KILLING THE WITNESS
KILLING THE WITNESS Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We find in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation that the Christian witness is attacked, overcome, and killed. While the saints will be driven from the cities of the earth by force, the actual overcoming of the witness will be by enticement to sin. The world will become so filled with wickedness that many of those who had borne the remarkable anointing of the last days will be tempted and fall. The love of the majority will grow cold.
The problem of the last days will not be tribulation and persecution, although these will abound. The deadly danger will be the prevalence of sin.
Table of Contents
KILLING THE WITNESS
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7,8—NIV)
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12—NIV)
We have set forth in previous writings the reasons why we believe the two lampstands of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation are Christ and His saints. They will bear witness, under an unprecedented anointing, of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Their message will be that of the first century: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." They will heal the sick, cast out devils, raise the dead, and also bring plagues on the earth that portray the powers of the age to come—powers that will be exercised as the Kingdom is installed on the earth with violence.
The witness will be given during the first half of the prophetic "week." During the second half of the "week" the testimony will be attacked, overcome, and killed.
Obviously Christ cannot be overcome and killed and there is no power in the heavens or on the earth that can separate the saints from God’s love.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38,39—NIV)
But the witness indeed can be attacked, overcome and killed. This already has happened in the United States of America. While there is an abundance of Christian ministry in America, the witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Christ has been overcome. The Christian religion abounds but it does not have enough moral or spiritual power to cause our government and citizens to stand in awe of Almighty God or His Christ.
We have been overcome by the wiles of Satan and do not even realize we have been burned.
The mess in Washington, D.C., as of this writing (1999) reflects the moral and spiritual weakness of the Christian churches. Our lampstand has been removed because of our unrighteous behavior, our neglect of the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles.
But does the Bible teach that the testimony shall be overcome in the last days? Yes, it does. In several passages.
First we shall list some passages that speak of the overcoming of the saints. Then we shall describe the three ways in which the witnessing saints are overcome—the three ways symbolized by Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem.
But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14,15—NIV)
As to the overcoming of the saints:
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. (Revelation 13:7—NIV)
Would you believe the saints could be conquered? They can, and they have been in the United States in the present hour.
The misleading theory of Dispensationalism teaches that all such passages refer to the Jews. This is entirely incorrect. There is only one Olive Tree, only one Seed of Abraham, only one holy people. The Olive Tree began with Abraham, continued with the sons of Jacob, then passed to Jesus Christ and those who are part of Christ, including Jews and Gentiles. The Bible is absolutely clear concerning the one Seed of Abraham.
The theory of Dispensationalism is incorrect in its assumptions, destructive in its effect on the Christian people. It should be abandoned in totality, not even a shred of its erroneous ideas remaining, because its concepts permeate like leaven and lead the believers away from the truth of God. This theory simply is not scriptural, and its division of God’s people into Gentiles and Jews, two seeds of Abraham, is one example of its ability to bring confusion into the interpretation of the Old and New Testaments.
Further statements concerning the overcoming of the saints by Antichrist are as follows:
As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, Until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21,22—NIV)
Antichrist will destroy the Divine testimony until the Lord returns and destroys the wicked with the brightness of His appearing.
They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:9,10—NIV)
By the way, the above is how we will be delivered from Antichrist, not by an unscriptural pre-advent "rapture" but by the coming of Jesus Christ in His power and majesty.
The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." (Daniel 12:7—NIV)
"The power of the holy people has been finally broken." The "holy people" are not the physical Jews. The holy people, the saints, are those who are part of Jesus Christ. The Jews of today for the most part are decent religious people. Some of them are agnostics and some, the ultra Orthodox, maintain rigid adherence to the Torah and the Talmud. None of these good people are especially holy. To be holy is to be drawn close to God for His special purposes. Ever since Christ rose from the dead such genuine holiness can be true only of Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him.
The power of the saints will be shattered by Antichrist.
I believe this is the meaning of the following verse;
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (II Thessalonians 2:7—NIV)
Antichrist cannot be revealed in his fullness to the world until the power of the saints has been shattered.
We understand, therefore, that the Christian witness shall be conquered in the last days by Antichrist.
Yet we realize Satan himself does not have the power to separate a saint from the love of God. So we know the conquering of the saints will be accomplished by the deceitfulness of sin.
The dead witness will lie in Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem. This means the witness will be attacked, overcome, and killed by means of bodily lusts, the love of the world, and religious pride and self-will.
These are the three means Satan has employed to destroy the Christian witness in America. The same scenario shall be repeated on a worldwide scale just before the Lord returns and puts an end to Antichrist.
Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8—NIV)
Sodom symbolizes the lusts of the flesh, the sensual desires of the human being. Unsaved people walk according to their sensual desires. Numerous Christian people behave according to their sensual desires, showing by this that the power of salvation is not operating in them. Even though they have taken "the four steps of salvation" they are spiritually dead. In the day of resurrection they shall reap corruption, even though they are not being warned of this in numerous Christian churches. The Scripture cannot be broken!
No individual living according to his or her sensual desires can give a valid, eternal witness of the Person of God, His will, His way, His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ. Antichrist has overcome that believer.
Only those believers who are living according to the Spirit of God are being saved, are bearing the Divine fruit, are experiencing eternal life in their personality.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13—NIV)
Does the above verse apply to the Christian? Yes, by all the accepted principles of biblical interpretation.
Why, then, is it not preached more often in America? I do not know.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8—NIV)
Does the above verse apply to the Christian? Yes, by all the accepted principles of biblical interpretation.
Why, then, is it not preached more often in America? I do not know. It seems to me that it would be important for the believers to understand if they live according to their sensual nature they are going to reap destruction in the Day of Judgment.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21—NIV)
Does the above passage apply to the Christian? Yes, by all the accepted principles of biblical interpretation.
Why then is it not preached in America as though it were part of the inspired text? How could any reasonable student claim it is not addressed to Christians, given the context?
The Bible says if we as a Christian live according to our sensual nature, according to "Sodom," we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is as true as John 3:16. No amount of "grace" or mercy can possibly change the unalterable Word of the Living God through the Apostle Paul.
The churches of America are morally and spiritually destitute, in many instances, because we are not preaching and teaching the whole Word of God.
Were the churches of the first century in the same condition? Yes.
For I am afraid when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:20,21—NIV)
Did Paul imply that such behavior did not matter because they were "saved by grace"?
I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, (II Corinthians 13:2—NIV)
Paul turned over at least one member of the Corinthian church to Satan that his flesh might be destroyed and he himself saved as a naked spirit in the Day of the Lord.
There are three ways in which every son of God, every witness of God, is tested by Satan. These are described as Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem—the city where the Lord was crucified. They are the means by which Antichrist will shatter the power of the saints in the closing days of the Church Age.
To this point we have been discussing Sodom—life lived in the sensual appetites of our flesh and soul.
The Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan in this area of personality.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’"(Luke 4:5-8—NIV)
In some supernatural manner the Lord was able to see the kingdoms of the world. We know from history and from the present hour that at the highest levels of government, in monarchal, feudal, democratic and socialistic systems, the works of Sodom abound: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
To live according to our sensual appetites is to worship Satan. It is the realm of the pleasures of the flesh and soul.
Jesus reminded Satan that we have been commanded to worship and serve God alone, no one and nothing else.
It is not unusual today for a Christian to be led astray by a lustful or romantic (disguised lustful) attraction for a member of the opposite sex. This pull is so powerful that ordinarily decent husbands and wives leaves their spouses and children to live with a selfish person of little integrity. Sometimes Christians give in to such enticement. By so doing they sin against God and betray those who have trusted them. They abandon that which would have been as precious treasures in time to come.
Satan has ruined the testimony of many in America by seducing them with the lusts of the flesh. This is one means by which Antichrist will attack, overcome, and kill the Christian witness at the end of the Church Age.
The Lord Jesus, standing in a desert with no creature comforts, overcame the pull of the flesh and soul. If we will call on Him sincerely He will enable us to overcome that which would draw us away from our close walk with the Lord.
The root of the previous temptation, Sodom, is our desire for worship and pleasure. The root of Egypt is our willingness to seek survival and security in the world instead of in the Lord.
The true Christians (not all churchgoers) have been called out of the world by the Lord. They are in the world but not of the world. If they decide to become involved in the world system they lose their testimony. Satan has seduced numerous Christians by presenting to them the attractions of the world, particularly in America.
But the world system is the Antichrist system and it is the enemy of God and Christ.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (I John 2:15—NIV)
We simply are not to place our trust in the world system. It will let us down when we trust in it to keep us safe and happy.
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. (John 17:14—NIV)
Our kingdom is not of this world. We have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear witness of the atoning death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to command the world, in the name of Jesus, to repent because the Kingdom of God is soon to come from Heaven. We are to make disciples from the people of the world, as the Lord leads, and urge them to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. We are to baptize in water all who are willing to believe in the Lord Jesus.
But there is a wall separating every true saint from the people of the world. It is the wall that surrounds the new Jerusalem. We are not to attempt to be acceptable to the world or to partake of its spirit.
The two witnesses torment those who live on the earth. The Divine testimony always rebukes the ways of the world. The Great Commission directs us to make disciples, teaching them to obey the words of Christ and His Apostles. We are not doing this. We are attempting to "save souls" and build churches.
There is a very great difference between bearing witness and "saving souls." To bear a true witness includes holding up God’s demands for repentance and a godly life.
The minister who is seeking to "save souls" tends to approach the world as someone who is selling a program he believes in. Therefore he may not present the demands of Christ because he is afraid of driving people away.
We can give a true witness and yet have no one "saved."
On the other hand, we can get ten thousand people "saved" and not bear a true witness.
We need to return to the Bible and do what Christ has commanded, which is to make disciples and teach them to practice what He and His Apostles taught.
I suppose we have gotten in the moral decline we have with our doctrine of "unconditional grace" because we are trying to "save souls" instead of bearing witness.
The Lord did not empower us with His Spirit to "save souls" but to be His witnesses.
When we set out to "save souls" we tend to join the world and soft-pedal the demands of discipleship. We are trying to "win" as many people as we can, not to Christ, actually, but to our religion.
Elijah and Elisha were excellent examples of what God means by a witness.
Did they "save souls"? Not in the conventional sense. But to the present hour they are bearing an eternal witness of the holiness of God. God’s true witnesses bear witness of His Person and will for eternity.
Samson was a powerful witness of the God of Israel until his hair was cut, signifying the end of his separation from the world as a Nazirite. So it is true that once a Christian church becomes part of the local community it loses its lampstand, its witness to the world.
There is no way in which we can be part of the world system and bear witness of God at the same time.
Antichrist kills the witness by luring it into believing it can be on friendly terms with the world. America will be better off when the Christian churches finally understand it is not a "Christian nation" as such and that the world spirit in America will attack the Christians and seek to overcome them if they ever begin to live and preach righteousness, instead of preaching grace, Heaven, and an unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture."
We need to reason with the "Felixes" of this world concerning righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come instead of cooing in their ear about grace, Heaven, and the pre-tribulation rapture.
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. (Luke 8:14—NIV)
We Christians of America must begin to realize it is possible for the Divine Seed, Christ, to be conceived in us, to germinate, to begin to grow, and then to be killed by life’s worries, riches, and pleasures. When that happens, and we do not bear the fruit God is looking for, we will be cut out of the Vine, out of Christ. This is the end of our testimony of God.
You adulterous people, don’t you know friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4—NIV)
All that is of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but of the world. Things highly esteemed by people often are an abomination to God. If we are to bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth we must separate ourselves from the spirit of the world.
The Lord Jesus was the most remote Person who has lived on the earth. He was absolutely untouchable as far as the Roman government and local communities were concerned. He prayed all night and burned brightly all day. No individual has ever affected the world to the same extent as Jesus of Nazareth. Yet, while He was in the world He definitely was not of the world. Let us follow His example.
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:17,18—NIV)
The people being addressed in the above passage were Christians. They had something to do after they accepted Christ as their Savior. They had to come out from among the practices of the world and be separate. On that condition God would be their Father.
The crux of the matter concerning the temptation of Egypt, as we said, is that of finding our survival and security in the world. This is different from Sodom, which symbolizes worshiping the lusts and pleasures of the flesh and soul. Of course, these two human traits interact.
Paramount in the minds of worldly people is gaining enough food to eat, and in a rich nation, such as America, seeking to insure that there will always be enough to eat in the future. To this end people amass more money than they need. They want to guarantee their food and shelter without having to trust the Lord. This is why the only god Jesus mentioned was Mammon, the god of riches, as being a competitor of the true God.
The true God promises us our food and shelter. Mammon promises us our food and shelter. Therefore we have to choose between God and Mammon.
Money plays an extremely important role in the world of Antichrist, just as we see in America today. We Americans cannot even imagine an economy not based on a sizable cash flow. We worship money whether we realize it or not.
The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’" (Luke 4:3,4—NIV)
A few years back the so-called "prosperity message" was popular among American Christians. The idea was that the believer should use his faith in God to acquire much money and become rich. This is the very opposite of the counsel of the Bible.
We have gotten so far away from the Word of God that we can be led astray by doctrines that are the opposite of the teaching of the Bible.
No, we are not to focus all of our God-given gifts on turning stones into bread. God has promised to provide our material needs for survival and security if we will seek Him and His righteousness.
Jesus’ reply to Satan was taken from Deuteronomy.
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2,3—NIV)
The witness of God must turn away from his involvement with the world system and learn to trust God for his daily necessities and desires. It may be true that in the future we will have severe economic difficulties in the Unites States. If this happens the citizens will turn into wild beasts as they scream for their god, their money.
The true saint and witness of God will look to the Lord in that day and stand on those Psalms that promise we will be protected and fed in the time of trouble and famine. This will be a powerful witness of the faithfulness of God.
But those believers who have insisted on living as part of the American lifestyle will have no testimony to give in that hour. They will shove and scream with the rest of the citizens.
Antichrist on countless occasions has pulled down one of God’s witnesses until he was grubbing about in the muck of the world, trying to become rich so he would not have to trust God when he grew old.
One of the main weapons of Antichrist as he attacks, overcomes, and kills the Divine witness of the last days will be the enticement of living on friendly terms with the world system. This is why the church in Laodicea is rich and has need of nothing.
Antichrist will bring into his government many prominent Christian leaders and show himself to be a friend of the churches. But in his eyes are the fires of Hell. The American President at the present time (1999) attends a Christian church, giving the impression that he is a Christian. Yet many feel he is not living a godly life. He is not bearing a true witness of Jesus Christ. This is so unfortunate because the Arab nations, the Chinese, and the Russians suppose the President as well as our nation are examples of what it means to be a Christian.
Can you see how Antichrist has destroyed the witness in America even though the land is full of Gospel preaching?
Sodom has to do with the lusts of our flesh and soul, the desire to worship the pleasures of Satan.
Egypt portrays our love of the world, our willingness to seek security and survival in the world system instead of in the faithfulness of the Lord.
Jerusalem signifies our desire to be our own god. This is the most characteristic feature of Satan, of Antichrist, and of the False Prophet.
As I understand it, Antichrist represents self-will in the political realm. The False Prophet represents self-will in the religious-spiritual realm. The False Prophet will support Antichrist in the last days. This means self-seeking Christians will support a self-seeking government. Thus there will be two vast powers in the earth. But this two-headed leadership cannot endure. Finally Babylon the Great, man-centered, institutional religion, having its headquarters at the site of ancient Babylon, will be burned by fire by the secular rulership before the Lord returns.
From my point of view, the Pentecostal people stand at a crossroads. Never before in history have so many Christian believers had as great an acquaintance with the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God.
In the symbolism of the Old Testament, Pentecost is represented by the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; also by the feast of Pentecost, the fourth of the seven feasts of the Lord.
When we are at Pentecost, at the Lampstand so to speak, we are midway between the beginning of our salvation and the fullness of our salvation.
When we arrive at Pentecost we have experienced salvation through the blood atonement and also the fellowship of the Spirit of God.
One more great platform of redemption remains, and this third platform is the reason for the two that precede it. The third platform is the area of redemption where we allow the Kingdom of God to enter us such that God’s will and not ours is performed in every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and acting.
We can retain our gifts and ministries of the Spirit (for they are freely given) and yet not press forward to the Altar of Incense, the next furnishing after the Lampstand. This means we retain our own will and reasoning while we exercise the gifts of God. In a way it reminds one of the prodigal son who asked for the inheritance that he might spend it however he chose.
You can see the decision that faces us. Shall we take our spiritual abilities and return to Jesus Christ that He may use us however He desires, or shall we read the Bible, figure out what we think we are supposed to do, and then set forth to do whatever religious works please us?
From what is taking place in Pentecostal-Charismatic circles I do not think the leaders and believers are even aware we are supposed to wait on the Lord for direction. So many are trying to "work the moves."
There are giant conventions taking place in several parts of the world. But I am not comfortable with many of them. I have the impression the leaders are proceeding according to what they think the Lord wants (maybe something He told them many years previously) but are not hearing from Him right now. They are taking it for granted they are supposed to use their gifts to save and heal the world.
I believe such self-willed employment of the things of the Spirit is the False Prophet, even though the False Prophet may some day be exemplified in a single individual; just as the self-worship of Antichrist appears in many people but may some day be exemplified in a single individual.
Satan wants to be like God but does not desire to do the will of God. Satan is the extreme expression of self-will and self-centeredness, which are the source of all sin. The sin of self-will is the foundation of all other sin.
Are you seeking the Lord’s will each day? I am. I believe He wants me to be writing these words or I wouldn’t be writing them.
Satan wants to be god, and we all want to be god until we open the door of our personality and permit the true God and His Son, Jesus Christ, to sit on the throne of our personality.
All people are tempted with lust. All people are tempted with the love of the things of the world. All people are tempted with wanting to retain their own will. The Lord Jesus Christ was tempted in all three areas and passed the tests brilliantly.
For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him. (Matthew 27:18—NIV)
Can you see that it was not Sodom, the lusts of the flesh, or Egypt, the love of the world, that killed Jesus? It was envy. Why were the chief priests and elders envious? They were envious because they were attempting to do religious work according to their own reasoning and will. If they had been hearing from God, as Jesus and John the Baptist were, they would not have slain their own Christ.
Why does Israel kill her prophets? Because the prophets are hearing from God while Israel is pursuing the Law of Moses without hearing from God.
Sometimes we of today pursue the Bible without hearing from God.
How many great plans for saving souls are being made today because men and women think they know what the Lord wants. They are as the Pharisees, completely well-intentioned, but they will kill the Lord’s Christ wherever they find Him.
They would protest this idea vigorously. So would the Pharisees!
Lust did not kill Jesus, although lust can destroy the witness. The love of the world did not kill Jesus, although the love of the world can destroy the witness. It was religious self-will that called for the blood of the Son of God. Think of it!
Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." (Luke 9:23,24—NIV)
The only manner in which we can save our life is by losing it in Jesus Christ. This includes our religious life, our desire to minister. We cannot bear eternal fruit unless we are willing, as a seed, to fall into the ground and die. Our personal cross, our personal prison, is the ground into which we fall and die.
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42—NIV)
What was the "cup" of Jesus? It was the terrifying thought of being separated from God while He bore the sins of the world. The only guarantee Jesus had that fellowship with His Father ever would be restored was the faithfulness of God. This is our guarantee also, but sometimes it is difficult to fully trust God, especially when faced with the loss of all we desire.
We won’t have to drink from a cup as bitter as that of Jesus unless we are going to be placed at the right hand of Christ in His Kingdom; and even then it will not approach the horror of the cup Jesus drank from.
Incomprehensible though it may be, Jesus Christ was made perfect in obedience to the Father while suffering on the earth. Evidently such depth of selflessness and obedience cannot be gained while we are in the spirit realm.
In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (Hebrews 2:10—NIV)
Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8—NIV)
The original sin of the angels was rebellion against God’s will. The Lord Jesus had to come and reverse this disobedience by demonstrating total obedience in the face of the destruction of everything desirable—perhaps the permanent destruction of everything desirable to Him, that is, His fellowship with the Father.
The Lord Jesus accomplished this reversal gloriously.
Now every son of God, every future ruler of the works of God’s hands, must demonstrate that same unquestioned obedience. Either we practice stern obedience to the Father in every aspect of our personality and behavior or we will not rule with Jesus. It is as straightforward as this.
And so we in Pentecost have to take another step. We have to place our gifts and ministries, and everything else, at Jesus’ feet, and take our place on the cross. We may be despised by the majority of Christians, who suppose their fleshly self-seeking is being accepted by the Lord. But Christ Himself was despised by the leaders of Israel, so why should we be different? Let us stay in prison until the Lord is ready to give us the crown of life. Let us drink the cup to the last drop, crying not my will but Your be done. This is only our reasonable service as the sons of the Highest.
The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so you will not strike your foot against a stone.’" Jesus answered, "It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’" (Luke 4:9-12—NIV)
What is the test of the pinnacle? It is to set our will against the will of God, thus putting God to the test.
We hear today, "Go out and do great things for God." The idea is to put God to the test. "Challenge Him to support your endeavors. Buy a huge building you cannot afford and challenge God to send in the money. Announce a great healing and miracle campaign and challenge God to come and work miracles.
"Dare to be a Daniel!" Jump into the lions’ den and challenge God to rescue you. Pick up a rattlesnake. Challenge God to keep you from being bitten.
"If it is in the Bible, God said it. Go out and prove God. Put God to the test and see if He won’t come through for you."
All of this is presumption. It will kill the witness of the Spirit just as lust and worldliness do. People will see you instead of Jesus. The bread you deal to the hungry will be sour and smell of your fleshly personality.
When we read the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, which is a protracted definition of "the righteous shall live by faith," we do not see one single instance of someone trying to prove God. Rather we behold unambitious people obeying what God instructed them to do. There is not a trace of the contemporary presumptuous faith, the challenging of the Lord to "do great things."
God on many occasions and in many ways spoke to the fathers through the prophets. The prophets did not speak to God and tell Him what to do. God spoke to the prophets. It is God who initiates His work.
We need to get all of this religious ambition out of our life. The Lord is not sitting up in Heaven waiting to see if we dare to trust Him by putting ourselves out on a limb. He said He would build His own Church on the Rock that He Himself is. He will do exactly that, but He has to have someone who will wait on Him for as long as it takes to hear His voice—fifty or sixty years if necessary!
But then you will be called down from the wall. "Come down and talk to us. You need to hear our ideas. Come down from the cross. Prove you really are a son of God. Do something—anything—but don’t just hang there."
Everybody knows what you should do just like they knew what Job should do.
The truth is, everyone is wrong. They are guessing at God’s will, they do not actually know it.
The question is, Does God truly have a plan? Is He carrying it out? Does He know what He is doing? Or is He waiting for us to take the bull by the horns and launch out into some kind of effort to save souls from Hell and build His Kingdom? Is it up to God or up to us? Are things at a standstill until we act?
I think many Christian leaders and people would answer, "It is up to us to make the first move and then God will respond and help us."
I believe the Bible answers, "Present your body a living sacrifice until you prove God’s will, and then be diligent with what He gives you, acting modestly and courteously according to the faith given you."
Sometimes I say to the Lord, "It is Your world, Your Church, Your temple, Your Bride, Your Kingdom. I am glad to serve You however You direct, but I am not laying my hand on the work. You accomplish Your will, and grant me joy for the day."
Either God knows and cares or He has left the program up to us. Which is it? What do the Scriptures teach? We have to leave the work alone and wait for God if we hope to move past Pentecost to the rest of God, the fullness of redemption. Such patient waiting on the Lord requires faith and trust, and experience in avoiding the traps of passivity and worldly involvement, doesn’t it?
The chief priests and elders were not waiting on the Lord for direction. This is why they murdered their Christ.
Sodom is our desire to worship our pleasures. Egypt is our survival and security in the Antichrist world system. Jerusalem is our desire to be our own god, to grasp spiritual power and achieve what we think ought to be achieved.
Satan moves through these three aspects of our personality to attack, overcome, and kill the Divine testimony. That which Satan cannot possibly do by power he accomplishes by tempting us along one or more of these tendencies.
Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:10,11—NIV)
Every son of God must be tested in these three areas: the lusts and passions of the flesh and soul; the tendency to look to the world for survival and security; and the temptation to challenge God, to "step out in faith" and attempt to perform some work in the Kingdom before he or she has heard from the Lord. He must pass all three tests if he is to appear with Christ when He returns.
We do not have the wisdom and strength in ourselves to do anything of eternal worth in the Kingdom of God. But there is one thing we can do. We can present ourselves to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to guide us in His will, in the meanwhile doing faithfully whatever has been assigned us to do.
It does not matter at all whether we accomplish anything in the religious world that other people can see. But it matters tremendously that we keep ourselves each day in a position to hear and obey the Lord Jesus.
Let others do the "big things." You and I will wait before the Lord continually, listening to that Voice that alone knows the will of the Father. There is rest in this. Then if He asks us to do some great thing we are ready. If He requires only that we pray faithfully, we are just as ready for this role. It is whatever He wants.
Then, when we see Him, we will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Lord."
But if we insist on taking the things of the Lord and running with them, spending them on the world apart from His leading, we eventually will arrive at a dead end. Hopefully, like the prodigal son, we will come to our senses and return to our Father’s house.
Maybe we will grow old and bitter, exhausted from our attempts to accomplish that which would have been a song of praise had we waited for the Lord’s timing.
Whatever He says to you, do it. Let Him govern your thoughts and actions. Do not get involved in the turmoil created by ambitious people, whether in the secular or religious realm.
Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoices over Rezin and the son of Remaliah, (Isaiah 8:6—NIV)
Whatever He says to you, do it. Let Him govern your thoughts and actions. Look for the waters of Shiloah that run quietly and softly. Enjoy the green pastures. His yoke is easy and His burden light.
Perhaps other people will not think you are very important. But you will have Jesus, and that is all that really matters.