THE LIFE-GIVING SPIRIT

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Copyright © 2015 Robert B Thompson. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers

Every member of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is by calling a member of the Royal Priesthood.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Every member of the Royal Priesthood is called to be a life-giving spirit.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” [soul]; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

Every Christian who does not cooperate with the Spirit of God in becoming a life-giving spirit may be as though he or she has buried their talent. They clearly are in danger of the outer darkness and of having their God-given gifts taken from them.

The calling today on each Christian is to pursue the current aspects of the program of redemption until they become a life-giving spirit. Christ will make this possible. Our task is to follow Christ closely and obey Him completely.

The people from the nations who are saved to citizenship on the new earth, but who are not called to be members of the Priesthood, will pursue their vocations in a glorious environment. They are the inheritance of the Priesthood and will receive eternal life from the Priesthood and be governed and blessed by the Priesthood.

Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. (Psalms 2:8,9)

The promise above is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are co-heirs with Him.

The following passage shows the two different groups, the Priesthood and their inheritance:

Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:5,6)

The “priests of the Lord” are the Christians, the life-giving spirits.

The “strangers” who will shepherd your flocks are the saved people from the “nations,” the inheritance of the life-giving spirits.

We see the same pattern in the Book of Revelation:

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)

“It” is the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, the assemblage of life-giving spirits. The “nations” are the saved people from the nations of the earth. Here is the fulfillment of the Word of Christ, “You are the light of the world.”

Such is the relationship of the Israel of God to the nations of the earth. Such is the Kingdom of God that has been proclaimed and soon is coming to the earth.

Before we advance to the life-giving spirit, we first have to deal with sin. Sin is behavior that is not acceptable to God.

There are three aspects of sin: the guilt of sin; the cravings of sin; and the practice of sin. When we say, “He nailed my sins to the cross,” we usually mean “the guilt of our sins,” in that the cravings still are in our personality and, even against our will, we fulfill the cravings.

When we read “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” we usually think of the first aspect—the guilt of sin. This probably is because at the beginning of the Christian Era, forgiveness was emphasized.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)

However, the writers of the New Testament pointed toward a Day of Redemption, at which time we will be delivered from not only the guilt of sin, but also the cravings and practice of sin.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Below is an interesting prophecy:

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. (Hosea 6:2)

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’” (Luke 13:32)

I believe the two days speak of the two thousand years of the Church Era, in which God is identifying and training the members of the Royal Priesthood. During the third day, God will release us from sin and self-will and fill us with the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.

You know, the procedure for putting to death the cravings of sin and the practice of sin has always been in the New Testament. But as has been the case also with speaking in tongues, the Spirit of God had to bring it to our attention before we began to believe for it and then practice it.

One of the procedures for removing the cravings and practice of sin is as follows. It always has been in the Bible. Why didn’t we see it? Maybe its place in the unfolding of the plan of redemption had not arrived until recently:

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

I think by “misdeeds” the translator means “sins.”

Name some sin you are practicing, a craving you cannot seem to control. Then ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you and put the craving to death. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Again:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

It appears obvious that the two passages above are speaking of deliverance from the cravings and practice of sin, and not just forgiveness.

May I be so bold as to suggest that the Day of Redemption has begun?

It is a time to wash our robe and make it white in the blood of the Lamb.

We mentioned previously the three aspects of sin: forgiveness, cravings, and practice.

Now let us think about the three sources of the sin that binds us.

The first source of sin is our love of the world.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (I John 2:15,16)

I must confess that during my preaching over the past fifty or more years I have not paid enough attention to the problem of worldliness. I have been focusing on the sins that dwell in our flesh, and the problem with self-will.

The other day as I was writing about sin and the coming Day of Redemption, the issue of Christian worldliness came into my mind. I began to do a computer search of the New Testament exhortations concerning involvement in the world-antichrist spirit. I realized that the spirit of the world also is a source of sin.

I realized also that while self-will, rebellion against God’s will, may be the primary cause of the difficulty we have in serving God, the people in the Lake of Fire have (perhaps because of their self-will) yielded to one or more of the sins of the flesh until they personify that sin.

I expect when they die and pass into the spirit world they will be the very embodiment of the sin.

Let me explain further:

The sins that dwell in our flesh are described in several passages of the New Testament. The list of sins I frequently employ is as follows:

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21

Compare the above with the following:

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Do you notice any difference between the two lists of sinful behavior?

The first list is of various works of the flesh. The second list is of people.

It is not the sins that are thrown into the Lake of Fire. It is people!

How can one account for this?

Notice that one of the sins of the flesh is fornication. One of the kinds of people who make their home in the Lake of Fire are the sexually immoral.

I believe this means that if an individual keeps yielding to fornication, impurity, and licentiousness, they will be characterized when they stand before the Lord Jesus as an immoral personality. Their home for eternity will be the Lake of Fire.

“But,” one may protest, “what if that individual has ‘accepted Christ”’?

The Books of Galatians and Revelation were written to God’s people and apply to God’s people. They were not written to the world.

So after considering the sources of sin I have come to the conclusion that there is the world; then there are the alien spirits that dwell in our flesh; and then there are the sins of our personality: many of which have been inherited; and many of which have been formed as in our self-will we have continued to yield to the spirits of sin that dwell in our flesh.

We American Christians have a deadly enemy. It is the antichrist spirit of the world; the idolizing of money, sexual lust, entertainment, and luxury.

Our children grow up nourished by Satan’s personality as they gaze for many hours at Satan’s values of lust and violence on the electronic communication and gaming devices. Some of these devices were not even in existence fifty years ago, so it may be too early to evaluate their impact on people.

However, any Christian who has read the Bible knows, or should know, that the daily immersion in the television, Facebook, Internet, and the handheld devices, is not approved of by the Lord Jesus. The parents of the children will see the day when this kind of sowing produces an undesirable harvest. Only continual prayer can break the bondage of the worldly media.

There is no doubt that being a consecrated, godly believer is quite difficult in America. We are running counter to the tide of worldliness. This is especially difficult for children and young people from Christian homes. They often do not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, and it appears to them that their parents are being hateful and mean by not letting them wallow in the various electronic games “like the other kid’s parents do.”

So the first enemy of those who have their sights set on becoming one of Christ’s life-giving spirits is the antichrist-world spirit. To be successful in this warfare requires a closeness to the Master that we may not have known in the previous years of our Christian discipleship.

The second source of the sins that war against our becoming a life-giving spirit is the sins that dwell in our flesh—that probably are spirits. There are at least three main lists of the sins of the flesh: in Galatians, in Ephesians, and in Colossians. Also there are references to the sins of the flesh in several other of the Epistles.

One of the three main lists is found in the Book of Colossians:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:5-11)

Many of these sins may be spirits that we inherited or acquired during our lifetime. They can be put to death and their power over us broken by the instructions in the two passages set forth above (Romans 8:13 and I John 1:9).

Try it and see? This is a powerful work of redemption that is being emphasized today by the Spirit of God.

(the following passages are adopted from: The Third Day Has Begun)

From my point of view, the New International Version does us a great disservice in its translation of Romans 7:18:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

“In my sinful nature” should be “in my flesh.”

Since I am not a Greek scholar, there may be some linguistic reason why “in my flesh” can properly be translated “in my sinful nature.” If so, I stand corrected.

However, since in this essay I am making an important distinction between the sins that proceed from cravings, “spirits” (perhaps), dwelling in our flesh, and then the sins that proceed from our personality, from what we are and not from alien spirits dwelling in our body, to change sarki (Greek: the flesh) into sinful nature is an unfortunate substitution.

Notice also:

But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:23—NIV)

But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23—NASB)

And I behold another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of the sin that [is] in my members. (Romans 7:23—YLT)

I think it really is scandalous to change “in the members of my body” to “in me,” as the NIV has done.

The whole point is that the sin is alive in the members of my body, my flesh, rather than in my inward personality. At least, that is the way it appears to me! What can you say about that?

How is one to conduct an exposition of the Scriptures when the translators change words as they will?

The reason the change from “my sinful nature” to “the sin dwelling in my flesh is so significant is that it attacks the nature and purpose of the resurrection from the dead.

The resurrection from the dead is the changing of our body from sinful corruption to sinless incorruption. The resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. It is a change in our personality.

Therefore the change from “my sinful nature” to the “law of sin which is in my members” removes the thrust of Paul’s goal, which was the resurrection from the dead body (“the body of this death”); the redemption of Paul’s body.

I do believe the goal of the Christian redemption is the change from a sinful body to a body without sin. The inner salvation, which is the change from a self-willed soul to a life-giving spirit, is of little or no use until the body in which it is contained is delivered completely from the sins that at present continually urge it to sin.

Perhaps this is the meaning of, “Should not perish but have eternal life,” that is to say, immortality in the body.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:54)

(end of adopted paragraphs)

From my point of view, the New International Version does us a great disservice in its translation of Romans 7:18:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

“In my sinful nature” should be “in my flesh.”

Since I am not a Greek scholar, there may be some linguistic reason why “in my flesh” can properly be translated “in my sinful nature.” If so, I stand corrected.

However, since in this essay I am making an important distinction between the sins that proceed from cravings, “spirits” (perhaps), dwelling in our flesh, and then the sins that proceed from our personality, from what we are and not from alien spirits dwelling in our body, to change sarki (Greek: the flesh) into sinful nature is an unfortunate substitution.

Notice also:

But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:23—NIV)

But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23—NASB)

Romans 7:23Young's Literal Translation (YLT)

And I behold another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of the sin that [is] in my members.

I think it really is scandalous to change “in the members of my body” to “in me,” as the NIV has done.

The whole point is that the sin is alive in the members of my body, my flesh, rather than in my inward personality. At least, that is the way it appears to me! What can you say about that?

How is one to conduct an exposition of the Scriptures when the translators change words as they will?

In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul groans for the redemption of his body, with the idea, I believe, that his sinful flesh will not continue when his carnal body is changed into an incorruptible body. This supports the term “flesh,” I think, as more fitting than “sinful nature.”

There is another source of sin (other than worldliness and spirits dwelling in our flesh). Perhaps a suitable term would be “original” sin, or “soulish” sin. The cravings of this third source of sin is our own personality, our heart, our soul, or whatever one wishes to call it. It should be kept separated in our minds from the cravings that live in our flesh, because God deals with it differently.

The sin that lives in our flesh can be put to death by the Spirit of God, and shall not continue to affect us when we are clothed with our incorruptible resurrection body; and may leave us when we die and pass into the spirit world.

The sin that proceeds from our soul, if we yield continually to our inherited fallen nature and to the urges in our flesh, probably will not leave us when we die and pass into the spirit world, and may prevent us from being clothed with an incorruptible body,

The sin that proceeds from our soul, our personality, cannot be put to death by the Spirit. God’s way of dealing with the promptings of our soul is to crucify it. This accounts for our numerous afflictions as a Christian.

The sins that proceed from our soul, our fallen nature, are those of self-love, self-will, self-guidance, self-aggrandizement, plus cowardice, immorality, lying, and so forth. This sort of sin is observable in the world, as the prominent leaders seek power and glory.

It is prominent also in the churches, and is responsible for divisions in the churches; and in some instances may be the cause of competing denominations. We think of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Also of Absalom.

We may just now be discovering that Christ wants us to be holy and righteous, and has made provision for our deliverance from unrighteous, unholy behavior. It appears it has been our practice to the present hour to claim we are “saved by grace,” apart from a change in our behavior, not understanding perhaps that God has made provision for deliverance as well as for forgiveness.

In the case of self-will and self-aggrandizement, and the sins of our flesh that we yield to continually, Christ will guide us into the transformation of our fallen nature. Christ wants us to be totally obedient to Him in every part of our life. He will send trouble upon us until we are glad to obey Him completely.

How do we do this? By continually looking to Jesus for every decision we make during the day and night.

The Bible tells us to lean not to our own understanding but to acknowledge God in all our affairs. It commands us to present our body a living sacrifice. It advises us that to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus we must deny ourselves, bearing our cross of deferred desires as we follow the Master at all times and in every circumstance.

One simple device I use is to look to Jesus several times each day, and during the night when I am awake, and ask Him two things: Am I where I am supposed to be?; Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?

Every thought, word, and action is to be held before the Lord Jesus to make certain His will is being done completely and in detail.

The practices I have mentioned previously, confessing our sin and asking Christ’s help, are our part in delivering us from self-will, self-love, pride, sexual immorality, lying, selfish ambition, self-direction, desire to be “in charge,”and so forth. But what is God’s part?

God tells us to assign our first nature, our adamic soul, to the cross with Jesus Christ. Then He sends a multitude of afflictions upon us until, like the Apostle Paul, we judge that we have been sentenced to death.

But if we keep our eyes on Jesus, trusting in Him, we continually are raised up by the resurrection Life of the Lord.

So our discipleship is death and life; death and life; death and life; until our original soulish, adamic nature is rendered helpless and God Himself becomes our soul, as it were, and we are converted into a life-giving spirit.

Our soul is the place from which our decisions proceed and are manifest in our spirit. When our soul is put to death by various pressures, God becomes the Source of our decisions and we then become a life-giving spirit.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:8-10)

Unlike the sins of the flesh, the sins of our self-determination cannot be cast out of our flesh. Rather, our self-will must be “crucified out of us,” we might say.

If we are to become a life-giving spirit, like our Lord Jesus, we have to “hate” our life in the present world. The term “hate” is not the same as our hatred toward cruelty to animals, for example. It means rather to reject in favor of something else.

In order to please and obey Christ we sometimes have to turn away from a relationship, activity, or thing concerning which we see no harm. But if we are to be one with Christ and the Father, we must reject the object in question that we may lay hold on the promise of God. This is the sort of “hatred” the Lord Jesus refers to.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:24-26)

One difficulty in our thinking may be that we recognize that the sins dwelling in our flesh are alien to us, whereas the sins of pride and self-will are what we are. In a democratic government, self-will and the “rights of people” are honored as though they somehow are godly.

But the Kingdom of God is not a democracy. It is a kingdom, governed by the Lord Jesus.

The only way in which lasting peace on the earth could be possible would be under the rulership of a righteous king who humbly walked with God and obeyed God completely. Such a king would possess total authority and power over all peoples.

There would be lesser kings who were subject to the supreme monarch. But the supreme monarch would be king over all other kings and lord over all other lords.

All of the kings and lords, being members of the Royal Priesthood, would be life-giving spirits who were governed by the power of an endless life.

The increase of the kingdom and of peace would extend throughout eternity.

Such is the Kingdom of God. May it come to the earth soon!

When the Kingdom of God has been established on the earth, thoughtful people would understand immediately that any person who trusted in his own judgment to direct his life, of anyone else’s life, would be a source of confusion if not disaster. Everyone must be compelled to do God’s will if there is to be peace on the earth.

Sin (Satan) always shall be “crouching at the door” until God through the Lord Jesus Christ and His brothers and sisters put and end to sin; and that means an end to the self-will of people as well as an end to the sins of immorality.

“Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

You can just imagine the American people agreeing to give up their “freedoms” and their “rights”! This is the reason for the rule of the rod of iron.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)

The Greek term adelphois, as employed in Romans 8:29 and other passages, is translated “brothers and sisters,” by several translators.

The Apostle Paul told us there are no nationalities or gender in Christ Jesus. But Paul was speaking of what even now is true in the new creation in Christ, not just of what will be true in the future. Today there are no preferred races in the Kingdom of God, and no male or female, although the husband is still the head of the home because of the curse.

If there is a Jewish man and a German man, and each has Christ in his heart, then they are one in Christ although of different nationalities. The same is true of male and female.

So I lean toward the translation of adelphois as “brothers and sisters.” When man was created he was “male and female.” This is true now, and, from my point of view, it will be true for eternity.

It would be a boring world now and would be in the future if there were no male and female and all the children were “its.” How do you feel about that?

I understand that our Lord said that in the resurrection there would be no marriage and we would be as angels. But keep in mind that Adam and Eve did not experience a marriage ceremony.

Also, in what way are we married to the Lamb?

We will have to wait and see how all this will work out in practical living. I have no idea. But I do know one thing. God always moves from the less wonderful to the more wonderful. He has kept the best wine until now. This always is true in the Lord!

Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (Daniel 9:24)

God planted a garden in Eden. There were many trees in the Garden of Eden. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam was free to eat of every tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned that “when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

What is “life”? Life is power. Eternal life is the power that flows from having a close relationship with God and Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, and those who are part of Him, also are trees of life, although His brothers and sisters are not mature as yet. But such is their destiny.

Eternal death is the opposite of eternal life. It is not related to God in any manner. When eternal life is not present, the person defaults to eternal death, because sin ( Satan; death) always is crouching at the door.

Eternal life gives us the power to overcome sin.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

The Spirit of God is eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, because He has the Spirit of God without measure. “Resurrection” is the giving of eternal life, the Life of Christ, to that which is spiritually dead. Resurrection and ascension are not the same thing.

The Apostle Paul was seeking to attain to the resurrection, not to the ascension. Those who are looking for a “rapture” may not realize that our goal is resurrection, not ascension. Our Lord is the Resurrection, not the ascension. One can be resurrected apart from ascending into the air or into Heaven.

I have quoted Romans 8:13 (above). It is referring to Romans 8:11:

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

It is the term “raised” (above) that leads to the idea that resurrection means ascension. However,”raised” means merely that Jesus came back to life.

Although it is not always mentioned in today’s preaching, Romans 8:13 is saying that if we live according to our flesh, and do not put to death the sinful deeds of our physical body, we will die. This means our body will not be given life (resurrected) in the Day of Christ.

If we are conscientious in putting to death the sins of our flesh, as the Spirit guides and helps us, we will live. This means our physical body will receive eternal life in the Day of Christ.

It is well to keep in mind that the Lord Jesus did not come from Heaven to bring us to Heaven but to fill us with His Life, eternal Life. This is a massive error in today’s Christian thinking. God did not give His Son that we might go to Heaven but that we might have eternal life; and that includes, if it is not directed primarily at, the Life of God in our body.

Killing our hope of resurrection by continuing in the sins of the flesh indeed is a fearful consequence. In fact, the very goal of our salvation appears to be that of providing us with an incorruptible body filled with eternal life.

In the day of our resurrection, when the Lord returns, some will receive a thirtyfold body so to speak, some a sixtyfold, some a hundredfold. The body we receive will have been produced by the diligence with which we have followed our Redeemer.

Just as today people are born with bodies that when mature will have different capabilities, so it will be in the Day of Christ. Our new body will vary from person to person according to our faithfulness to Christ during our discipleship.

Also, our role in the Kingdom of God that God has assigned to us will affect our new body.

Some will receive a corrupt body, reflecting their pursuit of the sins of the flesh.

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)

Let’s take a look at a passage that reveals the relationship between our discipleship and the body with which we are clothed in the Day of Resurrection.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:7)

The reason God placed us in our frail bodies of dust is that we might come to understand that all we are, have, and can do come from Him. After a long discipleship I have come to the conclusion that the greatest problem of mankind, and of the Christian churches, is self-will; self-glorification.

Even in the churches we do not pray and then listen to find out what it is Christ desires. We figure, I suppose, if we do a good work of some kind we are doing the will of Christ. The truth is, we may not be listening to Christ to find out what He wants. We may be assuming that we know.

Some fervent believer may have decided to go to a foreign country to preach the Gospel, and then he was slain by unbelievers. We may consider him to be a martyr. The truth may be that he was not obeying Christ by going. Christ had something else for him. This sort of thing may happen more often than we realize.

As far as the world is concerned, people want to do what they want to do. I do not understand why people are not more concerned about what God wants, seeing as how God gave them all they are, have, and can do.

If we are this way now, what would we be like if we had an all-powerful spiritual body instead of a “jar of clay”? In fact, it is our inclination toward self-rule that is the reason God does not give us, in the present hour, possession of an all powerful spiritual body!

God has promised us a marvelous, incorruptible body, if we obey Him during our present life. He keeps bringing us down to death so He may raise us to life and thus be glorified in us.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:11,12)

What is God seeking by treating a person in this manner? God is breaking down our self-will, self-glorification, lying, fornication, and so forth so that we might live by His Life. God’s strength comes forth through our weakness..

But I said we would consider a passage that reveals the relationship between our discipleship and the body with which we are clothed in the Day of Resurrection.

What does the death/life pattern of our discipleship have to do with our resurrected body?

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

Our troubles are achieving some sort of eternal glory.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:4,5)

Jesus said He was going (to the cross) to prepare a mansion for us. Now we see that God is fashioning us for the mansion with which we shall be clothed, as well as fashioning the “mansion” according to the manner in which He is fashioning us.

We see that our daily crucifixions and resurrections are achieving an eternal glory in the form of a body of incorruptible life. Our “mansion,” that we thought would be waiting for us in Heaven, actually is a body that will swallow up our mortal body. What we have become in Christ will be seen when people observe our new body.

I like this better than an ornate house in Heaven. How about you? We take our “mansion” with us wherever we go.

Notice in the passage above that our mortal body is swallowed up by “life.” That Life is the Life of Jesus Christ. It supplants our self-seeking, sinful soul. This is resurrection. It is not necessarily followed by ascension.

The “catching up” of the resurrected believers into the air, in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, is so they may join the army of saints who have come with Christ, and the army of angels, and then follow the Lord Jesus Christ as He descends to install the will of God, the Kingdom of God, on the earth.

This is the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon; and that is why there is the shout, the voice of Michael, and the trumpet of God.

In the Bible, battles are announced by a trumpet.

When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. (Numbers 10:9)

When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in. (Joshua 6:5)

This is a secret rapture? Rather, this is the attack of Armageddon!

As I stated previously, there were two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Tree of Life was the Lord Jesus Christ. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil also was the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the eternal Word of God. The Word of God reveals to us what is good and what is evil, doesn’t it?

Is there any other “tree” that tells us what is good and what is evil? Or does God want us to be ignorant of what is good and what is evil? What is your opinion on this?

The problem with Adam and Eve was that they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil before they ate from the Tree of Life.

Why they did not eat from the Tree of Life and gain immortality I do not know. But we human beings are perverse, aren’t we?

Both good and evil existed at that time, evil being born from Satan. Satan always was crouching at the door, hoping to gain accomplices for his wicked schemes.

If Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life, from the Lord Jesus Christ, they would have been clothed, just as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ when we receive Him as our Savior.

But they were naked and had no way to cope with this fact except to run from God, which was exactly what Satan desired they do.

The knowledge of what is good and what is evil is necessary if we are to become mature in Christ.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)

We are to receive Christ, the Tree of Life, first. Then the Spirit of God will teach us what is good and what is evil, a little bit at a time. We are to turn away from what is evil, and ask Jesus to strengthen us so we always will embrace the good and vigorously reject the evil.

Those who follow the Law of Moses may find that the commandment brings death rather than eternal life. This is because of our fallen nature and also because of the sinful lusts that live in our flesh.

I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (Romans 7:10)

The eternal Life of Christ, which is in His body and blood, strengthens us so we can gain victory over stealing, for example. As we vigorously reject the spirit of stealing by the power of eternal life, confessing our sin and turning away from it, we gain a bit of eternal life in our mind and heart (the new covenant).

Then the Spirit is ready for a new deliverance. We can see from this process that no part of the Law of Moses has any place here. Once we are willing to count ourselves crucified with Christ, the Law of Moses is replaced by the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

This is the manner in which we are prepared for the donning of the incorruptible house from Heaven.

The greater problem, as I have mentioned, is self-will---trusting in ourselves rather than in the Lord Jesus to conduct our life. This is the reason for the repeated deaths and resurrections. It is to kill our tendency to trust in ourselves rather than in the Lord Jesus.

Please keep in mind that our goal is a better resurrection.

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)

Notice the attitude of the Apostle Paul toward the resurrection.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

Why is it that we seldom hear a minister of the Gospel express his goal in life as being that of attaining to the resurrection from the dead? Do we suppose that attaining to the resurrection occurs automatically when we “accept Christ”?

If that were the case, why was Paul having such a time with this? I think we can assume he had “accepted Christ,” wouldn’t you say?

Why was the Apostle Paul setting aside everything in this present world in order that he might attain to the resurrection? He says nothing about going to Heaven. Should attaining to the resurrection, to the filling of our physical body with incorruptible, resurrection life, be our goal?

Perhaps Paul was referring to the first resurrection, the one that will take place when Jesus comes.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

This is the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns. Do the people who are qualified and competent to be resurrected at this time seem to be the average professing Christians (blessed and holy, over whom the second death has no authority)?

Am I suggesting that not all who claim to be Christians will go with Jesus when He appears? That is exactly what I am saying!

Notice that “coming to life” at the time of the first resurrection is not spoken of in connection with an ascension. In fact, it will be accompanied by the “catching up.” But the catching up is not mentioned here because the resurrection is much greater in importance and significance than is true of the ascension.

I am of the opinion that not all church members are qualified and competent to be in the first resurrection. Perhaps it will be only a few warriors, as in the case with Gideon’s army.

If Paul was referring to the first resurrection, in Philippians 3:11, which is not unlikely, then we are not speaking of the rank and file of those who profess to be Christians participating in the first resurrection. The level of Paul’s consecration is not true of numerous church-attenders in our day.

I think God’s goal is to perfect brothers of the Anointed One, brothers and sisters of the Tree of Life, Christ Jesus. As such we are going to experience a rigorous curriculum indeed!

You know, the issue in Eden was nakedness. Notice what God says about the Christians in Laodicea.

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

We make our robes white by washing them in the blood of the Lamb.

We confess our sin to Christ, and by His help turn away from it and never practice it again. Jesus helps us. In this manner we maintain a clean robe.

God was ready to clothe Adam and Eve, but they disobeyed before they were clothed.

The soul that sins shall die. This mean it shall be cut off from the Presence of God and Christ; cut off from eternal life.

Lo, all the souls are Mine, As the soul of the father, So also the soul of the son -- they are Mine, The soul that is sinning -- it doth die. (Ezekiel 18:4—YLT)

Eve had no way of covering herself. She had knowledge, but no power to help herself in her nakedness. It is Life, the Spirit of God, who enables us to deal with our nakedness.

We always should put to death the sins of our flesh by the Spirit of God; the Spirit of eternal Life. The power of eternal life enables us to live in the Presence of God and to serve Him.

According to the Lord Jesus, we can receive more of the Spirit of God by petitioning God forcefully. But the surest way of receiving the Spirit is by obeying God and serving Him faithfully.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)

Melchizedek served God by the power of an endless life.

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews15-17

It is my point of view that all the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus, the members of the Royal Priesthood, as is true of their great Head, will serve God by the power of an indestructible life.

Eternal life gives us the power to gain victory over sin, to actually do what we choose to do. Sin no longer can control us because we have chosen to practice righteousness.

Eternal life gives us the power to actually do that which is of God’s Nature, that which brings to us righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Eternal death is the absence of eternal life, the absence of the power to do that which is pleasing to God. Eternal death brings to us unrighteousness, hatred, misery, and unrest and trouble—all that is of Satan.

Sin was crouching at the door. Adam and Eve, by not partaking of the Tree of Life, did not have the power to resist sin and death.

If we know what is good and what is evil, but do not have Christ, we do not have the power to choose that which is good and vigorously reject that which is evil.

***

We have discussed the resolution of the problem of sin. Now we will think about the life-giving spirits, which are so important in the installation and maintenance of the new world of righteousness.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being [soul]”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.

As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)

If there is a more amazing statement in the Scriptures, I do not know what it would be.

From dust to Heaven.

From a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

In Christ we are becoming a new creation, a new kind of humanity.

Adam died on the cross. When Christ was resurrected, a new kind of Life was revealed. We are to count ourselves dead on the cross with Christ so we might begin to live in resurrection life.

This is a total transformation of what we are, and all things of us then will be of God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (II Corinthians 5:17)

I wonder how long it will be (if ever) before the Christian ministers begin to preach that our goal is not to bring our soul to Heaven but to change from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

When we daydream about Heaven, I suppose we think of golden streets and large, ornate mansions. All the people are loving, and friends get together often to have fellowship and talk. I do not know what we will talk about, unless it is to reminisce about what we did on the earth.

No one ever is sick or tired. We will meet friends and relatives we have not seen for many years. Also, there are people we can talk to who were important on the earth, presidents, and all sorts of dignitaries. In Heaven they are not more important than anyone else, we suppose.

There are boys and girls running around and playing hide and seek. Some of the girls are playing hopscotch---if there are boys and girls. It would seem strange if all the children were of neuter gender, wouldn’t it.

One of the little “boys” is standing off by himself. He scowls and says, “This isn’t any fun playing hide and seek because we can catch anyone we want just by thinking about them.”

Jesus comes around once in a while holding a Bible. He greets us warmly. He asks us how we enjoy being in Heaven. We respond politely that it is wonderful.

There are many business-like angels who fly around, doing God’s work.

After a while we get bored because there is nothing to do, so we go back into our mansion and lay on our couch. Maybe we dream about the earth when life was more interesting. We need to get accustomed to this sort of life, because we will be living like this for eternity.

How many Christian people daydream about being transformed into a life-giving spirit, and going about bringing eternal life to the spiritually dead people of the nations? But that is a true picture, while the one we have just presented is the mythology that has grown up about what it means to be “saved.”

Please keep in mind that my writing is addressed to the members of the Royal Priesthood. They certainly would find the scene above to be boring. God has put it in their heart to work with the Lord Jesus at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

But it is a different story for people of the nations who are saved to the new heavens and earth reign of Christ.

The following passage is referring to life on the new earth:

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65:21)

It appears that those who are saved but who are not members of the governing priesthood will pursue their normal occupations. However, it will be a much better life than the present because of the absence of death and other sorrows.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

For our soul to be saved means to be changed from its adamic inheritance to a life-giving spirit. I am not certain this is true of those who are not members of the Royal Priesthood. Perhaps they will remain as body, soul, and spirit.

Our life-giving spirit will be clothed with an incorruptible body. As soon as we are filled with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of God, we have experienced the totality of salvation, including the destruction of the last enemy, physical death.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53)

It can be seen easily that if it is true and scriptural that our salvation will be a change from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, and not the bringing of our soul, our adamic personality, to a mansion in Paradise, a change in the conventional Christian preaching is called for.

Notice the following two passages:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10)

In order to proceed with the change from our old personality to the new, we must consider ourselves to be dead with Christ on the cross.

The following procedure must be accomplished by the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

To live “according to the flesh” is to practice the life of the average American person. Our gods then would be money, sexual indulgence, and entertainment. We would restrict ourselves to eating, sleeping, working, playing, and reproducing. This is the life of a trained animal, such as a horse.

This is the way of spiritual death. The idea that such a church-goer would be raptured to Paradise and live in a mansion is pure fantasy. The law of the Kingdom of God is that we reap what we sow. If we thus sow to our fleshly nature we will reap a corrupt body in the Day of Resurrection.

Divine grace and mercy never interfere with the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. They will, however, forgive us and help us turn from our wickedness and begin to sow righteous behavior so we will reap eternal life in our body and not corruption.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

The Lord advised us that if we choose to be a disciple of His, a Christian, we must turn away from the ways of the world, deny ourselves, carry our cross of deferred gratification, place our treasures in Heaven, and follow and obey Him at all times in every circumstance.

You might think that no one is actually living in this manner. If that were so, which it is not, then no one would be ready to go with the Lord Jesus when He appears.

If we are praying and reading our Bible each day, gathering together on a regular basis with fervent believers, looking to Jesus continually to see if we are where we should be, and if we are doing what we should be doing, the Spirit of God will point out to us any behavior of ours that is not in the image of God.

We then are to confess to the Lord that specific behavior and ask Jesus to help us never to do that again—not for eternity.

Those who live in this manner, confessing and forsaking their sins, are putting off the old adamic self and putting on the new self which continually is being renewed in the image of God.

Such is the only true Christian life, the only life that leads to the change in the body when the Lord appears, and to being carried up with all prepared believers to the staging area in the air. We then will be with Jesus as He descends to install His Kingdom, the doing of God’s will, on the earth.

We become a life-giving spirit by putting off the old personality with its unclean practices and putting on the new personality that is being created in the image of God. Included in our transformation is that of looking to the Lord Jesus for every decision we make in thinking, speaking, and acting.

The new personality will be filled with the Spirit of God until it is a life-giving spirit, just as is true of the Lord Jesus Christ, although not as great in authority and power as He.

We may not realize it, but most of the people of history and on the earth at the present time are spiritually dead because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

When a young man asked the Lord Jesus if he could return to his city and bury his father, Jesus responded by saying, “Let the dead bury their dead.”

This may sound cruel, but the truth is, the young man’s relatives actually were spiritually dead. However, if the young man continued to follow the Lord Jesus, he eventually would become a life-giving spirit and could then, in this present world or possibly in the world to come, assist his father and his relatives.

God sent the Lord Jesus, the Tree of Life, into the world so He could bring eternal life to the dead of mankind. Now we are to be made branches of the Tree of Life so we can bring eternal life all who will receive us. This is why we were called to be members of the Body of Christ, of the eternal Tabernacle of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place [His Tabernacle] is now among the people [of the nations], and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:3)

God’s Throne is to be created in us, and the living Water of the Spirit of God always flows from that Throne. Such is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.

The Jewish people quoted from the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah during the feast of Tabernacles.

On the last and greatest day of the festival [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” (John 7:37,38)

This reminds us of what the Lord said to the Samaritan woman:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13)

In order to become filled with the Spirit of God to the extent that we can serve mankind as a life-giving spirit, we must pass through three judgments.

The first judgment is to the ankles. This is separation from the ways of the world.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. (Ezekiel 47:3)

The second judgment is to the knees. This refers to removing from us all the sins of the flesh. Notice that the water of the Spirit keeps affecting more of our personality.

He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. (Ezekiel 47:4)

Water to the knees symbolizes our walk in the world.

The third judgment is to the waist. This is death to our self-will, our personality, our personal strength.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:8,9)

He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. (Ezekiel 47:4)

Now we are filled with the Spirit and are able to serve as a life-giving spirit.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. Ezekiel 47:5)

We return now to our starting point. We have not received this Divine blessing so we might be more spiritual than other people but so we can bring eternal Life, the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ, to those in need.

The “great number of trees” are portraying the faithful believers who have passed through judgment and now are trees of life growing out from the one Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus.

He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:6,7)

The members of the Body of Christ now are ready to minister Life to the dead sea of mankind.

He said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. (Ezekiel 47:8)

This same illustration of the life-giving spirits ministering to the saved people of the nations, can be seen in the Book of Revelation.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2)

I am not certain that it always is made clear to us of the Christian churches that we are being prepared to bring eternal life to a dead mankind. I am not speaking now of preaching the Gospel to people, as important as that is.

Rather there is something more than this. God wants to make us life-giving spirits so we actually can give eternal life to people, as the Spirit of God leads us.

What is eternal life? It certainly is more than eternal existence. The people who have been sent to the Lake of Fire will be there for eternity, according to the Scriptures.

Eternal life is the very Life of God that issues through the Lord Jesus and will issue through us when we have been made a new creation in the image of God.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. (John 5:21)

Eternal life results in eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Everything any mentally healthy person would desire is brought to us in eternal life. And it will heal those who are mentally or physically ill.

It is the Life that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and will raise us up from the deadness of our original nature.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah was chanted during the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. This chapter is the testimony of a person who has been filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He or she has become a life-giving spirit.

Isaiah, Chapter Twelve

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (1)

“That day” is the time when the Lord alone is exalted in our life. We will praise the Lord even though He was angry with us for a season while sin and self-will were being removed from us.

We have stayed faithful to God during our time of suffering, and now He is comforting us.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense [song]; he has become my salvation.” (2)

There is a time when God is saving us from various afflictions. If we remain faithful during our tribulations, we discover that something has changed in our experience. From this time forward, God Himself has become our salvation.

I liken it to God coming over to our side of the net, to use a figure from the game of volley ball.

We are attacked viciously by Satan and the other forces of darkness. We are pushed down past the limits of our faith. Now we rely on trust. We just trust that what we have believed is true, even though we may not be living in joyful victory at this point.

Because we trust God and His Word we do not permit ourselves to be occupied by fear.

Our goal is to move to the place where the Lord Himself is our Strength. It is not that He merely gives us strength, He Himself becomes our Strength. But this change will take place only as we make Christ our Life by giving to Him for His approval every decision we make.

We must set aside our own life that Christ may be our Life. Then the Lord is our strength because the “our” now includes the Lord Jesus.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

“For me to live is Christ,” the Apostle Paul stated.

Such is our goal if we are wise!

“Defense” and “song” are alternate readings of the text. Both are true. When Christ has become our Life, then we are safe from all the attacks of Satan and his warriors. When they attack us they are attacking God!

I favor “song” as the reading of Verse Two. There is something about it that suggests to me the joy we have as we trust confidently in the Lord Jesus.

We are not panicked when the demons come to terrify us at night. We sing, because we know Jesus Christ is vastly more powerful than any of the dark forces. Christ is not moved by their threats. Christ knows and trusts the power of the Father. So may we, when Christ is our life.

God is our Salvation. God does more than save us in every circumstance. He Himself has chosen to be our Salvation. He Himself is our Salvation. How much more authoritative and powerful is this fact.

For God to save us is understandable. For God Himself to be our Salvation is so marvelous, so extraordinarily wonderful, that one scarce can comprehend the scope of it all!

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (3)

Can you picture what it will be like when God leads us to men and women, boys and girls, and charges us to issue eternal life to them? As we draw out from our inmost being that incredible righteousness, love, joy, and peace, and see them begin to radiate the Divine Life of Christ, we will experience a joy that cannot be equaled in any other circumstance.

In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. (4)

That day, as I stated previously, occurs when we grow in Christ to the point that we always are exalting the Lord

It can be a temptation to give praise to a religious organization, or to some system of faith that we have found helpful. We need to listen to our speech and see if we are glorifying something or someone other than the Lord.

God becomes jealous when we become infatuated with something or someone other than himself, and He will take steps to free us from bondage and turn our attention back to Himself.

Today, more than ever, the nations of the earth are oblivious to the greatness of God and His love toward people. Nations compete with one another for money and power. But it all means nothing and less than nothing.

I hope that in our time God will restore the working of miracles in Jesus’ name, restoring sight to the blind and raising the dead, and moving mountains, until the nations tremble at the name of Jesus Christ.

I believe such supernatural events are going to take place in our day. The problem will be that people who are seeking glory for themselves will attempt to pervert the work of God for their own benefit. We will have to be careful that we are not involved in any activity, unless we are positive that Christ is directing us.

It is not enough to do a mighty work in the name of Christ. We must be certain that Christ Himself is doing this work.

“Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done by Christ will last.”

“On this rock I will build My church.” “I will build My church!

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (5)

It certainly is true that spiritual darkness is increasing in the world. The temptation will be to spend our time fretting and cursing the darkness.

The Apostle Paul counseled us to keep our mind fixed on that which is lovely. The events of our day are anything but lovely. They are wicked and ugly beyond anything we can imagine. It is the work of demons!

What are we to do? We are to remember that if we truly have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies at the right hand of the Father, having fellowship with the Father and the Son no matter what takes place on the earth.

The Muslim soldiers are cutting the heads off children if the little boys and girls will not renounce Christ. What the soldiers do not know is that the moment they kill the child, the little one is playing with other children in the Presence of Jesus.

When the true Christian dies, he or she goes to a place of peace and joy with our Lord.

When a Muslim or a Christian soldier or anyone else dies, who has cut off the head of an innocent child, he or she is judged as a murderer and is taken to be with other murderers that he may suffer the same sentence of Divine judgment.

“Oh, but he murdered the child in the name of Allah.” This makes no difference. He or she is a murderer, and that is that! A crime is a crime no matter whose name it is committed in.

As Jesus said, it would be better for anyone who harms a child that trusts in Him to have a millstone chained to his neck and be thrown into the sea.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

All of us, Muslims and Christians alike, ought to understand this.

But religion has a way of perverting common sense.

So we sing in the midst of the demons because God has become our Salvation. We eat from the table prepared for us in the midst of our enemies. We sing and dance on Mount Zion when the world is in flames, when the people who have rejected Christ are screaming in their fear and agony.

We keep our mind on that which is lovely.

Why should we fret about the wicked? Our God will see to it that the wicked are punished and the righteous are exalted to inherit the land. The abortionists, the sodomites, and the rest of the evildoers, will come to their end, and no one can prevent it.

Let us continually remind the world that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

God has done and will continue to do glorious things!

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” (6)

I will tell you when we will shout aloud and sing for joy. It is when the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of God take up Their eternal residence in us.

As we wait for this experience to happen to us, we must be careful to keep all the commandments given by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles. If we will do this, the Light of Israel will dwell in us forever. We then will live in righteousness, love, peace, and joy, and assist all who hear us to do the same.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

I would like to add one thought, if I may.

I see the rise of the False Prophet among the Charismatics in America. The False Prophet is composed of Pentecostal people who are led astray by “prophets” who are telling them that they are supposed to be anointed with power, and find places of great authority in the cultural centers of the world. They are self-centered and not Christ-centered. This is revealed in what they say and do.

They do not wear the “sackcloth” of humility of the two witnesses!

The new covenant is in the mind as well as the heart. When it is only in the heart, the believers give themselves to unscriptural, unprofitable, convulsions. This is the behavior of the False Prophet.

Such people are moved by their feelings; not by what the Lord Jesus is speaking to their mind, or what the Scripture says, or what is decent and in order, or what will profit the unlearned. They feel good and that is all that seems to matter!

The true saints of the last days will recognize that the shakings, convulsions, falling on the floor, and other unscriptural, unprofitable manifestations are not coming from the Holy Spirit of God.

Can you imagine the Lord Jesus, or the early Apostles, giving themselves over to such emotional demonstrations of the flesh, if not of unclean spirits?

Jesus and His Apostles spoke the word of power and the sick were healed. They did not accompany the word of power with unfruitful, repulsive gyrations.

In the present essay I have spoken of the removal by crucifixion of the desires of our soul, that we might be subject only to God. God Himself becomes our Soul, so to speak, the Source of our motivations and guidance. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Then we move in a power unknown to the members of the False Prophet.

We then do not seek positions of prominence in the present world system. The world leaders of today will not accept true men and women of God because they will realize their own positions of leadership are being threatened by the coming of the only true King of kings and Lord of Lords.

Remember, the true new covenant enters the heart, that we might desire to do God’s will; and also the mind, that we might understand God’s will. We must keep our emotions and spiritual pride in check and always listen to the Lord Jesus for our guidance in all matters.

This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” (Hebrews 10:16)

If you will allow the Lord Jesus to govern your life, you will change, a little bit at a time, into a life-giving spirit.

***

THE FRAMEWORK OF UNDERSTANDING FROM WHICH

THE LIFE-GIVING SPIRITS” WAS TAKEN

Oaks of Righteousness

The Sins of the Flesh

The Sins of the Soul

Forgiveness Preached at the Beginning

The Day of Redemption

Oaks of Righteousness

I realize I will be repeating many of the ideas I set forth in the essay above. However the concept of complete deliverance from the world, from sin and from self-will, and of the maturing of the life-giving spirits, is essential to Christian understanding of what is taking place in the Divine redemption. In addition, we must know how to prepare ourselves for the ever-increasing danger in the world. Therefore I am repeating much of what I said in the essay so there can be clarity in our thinking.

Every Christian is by their calling a member of the Royal Priesthood that shall inherit, judge, bless, and give eternal life to, those individuals of the nations whom God deems worthy of citizenship in the new world of righteousness.

Since our Christian traditions lump all saved people, the royal priests as well as those from the nations who are not called to the Royal Priesthood, in one bag, it may take a while before we understand that we, along with our Lord Jesus, shall inherit multitudes of the peoples of the earth.

Our inheritance is not ornate mansions, it is people. We may not realize it at this time, but people, young and old, are a vastly more valuable inheritance than is true of buildings and treasures of gold and silver.

It may be that the truth of this has to come to us by revelation. I know it has come to me that way.

Notice the pattern in Isaiah 61:1-3. These verses tell how the Lord Jesus will build up the members of His Body.

For example:

And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

“Those who grieve in Zion,” that is, in the Church. Christ began His work with the Jewish people and has added Gentile believers to His Church, His “called out” people, of whom the Jews were the first.

Christ’s goal is to produce “oaks of righteousness,” that is, believers who will show forth honesty, truthfulness, purity, faithfulness, and all other forms of integrity, in their conduct.

We have wickedly defeated Christ’s work by perverting Paul’s teaching to mean that God has issued “grace” as an alternative to growth in godly behavior. But God is giving us understanding today so we realize that as we look to the Spirit of God, He will deliver us from the world, from the sins of the flesh and from the sins that proceed from our warped soul.

Notice that as soon as we have become oaks of righteous behavior we are faced with the task of rebuilding the institutions of Antichrist that were destroyed after the victory at Armageddon. In those days the saved people from the nations will assist us.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. (Isaiah 61:4,5)

The sixtieth chapter of Isaiah has fascinated me for years; but I find it difficult to place it in a time frame. I have come to the conclusion that the setting for this outpouring of Glory is the next return of our Lord Jesus from Heaven. I believe also that the separating of the goats from the sheep will take place at the time of the final resurrection of the dead.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

In world history, there never has been a revival like this one.

But when will it take place?

I know the Lord Jesus said that when we are one in Him and the Father that the world will know that He has come from the Father.

This could be it, I suppose.

Just think about it. Heavy spiritual (perhaps physical) darkness covers the earth and the nations.

At the same time, the Glory of God can be seen resting on Christ and His Body, the Royal Priesthood.

When Jesus returns it will be at the head of the army of saints and angels. They will confront and destroy the armies of Antichrist. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Satan will be confined in the Bottomless Pit.

Then the Lord and His warriors will go throughout the earth, as described in the Book of Joel, destroying all the institutions of Antichrist.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3)

It reminds us of, “When they shall cry ‘peace and safety,’ then sudden destruction.”

Will the wicked be slain at this time? It does not say so, but it seems reasonable they will be.

My opinion is that this act of devastation is to prepare the nations of the earth for the thousand-year reign of Christ and His saints.

Perhaps it is at the conclusion of this period of devastation, while spiritual and physical darkness are covering the earth and its peoples, that the Glory of God will cover His saints.

Then the people who have been spared during the onslaught of Joel’s army will come to that light. Christ, from His place of authority in the city of Jerusalem, will organize the populations of the earth into manageable states (not like the huge, unmanageable countries we have today), and place over them His saints as kings and other governing officials.

I am offering this as a suggestion to explain Isaiah 60:1-3. How do you feel about this?

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:1-4)

As I have written in other places, the Law and the Word of the Lord already have gone out from Zion and from Jerusalem. They are the Sermon on the Mount, found in the Book of Matthew, Chapters 5-7.

The Sins of the Flesh

I have mentioned previously the importance of walking closely with the Lord Jesus in the present hour. Included in the current phase of redemption is complete release from the bondages of sin, and the growth of Christ in us until we are life-giving spirits.

I think the Spirit is saying that days of great danger are coming, along with severe persecution of Christian people. If we are to stand in Christ and help other people in their time of need, we will have to be closer to the Lord than most of us are in the present hour.

We truly are in a time of great opportunities in the Kingdom, and also great danger—the danger of being deceived, for one thing. God has given us a period of time to prepare ourselves spiritually. If we do not, our future will be grim indeed!

I have been writing for some forty years, examining some traditional teachings to see if they really are based in the Scriptures.

One doctrine that I believe has been quite destructive, and certainly unscriptural, is the interpretation of Paul’s statements about grace and faith to mean that while it is necessary that we “believe in Christ,” whatever that means, it is not critically necessary that we obey Him or His Apostles.

How ridiculous! It must be evident to any intelligent person that obeying Christ is more important than “believing in Him.”

We are “saved by grace,” it is said, meaning that while we ought to obey God, His commandments are such that it is impossible for us to put them into practice. As a result, we do not hear much preaching about confessing and turning away from sinful practices.

Fortunately, the Bible does not agree with that point of view.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:5-8)

Now, I believe that you can read as well as I can. Tell me, what are we to do with sexual immorality, according to the Apostle Paul?

Are we to excuse it on the basis of grace?

Are we to put it to death?

How do we put it to death? By confessing it as sin and asking Christ to remove it from us, according to Romans 8:13 and I John 1:9.

Sin has three phases: guilt, cravings, and practice. When we say Christ removed our sins, nailing them to His cross, do we mean we are never tempted to sin? We know that is not the case.

What then has been nailed to the cross? Our guilt.

Is Colossians 3:5 (above) referring to guilt or of the practice of sin? Since we know Christ has forgiven the guilt by His death on the cross, the Apostle Paul, in Colossians 3:5, must have been speaking about the practice of adultery and fornication. Would you agree with that?

Did Christ come to the earth to forgive or to destroy the works of the devil?

He came to do both, didn’t He

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Have you ever heard a minister of the Gospel say that Christ came to destroy the devil’s work; or did he say not to worry because you are saved by grace?

I cannot believe that most of the preachers in America are wilfully deceiving us. Rather, I think it is true that the Spirit of God is beginning to emphasize that which always has been in the Bible but we just could not see it.

We could go through the behaviors set forth in Colossians 3:5-8, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:1-14, and other passages of the New Testament and point out that grace is not an alternative to deliverance from sinful practices.

When a person bound with sin for many years comes to Christ for the first time, bowed down with guilt, he or she must be told that Christ has forgiven their sins in their entirety, no matter how depraved. This is true, and the true meaning of grace.

The question is, what then? Do we continue in our sins, or do we cooperate with the Spirit of God by confessing and, with Christ’s help, turning away from our sinful behavior?

The Apostle Paul taught grace as an alternative to the Law of Moses, not as an alternative to growth in godly behavior. What a tremendous error this is, and it has destroyed the moral strength of the churches in the United States just at the time we need to stand against the sin that is multiplying in our land.

Paul, who was entrusted with the transition from Moses to Christ told us that if we continued in the sinful actions of the flesh we would not inherit the Kingdom of God; we would not experience the entrance of the resurrection Life into our body in the Day of Resurrection. This would mark the end of our hope to become a life-giving Spirit.

Also, because we had buried our talent, as one called to be to be a member of the Priesthood, when we stand before Christ our sentence would be to have our crown of anointing removed from us and given to another. Our residence after that would be the outer darkness.

We would have reaped corruption! Such penalties are not the portion of the people of the world, only of those called to be saints. To whom much is given shall much be required.

Paul spoke about the power of sin in his flesh:

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:19,20)

“Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Today if a believer told that to his pastor, the pastor would respond, “It’s not to worry. The grace of God covers your sin. Christ nailed your sin to the cross. You are without condemnation.”

Was this Paul’s conclusion? That grace covered his sin so that God saw Christ when Paul sinned? That is what is taught, you know.

Paul was speaking here, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, as a man under the Law of Moses.

What then did Paul conclude, concerning the fact that sin living in him caused him to disobey the commands given by Moses?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

At this point Paul does not give a solution. But notice that Paul does not enlist faith or grace to save him. We have to go to Chapter Eight to see how Paul resolves his problem.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1,2)

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Why? Because the law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death.

The modern preacher will say there is no condemnation because you are saved by grace. Or, Christ suffered your judgment on the cross. Or, you cannot be condemned because God sees you through Christ.

Yet, there is nothing here about grace or faith saving us from condemnation.

We are dealing with two factors. First, Paul does not say those who “accepted Christ” but those who are “in Christ.” Being “in Christ” takes us to the fifteenth chapter of the Book of John, which tells us if we are in Christ we are bearing the fruit of moral transformation.

There are numerous people in America who attend Christian churches and have “accepted Christ” but have no understanding of what it means to be “in Christ.

Second, the “law of the Spirit.” The Law of the Spirit takes the place of the Law of Moses. Christ was criticized because He healed people on the Sabbath. This was a high crime among the Pharisees. But Christ was not breaking the Sabbath commandment, because it is lawful to do what is necessary and godly on the Sabbath.

After many years as a Christian I have come to understand that most Christian people do not understand that we no longer are under the Law of Moses but under the Law of the Spirit.

They have been told they no longer are under law except the law of love, which is no law but all.

The true Christian is under a law far stricter, far more comprehensive, than the Law of Moses. It is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

“As many as are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.”

What does the Spirit lead us to do? The Spirit leads us to put to death the sins that live in our flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds [deeds] of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

How do we do that? By confessing them to Christ, asking His forgiveness and asking Him to help us never to do such things again. The next time we are tempted, we call on the Lord for strength. Eventually that spirit will die in us and we will be free for eternity, unless we go back to it.

Now let us return to the beginning of Chapter Eight.

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3,4)

Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly, and then was crucified to pay the penalty as though He had broken the Law.

If, and only if, we choose to follow the Spirit of God in the path in which He leads us, particularly in putting to death the cravings of our flesh, Christ takes the righteousness of the Law which He earned by His conduct and applies it to us. Thus the righteous requirements of the Law are fully met in us who are living according to the Spirit of God.

We can see how totally different this is from telling people that Christ set you free from the Law of Moses, and now the only law you need obey is the “law of love.”

I have just been discussing the sin that comes from the cravings in our flesh. Because the Scripture refers to the sin living in our flesh, I think these actually may be spirits. We have inherited or acquired them.

I don’t believe they can follow our spiritual personality when we die physically. At the time of the resurrection of our physical body, our body will be clothed with a covering of spiritual Life. When this redemption occurs, there will be no sinful spirits dwelling in our flesh.

This may be why Paul, who groaned that he might be set free from the sin dwelling in his flesh, spoke later of the redemption of his body. It appears that when our body is redeemed by the Spirit of God, we will be free from the spirits that live in our flesh.

However, it may be true that the sins that come from our soul, from our own personality, and are not alien spirits, may possibly follow us into the spirit world when we die.

The Sins of the Soul

We have just finished considering the cravings to sin that live in our flesh. They can be put to death, their life and fire extinguished by the Spirit of God, as we confess them and then, with the assistance of the Lord, refuse to yield to them. Then, in the day when eternal life is given to our body, they will be removed from us.

There will be no cravings of sin present in the flesh of the life-giving spirits. That is hard to realize, since we are so accustomed to the presence of sin in our body. But remember, God did not create man in the beginning with a sinful body. That began with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, who opened themselves to Satan by their disobedience.

Now we come to another source of sin, the sin that proceeds from our soul, from what we are in personality. We recognize unclean characteristics in people when we say an individual is proud, or is filled with sexual lust, or lies constantly, or steals, or is violent, or is egotistical.

It is not that they are egotistical or angry on an occasion, they always are egotistical; easily are given to murderous fits of rage.

These displays of temperament may not be due to spirits that dwell in their flesh. The believers themselves are the spirits, we might say.

I wonder sometimes if the demons present in the spiritual atmosphere of today are former people who, when they died, were condemned to return to earth with cravings that cannot be satisfied because they no longer are visible people. They must enter some living person and seek to fulfill their cravings in him or her.

If this is true it accounts for the increase today of sexual crimes. Perhaps people who have died with these cravings as part of their personality are being sent back to earth to test us.

Don’t forget, many of God’s future leaders are being formed today. They must show their determination to overcome every force that comes against them.

They must demonstrate clearly that they will not yield to any spirit that is not of Christ, if they are to govern the nations with Him.

They shall govern with the rod of iron righteousness that is created in them as they have resisted cravings during their sojourn on the earth.

I have said that the cravings in our flesh can be put to death by the Holy Spirit.

God often deals with the self-seeking of our personality by means of suffering. I have spoken about this in the above essay.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:9,10)

The Apostle Paul endured numerous sufferings. He had the sentence of death in himself. God kept crucifying Paul and then raising him up. The life that raised Paul up also raised up those around him. In this manner Paul became a life-giving spirit.

It is for this reason that the Epistles of Paul have borne so much fruit.

As Paul approached death he said this:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:7,8)

Every one of Paul’s temptations and afflictions that he overcame resulted in an improvement in his new body, reserved in Heaven for him. In the Day of Resurrection, when Paul’s mortal frame is covered with his heavenly body, Paul will appears as a great pillar of righteousness and glory, shining as a star to eternity.

All that Paul had been as a faulty human being had been transformed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus. He joined the company of those who had been faithful to Christ as they were subjected to all sorts of temptations and suffering.

We see, then, that there are three sources of sin, that are dealt with in three different ways.

There is participation in the antichrist world-spirit. This is very strong in America because of the communication devices. It is our responsibility to turn away from them, taking part in them only as it become necessary to our daily life.

Then there are the cravings that are resident in our flesh. Where these have come from I do not know. We must follow the Spirit of God in identifying them, confessing them, and looking to the Lord Jesus to take the fire and life out of them so we can overcome them.

Finally there are the rebellions and behaviors that are not in the image of God that we have inherited or have not overcome when they sought for expression in us. All of these sinful attitudes and urges are transformed as we suffer the death of the cross, and then experience the resurrection life that follows.

Let each one of us remain faithful to the point of death. By so doing we shall be formed in the image of our elder Brother. At the same time, the accuser of the brothers shall be cast out of the heavens because of our willingness to obey Christ though it means death to our first personality.

Forgiveness Preached at the Beginning

At the beginning of the Gospel Era, as I have stated previously, the emphasis was on the fact that Christ has forgiven our sins. To the present hour, when we quote that the Lamb of God shall take away the sins of the world, we mean that He shall remove the guilt of our sin, leaving us blameless in the sight of our Father in Heaven.

Yet, we know somehow that there is no sin in Heaven. We suppose that by some means or other, sin will just magically disappear.

Several theories have been advanced. One theory is that when we die, sin is removed from all those who go to Heaven.

But sin began in Heaven with Satan and the rebellious angels. So passing into the spirit world will not of itself remove the self-will, lust, pride, and other aspects of our personality that are not of the image of God.

Another prominent theory is that when the Lord comes, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, He will remove all in our personality that is not in God’s image. But that passage of First Corinthians, Fifteen is referring only to the giving of life to our body. Nothing is said in that chapter about our sinful personality being transformed in the twinkling of an eye.

A third theory that has some adherents is that “grace” will always hide our behavior from God’s eyes, even in Heaven. God always will see Christ when He sees us. If that were true, Heaven would be like the earth is today, and we certainly do not want that!

So forgiveness was stressed at the beginning.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)

Can you believe that to the present hour, the prevailing belief is that Christ died on the cross to forgive the guilt of our sins, and that as long as we are in the present world we have to sin? I was taught this in Bible school. Such a defeated teaching, and totally contrary to the Scriptures!

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)

Honestly now. Does the above passage state that as long as we are in the world we have to sin?

So we have bought the devil’s lie, haven’t we.

The Day of Redemption

As I mentioned in my essay, there is coming a Day of Redemption in which God will save us by removing our sin and self-will. I listed several passages, of which the following is an example:

Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

I think the Day of Redemption, of Salvation, has begun. I believe this is why the Spirit of God is impressing on us the need to confess and turn away from the sins of the flesh.

I believe this is why we are experiencing the temptations and afflictions that we are, and are being instructed by the Spirit to prepare ourselves for the dangers and suffering that are ahead for God’s people.

The Lamb shall have a bride without spot or wrinkle. The atoning blood will remove the spots from our robe, as we confess our sins and ask Christ’s help in overcoming them.

The hot iron of suffering will remove the wrinkles as we bear affliction and remain faithful under the hand of God.

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)

As God approaches us He sees those aspects of our personality that are not in His image. He attacks them in one way or another. Our part is to remain patient and humble until God is satisfied that our wrinkles have been smoothed out. Then He will comfort us.

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. (Hosea 6:1,2)

The above is a prophecy, declaring that after the two thousand years of the Christian Era, God will restore us and we shall live in His Presence.

I have listed above some of the unscriptural ideas that have been presented concerning how people finally will be rid of sin. If people never are delivered from the cravings and practice of sin, what kind of a place will Heaven be?

The Bible declares plainly that our Lord will have a Bride without spot or wrinkle. When and how can this happen if none of the suggestions that have been made are unscriptural?

In my essay I have set forth the scriptural procedure for putting to death the alien sins that live in our flesh. Also, the role that suffering plays in driving from us the sin that is part of our personality.

I believe one can say safely that the majority of Christian believers do not make much progress in these two areas before they die. Where, then, is the Bride without spot or wrinkle?

Realizing how what I am about to state may be misused, I will say that if there is to be a bride without spot or wrinkle, the work of instruction and redemption must continue in the spirit world after we die.

We know, of course, that our growth in Christ will continue for ages upon ages. But I am speaking specifically of the work of redemption, that is, the destroying of the work of Satan from our personality.

Let us take, for example, the longing to “be in charge.” As we know, there are Christian people who have a tendency to want to be the head of every enterprise. Being just one of the members does not appeal to them.

That is one of the three temptations of Christ, isn’t it. “Worship me,” Satan said, “and I will give you the kingdoms of the world.”

I wonder sometimes if some of the prominent people of our day have agreed to this deal and have been given occult power.

The response of Christ was to make Himself of no reputation.

Will such a drive remain in our personality after we die? Why shouldn’t it? This would mean we never could be a part of the Bride of the Lamb unless it is corrected. The Body of Christ would not be much of a place of rest for God if there are members who are anxious to be preeminent.

Many of God’s elect, His Church, who have lived on the earth have never known how to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Neither have they had the same experience as the Apostle Paul—that of being crucified again and again and being raised again in Christ that others may profit from that resurrection life.

Will most of God’s Church never have a chance to be delivered from the works of Satan; to grow to the fullness of Christ? Or will they have a chance to progress in the program of redemption after they die?

Now I must present an important disclaimer. I am not saying one can be careless and not follow Christ in the program of redemption, and then make up for it in the next world. People who try to outsmart God are themselves outsmarted!

The answer to the question of “second chance” is the parable of the sower. If we do not put to Kingdom use that with which we have been entrusted, when we die we will face a frowning Christ. We will hear the words, “Depart from Me, you wicked, lazy servant!

The Kingdom riches we have been given, even our very salvation perhaps, will be removed from us and given to another. The individual to whom our talents are given shall be blessed indeed; but we shall be sent into the outer darkness.

No, there is no second chance. Our instruction and redemption will proceed after we die, I believe, until we are without spot or wrinkle, only if we have been conscientious and faithful with what we have been given in this world.

There are numerous witnesses of God who have died and are in the spirit world, who will be made perfect together with us when the fullness of redemption has come from Christ. (Hebrews 11:39,40)

To whom much has been given shall much be required. Those who have been faithful to use what they have been given shall receive more. Those who have been careless and lazy with their Kingdom riches, even that which they have been given shall be removed and they shall be sent into the darkness.

So I assuredly am not teaching “second chance,” which I think is sometimes in the minds of numerous believers. “I am not following Christ now, but after I die and go to Paradise by ‘grace’ I will be diligent with the things of the Gospel,” as some believe.

This shall not happen!

No matter what you may think of my idea that our redemption may continue after we die, be diligent now. Pray every day and seek Jesus so you know His will for you.

Ask the Lord several times a day: “Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I where I am supposed to be?”

Then when you pass into His Presence, you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Lord.”

Do not give up no matter what happens to you. God is faithful. He knows your tears. He is bringing you to a large place of unimaginable righteousness, love, peace, and joy.

Be patient under His mighty hand. It will be worth it all when the treasures we have placed in Heaven have all been restored to us by a faithful Christ.

God has a place prepared for you. Now He is preparing you for that place of glory.

Dr. Robert B. Thompson