FROM PASSOVER TO TABERNACLES, AND BEYOND

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FROM PASSOVER TO TABERNACLES, AND BEYONDCopyright Š 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica. Used by permission.

Introduction

The Administration of the Kingdom of God

Three Deaths and Three Resurrections

The Four Great Types

The Seven Festivals of Israel

The Temple of God

The Servant of the Lord

The Victorious Christian Life

Heaven Is Not Our Eternal Home

Persistence

The First and Second Resurrections

The Morning Star

The Kingdom Age

The Role of the Royal Priesthood

The Eternal Judgment

Forming the Heavenly Body

Viewing Divine Grace as an Alternative

Faith and Works

True Faith

The "Rapture" Emphasis

Being Born of God

The Covenant of the Letter and the Covenant of the Spirit

The Nature of Eternal Life

Learning to Live by the Life of Jesus

The Firstfruits of the Bride

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The Rest of God

Passover; Pentecost; Tabernacles

Beyond Tabernacles

Introduction

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)

Having been brought up in a non-Christian home, I had been ignorant of the Gospel ,and of the Pentecostal movement, until I was converted to Christ in the Marine Corps in 1944, and then entered a Pentecostal Bible school in 1947.

While in Bible school, Christ opened my mind to the redemptive operations that are available to us after the Pentecostal experience, as represented by the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles.

Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16)

The passage above tells us that there are three major areas of redemption:

Basic salvation.

Pentecost.

The fullness of God.

There are many other Bible passages that tell us the same thing. I have mentioned some of these in my book, Three Deaths and Three Resurrections.

From the time I was in Bible school, until the present day (March 15, 2013). I have been preaching what I was shown in Bible school, and since that time:

The three deaths and resurrections we must experience before we are able to move forward to the fullness of God.

The four great types: the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the seven festivals of Israel; the seven days of creation; and the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.

The seven festivals of Israel, particularly the last three: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the Festival of Tabernacles.

The Temple of God.

The Servant of the Lord, of Isaiah, Chapter 42, as Christ—Head and Body.

The victorious Christian life.

The fact that Heaven is not our eternal home but only a staging area until Christ returns with His army of saints to set up His Kingdom on the earth.

The Kingdom Age, from the return of Christ until the final resurrection, and the purpose for it.

The first resurrection from the dead.

The role of the Royal Priesthood.

Confessing and turning away from our sins as an eternal judgment.

The fact that today we are forming the heavenly body with which we will be clothed in the Day of Christ.

The destructive nature of viewing Divine grace as an alternative to the new creation of godly behavior.

The error of the "rapture" emphasis.

What it means to be born of God.

The view of the Law of Moses as a covenant of the written Word while the new covenant is that of the Holy Spirit.

The nature of eternal life.

Learning to live by the Life of Jesus.

The firstfruits of the Bride.

The Judgment Seat of Christ.

The rest of God.

There have been other topics but these are representative.

ate I have been concerned about the second of the areas of redemption, that of Pentecost. I believe we may have left the experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, concerning which speaking in other languages is the only New Testament evidence of which I know, to engage in novelties, such as presumptuous faith; how to live a better life in this world; various schemes to get rich; how Divine grace is an acceptable alternative to obeying Christ; and the prospect of an unscriptural "rapture" to deliver us from the perils of the present world.

I think the present Evangelical doctrines to a great extent are unscriptural, and that the moral and physical chaos we are approaching is due to the departure of the Christian churches from Christ.

At the turn of the twentieth century, God restored the scriptural baptism with the Holy Spirit with the original speaking in tongues, or in languages, as I like to say. "Tongues" and "languages" are synonyms.

Great miracles accompanied the restoration of the original Spirit baptism, as recorded in With Signs Following, by Stanley Howard Frodsham. Every Christian should read this book.

People, we have left the fountain of living Waters. We have all kinds of substitutes for the Holy Spirit, but none of them is satisfactory.

It is evident that our present government is departing from traditional American values. Prior to the last presidential election there have been notable political efforts to alert the American people to this departure and the danger of it.

I have not observed one major voice saying we need to pray that the Christian people repent of their sins, as is true also of the secular community. There have been outpourings of the Spirit of God in America that have influenced many people, such as at Azusa Street, the New York revival, the Cane Ridge revival, the revival during the ministry of Finney, and others.

But we have forgotten this. We may call for a day of prayer and repentance. In the first place, Jesus told us that in order to cause God to pour out His Spirit we have to persist in prayer, not pray for one day.

In the second place, we must be obedient to God. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts 5:32)

In the third place, of what are we to repent? We are being told that God sees us through Christ and our sins are covered by the blood? Are we to repent of that which is covered by the blood? What sense does this make?

So a national day of prayer is not going to bring the Holy Spirit to the Christian churches in America. We must persist in prayer—for years if necessary. We must obey Christ. God will not hear us when we are not obeying Him strictly. And we must cast out the current "grace" teaching. Paul did not teach "grace" as a way to avoid the demands of righteous behavior, but to enable us to turn from Moses to the Holy Spirit.

You know, God wants to pour out His Spirit upon us in unprecedented power to counter the unprecedented sin. But He will not do so until we pray. Why must we pray in order for God to do what He desires to do? I do not know, but I understand it is a fact!

So here I am, after 35 years of preaching what comes after the Pentecostal experience, returning to an emphasis on the Baptism with the Holy Spirit with the accompanying evidence of speaking in other tongues. It is because the outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit on the Christian people is necessary if we are to stand in the midst of the emphasis on money, sexual activity, power, and violence.

I believe the sinful practices in America in the present hour are worse than Sodom ever was! No political effort is going to help the believers stand in the midst of moral chaos. We must have a renewal such as has been experienced in Indonesia, Wales, Azusa Street, and other places in the world.

It seems clear to me that no Christian is going to be able to press into the wonderful works of redemption that God has ready for us until he receives a fresh baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Many of the Pentecostal people do not speak regularly in tongues (other languages). Why not? Because they are too involved in the world.

Can an individual, once having received the Baptism, speak in tongues at will? Certainly! Just get in a quiet place and ask the Lord to help you stir up the gift you once were given.

Speaking in other languages, as the Spirit helps you, will build you up in Christ. This is what Paul taught. You edify yourself by speaking by the Spirit in an unknown language.

In addition, speaking in another language on a regular basis will lead into other manifestations of the Spirit, probably beginning with prophecy.

We are going to need this ability in the dangerous times ahead. By speaking in another language we can talk to God about needs we are not aware of.

Tongues, or languages, are a marvelous gift from God. They may not seem so marvelous to carnally minded people. But the true disciples recognize what an essential role they play as we seek to enter the rest of God and live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

"Tongues" are not some novelty we can choose to accept or not accept. They are the decision of Almighty God as being needed by us.

Those who ridicule "tongues" may cross over the line and discover that for eternity they never can have fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

For the Christian who desires to speak with other languages, it is not that difficult. The answer is in persistence. He must ask, seek, and knock without ceasing, day after day, month after month, year after year, until God becomes tired of listening to him and gives him what he is asking for. This is what the Scripture promises.

You know, it is rather ridiculous that I should need to urge people to seek God for the gift of languages. It is like telling people if they will only ask they can receive a billion dollars. The difference is, the gift of languages is worth infinitely more than a billion dollars because it brings us into the rest of God; into fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But getting back to our nation: if we American Christians do not pray through to an outpouring of God's Spirit on us we may not survive spiritually or even physically. The America we once enjoyed may become a police state in which those who profess belief in Christ are imprisoned, or even tortured and killed.

I think I see the seeds of a police state is being planted already.

We are said to be in the "fourth great awakening" in America. This may be so. However, the present need is for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the believers in America. Nothing else is going to enable us to stand when our major universities practice their "sex weeks," when the people are worshiping money, sexual activity, political power, and violence.

The practice of abortion-on-demand, and sexual and gender aberrations, are sufficient to bring about the destruction of our nation by Divine judgment. If God will pour out His Spirit on our churches, I believe many believers, presently addicted to sexual excesses, the love of money, and entertainment, would turn to our Lord Jesus Christ and obey His commands.

The Administration of the Kingdom of God

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves." (Luke 22:24-26)

The efforts politicians make to insure they stay in office gives us an idea of the desire some people have to govern other people. It appears to be a stronger compulsion even than is true of worldliness and of the lusts of the flesh. They may advance high-sounding reasons why they wish to be in office. But the truth is, they just want to be in charge.

It is interesting, isn't it, that the greatest problem in the world, including in the churches, and in our own personality, is the question of who is the boss? Who is in control? What is there in mankind that makes this such an issue?

You know, we probably would not have denominations if every one of us looked to the Lord Jesus for guidance, assistance, and approval. Of course, there are times when we need oversight, such as when we are under the supervision of our parents, or under the oversight of a Christian organization as it appoints various roles and functions. But even then, such supervision cannot be conducted successfully unless every individual in a position of oversight is looking always to the Lord Jesus for guidance, assistance, and approval.

I have been writing and preaching a lot lately about living by the life of Jesus, looking to Him to control our thinking, our speaking, and our acting. Such seeking Jesus in all that we are and do is the end product of the Divine redemption.

Jesus does nothing apart from the Father. He lives by the Father. Every Christian is to do nothing apart from Christ. We are to live by Christ. When we live by Christ and do His will we actually are living by the Father and doing the Father's will.

This is not because Christ and the Father are the same person, as sometimes is taught. Rather it is because Christ and the Father are in such complete union that to live by Christ is to live by the Father; to do the will of Christ at all times is to do the will of the Father at all times.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

The Father has no intention of sharing His authority, wisdom, and power with a group of little gods. The Father has given one Man total authority over Heaven and earth, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

When we seek to live our life apart from looking to Jesus continually we are trying to be a little god. You may have noticed the recent emphasis on using faith to get what we desire. Any time we attempt to use some religious principle or practice to move God's hand we are trying to be a little god.

I once heard a preacher say he was going to wear his administrative hat and command certain things. I can't remember exactly what he was going to command, but probably angels, or spiritual authorities over some geographic area, if he was following the current trends.

Dear Lord, when will we ever understand that there is only one Administrator of the Kingdom of God, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ!

For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 17:2)

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18)

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me." (Matthew 28:18)

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. (I Corinthians 15:25)

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. (Psalms 45:6,7)

There are many more passages; but those above should convince anyone that the government of the Kingdom of God is upon the shoulders of Jesus Christ, and upon none other except as Christ authorizes.

We are to be "leaning upon our Beloved," looking continually to Him for guidance, assistance, and approval in all that we do. Only then are we fit to be called a son of God. Only then are we qualified to rule the nations as a member of the Royal Priesthood.

I suppose that of the three powers we must overcome through Christ, the Antichrist world spirit, the lusts of the flesh and spirit, and self-will, our most formidable opponent is self-will.

Self-will was the original sin of Satan, wasn't it!

You said in your heart, "I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the north. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit. (Isaiah 1:13-15)

I will, I will, I will, I will, I will.

When we insist upon being an individual apart from the Lord Jesus, exercising our own will, guess whom we are imitating?

We must cleave to Jesus to the point of losing our individuality, although never our uniqueness. The Lord is a unique individual. He also is an integral part of the Father. We must press forward until we are an integral part of the Lord Jesus. This is how we become eligible to participate in the first resurrection, the resurrection of the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood that will occur when the Lord comes.

Before we are eligible to govern, as a member of the Royal Priesthood, we must declare every day that we are living by the Life of Jesus, not by our own adamic life. It requires a period of time and diligent pressing into Christ before this becomes a reality in all we are and do. But if we persevere in prayer, the Lord will bring it to pass in us.

Speaking of persevering in prayer, the Lord invited us to do this. But we always must remember, in all our persevering in prayer, we must conclude by saying in the deepest sincerity, "Not my will but Yours be done."

We certainly do not want our prayer to be answered if it is not the Lord's will. If we spend some time each day waiting on the Lord, He will direct our prayers into His will.

There is this about God: there are many things He wants to do for us, but He waits until we ask. It is remarkable that God does not always do what He wants to do, but there it is.

Who governs whom is a major problem in the world, isn't it!

Each person has his or her role and responsibility. But that role and responsibility, as I said previously, cannot be carried out successfully until we always are looking to Jesus for guidance, assistance, and approval.

We cannot guide our children successfully apart from Jesus' help.

The Wife of the Lamb, although she is the bride of a King, is not a queen. Queens exercise their own will. The Bride of the Lamb is part of the Lamb, never a separate queen. The Bride always does the will of the Lamb because she is an integral part of the Lamb and lives by His Life. She is part of the Lamb to a far, far greater extent than Eve was part of Adam!

Sometimes Christians feel they are called upon, and have the right, to govern the world in a political sense. Such is not the case. Our role at the present time is to bear witness of Christ, as we think, speak, and act in concert with Him. When the new sky and earth appear, then the Royal Priesthood will govern the creation of God—but only as Christ, the Day Star, is governing them from within their personalities.

The question of whether man is in control or Christ is in control must be settled before God will grant a new sky and a new earth. Christ must reign until the Father makes all His enemies His footstool. And may I add that we are Christ's enemies until we choose and declare that our intention it to live by His Life in all areas of our being and doing.

The very essence of the Kingdom of God is the complete rule of Christ over all other personalities.

The married man seeks to please his wife, and the wife her husband. But both must be seeking the will of Christ if the marriage is to be harmonious.

During our journey from Passover to Tabernacles, from Egypt to Canaan so to speak, we must decide once and for all whether Christ is going to govern us or we are going to govern ourselves.

You know, it may be true that the practice of looking to Jesus for everything may endure for eternity for the members of the Royal Priesthood.

Christ will have no one directing Him except the Father, and we are to have no one directing us unless it is someone whom Christ has appointed to govern us.

As I stated previously, when we are obeying Christ we automatically are obeying the Father and doing His will, because it is the Father's will that we always serve the Lord Jesus.

Three Deaths and Three Resurrections

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)

I do not know how I came to this understanding. It just kind of grew on me (with the Lord's help!). Nothing I have learned has come from study but by a burden of the Holy Spirit.

The first death is death to the world. We announce this decision when we are baptized in water. We are resurrected into the family of God.

The second death is to sinful practices. As we walk in the Spirit, Paul said, we gain victory over the sins of the flesh. As the Spirit directs us we confess and turn away from our sins. We put them to death.

The resurrection is into life lived in the desires of the Spirit.

The third death is to our self-will. The resurrection is into the fulness of the Presence of God and the inheritance He has for us, which mostly is people.

We simply cannot cross over Jordan, so to speak, until we die to the world, to sin, and to self-will.

Please keep in mind that our Canaan, our land of promise, is not eternal residence in Heaven. It is change into the image of Christ, internally and externally; and complete rest in the very center of God's Person and will.

Our goal is eternal righteousness of being and behavior, love, joy, and peace. All of these are our possessions as we learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We keep pressing forward, pressing forward, until the things of the world, the love and practice of sin, and the worship of self, are desires of the past and we are living in Christ and He in us. Such is the inner resurrection that the Apostle Paul was seeking. Such is the prerequisite for participation in the outer resurrection when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven.

The Four Great Types

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. (I Corinthians 10:11)

There are four great types of the Divine redemption. Each of the four is divided into seven areas, leading to the rest of God.

The first great type consists of the seven major furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The second great type consists of the seven Jewish festivals.

The third great type consists of the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.

The fourth great type consists of the six platforms in the journey of Israel, and finally the entrance into Canaan.

I will not go into the details of the application of these types, since I have done so in several other writings. But the reader can take the first area of each of the four types and notice how they all point toward the same aspect of redemption.

The creation of light and its division from darkness.

Judgment on the gods of Egypt.

The protection of the blood.

The Altar of Burnt Offering

Redemption begins as God moves us from darkness to light. Redemption has been completed when we are rest in God's will.

A comparison of the seven stages as we move from type to type will give the student, I believe, some understanding of the Divine redemption. It is not random. It is a carefully conceived program that will bring the seeker from darkness to the Light of God, to rest in the finished work of God, and to his or her role in the coming Kingdom and the new world of righteousness.

For example:

On the sixth day, man was made in God's image.

The sixth furnishing of the Tabernacle of Congregation was the Ark of the Covenant, which is the image of perfected man. In him is the memorial jar of manna, revealing trust in God. In him is Aaron's rod that budded, portraying man's need to bring forth from his death the Life of Christ, having died to the presumption of the flesh. In perfected man is the most important attribute---a personality that loves righteousness.

The sixth of the Jewish festivals was the solemn Day of Atonement, in which all that is not in God's image is removed and man is totally reconciled to God in his personality.

The sixth stage of the wilderness wandering consists of a new generation of Israelites poised to invade Jordan, to enter the rest of God. The fact that it is a new generation indicates a new creation in which the old has passed away. The new generation is circumcised, remembering its origin in Abraham, its blood-covenant with God. The manna ceases and the new man eats of the food of Canaan, which is the body and blood of Christ.

The Seven Festivals of Israel

The Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.'" (Leviticus 23:1,2)

They are as follows:

Passover, which represent the covering of the blood of Christ to protect us during the time that God judges the world.

Unleavened Bread, referring to the need for us to put away the influence of the world from us. Paul speaks of our being transformed by the renewing of our mind. This is so important to us because we are being bombarded continually by the world values found on the television and the Internet.

Firstfruits, which speaks of the firstfruits of our personality being raised in Christ to the right hand of God. The anchor for the thinking of the believer is that while he is battling the sin surrounding him, God already has raised his spirit to His right hand.

Pentecost, which tells us of the anointing of the Holy Spirit that must rest on every member of the Royal Priesthood. I have been occupied for 35 years, as I stated previously, with the works of redemption that follow the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

I notice now, however, that many believers are not firmly grounded in Pentecost. We need a fresh baptism with the Spirit. There needs to be more speaking in tongues and other manifestations of the Spirit of God. There will be if we all will persist in prayer until God pours out His Spirit on us.

Now we come to the fifth feast, into which those who have ears to hear the Spirit are entering at the present time. It is the Blowing of Trumpets sounding the beginning of war against all the enemies of Christ. It is heralding the entrance of the Kingdom of God into the earth. We are being challenged to come against all the sin and self-seeking in our personality.

The Blowing of Trumpets is announcing the solemn Day of Atonement, the period during which man is reconciled to God. For a period we will see that the Holy Spirit is pointing out all in our personality that is not pleasing to God. It is my opinion that this work of reconciliation will continue for eternity, as Christ's Kingdom is enlarged.

The new heaven and earth reign of Christ may be just the beginning of an eternal Kingdom of God.

The end of the matter is the Festival of Tabernacles. The Father and the Son find Their rest in us, who are the members of the Royal Priesthood.

Ever since Satan rebelled against God, God has been planning to remove all evil from the creation. I would say we are about halfway through the process. God has determined to make an end of sin and bring in everlasting righteousness.

"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)

"To put an end to sin." Think of it! This is why there is a wall protecting the new Jerusalem, and why all sin is prevented from entering the Presence of God and His priesthood.

The seven festivals of Israel are one of the best models I know of for understanding the Divine program of redemption. I hope it is just as helpful for you.

The Temple of God

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

The ultimate purpose of our salvation is not, as commonly supposed, to bring us to Heaven so we can live happily ever after. Rather, it is to make a dwelling place for God.

God is a Spirit. His temple has been in Heaven, in the spirit world. God created the physical world, declaring it very good. It might seem to us that the spirit world is superior to the physical world. If it were, God would not have created the physical world. God does not move from the greater to the lesser.

Perhaps the creation of the physical world, including outer space and the galaxies, is a response to the rebellion of part of the creatures in the spirit world. It appears to be working out that way!

In any case, the physical world is with us forever. We can see evidence of this in our bodily resurrection; in Christ's declaration that a ghost does not have flesh and bones; in the fact that at the end of the Kingdom Age, God creates a new sky and earth.

But why? It is because God desires a house, a temple, a tabernacle, a dwelling place in which He can dwell among people.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, 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)

The Lord Jesus Christ is the beginning of the eternal Temple of God. But, as Jesus said, in God's house there are many dwelling places. Jesus went to the cross so we might be created as living stones in the house of God.

This is why we must be changed into the image of Christ, both internally and externally. This is why we must find complete rest in the center of God's Person and will. God finds His rest in us as we find our rest in God.

Such is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles.

Everything in the world is working toward the creation of sons in the image of Christ, that He might be the Firstborn of many brothers. The Lord Jesus remains unique in many ways, being the Firstborn. It gives Him unimaginable joy to behold the Father giving birth to sons with whom Jesus can have fellowship.

It is not always pleasant, as the Holy Spirit removes the sin and self-centeredness from us. But it has to be done. The Divine Seed has been planted in us, and when fully mature will be in the image of Christ and one with Him in the Father. So Christ, the Anointed Deliverer will be greatly enlarged, forming the Servant of the Lord, the Royal Priesthood.

God is making man in two stages. The first stage is of Adam, an animal creation. The second stage is of Christ, it is a Divine creation, a life-giving spirit. Adam dies on the cross, as we abandon our self-love and self-centeredness. Bringing forth the new man requires much patience, and also strict obedience to Christ in every area of our life.

The completed Temple of God appears in the Bible as the new Jerusalem. It always is of the Jews, isn't it. God knew what He was planning from the time He called Abraham and Sarah out of Ur.

Our task as disciples of Jesus is to enter that perfect rest. It is in the nature of Adam and his offspring to seek to create their own heaven and earth. The obedient servant of Christ abandons his own works that he might enter what God has planned from the beginning.

The coming down of Jerusalem from the sky to be installed forever on the huge new earth is but the beginning of what God has in mind. There remains before us eternal ages in which the image of God through Christ fills the universe, including the populations of people on the new stars–stars that shine by the Glory of Christ rather than by nuclear fusion.

Of the increase of Christ's Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end. It may be true that the peace will result from the continuing application of the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. That is to say, the new people being born will have to be willing to be reconciled to God through Christ rather than to behave as little gods controlling their own lives.

In the light of what I have just written, each of us must learn to be content to live by the Life of Christ rather than our own desires. We can learn to do this each day as we keep submitting all of our desires, plans, and actions to the Lord Jesus.

The Servant of the Lord

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)

Different interpretations have been applied to the passage above, some saying the Servant is Moses; others suggesting the Servant is Israel. However, the only explanation that appears to me to satisfy the description and work of the Servant is that the reference is to Christ—Head and Body.

The fact that God puts His Spirit upon Him speaks of "Christ." The term "Christ" means the "Anointed One."

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Isaiah 61:1)

When we read, in Chapter 42, of the work appointed to the Servant, we realize it can be none other than the Lord Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him: to bring justice to the nations; to protect the weak among God's people; to bring forth justice in faithfulness; to establish justice on the earth. We know this is referring to the Lord Jesus.

One of the destructive effect of the unscriptural scheme of interpretation known as "Dispensationalism" is the suggestion that the New Testament is not related to the Old, in certain critical aspects.

One such aspect is that the new covenant is sort of a parenthesis in God's plan of redemption, not a part of what has gone before. The result is that the promises made to Israel, in the Prophets, are viewed as concerning Israel after the flesh. The truth is, the Kingdom promises are made to the Seed of Abraham, of which all true Christians are an inseparable part.

Trying (the Hebrew Prophets) to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (I Peter 1:11,12)

The Old Testament Prophets did speak to the physical nation of Israel. But interspersed with the message to the physical Jews are prophecies of the Kingdom of God. Such prophecies apply only to those who are part of Christ, whether they are Jews or Gentiles by physical birth.

The origin of the philosophy of Dispensationalism is very suspect to me, in that its emphasis on grace has led to churches that seem to know nothing of the importance of righteous behavior and obedience to Christ's commands as essential aspects of the Kingdom of God.

The Victorious Christian Life

Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:7)

There are two kinds of life in Christ. There is the life of victory; and then there is the life that is not victorious. There is nothing in the middle, no state in which the person is not victorious but somehow should not be classified like that. If we are not hot or cold we are unpalatable to the Lord!

Christians tend to want to be viewed as Christians, not as losers. Yet, they often are not victorious and are not eligible for the rewards assigned to the victorious saints, the overcomers. However, these rewards, of Revelation, Chapters Two and Three, are the Divine privileges that most Christians think will somehow accrue to them even though they are not living in victory.

To be a victorious Christian is readily available to all believers. It means merely that we at any time can look up to Jesus with the confidence that we are doing all He is requiring of us. We are being obedient to God.

God's will for us is not grievous. God always provides the grace to enable us to meet His demands.

Satan would have us believe that God is never satisfied with us. The truth is, it is Satan who is never satisfied. God is easy to please. As we keep looking to Him, in Jesus' name, He lets us know whether He is pleased with us or displeased with us. If He is displeased, then we are to ask God what it is that He is not pleased with, and to correct it or help us to correct it.

That is all there is to it.

I think numerous Christians never know the joy of the awareness that that they are pleasing God by their actions. Perhaps because they have been told that it is impossible to overcome sin until they die and go to Heaven. Or it may be that Satan keeps condemning them and they are afraid to find out what the problem is. God readily will assist us with any problem in our life if we will ask Him.

God wants us to be victorious and to have a clear conscience before Him. This is perfectly possible for you and me. Christ did not come to condemn us but to bring us to the Father in perfect joy and victory.

If you have some besetting sin, ask Christ to enable you to gain victory over it. Christ called the galaxies into being. He certainly has enough power to help a weak human being overcome some sin.

But in order to permit Christ to bring you to perfect victory you must live as a disciple, putting the Lord first in your life; praying every day; reading the Bible if you have one; attending church regularly with fervent believers, if you can find some.

So many churches of our day are emphasizing the grace of forgiveness out of all proportion to the manner in which such forgiveness is presented in the New Testament. The New Testament contains several warnings to believers who continue to yield to the sinful nature.

Sadly, numerous Christian churches are advising their members that there is no need to worry about their sins. Christ keeps forgiving them as they take place. "God sees only the righteousness of Christ in us," and this sort of unscriptural position.

If you are going to be a victorious Christian and inherit the promises made to the overcomer you may have to forget what most Christians are saying and believing. Those who hear the Holy Spirit today are a remnant of the Christians, in America at least. You may have to stand alone at times, in your quest for righteousness and holiness.

But standing alone at times always has been the portion of God's true people. Do not expect to be popular or to have people understand you. They probably won't. But you will be popular with God and Jesus, and that is all that really counts, isn't it!

There is a reward for serving the Lord!

Heaven Is Not Our Eternal Home

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)

Of all the thoughts that people, unsaved and saved alike, have about salvation, the most prevalent may be that the purpose of salvation is to bring people to Heaven to live forever in the mansions located there.

Why is it that people want to go to Heaven? They will not be able to lie or steal or get drunk, or use nasty language. They will not be able to take their pleasure at someone else's expense. Many of the activities in which they find pleasure on the earth may not be available to them. So why do they wish to live eternally where there is no sin?

The first reason probably is that they are afraid of Hell and do not want to go there to live.

The second reason may be to escape trouble and responsibilities. They may lie around all day in a perpetual retirement, with no demands being placed upon them.

One primary tradition is that there are mansions in Heaven, so people can go to an ornate home and enjoy the pleasures that come with riches.

All such thinking is outside of the Bible promises and goals.

Our goal is not to go to Heaven to live forever. It is to be changed internally and externally into the image of the Lord Jesus, and to find rest in the will and person of the Father. We desire eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace; and these are found only as we rest in the Father's Person.

When we assume that our goal is to go to live in Heaven in a mansion forever, then the tribulations of life are seen to be needless harassments coming from Satan.

The truth is, our tribulations are coming from God in order to change us into the image of Christ and to make us obedient to His will. The Bible says our sufferings are for the purpose of freeing us from the bondages of sin. In fact, our sufferings are designed to bring us into fellowship with God.

Whether we are looking forward to going to Paradise when we die, there to live without responsibilities, or whether we are looking toward being in Christ's image and having fellowship with God, will make a serious difference in the way we conduct ourselves as Christian people.

Those desiring to live at their ease in a mansion for eternity will probably not make the strenuous effort required if we are to enter the rest of God. Why should they? They believe God does not see their sins and they are going to Heaven by grace.

The individual whose goal is to be in the image of God, to have fellowship with God, to live a righteous, holy life that is pleasing to God, will be active each day in bringing Christ into every aspect of his life. Day and night he will be actively seeking the Presence of Jesus He is ready to endure hardship in Jesus' name in order to please the Lord.

As one can see readily, there is a practical difference between having a mansion in Heaven as our goal, and entering the Kingdom of God as our goal.

Persistence

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:9,10)

When Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He spoke about persistence. He advised them to ask, to seek, and to knock. He promised them that those who will boldly persist will receive, will find, and to them wondrous doors will be opened.

If we desire to be baptized with the Holy Spirit with speaking in languages other than our own, we must ask, and keep on asking; seek, and keep on seeking; knock, and keep on knocking.

But for how long? Until God answers.

Jesus said it will happen. And it will! But we must persist, persist, persist.

Every day we should pray one or more times that God will pour out His Spirit on us. The parable, in Luke Eleven, tells us that God will not answer because we have a need for His Spirit but because of our bold persistence.

We have to learn to wrestle with God. "I won't let you go until you bless me." This sort of thing.

We may have to study the miracles that took place in days gone by, particularly but not only in the Pentecostal churches. First Corinthians, Chapter 12 lists several gifts of the Spirit and ministries. We are exhorted to covet the best gifts. Any of these gifts and ministries will build up the Body of Christ, so I do not know what the best gifts are—perhaps the ones that are most needed at the time.

The Apostle Paul said when it comes to the assembly of believers, prophesy is to be preferred to tongues so people will know what we are talking about. This is only common sense!

From my point of view, the greatest need of Christians today is a powerful renewing of the Holy Spirit. Political maneuvering will not prevent the moral and physical chaos we are approaching. We believers are going to have to stand always in the Presence of Jesus Christ. By so doing we can save ourselves and those who hear us, even when the spiritual darkness attains its fullness

The First and Second Resurrections

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)

The verse above describes the second resurrection.

The first resurrection will take place when the Lord Jesus returns from Heaven and sets up His Kingdom on the earth.

The second resurrection will take place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, prior to the coming down through the new sky of the new Jerusalem to be installed forever on the new earth.

The first resurrection must be attained to. It is not the resurrection of all who are saved, but of the members of the Royal Priesthood.

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 20:6)

I believe it is understood commonly that every saved person will participate in the first resurrection, and all who participate in the second resurrection will be sent into the Lake of Fire.

This understanding does not fit the scripture passages that describe the two resurrections.

As for the first resurrection, these are distinguished by being blessed and holy. The second death, the Lake of Fire has no power over them because they have overcome sin.

And as for the second resurrection, there is no part of the description that suggests that all who are included are already convicted and shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire. In the description of the second resurrection, the implication is that it is a minority who are eternally condemned "Those whose names were not written in the Book of Life." Does this imply a majority or minority? It certainly does not suggest everyone was thrown into the Lake of Fire, does it?

I will tell you what I believe is causing the misunderstanding of both the first and second resurrections.

Today there is a doctrine that maintains we are saved to go to Heaven independently of our behavior. We are saved by a sovereign grace that does not take into consideration how we behave, only that we have made a profession of belief in Jesus. This, in spite of the numerous New Testament passages to the contrary.

Such absolute blindness to what is written!

Well, if we believe this, then we say there is no need to attain to the first resurrection because God does not honor our efforts. Compare this attitude with the righteous endeavors of the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians.

In the second resurrection, everyone is to be thrown into the Lake of Fire because the participants are judged according to their works. And since all of our works are "filthy rags" in the sight of God, all are condemned for eternity.

This, shall I say "grotesque," misunderstanding of the two resurrections has wide support, believe it or not. Yet a person of average intellectual ability, who reads the descriptions of the two resurrections, must certainly realize that the current Evangelical traditions concerning the two resurrections are not even distantly related to the Scripture.

We must emphasize the first resurrection in our day. The Lord Jesus is coming soon, and only those who have attained to the first resurrection will be raised and caught up to meet Him in the air.

How do we attain to the first resurrection? By examining what Paul said in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. We must view everything in the present world as garbage. We must forget about what is behind. We must press forward, press forward, press forward in Christ until our inner nature has been freed from our adamic inheritance and the Divine Nature of the Lord Jesus has been formed in us.

If we would govern with Christ the nations of the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, we must gain victory over all that would keep us earthbound.

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—"that one 'will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

The Morning Star

I will also give that one the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)

The "Morning Star" is given to the victorious saint. The Morning Star is the Lord Jesus Christ. He announces the dawning of the Day of the Lord.

The important aspect to notice is that the Morning Star arises in our heart.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)

The "prophetic message," if my understanding is correct, consists of the written words of the Hebrew Prophets. We do well to pay attention to them. Now that the New Testament is available to us, we do well to pay attention to it also.

The prophetic message of the Prophets and the New Testament writings bring us to the inner formation of Christ, the Morning Star.

I think it is true that today we are treating the new covenant as though it operates in the same way as the Old Testament. It does not. Under the Old Testament we have commands we are to obey. We do well to pay attention to them.

The new covenant operates in a different manner. The authors of the New Testament were people who themselves were experiencing the new covenant, and they were bearing witness of what Christ had done in them.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

I do not know of any passage in the Old Testament that says the same thing as Galatians 2:20 (above). Do you?

What is different? The difference is, the Old Testament issues commands and promises to our first personality. Galatians 2:20 describes the witness Paul is bearing of the rising of the Morning Star in him.

Do you remember the incident where Jesus spoke to the Jews as follows?

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 39,40)

You know, I have heard this verse quoted as "search the Scriptures because in them you have eternal life.

Now, what point of view would prompt someone to distort the Words of Jesus like this? It is the religionist who worships the Bible rather than Christ!

Please let me point out that the Bible is not Jesus. It is not the Son of God. It is not the Bridegroom. It did not die for our sins. It is not our Lord and Savior.

Yet some Christians worship the Bible, believing eternal life is found in the Bible.

Jesus said, you think that in the Bible you have eternal life. But the Bible testifies about Me, and you will not come to Me that you might have Life.

The purpose of the Scriptures, Old Testament and New, is to bring us to the Lord Jesus—and especially that He might be formed in us. He is the Morning Star who rises in our personality. He Himself, formed within us, is the new covenant.

Some believers have a hard time with the concept that eternal life is not found in the words of the Bible but in Christ alone. I suppose they feel more comfortable with attempting to adhere to the principles found in the Scriptures than they are with obeying the invisible Jesus and having fellowship with Him.

It is only the believer living in victory to whom Christ will give the Morning Star. The rank and file of lukewarm believers may attempt to obey the commands of the Old and New Testament. And some of them may succeed to a limited extent.

But the heart of the new covenant, the Christian salvation, is the forming of Christ Himself in our mind and heart. Will we know when this inner growth is taking place? Yes, we will. We will become conscious that a new Life is operating in us. We will discover that the previous aspects of our life are passing away and all is becoming new.

We, like the Apostle Paul, will yearn to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. Yet we are not willing to leave the earth until the work God has assigned to us has been finished perfectly and completely.

The Kingdom Age

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. (Revelation 20:4)

The thousand-year period referred in the passage above is often termed "the Millennium." I have named it "the Kingdom Age." I believe that this is more descriptive than "millennium," which only means "a thousand years.

Those seated on thrones and possessing authority to judge are the Christians who have lived a victorious life in Christ.

Then there are the souls of the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and the Word of God. Being "beheaded" may refer to replacing their own mind with the thinking of Christ, as well as literal decapitation.

Whether these are the same people as those who sit onto the thrones I do not know; but I imagine they are.

They had not worshiped the Antichrist world spirit and it mark was not found in their personality. They were fervent Christian disciples, stronger spiritually than the average church-attender today.

What will take place when the Lord Jesus returns? These consecrated believers will return to bodily life, they already were alive spiritually. They will govern with Christ the nations of the earth for one thousand years, whether literally or symbolically.

Now, what I have just stated should give every Christian in the United States pause. The above passage is pointing out that when our Lord comes, only those who are living a thoroughly consecrated life in the Him will ascend and meet Him in the air.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)

"The dead in Christ will rise.

This does not mean ascend into the clouds. That comes later. It means to be resurrected, to regain their physical body, just as the Lord rose on the third day.

Notice the expression "the dead in Christ." This does not mean they had merely made a profession of belief in Christ. The "dead in Christ" are those who have made Christ their abiding place during their lifetime on the earth.

This is why the Scripture refers to them as blessed and holy. They are the members of the Royal Priesthood. Like the Apostle Paul, they have counted this world as a garbage heap, which it is, that they might attain to this first resurrection. They are God's rulers and judges, in accordance with the promise of the Lord Jesus that those who lived a victorious life in Him would govern the nations with Him.

Now, I am concerned that the rank and file of church attenders in our country have been lied to. They are under the impression that an unscriptural "rapture" will take place any day now and they will fly up to Heaven where they will live forever in a mansion and have no more problems.

This is a lie, and it is leaving most believers in a spiritual babyhood. Instead of pressing forward in order to attain to this first resurrection, they are waiting for a "rapture" to carry them to Heaven. Any serious Bible student understands that our goal is not a "rapture" but the resurrection unto the Life of the Spirit of God in our mortal body.

Examine the two passages following and tell me if you see any breath of a bodily ascent into Heaven of lukewarm believers.

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)

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)

The teaching of the rapture into Heaven of all who profess belief in Christ is a lie and, as I said, its effect is to leave the believers in a state of spiritual babyhood.

There shall be no rapture, only increasing moral and physical chaos. The only believers who will survive spiritually and receive bodily immortality when Jesus appears will be those who today are learning to live by the Life of Jesus rather than by their original adamic personality.

The Role of the Royal Priesthood

The Apostle Peter tells us that true Christians are the Royal Priesthood. That means the purpose for our existence is to serve God. We have been called to be "saints" (holy ones). I do not say that everyone who attends a Christian church is a member of the Royal Priesthood or a saint. Numerous church attenders attend church for reasons other than their being called of God to be a saint. It may be true that the moral and physical chaos approaching our country will enable us to distinguish who is a true Christian.

The new Jerusalem is the home of the Royal Priesthood. Their training from now, until the new Jerusalem descends to be installed upon the new earth, is rigorous.

The Bible says we already have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God. We already are to understand that we are not of the world just as our Lord is not of this world. God has placed us in the world that we might be formed in the image of God, and come to know God, His will, and His ways.

The purpose of the world is to bring forth the brothers of Christ. All things of the world are working toward this end. The Apostle Paul grew in Christ until he came to recognize that the world itself is so much garbage. And so it is.

Because American values ordinarily are centered on material wealth, it is very difficult to be a true disciple of Jesus in our country. Because of this difficulty in keeping our mind on Christ and praying without ceasing, some of the highest ranking rulers may be brought forth in the present hour. This is because they have obeyed Christ in the midst of such spiritual darkness.

Yet, our motive is not to be a greatly exalted ruler but to be the servant of all, and to obey Christ in every detail of our life on earth—and in Heaven when we get there.

The royal priests will govern God's creation for eternity. Therefore God must examine every detail of their personality, to the number of the hairs on their head, to insure that there never again will be a rebellion against God on the part of His creatures.

This is the reason for and the meaning of the mighty wall surrounding the new Jerusalem.

The Eternal Judgment

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)

When the Holy Spirit points out to us some behavior that is not of the image of God, we are to confess it clearly and completely. We are to tell the Lord exactly what we have done. We must be resolved that this behavior is not worthy of the Kingdom of God, only of the Lake of Fire.

We of today are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish festival of the Blowing of Trumpets. Christ is coming to us in the spirit realm and challenging His enemies that reside in us. They are not truly of us, they are enemies that dwell in our personality.

When we confess our sinful actions, declaring that they are evil and we want nothing to do with them, we have performed a work of judgment.

The response of the Lord Jesus will be to forgive us and to purify us from all unrighteousness.

From that point forward we will be able to resist successfully this behavior, although it may have been part of our personality for our entire life.

This is the doctrine of eternal judgment, mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. This particular sinful behavior will not be mentioned later at the Judgment Seat of Christ, for this is the Judgment Seat of Christ at which we already have been revealed.

In order to maintain our new position in Christ we must live as a Christian disciple. We must keep cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit as such filthiness is revealed to us. It certainly is a warfare!

By taking the action described above, we put that sinful spirit to death. However, we must be careful that it does not come to life again. If we maintain our consecration until the coming of Christ, He will raise our body from the place of burial and utterly remove all traces of that garbage from us and fill our resurrected flesh and bones with the Holy Spirit.

This deliverance and resurrection will take place only for those who faithfully have confessed and forsaken their sins. We henceforth are experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement and are being reconciled to God in actuality, not just legally through the forgiveness of the blood atonement.

It may be true that to most Christians, one of the most puzzling aspects of God's plan of redemption is that of the difference between imputed righteousness and actual righteousness. Today many believe the only righteousness of the Kingdom of God is that which is assigned to us when we place our faith in Jesus. The truth is, the righteousness of the Kingdom of God, which we are to seek each day, is actual righteousness.

Because of the overemphasis on imputed righteousness, it may possibly be true that numerous Christian people know less about true righteousness of behavior than the rest of the people of the world—religious and non-religious. This is sad, because God's whole intention concerning man is to make man in God's image, and this necessitates actual righteousness of personality and behavior, not merely imputed righteousness.

Forming the Heavenly Body

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

It might come as a shock to those who are waiting to die so they can go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion, to realize that by their actions today they are forming their own resurrection body.

Paul spoke about how he was being put to death on a daily basis and being raised on a daily basis so that others might share in the resurrection Life of Christ.

Then Paul goes on to say that this process of death and life was adding weight to the body with which he will be clothed in the Day of Resurrection.

The body that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones is being fashioned in Heaven as we follow Christ through many tribulations. If we are faithful in obeying Christ, submitting to our afflictions and imprisonments, our house in Heaven is growing in eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace. We will be clothed with such heavenly treasures when the Lord Jesus returns and raises our dead body from its place of burial.

If, however, we continually are yielding to our sinful nature, our house in the heavens will be becoming threadbare, filled with corruption. Paul tells us in the Book of Galatians that we will reap destruction if we follow our fleshly desires. And so we shall. After we are clothed in our corruption we will be an object of shame and everlasting contempt, as Daniel informs us.

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)

Notice that if we behave in such a manner that we please the Holy Spirit of God, we will reap eternal life. This is referring to the clothing of our resurrected flesh and bones with a body fashioned from our godly behavior during our pilgrimage on the earth.

Viewing Divine Grace as an Alternative

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? (Romans 6:1)

When Paul spoke of "grace" he was referring to the blessing of God on those who turn from the Law of Moses and place their desire for righteousness in the hands of Christ.

Grace is not an alternative to righteous behavior. Grace is an alternative to the Law of Moses. So simple a concept! Yet, the idea that God has given us grace so we can go to Heaven without practicing righteousness has destroyed the moral stature of perhaps the majority of Christian churches.

Can you imagine! God's people are being taught that there is no need for them to try to overcome sin. God will regard any attempt on the part of the believers to live righteously as "filthy rags," not realizing that God spoke that expression through Isaiah, in Chapter 64, to people who were forsaking God.

Notice what else God said, in Isaiah 64:

No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and have given us over to our sins.

God was not saying to the Jews that their efforts to please Him were filthy rags. Rather, God was telling them that their religious practices were as filthy rags because their practices were an outward show while they were not actually striving to lay hold on God.

So no, when a believer is pressing forward in Christ with all his might, seeking to please God by his behavior, Christ does not regard this as "filthy rags."

The preachers and pastors of our day are not deceiving us deliberately, but they are deceiving us nonetheless.

The true Christian discipleship is not that of laying back and waiting to die to go to Heaven. It is a daily struggle to overcome through Christ every force that would attempt to drag us back into sin. It is a race, a fight against sin and self-will.

Many Christian people are deceived concerning the purpose of Divine grace, supposing it is God's way of overlooking our fornicating, lying, stealing, and numerous other sinful actions. Christians on a regular basis are burying their God-given Kingdom resources, being occupied with material things. And their pastors are telling them they are under the blood and they will be raptured up to Heaven any day now.

The unimaginable sexual practices in America at this time are a direct response to the doctrinal confusion in the Christian churches.

Faith and Works

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (Romans 3:20)

The current position of Evangelical preachers is that we are saved by grace and not by works. By this they mean, that our behavior is not a significant factor in our salvation. They are interpreting the Apostle Paul to mean that works of righteous behavior are not related to our salvation.

We are saved by a sovereign declaration of God, not by any change in our behavior, they maintain. This is why they conclude that every person who appears in the final resurrection of the dead is doomed to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire, since people at that time are judged according to their works.

If there has been in the history of the world a greater misunderstanding of any person's teaching, I have not come across it.

Paul's argument in the first five chapters of the Book of Romans is directed toward Jewish people who were looking to their obedience to the works of the Law of Moses as the means of gaining righteousness. So when you see the term "works," in those opening chapters of the Book of Romans, add the expression "of the Law of Moses."

Paul wrote very emphatically about the spiritual danger of yielding to the carnal nature, warning that those who practice the works of the flesh will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Now think carefully about the passage above. Is Paul saying that our behavior does not matter because we are saved by faith alone; by grace alone?

That certainly is not the case.

Well if we are not saved by works of righteousness we have done, how do we reconcile these two idea?

It absolutely is true that we cannot ignore Christ and save ourselves by striving to practice righteousness.

It absolutely is true that we will not inherit the Kingdom of God if we as a Christians yield to the desires of our flesh.

The true salvation occurs as we keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus and obey the Spirit of God. As we do this, the Holy Spirit leads us in putting to death the works of the flesh.

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)

We cannot save ourselves by ignoring the salvation that is in Christ and then attempt to gain righteousness by obeying the Law of Moses or by obeying any other set of religious principles. Salvation is in Christ alone.

I believe I am correct in declaring that a great part of the writing of Paul and the other Apostles has to do with our living a godly life.

What I have just written is so clear and simple that a child could understand it. We are saved by following the Holy Spirit, not by following Moses or any other religious teacher. And our salvation includes both the removal of our sinful practices as well as the forming of Christ in our personality. What is so difficult to understand about that?

True Faith

And, "But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back." But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Since destruction occurs when we shrink back from following Christ, we can assume that salvation occurs as we press forward in Christ. Therefore living by faith means pressing forward in Christ, not belief alone.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews might well be titled, "the Faith Chapter."

It is interesting, and a fatal blow to the theory of Dispensationalism, that all of our models of faith are from pre-Christian times.

So the idea that we now are saved by "faith" and those of the Old Testament were saved by "works" is discarded. The Divine plan of redemption is one plan, and all the elements are basically the same.

A review of Hebrews 11 will provide a clear definition of the term "faith." It can be seen that faith is belief in God to the point of obedience. There can be no true faith apart from stern obedience to Christ.

Those who claim that we are saved "by faith alone" mean by "belief" in Christ. But apart from obedience to Christ, the belief is nothing more than a mental position. It is not genuine faith.

In recent years some believers have been dabbling in metaphysical faith. The idea is that by adopting a mental position we can move the physical world. "Positive thinking" is a form of metaphysical faith. So is "name it and claim it," and anything like it. One would look in vain in Hebrews 11 to find so much as a suggestion that the faith by which the righteous live is merely a belief in God, or a practice of moving the physical world by our thoughts or statements.

So we have this immense confusion in Christian circles about the meaning of "faith." If a soldier has faith in his commander he will do what he is commanded to do. To say that he has faith in his commander, but will not obey him, is foolishness.

There is a mystique that gives rise to the current perception of faith and grace. It is that the belief alone has the power to bring us to Heaven. Once we say we believe in the Lord Jesus, God regards us as someone He wants with Him in Heaven.

We enjoy this idea because it means all we have to do is adopt the correct theologic position and how we behave is incidental. The truth is, what God wants is behavior that is according to His image, not theologic accuracy.

The Christian people have been deluded for so long I wonder if they will ever come to the truth of salvation. I believe they will. I believe that when the Divine judgment falls on America because of the abortions-on-demand and the sexual excesses and perversions, numerous Christian people will escape from the present deception that God does not care about how we behave, just about what we believe.

It truly is a masterpiece of satanic seduction!

True faith is obedience to all that Christ has commanded, always looking to Him for assistance and wisdom. Anything else is a myth and will bring the believer to frustration and confusion.

The "Rapture" Emphasis

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

The above is one of the primary passages on which Christian leaders and people base their belief that the believers are going to be caught up to Heaven any day now.

Look at what it says: "to meet the Lord in the air."

If it meant to meet the Lord in Heaven, it would say so. If it meant we are going to meet the Lord in the air and then return with Him to Heaven, it would say so. But it does not say so!

Remember that thousands, maybe millions, of deceased saints are going to return with Him in order to pick up their bodies from their place of burial. After having been in Heaven for an unknown period of time, are they going to have to return to Heaven with Jesus and the believers from the earth in order to escape the Great Tribulation? This makes sense?

I feel certain those who return with Jesus will be looking forward to being resurrected so they can remain on the earth, not so they can return to Heaven.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

Now, why would the deceased saints return to Jesus to regain their bodies from the ground? One does not need a resurrected body to live in Heaven. So why would they return with Jesus?

Think about the believers living on the earth at the time of the return of the Lord Jesus. They too will be resurrected.

When we, the living, are caught up together with the believers who have returned with Jesus, will we also have first been resurrected? If not, are we going to be caught up into the air in our flesh and blood body? Impossible, because Paul states that flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

So we will assume that we will be resurrected when Jesus comes with the shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and the sounding of the trumpet of God.

Now just think. Before we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, we first must experience the change from a flesh-and-blood human being into a life-giving spirit.

Consider your fellow believers. How many, if the trumpet sounded today, would be prepared to be changed from a flesh-and-blood person into someone whose body now has no blood but is alive by the Holy Spirit?

And they can't look back even once at their familiar surrounding or at their family and friends. They will pass from death to life without having the experience of dying in the ordinary way.

Enoch was translated by faith. Surely you will agree with me that unusual faith would be required for a believer to pass successfully through such a radical chance in his personality.

Suppose you were Christmas shopping with your family. You arms are loaded with presents. You are looking at the happy faces of your children.

Suddenly the trumpet of God sounds. You begin to change from mortality into immortality. You cannot help your children or wife, or notice what is happening to them. You have to go to Jesus right now. The store and the presents fade from your sight. All you can see is the smiling face of the Lord Jesus calling you up to Himself.

The celestial organs are sounding. The angel choirs are singing. All is new, something you never have experienced before. You can feel the upward pull, but you are concerned about your children. It has happened so fast!

But you did not remember Lot's wife. You looked for your family, being concerned about their welfare, just as Lot's wife turned to take one last look at her neighbors, wondering what would become of them.

You were unprepared for this historic event. You looked back. All of a sudden your arms were filled with presents and your wife and children were smiling at you, wondering why you looked so strange. They did not hear the trumpet. you no longer could hear the heavenly organs of the angels singing.

Now you have been left behind with your family to experience the pouring out of God's wrath on the earth.

You can see now this will not be a silly "rapture" in which all the lukewarm believers sail merrily through the clouds, encountering their deceased loved ones on the way, a great Sunday-school picnic in the air.

No, it is not like this. Jesus, the army of angels, and the army of saints are poised in the air, ready for their descent for the purpose of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. They will be mounted on the white war stallions. They will hurtle toward the earth with irresistible speed and force, the greatest of all cavalry charges. The noise of the trumpets will be overwhelming.

They will crush the armies of Antichrist. Satan will be bound and cast into the Bottomless Pit. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be assigned to the Lake of Fire.

If you are to be ready for the great and terrible Day of the Lord, you need to start today preparing yourself for this event. The purpose of the "rapture" teaching is to keep God's people immature so they will pose no threat to Satan in that Day.

Learn to live by the Life of Jesus now. If you can, persuade everyone who trusts you to call on the Lord continually, night and day, that he or she might be baptized with the Spirit and speak in another language by the Spirit, and look to Jesus for every decision he or she makes.

The evil day is approaching swiftly. We must put on the armor of God and take up the shield of faith, as described in Chapter 6 of the Book of Ephesians. We have been given a brief time to prepare. If we do not take advantage of the present hour to learn to walk with Jesus, we may regret it for eternity.

Being Born of God

It may be true that one of the most common of all Christian expressions is that of "born again." We even hear it about politicians and other people—this or that one has been "born again." This suggests that being born again is the same as being converted to the Christian religion.

The Apostles, as recorded in the Book of Acts, never preached being born again. Why not? Because it is not what happens the moment someone is converted to the Christian religion.

Being born again is mentioned in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, and in the first chapter of First Peter. It also is referred to in the first chapter of the Gospel of John:

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:12,13)

When you think about the above verse it sounds like these people were never born of natural descent. We realize however this is not what it means; but it does give weight to the importance of the new birth.

There is no aspect of the Kingdom of God more important than being born of God. I like to think of the spiritual experience we have when we receive Christ as being a conception rather than a birth. To bring forth Christ in us to the point of birth takes a lifetime, it seems to me; at least, that has been my experience.

Paul spoke of travailing in the Spirit until Christ was formed in the believers.

Chapter Twelve of the Book of Revelation mentions the travail of the Church to bring forth Christ in the believers.

The Kingdom of God does not consist merely of righteous religious people. Rather the Kingdom is composed of new creations, that is, of people who have learned to live by the Divine Nature, Christ having been born and formed in them.

We have an animal nature, being descended from Adam through Noah. When Christ is conceived in us we have a Divine nature, being descended from God.

I wonder sometimes if we are aware of the significance of being born of God. In nature we see that every organism brings forth after its kind. It does not depend on the environment as to what type of organism is produced, whether plant or animal. The significant fact is the parent from which the seed came. Isn't that the truth?

If we truly have been born of the Seed of God, as the Gospel of John maintains, then our first, animal life will diminish and in its place will be a genuine brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We instinctively recoil from the idea of having a Divine Nature, although the Apostle Peter says we do. We feel that somehow this is a blasphemous thought. For this reason, I believe, numerous believers cannot really accept the Words of our Lord when He speaks of our being one with Him.

But it is evident that an animal cannot be in total union with God through Christ. It has to be someone having God's own nature. Doesn't it seem that way to you?

We do not realize, I think, of what the Christian Church actually is. We may perceive it as being a group of well intentioned people who are trying to act in a manner that will please the God of Heaven.

In actual fact, the Christian Church is the Lampstand of God.

As of now we are very immature, to say the least. We have many aspects of our personality that are soulish, as we say. They hardly are Divine. They are more animal than anything else.

But it is that way with anything that is being constructed. It begins in a form that may not even resemble the finished product.

It is that way with us. We at this time do not resemble the new Jerusalem, of which we are a part if we are a genuine Christian.

One day, in the distant future, the new Jerusalem will come down through the new sky to be established on the new earth. Believe it or not, the new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian church. It is the home of the members of the Royal Priesthood—people whom God has changed into the image of the Lord Jesus.

And we will not be an imitation of Jesus, something made to look like Him. We will be of the same Divine Nature. We will not be as great as Jesus, of course. He is the Firstborn. But we also will have been born of God. God actually is our Father. In this sense we were not born of flesh and blood, as John says, but of God.

If we are to develop as we should, in the Kingdom of God, we must each day let go of some part of our adamic nature in order to more fully grasp our new nature. All of the old must pass away. All must become new.

This is why the Apostle Paul spoke of forgetting that which is behind.

We have had a very humble beginning, to be sure. But, if we have been called of God to be a holy one, a saint, our destiny is to be, like our Lord Jesus, a life-giving spirit.

So we endure patiently the problems and pains of this world, always pressing forward in Jesus, that we might attain to the inner resurrection that is necessary if we are to participate in the first resurrection when the Lord appears.

Let us march forth bravely and cheerfully, understanding well that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until He is completely satisfied with His handiwork in us.

The Covenant of the Letter and the Covenant of the Spirit

So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. (Galatians 3:24,25)

One fact is certain: we no longer are under the Law of Moses.

There is, however, a question. It is what is meant by "justified by faith"; or we might say, "made righteous by faith."

The temptation for today's immature, pleasure-loving "believers" is to believe that this means now we no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses, including the Ten Commandments; we are free to do as we please. "There is no law but the love of love," we gush.

Having no law but the "law of love" is totally without the strength needed to overcome the sin and self-seeking that are in us and surround us.

Is there no law except the "law of love"? Indeed there is, and it is exceedingly more demanding than the Law of Moses, although there is Divine grace that will enable us to obey the demands. Paul refers to this law, the law that replaces the Law of Moses, as "the law of the Spirit who gives life."

The law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

"The law of sin and death" is referring to Paul's arguments in the preceding chapter of the Book of Romans. The Law of Moses amplifies the desires of our sinful nature but does not remove them. Such amplification brings "death" to those whose heartfelt desire is to please God and Christ.

The "law of the Spirit who gives life" is the Holy Spirit Himself. The Holy Spirit is our Law. This is portrayed by the fact that the Israelites came to Mount Sinai on the day of the Festival of Pentecost, it is believed.

The Holy Spirit is our Law. God gave us the gift of speaking in other languages that we might be built up in the Spirit.

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"— but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11,12)

And that is exactly how the covenant of the Spirit operates. God has given us the gift of tongues, of languages, that we might be able to cease from our religious duties and rest in God.

So as we rest in God we bear much fruit.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)

The Law of Moses is a covenant of the letter. The new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit. But how does this difference work out in practice?

The Law of Moses command us to not commit adultery. If we have a strong sexual nature, we may find this almost impossible. So every once in a while we yield. Under the Law of Moses we then have to bring an animal to make an atonement for our sin.

Now right here is where current teaching is in error. The pastor says, "The blood of Jesus is covering your sin, so you are without condemnation even though you have committed adultery."

The pastor may be an honest and good man; or he may run off with a twenty-two-year-old girl. This happens with pastors, you know.

Whether honest and good, and with the best of intentions, he is misleading you. He is preaching corruption.

If you are walking in the Spirit of God, speaking in tongues often, you will have the strength to overcome adultery.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

Should you stumble and fall, confess your sin to Jesus, telling Him clearly that your behavior belongs in the Lake of Fire, not in the Kingdom of God. With all the strength you have, renounce this sin.

The Lord is faithful, and He will forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

The next time you are tempted to sin sexually, there will be strength to overcome the sin. If, however, you keep falling into sexual sin, you are"bearing thorns and briers" and are near to burning.

Have the elders of the church pray for your deliverance.

Those who sin willfully make themselves the enemy of God.

The difference between the two covenants is that the covenant of the letter requires that you study the Law and do your best to do what is commanded.

The covenant of the Spirit requires that you live in the Spirit of God, confessing your sins as they are brought to your attention and turning away from them.

Meanwhile Christ is being formed in you. This is not true under the covenant of the letter. The eternal moral law, which greatly transcends the Law of Moses, is being written in your mind and heart. Christ, the Morning Star, is increasing in until you keep God's moral law by your new, Divine Nature. Such is the new covenant, the covenant of the Spirit.

The Nature of Eternal Life

But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Timothy 1:10)

I suppose when most of us think about eternal life we think of duration of existence. And it is true that the New Testament does promise bodily immortality.

Maybe it is true that most of us would not want to live forever. Maybe we are tired of life by this time. We may be looking forward to dying and going to Heaven, not because we desire to live forever but because we hope for relief from our problems and troubles.

Jesus added another dimension to eternal life when He announced:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Thus we see that duration of existence is not the key element of eternal life. Rather the central issue is that of knowing God and Jesus.

This makes sense, because angels apparently exist forever. At least I have never heard of a dead angel. But angels do not know God and Jesus, not in the sense Jesus means here.

I think that one of the main purposes for our life in the present world is to learn to know God and Jesus. I do not mean know about them, but to know them as we know a close friend or relative.

Is such knowledge possible? Indeed it is, and it is the primary meaning of "eternal life."

It appears to me that numerous Christian people are not vitally interested in knowing God and Christ, at least such knowledge does not appear in their hopes. They speak of a "rapture" that will carry them to Heaven. But their attitude is one of a trip that will be fun. They are not raptured in order to have fellowship with God and Christ, but to enjoy themselves.

One pastor maintained that when Jesus spoke of being with Him where He is, He was speaking of the rapture, of the many mansions.

They have missed the whole point. Jesus meant they would be with Him, not be in Heaven as such.

Have you ever known someone whose company gave you very great pleasure? You just wanted to be with him or her every moment, if you could. Well, this is what Jesus was referring to. He loves His disciples and wants them to be with Him, not just pass into the spirit world. The spirit world is an extremely vast area. We could be there for a long time and never even see Christ or the Father.

Jesus wants us to be with Him. The purpose of our salvation is that we might have fellowship with the Father and the Son; not just go to Heaven so we have no more worries.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)

You can have fellowship with God and Christ today, if you desire such fellowship above everything else. You can have eternal life right now, and such life will endure for eternity. Fellowship with the Father and the Son results in eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

My prayer for the Muslim people is not that they will be converted to one of the myriad branches of the Christian religion but that they will gain fellowship with the true God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Learning to Live by the Life of Jesus

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Have you ever thought much about the passage above—I mean, really thought about it? It is the way the Apostle Paul lived while on the earth, and still lives. It is the fullest meaning of "eternal life."

I have been crucified with Christ.

I no longer live.

Christ lives in me.

The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.

The Book of Second Corinthians contains several passages that describe the various sufferings that Paul endured as he served Christ. A while back we had the false teaching that if we have faith we will never suffer. Such spiritual ignorance!

Every genuine Christian has a cross to bear. The kind of cross varies from person to person. It may be a deferred desire. It may be a prison in which we are placed and must endure, sometimes for many years, miserable conditions. We cannot escape from our prison without breaking God's laws and removing ourselves from His will. However we always should keep praying for deliverance.

Our prisons and crosses are absolutely necessary if we are to be changed into the image of Christ and be at rest in the Father's will.

Our sufferings deliver us from sinful behaviors. Our prisons crucify our self-will until we learn obedience to Christ. We have no lasting peace and rest until we are content in the Father's will.

We have to place our dearest treasures in Heaven with Jesus, being confident that He will keep them safe for us.

So the Apostle endured his tribulations. The result is that today, two thousand years later, we are profiting from his writings. We also will bear enduring fruit if we accept our crosses and prisons without complaining—although, as I said, we continue to pray for deliverance, as did Paul, that he might be released from his affliction.

"I no longer live." How marvelous that Paul was able to put into words the secret of the Christ-filled life. As we follow Christ each day, our first personality is weakened and finally done away. A new creation comes into view, and all things are of God. This is the end result of the new covenant. God promised that He would give us a new heart and a new spirit, and He does.

"Christ lives in me." The points is not that we have no life. Rather it is true that our former life is passing away and the Life of Christ is taking its place. I tell you the truth: it is the Father's will that Christ fill the creation. God is not interested in proficient Christians but in Christ.

When we leave our first personality, as the Holy Spirit directs, and learn to live by the Life of Christ, giving every thought, word, and action to Him, God is well pleased. So are we, for it is an infinitely better life than our first personality. Such a change in us results in the highest form of righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

"The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God."

Living by the Life of the Lord is filled with challenges. We have to persevere in faith. We have to keep on asking; keep on seeking; and keep on knocking if we wish to come to the knowledge of God and Christ.

The transformation occurs a little bit at a time—here a little, there a little, until, as Isaiah asserts, as they go they will fall backward; they will be "injured and snared and captured." This is speaking of our transition as we continue to walk in the Spirit, speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.

How utterly wonderful to be injured, snared, and captured until we find ourselves in the rest of God, He being at rest in us and we being at rest in Him.

The Firstfruits of the Bride

The Bride of the Lamb is the Body of Christ, the Church of Christ. It is portrayed as the new Jerusalem. There is a firstfruits of the Bride that will be ready when Jesus returns. The purpose of the thousand-year Kingdom Age is to give the remainder of the Bride a chance to come to the perfection that Jesus requires of the Royal Priesthood.

The following passage tells us of the firstfruits of the Bride. This marriage takes place at the return of Jesus, before the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

Notice in particular that the Bride has made herself ready. She manufactured her own garments by the righteous acts that resulted from her choosing to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

After this wedding, a thousand years passes. During this time the stronger members of the Bride prepare the remainder of the Bride for her marriage to the Lamb. As I stated previously, this thousand year period is to give the remainder of the Bride the opportunity to grow to the spiritual stature that the Lamb requires of His Bride.

Then there is the final resurrection and judgment, and the Bride comes down through the new sky to be established on the earth as the new Jerusalem. This is the dwelling of God, the Royal Priesthood, that will be located on the earth, being available to meet the need of those people of the nations who have been saved to citizenship on the new earth.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:2,3)

Notice carefully the difference between this second marriage and the first marriage. In this case the Bride did not make herself ready. She was "beautifully dressed" by others, that is, by the firstfruits of the Bride.

The Lamb is concerned that His Bride is dressed properly for the wedding. In the case of the firstfruits, she dressed herself by righteous acts. In the case of the remainder of the Bride, there are others who help her grow in the "unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God."

I would think the knowledge of the two weddings would inspire the Christians of today to press into the Life of the Lamb until they are prepared for the marriage that will take place at the next coming of the Lord. In fact, the marriage may be taking place already as we choose to be fed with the body and blood of the Lamb until we are clothed in righteous behavior.

The remainder of the Church will not govern the nations with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Also, they will not have the joy of building up their brothers and sisters, who are waiting in the new Jerusalem in Heaven, until they too are ready to descend from Heaven to serve as royal priests who will govern and bless the nations of the saved.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

For all of us it behoveth to be manifested before the tribunal of the Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] through the body, in reference to the things that he did, whether good or evil; (II Corinthians 5:10—YLT)

Notice that we do not just appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, like a prisoner standing before a judge. Rather, we are manifested. On the earth a prisoner can stand before a judge and lie successfully. But at the Judgment Seat of Christ the individual is exposed completely. He or she cannot hide anything.

Young's translation states that each one shall receive the things done through the body. Now it may be true that the person is paid back for what he has done, receiving good if he has done good and evil if he has done evil. But it also may be true that he or she may receive the things themselves.

The person who has continually lied may be clothed with a lying spirit. The person who has been addicted to sexual excesses and perversions may be clothed with lusts that cannot be satisfied in the spirit world. This concept is in line with reaping what we have sown.

There are two errors that are current concerning the Judgment Seat of Christ:

That it does not include Christians people.

That it is an awards banquet in which we are awarded a prize, some receiving a greater prize than others.

The first error, that the Judgment Seat of Christ does not include Christian people, is obviously not what is stated. "For all of us" certainly includes Christians. If Christians were exempt, it would say so.

If it were an awards banquet, it would not use the terms "good" and "evil."

The Greek term for "Judgment Seat" indicates an area where people accused of a crime stand before a tribunal.

The two errors listed above play a part in the weak character and moral rot in the Christian churches of our day.

A further thought: I believe those who are pressing forward to the first resurrection are being revealed right now before the Judgment Seat. You may notice that at the first resurrection, no books are opened, as in the case of the second resurrection. This tells me that the judgment of these people has been completed prior to the appearing of the Lord.

First resurrection:

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. (Revelation 20:4)

Can you see that no books were opened?

Now let's look at the second and last resurrection:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)

The second judgment, of the White Throne, also is part of the Judgment Seat of Christ, since the Father has given all judgment to the Son. The books of record are opened at this time; but not at the first resurrection.

So here is a good reason for the believer to make his or her strongest effort to attain to the first resurrection. I believe this is the resurrection the Apostle Paul was seeking to attain to.

No effort is needed to attain to the second resurrection; everyone who does not attain to the first resurrection will be resurrected and judged at the second resurrection, some receiving a pass to citizenship on the new earth, while others shall be assigned to the Lake of Fire.

Surely there is a reward for serving the Lord!

The Rest of God

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)

The rest of God is portrayed symbolically by Canaan, the land of promise. The rest of God is our goal.

God's plan of redemption is designed to accomplish two changes in us. The first change is to cleanse us from all sin and self-seeking and to form the Divine Nature of Christ in us.

The second change is to move us from planning and seeking our own objectives to rest in the center of God's Person and will.

To change us into the image of Christ, internally, and externally in the Day of the Lord.

To change our life until we are living by the Life of Christ rather than by our first personality.

This may seem impossible to the reader that such a complete transformation could take place in him or her; but when we consider the wisdom and power that spoke into being the universe, we realize that to change us so totally is not such an impossible a task after all.

After all, the Bible says if any person is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new and are of God.

Also, at the descent of the new Jerusalem, God says "I make all things new."

God does not make all new things. God makes new all that He created in the beginning, and that mean you and me.

How foolish! How utterly foolish would a person be who would cling to his first personality and not yield to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit! As I have pointed out previously, God is bent on our attaining to everlasting righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Such blessings are impossible to the person descended from Adam. They are possible only to the individual who has been born of God and then transformed by the Holy Spirit.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)

We are changing from animals to life-giving spirits in the very image of God. Think of it!

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

The first man is of the earth, earthy. The second man is of Heaven, born of God and filled with God's Divine Nature.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)

All of this marvelous work God created in six days, and then He rested. All God asks of us is to cease from creating our own heaven and earth and enter into His seventh-day rest.

All has been finished from the beginning of the world. God has predestined you and me to be in the image of Christ and a brother of Christ. God's Word has been working, working, working since the time of His rest that His Kingdom might come into being and every person placed in his or her own rank and role.

It is difficult for us to cease from our own works, to surrender our right to be an independent god in the universe. Even if it is Almighty God to whom we are surrendering, we do not want to give up the right to be ourselves the way we desire ourselves to be.

Sometimes you hear people say, "I've got to be me." A person thus wrapped up in himself or herself is a small package to be sure.

God has a better future for us than to remain a tiny little self-centered speck in the cosmos. God desires to enlarge us until we truly are in the image of the galactic Christ.

When I say we have to give up our right to be independent, I am not speaking of losing our uniqueness as an individual. God always will be who He is. Christ always will be who He is. The Holy Spirit will always be who He is. And we always will be who we are.

God is not asking us to give up our uniqueness but our independence. He wants us to be part of Him so we can increase for eternity in righteousness and love.

Apart from Him we remain a tiny, miserable, speck of dust, always whining about how we are not being treated fairly. This is not an enviable destiny. I believe you will agree with that.

So as we pass from the spiritual fulfillment of the Festival of Passover to the spiritual fulfillment of the Festival of Tabernacles, let us keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus. He is faithful and true. He never will forsake us. He shall finish the work He has begun in us if we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

Let's do it!

Passover; Pentecost; Tabernacles

Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: (Deuteronomy 16:16)

"No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed." This is to say, God wants every believer to participate fully in the Passover week; in Pentecost; and in the Festival of Tabernacles.

I have noticed of late that we need the Pentecostal refreshing in our church and in our nation at large. We can't press on into the fullness of the Tabernacles experience until we are filled in the Holy Spirit, including speaking in other languages as the Spirit gives utterance.

I myself speak in another language fluently. But as I have spent my days explaining some of the aspects of Tabernacles, I'm afraid that I have not been clear enough that we must fully experience Pentecost if we hope to make a success of experiencing the marvels of Tabernacles.

It is not that God penalizes us for not speaking in tongues, it is that we do not have the spiritual wisdom and power necessary for entering fully into living by the Life of Jesus, which is an essential aspect of Tabernacles.

I am not referring at all to any aspect of the physical celebration of the feasts of the Lord but of their spiritual fulfillment in the Lord Jesus.

The Passover week, which includes the Passover, the unleavened bread of repentance and water baptism, and firstfruits representing the born-again experience in which a firstfruits of our personality has been lifted to the right hand of God, are quite familiar to the fervent Christian.

Pentecost with its baptism with the Holy Spirit and speaking in unfamiliar languages also is well know to dedicated believers. However, the central aspect of Pentecost, which is the law of the Spirit that governs our conduct as we seek to obey the Spirit, is not known nearly as well as the baptism.

Just as the new generation of Israelites had to be circumcised before passing across the Jordan River, so it is true that today's Christians must learn to obey the Holy Spirit. We are not under any part of the Law of Moses. Our rule of behavior is the Spirit of God Himself. He must be obeyed continually and diligently if we are to move toward Tabernacles.

The righteous behavior that God demands cannot be accomplished by our attempt to obey the Ten Commandments, although we always should use our self-control to keep from violating God's moral laws as well as we can.

But to attain to the righteous stature that God desires, we must be led by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. The Spirit will help us, but we must pay attention at all times to His promptings.

So the baptism with the Holy Spirit, including talking each day in our new language, and then stern obedience to the Spirit, produce eternal moral change in us. The Holy Spirit is our heavenly Guide who keeps bringing us to Christ.

For those people who wish to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit, let me say that first you must be firmly grounded in the blood atonement, in repentance and water baptism, and the born-again experience. You must have passed from death unto life in the Kingdom of God, having forsaken your allegiance to the spirit of the world.

After that it is a matter of presenting yourself before the Lord each day, politely asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit. It may require days, or months, or even years (probably not that long) before you break through. But you will receive, because that is the promise of the Lord Jesus.

Now we are approaching the grand finale of the work of redemption, the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles.

It is God's purpose to make each of us a living stone in His eternal dwelling place. In order for this to take place in us, we must keep the commands of Jesus. The current "grace" message, in which Divine grace is viewed as an alternative to obeying Christ, will prevent the seeker from pressing into Tabernacles.

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)

"Will obey My teaching." If we lean on grace to cover our disobedience to Christ, we will never experience the spiritual fulfillment of Tabernacles.

Earlier in Chapter Fourteen of the Gospel of John we found that the Holy Spirit would be in us if we keep the commands of Christ.

But in John 14:23 we discover that the Father and the Son will make Their eternal home in us if we keep Christ's commands.

Now I realize that some may think that the dwelling of the Spirit in us is the same as the Father and the Son in us. This misunderstanding is due to the notion that the three members of the Godhead are really one manifestation of the same Person.

This concept is incorrect. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct Persons, although they dwell together in perfect Oneness. By the way, in John 17:21-23 we have been called to be a part of that same Oneness.

There are three Persons in the Godhead, and that is why we are baptized in water into Their three names.

Jesus said, "My Father will love the believers who obey Christ's Words and We will come to them and make Our home with them. It would make no sense for the Lord Jesus say We will come to them if Jesus and the Father are the same Individual.

In fact, one of the main benefits of entering the Festival of Tabernacles is that we come to a greater awareness of the Father as a distinct Person.

You know, it is not said often enough that Jesus is the Way to the Father. We may say that Jesus is the Way to Heaven. That is not biblically correct. He is the Way to the Father.

One time when I was teaching a class in India, a student corrected me, insisting that Jesus is the Way to Heaven. He would not look in his Bible. He just wanted to argue. The concept that Jesus is the Way to Heaven is deeply entrenched in Christian thinking.

So our goal, our land of promise, our Canaan, our land of milk and honey, is not Heaven. Heaven is where sin began. Our goal is perfect fellowship with the Holy Spirit, the Father, and the Lord Jesus.

Yes, and more than that. Our goal is to be at rest in the Godhead, to live by the one Life that is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Our land of promise is occupied in the present hour, speaking of the world and our own body, by the vilest, wickedest personalities imaginable. So we must fight to cleanse ourselves, and finally the rest of God's creation when our obedience has been fulfilled, from the hordes of Satan.

Today a remnant of God's people are pressing forward in Christ with an eye on the fullness of God, that Paul mentioned in the Book of Ephesians. We are not taking no for an answer. We through the Lord Jesus Christ are going to conquer every spirit that would vaunt itself Christ until Michael is empowered by the Father to drive Satan from the heavenlies down to the earth.

We have the same spirit as Joshua and Caleb. We shall drive them out, as God helps us. They are bread for us.

I trust that you have that same fighting spirit in you, and are not going to do as one of the cities of Israel did in the day of battle."

My heart is with Israel's princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord! (Judges 5:9)

"Curse Meroz", said the angel of the Lord."Curse its people bitterly, because they did not come to help the Lord, to help the Lord against the mighty." (Judges 5:23)

Beyond Tabernacles

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

The coming down to the new earth of the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, the Bride of the Lamb, actually is the beginning of the life of mankind. Everything prior has been preparation for this event.

This is the Kingdom of God, of which the Prophets spoke.

As marvelous as the coming of the new Jerusalem will be, this is only the beginning of the history of mankind. From this point people will multiply until even the giant new earth cannot contain them.

People then will emigrate to the stars. The stars will not shine, as I said previously, by nuclear fusion, but by the Glory of Christ. This was true during the first three days of creation when there were no sun, moon, or stars.

How long will mankind keep on increasing? Forever!

The current history of the earth has been for the purpose of calling out and training those who will govern the creation. This is why the affairs of most of the peoples of the earth appear to be random occurrences, in which people suffer and die for no apparent reason. The world is operating for the following purpose:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28,29)

To complain that so many millions of people apparently are expendable if God is to bring His will to pass, is to question the goodness and authority of God. After all, He is the Potter. He will do as it pleases Him.

It is true that some people, as was Judas, have been appointed to destruction in order that God might bring forth what He desires for His elect. This is not democratic, but there is nothing we can do about it except grumble and accuse God of unfairness.

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? (Romans 9:22)

if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. (II Peter 2:9)

By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. (II Peter 3:7)

God is perfectly willing to reveal His wrath toward those who hate Him, but He bears with them patiently that He may accomplish His purpose in His elect. Yet the wicked have been prepared for destruction.

We are to focus our eyes on the Lord Jesus, no matter what takes place in the world, because these expressions of demons are all working for our good that we might be changed into the image of the Lord Jesus and be His brothers.

In spite of appearances, God knows every person and has appointed him or her to his proper place in the coming Kingdom, the righteous to everlasting glory and the wicked to everlasting destruction. All is in order in the mind of God. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish His will.

In the present time those who are pressing forward in the Lord Jesus are experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. During the work of the Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation) we are confessing and turning away from our sins, and accepting the suffering and imprisonments that are destroying our self-will.

Through the blood atonement we are reconciled to God legally, we might say. Now we are being reconciled to God in our personality and behavior.

"Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever."

Think about the above for a moment. The Kingdom of the Lord Jesus will endure forever. I cannot imagine a satisfactory world lasting forever without children being born. Can you? What kind of a kingdom would that be, with no children playing with the animals and then growing up!

There will be animals? Of course. The little child shall play safely with animals that today would eat him. That is what the Bible declares. Children would not enjoy a world in which there were no animals!

Since it is probable that new people will be born and grow up in the new world of righteousness, it is my point of view that the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement will continue to operate. Each individual human being will have to, of his or her own will, renounce all sin and self-seeking. The members of the Royal Priesthood will assist him with this.

The first and most important rule of the coming new world of righteousness will be absolute obedience to the Lord Jesus in every aspect of our life. We begin this obedience today, as we renounce our sin and self-will. It is obvious that this program of reconciliation to Christ and God must endure forever, or there would be another rebellion.

As I stated previously, God is not making all new things. He is making all things new. That is what we desire in our heart, whether or not we realize it. Who wants to spend eternity walking in golden slippers on a golden street, playing a golden harp? Would you? I think you would prefer a humble home in a natural setting with little boys and girls and the family dog.

I know I would!

God is not interested in removing us from the settings which we enjoy, although there will be no more large cities in which people are getting heart attacks in their mad rush to acquire more money than they need. Most of us do not want to live in a large city. I believe I am correct in this. We like the quietness of nature.

Well then, what is God making new? God is making people new. Mankind is the center of God's attention, because people are made in His image.

But how is God making people new. Is He going to give them four ears instead of two?

No, God is making people new by putting Christ in them so they partake of Christ's Personality and behavior.

We must understand the pleasure the Father takes in His Son, the Son who was willing to suffer great pain and even be separated from His Father, if that were His Father's will.

God is determined to fill the universe with the Lord Jesus Christ, and He will accomplish this by bringing Christ to maturity in people.

There will be a royal priesthood who will govern mankind. Their headquarters are in the holy city.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

It appears that agriculture will play a central role in the new world of righteousness.

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. (Isaiah 65:21,22)

The creation of the Kingdom of God is God's response to the original rebellion of the angels. God has determined to drive all evil from His Presence. God will not be satisfied until all traces of sin and rebellion have been destroyed utterly, and everlasting righteousness has been established.

He has chosen to do this through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I believe we are about halfway through the process of destroying from the creation rebellion and all other forms of wickedness.

"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)

From Passover to Tabernacles, and then to everlasting righteousness.