THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: ELEVEN (EXCERPT OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION)
“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Eleven” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Three Entrances; Three Places; Three Lights
Table of Contents
Fire in the Christian Life
Testing Our Works
Baptism with Fire
Portability of the Tabernacle
The Rewards Go to the Overcomer
Following the Lord
Three Entrances; Three Places; Three Lights
The first entrance to the Tabernacle was the gate of the Courtyard. The gate was the blue, purple, crimson, and pure white linen hung on four of the wooden pillars set in bronze sockets. It opened into the Courtyard of the Tabernacle, the place of animal sacrifice.
The second entrance was the door of the Tabernacle. The door was the blue, purple, crimson and fine linen hung on five wooden pillars covered with gold, topped with gold capitals, standing in sockets of bronze. The door led into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle building.
The third entrance was the Veil. The Veil was blue, purple, scarlet and fine twisted linen, with figures of cherubim prepared in it. The Veil hung on four wooden pillars covered with gold, standing in sockets of silver. It opened into the Holy of Holies.
The gate was twenty cubits wide by five cubits high. The door was ten cubits square and the Veil was ten cubits square. It can be seen that each of the three hangings had the same area of surface (100 square cubits). The sameness of area suggests to us that each of the three entrances to the Kingdom of God is equally important in its place.
Each hanging had 100 square cubits of area, a total of 300 square cubits. Three hundred cubits was the length of Noah’s Ark and the number of Gideon’s men. Three hundred symbolizes the end of an age by judgment, and the salvation of the elect in the Day of the Lord.
The materials of the three hangings were identical, except that the Veil had the design of the cherubim prepared in it.
The pillars, or posts, were all wooden, those of the gate and the door standing in bronze and those of the Veil standing in silver. The pillars of the gate were crowned with silver and had silver hooks. The pillars of the door had gold hooks and were crowned with gold. The pillars of the Veil had gold hooks and were not crowned.
The increasing value of the metals employed reminds us that as we progress to areas of greater holiness we are moving toward the Presence of the Lord. Purity of heart and holy behavior are required in order for us to be received of God (Matthew 5:8; II Corinthians 6:17).
The three places of the Tabernacle were the Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. In the Courtyard were the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering and the bronze Laver. In the Holy Place were the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. In the Holy of Holies were the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. The Courtyard was dominated by bronze (judgment), and the Holy and Most Holy Places were dominated by gold (Divinity).
The Courtyard was lighted by the sun (natural light). The Holy Place was lighted by the Lampstand (manifestation of the Holy Spirit). The Holy of Holies was lighted by the Glory of the Presence of God Himself blazing from between the Cherubim of Glory.
There are several figures in the Scriptures, in addition to the three places of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, that present three areas of redemption. There were the three levels of Noah’s Ark. The seven feasts of the Lord were grouped into three sets: the feast of Unleavened Bread; the feast of Weeks; and the feast of Tabernacles (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Three levels of fruitbearing are mentioned in Matthew, Chapter 13. Paul was caught up to the “third heaven.” There are the fruit, more fruit, and much fruit, of John 15:1-5. Hosea prophesied: “After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we will live in his sight” (Hosea 6:2). Jesus confirmed the statement of Hosea: “Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected” (Luke 13:32).
The first area of redemption is that of the basic salvation experience. It consists of the experiences typified by the bronze Altar and the Laver. We must repent, accept the atonement made by Christ for our sins, and be baptized in water.
Salvation is accomplished in the daylight where all people can see, understand, and participate. Here is the Kingdom of God. It includes all the saved of the earth. Every person outside the linen fence of the righteousness of Christ is doomed to eternal darkness unless he or she is willing to receive Christ before it is too late.
The second area of redemption is that of the Church. The Church is represented by the Holy Place with its showbread, Lampstand and the Altar of Incense. We are baptized into the Church, the Body of Christ, by the Holy Spirit of God.
The Church of Christ has been assigned two major tasks: to build, through the Holy Spirit, each of its members into the image of Christ; and (2) to reveal in the earth the holy Person and righteous ways of the Lord God of Heaven, bearing witness to every nation of the need for repentance because of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The highest experiences of God are available through the Church to whoever will receive and participate in God’s work of redemption. The Church has been assigned the responsibility, in Christ, of establishing and maintaining the Kingdom of God on the earth (Daniel 7:27), the Kingdom that will come to the earth with the return of Christ and His saints. The only obstacle that holds any person back from experiencing the richest blessings of God is his own unbelief and unwillingness to press forward in Christ.
The Holy Place, the Church, is lighted by the “Lampstand,” so to speak. The Church of God ought never to be seeking the advice or help of the flesh in spiritual matters or that which has to do with the Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit will guide the Church in every matter great and small, to the smallest detail, if we are sensitive to His teachings and reproofs. The building of the Church and the presenting of a perfect and complete wife to the Lamb of God are the responsibility of the Holy Spirit.
Fleshly effort can only soil and destroy the Church. The Holy Spirit is in charge of bringing to maturity the Body of Christ. The light of day, that is, natural light and understanding, helps in the Courtyard area; but its use in the Holy Place is to be minimal. The Holy Spirit is the Lampstand who lights the Church and who lights the world through the Church.
The third area of salvation is that of the three aspects of the fullness of redemption: (1) the image of Christ prepared in us in spirit, soul and body; (2) the fullness of the indwelling of the Father and the Son in us through the Holy Spirit; and (3) the fullness of fruitfulness and authority imparted to us through Christ so all things are beneath us and only Christ rules over us.
The third area is the place of full victory, the inheriting of the “all things” of God our Father (Revelation 21:7).
The Church is in travail at the present time to bring forth the “male son,” the ruler with a rod of iron (Revelation, Chapter 12). The male son symbolizes Christ in the members of Christ’s Body, formed through the travail of the ministries and gifts of the Christian Church (Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:13).
The second area, that of the Church, is “lighted by the Lampstand.” This is the realm of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit, of I Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 13. The third area is lighted by the Glory of the Presence of God Himself.
Paul speaks of the difference between the two areas, in I Corinthians, Chapter 13. He instructs us that when that which is perfect is come (the third area), then that which is in part (the second area) will be done away. Once we receive the fullness of Christ Himself there will be no more need for the ministries and gifts, for we will possess the Lord Himself.
We have not as yet reached our full maturity in Christ. There is a great need, at the present stage of development of the Christian Church, for the exercise of the ministries and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
It is possible that the program of maturing of the Body of Christ may be delayed if we do not obtain more teaching concerning victorious living in Christ. We are blessed with able and anointed “come-out” ministries—those that have as their goal the rescuing of souls from the bondage of sin and spiritual death.
What is needed in particular at the present time is many more “enter-in” ministries—those that can bring the Christian believers from the wilderness, across the Jordan of death to self, and into the land of promise of the fullness of the grasp on the redemption that is in Christ.
We have not as yet arrived at John 17:21-23. The fullness of the knowledge of Christ is a goal for us to keep our eyes on in order to help us maintain a saving hope and proper perspective on our progress in the plan of salvation.
The four pillars at the gate of the Courtyard portray, among other things, the four major ministries of the Body of Christ: the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, and the pastor-teacher. It is through these four ministries that human beings are led to the full salvation purchased on the cross of Calvary.
The five pillars at the entrance to the Holy Place, the door of the Tabernacle, remind us of the saints of Christ. The five posts have the bronze of judgment under them because the victorious saints will rule and judge with Christ, having first experienced God’s judgment on their own lives.
and its five pillars with their hooks. And he overlaid their capitals and their rings with gold, but their five sockets were bronze. (Exodus 36:38)
The gold overlaying the top of the pillars at the door portray the authority and power, under Christ, of the saints. The saints stand guard at the entrance to the Church, the sanctuary of God, the new Jerusalem. Five is the number of entrance, or beginning, of the holy mysteries of the Body of Christ. This is the royal priesthood.
The four pillars at the entrance to the Most Holy Place symbolize, among other things, the fullness of Christian development—the four “faces” of the mature believer. These are the lion, the ox, the man, and the eagle (Ezekiel 1:10; Revelation 4:7).
The lion is the spirit of the conqueror, which must be prepared in each saint. The ox is the ability to bear heavy loads of responsibility and service over a prolonged period of time. The man is the image and likeness of God—that with which He can have fellowship and enter union. The eagle is the soaring liberty of the believer who has become free indeed by becoming the bondslave of Christ.
“You shall hang it upon the four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Their hooks shall be gold, upon four sockets of silver. (Exodus 26:32)
There is no gold overlay on the top of these four pillars because the bondslaves of God cast down their crowns before the Lord. When they go out to serve as the kings and priests of God’s creation they wear their crowns of authority and power. Therefore, there are crowns on the pillars of the door of the Tabernacle. When they come into the Presence of the Almighty God they cast down their crowns at His feet in acknowledgment that He is the supreme Lord and Ruler of the universe.
The victorious saints are the Lord’s personal guard, His “mighty men.” They are pillars in the Temple of God (I Chronicles 11:10; Revelation 3:12; 14:4).
The saints of God have been redeemed through the blood of the Lamb. They bow in worship, through the Holy Spirit, before the Lord God of Heaven. The Veil of death hangs from them because they have been crucified with Christ and their life is now hidden with Christ in God.
The material of the gate, the door, and the Veil is the same except that the Veil has the figures of the cherubim worked in the material. The blue is Heaven. The purple is the majesty of Him who is King of Heaven and earth. The scarlet is His redeeming blood. The white is the righteousness assigned (imputed) to us and also demonstrated in our behavior. Through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we obtain both ascribed righteousness and a righteous personality that behaves righteously.
Ascribed righteousness is a legal state before God. Actual righteousness of personality and behavior is the Kingdom of God.
The cherubim prepared in the Veil reveal that at the third level we become increasingly conscious of the spirit realm. Paul referred to the “elect angels.” As we draw closer to the Throne of God we become aware of the large congregation of creatures now assembled to see the Lord’s salvation. Truly, we have come to “an innumerable company of angels,” as the writer of Hebrews informs us (Hebrews 12:22).
The cherubim, in particular, are a part of God, as shown by the fact that they were hammered from the same piece of gold as the Mercy Seat. They are part of the Mercy Seat. When Ezekiel and John saw the Throne of God they saw also the Cherubim of Glory.
When we come to the fifth furnishing of the Tabernacle, the Altar of Incense, we are at the fifth day of creation, speaking symbolically. Therefore, “fish appear in the sea,” as it were, portraying the great harvesting of souls that will occur just prior to the Lord’s returning, and then on throughout the entire Kingdom Age.
Also, on the fifth day of creation, the birds appear in the firmament of heaven, suggesting that we shall become increasingly conscious of the righteous and the unrighteous creatures of the heavens who will be directly affected by the manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8:21).
Some of the creatures of the heavens wait with terror for the coming of the Lord because the end of their activities in the earth will occur as soon as God has His saints prepared. Others of the creatures of Heaven are ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation. These look forward with great joy to the perfecting and glorifying of their charges.
The material creation awaits with expectant, joyful hope the most extraordinary spectacle of all time—the sight of the sons of God receiving their inheritance and assuming, under Christ, rulership of all the works of God’s hands.
Fire in the Christian Life
The Altar of Burnt Offering has something to say to us concerning sacrifice to God. It symbolizes the offering of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary—the foundation of Christianity. The bronze Altar portrays also our personal offerings to the Lord.
The fact that fire was involved in the presentation of a slain offering reveals the manner in which God regarded and responded to the offering of Jesus on the cross; and also the manner in which God regards and responds to the things we present continually to Him, including our own life and personality.
“And you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD; it is a sweet aroma, an offering made by fire to the LORD. (Exodus 29:18)
“You shall receive them back from their hands and burn them on the altar as a burnt offering, as a sweet aroma before the LORD. It is an offering made by fire to the LORD. (Exodus 29:25)
and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces. (Leviticus 9:24)
Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the Lord departed out of his sight. (Judges 6:21).
Consider the saying of Jesus recorded in the ninth chapter of Mark:
“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. (Mark 9:49)
The test of fire is to God as salt is to us. It makes the sacrifice palatable. The sacrifice is tasteless without it. Well-intentioned fleshly activity is not acceptable to God. Christian platitudes, sentimentality, and fleshly “love” are as honey on the sacrifice (Leviticus 2:11).
Fire represents the Nature of God Himself: absolute holiness, absolute cleanliness, absolute righteousness, absolute justice, absolute love—so pure that anything brought near to God is in danger of being instantly consumed.
For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)
The Lord Jesus Christ was as a burnt offering on the cross. His Spirit was tested by fire to the last measure. There was nothing more that could be consumed. He was a perfect sacrifice, offered through the Spirit of God. No lawlessness, no sin, no rebellion, no self-ambition or self-centeredness—nothing that could not abide the fire of God’s Presence was to be found in the Lord Jesus. He was pure gold, refined in the furnace of affliction (Hebrews 5:7,8).
We are to offer our body to God as a whole burnt offering.
I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1).
Testing Our Works
After we have served God for a while the things we have accomplished and the motives that gave rise to the accomplishments are salted with fire.
each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (I Corinthians 3:13-15)
All of our Christian works (for the “work” referred to here is that which has been constructed on the foundation, Christ) will be tested by fire. The above passage may be referring to the great Day of judgment. However, most of us probably have observed that our works are tested, at least on a small scale, here in this present life.
We become so involved! So busy! Our activities go unchecked for a period of time. Then we get a visit from the Lord. Our works and motives are exposed to His absolute holiness, absolute righteousness, and absolute love. The secrets of our heart are displayed before us, before God, and sometimes before the rest of the universe it seems. This is the fire of the Lord falling on our sacrifice.
If our works have been performed by the Spirit of the Lord we have nothing to be concerned about. The Word of God abides forever. Fiery trials refine the Word of God in us.
If our works have proceeded from an obligation of religious duty only, or from our ignorance of the will of Christ for our life, or from our spiritual ambitions, or from an attempt to use the Holy Spirit of God instead of being used by the Spirit, then our works and motives will not stand up under the test of Divine fire.
We will be saved personally if we maintain a steadfast faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, so we can stand and serve God another day. But Christian works that have not been performed in the Spirit of God will not abide before Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire.
When we see Him in all of His perfection of holiness we shall say with Job: “I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5,6).
Baptism With Fire
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
Every Christian must be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Every Christian must also be baptized with fire. We all would enjoy being immersed continually in the Holy Spirit. We may not be as anxious to be immersed continually in the fire of God. Yet, the immersion in fire is an essential part of the Christian life.
No one walks with God without being washed with fire every now and then. The meaning of the baptism in fire is given in Matthew 3:12:
… but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
The closer we draw to God the more intense the fire becomes. God is a fire, a consuming fire. He who would dwell with God must be ready to dwell with fire.
The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Isaiah 33:14)
There is a difference between the Christian who has not been baptized with fire and the Christian who has been baptized with fire. The difference is in the amount of dross (fleshly motivations) remaining in the life. The less fire the more dross. The more fire the less dross. For some of us it may be true that we have set out our sacrifice but the Lord has not as yet passed between the pieces.
And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. (Genesis 15:17)
The first time the fire (judgment) of God comes on us we think God has forsaken us. The “sun goes down” and it is dark. A “horror of a great darkness” falls on our up-to-now happy Christian life.
Peter cautions us, “Think it not strange.” This is part of the normal Christian life. If there is no burning fiery judgment, then there no fellowship with Him who is the consuming Fire.
We are not called to be baptized only once with fire but to dwell continually with the fire of God. The reason we find this so unpleasant is that we have so much worthless material in our life. The thought of judgment panics us because we sense we are not “fireproof” in the inner parts of our personality.
Isaiah asks, “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
Then he answers his own question:
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: (Isaiah 33:15)
If we desire to live forever with the Lord Jesus we must experience the baptism with fire. There is no need to fear the fire of God unless we are sinners or hypocrites. If our life is being created in God there is nothing in the Divine fire that will hurt us. We can lay our life continually on the Altar of Burnt Offering, so to speak, in the full assurance that nothing but our bonds will be burned (Daniel 3:24-28).
Perhaps this is the meaning of Revelation 20:6:
Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
“On such the second death has no power [authority]”!
It may be that the victorious saints of Revelation 20:6 have become “fireproof” by having the dross burned out of them beforehand. The Lake of Fire, which is the second death, has no authority over them. It cannot harm them. Fire cannot hurt gold; it succeeds only in making the gold more pure.
No spiritual fire can hurt one of God’s saints. The saints can and do live with the consuming Fire. As in the case of Moses’ bush (Exodus 3:2), they are not consumed.
Those of us who have been careless in bringing our motivations before God in prayer may find that the worthless and sinful part will burn, as God draws near to accept the offering of our life. What will be left of us as God approaches? The part that has been prepared in and by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Portability of the Tabernacle
Portability was an important characteristic of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Tabernacle was constructed while the Israelites were in the wilderness and had to be carried by them on their march toward the land of promise. The furniture of the Tabernacle was fitted out with rings and staves so it could be carried when the cloud and the fire moved on.
The Ark of the Covenant illustrates the portability of the Tabernacle.
“You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side.
“And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.
“You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.
“The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. (Exodus 25:12-15)
The staves remained in the Ark at all times, emphasizing that God was on the move. The staves in the Ark and the design of the Tabernacle teach us that we always must keep ourselves prepared to move forward in Christ.
The Holy Spirit today is moving us toward the land of promise. By the expression moving us toward the land of promise we mean the Spirit of God is bringing Christians to a fuller understanding of the writings of the Apostles; to a more perfect righteousness of spirit, soul and body; and to a more perfect union with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of Christ is guiding the Church back to the holiness, revelation, and power of the Church described in the Book of Acts, and then beyond that to an even greater fullness of the Presence of Christ. We are exhorted to contend for the faith handed down to the saints (Jude 1:3). The first-century Apostles of Christ spoke of the glory that is to accompany the return of the Lord—the “seasons of refreshing” that shall proceed from His Presence (Acts 3:19).
It appears that it is time now for “the restitution [restoration] of all things” (Acts 3:21). The Spirit of revelation (Ephesians 1:17,18; Colossians 1:9) is ready to bring to pure Christian hearts a fuller understanding of the will of God. We must keep ourselves in an attitude of prayer and be ready to move with God (maintaining vigilance at all times), if we would proceed toward the fullness of salvation.
When we decide that we possess all the experiences in Christ that are available to believers before the return of Christ to the earth, we cut ourselves off from the workings of the Holy Spirit. We lose our portability.
As soon as we come to the conclusion during our Christian experience that the next significant spiritual step for us is an external event, such as the coming of Christ in the clouds (which certainly shall occur in due time), we will not make a serious effort to grow to maturity in Christ. We will lose the attitude of Paul, who exclaims: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the high [upward] calling of God in Christ.”
We are not teaching that Christ is not coming, or that we should not be looking for and hastening the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ with the holy angels. Rather, we are stating that when we make the assumption that there are no more significant spiritual experiences available to us before the coming of the Lord Jesus we shall stagnate; we shall lose our portability, cease to grow, become sectarian and therefore divisive, become proud, and shall shut ourselves off from the voice of Christ speaking to us through the revelatory ministries of the Body of Christ. Outsiders may sense a spirit of smugness and be repulsed by it.
We must bring to mind the experience and attitude of the Apostle Paul. He had received Christ as Lord and Savior. He had been born again. He had been baptized in water. He had demonstrated the mighty miracles of the Holy Spirit. His missionary work had been fruitful. He had had revelations of Christ. He had written epistles.
After all of this he exclaimed:
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Greek: out-resurrection] from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)
The statement “if by any means I might attain to (arrive at) the resurrection from the dead” coming from a man of Paul’s background does not agree with the contemporary understanding of the way in which the plan of salvation operates. The present concept is that once a person has accepted Christ as Lord and Savior he has attained the resurrection unto eternal life, as far as is possible in this world.
It appears rather that we are to keep on actively seeking a greater fullness of Christ in our life. We are to remain portable.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ. Brothers, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. (Philippians 3:12-14).
Here is the Apostle Paul’s “creed.” It is more than adherence to a set of beliefs. It is a pressing forward toward Christ who Himself is the goal of our pilgrimage.
The Tabernacle would remain in one place for a while. Then it would be taken down and carried a bit farther toward Canaan (although sometimes the Israelites went in circles). Wherever the cloud and the fire led, the Tabernacle and the people were obliged to follow.
We Christians must keep on the move in Christ if we wish to remain spiritually alive. If we desire to grow to maturity in accordance with the pattern that Paul outlined in Philippians, then we must spend time each day seeking the Lord without distraction.
We have not “arrived” as yet, spiritually speaking. The next event in our spiritual calendar may not be the coming of Christ in the clouds, although He certainly will come one day and we want Him to return as quickly as possible. To this end we live each day in as prepared a manner as possible.
From what we see about us it appears that the Body of Christ is not ready yet for the return of the Lord Jesus. Christian people must press toward the fullness of Christ. We have not “arrived” in Christ until we have attained that for which Paul was striving, as described in Philippians, Chapter Three.
The goal of the Christian life is the full development of resurrection life in the believer accompanied by complete transformation of character and the complete indwelling of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Paul had not “arrived.” We have not “arrived.” The goal of which we are speaking is not a vague, unattainable state. It is as real as being born again, as definite as speaking in tongues. It is a goal (Philippians 3:14)! We must remain portable so we can keep pressing toward all that God has promised us in Christ.
When Jesus returns, our adoption as sons will be complete. This means we will be clothed with an eternal body. The body we have now will not be discarded, it will be made alive by being clothed with a house of resurrection life (II Corinthians, Chapter Five). We will be recognizable but full of Divine Life, authority and power. Being clothed with immortality is the destruction of the last enemy—physical death.
The Rewards Go to the Overcomer
The practical issue at hand is this: the glorification of our body is the fruit and reward of a lifetime of diligent, consistent sowing to the Holy Spirit. It was toward the fullness of eternal life that Paul was striving. In this light, Philippians 3:10-15 is perfectly understandable.
Many of the scriptural promises quoted by careless, double-minded people are actually directed toward the fervent disciples of the Lord. The rewards of immortality and glory that Jesus is bringing with Him are an area of confusion of doctrine and of misplaced hopes. God has promised these glorious gifts and responsibilities only to the victorious saints, the overcomers.
The Word of God concerning the new covenant has no effect due to our ignorance of what the grace of God is. We are defining grace as the forgiveness of sin, with the idea in mind that the image of Christ and union with Christ will be handed to us miraculously when the Lord returns, or accomplished in us somehow with little or no effort on our part. This is incorrect, being contrary to the writings of the Apostles of the Lamb.
Rather, the grace of God in Christ is the Divine Virtue, wisdom, authority, and power to accomplish image and union in our personality as we follow the Holy Spirit. There is a constant receiving of Christ and a constant warring against evil that continues throughout our discipleship.
The greater part of the Christian Church is in mortal error concerning the operation of grace under the new covenant.
The Word of God is emphatic concerning the rewards to the overcomer (Revelation, Chapters Two and Three). In some instances it seems people are under the impression that everyone who makes a profession of Christ will receive the rewards promised to the faithful disciples, whether or not the believer is indeed a faithful disciple. In fact, it is only the faithful disciples who actually are Christians. The remainder of the believers are merely churchgoers.
God means exactly what He has stated in His Word. Unless we seek the Lord in total sincerity and find what He wants done in and through us, and begin to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we may never mature to the place where we will be eligible for the rewards of authority and service Christ has promised to those who forsake all in order to perform His will (I Corinthians 3:14; II Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12).
We did not say, unless we start working for Christ. We said, unless we find what He wants done in and through us. This is an individual matter with each Christian. We cannot know our own assignment by guessing at what Christ wants done and then attempting to perform it in our own strength. We are to pray, collectively and individually, and to present our bodies as a living sacrifice in order to find God’s will for our lives.
It appears that the Church, the Body of Christ, is a long way from the fullness of maturity and unity. It appears also we cannot accomplish maturity and unity through a program designed and managed by means of human wisdom and strength. It is time for the Holy Spirit to be obeyed strictly, for only He can accomplish the unifying and maturing of the Body of Christ. Our task is to pray, study the Word, and be obedient to the Spirit. His task is to perform the will of the Father in and through us.
Following the Lord
How about you? Do you have a heart to follow the Lord? Are you willing to press on to overcoming strength and glory? Israel followed the Tabernacle as God moved toward His enemies in Canaan.
When the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: If the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. The cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. (Exodus 40:36-38).
Christ is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Author and the Finisher of our redemption. It does not matter how deep the pit from which we were taken. He shall, if we will follow Him, lift us to the highest throne.
Salvation has a definite beginning, a definite program, and a definite conclusion. This is not to say we will not grow more like the Father as we behold His face and minister in His Presence while the billions upon billions of eternities roll by.
Nevertheless, it is true that the plan of redemption has a definite beginning and a definite ending, a consummation, a maturity, a goal as Paul terms it (Philippians 3:14). Are you willing to lay all else aside and press on toward the fullness of the goal?
To move past the Holy Place, the area of the gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit, we must go through the Veil, the Jordan River as it were, symbolizing the death we must die to our own ways. God cannot carry out His great purposes while we are endeavoring to pursue our own paths—even our own “Christian” ways. He will use us if we will let Him have His perfect way with us and are willing to love not our own lives to the point of death to our ambitions, not seeking our preservation.
The final outpouring of Christ during the present age will be an authoritative and powerful testimony. It will prepare the way for the Kingdom Jubilee. The end-time testimony will be brought through those who have been crucified with Christ and in whom Christ is now being formed. If we save our life we will lose it. If we give our life to Christ He will mix it with His own life, the result being an abundance of fruitfulness and dominion during the ages to come.
Will you press on, and on, and on, and on to the fullness of Christ?
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Eleven”, 3995-1)