THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
THE BIRTH OF CHRISTCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I am not speaking now about the baby in the manger 2,000 years ago. Rather the present burden has to do with the Christ who is being born today.
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. (Revelation 12:1,2)
The woman is the Christian Church. The sun represents righteousness. The moon signifies that fact that to the Church has been given authority over the material creation. The crown of twelve stars represents the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Church is about to give birth to the Body of Christ. This travail is beginning today, or is reaching its climax today.
Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. (Revelation 12:3)
Notice that the Church is in Heaven and Satan is in Heaven. When the Lord Jesus told us to pray that God's will would be done in earth as it is in Heaven, He did not mean that God's will is being done in Heaven. He meant that God's will would be done in Heaven when it is done in the earth.
As in Heaven, so on the earth---this sort of thing. Whatever you bind on the earth shall be bound in Heaven.
It is obvious, in Chapter Twelve, that God's will is not being done in Heaven. Satan has access to God and is able to accuse the saints. This is not God's will. Satan is not removed from his heavenly vantage point until Michael and his angels drive Satan and his angels from their position.
And Michael and his angels are not empowered by the Father to drive Satan and his angels from their heavenly vantage point until the saints overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb; by the word of their testimony that God is true and faithful; and love not their life to the point of death.
This is why Heaven rejoices and salvation comes as the saints overcome the accuser.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." (Revelation 12:10)
This puts a different slant on things, doesn't it? The warfare against sin is fought in the earth, and Heaven benefits. It is true also that the revelation of the present steps in the program of redemption is being given in the earth. It seems to me that Heaven has to learn about what is taking place by observing the saints in the earth.
"Hear, O heavens; and give ear, O earth." When the prophets speak they speak to the heavens first. Then to the earth. It is through the Church that the wisdom of God is revealed.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:10)
The current revelation of God is that of Christ, or the Body of Christ, being brought forth in the believers.
She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)
This is what is going on right now in the believers, and Satan is attempting to stop it. As far as I know, this travail is occurring also in the members of the Body of Christ who have died and are in the spirit world, because the Body is one in Heaven and upon the earth.
The Child being snatched up to God and to His Throne means merely that as Christ is brought forth in us we have more access to God's Throne in prayer, not that we are carried up bodily.
I do not say that Christ has not been formed in Christians prior to our day; but now, as we are moving into the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, it appears that Christ is maturing in us to a greater extent than has previously true for most Christians.
Notice how the forming of Christ in the Church is brought forth in the Book of Isaiah:
Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the Lord repaying his enemies all they deserve. (Isaiah 66:6)
Up to the present hour, the Lord Jesus has been seated at the right hand of God, waiting until God makes His enemies His footstool.
But the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us that the Lamb now is standing on Mount Zion with His firstfruits. Mount Zion is the Church of the Firstborn, that is, of Christ.
So we see there is an uproar from the city, from the heavenly Jerusalem. The noise from the temple refers to the tumult in God's people as they confess their sins and turn away from them. Christ, the Lord, strong and mighty in battle, is waging war against His enemies, beginning with the saints who are closest to Him.
Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. (Isaiah 66:7)
The Church did not enter labor when the Son, Christ, was born in Bethlehem.
However, there did come a time when the Church travailed.
Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)
Zion is another name for the Christian Church. "We have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God," the Book of Hebrews maintains.
Zion is in travail today as never before. It is time for Christ to come forth in the members of His Body. His literal coming in the clouds of glory is near at hand, and we must be ready to go out and meet Him.
The nation that is brought forth in a moment is the Royal Priesthood.
How do we turn away from our fleshly Christian life and learn to live by the Life of Him who is being formed in us?
First, we must confess our sins as the Spirit of God points them out to us. Once we are aware of a sin we are practicing, we are to confess it clearly to God, resolving by the help of the Lord never to practice it again. It is an eternal judgment upon Satan.
It may be a sin of too much involvement in the world; or a sin of the lusts of the flesh or spirit; or the sin of self-will and self-love. The Holy Spirit will guide us in this work of judgment.
Then we are to overcome sin by trusting in the blood of the Lamb, knowing that the blood of Calvary has made a perfect atonement for us.
Then we are to overcome Satan each day by declaring our faith in God. No matter what happens to us we keep on declaring that God is faithful. We say this in the good times and the bad. We always and forever announce that God is true and faithful.
The critical issue is that of loving not our life to the death. This probably is the most difficult issue facing Pentecostal people today. They have been at Pentecost, as we say, and now there is another level to be gained. After we have borne fruit for a season there is a pruning. But to really bring forth Christ, a second pruning is required.
We have to gain victory over self-will. The biggest problem is, who is living? Are we living, or is the Life of Christ living in us?
I am not speaking of becoming an empty vessel. I am referring rather to continually looking to Jesus throughout each day and night so that we always are doing His will.
Little by little we learn to practice the eternal euntil we are talking to Jesus all the time. We bring to the Lord very aspect of every day. We have to learn to do this. It may seem impossible at first. But in actual fact, it is just as easy, if not easier, to look to Jesus and get His opinion about everything than it is to make our own decisions, which so often lead us into trouble.
You may say, "I don't hear from the Lord." The third chapter of Proverbs tells us that if we will commit our way to the Lord, rather than leaning to our own understanding, He will make our way straight, carefully guiding us in the path that will lead to eternal righteousness, love, peace, and joy.
He may or may not speak to you in a voice. But you soon will learn the way Jesus deals with you as an individual. You can believe me when I say that Jesus is far more desirous of becoming involved in your life than you are desirous of being that involved with Him.
He is knocking at your door. Will you let Him in and dine with you? He dines on your obedience and worship. You dine on His body and blood.
You do not open your personality to Him only on one occasion. You open to Him every moment of every day of the rest of your life. You keep opening to Jesus. He keeps entering to an ever greater extent.
Finally you can say with Paul, "I live, but it is not I who live but Christ who is living in me."
This is how you give birth to Christ.
The chaos in the world we are approaching, particularly we here in the United States, is going to be too difficult, too filled with Satan, for us as humans to survive spirituallyand perhaps physically. But there is one who can survive, and that is the Lord strong and mighty in battle.
For those who have learned to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, there is no spiritual oppression or tactics of the enemy that can defeat them.
For all of history the world has never learned to depend on God, to look to God for wisdom and help. Man is in the forefront. The result is, the world is worse shape today than ever before, as far as I can see.
I believe this also is true to a great extent of the Christian churches. It is not often we hear of God actually directing the leadership. Seminars and retreats are held, computers are consulted. famous speaker come, give their ideas, and collect their fees.
It is not often we hear of Christian organizations waiting on the Lord until they know what they are supposed to do.
Actually, I am tired of reading about famous Christians who are going to do marvelous things. How about Jesus? What is He saying today? Is He actually behind the efforts of world evangelism, or is world evangelism just our idea? I am certain Christ is behind some of the efforts that seek to fulfill the Great Commission, but I wonder about some of the other pronouncements!
I believe the time has come for the saints to come to maturity in Christ, a revival to maturity. But we do not seem to hear much about this.
You know, the Apostle Paul spoke of Christ being formed in us, so it is not a new idea.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
"Christ is formed in you."
Is this just an expression meaning that we believe Christ has saved us, or is there more to it than that? Does it mean that His Divine Nature is increasing in us and is active in our personality?
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
The passage above expresses the concept clearly. The Apostle Paul himself always was present. We never lose our unique identity. But the numerous tribulations Paul experienced had resulted in the growth of the Nature of Christ in him.
Paul's troubles kept peeling off Paul's original personality. The Life of Jesus took their place. Paul was still Paul. And yet, he was a new creation. His old personality had been killed off. In its place was the Personality of Jesus. It was Jesus who was thinking, speaking, acting, seeing, and hearing in Paul. Yet, the original Paul was still there.
This is why God said "I make all things new." God takes what is and makes it new in Christ. God is not making all new things.
One is reminded of the gold that covered the acacia wood of the Ark of the Covenant. The acacia wood, representing Paul's humanity, was covered on the outside and the inside with gold, symbolizing Divinity.
Bezalel made the ark of acacia woodtwo and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. He overlaid it with pure gold, both inside and out, and made a gold molding around it. (Exodus 37:1,2)
But the wood was still present!
If we are to succeed in bringing forth Christ in our personality we are going to have to devote our life to learning how to live in God's perfect will. This is not at all impossible, but we will have to present our body as a living sacrifice.
The idea of Christ in us, the hope of glory, always has been in the New Testament. However, I am impressed that in our day, when the Kingdom of God is at hand, there shall be a maturity that we have not experienced previously.
There shall be some who succeed in following Jesus to the fullness of redemption. It can be you, if you are willing to give your life to the Lord Jesus.