THE LAND OF PROMISE

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

THE LAND OF PROMISE Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Exactly what is the Christian land of promise? What is the ultimate victory of the Christian battle? Toward what are we moving? Is the Christian promised land Heaven? Paradise? The new Jerusalem? The resurrection from the dead? Christ Himself? The land of promise of the Hebrews was described specifically in several passages of the Old Testament writings. The land of promise of the Christians also has been set forth in the Scriptures, but it is far more comprehensive and marvelous than was true of the Old Testament land of promise.

The redemption that is in Christ has a specific beginning, a specific working out in our life, and a specific conclusion—a goal, a "mark" toward which we are to press. All of the goal is summed up in Christ.

Table of Contents

"The Man With the Sword in His Hand"

PRELIMINARY

Canaan—the Land of Promise

Scripture Types

I. WAR

From Sheep to Soldiers The Wilderness Experience The Land of Promise Is Occupied

II. LEGAL AND ACTUAL POSSESSION

The Position and the Experience Water Baptism The Daily Outworking of Crucifixion and Resurrection The Cross and the Crown

III. FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT

Following the Spirit in Ministry

The difference between ministry and conquest The Holy Spirit gives the gifts The Holy Spirit directs the ministry Stirring up the gifts of God

Following the Spirit in Internal and External Conquest

God’s part and our part No set pattern for warfare or ministry The Christian salvation is God’s plan Courageous and relentless fighting

IV. THE INHERITANCE

The Three Stages of Conquest

The first stage—initial salvation The second stage—sanctification The third stage—rulership

The Relationship of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Earth

The Indwelling of Christ and God

The Resurrection of the Body

The development of eternal life in the Christian personality Putting to death the deeds of the body The process of transformation from mortality to immortality Coming forth from the grave

Dominion Over the Whole Earth

The Rest of God

SUMMARY

Have you met the man with the sword in his hand? Did he stand by you and say, "I will lead in the conquest of the promised land, The victory shall be yours this day"? ---Audrey Thompson

PRELIMINARY 

For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua :2)

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14)

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

Canaan—the Land of Promise

A type of Scripture is a person, object, or event of the Old Testament that foreshadows a spiritual reality of the Kingdom of God. When studying Bible types (symbols; allegories; illustrations; examples) and their fulfillments it is important to keep in mind that the type itself was made of real people, actual events, human situations, physical materials—all having many points in common with the experiences of people everywhere.

The Hebrew land of promise is a geographical area that can be visited today. Joshua, Caleb, Rahab, the hundreds of thousands of Israelite soldiers and their families, the Canaanites whose homeland was invaded about 1400 B.C, lived out their lives in much the same pattern of joys and sorrows, successes and failures, so familiar to each of us.

From the moment Israel left Egypt there was no guesswork as to where the nation was heading. 

And it shall be when the Lord shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. (Exodus 13:5)

Canaan, the "land flowing with milk and honey," was the name of the territory that lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Today the nation of Israel is located there, being one of the many countries of the large area known as the Middle East.

It was into Canaan that Abraham journeyed, having been called out from the Chaldean city of Ur by the Lord (Genesis 12:5). It was in Canaan that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wandered. The descendants of Jacob then had to go down into Egypt to stay for a time until the sin and rebellion of the tribes of Canaan had reached maturity. When sin had come to its fullness the Israelites (descendants of Jacob) were to come up from Egypt and invade, conquer, and possess the land in which their ancestors had wandered for many years (Genesis 15:16).

Can we see in the above account the past, present, and future history of the Christian Church?

When the Lord charged Joshua He indicated territorial boundaries more extensive than those usually associated with Canaan proper. 

From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (Joshua 1:4)

"From the wilderness" refers to the Sinai wilderness region south of Canaan, the scene of the wanderings of the Israelites for forty years.

"This Lebanon" was the northern boundary, speaking of the Mount Lebanon area. The tribe of Dan received its inheritance on the north end of Canaan, giving rise to the expression "from Dan to Beersheba."

"The great river, the river Euphrates" was the eastern boundary given to Joshua, being several hundred miles east of the Jordan River. Apparently, God was encouraging the Hebrews to lift their faith and seize a vast section of land.

The invading tribes of Israel did not persevere in battle to the point of fully conquering and possessing the land west of Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea or the vast eastern domain indicated here. Later, under King David, the borders of Israel were enlarged (I Chronicles 18).

"The great sea" refers to the Mediterranean Sea, which forms the western boundary of Canaan.

The expression "all the land of the Hittites" is used because the term Hittite denoted many of the Canaanite tribes occupying Old Testament Syria.

Canaan was the "land flowing with milk and honey." The Sinai wilderness, through which Israel wandered for forty years, is a hot, forbidding desert. There are wells and springs, a short rainy season in winter, and some vegetation. But on the whole the Sinai wilderness is a place of mountains, boulders, and sandstone hills, relieved by several oases.

By contrast, the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is a productive and delightful place in which to live. The geographical features permit extensive farming of grains, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. The abundance of pasturelands makes the raising of livestock a profitable undertaking.

The mineral resources include iron, copper, and petroleum. With hard work the Israelites were able to live in abundance. During the reign of King Solomon the nation of Israel achieved a prosperity equaled by few other world cultures.

Even today the land of Israel is viewed by the large nations as having strategic importance when viewed from the standpoint of world politics.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews suggests that the wilderness wandering (Chapter Three of Hebrews), and Canaan itself (Chapter Four—the promised land "rest") are symbolic of the nature of our Christian discipleship and the goal of that discipleship. 

Scripture Types

The Old Testament writings contain a multitude of types—that is, people, events, and things in the physical world that predict and illustrate spiritual realities. Many of the facts with which we are concerned in Christianity are invisible, being of the spirit realm. Therefore God has provided tangible examples by which we can understand more clearly the things of the Kingdom of God.

The Old Testament people and events, in addition to having a significance and reality of their own, are set forth "for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Corinthians 10:11).

While employing Scripture types (allegories) as illustrations it is helpful to keep in mind two general rules: (1) do not become too rigid in attempting to apply the details of the type; and (2) be sure the spiritual fulfillment being suggested is actually presented in the New Testament writings and follows the mainstream of the teachings of the Apostles of Christ.

In terms of the first rule, it would not be a good idea to identify each city of Canaan and attempt to find a counterpart in the Christian discipleship. The Holy Spirit often takes some of the episodes concerning Jericho and Ai, for example, and applies them to our experiences in Christ. But it would not be wise to attempt to draw a parallel between every geographical location described in the book of Joshua to our spiritual life today.

In terms of the second rule, the third and fourth chapters of Hebrews, as well as the book of Jude, apply the wilderness wandering to our Christian discipleship. We have mentioned that the "rest" of Hebrews is typified by the land of Canaan as well as by the resting of God on the seventh day of creation (Hebrews 4:4-8).

Therefore when we present the pilgrimage of the Hebrews through the wilderness and their invasion of Canaan as a type of our Christian experience we have solid backing in the New Testament.

Exactly what, then, is the Christian’s land of promise? What is the ultimate victory of the Christian battle? Toward what are we moving? Just what are the third and fourth chapters of Hebrews speaking of?

There is more to the Christian inheritance than our initial acceptance of Christ, since the letter to the Hebrews, which was written to experienced Christians, uses the expression, "any of you should seem to come short of it." Come short of what?

Is the Christian promised land Heaven? Paradise? The new Jerusalem? The resurrection from the dead? Christ Himself?

These terms are not all synonymous except in a broad sense. They all have to do with the promised land, the "rest" of Hebrews, Chapters Three and Four. But it may be true that the Lord’s people are not always certain how the above terms are related.

The land of promise of the Hebrews was described specifically in several passages of the Old Testament writings. The land of promise of the Christians also has been set forth in the Scriptures, but it is much more comprehensive than the Old Testament goal.

The redemption that is in Christ has a specific beginning, a specific working out in our life, and a specific conclusion—a goal, a "mark" toward which we are to press (Philippians 3:14). All of the goal is summed up in Christ. As we proceed in our book we shall endeavor to set forth some particular aspects of the goal of the Divine redemption.

In many instances we Christians have little or no idea what our promised land is. Therefore we cannot address ourselves as we should to the struggle. We are not sure precisely where we are going, what our inheritance in Christ actually is.

We do know we have been saved from wrath and that we shall go to Heaven when we die. Beyond that we are not too clear where we are going, what we shall be doing, or what we ourselves shall be like.

The boundaries of the promised land of the Israelites were set forth in Joshua 1:4 and in several other verses in the Old Testament. The territory has been named Canaan, Palestine (by the Romans), the Holy Land, and Israel. Today it is included as part of the Middle East. Even in our time the country of Israel is a center of controversy and conflict.

Perhaps if we think about the "land of milk and honey," examine its characteristics, review what God has said about it, and study the events that occurred as Israel entered it during the days of Joshua, we then may be able to gain some insight into the Christian land of promise.

We need to ask the Holy Spirit to interpret this Old Testament type for us so we can set ourselves toward the true goal of the Christian life and not get bogged down in the aimlessness, carelessness, and indifference to spiritual growth that so easily can weaken Christian fervor.

In this book, The Land of Promise, we shall be pointing toward Christ Himself—the full grasp upon all that He is—as the fulfillment of the land of Canaan. It is apparent that the Apostle Paul viewed Christ Himself as the "rest" of God, the goal of the Christian discipleship: 

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:8)

Would you like to journey with us as we press on to the possession of the fullness of God’s promises in Christ?

CHAPTER I  WAR 

And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. But the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And he shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:22-24)

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12) 

From Sheep to Soldiers

God did all the fighting when the Hebrew slaves made their exodus from Egypt. God smote the land of Egypt with plagues, finally slaying the firstborn of man and animal. The Pharaoh of Egypt opposed the release of his slaves but God broke the back of Pharaoh’s resistance. No armed rebellion of the Hebrews themselves was necessary to accomplish the obtaining of their freedom.

Christ Himself, with the assistance of no human being, paid the full price for our redemption on the cross of Calvary. The Son of God came into full confrontation with the god of this age, and by His obedience to the Father totally destroyed the authority over mankind maintained by Satan. Jesus—and Jesus alone—destroyed the authority of the devil.

But when the Israelites entered their land of promise, they had to fight. God helped, intervening on their side in many instances. But the Jews had to fight!

Can this be true also of us Christians? Is it a fact that while Christ accomplished our initial salvation by Himself, we also must fight (with God’s help) fierce battles against a vicious and determined enemy in order to enter our inheritance, into the "rest of God"?

From the Red Sea to Mount Sinai, the first major trek of the Hebrews, the Israelite men could hardly be referred to as a disciplined army. Instead, they were 600,000 ex-slaves, under the leadership of a former sheepherder.

The children of Jacob went out by their ranks and armed for battle. 

But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed [in martial array] out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:18)

However, their lack of discipline was revealed by the shameful exhibition of lewdness and idolatry that occurred while Moses tarried before the Lord God (Exodus 32:25).

As soon as the Law had been given, and the Tabernacle of the Congregation had been constructed, God was ready for the organizing of His army. 

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. (Numbers 10:1,2)

From this point forward the wanderers began to be transformed into the army of the Lord of Hosts. It was the Lord and His holy Law, the Ten Commandments, that were marching with the soldiers of Israel toward the devil-worshiping Canaanites.

(What does this say about the purpose and program of the Christian Church, the Body of Christ?)

There followed the formation of the marching order of the army (Numbers, Chapter 10). In a short period of time the Hebrews had arrived at the southern border of Canaan.

Next came a spying expedition (Numbers, Chapter 13), the result of which was that the unbelieving, complaining Israelites were ordered to turn back into the inhospitable Sinai wilderness for an additional thirty-eight years of the school of the Holy Spirit.

Decades followed during which many instructive events occurred as the Lord revealed to His army His holy Person and ways. Israel was being taught holiness, obedience, and to trust God for help and provisions. Meanwhile the older generation died, except for Joshua and Caleb, the only men of the twelve spies who had encouraged Israel to follow God into the conquest of the land of promise.

Toward the end of the forty years of wandering there were skirmishes against the Moabites, Israel being under the leadership of Moses at this time. These minor battles took place near the border of the land of promise. By now the once-confused slaves were an army to reckon with, a terror to the Canaanites who were informed by the desert caravans of the miracles the Lord was performing on behalf of Israel.

Finally the time came for the actual invasion of the land of Canaan, the land of promise. 

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the Lord your God giveth you to possess it. (Joshua 1:10,11)

Moses, the lawgiver and teacher, had been commissioned of God to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and to bring them to the border of Canaan. Joshua had been the personal servant of Moses throughout the long years of wandering, being prepared by the Lord to lead the now-disciplined host across Jordan and into the land of milk and honey.

There is a time when the Christian is to be a sheep, wandering in the wilderness of instruction under the guidance of the Good Shepherd, sometimes fighting minor skirmishes as the Lord leads. But the day will come when the Christian becomes a soldier in the Lord’s army and follows his Commander in Chief, the Lord of Hosts, the Lord strong and mighty in battle, into the crushing assault on all the forces of the enemy.

The kingdom of darkness will be destroyed by Christ acting through the Church, the Body of Christ!

The Ark of the Covenant led the way into Jordan and remained in the midst of Jordan until all the Israelites crossed into Canaan. In like manner the Lord Jesus led the way into the resurrection from the dead, and is remaining in the position of waiting until His army has passed through the resurrection. 

And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan. (Joshua 3:17)

Because the battles of the Lord are fought by the army of angels as well as by the army of Israel, it was necessary for Joshua to meet the commander of the angelic troops. 

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? (Joshua 5:13)

How often has the Christian Church, and how often have we as individuals, attempted to fight the battles of the Lord using only human strength and wisdom and material resources? But when we come up against strongly entrenched positions of the enemy we begin to understand that the Lord Jesus fights in the spiritual and in the natural realms at the same time.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers of spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. As soon as we achieve victory in the spirit realm, victory is possible on the earth. The cooperation of spiritual and human forces, as the Holy Spirit directs, is necessary before the fortresses of Hell can be demolished.

As we study the account of Joshua leading the host of Israel against the cities of Canaan we notice that decisive help came from the spirit realm: the wall of Jericho fell flat (Joshua 6:20); the sun and moon stood still (Joshua 10:13); hailstones killed the armies of the Amorites (Joshua 10:11). 

They fought from heaven; the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. (Judges 5:20)

If the Israelites needed spiritual help when fighting a flesh and blood enemy, how much more do we Christians need the Lord’s help?

Our Christian discipleship is a warfare, a battle against evil spirits. Our fight is not primarily against religious or political systems or injustices of any kind. Oftentimes the Lord helps Christian people with prison reform, aid to the needy, the furnishing of medical assistance to the underprivileged, and other important social works. It may be true that the major social reforms of history were and are yet being sponsored, in whole or in part, by Christians.

But the primary Christian struggle is against the evil spirit rulers who govern the darkness of the present age, the wicked spirits who influence the motives and actions of earth’s peoples from the vantage points in the heavenlies.

Through the Lord Jesus Christ, God will destroy completely the entire kingdom of unclean spirits from the least to the greatest. Total victory is ahead for the Church, the Body of Christ. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8).

The mission of Christ (the Anointed Deliverer) is to break the yoke of Satan and set men free. Christians are to take up this mission, following the Lord Jesus wherever He goes, being filled to overflowing with the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The chronicle of events from the exodus from Egypt to the entrance into Canaan is an extraordinary illustration. These incidents of Middle East history were designed by the Lord to portray the Christian experience of redemption.

We Christians by faith and by the action of water baptism make our "exodus" from the world (Egypt). We do not make our exodus from the earth but from the world system—the present evil age, which is dominated by Satan. The baptismal water is a "Red Sea" to us.

After coming across the "Red Sea" (being baptized in water into the death and resurrection of Christ) we find ourselves after a period of time, not in any promised land of power, glory, and excellent fruits but in a "waste howling wilderness," in an uninhabited desert, spiritually speaking. 

The Wilderness Experience

The "wilderness" experience is the school of the Holy Spirit and a sore trial to the disciples of the Lord. They forsake the world, the flesh, and the devil. They begin to follow Christ. They had been told that once they became a Christian their life from that time forward would be filled with joy.

God would be real to them. His will would be plain to them, a golden highway set with diamonds leading to the stars. They would have daily fellowship with Christ and the hovering Presence of the Holy Spirit. Their peace would be eternal and would pass their understanding, so great would it be. Thus it may have been for a season.

Then the scene changed!

No explanation from the Lord! The joy leaves. God seems far away and His will impossible to find. Christ remains silent and the Holy Spirit is remote. Instead of perfect peace there is anxiety, confusion, uncertainty. The Christian life becomes boring, a drudgery. The strain of patiently obeying Christian doctrine is almost intolerable.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. While there are periodic signs that the Lord is aware of what is taking place, such as answers to prayer, occasional leadings, blessings sprinkled here and there, the daily routine has become one of day-to-day laboring under the burning sun of problems and difficulties rather than the promised rest and refreshing under copious rains of the Holy Spirit.

Peter teaches us: 

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 1:6,7)

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. (I Peter 4:12,13)

Paul, too, was acquainted with the wilderness of trouble: 

For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (II Corinthians 1:8,9)

In the above passage Paul was describing the Christian discipleship. As was the case with the Israelites, much wilderness wandering must precede our entrance into the land of promise.

In the wilderness we learn to "eat manna" (to depend continually on Christ for our life, our strength, our wisdom, our holiness and righteousness). We are taught to "follow the cloud by day and the fire by night" (to wait patiently for the leading of the Holy Spirit; to walk in the blessings that come during the "day," and also to follow the judgments of God’s Word through the "nights" of our discipleship).

We learn how to be healed spiritually and physically by gazing at the "brass serpent" (by looking to the redemption that flows from our Lord Jesus on the cross). We understand that God means exactly what He says and that those who disobey the Lord’s revealed will for their lives soon find themselves in difficult and painful situations.

We Christians are taught many lessons in the wilderness. It was in the wilderness, at Mount Sinai, that the Ten Commandments were issued by the Lord. In the Christian experience it is in struggling faithfully through problems and troubles, as we attempt each day to follow the Lord, that we begin to come under the law of the Spirit of life. Trouble, perplexity, persecution, press us into Christ so He can be formed in us. 

And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

While we are enduring prolonged, severe testing, trouble of all kinds, confusion, rebuffs on every hand, misunderstanding by our brothers and sisters in the Lord, rejection by the churches, unbelief, problems in our families, the removal of our ministry perhaps, dryness, barrenness, affliction, deception, we may be tempted to believe that God has been insulted and has withdrawn beyond the galaxies.

Under these circumstances one can forget the promise of Him who cannot lie: 

. . . lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20)

. . . I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)

Sometimes it seems God has left us, that we have failed in the Christian walk. There are so many questions, so many doubts, and no apparent revelation of the Lord or of His will for us. None of the other Christians appear to be having any trouble at all. In fact, we may experience the "pleasure" of having some of the saints counsel us concerning our lack of joy, our unfruitfulness or sickness, just as Elphaz, Bildad, and Zophar took the trouble to counsel Job.

Unless we have deliberately turned our back on God, have willfully and knowingly refused to obey a clear leading of the Lord concerning our life, or have drifted back into the sexual excesses, idolatry, hatred, and riotous living of the world—unless we have chosen to go back into sin there is a good chance that much of the confusion and barrenness we are experiencing is a wilderness trial of the "Job" variety.

If you now are in the wilderness with God, He is very present. He hasn’t left you. He instantly is aware of every deception, every fear, every circumstance, every trial, every word you are saying, every thought you are thinking.

God knows what is happening to you. Satan and the world do not possess the ability to harm one hair of your head. The wicked can overthrow neither the atonement made on Calvary nor the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

God cannot lie. He will not leave you. Put your trust in God and He will bring you through to glory. Never, never, never surrender. Rest in the faithfulness of God. 

They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. (Psalms 125:1)

One of the principal reasons for wandering in the wilderness is preparation for war. When a Christian first is redeemed he may not be wise or strong enough to stand up successfully during vigorous spiritual combat. Think about the meaning of the following passage: 

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. (Exodus 13:17,18)

This was a long unpleasant detour to the south!

We learn valuable and eternal lessons during our "wilderness wandering" if we respond readily to the Holy Spirit and are good students. We are taught how to follow God. We become strong in the Lord provided we exercise faith, courage, perseverance, and single-minded resoluteness in our determination to follow Christ all the way to the fullness of the realization of the promises of God (Hebrews 3:14).

The knowledge and strength we gain in the wilderness will make it possible for us to stand when God begins to bring us against the enemies who are in possession of our inheritance, our rest, our land of promise.

If God were to bring us immediately into spiritual victory, responsibility, and power it is likely we would be tricked into deception by the cunning devices of Satan. The wilderness is not a good land, and Satan does not press us too much as long as we are wandering about in a hot desert wasteland, so to speak, far from the rich treasures of the Lord.

But the Israelites were not saved from Egypt in order that they might take up residence in a desert wilderness. They were redeemed from the hand of Pharaoh so they could make their home in a fruitful, well-watered land, the land of Canaan. Egypt was a better place to live than the desert wilderness except that Pharaoh had made their life unbearable by the vicious, unreasonable slavery he had forced on them.

We Christians were not saved from the world in order to live as a weak and persecuted segment of the world’s population while sinners inherit the earth. A Christian may remain weak and persecuted for a season while he is learning the lessons God desires to teach him. But eventually (in most instances after the Lord returns) he will inherit the riches of this earth and all else God possesses.

Isaiah, when he foresaw the consummation of the Christian salvation, described the saints entering their inheritance: 

Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:11,12)

God calls us from our bondages and then promises He is taking us to a glorious and fruitful land of peace and joy. The land of promise is our inheritance. It is the rest of God, the abiding of God in His people and they in Him. It is the land of fulfilled dreams, the impossible come true, the end of the rainbow. 

The Land of Promise Is Occupied

There is a problem with the fulfillment of the glorious dream, with the end of the rainbow. It was a problem for the Hebrews and it is a problem for Christian believers. The difficulty is this: the land of promise is occupied. It is not vacant, ready to be taken over by God’s flock. Our land of promise is occupied at this time by God’s enemies.

The land of promise of Israel was inhabited by savage tribes who practiced devilish idolatries, including the worship of their sexual lusts and the burning of their children in the fire as sacrificial offerings. Their abominable, degrading, demon-possessed patterns of behavior had been intensifying the wrath of God during the time Israel was multiplying in Egypt.

It was God’s intention to use Israel as the sword of His judgment against the Philistines, just as it now is God’s intention to use the Christians as the Holy Spirit-directed Word of God, the fiery Word of judgment, against the kingdom of Satan. The land of promise, in whatever form it takes, always is occupied by evil spirits until, in God’s appointed time, they are driven out by those who are obedient, holy, and anointed with the Spirit of God. 

When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: (Deuteronomy 7:1,2)

Counterparts of the above declaration of war can be found in several places in the New Testament: 

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:18,19)

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; (Mark 16:17)

But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:20)

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:21)

And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. (Romans 16:20)

. . . For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (Revelation 12:7,8)

And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (Revelation 19:14,15)

God has given Christians many things to possess: their own spirit, soul, and body, the nations, the earth, the heavens, all of God’s creation. All things belong to those who are coheirs with Christ. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Revelation 21:7).

God has given all things to us legally through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. In actuality, however, many of the good parts of our inheritance are still occupied by a hierarchy of wicked spirits. The only answer to the illegal occupying presence of wicked spirits is war—Spirit-led, determined, consistent, never-say-die war!

How else can one take possession of an occupied territory?

Because the land of promise is occupied by the enemies of God the Bible is a book of war. From Genesis to Revelation the Scriptures are an account of warfare. Remove the passages that deal with conflict and the Scriptures would be a thin volume.

The reason why the planet Earth has been plagued by wars from the beginning of recorded time through to the sophisticated twentieth century is that there is war in the spirit realm. There never will be peace on the earth until the spiritual warfare has been concluded.

Old Testament Scripture is filled with accounts of war, preparations for war, of victories gained by means of unwavering faith and hope in God. One of the frequently repeated names of God in the Old Testament is the Lord of Hosts. Numbers, Joshua, Judges, Kings, and Chronicles are records having to do with warfare.

As soon as the reader of the Scriptures passes Malachi and comes to Matthew he finds that warfare is still present, but now it is against evil spirits themselves instead of against demon-worshiping tribes. The four Gospels are a record of Jesus of Nazareth, God’s Warrior, going about and destroying the works of the devil. Two outstanding characteristics of Jesus’ ministry were the casting out of devils and the healing of the sick—both being acts of aggression and dispossession executed against the kingdom of Satan.

Israel gathered its strength and became an army during the time it was wandering in the wilderness. All the while, God was preparing the Hebrews for the coming fight against the inhabitants of Canaan. The Christians have been gathering their strength and becoming an army during the time they have been wandering in the wilderness—since the days of the first apostles.

When speaking of Christians, and of the Christian Church, wandering, being prepared, and gathering their strength for the coming battles against Satan and the resulting dispossession of evil spirits from the earth, we are not referring to the historic denominations of the Church.

Denominations are human attempts to preserve and communicate scriptural doctrine and to increase administrative efficiency. There are many saints of God in the various Christian denominations, but the denominations themselves are not the Body of Christ.

Denominations and sects will come and go according to the will of men and the permission of the Lord; but no denomination will be empowered by God to execute the awful destruction of the forces of darkness that has been prepared for the end-time. The responsibility for the total demolition of the kingdom of evil has been assigned to Christ and His saints regardless of denominational affiliation.

The Christian Church will press through to the fullness of victory and inherit the land of promise, the rest of God. The Christian Church includes every born-again, blood-washed, cross-carrying, spiritually-resurrected believer—every true disciple of Jesus of Nazareth.

The disciples of Jesus compose the only church that has spiritual significance, and the warfare is a spiritual struggle. All the peoples of the earth can be divided into two groups: in one group Jesus is living and overcoming the world; in the other group, Jesus is not living and overcoming the world. Those in whom Jesus is living are the Church.

There are numerous believers in whom Jesus is not living and overcoming the world. They are not part of the Body of Christ. God will decide who among them will be saved from wrath.

Either a person is alive in God through the Lord Jesus Christ or else he is dead because he has not Christ. There is only one Church. All divisions of the Church are temporary and destined to be soon blown away by the Spirit of God.

God cannot recognize divisions in the Body of His Son because we all share in the one body and one blood of the Communion Table. The Christian Church, the Body of Christ, will be given the wisdom and power sufficient for the total destruction of the kingdom of Satan in the heavenlies and on the earth; for the thorough cleansing of sin from the earth.

Such is the destiny of the Christian Church, the Kingdom of God and there is no power that can hinder. The destruction of the wicked is near. The year of God’s redeemed has come!

CHAPTER II  LEGAL AND ACTUAL POSSESSION 

(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth [gives life to] the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17)

"And calleth those things that be not as though they were"!

There is a concept set forth in the above passage that has to do with our entrance into the land of promise. It is often misunderstood. It is important that it be understood by the fervent Christian disciple. The important concept of which we are speaking is the difference between the legal and the actual possession of the promised land.

There can be a difference between the legal and the actual possession of something. In most instances we actually possess the things we own legally—our car, our house, our clothes. But when the car is stolen or the house burns to the ground or the clothes are lost, we can see at once that there can be a difference between legal and actual possession.

We still own the car but someone else is driving it. We still own the house but it is a blackened ruin. We still own the hat but we left it somewhere and it no longer can keep our head warm. When someone steals our car we still own it but we no longer possess it. We cannot drive the certificate of title to work.

The state government may authorize the funds to provide a college education for every citizen of the state. The state "gives" each young person and adult a college education, so to speak. But the state does not give him or her a diploma. The person must go to school before he can claim to be a college graduate.

The King of England granted certain rights of settlement to pioneers in what is now New England. The king gave them a charter but the settlers had to set forth and possess the rocky and forested land by years of backbreaking labor. They encountered severe hardships and fierce opposition while making their homes in the New World.

The difference between the legal and the actual possession of a place or thing is an important distinction and must be understood by anyone who wishes to make a success of the overcoming Christian life.

God has given us all things through Christ. Do we possess all things?

Christ died for the sins of all men. Do all men have their sins forgiven?

Through the lashes laid on Jesus all of us were healed from every sickness. Have all been healed?

The Holy Spirit is ready to enter the dead spirit of every person. Does everyone have the Spirit of life from God?

God has given to us perfect peace and joy through Christ. Do all Christians have perfect peace and joy? It is the will of God that every Christian stand perfect and complete in Christ, sanctified in spirit, soul, and body. Is this true of every Christian? 

The Position and the Experience

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:6)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:3,4)

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14)

In the above four passages we can observe the difference between the legal and the actual possession of the land of promise; between our legal position in Christ and our actual experience of living the Christian life.

Notice the emphasis on our position in Christ, in Romans 6:6 and Colossians 3:3 (quoted above). According to these two verses we already have attained the summit in Christ by simply believing in Him. Our "old man," that is, our first personality with all its strengths and weakness, its good points and its bad points, has been assigned to the cross of Christ.

God considers, and directs us to consider, that our first "self" has been crucified with Christ. By so regarding us, God is legally free to bring forth a new personality, destroying our fleshly, sinful nature in the process.

It is true that we are dead. Also, our new spiritual life, having already been raised in and with Christ, is now at the right hand of the Father, far above every other title, authority, and power in the universe.

The fact of our death and resurrection in and with Christ is uplifting as we meditate on the consequences of it. It is spiritual reality. God has declared it to be true. It is His Word. Even though we may not see as yet the full outworking of what God has declared concerning us, what we laid hold on in water baptism, we know our position in Christ is an established fact before God Almighty and we begin to live out the truth of it as the Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and strength to do so.

If we should become proud spiritually because of our position in Christ, the next two passages bring us down to earth: 

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:3,4)

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14)

Most of our daily living is occupied, if we are striving to be a Christian, with resisting the world, our fleshly nature, and the devil. We battle against lust, hatred, covetousness, pride, idolatry, jesting, unthankfulness, selfish ambition, and so forth. Such temptations are common to people—Christians and non-Christians alike.

When we overemphasize our legal position in Christ our testimony may become intellectual, doctrinaire, static. There is too much fussing about words and verses and not enough pressing forward in the spiritual combat that characterizes the Christian warfare.

When, on the other hand, we overemphasize our actual experience of living the overcoming life, we may tend to lose the anchor, foundation, and regenerative guiding force and principle of Christianity, which is participation in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If we are not careful we can become discouraged while struggling against sin, not accepting the victory won for us by Christ.

Any Christian who is not in a warfare against the polluting influence of the world, Satan, the lust of his eyes and flesh, and the pride of life, is in deception. Such warfare is the nature of the true Christian experience.

When a Christian claims he no longer is troubled by satanic opposition he has been deceived. He has turned away from spiritual realities and is making little progress in Christ. He may possess the land of promise legally but he is not making headway toward the actual possession of it.

If the Christian is to live the overcoming life, the life of conquest over the burdens of life, and if he is to progress toward the character transformation and consistent dwelling with the Godhead that are part of the plan of redemption, then he must develop a balance in his life between the legal position in Christ and the actual experience in Christ.

The balance between the legal position and the actual experience can be noted in the Scripture. Let us look for a moment at the sixth chapter of Romans. Our position in Christ is set forth in the following words: 

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:3-6)

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:11)

The above five verses describe the legal position of the natural man of the Christian. The natural man includes the physical body with all of its passions, the human mind with all of its pride, and the human soul with all of its self-centeredness, self-will, self-seeking, self-love.

The natural man is our self before we bring the physical body under the law of the Spirit of life; before we put on the mind of Christ; before we endure the crucifixion of our self-centeredness, self-will, and self-seeking under the supervision of the Holy Spirit of God; before the new creation grows and comes to maturity in us.

There is only one acceptable place for the first personality of the believer. It must be hung on the cross with Christ. Our old "self" should be considered by us as crucified with Christ. We must adopt this attitude twenty-four hours of every day, seven days of every week.

Adam and Eve died on the day they sinned, according to the Word of the Lord. They died in that the Spirit of God left their personalities and their environment.

From that day to this, mankind has been dead. Man is dead. Every action of our personality is dead. The wickedness of our personality is dead and the righteousness of our personality is dead.

Many people without Christ are truthful, faithful, honorable. But it is an adamic truthfulness, an adamic faithfulness, an adamic honor. Therefore it is a spiritually dead truthfulness, a dead faithfulness, a dead honor.

Should we employ our natural truthfulness, faithfulness, and honor when we are able? We absolutely must! If an individual does not have integrity he can never be a disciple of Jesus. It is the adamic nature that holds up the body before God as a living sacrifice.

When Christ has not been formed in the personality, then, under enough pressure, the most truthful person will lie; the most faithful person will behave treacherously (as Abraham did in selling his wife); the most honorable person will behave dishonorably.

But Christ is alive! His truthfulness never fails. His faithfulness never fails. His honor never fails. His courage never fails. His love never fails.

Christ is eternal Life. As we assign our dead adamic nature to the cross, God gives us the living nature of Christ. Little by little God takes our dead nature and replaces it with the Life of Christ. In Christ we have eternal Life. We shall be able to enjoy the Presence of God for eternity because our righteousness, holiness, and obedience, being the righteousness, holiness, and obedience of Christ’s Nature, will never fail.

It is the will of God that we so regard our old nature. The crucifixion of our natural man is a position we must seize by faith and maintain by vigorous, consistent faith.

The Scripture states we are to reckon (count; regard; think of; consider) that our old nature is dead to sin. The only way in which we should regard our physical passions, our human pride, and our self-willed, egotistical, inflamed ambitions, is that they are nailed on the cross with Jesus. "I am crucified with Christ," Paul testified.

The cross is the anchor and starting point for our experience of sanctification. Without the inner concept of being crucified with Christ our movement toward the "land of promise" becomes disorganized, thrown into disarray, a random set of ups and downs so that we are merry Christians one day and forlorn, bedraggled church members the next.

The correct concept of the position of our old nature is that we have been crucified with Christ. Our task is to maintain by faith this attitude toward ourselves and our problems whether or not our actual circumstances and patterns of behavior reveal we indeed are dead with Christ.

It does no good to keep "digging up the body" in order to see if we really have been planted in death with Christ. We are to take by faith the legal, doctrinal, visionary position that our natural man, our old nature, has been crucified with Christ, and then leave the rest with God. We have been obedient to His Word. The remainder is His responsibility.

Such is our position in Christ. But what does the sixth chapter of Romans tell us about our actual experience; about the practical, daily-living aspect of our redemption? 

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? (v.1)

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (v.13)

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (v.15)

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (v.16)

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. (v.19)

In the sixth chapter of Romans we have both the legal, doctrinal position and also the actual day-to-day experience in Christ. The position, which we are to seize and maintain by faith, is that our first personality is crucified with Christ.

The actual experience is the daily, practical outworking of the position. We must pray, read the Scriptures, present our body a living sacrifice, confess our sins, assemble with the fervent disciples of the Lord, exercise temperance, resist the devil, and do all else necessary for the overcoming of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. We must yield our members "servants to righteousness unto holiness."

If we overemphasize our position in Christ we tend to lose our forward momentum in the battle toward the "rest" of God, toward the perfect abiding in Christ. If, on the other hand, we overemphasize our experience in Christ, we may sink into gloomy introspection because of our obvious shortcomings and sins; or else struggle hopelessly against our fleshly nature. Our position in Christ must first become clear to us. Then, a victorious experience should follow.

The position is ineffective apart from the experience and the experience is ineffective apart from the position. We must understand the spiritual position that God has given us in Christ; and we must each day, by prayer, faith, and obedience, bring ourselves under the rule of the Spirit, under the law of the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2).

The balance between the scriptural position and the actual experience can be studied in passages other than the sixth chapter of Romans. Let us examine the third chapter of Colossians: 

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. (v.1)

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (v.3)

The above two verses describe the position of the inner, spiritual life of the Christians. The inner life of the Christians includes all of his personality that has been infused with the resurrection Life of the Holy Spirit of God: the renewed spirit of the Christian; the renewed mind of the Christian; and the Divine Substance of Christ that is growing in the core of his personality. The faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus is walking in newness of life, in the power of the Life from God that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:19,20).

There is only one acceptable place for the inner life of the Christian. The inner man must be resurrected with Christ. The inner man should be considered by us as having been resurrected with Christ and having ascended with Christ to the right hand of the Father. We must adopt the position of resurrection and ascension twenty-four hours of every day, seven days of every week. Our position of resurrection and ascension must be seized by faith and maintained by persistent, relentless, joyous, courageous faith.

We may be brought low at times. But if we do not quit, the day will come when God renews our joyous, courageous faith.

The Scripture tells us to reckon (count; regard; think of; consider) ourselves "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The only way in which we should regard our spirit, mind, and will is that they are hidden with Christ in God, located at the right hand of the Almighty Father. "Nevertheless I live," Paul exclaimed. "Yet not I, but Christ lives in me."

The right hand of the Father is the anchor and starting point for our experience of redemption. Without the concept that our inner spiritual being has been resurrected with Christ, our movement toward the land of promise becomes confused. We are "on the mountaintop" one day and "in the valley of despair" the next.

Our true position before God is that we are raised with Christ and are now in the heavenlies with Him. Our task is to maintain by faith the attitude that we have been resurrected, whether or not our daily experience suggests that we indeed are at the right hand of the Father and filled with His resurrection Life.

Sometimes we feel we are far away from God and have little life and strength left. But we are to take by faith the position of resurrection and commit our problems and troubles to Christ. If we are obedient, the remainder is His responsibility.

Such is our position in Christ. Our old human nature is on the cross with Christ and our new, reborn inner nature is at the right hand of God Almighty.

But what does the third chapter of Colossians say concerning our actual experience, concerning the daily, ordinary problems of living the Christian life? 

Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Colossians 3:5)

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (Colossians 3:8)

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; (Colossians 3:9)

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; (Colossians 3:12)

We see, then, that we must have our position in Christ and our experience in Christ in balance. We must maintain the right attitude toward our position in Christ—that we truly are at the right hand of the Father in Christ. The Scripture declares it is so and it is so! We also must be following the Holy Spirit of God as He leads us into battle against the unholy deeds of the world in which we live, against the spirit of Satan, and against the passionate follies of our own flesh and soulish nature.

Overemphasizing our position in Christ at the expense of our actual experience can prevent our being successful in the pursuit of the overcoming life. If we hold steady, do not give up in unbelief and discouragement, keep our faith securely and unshakably anchored in Christ, we will come to know that God is transforming what is at first a legal, doctrinal, conceptual, spiritual position into an actual, practical, observable, concrete experience in us.

The fullness of our transformation is associated with the return of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords to rule with His saints over the peoples of the earth. But if we hope to be ready in that day we must be working patiently and faithfully with the Holy Spirit today as He guides and empowers us in overcoming the world, the devil, and the sinfulness of our fleshly nature. 

Water Baptism

Water baptism is an act of obedience by which we establish our position in Christ. Let us remember that our position in Christ has two dimensions: our first personality is crucified with Christ; our new spiritual nature is resurrected with Christ.

Water baptism—which should, in obedience to God, be performed as soon as possible after our profession of Christ as Savior and Lord—is an act of faith that testifies to us and to the remainder of the world, and to the spirit realm, that of our own will and choice we now are entering the death of Christ and the resurrection of Christ.

Water baptism is the point at which we declare to the heavens and the earth that the first creation (our natural self; our soulish nature) is finished and the new creation (the new spiritual man that was born again of the Divine Godhead) is resurrected with Christ and alive eternally.

Paul explained the meaning of the act of water baptism, in the sixth chapter of Romans: 

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Romans 6:3-6)

The sixth chapter of Romans contains what probably is the clearest description of the meaning of water baptism to be found in the Scripture. The affirmation we make concerning ourselves, in water baptism, is that we are being baptized into Christ; that we are being baptized into His death; that we are being buried with Him by baptism into death; that henceforth we are to walk on the earth in eternal resurrection life; that we are being united with the likeness of His death; that we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection; that our old man has been crucified with Him in order that our sinful body may be rendered powerless, we being no longer under the authority of sin and potentially no longer under the compelling power of sin.

We are declaring that the above circumstances and relationships are true of us personally as we are being baptized in water.

When we are being baptized we voluntarily are entering a contract with God. He signed the contract on Calvary. We sign the contract by the confession of our faith and our submission to baptism in water.

God declared us dead when Christ was crucified. God declared us resurrected in our new spiritual man—and in our physical body as well (Romans 8:11)—when Christ was resurrected. We have been crucified with Christ and resurrected in and with Christ—spirit, soul, and body.

As far as God is concerned, the legality of the operation involving us is complete and perfect in every detail. In water baptism we declare we are crucified with Christ; that as we come out of the water the inner man now is raised with Christ to the right hand of God; that we do now have eternal resurrection life in our spirit; and that at the coming of Christ our physical body will be raised in the same manner and likeness that was true of His body.

Water baptism, therefore, is an act of obedience to God portraying openly in the physical world (and in the spirit realm also) that we now are crucified and risen with Christ. Water baptism establishes for all time our position in Christ. The remaining minutes, days, weeks, months, and years of our life are to be occupied with the continuing, consistent working out, in the joys and sorrows, blessings and afflictions, doubts and revelations, imprisonments and enlargements of our daily (and often boring and frustrating) routine of daily living, of the fact of our crucifixion and resurrection that was established by our baptism in water.

Our job is to hold steady in unwavering faith toward God because faith is the victory that overcomes the world. God’s job is to bring into visible, tangible experience the reality of what was declared in water baptism to be true of us. By faith, obedience, and diligence we must lay hold on that for which we have been grasped by Christ: that is, crucifixion and resurrection in and with Him. 

The Daily Outworking of Crucifixion and Resurrection

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (II Corinthians 1:9)

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:8-11)

Water baptism portrays our position in Christ. The above verses from II Corinthians describe the daily outworking of the experience of Christian living and ministry.

Sometimes the Christian life is preached by God’s salesmen (the evangelists) as though it were one happy time after another; that our peace can never be removed once we accept Christ; that the problems that harass unsaved people can never bother us after we believe in Christ; that the will of God is always clear to the consecrated Christian. This is not often true.

We Christians spend much time in the "wilderness." We have the Presence of God while we are in the wilderness of barrenness, confusion, and wretchedness, and His wisdom and power enable us to come successfully through these hard experiences.

The spiritual wilderness in which we wander is no land of milk and honey filled with all kinds of delights. The wilderness is just as Paul described it in II Corinthians (above).

If we have the "sentence of death" in ourselves and abandon our safety to the love and power of God, resurrection life is given to us and enables us to triumph spiritually and physically over the assaults of the enemy. The authority, power, and wisdom of God guarantee that neither the spiritual forces of wickedness nor physical forces on the earth will be able to hurt us spiritually or physically, except in ways precisely supervised by the Lord and ordered for our good.

The Christian victories take place in the spirit realm. This is where the battles are fought and where our trust and faith in God are tested. It is in the spirit realm that we finally break through into triumphant deliverance from oppression, even though the oppression and weakness seem to be coming from physical sources.

As soon as victory over satanic forces has been gained, by the appropriation of God’s enabling wisdom and power, the physical problems that are present will be solved. If the physical problems are not solved, we need to stay before God in prayer, praise, unrelenting faith, courage, persistence, and absolute obedience. It is God’s will for His people that they be completely whole in spirit, soul, and body. (Sometimes God deals with us through afflictions, but that is a separate issue.)

As far as physical death is concerned, it is of small consequence except for the emotional pain of being separated from a loved one. Whether we are alive in the body or present with the Lord in Heaven is a side issue when compared with the overwhelming importance of closing the gap between our position and our experience in Christ. The power of Christ’s redemption is always moving us Christians individually and corporately toward the land of promise, toward the destruction of all satanic influence in the heavenlies, on the earth, and in us personally.

The supremely important issue of the Christian discipleship is our standing in and with Christ, our perfect and complete union with Him at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances. Such consistent, absolute union with Christ is the only acceptable status of God’s saints.

One can see the experience of the daily outworking of the crucifixion of Christ, in the following expressions in II Corinthians 4:8-11: "troubled on every side," "perplexed," "persecuted," "cast down," "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus," "always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake."

Likewise, one can observe also the experience of the daily outworking of the resurrection of Christ under these crucifying circumstances: "not distressed," "not in despair," "not forsaken," "not destroyed," "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body," "that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh."

Death, life, death, life; dying, living, dying, living; by the minute, by the day, by the month, by the year. We always are being pressed into the cross of Christ. We always are being renewed by the resurrection Life of Christ.

The deeper the cross the fuller the life. We do not leave the cross and then go on to life. We gain resurrection life through the cross. The fullness of crucifixion brings the fullness of life; and it is God who performs every aspect of this work.

Crucifying one’s self is just another expression of the self-life. We are not to crucify ourselves. Our part, rather, is to rejoice always in the goodness of God and to be thankful continually for all He gives us in the spiritual and natural realms. God’s part is to press us into the death of Christ and to raise us again with and in Christ.

When we can accomplish our goals by our natural abilities we do not need the life from Christ. Therefore God brings our fleshly nature into helplessness by means of perplexity, pain, doubt, pressures, by striking us down, by raising the odds against us. God brings down the natural man to weakness and death.

If we will keep our trust anchored in Christ, the weaknesses of the natural man become the occasions for the revelation of the resurrection Life of Christ. Death, and then life! Dying, and then living! Such is the process by which we arrive at the resurrection from the dead.

For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (II Corinthians 1:8,9)

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (II Corinthians 12:9,10) 

The Cross and the Crown

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

The above passage from Philippians describes our experience in Christ.

Our position in Christ comes instantly, legally, and is validated and established by water baptism. A firstfruits of our personality is reaped to Christ at that time. From the moment we accept Christ and are baptized in water, God sees us on the cross with Christ and resurrected in and with Christ. He accepts us at His right hand. Christ has laid hold on us that we may abide in such a position of glory and power.

But the experience of daily living—that is another matter! Each day of our pilgrimage we are required to lay hold on that for which we have been laid hold on by Christ. He grasps us for a position and we grasp Him during our daily experiences of living in the world. Our position is on theoretical, spiritual side—although it represents an actual position in the heavens.

Our experience, on the other hand, is practical, earthly, filled with money problems, headaches, worries, doubts, threats, pressures, mistakes, decisions. The successful overcoming Christian life is the one in which the believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit until the gap has been closed between his position in Christ and his experience of living. The process of redemption is finished when our position in Christ and our experience in Christ are identical.

Bringing our experience into conformity with our position requires a period of time. Paul was near the end of his days on earth when Philippians was written. Behind him was a Christian life of extraordinary fruitfulness: of churches established; of miracles performed; of revelations of doctrine received and communicated; of history-changing epistles composed. The life-giving fruitfulness of Paul grew out of his sharing Christ’s sufferings. 

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (II Corinthians 11:23-27)

It is believed that the letters to the Philippians, the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, were written while Paul was being held in Rome and chained to a Roman guard. The lack of privacy during the two years must have been a heavy cross for Paul to bear, as it would be for anyone. Yet the resurrection Life from God has come to the world through these four epistles as well as through the other writings of Paul.

Here is an instance of the cross and the crown, of the outworking of the experience of our death with Christ and our resurrection in and with Him. The cross consisted of the imprisonment, the chain on Paul’s body, the lack of privacy, the loss of physical liberty. But out from Paul’s cross flowed the words of the Holy Spirit, extending the dominion of Christ over multitudes of people. Paul was not defeated. He was ruling triumphantly with Christ in resurrection life. It was Nero and the Roman Empire that were perishing.

Paul’s attitude at the time is recorded in Ephesians: 

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:19-23)

Paul’s body was chained but his spirit was that of a conqueror. God desires that each of us Christians rule with Him now—in the present world. If we cannot overcome by faith and rule with Christ over the small "kingdom" we now possess, how, then, can we be entrusted with a larger responsibility?

If we are not faithful in that which is least we will not be faithful in the greater. We must begin to enter our land of promise now, into whatever area God has given us to subdue. The Holy Spirit of God will show us the "land"; will point out each "city" in order; and will furnish the wisdom, authority, and power for a successful campaign. Our part is to look to Christ each day in order to make sure we are in the proper place and doing the thing that is the will of God for us.

Paul continually embraced the power of Christ’s resurrection and shared in Christ’s sufferings. Paul was determined to win the earlier resurrection from the dead. His position in Christ had been certified at the time of his conversion, but the experience of actually ruling with Christ over the nations of the earth was the "mark" toward which Paul was pressing with every part of his personality.

We in the Church need to pack up our gear and get ready to move forward with the Spirit of God. We were on fire for God when we first heard about the remission of sins through Christ; about being born again; about receiving the Holy Spirit of God. At that time we started out in the Lord with a burning "first love."

But after we had attained these primary spiritual blessings we "unpacked." We settled down in our church routines, believing that God has nothing more of redemption for us while we are on earth. Our concept of Heaven being the land of promise, the spiritual fulfillment of Canaan, did not assist our efforts; rather it put us to sleep as far as God’s plan for the earth is concerned.

If we are to gain the crown of rulership with Christ over the nations, and the other aspects of the spiritual fulfillment of the land of promise, we must fight for them. Every day we live on earth will bring new trials, a new burden of evil, new cause for resistance against the enemy of our souls, new dangers, discouragement, new reasons why we should not pray, not seek Christ with the whole heart, not be absolutely obedient to the Holy Spirit of God, not meditate in the Scripture, not forget what is behind, not press on with single-minded determination to seize the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.

If we are content to stay spiritually abreast of the majority of churchgoers it appears certain we will never attain God’s best for our lives. The Christian life is more than faithful church attendance, as important as Christian fellowship is. Christian discipleship is a daily, intensely personal battle against the wicked spirits who govern the darkness of the age in which we live.

Christ has prepared a crown of life for every Christian who will come out (in his heart at least) from the babylonish confusion of the lukewarm, worldly churches and turn his heart, mind, soul, and strength toward grasping that for which he has been grasped by Christ—namely, daily practical union with the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.

The cross and the crown go together. Neither one stands alone. Too much suffering makes us morose—defeated in personality. Too much glory makes us self-centered and careless. It is a false teaching that claims nominal church membership is the basis for being a royal priest, a coheir with Christ, an attainer to the first resurrection, a ruler over nations. We must have our personal experience with the cross and the crown. We must interact each day with the Holy Spirit as He directs our discipleship.

The only basis for receiving the inheritance that belongs to God’s saints is the life of victorious faith, the life of disciplined obedience to the Lord Jesus. The sons of God are those who are being led by the Spirit of God into perfecting their walk of holiness, righteousness, and obedience to God (II Corinthians 7:1).

CHAPTER III  FOLLOWING THE SPIRIT 

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (Romans 8:4,5)

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

What does it mean to be "led by the Spirit of God"? Are the Christian churches being led by the Spirit of God? Are the individual Christians being led by the Spirit of God? Does being led by the Spirit refer to the average kind of Christian experience most of us have?

Some Christians say, "The Lord told me this; the Lord told me that." Are they the ones who are being led by the Spirit?

The experience of being led by the Holy Spirit of God is an important one, according to the eighth chapter of Romans, and is part of the working out of the redemption that is in Christ. A study of Romans, Chapters Six and Eight will indicate that our appropriation of the righteousness that flows from the shed blood of Christ depends on living each day in disciplined obedience to the Spirit of God. 

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Our salvation, which begins when we accept the forgiveness of our sins as a gift—a gift based on the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, is developed and expressed in us as we learn to refuse the impulses of our fleshly nature and bring ourselves under the rule of the Spirit of God.

To live in the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit, to be led of the Spirit, requires that we be disciplined, Scripture-reading, praying Christians. Much experience is needed if we are to learn to distinguish between the many false voices and impulses with which we are besieged each day, and the guiding and prompting of the Holy Spirit.

We must begin to give time to cultivating our spiritual life. Learning to live and walk in the Spirit of God is a lifelong program that makes increasing demands on our devotion as we grow in the Lord. The final result—that which the Spirit is seeking—is that we come into perfect oneness with the Father and the Son.

Oneness with God is not brought about in a moment, although we can be "perfect" each day if we will be obedient and cooperative with the lessons that are presented to us one at a time. 

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

Each true child of God is learning to be led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God guides and empowers us in three areas of personality and activity:

The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Internal conquest.

External conquest.

The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed among all the members of the Body of Christ. The result of the operation of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit is the creation of Christ in the believers and the eventual assembling of the perfected saints into the unified, fully mature Body of Christ, the Body of the Servant of the Lord who is to bring righteousness and justice to the peoples of the earth.

Internal conquest has to do with victory over sin in the life of the Christian. The result of internal conquest is complete release from the power that causes us to act, speak, and think in a manner displeasing to God. It is victory over the devil, over the spirit of the age in which we live, and over the impulses of our fleshly nature.

External conquest has as its objective breaking the yoke of sin in the area of responsibility assigned to the Christian, whether his home or the nations of the earth. Eventually sin and sinners will be destroyed out of the heavens and the earth. In order to be saved from the wrath that will be exercised through the sons of God, every creature must bow the knee and confess that Jesus is Lord.

Each Christian will be free from sin, and his environment will be free from sin. 

Following the Spirit in Ministry

Christ is no longer visible to the Church on earth and so He has sent another Comforter. The other Comforter is the Holy Spirit. To the Holy Spirit has been given the responsibility to create and bring to the Lamb, Christ, a perfect bride.

The Holy Spirit is God. He is with us now. He is to be obeyed. He is the government of the Church. He takes of the things of Christ and shows them to us. It is He who brings about the witness of the Church and the testimony of each individual Christian. The Holy Spirit is the Anointing on the Head and Body of Christ.

It is the Holy Spirit who assigns the supernatural gifts, directs the ministry, and accomplishes both internal and external conquest.

The difference between ministry and conquest. There is a difference between ministry and conquest in the life of the Christian believer, although in actual living, ministry and conquest are closely related.

It is important that we understand the difference between the two because such understanding has a practical effect on the manner in which we respond to our circumstances.

Ministry and conquest are not synonymous but they influence each other. The Christian life of victorious faith requires that we follow the Holy Spirit both in ministry and in conquest.

Conquest has to do with the formation of Christian character and with the development of the ability of the Christian to follow Christ into the land of promise, into his inheritance, into the rest of God, into the subjugation of the earth. The Christian learns and becomes able, by means of many graces and experiences, to express the will of Christ in each situation in which he is placed.

Conquest is the process of redemption, moving us from chaos of spirit, soul, and body all the way to the image of Christ and perfect union with God. It includes the total destruction of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin. Every trace of satanic influence is to be removed from our personality.

Conquest is the move from the bondage of "Pharaoh" to the liberty of the law of the Spirit of life, and finally to rest in the land of promise. Conquest proceeds in terms of a permanent change in the image and behavior of the Christian, commencing with the subjection of his will to the will of Christ and continuing through dominion over all the works of Satan to eventual rulership over God’s creation.

Conquest is an eternal transformation of the entire personality of the Christian, making him fit to rule with God in the restoring of what was lost in Eden; bringing him to perfect fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 22:17).

Ministry, on the other hand, is a gift from the Holy Spirit. Ministry is temporary (I Corinthians 13:8-10) whereas the formation of the conquering personality is eternal. The Holy Spirit does not give a Christian instant, actual dominion over God’s works except in the legal, embryonic, potential sense. Rather, God guides and enables the Christian as he fights his way into his land of promise. The gaining of our inheritance in Christ takes a while to accomplish.

But the gifts of ministry are given by the Spirit as "talents" to each member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:11). They come as impartations, although it may require a period of time before the Christian learns to develop and operate his ministry in an edifying and fruitful manner.

Perhaps the difference between conquest and ministry can be seen clearly by looking at the purpose of each. The purpose of conquest is to set the Christian eternally free from all things, spirits, people, circumstances, motives, temptations, and every other hindrance and bondage that would prevent him from ruling with Christ, from abiding in Christ, from resting in God, from flowing with the life of the Godhead.

Ministries and gifts from the Holy Spirit assist in guiding and enabling the Christian as he moves toward the position of total conquest, of dominion in Christ over all things. Ministry helps form the conquering personality. Ministry is a method while conquest is the final result.

The purpose of ministry is to build the members of the Body of Christ into unity and maturity.

But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (Ephesians 4:7)

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:11-13)

From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:16)

Every Christian has a ministry. There is no member of the Body of Christ who does not have a ministry. There are some Christians who are called to leave all secular employment and devote their entire time to their ministry. But that does not mean their ministry is different in kind or more important than the ministry of the other members of the Body of Christ.

It is necessary—absolutely essential—that every Christian come to the knowledge of his own ministry in the Body of Christ and begin to exercise it. There is no other method by which the Body of Christ can be brought to maturity and unity.

The above passages from Ephesians, Chapter Four announces the purpose of the several ministries distributed among the saints. The gifts of grace are given for the "work of the ministry"; for the "edifying of the body of Christ"; for bringing the members of the Body to "the knowledge of the Son of God"; for bringing the members of the Body of Christ "to a perfect man," to the goal, which is the full stature of Christ.

We have stated that the purpose of internal and external conquest is to set the Christian totally and eternally free from all things, spirits, people, circumstances, motives, temptations, and every other hindrance and bondage that would prevent him from ruling with Christ, from abiding in Christ, from resting in God, from flowing with the life of the Godhead. The purpose of ministry, on the other hand, is to assist in guiding and enabling the Christian as he moves toward the level of total conquest.

The conquering Christians must receive the virtue, wisdom, and power flowing from the several ministries of the Holy Spirit. The ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit can spring only from the participation of the members of the entire Church of Christ. There must be a "building," a "unity of the faith," a "knowledge of the Son of God," a perfect maturity as measured by the standard, which is the full stature of Christ.

The final result of ministry is the Christian who is in the full image of Christ. The final result of ministry is a fully mature son of God Almighty. The final result of ministry is a conqueror who attains dominion over every circumstance in which he is placed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit gives the gifts. It is the Holy Spirit who assigns the supernatural abilities by which the saints are perfected and built into the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the oil that provides fuel for the golden Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, to speak in a figure. The Lampstand is the light of the world, the communication of God to the Church itself, and through the Church to the heavens and the earth (Exodus 25:31; Revelation 1:12).

The Holy Spirit gives the gifts of manifestation. They are the things of Christ, the talents, the Lord’s money given to us so we can make a profit for the Kingdom of God. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (I Corinthians 12:7).

The Lord Jesus expects every member of His Body to become skillful in the use of the gifts given to him or her. By calling to mind the parable of the talents we understand that God expects us to be diligent in the use of the gifts He has given us. If we are not diligent in the use of our spiritual endowments we can expect a rebuke from the Lord and the loss of the opportunity to serve Him on a larger scale.

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: (I Corinthians 12:8-10)

All these gifts are in the members of the Body of Christ in abundance (although often not exercised). It is through the use of them that the Body of Christ comes to unity and maturity, the saints are perfected in holiness and obedience, and unsaved people receive an opportunity to behold the Person and salvation of God. One or more endowments of the Spirit is to be operating in every member of the Body.

In time past there has been a lack of the operation of the gifts of the Spirit in the members of the Body of Christ. As a result, the Church, in many instances, has not maintained as powerful a testimony or as great spiritual strength that would have been true if the gifts of the Spirit had been in full operation.

In our time the Spirit is dealing with a lavish hand. Each Christian person is invited and expected to cooperate as the glorious gifts of the Spirit are distributed. There is much work to be done. We are to "covet earnestly" the things of the Spirit of God. The harvest is great. Let us make certain we go to the Lord of the harvest, obtain our tools, and spend our days in the work of the Kingdom.

But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:11)

There is no member of the Body of Christ, of the Christian Church, who does not have an endowment from the Holy Spirit. There is no part of the Body that does not have a specific role to play in the program of God. We have not always known what our particular ministry is because full participation by the members of the various congregations has not been not encouraged as much as is necessary if the believers are to enter vigorous, productive ministry.

Now is the day for each congregation of Christians, each assembly of the saints of the Lord, to become builders and fighters in establishing the Kingdom of God. In order to do our part we must have supernatural endowments from the Holy Spirit. None of us, old or young, male or female, is excepted. 

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ [Christ]. (I Corinthians 12:12)

The Body of Christ is the Body of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42:1). Each Christian is a member of the Anointed Deliverer who has been commissioned by the Lord God to "bring justice to the nations." The Holy Spirit baptizes each believer into the one Body of Christ. As members of the Body we have a unique role and function. It is the gifts of the Spirit of God that enable us to function as part of the Body of the Servant of the Lord.

In the present hour we have a down payment, a pledge, a guarantee of the much greater anointing of the Spirit that is to come upon us in the closing days of this age—the time when the Kingdom of God is established in the earth and Christ is enthroned as King of kings and Lord of lords. 

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (I Corinthians 12:31)

The "best gifts" are those that build up the Body of Christ.

The "more excellent way" refers to the perfection of God’s love in us and the fullness of the revelation of His Glory that will come upon the Church at the time of the return of Christ.

The gifts of the Spirit are temporary, being as the manna in the wilderness. The gifts are not "the old corn of the land." Nevertheless they are necessary in the days in which we are living. They are the revelation of God to the Church.

There is no possible way in which believers can be added to the Church, and the Church itself built up into the fullness of the stature of Christ, other than by the gifts of the Holy Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit is sovereign in the giving of gifts. Our response is to covet earnestly and fervently the supernatural abilities of the Spirit of God, for it is by them that we can build the Kingdom of God.

How much time have you spent earnestly seeking the will of the Spirit concerning your contribution to the Body of Christ? Ask God for direction and help. He will lead you into the fullness of ministry and will not rebuke you for your desire to serve Him.

The Holy Spirit directs the ministry. The gifts given to the Christian are subject to the Christian (I Corinthians 14:32). However, each Christian believer is to be subject to the Holy Spirit and each assembly of saints is to be subject to the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who directs the ministry of the Body of Christ.

Notice the authority of the Holy Spirit in directing ministry: 

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (Acts 13:2)

"Whereunto I [the Holy Spirit] have called them." 

Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not [did not permit them]. (Acts 16:6,7)

These passages reveal that the ministry of the Body of Christ is under the authority and direct control of the Holy Spirit of God. The Christian disciple must follow the Holy Spirit strictly in the exercising of his or her ministry. Sometimes the Holy Spirit leads in dramatic, supernatural guidance and manifestation of wisdom and power. Often, however, the leading of the Spirit is woven into the faithful personality and daily actions of the Christian in the normal course of living the disciplined, victorious life of faith.

When we continue in prayer and in meditation on the Word of God there is a supernatural touch, a fresh anointing, that accompanies the operation of our ministries and gifts. This touch increases as we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, as we obey Christ in all matters. We must covet and keep on requesting the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the abiding Presence of the Father and the Son, and an increase in our own spiritual contribution to the Body of Christ and to the remainder of mankind.

The Holy Spirit leads in both visionary and non-visionary ways.

Sometimes visions, dreams, voices, prophecies, and supernatural awareness come to us—especially when God is instituting a new work or performing some transplanting. There should be copious amounts of visionary-type leading throughout the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ.

The following are some passages from Scripture that illustrate the visionary, prophetic, miraculous visitations from Heaven we ought to expect as the Lord Jesus works with us, "confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:20). 

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. (Acts 8:26)

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:6)

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: (Acts 10:5)

While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. (Acts 10:19,20)

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. (Acts 16:9)

There are multitudes of examples today of supernatural directions being given to the saints. It is not uncommon for the Lord Jesus to direct His disciples in ministry, and in the solution to personal problems of overcoming sin and other hindrances to their abiding in Christ.

Such instances of Divine guidance appear to be increasing. The Holy Spirit seems to be testifying that as the Church approaches the end of the present evil age the visitations and direct intervention of the Lord Jesus in the lives of the members of the Body of Christ will multiply. His actual appearing in the clouds will come as the climax of the ever-increasing communication between the Lamb and His Bride.

For most of us, extraordinary supernatural visitations and interventions in our spiritual battles and in our gifts and ministries have been the exception. They may have been the exception for many of the heroes of faith whose experiences are recorded in the Old and New Testament writings.

It is likely that the Scriptures tell of unusual, dramatic events in the lives of the saints of God, while the many years of their patient obedience to the will of God, during which time there were few supernatural occurrences, are not described in the Scriptures.

Stirring up the gifts of God. One of the most important keys to the fruitful and successful operation of gifts and ministries by the members of the Body of Christ can be found in Paul’s exhortations to Timothy. Timothy was a younger man whom Paul had entrusted with the work of the Gospel. Paul reminded Timothy that each Christian must be diligent and consistent concerning the part of God’s Kingdom that has been put in his or her care. 

Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (I Timothy 4:13-15)

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (II Timothy 1:6)

The expression "stir up the gift of God" means to kindle, to stir into flame. The concept is that of a fire that dies down until someone who is tending the fire stirs the embers and fans the glowing coals into flame.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit that are in us are compared to hot embers. Each member of the Body of Christ is a custodian of the ministries and gifts of the Spirit of God, of the power and revelation of the testimony that God has given to the world concerning the redemption that is in His Son, Jesus Christ.

The gifts and ministries that the Spirit has divided uniquely to each Christian remain as glowing coals until we stir the embers and fan them into flame. Our responsibility is to consistently, continually, and diligently give our attention to the revelation and power of the Holy Spirit—the part of the Gospel that has been committed to our charge.

The normal and Divinely ordered routine for the exercise of the ministries given to each member of the Body of Christ is not limited to the spectacular, dramatic, extraordinary guidance and inspiration of the dream or vision. Christian ministry includes also the day-to-day, diligent application of consecration and character to the business of serving God and one’s family, the Body of Christ, and the world faithfully and cheerfully.

In addition, each of us is to beseech God continually for His Presence and anointing so that the effectiveness of our service may be increased.

We are not to wait for dreams, visions or voices in order to perform the unique ministry for which the Holy Spirit has equipped us. Rather we are to apply ourselves to our ministry, not neglecting the gift of God that is in us.

We are to give ourselves wholly to the work of Christ according to our individual calling. If we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly. If we sow abundantly, giving our time and energy generously to the Lord Jesus, we will reap an abundant harvest in Christ and will receive the reward of the faithful servant at His glorious appearing.

We are not to allow the spirit of the present evil age to fashion us. Instead we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in Christ. The renewing of our mind will guide us into discovering and proving God’s will for our life and ministry.

The Holy Spirit ordinarily does not reveal His will to us by voices and visions. We must mine the gold of God’s will from the rock of circumstances with the pick and shovel of persistent prayer, consistent Scripture meditation, and diligent attention to successfully overcoming the testing and circumstances set before us. 

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 12:6-8)

The fruit of diligently "stirring into flame" our gifts and ministries, of presenting our physical body a living sacrifice, of not being changed into the world, of being transformed by the renewing of our mind, and of proving for ourselves the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God, is service—faithful, practical, sensible, seemingly uninspired service to God, to the Body of Christ, and to mankind.

By diligent service we are referring to offering our life to Christ in order to carry out His plan for us as an individual. As we present our physical body a living sacrifice, pray, meditate in the Scriptures, gather together with the fervent disciples of the Lord, submit to the elders, God can lead us into a ministry for which we are perfectly suited.

We do not understand our own personality as God does and we must look to Him to fit us into the place where we belong.

A necessary part of our service to Christ is that of continually coveting, seeking, asking, praying for the gifts of the Spirit and a ministry that will build the Body of Christ. We must look to God each day for our Christian service and for the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The only reason there are not more dynamite-filled miracles, impartations of supernatural wisdom and knowledge, gifts of mountain-moving faith, or heavenly revelations in our own life is that we do not seek the Lord Jesus in powerful, consistent, unrelenting supplication. We are double-minded. Therefore we are not able to break through into God’s Presence.

In some instances the saints are under the impression that if God wants them to have His gifts and ministries He will move on them sovereignly apart from their participation. We take this attitude because we do not understand God’s way of working and we do not know His Word on the subject.

The fact of the matter is we have not because we ask not (Luke 11:10; John 15:7).

Let us look at a few more passages that indicate Christians are to enter a unique ministry to the Body of Christ as part of their discipleship. 

But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (I Corinthians 12:31)

Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. (I Corinthians 14:1)

Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. (I Corinthians 14:12)

Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. (I Corinthians 14:39)

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (I Corinthians 14:26)

"Covet earnestly the best gifts." "Desire spiritual gifts." "Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." "Covet to prophesy." These admonitions teach us that we are to be actively seeking the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit so we may make our unique contribution to the Body of Christ.

We cannot build the Body of Christ by means of our fleshly talents and resources, although there are times when we ought to share the abilities and things with which God has blessed us. Nevertheless the Body of Christ is a spiritual creation and it can be added to only by the spiritual revelation, substance, and power that the Holy Spirit provides.

We are to covet the "best gifts," especially that we may prophesy. The best gifts are those that will supply the needs of the Body of Christ in the present hour. If we will begin to seek the Lord with all our heart He will show us what the "best gifts" are. The main consideration is that we begin to seek the Lord for our part in building the universal Body of Christ.

As for the "more excellent way" of I Corinthians 12:31, Paul does not mean by this expression that there is a method of ministry other than that described in I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14. Rather, he is reminding the fleshly Corinthians that the objective of the Christian pilgrimage is not gifts and ministries but the development of the love of God in us.

The Divine love that God is creating in us is eternal. It is part of the conquering personality. Our gifts and ministries will pass away as soon as we are reigning with Christ in the ages to come. Then we shall see Him face to face and shall understand all things thoroughly as we now are understood thoroughly. But claiming we need the "more excellent way" instead of gifts and ministries is something like stating that we need an excellent education instead of pencils, books, and school teachers.

Paul, in the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians, is speaking of the supreme goal of the working of God in us. The twelfth and fourteenth chapters are describing the tools with which we now are to be ministering to the building of the Body of Christ.

Prayer is a ministry each of us can perform. 

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; (I Timothy 2:1)

Prayer requires spiritual strength, as well as the time to pray and the place and circumstances in which we can pray. We Christians must set ourselves to prayer, asking the Lord for the strength to pray and for a satisfactory place and circumstances in which we can pray.

As we gain experience in prayer, the practice of prayer becomes more satisfying to us and our strength and wisdom in prayer increase. The will of God becomes more clear to us and His will begins to be wrought in our surroundings. Also, we avoid many traps and painful experiences when we spend time each day in prayer.

As we pray we become better able to pray, just as a weight lifter becomes able to lift heavier weights. When we do not use a muscle in our body it grows weaker and eventually begins to deteriorate. When we do not pray our ability to pray deteriorates.

Each Christian should have a time of waiting on the Lord each day. There are special ministries of prayer in the Body of Christ and some of us should be coveting a ministry of this kind. But we should not forget to pray consistently meanwhile. The Body of Christ today needs oceans of worship and supplication for its proper development and operation. 

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. (I Timothy 3:1)

If any man has the desire to be an elder and overseer of a local assembly he should go to the Lord about it. He desires a "good work." God will not rebuke him for his prayer along this line although the answer may not come for a while. A person does not have to be struck down like Saul of Tarsus in order to be an overseer of a local assembly of saints.

A believer can desire the office of oversight, pray for it, and God will grant the opportunity in His time and manner. If God has something else in mind for the individual He will make it clear.

The point is, the Christian is not to be spiritually asleep but in motion, seeking the will of God in building the Body of Christ.

We Christians must start coveting gifts and ministries so we can find an active, joyous, and fruitful place of service in the Body of Christ. There are as many types of gifts and ministries as there are members of the Body of Christ. Woe to us if we bury the talent we have and neglect the work of the Lord! 

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (I Timothy 4:14)

It is scriptural that Christians be guided into their place of service by means of the laying on of hands and prophecy. But since we usually do not have this kind of spiritual guidance available, some of us must find our ministry by seeking the Lord for ourselves.

Even if we do have access to the ministry of laying on of hands and prophecy for gifts and ministries—and today there are churches that are able to assist their members in this scriptural fashion—we still must present our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the will of God for our life; and we still are required to stir the embers of our ministry into flame in a diligent, consistent manner. "It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (I Corinthians 4:2).

There are no easy and quick solutions, no short cuts to the operation of our gifts and ministries. The ministry of each member of the Body of Christ is a daily pressing and battling through in order to discern God’s will for the problem at hand. Still it is God’s will we be assisted in entering our ministry by the laying on of hands of the eldership, accompanied by prophecy when such assistance is available. 

Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (II Timothy 1:6)

Each of us received a talent or two (abilities given us by the Holy Spirit) at the time we experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit. As we serve God faithfully our abilities multiply, they "bear interest." Our talents are increased. No person in the Body of Christ is without a contribution to make, without a God-appointed capability for service, just as no part of the physical body is without a contribution to make to the rest of the body.

But the ministry in many of us may be like dying embers in a fireplace. We must stir up those embers and beseech the Holy Spirit to blow them into flame. We must give ourselves to God in prayer and faithful daily living, meanwhile looking to the Lord each day for our ministry for that day.

If we persist in this expectant attitude and do not surrender in impatience and despair, the Lord Jesus will reward our supplications and guide us into a place of fruitful service. When He does, it is our part to keep the fire going—to keep stirring it up (but always while we are at rest in the Lord’s will).

It requires much experience to know how to be neither ambitious nor lazy concerning our personal ministry. There is a middle road of rest in Christ where we are diligent in our service to Christ, and still are not pushing in fretful worry, anxiety, and tension.

For most of us the leading of the Holy Spirit does not come in dreams, visions, voices or fleeces. The leading of the Holy Spirit is woven into the boring course of our pathway in the earth. The will of God normally is found in a plain and unassuming average life rather than in burning, strange, excitement-filled "spiritual" activities and impulses. These usually are of Satan and our flesh and soul, finding entrance through our fleshly lusts.

Let us sum up what we have taught to this point. We were called out of "Egypt" (out of the sinful spirit of the world, not out of the planet Earth) by the Spirit of God. We now are following the Spirit of God toward the land of promise (the fullness of our inheritance in Christ). We currently are in the "wilderness" (spiritual unsettledness, doubts, perplexities, suffering, persecution, misunderstanding) and are beginning to practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. We are learning to follow the Holy Spirit in the operation of our gifts and ministries.

While it does happen that the Holy Spirit from time to time directs our ministry by spiritual visions, dreams or fleeces (of which there are examples in the Scriptures), for most of us, most of the time, we are led in ministry (in which every member of the Body of Christ is to participate) by the normal, problem-filled course of our pilgrimage in the earth.

We are to covet the opportunity and power for service. We are to keep ourselves in the place at all times where God can use our gifts, whether they are used each day or infrequently. We must hold ourselves alert before God night and day that we may be instantly ready for service when He requires our contribution.

One of the severest tests of Christian character is that of practicing prayer, Bible study, and obedience for long periods of time as though we were the greatest of apostles, and yet not be used by the Lord in an obvious manner. This is faithfulness! This is Christianity!

God knows those who are waiting on His Word. Are you, dear reader, keeping yourself honed to a razor’s edge, ready for the moment when Jesus has a need for your unique contribution? It is not easy to keep intensely prepared, especially when one is not being used in ministry. But it will be worth it all to hear Him say, "Well done!"

Because we are required to attend patiently to our consecration and ministry when there are no visible signs of the Lord’s Presence for a long period of time, we may become discouraged. It is then that we need to call to mind that "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, that ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10).

The Great Commission of Christ was given to the apostles, but it applies to every Christian disciple in terms of using his gifts and ministries in the manner and at the place and time indicated by the Holy Spirit of God.

Christ never leaves the faithfully ministering saint: 

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Our ministry must operate at the local level as well as in distant places. 

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

The saints are to witness in power, as the Lord leads, "in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth"; that is to say, in all places, local and distant.

We do not wait until we are called by a dream or vision to a distant, exotic land in order to minister. Our ministry will operate now—where we are—if we will diligently seek God’s will.

Sometimes when we seek the Lord in the totally serious manner that is essential to discipleship, He makes us know we are in a time of preparation.

We seek Christ until, after a season, we conclude before God that we are in a time of preparation and there is nothing more we can do without straining and fretting (which never are God’s will for us). Even in the seasons of preparation and waiting we are to serve Christ with the same intensity of dedication as the Apostles, meanwhile performing as well as we are able the tasks and responsibilities at hand.

Many Christians in our day do not take their discipleship seriously enough. If God’s hand is on us and we do not respond to the call of the Spirit to full consecration, we may experience much trouble and sorrow.

The battle is joined now—today. The ministry operates where we are. We are to occupy until He comes. We should not move from where we are unless we are reasonably certain (after much prayer and sometimes after consultation with mature Christians, which often is helpful) that God is guiding us.

If we are neither spiritually lazy nor overly ambitious, God will extend our ministry to other places and larger spheres of influence. But the important thing is that we minister with a perfect heart where we are now. If we cannot rule with Christ and minister where we are, how will we be able to do so in a distant place? Sometimes, however, the Lord does direct us to move to another location. 

Following the Spirit in Internal and External Conquest

There are two dimensions of the rulership of the Spirit of God. The first, and most important, is the dimension of internal conquest (Proverbs 16:32). The second dimension is that of external conquest. The first has to do with what the believer is. The second is concerned with what the believer does.

The first involves our being in the moral image of God and our obedience to God. The second is related to our position of rulership in God’s Kingdom—the inheritance of the saint, the fruitfulness and strength promised to Adam and Abraham. The first dimension is that of our holiness and obedience. The second dimension is that of dominion over the creation of God as His son. 

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:27,28)

And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:16-18)

The Lord God spoke to mankind concerning fruitfulness and dominion after He spoke concerning man’s being in the image of God. Also, Abraham was blessed with fruitfulness and strength after he demonstrated total obedience to the will of God.

Under the first covenant the Lord God expressed Himself clearly in each of the two dimensions of conquest. A major part of the Old Testament writings has to do with the Divine conquest of the Israelites themselves, both as a nation and as individuals.

The most important force of Divine conquest that acted on the Israelites, apart from the Divine Presence Himself, was the Ten Commandments. In addition to the Ten Commandments there was extensive provision through animal sacrifice for the forgiveness of the sins of the nation and of individuals. Also there were numerous teachings and admonitions concerning holy and righteous behavior.

One excellent example of the multitude of exhortations to righteous living can be found in Micah 6:8: "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to practice righteousness, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

The problem with the internal conquest of the Israelites under the old covenant, that is, with the creation of the moral image of God in them and the development of strict obedience to the Spirit of God, was that the Law demanded holiness, righteousness, and obedience from the fleshly nature of people.

Since the flesh of humans is bound by the law of sin, and the human mind is the enemy of God rebelling continually and consistently against the Spirit of God, the chief effect of the Law of God was to keep the Israelite forever aware of his own sins and shortcomings and of the gulf between God’s holiness and his own uncleanness.

The Law of Moses gave the knowledge of sin and provided a system of blood sacrifices by means of which the sin could be covered from God’s view. But the Law of Moses did not furnish the authority and power that would have enabled the Israelite to gain dominion over his sinful nature and to resist the world, Satan, and his own fleshly lusts and human pride.

We have been speaking of the internal conquest dimension of the rulership of the Spirit of God over people as it was worked out by the children of Israel under the old covenant. There also was an external conquest dimension of the rulership of God’s Spirit under the first covenant.

The nation of Israel was led by many specific revelations and miraculous signs as it moved from Egypt through the wilderness into Canaan, and afterward during the days of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Joshua was given specific directions before he led Israel into Canaan during a period of external conquest: 

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. (Joshua 1:2)

And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan. (Joshua 3:8)

And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valour. (Joshua 6:2)

And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land: (Joshua 8:1)

And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:14)

And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. (Joshua 11:6)

All the inhabitants of the hill country from Lebanon unto Misrephothmaim, and all the Sidonians, them will I drive out from before the children of Israel: only divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance, as I have commanded thee. (Joshua 13:6)

It is evident from these passages that God led Israel into battle against the inhabitants in a clear, direct manner. The Word came—city by city. The battle was the Lord’s in every aspect. Joshua and Israel were weapons that God used to drive out the nations living in Canaan. The Book of Joshua, as is true of the remainder of the Scriptures, is a record of the acts of the Spirit of God.

If it should appear to the reader that God was harsh or unjust in His treatment of the Canaanites, let us remember that these people were worshipers of demons. Their worship of Ashtoreth was the adoration of sexual lust (the Greek and Phoenician counterpart of Ashtoreth was Aphrodite), and her statues and carved figures of lust were placed around the countryside.

Also, the Canaanites roasted their children in the fire during the worship of Moloch. The land of Canaan was filled with the obscene, bloodthirsty worship of unclean spirits. God’s intention was to use a holy Israel to rid the earth of the Ashtoreths, the Molochs, and the Baals.

The Spirit of God led the Israelites into the internal conquest of their own character by means of the imposition of the Ten Commandments, and into the external conquest of the land of Canaan by means of strategies and tactics of physical warfare.

It is true also that Christians are led by the Spirit of God into the internal conquest and redemption of their own personality and into the external conquest of their environment. But the internal conquest is accomplished by means of the law of the Spirit of life rather than by the Ten Commandments; and the external conquest is accomplished by a spiritual struggle, the enemy being the lords of the spiritual darkness of the present age (Ephesians 6:12).

The internal conquest of the Christian is based on four Divine acts:

The forgiveness of the Christian’s sins by the offering of the blood of Jesus.

The growth of the Seed of Christ in the Christian.

The force of the Holy Spirit of God, the resurrection Life, operating in him.

The crucifixion of the Christian’s self-will by the circumstances through which God brings him.

The internal conquest of the Christian is dependent on his strict obedience to the Lord’s Word, both in the Scriptures and in personal application to him by the Spirit. The disciple must cooperate consistently with the Holy Spirit as he works out his own salvation "with fear and trembling," confesses his sins, submits to God, and resists the devil.

The believer in Christ is required to perform faithfully the practical duties of the Christian life. After having been baptized in water when he was converted to Christ he must give some time to prayer each day; attend to the needs of his family; gather together at least weekly (hopefully more often) with fervent believers if at all possible; submit himself to God’s elders; study and meditate in the Scriptures daily; use diligently his gifts and ministries in the Body of Christ; perform faithfully his secular labors; share his material goods as the Lord directs; show kindness to everyone; forgive his enemies; and do all other good works necessary for fruitful day-to-day Christian living.

The internal conquest of the individual Christian, that is, the creating of him in the moral image of God (Galatians 5:22,23) and the bringing of his will under absolute obedience to Christ, is a subject of primary concern to God. The internal conquest of the Christian requires God’s time and attention and the Christian’s time and attention.

A large part of the New Testament writings is devoted to the internal conquest of the individual saints. The churches often emphasize the external conquest of Christianity rather that the internal conquest of each believer. The churches lament the lack of money and power but God laments the lack of holiness and obedience. The cart is in front of the horse.

It is imperative that each member of the Body of Christ be brought under subjection to Christ. As soon as this has been accomplished the external conquest will follow in God’s time. But if the internal conquest of the believer is not successful, the external conquest may be blessed for a season but the individual himself will not profit permanently as to his own moral condition and relationship to God.

Jehu (II Kings 10:29) is an Old Testament example of a person who can stay with God as long as he is being used, is not bored, and is in the center of action and attention. He is a giant when it comes to external conquest for God. But he himself profits little because his own spirit and personality are never brought under Divine holiness and obedience.

The same lack of internal conquest can occur with Christians who are thrust into a prominent ministry soon after their conversion to Christ. Everything is fine as long as they have the opportunity to be active and greatly used in the work of the Kingdom.

But they may not have the opportunity, feel the need, or find the time to experience internal conquest—the conformity of their spirit and soul to God. If the anointing for service lifts, they, like Jehu, are not left with a faithful heart. They are not a Joseph, a Job, a Paul who can serve God under all circumstances. They can abound in the work of the Lord but they cannot be abased because they themselves have not been conquered internally. Perhaps it was concerning this problem that Paul exclaimed: 

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (II Corinthians 10:5)

It is especially important at this point in the history of the Christian Church that the members of the Body of Christ learn absolute obedience to the Spirit of Christ. It is not possible that the rulership of the saints over the earth (Daniel 7:27), which is associated with the soon return of the Lord Jesus, can be brought to pass apart from the development of a group of overcoming Christians who have been willing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit until their personality has been brought under stern obedience to Christ (II Corinthians 10:6).

It is not that people are to become puppets possessed and driven about by Christ. Rather it is that the Christian must understand the will of Christ as it becomes clear to him moment by moment, and then be able, by means of the overcoming strength wrought in him by many varied Divine methods, to perform the will of Christ successfully.

God is not creating empty vessels who are activated like automatons. God is raising up believers who have been transformed by the renewing of their mind and who have had the will of God in Christ mixed into their will until the two wills are synonymous—just as the ingredients of the holy incense of the Tabernacle were mixed together (Exodus 30:34,35).

The development of victorious wisdom and power does not take place overnight. Experience and patience are required, plus much Divine impartation and guidance, before a Christian can voluntarily govern his own personality under Christ.

We have mentioned that the Israelites followed the Spirit of God in internal conquest by obeying the Ten Commandments, having atonement made for them by the blood of animal sacrifices whenever they transgressed.

The Israelites followed the Spirit of God in external conquest by invading and conquering the land of Canaan. God gave specific guidance, authority, and power to the Hebrew people that enabled them to cross the Jordan River and begin to successfully engage the Philistines in battle.

The Hebrew army did not pass into Canaan and fight victoriously by means of its own knowledge and military proficiency. Israel was led by the Lord God of Heaven who was accomplishing His own will and executing judgment on the nations of Canaan because of their lust and idolatry (see Genesis 15:16; Numbers 33:53; Deuteronomy 4:38; 7:22,23; 9:4-6; 20:18; Leviticus 18:24,25).

We have stated that Christians are to follow the Spirit of God in internal conquest by accepting the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus; patiently attending to the growth of Christ in them; obeying the guidance and power of the resurrection life of the Holy Spirit in them; and submitting to the crucifixion of their self-will

Christians also are to follow the Spirit of God in external conquest—the conquest of their environment. It is God’s will that the Christian break through to victory in Christ in whatever circumstance he finds himself. As soon as the Christian has brought his will and conduct under obedience to Christ, which is internal conquest, then the believer's rulership in God is to extend into his environment: his job, his household, his neighborhood—into all his pursuits and activities, spiritual and natural.

This does not mean that the saint is to take an arrogant attitude toward everyone who comes near him. Rather it signifies that he or she is victorious in Christ in the role God has given him or her in the family, the job, or the church. Christ can give us perfect victory in each area of our life, in the position we hold, in each role and activity great and small. We are completely happy in Christ only when we have grasped His will for us and are triumphant and at peace in it.

The ruling influence of the Christian, which actually is the rulership of God in Christ being exercised through him (such being the structure of the Kingdom of God), extends into every area in which the Christian is active during the day and night, whether it is a religious or secular setting.

It is important that the saint of Christ find victory in the small areas and activities close at home as well as in more spectacular situations. It is certain that if a man or woman is not obtaining victory through Christ in his or her own household, the person’s influence in a larger sphere will be seriously undermined. If we are not faithful in the small responsibilities we will not be faithful in the greater (Matthew 25:23).

The first object of concern, after some progress has been made in developing the image and will of God in the inner man of the Christian, is his physical body. We can consider the conquest of our body as being internal conquest, in that our body is part of our image and behavior; or external conquest, in that the body is the first aspect of environment the redeemed inner personality faces.

As Paul taught in Romans 8:10, when Christ is in us our physical body is dead because of sin, but our new inner man is alive because of the righteousness of Christ applied to us and developed in us by the Holy Spirit.

In the beginning stages of our redemption there may be few signs that much is happening to us in the way of transformation into moral behavior and obedience to the Lord. Our body may, for a season, keep on making strong demands on us. Meanwhile the work of God is proceeding in the depths of our new born-again nature. When viewing the progress of our redemption in this way, the conquest of our body can be seen as external conquest.

Bringing our flesh under subjection to the Spirit of God can be considered as the beginning of the conquest of our land of promise. The Body of Christ is standing at Jordan at this point in history. The Spirit of God is leading us toward the conquest of our flesh. The types and symbols of the Old Testament teach us that the next act in the plan of redemption, after the baptism with the Holy Spirit, is spiritual warfare by the saints. Associated with the conquest of the sinful impulses of our body is the return of Christ and participation in the first resurrection.

The extension of the conquest of the Kingdom of God from its present location in the hearts of Christian believers into the parts of the heavenlies still under the control of Satan, and then into the earth, will commence with bringing into subjection the fleshly nature and bodies of the saints. The last enemy in the Christian that will be destroyed is physical death (I Corinthians 15:26). Then the conquest of the remainder of God’s universe can proceed on schedule (Daniel 7:18).

Whether one wishes to view the conquest of his body as internal or external conquest may not be important. The point is, such conquest is now at hand for the Body of Christ and we Christians are to enter it as directed by the Holy Spirit. We are to achieve victory, by the wisdom and power the Spirit of God imparts, over the impulses and rebellion of our fleshly nature. Only as we overcome the spirit of the present age, Satan, and our own flesh, will we be ready for a larger sphere of responsibility in Christ.

A prime objective of conquest is the Christian’s own physical body with its lusts and passions. 

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)

Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. (I Corinthians 6:13)

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence [lustful passion], even as the Gentiles which know not God: (I Thessalonians 4:3-5)

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (I John 2:16)

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27)

The Holy Spirit deals with the fervent Christian in terms of his obedience to Christ. As soon as the Christian has accepted the lordship of Christ, has agreed to leave his own ambitions and submit to whatever kind of life the Lord has for him, has presented his body a living sacrifice—has been conquered internally, in other words, then the Holy Spirit can begin to lead him in conquest over the deeds, words, motives, and imaginations of his physical body.

We do not intend to give the impression that there is a precise schedule in which we first are obedient, then begin to bring forth the love, joy, peace of moral behavior, and finally begin to gain control over our own flesh—a neat one-two-three pattern.

Redemption is Christ and when we have Christ we have all of redemption. However, the working out of redemption, bringing into actual experience what we have in seed form in Christ, requires a period of time for its completing and perfecting. Redemption is never predictable, never uniform and manageable by us. We are dealing with a Person—God Almighty. His ways are much different, much higher than our ways.

The creation in us of obedience from the heart, cleanliness of spirit, and holiness and righteousness of bodily and mental behavior, all work together, each redeemed area affecting and assisting the other. Our obedience to God brings about deliverance from unclean spirits, and the resulting holiness and righteousness of bodily conduct affect our spiritual and bodily image.

Cleanliness of spirit aids us in submitting meekly to the will of Christ, and also enables us to develop holiness and righteousness in deed and thought. A disciplined physical and mental pattern of conduct assists us in overcoming evil spirits and in obeying Christ.

Obedience to God’s will, deliverance from unclean spirits, and disciplined bodily and mental practices perfect our holiness and righteousness of personality and behavior. As soon as our body has been redeemed by the resurrection Life of Christ (Romans 8:23), at His glorious appearing, it will be of much greater help to our progress in holiness and righteousness of conduct and in perfecting our obedience to the will of God. 

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:23)

There is a law of sin, a fleshly nature, that governs the behavior of our physical body—Christian and non-Christian alike. If we Christians continue to live in the appetites of the flesh, if we permit the physical body to express itself and to govern what we do during the day, we will spend our time pampering the flesh, catering to its voracious appetites of all kinds, emotional excesses, greed, intemperate eating and drinking, laziness, and cowardice. Such is the animal nature of the flesh of man, and our first act of believing in Christ does not immediately destroy the fleshly lust for sin.

Being born again in Christ gives us a new nature that directs our life into paths pleasing to the Lord provided we obey the Holy Spirit in gaining mastery over our physical body. The Holy Spirit will enable us to put to death the deeds of our physical body (Romans 8:13) if we diligently follow the Spirit, waiting for and obeying His directions.

The law of sin that chains our physical body is too strong for us to manage without the Lord’s assistance. It requires much help from God before we can confess the unclean deeds, words, motives, and imaginations that bind us and begin to resist the devil when he attempts to guide and pressure us into sinful acts, words, and thoughts.

We have seen that the first wave of influence out from the reborn and consecrated nature affects the lusts of the physical body and begins to bring the body under the control of the Spirit of God. Bringing the body under the control of the Spirit of God may be thought of as the beginning of external conquest. It marks our entrance into the land of promise, into the "rest of God" (Hebrews 4:9.

As we mentioned at the outset of this book, our land of promise is occupied already, though not by us. We must fight for every inch of territory we desire to possess. The gaining of dominion over our own body is no exception. The Lord God helps us because it is His will, His plan, His battle, His rest, His inheritance. The enemy who resists is God’s enemy and God is judging him in us.

At the present hour the battle between God and Satan is focused on the physical bodies of the Christian overcomers, on their fleshly nature and self-will. The spiritual warfare and resulting victory in Christ can be extended to the remainder of God’s creation only after victory has been gained in the Christian saints.

The Holy Spirit is the One who leads in internal and external conquest. How does the believer follow the Spirit? What does it mean to be led by the Spirit?

First, being led by the Spirit, for most Christians, does not usually mean being guided by voices, visions, dreams, signs, omens or urges. Except for the believer who is gifted as a visionary, these manifestations are rare and they are not to be sought or coveted.

Strong urges are to be considered dangerous, especially if they are attended by an aura of haste, impatience, anxiety, fear or a forcing of people or circumstances.

Thrilling, exciting urges are not from the Lord no matter how plausible or inevitable they appear to be. They proceed from Satan working through the personality of the Christian. Many Christians are overcome by Satan because they cannot believe that God would deny them something or some person they desire passionately. The only thing God wants us to desire passionately is that we may know Christ, the power of His resurrection, and the sharing in His sufferings.

The majority of Christian believers are not to be led about by voices, visions, dreams, fleeces or passionate urges. A warning may be necessary in the present hour because many churches have forsaken the supernatural acts of the Spirit in favor of a flesh-empowered, controllable, natural worship and service of God. In their determination to stamp out "wildfire" they have driven out all "fire," including the fire of the Holy Spirit. As a result the church members are starved for supernatural experiences.

The hunger of Christian churchgoers for supernatural experiences may leave them prone to seek voices, visions, and spiritualistic phenomena. They are open to supernatural experiences that use the name of Jesus but are not from God.

The healthy, normal supernatural aspect of the Christian life has been neglected in the churches. Music and other art forms are employed to attract people. Art forms are of the soul of man and do not build Christ in the believers. However, various art forms can be useful in leading people into the prophetic environment and the soulish can pass into the spiritual. This often is the case where the elders and congregation are seeking the Lord and His will.

Someone has said that the last place one would find a supernatural occurrence is in the neighborhood Christian church. The hunger of Christian believers for the supernatural will be a problem in the future because the False Prophet (the spirit of delusion, which already has affected the Charismatic movement) will convince people by means of supernatural signs and wonders.

Being led by the Spirit of God is a discipline that must be cultivated with patience, determination, diligence, faith, hope, knowledge, and courage. The world in which we live is saturated with millions of voices that whisper to us, entice us, scream at us, counsel us, prompt us, advise us, caution us, terrorize us, all of our waking hours—and sometimes through the night as well.

Which voice is the Lord’s? Sometimes it is extraordinarily difficult to determine.

If we are to make a success of the discipline of being led by the Spirit of God we first must be willing to present our body a living sacrifice. Our consecration must be by our own choice, consistent, as nearly complete as we can make it, and continue throughout our lifetime. 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1,2)

To determine the will of God we must take up our cross daily and follow Jesus, denying our desires and pleasures whenever they come into conflict with our discipleship. As we seek the will of Christ consistently, day by day, not allowing ourselves to be led astray by the various enticements of our flesh, of the spirit of the age or of Satan, we experience the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes God chooses to speak to us in a dream, by a certain word dropped in the heart at some unexpected moment, or by a Scripture verse that suddenly is illuminated.

Ordinarily we do not find God’s will through a sudden dramatic revelation or solution but through patient obedience in the ordinary drudgeries of living. Most of the time God leads us in an undefinable manner by the things that happen to us, the people whom we meet, and the incidents that come our way. Often we cannot see His hand or hear His voice; but each sincere Christian is guided unceasingly with the most detailed, painstaking carefulness imaginable.

Such is the greatness of the love of God our Father.

The disciple must never become lazy or negligent. It is necessary that he pray consistently, meditate in the Scriptures diligently, and resist all sin and uncleanness. He must keep on observing the common sense rules of Christian living.

If we commit ourselves faithfully to doing God’s will He will lead us, making known His desires for us by various means. He will assist us with internal conquest over our self-will and pride of life, and in external conquest over our environment.

One of the first objects of conquest is our fleshly nature, with its lust, murder, self-love, and idolatry. As the Holy Spirit is leading us into the conquest of our fleshly nature He also is guiding us into right relationships in our family. 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:22-25)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-4)

No matter how high a man ascends in status and authority, no matter how fruitful and far-reaching his influence and ministry may become, it is all to no avail to him personally if he has trampled on his family. It is necessary that a Christian set his house in order as God leads and empowers. There must be unity, harmony, and peace in the household or else the people of it will wander in spiritual and physical confusion.

The responsibility for the reverent, orderly home falls first on the man. If the man does not give enough time and energy to the development of wholesome family life, the family will suffer. The personalities of the children will be warped, being denied the strength for character formation that must proceed from the father.

The wife will suffer from having to assume spiritual and physical responsibility that she should not be required to bear. Friction between husband and wife will be created. The children may respond to the lack of harmony by getting into trouble in school and with the law. No amount of "successful" work or ministry on the part of the husband can justify the fact that he is failing in his first responsibility.

If a man is moving so fast in his career that he is neglecting his flesh and blood, he is moving too fast. Let him slow down and pay attention to his household and let someone else do the "big things." The family comes first. The next realm of external conquest can follow in due time when proper relationships have been established at home.

External conquest takes place in various areas of life as the Holy Spirit leads. The lusts of the body must be conquered by the believer. The Spirit will bring the saint to victory in his household, his job, and in every other situation in which he is active.

At the coming of Christ, the area of influence of each saint will be expanded greatly. It is the will and plan of God that the overcoming Christians rule with Jesus when the Lord comes in glory—rule with iron authority and power over the nations of the earth.

We Christians, at the present stage of our development in God, are sojourning "in the land of promise as in a strange country"; dwelling in a place (the earth) that we afterward shall "receive for an inheritance" (Hebrews 11:8-10). 

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. (II Corinthians 8:21)

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: (Ephesians 6:5-7)

The last passage (above) sounds more like submission than it does conquest. But the man who is able to look past his overseer on earth and perform his earthly job as a service to Christ has gained an important victory. He has as much liberty as the most powerful king because he is the unfettered servant of the Most High God. He is God’s servant and God’s son, and God will enable him to find victory and peace in the small sphere of his occupation. 

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Philippians 2:14,15)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. (Luke 19:17)

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (Revelation 2:26)

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

We have seen that the overcoming Christian follows the Holy Spirit in internal and external conquest. The conquest occurs in many spheres of influence as the Spirit leads: the physical body, the family, the job, the neighborhood, and finally, when Jesus comes, in larger areas of God’s creation.

The sons of God are destined to be rulers under Christ—coheirs with Christ of God’s Glory and the works of His hands. But first we must prove our faithfulness in the small responsibilities and tasks set before us each day of our pilgrimage.

God’s part and our part. There are two errors made commonly concerning following the Holy Spirit in ministry and conquest. One error is leaning too much on the flesh. The other error is leaning too much on the Lord Jesus.

The most frequently made error seems to be the first—leaning too much on the flesh. Many church people labor under the assumption that the Kingdom of God is being built by human wisdom and energy, particularly by money. They do not realize, apparently, that the Kingdom of God is being built by the will, plan, wisdom, and energies of the Godhead. There is nothing fleshly or human about the will, plan, wisdom, and energies of the Godhead.

God’s Substance and energies are so holy, so pure, so distinct in quality and quantity from the substance and energies of the flesh, that there is no confusing the two. God’s love and power are as the purest gold imaginable, while the energies and things put together by human effort are composed of fruitless twistings and turnings. God is God and human flesh is human flesh and the two remain distinct in kind.

The Christian person is to obey the Lord God in all things. The Christian is to bear the Glory of God and to bring the Divine Glory among the peoples of the earth. But the Christian must never spoil his ministry by imagining that he is accomplishing something "for" God by means of his fleshly enterprise.

No denomination, no regrouping of denominations, no assemblage of educated men, no amount of money, no public relations staff, no construction of buildings, no organizations or plans of any kind whatever can accomplish one small benefit in the Kingdom of God. Unless Christ puts His hands on the hands of the worker, nothing of value is gained in the Kingdom. The flesh profits nothing.

The second error, leaning too much on the Lord Jesus can be as valueless in its effects as the first error. The first error, leaning too much on the flesh, is the common error of the historic denominations. The second error, leaning to much on the Lord Jesus, is quite common in our day.

One dimension of the second error may come about as a reaction against the first. A Christian (sometimes a leader, a minister) rebels against the multitude of duties loaded on him because the "Kingdom of God" is being built (it is supposed) by his own human wisdom and energy. The believer finds himself worn out from attempting to assist in the building of an organization.

After years of such non-renewing effort a reaction may set in. The Christian "comes to himself." He is drained spiritually. His love for Christ has been channeled into a round of distressing and tiring manmade duties. He desires to rest in the unlimited, eternal strength and peace of God Almighty. He desires to "come home" to Christ and find spiritual renewal.

He hears in his heart the words of Christ: 

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

A reaction sets in against the duties and bondages of the organization. The worn-out disciple joins a home prayer group, which consists of Christians like himself who have come out from some religious system or from under the control of a dominant leader. Sprinkled throughout the group may be a few nominal Christians of the type who cannot endure discipline and can never make a success of Christian discipleship.

Because of the state of reaction that the group members are in they may reject leadership. "We will have believers' meetings," they announce. Their idea of a believers’ meeting is that the members of the Body of Christ sit around and "wait for the moving of the Spirit."

If they are fortunate nothing will occur, except perhaps a few scattered prayers and prophecies. If they are not as fortunate they soon will be led astray by demons or by a self-seeking individual who will use the passive, empty condition of the group as a vehicle for demonic or fleshly expression. Before long the doctrines and experiences of the group may be shunted off from the main track of Christianity.

This statement may come as a shock to some little group of sincere Christians who have finally dared, after much prayer and indecision, to come out of an organization and meet in a home. Their hearts may be honest and sincere and their desires and attitudes honorable. However they need to be careful that their method is correct and scriptural. God is a King and He always conducts His business in terms of government, laws, and vigorous oversight.

The group of fervent disciples must decide on some person or persons among themselves as the leadership, the eldership. There always must be clearly defined rulership in a Christian assembly. This is especially important as the spiritual darkness increases. The lines of authority in a local assembly of believers are well known to the elect angels and also to the fallen angels.

Sometimes the members of the group can take turns leading the singing, the prayers, the testimonies, the presenting of the Word of God. Or it may evolve that a Christian or two in the group may fall naturally into the leadership and be acceptable in this role to the group.

In any case, it is necessary that some person or persons be responsible for the assembly or for parts of the assembly, such as the worship, the teaching, the intercessory prayer, and the sharing of gifts, ministries, and testimonies. If the members of the group are in one accord and sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit they can keep all parts of the meeting open to sovereign interventions by the Lord.

It is scriptural and profitable that Christians gather together in homes and have fellowship, group worship, and Bible study. If their hearts are sincere the Lord Jesus will be in their midst. He may make His Presence known in an outstanding way. Many people of the neighborhood may come to know Christ as the result of a home meeting.

A note of warning: any attitude of bitterness or unforgiveness toward the organizations from which the members of the group may have come will weaken the spiritual blessing and fruitfulness that can come from the home meeting.

When speaking of the gathering together of Christians we are referring both to established churches and also to the group of Christian people who feel the need for getting together for worship and fellowship; who desire to exhort and build up one another so together they may press forward to the fulfillment of the destiny God has established for them.

Starting a permanent work of God with full authority to carry out the many dimensions of ministry that must be performed by a church may be different from gathering together in homes for spiritual fellowship. The starting of an official work of God should be done either by direct revelation from the Lord Jesus or else under the auspices of an established church that is demonstrating the Presence and authority of Christ.

Establishing a church of Christ is a solemn responsibility and not to be undertaken without clear directions from the Lord Jesus. The Lord is both willing and able to express Himself clearly to carefully chosen Christians when He is ready for a church to be instituted in an area.

If the authority for the founding of a work of God is not clearly traceable back to Christ, how, then, will the work stand when the powers of Hell come against it? Nevertheless it is scriptural and wholesome for Christians to gather together in homes in order to keep their discipleship and love resolute and warm.

God has a part, and we have a part, in following the Holy Spirit in conquest and in ministry. God’s part always must come first. But we also have a part; and if we do not do our part in obedience, patience, diligence, faith, consistency, and courage, there will be little conquest and little ministry. We never are to become an "empty vessel." Rather we are to prove the will of God for ourselves by presenting our physical body a living sacrifice to God in the doing of His will each day.

After we are reasonably certain we are in the will of God, for the moment at least, we are to move ahead in the task set before us, maintaining a careful watch in prayer. If we become presumptuous and act too quickly we soon move out of the center of God’s will. If we are overcautious and do not take the step in front of us we begin to lose interest in the work of God, our creative energies are siphoned off in other directions, and our gifts and ministries become dormant.

A second dimension of the second error (leaning too much on the Lord Jesus) is, as we said, common in our day. It is the concept that "Jesus did it all" on the cross and our role is to "only believe." Such a position may seem at first to be exalting the Lord Jesus to the highest realm of authority and worthiness. In actuality, however, it is to confuse belief with salvation.

There are verses in the Scripture that give the impression to be saved is to profess belief in God’s plan of salvation. Much of Church history has to do with a struggle over what is the correct profession of belief, as though the profession of belief is salvation or guarantees salvation.

In actuality, the profession of belief is valuable only as it serves as a basis and guide for our participation in internal and external conquest. It is necessary that we believe what the Scriptures state. It is equally necessary that we obey the commandments of the Lord and His apostles. If we do not do what the Lord and His apostles commanded, then we are not being saved. To be saved is to move from Satan to God. Moving from Satan to God is a daily warfare. If we are not engaging in the warfare we are not being saved no matter how accurate our profession of faith may be.

There is a balance between God’s working and our working, as illustrated in the ministry of Jesus Himself: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). We can see from this statement that the Father works first, and then Jesus works. 

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. (John 5:19,20)

The correct balance between God’s working and our working is revealed in the above testimony of Christ. Jesus was not an "empty vessel," inhabited by God and moved by God as a puppet is moved by the hand of the puppeteer. Jesus retained a judgment and will of His own, just as we must.

God the Father pointed out to Jesus the actions He was taking. As soon as Jesus was able to observe what God was doing, then Jesus did the same thing. In this manner, Jesus always remained in the center of the will of the Father.

This also is true of us. As we present our body a living sacrifice and do the practical things set before us, continuing in prayer and looking each day to the Lord, observing to do all that the Lord and His Apostles have commanded in the Gospels and the Epistles, we begin to receive a sense of the will of Christ for our life. If we follow in that path as intelligently as we can, being neither lazy nor self-seeking, the Lord blesses us and answers our prayers.

As time passes God makes His will increasingly clear to us. Our part is to watch carefully in prayer and to perform faithfully the work of the day. The will and plan of God are wrought by our patient, diligent service. The balance between God’s working and our working must be maintained throughout.

Sometimes the concept is presented by Christian teachers that the Scriptures are a record of righteous and noble men who decided to be more religious than the remainder of mankind. Such teachers admonish us, in Sunday school and in the church service, to perform the feats of faith of the famous men and women of the Bible. "Dare to be a Daniel," they exhort.

God’s "stars" always are an example to us, a challenge to lead a holy life and to have faith in God. But we must keep in mind that the Scriptures are a record of God appearing to people and charging them with a particular responsibility. The faith that the saints demonstrated was the faith of obedience to their unique calling.

From the time of the careless and disobedient Adam to the days of the Apostle Paul the Scripture is an account of God and people working together. God took the initiative in every instance. The men and women, just as confused and unbelieving as we, were charged with a Divinely ordered responsibility. The Scriptures do not discuss in detail the ups and downs of their childhood or the mistakes of their youth or old age. The Scriptures describe mainly their Divine assignment and their response to it.

Adam was instructed to "be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." He was commanded also to take care of the garden of Eden, and to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God performed His part diligently, generously, and lovingly, setting forth clear, simple requirements for living in Eden. If Adam had responded to the reasonable responsibilities placed on him, God would have blessed him and he probably would have lived to the present hour. But, as is true also in our own case, the simple Divine charge was complicated by the resistance and deceptions of Satan.

The flood and the ark were not Noah’s idea, they issued from God. The righteous Noah was commanded to make an ark. God did His part by ordering the building of the ship, by sending the animals into the ark, and by directing the starting and ceasing of the fountains of the deep and the rain. Noah did all the Lord commanded him. Noah’s faith was expressed by his strict obedience to the Lord’s directions to him.

Departing from Ur was not Abraham’s notion. Abraham left his home in Ur and wandered in Canaan because of God’s charge to him. God appeared several times throughout Abraham’s life. But between the Divine appearances, when there was no particular revelation, Abraham lived his life as well as he could, making some mistakes along the way.

God did not control the daily living of Abraham as a puppeteer controls a puppet. God gave direction to Abraham’s life and Abraham responded with obedience and consecration to God. Therefore God blessed him. God did His part and Abraham did his part. Abraham is one of the men of faith of the Scriptures. Yet his faith was that of obedience to God’s commands and belief in God’s Word. His faith was not one of presumption, of challenging God.

Gideon is an example of the cooperation between God and man in the fighting of a battle. The Lord appeared to Gideon and gave him a commission concerning delivering Israel from the Midianites. Gideon does not seem to be a man of great faith, but he did finally obey God and do what he was commanded.

Gideon directed his men to cry, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon." This expression states the proper balance and order of the cooperation between God and man. It is not just the sword of the Lord and it is not just the sword of Gideon. It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, with the sword of the Lord coming first.

The balance between God’s working and man’s working can be observed in the charge to Joshua: 

Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. (Joshua 1:2-4)

When Christian teachers invite believers to dare to be a Joshua they should keep in mind that Joshua was a man appointed to a specific task. Joshua did not wake up one morning and decide he should go out and conquer a country "for God." To begin with, Joshua was Moses’ chief minister and heir apparent to the mantle of leadership. Joshua had had many years of close association with Moses. Israel understood that Joshua was a leader—perhaps the leader.

When Moses died, God appeared to Joshua and charged him with a specific responsibility, just as He did in the case of Adam, Abraham, Gideon, and others of the heroes of faith. Joshua was to lead the children of Israel into the land of promise—a territory whose geographical boundaries were clearly defined.

Canaan was not an area that Joshua had chosen as being an advantageous place to settle the tribes of Israel. Canaan was the land of milk and honey designated by the Lord God. The Lord selected Canaan. Joshua’s faith was the faith of obedience to the specific Word of God to him.

Our entrance into our own land of promise should be viewed by us in the same manner. We Christians are not to be thrashing around in random patterns, planning in our own minds what we should do "for God." God has something definite in mind for each member of the Body of Christ. Our task is to present our body a living sacrifice in order that we may prove the will of God for our own life. Our faith always must be working along the line of obedience to the will of the Spirit of God for us.

This is not to say, however, that we should take a fatalistic attitude toward the course of our life and leave it all up to God. Rather we must, by much single-minded dedication, keep ourselves in the spiritual position where we can hear God at all times—a state of consecration and instant readiness. As we understand the mind of Christ for our own life we must by faith obey God and be diligently about our Savior’s business.

One can see, in the passage from Joshua, the balance between God’s working and our working: "to the land that I do give to them." The initiative was God’s—He gave the land to begin with. But then we see Israel’s part: "every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon."

The people of Israel had to pick up their feet and walk. God did not cause them to move forward. He invited them forward and met them when they came. God did not slay the Canaanites single-handedly as He did the Egyptians. Israel had to take the sword and fight a bloody battle.

God helped and directed the Israelites but they did the fighting. Israel was wounded; Israel bled; Israel was tired with the utter exhaustion that follows physical combat; Israel had doubts, confusion, perplexity, fears. God did not wage the war by Himself. God did His part and then the Israelites had to do their part.

The same balance of cooperation between God and man holds true for the Christian as he follows the Spirit of God in ministry and in conquest. The Christian must look to God for His will, and do it as God gives wisdom and strength—exactly as did Israel. God then blesses the faith that is working in terms of obedience to God’s own will and purpose in the Christian’s life.

However, there is one difference between the Israelite and the Christian with respect to following the Spirit of God. The Israelite, being under the old covenant, was required to learn external commandments and ordinances of holiness, worship, and service; and then had to obey them by his will power.

The Christian, being under the new covenant, has the Seed of Christ and the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit of God in him. The Christian has a new nature and resurrection life to help him overcome the spirit of the world, the lust of his flesh, and the opposition of Satan. Also, the Christian has immediate and perpetual access to the Throne of God through the blood of Jesus.

Even though God in Christ lives and walks in the Christian as the Christian presents his body a living sacrifice, this does not change the fact that conquest and ministry can be performed successfully only by means of the cooperation between God and the believer. God takes the initiative and the believer diligently works through and solves the problems set before him as the Holy Spirit provides the wisdom and power.

We can observe the balance of cooperation between Christ and the Christian in several passages of the New Testament. First of all, the initiative of God is portrayed in the following verses: 

And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:18,19)

There were many fishermen practicing their trade along the shores of Galilee at that time. Jesus singled out particular men and called to them personally. Peter and Andrew did not seek out Jesus, in this instance. Jesus, of His own initiative, sought them out and invited them to follow Him. For many years afterwards, Peter and Andrew had to follow Christ in a rigorous, often painful and perplexing, discipleship. But at the outset, Christ came to them, not they to Christ.

"Jesus saith to him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk" (John 5:8). Again, Jesus picked out a specific person and invited him to be healed. There was at that time a "great multitude of impotent folk" waiting by the pool. Jesus did not address Himself to them, only to the "certain man." God took the initiative in this case and released the captive according to His own counsel and purpose.

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44). Although we must choose to confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and we must set ourselves to believe that God raised Him from the dead, yet it can be shown in the Scriptures that no person is able to make such choices except as God brings him to the place of decision and opens his eyes. Even in the act of receiving Christ and becoming saved it is necessary that there be cooperation between God and man. God will not save people without action on their part; and no person can be saved by his own works.

"And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:2). The outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the feast of Pentecost was an extraordinary act that proceeded from the will and counsel of God. No man could have foreseen, much less have occasioned, such a spiritual blessing, such a remarkable fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost.

God took the initiative and in a burst of energy and revelation created the Christian Church. The Body of Christ was not born by the efforts of the flesh—not even by the efforts of the Apostles of Christ. The Christian Church was brought into being by a Divine act of sovereign energy and purpose.

The conversion of the Apostle Paul remains one of the most startling examples of Divine sovereignty ever to occur in the Kingdom of God.

"And as he journeyed he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven" (Acts 9:3). At the time of this Divine intervention Paul was diligently imprisoning all the disciples of Jesus he could find, hoping to stamp out the new heretical sect. Paul dragged men and women into prison for their faith, breaking up families while doing so.

Suddenly, in the midst of Saul’s activities, God struck him to the earth, directed his conversion and baptism in the Spirit and in water, and announced the fact of Saul’s apostleship to the Gentiles. A long road filled with tribulation and imprisonment lay before Saul, but his birth into the Kingdom of God was a pure act of God. 

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. (Acts 15:18)

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)

Romans 12:3 teaches us that even the faith we have is a gift from God, and that the amount of faith varies from person to person. This verse is a good balance for the concept that God is daring people to believe. The verse states the opposite—that we Christians should soberly consider the amount of faith God has given us and accept the place in the Body of Christ to which God has assigned us.

We must seek the balance of cooperation with God where we are neither self-seeking nor passive in spiritual matters and in the work of the Kingdom. 

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4)

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ before the world began, (II Timothy 1:9)

We may have observed from the last few passages quoted that salvation is a sovereign act of God in the earth. When we move away from the concept of the sovereignty of the counsel and actions of God in the redemption of men, we engage in presumptuous, fleshly activity. God is God and Christ is Christ. The Cornerstone of Christianity is the crucifixion of Christ on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection—acts of God without precedent in the history of the world.

The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost are major examples of Divine initiative. They set the stage for the infinite number of lesser sovereign acts of God that energize and guide the Christian in conquest and in ministry.

But God’s part accounts for only half the battle. If we wait passively for God to force and activate us in conquest and in ministry, and to make our decisions for us, we will come to a halt in our spiritual progress. We will make ourselves individually and collectively vulnerable to energizing and guidance by the flesh and by unclean spirits.

Our own activity and effort play a role in Christian conquest and ministry, as described in the following verses: 

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:12,13)

The above passage indicates clearly that we are to do something about our sinning, about conquering our own nature and conduct. We are to refrain from presenting our physical body as a tool that sin can use. We are to refuse to permit sin rule in our physical body. By sin we mean the sinful tendencies that are in our nature even after we are saved and that Satan attempts to use for his own purposes.

Many erroneous ideas concerning sin have appeared in Christian teaching: a born-again person does not have a sinful nature; sin no longer is an issue now that the individual is a believer; God sees only the righteousness of Christ instead of the person’s behavior; there is some short cut, some instantaneous experience, some act of faith, some sudden blessing by which the disciple can be delivered completely from the sinful nature.

The truth is, the conquest of the sinful nature is a daily battle in which God and the Christian cooperate in gaining victory. There are no short cuts. The disciple who relaxes his vigilance for one moment will soon have ample occasion to wish he hadn’t. The adversary never, never, never ceases accusing us, attempting to deceive us and placing hindrances before us. He watches night and day for the unguarded moment. The Christian must learn to exercise the same eternal vigilance, looking to Christ in every circumstance.

The actual transition from the sin nature to the righteous nature, takes place a portion at a time, and will be completed at the coming of the Lord for those whom the Lord deems worthy to walk with Himself in the white robes of righteous conduct.

The adamic nature cannot be shaped into the image of God. The adamic nature is dead and God has no intention of bringing it back to life.

As we struggle, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to resist sin, God rewards us by giving us a change of nature in the area of behavior under consideration. A righteous nature is a reward. After we receive the righteous nature we are rewarded for having it—a double reward.

God rewards our efforts toward righteousness by giving the righteous Character of Christ to us; and then eternal life comes to us because we have the righteous Character of Christ.

Our purpose in life is to learn to obey God. As we do, God removes the filthy garment from us and clothes us with Christ. 

And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. (Zechariah 3:4)

As we are given the white robe of righteousness we are charged to obey the Lord. 

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by. (Zechariah 3:7)

The individual who has learned obedience through suffering has accomplished God’s purpose in putting him or her on the earth.

We are in the midst of the conflict of the ages. Let us conduct ourselves as men and women of God!

According to Romans 6:12,13 we have a task to perform in conquering the sin in our nature. Much of the text of the sixth chapter of Romans portrays the sovereign grace of God in the Christian salvation. But there also are verses in the sixth chapter of Romans that set forth the part the Christian must play if he is to be successful in the conquest of sin.

The Christian must refuse to allow sin to govern his physical body. The Christian must actively present himself to God daily as one who is alive from the dead. He must actively present the parts of his body as weapons of righteousness reserved for the sole use of God.

The sixth chapter of Romans is one of the clearest of the New Testament expressions of the balance of the cooperation between God and man in conquering sin in the believer. God, in His sovereign wisdom and power, has placed the first personality of the Christian on the cross with Christ.

Water baptism is a step of faith that announces the crucifixion of the "old man." The Christian, for his part, must seize on the concept of the crucifixion of his first "self" and by faith actively participate in resisting sin and practicing righteous conduct. When he does this, the Holy Spirit comes to his aid and makes him successful.

The Christian must set himself to believe that God has accomplished his crucifixion with Christ and must voluntarily use his own will, the faith and self-control he possesses, his tongue, his mind, his actions, as though his crucifixion with Christ and resurrection in and with Christ are accomplished facts—which, in God’s sight, they are indeed. This is what it means to "reckon" ourselves dead to sin but alive to God. It is necessary, however, to keep on praying for wisdom and strength as we employ our own will and self-control

The twelfth chapter of Romans contains many exhortations concerning the behaviors the Christian must practice, with the Lord’s help and guidance, if he wishes to lay hold on the glory to which Christ has called him. The following examples are taken directly from Chapter 12 of Romans. Acts of conquest and acts of ministry are intermingled in these exhortations:

Present your body a living sacrifice (v.1).

Be not changed into the world image (v.2).

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (v.2).

Think soberly (v.3).

Prophesy (v.6).

Wait on your ministering (v.7).

Wait on your teaching (v.7).

Wait on your exhorting (v.8).

Give with simplicity (v.8).

Rule with diligence (v.8).

Show mercy with cheerfulness (v.8).

Show love with sincerity (v.9).

Abhor what is evil (v.9).

Cleave to what is good (v.9).

In honor, prefer one another (v.10).

Be not slothful in business (v.11).

Be patient in tribulation (v.12).

Distribute to the necessity of saints (v.13).

Show hospitality (v.13).

Recompense to no man evil for evil (v.17).

Provide things honest in the sight of all men (v.17).

The examples above teach us that there are many things Christians can do as part of their discipleship. It is not that we earn our salvation by performing these righteous acts. Rather, it is that we do them during the process of working out our salvation.

If a person accepts Christ as Lord and Savior, and then ignores the New Testament (and Old Testament) exhortations to godly living, it is obvious he is not walking in the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God in the Christian will direct, encourage, and strengthen the believer in righteous conduct of living.

It is apparent that the list of works found in Romans, Chapter 12 is not a set of actions that a Christian must be moved robot-like to perform. If we wait passively for God to move we will not act in accordance with Romans, Chapter 12. Doing these Christian works requires character, perseverance, self-control, prayer, plus all the wisdom and help that comes to us by the grace of God in Christ.

It may be seen that we have a part to play in conquest and also in ministry. Examples of our active involvement in conquest are:

Present your body a living sacrifice (v.1).

Be not changed into the world image (v.2).

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (v.2).

Abhor what is evil (v.9).

Recompense to no man evil for evil (v.17).

Examples of active involvement in ministry are:

Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (v.11).

Prophesy (v.6).

Wait on your teaching (v.7).

Wait on your ministering (v.7).

Wait on your exhorting (v.8).

There are many passages in the New Testament that point out the part the Christian himself must play in conquest and in ministry. The teaching that God performs the entire work of redemption by means of "grace," if not balanced by other scriptural doctrines, can lead to the false conclusion that the Christian has nothing to do but believe—a conclusion hardly in keeping with the following verses from II Peter: 

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (II Peter 1:5-7)

The next verses reveal the importance of the development of the above-named virtues in the Christian: 

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. (II Peter 1:8,9)

Another action the Christian must take, in God’s strength and wisdom, is to submit himself to God and to resist the devil (James 4:7).

The preceding examples may be sufficient to illustrate the kind of exhortations to godly living found throughout the New Testament. The development of Christian character requires the cooperation of man and God. God has taken the initiative on Calvary, and continues to take the initiative by calling us in Christ and by guiding and empowering us by the Holy Spirit.

We must diligently give ourselves wholly to the will of God in developing our character and personality in the image of God’s Character and Personality. It is God’s will that we be changed into the image of His Son, Christ, in spirit, soul, and body.

The balance between God’s work and man’s work is described in Philippians 2:12,13: 

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

We work out our own salvation as well as we can, but always keeping in mind that God Himself is creating in us the desire and the power to do His good pleasure, provided we are giving ourselves to the daily waiting on Christ.

Again, we see the balance of cooperation in Philippians 3:12: 

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend [grasp] that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. (Philippians 3:12)

God has laid hold on us for conformity to the image of Christ and for rulership with Christ over the nations of the earth. But God’s grasping is only half the battle. We must, like Paul, "count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ," and press steadily toward that "mark." We must spare no effort in order that we may lay hold on that for which we have been grasped by Christ. We must match God’s grasp with a grasp of our own. However, all our desires and doings are the results and expressions of His resurrection life working in us.

No set pattern for warfare or ministry. When the believer is following the Spirit of God into the land of promise he must keep in mind that there is no set pattern for warfare. Every enemy who is approached requires a different tactic. Only the Lord Jesus knows the correct strategy and tactic for a given battle. The Christian soldier must be sensitive at all times to the guidance of Christ and follow the Spirit of God carefully.

We Christians look for formulas that will work every time in every situation and our literature is full of recipes for spiritual success. Many of the suggestions in the Christian's library are helpful: forgiving our enemies, waiting on the Lord, moving forward in faith, attending church, giving, praying, fasting, praising.

The timing of a given tactic may be a problem. How does the disciple know what method to use on a given occasion? Unless the believer is in immediate contact with the mind of the Holy Spirit he cannot know whether to fast or to eat, wait or go forward, testify or be silent, praise or beseech God in forceful intercession and supplication.

We become ineffective in spiritual battle when we attempt to develop a strategy and set of tactics and then attempt to use them in every instance. The churches often put together a system by which they hope to build the Kingdom of God by their human wisdom and effort apart from the immediate supervision of Christ Himself. Such blind practices have been pursued for two thousand years.

We do not delight in the feeling of helplessness that comes when we are required to look always and only to God for our wisdom and strength. We do not enjoy complete dependence on the Lord, either in internal or external warfare. We prefer to put together a scheme we can follow and then ask God to bless our plans. To wait on Christ for the needs of the moment leaves us uncomfortable. We desire a program that is safe and predictable.

However, it is impossible to create a system that will be successful in overcoming Satan no matter what the current books and tapes promise. In fact, one of the strongest allies Satan can gain in the Christian Church is a plan for action against himself.

A great danger to the kingdom of darkness arises when the members of the Body of Christ throw aside their own ideas, their own strength and resources, and give themselves to consistent worship and supplication; when Christians follow Christ Himself into battle; when each Christian looks continually to Jesus for the strength, wisdom, and provisions for the moment; when the disciples cast themselves on the Lord in abandonment of human ability and knowledge and hour by hour are given the needs of the occasion directly from Him; when the believers trust in Christ to build His own Church on the Rock He Himself Is.

There is no set pattern for warfare, no formula that always works, no secret or scheme the believer can apply every time against the attacks or defenses of the enemy. The Lord of Armies, Christ Himself, is the only One who can lead each believer, step by step, into internal and external conquest and into ministry to the Body of Christ and to the world. Each of us must look to Jesus constantly as we follow Him into our own land of promise.

The spiritual victories described in the Scriptures, including those that occurred during the ministry of Jesus, reveal that God works in a variety of ways. Only the person who is in touch with Christ can know what to do in a specific circumstance.

Peculiar directions were given to Joshua concerning the attack on Jericho (Joshua 6:2-5). Never before or since, as far as we know, has God ordered such an extraordinary procedure. Yet, God was behind the scheme and it was successful. But the Jericho plan would not have worked against the next city. Is there a lesson in this for us?

The following city, Ai, was taken with an ambush, after some difficulty, and destroyed totally. The victorious Israelites, having wiped out (through the Lord) Jericho and Ai, now became careless. The Gibeonites were able to trick them. Joshua and the princes of Israel "asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord" (Joshua 9:14). They became overconfident. They believed that they understood perfectly the Lord and the enemy.

As soon as we humans have a little success in spiritual warfare we begin to lean on our methods instead of asking counsel at the mouth of the Lord each time we move. As soon as we forsake the immediate supervision of Christ we become weak and begin to experience defeat.

The standing still of the sun and moon (Joshua 10:13) was a unique event, as the Scripture indicates: "And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened to the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:14).

It would have been foolish of Joshua to attempt to command the sun and moon during each succeeding battle. Yet, this is exactly what we do in our Christian warfare.

If a great victory is won by a particular spiritual method on one occasion, then we may endeavor to win every battle by the same method. If someone is led to fast and pray and spiritual success comes to him, the whole body is directed to fast and pray. Now we have the "secret" of victory.

If someone rests in the Lord and is delivered from bondage, then we all are taught to rest in the Lord, for this is the certain path to victory. If another person labors unremittingly for a number of years and results are produced, then our problem is we are not working hard enough.

There is a time to praise, to fast, to rest in the Lord, to work arduously, to speak in the name of the Lord, to take care of our relatives, to leave our relatives, to rebuke the enemy, to go out into all the world, to stay at home, to kneel in silent prayer, to stand with hands upraised and shout, to sing in the Spirit, to sing from the hymnbook, to dance before the Lord, to prophesy, to cease from prophesying.

There are no secrets of spiritual victory that will meet the need on every occasion. The sooner we understand this the sooner each member of the Body of Christ will turn to the Lord Himself and allow Him to become the Head of the Body.

Now is the time for the true Head, Christ, to be joined to His Body. The saints will have victory upon victory as the Spirit of God leads Christ, Head and Body, into battle against the enemies of God.

Spiritual warfare in the individual and in the assembly is much like the invasion of Canaan by the Israelites. Each skirmish must be conducted according to the tactics the Lord orders for the occasion, not according to a preconceived plan that proceeds from the judgment and experience of men. We fight successfully in the spirit realm only when we look instantly to Jesus in every situation. The Christian who is unwilling to follow the living Christ into the arena of war ought to remove himself or herself from the conflict. He will cause problems and confusion.

The only recorded failure of Joshua was in the case of the Hivites of Gibeon. Joshua failed on that occasion because he did not follow the Lord closely enough, not for any lack on his part of consecration, determination, or courage.

Consider the different ways in which God worked with Moses, Gideon, Samson, David. The accent is on diversity rather than a certain method always employed. God is not predictable, and every attempt to make Him predictable succeeds only in preventing victory in spiritual warfare.

God desires to converse with us as a living Person to intelligent believers rather than to be a set of laws and principles His people follow blindly in the hope they will accomplish their own goals.

The incidents of the ministry of Jesus reveal the immediate, continual contact He maintained with the mind of the Father. The Lord did not follow a set plan of action. The Lord Jesus ministered in a variety of ways, none of them contrived or "religious." 

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. (Matthew 8:13)

And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. (Matthew 8:15)

When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: (Matthew 8:16)

But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. (Matthew 8:22)

And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (Matthew 8:26)

And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. (Matthew 8:32)

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. (Matthew 9:6)

But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. (Matthew 9:25)

Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. (Matthew 9:29)

Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other. (Matthew 12:13)

And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole. (Matthew 14:36)

And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. (Mark 7:33,34)

And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. (Mark 8:23-25)

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:19)

The above verse invites us to abandon our set patterns and follow the Son as He follows the Father. If Christ, by all measures superior to us in every respect, did not walk in His own wisdom and strength but leaned wholly on the immediate Presence of His Father, how much more should we forsake our own wisdom and strength and lean wholly on the immediate Presence of Christ!

We find, in John 6:11, that Jesus multiplied the food for His followers. But He did not miraculously create bread and fish every time the disciples ate—although that was what the multitudes desired and expected. John 6:19 portrays the Lord walking on the waters of the sea. But He did not do this every Sunday morning on schedule at eleven o’clock.

To one person, Jesus may command, Come! To the next person, Jesus may order, Go! On a certain occasion Jesus went into the Temple and turned over the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. But He did not do this every time He went into the Temple!

A blind man was healed when Jesus made clay by spitting on the ground and then put the clay on the afflicted eyes. A part of the prescription was that the man wash in the Pool of Siloam. Jesus’ procedure was artless, natural, earthy.

Perhaps the chief characteristic of the Person and actions of Jesus of Nazareth is that they always are natural, unforced, in keeping with the most humble and ordinary of the circumstances of lowly people. Like Jesus, the Apostles were friends of God and they lived and talked with God as all people should live and talk—easily, naturally, without guile or the forcing and unrest of personal ambition.

The reason why God is so unpredictable, and why the motives and actions of fervent Christians are so suspicious to the world and to worldly churchgoers, is that God is a Person rather than a dependable set of religious principles.

Orthodox Israel, as well as the liberals of the day, despised the Son of God because He did the unexpected. His actions were surprising and His motives hidden from the religious leaders because Jesus was following His Father, Person to Person, rather than a recognizable and comfortable religious routine. If Jesus had been seeking His own glory and acted accordingly the Pharisees might have received Him—for that is how they behaved.

Manmade religion tends to make people unnatural, prone to superstition, removed from the natural course of earthly life. The Christian experience should be a direct, friendly relationship between God and the believer, Friend to friend, Person to person.

The priests of Israel who served in the Tabernacle of the Congregation walked barefoot on the desert ground. The Tabernacle was an ornate, costly structure, spectacular in beauty in the interior, but there was no floor in it. This teaches us that God created us from the earth and He desires we remain natural, simple, plain, unaffected. He wants us to come to Him as we are, not hiding behind the fig leaves of religious posturing and mannerisms by which we hope to conceal our nakedness, impress God, or obtain something from Him.

Christ lived the exemplary life on earth. Every other person who has lived has been warped by the lusts and deceits of sin. It is God’s will that people be just like Jesus—obedient to God in an unforced, artless manner, receptive to God’s wisdom, teaching, and leading, and free from the bondages of sin and superstition. Such is the normal life of the human being on the earth. Any other kind of life is subnormal or abnormal. The life of fleshly passion is subnormal. The sectarian religious life can become abnormal.

The simple, straightforward friendship with God is the normal life for a human on the earth, and God will not cease working until He has multitudes of people living in a simple, straightforward manner with Him. They will not be followers of the set patterns of religious principles. Instead they will talk to their Father always and be guided directly by His movements and desires in all matters, as was possible to Adam and Eve in Eden.

We do not learn in a moment to walk with Christ, and sometimes it is helpful to follow the guidelines of a church until we come to know the Lord. People who refuse all correction, claiming God is leading them when it is apparent to others (saved and unsaved alike) that they are pursuing their own whims, will not be successful in entering the Kingdom.

The Book of Acts demonstrates the personal attention and leading of Christ in the development of the Church rather than a set pattern of activity and prescribed rituals. The pattern in Acts is that of following the Spirit Himself instead of creating a religious or missionary philosophy.

The name "Acts" is suggestive of the contents of the book. In Acts we see action, spiritual operations, warfare. Acts is characterized by diversity rather than by uniformity, by surprises rather than predictability, by the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit in the Christians rather than by conformity to human organization.

The birth of the Church came by a Divine explosion of creative energy: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (Acts 2:2).

The prophecy of Peter (Acts 2:14-36) doubtless came as a surprise to Peter as well as to his audience. There is nothing "religious" about the activities of the second chapter of Acts. There should be just such an atmosphere of spiritual expectation each day of our Christian journey, although most of our time may be spent in patient waiting on the Lord and in the daily drudgeries of earthly existence rather than in marvelous spiritual accomplishments.

The method by which the lame man at the Temple gate was healed was successful on that occasion (Acts 3:6,7). But we do not find the same method being used over and over again by Peter. The incident of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:3-10) is unique in the New Testament. Every Christian put in prison was not released and brought forth by the angel of the Lord (Acts 5:19). May we venture the belief that the particular deliverance of Acts 5:19 was not a demonstration of Peter’s unusual faith and righteousness but a sovereign, unexpected action of Christ because of the importance of Peter’s message at that special place and moment.

On the other hand, while we are learning that God does not work the same way in each instance, we can be encouraged and guided by the incidents of deliverance in the Scriptures and in the lives of Christians around us. We can take heart, knowing that if God delivered them in their circumstance He will deliver us also, although perhaps not in the same manner.

Each time a Christian gains a victory we are strengthened in our own faith and we understand a little more of the Person and ways of the Lord Jesus.

It is not wise to select one of the Lord’s "originals" and attempt to "run off copies" instead of taking the trouble to seek the face of the Lord in each new circumstance. Yet, each time a miracle for someone else takes place we can be encouraged and strengthened in spiritual battle. 

And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. (Acts 19:11,12)

These were "special miracles" and yet the handkerchiefs were taken from Paul’s body. They were Paul’s handkerchiefs and aprons he used during the course of his daily living and working. The use of Paul’s clothing is reminiscent of Jesus spitting on the afflicted, that is, they both were earthy and natural occurrences—pieces of the fabric of straightforward men leading ordinary lives.

Today’s practice of sending out "anointed handkerchiefs" has nothing in common with the above practice. Rather, it is a moneymaking scheme used by covetous "ministers" of the Gospel, in many instances.

The incident of the snake on the island of Malta demonstrates the natural manner in which the miracles of God should operate in the life of the believer (Acts 28:3-6). Paul just shook off the snake into the fire—the most direct and simple procedure available. We always ought to shake off the sin and darkness of our personality—and all the poison of the enemy—into the fire of God’s judgment in just such a simple, direct manner.

Perhaps we Christians need to learn the simplicity of the life of faith. Our tendency may be to take one sovereign act of God in our life and formalize it into a ritual we perform day after day, long after God has passed by. We miss the romance and adventure of the life of faith. The cloud and the fire are gone over the horizon. The brightness and freshness of contact with Jesus depart from our life. We lose our "first love." We are left alone in the desert.

God desires that every Christian have a working set of "talents" with which he can minister to the Body of Christ. The gifts given to people are to be infinite in variety.

Studying the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of I Corinthians, and also the fourth chapter of Ephesians, we might conclude there are only nine gifts of the Spirit and four or five major ministries in the Body of Christ. But when these gifts and ministries are mixed in combination with the individual personalities and calling of the members of the Body of Christ the result is an unlimited variety of unique, fresh, peculiarly appropriate and stimulating sources of edification and blessing to the Body of Christ and to those whom God has appointed to life but who as yet are unevangelized. 

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (I Corinthians 12:4-6)

Diversities of gifts; differences of administrations; diversities of operations.

We find different types of gifts, varieties of ministry, and different ways of working to accomplish the building of the Kingdom of God. The accent is on diversity and variety, as we consider each Christian’s ministry in the Body of Christ.

The Christian salvation is God’s plan. One of the ideas associated with following the Spirit of God is that the Christian redemption is God’s plan and that God is working out His purpose in the earth. The responsibility for building the Kingdom of God is not on the shoulders of human beings.

We believers must be diligent in performing all we perceive to be God’s will for us personally. But we must never allow our diligence to develop into self-centered ambition. We must remain as free from "inertia" as possible, being able to start and stop with the Lord.

When we minister, our attitude is not to be that of assisting God. Rather, our attitude is to be one of stern obedience to Christ, of waiting patiently and devotedly on His daily will for us.

Until we fully accept the fact that the Holy Spirit is actively building the Body of Christ according to the plan of the Father, and that we are to flow with the movements of the Spirit rather than work in our own understanding and strength, it will remain impossible for us to live and walk in the perfect will of God.

Romans 8:28-30 is the frame of reference for all of the thinking and activities of our spiritual conquest and ministry. There is an emphasis on the sovereign purpose of God in the Christian redemption: 

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to [changed into] the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

His purpose; He foreknew; He predestined; He called; He justified; He glorified!

The concept of God’s initiative and sovereignty outlined by these expressions should determine the manner in which we Christians think and act. The concept of predestination by foreknowledge is no excuse for fatalism or passivity. Fatalism and passivity have no place in the Kingdom of God.

Nevertheless our diligence in Christian work must always, moment by moment, begin, continue, and conclude in the certain knowledge that the Christian redemption and the construction of the Kingdom of God were God’s idea to begin with and God has a hand in every effort that has any value for His Kingdom.

God has more to do in an active, specific sense with the affairs of all men, saved and unsaved, and with the whole world of nature, than we Christians understand. The earth is the Lord’s and all the resources thereof and all who dwell therein. He knows about every bird, animal, and fish in the world. God is God—the Creator of all. 

Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:6,7)

If God knows about every sparrow and takes an interest in each small bird, how much more does He know about every believer in Christ? Surely He guides each member of the Body of Christ with the same care, insuring that all things in the universe are working together for good for each member of His elect.

If we, being evil, know how to watch over our children, how much more will our heavenly Father watch over us?

Salvation has come to us from the Lord God and He is building His Kingdom in the earth. Our part is to praise Him all day long and to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. God is working in us both to will and to do His own good pleasure. Let us labor to enter the perfect plan of God for our life.

Courageous and relentless fighting. To be a Christian overcomer one must exercise courage and be willing to persevere in vigilant spiritual warfare for the duration of his stay on the earth. Now and then the Lord gives us a brief breathing spell. But the saint who lets down his spiritual guard for a moment soon has occasion to wish he had not done so.

The lords of spiritual darkness who govern the spirit of the age in which we live are continually watching to insure that God’s will is not done in our life or anyone else’s life.

The rulers of the present age are vicious and cunning. They are diligent and have nothing to lose. We Christians are their special target. Their goal is to deceive us into believing them instead of God’s Word. We possess neither the wisdom nor the power to withstand their intricate schemes. We must look to the Lord Jesus constantly in order to overcome the evil set before us each day. 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (I Peter 5:8,9)

It may be remembered that the land of promise was occupied when it was presented to Israel by the Lord. The Hivites, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, were fierce warriors who had no intention of giving to Israel the land that had been home to them for hundreds of years. The Philistines were ready to fight with savage hatred against the Hebrew slaves who had come out of Egypt and now were attempting to invade Canaan.

The Lord God had promised the land to Israel, but the inhabitants of Canaan cared nothing at all about God or His promises. They were fighting for their homes, and they were greater in number and strength than Israel.

The progress of the true Christian Church—the blood-washed, born-again disciples of Christ—shares many points in common with that of the Hebrews of the days of Moses and Joshua. The land of promise of the Christians is occupied, just as the land of promise of the Hebrews was occupied.

The Hebrew’s land of promise was inhabited by the several tribes of Canaan. Our land is inhabited by Satan and his followers. The Canaanites were not an easily defeated enemy and the "Satanites" are not an easily defeated enemy. It will require all the courage, faith, determination, hope, obedience, and prayer we can bring to the battle if we are to fight our way successfully into the possessions God has promised us.

It is only partly true that Jesus "did it all" for us on Calvary. It is a fact that on Calvary all the authority and power of Satan was destroyed legally. But our appropriation of what was purchased for us on Calvary does not occur as we blithely state, Jesus did it all! and then go on our merry way according to the lusts of the world. It is not enough to call Jesus, Lord. We have to do what He commands.

We are required to fight our way by faith, through God’s guidance and imparted virtue, into what was purchased for us on Calvary, just as the Hebrews had to fight their way into a land that had been given them as a gift by the Lord God. It is one matter to own the land of promise legally. It is quite another to possess the land of promise in actual fact.

God does all the fighting when we are saved out of the world just as He did all the fighting when Israel came out of Egypt. But we must fight our way into the land of promise just as Israel had to fight its way into Canaan.

The principal aspects of the Christian land of promise are seven in number:

Our rest in the completed plan and purpose of God in Christ including the specific plan and purpose for our own life, which was finished before God created the heaven and the earth.

Our rest from our trials and tribulations when we die or at the appearing of Christ—whichever comes first.

The fullness of abiding in Christ as we await His pleasure in all things, becoming fully obedient to the will of God.

The total destruction of God’s enemies in and around us.

The fullness of conformity to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit, in soul, and in body.

The abiding in us of the fullness of the Father and the fullness of the Son through the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The possession of the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion promised to Christ and to the coheirs.

Included in the seven aspects set forth above is possession of our own personality, particularly our physical body, and dominion over the earth on which we live. The physical body is given to the Christian as a gift he is to share with the Spirit of God. The earth belongs to the righteous, as we learn from Psalms 37 and other passages of Scripture.

Christ redeemed the whole earth and its inhabitants by His death on the cross. But what do we see? We Christians are able to control neither our own body nor the earth on which we live. In our spirit we love God and long to please Him and to live a perfect life in every way. But Satan, taking advantage of the sinful nature of our bodily and soulish impulses, provokes us day and night to live in the lusts of the flesh and mind.

Also, the earth at the present time is not governed by Christians but by wicked powers in the spirit realm. These unclean personalities express themselves through people who have no intention of serving God.

It is a fact that God has given the physical body and the earth to the Christians so we may serve Him with these two gifts. But it is true that we are not able to control our own body or our environment. Our adversary, the devil, is able to keep on expressing his abominations in the earth and—sad to say—in us when we are not living close to the Lord.

What is required if a Christian is to conquer his own body and the portion of the earth (his home, his job, and so forth) given him to rule in Christ? It requires that which was demanded of the Hebrews—courageous, relentless fighting, as God guides and strengthens, against a vicious and determined enemy.

Through the Lord Jesus we must drive out the enemy from every square foot of territory where he is entrenched and expressing himself. Every step will be contested bitterly. There is no letup from the struggle. When Satan is not actively pushing against us he is probing for signs of weakness, of carelessness, for cracks in the armor of holiness or obedience to God.

The journey of the Hebrews from Egypt to Canaan portrays many aspects of the manner in which we must labor to enter the rest of God, the fullness of redemption in Christ. The Christian can begin to understand, by continued meditation on the events of the wilderness wandering, the attitude of God; the manner in which God deals with people; the high priority that holiness and righteousness have with God; the Lord’s absolute dependability; God’s habit of selecting one person and reaching many people through him (Moses); God’s wrath against sin and rebellion; God’s love for His children and His enormous patience with them.

The events of Israel’s journey parallel the Christian life in that both commence with bondage, both consist of moving toward a Divinely appointed land of promise, and both include a period of testing between the exodus from bondage and entrance into the inheritance.

It may be observed that to follow God from bondage all the way to the "mark," the goal, the land of promise, requires on the part of the chosen people the exercise of obedience, faith, determination, diligence, perseverance, and courage. The successful believer, the overcomer, must be a fighter. Otherwise he or she will not be able to invade and maintain his inheritance in the Lord.

We Christians must never, never, never give up in the sense that we turn away from Christ or His promises. We must never give up no matter how bleak, discouraging, and hopeless the future may appear.

It is a wise practice to "give up" in God, to turn our problems over to Him and rest in Him, rather than to attempt to solve our problems by our own strength and wisdom. In fact, our greatest strength comes when we are able to commit all our ways, all people, all circumstances, all things, to the Lord Jesus and draw on His stupendous power.

But this kind of "giving up" is different from turning away from Christ and His promises from fear or discouragement. God often comes on the scene at the last moment and turns our night into day. This will not happen if we run from the battle. "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint"! (Luke 18:1).

Israel was afraid of the warriors of Canaan. The entire older generation of those who left Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, never did enter the land of promise. They died in the wilderness after a miserable life of wandering and complaining through an inhospitable desert. They could have enjoyed the rich, well-watered countryside and have seen their children and grandchildren playing happily in the midst of abundance.

Fear that sprang from unbelief kept the older generation from realizing the promise of God. They chose to regard the power of the Canaanites rather than the power of God. They lacked the faith and courage in God to obey Him when their eyes told them they were in danger. Their lack of courageous faith robbed them of the determination to wrest their possessions from the enemy. God gave them the land but they would not occupy it. Is this true of you and me?

In the following words the writer of Hebrews discusses the unbelief of the Israelites while they were making their pilgrimage from Egypt to Canaan: 

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:14-19)

By their miserable murmuring and backsliding the Israelites taught us concerning the fruit of an unbelieving, fearful, complaining, indecisive, timid walk with God. God has set before us an inheritance that currently is occupied by fierce nations (wicked spirits). It is God’s pleasure that we set our heart on this inheritance, believing that what God has given us He will enable us to obtain.

God ranks fear and unbelief with lust, idolatry, and lying: 

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

The Kingdom of God can be taken only by a resolute group of people who maintain an unwavering faith in God’s guidance, power, love, and dependability. These are the victorious Christian saints, the overcomers found in every sect of Christendom. When it comes to possessing the land of promise by God’s people, God will not do it alone and we cannot accomplish it in our own abilities. The seizing of the inheritance can take place only by the cooperation of God and believing, determined, courageous, faithful saints.

Our Christian life must be a relentless movement toward the "mark" that includes, among other things, complete conformity to the image of Christ and perfect rest in His resurrection life. There are many enemies—the wicked lords of darkness—who are determined that the saints will attain neither conformity to the image of Christ nor rest in His resurrection life. There is an intense struggle over every inch of territory.

It is important that we never lose heart and surrender to the world, our bodily lusts, or our self-will and self-centeredness. Consider the incident of David and Bathsheba. When David realized he indeed had committed a grievous crime against God and man in the seduction of Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, he must have been close to despair because of the breach in his relationship with God. But David never gave up. He repented and mourned with utmost sincerity.

Many of the Psalms give us insight into the depth of the sincerity of David’s worship and communication with God. There is no mistaking the fact that David’s sin with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband were two very wicked acts. David, being a man of absolute devotion to the Lord, came to realize the enormity of the sin he had committed.

But David never gave up. He did not berate himself to the point where Satan was able to destroy his faith and his walk with God. David did what he could to rectify his transgression. He took Bathsheba for his wife instead of rejecting her and himself in a fit of guilt. He then looked to God for the grace to continue.

There was no way to bring Uriah back from the dead. It would have been another crime to put away Bathsheba. As if to reveal the completeness of His forgiveness, God permitted Solomon, a great king of Israel and an ancestor of Jesus of Nazareth, to be born from Bathsheba.

David suffered intensely when he became aware of his wickedness against God, against Uriah, and against Bathsheba. The first son born to David and Bathsheba died. Also, David, for the remainder of his life, was never free from war (II Samuel 12:10). As a crowning punishment, David himself was put to shame in the same manner as his sin with Bathsheba (II Samuel 16:22).

But David did not destroy himself because of his sin and shame. Instead, he put his trust in God and resumed his walk with the Lord. David left the consequences with God and came to know the forgiveness of God: "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered" (Psalms 32:1).

David was deceived and committed wickedness. It is possible for any Christian to be deceived and to fall into wickedness. But the important thing is what he does afterward. The successful overcomer is the believer who repents as soon as he becomes aware of sin and rebellion in his life. He comes to Christ, accepts the forgiveness, cleansing, and chastening of the Lord, makes restitution as the Lord enables him to do so, and resumes his walk with God. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).

The saint of God never, never gives up. The kind of faith that brings a Christian into the land of promise must include in its ingredients courage, diligence, steadfastness, and a willingness to start again each morning. God renews us each day. He is able to bring us to complete victory when we make a firm, clear decision we will not turn back but are absolutely determined to move forward in God all the days of our life no matter what occurs.

CHAPTER IV  THE INHERITANCE 

The Three Stages of Conquest

There are three concepts, three platforms of redemption that appear as we commence the study of the parallel between the redemption in Christ and the journey of the Hebrew people from Egypt to Canaan.

The first concept is that of God’s chosen people in slavery in Egypt, and their coming out, in fulfillment of God’s purpose, in accordance with His eternal wisdom and strength.

The second concept concerns the pilgrimage of God’s chosen people through a barren wilderness.

The third concept involves the battles of the people of the Lord as they make their way into their inheritance, "the land of milk and honey."

The first stage—initial salvation. The first of the three platforms of redemption, which is God’s chosen people coming out of Egypt, is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God when an individual, through Christ, escapes from bondage to the spirit of the evil age in which we live.

The bondage of the unsaved man or woman, boy or girl, is not that of the physical earth. Until we understand that the land of Egypt is a type of the spirit of the age and not a symbol of the planet Earth itself it is difficult for us to perceive the events and the goal of our Christian discipleship.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was not created by Satan as some appear to believe. The earth was created by the Lord God and it is the place in which God intends for His people to live. God does not withdraw from any of His undertakings and He has not ceased regarding the planet Earth as the place where mankind is to dwell and where His Son, Christ, will return to rule as King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

God is waiting and working until His will is being performed by every saved creature on the earth just as His will is being performed by every creature in Heaven. Christ told us to pray in this manner: "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." The prayer for God’s will to be done in earth will be answered to the least detail.

If such is the purpose of God, why does the earth continue in its wretched, tormented bondage to rebellion, lust, stubbornness, disobedience to God, violence, drunkenness, and every other perversity and filthiness imaginable? The earth and its inhabitants remain in this abominable degradation because of the rule of wicked spirits in the heavenlies.

The ground is cursed because of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:18,19). The entire material creation was subjected to futility (Romans 8:20) in the hope that one day the bondage and decay can be removed by the Glory of God revealed in the saints.

The lords of darkness, the unclean master spirits who rule the spiritual atmosphere that pervades the earth, motivate and provoke human beings, Christian and non-Christian alike, to live in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The wicked princes maintain the pressure of sin and rebellion day and night.

Every moment of every day each human being is coaxed, threatened, driven, deceived, guided—all with the purpose of expressing the nature of lawless spirits and turning the eyes of the believer away from the Lord Jesus. The unclean personalities come in the guise of helpful friends who are bringing wisdom and joy. But they would happily flay the skin from any Christian one inch at a time. They are the enemy!

The spirit of this age is perverse, stubborn, full of hatred against God and His Christ, lustful, proud, covetous, and violent. There is much evil in it. No group of human beings acting in their own strength can overcome the demonic pressure that is on every one of us. We can help each other according to our talents, skills, and resources, and we can be compassionate and show mercy one to another. But we cannot successfully combat evil spirits in our own strength and wisdom.

The land of Egypt is not a symbol of the physical earth. Egypt is a symbol of the spirit of the world. Pharaoh is a symbol of Satan. People are not in bondage to the earth itself.

The earth was created by the God of Heaven and He declared it is good (Genesis 1:10). The earth is good. There is nothing wrong with the earth except the curse of thorns and wearying labor that God placed on it because of sin. Rather, it is the spirit of evil dominating the earth that is producing the repulsive fruit of sin. The blood of Jesus has the power to cleanse us from this filthy spirit.

During the process of becoming a Christian we accept the blood atonement made by Christ as the payment for our sins. We are baptized in water as a sign of our forsaking the world. The Lord God gives us a new heart and spirit. God plants the Divine Seed, Christ, in us and gives us His Holy Spirit. We are born again of the Divine Nature. By these acts of redemption God rescues us from the authority of Satan and moves us into the Kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).

God does not move us from the earth when we are saved. He moves us from the spirit of the world. It is important that we grasp the difference between being redeemed from the earth and being redeemed from the bondage of evil. If we remain in the belief God is performing His works of grace in us so He can move us from earth to Heaven we will not understand the plan of redemption. 

The purpose of redemption is not to move us from the earth to Heaven. The purpose of redemption is to move us from the kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of Christ.

The redemption of the Christian believer is not from the earth to Heaven. Rather it is from the control of Satan to the control of Christ. An understanding of this distinction makes a great difference in the way in which we view God’s working in us. If we regard Heaven as the land of promise and the earth as Egypt, we will sit down spiritually and wait for Jesus to come and take us to the land of promise in the sky.

If we regard the fullness of our inheritance in Christ as the land of promise, and bondage to the will of Satan as Egyptian slavery, we will take up our cross and follow the Lord. We will put on an attitude of battle and of overcoming the enemies of Christ until we bring ourselves and our environment into subjection to God’s will, as the Holy Spirit enables us.

Waiting for Christ to carry us to Heaven, and bringing ourselves and our environment under subjection to the will of God in Christ, are two very different approaches to the Christian life.

The second stage—sanctification. The second of the three platforms of redemption is that of God’s chosen people wandering in a barren desert.

What is the Christian counterpart of the wandering of the Hebrews in the wilderness of Sinai? Any experienced disciple of Christ can give the answer. It is the period of transition from obedience to Satan to obedience to Christ. It is the time when we are endeavoring to master the Divine curriculum. The wilderness is the school of the Holy Spirit.

As soon as we receive Christ as our Savior we are brought out of Egypt (the authority of the spirit of the world) by the power of God. But we are not immediately in the land of promise. Instead we find ourselves in an intermediate position.

We know from the Scriptures, and we feel in ourselves, that God has accomplished something for us and in us. Our life has been changed. The Scriptures have become understandable to us, although not all at once. We possess the certainty that God has called us out of the world spirit and that we have a new heart and a new spirit with which to serve Christ.

There still is much confusion, a multitude of problems, doubts, fears, unbeliefs, dilemmas, whereas the Scriptures promise peace that passes understanding, a light burden, joy such as the world cannot give, miraculous power, and rest in Christ. The transitional area, in which the Christian has been delivered from the spirit of the world but is not as yet enjoying the fullness of victory in Christ, the fullness of resurrection life promised to us by the Lord Jesus, is the Christian wilderness wandering.

The wilderness is a place of necessary lessons and experiences for us. We have much to learn about God, about ourselves, about the enemy and his ways. We learn God’s laws and God’s ways while we are making the transition from the life of the flesh to the life of the Spirit.

The wilderness is not an enjoyable situation in which to be, and attempts to make it enjoyable can remove us from God’s will unless we are following the Lord closely.

When God imprisons us by circumstances, as He often does His saints, we cannot escape from God’s prison before God’s time without breaking God’s laws. To attempt to live in a paradise in the world requires we do so at the expense of other people. But to take what we want when it brings pain to other people is not accepted by the Lord. We shall be judged and punished for our selfishness some day—as indeed we should be.

The Lord understands well that if we were brought immediately from Egypt to the land of promise we would never learn about Him because of the multitude of enjoyable circumstances and things. Also, we would not be able to stand in battle for the possession and maintenance of the land.

God keeps us in difficult circumstances for a considerable period of time because of the transformation that must occur in us if we are to lay hold on the fullness of our inheritance in Christ. Every pain, every fear, every doubt accomplishes God will in us if we bring the problem to Christ. God is loving and never for one moment allows us to suffer without a wise purpose. All things and experiences are bringing us toward an unimaginably great inheritance in and with Christ. Our task is to be patient and to follow the Holy Spirit as He administers the necessary experiences and blessings to us.

Peter describes the wilderness of testing: 

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

There is a reason for our suffering, our wilderness wandering. The purpose is that we cease from sin and live our earthly life according to the will of God. We are taught obedience, trust in God, God’s love for us, the dependability of Christ, and the power of resurrection life, while we are in trouble, perplexity, persecution, and hardship.

Another purpose of our Christian wilderness wandering is that we become strong in the Lord, able to overcome the enemy when we arrive at the land of promise. This was true also of the Hebrews for they were not strong or bold enough to wage war when they first came out of Egypt. 

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: (Exodus 13:17)

We become accustomed to God and His ways, and learn to follow Christ through every difficulty, while we are in the wilderness of this life. Then, when we approach our land of promise, our full inheritance in Christ, we shall be better able to follow God in the heat of the conflict because of what we have learned in the wilderness of trials.

There are three stages of redemption. The first of the three aspects (the first area of redemption) is the coming out of Egypt (out from the bondage of the sinful spirit of the age in which we live).

The second of the three aspects (the second area of redemption) is our wandering in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan (the trouble, confusion, suffering, unrest, dilemmas, hurts, pains, doubts, fears, of this present life).

Anyone who claims there is no place of suffering and confusion in the Christian life, or that there should not be a place of suffering and tribulation, understands neither the Scriptures nor the God of Heaven.

If our exodus from Egypt portrays deliverance from the authority of Satan, and our wilderness wandering is a period of adjustment to God and His ways, what, then, is the land of promise? What is the third of the three great platforms of redemption?

The third stage—rulership. The land of promise, the fulfillment in the Kingdom of God of the Hebrew land of milk and honey, is the realization of God’s promises of life, joy, power, glory, peace, and victory in Christ.

The Christian’s land of promise includes his perfect rest in the plan of God for his life; the Lord’s approval and blessing on him when the present life is over; untroubled abiding in the Person of Christ; the total destruction of the guilt, tendencies, and effects of sin in and around him; perfect conformity to the image of Christ; the indwelling of the Godhead in him; and the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion.

All these positions, transformations, and rewards are in Christ, of Christ, and through Christ. Christ Himself is our "Mark," our Rest, our Inheritance. Our goal is to come to know Him!

One of the important aspects of the promised land of the Christian is the earth itself. 

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. (Psalms 115:16)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

It is the will of God, as the Scriptures point out in several places (Daniel 7:18; Isaiah 60:12; Revelation 20:6; for example) that Christ and the saints rule in the earth. The earth itself and the nations of it are a substantial part of the fulfillment in the Kingdom of God of the Old Testament land of promise.

In salvation, as we have stated, we come out of the world spirit. In sanctification we begin the process of removing the graveclothes of satanic bondages from our flesh.

How, then, do we attain the land where the promises of God are fulfilled?

Salvation through the blood of the Lamb gives us the authority to seek eternal life in God. In sanctification, the Holy Spirit issues power and wisdom to us, comforting us and guiding us toward the rest of God.

As we trust in the blood of the Lamb for the forgiveness of our sins, and follow the Spirit and through Him put to death the deeds of our sinful flesh, we encounter the third challenge—that of loving not our life to the point of death.

We learn that the Father requires total obedience of us. We understand that such total obedience requires many painful episodes in which our cross bites deeply into our adamic nature; in which we are denied the desires of our soul.

We realize that our first, adamic nature must die in the Lord and that the Kingdom of God is the new man, the born-again man, the son of God, the life-giving spirit. He is from Heaven.

Salvation and sanctification are a challenge to us, requiring that we humble ourselves and yield to the grace of God. Rulership is a far greater challenge. If we would reign with God we must suffer. We must experience imprisonment. We must undergo every kind of tribulation and sorrow.

Little by little, command upon command, rule upon rule, our fleshly nature dies and is replaced by the living Word of God. Adam dies. Christ takes his place. Adam never can inherit the Kingdom of God. Christ inherits all the promises of God. Christ is the Kingdom of God.

The death we suffer as we press into rulership causes us to realize that everything of value is in Christ. Our flesh profits nothing—absolutely nothing!

We learn obedience by suffering. Even Christ learned obedience to the Father. The only manner in which we can come to know the Father is by obeying Him, and the name of the teacher who teaches us obedience is Suffering. The knowledge of the Holy God can come only by suffering, and to gain the knowledge of the Holy God is the principal reason why we have been placed on the earth.

The sons of God compose "a great people and a strong." God is calling forth just such a holy remnant from the ranks of Christendom. Those who are called of the Lord are chosen—after they have chosen Christ above all. Those who are chosen must then be proven faithful in the fires of Divine judgment. 

These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. (Revelation 17:14)

We experience the spiritual fulfillment of Passover (Leviticus 23:5) in salvation. We experience the spiritual fulfillment of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) in sanctification. We experience the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34) in the platform of rulership.

The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is the fullness of the Christian redemption. All graces and experiences point toward Tabernacles and are fulfilled in Tabernacles.

First came the Lord Jesus. After Jesus will come the holy remnant. The Lord is drawing out the holy remnant today while the remainder of the Lord’s elect experience the fruitfulness of salvation and Pentecost.

When the holy remnant have arrived at God’s standard, the Lord Jesus will appear. Teaching and transformation will continue until the entire Bride of the Lamb has become one new Man in Christ.

When the Bride of the Lamb has descended from the new sky and has been established on the new earth as the eternal Jerusalem, the Life of Christ will radiate to the citizens of the nations of the saved.

If we have not received salvation, let us come to Christ.

If we have received salvation but have not begun to live in the Spirit of God, let us come again to Christ.

If we have received salvation and are walking in the Spirit of God, but have not begun to enter death to our self-love and self-centeredness, let us come again to Christ.

If we have been saved the Lord will prune us in the hope of gaining more fruit, more of the image of Christ in us.

If we have made progress in the life of the Spirit, the Lord will prune us again that we may bear more fruit, and finally much fruit.

Fruitfulness and dominion can come only by the death of the adamic nature. The temptation today is to keep Adam alive and attempt to use the gifts of Pentecost to bring the Kingdom of God into the earth.

The Kingdom of God will not be brought into the earth in this manner, neither by our faith nor by our gifts. It is the False Prophet who attempts to use the gifts of the Spirit to support the Antichrist spirit of democratic libertarianism, preparing the way for the religious—humanistic government of the future. Many Pentecostal and charismatic people are falling into this deception.

It is only as we bow in the death of total obedience to the Father that the Kingdom of God can enter the earth. Rulership proceeds only from the cross, only from suffering and death. Divine Life must take the place of adamic life before the Kingdom of God can come into view.

Thus far in our book we have observed two main dimensions of the Christian’s land of promise:

Personal freedom from disobedience and rebellion against God, permitting complete and perfect rest with Christ in the bosom of the Father.

Dominion by Christ over our bodies, over our environment, and finally over the entire earth.

We have discussed also three platforms of redemption:

Initial salvation.

Sanctification.

Rulership. 

The Relationship of the Kingdom of Heaven to the Earth

The land of promise is not Heaven. Dying and going to Heaven is the traditional goal of Christianity. There are thousands of sermons preached and thousands of songs sung every week based on the assumption that the goal of the Christian life is to go to Heaven when we die. Heaven is the land of promise, "sweet Canaan-land," the other side of Jordan, the land of milk and honey.

It is certain that Heaven is a real place and Hell is a real place. Anyone of sound intelligence would desire to go to Heaven rather than to Hell when his heart ceases to beat. The forms of Heaven certainly are more permanent and clearly defined than the forms of earth, since the things of Heaven are not perishable as is the case with the physical forms of earth.

People are recognizable in Heaven we are told. So are Jesus and the angels. The author hopes to go to Heaven if he should die before Jesus appears in the clouds of glory. But Heaven is not the land of promise nor is Heaven the goal of the Christian redemption.

There are New Testament passages that appear to point toward Heaven as the land of promise. 

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:20,21)

We lay up for ourselves in Heaven the blessing and good will of God and the holy angels. We have loved ones in the Lord who have gone on before. The inhabitants of Heaven will greet us with joy when our spirit leaves the earth. There is a wondrous glorified body being prepared for us (as we are being prepared for it). Jesus, our King and Savior, is there.

But for all of this, Heaven is not the land of promise.

Jesus did not come preaching about our going to Heaven as to a place (although as we have said, Heaven is a place). Rather, Jesus came preaching concerning a place of abode for us in the house of God. Heaven is not the house of God; Christ is the House of God. Heaven is God’s throne, but Christ and His Body compose Zion, the only true Temple of God.

Jesus taught us about the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, the rule of Heaven.

When England was at the zenith of her power it was boasted that the sun never set on the British Empire. Yet, England proper included a relatively small area of land. There was a difference between the authority, or rule of England, and the island of England as a place.

The Lord Jesus did not preach concerning going to Heaven as to a place but rather about the rule of the Kingdom of Heaven, the rule of God. The Kingdom of Heaven is this, the Kingdom of Heaven is that, of such is the Kingdom of Heaven, He declared in His parables. But the Lord had little to say about going to Heaven as to a place.

We understand that Heaven is a real place and not just a condition of the heart, as some have supposed. However, for all its reality and substance, Heaven is not the land of promise. 

Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:23)

During the time England was ruling over India it sometimes happened that an officer of the British Army, by daring and unusual ability, won an important battle. His superior officer on such an occasion might say to him, "When England hears of this you will be honored!"

This heroic officer might then go to England to receive adulation and a medal, but he might be more concerned about returning to his outfit with his promotion. His reward was not in going to England as to a place. His reward came from the resources of England.

The soldier might even have felt that being in England was the worst thing that could happen to him. England was the land of his birth, his citizenship, where his relatives lived, the source of authority and his promotion. But he also could have found fulfillment in life in India. The people of India, the scenery, friends he met there, a family he had there, the way of life in India, might have grown to be his first love.

The officer was English in the deepest roots of his being but he wanted to serve England in India. There is a difference between saying to the English officer, your reward is in England, and your reward is England.

Jesus never once stated, Your reward is Heaven. Rather, He said, "Your reward is great in Heaven."

Our reward is great in the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a realm of authority. In the Kingdom of God we have Divine acceptance, fellowship with the Son of God, spiritual authority, access to the Father, power to overcome evil and harm, resurrection life, peace, and glory.

All of these blessings are in the power of the Father alone to give. They are our rewards, our treasures in Heaven. These gifts are part of our land of promise. Included in our inheritance is absolute dominion over the earth—the rule of the rod of iron.

Our citizenship is in Heaven but our place of conquest is in the earth. 

For our conversation [commonwealth] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (Philippians 3:20)

Heaven is our homeland while our present abode is the earth. We are a colony of citizens of Heaven who are taking possession of the earth, just as England, France, and Spain sent settlers into the Americas. Dying and going to Heaven actually is not an event of major spiritual importance. Our physical death is merely an interruption of our conquest of the earth, due to the fact that death, because of our sinful nature, still has authority over our physical body.

When Jesus comes our mortal body will be made alive and then clothed with the body of glory. At that time our conquest of the earth and its peoples will continue, commencing with the Battle of Armageddon. It is the earth, not Heaven, that is to be conquered by the saints. The earth and its inhabitants are an important part of our land of promise. 

For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; (Colossians 1:5)

What is the hope that is laid up for us in Heaven? Is it not that Jesus is coming again and we shall be alive forever and rule with Him over the earth?

Our spirit already is raised into the heavenlies in Christ. Paul describes our current status in Heaven: 

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

What are the "things above" on which we are to set our heart? The approval of God; eternal life in Christ; an eternal body of glory like Christ’s own body that will clothe our present body; fellowship with the Godhead and with the holy angels; restoration to our loved ones who have gone on before; acquaintance with the heroes of faith of the Scriptures.

Our spirit now is in Heaven while our body and soul remain on the earth: "your life is hid with Christ in God"; "your members which are upon the earth." 

Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Colossians 3:5)

We are in the heavenlies now in spirit, according to Colossians, Chapter Three. If we keep ourselves in the love of God in Christ, our soul will go to Heaven when we die, according to our present understanding.

In the day of resurrection only our body will be raised, our spirit and soul already being in the heavenlies with Christ. Jesus’ coming to the earth is for the resurrection of our body and for the clothing of our resurrected body with the body of glory He will bring with Him.

We are building our body of glory now before the Throne of God by means of our Christ-empowered righteous conduct on the earth.

The first four verses of Colossians, Chapter Three teach us that the Christian is in the heavenlies in spirit as soon as he is saved. We know also that our soul goes to Heaven when we die (at least, this is our belief—the Scriptures do not describe clearly what happens to us when we die, although there are a few references that deal with the subject).

There is no need for our body to be resurrected in order for our spirit and soul to go to Heaven nor is there a need for Jesus to return to earth in order for our spirit and soul to go to Heaven.

We do not need a body in order to go to Heaven. The purpose of the resurrection of our body is that we can live again on the earth. If God were not to clothe our mortal body with life but intended to give us another body instead, what would be the purpose of the resurrection? The resurrection from the dead is the foundation of the Christian Gospel!

As far as we know, there is no need for any creature to have a body in order to live in Heaven. But it is impossible to live on the earth without a body. Our body is our link to the earth. When our body dies we no longer are allowed to live on the earth but must pass into the spirit realm. Therefore the reason for the resurrection from the dead is that we may rule with Christ on the earth.

The reason Christ’s body was raised from the dead was that He may live on the earth. If His eternal abode were Heaven, Christ would have been raised in spirit only.

The Lord God gave dominion over the earth and over all the works of His hands to mankind. In order for Christ to receive dominion over the earth He had to become part of mankind, even though in the beginning He had created both the earth and mankind.

In order for Christ to become part of mankind He had to be born of a woman; for there is no other manner in which one can become part of mankind—one of the heirs of salvation—other than by being born of a woman. Such is the established plan of the God of Heaven.

Rulership over the material universe belongs to mankind alone. But we perish in our bodies, losing our ability to remain on the earth, because of the death that works in us as the result of sin. Christ has appeared, being born of a woman, that He might be Son of Man as well as Son of God; for it pleased the Father that in all things Christ have preeminence.

Through His death on the cross Christ destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil. Having been raised from the dead, Jesus is the Firstborn of the new creation. The new creation is the uniting of the Divine with the human in such a manner that the visible expression of the invisible God can abide on the earth and govern the handiwork of God Almighty.

We Christians now are in Heaven in spirit. When Christ returns to earth we shall return with Him, if we have died meanwhile. Our spirit and soul will be reunited with our body and we once again will have the power to live on earth—an ability lost to us when our body experienced physical death.

Today we are awaiting Jesus’ return, awaiting the Day of Resurrection. 

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1:10)

The above passage does not state Jesus is returning so He may take us to Heaven. This often is assumed. But the passage is speaking of Jesus’ return to reign over the nations. All who now receive Christ as Lord and Savior will be saved from Divine wrath during the Day of Judgment.

The following verse is one we often use to refer to our being caught up to Heaven. It is true that we shall be caught away from the earth for a season while God pours out His wrath on the earth. But look carefully at what the passage actually stresses: 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

God will bring the deceased saints with Him from Heaven, for they are not asleep in Heaven but are awake in spirit, we believe. The stress is on the coming of the saints not the going of the saints. It is the body that is asleep and must be awakened. 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

It is our understanding that there indeed will be an exodus from the earth as the heavenly Moses, Christ, destroys "Egypt" (the spirit of the world) and leads His people out from spiritual bondage.

But the temporary evacuation of the earth by the saints, so God can pour wrath on the forces of wickedness in preparation for the invasion of the earth by Christ and His army, does not appear to be stressed in the above verse.

Rather, the concept here is that of the reunion of the living saints with the saints in light. It is the great day of restoration, when the saints of God will be reunited with their loved ones and especially with the Lord.

It is a comfort to know, when a beloved Christian dies, that we shall yet rejoice with him or her in an immortal body in the coming day of resurrection. Such is the hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom (John 3:16).

We shall meet the Lord "n the air." It is the meeting, the reunion, that is being emphasized. The Bridegroom has come and we are going forth to meet Him. It is possible, but not likely, we then may go to Heaven for a season, but the Scripture stresses the air rather than Heaven.

It is not likely we will go to Heaven for a season because the great majority of the members of the Body of Christ have been in Heaven, some for thousands of years, and there would be no point in their turning around and going back to the spirit Paradise. They are returning with the Lord so they may regain their bodies and rule with Him on the earth.

It is not advisable to make assumptions when there is no supporting text. Trouble comes when we add to or subtract from the Word of God, and the teaching of the any-moment pre-tribulation rapture has caused enormous problems, from our point of view.

Christ is at home in Heaven and on the earth. When our bodies have been raised from the dead we too shall be at home in Heaven and on the earth. The important aspect of the Day of the Lord to the Christian is not that we go to Heaven or that we remain on the earth. The most significant aspect of the Day of the Lord is that we shall ever be with the Lord Jesus.

We shall meet Him in the air because this is the vantage point from which wicked spirits govern the world (Ephesians 2:2).

Many verses that mention Christ’s next coming describe Him as returning to the earth in order to reign—to remain on the earth as the political head of all governments. At that time, as we see it, the saints will be filled to overflowing with resurrection life and will be assigned thrones of rulership with Christ. However, the most significant statement in I Thessalonians 4:17 is, "so shall we ever be with the Lord." We shall be with Christ eternally, and that is what is of supreme importance.

One of the sources of confusion concerning the Christian land of promise is that we make certain terms synonymous when the substance to which the terms refer is not the same thing or experience. We speak of Heaven, the new Jerusalem, the glorified body, the redemption of the mortal body, mansions in the Father’s house, Canaan land, Glory, my home over there, Paul’s "mark," in the sweet bye-and-bye, ruling with Christ, the resurrection from the dead, eternal life, the land beyond the river, as though these terms all refer to the same thing or experience.

Each of these terms refers to the favor of God as opposed to His disfavor. But the several terms set forth above (while some of them are synonymous) include different aspects of the Kingdom of God.

Perhaps we can be somewhat explicit and logical about the relationship of the Kingdom of God to the earth. The relationship is similar to that of a colonizing power to its colony. The earth is a colony of the mother country, Heaven. The Almighty Emperor is God the Father. He has given full authority and power to His Son, Jesus Christ. God expects that His Son be obeyed in all matters great and small.

We Christians are ambassadors for Christ, the Son. We are living in the earth while our citizenship is in another place. We are beseeching men to accept the peace overtures being made by the Son of the Almighty Emperor. We also are warning them that the Son is coming in devastating wrath and power to destroy out of the earth all who would oppose His total rule.

The earth and its inhabitants have been given to the Son by the Father as a land of promise: 

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalms 2:8,9)

The most important aspect of the Kingdom of God is the will of God. The doing of God’s will in the earth is the goal of the Christian Church: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

The goal of the efforts of the Christian Church is to bring the rule of Heaven into the earth. The coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth is synonymous with the doing of God’s will in the earth. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done . . . ." The performing of God’s will in the earth requires overcoming and casting out Satan by the authority and power of Christ.

It is difficult for any person to do God’s will in the earth because of the continual pressure in the opposite direction by Satan and his army of unclean spirits. The earth is a testing ground for God’s future kings to see if they, by Christ’s enabling virtue, can overcome Satan and obey the rule of Heaven while they are living in the earth in a mortal body.

It is not easy to overcome sin! Even after appropriating all the grace of Christ it still requires every bit of attention that a sincere person can summon in order for him to bring himself and his area of responsibility under the dominion of God’s will.

The whole earth is corrupt and in rebellion against the rule of Heaven because of the presence and activities of Satan and his hordes and the evolving sinfulness of human beings—human beings who are festering with the sin-sickness introduced into the earth in Eden and influences every person born on the earth.

But the earth and its people are the land of promise of Christ and His Body. The day will come when Christ, Head and Body, will be charged by the Father to destroy out of the earth every personality that will not come under the absolute rule of God in Christ.

The rule of Heaven is coming into the earth. "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Heaven is the only acceptable source of law and government for the earth. "The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all" (Psalms 103:19).

Nebuchadnezzar became aware of the relationship of the Kingdom of Heaven to the earth. The angel said to him: 

And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule. (Daniel 4:26)

Nebuchadnezzar discovered that the "heavens do rule" indeed. After his humiliation he testified: 

And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? (Daniel 4:35)

We have discussed the fact that the land of promise of the Christian is not primarily the place termed Heaven. Rather, it is the earth and earth’s peoples that are the important area of rule of the Christian land of promise. Christ is leading the members of His Body into their land of promise, into dominion over the earth, just as Joshua led the Hebrews into their land of promise.

In bringing the Hebrews into Canaan, Joshua automatically brought the Presence of God and the rule of Heaven into Canaan. In bringing the Christians into their possession, Jesus automatically brings the Presence of God and the rule of Heaven into the earth.

The land of promise of the Christian includes victory in his circumstances, the indwelling of Christ and God, the resurrection and glorification of his body, and finally dominion over the whole earth. We already have discussed the manner in which the believer follows the Holy Spirit into victory in his circumstances. Let us pass now to the subject of the indwelling of Christ and God. 

The Indwelling of Christ and God

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

Associated with the Christian land of promise is rest in the bosom of the Father where we always are in the position of being able to receive the fullness of God’s Presence. This is the condition in which Jesus lived while He was on the earth and in which He does yet live. There is no other inheritance that can be compared with eternal rest in the pure, untroubled Presence of the Father.

God Himself becomes our life, our song, our strength, our health, our rest, our peace, our wisdom, our resurrection, our hope, our faith, our resolution, our diligence—everything of value to us. God Himself becomes these virtues in us and to us. Our part is to "trust and not be afraid."

If the fruition of the Christian experience is the condition of perfect trust in God who becomes all we need, why, then, does it take so long to arrive at the place of rest and peace? The reason it requires such a long period of time and is so difficult is that Satan, our fleshly nature, and the world spirit dispute every inch of ground. We must fight our way, by the wisdom and strength Christ gives us, into the rest of God. 

Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)

The "water" mentioned here is the Holy Spirit and the "wells of salvation" are the hearts of the Christian saints. 

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37,38)

The Christian fulfillment of the Hebrew feast of Tabernacles is the setting up of the Throne of God in the heart of the Christian. The Holy Spirit flows from the Throne of God (Revelation 22:1; Ezekiel 47:1). When Christ and God are enthroned in the heart of the Christian, he being by this time under the unhindered rule of God in Christ, the River of Life will flow for the healing of the nations (Ezekiel 47:9).

During the feast of Tabernacles it was the custom for the priest to carry water in a golden pitcher from the Pool of Siloam and to pour it out on the Altar of Burnt Offering. The pouring of the water was the occasion for the greatest exultation and rejoicing on the part of the assembled Israelites.

Jesus gave His promise concerning the rivers of living water while the attention of the listeners was on the feast of Tabernacles: on the pouring of the water from the Pool of Siloam and on the singing of Isaiah, Chapter 12. The words of the Lord concerning rivers of living water springing from within the believer were very appropriate and significant.

Jesus at this time was revealing the meaning of the feast of Tabernacles and of the part of the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah being emphasized.

"For the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song." Not the Lord gives me strength, gives me a song. He Himself is the strength. He Himself is the song. The marriage to Christ, the possession of God Himself, is the goal of spiritual growth. The feast of Tabernacles is fulfilled when God and Christ make Their eternal abode in the heart of the Christian believer.

It is the Father’s good pleasure that each Christian live in Christ and the Father, and that Christ and the Father live in each Christian. Each of us is to be the expression of Christ’s Personality and will. We are to be totally dependent on Christ, our whole life moving with and in the pure flowing of the Substance and power of the living and absolutely holy and Divine Son of God.

Christ lives in the Father and the Father lives in Him. He was and is the Expression of the Father’s Personality and will. Christ is totally dependent on the Father, His whole being moving in and with the pure flowing of the Substance and power of Almighty God.

Several verses in the Gospel of John give us some understanding of the perfection and completeness of the manner in which Jesus is at rest in the center of God’s Being and will: 

No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (John 1:18)

Note that the present tense ("is") applies to the Lord Jesus whether He is in Heaven or on the earth. He is the great "I Am." Jesus forever is in the bosom of the Father. In like manner we are to be forever in Christ. 

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. (John 5:19)

I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57)

In the preceding verse, John 6:57, we begin to perceive that Jesus intends for us to be in the center of His Being in the same manner and to the same extent He is at rest in the center of His Father’s Being.

Jesus is so completely one with the Father He could state: 

. . . Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. (John 8:19)

And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)

If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 10:37,38)

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:10)

It is a fact that God the Father lives in Christ and Christ abides in the Father. But there is more to this revelation. It also is a fact that the rest of God (Hebrews 4:1) is fulfilled when we Christians find our individual places in the fullness of Christ and God.

The believer goes through a spiritual wilderness as he seeks to bring his own personality into the will of Christ. When the disciple has learned all that the Holy Spirit has put in his course of study (the curriculum is tailored to each person) he finds himself in the place of complete and perfect rest in the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit.

The Christian is to dwell in Christ and God in the same manner that Christ dwells in God: 

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John 6:56)

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. (John 15:4)

The next verses from John reveal clearly that the Christian is to dwell in Christ and God in the same manner in which Christ dwells in God: 

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:21-23)

The theme of the Christian dwelling in Christ and God, and Christ and God dwelling in the Christian, is found in the Epistles. 

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. (I Corinthians 6:17)

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (II Corinthians 6:16)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Philippians 1:20)

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. (I John 4:13)

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The mystery of the Gospel is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27). The plan of God is to restore to mankind all that was lost in Eden, including His actual Presence. God intends to restore His Presence through Christ, the Anointed Deliverer.

The Christian Church has known for centuries that Jesus of Nazareth is Christ, Messiah, the Servant of the Lord, the anointed Deliverer proclaimed by Isaiah and the other Hebrew Prophets. The Church has been aware also (though sometimes vaguely it seems) that Jesus Christ will return and that at His returning the peoples of the earth and the power of darkness will be judged.

The judgment of the great Day will result in the destruction of all who oppose Christ—people as well as wicked spirits. But the judgment will result also in the deliverance of multitudes of righteous people who are oppressed by wicked spirits.

What the Christian Church seems to be largely unaware of, however, is that Christ consists not only of Christ, the Head, but also of a Body. Christ is the Head, the Center of authority and power, of the great Anointed Deliverer, Christ. The Christian Church is the Body of Christ.

When the Church has been adequately prepared by the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ—Head and Body—will then accomplish God’s mission of judging, cleansing, and liberating the peoples of the earth, or else sentencing them to banishment or torment. 

To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalms 149:7-9)

"This honour [of executing judgment and vengeance on the nations] have all his saints."

The Body of Christ consists of Christian believers who are dwelling in Christ and God, and Christ and God dwelling in them. The Body of Christ is to abide under the clear and untroubled control of the Head at all times!

The sending of Christ and the resulting judging of evil and release of the earth was promised to Abraham because of his obedience in offering his son, Isaac. 

That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:17,18)

The two verses above may be among the most significant passages of the Scriptures because they reveal that God intends to remove the harm done to the earth by Adam’s disobedience.

There is an interesting concept contained in the passage. The "seed" will be multiplied "as the stars of the heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore." Apparently the Seed will be very large in number. Yet the Apostle Paul carefully instructs us that the term seed is singular in number, and that the "seed . . . is Christ" (Galatians 3:16).

The Seed is to be very great in number, yet the Seed is singular in number.

The answer is, the Seed is Christ, and Christ is to be as the stars and as the sand on the seashore. But how can Christ be so numerous when there is but one Lord Jesus Christ?

It is as we have stated. Christ, the Anointed Deliverer who is to come, the Servant of the Lord, includes the Head, Jesus, and a Body, the Christian Church. It is not true that there is more than one Lord Jesus. But it is clear in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit of God is creating Christ in the victorious believers.

Christ is being formed in us. We are the Body of Christ. In the last days the entire Christ—Head and Body—will be used of God to release the earth from the slavery into which it was sold by the disobedience of Adam and Eve. The breaking forth of God’s unlimited power and glory in the end-time is referred to in Romans, Chapter Eight as the manifestation (revealing; showing; unveiling) of the sons of God.

The Church is to be brought to maturity in Christ. 

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:12,13)

There is a profound meaning in the fact that the anointing of the Holy Spirit rests on each Christian believer and that Christ and God dwell in the Christian. The whole body of Christian people, those gone on before, those alive now on the earth, and those yet to come, constitute the Body of Christ—the One ordained of God from the time of faithful Abraham to "possess the gate of his enemies."

In the unimaginably terrible Day of the Lord that is coming upon the earth in the last days, the true elect of God will be saved from the fiery wrath of God Almighty. The wrath of God has been smoldering since the time of the rebellion in Heaven.

Christ, Head and Body, is—and will continue to be—the only place of safety in a world that is dropping into a bottomless pit of satanic delusion, horror, chains, nightmarish compulsion and anxiety—unrelieved agony throughout a hopeless eternity. 

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)

Christ and God are creating Their eternal resting place in the hearts of the overcomers, multiplying the Presence of Christ. From this place of absolute rest, joy, and perfect majesty and power they will govern all the creation of God throughout an eternity of ever-increasing peace, joy, and conformity to the image and will of God. 

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7)

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:22,23)

The Resurrection of the Body

One of the important aspects of the promised-land rest of God is the indwelling of Christ and God, as we have described in the preceding section. Another important aspect of the Christian land of promise is that of conquest, of dominion over all things and circumstances. A third aspect of the promised-land rest is the resurrection from the dead. 

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (I Corinthians 15:20,21)

If by any means I might attain unto [arrive at] the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

The resurrection from the dead is the goal of redemption. 

And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)

The goal of redemption is the release of the physical body from the grip of sin and death. Resurrection to immortality is the overcoming of the last enemy. The term last suggests that all prior enemies have been conquered and there now are no more enemies. We have made a complete success through Christ of entering our land of promise when we arrive at the redemption of our mortal body. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (I Corinthians 15:26).

The resurrection of our body is one of the major objectives of the Christian salvation.

Dying and going to Heaven will be a marvelous occurrence in our individual life if we have served the Lord faithfully. All true saints await with eager expectation the moment when they will leave the present cursed, demon-oppressed environment and go to be at home with the Lord. However, dying and going to Heaven is not the resurrection from the dead.

The resurrection from the dead, which has little to do with going to Heaven, is a state that must be pursued each day, as Paul pointed out in Philippians, Chapter Three. The resurrection from the dead is the making alive of our mortal body so we can serve God on the earth.

The blowing of the trumpet of God and the coming of Jesus will be a worldwide historical event in which we Christians shall participate. The first resurrection will be witnessed by all people as we understand it. the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection of the blessed and holy priesthood, is a personal state of redemption that must be pursued with all the energy and attention of the Christian.

There also will be a resurrection of the wicked and it will be a dreadful judgment on those taking part in it.

But we are speaking of the resurrection of the righteous, which will be a raising of their physical bodies from the grave so they can serve God in righteousness and holiness throughout eternity, in spirit, in soul, and in body.

The members of the Body of Christ must prepare themselves for the coming resurrection from the dead. We must purify ourselves (I John 3:3), washing our robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There are at least four major aspects of the resurrection from the dead:

The development of eternal life in the Christian personality.

Putting to death the deeds of the body.

The process of transformation from mortality to immortality.

Coming forth from the grave.

We Christians throughout our discipleship are in the pursuit of eternal life. Although in one sense we have eternal life the moment we receive Him who is the resurrection and the life, yet we are to be sowing to eternal life each day of our discipleship. The resurrection of our mortal body and the clothing of our resurrected body with the body from Heaven bring us to the fullness of eternal life.

We cited previously four major aspects of the resurrection from the dead. The first aspect is the development of eternal life in the Christian personality. The second aspect is the putting to death of the deeds of our physical body.

The third aspect is the process of transformation from mortality to immortality. The fourth aspect is our coming forth from the grave.

The fourth aspect is a sovereign act of glorification and Kingdom power. It will occur at the last trumpet. But the first three aspects, the development of eternal life in our personality, putting to death the deeds of our flesh, and the process of transformation from mortality to immortality are not sovereign acts of God in the sense of being independent of our efforts, of being acts that will take place some day according to Divine intervention. Rather, they are being worked out in us now as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. The attaining of the first three is necessary if we are to arrive at the resurrection to eternal life that will occur at the coming of the Lord.

Eternal life is developed in us as we turn aside from our fleshly lusts and give time to prayer, reading the Scriptures, and serving the Lord in our daily life.

The deeds of our body are put to death as we confess our sins, turn away from them, and resist the devil.

When speaking of the process of transformation from mortality to immortality we are not referring to the making alive of our mortal body at the coming of the Lord. Rather we are speaking of the body of glory that now is in Heaven. It is being fashioned from our response to tribulation. The body we will receive in the Day of the Lord is being formed now by our conduct as Christian believers.

In the sense in which we are speaking, the resurrection to life must be attained now. The marriage takes place at "eventide," not at the midnight hour when the Lord returns (Genesis 24:63; Matthew 25:6). The marriage of the Lamb that will occur at the time of the return of the Lord will be the manifestation of a marriage that has occurred previously (Revelation 19:7). The kind of resurrection we shall experience will not come from grace or faith, except as faith transforms our behavior during our discipleship. 

If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

The first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, must be attained. It is attained as we enter today into the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.

There will be a resurrection of the unjust. It will be a resurrection to shame, contempt, and sentencing (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Acts 24:15). Paul refers to the resurrection to eternal life as our being "perfect," as the "mark," the goal of the Christian life. We are to be grasping the first three aspects of the resurrection in these days so we will be ready for the change in the body when Jesus appears in the cloud of glory.

The development of eternal life in the Christian personality.

The first aspect of resurrection to eternal life is the development of eternal life in the Christian personality. Eternal Life is God in Christ. Laying hold on eternal life is one of the main topics of the New Testament and is associated with the development of righteousness and holiness in our deeds, our words, and our thoughts. 

There are three areas of attainment involved in the development of eternal life in the Christian personality. Eternal life is the full knowledge and possession of God in Christ

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3)

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:8)

And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. (I John 5:20)

Three areas of attainment of eternal life are as follows:

The doing of God’s will.

The creation of Christ in us.

Life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The first area of attainment in the development of eternal life in the Christian is the doing of God’s will in all areas of the Christian discipleship, whether ministry, conquest or the numerous deeds, words, and thoughts that go together to make up the fervent Christian walk. 

And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (I John 2:17)

The emphasis is on God’s will. There are many wills in the world. Which one is God’s will? How can we be sure what we are doing really is God’s will?

The nations continue in darkness. They have little light concerning what is pleasing to God. They stumble about in ignorance of the Person of God and His ways. Every person in the world desires the life, peace, and joy that come from doing God’s will. But with so many voices counseling them each day, how can anyone know the right way?

The Word of God is God’s light, God’s will for His creatures, God’s Law. The Word of God comes to us in two ways. The first is by the written Word, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. The second is by the specific guidance and direction given us as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s wisdom and plan for us as an individual.

There is general light on our pathway from the Scriptures, and specific light on our pathway from the Lord’s leading given to us as an individual. There are instances in both the Old and New Testaments in which we find the saints of the Lord being directed into God’s will by the Scriptures, and also by the direct leading of the Lord. The direct leading of the Lord is mentioned more frequently.

Walking in obedience to God’s general and specific will results in the full knowledge and possession of God in Christ, which is eternal life. We can be sincere about what we do each day. But if we are not doing what God has ordained we are walking in spiritual death. Sincerity alone will not result in our pleasing God. We must be walking in truth. We must worship God in truth as well as in spirit. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man; but the end therefore are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

Pilate asked, "What is truth?" This is a very important question in a person’s life, as Pilate recognized. How can we be certain our life is in harmony with God’s plan for us? That we are pursuing the true Kingdom?

The first thing we can do to insure we truly are performing God’s will is to study the Scriptures each day, both Old and New Testaments. There are some passages we read that we can begin to practice. But as soon as we set out to do what the Scriptures teach we discover we must pray continually for the wisdom and strength of the Lord. We must seek the Lord constantly or we cannot act, speak or think according to the righteous and holy ways described in God’s written Word.

If we study the Scriptures prayerfully they lead us to the living Lord and we begin to trust in Him. He becomes real to us. The life we are seeking is not in the Scriptures but in the Lord Jesus Himself.

It is not enough that we merely read the Scriptures, we must practice what they teach. 

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (Matthew 7:24)

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: (Matthew 7:26)

In order to live in the sight of God we have to do His will.

For example: 

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:12)

To read the above commandment and then to give up in despair, telling ourselves we cannot do it and it does not matter because we are saved by grace and not by works, is not God’s will. This is the current practice, based on a misunderstanding of Paul’s doctrine of grace. The doctrine that we do not have to do what the Scriptures command because we are saved by grace has destroyed the testimony of the Christian churches.

Eternal life comes only as we do whatever God has commanded. The one acceptable response to Matthew 7:12, and to every other commandment of God whether in the Scriptures or by revelation to us as an individual, is to look to Jesus for wisdom and strength so we may please Him with our response to His written Word.

God means exactly what He says. Eternal life comes to us as we obey God’s Word.

The more we learn of the Scriptures the more aware we become of the Person and way of the Lord. The Scriptures teach us concerning what is morally acceptable to God. The moral law is the same in both the Old and New Testaments. We learn that God requires love for Himself and love for our neighbor, fair dealing, truth-telling, sincerity, kindness, mercy, humility, concern for the poor, an attitude of understanding and forgiveness.

We learn that God will provide for our needs and desires and we are to pray and seek His face continually. We are counseled to meditate in His Word day and night. We are taught to allow His peace to rule in our hearts. The Scriptures are a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. They direct our thoughts, words, and actions into the way that is pleasing to the Lord.

When we find we do not have the strength, wisdom or opportunity to do what we believe to be God’s will concerning ourselves and those for whom we are responsible, we are to seek help from the Lord Jesus. The Lord, in answer to our sincere prayer, will send us strength, wisdom, and opportunity. God always helps us perform His will when we seek His assistance with our whole heart.

Many Christian people are walking in death today because they are ignorant of the teaching of the Scriptures concerning how we are to live in the world. We are to study the Scriptures, and with the help of the Holy Spirit begin to keep the Word of the Lord.

As we start keeping the Word of the Lord by the wisdom and strength that come to us from the Lord Jesus we discover that the authority and power of the new covenant are conquering our animal nature. First we keep the Word; then the Word begins to keep us. 

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

There is a progression in the above verse. If we will "keep" the words of Jesus, the Father will "love" us and He and Jesus will make Their "abode" with us. The admonitions of the Scriptures, which at first were so difficult to observe, become increasingly natural to practice as the Father and the Son abide in us. 

We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)

The "more sure word of prophecy" is referring to the Scriptures. If we take heed to the Scriptures, doing what they say by the wisdom and strength imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, the light of Christ will arise in our heart so we will begin to be changed in our inner man into the image of Christ. We are assured of inner help: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

When we start out as a Christian we have to do much as the Jews did: we must learn the Scriptures and behave as they direct. The initial difference is that we have the blood of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the born-again experience to help us live righteously.

After a while a marvelous circumstance occurs. We realize we are experiencing an inner transformation that is making us the Word of God. Truth is being created in our inner being. 

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:10,11)

Under the old covenant God wrote the Ten Commandments on two stone tablets. The finger of God wrote the words.

Under the new covenant the finger of God again writes the moral law. This time, however, the writing surface is not stone. The writing surface for the new covenant is the mind and heart of the Christian believer. The "ink" is the Spirit of God. The new covenant can be written only in the personality of the member of the Body of Christ.

The Lord puts His holy laws in our mind so we understand the will of God.

The Lord writes His holy laws on our heart so we choose to do the will of God from our inner nature.

When our mind and heart have been transformed by the writing of the Word of God on them and in them, then we are the new covenant. Then we are the highest expression of God’s holy Law, the light of the world, a city set on a hill—the new Jerusalem.

The end of the new covenant is the full knowledge and possession of Christ, which is eternal life. Eternal life will be possessed in varying degrees by the "least" and the "greatest" of the people of the Lord. This is the full outcome of the new covenant.

We have mentioned the specific will of God for us as an individual. The sons of God are led by the Holy Spirit. The revelation of God to us is a source of Divine truth making us know the specific will of God. Obedience to the revealed will of God to us personally brings us to the knowledge of the Holy One. To gain the knowledge of God is one of the principal reasons for man’s experiences on the earth.

How does one find the will of God for his or her life? Sometimes it is fairly simple to discover the will of God, and the burden of the Lord and His directions are clear. We know in our heart, whether by conviction, dream, vision, where to go and what to do and say.

At other times it is not as easy to come to an understanding of the will of God for us personally. We may sit obediently in darkness for many years, waiting for the mind of the Lord to be revealed to us. We are required to keep on performing the practical tasks set before us while we are seeking the Face of God.

Perhaps the most significant New Testament passage concerning finding God’s personal will for us is as follows: 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1,2)

We must be obedient to the specific guidance and direction given us as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s wisdom and plan. In the area of personal leading we learn to walk slowly, prayerfully, and often with the knowledge and advice of the elders of the assembly of Christians we attend—especially if the Lord Jesus is leading us into a major move or action of some kind.

In addition there are many daily promptings and guidances that we learn by experience to recognize as the leading of the Holy Spirit—or else our imagination.

In the present hour many of the lords of darkness have come to the earth to prepare the nations for the climactic events of the last days. They are attracted to the diligent disciple and speak to him as the voice of the Lord.

The lords of darkness now seem to be able to state that Jesus is Lord, that Christ has come in the flesh, that He was crucified for our sins and rose again from the dead.

How, then, are we to test the spirits? Only by the greatest vigilance, always watching carefully the fruit of our revelations. The Pentecostal people are particularly vulnerable because they believe the Lord would never permit them to be deceived. They are mistaken. Numerous ministers and Christians are accepting "words" that are not from the Lord.

We are to pray that God will not lead us into temptation but will deliver us from Satan. Personal revelation must be checked against the Scriptures, but in many instances the Scriptures do not specifically address the issue being raised. The warrior must move very slowly, watching, praying, calling on the Lord Jesus constantly. Even with every safeguard we still may be deceived. But the Lord finally will deliver us if we beseech Him to lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

The Christian people of today are too arrogant. They are being deceived by the thousands and their ministers along with them. The spiritual warfare is intense but many Christians have been immobilized by the current overemphasis on grace.

The sons of God are to be led by the Spirit, not by the Scriptures. In our day being led by the Spirit requires the utmost vigilance and the fellowship of fervent, totally consecrated saints. Otherwise we will be deceived by satanic voices and impulses.

The first step, then, in the development of eternal life in us is the transformation of our mind in accordance with the Word of God so we actually do God’s will. As we keep on hearing the Word of God, allowing the truth and power of the Word to transform our thinking and will until we do what is pleasing to God, we grow in the power of eternal life—the power that one day will enable us to bring the light and life of God into the earth.

The second area of development of eternal life in our personality has to do with what we are in substance, in nature. It is the re-creation of what we are in essence. Such re-creation of ourselves is the formation of Christ in us. The re-creation of ourselves causes us to do the will of God, and so the first two areas are related.

The forming of Christ in us requires constant contact with the living Christ Himself. The Life of God is in Christ who is the very Word of God. 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (I John 1:1,2)

Every person born into the world is dead. In the day that Adam and Eve sinned they died, according to the Word of the Lord. 

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)

What do the Scriptures mean by death ? Adam lived physically for over 900 years, yet he died on the day he sinned. Romans 8:10 informs us that our physical body is "dead because of sin." Yet, we are breathing, eating, moving, speaking, thinking.

It seems that our concept of death and the scriptural concept of death are not the same.

Death, from the scriptural point of view, is the absence of the Life of Christ, of the Presence of God. Eternal life is the Substance, the Being, the Spirit of Christ.

At one time the touch of Christ, the Word of God, was on Adam and Eve. But the moment they sinned, Christ left the garden of Eden. The processes of their bodies continued to operate but the life was gone from them. 

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)

We gain eternal life by receiving and obeying the Word of God. We walk in the light of God’s will and come to know Him and be accepted by Him.

Now we discover we must also take into ourselves the very Substance, the Being, the Life of Christ. Christ is the Tree of Life. He is the Resurrection. He is the Life.

If we do not receive Him into our heart and mind we have no life in us. "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:54). There is a double thought in these words. If we eat His flesh and drink His blood we have in ourselves eternal life now. Also, if we receive the eternal life now we will be raised up into eternal life at the last day—the Day of Christ.

But how do we eat His flesh and drink His blood?

The Communion service in which we eat the bread and drink the cup is an act of faith in which we call to remembrance the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. By so partaking we "show the Lord’s death until he come" (I Corinthians 11:26). Also, we bring to mind the fact that He is our life, His body and blood being the eternal life in us.

The Word of God comes into our soul as the body and blood of Christ, which is the Substance of Christ. The Substance of Christ is created in us as the Holy Spirit brings the Word of God to the inner man.

We all have had the experience of coming away from the preaching of the Word of God feeling we have been fed in the inner man. In addition to the information and revelation have enlightened our mind there is also a sense of something having been added inside of us. This is the body and blood of Christ, the Substance of the living Word of God, added to our inner man by the Holy Spirit.

The Word of God as the body and blood of Christ is typified by the Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:30). The Table of Showbread, and the wine that was poured out (Numbers 28:7) when sacrifices were offered for the nation of Israel, represent the body and blood of Christ. It is the Word of God in the form of the Substance of Christ. The Word of God anointed to our inner man adds to the formation of Christ in us (Galatians 4:19; I Peter 2:2).

The light in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation came at night from the golden Lampstand. We see the shining of the Holy Spirit on the Table of Showbread. This symbolism speaks to us of the manner in which the Holy Spirit radiates from Christ, revealing the showbread, the body and blood of Christ.

As the Holy Spirit of the new covenant shines through the ministries and gifts of the Spirit, the Christian people are able to behold the Glory of Christ. As we witness the Glory of God we are changed eternally; we are transformed in our personality; the eternal Life that is Christ is formed in us. 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (II Corinthians 3:18)

He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. (John 6:56)

As Christ is created in us we find we are becoming increasingly dependent on Him for all we are and do. As His likeness is created in us He Himself begins to "fill the temple." 

As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. (John 6:57)

There is no gap between Christ and His Father. The union is complete and perfect in every respect. As we receive Christ into ourselves we begin to close the gap between Christ and us. No longer is He merely doing things for us. Increasingly it is true that He and we are becoming one in being, in thought, in action. This condition is more than just being saved. It is absorption into the Divine Godhead, a marriage, a oneness, an immersion in the river of eternal life.

We are discussing the four major aspects of the resurrection from the dead. The first of these is the development of eternal life in the Christian personality.

We have stated that the three areas of attainment to the development of eternal life in the Christian personality are as follows:

The doing of God’s will.

The creation of Christ in us.

Life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have discussed the first two aspects and will now turn to the third.

The third aspect, that of attaining to life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, of changing our source of motivation and energy from sin and self-seeking to the Divine flowing of the Holy Spirit, is associated with suffering and crucifixion. This is why we find Paul exclaiming: 

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

God has to bring us down to the death of Christ before God can raise us by the same power that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. The deeper the crucifixion the more powerful the resurrection. Resurrection flows from crucifixion. God does not raise us until the occasion requires that He act.

The suffering and death of Christ are associated with the power of His resurrection.

Christ suffered social rejection, loneliness, being misunderstood. So did Joseph, Job, Jeremiah, and Paul. Christ suffered questionings and oppression in Gethsemane—a greater load of darkness than any other person could bear or ever will be called on to bear.

Job, Jeremiah, and countless others of God’s saints of all ages have suffered spiritual questionings and the darkness of intense oppression. Such afflictions are a normal part of the Christian experience. But the Lord delivers us out of them all.

Christ suffered physically on the cross. Many of the heroes of faith of the Old Testament suffered physically and so have hundreds of thousands of Christian martyrs.

Under the new covenant the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings brings to us the power of resurrection life. We Christians are made life-giving spirits when God raises us by His resurrection power. Death works in us but life in other people. 

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. (II Corinthians 1:4,5)

When we are brought low by social, spiritual, or physical suffering, God, after a season, raises us. The power that raises us spills over on the people around us so they too are raised. The power of the Spirit that consoles us also consoles them. The greatest comfort we ever give to the saints is that which flows from our own death and resurrection. 

But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (II Corinthians 1:9)

Gradually we Christians learn to live with the "sentence of death" in ourselves. We continually are being brought low in the sufferings of Christ. Sometimes we become "pressed out of measure, above strength" to the point we despair of our life.

Then the awesome power of Christ’s resurrection lifts us and we live again. Those about us live also because the power touches them. We are changed each time we are raised. Gone is a bit more of our sin and self-seeking. In their place is the power of the resurrection. The source of our motivation and energy is being changed in preparation for the change in our body at the coming of the Lord. 

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. (II Corinthians 4:8-11)

We keep passing from death to life as we are brought down to Christ’s death and then raised by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit of God.

We stated previously that there are four major aspects of the resurrection from the dead and that the first of these is the development of eternal life in the personality of the Christian person. Eternal life is developed in our personality as we understand and perform God’s will concerning us; as Christ is created in us; and as we learn to live in the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit.

The second of the four aspects of the resurrection from the dead has to do with putting off, by the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit, the works of our fleshly nature.

Putting to death the deeds of the body. We have said that the first and second major aspects of the resurrection from the dead are the developing of eternal life in us and putting off the unclean works of our fleshly nature. These are not instantaneous, sovereign acts of God in us such as coming forth from the grave and ascending to the clouds. Rather, they have to do with the daily acquisition of righteousness and holiness of behavior—righteousness and holiness of behavior being signs of eternal life in us. 

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul teaches us the relationship between eternal life, and righteousness and holiness of behavior in the world. Eternal life is inseparably connected with righteous and holy conduct. Where there is sin and disobedience there is no eternal life.

In this chapter, Paul speaks of the redemption of the mortal body of the Christian. The making alive of the mortal body is the climax of the process of redemption. Chapters One through Seven of Romans establish the doctrines that concern the release of the inner man from the guilt and power of sin. But Chapter Eight takes us a step further. God has made provision not only for the resurrection of the inner man but for the resurrection of the body as well. In Christ there is salvation for our spirit, our soul, and our body. 

And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Romans 8:10)

Such is the state of the disciple of Jesus, the diligent Christian. The inner man of the Christian is alive through contact with the Holy Spirit. The righteousness of the cross extends to the believer making him without condemnation, provided he is abiding in Christ. This is true even though he still suffers from the law of sin operating in his body.

Inwardly the Christian is alive. Outwardly he is dead, that is, his body is growing older and will decay and die, not partaking of the resurrection life that is in him.

His body is dead because of the power and authority of sin, the "law of sin which is in my members." We are alive and yet dead. The inner man is alive because of the Holy Spirit of God who abides in us. Our mortal body is dead because of sin, because of the fleshly, sinful nature that governs our body if we are not diligent in prayer and self-control.

Most of us who are pursuing the life of victorious faith probably are aware that we have two natures struggling for control of our deeds, our words, and our thoughts. We have an inner thirst for God’s holiness and righteousness and we have an outer thirst for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Our Christian life consists, in the main, of subordinating the one to the other. Either we are subordinating our "flesh" to the Spirit of God by the help and guidance of the Spirit Himself or else we are subordinating the new nature that has been born in us (Christ in us) to our fleshly nature. Victory may change sides from one day to the next during seasons of temptation.

Since there is a "law of sin" operating in our physical body, our body is "dead because of sin." But our spirit is alive because of the righteousness of Christ that is extended to us by the Holy Spirit of life who abides in us.

We are eternally alive in Christ and have our being in Him at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. We have also a life on earth in a mortal body that is motivated strongly by tendencies toward lust, murder, and idolatry. These sinful tendencies are referred to by Paul as "the flesh."

Being formed into the image of Christ includes not only the re-creation of the inner man but also the re-creation of the outer man. God has included the resurrection of our body in the plan of redemption. 

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)

The above verse presents the next logical step after the cleansing and resurrection of the inner man of the Christian described in the preceding verses of Romans. We Christians are saved already in that we have been raised with Christ, whereas the unsaved have not been raised spiritually with Christ. We already are in the heavenlies at the right hand of the Father in Christ. This is not true of those who have not received Christ.

There is an eternal gulf between the person who has received Christ and the person who has not received Christ. The former is alive eternally, being far above all the wicked lords of darkness. The latter is bowed in the chains of spiritual slavery at all times.

But when we come to the mortal body the same gulf does not exist. The mortal body of the Christian is dead because of the law of sin that dwells in it. The mortal body of the unbeliever is dead for the same reason. So then, while there is an impassable gulf between the spirit of the Christian and the spirit of the non-Christian, each has a sin-prone body, a fleshly nature with which to contend.

It is important for Christians to realize that all persons, the saved and the unsaved alike, are tempted along the same lines. But we have the Word of God, the body and blood of Christ, and the Holy Spirit to help us cope with the wicked impulses of the flesh and fleshly nature. The non-Christian has to rely solely on his will power if he is to lead a good moral life. This realization should make us compassionate toward the unsaved.

God will bring each Christian a step further. He will conform to the image of Christ not only the inner man but also the outer man of the Christian. Our transformation into the image of Christ will not be complete until God has redeemed our body.

The resurrection of the body is the next step of redemption for the saints and, like all other aspects of redemption, depends on God’s timing and also on the active faith and cooperation of the believer.

". . . will also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies." God will save the body. But it follows that if the body is dead because of sin, then in order to give eternal life to the body God must destroy the law of sin that dwells in it. It is impossible for the mortal body to be transformed into resurrection life while the law of sin is dwelling in it.

We are not receiving glorified bodies in the present hour, as some proclaim, nor have we attained sinless perfection. When we teach concerning the resurrection from the dead we are referring to the doctrine of the resurrection mentioned in Hebrews 6:2. The doctrine of the resurrection is an important part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Christ.

"Shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal body by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Every Christian has the Spirit of life dwelling in him now. His mortal body is dead because of the indwelling of the "law of sin," the tendencies of his soulish nature toward adultery, idolatry, murder, covetousness, sorcery, and so forth. But his spirit is alive because of the Spirit of Christ whom he has in him as soon as he receives Christ and is baptized. 

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (Romans 8:12)

It follows that inasmuch as our spirit is alive but our body is in the throes of death because of sin, we should tend to the perfecting of our obedience to Christ and our walk in the Spirit rather than occupy ourselves with satisfying the lusts of our soulish nature.

If we are willing to employ the time and effort necessary to appropriate the grace of God we will find it is not necessary for us to keep on doing the things that the Spirit of God has rebuked us for—practices that we know are sinful. We are not debtors to the flesh. The assumption held by many Christians is that as long as we are in the world we must continue to sin. But that assumption is not scriptural. There is nothing in the New Testament that claims the disciples must keep on practicing behaviors they know to be sinful.

It is true we do not become free from sin overnight. It is equally true that there is provision in Christ to overcome the sins of which the Holy Spirit makes us aware. It is never the will of Christ that a disciple walk in known sin. The doctrine that insists we are obligated to sin while in the world is utterly false.

Christ came to destroy sin. Sin began in Heaven (Isaiah 14:12), not in the earth. Sin will never be overcome by our going to Heaven, only by the redemptive authority and power that are in Christ. Redemptive power is at work in the Body of Christ. If we will allow the Holy Spirit, that powerful resurrection Life, to do so, He will enable us to put to death the deeds of our body.

We are not debtors to our flesh that we must wallow in its abominable appetites and lusts. 

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

If we Christians live our life on earth in the lusts of our flesh we will die spiritually. The new life that has been born in us from above will be choked out by the cares and bondages of the world. 

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:6)

The only successful Christian life is the daily sowing to the Spirit of God. We must diligently present our body a living sacrifice. It is impossible to be victorious in Christ while the forces of our life are divided between rigorous obedience to the moment-by-moment counsel of the Holy Spirit, and the passions and concerns of our fleshly nature.

We owe nothing to our flesh that we should live in obedience to its impulses and appetites. Our true life is in Heaven at the right hand of the Father. Our flesh is saturated with the law of sin.

What should we do? "Ye shall die," we are warned, if we live in the appetites of the flesh. "Ye shall live," we are then told, if we put to death the "deeds of the body." What are these deeds? The deeds of the body are adultery, fornication, impurity, indecency, idolatry, spiritism, hatred, intrigue, quarreling, comparisons, sectarianism, divisive loyalties, envying, murder, drunkenness, reveling, and gluttony, to list a few.

We Christians abhor such behavior. Yet we actually practice these acts in our deeds, our words, and in our motives and imaginations. Those of us who have been Christians for a period of time are aware of our own problems and those of our fellow pilgrims. We are not perfect yet!

How do we "put to death" the "deeds of the body"? By confessing our sins and receiving the forgiveness and cleansing available through the blood of Jesus (I John 1:9); by praying and living in the Holy Spirit of God, night and day, seven days a week, never ceasing; by presenting our body a living sacrifice; by exhorting one another daily; by the gifts and ministries of the Spirit; by absolute obedience to Christ; by much reading and meditating in the Word of God; by never looking back; by confessing we are strangers and pilgrims in the earth.

Anyone who believes it is easy to put to death the deeds of the body may never have attempted to do so. God has given us His Holy Spirit as our Helper and Comforter in the daily fight against sin. The Holy Spirit leads us against the sin in our body just as Joshua led Israel against the cities of the Philistines.

We cannot conquer the lusts of our flesh by means of our will power alone. First we must learn to rest in the perfect righteousness that flows to us from the blood atonement of Christ on the cross.

No amount of human striving can produce either legal or actual righteousness in a person. The legal righteousness comes only by faith in the atonement made by Christ. The actual righteousness is created in us as we are directed by the Holy Spirit in the battle against the sinful tendencies that are in our fleshly nature.

We must be led by the Holy Spirit of God. He gives us the wisdom and the strength to overcome the law of sin that dwells in our body. Only the Holy Spirit can conquer the deceitful nature bound up in our mortal body.

The Spirit can conquer sin. Our part in the battle is to follow the Spirit, to confess our sins as He directs, and then to submit to God and resist the devil. It is always "the sword of the Lord and of Gideon," this is to say, God does His part and then we must do our part, in overcoming our sinful behavior. 

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

The Spirit of God leads us in putting to death the works of the flesh.

Why is it so important to put to death the works of the flesh? Why not just forget the flesh and wait for God to remove our spirit from our body? Why not cease trying to overcome the desires of our fleshly nature?

The answer is, God will redeem our body at the coming of Christ. God will save the outer man as well as the inner man. We shall be made in the outer image as well as in the inner image of Christ. God will make alive the mortal body by His Spirit who dwells in us.

This is the emphasis in the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead mentioned in the sixth chapter of Hebrews. The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, of the redemption of the body of the Christian, is an important theme of the eighth chapter of Romans.

If the physical body is dead because of sin, then the sin in our body must be dealt with in some manner by the Lord before the Spirit of God can make our body alive.

It is important that we put to death "the deeds of the body" because all who sin are judged by God whether Christian or not. The overcoming of sin by Christians is important also because the physical body of the Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In addition, Christians must give attention to putting to death the deeds of the body because living in the appetites of the flesh results in spiritual and physical death (I Corinthians 11:30).

A sampling of passages of Scripture will remind us of the death that follows if Christians persist in sin: 

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:14)

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6)

But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (I Corinthians 11:30)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

We Christians are spiritually alive now, and with a view to the coming redemption of our body we are to be putting to death the deeds of our flesh. We trust that God will deliver us from sin each day of our discipleship and deliver us totally from the dominion and effects of sin at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:28)

Total deliverance from the dominion and effects of sin includes the redemption of our mortal body.

When Jesus appears we shall be made like Him in the outer man. Prior to His appearing we are being made like Him in the inner man. If we have the hope of being made like Him in the outer man at His appearing in His Kingdom, then we must overcome our sinful tendencies. 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (I John 3:2,3)

If we have the hope of being like Jesus at His appearing, and if we have the hope of seeing Him as He is, we must purify ourselves today. The Book of Hebrews informs us that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. From the Book of First John we learn that purifying ourselves means ceasing from sin and performing righteous works.

It is not true as commonly believed that all believers will participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection of glory and rulership with Christ, whether or not they are walking in victorious discipleship. The second and third chapters of Revelation teach us that the rewards of glory and rulership with Christ over the nations are reserved for the overcomers. This is the Word of God to us and we must not set it aside by our traditions. 

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:54-57)

"The sting of death is sin," Paul states. If the corruptible is to put on incorruption and the mortal is to put on immortality, and death is to be swallowed up in victory, then we must be looking forward to a day of redemption when God will deliver the mortal body from the guilt, power, and effects of sin.

The guilt of sin was removed completely on Calvary. But in the Day of Redemption (described in I Corinthians, Chapter 15) Christ will remove the power of sin from us and transform our body: first by raising it from the dead and removing from it the bondage of corruption and decay; and second by covering the resurrected mortal body with a body from Heaven, a body fashioned from the substance of eternal life.

In the light of the coming redemption we do not owe it to our body to fulfill its vain appetites and lusts. Rather we are looking forward to the great Day when our Lord, Christ, brings us and the remainder of the saved creation into "the glorious liberty of the children of God."

Paul had set his heart on arriving at the first resurrection of the dead. We too need to be "thus minded" (Philippians 3:15). We ought to set our own heart on arriving at the first resurrection of the dead. We can manifest our hope of the resurrection by "washing our robe" each day in the blood of the Lamb and by presenting our body a living sacrifice so the will of God in Christ may be performed perfectly in our daily life.

The process of transformation from mortality to immortality. 

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be changed into the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

The sovereignty of God is expressed in the forming of the brothers of Christ into His image. Man is being made in the image of God. The sixth day of creation still is at work. We now are being created in the moral image of Christ.

Step by step the Holy Spirit is leading us in cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. All that is unclean, unholy, sinful, must be purged from us. All lust, all murder, all idolatry, all deceit must be rooted out of our nature.

We cannot make ourselves like Christ no matter how hard we try. Only the Substance and power of Christ working through the Holy Spirit can enable us to see our sins and imperfections, and then enable us to confess them, resist them, and finally overcome them completely.

We are not created in the moral image of Christ in an instant although we are cleansed from guilt and condemnation the moment we accept the atoning blood of Christ and then rest in His righteousness.

We now are being created in the moral image of Christ, that is, our inner nature is being transformed so our deeds, words, motives, and imaginations are holy and righteous. At the appearing of Christ we shall be transformed into the bodily image of Christ. Our outer man will be re-created as part of the redemption in Christ in order that our re-created inner nature may be relieved of the sinful tendencies and the decay and death we carry about in our present body.

In the Day of Redemption, to which every true Christian has been sealed, each victorious saint will receive a transformation of his or her body so that the body will be a suitable vessel for the transformed inner nature. 

For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body [the body of our humbling], that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (Philippians 3:20,21)

Each of the brothers of Christ will have the family likeness of moral character in his inner nature. Each will have also a transformed body. But first, each must overcome, by the Holy Spirit the deeds of his fleshly nature. The promises of glory, authority, power, and opportunities for service of the first resurrection, toward which Paul was pressing (Philippians 3:11,21), are to the overcomer (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 20:6; 21:7). 

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

Our calling, our justification, and our glorification are all in the past tense. This is because Christ’s grasp on us is according to the sovereign plan and purpose of God Almighty. "The work was finished from the foundation of the world."

The work of redemption, including the destruction of the power of death over the mortal body, is entirely the work of God. The plan of redemption originated in God, the goal was designed by God, and the carrying out of every detail has been, is being, and will continue to be executed by the perfect wisdom and unlimited strength of God. He predestined. He called. He justified. He glorified. The term glorified refers to verses 11, 17, 19, 21, 23, 29 of Romans, Chapter Eight.

There is coming a change in our body, our house, in which dwells our spirit, our soul, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make alive] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. (Romans 8:11)

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (I Corinthians 15:51)

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (I Corinthians 15:54)

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)

We always must keep in mind, however, that all of the gifts of God are gifts of opportunity. Whether we answer our calling, or are justified, or are glorified, depends on us. We can achieve every bit of salvation and glory that God has predestined us for, or we can lose everything and then be punished severely for our laziness, unbelief, and disobedience.

The third and fourth steps in the resurrection from the dead are the process of transformation from mortality to immortality, and then the coming forth from the grave.

Much is stated in the Book of Revelation concerning the "white robe" with which the victorious saints will be clothed. We think that the white robe is the "house from Heaven," of the fifth chapter of II Corinthians, and represents that which will, in the Day of Christ cover the resurrected body.

It may be noted that many of the saints will be robed before they return with the Lord Jesus to receive their bodies from the place of burial. 

And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. (Revelation 4:4)

And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Revelation 6:11)

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (Revelation 7:9)

It may be seen from the above that we can be rewarded with the white robe, with the glorification of our spiritual man, at any time of the Lord’s choosing. After this will come the glorification of the mortal body.

It is possible that the inward nature of the saint, already having been clothed with glorification, will descend with the Lord Jesus and enter and raise the reconstituted mortal body. Therefore in the third aspect, the process of transformation from mortality to immortality, we are stressing the creating of the spiritual body (glorification) which today is at the right hand of the Father. In the fourth aspect, the raising of the mortal frame to stand upright will be emphasized.

It is obvious that the raising (resurrection) and the clothing (glorification) are closely related. However, it is not clear to Christian people that the body (glorification) coming to them from Heaven is being created today by their conduct. Every believer must come to understand that each of us will be clothed in his own behavior. We shall discuss the change in the body from Heaven before we speak of the raising of the redeemed mortal frame from its place of burial.

The house, or robe, from Heaven will clothe our resurrected body in the Day of Christ. It is the creating of the house from Heaven (the glorification) that we wish to emphasize in this third aspect of the four major aspects of the resurrection from the dead. This is the process of transformation from mortality to immortality.

The four major aspects of the resurrection from the dead:

The development of eternal life in the Christian personality. Putting to death the deeds of the body. The process of transformation from mortality to immortality.     The development of our house from Heaven.     The clothing of the raised and vitalized (resurrected; re-created; revived) mortal frame with the      house from  Heaven: the glorification; the putting on of incorruption. Coming forth from the grave.

The kind of immortality the victorious saint is seeking is not merely a spiritually animated (resurrected) mortal frame but a glorious body like that of the Lord Jesus, a body from Heaven.

The house from Heaven, that which will clothe resurrected body, is of the substance of eternal life. It is being fashioned now by the righteous acts of the saints.

The overcomer will be clothed with a robe of eternal life created from his own conduct. He will be clothed in his own righteous behavior. 

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous acts] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)

We are building our "mansion" now, so to speak. We are laying up a treasure in Heaven that is our house of life, our glorification. The house from Heaven is the reward of the saint and will vary from person to person. There is a reward for serving the Lord faithfully. 

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

Paul, in his writings, does not make a clear distinction between the reviving of our mortal body and its clothing with the house from Heaven. He treats the two events together. In this book we will view the two steps as one transformation from mortality to immortality. The purpose of the resurrection is to accomplish one goal—the bringing of the body of the victorious saint into the likeness of the image of the body of his Lord, Jesus Christ. 

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (II Corinthians 4:16)

Redemption is at work in the inner man—in the character and spirit of the overcomer. The physical body meanwhile is "always bearing about the dying of the Lord Jesus." We have the revelation of Christ in "earthen vessels" (our mortal bodies) that the greatness of the power may be of God and not of us.

We are troubled and cast down in the body. But this state of weakness is the opportunity for God to reveal the Life of Jesus in us. We are helpless in our afflicted flesh, tired, and often confused. God is able to demonstrate His wisdom and power through the helplessness of our mortal condition.

Truly, the race of Adam is dead, having been cursed from the time of the original sin. Truly, in our flesh dwells no good thing. Truly, the flesh profits nothing. Truly, Christ is alive, and only as our dust receives His righteous Life do we live before God.

Our outward man is perishing but our inner man is being renewed each day. God’s strength and purpose work in and through us in ways impossible for us to duplicate in our own power. Our condition of weakness serves to underscore the wisdom and might of the resurrection Life of Christ which daily is accomplishing, in the midst of our helplessness, the specific plan of God for the moment.

In Romans, Chapter Eight; Philippians, Chapter Three; and I Corinthians, Chapter Fifteen; we can see the trend of Paul’s thinking concerning the resurrection from the dead. Paul viewed the salvation in Christ that we have now as being a guarantee of the great day of redemption of the future. When we carefully note the burden on the heart of the Apostle Paul we observe that he was pressing forward with all his attention toward the redemption of his body—toward the day when Christ appears and issues eternal life to the overcomers.

Every true disciple of Christ presses with his entire strength and dedication toward the fullness of the knowledge of the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. To the end of his days Paul never ceased reaching toward the fullness of Christ in order that he might lay hold on that for which he had been laid hold on by Christ.

Observe Paul’s attitude toward the coming day of the redemption of the mortal body. 

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest [pledge] of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14)

The remaining verses of the first chapter of Ephesians are an exhortation to the saints at Ephesus to realize the importance of their relationship to the resurrection life of Christ. In the following chapters of Ephesians, Christians are taught how to act on the earth in terms of their position in the "heavenly places in Christ." 

I Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (Ephesians 4:1)

We must experience the resurrection life of Christ in our daily walk with the Lord. We must press into the risen Christ, coming to know His power in our life in righteous conduct, in inspiration to push ahead in God’s will, in miracle-working faith, in the healing of our sicknesses. Day by day we are pressing into the risen Christ, into Him who is alive today, preparing ourselves for the redemption of our mortal body when Jesus appears. 

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (II Corinthians 4:17,18)

The above two verses are in context with verses 6 through 11 of the same chapter. The "light affliction" is the "trouble," the "perplexity," the "persecution," of verses 8 and 9. Our mortal body, the "outward man," continually is being "delivered to death for Jesus’ sake."

According to verse 17 (of II Corinthians, Chapter Four) our "light affliction" is achieving for us an "eternal weight of glory." What is the "weight of glory" being produced by means of the Life of Christ that is lifting us from the trouble and persecution of our mortal flesh?

The eternal weight of glory is the "house from heaven" of II Corinthians 5:2, plus all the authority, power, and liberty that accompany our house from Heaven. Paul had set his heart on achieving an eternal body fashioned from the substance of resurrection life. The glorified body of life is part of the "mark" to which Paul refers in Philippians 3:14. It is included in the "resurrection of the dead" of Philippians 3:11.

Note carefully that the "house that is from heaven," of II Corinthians 5:2, flows from Paul’s discussion of the daily death and resurrection of II Corinthians 4:6-11. While it is true we do not attain the resurrection body in bits and pieces, since it is clear that the resurrection body will come "in the twinkling of an eye" at the appearing of Jesus, it is a fact, nevertheless, that the manner of life we now are living is related to the body of life that Jesus will bring to us at His glorious appearing.

Revelation 19:8 teaches us that the Bride of the Lamb will be arrayed in the righteousness (righteous conduct) of the saints. As our physical body is sown to death in this present life, the righteous acts being produced in us by the Holy Spirit are creating a body of resurrection life before the Throne of God in Heaven.

At His appearing the Lord Jesus Christ will bring with Him the deceased saints, perhaps already clothed with the white robe of glorification, the body of life that has been created by means of our being brought down to death and raised up by the Lord. We shall be clothed with a garment of salvation that has been woven by our death and resurrection in the Lord. This is our glorification, and it depends for its character on our response to the dealings of the Lord in our life.

What we are sowing now is being reaped before the Father. If we are sowing to the flesh we are reaping corruption. If we are sowing to the Spirit of God we are reaping a robe of eternal life. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, the precisely engineered and constructed Temple of God, always will reflect in its gold and jewels the redeemed personalities of the saints.

At the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium) the bodies of the redeemed will be as robes of righteousness. But after one thousand years of perfecting by the Lord Jesus Christ the Bride will be so magnificently glorified and adorned that she will appear as the wonderful walled city that will descend from Heaven in unsurpassed splendor and be established forever on the highest mountain of the new earth, there to bathe earth and its peoples in the infinitely varied hues of the Glory of God Almighty.

Either we now are in the process of attaining to the first resurrection or we are not. We are walking in the Spirit now or we are not. We are overcoming now or we are not. If we are not learning to live in the resurrection life of Christ during our pilgrimage on the earth we will look in vain for a resurrection body when our Lord Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven. The Lord will not clothe a spiritually weak, immature, sinful, self-centered Christian personality with a glorious body of power similar to His own. It shall not happen! 

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (II Corinthians 5:1)

The concept of the resurrection body is linked in Paul’s mind with the overcoming life (II Corinthians 4:6-11). The "house not made with hands" is the "eternal weight of glory" of II Corinthians 4:17. By allowing God to bring him down to death and raise him in God’s own way and time, Paul was putting "weight" on his house from Heaven.

God intends that the Christian discipleship be one long period of overcoming during which the Christian leaves "Egypt" (the spirit of the world; the dominion of the forces of wickedness) and makes his pilgrimage all the way to the land of promise (perfect rest in the will of God; resurrection life in the inner man and in the outer man as well). It is God’s good pleasure that we win Christ Himself, who is our Resurrection and our Life. We Christians already have eternal life in Christ but we are in the pursuit of life more abundantly.

Paul always was pressing toward this mark—the resurrection from the dead. Paul groaned for the redemption of his mortal body. Paul had set his heart on laying hold on the resurrection life that is in Christ—the gaining of Christ Himself, who is the Resurrection from the dead. 

For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:2,3)

Paul, it seems, possessed (much more than we) a deep longing for acquiring eternal life in his body. Paul’s deepest desire as a Christian was to attain the "measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Such fullness eventually will include the redemption of Paul’s body.

The expression "if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked" is interesting. If we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly. If we are to be clothed in the righteous conduct that has been created in us by the grace of God, then it is of the utmost importance we respond properly to God’s dealings. 

I counsel thee to buy of me . . . white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, . . . . (Revelation 3:18)

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16:15)

We will be naked in the day of redemption if we do not cooperate with the Lord in the process of creating the body from Heaven. We are wise if we attend to the will of the Holy Spirit, giving ourselves wholly to the discipline that He requires. Our behavior today has eternal consequences.

Paul was concerned with being clothed with his house from Heaven. Paul was not afraid of dying, of being unclothed by the death of his mortal body. In verse eight that follows, Paul states: "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." The main theme of Paul’s prayers and energies was that of acquiring the resurrection life of Christ in his body. 

For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

The picture here is that the "house that is from heaven" will clothe our mortal body, and the mortal body will be absorbed into the new "house," just as the Tabernacle of the Congregation was placed inside Solomon’s Temple (I Kings 8:3-8).

Coming forth from the grave. 

At the time of the last trumpet, when Jesus appears, the process will be much the same whether we are still alive in the flesh or have died and been buried prior to His appearing. The Spirit of life from God will enter the physically dead bodies of the deceased saints. They will be perfectly reconstituted and healed, appearing in the prime of life.

Their spirits and souls will enter their bodies. At the same time the angels of God will clear away physical barriers, such as dirt, stones, coffins, and so forth.

We shall have the power to pass through material obstacles. It may be noted that the stone was rolled away from the cave when Christ arose, not that the Lord could not pass through the stone but that the world should be a witness that Jesus indeed had risen from the dead.

God will move out of the way the material circumstances of our death just as He did for the Lord Jesus. People on the earth will witness the fact that the same power and love of God that is upon Christ is now upon us. God will open our graves, as the Scripture states: 

And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, (Ezekiel 37:13)

The opening of the graves will bear witness to God’s creation that God has redeemed and vindicated His saints. The empty cave of Joseph of Arimathea proclaims to all mankind that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God. The empty graves of the saints in that day will shout to the ends of the earth that God indeed has sent Christ and that God loves the disciples of Christ as He loves Christ Himself (John 17:23).

The sons of God will be adopted and revealed as sons to all the material creation by means of the resurrection from the dead. 

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:4)

And not only they [the material creation], but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:23)

The saints will come forth at the place where they died. They will view the natural creation with renewed and greatly enhanced joy, being filled with eternal life. The Spirit of God will draw families together so there will be the grandest time of reunion and rejoicing ever known to mankind.

The same Spirit of life from God that abides in the saints alive on the earth at the appearing of Christ will, in that day, extend into their mortal bodies. They will be filled with joy, authority, and power. They will join in the reunion of families as millions upon millions of Christian people embrace, rejoice, and praise the Lord Jesus for His faithfulness and love.

The nations of the earth will behold this greatest of reunions, but—to their excruciating dismay and terror—will be unable to stop it. For this is the complete fulfillment of the saying, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies."

While the evil forces of the earth look on in horror, the redeemed will begin to rise from the face of the earth, just as did our Lord Jesus. Slowly, majestically, while the anthems of praise thunder and roll from horizon to horizon, the Christian saints of all time will proceed upward to meet the Son of Man in the air. The Divine Light in them will shine throughout the sky. The heavenly Moses now has appeared to lead His people out of Egypt!

Great will be the number of saints. They will appear as clouds. They will blot out the sun, moon, and stars.

A period of time will follow during which the wrath of God will be poured on the earth, softening the resistance of the ungodly in preparation for the coming invasion. The army of the Lord will fall upon the wicked nations and totally destroy them. After the purifying of the spiritual atmosphere the age of the rule of a rod of iron will commence.

The Lord Jesus will hand out the rewards of authority, power, glory, of assignments to responsibilities of service, to the kings and lords over whom Jesus is supreme King and supreme Lord. Chief among the rewards will be the houses from Heaven, the eternal weights of glory that have been created before the Throne of God as counterparts of the daily death and resurrection of the overcoming saints. These are the conquerors who, through Christ, have worked and fought their way through the problems and tests of their Christian discipleship.

The renewing of the mortal body by filling it within and without with resurrection life is the redemption of the body. As far as the dead in Christ are concerned, it does not matter how decomposed or spread about their mortal bodies have become. The Creator, God Almighty, will perfectly reconstitute and heal their bodies. He will fill their bodies with resurrection life, bringing them out of the ground, the sea or wherever they may be located. The transformed bodies will rise to meet the Lord in the air. 

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest [pledge] of the Spirit. (II Corinthians 5:5)

The expression "wrought us for the selfsame thing" is somewhat parallel to the expression "who hath subjected the same in hope," of Romans 8:20. Romans 8:20 indicates that God has brought the entire material creation into futility and decay in the hope that some day creation itself can be delivered from the bondage of futility and decay and released into the same liberty and glory attained by the overcoming saints.

The birth-and-death cycle of nature into which the body of man has been locked is not the best environment God is able to design. The present world is one of futility, decay, corruption. Death came because of sin. God is permitting our current plight to continue while He is carrying out His plan of creating the image of Christ in the persons of the brothers of Christ, and teaching them obedience.

As soon as the sons of God have been shaped into the image of Christ in their inner nature, and have learned total obedience to the Father, God will remove His children from the bondage of death and issue eternal resurrection life and glory to them.

The issuing of eternal resurrection life and glory to the brothers of Christ, and their appearing with Christ in their transformed bodies, is termed "the manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). As soon as the sons of God have been redeemed after this fashion they then will be in a position to be used of God in bringing the blessing of the Holy Spirit to the peoples of the earth. The saints of God in that day will have authority and power, as members of the Body of Christ, to bind and loose; to forgive sins; to administer judgment, healing, wisdom, knowledge, the blessing of God to the nations of the earth.

All that Jesus has promised to His Church concerning authority and glory will come to pass at His appearing. All that the Church is now, in terms of priestly service to mankind, will be magnified a thousandfold. The Church will be, as never before, the light of the world. The nations of the earth will understand and accept the fact that the Christian Church has become the representative of God, the visible expression of the invisible God, the highest seat of authority on earth. (Isaiah 2:2-4).

It is important for the members of the Body of Christ to understand that arrival at the first resurrection and the positions of rulership over the nations are rewards and responsibilities that must be attained. They must be sought with vigor. The Kingdom of God will be possessed by those who seek it with diligence and vigilance.

We must cry to God continually, "Give me this mountain!" The passive, lazy, halfhearted, indifferent Christian will not suddenly be invested with royal authority and power. This is not God’s way.

The first resurrection must be attained (Philippians 3:11). This fact is made very plain in the second and third chapters of Revelation. Cross-carrying discipline and daily consecration to the will of Christ are necessary if we are to reach God’s highest calling. Our eye must be single, fixed on the Lord Jesus. We must present our body a living sacrifice in actual practice before the Lord. By the Spirit of God we must put to death the deeds of the flesh, overcoming the temptations and tests set before us.

If we are not cultivating the Presence of the Holy Spirit, if we are not keeping our "lamp full of oil," then, when He comes, we will be caught unprepared for the translation into immortality. The rewards go to the overcomers.

The theme of I Corinthians, Chapter 15 is the resurrection of the bodies of the saints. The spirits of Christians already have been raised with Christ (Colossians 3:1-4). But the goal of the victorious Christian discipleship is the attaining of immortality so that never again can death come and render useless the abilities and dreams of the person. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The above verse is familiar to Christians, and we stress the love of God and that whoever believes will receive. There is, however, another aspect of John 3:16. The other concept is set forth in the words: "should not perish, but have everlasting life."

We need to lay hold on the fact that the promise of God in Christ is the abolishing of death. This fact "is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (II Timothy 1:10).

The most glorious life that exists today on the earth is cursed by the knowledge that all the person’s talents and energies are moving inexorably toward confinement in a coffin and burial in the earth. Some may be content with the destruction of the ability of a person to carry out his work in the earth. Some may be satisfied that a life span of sixty or seventy years is all God can manage for man.

But the true saint regards death as an enemy. The militant, driving force of the faith of the Christian overcomer is directed toward smashing the ability of death to touch him in any manner whatever.

"The prince of the world comes, and has nothing in me," Jesus stated. As long as we are subject to death the prince of the world has something in us.

Of course, there is nothing we can do by straining over the fact that our physical body is subject to the principle of decay that operates in nature. But our faith and our hope continually must be reaching toward the promise of God that whoever believes in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life—everlasting life in a body on the earth, not a disembodied life with the angels in Heaven. The gift of God is eternal life!

One of the original, unmovable cornerstones of the Christian Gospel is the bodily resurrection of the dead. 

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (I Corinthians 15:13,14)

The term resurrection, as it is used here, means the clothing of the dead body of a saint with eternal life. Christ was the first to be raised from the dead, coming out from among those who physically are "asleep." The natural, soulish body of the Lord Jesus was transformed into an immortal body. When Christ walked out of the cave of Joseph of Arimathea He was alive forever. Death had been swallowed up in victory.

The transformation of the dead mortal body of the Lord into an eternal life-giving body is an example of the resurrection of the dead. It is, as we have stated, one of the indestructible cornerstones on which the Christian Gospel rests. 

And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. (I Corinthians 15:17)

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (I Corinthians 15:20)

Verse 26 establishes the acceptable attitude of the overcomer toward the death of his mortal body: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

Physical death is an enemy, and the saints of God will not have reached the end of the process of redemption until all forms of death have been destroyed. Full entrance into the land of promise includes the overcoming of physical death.

It will require much faith on the part of the Christian overcomer in order to pass successfully through the pressures of the last days. If he holds steady with his faith anchored in Christ, and he overcomes through Christ the temptations set before him, his reward will be the transformation of his body when Jesus returns.

His corruptible body will be made alive by the Holy Spirit. He will come out of the ground or the ocean or from wherever his dead body has been waiting. It does not matter whether he has been buried tenderly, cremated, or disintegrated by a bomb in war. His corruptible body will be raised by the power of resurrection life from Christ. Then he will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. 

Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened [made alive], except it die: (I Corinthians 15:36)

If a person desires to experience the good that is in a seed he must bury the seed in the ground and leave it buried for a period of time. A sack of seed is food for the birds until it has been buried in the soil. The physical body is "sown" by the tribulations discussed in II Corinthians, Chapter Four and finally collapses in the ultimate weakness—physical death. 

And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: (I Corinthians 15:37)

When a farmer plants a field he does not bury mature stalks in the soil. He sows seed. The seed does not resemble the mature plant. What is planted—the seed—is different from the crop that finally is harvested.

The concept of I Corinthians 15:37 is that the personality we now have, especially the physical body, is like seed, and must be delivered daily to the death that God prescribes for the individual. Some of the Christian people have not as yet followed the Lord through the processes of death and resurrection. They are saved, happy people. Their sins have been washed away by the blood of Christ. Perhaps they also have spoken in tongues and prophesied.

It is the will of Christ that we be saved and that we speak in tongues and prophesy. But in spite of this we may remain as sacks of seed in the barn. We may not be willing to follow the Lord Jesus through the processes of death and resurrection. We may not present our body a living sacrifice. We may not set ourselves to know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.

If we would attain the transformation of our mortal body at the appearing of the Lord Jesus, spoken of in the Scriptures as the Day of the Lord, we must through the Holy Spirit deliver ourselves into the hands of the Lord so He can bring us through death and resurrection in Himself.

We must be willing to be planted in the "darkness of the earth," to surrender to Christ all the motivations, aspirations, and idols of our life. It is most important we give to Him our life because when we attempt to save ourselves by means of our own efforts we remain as unburied seed. "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone" (John 12:24). God Himself must become our salvation.

While we remain in the mortal body we must each day sow, sow, sow to the life of the Spirit of God. If we attempt to save our life we surely will lose it. But if we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus, presenting our body a living sacrifice each day of our pilgrimage on the earth, we will reap a resurrected nature now and a life-giving transformation of our mortal body when Jesus comes.

If we are not following the Spirit of God in death to sin and self we are not sons of God. If we are following the Spirit of God, He is leading us in overcoming our fleshly nature, the spirit of the world, and the devil. 

But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. (I Corinthians 15:38)

The physical body is suitable as a house for the untransformed nature. Our personality before we are born again in Christ goes hand in hand with the lusts of our flesh and the desires of our fleshly mind. We are self-centered, deceitful, ambitious, and pleasure-loving. The physical body enjoys having us spend all our time looking for ways to indulge the lusts of our senses.

The physical body is a suitable dwelling place for the personality of the untransformed person. But as soon as the individual is born again and the Substance and nature of God enter his being, a stress develops between his new nature and his old fleshly nature. The inner man, having been invaded by Divine Life, begins to be motivated by the principles of the law of the Spirit of life. The outer man, the mortal body and soulish nature, is still bound by the law of sin.

As God brings the believer through appropriate circumstances, the soulish life of the Christian, the self-life of which the body is an important part, continually is brought down to the death of the cross. The soulish-bodily life perishes day by day but the reborn inner nature is renewed day by day because of its contact with resurrection life.

For the Christian, therefore, the inner man and the outer man become increasingly incompatible. The outer man, the physical body, is closely related to the soulish, first personality of the believer. But his new life, which has been made alive in the Spirit of Christ, seeks after the perfect will of God.

The normal Christian life is a long struggle for mastery, in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit, between the soulish nature and the spiritual nature. The outer, soulish man, which Paul terms "the flesh," lusts continually after fornication, murder, and idolatry. The new man of the heart, meanwhile, desires to bring the Kingdom of God, the will of God, into the earth.

"And to every seed his own body"! The physical body is well suited to the man who has not been born again. But it is a plague to the saint who is pursuing the life of victorious faith. At the appearing of Christ the overcomers will undergo a change in the body. The physical body will be made alive in the Holy Spirit and then swallowed up by a heavenly body of Divine Life.

The resulting new body will be suited to the inner resurrection life of the disciple of Christ. The new body will be a seeker after God. It will flow with the Life that comes from the Almighty. The transformed body will resist, as much as does the inner man of the saint, all transgressions of the will and law of God.

The new, transformed body will assist the saint in his efforts to please God. Gone will be the daily striving to overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The new vehicle will delight in the will of God. The Christian now will be free from the law of sin and death. The redeemed body is the answer of Christ to the question of the Apostle Paul: "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:24).

"And to every seed his own body"! To the person born of natural parents God gives a physical body that serves the person quite well, in most instances. But to the new person who is born of Christ, God will give a resurrection body that will serve the person exceedingly well in all instances throughout the endless ages to come. 

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)

Our daily Christian life is a sowing, just as a farmer sows seed. Our life in the physical body is not the life that will be in the future, just as the seed the farmer sows is not the crop he will reap.

We must be diligent concerning the nature of what we are sowing each day. If we live our life in the appetites of the flesh we will reap corruption and the destruction of our works in the Day of Christ. This is true whether or not we call ourselves Christians. But if we live our life in patient, daily sowing to the will of God, to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we will reap a resurrection body at the coming of Christ. 

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

A body glorified with the fullness of eternal life is the crop that will be harvested by the believer, provided he sows each day to the Spirit of God by following the Spirit in increasingly righteous, holy, and obedient thinking, speaking, and acting. The person who has diligently sought the Kingdom of God and His righteousness will be rewarded with the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. His hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied!

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (Job 19:26)

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. (John 2:19)

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (Luke 24:3-6)

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9)

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (I Thessalonians 4:16,17)

The important fact of the first resurrection from the dead, as far as the nations of the earth are concerned, is that the saints are to appear with Christ in order that He may be revealed through them and rule in and with them on the earth. Christ and His followers will inherit the earth. As soon as the saints have been resurrected from the dead they cannot die again nor can they be harmed by the second death, which is the fire of the judgment of God. They are alive in Christ forever.

If a Christian dies in the present hour his soul goes to Heaven to be with Jesus and the elect angels. But this is not the resurrection from the dead. The resurrection from the dead is the restoration of the Christian to bodily form so he can live on the earth as well as in Heaven. Observe the destiny of the saved, described in the following passage: 

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:12-14)

It can be seen that the purpose of the resurrection from the dead is to bring God’s people from their place of burial and restore them to life on the earth. We have for so long associated resurrection from the dead with going to Heaven or with living in Heaven that it may be difficult for us to understand that the purpose of resurrection is not life in Heaven but life on the earth.

Heaven is the Throne of God and the home of the angels. The earth has been given to the meek among the children of men. Eventually God’s throne will be located in the earth. When that occurs, Heaven will have come to earth because Heaven is the Throne of God. 

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17)

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? (Isaiah 66:1)

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (Revelation 22:3)

The earth with its fullness has been given to the Lord Jesus by the God of Heaven. Christ has inherited the nations and the ends of the earth. We are coheirs with Christ of the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. Every member of the Body of Christ is part of Israel, the anointed of the Lord, the chosen nation, the Seed of Abraham.

Death prevents us from experiencing our inheritance in the earth. By means of the resurrection from the dead the Lord God is giving back to us the authority and power of fruitfulness and dominion that were lost to mankind through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

Jesus rose from the dead during Passover Week. The feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10) occurs during Passover Week and is symbolic of Christ’s resurrection.

But Christ’s ascension occurred forty days later, ten days before the feast of Pentecost. There was no Levitical feast ten days before Pentecost. We understand, then, from the symbolism of the Levitical feasts, that the important aspect of the resurrection of Christ was not His ascension into Heaven but His restoration to life after having been crucified.

Our ascension to meet Jesus, while being a joyous act of Kingdom power, is not nearly as significant as our resurrection. Resurrection is the climactic act of redemption. The ascension to meet the Lord in the air is not a part of redemption.

The "rapture" (a current term for the catching up of the resurrected saints to meet the Lord in the air) is not a scriptural emphasis, neither in the Old Testament nor in the New. The current stress on the ascension is nothing more than a desire of the adamic man to escape pain, not a true desire to be with Jesus or to attain righteousness.

Jesus rose from the dead in order that He might redeem what had been lost because of the sin of Adam and Eve. He ascended that He might be with the Father, making intercession for the saints until the great Day of Redemption arrives and He can be with His saints in Jerusalem.

The purpose of bodily resurrection is not that we may live in Heaven. Heaven is a literal place and we think we will go there when we die. We say think because very little is said in the New Testament concerning the location of the righteous dead, except that they are with the Lord.

If we are Christians, our spirits already have access to the Father in Heaven. Our hope is that when we die, holy angels will carry our soul to Heaven, there to be reunited with our loved ones who have died before us. However, it is God’s plan that eventually we Christians along with Christ and through Christ will be able to obtain eternal life on the earth. 

The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men. (Psalms 115:16)

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)

To the reader who would claim that such promises as these apply only to people who are Jewish by birth we would point out that the writers of the Gospels, along with the Apostles, applied the Old Testament prophecies concerning God’s people to the Christian Church. And rightly so because when we receive Christ and are born again we become Israel. There is but one Israel of God and it includes every person who is in Christ regardless of race or gender.

For example, notice the following verse from Isaiah, a passage somewhat similar to the above quotation from Ezekiel: 

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 25:8)

Now, some of our present-day teachers would have us believe this passage can apply only to Jews who are to be saved after the full number of Gentiles are converted. What, then, about the Jews, such as Paul, who were saved before that time?

By so teaching they are robbing the Christian people of their full inheritance as Israel. They are making it impossible for the saints to understand their role in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

It is possible also that such doctrine is hindering the developing of overcoming strength in the disciples of Christ by hiding from them their role in the administration of the judgment of God (Psalms 149:7); their ministry during the thousand-year Kingdom Age of teaching and healing the peoples of the earth (Isaiah 2:3); and the unprecedented outpouring of God’s Glory that is destined to fill the Christian Church.

The revelation of the Glory of God that is to be given to the Church at the end of the present age will cause multitudes upon untold multitudes of the unsaved to flock to the deliverance that will be forthcoming at the appearing of Christ from Heaven (Isaiah 60:2-5; Joel 2:32).

The Holy Spirit in the Christian Church is "that which was spoken by the prophet Joel," and by the other Hebrew Prophets as well (Acts 2:16).

Neither Paul nor any other New Testament writer restricts the oracles of the Hebrew Prophets to physical Israel. Paul applies Isaiah 25:8 (above) to the Church of Christ: 

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. (I Corinthians 15:54)

There is only one Israel of God, not two. We Gentiles have been cut out of wild stock and are no more "strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints [of Israel—see context], and of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).

The new covenant, the Christian covenant is made only with Israel. 

For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: (Hebrews 8:8)

We leave it to the wisdom of the reader to decide whether or not the prophetic passages of the Old Testament apply to the Christian Church.

Jesus is alive forever and is capable of living on the earth, in Heaven, and everywhere else in the universe. Jesus’ inheritance from the Father is rulership on the earth in the midst of His brothers and from here He will govern the creation of God.

Jesus is King and Lord over His brothers, whom He is making kings and lords. He is sharing His Kingdom with His saints but retains rulership over them and preeminence among them.

Jesus will receive the nations for His inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for His possession. Jesus’ attention is on the earth because His inheritance is in the earth. Jesus’ heart is in the earth because here His Bride is painfully changing from her adamic nature to His heavenly nature.

At the time of the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) the Church of Christ will be raised from the dead. 

. . . the dead in Christ shall rise first: (I Thessalonians 4:16)

This is the appearing of Christ, the Day of the first resurrection from the dead.

It is the moment when the saints obtain the long-awaited salvation—the receiving of the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the redemption of the body. It is also the point at which furious destruction is poured on all who refuse the Lordship of Christ.

"And the dead in Christ shall rise first." Being "in Christ" means more than casual church attendance or adherence to correct theology. Being "in Christ" means being a disciple of Christ. The "dead in Christ" are those who overcome the world through Christ until they "fall asleep."

The expression "in Christ" must be interpreted in the light of Paul’s writings about the nature of Christian discipleship. Paul’s concept of a Christian is that of a believer who each day presents his body a living sacrifice in order that he may determine the will of God for his life.

Being "in Christ" means much more than is understood commonly. The Epistles of Paul and of the other Apostles are clear concerning the necessity for rejecting the pursuits of the flesh and yielding to the will of God in Christ. The Books of Hebrews and I John in particular teach us what it means to be a Christian.

Jesus, in full view of the Apostles and a number of other believers, was lifted from the earth and disappeared from sight in a cloud (Acts 1:9). At the time of His ascension two angels announced that He would return in the same manner in which He departed.

When Jesus reappears in the clouds there will be a "shout," the "voice of the archangel" will be heard, and God’s trumpet that pealed across the desert at Sinai will sound a fanfare announcing the return of the King. The "shout" is the war cry of the angelic army and the army of saints—the two hosts of the Lord of Hosts. The voice of Christ through His angel will command: "Come up here!" It is the trumpet of God announcing the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:9).

The bodies of those who have died "in Christ" will be restored and filled with the Holy Spirit. Their spirits and souls will enter their bodies. Then they will rise from the face of the earth. Their life is His Life and His Life is their life. They have eaten His flesh and drunk His blood. He is their Life and they will be drawn up to Him at His appearing. "For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together" (Matthew 24:28).

The saints who are living on the earth at the time of His glorious appearing will be changed and rise together with them. The whole army of the Lord (Isaiah 13:5; Joel 2:2; Habakkuk 3:16; Micah 4:13; Jude 1:14; Revelation 19:14) will be joined eternally to the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, to be and to act along with Him at all times and in all places throughout the universe of spiritual and physical realms. This is the first resurrection. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

We know from the Scriptures that the resurrection will occur suddenly, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." We cannot be more specific than we have been concerning the several aspects of the resurrection. Our purpose is to point toward the fullness of the redemption in Christ, and to emphasize that God indeed has made glorious provision for the mortal body in His plan of redemption. It is the physical body that is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Our body is the temple of the Spirit and it is to be kept holy—reserved for the Lord’s use. 

Dominion Over the Whole Earth

In order to orient ourselves correctly to the pursuit of eternal life it is important to understand that we are fighting our way downward toward the doing of God’s will in the earth. We begin above, not beneath, the powers of darkness. We commence the conflict from a position of eternal salvation, already possessing eternal life in the Presence of God Almighty. 

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:6)

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (Ephesians 1:21)

In Christ we already have been raised to the highest throne in the universe. We can go no higher. We never shall go higher. We now are fighting our way downward toward possession of the earth. The rule of Satan will be broken first in the heavenlies (Revelation 12:8). Then the rule of wickedness will be destroyed out of the earth (Revelation 20:3).

We already are in possession of resurrection life in the Presence of God. Now we are moving toward resurrection life in the earth. This will require the destroying of sin out of the earth because eternal life and sin cannot dwell together.

Earlier in this book we discussed the gap between our experience and our position, stating that the Christian’s task is to close the gap. The gap is the distance between our body on the earth and our reborn inner nature, which is at the right hand of God in Christ. To possess the Kingdom of God we must bring our throne life down into the earth to the point that we can live righteously in the earth: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

The purpose of the resurrection of our body is that we may be able to have dominion in the earth as well as in the heavens, and to be fruitful in the multiplying of Christ throughout the universe, as God promised Abraham. 

And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. (Genesis 13:16)

The saints, under the Spirit of Christ, are moving toward dominion over the earth. 

Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psalms 2:8,9)

The earth on which we are living does not belong to Satan. It is not the inheritance of wicked people. 

For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. (Psalms 37:9)

But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalms 37:11)

Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. (Psalms 37:34)

The earth and its peoples belong to Christ. "The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalms 24:1).

Heaven is an actual area and we hope to go there when death brings down to defeat our mortal body. But it is the earth and earth’s peoples that are the destiny of Christ and His saints.

The heart of Christ is in the earth. The earth is the possession of Christ. The nations are His inheritance. We may not be very concerned about the nations but Jesus bears the nations on His heart as an intense longing.

The Father has given Jesus the nations of the earth as His inheritance. Jesus desires this gift. When Christ is created in our heart our desires are directed toward the earth, toward delivering and teaching the peoples of the earth—especially the Jews for they are particularly close to the heart of Christ.

We are coheirs with Christ of the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.

The reason the members of the Body of Christ have not longed for dominion over the nations, for victory in the earth, is that we are immature. We are not so absorbed into Christ that we can feel His longing, His Life, His thoughts.

We have been saved, healed, filled with the Holy Spirit, and are looking for Christ’s appearing in the clouds of glory. But in many instances we are the merest babes when it comes to living in the power of His resurrection and sharing His sufferings. We are on the right path, many of us, but we must move further into the knowledge of the Holy One.

"Ask of Me," the Father invites Jesus. "Ask of Me, and let Me give You the nations for your inheritance. Ask of Me, and let Me give You the farthest reaches of the earth for Your possession. Ask of Me, and You shall smash the rebellion and perversity of the destroyers of the earth with the iron strength of the rule of God Almighty."

"Ask of Me," Jesus invites the Christian. "Ask of Me, and let Me give you the nations for your inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for your possession. I will perfect the side of you that touches the holy God of Israel and the side of you that touches mankind. God yearns for the love of His creatures but cannot communicate with them as He would because of His Glory and holiness. He has called you and is perfecting you that you may say to all men, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ.’

"If you love me, feed my sheep. Reach out your one hand to those who do not know the Lord and your other hand to Christ. Be Jacob’s ladder that bridges earth and Heaven. You were called out from the peoples of the earth that you may come to know me and bear witness of my Person, will, and ways to all the peoples of the earth. It is my intention to wipe away the tears of mankind through you; to feed them, to heal them, to bless them, to love them.

"My many dealings with you are so you may be my servant to bring judgment and deliverance into the earth. Ask of me! Ask of me! Let me give you the nations for your inheritance and all the earth for your possession.

"If you will allow Me to perfect my image in you, and if you will be perfectly obedient to Me, you will have the unsurpassed joy of beholding the image of Christ reproduced in multitudes of people. In addition, you will receive the fullness of dominion over the area of responsibility assigned to you by the Lord."

Let us rise up in the Lord and grasp that for which we have been grasped by Christ. Let us be overcomers that we may inherit the "all things" of God. To do so we must trust in the virtue of the blood of the Lamb. We must, through the wisdom and enablement of the Holy Spirit, testify faithfully and consistently to the heavens and the earth that God is true and Jesus is Lord and Christ. We must love not our lives even to death.

Through these three factors, the blood of the Lamb, our testimony to the faithfulness of God, and death to our self-love, we are able to overcome the accuser (Revelation 12:11). The goal of our wrestling and struggling in the Spirit is the fullness of dominion and fruitfulness promised to the Seed of Abraham.

Will you listen to the voice of the Spirit of God? Will you permit God to mold you and mold you and mold you, moment by moment, day after day, year after year, decade after decade, and not become impatient with God?

Will you allow God to have His unhindered way with you? Will you walk with Him as far as He desires to go with you? Will you say that final, utter, eternal Yes! to God Almighty?

If you will not, then forget about being an overcomer. Forget about ruling with Christ. Forget about the first resurrection. You have no scriptural basis for walking with Christ in Glory unless you are willing to take up your cross, deny yourself, and follow the King of kings and Lord of lords.

What will you trade for the Glory of God, for being a coheir with Christ? Your job? A person? A personal pleasure? Search your life and see if you are selling your birthright in Christ for a "mess of pottage."

Perhaps you are one of those who desire to claim the Divine promises in Christ but are having difficulty letting go of some fear, some person, some thing, some circumstance. If such is the case with you, ask Christ to rearrange your desires and your circumstances in order to bring you into line with His will for you.

Tell Jesus openly and clearly about your desire to have Him and your reluctance to give up the people and things dear to you at this time. Ask for the strength to put all of these treasures on His altar. He will hear your honest prayer and through His own Life will infuse you with the power and wisdom to obey God. He can and will do this for you. He will hear you if you turn to Him in sincerity.

Being an overcomer is simple, readily available, and possible to each Christian person. One of the biggest lies to circulate in Christendom is that it is impossible for us to please God, to accomplish His perfect will in our life. Do we picture God as a tyrant who never can be gratified no matter how hard we strive?

Satan is a tyrant, but God always is ready to help us live in a righteous, holy, and obedient manner before Him. His commandments are not grievous, although sometimes our soul is deeply wounded as God tears down the idols in our personality.

God’s will for us is plain, easy, a light burden, a delight (although there may be seasons when we are in distress for one reason or another). God does not require remarkable talents, intelligence, beauty or any other virtue on our part. He asks only for our love, our obedience, our faith in His goodness and in the dependability of Himself and Christ. His almighty wisdom and energy will do the rest for us.

Every reader of these lines can be a full overcomer and enter an inheritance so glorious as to be indescribable at this time. If you desire to be an overcomer, tell God from this moment that you—by His help—will do His will as He makes it known to you and gives you the necessary ability. No matter what He says to you, you will do it by His grace in Christ. Then, rest in God.

You now have taken the first step. The overcomers are those who have discovered that all of redemption, not just initial salvation, is accomplished by grace through faith. It is not what we are able to do that is important in the overcoming life, it is what Christ is able to do in and with us. Our part is to give ourselves wholly to the Holy Spirit. The remainder is God’s responsibility.

The tribes of Israel had a difficult time entering Canaan, not because of any lack of resources on their part but because they would not believe in God’s faithfulness and ability. They were unwilling to cultivate a heart of faith toward God.

Will you, dear reader, believe in God’s faithfulness and ability? If you will you can inherit the fullness of Christ. But if you will not, you will flounder around in your Christian experience, fluctuating between victory and defeat, elation and gloom, joy and fearfulness, jubilation and despair.

Your pilgrimage will be circular, never leveling out into the straight line of daily increase in the knowledge and strength of the Holy One. You will waste your life wandering in a spiritual wilderness when you could have been marching forward from victory to victory, always pressing toward the fullness of glory in Christ.

Have faith in the goodness of God. Have faith in the absolute dependability of Christ. Cast yourself on the Word of God. Let Him become your salvation. Verbalize your commitment. Tell God with your mouth that from this point forward you will do His perfect will. Do not allow yourself to be reasoned or frightened away from your position. You may have to press through much confusion in order to make your simple statement of obedience to Christ.

If you choose to press through to God in this manner, God will take you at your word. From now on you are in God’s hands. Take your place in the ranks of the overcomers. Prepare yourself to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ. Arm yourself with a mind to suffer in this life and to love not your life to the point of death.

During your discipleship God will change you from an adamic soul to a life-giving spirit; from an earthly human to a prophet of God. The transformation will be accomplished through the riches of God’s glory.

You have the opportunity to become a victorious saint. But you must believe in God’s love and power and lay hold on the promises of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, are full of prophecy concerning the Day when the saints will be ruling the peoples of the earth. Christ taught us to pray, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth." The redemption that today is in the Church is the hope of deliverance for the earth.

God’s will is being done in Heaven. We are to pray that God’s will shall be done in the earth as it is in Heaven. We are to pray for the dominion of Christ over the earth. We are to pray for the dominion of Christ over ourselves, our families, our area, and our nation. Such is the will of God the Father. He will answer that prayer. 

For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)

Meditate on the prophecies of Isaiah. God has made it clear that the wicked forces will not prevail in the earth forever. 

But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. (Isaiah 61:6)

The above verse refers to Christ and to every person who is a coheir with Him. The saints of the Lord will rule with Christ in the earth. The disciples of Christ are being prepared by the Lord to exercise sovereignty—God’s sovereignty—in the earth. God still owns the earth. 

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

To what kingdom is Daniel referring? He is speaking of the Kingdom of God. He is portraying the same kingdom that Jesus preached and taught about. He is referring to the kingdom that Nicodemus could not see because he had not been born again.

Daniel is describing the conquering strength and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ magnified through His victorious saints, who will multiply and spread across the face of the earth until every spirit that lifts itself up against our Lord Jesus has been crushed under foot (Romans 16:20).

If you do not want to engage in spiritual warfare, ask God to give you a heart for war. In the days in which we live it is kingdom against kingdom: the kingdom of darkness against the kingdom of light; the kingdom of Satan against the Kingdom of God.

Satan was totally defeated on Calvary. Totally! The Lord Jesus is waiting patiently until God Almighty arms Himself for the great conflict, the result of which will be that the victory purchased on Calvary will fill the earth and the nations will become subject to Christ.

The Day is coming in which all sin will be judged and cast out of the earth under the iron judgment of Christ exercised through His Body. The time is drawing near. It is at hand. The Judge stands before the door. The Spirit of God is sounding the trumpet: "Awake! Awake, God’s army! Let every member of the Body of Christ put on Christ! Put on the whole armor of God!"

The Spirit of God is leading the Body of Christ against the works of the enemy. Christ is being multiplied as the stars of Heaven in multitude. The Seed, Christ, will attack and finally possess all the fortifications of the enemy.

"Awake, O Body of Christ," says the Lord God. "Put on your overcoming strength in the Lord Jesus. For the time draws very near when the army of God, announced in Isaiah, Joel, Habakkuk, Revelation, will be disciplined by the Lord and created into a powerful weapon in the hand of God. There has never been such an army nor will there be again. The Lord Himself will lead His army, and no power in Heaven or on the earth can withstand the fierce anger and tremendous strength of God when His hosts begin to march." 

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)

The Kingdom of God will rule in the earth as well as in Heaven. Christ will be the center of each aspect of the affairs of mankind. Now He is creating His rule in the hearts of the victorious saints. Soon, at His appearing, His rule will extend from the hearts of the overcomers until the Spirit of Christ fills the entire earth.

What a Day that will be! The land of promise toward which the Church, the Body of Christ, is moving, is total dominion through and with Christ. The earth and its peoples are the chief interest of Christ, exceeded in importance only by His love for His Father and for His Bride. The Father has given to Christ all things for His inheritance. 

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

The saints will govern the whole earth. Glimpses of the coming Kingdom of God, the rule of God through Christ through the Church, are found throughout the Scriptures. "The Kingdom of God is at hand," Jesus proclaimed, meaning that the earth will be invaded by a new government, a new Ruler, a new King.

There have been times in history, such as during the rule of David and during the leadership of Moses, when God was prominent in the affairs of government of people on the earth. In the Day of the Lord, God again will actively express His desires in the administration of the affairs of human beings. Jesus will be the Head of His people (the Church, Israel, Mount Zion, the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb), and the Church will be the ruling nation of the earth.

The Christian saints are being prepared for future rulership over the nations. It is not impossible to know who will govern with Christ. If we are finding and practicing the will of God now in our job, our household, our own body, we will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth. But if we cannot rule now with Christ, and are careless about our walk in the Spirit of God, we will not rule with Christ in the ages to come.

We make our decision now—in this life. Every Christian has a calling, a position in Christ. It is our choice whether we make our calling and election certain. Making our calling and election certain is a matter of overcoming, of faith, of diligence, of obedience.

One of the great errors of Christian thinking is the concept that weak, double-minded believers will govern the nations with a rod of iron. The concept that we cannot serve God acceptably now, but when the Lord returns all will be different, is false.

Eve responded destructively to a suggestion made to her by one of the wicked lords of the spirit realm. The result has been six thousand years of chaos.

There will be righteous spiritual lords throughout the ages of eternity. The wicked lords, those who have rebelled against the Father, will be imprisoned for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Sin will remain a possibility as long as God’s creatures, spiritual and human, are capable of making choices. God’s solution to the continuing possibility of sin is not to remove the possibility; it is not to create an environment in which it is impossible to sin, a God-directed environment in which angels and people are compelled to do God’s will by forces that have removed the power of choice. God is capable of removing our power of choice, but that is not His solution.

God’s solution to the problem of sin is to create righteous rulers, lords of the universe, who will stand against sin and rebellion in the creation; and also to create Christ in the heart of every saved person. The sons of God, serving as lords of the creation, will govern all spiritual creatures, such as angels and cherubim. All judgment has been given to them by Christ. Sin will be judged and cast out the moment it appears from any source.

God in Christ in the Church will insure that sin and rebellion are never again permitted to gain a foothold in the creation. The Bride of the Lamb is no foolish, inexperienced Eve. The Bride of the Lamb loves righteousness and hates sin and rebellion. She is like her Lord in all respects and filled with her Lord. She is as terrible as an army with banners.

The weak believers will not suddenly be made strong at the appearing of the Lord. As is true today, the weak will be assisted by the stronger in the hope they will grow in Christ. Many will be saved as by fire, meaning that most of their personality will be burned away by the Divine judgment and they will appear—perhaps as a small child—in an environment conducive to their growth in Christ.

The Bride is terrible in war, a company of saints capable of fierce, violent destruction as we shall see at Armageddon; yet—like their Master—gentle and lamblike toward all who fear God.

The Day of the Lord will not bring strength and glory to the weak, careless, double-minded believers of our time. Many of them are facing lashes at the hand of the Lord—or worse! The purpose of the Day of the Lord is not to turn sinners into saints but to reveal what we have practiced during our stay on the earth. In that Day the righteous will become exceeding righteous and the unrighteous will become exceedingly unrighteous. What we have truly desired and struggled for will be given to us.

Obtaining the land of promise is an individual as well as a collective effort. Christ points each of us toward some goal we must achieve by faith, by strict obedience to the Spirit of God, by patience and diligence, by daily crucifixion and resurrection.

Our land of promise is occupied by Satan and his agents. There must be a ferocious struggle before we will be able to obtain and hold the land God has given us. We must know the mind of the Lord concerning our own situation. There is a unique destiny for each of us.

If we are learning to overcome now we will govern throughout the ages to come. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Revelation 21:7). This inheritance includes the nations, the earth, the stars, the heavens, and whatever else there may be.

Paul explains: 

Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. (I Corinthians 3:21-23)

As for the destiny of the Church of Christ, the Israel of God: 

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

The members of the Body of Christ—and they can be found in many denominations—did not choose themselves. They were chosen by Christ. They are being formed by the Lord God for the purpose of portraying His Glory. They will rule in Christ forever. They are the governing priesthood, a holy nation. They will be given dominion over all other nations on earth.

They will rule throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age, as described in Revelation 20:6. They will rule also on the new earth forever. A description of the governing authority and power of the Church is set forth in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22, in Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61, and in other places in the Scriptures.

So we must never quit no matter how difficult and challenging may be the problems and temptations that confront us. God intends for every Christian to be a conqueror through Christ in every situation in which he is placed. We begin to conquer now. Our life of conquest through Christ operates now and extends into the future—ages without end.

All things have been given to Christ by the Father, and we are coheirs with Him. If, however, we are being overcome now instead of overcoming, we must turn to the Lord and seek His strength and wisdom.

It is a vain deception to suppose we can be careless about our experience in Christ now, and then reign with Him at His appearing. We must be "followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." The issue is being decided for each of us at this time by the manner in which we respond to the circumstances in which God places us. 

The Rest of God

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (Hebrews 3:7-11)

The "rest of God" is another name for the land of promise. The Israelites were brought out of Egypt in order that they might be brought into a specific place of rest and fruitfulness. But, as the fourth chapter of Hebrews informs us, the true rest of God has to do with a condition beyond that of occupying an area of physical ground. "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Hebrews 4:9).

In Hebrews, Chapter Three we see that the land of promise (rest in Christ) has to do with the "rejoicing of the hope firm to the end." This is to say, a believer may make a fine exodus from Egypt (the world, the spirit of the present age) and still not become a partaker of Christ. "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end" (Hebrews 3:14).

The children of Israel were the Lord’s "called" out of Egypt. But God became so angry because of their unbelief and hardness of heart that He swore they would not enter His rest. Is it possible the Christian Church unknowingly is wandering in the wilderness of unbelief in God’s Word?

Is it true that, having begun in Christ we now are coming short of God’s will for us? What does the expression mean, "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering his rest, any of you [Hebrew Christians] should seem to come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1)?

Come short of what?

Come short of the full grasp on the redemption that is in Christ (the full attaining of Christ is the theme of the Epistle to the Hebrew Christians).

The "rest" spoken of in the fourth chapter of Hebrews is the state into which God entered as soon as He had completed all His works. We Christians are to enter God’s rest. There are not several rests. There is but one rest. That rest is God’s rest. It is into God’s rest that we are to enter.

Jesus dwells completely and perfectly in the rest of God the Father. When God began His creation, in the beginning of time, He created not only the heavens, the earth, and living things, but He also provided the Lamb who was "slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).

In addition, God chose the brothers of Christ (Romans 8:29) and set in motion the entire series of events that will bring the brothers into the image of God’s beloved Son, and also put all things under subjection to Christ and His saints. The plan was finished in detail before the almighty God created the heavens and the earth.

God is resting and watching with pleasure the unfolding of His plan. Our task is to labor to enter the perfect rest of God, to rejoice with God as His eternal plan moves along on precise schedule—in our own life as well as in the universe at large. A strong, patient, courageous faith is required if we are to lay hold on Christ to the extent that each day finds us in the center of God’s will, His "rest," and if our discipleship is to witness a translating of our experiences into godly living and godly character.

Atonement through the blood of Christ, being born again, being healed, receiving and using ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit, doing God’s will, governing our environment, being created in Christ’s image, preservation in the day of judgment, kingship, priesthood, transformation from mortality into immortality—all these were assigned to us before the creation of the world.

The Lord God created all these blessings for us, and then God rested. By faith we enter that rest. By faith we look to God each day in order that the unique plan for us as an individual may proceed in Divine order.

There are powerful forces working against us that make it quite difficult for us to grasp and hold by faith on our position in the rest of God. The spirit of the age that prevails in our time is one force that seeks continually to weaken our position of rest in God. Satan and his kingdom of evil spirits probe unceasingly in the hope that a weak spot in our armor will be exposed and that our eyes will be deflected from gazing intently and steadily on Christ.

Another insistent pressure pushing us away from the rest of God is our own "flesh," particularly our compulsions toward lust, hate, covetousness, unbelief, fear, pride, and so forth.

Each person born into the world is a little God. As we come to maturity we begin to plan what we wish to do with our life, whom we desire to marry, what vocation we will adopt, where we will live. Then we are told that God has planned every aspect of our existence, from birth, to death, and then throughout eternity, and that our whole duty is to abide in Christ.

God is resting in His perfect plan for our life, a plan that will bring righteousness, peace, love, joy, and gladness of heart to us. We, as little gods, do not trust the Father to this extent. We are determined to do what we want to with our life, to marry whom we will, to adopt the vocation of our choice, and to live wherever we desire. It is the wise, blessed individual who, after having suffered much, decides that God knows what He is doing and truly cares about each of us.

It requires faith and trust on our part to say, "Father, I am weary of the anguish of life. I want to come home to You, to enter the plan for my life that You have chosen from the creation of the world. I want to abide in Christ and do all Your will, for I know now that only Your will, Your rest, can bring righteousness, love, joy, peace, and gladness of heart to me."

We must deliberately, vigorously, set ourselves to believe the Scriptures. The "greater works," the image of Christ, perfect peace, the fullness of God’s Presence and power in our life, are not in the possession of many Christians. We unwisely gauge God’s ability to fulfill His Word in us by what we see in ourselves and in our fellow Christians.

We—like Peter—are sinking because we consider the size of the waves rather than the dependability of Christ.

We—as the Israelites—are confounded and bitter because we look at the barrenness of the wilderness and tremble in fear of the enemy instead of maintaining in faith the vision of God’s power and His goodness that has been given to us.

We discard God’s promise to us and chose to be moved by our own understanding and fears. Israel forgot the terrible signs and wonders God had worked in Egypt and His many kindnesses to them during their pilgrimage in the wilderness. We forget the numerous answers to prayer we have received and God’s evident attention to the details of our lives.

The rest of God is not Heaven. The land of promise is not Heaven. The land of promise is the earth and the nations of the earth. The rest of God is the place of abiding in the bosom of the Father until all our enemies have been made our footstool by means of the sovereign working of Christ in us.

Reader, grasp God’s rest for yourself. Do not come short of it. "Sell all" and give yourself wholly to the things of Christ. Such is the exhortation of the Book of Hebrews. Some of the believers will press through to God’s goal for them. Why shouldn’t you be included in the group of victorious saints?

If you should die before the consummation of the promises, make certain you die in faith. Do not stagger in unbelief at God’s wonderful promises. Be strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that what He has promised He is able to fulfill to the uttermost—for you!

Behold these promises afar off, as did Abraham. Confess you are a pilgrim and stranger in the earth. Lift up your cross and take a step toward the vision of the fullness of Christ. Do not look back—even one time. Push on against every temptation, every distraction. Endure hardness as God leads, with the eyes of your faith fixed on Christ.

As you draw closer to Him, His Glory will transform you until you are one with the Godhead. The saints in light are cheering you on for without you they cannot "be made perfect" (Hebrews 11:40).

You are a warrior, a fighter in God. The hordes of Hell will come against you but God is leading you against His enemies. You are bringing the Presence of God Almighty into the land of promise. Your unwavering faith, given to you and maintained by God’s impartation of grace to you, is providing the means by which God can judge and cast out the enemy.

You must attend to the Presence of the Holy Spirit day and night, twenty-four hours of every day, if you intend to experience the fullness of the glory of God’s grasp on you.

SUMMARY

Perhaps it will be profitable, when you close this book, to review often the words of Paul recorded in Philippians, Chapter Three and Romans, Chapter Eight. Remember that when referring to the land of promise we have been pointing toward the goal of the Christian discipleship. We have been examining the end toward which our striving, our coping, our trusting, our believing are bringing us.

We have been looking intently at the vision that grows ever clearer and more desirable as, in God’s schedule, we are being moved along through a program that commenced at our blood-bought atonement and will terminate in the fullness of Christ. We are pressing toward a specific mark. There is a sense of continuous progress in the victorious Christian life.

When we step back, as it were, and attempt to see as a whole the great theme of Paul as he portrays the land of promise, the rest of God, the goal of the Christian discipleship, we gain the impression that the Christian land of promise is the full attainment of Christ.

Included in the fullness of Christ are:

Our untroubled rest in God’s perfect purpose in us as an individual and in the plan of God for the entire universe.

Our entrance into joyful rest from our trials and tribulations when we die physically.

Our restful abiding in Christ as we become obedient to the will of the Father and as we partake of the resurrection life that flows from the Throne of God.

The total destruction of the enemies of God.

Our conformity to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in our spirit, our soul, and our body.

The eternal abiding in us of the fullness of the Father and the fullness of the Son through the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

The receiving of the fullness of fruitfulness and dominion promised to Christ and to the coheirs.

We are at work on many of these aspects now. If we are not now being molded in His image; if we are not learning obedience; if we are not putting to death the deeds of our body; if we are not reaching for the full knowledge of the power of His resurrection and the sharing of His sufferings; then we are not pressing into the rest of God, our land of promise. We are neglecting our great salvation (Hebrews 2:3).

The true disciples of Jesus, always striving for God’s perfect will, have their eyes fixed steadfastly on the full, perfect attainment of that for which they have been grasped by Christ. Christ has laid hold on us with the end in view of our full attainment of the inheritance that God the Father has promised to the heirs of salvation. Christ is desirous that all of His beloved younger brothers return His grasp by cooperating with the Holy Spirit until they possess Himself, His image, His Life, His dominion.

At His glorious appearing each of us will rise to meet Him in the air but each will receive a different reward. It is possible for us to gain completely the special place in the land of promise we stake out for our own, as Christ directs and burdens us. There is a unique reward for each disciple whom Jesus chooses.

But how much of a claim we are able to stake out, to grasp, to hold, depends on the faith and diligence with which we seek Christ. It is foolishness to believe that a careless believer with one eye on Christ and the other eye on the things of the flesh will inherit the fullness of the promises of God in Christ. The Scriptures state the rewards will be given to the overcomers.

What is your attitude toward God’s land of promise?—God’s rest? Is your heart like that of Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:7-9)? Do you believe that the Lord God of Heaven is able to give you complete victory over the enemies in your "land"? Or are you of the same spirit as the remainder of the Israelites who provoked God with their unbelief (Numbers 14:11,12)? Do you have a willingness to fight, as did Jacob, who took his inheritance out of the hands of the Amorites with his sword and bow (Genesis 48:22)?

Ask God for a vision of Christ. Make possessing the fullness of Christ the first and greatest desire of your heart. Reach out for the boundless glory of resurrection life. Believe that your personality can and will be created in the image of Christ. Continually desire and groan for the putting on of your house from Heaven, your body of eternal glory and power.

Determine to rule all things through Christ. Let your thoughts be full of sharing in the majesty and authority of Christ. Submit yourself to God always so you can inherit with Christ the highest throne of the universe. It does not matter what you suffer to get there. It matters only that God desires you inherit all things (Revelation 21:7).

Be serious in your quest for God. Set out immediately and straightforwardly to find the Lord. Do so with all the integrity and diligence of which you are capable. God is a rewarder of every soul who sincerely seeks Him. He will not disappoint you. You will inherit your possessions in the land of promise!

O God, grant to each Christian the attitude of Joshua and Caleb. First we need an individual vision of the land You have set before us. Then we must believe that You through Christ are able to drive out the enemy and cause us to obtain the fullness of all You have declared in Your Word, and promised to us personally.

Finally, we ask Your help in fixing our eyes on Christ with such steadfastness that all the tactics of the adversary are overcome as we are being transformed through the Glory of Christ. It is written, "The path of the just is as the dawn, which shines with increasing light until the day is lighted fully."

Dear Father, grant through Your beloved Son, Christ, that the Day of Christ may grow to full radiance in each of our hearts.

Amen.