Copyright © 2012 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.

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. (John 17:14)

I have been saying for years that there are two kinds of saved people.

  • There are the called-out saints (holy ones).
  • There are the multitude of people who have “accepted Christ” and been baptized in water.

The saints are the Royal Priesthood. The multitude of the saved are the inheritance of the Royal Priesthood.

The Church Age has seen these two kinds of people as one group—the members of the Christian religion. And it is true that they are. But there is a significant difference between them. The saints are required to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, turning aside from the world that they may prove the will of God for themselves on a daily basis. These are a minority of the Christian religion.

The majority are required to believe in Christ’s atonement and to be baptized in water. From then on they are members of the Christian religion and shall be spared from wrath, unless they live wicked lives.

I believe the home of the Royal Priesthood will be in the new Jerusalem, when it descends to the new earth, while the saved from the nations are citizens of the new earth.

The members of the priesthood, the holy ones, are dealt with by the Lord all the day and night. Like the Apostle Paul, they count all else as garbage that they may come to know Christ. They always are pressing forward that they might live in victory.

The majority of the members of the Christian religion abide by the rules of their churches, to a greater or lesser extent. But the drive to lay aside all else in order to know Christ is not present in them. They usually are good, decent people. When they die, they will not be placed into Hell or the outer darkness unless they have ignored their Kingdom talents and have lived totally in the world.

The true saints have been called out of the world. The term “church” means “called out from.” There are several statements in John chapter 17 that reveal the gap between the two groups that compose the Christian religion:

I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. (John 17:6)
I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. (John 17:14)
They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:16)

We might claim that the above are true of every person who has “accepted Christ.” However, this is not the case. The Christian churches are filled with people who have believed in Christ and now live ordinary American lives. They do not have in them that terrific passion to know Christ and to do His will that is true of God’s elect.

It appears that before the Lord comes, He will gather together those who live by His body and blood, who seek Him night and day. Then, when He appears, they will be raised from the dead (or transformed) and be caught up to meet Him in the clouds. Then they will mount the white war stallions and descend with Christ. They will destroy evil out of the earth and govern the nations in righteousness.

This is the first resurrection.

(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 have part 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 20:5,6)

The New Testament speaks of those who are “saved.” The demands on them are minimal. They must believe in Christ and be baptized in water. After that, they are to obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles until they die and leave the earth.

The New Testament speaks also of those who take up their cross of deferred desire and follow Christ all the days of their life. They, like Paul, are seeking to attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the priesthood. This passion is in them as part of their election.

It appears to me that most people who respond to the call of the evangelist believe they are to confess Christ and then lead a righteous life. Sometimes they are talked out of all attempts at righteousness by the doctrine of lawless grace.

The idea that they are supposed to lay their body on the altar of God that they might test and prove the will of God for their own life is not known to them. There is no desire in them to consecrate themselves to this extent.

But those called to be members of the Royal Priesthood are consumed with Christ. Each day they seek to know Him to a greater extent. Sometimes they withdraw from the churches because they grow impatient with the lack of zeal for Christ. This is unfortunate, because the demonic oppression in America in our day readily leads people into deception if they lose contact with the other members of the churches.

I think, from what I am reading today, that there are many young people who are ready to come out of the lukewarm churches of our day and serve Christ with their whole being. God may be preparing them for the days of chaos that are on the horizon for our country. It is obvious that many of the careless churchgoers are by no means prepared to stand and help others to stand in the hour of trouble.

If we desire to be a true saint, a member of the Body of Christ, a participant in the first resurrection, what must we do?

I preached recently on the meaning of “the righteous shall live by faith.” I pointed out that the modern interpretation of this teaching of the Protestant Reformation is that the righteous are to live by believing in correct doctrine. In the days of Paul, living by faith instead by works meant looking to Christ each day rather than following the works of the Law of Moses.

In the days of the Reformers, living by faith instead of by works meant leaving the penances, self-punishments, and indulgences of the Catholic Church and looking to Christ for righteousness. In our day, living by faith instead of by works means ceasing from attempts at righteous behavior and believing in the statements of Christian theology. This means the righteous are saved by belief in correct doctrine.

Obviously, when we look at Hebrews chapter 11, which is the definition of “the righteous shall live by faith,” we can see no evidence of belief in correct doctrine. Rather we note that the emphasis is on obedience to the revealed will of God. So it is true that the faith by which the righteous are to live is not belief in the statements of theology, but a continual, consistent looking to Christ that we may obey His wishes.

“Faith” is continual obedience to the living Christ, not belief in Christian doctrine.

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19)

Please note that their “unbelief” was not that of unbelief in the Law of Moses but unbelief in the living God who was leading them into the rest of God. They were disobedient to God. So it is today that true faith is not belief in Christian doctrine but obedience to the will of the living Christ.

But what do we mean by saying “The righteous shall live by obedience”? Let me borrow a few lines from a previous essay:

  • Living by faith means living by obedience right now to the living Christ.
  • Living by faith means we ask the Lord each day, “What do you want me to do today?”
  • Living by faith means seeking the will of Christ at all times.
  • Living by faith means not taking anything for granted but praying continually about everything.
  • Living by faith means forgetting the past and pressing forward in Christ.

The true members of the Royal Priesthood live at all times in obedience to Christ. They count themselves dead to the world and keep looking to Jesus, day and night, that they may obey Him in every aspect of life.

The true members of the Royal Priesthood do not have their life in the present world. They have been called out of the world by the Lord Jesus. When they wake up each morning, they ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do today?” They are faithful to perform their necessary work. At the same time, they keep aware of the Lord, because sometimes change comes.

The true members of the Royal Priesthood seek the will of Christ at all times. Doing the will of God is the most important part of their existence. This is how they govern the nations with the rod of iron. The rod of iron is God’s will created in their personality.

The true members of the Royal Priesthood, those who attain to the earlier resurrection, take nothing for granted. They keep looking to Jesus, praying continually about everything.

The true members of the Royal Priesthood keep on forgetting the past. They keep pressing forward with their eyes on their position with Christ at the right hand of God. They now are in Mount Zion. They are righteous people whose spirits are being made perfect.

Because the Gospel to the Royal Priesthood, and the Gospel to the saved people of the nations who will be citizens of the new world of righteousness, are combined in the New Testament, it appears that there is just one community of saved people. But that is not the case. When we compare the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians chapter three, and how he ran his race so he would not disqualified, we see there is a difference between just being saved from the danger of eternal fire, and being filled with all the fullness of God.

I have come to believe that people whose destiny in the present hour is only to be saved from wrath, will not understand those passages that speak of total consecration to the Lord Jesus. And it is likely they will not hear their pastor speak of attaining to the rest of God, or attaining to the first resurrection.

But those whom God has chosen to be members of the Body of Christ are a different breed. I don’t suppose there are more than a handful of such firebrands in any given church, Protestant or Catholic. But there are some! And they are never satisfied until they know beyond doubt that they are in the center of God’s Person and will. Perhaps some of the Catholic saints were people of this kind. We Protestants have had our Oswald Chambers, A. W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, who have challenged us to leave the lukewarm church-attenders and press into the fullness of the Glory of Christ.

When the Royal Priest encounters the writings of Madame Guyon, he or she begins to drink the waters of life. He has never heard such things in his church. The striving of the Apostle Paul, his willingness to be afflicted that the Glory of Christ might be present, is meat and drink to those whom God has called out of the world and given to Christ. Unfortunately, this passage of Scripture is not always brought to the attention of the congregation on Sunday mornings.

There are the brothers of Christ. Then there are the “sheep” of the nations. We all have a part to play in the Kingdom of God. We are to be neither ambitious nor lazy, but to just walk humbly with God, practice righteousness, and love mercy. To fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. When the day comes for God to reveal what He has accomplished in the midst of the insane corruption of the world, God will place each believer in his or her role in the Kingdom,.

When the new age of righteousness begins, the dwelling of God, which is the Royal Priesthood, will be placed on the earth in the form of the new Jerusalem. Through them God can be present for eternity among the people whom He has chosen to save.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

(“Not of the World”, 3977-1, proofed 20210912)

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