THE DIVINE CONCEPT
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Sometimes it helps to look at the larger picture. God has a concept. From God’s concept has proceeded a plan He is implementing. I believe the plan was formed in God’s mind before He spoke through the Word and created the angels. The physical creation, as I see it, is a continuation of the Divine plan.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ marked the closing of the old and the beginning of a new creation; but the new creation is a continuation of the original plan.
Table of Contents
Believe the GospelChristian Mysteries—What God Does
Attend church services Prayer
Studying and meditating daily in the Scriptures
Church architecture and art
The blood atonementGod Dwelling in Us Moral Deliverance Kingdom Living—The Moral Teachings of Jesus Christ
Being born again
The baptism with the Spirit
The body and blood of Christ
The gifts and ministries of the Spirit
The Roles and Tasks of the Kingdom of God
Complete change into the image of Christ in spirit, soul, and bodyConclusion
Untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will in spirit, soul, and body
Life lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit in spirit, soul, and body
Being an integral part of the Father’s house for eternity
Possession of the nation of saved people and the farthest reaches of the earth
Dwelling for eternity in a paradisiac environment
All that God makes new in Christ
THE DIVINE CONCEPT
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness—A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, (Titus 1:1,2)
I am setting forth some of the elements of the Divine plan as I understand them. The reader will be quick to note that there are areas of overlap and duplication. Undoubtedly I have neglected some important areas. Yet I feel that thinking about the elements, as outlined in this brief essay, may help us understand what God and we are doing.
Also, and of importance I believe, will be our escape from the “ticket” concept of salvation (accept Christ, go to Heaven) so we may appreciate the marvelous scope of salvation—that it is a progressive experience.
I think God had completed this plan in His mind before He moved through the Word to create the inhabitants of the spirit heavens, and then the physical world and mankind. The summing up of all things in the Word (now Christ, and finally the Lamb), the nations of saved people on the new earth governed by the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church—all were clearly pictured in God’s mind before anything was created
I believe God knew Satan would fall through self-will; Adam and Eve would look to themselves rather than to God for their betterment; and that the Word would have to become the Lamb slain for our sins
If I am correct in my understanding, we should regard the Bible as one whole, a seamless robe of Christ. God does provide covenants, from time to time. But God does not move in dispensations as though He recognized that His work at one time was not effective and had to arrange a different dispensation. The idea that now we do not have to behave righteously to please God, only believe in Christ, is grossly misleading and destructive.
God’s goal for man never changes. It is that man practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. The various covenants do not alter this goal in the slightest. Rather, they keep providing more and more grace until we finally will be able to meet God’s goal perfectly and completely in every respect.
God yet will have man in His image and dwelling in untroubled rest in the very center of His Person and will. One Man who lived on the earth exemplified God’s goal for man. His name is Jesus Christ.
Christian Activities—What We Do
Man’s attempts to please God are known as “religion.” There are numerous religions in the world, because it is in the heart of man to worship someone or something greater than himself—or he believes to be greater than himself
Of all the religions in the world, there is one in which the true and only God has spoken and declared His will. This one religion is Judaism-Christianity, for they actually are one. From Genesis through Revelation God tells us of His concept, His plan for His creation.
I understand many fine people of other religions will protest vehemently that their God is as good as my God, or that there are many roads to God. My natural inclination would be to agree with them because I sympathize with their position; and also it is my nature to avoid conflict when possible.
However, when I first accepted Christ, 59 years ago, I promised God that if the Gospel proved to be true I would say so. If I perceived over time that the Bible was only the work of human beings, I would testify to that. I was utterly sincere then and I am utterly sincere now. I have no reason to lie.
Since the age of nineteen, although I have done foolish things from time to time, I have attempted to do what I believed to be God’s will for me. I can testify truly before God and man that there is no possible way in which the events of my life could have occurred randomly. The probability is zero. I know beyond doubt that there is a God, that Jesus Christ is His Son, and that His Spirit working through men produced the Bible. I have trusted in the Bible as being without error and have not been disappointed.
Let us think for a moment about how we Christians express our desire to please God.
Believe the Gospel. God has intervened in the affairs of people. He has sent His Son to teach us how to behave, to tell us about the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, and to serve as a sin-offering.
God has made Jesus our Lord and Savior. We are to obey all of His commandments and those of His Apostles. We show our love for Him by obeying His commands.
Because of the influence of the Gnostic philosophy, of the philosophy of humanism, and possibly some other schools of thought, we view the Gospel as primarily a set of beliefs. We believe what the Bible says about Jesus, and it is this belief that saves us. So we have been taught.
This is the greatest possible error because it defeats God’s goal of forming people in His image. We forget that Jesus did not speak as much about believing in Him as He did about the coming of the Kingdom of God and how we should behave in that Kingdom.
We speak of salvation by faith alone, that is, without an effort on our part to live righteously. How can this be when salvation is a change in behavior? The saved individual is a new creation in Christ who behaves righteously. If you remove righteous behavior as the fruit of the Divine intervention, you have an unscriptural gospel.
True belief always results in behavior. It is impossible to have a genuine belief that does not affect our behavior. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, which is the “faith” chapter of the Bible, is a record of faith that results in obedience, not faith that dwells alone as an abstraction. We of today have an unscriptural concept of faith. Faith is not an acknowledgment of Bible truth. Faith is our assessment of God’s Character, our reliance on His faithfulness. Faith always works out in obedience, and has a wholesome fear of disobedience.
If we are to be saved we must accept with thanksgiving the blood atonement, and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is our rightful King. When we are baptized in water we are signing our part of the contract, so to speak. Yes, we have been forgiven through the blood atonement. Yes, we are the bondslaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our experience of redemption after these two commitments depends on our predestined place in the Kingdom of God. We must grasp the place for which we have been grasped.
Attend church services. We have been commanded by the Bible to not neglect the gathering of ourselves together for the purpose of worshiping God and learning more about Him. The types of service we have vary from culture to culture and from denomination to denomination. They range from the formal Catholic and Episcopalian liturgies to the more spontaneous (in some instances) Pentecostal services.
I myself have attended both formal and less formal services and believe that God can be found in both. It is helpful before entering any type of service to ask God if we might receive something from Him. I have not been disappointed when I have done this. God has His ways!
Ordinarily Christian church services will include preaching and teaching.
Preaching and teaching. The Lord Jesus told us we were to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey the Lord’s commands. We disciple people by preaching and teaching God’s Word to them.
I have felt of late, and have written much on the subject, that we need to return to the Bible. Too often the preaching is a repetition Sunday after Sunday of popular ideas, such as the unscriptural pre-tribulation “rapture,” or that Christians can become rich by exercising faith. The current vogue is that we can command angels to do what we wish.
These three popular ideas I have just mentioned are far removed from the Sermon on the Mount, aren’t they? Yet it is the Sermon on the Mount, and other passages of Scripture, that we are supposed to be teaching people.
Without doubt, one of the greatest needs of the hour in which we are living is a return to expository preaching. We ought to preach from the passages of the Bible, I believe. The current view of salvation is that it is a ticket that admits us to Heaven when we die. This hardly is scriptural. The Bible viewpoint is that salvation is God’s plan for changing us into the image of Christ so we can serve God wherever we are.
We need to return to the Bible, especially but not exclusively to the New Testament, and see what it says. I think we are off the track
Although I have listed preaching and teaching under “what we do,” it could actually be placed under “what God does.” We who preach and teach should wait on the Lord until we are speaking the Words of God for that moment. We need to feel the burden of the Spirit. We need to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We can, if we will pray, seek the Lord, and obey Him implicitly.
For example, there is much preaching today about how we are supposed to go forth and save the world, building churches everywhere. I am not hearing this from the Lord. I am hearing that God has begun His program of moral deliverance and He wants each one of us to listen to the Spirit and turn away from our sins.
Perhaps the Lord will add to His Church if we pay attention to what He is saying.
Here is a humorous thought. A friend of mine has been taught repeatedly by his elders that he is to go forth and plant a church. Finally he went to the Lord to get the mind of God on this matter. (This always is a good idea.) The Lord told him to lose weight. Since then he has gone on a diet. This actually happened recently.
Church music and worship. Music ought not to be a form of entertainment during the service. I have led choirs and love sacred music, but I think the time for choirs may be past. We need much more vigorous participation by the members of the congregation, who are only too glad to sit, do nothing, and listen to a hundred-voice choir singing Panis Angelicus. But listening to this beautiful anthem will not form Christ in them. It will not bring the body and blood of Christ to them, unless the Holy Spirit chooses to work at this particular time.
In our own assembly we have no choir except for the congregation. We do have much pageantry with flags, banners, and marching around the church. Many in the congregation play tambourines. We often have a vocal solo during the offering.
The young people of the church are active in the pageantry, and they enjoy it.
I would not say we have “arrived.” We need wider participation in the gifts of the Spirit. We often have prophecy—sometimes personal prophecy under the guidance of the elders. But we have yet to see someone come into the service and have many people begin to proclaim the secrets of his heart, so he understands he has entered the Presence of God. I am believing this will happen some day.
There is no question that music and worship vary from culture to culture and denomination to denomination. But I think no matter what form the worship may take, the Presence of God should be noticeable. The people should not be sitting, as one Indian preacher said, like idols along a riverbank. (You would have had to have been on a river in India to appreciate this comment.) The people have many needs, and Jesus Christ will meet them if the elders of the assembly are following the Spirit of God.
Water baptism. The Bible states, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” We have been commanded in the Great Commission to make disciples and baptize them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. We have been commanded by the Lord to be baptized in water. Water baptism is not an option. The Lord Jesus Himself was baptized in water, serving as an example to us.
When we are baptized in water we are portraying the fact that we have turned away from the world spirit, choosing to die on the cross with Christ. When we come out of the water we are signifying that we choose to live with Christ in His resurrection, and that we have risen with Him to dwell at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.
In water baptism we count that we now are dead and our life is hidden with Christ in God. Because of this the Law of Moses no longer retains authority over us.
God then deals with us on the basis of what we have declared. He counts us as dead. He sends events that crucify us. If we receive them in faith and look to the Lord for help instead of blaming people, Satan, or any other person or circumstance, we increase in resurrection life.
Also, because we have died with Christ, the Holy Spirit begins to take us through judgment. He points out the deeds of our sinful nature and helps us confess and turn away from them.
The Communion service. Like water baptism, the Communion service is a drama that portrays a spiritual reality. As we partake of Communion we are expressing our desire to eat of the flesh of Christ and drink His blood. Christ’s flesh and blood are our resurrection life and will raise us to meet Him at His appearing.
Prayer. The Apostles said, “We will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the Word.” Thus they placed prayer before the Word.
It is difficult for us in America at this time to give ourselves to prayer. We are too busy to pray. There is a barrage of information coming from the media that is “more important than prayer.”
The truth is, it is impossible to abide in Christ apart from continual prayer. We should set aside a time each day for prayer and waiting on the Lord. If we have two or three jobs and do not have the time to pray, then we should pray for the time and opportunity to pray.
Thinking good thoughts while working is not prayer. Prayer is not positive thinking.
In addition to setting aside a time each day for prayer, we should be bringing to the Lord every decision we make during the day. We should and must commit all our ways to the Lord.
I have been a Christian for many years. On the basis of this experience, I believe the Lord is drawing closer to us than was true previously. It seems all we have to do is look up, and there is the Lord.
Many Christians are receiving words from the Lord. However, the busyness of life in America detracts from our ability to focus on the Lord. We have to be really dedicated to Christ to abide in Him at this time in our country. It would be just like the enemy, wouldn’t it, to seek to distract us when Christ is knocking at the door of our heart.
There is no way by which we can gain victory over sin if we are not a person of constant prayer. We must pray all the time, even when at a party or on vacation. If we set our mind to praying continually, it soon becomes a habit. For the believer who is in the habit of bringing every decision, great and small, to the Lord, prayer becomes as natural as breathing.
Satan and his forces will do everything in their power to pull our mind down from our position with Christ at the right hand of God. Look at this! Look at that! Look how wickedly people are behaving! On and on their song goes. We indeed have to be resolute if we are to keep our mind on the Lord at all times.
The days ahead will prove to be a period of moral and physical horrors. If we are to survive then, we need to prepare ourselves now by praying about every decision until such prayer becomes a habit.
Studying and meditating daily in the Scriptures. I realize there are Christians in other countries who do not have a complete Bible. However, it probably is a fact that most believers do have access to a Bible. For those who do not, I believe God will make special provision for them, or else provide them with a Bible as they pray.
The purpose of the Bible is to keep us from deception while we are learning to walk in the Spirit. The sons of God are led by the Spirit. But being led by the Spirit is not as easy as some might think. Satan is able to imitate the Spirit of God until we cannot tell the difference.
So we have the Bible to keep us in the truth. The Bible is more certain than a voice from Heaven. God will never act in a manner that goes against His written Word.
The new covenant is different from the old in one important way. It is a covenant of the Spirit rather than of the letter. This means that when we are interpreting the New Testament we have to have the help of the Spirit of God.
For example, the Lord Jesus commanded us to turn the other cheek if someone strikes us. We have to pray to know how to respond when someone strikes us, even though the Lord told us to turn the other cheek. There is a time to turn the other cheek, and then a time to take defensive measures. The Holy Spirit will show us how to apply the words of the New Testament if we ask Him.
The Lord told us that anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Every experienced pastor knows there are times when a divorced man or woman has been the victim of a wicked wife or husband, and has to file divorce in order to save himself or herself from further pain. In this case, there may be an instance in which the innocent partner is free to remarry—especially if children are involved.
So the pastor has to find the mind of the Lord, being very careful in prayer for God views the marriage vows with utmost seriousness.
The marriage laws spoken of by the Lord Jesus were given to avoid promiscuity. Man was not made for the marriage laws. The marriage laws were made for the benefit of man.
However, as I said, this is not an area to be taken lightly. As the writer of the Book of Hebrews said, “God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”
It is true that the New Testament forbids a woman to teach or speak in church. Yet we know that God uses women to do His work, sometimes as missionaries. So we have to hear from the Lord so that we might know when the Spirit of God intends to use a woman for Gospel work. This certainly is a difficult area and has caused considerable confusion.
It is evident to me that God has given ministries and gifts to women. Why would the Holy Spirit give a gift to a woman if He did not want her to use it? We understand, therefore, that we have to obey the commands found in the New Testament, but we must have the help of the Holy Spirit to know how to apply them. Otherwise we adopt a doctrinaire spirit (as some have) which I have not found to be fruitful.
My point is, the words of the New Testament have to be applied by the Spirit of God. They serve until Christ has been formed in us. Then we will perform God’s will by nature because God’s eternal moral law has been written on our mind and heart.
For those who have Bibles, they are to study and meditate in them every day. The Spirit uses what we read to warn us of sin in our life; to comfort us and give us hope; to help us become aware when we are being deceived; to inform us of the ways of the Lord; to remind us of the promises God has made. It often is beneficial, when we are reading the Bible, to ask the Lord to speak to us.
The Bible bears a true witness to us of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ.
As I said, the Holy Spirit will never lead us in a manner contrary to the written Word. He will help us apply it correctly, because the letter apart from the Spirit brings death.
Missionary activity. Jesus said the Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached to every nation as a witness. He directed His Apostles to make disciples from the nations, teaching them to keep His commandments
The term “apostle” is derived from the Greek language. The term “missionary” is the same word but of Latin derivation. An apostle, or missionary, is one sent by the Lord with a specific commission
Are there apostles, or missionaries, today? Of course. God burdens people with a “call,” and they go forth as the Lord leads. These are modern-day apostles.
Perhaps a caution is in order. The need does not constitute the call. We are to go where and when Jesus directs us, not in terms of a need we have heard about. However, there are times when people close to us are in obvious need. We should look carefully to the Lord to find out how we are to help them, whether materially or spiritually.
There is a spirit that enters Christian organizations that is not of God. It is a desire to become ever larger, to gain more adherents. This desire for bigness, power, and influence justifies itself as “saving souls from Hell” or “setting the captives free”; or “delivering a lost and dying world.” It actually is none of these. It is the normal desire of an organization to gain in strength.
It is the rare Evangelical denomination or church that is not constantly emphasizing that our supreme goal is to “go out and win others for Christ.“. Success is measured by the number of converts to our group. As a result, we are building churches rather than people.
The two great New Testament goals, that we be conformed to the image of Christ, and brought into perfect union with one another and with God through Christ, are seldom mentioned. The assumption is, if we can get people into one of our churches, they automatically will be conformed to the image of Christ and brought into perfect union with one another and with God through Christ.
But when we gather spiritual babies and exhort them to bring in more babies, and those babies to bring in more babies, what we have are millions of spiritual babies. The pastor become the chief diaper-changer The converts are pressed to become evangelists before they are out of their spiritual infancy. This pressure is not of the Lord in most instances.
The Roman Catholic Church, from what I have read, has 750 million adherents. Does this make it a better denomination than another which has a mere 50 million converts?
We say, of course not. The Catholics are not being taught correctly (so we claim). Well then, large numbers are not the mark of success, are they?
If large numbers are not the mark of success in the Kingdom of God, then what is the mark of success? What should be our stated purpose?
Our stated purpose should be that of the Apostle Paul—to bring every believer to maturity in Christ.
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. (Colossians 1:28,29)
When any system has the wrong goal it cannot operate correctly. There is no method for determining success. There is no basis for quality control. There is no basis for measuring cost-effectiveness. There is no basis for system analysis, for going back and improving elements of the system.
In short, when we do not have a clearly defined goal, we do not know why we are doing what we are.
Beyond all doubt, we must derive our stated purpose from the Bible. The purpose is to present everyone perfect in Christ. This is not going to happen until we make this our purpose and work toward it unceasingly.
“But if we set the standard too high, then people will not join our church.” Because “joining our church” is our stated goal, we avoid the demands of discipleship. Then, when we have a church full of people who have not been told the whole truth about the demands of discipleship, we cannot turn on them and tell them if they are to be a Christian disciple they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Jesus each day.
Thus we are robbing God and man with our self-will and personal ambition. We are not permitting Christ to build His own Church by the Holy Spirit. We are building by our own abilities with our own goals, not by the Spirit of God with God’s goals.
If one of the existing denominations does not turn from its self-seeking and begin to pursue God’s goals for people, and let the Lord add to the churches daily according to His own will, then God will have to raise up a new generation of believers who will discard the present church politics and seek Christ until they find out what He wants in the year 2004 and afterwards.
Does this mean we are to cease evangelism and missionary activity? Not at all. If we will focus on building up the saints in Christ, then the Lord will give various gifts and ministries. Among them will be all sorts of talents, including missionary calls as well as personal evangelism abilities.
But if we limit our exhortations to evangelism, then the believers will not be encouraged to seek earnestly the gifts and ministries to which the Spirit may be calling them.
The current emphasis on numbers of people being the evidence of spiritual success is unscriptural and destructive. It is destructive because, as I stated previously, it discourages the preaching of the demands of Christian discipleship; and it tends to suppress the actions of the Holy Spirit so visitors will not be offended.
Church architecture and art. There are in the world many inspiring examples of church architecture and Christian art. The problem is, it is too easy for people to worship what they can see instead of the invisible God.
Church architecture and art are something people can accomplish, whether or not they know the Lord. This is true even of Christian music. A person can give an excellent performance but not be in the Lord’s will. I have seen some superior presentations that were void of the Holy Spirit. However, it appears most believers do not notice this lack. They indeed are sheep, and many of them are lambs.
The term “church” cannot properly be applied to a building. “Church means “called out, “ referring to people who are called out from the world. How can such a word properly be applied to a building? Is a building called out from the world?
But the usage of the term is not really an issue. The issue is, we do not recognize that the Church of Jesus Christ is not a building. It is people whom the Holy Spirit has called out from the world.
It is customary for denominations to want to build churches. They go forth with blueprints in their hands. They do not envision people being brought to maturity in Christ. They are thinking of physical plants, and the more physical plants the better.
If I am correct, the Lord Jesus Christ could not care less about church buildings, Christian art, or Christian music. The goal of the Lord Jesus is people in His image who will live in the center of God’s will as He does. This is the supreme goal and it ought to be our supreme goal.
But cannot Christian architecture, art forms, and music aid the formation of Christ in us? Yes, the Holy Spirit can use these to change the believers into the image of Christ and to bring them into rest in God’s will. The problem is, it is too easy to make such accouterments and trappings an end in themselves, supposing they automatically are accomplishing the Lord’s goals. They usually are not, because people can produce architecture, art forms, and music apart from the Holy Spirit. It often is better to have a plain meeting place and music coming from dedicated saints, than a cathedral and a trained choir.
Unless an endeavor is guided by the Holy Spirit and is forming Christ in the believers, it is of no value in the Kingdom of God. It is not accomplishing God’s goal. It is not part of God’s concept, His plan for His creation.
Buildings, statuary, other art forms, music, lend themselves to idolatry.
Church administration. In the United States there are many laws that govern church buildings and property. The denominations and churches have to obey these laws. The American pastor is the chief executive officer of his church, as well as serving the spiritual needs of the congregation.
Here we have the same problem as in church art forms. Working with the administrative details of a denomination can soon become the tail that wags the dog. People who are competent administrators can hire on even if they are not true disciples of the Lord. When such begin to direct the churches under their supervision, they sometimes are not aware of what the Holy Spirit is doing. They view the churches much as any administrator of a business might view the employees.
The truth is, the churches can survive without the administrative offices, but the reverse is not true.
Churches are born in revival fires. Then churches of like beliefs come together and establish administrative headquarters. Before too long the administrative headquarters become the head. Then people who are expert administrators but not necessarily fervent Christians move into top positions. Inevitably the entire denomination becomes a business, and the pastors who still may be clinging to the ways of the Lord become an anachronism.
The pattern is not as pure as I have presented, for there are administrators and pastors who follow the Spirit of the Lord, and the Lord Jesus provides for them. But when a denomination decides to become a business, the handwriting is on the wall. It is dying. It will be a milestone in the wilderness to show the way God has come.
Then, as I stated previously, the Lord will raise up a new generation who will serve the Lord fervently. After that, the cycle may be repeated. It has been repeated throughout the centuries!
Christian Mysteries—What God Does
Church activities, what we do, is the realm of religion. More often than not it becomes the murderer of Christ. It was not the prophets who murdered Christ but the religious establishment.
Now we come to what God does. This is not the realm of religion but of Divine intervention and revelation.
The blood atonement. God’s ways are past finding out. His wisdom is so far above us as to be unapproachable. We are dust in His sight.
Crucifixion was a common form of the Roman punishment of criminals. Who would have thought that the cross would become the center of all of God’s work with people?
The cross! The cross! We are crucified to the world and the world to us.
Just this last week, in Italy of all places, a judge ruled that crucifixes must be removed from a public primary school in L’Aquila, Italy. This was in response to a complaint lodged by a Muslim activist.
This newspaper item really struck me. The complaint was not against a doctrinal statement but against the cross. Truly the cross of Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God. We glory in the cross.
The atonement for the sins of the world was made on the cross of Calvary. The offering of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, satisfies God’s justice concerning sin.
The blood atonement is not man’s doing, it is God’s doing. Our part is to believe and receive forgiveness of our sins.
Being born again. After we have received forgiveness through the blood atonement made on the cross, God’s Spirit comes upon us and Christ is conceived in us. Jesus told Nicodemus that until we are born again we can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God.
The reason we can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God is that the Kingdom is Christ conceived and formed in us.
We all are human beings. The race of human beings came to an end, in God’s mind, on the cross. Our world is a prototype of a vastly superior world to come. God never intended His Kingdom would be composed of intelligent animals. God’s Kingdom consists of a superior humanity—that which is permeated with Jesus Christ.
Flesh and blood, the adamic race, cannot enter the Kingdom of God. Only Christ and that which is of Christ can enter the Kingdom of God. God brings us into His Kingdom by slaying our adamic nature and then raising our personality in Christ. The sinful nature has been destroyed by the process of death and resurrection. Only that which is of Christ remains. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live.” This statement of the Apostle Paul sums up the new covenant.
Every part of us must be born again. All the old must pass away. All must be made new in Christ. This, and only this, is the Kingdom of God.
Paul stated that believers who live according to their sinful nature will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is because there is no sin whatever in the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth. Satan and sin have no part in the kingdom that is coming to the earth.
All must be of Christ. Only that which is of Christ has the authority and power to overcome the world, our sinful nature, and our self-will. Therefore to be fully saved, to attain to the resurrection to eternal life, is to embrace Christ totally. He alone is the Resurrection and the Life.
The baptism with the Spirit. We can think of the baptism with the Holy Spirit as coming after we have been born again. The baptism with the Spirit is our baptism into the Body of Christ, the Body of the Anointed One. It is the priestly anointing.
The Pentecostal churches, of which I am a part, have said we do not have the Holy Spirit until we speak in tongues. I myself speak in tongues “more than you all,” as Paul would say. Speaking in tongues is an invaluable part of my prayer life.
But I would never argue with someone who claimed to have the Holy Spirit and yet had never spoken in tongues. Who am I to say who has the Spirit of God and who does not?
There is a far more serious issue today, and that is the lack of the Holy Spirit in our services. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him, so I guess we must not be obeying Him.
We who are Pentecostal need to be baptized again and again. We need far more of the Spirit than we have now.
The emphasis on acquiring large numbers of people is causing some Pentecostal pastors to put a damper on the actions of the Holy Spirit because of the fear of offending people. Remember, the Holy Spirit is as a Dove. He can be offended and will leave readily, if this is what we desire.
We do not need to examine people to see if they speak in tongues, like the Jews looking carefully to see who was circumcised. The Presence of the Holy Spirit on a person’s life is apparent. Perhaps while we are looking for tongues we ourselves may not have the Holy Spirit even though we are speaking tongues; while some Missionary Alliance evangelist, who does not speak in tongues, is a burning, fiery preacher, filled with the Holy Spirit.
Having said this, let me emphasize that speaking in tongues is the means God has provided for our entering into His rest. Speaking in tongues leads us into that sense of living in the prophetic milieu where we are listening to Jesus all the time.
So I am not minimizing God’s wisdom in having us speak in tongues. We do not need a damper on tongues or prophecy in the services. Rather we need a thousand percent more operations of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit if the members of the Body of Christ are to come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
We of the Pentecostal ranks need to return to the Glory of God that used to characterize our churches. We are becoming cold, as far as I can tell.
The Holy Spirit is the Representative of Christ while Christ is in Heaven. The Holy Spirit is like Eliezer, the servant of Abraham. The Spirit never speaks of Himself. The Holy Spirit is not to be worshiped, prayed to, or sung to.
The Holy Spirit is in charge of all aspects of the new covenant. The new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit. When man takes over the Holy Spirit bows out. When we realize that we cannot build the Kingdom of God by fleshly means, and turn again to the Lord for help, He sends His Holy Spirit. Then the work of the Kingdom prospers.
The body and blood of Christ. We need to get into the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John and study it carefully. In this chapter the Lord tells us that His body and blood are our eternal life and will raise us up to Him when He appears.
The Communion service portrays our partaking of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. But the actual receiving of the flesh and blood of Christ occurs as we are battling against sin. Every time we, through the Spirit, turn aside from the demands of our sinful nature, and choose to keep the Lord’s righteous commandments, we are strengthened with the flesh and blood of Christ in the spirit realm.
For example, if there is someone you can’t seem to forgive, go to the Lord Jesus. Ask Him to give you of His flesh and blood so you will receive enough Divine Virtue to throw off this darkness. You shall receive the Virtue of Christ and will be able to forgive the individual who has harmed you.
We are to live by the flesh and blood of Christ as He lives by the Father.
We are married to the Lamb by eating the Lamb. This is the true Passover experience. Seek His Virtue every day and you will be able to overcome your sinful nature.
The gifts and ministries of the Spirit. The ascended Christ gave gifts and ministries through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit assigns these gifts to members of the Body of Christ as He will. Yet, we are commanded to eagerly desire the greater gifts. What the greater gifts are I am not certain—perhaps the gifts of healing and miracles. But I may be mistaken in this.
In any case, the purpose of the gifts and ministries of the Body of Christ is to bring each believer to the fullness of spiritual maturity in Christ. Since the members of the Body of Christ tend to be immature in the present hour, perhaps God will send many more gifts and ministries to His Church. This means pastors and other leaders need to be prepared for much more spiritual activity on the part of the congregations than we are accustomed to. If we resist these, continuing with our pulpit ministry of three points and a conclusion, we may not attain the best God has for us.
There have been some “refreshing” lately. I have mixed feelings about these. It seems to me that barking, and pretending we are drinking the Spirit, and people rolling on the floor while the sermon is being given, are not edifying. The elders need to lovingly stop activities that appear to be unseemly. On the other hand, the elders and leaders need to be living so close to the Lord that they can tell when an unusual manifestation is of God. Probably better to have a little fleshly activity than to have no activity at all.
We are not to engage in wild, unrestrained behavior. We are not to do things that obviously are not building up the saints in Christ. But neither are we to be frightened that we will alienate newcomers. If it is the Holy Spirit who has sent someone, that person will remain unless we continue in behavior that is indefensible, such as pushing people over after we pray for them.
The early Pentecostal meetings became uproarious at times, but God was there. Miracles were performed. People spoke miraculously in foreign languages that were recognizable. We cannot expect the Holy Spirit to operate gifts and ministries while everyone is expected to sit and be quiet so the program proceeds according to the bulletin. We need to keep ourselves ready for the unexpected, so when the Spirit moves we can move along with Him.
The Lord will add to the Church when we are following Him. We do not need to make a business of attracting people to the assembly. This is the Holy Spirit’s job, and He will do His work if we allow Him to do so. How do we know how the Lord wants a particular assembly to be designed? Maybe we get in His way when we follow our own ambitions instead of listening to the still, small voice.
Revival. Probably all of us long for revival. When we read of some of the awesome revivals that took place in America, and other parts of the world, we long for such a visitation.
There have been remarkable outpourings of the Spirit of God on such people as Charles Finney and Aimee Semple McPherson.
Usually we think of multitudes of people coming from everywhere, many being saved, many being healed, many being filled with the Spirit. I think we are overdue for such an outpouring.
However, there is a problem. Because we are telling people they are saved by grace and do not have to behave themselves, we are defeating God’s purpose. God’s purpose is to make man in His image. If all that is accomplished in the revival is a number of initial commitments, healings, and baptisms with the Spirit, and then these are not followed up with Biblical teaching instead of the current unscriptural traditions, the results God is looking for will not occur.
What would we think of a revival that consists of God’s people confessing their sins and turning away from them? How about a revival in which the current believers turn away from the world, are delivered from the lusts of their flesh and spirit, and are willing to endure the suffering necessary to burn out the self-will and personal ambition?
What if the revival causes multitudes to leave the Christian ranks? Could we accept this if God did something of the kind? Matthew does state in the last days the messenger of the Lord will remove from His Kingdom all that offends!
The Jews missed Christ because He did not come as they expected. Perhaps the Lord is coming to His people today, ready to enter them and dine with them, they on His body and blood while He dines on their obedience and worship. This would be a true revival, wouldn’t it; and it would further God’s purposes in His Church.
So let us pray for revival, and revival on God’s terms. Perhaps the first sign of revival will be God’s people beginning to deal with the sin in their lives.
God Dwelling in Us
We are so accustomed to thinking of salvation as being for our benefit that it is difficult to understand God’s viewpoint. “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” What have we focused on? Our mansions. Actually the important consideration is the Father’s house, not our mansions (rooms in that great house).
When we go through the Bible to discover where and what the Father’s house is, we note that God intends to build a house for Himself. God has a temple in Heaven, apparently, but He desires a house through which He can communicate with His creatures.
What we find is that God’s House is, first of all, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. We find also that the one new Man, Christ and all who are part of Him, are being built together as a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. There is the chief Corner Stone, and then there are the living stones that form the building.
The Lord Jesus would have told us if He was to be the only Room in the Father’s house.
There are two aspects of God dwelling in us. The first aspect is the forming of Christ in us. The second aspect is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwelling for eternity in that which has been formed in us.
Christ formed in us. Paul spoke of travailing in birth until Christ had been formed in the believers in Galatia. The Galatian Christians had been saved and filled with the Spirit of God. But they were being persuaded, by Jewish teachers, to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses.
Paul knew initial salvation and the baptism with the Spirit were not sufficient to keep them steadfast in Christ. They needed something more. They needed to have the Truth, Christ, formed in their inward personality. They needed to be strengthened with power in their inner nature by the Spirit of God.
God is seeking an eternal dwelling place in which He can find rest. God can never find rest in our adamic nature, only in Christ. So until Christ has been formed in us God cannot dwell in us.
All the ministries and gifts of the Spirit have been issued to the Church that Christ might be formed in the members of His Body. The Virtue of Christ is formed in us as we are ministered to, pray, read the Bible, turn away from sin, and carry our cross daily, following the Lord Jesus.
The actual growth of Christ in us is a mystery, just as human birth is. But as we obey God and follow the commandments found in the New Testament, the miracle takes place. The sign that we are growing in Christ is that we are able to discern between good and evil, and possess the willingness and strength to reject the evil and embrace the good.
The forming of Christ in us is a change in what we are in personality. The old part of our personality, our adamic nature, passes away as it is crucified daily. The new part of our personality is that which is born of Christ.
When our personality has been reborn, in this manner, we are suitable as an eternal dwelling place for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit Dwelling in Us. There are seven principal feasts, or observances, of the Lord. The concluding feast is that of Tabernacles. During the feast of Tabernacles the Israelis build small booths next to their houses or apartments and observe certain formalities including the reading of the Law of Moses.
The feast of Tabernacles is, as I said, the concluding festival. It represents the completion, the fullness, of God’s purpose in mankind. It signifies the dwelling of God through Christ in man. This is the Father’s house. Jesus went to the cross, and then to the Holy Place in Heaven to prepare a place for us in God. Then He gave gifts and ministries to prepare a place for God in us.
“In My Father’s house are many rooms.” You and I will be eternal rooms in the dwelling place of the Father and Christ through the Spirit if we do not lose our confidence in Christ but continue steadfastly to the conclusion of our discipleship.
There are two great aspects of the plan of redemption. The positive aspect, we might say, is that of Christ being formed in us. The negative aspect is moral deliverance.
Prior to the new covenant the enemies of the Israelites were human beings. The ministry of Christ changed the enemy from human beings to unclean spirits. However, the ministry of Christ at that time was limited to physical deliverance—the unclean spirits that cause afflictions.
But now the Day of Vengeance of our God has arrived. It is time to begin the removing from God’s Kingdom of the unclean spirits that cause sin, as described in Matthew in the parable of the wheat and the tares.
All we have to do is keep ourselves open to the Holy Spirit. He leads us a step at a time as He uncovers the various realms of darkness in our personality. As a part of our sinful nature is revealed we are to confess it to the Lord as sin and turn away from it resolutely. The Holy Spirit then takes the fire and life out of that particular spiritual bondage.
We enter “Canaan” a city at a time, so to speak. Meanwhile Christ is being formed in those areas as they are vacated. We do not want to be an “empty vessel,” we desire to be a Christ-filled vessel.
Man was constructed to be inhabited. That is our nature. We are only intelligent dust. We begin life being inhabited by spiritual uncleanness. The purpose of the Divine redemption is to prepare us to be inhabited by God. It is not possible for us to be inhabited by nothing other than ourselves. We are not strong enough spiritually to survive in the presence of mammoth spiritual forces. To not be filled with God is to be filled with Satan. There is no state in between.
We may think we can survive independently of God or Satan. To think this is to be deceived and leave us vulnerable to the deceits of Satan.
From the world spirit. There are three areas of darkness in us. These three areas are described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation as Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem. These are the platforms of motivation that Satan uses to deceive us.
- Sodom represents the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit.
- Egypt represents the seeming security and comfort found in the world spirit, particularly in the possession of money.
- Jerusalem represents self-will and presumption, particularly but not exclusively in the religious realm.
The world consists of material things, money, political advantage, entertainment—all that pleases the flesh. We may think our life consist of the abundance of things we possess. We are ready to build barns and then allow our soul to eat, drink, and be merry. This tendency in America is termed “retirement.”
The purpose of the world, the shadow of death in which we are attempting to survive, is to give us an opportunity to build character by doing what is right even when it is painful; to reveal to God what we will do when brought to a better world; and to gain in the knowledge of the Lord. Because this is the purpose of our being here, there is no point at which we “retire.” Every day is precious. Every day is giving us an opportunity to lay up treasures in Heaven. When we are finished profiting from our sojourn here, God will take us home. Then we have all eternity to enjoy ourselves in the Presence of God.
The currents of evil are powerful. Once we stop fighting the good fight of faith, intending to retire and “take life easy,” we set ourselves up for deception.
We escape the evil of the world spirit by praying to the Lord Jesus for help, and then by turning away from any involvement in the world that is not essential for daily living.
America is an extremely worldly society. There are all sorts of opportunities to make money, to indulge in sexual lust, to acquire an education. Pursuing such opportunities are termed “fulfilling the American dream.” But our pursuit is that of happiness, not righteousness.
Democracy appears at first glance to be a form of Christianity. It is not. While people are not abused in a democracy, as they sometimes are in other forms of government, they tend to be led away from the intense consecration needed to pursue the life of true discipleship. American Christianity tends to be gray, rather than black or white; lukewarm, rather than cold or hot.
The Lord Jesus wants American believers to make His paths straight. This means recognizing that we Christians are not part of the world culture. We are separate, serving a different King; having different values.
Immorality is on the increase in America and by no means has attained its zenith. This means American believers finally are going to be forced to choose between Christ and the world. I think the minority will choose Christ. The majority will continue with all their Christian activities, but they will not have the Holy Spirit. They will not have the Holy Spirit because they have chosen to operate their religion according to their own goals and talents, not by the Spirit of God. This pattern of reliance on human goals, wisdom, and abilities already is apparent in various places..
Their doctrine may be fundamentally sound. Some of them will speak in tongues. But they will not be living in the Spirit of God.
From the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit. Moral deliverance includes deliverance from the spirit of the world. In addition, there is the problem of the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit.
The lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit are alien to us. They compose the sinful nature that dwells in our flesh. They are not an integral part of our personality, of who we are as a unique personality. Therefore they can be put to death by the Spirit of God.
In order to be able to deal successfully with the sinful lusts that dwell in us, the Holy Spirit asks us to place our whole personality on the cross with Christ. Then we are free from the obligations of the Law of Moses and the Spirit is able to destroy our sinful nature.
Our part is to confess our sinful deeds when they are revealed to us by the Spirit. The Spirit’s part is to take the life out of our sinful compulsions; to render them inoperative. I do not believe the sinful compulsions will be removed from us in their entirety until we are raised from the dead and receive a robe of righteousness from Heaven. (I may be mistaken in this.) But the Spirit “puts them to death” so we are able to maintain victory over them.
Moral deliverance is typified by the Jewish Day of Atonement, the observance that comes just before the feast of Tabernacles. This means before God can find rest in us, and we in God, we must be delivered from competing idols and motivations.
My understanding is that the promised moral deliverance has begun and will continue from now throughout the entire thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). Sin must be removed completely from the creation before the new heaven and earth appear and the new world of righteousness commences.
We ordinarily are not aware of it, but our true life will begin when we die. The present world is a testing ground, not true life; although our behavior has eternal consequences.
The children of God were not created to remain in an animal form. True life as children of God will be more wonderful than we could conceive in our grandest imaginations. True life will begin when we die. For us to die is gain, as Paul said.
However, the life that begins with our physical death will prove to be worse than any nightmare if we have willfully disobeyed God. The rewards and punishments are precisely as described in the New Testament. What we are sowing we are going to reap.
He who sins is of the devil, the Apostle John remarked. We do not want to have fellowship with Satan or to share in his reward. So let us cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He leads us in the destruction of our sinful nature.
From self-will. We have mentioned deliverance from the love of the world and from the lusts and passions of our flesh and spirit. There remains the greatest of all problems, and that is our self-will.
All the problems in the world and in the churches are due to the self-will of man.
Worldliness is a point of view that we can change, with the help of the Lord. The lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit are forms of spiritual life that can be put to death in us so we need not fulfill their appetites any longer.
Self-will, obviously, is another matter. Self-will is what we are as a unique personality.
Satan’s original rebellion was not based on fleshly lusts or a love of the world. His treachery arose from his self will.
Adam and Eve had no love of the world. Neither did they possess a sinful nature. They were morally neutral. A morally neutral person has no defense against Satan. We have to love righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God if we are to survive the temptations of Satan.
Satan taught Eve to express her self-will, to choose to disobey God. Her single action brought destruction on all of us. I hope we learn the lesson.
If we are to gain victory over our self-will until we are adhering to God’s will, we have to take a stand. We have to come to the Lord and tell Him we are choosing to have Him destroy our rebellious nature and ask Him to give us a love for the Father’s will. After having made that decision, placing all of our desires and hopes on the altar of God, we are to walk carefully and prayerfully before the Lord.
We have chosen to be crucified. The Lord will crucify us.
The Lord will send testings and prisons our way. He uses Satan and people to do this. Having reckoned ourselves dead with Christ, our response to injustice and frustrating circumstances is to commit ourselves to the Lord. He is destroying the self-will from us.
We are not to blame people or even Satan for our problems. We are not to fret about the evil we encounter. Rather we are to pray without ceasing that Christ will deliver us from that which is painful to us. Such waiting requires faith and patience. It is in this arena that Christian character is formed.
If we take our pain in the right way, not blaming anyone but praying continually for release, our release will come in the Lord’s time. In the meanwhile we, as Jesus Christ did, are learning obedience to the Father in Heaven. After we have suffered for awhile, God will comfort, strengthen, and settle us.
We cannot govern with Christ until our stern obedience to God has been established beyond question.
Right now in the Charismatic movement we are being given all sorts of ministries and gifts. The question is: are we, in our self-will, to use our gifts to go forth “to save a lost and dying world”? Or are we to return to the Lord Jesus Christ and find out from Him how we are to use our gifts; when we are to act; where we are to go? It is right at this point that we decide whether to try to save our life, or whether to lose our life for Jesus Christ and His Gospel.
The destruction of our self-will is the final step in moral deliverance. It is typified by the Veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; and also by the Jordan River. In order to enter our inheritance we must be delivered from worldliness, from the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit, and from self-will.
Kingdom Living—The Moral Teachings of Jesus Christ
Most of us know of the Sermon on the Mount. We have read the moral teachings of Jesus Christ in the four Gospel accounts. We know we are to forgive our enemies; to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves; to lay up our treasures in Heaven.
I wonder if we realize how important these moral teachings are. These are the laws of the Kingdom of God. This is the way everyone in the Kingdom will behave.
If obeying the moral teachings of the Lord Jesus is the heart of the Christian religion, then why did the Lord Jesus give us so many seemingly unrelated parables about the Kingdom of God? Why didn’t He just stress the moral laws? The reason is, until the Kingdom of God is formed in us (Christ in us) we cannot keep the moral teachings. But it is behavior according to the moral teachings of the Lord that is the objective.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
It is amazing, isn’t it, that we can hear sermon after sermon about being saved and going to Heaven, but so seldom are we taught that the goal is to behave according to the moral teachings of Jesus Christ. We have gotten off into a kind of mythological dream about mansions in Heaven, when eternal residence in the spirit Heaven is not at all the goal of redemption.
God’s plan is to have a world in which people love God with all their heart and their neighbors as themselves. This is the goal, the Divine concept. All that God is doing is working toward this end.
The Roles and Tasks of the Kingdom of God
In several of my books and booklets I have mentioned fourteen roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God that I have identified. The purpose of the roles and tasks is to ensure that the moral laws of the Kingdom of God are obeyed.
In order for the moral laws of the Kingdom of God to be obeyed on the new earth, God will have to be dwelling in all the people.
In addition there will be a royal priesthood, with headquarters in the new Jerusalem, who will ensure that no one lapses into sin. The members of the royal priesthood must be qualified and competent to perform specific roles and tasks that will serve to prohibit sin from occurring.
Each member of the royal priesthood, the Body of Christ, is to be:
- A member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9).
- A part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22).
- A member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12).
- A part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2).
- A restorer of Paradise on earth (Romans 8:21).
- A member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).
- A witness of God (Isaiah 43:10).
- A son of God (Revelation 21:7).
- A brother of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).
- An overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11).
- A governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27).
- A judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3).
- A wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14).
- A part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12).
God’s elect, His Israel, are those people whom God has ordained from the beginning of the world to perform the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God.
For an individual to be saved, all he or she has to do is receive by faith the blood atonement, accept the fact that God has appointed Jesus Christ as Lord of the creation, and be baptized in water. After that, he or she is to live a decent, honorable life.
The members of the elect, of the royal priesthood, must receive the blood atonement, accept Christ as Lord, be baptized in water, and lead a decent, honorable life. In addition the members of the elect have to present their bodies to God as a living sacrifice, take up their cross, and follow Christ each day as He conforms them to His image. They must be changed into the image of Christ and enter untroubled rest in the Father through Christ. The reason for these stringent demands, this diligent discipleship and consecration, is that they may be qualified and competent to perform the fourteen roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God.
They, under Jesus Christ, are the overseers of the Kingdom and will govern the works of God’s hands for eternity.
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)
Our inheritance is commonly considered to be eternal life in Heaven. All of us have a distant memory of that original Paradise, of the Garden of Eden. We have a hope there is a better world than the present, where there is no more dread, pain, sickness, or death. This hope is in us and it is part of our faith in God.
There is a Paradise in Heaven. It used to be on the earth. However, Paradise is not destined to be in the spirit realm for eternity. It shall be returned to the earth.
But there is a problem to be solved first. In the beginning imperfect people were placed in a perfect setting. Before Paradise can be restored to us, we have to be changed so once we receive Paradise we will not lose it again. Saved people will be placed in a perfect setting and governed by perfected people.
Also, God is planning to put a wall around His Presence. That wall is the wall of the New Jerusalem. Never again will sin enter the Presence of God, as it did when Satan, a guardian angel, rebelled against the Father.
Paradise is part of the inheritance of all saved people. The inheritance of people who are saved but not members of the royal priesthood is life on the new earth under the supervision of the royal priesthood.
However there is much, much more for the members of the priesthood than life in a perfect environment. The following is a description of their inheritance.
Complete change into the image of Christ in spirit, soul, and body. God’s elect have been predestined to be in the very image of Jesus Christ. This is to be in the image of God, the original fiat concerning man.
It does not seem possible that such a change could occur in us. Indeed, it would not be possible had not almighty God decreed that it be so.
God has given us the means of being changed into the image of Christ in spirit, soul, and body. He has given us the atonement. He has provided the body and blood of Christ. He has given us the Holy Spirit. We have the Bible and the teachings of the Apostles. We have been born again of the Substance of God and are partakers of the Divine Virtue. Every possible resource has been provided that we might be changed into the image of Christ. This is part of our inheritance as members of God’s elect.
Untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will in spirit, soul, and body. Equally important with our change into Christ’s image is entrance into perfect rest in God’s Person and will. This is where Jesus dwells eternally. We are to be there with Him.
We have been called to be with Christ where He is, in the heart of God. We have been called to be one with each other, and with God and Christ, just as God and Christ are One. For this total, perfect unity Christ prayed.
It would not be well for us to be in Christ’s image and not be at rest in God’s will. We then would have the potential to be another Satan.
There is no more desirable aspect of life than to be in the place where our will is identical with God’s will. Only then are we dwelling in untroubled rest in God and God in us. This is why it is so utterly important that we decide once and for all time that we want our self-will removed and God’s will to be exercised in us in every respect.
This does not mean we lose our own will. The Lord Jesus has a will of His own but He always chooses to obey the Father. This must be true of us. Our will is to remain razor-sharp. But it must always be subject to the Father. Otherwise we are another god in the universe. We are a rebel against the true God.
We have to pass through many fires before our obedience has been perfected. But to be able to rejoice in always doing God’s will is worth every denial; every frustration; every imprisonment; every year spent in distasteful occupations. Such rest in God’s will is part of the inheritance of the elect.
Life lived in the fullness of the Holy Spirit in spirit, soul, and body. There are only two ways in which a human being can live. One way is to live according by our own strength and abilities. The other is to live by the Holy Spirit.
It is God’s will that every saved person have a portion of eternal life, of the Life of the Spirit of God. But eternal life comes in degrees. Jesus mentioned thirty, sixty, and a hundred. He spoke of life and that more abundantly. Paul urged Timothy to take hold of eternal life. Paul himself was seeking to gain Christ to the extent he knew the power of Christ’s resurrection.
Our present life of flesh and blood is a prison in which we are to develop character and learn to obey God. It really isn’t life at all, even though we cling to it as though it is some great treasure.
In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (I Timothy 6:19)
Life in the spirit realm after we die may we worse than we are experiencing now if we have not served the Lord. Our love, joy, and peace in the coming world will depend on how much of the Holy Spirit we possess.
The ultimate goal is not water to the ankles, knees, or even our waist. It is waters to swim in. Then we can stand with the Spirit and cry out, “Whoever will, come and drink freely of the water of life.” To be able to give eternal life to another person ranks as one of the greatest joys we ever will experience.
We can cultivate life in the Spirit of God by adopting the attitude of the Apostle Paul, always pressing forward to know Christ in a fuller measure, being willing to enter the fellowship of His sufferings.
Paul told us in Galatians that if we would sow to the Spirit of God now we will reap eternal life in the world to come. So we have a choice set before us. We can live according to our sinful nature; or, we can follow the Spirit of God in all circumstances as we learn to live in the eternal life of the Spirit. This also is part of the inheritance of the elect.
Being an integral part of the Father’s house for eternity. I have mentioned previously the house the Father is building for Himself. It is God’s pleasure to build His own house to His own specifications. If we choose to be the residence of the Lord we benefit immeasurably.
If we choose to live victoriously over the world, lust, and self-will, we will be created as a pillar in the eternal house of God. We never will be removed from our position.
This does not mean we cannot go to other places. We will have the power of multiple presence, as the Lord does. But our anchor will be in God’s house.
God’s name will be written on us. Think of it! The name of the holy city will be written on us. The new name of Jesus Christ will be written on us. Wherever we go in the creation we will be the extension of the Person of Christ and God, just as Christ is the extension of God.
In this manner God can have fellowship with His creatures. They in turn can be blessed and helped by the Father working through Christ through us.
It is a choice we make, isn’t it? We can choose to preserve our life. Or, we can give over our life to the purposes of God that He might have a dwelling place, a living house through which He can communicate with the people He has created.
I personally feel that choosing to preserve our independence is not a wise choice. I believe the future will show choosing to be part of God is more desirable than anything else we can imagine.
This also is part of the inheritance of God’s elect.
Possession of the nations of saved people and the farthest reaches of the earth. In the second Psalm, the Father invites the Son to pray for the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for His inheritance. Remember, we are coheirs with Christ. This means we also will inherit nations of saved people and the farthest reaches of the earth.
Perhaps many of my readers would far rather inherit Paradise than they would nations of people and the earth. This is because God has not shown us as yet that to inherit one person is better than ten thousand heavens. When God gives us of His love for someone, we will see what I mean.
We might love a person, or a group of people. But compared with the roaring fire of God’s love, our human love is the merest spark. Perhaps not even that, only smoke.
Our love is largely self-centered. It may have to do with how another person makes us feel, Human love can turn to hate in a moment, as happened with Amnon, the son of David.
When God gives us of His love for a person or a nation we begin to understand why we were created. There is no greater joy than that of having Christ minister through us to other people. Such love is creative, and other people respond to it. Because we are being made an integral part of God through Christ, we will dwell in the environment of Divine love for eternity.
Christ and His coheirs shall inherit the farthest reaches the earth. All of nature will become a wonderland of life and joy when it is filled with the Glory of the Lord. The curse will be lifted. The wild animals will be harmless. The little child will be able to play anywhere without danger.
When we picture what it will be like in Heaven we picture a glorified earth. We cannot avoid this. We were created on the earth and it is our home. Our stay in Heaven after we die physically will be only for a brief time, as we wait for the Lord Jesus to return to earth and we with Him.
Dwelling for eternity in a paradisiac environment. Jesus told us he who overcomes will be able to eat from the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. So the Paradise that was on the earth at one time is intact in the world of the spirit. It shall be returned to the earth when the Divine curse has been lifted under the administration of the sons of God.
It is every man’s, every woman’s dream to live return to Paradise. What will it be like to live in a perfect world where there is no pain, no dread, no worries, no sickness, no death, no fear that a child will drown or a loved one be hurt in an accident?
We may think we want to live in Heaven. We don’t. What we want to do is to return to Paradise.
Will Paradise actually return to the earth? Yes, it shall. Paradise shall return to this present earth. At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom age, the present earth and sky will pass away with a great noise. Then there shall be a new heaven and a new earth.
We may be able to picture the Paradise that is coming to our present earth. But the splendor of the new heaven and earth are beyond our powers of description in the present hour. Eye has not seen nor ear heard, neither has it entered the heart of man to imagine the marvels that God has prepared for those who love Him.
As to Paradise returning to the present earth:
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
And as to the glory of the new heaven and earth reign of Christ:
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:4,5)
All that God makes new in Christ.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)
God is making everything new. He is making everything new in Christ. This is why we must be born again. When God has finished, every thing, person, and circumstance in the universe will be summed up in Jesus Christ. Christ will be the Center and Circumference of everything.
It is not that God is making all new things. God is making all things new. All we have known that is worthy will be crucified and then resurrected in Christ.
If you or I are to enter the Kingdom of God we must assign ourselves to the death of the cross so the Spirit of Christ can raise us up. If any person is in Christ there is a new creation. The old passes away. The new comes forth and is of God.
The elect who choose to live in victory over the world, over the lusts of the flesh, and over their own self-will shall inherit all that God makes new in Christ. The heavens, the earth, and all else shall be given to the saints, and they shall govern the works of God’s hands for eternity.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)
Such is the inheritance of God’s Israel, His elect.
Many are called but few are chosen. The net of the Kingdom gathers in of all kinds. Then that which is not worthy of the Kingdom is removed.
The servants go out into the highways and hedges and bring in everyone so the banquet hall will be filled. But whoever is found there without a wedding garment is thrown out.
I don’t believe we are emphasizing this fact enough. We are giving the people who are listening to us the impression that all they need to do is make a profession of faith in Christ. From that point they are eternally secure.
But this does not fit the Scriptures. We have to make our own calling and election certain. We have to maintain our faith throughout our wilderness experience, never looking back. If we put our hand to the plow and then look back we are not fit for the Kingdom.
The path that leads finally to eternal life is a rugged way with a small gate. Pressing through to final victory in Christ is not “a walk in the park,” as they say.
In many instances we are preaching a soft, easy way. We are deceiving people, and we and they will be held to account in the Day of the Lord.
Christ will do His part, but we have to do ours if we are to make a success of our discipleship.
As I believe we have shown in the above text, God has a grand plan, a glorious concept. God’s salvation is not a ticket to Heaven. It is the total remaking of the universe in Christ.
There was a rebellion among the angels, and the spirit of this rebellion was brought down into the Garden of Eden. Because of the defiling of Heaven and earth, God has decided to make all things new. All things of the first creation came to an end on the cross of Calvary. Three days later the creation was reborn as the first Man of the new world of righteousness emerged from the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
All Christian activities; all of our efforts to seek the Lord; all the grace God has given; are for the purpose of bringing forth a new world of righteousness in which God’s will is done completely and perfectly, and in which Jesus Christ is exalted as Lord of all.
Paradise shall be restored to the earth, at the hands of the sons of God, and those who are saved from the nations will live in peace—every person under his own vine and fig tree, as the Bible would say. The nobles who rule under Christ will be servants of all, governing sternly and yet with compassion and understanding.
The age that is coming will be life as God intends it to be, not the suburbs of Hell we are experiencing today.
First, however, must come total war. Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet will be confronted by the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. The spiritual Titans will struggle not in a test of power, because the Father retains all power. The struggle is that of truth and righteousness.
The battle will occur first in the personalities of the saints. Once the saints have overcome by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the point of death, Satan and his angels will be thrown down to the earth. Then Heaven shall rejoice.
Earth will be ground under the heel of the ancient dragon. But the militant remnant will survive along with all who call on the Lord in that Day. In Mount Zion shall be deliverance and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.
Then the Lord shall descend from Heaven and His warriors shall be caught up to meet Him in the air. They shall descend and drive all sin from the earth. Then nature shall burst forth into singing as the curse is lifted.
Love, joy, and peace are ready to descend on the earth in unlimited measure. But before this can happen, the rulers of the ages to come must fight their personal Armageddon and gain victory through Christ. Such personal victories must be won before Christ can return and drive Satan from the earth.
So you see, it is up to you and me. If we are willing to lay down our lives so the will of Christ can be perfected in us, we will hasten the deliverance of mankind. It helps us to make those final difficult decisions when we think of the benefits to God and man.
But if we choose instead to save our life and continue with our vain, futile, unavailing religious games, never making that ultimate consecration that is required if Satan is to be crushed, we will delay the Day of Redemption; and we ourselves will we torn with anguish because we did not come to the help of the Lord when He—along with all mankind—had need of us.
We will cower in the outer darkness as we see the huge gates of the Kingdom closing and have our last look at the Lamb and His saints rejoicing in the Light of God’s Countenance, as with supreme delight He exclaims: “Well done, good and faithful servants. Enter the joy of your Lord.”
Based on this certain prospect, I have made my decision. How about you?
(“The Divine Concept”, 4006-1)