the believers.
We have a lot of music and pageantry in our church, as part of our worship. But music can be used to take the place of the gifts and ministries, if we are not careful. We must keep in mind that music of itself cannot possibly build up the members of the Body of Christ. Music is of use only as it brings us onto a spiritual plane where the Spirit operates. Choir numbers and musical specials often are a waste of time, and tend to take the place of the work of the Spirit.
Paul exhorts us to pray earnestly for the greater gifts. Given the context and the general sense of his writing, I think he is referring to the more spectacular gifts, which were employed on the earth in his day, such as those of healing, of miracles, or of speaking miraculously in a foreign language.
Jesus said the believers would do the same and greater works than He performed on the earth. Perhaps outstanding miracles are the greater gifts, and we should covet them earnestly.
We ought to use every technological advance that appears on the market, including the Internet and wireless technology. These give us the opportunity to contact vast multitudes of people and more so each day.
However, we ought not to fall into the temptation of thinking that the Gospel is a product we can market. The Gospel of the Kingdom is a seed that is planted in the heart, and we do not have the ability to monitor its growth. Counting how many accepted Christ is not an indicator of how the Kingdom is growing. We know this is true because of the parable of the sower, in which three-fourths of those on whom the seed falls bring forth no lasting fruit.
Only the Holy Spirit of God can build the Kingdom of God. Therefore our task is to find out what Christ is doing so we can obey Him strictly. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Christ, the Bible says.
It is so much easier on the flesh to plan and develop a gospel program using our own abilities and talents than it is to look unceasingly to the Lord for His directions. But the end is Ishmael, a wild man. Religious people have been the murderers of Christ from the beginning of time.
Lets you and I look to Jesus, following Him each step of the way. If I am hearing correctly, He is ready to perform mighty miracles of salvation and healing in our day.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:15, 16)
Righteousness and Innocence Righteousness and innocence are different qualities. Adam and Eve were innocent but not righteous. Righteousness is a positive force developed in us as we overcome evil through Jesus Christ.
Adam and Eve were innocent. This means they had no knowledge that such a thing as evil existed. They did not realize they were naked. It may be true that they had no conscience, because it is conscience that warns us when we are going against Gods eternal moral law.
Perhaps there are those who wish that God would put us in Paradise in an innocent state, having no conscience, no awareness of evil, no sense of Gods eternal moral law. But this is not to be. Innocence brought disaster the first time and it would bring disaster again.
Well, we might think, if there were no Satan and no evil people, what would be the problem with living in a place of total enjoyment, even if we had no powers of moral judgment? It sounds appealing, doesnt it?
t wouldnt work. Why wouldnt it work? It wouldnt work because of the nature of man.
When I say it would not work because of the nature of man, I am not referring to the sinful nature we inherited; I am hypothesizing that we would be as Adam and Eve, without a sinful nature.
Why wouldnt we be able to maintain Paradise if we did not have a sinful nature?
Man has a will. He can choose what he wants to do. He is a social animal. He has the power of reproduction. Living in Paradise, man would reproduce until there were millions of people living in whatever type of social structure they chose.
Now consider: all these people had no knowledge of good or evil. Also, none of these people had a sinful nature dwelling in the members of their body. Morally they were a blank slate.
But they had a will, and no training in righteous behavior.
What would happen?
Two people would desire the same area of land. They have no sin nature but they both have wills. Each would insist that he have possession of the disputed area. What would they do? They would fight!
Even though they have no inherited sin nature (as in the case of Cain), they would fight. Why? Because they were innocent but not righteous.
Our willingness to be a peacemaker, even when we have to suffer personal loss in order to keep the peace, comes from having Christ formed in us.
Being innocent will not prevent our fighting for what we want.
Having no knowledge of good and evil will not prevent us from fighting for what we want.
Having no sin nature will not prevent us from fighting for what we want.
The only operation on our personality that would keep us from fighting for what we want would be the removal of our will.
God will not remove our will, or the will of animals, or the will of angels. To remove our will would destroy what we are.
If we had no will I dont think we would move. We move in order to acquire pleasure or to avoid pain. It is an act of will.
Christian mythology has us dying and being carried to Paradise, there to live in a mansion. We assume our sin nature will be removed by virtue of dying. There will be no sin where we are in Heaven. We will be as Adam and Eve.
This is totally unrealistic.
Even if dying, or the Lords coming, or our entering residence in Heaven, were to remove our sinful nature (and there is no scriptural basis whatever for the idea that one of these three events or a combination of them would remove our sinful nature), we still would retain our will. I dont believe any theologian would venture that our will would be removed if we took up residence in Heaven.
But there would be enough for everybody in Heaven so there would be no need to quarrel about anything!
Oh no? What if someone came by and wanted your mansion. He could have as many mansions as he wanted, but he chose yours. What would you do? Would you cheerfully and lovingly give him yours? Or would you point out to him that you have lived in this mansion for a thousand years and there are several mansions in the vicinity without occupants?
But what if he insisted on your leaving your mansion so he and his family could move in?
You might think such a thing could never happen. Why not? Do people lose all desires in Heaven? Or does God replace their desires with His desires?
What I am driving at is this: the ability to surrender what is yours cheerfully and lovingly, or to have God replace your desires with His desires, are acts of righteousness that are created in us as we learn of Christ and have Christ formed in us. These are not the acts of an innocent person but a righteous person.
Now lets get realistic.
The Bible does not teach that the saints will go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion, but that they will appear with Christ and install the Kingdom of God on the earth. They will be raised from the dead, their resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with a body of eternal life, they will be lifted up from the earth and mount the war stallions, some will be installed on the thrones recently vacated by Satan and his lords the thrones that control the earth, and then they will descend in the authority and power of Divine judgment and drive all sin and sinners from the earth. They will establish a government that will rule the peoples left alive after the Battle of Armageddon.
A moments thought will bring the conclusion that the warriors of Christ are not innocent. Neither are they righteous by imputation. They are righteous in behavior because of the new nature, the Nature of Christ, that has been formed in them.
They are fully aware of what constitutes good and they are fully aware of what constitutes evil. During their discipleship they learned about good and evil, and the willingness to reject evil and embrace good was developed in them.
The Christian Church is protected by the Passover blood of the Lamb, and is filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Now the time has come in the plan of redemption for us to learn what constitutes good and what constitutes evil, and to develop the willingness and strength to thoroughly renounce the evil and to embrace the good passionately. We are to love the Lord and His righteousness passionately. We are to fiercely and sternly obey God in every detail of our life. Only then are we fit to appear with Christ.
The days of our innocence are past. It is time to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Judgment has begun in the house of God.
Man was created to sit on the highest Throne with Christ and to judge the world, and angels as well. We are Gods judges whom He has formed for the intention of reversing the spiritual darkness that emerged when Satan chose to be preeminent over God.
It is time to grow. The ability to judge between good and evil is one of the primary indicators of growth to maturity in Christ.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13, 14)
The Nature of Religion The great mistake of the religions of the world, including Christianity, is that participation in the beliefs and activities of the religion makes one acceptable to God. True faith in the Lord Jesus Christ produces upright behavior, a merciful personality, and the desire to walk humbly with God. This kind of individual is righteous in Gods sight.
It appears most, if not all, of the religions of the world esteem belief in the religion and obedience to its tenets to be of more importance than righteous behavior.
I wonder why that is!
I think the basic motive of religion is an abstraction that enters all religious institutions. It is that of trying to reach God, or Heaven, by human effort. Maybe that was the motive of the builders of the Tower of Babel, although they cited as their motive the desire to make a name for themselves so they wouldnt be scattered over the face of the earth.
So we have the idea of brotherhood, in the sense of group cohesion and activity, and the desire to reach into the heavens.
God was displeased with their effort, because, the LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
Now, here is a remarkable thing. God did not want them to achieve their plans. God knew if all the people on the earth spoke the same language there would be no limit to what they could achieve in the arts, sciences, education, government, and every other discipline imaginable.
If God had not confused their language, thus creating races hostile to one another, what would our world be like today? I expect that long ago we would have been sending explorers to the stars.
If we can understand why God deliberately hindered the progress of civilization, laying the groundwork for all kinds of problems, including war, then maybe we can grasp what is wrong with the abstraction we term religion.
I say abstraction because I believe religion lives in the highest cathedral down to the smallest chapel. I believe further that Babylon, mentioned in the Book of Revelation, is referring to the spirit of religion. The spirit of Babylon may be seen most clearly in the Catholic Church and her Protestant daughters.
It appears God is not desirous that we emphasize group cohesion, group identity, or attempt to build a structure so great that it appears to reach Heaven.
Yet, if you stop to think about it, all denominations stress group cohesion, group identity, and their building programs. These appear to be more important than the spiritual growth of the members of the organization.
I myself am a pastor in a denominational church. I am not railing against denominations. This is not my purpose. My purpose is to point out what God approves of and what God disapproves of.
We can do what God approves of in a denominational framework. Or we can leave the denomination and create our own denomination. The time has not come for the Holy Spirit to bring us into such oneness with each other and with God through Christ that the denominational scaffolding will fall away, no longer being needed.
But that day shall come, and we can focus today on those elements that please the Lord.
Gods emphasis is not on group cohesiveness. We have been directed by the New Testament to strive for peace and unity, and to be aware of roots of bitterness that create division. This we must do if we are to function as an organized group.
But the oneness of the Body of Christ comes only as two or more people are living in Christ and Christ in them. When we are living in the resurrection Life of Christ we automatically are in perfect unity with others who are living in that same resurrection Life. This is the true unity of the Body of Christ.
As far as making a name for ourselves, that is not necessary. It is far better that we exalt the name of the Lord than strive to be identified by a name.
The desire to have a recognizable trademark is important in our industrial, capitalistic society. But this urge to make a name for ourselves is not of God. Far better that we are unknown. What is important is that Christ is magnified, whether by our life or our death.
As far as building structure is concerned, it is desirable that people have a warm, dry, clean place to assemble. But church building programs often go far, far beyond what is necessary for an assembling of people. The truth is that the religious urge in people causes them to view the building as the progress of their religion. The larger and more ornate the building, the more we are pleasing God.
God is not impressed with large buildings. They mean nothing whatever to Him. They do not glorify Him. They do not lift people into the heavens. They are nothing more than wood, hay, and straw as far as God is concerned.
God does not live in buildings made with hands. This was declared by the first martyr.
Religion is an abstraction that seeks a cohesive group, a name by which it is identified, and buildings it can point to. Religion comes from the mind and ambition of man.
God destroyed the attempts at cohesiveness at the Tower of Babel because He wants people to be related to Him before they are related to each other. When we are one in Christ in God we automatically are one with others who are one in Christ in God. This is the true unity of the Body of Christ.
But we can be part of a very cohesive religious group and yet not automatically be one in Christ in God. The most important unity is that which is in Christ in God.
A healthy Christian church must have a strong spiritual component and a strong social component. These must be kept in balance. If the social component becomes too strong it will seek to murder the spiritual component. This is why the Jews murdered their prophets.
As far as making a name or a trademark, it is not nearly as necessary as we think. How important will it be when the Lord returns whether we are Baptist, Pentecostal, Lutheran, or Catholic? Will it matter? You know it wont!
Then why is it so important today if it wont be when the Lord comes? It is because of the religious spirit that seeks its own glory. When we emphasize our denominational name we are proving that we are attempting to build the Kingdom of God in our own strength.
If the Body of Christ is one, why emphasize what denomination we belong to? This is the religious spirit raising its head.
There may be a thousand reasons why we emphasize the name of our denomination, holding it to be superior to other denominations. None of these reasons will stand up under scrutiny. They are the product of self-seeking, nothing else.
We have said God is not interested in large, ornate buildings. If this is true, then what is God interested in?
God is interested in the human heart. This is His dwelling place. The individual that behaves righteously, loves mercy, and walks humbly with God as a child walks with his or her father, is what God desires.
When we think about the large churches holding thousands of people on a Sunday morning, we wonder how many of the people behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.
It is fashionable in our day to judge the worth of a church by the numbers in attendance. We know better than this; or at least we ought to!
When Jesus passes by a large church building, is He impressed? I dont believe He is. Then why are we?
I have been talking about Babylon, about the spirit of religion, about manmade salvation. It is strong among us today. Babylon is destined to govern the world along with Antichrist in the future, before the Lord returns.
However, the time will come when the secular governments turn on Babylon and burn her with fire.
At that time the Bridegroom and the Bride will have left. The true saints will be aware the Lords return is imminent.
In the meanwhile, we are not to be vacating our churches. To gather in a small group very well may turn into another babylon. The thing to do is to draw near to Jesus. Dont go anywhere unless He instructs you to do so. It probably is true that you can grow in the Lord where you are.
But if you have to move, then be careful that you are not getting ahead of the Lord. Be prayerful, watch carefully the fruit of what you are doing, and God will direct if you keep your heart right in His sight.
The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the worlds great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:23)
Receiving Evil and Receiving Good It takes faith to cope with evil. It requires just as much faith to receive good at Gods hand.
There are people who have the faith necessary to cope with evil, but do not have the faith necessary to receive good at Gods hand.
Probably the best scriptural illustration of someone who had faith for both good and evil was Joseph.
Joseph went through several difficult experiences. Yet, he was able to be elevated to a high position in Egypt without wavering.
We have to be careful that while we are in the Lords prison we do not adopt a prisoner mentality. We must be ready at a moments notice to be lord over Egypt.
One problem we have to watch out for is self-pity. Self-pity is a truly grievous sin. None of us has any right to feel sorry for ourselves. And Ill tell you this: God does not feel sorry for us!
Self-pity puts us at odds with our Creator. God wants us to rejoice in the certain knowledge that He cares for us and is going to bring us to joy. We have to have faith in the goodness of God. Self-pity is the very opposite of faith and is a serious form of rebellion against God. Self-pity is our testimony that God is cruel, faithless, and unloving.
God gave marvelous promises to Abraham, and yet Abraham had to wait many years for their fulfillment.
Think of the hall of fame in which some of the heroes of faith are listed, as found in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. These people suffered great hardship. They coped with these hardships by faith. At the same time they were looking forward hopefully to a better resurrection.
All of us Christians will experience suffering and hard times. These are necessary to form our character in the image of God. But there is a danger that we will become angry with God and feel we are being treated unjustly. This is rebellion against God and reveals that we do not hold God in high esteem.
We are called upon to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ. We have to have faith to do this. But we never are to permit hardship to make us morose or unbelieving. When God then promises us great good we are to hold steady in faith, knowing we indeed shall receive great good when the proper time arrives.
We are not to fret when wicked people appear to prosper. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord. Then He shall give us the desires of our heart.
We never are to answer evil with evil. We must overcome evil with the good that Christ will give us when we pray. We are never to act spitefully or to slander anyone. When we try to fight the devils fire with fire of our own, we lose the battle. Satan is a master of evil, malice, and deceit.
We are not going to be treated fairly in this life. The believer who insists on being treated fairly will destroy himself or herself with bitterness and unforgiveness, and lose the faith necessary to receive good from Gods hand.
God has made many wonderful promises to those who live in victory over sin and Satan. God also has warned us that we are going to suffer tribulation. Our task is to bear quietly and confidently throughout our tribulation, and maintain a bright hope in the promises of God.
It requires faith for us to continue steadfastly in both of these areas.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4;11, 12)
Whom Does Christ Know? It is important that you come to know Christ. It is equally if not more important that Christ come to know you. Depart from Me. I never knew you!
Paul exclaimed: That I may know Him, meaning Christ.
The Lord spoke of the workers of iniquity: I never knew you.
I have been a Christian for many years. I have observed that there are prominent ministers who definitely are not disciples. Their lives are not according to the New Testament. It is my opinion that Christ does not know them.
This judgment of mine is not casual. I am not speaking of some small infraction, such as speaking with the enlargement of the truth often noted in evangelists. I am referring to wholesale departures from the standards of the New Testament, such as loving and coveting money; holding up themselves as being of tremendous importance; looking and acting like people of the world, like Hollywood stars.
Yet these, who are such a poor testimony to people who are unsaved but yet sincere and observant, perform great deeds of salvation and healing.
I have to guard myself that I do not become critical, or forget they are Gods servants and answer to Him alone. Who am I to judge another when I do not know what God has said to him or her, or why they behave as they do. I do not know about their struggles to be righteous or their personal tragedies.
Granted all this, when any believer acts like Satan, and yet works miracles in the name of Jesus, I think he should call to mind what the Lord said about workers of iniquity who perform outstanding works in His name.
We are told not to judge, not to lay a hand on Gods anointed. I recognize this. Yet I notice that Christ commended the saints in Ephesus for testing those who claimed to be apostles and found them to be false.
It is not right for us to go about judging other believers. Yet when a minister of the Gospel claims to be of Christ, we have a right more than that, we are admonished to examine that prominent individual to see if he or she is of God or a wolf in sheeps clothing.
There are prominent individuals in the churches of our day who are not true disciples of the Lord. They have the gift of being able to sway audiences and to take large offerings. Unfortunately, Gods people are gullible. They love to play the church games. They easily are swindled. As Brother Dowell would say, They are relieved of their money.
Thanks be to God, there are sincere Christians in the United States. There are people who know the Lord and are not part of the games that go on. They are hard workers in their churches and love the Lord. They are uneasy about what they see going on in the prominent ministries, but dont know what to do about it.
They need not worry. No matter how many demons have been cast out, miracles performed, or dead raised, when these who have put on a big show but have not been careful to walk carefully in the fear of God finally stand before Christ, they will be sent away to the place where all the wicked reside.
Let us be on our guard, not allowing ourselves to be harmed by insincere ministers, and in due time the Lord will reveal clearly those who have walked with Him, and those who have vaunted themselves but have never been known of Christ.
These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12, 13)
Grace, Mercy, and Righteous Behavior The Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree. Righteous behavior is the only fruit borne by that Tree.
I have often been accused of preaching works. Do you know why? Because I teach that righteous behavior is not just something nice, it is essential to the program of salvation.
Can you imagine? I am scorned for preaching that we should obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
There is terrible confusion on this point, isnt there? Are the commandments listed in the New Testament to be obeyed or not?
Many today perhaps the majority teach that the commandments given in the New Testament are only to show how impossible it is for us to save ourselves. It is taught that the commandments are given to make us see our need of a Savior who will bring us to Heaven by grace; the commandments are not meant to be kept because "grace" means God does not keep us out of Heaven even though we have lived like the devil.
You know, this is a case where religion overrules common sense. Our common sense tells us that a Christian cannot sin and get away with it.
Let me give you an example. A few years ago a prominent Christian succumbed to the lusts of the flesh.
Now, according to the current doctrine, he is saved anyway. The grace of God in Christ forgives him. We are not saved by works of righteousness we have done.
Yet, we dont react according to our theological theory. Everyone is mortified. The leaders of his denomination have regarded his conduct with the utmost gravity. I dont know where he is now or what he is doing. The last I heard he had to report regularly to a committee that will supervise his moral behavior.
Now I ask you, what sense does this make? Either we are saved by grace and our behavior does not matter, or else our behavior matters and a Christian who sins in the realm of morality has to be brought to account and punished.
If God overlooks the transgression and is willing to save this brother by grace, who are we to make such a fuss? I tell you, we are not making sense.
The truth is, our current teaching is unscriptural and illogical.
Well, doesnt the New Testament tell us we are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done?
Yes, it most certainly declares this in Pauls writings, and in more than one place.
Obviously there is an inconsistency here.
In the United States, because of recent scandals in the corporate and educational realms, there has been a hue and cry about lying. A prominent poet who teaches at a university in California was found to have lied on his résumé. People are scandalized and are calling for his resignation.
Suppose a teacher lied as he sought employment in a Christian school? Should he or she be hired? Why not, if grace has covered the lie and God does not regard it?
We are absolutely weird in our approach to sin in the Christian life.
The truth is, liars, adulterers, murderers, sorcerers, slanderers, and the like shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is what the New Testament states.
The same New Testament that announces we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of righteousness we have done, also states with the same authority that if we Christians live according to our sinful nature we will be destroyed.
Isnt it about time that we taught the whole Bible instead of just the parts that appeal to our self-centered nature?
The New Testament claims we are saved by grace, not by works of righteousness we have done. Where does this fit in? It means we are not saved by keeping the Law of Moses but by placing our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul always discussed faith and works with the Law of Moses in mind, not with righteous behavior in mind.
Where does Pauls statement about those who commit sin not inheriting the Kingdom of God fit in? It means if we as a Christian do not show forth in our personality and behavior the moral image of Christ we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. The reason for this is that there is no sin in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the doing of Gods will in the earth as it is in Heaven.
Now, this is clearly outlined in the New Testament.
But what about grace and mercy? Grace and mercy do not change the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. The reason for this has to do with the nature of the Kingdom.
Let us say you enroll in a program that produces medical doctors. Let us say further that you were a deceitful individual and got through the program by copying the work of more diligent students.
The time came to pass out diplomas. You had learned very little about the practice of medicine. Should you or should you not be given a diploma by grace and mercy? Shouldnt the university love you enough to give you a diploma, and the Medical Board of Examiners love you enough to grant you a license to practice medicine?
When a young person finishes his education and is placed in a hospital for the first time, it can be frightening experience for him. Most of his exposure to this point has been theoretical. Now he is supposed to minister to sick people. At first he may have to be helped by the nurses to insert the needle in a vein for an intravenous medication.
I have small veins. One time in the hospital what must have been a student nurse tried to insert a needle in a vein in my arm. I mean tried. She tried about five times. Did it hurt!
Finally a more experienced person came and did it right the first time with very little pain.
We take it for granted that doctors and nurses are going to be accurate, especially in an operation. The medical people in the hospital where I go are very, very diligent to make sure they have the right patient, the right condition, and the right procedure.
Now, let us look again at our lazy student who passed his courses by copying the work of others. If he were chosen to operate on your son or daughter, how would you feel?
Would you say, Go ahead. Give him his license and diploma. He is a nice person and deserves a chance?
I dont think you would. You would want the doctor who graduated at the head of his class.
Can you see the issue? God does not send us to the outer darkness because He doesnt love us or is unmerciful but because of the harm we would do to ourselves and others were we to be brought into the Kingdom of God.
The diplomas and licenses that God issues are not given to us because we have accepted Christ but because we have been made new moral creations who will bring righteousness, peace, and joy into the world.
Can you see that?
Now, let us put grace and mercy, and righteous works, in their proper places.
When an orthodox Jew is willing to place his trust in the Lord Jesus he can turn away from the Law of Moses and still be counted righteous. This is what Paul meant by salvation by grace instead of by works (works of the Law).
When a Gentile is willing to place his trust in the Lord Jesus he can know through Gods grace and mercy his past sins have been forgiven. He is accepted in Gods Presence as though he never had sinned.
So far, so good. To this point we are in agreement with current teaching. It is what comes next that we believe is unscriptural in todays Christian preaching and teaching.
We are told that the Christian should try to be good, but no ones perfect and so we will go to Heaven by grace even though we have never made much progress in moral transformation.
This is wrong on two counts. The goal is not Heaven but resurrection to eternal life. Second, the only valid index of our progress toward the resurrection to eternal life is the degree of fruit we have borne. The fruit of the Christian is the moral image of Christ in his personality and behavior.
Paul stated many times that the Christian is to turn away from ungodly behavior. The very purpose of salvation is to change us from the image of Satan to the image of God. We have changed this scriptural purpose to that of eternal residence in Heaven, with Christ being our ticket that guarantees entrance.
The result of our traditional doctrine has been catastrophic, to say the least. America is soon to be involved in war. I believe the reason for this can be traced directly to the false teaching in the Christian churches.
If we had been preaching the new creation of righteousness, instead of grace and Heaven, we would have been setting a moral example for the nation to follow. Had we done this, God would have spared our nation from the physical and moral chaos that is at hand.
Grace and mercy have to do with the Jew or the Gentile first entering the plan of salvation. But the plan of salvation itself is a specific process designed to change us from the image of Satan to the image of God. When, after having received Christ, we do not begin to reveal His image in our personality and behavior, we are not being saved. We have misunderstood the Gospel, thinking that accepting Christ is a ticket that gets us into Heaven when we die.
I am not certain how God is going to get His people back on the Bible track. But I am sure He will in the coming days.
This much I do know: If we are willing to turn to Christ with all our heart, we will save ourselves and our loved ones during the time of trouble that is coming to us in America.
But if we continue in the current grace-rapture-Heaven foolishness, not growing in the ability to recognize good and evil and in the willingness to embrace good and renounce evil, we and our loved ones are without Divine protection. We are not dwelling in Christ, in the secret place of the Most High.
We have been deceived!
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person such a man is an idolater has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things Gods wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:5, 6)
The World and the Elect Until the predestined difference between the world and the elect is grasped firmly and clearly it is not possible to comprehend the Kingdom of God.
Did you know the Bible distinguishes between Gods elect and the rest of the people of the world? The Bible teaches also that the elect were so designated from the beginning of the world.
From what I hear, the concept of election and foreknowledge was overemphasized in time past by the teaching that no one could just come to Jesus; you had to have a special feeling or some kind of sign so you knew you were elected to salvation.
Well, I cant go along with this. It seems to me that the New Testament, while it most assuredly teaches election and predestination, does not leave the impression that an individual has to wait around until he gets some kind of Divine assurance. It is a whoever will sort of thing. So if we are going to freeze on predestination we will have to forget some passages of the New Testament.
Today the pendulum has swung too far the other way. You would think God does not know what He is doing. The idea is to preach the Gospel everywhere without regard to the Lords timing or direction. Salvation has become the product of manmade marketing techniques. The more people you can get under your church roof the more successful you are.
The humanistic, man-centered, democratic philosophy with which American Christianity is saturated does not countenance the notion that some people are elected by the Lord.
Right here is a point I would like to make clear. God is willing that all people come to repentance and be saved. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. Nobody has to wait for a special feeling, or be in a quandary about whether he is elected to salvation. All may come to the cross, and whoever comes to Jesus will not be rejected.
Election has to do with the Church, the royal priesthood. The Old Testament and the New Testament reveal that the Church consists of a group of people who have been selected from mankind to serve as a kingdom that will govern the works of Gods hands. To deny the election of the members of the Church is to deny the concept of Israel, the chosen nation, the royal priesthood.
The previous two thousand years of history have been the Church Age. During that period anyone could be saved; but its primary purpose has been the creation of the Church, the royal priesthood. When the Lord returns there will be multitudes of people who will be saved at that time, that is, they will be brought forward to eternal life in the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. But they will not be part of the holy city. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the royal priesthood.
Perhaps the greatest benefit that comes to us when we begin to understand the difference between the people of the world, and the elect saints, is that we no longer will take our calling and election lightly. We will realize to be a saint, a holy one, a member of Gods elect, is the highest calling there is. Once we are called to be a saint we have no other calling. We may have any kind of job in the world, but that is not our calling. Our calling to be a saint is our reason for existence on the earth. It preempts, or should preempt in importance, every other activity in which we are engaged.
There is the world, and then there is a set of people in the world who have been chosen to represent God to the world. They are the salt of the earth, the light of the world. Originally the elect were only the race of Israel. Now the calling has been extended to specific Gentiles. But none of this is by chance. Not all who are the race of Israel are the seed of Abraham, only those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Abraham was called out from secular society to serve God in a special way. This was done according to Gods inscrutable purposes, not because Abraham was any better than anyone else. This is what Paul means by being saved by grace. Being saved by grace does not mean we do not have to live a righteous life and be obedient to God; it means God put it in our heart to receive Christ. God drew us to Christ according to His own purposes.
The nation of Israel was kept separate from the other nations and given the Ten Commandments. The other nations were the world. Israel was and is the elect.
The elect are symbolized by the olive tree. The Olive Tree is Christ. Whoever is part of the Olive Tree is a member of true Israel, a part of the royal priesthood. Membership in true Israel is by Divine calling and predestination, not by our religious efforts.
The Lord controls whether an individual is of the world, of the royal priesthood, or brings destruction and death wherever he or she goes. This does not mean God causes some people to sin. He does not. Nevertheless it is clear God knows what He is doing right down to the sparrow that falls to the ground.
It seems to me that the churches of today are far too man-centered. They act as though they are building the Kingdom of God apart from a close interaction with the Lord Jesus.
An advertisement for a Christian seminar came to my attention yesterday. I looked in vain for the name of Jesus on the brochure.
The truth is, God planned the world from the beginning, and then rested. The living Word of God is bringing everything to pass that God envisioned. Yet, there is no inevitably operating in the program. We all have choices we can make, and our choices will determine our eternal destiny. We have to labor to make our calling and election sure.
There are many New Testament passages that reveal the sovereignty of God in the formation of the royal priesthood.
The birth and life of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus were sovereign actions on the part of God.
The way Jesus chose His disciples and apostles portrays the process of election. The Lord did not open up the apostleship to everyone. He chose His apostles.
In Jesus prayer in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John we find Jesus prayed for His Church. He did not pray for the world, He prayed for those whom God had given to Him. He gave them eternal life.
The Lord Jesus spoke in parables so people could not understand Him and be healed. This is what He said. He explained the parable to those whom He had chosen.
There is no evidence whatever that the people the Lord selected were better than anyone else. He called them, and then they followed Him.
As the Lord said, no individual can come to Christ unless the Father draws that person.
If one reads the Book of Acts carefully it can be seen that the Holy Spirit chose certain men to go forth in the ministry. After sending them, the Spirit directed them, encouraging them to stay in one place and forbidding them to go to another. The Book of Acts says that those who were ordained to eternal life believed the preaching of the apostles.
You dont often hear today about such timing, such choosing. We need to listen to Jesus and find out what He is doing today. Otherwise we are only making proselytes, just like any other religion.
The Apostle Paul had much to say about Divine election. He told us whom God foreknew He predestined to be changed into the image of Christ, to be made a brother of Christ. Paul stated that all things are working together for good for these selected individuals.
Paul also pointed out that before the children were born, the Lord said He loved Jacob and hated Esau. What does this teach us? It teaches us that we need to quit thinking about Gospel work as being something we can plan and carry out. We need to go back to the Lord and repent of our presumption.
During the days of Jesus and Paul the Jews were anxious to make proselytes, but they crucified the Lord and made trouble for Paul from city to city. This shows us it is not enough to just set out and try to market the Gospel. We need to find out from God what we are supposed to be doing. We might be causing more harm than good!
The Bible is written to Gods family, not to the world. We who are Christians need to understand our desire to receive Christ and to serve Him came from God. It is the highest honor in the universe. It is not to be taken lightly. We must pray and read our Bible every day, and fellowship with other saints, in order to determine Gods will for our life. God has a specific plan for each individual whom He has called out of the world to serve His Son, Jesus Christ.
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To Gods elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (I Peter 1:1, 2)
Benefiting God or Benefiting Ourselves? When we seek to use spiritual principles to gain physical health or spiritual freedom, are we striving to please God and have fellowship with Him? Or are we attempting to benefit ourselves?
In the Christian bookstores (and sometimes even in the grocery stores) we can find books that show us how to solve the problems in our lives. Some of these books use spiritual principles, such as relating arthritis to unforgiveness.
Others tell us about vitamins and natural remedies, such as herbs. One company stressed that we could not live an overcoming Christian life unless we used their products in order to gain buoyant health.
Still other authors utilize both spiritual principles and health supplements.
Then there are the books written by Christian psychologists who seek to release us from the various emotional bondages Christians find themselves ins. For example: any number of Christian women were molested when they were young girls, often by their father or a close relative. They often need clinical assistance.
I have seen much good come from the practice of psychology, especially when the psychologist knows the Lord and utilizes prayer and sometimes a gift of wisdom, knowledge, or discernment.
We Americans often have an atrocious diet, and I think we do ourselves and the Lord (who works through our body) a favor when we follow the rules of healthful living, including proper diet and exercise. We may lengthen our years of service to the Lord if we take proper care of our body.
Good often comes from healthful living, and also from psychological counseling.
I am not as confident, however, concerning the relating of our emotional state to specific illnesses. For example: attributing varicose veins to a bitter attitude.
Perhaps many illnesses are based in our emotional state. But I think this route to effective Christian living can easily be overdone.
The problem I see here is that people are concentrating on themselves rather than on Jesus Christ. They have diabetes, so it is because they havent forgiven someone. They have flat feet because they are bitter. They have an earache because they are angry.
Can you see how this kind of thinking can get your mind off Christ?
American people, ordinarily having their basic survival needs taken care of, are often excessively engrossed in themselves. If a minister of the Gospel desires, he can make a good deal of money for himself by advising people concerning the spiritual causes of their various illnesses (which often are the result of overeating and lack of exercise).
How fascinated we become with the thought that if we keep a happy attitude we never will have cancer! We become absorbed endlessly with our symptoms and how they relate to our thinking and attitudes.
I dont like it or trust it!
Have you ever read, in Second Corinthians, about the things the Apostle Paul suffered, or any other account of the suffering of missionaries? Can you imagine these people dwelling on their mental attitude and its relationship to their sufferings?
How about those saints eaten by lions or burned at the stake?
I am pointing out that American Christians become too occupied with trying to use spiritual principles to relieve their aches and pains. They can lose sight of the Lord Jesus when they do this.
I notice that the practitioners of these various schemes do not always advise us to look to Jesus. Rather, we are to look to them and their formulas for health, wealth, and happiness.
Having been a Christian for many years I can testify that the best thing we can do in every situation is to look to Jesus. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
But we must go past looking to Jesus to solve our problems. We must mature to the place that we are seeking fellowship with the Father and with Christ. More than this, we are pressing into the rest of God where we are flowing with the Life and will of God, having overcome through Christ the various bondages of the flesh and spirit that would hinder our obedience.
It is Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! This is where our attention should be, not on ourselves. Lets forget about ourselves, and concentrate on Him, and worship Him.
The longer I live the bigger Jesus becomes. Just think! He upholds the universe by the Word of His power. And scientists keep discovering the firmament is greater than they thought and is still expanding, such that we cannot comprehend the mass and energy that are involved. The magnitude of space and its occupants is beyond belief!
Yet, the Lord Jesus breathed all these into existence with a Word and one day will withdraw them with a Word, and then breathe out a new sky and a new earth.
Absolutely inconceivable authority, power, and wisdom! This is Jesus, the Anointed One of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Why, then, should we be so occupied with attempting to discover spiritual principles intended to bring us a merry existence, when the Lord of the universe has notified us that if we will ask anything in His name, He will do it. He the Son of God will do it!
I am all for healthful practices for body and emotions. There certainly is a place for doctors, psychologists, and dietitians. I believe a distressed emotional state will affect us physically.
The problem is that of missing the big picture. We take our eyes off Jesus and fasten on our navel.
The Apostle Paul was given some kind of infirmity so he would not lean on his own abilities but on Christ. No amount of spiritual principles would have removed that thorn. Paul did the right thing. He prayed earnestly until the Lord told him that the suffering was coming from Jesus Himself. Then Paul was content.
If there is a mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual course we should take in order to obtain healing, the Lord always will guide us as long as we keep our eyes on Him. But keeping on our eyes on a formula for mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual success probably will not cause us to look to the Lord but only to another formula to try.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13, 14)
Real Sons God is making real sons, real brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I think we have the idea we will be some kind of human imitation of that to which we never can aspire.
It may be true that we are only half aware of what we are reading in the Bible.
For example, notice carefully the following passage:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29).
Now, stop and think. Conformed to the likeness of his Son.
This means Gods elect are destined to be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
The question here is: to what extent are we to be changed into the image of Christ?
I believe the Bible would support the idea that we are to be changed into His moral image, and also into His bodily or physical image.
By His moral image I mean His Character, His Personality.
There are at least three passages that refer to our change into His bodily image:
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 15:52)
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)
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)
We are to be changed into his outer image. No doubt about that.
But what does He look like?
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. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. (Revelation 1:13-16)
Oh Brother Thompson, I could never look like that!
This is your problem. You dont believe the Bible. You havent gone out at night and considered the greatness of God. Furthermore you dont believe what God has said.
God has said He is going to change us into the image of His Son. The above is the image of His Son. Are you going to believe God or not?
I prefer to believe God no matter how staggering His promises are. I think you should do the same, unless you just want to come short of His Glory!
Ill tell you something else even more mind-boggling. God has said we are going to sit on the Throne with Jesus Christ. Just consider that. Well, you cant. It is incomprehensible. This puts you up in the highest place in the universe.
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
Here is a picture of Christ and His elect:
Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. (Ezekiel 1:26-28)
Brother Thompson, I dont believe a word you say. I want to go to my mansion where I can read the funnies on Sunday morning. I am not interested in any glowing metal full of fire and brilliant light. I want to get caught up to my mansion at any moment. Then I can gossip with my neighbors. Im sure there will be at least something to gossip about, otherwise it wouldnt be Heaven.
Well, you do as you please. I choose to believe God.
But there is something more important than outer image and the authority of the Throne. It is our inner image. Will that also be changed fully into the image of Christ? Well, if it isnt, the creation is in trouble. If we remain as self-centered and unbelieving as we are, and then are made in Christs outer image and seated on the Throne that governs the creation, I dont want to be here. How about you?
To be fully conformed to Christs inner, or moral, image, every aspect of our nature must be crucified and then raised in Christ. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit must be dwelling in us fully. Finally we must be brought into untroubled rest in Christ in the Father. This is the fullness of God to which we have been appointed.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, May have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, And to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (Ephesians 3:16-20)
Get hold of your faith and start believing in the Word and power of Almighty God! Do you think He is so weak and foolish, and also a liar, that He cannot do to you and for you what He has promised?
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lords glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
The above verse is the essence of the new covenant. It is change into the moral image of Christ by gazing at Him continually and intently. As Moses face was transfigured, so shall our inner nature be transfigured.
There absolutely is no limit on Gods ability to change us, and He has all eternity to do what He has promised. Hallelujah!
However, more important than image is our becoming part of God so He is not giving His Glory to another. To be like God but not part of God is to become another satan.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
In the same manner that the Father has sent Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ lives because of, by, and through the Father, so the person who eats the flesh of Christ and drinks His blood will live, move, and have his being because of, by, and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dont permit your limitations to limit the above passage. Believe it! Grasp it! Make it your own! And God will bless you and do exactly what He has promised.
We need courage, trust, patience, iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father if we are to lay hold on that for which we have been grasped by the Lord.
Do you want to be a true son of the Father in Heaven? Then march out in His promises and you will inherit all that He has made new in Christ.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
Common Sense Neither religious law nor civil law should be allowed to take precedence over conscience and common sense. But they often do!
Sometimes we have to take a step back and ask, Is this sensible? Common sense is one of the best gifts God has given us.
What is common sense? I am not certain. It is a kind of judgment as to what is reasonable and appropriate.
Sometimes our government doesnt use common sense. We say this or that is a politically correct statement, meaning the powers that be have agreed this is the way we should talk.
An example is the word chairperson. When we say chairman we know the chairman could be a woman as well as a man. A salesperson. Yikes!
A corollary of this is using the pronoun she to refer to God.
Referring to Christmas as the winter holiday, as though Americans acted in a holy manner and worshiped God because the school break was termed the Christmas holiday.
Many of the athletic teams are called by Indian names. Numerous cities in the United States have Catholic names, like Santa Cruz or San Francisco. Are these all to be changed?
I am sure there are many people who would like to have them changed, as though the change would somehow separate the church from the state.
To object to prayer in a public place is nonsense, especially now that our nation is facing powerful enemies. An atheist can use the time of prayer to consider his duty to behave in a constructive manner.
What is needed is common sense. Common sense keeps us from going to extremes.
Another realm in which America has lost her senses is that of individual rights. Everyone knows that when you give someone their rights you probably took away someone elses rights.
When the judge shows mercy to a child molester and lets him go, because of some technicality of the law, he preserved the legal rights of the molester. But he removed the rights of the parents of the next child to be molested.
When there is a dangerous terrorist, he should be treated as such. When his rights are stressed it easily can happen that he is released prematurely, thus endangering perhaps a million Americans. Our nation loses common sense when it sacrifices the rights of society in order to uphold the rights of an individual, or to uphold freedom of speech, or to emphasize the separation of church and state to the point of absurdity.
Christians live in Israel, India, Saudi Arabia, and other religious nations and usually do not suffer undue hardship, even while listening to the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, unless they do something to violate the religious code of the country. In no case would a Christian be permitted to force the government to remove evidences of the national religions.
There is no reason an atheist cannot survive in America if his or her child says under God during the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. To honor the atheists request is to injure the rights of the majority of children in the classroom. It is a violation of common sense.
Turning now to Christian lack of common sense, there are people who believe babies will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they havent accepted Christ.
There are many Christians who believe people who have never heard of Christ will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they havent accepted Christ. There is no other name by which we can be saved this sort of thing.
There are Christians who believe the final judgment is not a genuine trial but a farce. All shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire whether or not they have ever heard the Gospel; or how righteously they have behaved; or how young they are. I do not know what such theologians do with the passages of the Bible that state God is true and righteous in his judgments.
The Pharisees did not use any kind of common sense when they murdered Christ. All Jesus did was heal people and cast out demons. In fact, He healed some people on the Sabbath. This, of course, is a good reason to put a man to death. Right? Pilate was troubled because there was no reason to harm Jesus. This is what religion can do to you if you are not careful.
God uses common sense. We do not always understand His ways of working, but that is because His thinking and wisdom are so high above ours. But when we know all the facts, we see that what He did was wise and for the best.
For example God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in a state of nakedness. To be naked is a shame. God knew they were in a shameful condition. When they received the spirit of judgment, the knowledge of good and evil, they realized they were in a shameful condition.
Make some sense out of this. Make some sense out of the fact that in the last days God is going to permit Antichrist to overcome the saints. Make some sense out of God permitting such suffering in the world when He has the power to remove all of it.
People foolishly charge God with injustice and cruelty. They do not have faith in His goodness and wisdom.
God permits Satan to perform his evil works because God has a higher purpose. It is to create rulers who have grown in righteousness and have proved their faithfulness and obedience. They are being prepared to rule over the works of Gods hands. It is necessary they be exposed to evil so they can have an opportunity to overcome evil through Christ.
Common sense accepts this.
God could have clothed Adam and Eve from the beginning. He ended up clothing them anyway. Why did He do this? God was waiting to see what they would do when they were tested. God could have kept Satan from entering the garden. But Gods way was to prepare a Lamb from the beginning of the world.
The fall of Adam and Eve began the long history of redemption that is necessary if God is to be able to drive rebellion from His creation and create sons and rulers, as well as a body for Christ and a wife for the Lamb.
Common sense agrees with this.
But common sense does not agree with permitting one individual to drive prayer from a public school when the great majority of people in the town want their children to pray during the time they are compelled by law to attend school.
Common sense does not agree with calling God her when the Bible states that Adam was made in the image of God and Eve was formed from Adam.
Everyone knows that God is neither male nor female, in the ordinary usage of the terms. Also, Jesus Christ, the Image of God, was a man, not a woman. So straining over the pronouns in the Scriptures is not sensible.
It is not sensible to attempt to remove signs of the Christian religion from America. Go to some other country, like Saudi Arabia, or India, or Israel, and attempt to remove the signs of their religion, and see how far you get.
And as far as throwing babies, or people who never have heard of Jesus, into the Lake of Fire because they havent accepted Christ, reveals some kind of religious dementia. It is a disorder of the brain.
I realize there are mysteries in the Christian religion, and we are not to remove the things Christ has commanded in order to curry favor with the local community. I am afraid the demands of discipleship are often compromised lest we offend the unsaved. This is totally wrong and a betrayal of our charge to bear witness of Christ.
Perhaps our nation loses its perspective when it worships freedom of speech to the point that reasonable moral limitations are abandoned. Let the children watch pornography at the library. Why not? We must never abridge their freedom of speech. Let them listen to rap music that glorifies murder, disobedience to authority, and lust. Then we wonder that they shoot people, get hooked on drugs, and contract AIDS.
Our nation sometimes acts in a manner that defies common sense. Let us make sure that we as Christians do not join the parade by exhibiting religious dementia.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you get understanding. Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. (Proverbs 4:6-8)
Trusting the Lord Sometimes Christians just have to fly by instrument. I saw a science movie once on how pilots fly by using instruments instead of their natural vision. It showed how a pilot can look out the window of his plane for familiar landmarks and be deceived. What they think they are seeing and what their instruments indicate are not the same. Which are they going to trust?
Pilots sometimes have to land in a fog when they cant see anything. Then they have to trust their instruments. What a scary feeling!
In this movie I was watching they put a person in a swivel chair and blindfolded him. Then they turned the chair around a few times. When they stopped the chair and he was stationary, he reported that he was still turning. It was weird to look at him sitting still and say he was turning!
The point is that sometimes a pilot cannot depend on his eyes or his sense of orientation in space. He must learn to trust his instruments even though his senses are screaming the instruments are incorrect.
I dont suppose this sort of thing happens to us very much as Christians. Usually what we see about us and what our judgment tells us corresponds with what the Lord is telling us.
But sometimes we really are tested. All our senses are telling us one thing, and the Lord is telling us something different.
Now, when people ask me how they can tell if they are hearing from the Lord or not, one of the guidelines I suggest is that they look for confirmation in the world around them. If their family, all their friends, and their circumstances, warn them that they are not hearing from the Lord, they had better go very slowly and carefully. Usually if we really are hearing from the Lord there will be confirmation, if we ask for it.
However, and I say this with trembling lest someone do something stupid, there are times when what the Lord is telling us does not make a great deal of sense in the natural.
Usually this sort of thing is in the form of a promise. The Lord tells us that such and such is going to happen. There is nothing we have to do. We have no idea how such a situation could ever take place. But when we go to the Lord repeatedly and keep hearing the same thing, then we just have to fly by instrument. Somehow the all-powerful, all-wise Lord will bring the miracle to pass. And so we just believe and keep on praying.
It may happen also, and in my life this has been very infrequent, we are backed into a corner of some kind and are forced to take a step of faith.
I am not a gambler and I have no love of adventure. I like everything safe and predictable, and never gamble unless I am forced to do so.
Some years back we were in the original church in Poway where the Foursquare denomination had placed us. It was quite small, but no one had to stand outside during the service. We were one of the slowest growing churches in the country.
After we had been there about fifteen years, the Church Council and I felt we should build. We were getting a bit cramped.
This went on for about five years. Every time we decided to launch out and borrow money for a new building, one or the other of the Council members would feel it was not a good idea. We will have to pay for a new sewer line. It isnt Gods time. What if we lose people? How are we going to pay for a new building? And so we would table the idea.
One night a brother dropped into the Council meeting. This had never happened before and has never happened since.
He said, I dont know what I am supposed to do. I think we should move back East and go to Bible school. But I dont have money. My job here is not working out. I think we should move, but then we will have to sell our furniture and dishes. I dont know what to do.
Gideons army rose to the occasion. To a man we said, Just do what you feel the Lord would have you do. Go carefully and prayerfully, and the Lord will show you each step.
Gods mighty men of faith gave their advice without flinching.
(He did move and presently is attending the Bible school back East. It all worked out for him once he decided on a direction and moved forward.)
After the brother left we all looked at each other. Somehow the Lord had gotten through. We knew this episode was for our benefit.
That night we had a unanimous vote to borrow and build.
Now, our monthly statement had always been a Toonerville Trolley. One month we teetered over into the black, and the next month we teetered over into the red. And so on and on for years.
We went ahead and borrowed four hundred thousand dollars.
Just at this time some of our saints decided they would grow more quickly in another pasture.
As you might imagine, our monthly expenses increased by around four to five thousand dollars. Guess what! One month we would teeter over into the black, and the next month we would teeter over into the red. The old trolley kept chugging along.
We never pushed for money. Once a year we would have a mortgage reduction offering, which we announced with no emotional pull. It is my opinion that pulling for money is a scandal in the churches and I wont have anything to do with it.
Also, once each year I would advise our tape audience that if they wished to assist us, since they were receiving tapes so inexpensively (due to volunteer labor), they were welcome to do so.
When I was on the radio I never asked for money one time never once, although I was advised to do so by one of the stations.
When the radio offerings dried up I canceled the program.
The mortgage was paid off in about four years. About one-fourth of the money came from those who receive our tapes.
What is happening now?
One month we are in the black; the next month we are in the red.
When Audrey and I came to Poway we did not know how we were going to survive. I quit my job in the Bay Area and we came trusting God. The Lord told me not to go back to work.
The Foursquare put us in this little church, and we have been here for twenty-six years. We have never missed a meal or suffered financially. Neither have I asked a soul for a cent not even the Church Council. What they have given me has come from their own sense of what the Lord has desired.
Flying by instrument! Day by day I am learning to trust the Lord more. What an adventure (for someone who is not adventurous)! What a romance, a dance on the water at midnight, as Amy Carmichael said.
Our country may be under severe attack in the days to come. Then we need to listen carefully to the Lord. Our senses might advise us to do one thing, and yet when we pray we feel the Lord is saying something else.
It might be a good idea in the present hour to learn to listen to the Lord. It might save your life and that of your family in the days to come!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
Forcing Our Way Into the Kingdom You have to push past resistance in order to enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus said something that I have pondered for many years. He said from the days of John the Baptist the Kingdom of God is forcefully entered and violent men take it by force.
From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. (Matthew 11:12)
This verse has always bothered me, the reason being Christ also said the meek inherit the earth. I guess He was speaking of two different circumstances.
After watching people through the years, I have come to the conclusion that it does take a certain amount of push to move forward in the Kingdom. Paul spoke of pressing on in order to lay hold on that for which he had been laid hold of by the Lord. Im pressing on the upward way.
However, the Greek terms employed for forcefully and forceful seem to imply that Christ was saying people like Herod and scribes and Pharisees seize the Kingdom and prevent other people from entering. Be that as it may, it remains true we must exert effort if we are to press through all the hindrances that confront us and enter the Kingdom.
Do you remember the woman with the issue of blood? She had to press through the multitude in order to touch the Lord.
And how about the Gentile woman who wanted the devil cast from her daughter? She stayed with it until she got what she wanted.
In the day in which we are living, the Kingdom of God is moving forward. If I am not mistaken, we have arrived at the time when the messengers of God are being sent out to remove from the Kingdom all that causes sin.
I suppose when a doctrine has been established, such as salvation through the blood atonement, or the baptism with the Holy Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues, it is relatively easy to lay hold on this experience, although I am sure the seeker is beset with difficulties as he or she tries to move forward in God.
But in the case of today, the believer has to press past the experiences of redemption that are familiar to the churches, and enter a new area. Only those who are really determined will make the necessary effort.
The Lord is speaking to us now about what it means to grow into the image of Christ. This entails the removal of the sinful nature as well as our learning to live by the body and blood of Christ.
We always have been taught that as long as we live on the earth we can never get rid of our sinful nature. There is no scriptural passage to support this viewpoint, and there are verses that underscore the opposite. To lay hold on the idea that Christ does have the authority and power to destroy our sinful nature requires much more faith and determination that we usually see exhibited in the churches.
Our assumption has been that our sinful nature will be destroyed when we die and go to Heaven. But sin began in Heaven and is spiritual in nature. It is not inherent in the physical composition of the human body. Also, there is no passage of Scripture that tells us our sinful nature will be destroyed in Heaven.
Matthew informs us that at the end of the age the messengers of God will go forth and remove from the Kingdom everything that causes sin. This means the sinful nature. Also, at that time, those of the Kingdom who refuse the deliverance when it arrives will be removed from the Kingdom and thrown into the furnace of fire.
I know First John says if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves. I understand. We all know we have sin in us. The point is, however, that Matthew tells us that at the end of the age the messengers will be sent out and remove from the Kingdom all that causes sin.
This had to come, you know. It is not possible that the members of the churches in their present condition are fit to be ever with the Lord. And the idea that we can have a sinful nature and still walk with the Lord by grace is neither scriptural nor reasonable. Can you imagine Christ having fellowship with people who are filled with the lusts of the sinful nature, on the basis of grace? If we think this is possible, we do not understand the realities of the Kingdom of God.
These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:4, 5)
We have been as far as Pentecost. Pentecost is the fourth of the feasts of the Lord. God does not destroy our sinful nature during the spiritual fulfillments of the first four feasts. But the last three feasts refer to the removal of our sinful nature and the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us for eternity.
We simply have not been here before. Moses is dead and Joshua, the man of war, is the leader. Christ is Moses and Christ is Joshua.
When will this new step of redemption take place? According to Matthew, at the end of the age. Where will it be accomplished? Wherever we are. It is the work of Divine judgment, and Christ judges both the living and the dead. It is appointed to man once to die and after this the judgment.
It commonly has been taught that our judgment was accomplished on the cross. This is true for the forgiveness of our sins. That was one judgment, the removal of our guilt. But there is another problem, and that is our sinful nature. That also has to be removed by judgment. If our judgment had been completed when we accepted Christ, Peter would not have written that it was time for judgment to begin in the house of God.
It is obvious if we are to be set free from Satan our guilt has to be dealt with, and then our behavior has to be dealt with. Otherwise we are no more than forgiven sinners. The Kingdom of God consists of sinners who have been both forgiven and delivered, not sinners who only have been forgiven.
So we see we are facing a concept of redemption that is almost totally new to us. Yet, if we ever thought about it, we knew somehow, somewhere, at some point in time, God had to remove the sinful nature from His elect.
Well, the time has come. We now are at the end of the age. Passages of Scripture, such as the ones in Matthew and Peter, have always been in the New Testament. But they must have been sealed, because we could not see what was in front of our face.
We are here now. The lukewarm, soft, coddled American Christians are going to find it difficult to exert themselves sufficiently to move from Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillments of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. What will happen to them? They are going to be exposed to the hot fires of Divine judgment. Why is this? Because God does not love them? No, it will take place because He does love them and wants to save them.
You know, we often have spoken of people being saved as by fire, referring to those who lived a defeated life but were saved anyway by some kind of experience of fire.
The truth is every believer is saved by fire. This is what Peter means when he spoke of our fiery trial, and then of the righteous being saved with difficulty. What this means is that believers have to suffer in order that their sinful nature may be driven from them. This is difficult to accept because the natural man rebels against the Divine program of redemption.
We are headed toward wonderful, dangerous, difficult days. The purpose of the coming problems is to remove the sinful nature from us so we will be ready when the Lord returns.
The Kingdom is entered by those who approach it forcefully. They push past their own fears and unbelief. They ignore the lethargic believers with whom they are surrounded. They refuse to be frightened by Satan. On occasion they may face the scorn and wrath of the leaders of the established churches. Yet they want more of Jesus, and nothing will stop them from pressing forward.
They want to live in the power of Christs resurrection and they are ready to share His sufferings. The goal set before them is the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the members of the royal priesthood.
They are ceasing from their own plans and programs and fighting their way into the rest of God, that is, into life lived in the flowing of the Life of God. They will not permit anything to stand in their way. When they stumble they cry out to God, get back on their feet, and fight onward.
Those who will ride with Christ when He descends to drive sin from the earth and install the Kingdom of God are called, chosen, and tested, tested, tested until their faithfulness has been proved beyond doubt.
A great people and a strong: there never has been the like before, and never shall be again.
Most of these warriors died long ago and are with Christ in the spirit realm. If I am correct, they, as well as we, are undergoing judgment at this time. Everything in our personality that is not in harmony with the will of God is being brought to the light and renounced vehemently.
You can see readily that the Kingdom of God is at hand and only those who are fiercely determined are going to be resolute enough to find his or her place among the Lords mighty men.
To be in the army of the warriors who are set on destroying all sin from the creation, beginning with themselves, is available to whoever will. But, as the Lord said, we must take up our cross and follow Him. We must learn to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:20-22)