SOME THOUGHTS CONVERNING OUR SALVATION
SOME THOUGHTS CONCERNING OUR SALVATIONCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
What God gave me at that time has endured throughout the subsequent years, and is as fresh today (although greatly enlarged and elaborated) as when it first was given to a young man who was praying in the chapel of the Berean Bible Institute. Berean was located at 641 South Boundary Street, in San Diego, California.
The understanding I have been given does not always agree with current Christian teaching. I can agree wholeheartedly with the basics, such as the blood atonement made on Calvary; the virgin birth of the Lord; the Divinity of Christ; the bodily return of Jesus Christ at a time known only to the Father; the bodily resurrection of the righteous and the wicked; and the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Received Texts.
But some of the current traditions, such as grace being used as a substitute for moral change; the rapture to Heaven of all who profess Christ to save them from Antichrist and the Great Tribulation; and our eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven, do not appear to me to be based on the Scriptures.
I have found during my discipleship that the written Word of God is absolutely faithful and dependable. I believe it will endure forever, and will remain true to the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts without any alteration whatever.
The Book of Revelation, which is bound with a dreadful curse, must never be added to or subtracted from. We do well, I believe, when we spend time in the Book of Revelation, because it portrays the goal of the Divine redemption. The goal of the Divine redemption is the placing of the eternal House of God on the new earth.
Then the saved of the earth can be blessed, helped, and judged by the members of the Royal Priesthood, who compose the new Jerusalem, the House of God. The new Jerusalem, the holy city, is the glorified Christian Church, the Body of Christ. It is the government of the Kingdom of God and will endure throughout eternity.
The Kingdom of God has been in God's mind since the seventh day of creation. God then rested, and from that hour watches over His Word to perform it.
On occasion I have been aware of people who have just passed away. After a few days the awareness ceases, perhaps because that individual, having remained close to the earth for a brief time for some reason, was then called away to a more permanent location in the spirit world.
The ordinary Christian understanding of the spirit world is not scriptural, I believe. I say "spirit world" instead of Heaven, because what we ordinarily think of when we say "Heaven" is just one small part of the spirit world. So I prefer the term "spirit world."
The area of the spirit world, as distinct from the physical world, is exceedingly vast. According to what I have perceived there is, first of all, Zion, the city of God. This is the new Jerusalem. It is located on the highest point of the spirit world, on an elevated plateau, I believe.
The new Jerusalem, or "Heaven," is the home of God's elect. By "God's elect" I mean those people whom God has chosen to be His Royal Priesthood, His Church, His Israel whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth. They have been called-out from the ranks of mankind as saints, holy ones, and belong to God in a special way, just as was true of the descendants of Aaron as described in the Old Testament.
There is a large area which we might term "the Land of Light." Zion, the holy city, is included in the Land of Light. From Zion radiates a spirit that we associate with Christmasa feeling of love, joy, and peace. This spirit fills the Land of Light.
Then there is the Land of Darkness. The joyful, Christmas-like spirit is not felt in the Land of Darkness. Also, the atmosphere is darker. The light in the Land of Light comes from Mount Zion, just as it will when the holy city descend through the new sky to be located on the new earth. At that time the sun, moon, and stars, will not be needed, for the Glory of God resident in the holy city will furnish all needed light.
So we see that the spirit world is in three great areas: the new Jerusalem; the Land of Light; and the Land of Darkness.
The new Jerusalem, which today is in the spirit world, is very similar to that described in the last two chapter of the Book of Revelation. There are the twelve gates, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. There is a wall of jasper with its heavily ornamented foundation. The names of the Apostles of the Lamb are in the twelve foundations.
The holy city is quite large. According to the Book of Revelation it is a cube, several hundred miles high. I am not aware of it being a pyramid consisting of three cities, arranged vertically, one above the other. Some have advanced this thought. I think rather that the height comes from towers in which people find rest, much as is true of towers in a castle.
The height of the towers, if such be the case, presents no problem to the inhabitants of the city, since in the spirit world, at least in the Land of Light, people, if they choose to, can think of a location and be there instantly. This does not prevent them, however, from walking, or running, or riding on a horse. Yes, if my new awareness is correct, there are horses and other animals in the spirit world.
Isaiah tells us about what today on the earth are wild animals, being the pets of children during the Kingdom Age. Also, as I remember the Book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus and His armies descend to the earth on white war stallions.
Because of a kind of revelation that I had after Bear, our dog, was put to sleep, I am under the impression that at least some beloved pets will be in Heaven with us. Many children, and adults as well, will be delighted with this thought.
I should say will be with us in the Land of Light, not in Heaven. I use the term "Heaven" to refer only to the holy city where the elect are. I have never been aware of animals in the holy city, except for little puppies and so forth; only in the other part of the Land of Light.
Please keep in mind that the physical world in which we live was created from the spirit world, which was in existence prior to the physical world. Therefore we would expect the physical world to have many points in common with the spirit worldand so it does, if I am correct in my perception.
It appears to me that the Paradise that once was in the Middle East on the earth, was withdrawn to the holy city in the spirit world as the new Jerusalem. When we think of Heaven and all of its wonders, we are thinking of the holy city in the spirit world, not of the spirit world as such, which in some respects will be quite familiar when we arrive there.
The holy city indeed is all we dream of Paradise, with its beautiful flowers, lakes, grass, trees, flower-covered hills, and residential towers with rooms for each individual in which he or she can withdraw for rest and to meditate on the Lord.
I say "he or she." Is there gender in the spirit world? I believe so. Gender, male and female, is far more profound than our animal-biologic understanding. I cannot say what forms gender will take. But everything God proclaimed concerning man, that he will be God's son; that he will be in God's image; that he will be male and female, that he will be fruitful, and that he will govern the works of God's hand; shall never be abrogated.
Each of these Divine fiats will endure throughout eternity, although in a transcendent form. For example the Lord Jesus is what God means by God's image. There is humanity; and then there is a transcendent humanity. If we nourish the Divine Nature that has been born in us when we are born again in Christ, we will become transcendently humanstill human, but transcendently so. Something wonderful to look forward to.
If I am correct, the members of the Body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood, will inherit and govern the saved people (sheep) from the nations. These governing priests will, I believe, grow in stature and glory until they are great pillars of righteousness, ever increasing in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The holy city in the spirit world, is the home of God's elect. Here they are being taught the Bible by saints more learned than they. Because of the tremendous Presence of Christ in the holy city, the elect keep increasing in the Divine Nature. They are being prepared for their descent to the new earth, after the final resurrection.
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
When they descend they will minister to the citizens of the new earth. These citizens are people from the nations who are not of God's elect but have been saved according to the will of God. Their names were found in the Book of Life at the last resurrection. They are the inheritance of the elect.
When you read in the Book of Revelation about their being no tears, no death, and so forth, this is speaking of the people of the world who have been saved; not of the elect, not of those who compose the new Jerusalem.
We have many mythologies concerning Heaven. This is because the Bible has little to say about what happens to us when we die. So through the ages, various myths have been developed. The most familiar of these may be the mansions in Heaven. This myth has been derived from the second verse of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
However, John 14:2 is speaking of the House of God. The House of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. We also are being made rooms in that house. We are living stones of the eternal Tabernacle of God, of which our Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Corner Stone.
It may be true as we draw nearer to the return of the Lord Jesus with His saints, the Real World will become more familiar to us. This will be true also of the Kingdom of God, which is God in Christ in the saints governing the works of God's hands.
The interior of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, seems to be arranged in concentric circles of increasing holiness. The largest circle is close to the entrance. The circles are degrees of holiness. In the center of the holy city is the Throne of God and of the Lamb. They are surrounded by twenty-four elders who continually are casting their crowns before the Throne.
It is possible, since twenty-four is a multiple of twelve and therefore a symbolic number, there may be twenty-four thousand elders casting their crowns before the Throne, of which the twenty-four we read about are representative. Some of these elders may be living on the earth today and casting down their crowns before the Throne continually, as they set aside their own life and choose to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We on earth are more closely tied spiritually to Heaven than we understand. Do you remember how the Apostle Paul stated that we have risen with Christ and in Him are now at God's right hand? Therefore we are to set our attention and affections at all times on the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
As we cast off the filth of our flesh and spirit, while we are on the earth, we move forward to the next concentric circle; always moving forward until we are privileged to stand in the very Presence of the Father, Christ, the four Cherubim of Glory, and the holiest of the angels. I don't know about you, but my desire is, like the Apostle Paul, to press forward to the fullness of God. How does that sound to you? Are you with me in this?
So it is not true that we are going to recline forever on a couch in our mansion in Heaven. How self-centered can we be? God wants saints who will press forward in Christ until they become life-giving spirits who can bring eternal life to the dead sea of mankind. Both the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come. Whoever will, let him or her drink freely of eternal life."
Are you such a saint? Or do you dream of lying on your sofa in your mansion for eternity while angels drop grapes in your mouth? I hope you are not like that but are preparing yourself to minister to the men and women, boys and girls, whom our Lord wants as fruit on His table.
Mount Zion, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the home of God's elect. I think that some of the elect may be housed temporarily in one of the communities in the Land of Light, until they make progress in loving God with all their heart and their neighbors as themselves. Then they will move to the holy city.
These are the first two laws of the Kingdom of God, and ultimately everyone who is saved to life in the new world of righteousness must obey them. In addition, everyone must obey the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One whom the Father has made Lord of all.
Descending from the plateau on which the holy city is located, we come to the exceedingly vast area of the Land of Light. We must remember that all people who have died from the beginning of time are here, except the elect in the holy city and those in the Land of Darkness.
All these millions, perhaps billions, of people live in communities, as nearly as I can perceive. They wear the ordinary clothing of their culture, whereas the elect in the holy city are dressed in robes of sparkling, glowing white.
There are communities of people from ancient cultures all the way to the most modern. They speak their original languages and wear their native clothing. Those of one community may represent ancient Egypt, and another community may represent modern Egypt. The language spoken in the community are those to which the people are accustomed.
The housing and customs are those that are familiar to them. We would find thatched huts, tents, brick and wood houses. Occupations would vary from agriculture and animal husbandry all the way to the teaching of children and working in stores.
Money is not used as a vehicle of commerce in the spirit world. When you go to a store, you are given what you ask for at no charge. There always are angels present who will prevent the transaction if you are hoarding, or if you are not providing the good and services for which you are responsible.
There is no crime, fighting, wars, stealing, hatred, personal ambition, seeking preeminence, or any of the other attitudes and actions that make our life on earth so miserable. A great multitude of angels, who fill a myriad of roles and perform numerous tasks, keep life flowing smoothly, without the corruption and fraud we are accustomed to on the earth.
There are many children, and areas in which to play with their pets. There are no churches. Jesus will appear at any time that He is asked to do so.
There is a great deal of music, some provided by angels and some by human artists.
People do grow in their character, and their true maturity can be seen readily. People can appear as young as they wish, but never older than they actually are. Since there is no time as such, there being no sun, the age of people is revealed by the maturing of their character.
People who die at the age of seventy may appear in the spirit world as a small child. Growth in maturity is measured by our willingness to always do what we know to be pleasing to Christ, even though on some occasions we must choose to do what is not pleasant to us.
We all know of someone in this present world who is over fifty but must be treated as a child because he or she is so self-centered. Then there are children of eleven or twelve who try to hold their family together because the father and mother are so immature. The true ages of people are revealed clearly in the Real World, the spirit world.
In the resurrection, the bodies of people will reveal their characters. They cannot hide behind a mask as they do today.
I guess one of the principal facts that we must keep in mind concerning dying and entering the spirit world is that we will be placed where we belong, whether or not we profess to be a Christian. God does not like mixtures. The holy are with the holy. The filthy are with the filthy, Christian or not.
Perhaps a major error in Christian thinking is that by professing belief in Christ we are exempt from any evaluation of our personality. We teach that Christ came to save sinners from Hell. This is not Scriptural. Sinners always go to Hell, whether or not they profess belief in Christ.
Can you imagine a morally filthy, violent, self-seeking, bitter Christian being admitted through the gates of the holy city? He or she certainly would not be content in the presence of the white-robed saints who are pressing toward perfection of holiness.
But would Christ forgive such an individual? Most assuredly. Christ will forgive anyone who truly repents and calls on Christ for help.
But being forgiven, and being placed among the saints, are two different matters.
Probably what may be surprising to us is that the Land of Light is an enormous school. Almost everyone who dies, and is not wicked enough to be driven down to the Land of Darkness, will be sent to one of the numerous schools. There he or she will be taught to love God with all of his or her heart and his neighbor as himself. He or she will not be released to live in a community until adequate progress has been made in these two great laws of the Kingdom of God.
We have to be heavenly in personality before we are permitted to live where we choose in the Land of Light. Can you see the sense of that?
If people in the Land of Light refuse to live according to the two laws of the Kingdom, or will not obey Christ, they will be sent into the Land of Darkness to join others like themselves.
What, then, is the use of believing in Jesus Christ if we are not going to be given special treatment when we die? First, we must receive Christ when He is presented to us. If we refuse to obey Christ and His Apostles, our "belief" in Christ will not save us. We will be placed in one of the areas of the Land of Darkness when we die.
Also, if we listen to Jesus each day and obey Him, we can make progress in our salvation, growing into the image of Christ and learning to rest in the will of God. There are great rewards for living the victorious Christian life, as we note in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.
When we leave the Land of Light and move toward the Land of Darkness, we see that the light of the environment begins to diminish. I seem to be aware of seven principal areas of the Land of Darkness. The Lake of Fire is not one of these areas, and may be located in the interior of the earth.
First we arrive at the Rooms of the Tormented consciences. These are people who are tortured by the memory of the things they had done; loved ones whom they had betrayed; opportunities to serve God they had neglected. I believe Judas Iscariot was confined here at first. He is not here now but is a wandering star in the blackest darkness forever.
Next we come to the City of the Living Dead. The people here killed their spiritual life by worshiping money and material things.
Then there is the Devil's Playground. Here we find those of today who mock all cultural restraints. They can be seen in Gay Parades and Mardi Gras festivities. They are revealing, in the Land of Darkness, what it is like to live without any sexual inhibitions or restraints. They are frustrated, because being spirits they cannot touch one another.
Still descending we note those who are confined in cages. These are people who grasped pleasure at the expense of other people; often, their loved ones.
There are demon-possessed people further down. These are chained to stakes in the ground. One must be careful not to come near them because they will lunge at a visitor until they hit the end of their chain.
Next is the world of the deformed. Here are people who defiled the temple of the Holy Spirit. They are misshapen according to the various perversions they had practiced, such as thievery, gluttony, laziness and different forms of sexual lust.
If I am not mistaken, the people in the world of the deformed become demons who sometimes are permitted to enter the earth to work God's will in particular individuals.
At the bottom of the Land of Darkness is Hell. This is very dark indeed, although one can see fire burning. The humans incarcerated there are in continual torment, being abused continually by demons.
There are other specialized places of confinement, such as caves, where certain types of personalities are imprisoned. Examples of these would be people who were famous in politics or in the entertainment field.
Angels continually are observing the people in the areas of the Land of Darkness to see if any of them repent and want to serve God. I think the angels keep records, and these records serve as documents to be examined at the final resurrection.
We always must keep in mind that Christ paid a terrible price for every human being no matter how debased that individual becomes. God is not pleased to have to send someone into the Lake of Fire at the last resurrection. But there are people, sad to say, that if they were released to enter the new world of righteousness, would soon bring the Divine judgment upon everyone.
Any elementary-school teacher will tell you that if there are one or two students who simply will not mind, they have to be removed if those children who want to do their studies and learn from the teacher are to be able to get their work done.
So it is in the Kingdom of God. If some individuals are not removed from society, we soon will have to have another six thousand years of agony until the angels and mankind finally learn that to disobey God brings endless corruption and sorrow.
The real, eternal world is much like our own. There are God's elect, His Israel, in Mount Zion.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
We already are in Heaven, as we note above, but our spiritual eyes have not been opened as yet. If we choose to live a victorious life in Christ it is not impossible that when we die we will go straight there, to the Paradise of God.
Then there is the largest group of people, those who are living peacefully in communities. These will live on the new earth as the inheritance of Christ and His saints.
Finally there are the wicked. They are not permitted to live in the communities in the Land of Light. If they were, they soon would bring about the conditions we see today on the earth.
The above description of the Real World, the eternal world, the world that will last forever, has become real to me as my spiritual awareness has increased. My conclusion is that no decent person need be afraid of dying, or has to succumb to unbearable grief if a child dies.
Each individual will be gathered to his or her people, so to speak, there to await with confidence the final resurrection and entrance into the new world of righteousness.
Two years ago my nephew died in a motorcycle accident. When his mother heard of his death she had hysterics. Troy spoke to his mother from the spirit world and said to the effect, "I'm okay, Mom." The hysterics ceased and Catherine had peace. You may have known of a similar experience.
You can read more about The Real World in my books: Godwill Castle; and HeavenGod's Wonderful World. They are in the Kindle Library.
So we have a little of both worlds. We are free to accept Christ if we so choose; and after that we are not to add anything to the finished work. I am sensitive to this in that I have been accused of preaching "works," because I maintain we have to live so as to make our calling and election certain.
"Grace" often is defined as being the substitute God has provided, knowing our weaknesses, so that even if we do not live a victorious Christian life we still will go to Heaven when we die and live in a mansion. "God sees us through Christ," and this sort of unscriptural thinking.
Such a viewpoint has destroyed the testimony of the Christian churches. Worldly people realize there is something wrong with assuring people they can behave like Satan and yet have fellowship with God. We Christians also should realize there is something wrong with covering our sinful behavior with a perpetual "grace." Any clear thinking individual understands that God cannot have fellowship with sinful behavior.
So the question remains: What part does God play, and what part do we play, in our redemption? It indeed is a difficult question.
I think some of the answer is hidden in God at this time. Otherwise it appears as though God is acting unfairly. But then, He is the Potter.
Part of the answer may be as follows:
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (II Peter 1:10,11)
Doing "these things" is making every effort to add virtue to our faith. Now, no honest person could maintain that Peter is saying we are to do nothing but believe that Christ has done it all for us. If we add goodness, knowledge, self-control, and so forth, to our faith, then we will not fall (not cease to live a victorious life) and we will receive a "rich welcome" into the Kingdom of God.
There are believers who insist that the entire Bible is God's Word, and yet will maintain stoutly that all we are to do is believe that Christ has lived the victorious life for us and God sees us through that victory. We are saved (brought to Heaven to live in a mansion), they claim, by holding fast to the unscriptural belief that there absolutely is nothing we are to do except believe.
I believe I am correct when I say such believers are inconsistent.
Our salvation and rank in the Kingdom were established from the beginning of time.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29,30)
Yet I know by revelation that God sometimes is surprised by how well we do and disappointed if we do not do so well.
God calls certain people. If they serve the Lord faithfully they pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen. Then they are tested severely. If they keep on with the Lord, they pass to the ranks of the faithful. Called; chosen; faithful. Fruit; more fruit; much fruit.
But the bottom line is that it is God who causes us to make the right choices. Still, we are tested and rewarded or penalized according to our choices. It appears God leaves some of it up to us to decide. The intercession of others plays a role, I am sure.
As I stated previously, God from the beginning of time appointed us to a role in His Kingdom. By our choices we can attain to that predestined rank; or we can lose our inheritance so we have to be stripped by fire and enter the Kingdom as a small child; or, if we refuse to obey Christ, join the angels and people in the Lake of Fire--and eventually become part of Satan.
The New Testament teaches that we have to be active in working out our salvation. For example, the Apostle Paul always was seeking to attain to the first resurrection, and exhorted us to be like-minded.
The very concept of the overcomer implies that the individual has gained victory through Christ over the numerous obstacles that sought to prevent him or her from doing God's will.
Well, we can say that it is God who inspires the victorious saint to seek to be triumphant. I truly believe this is so. I myself have a strong desire to do the will of Christ, to maintain a clean heart and a right spirit. But I am convinced that my desire is a gift from God.
However, it really does not matter to us whether or not it is God who, in the last analysis, is the one who brings us to Christ and then inspires us to continue to do God's will. It does not matter because the cause and effect remain the same. If we seek to please God we shall be blessed. If we continue in the sinful nature we will die spiritually. So the effect on us is the same regardless of where the choice originates.
I would like to add that if anyone wants to please God by living a victorious Christian life, he or she should pray mightily, listen to Jesus, and obey God to the best of his or her ability. He need not waste time worrying whether living a godly life is his choice or God's choice. If he does what is right, then according to the Bible, God will accept him.
God never will turn away someone who is seeking to please Him.
There are two ways in which we can prevent ourselves from living the victorious life. One is by relying too much on the Lord Jesus. There are things we have to do, according to the New Testament, such as presenting our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the will of God in the use of our ministry and gifts.
The other is relying too much on ourselves. It was mankind who disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, and invited Satan into the Paradise of God. God has given us Jesus Christ so we can drive Satan from ourselves and finally from Paradise. We cannot possibly gain such victory by ourselves, and Christ will not do it all for us.
It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, as I like to say.
God's Eternal Plan From the Beginning(the making visible of the invisible)
Picture, if you will, the beginning of God. Well, you can't. Our minds are not capable of comprehending eternity or infinity. So when we say "In the beginning was the Word" we do not mean in the beginning of God. God had no beginning and will have no end. He is God, a Spirit, and cannot be understood by mortals.
God is many times greater than we can conceive. If we examine the latest findings from the astronomers we are tempted to become atheists. The stars, galaxies, and other masses are so incomprehensibly great, the energy involved is scarcely measurable, and the distances are beyond enormous, that to picture God speaking all this into existence through Christ strains our belief.
Yet, according to the Bible, God knows the name of every star and the number of the stars.
The same is true of the micro world. At the present time, scientists are seeking to find the Higgs boson, hoping to discover the source of mass. We can observe mass when we accelerate an object; but exactly what it is remains a mystery. My point is, the atomic world is as incredible as the macro world.
Both worlds strain our credulity. But it is obvious that the universe we observe came from something. The Big Bang theory does not tell us where the heat came from, from which the Big Bang originated. So this is a very unsatisfactory answer as to where the cosmos originated.
Also, there have been probably millions of testimonies of supernatural phenomena throughout the history of manfar more than would be needed to prove in court the existence of a spirit world.
For me, it is easier to believe that there is a God who created the universe than to believe the universe somehow happened. Also, I have had a number of supernatural experiences during my Christian discipleship.
The wise person chooses to believe that there are life and judgment after death, and lives his or life accordingly. If there are life and judgment after we die, and we live a wicked life, we are in serious trouble.
So it is highly likely that prior to the cosmos, God was. God absolutely is incomprehensible to us; and it appears to me that He always existed, although we cannot fathom that.
God at that time was invisible. Apparently He decided to create a visible world from the invisible spirit realm in which God dwells. God's first move may have been to bring forth the Word from Himself. This was the beginningperhaps the beginning of time. However, I seriously doubt that time exists in the spirit world.
Then, through the Word, God created all things that exist, including things and creatures in the spirit world and things and creatures in the physical world.
But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)
We must understand that God, even before the Word came forth from Him, knew everything that would transpire from the time the Word was brought forth until the coming down to the new earth of the new Jerusalemand perhaps beyond that. God is greater than we understand.
God is righteous in character. He understood that by bringing forth creatures with a will of their own, that some would rebel. He knew that Satan would rebel. God taught His own Son obedience by the things He suffered.
Any creature, angelic or human, who makes his or her decisions apart from God's will, is another god in the universe. The greatest lesson any creature learns is that apart from the will of God there is nothing but corruption and chaos. None of us have God's wisdom, and so we need His guidance in everything.
God, understanding that creatures with a will of their own would be tempted to make decisions apart from God, stood back, as it were, while Satan began to imagine what it would be like to have supreme authority and power. We do not know how long, if time actually exists in the spirit world, the thought of rebellion developed in Satan's mind.
Absalom, the son of David, is a miniature portrayal of Satan. Absalom for a while sought to gain a following among the Israelites before he made his move. So it may have been true that Satan for a while sought to gain a following among the angels, flattering them, seeking to usurp their affection.
Still God, understanding that all this was taking place, stood back and waited. You see, God was going to work all this for God's good.
When the time was ripe, God drove Satan, one of the two cherubim whose wings covered the Throne, and his followers, from God's Presence.
All this was necessary if there was to be a world of righteousness in which people would love God with all their heart; love their neighbor as themselves; and obey God's appointed rulers implicitly, of whom the Word would be the eternal Head.
So through the Word, God created the physical world and its creatures. causing the sons of God (perhaps angels) to shout for joy.
Down came Satan from the heavens to see what was taking place. Desiring to spread the rebellion, he successfully tempted Eve.
Still God stood back.
However, this event marked the beginning of the righteous world that God had in mind. On the seventh day God rested, His eternal plan having been set in motion.
Then there came a time, after people had multiplied on the earth, when God through Moses gave the Ten Commandments, in addition to other ordinances and regulations. For the first time angels and people had a definition of "righteousness."
Now people were between a rock and a hard place, as we say. They were faced with God's code of righteousness, but had inherited a sinful nature from the first people. Also, Satan, the "adversary," and his demons were permitted to tempt people to sin.
Still God stood back, but He was watching over His Word to perform it.
Although the creation came into being through Christ, Christ still could not relate to it properly, as we see from the fireworks on Mount Sinai. So God took a step forward:
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. you will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Psalms 2:7-9)
Note that the Father said to the Word, "You are my Son." From now on Christ (the anointed Deliverer) no longer was to be referred to as the Word but as the Son of God. The statement "today I have become your Father" may be speaking of the Word becoming flesh in Mary.
The Word's inheritance is the nations and the ends of the earth. This also is our inheritance, although we think what we want to inherit is Heaven. We are deceived in this, not knowing our own heart.
Now came the Divine move that no one could have anticipated. The Word, the One who is to inherit all the works of God, was born as a human baby. There may be parallel occurrences in other religions, but they are fantasies. How can I be sure of this? Because I have had intimate fellowship with this baby, now a man, for 67 years; and I know there is no other Divine program.
Can you see the wisdom of God in this? He had planned all of these events before He created the universe. His goal is a world in which the creatures obey Him and behave righteously. So His Son taught us for three years, being an example of what it means to be in God's image, and then made a blood atonement for us on the cross of Calvary.
The Law of Moses hangs over all of us. We have a sinful nature that opposes the Law of Moses. What is God's provision for us?
We can escape the condemnation of the Law of Moses by accepting the atonement that has been made for us. Then we are required to follow Christ as He, through the Spirit of God, leads us in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature.
What God has envisioned from the outset is a Kingdom governed by His righteous King, and nobles who have been made righteous by their interaction with the righteous King.
The whole purpose of our life on the earth is to provide a population from which God can call forth people who will agree to set aside their own life that they may become members of the Body, the fullness, of Christ.
The present world has been made from the spirit world to be a fabricated environment in which God can select, train, and test the future nobles of the Kingdom of God. The present world is not a real world at all. The spirit world is a real world; the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age will be a real world; and the new heaven and earth will be a real world.
If we perceive our present life on the earth as being anything other than preparation for the coming new world of righteousness, we may not benefit from this fabricated environment that God has created. Its purpose is to prepare us for our role in God's Kingdom.
"God was manifest in the flesh," the Scripture states referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is leading His saints through a program in which we are being becoming new creations. Eventually we will be life-giving spirits whom God will use to bring life to the dead sea of mankind.
Christ has been born in us. Christ is being formed in us. When Christ has been formed in us, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will settled down to rest in us, making us Their eternal Tabernacle.
When we thus have been filled with all the Fullness of God, and have been clothed with our house from Heaven, we also, along with our Lord Jesus, will be a revelation of the erstwhile invisible God to the nations of the earth. As Isaiah told us, "righteousness and praise shall spring forth before all nations."
Such is the grand plan, finished in God's mind before the spirit world and its creatures, and the physical world and its creatures, came into existence.
God planned all this in advance. Then He brought forth the Word and spoke into existence the worlds that eventually would bring about a physical environment, and physical creatures who would behave righteously.
Also there has to be a Kingdom governed by those who are able to maintain obedience to God and Christ on the part of the population of the earth. Christ and His saints will govern the new world of righteousness for eternity. This is possible because God already has taken care of the danger of rebellion against Himself ever occurring again.
God did not exercise His wrath at the beginning of the rebellion. But the day of God's wrath shall come. The demons understand the Day of Wrath will come. This is why they said to Jesus, "Have you come to torment us before the time?"
Can you see now why God did not immediately address Himself to Satan's rebellion, other than to drive the rebels from His Presence? He wanted to accomplish several objectives all at the same time:
To form sons for Himself and brothers for the Lord Jesus.
To create members of the Bride, forming a fullness for the Lamb.
To form living stones for the eternal house of God.
To develop members of the Body of Christ, anointed people who can carry on the work of the Anointed Deliverer.
To form righteous people who would be the salt of the earth, making mankind palatable to God.
To fill His saints with the Life of Christ, thus providing knowledge and understanding to the saved people of the nations.
To create a vehicle for the end-time revival.
To train saints to be the restorers and maintainers of Paradise on the earth.
To create people as life-giving spirits so they can bring eternal life and healing to the saved people from the nations.
To form the saints into a royal priesthood.
To provide eternal witnesses of God's Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose in Christ.
To raise up saints who through Christ can overcome the accuser.
To develop saints who can serve under Christ as governors of the nations of the earth.
To train soldiers for the army of the Lord.
To educate those who will serve as judges of men and angels.
To create saints who will serve as a wall of defence around the Glory of God.
To be part of the revelation of HimselfGod in Christ in the saints.
The roles and task mentioned above are deemed by the Father to be necessary for the proper operation of His Kingdom. Can you see the marvelous wisdom of God in planning such a thing while He was invisible and alone, a Spirit in the spirit world?
When I teach about the elect, and then the saved people from the nations, it often causes amazement if not confusion on the part of my listeners. I don't see why this should be, given the fact that God's elect are a royal priesthood who will govern and bless the people from the nations whose names have been found in the Book of Life.
The two distinct groups, both of whom are saved to the new world of righteousness, can be observed in Isaiah as well as in the Book of Revelation. The saved people from the nations can be noticed in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew. They are the "sheep" who assisted the Lord's brothers in their time of need.
Notice the two groups in Isaiah:
Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations their kings led in triumphal procession. For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:12,13)
Who are "Your"? "Your" are God's elect, the Royal Priesthood, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.
Who then are the "men" who bring to the elect the wealth of the nations? Obviously they are saved, for the lost are not going to serve God's elect.
Now think about these two verses, for they are essential to our understanding of the Kingdom of God. There are two groups of people who will be saved to life on the new earth. There are God's elect, the Christian Church, the new Jerusalem. And then there are nations of saved people on the new earth who are not members of the elect but are the inheritance of the elect.
Let's see if this follows the Book of Revelation:
The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:23-27)
Since the Book of Revelation states that the new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb, we know it is the Christian Church. There is only one Wife of the Lamb, and that is the Church. Is there another Wife of the Lamb somewhere?
I emphasize this, because if it is not understood that the new Jerusalem is the Christian Church, the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation are indeed difficult to understand.
Tell me: Is the new Jerusalem, the place of the Throne of God and of the Lamb, a Jewish Kingdom? Then where is the so-called Gentile Church? In Heaven? Doing precisely what? There will be no River of Life or trees of life in Heaven when the new world is created. They all will be on the new earth.
Enough of that. The Scriptures are clear enough that the new Jerusalem is the Lamb's Wife, and that the people saved from the nations of the earth will bring their glory and honor into it.
Notice again, in the Book of Isaiah, the two groups of saved peoplethe Royal Priesthood, and the saved from the nations:
Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:5,6)
The "aliens" certainly are "saved" people. They are not in Hell, we all would agree. The question may arise as to who are the priests of the Lord. Please note the following passage, addressed to God's elect.
As you come to him, the living Stonerejected by men but chosen by God and precious to himyou also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:4,5)
One of the several errors springing from the unscriptural theory of Dispensationalism is the driving of a wedge between the elect Jews and the elect Gentileseven though Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, says that Jewish and Gentile saints are "one new Man" in Christ.
Remember, the original Christian Church was composed of Orthodox Jews. The Apostles were Orthodox Jews. There never has been a point in history when the true Church, God's elect, became Gentile. Such a shift has never taken place.
It is Satan, and none other, who has sponsored this division. Satan is deathly afraid of the Kingdom God is creating. He knows the Kingdom marks the end of his playground in the earth. He knows also that the Kingdom of God consists of elect Jews and Gentiles. Therefore Satan hopes to keep a division between them as long as he can.
Thanks probably to Dispensational theory, Christians are not looking for their destiny in the Prophets. But it is there. The eternal House of God is being built on the testimony of the Apostles of the new covenant and the Prophets of the Old Testament.
The Christian Church is one whole, one Body of Christ, one Wife of the Lamb, one new Jerusalem, one holy city, one Mount Zion, one Church of the Firstborn. It is not a matter of religion or of race, it is a matter of one Body of Christ, one family of God's elect, God's true and eternal Israel.
It is impossible to understand the Bible until the Oneness of God, Christ, and those who are part of Christ is understood. This is the Royal Priesthood who will govern the works of God's hands for eternity.
When Christ spoke of the time when we are one in one another in Christ in God, and that the world then will believe that it is the Father who has sent Him, both Jews and Gentiles are in that Oneness. How could it be otherwise? Would Peter, James, John, and Paul, all Jews, be a part of that Oneness? What do you think?
Let us then flee from those who teach that there is a Jewish Church and a Gentile Church. Such teachers are working against the creating of the one Kingdom of God.
We see, then, that we of the one Church, whether Jewish or Gentile, male or female, are being prepared to serve as a royal priesthood. Our period of training is prolonged and intense. But that is to be expected, because God is counting on us to bring justice to the nations; also to establish and maintain righteousness forever throughout God's creation.
The Law of Moses consists of commands and various regulations. It is a covenant between God and Israel. The Ten Commandments, a part of the Law of Moses, defines sin and, except for the Sabbath commandment, applies to all people. Those who obey the Law of Moses will obtain righteousness and be blessed by the Lord. Those who defy the commandments will not be blessed by the Lord.
As Peter said in the house of Cornelius, in every nation those who behave righteously are accepted by the Lord. Righteous behavior is outlined by the Ten Commandments. The Sabbath, I believe, is addressed specifically to the Jews. I may be mistaken in this, however.
There are various opinions today concerning the new covenant, the salvation and redemption which now are available through the Lord Jesus Christ. Some believe we still are bound by the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath observance. There are those who go so far as to teach that we must celebrate the seven Levitical holy days, the feasts of the Lord.
Probably the most prevalent idea is that we are under no law whatever except the "law of love." This notion is fatuous, being too weak to keep us from temptation in a culture saturated with the activities of demons.
This modern thought postulates a sovereign Divine grace which makes us eligible to go to Heaven when we die and live in a mansion, even though we have followed the lusts and passions of our sinful nature while professing belief in Christ. If this were scriptural, which it assuredly is not, it would be the first covenant God has made with man that did not insist on godliness of behavior. If this were true, it certainly would be an inferior covenant from God's point of view, who loves righteous behavior.
I think it is clear that those who hold to such an unscriptural position are basing their belief on a few passages of Scripture removed from their context. Their statement of faith is deduced from these chosen axioms.
How could anyone read the New Testament with an unbiased mind and not note that one of the primary emphases, if not the primary emphasis, is on righteousness of behavior and holiness of personality. I guess there is a strong spirit of delusion operating among Christian believers.
One need only go through the New Testament and highlight the passages that deal with righteous behavior to see if I am correct.
As I have written on several occasions, a central error in current Christian thinking is that Paul compared godly behavior with grace and faith. A most elementary perusal of the New Testament will show Paul insisted on righteous behavior. What Paul compared was the Law of Moses with grace and faith, stating that we no longer obtain righteousness by obeying the precepts of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ.
The central problem with the grace versus works is how "works" is defined. If by "works" Paul meant godly behavior, then Paul was maintaining that we are saved by grace rather than by behaving righteously. But if by "works" Paul meant the works of the Law of Moses, than Paul was saying that we are saved by grace rather than by the Law of Moses. There is a very great difference here.
In his writings, Paul insisted that we no longer are under the authority of the Law of Moses. Therefore grace and faith can bring righteousness apart from observing the Law of Moses.
Paul also warned us that we must live righteously if we are to live spiritually and inherit the Kingdom of God. So Paul is entirely consistent in his writings. But by defining "works" as meaning righteous behavior, we have misunderstood Paul. The result of this simple error has been moral disaster.
As far as "grace" is concerned, it is God in Christ forgiving us and enabling us to obey Christ's commands. Grace was never meant to be God's excuse for our wicked behavior. Only people whose hearts were far from God would believe that God gave us Divine grace so we could go to Heaven apart from a change in our behavior.
If we Christians continue to follow our sinful nature we will die spiritually, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God, Paul wrote. This hardly would be consistent with the current teaching that when we practice the deeds of our sinful nature God sees us through grace and we are covered with the righteousness of Christ.
Examine the following passages and see if they agree with what I have just written:
In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
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)
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)
I am certain there are some who will assure us that the above three passages do not apply to those who are "saved by grace." You know, years ago I used to yell at the congregation. I was so frustrated by the seeming wilfulness of people to not be able to understand what to me was so crystal clear.
But since those days I have come to realize that the Scriptures cannot be understood unless the Spirit of God grants understanding. So I don't yell as much anymore. But pleasedon't the above three passages above indicate that the righteousness of Christ is applied only to those who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit of God?
So the current superficial stance that "we are saved by grace and not by works" suffers because of its brevity. It does not take into account the whole counsel of God. It leaves the impression that God has given grace such that it does not really matter how we behave. An intelligent high school student after reading the New Testament would understand that this is not what it teaches.
There is confusion today over the Sabbath, and perhaps to a lesser degree over circumcision. There should be none over circumcision after reading the Book of Galatians.
But the Sabbath is obeyed by godly Christians who believe we still are under the Ten Commandments.
The truth is, all the commandments were obeyed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and the righteousness that He gained by so doing is applied to us if we are careful to walk prayerfully in the Spirit of God rather than to yield to the promptings of our sinful nature.
But is the moral law of God contained in an abridged fashion in the Ten Commandments still binding on us? No, if we have died with Christ, for, as Paul explained, the Law has no authority over us after we die.
Yes, in still a higher sense. All of the Ten Commandments, and numerous other moral imperatives, are binding on us, but in a transcendent sense. This the Scribes and Pharisees did not understand, and so they condemned Christ when His disciples ate grains of wheat on the Sabbath Day (which by the way is Saturday, not Sunday).
To understand the transcendent sense of the Sabbath we must consider its purpose. The purpose of the Sabbath, according to the Book of Isaiah, is that we should spend that one day per week thinking about God; seeking His pleasure rather than our own.
"If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13,14)
One can see in the above passage the true intent of the Sabbath commandment. It is to set aside one day each week in which we put our affections on the Lord and seek to please Him. The Sabbath commandment is not fulfilled merely by not working at our job.
What is the transcendent form of this fourth commandment? It is to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus at all times, day and night, not just on Saturday. This is the eternal Sabbath, in which the Lord Jesus always lives by the Life of the Father and we live by Christ's Life.
Christ actually was obeying the Sabbath commandment when the Scribes and Pharisees were accusing Him of breaking it, because Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly. If this were not true, He would not have been righteous.
Every aspect of the true intent of the Law of Moses, including the Sabbath and circumcision, is fulfilled in the Christian as he or she learns to live by the Life of Jesus: to think as Jesus is thinking; to speak as Jesus is speaking; to act as Jesus is acting. This is how Jesus lived by the Father. This is how we are to live by the Lord Jesus.
The sacrifice we offer is our own body, not the blood of bulls and goats.
The new covenant is related to the Law of Moses in that while the Law of Moses was carved in granite slabs, the intent of the Law is carved in our mind and heart. Thus we are the flesh becoming the Word of God.
We can see then how superior the new covenant is to the Law of Moses. It results in a righteousness of personality and behavior that never could be accomplished by the Law of Moses alone, given our sinful nature.
So when the Apostle Paul was arguing that we gain righteousness by believing in Christ rather than by adhering to the Law of Moses, Paul assuredly did not mean by this that we are to live in any manner we please and go to Heaven by making a profession of belief in Christ.
By believing in Christ, Paul meant following the living Christ as He leads us in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
By faith in Christ, Paul meant obedience to Christ, just as is illustrated in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
By grace, Paul meant the Divine enablements that come to us through Christ. First we are forgiven our past sins. Then, by God's grace, we receive wisdom and strength each day so we can overcome the various forces and problems that attempt to lead us away from following Christ.
Each day we resolutely turn our back on the past, bringing with us, as we face the future, only the lessons that have been learned. As we obey Christ He keeps our record spotlessly clean so we can confidently proceed, realizing that when we die we will receive the "well done" of the Lord.
As I meditate in the Old Testament, I realize what an awesome disservice has been done to the Christian community by the errors of Dispensationalism. I can see in King David so many comparisons with my own life, and can take comfort in David's words as he asked God to see if there was any iniquity in him and to lead him in the way everlasting, as he besought God for a clean heart and a right spirit.
Just consider how Dispensationalism has robbed us of the exhortations to righteousness and the comforts of the Old Testament, by claiming that we now are in a "special dispensation," a departure from all that has gone before in the continuing program of redemption. Can you see what a grievous distraction this is?
I sure hope that in the not too distant future, as we can notice by the events, that there has been no "pre-tribulation rapture" to save us from the moral corruption and chaos that are on the horizon. I trust that scholars then will discard the destructive theory of Dispensationalism as being one of the major heresies of the Christian era.
Have I got it right? News flash: God gave His Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. Christ did not die on the cross so that those who persist in wickedness will escape Hell and go to Heaven to live in a glorious mansion. If such were the case it were well we never were born, because Heaven would be filled with wicked people. It would be the same as the earth of today.
Am I correct? Think about it.
But isn't it true that eternal life and going to Heaven are the same experience? Why would we imagine such a thing? Eternal life is a state of being. Heaven is a place in the spirit world where Christ and His saints dwell. A state of being compared with going to a place. Quite a difference, wouldn't you say?
Well, if I correctly perceive Christian preaching and teaching, it is presenting an unscriptural goal. The almost universal goal of Christian preaching, I gather, is to "make Heaven our home." How many times have you heard that? And yet there is not a passage of Scripture that informs us Heaven is our eternal home. Not one single passage!
How did we fall into this trap? I expect it occurred in the early days of the Christian Era as the Catholic Church imitated the many other religions of the day. The other religions, without exception I guess, point to some sort of life in a spirit paradise as being the destiny of those who obey the rules of the accepted religion. Thus the original teachings of the Apostles were lost.
Well, they are being restored in our day as part of the promised endtime revival.
Our goal is eternal Life, the Life of Jesus Christ who is the Tree of Life. Every moment of every day, death and Life (I am capitalizing Life for emphasis) struggle for mastery over us. When we do what we know would please God, eternal Life increases in us. When we yield to sin, eternal death increases in us. It is just a simple as that.
The Lord Jesus did not come to us so we could keep on yielding to sin and reap eternal Life.
Let us think about eternal Life. Ordinarily we would speculate about living forever in Heaven, or perhaps about bodily immortality. Bodily immortality is promised in the New Testament. But because of erroneous teaching, most Christians think of endless spiritual existence in Heaven.
Duration of consciousness is not what is meant by eternal Life. As far as I know, all spirits have eternal consciousness, though some will be in the Lake of Fire, the second death.
Rather, eternal Life is the Life of God that comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternal Life includes endless fellowship with God, as well as eternal love, joy, and peace. If we have eternal Life it will be as true on the earth of the future as it will be in Heaven. It is a state of being, not a place.
But what about Heaven? Sin began in Heaven, not on the earth. One of the two cherubim that covered God's Throne with their wings, Satan by name, decided to usurp the place of the Father. It reminds us of Absalom. This is where sin began. Then Satan brought it down to the earth with him.
Is it possible to sin in Heaven? Apparently so!
So our goal is not to go to Heaven and live in a mansion doing nothing of significance for eternity. Our goal is eternal Life, the Life that Jesus Christ is. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. In Christ eternally dwells all the Fullness of God in a bodily form.
The Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, was in Eden. He also was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the same garden. By eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve died spiritually. If they first had eaten of the Tree of Life they would still be living, but as immortal sinners and enemies of God.
This is why the tenth chapter of Hebrews warns those who have tasted of Christ and then turn away:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
You may notice that God begins by giving us of the eternal Life that is in Christ. Then, He feeds us little by little with the knowledge of good and evil. God teaches us and empowers us so we are able to embrace fervently that which is good, and just as resolutely denounce and renounce that which is evil. Adam and Eve would have reversed this order, and so they were deprived of the Tree of Life before they became immortal enemies of God.
As God promised, in the day they disobeyed God they died. God warns us also that if we follow our sinful nature rather than the Spirit of God we shall die.
So the battle rages in our personality. We continually are tempted to invite eternal death into our being. But Christ offers to let us eat of the Tree of Life in the Paradise of God, if we will refuse eternal death and choose eternal Life. We have to overcome sin, through Christ, if we are to be given to eat from the Tree of Life that is in the Paradise of God, just as many thousands of years ago it was in the midst of the Garden of Eden.
We notice that the Apostle Paul was earnestly striving to attain to the resurrection, that is, to immortality in the body. Since Jesus said that all who were in the graves would come forth, some to Life and some to judgment, it indeed is surprising that Paul was pressing forward to that which already has been promised.
But it may be true that the resurrection to life is something that must be attained to. The Book of Revelation mentions a first resurrection, which probably is the resurrection to life of which Jesus spoke. In any case, Paul was setting to one side all he had gained during his earthly life, counting it all as garbage that he might attain to the resurrection which is to life.
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come outthose who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)
Jesus said that if we are to eat of the Tree of Life we must overcome what comes against us and live a victorious Christian life. If such is the case, we of today are taking entirely too much for granted when we tell people if they will just raise their hand they will escape Hell and go to Heaven and live in a mansion.
In fact I saw one evangelist, while making an altar call, notice a young person who lifted his eyes and stared at the evangelist. This would be normal for a young boy to do. The evangelist counted this as a person who had just "accepted Christ." I suppose the next step will be that everyone who continues to breathe during the altar call may be counted as someone who "accepted Christ."
But gaining eternal Life is not that simple. Jesus said the door is small and the way is rugged that leads to eternal Life. He did not say if you looked up at the evangelist you have gained eternal life and will assuredly go to Heaven.
We are in a mess today in our doctrine.
In our haste to build a big church we are neglecting to say that if one would be a disciple he must deny himself, take up his cross of death to self, and follow the Master at all times. We are making eternal Life to be some sort of legal contract with God by which we live forever in our fallen state. The truth is, eternal Life is a kind of life, just like biologic life. Eternal life can be seen in a person. It is the Life of God.
If we faithfully follow Christ, he makes us a life-giving spirit, like Himself. Then the day will come when we will be able to bring eternal Life to those of mankind who are spiritually dead. This is a true and worthy goal for us to have, not to escape to the spirit world and rest for eternity.
There is a first death, which is to live on the earth without Christ. The first death can be overcome through Christ. There is a second death, which is the Lake of Fire. Once an individual has been thrown into the Lake of Fire he begins to grow into the likeness of Satan. The Lake of Fire is not redemptive. It is an eternal punishment of those who refuse to obey the Lord Jesus.
Christ and Life. Satan and death. Each one of us has to choose. God gave us His Son so we can choose Life. To go to Heaven solves nothing for God or for us. If the prodigal comes home and continues his undisciplined ways, it would be best he never came home.
The second perception is that Christ and the Father are the same Person. Those who subscribe to this viewpoint are very determined about it, insisting that people who have been baptized previously in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be baptized again in the name of Jesus only.
From my point of view, both of these positions are incorrect.
There are several passages that tell us Jesus is God's Son, and as such He is not co-equal with the Father. Ordinarily a father is greater than his son. Jesus Himself stated this:
"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." (John 14:28)
"The Father is greater than I." Yes, or no. I say, "Yes." The Father is greater than the Lord Jesus.
I think theologians have a way of getting around this somehow. I don't particularly care if they can. I am of the opinion that if you have to employ gymnastics to make the Bible say something different from what clearly is stated, you probably are in error.
"In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God. The Word was God." Why was the Word, God? Were there two Gods? Yes, and no. There was the Father, the Creator of all. And then the Word came forth from the Father, and therefore Himself was and is God.
But this does not make of no effect Christ's statement that the Father is greater than He. Yes, Christ is God and is worshiped as God. But Christ is not the Father; and the Father is greater than He and was before Him.
The Word is called "Christ," because God has anointed the Word with the Spirit of God so He may deliver the creation from Satan. The Word was made flesh for two reasons. One is that the written Word, which never can be changed, has assigned the rulership of the creation to "man," and so Christ had to become "man" in order to inherit the creation that He himself spoke into being.
Second, so that Christ could have an intimate relationship with other persons, who also are flesh. After all, it is a love storythe Wife of the Lamb!
The Bible states that Christ learned obedience through suffering. Christ learned obedience to the Father; the Father did not learn obedience to Christ. Therefore the Father is greater than Christ.
Christ prays to the Father and makes intercession for us. Therefore the Father is greater than Christ.
Christ lives by the Father. Therefore the Father is greater than Christ. The Father does not live by Christ.
The Father said to Christ, "Sit on my right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool." Therefore the Father is greater than Christ.
Christ is the Son of the Father. The Father is not the Son of Christ. Therefore Christ is greater than the Father.
Christ cried out to the Father in Gethsemane that He might not have to drink the cup of separation from the Father. The Father did not cry out that He might be required to drink the cup of separation from Christ.
Christ came to earth to show us the way to the Father. The Father did not come to earth to show us the way to Christ.
Christ told His disciples that He was ascending to His Father and His God. The Father never referred to Christ as His Father and His God. This is ridiculous, to say the least.
Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the House of God. The Father is not the cornerstone of His own House.
Christ does not know the hour of His return. Only the Father knows this.
Christ cannot assign people to His right and left hand in the Kingdom. Only the Father can do that.
The Father gave Christ the Book of Revelation to give to John. Christ did not give the Father the Book of Revelation to give to John.
Jesus prays to the Father in Heaven. The Father does not pray to Christ in Heaven.
Christ came forth from the Father. The Father did not come forth from Christ.
The Father proclaimed Christ "God." Christ did not proclaim the Father "God."
The Father gave Christ all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. Christ did not give the Father all authority in Heaven and upon the earth.
Christ did not say to the Father, "You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
Christ did not overshadow the Father as a cloud; but the Father did overshadow Christ as a Cloud.
Jesus said that the works He did, the words He spoke, were not from Himself but from the Father. The Father never said the works that He did were not His own but those of Christ.
God gave His Son so mankind could attain to eternal Life. Christ did not give the Father so mankind could attain to eternal Life.
I believe the above sentences might give the reader the sense that the Father indeed is greater than the Son and was before the Son. All that Christ is came from the Father. All that the Father is did not come from the Son.
The Father and the Son are two different people. They are not the same person in two different forms. That viewpoint does not agree with the New Testament writings.
Nor is it true that these two People are equal in origin; equal in authority; equal in power; equal in knowledge. The Father was before Christ. The Father said to the Son, ask of Me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth for your possession.
In the passage above, the Father was inviting the Son to pray to Him. The Son never would invite the Father to pray to Him.
To me it is clear that the doctrine that teaches the Father and the Son are the same Person is not close to being Scriptural. Also, the doctrine that the Father and the Son are equal Gods is not close to being Scriptural.
I believe these misunderstandings came about because theologians have attempted to understand the Godhead by intellectual processes. This cannot be done. It is only as Christ is formed in us that we begin to understand the Father and have a sense that He is our loving Father.
Christ did not come to earth to point to Himself, except that as He draws men to Himself He can bring them to the Father. Christ is not the way, the truth, and the life of Himself or of Heaven, but of the Father. It is through Christ that we are reconciled to the Father, because it is the Father against whom we have sinned.
If you will read through the New Testament you may notice that when the term "God" is employed, it ordinarily is referring to the Father, not to Christ.
It is proper to worship Christ and to pray to Him, however.
There is no doubt in my mind that Christ was the "I am" of Israel. But I believe it was the Father who required the offering of blood to make an atonement. It does not seem right in my mind that a blood offering would be offered to Christ. God is a Spirit. Therefore He is not entirely comprehensible to us. However Jesus Christ has become a Man, and we can understand Him somewhat. Actually it takes a lifetime of fellowship with Christ to come to know Him even in a small measure.
Christ was a blood sacrifice offered to the invisible God to make an atonement for the sins of the world. Christ was a sacrifice made to God. The Father never was a sacrifice made to propitiate the wrath of Christ.
So the common usage of "God" as meaning the Father, and "Lord" as meaning Christ, is proper.
The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (Psalms 110:1)
"The Lord our righteousness." The Lord is our righteousness. Exactly what does this mean?
This question is important, because in our day, "identification" with Christ often is the emphasis of the pastors and evangelists. This works out in Christian understanding as "we are righteous because Christ is righteous and we are identified with Him; we are an overcomer because Christ overcame sin and rebellion, and we are an overcomer because we are identified with Him."
The idea of "identification with Christ" appears to be prominent in today's Christian thinking.
Now, think for a moment about this, if you will. The Christian is not actually righteous in behavior. The Christian is not actually holy in personality. The Christian is not actually an overcomer. This is what is taught to what may be the majority of Christian people in America.
So we have churches of people who are not righteous in behavior; not holy in personality; and not living a victorious Christian life. By "victorious Christian life" I am referring to the believer overcoming each day the forces that seek to separate Him or Her from the will of Christ.
What is the result of such preaching? Christians who behave unrighteously; think, speak, and practice moral filth; and are defeated in the struggle against sin. Do we actually have to struggle against sin?
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:4)
What do you say about this? Is this the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? How could it possibly be? It does not have even the moral teachings of many other religions. It exists in a state of illusion, trusting that the believers are righteous, holy, and victorious in God's sight although they are not.
There is no light of good works for people to see and glorify God. There is no "salt" that makes mankind palatable to God. There is no witness of God, His Person, His will, and His eternal purpose in Christ.
I believe I am correct that the Christian churches of America are greatly deceived because of false doctrine. Consequently our political leaders at all levels, who look to the Christian churches for moral guidance, are passing immoral laws. The President does not glorify God by his actions or speech. Thus we are approaching severe Divine judgment as a nationall because of the false teaching of grace-rapture-Heaven.
What is to be done? I am not certain. I do notice from time to time a believer here and a believer there who appears to be hearing from the Lord. However, the greater number of believers seem to be comfortable in their ignorance of what the Spirit of God is saying in our time.
Let me digress for just a moment and speak of the difference between Christ and the Christian religion. The Christian religion consists of a number of manmade beliefs and activities. Christ is in Heaven, and we are supposed to adhere to the Statement of Faith of our denomination until He appears a second time to the earth.
Christ, on the other hand, is a living Person. Whoever desires to can speak to Him continually, asking His opinion on all matters of daily life. Eventually we can learn to life by His Life, such that our thinking, speaking, and acting reflect His thinking, speaking, and acting.
Can you see the difference between following the manmade beliefs and rules of an organization while Christ remains in Heaven; and living at all times in the Presence and will of the living Jesus? There is a big difference between the living Jesus, and the Christian religion and all other religions.
With these thoughts in mind, we can approach the true meaning of "the Lord our righteousness." There are two aspects of the meaning:
First, the atoning blood of the cross, forgives our sins of the past so we can begin the program of redemption. Then the Lord becomes our righteousness because He is being formed in us; and one day the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will make Their eternal Home in the Divine Nature of Christ which has been formed in us.
The result of being filled with all the Fullness of God is that we will be righteous in thought, word, and deedactually righteous, honest, truthful, morally pure, kind, merciful, and so forth.
Isn't this how the New Testament defines the new covenant? The eternal moral law of God is inscribed in our mind and heart. Thus we are the flesh becoming the Word of God.
Can you see how it is true that the Lord Himself is our Righteousness? We behave righteously, not by our own wisdom and strength, but by the Divine Nature which has been formed in us and is dwelling in us. How different this is from claiming we are righteous while we are dishonest, false in what we say, immoral, harsh, unforgiving, and otherwise revealing our sinful nature!
Second, the Lord Jesus declares us to be righteous, not while we are wicked but while we are following Him closely and obeying Him in all matters.
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)
While we are serving the Lord we still have parts of our personality that as yet have not been re-created in Christ. Christ covers that which remains to be changed and declares us righteous (justifies us).
This is a far cry from the current viewpoint that there is no need for us to seek to behave righteously because God already see us as righteous through Christ.
The first covering is needed so God's blessing can remain on us while we are being made a new creation. The second perpetual covering is a delusion, a monumental error in Christian theology. God does not cover our sin while we are not pressing forward into Christ's Person and will.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
Christ, the Lord, is our righteousness. By the blood atonement. By filling us with the Fullness of God so we behave righteously. By declaring us so while we are pressing forward to become a life-giving spirit.
The idea that we are righteous and an overcomer by identification is to make the Kingdom of God a legal state in the mind of God, and in existence nowhere else. It is an unreal redemption without actual substance.
It is customary among us Christians to speak of "being a witness for Christ." We are fond of urging people to "witness for Christ."
I may be mistaken but I do not believe we are using the term correctly. What we mean is to preach Christ, or to do personal work of some sort.
In court, a witness is someone who has seen or heard something. The witness is not permitted to draw conclusions.
At the time I first became a Christian I was admonished to "bear witness. To tell everyone I met about Jesus." I had a friend who was good at this sort of thing, and, I believe, usually was well received. But it was not so with me. It was a weight that I bore for a few years.
After some disappointing experiences, I finally said to the Lord, "I am not doing this well. I am not going to attempt to 'witness for Christ' any longer unless you guide and help me."
So I ceased trying to tell everyone I met about Jesus, and settled down to do what I felt God was directing me to do. I have not attempted to tell anyone about Jesus since thenover 60 years ago.
Remarkably enough, every time I go to the hospital or talk with a nurse or doctor I end up telling them about my experience with Jesus. This has happened on many occasions. Yet, I never try to do this. It just seems to happen!
The last time I went to our family physician, whom we have known for thirty years of more, I told him about my new awareness of the spirit world. As we parted, he said, "You really have given me something to think about."
You know, I was not trying to "preach Christ" to Dr. McCarberg, or get him to "accept Christ." But I know (or at least I think) the Holy Spirit planted a seed of the Kingdom in our doctor and personal friend.
Perhaps this is the way it is supposed to be. Many times while in the hospital I walked around the ward and spoke to some of the patients, who were elderly. I just had a desire to do that. Sometimes we talked about the Lord, sometimes not. But I never tried to get anyone to "accept Christ." I enjoyed what I was doing. I know the patients felt that.
As Oswald Chambers mentioned to the effect that when you are trying to convert people, your listeners can "smell the gunpowder." I think this was the expression he used. They sense what you are trying to do and are repulsed by it, unless the Spirit of God is leading you and is preparing the listener.
Notice again, if you will:
"I have revealed and saved and proclaimedI, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "that I am God." (Isaiah 43:12)
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)
When you do not drown and are not burned you have something to testify about.
I suppose anyone who has been saved for two weeks can preach the Gospel. If the Holy Spirit is leading, much fruit for the Lord can be produced.
But that is not a testimony. That is preaching, the work of evangelism.
I have been a disciple of Jesus for many years. During this period of time I have had many supernatural experiences. I have recounted many of them in my book, Godwill Castle. This book is available in the Kindle Library, for those of you who have an electronic tablet.
In my book I am bearing witness of what has happened to me. I am not attempting to get anyone "saved." My ministry is that of an exhorter to Christian people to press on in Christ. Perhaps someone will get saved through my ministry, but my purpose is to encourage the believers to press on to all Christ has for them.
I enjoy doing this. I am not straining to do something that is a burden to me, as was true in the old days when I was attempting to "witness for Christ."
I have ended up being a pastor of a church, which never was my intention. Also, I have an Internet site (http://www.wor.org) that contains over 800 books, booklets, and pamphlets that present the information I think Christ has given me to help build up the members of His Body to the stature of the fullness of Christ. I am receiving an average of 4,000 downloads a day on my wor Internet site, so I suppose there are people who are being helped.
I became a Christian while in the Marine Corps, in 1944. A year later, while stationed in Japan, the Lord Jesus called me to preach the Gospel. So after the war I went to Bible school in San Diego, California. While in Bible School the Lord gave me some insight into the Bible, which I am teaching to the present hour.
A few years ago I became more aware of the spirit world than had been true previously. This awareness resulted in my book that I mentioned, Godwill Castle. Godwill Castle pretends that I have died from a second heart attack (I already have had one), and visited the spirit world.
I am being conservative when I say the book is fiction. Actually, it came to me as fast as I could write it, as a series of impressions. So I can testify truly concerning that. Since the book is largely autobiographical, it is describing my walk with Jesus for several decades. My point is, a person might become a preacher after being a Christian for two weeks. But becoming a witness of God requires a lifetime of experiences with the Lord.
Of what do we bear witness after several years of knowing Jesus? We tell of God's Person; of how we have found Him to be faithful in incident after incident. We speak of His will, which we seek each day. We mention His ways, which we learn after several years. We tell of His eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ, which we become more assured of each day of our pilgrimage.
Am I making sense to you?
There is much Gospel preaching in America today, in the churches; on the radio; on the television; on the Internet. But you know what! It appears that the American people are growing cynical concerning Christian people and their religion. Why is this? It is because the fruit of righteous behavior is not being borne.
The pastors and evangelists repeat endlessly "grace" as a substitute for righteous behavior.
A "pre-tribulation rapture is announced," in which the Church is to disappear and leave the world, including God's chosen people, the Jews, to the tender mercies of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.
There is mention of a life in a mansion in Heaven doing nothing of significance, while the world groans in futility and frustration, waiting for the Servant of the Lord (ChristHead and Body) to appear and bring justice to the nations.
The world, including America, is in an uproar today. The citizens of many nations are in rebellion. The followers of Islam are entering Western nations, a religion dedicated to the overthrow of most or all of our cherished traditions.
Our President appears to be supportive of homosexual behavior, of the entrance of other religions and races into our country under the principle of inclusiveness, and also of abortion for no cause other than to prove the freedom of mothers to murder their babies. The aborting of children in America is certain to bring the wrath of God upon us.
None of this would be true today if the Christian churches had been preaching cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of a popular gospel designed to bring as many people as possible into the churches.
A true witness of God appears to be scarce in America, England, and Scandinavia. These nations used to be pillars of the Kingdom of God. Now they are given over to sexual lust, and to the false god of freedom of expression.
According to the Bible, we are not free to express our own inclinations; rather we are free to find the will of God by presenting our body a living sacrifice. We are devoted to the pursuit of happiness and individual freedom rather than the pursuit of righteousness and obedience to Christ.
I cannot see a possibility of a return to our old values in the United States, although I am praying for the installation of righteous leaders at all levels of government. Otherwise the future is grim indeed.
There is one thing each of us can do, however. We can seek the Presence of Jesus Christ at all times, day and night. We can resolve to live by His life in all areas of our thinking, speaking, and acting. We can set aside our own life that the Life of Christ may be exhibited in us.
If we will be faithful in serving the Lord in this manner, we will save ourselves and our loved ones, and others who may hear us, throughout the age of horrors that is on the horizon.
"The mystery of God will be accomplished." The mystery of God is Christ in you.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
While I am writing, in December of 2011, the sounds and sights of Christmas are becoming more pronounced each day. We are celebrating Emmanuel, God with us. And so we should.
But Christ with us is not the mystery of the Gospel. The mystery of the Gospel of the Kingdom is Christ in us. This is an altogether different Good News.
In 1948, while Audrey and I were in Bible school, our chapel speaker for a week was Elmer E. Fullerton. Brother Fullerton was an honorary presbyter of the Assemblies of God denomination, I was told by Pastor Dowell, the president of the Bible school. Fullerton had a long record of establishing churches and pastoring.
In his sixties, while pastoring in San Pedro, California, I believe it was, he resigned the church because he was dissatisfied with the spiritual level he was witnessing. He went back to Arizona to consult with a distinguished elder, Samuel S. Scull. Brother Fullerton was trying to renew his spiritual life.
As I recall his story, he had been prayed for by Aimee Semple McPherson. Evidently there was a healing at that time, but years later the tuberculosis returned. He was prayed for by Smith-Wigglesworth. Smith-Wigglesworth struck him on the chest, which was Wigglesworth's style, and Brother Fullerton fell down. The Lord spoke to him at that time, "If you had waited for Me, I would not have hurt you."
As time went on worse the tuberculosis grew worse. He kept hearing two voices. One voice said, "Hold on and I will heal you." The other voice said, "You are complete in Him." He did not know which voice was the Lord.
Finally, his death approaching, he was placed in an oxygen tent. This probably was in Tempe, Arizona. As he lay there in the oxygen tent, he reflected on the number of times he had preached healing, and now his testimony was ruined. He was dying from an illness.
He became so weak he could hold out no longer. He said to the Lord, "I have preached healing for years, but I cannot hold out any longer." Then Brother Fullerton said, "I give up."
Immediately the Spirit said to him, "This is what I have been waiting for."
From that moment Brother Fullerton began to mend. After leaving the hospital he got back in his car to return to California, where his family was. While he was in the desert between Arizona and California, for some reason his car overturned. His books went flying everywhere. He received the impression that he was not going to need them and finished driving to California.
He never told us students how his car was put back on the road.
When he arrived in California he went to a motel. At some point, in the motel, he began to speak in tongues. He spoke in tongues for quite a while. He said that the Lord started to show Him the holy city, but he got so excited the vision left him.
The motel where he was staying was not far from the Bible school. He was known to Brother Dowell, the president of the Berean Bible school, but not to any of us students. So Brother Dowell invited him to speak to the students during our chapel time. This he did.
I wish you could have seen the old prophet. He was very thin. I suppose he had not fully recovered from the tuberculosis. As weak and as thin as he was, he lit a fire in me that has burned with increasing heat until the present moment.
One time Brother Fullerton said, "When God explains something to you, don't say 'I see.' You still don't know anything. Say, 'Thank you, Lord'" On another occasion he said, "I thought I was going to die and go to Heaven. Now I know I am going to walk straight into Glory."
I was not raised in a Christian home and I knew very little about Pentecost at the time, except for what I experienced in Berean. But God in his goodness permitted me to hear Elmer Fullerton when he was fresh from his revelation in the motel. Also Walter Harris, originally a Baptist minister as I remember, who had been Dr. Yocum's (sp.?) secretary.
Dr. Yocum was a worker of miracles in the early days of Pentecost.
Walter Harris was my Greek teacher. He recounted many miracles that he knew of. On one occasion a sick man was prayed for. The sick individual floated up from his bed and out the window. Then he floated back into the room and stood up on his feet, perfectly healed.
Brother Harris told of one incident in which Dr. Yocum was standing in a doorway. A man went by on crutches. Dr. Yocum prayed. As he watched, the man put the crutches on his shoulder and continued walking away.
On still another occasion, a man died and was laid on a couch in a mission. When it was time for the evening meal, someone called out, "Time for supper." The dead man got off the couch and walked into the dining room.
While Audrey and I were attending Berean there was an elderly lady who decided to do what God told her when she was younger, and enrolled in Berean. Her husband had received the baptism with the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street, and she had worked with "Sister" (Aimee Semple McPherson). So you see, God saw to it that I was exposed to the true Pentecostal revival. This was in 1948, in San Diego, California.
It was not long after that, that Brother Fullerton passed away.
I had just been discharged from the Marine Corps. I still was a new Christian of about three years experience, twenty-one years of age. Audrey and I were not married as yet.
I just drank in what Brother Fullerton was teaching. I still refer to him as "old Brother Fullerton," although when he died in his sixties he was twenty years younger than I am now.
His message was "the rest of God." I can still picture his shaking his bony finger at us and yelling, "You are Him!" I realize this is bad grammar, but "You are He" just doesn't sound right.
I knew at that time, and do to this day, that he was not saying that we are Jesus. He was emphasizing that Christ is not just to be with us, He is to be in us. We are to be made in His image, and indwelt by Him, until we can say, "He who has seen me has seen Jesus."
I understand that we still have a ways to go. I know I do. We are not speaking here of some spiritual novelty, in which we boast about being God. I know this happens today, as Charismatic people, not understanding the steps of redemption that follows Pentecost, wrest some verses that to them prove they are God.
But think for a moment about Paul's testimony:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
Would Paul have been far out of line to say, "He who has seen me has seen Christ"? I think to a perhaps somewhat limited measure, this would have been accurate. Do you?
Old Brother Fullerton (ha ha) got across to me that the important move of God at this time is for us to enter the rest of God (I had never heard anyone preach on the rest of God), meaning that we cease from all of our own works and live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
Anyone familiar with my writings is aware how often the "rest of God" crops up. It is the main thrust of many of my numerous books and essays.
Later, after Brother Fullerton passed away, a Bible teacher, by the name of Oliver Ellenwood, came to the tent on the border of National City where we were worshiping, and taught us about the seven feasts of Israel. I was so taken with these seven celebrations I began to think deeply about them.
The Bible school was Pentecostal in doctrine and experience. But Pentecost is the fourth of seven observances. I began to think about the last three, realizing that if the first four were fulfilled in our Christian experience, it was likely that the final three would be also.
The final three feasts of the Lord are the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.
I did not understand at that time the spiritual significance of the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement (I do now, and have written quite a bit about the spiritual fulfillment of these two celebrations). But what impressed me was the final observance, the feast of Tabernacles. I became occupied with this final, and climactic, holiday.
Now you can see how the Lord was working in my mind, as inexperienced as I was. First, Fullerton with Christ in you and the rest of God. Then, Ellenwood with the steps of redemption climaxing with the celebration that speaks of the dwelling of God in us. Can you see the connection?
After leaving Bible school, Audrey and I were married. I finally went into public education as a college professor, and later as an elementary-school teacher and principal. During that time the plan of redemption developed in my mind. The seven Levitical convocations were pegs on which my thinking hung.
When I was fifty years of age, God called Audrey and me to leave education and pastor a church in Poway, California. We have been there, at Mount Zion Fellowship, for more than thirty years.
I have taught much on the meaning of the feast of Firstfruits (the born-again experience) and the Day of Atonement (the Divine judgment of mankind beginning with the Church); and then the other four festivals to a lesser extent.
But my emphasis always has been on the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. I have come to realize that this fulfillment takes place in two primary dimensions. First, Christ must be planted in us as a seed, and then come to maturity in us. Second, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit come and make that which has been formed in us Their eternal home and resting place.
This completed house is referred to in the Book of Revelation as the Tabernacle of God, the new Jerusalem, the holy city. The Tabernacle of God is destined to come down from Heaven to the new earth and rule for eternity the saved people from the nations.
I believe all of us can understand what I have just written. It really is straightforward and not complicated at all.
Now, to get back to the verse which I am endeavoring to explain:
But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
It appears that there will be a period of time during which the seventh angel prepares to sound his trumpet. I believe we are in that period today. We can picture him raising his massive trumpet to his lips. The seventh angel then sounds the last trumpet. The Apostle Paul informed us that at the last trumpet our bodies would be clothed with immortality and the kingdom of the world would become the Kingdom of God and of His Christ.
If I am not mistaken, the Kingdom of Christ includes those saints who are members of the Body of Christ. Paul told us that God's Christ is one whole, of which the Head is the Lord Jesus and we are the members of His Body. It all composes one Christ, one Anointed Deliverer.
Paul informed us also that when Christ appears we shall appear with Him.
Now we see why there must be a period of time before the seventh angel sounds and the end of the Church Era. It is because during this period the mystery of Christ in us shall be accomplished, at least in a godly remnant.
For two thousand years the Christian churches have emphasized Christ, the King, appearing and governing the nations of the earth. Christ in that sense is with us. But Christ with us is not the mystery of the Gospel. The mystery is Christ in us.
Now, why is it still a mystery? I suppose because the preceding two thousand years of the Christian era included events and steps of redemption that are the necessary prerequisites of the crowning work of redemptionthe forming and dwelling of the Fullness of the Godhead in us.
Could it be possible that God has kept the best wine until now?
Notice a relevant passage in the Book of Isaiah:
Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:7,8)
The Church did not travail in birth to bring forth the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. But the Church is in travail today to bring forth the male Son. The male Son is Christ in us. This travail is described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
It is interesting, isn't it that we, in the closing days of the Church Era, should be privileged to be alive upon the earth while Christ is being formed in us. If I am not mistaken, the members of the Body of Christ in the spirit world also are experiencing this travail. Else how could we all come to perfection together?
The Church is a holy nation, a royal priesthood. It will be brought forth "in a moment."
Let me qualify this by saying a firstfruits of the Church will be brought forth in the near future, and is in this process today. But eventually the entire Church, the Body of Christ, will be made perfect and descend from Heaven as the Tabernacle of God.
As I understand it, the purpose of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, that separates the next coming of Christ from the final resurrection and advent of the new heaven and earth, is to bring the entire Church to maturity. The firstfruits are as an advance guard, and will play a role in the perfecting of the remainder of the Body of Christ.
You can think of it as a man in chains who gets his hands loose and then sets about to release the remainder of his body.
Such is the spiritual fulfillment of the seventh Levitical observance, the feast of Tabernacles.
If you and I are to participate in this fullness of the program of redemption we must take advantage of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our day. Our preparation to a great extent consists of our confessing and renouncing our sins, as the Spirit of God points them out to us. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.
Now is the time to learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every day and every night we are to listen, listen, listen to what Christ is saying to us. We are to be strictly obedient at every moment to the will of Christ. We are being prepared to bring the Kingdom of God, the will of God, into the earth. We cannot work with the Lord Jesus in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth until we are totally obedient to Him.
As I look about it appears to me that many American Christians are somewhat casual concerning the intense preparation that is to occur today. They often are lackadaisical, being occupied with one thing and another. They cannot seem to grasp the fact that our nation is being destroyed by numerous forces that are coming against our traditional culture and values.
Today, as we were singing in church the familiar Christmas carols, many from England I suppose, I felt sad because these and other aspects of our culture are being attacked in favor of multiculturalism. I have noticed, from the days I was involved in public-school work, the inroads multiculturalism is making.
Yet, the American public has never spoken with one voice saying America is to be a melting pot in which people coming to our shores leave their own culture in favor of becoming Americans, and we are opposed to the concept of multiculturalism.
The concept of the "melting pot" is being eroded by the new idea of inclusiveness, which boiled down means we are to include the ideas and religions of other cultures. This will not bring about the desired peaceful perpetuation of America. Rather, the more militant of the incoming hordes will seek to destroy such cherished traditions as Christmas in favor of "winter holidays." This usurpation already is taking place in America and England.
So goodbye to our cherished Christmas carols. Goodbye to the other traditions we have inherited from England, our original mother country. Even England itself is giving way before aggressive religions who see as their obligation the removing of all things Christian and the imposing of gods of violence and blood who demand exclusive worship.
But America and England are not chosen nations, as it true of Israel. America and England are doomed to become insignificant powers in the world, if they are not destroyed altogether, because of having forsaken the Lord Jesus. Israel will stand throughout all of the chaos, because it is a chosen nation and her Supporter is mighty indeed!
In the midst of this the male Son is being born, as a dispersed remnant are hearing the voice of the Spirit and responding with total obedience and total consecration. Before Christ returns, and in spite of all the schemes of the world political leaders, the remnant will come together in perfect union in each other, in Christ, and in the Father. Each of them will be filled with the Fullness of God.
Then the King of all Kings will return, and with Him the firstfruits of His Body. They shall destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet, and drive the demons into the spiritual prisons. Satan himself shall be locked in the Bottomless Pit until the final resurrection and judgment.
No matter what takes place on the earth, if you and I will give ourselves wholly to the Lord Jesus, setting aside our own life, we will stand in Christ throughout the coming chaos and greet the King when He appears with His saints. Also, if they choose to listen to us, our loved ones and many others will stand in Christ and not be destroyed by the overwhelming ocean of moral depravity that is on the horizon.
When the darkest hour is here, the Glory of God will rise on the godly remnant and all nations will come to their Light. This is what the Lord God of Heaven spoke through Isaiah, and this is what shall take place.
And there is no power in the heavens or upon the earth that can in any manner whatever prevent the complete fulfillment of all Isaiah spoke to God's saints.
The Apostle Paul, when speaking of those who act according to their sinful nature, did not warn believers about Hell as the result of living sinfully but about two consequences of sin: spiritual death, and not inheriting the Kingdom of God.
Paul spoke also of reaping destruction:
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 6:8)
Paul could have said, "The one who sows to please his sinful nature will go to Hell when he dies." But he did not say that. Rather, Paul pointed out that we reap destruction from our own sinful nature. Paul makes the parallel that if we obey the Spirit of God and live in the Spirit of God, we will reap eternal life.
It appears to be a sowing and reaping, as though our punishment is to reap what we ourselves are sowing. This does not sound to me like going to a place called Hell. Actually it reminds me of a passage in the last chapter of Daniel that speaks of our facing shame when we are resurrected. This may be because what we are in personality is revealed in our body when we are resurrected, and the result is contempt on the part of those who see us.
So the contrast is between the destruction of our personality and eternal life. One resulting in contempt. The other resulting in our being in the image of God.
If Paul was the writer of the Book of Hebrews, he did mention that if a Christian sins willfully he is in danger of fire.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
Now, the above verse could be construed to mean Hell, but it does not say that. The Apostles never spoke of going to Hell or going to Heaven. The Lord Jesus did speak of Hell several times. But John 3:16 refers to eternal life, not to Hell or to Heaven.
Actually, going to Heaven or Hell is not a matter of how we obeyed the practices or beliefs of our religion but how we behaved while living on the earth; what kind of person we are.
The Lord Jesus referred to Hell about eleven times; but never did He present belief in Himself or in any religion as being an escape from Hell. He always spoke of wicked behavior. The rich man was in Hell, not because he did not believe in Jesus but because he was selfish. He would not share his food with the poor.
So we see that our destiny after death is not based on any religious observances but on what kind of person we are. Religion can help if it makes us a better person, but not otherwise.
Of course, if God presents Jesus to us as our Lord and Savior, and we reject Him, good works will not save us. God is determined that Jesus shall be our Lord, Resurrection, and eternal Life. If we knowingly reject Him, there is no where to go after death except to the outer darkness.
There is no eternal Life or Presence of God apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. But we cannot say we believe in Christ and proceed to obey our sinful nature, and then claim we are saved by grace. This is the great perversion of contemporary Christian teaching. We make ourselves the enemy of God when we continue to sin deliberately no matter how much we profess to believe in Christ.
The above warning is in sore need of being proclaimed throughout the Christian family.
Well then, what about when we die. Do all of those who are "saved" go to live in a mansion in the spirit world, and all those who are "lost" go to Hell and then to the Lake of Fire?
It is certain that all those whose names are in the Book of Life will be granted citizenship in the new world of righteousness, and all those whose names are not in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. There can be no exception to these two rules because they are stated in the unerring Scripture, which cannot be altered in any manner for eternity.
Therefore two questions remain: first, how can we be sure our name is in the Book of Life; second, do all the people whose names are in the Book of Life go to Heaven to live forever in a glorious mansion?
Let me speak first about God's dislike of mixtures.
Keep my decrees. "'Do not mate different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.'" (Leviticus 19:19)
"'Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together.'" (Deuteronomy 22:10,11)
The above two passages point out what we can expect after we die. We are going to be with people like ourselves. God does not like mixtures!
Do the Scriptures suggest that there are significant difference in the Kingdom of God? The first parable that comes to mind is that of the sower. Three kinds of soil bore fruit to three different degrees. The three different degrees refer to the development of Christ in the individual.
When we think of Israel, particularly of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, we can see the three levels of holiness: the descendants of Aaron; the Levites; and the remainder of the Israelites. Even the Levites were not holy enough to see the furnishings inside the Tent. The furnishings had to be covered by the priests before the Levites were able to see them or carry them on the march.
What is God telling us by this? It is that the descendants of Aaron were holier than the Levites according to God's will.
It is interesting to me that when the Lord Jesus was on the Mount of Transfiguration, only Peter, James, and John were permitted to see His Glory. I wonder how the remaining nine disciples felt when they found out later that they had missed seeing Jesus in the Glory of His Kingdom.
8888The disciples were still human and had human feelings. We see this as they argued about who among them would be the greatest.
We may not enjoy the thought, but there well may be people in the Kingdom whom God regards as holier then we are and are destined to be closer to Himperhaps throughout eternity.
We may not relish the idea or even accept that God has chosen some people to be closer to Him than is true of others. However, if we truly have been converted, we would be just as pleased and happy sweeping up behind the horses in the royal parade as we would sitting with Jesus in the front chariot.
We have been commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves; and we will not be granted liberty in the Land of Light until we have attained to this Kingdom law. If we truly love our neighbor we will rejoice when he or she is exalted.
But what about when we die? I believe firmly, since I know of no passage of the Scriptures that suggests differently, that we will go to be with people like ourselves. God does not like mixtures.
If it is true that each of us upon dying will be placed with people like ourselves, then how is the spirit world arranged.
I present the following, having little scriptural support for my ideas:
As I see it, the spirit world is divided into the Land of Light and the Land of Darkness.
In the Land of Light there are two principal areas: first, the new Jerusalem; second, the rest of the Land of Light, which is filled with communities.
Within the new Jerusalem are God's elect. Some are filled with Christ thirtyfold; some sixtyfold; some a hundredfold. The hundredfold are closest to the Throne of God, which is in the center of the holy city.
Outside of the new Jerusalem are the communities of saved people. All people in the Land of Light or the new Jerusalem, must be dealt with until they love God with all their heart and their neighbors as themselves. As I said previously, no individual will be permitted freedom in the Land of Light until the two great laws of the Kingdom have been established in his or her personality.
When we use the term "Heaven" we ordinarily are thinking of the new Jerusalem, the home of the elect.
The Land of Darkness includes the seven areas I set forth in a previous essay, as well as various caves and prisons in which certain types of people are contained. There is no contact between people in the Land of Light, or people in the Land of Darkness, in which Hell is at the lowest, most horrible point.
I believe, however, that in certain circumstances, people in the area of Tormented Consciences, which is the area nearest to the Land of Light, if the angels supervising them decide there has been sufficient remorse and desire to serve Christ, may be moved to the Land of Light. Otherwise there is no contact between the two areas.
What I have just written is not based on the Scriptures, although it is not contrary to the Scriptures in any way that I know of. It is what I seem to be aware of in the spirit world. Perhaps your awareness of the spirit world is different from mine. Well, one thing is certainyou and I will know what is true when we get there.
How can you tell where you are going to be placed after you die? One way is by your behavior. If you are a victorious Christian you already are located in the new Jerusalem and are at the right hand of God in Christ.
If you are a decent person, as judged by the conscience of ordinary people whose judgment has not been corrupted by religion, philosophy, or education, you most likely will enter the Land of Light. But you probably will have to go to school.
Most people have to be taught to love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves. Nothing short of this is acceptable in the Land of Light if it takes a thousand years for the individual to master the curriculum.
Another way you can tell where you will be placed after you die is by the company you keep now while living on the earth. If you prefer people who love Christ and want to talk about Him and their experiences with Him, then you will be placed in the new Jerusalem if you are one of God's elect; or in a community in the Land of Light if you are not of the elect, or are of the elect but still need some brushing up in the area of personal relationships.
So where you will be placed is no big mystery. You will be placed where you belong. Any unbiased intelligent person who knows you well can guess pretty accurately where you belong.
If you are a vicious, mean, hateful, unforgiving, self-seeking, self-centered person, you can say Christ is your Savior all you want to but you will not be placed in the Land of Light and assuredly not in the new Jerusalem. You would turn Heaven into Hell, just as you do today with your relatives and friends.
If you are an ordinary, decent person, and do not reject Christ when He is presented to you, you will enter the Land of Light upon your death.
If you are a fervent, victorious Christian, as I said, you already are in Christ at the right hand of God in the new Jerusalem. You will be placed with those like yourself, the heroes of faith of all generations. Daniel, Isaiah, and Elijah will be among your friends and family.
As for the casual Christians, the lukewarm, they are not at all on firm ground. They are the lukewarm and shall be spit out of the mouth of Christ. Where they will go after they die probably is the Land of Darkness, along with those who wasted their Kingdom talents.
So no, it is not a Heaven or Hell destiny when we die. Our common sense should tell us that. The casual, worldly professors of Christ have little in common with the David Brainerds and shall not be placed with them. As I have stated, God does not enjoy mixtures.
Let the holy be holy. Let the victorious be victorious. Let the lukewarm be lukewarm. Let the careless and casual be careless and casual. Let the wicked be wicked. Let the morally filthy be morally filthy. Eliminate the mixtures. Make straight the way of the Lord.
I hope what I have written in this essay about going where we belong will be of help to you. Because of the destructive emphasis on grace-Heaven-rapture, only God knows how many believers in Christ are coming short of God's Glory, not denying themselves; not taking up their cross of self-denial; not following Christ in their daily lives.
In America at least, the Christian testimony has become a flickering light because of the conduct of the ministry and the congregations. Little by little the governments at all levels, to be politically correct, are setting aside Christian beliefs and institutions so other religions will not be offended.
Yet, one of these "protected" religions has declared, by their holy book, that they are going to murder everyone who is not of their persuasion. This situation should be intolerable to loyal Americans and much more so to Christian people.
But we are soft, lazy, and comfortable, willing to live and let live. And we want to give freedom of religion to everyone, not realizing that the leaders of other religions are teaching their communicants to work for our downfall.
If we are to believe the Old Testament, it is God who is raising up these villains so they may take advantage of our pleasure-loving ways and little by little supplant our cherished customs. They desire to do away with our traditions such as Christmas and its carols, and replace them with their own murderous religion. Many people in leadership positions are too fearful to resist them, wanting to save their own skins, as we say.
But what can we do when American women are murdering their own offspring to prove they have the right to do so. Our President appears to be supporting them in this. Sexual perversions that God hates abound among us, and will bring destruction upon us as they have in times past when a country was given over to sexual excesses and perversions.
Both our secular leaders and our religious leaders are betraying us. They are not demanding righteousness but are pursuing their own democratic and humanistic agendas. It appears to me they are fearful of doing otherwise. Am I incorrect in this?
What shall we then doeach one of us. We mustwe absolutely mustlearn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus. We must look to Him for all our thoughts, all our words, and all our actions, every day and every night that we live on this earth. We at all times must pray for a clean heart and a right spirit.
If we faithfully look to Jesus as our Lord in all aspects of our life, we will save ourselves, our loved ones, and all others who look to us. We shall stand together in Christ no matter how God's fiery judgments stalk the land.
No political leadership is going to protect us. No religious leader is going to help us unless he turns away from the current unscriptural traditions. No one is going to help us except Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
In God's sight the nations of the earth are as one drop in a bucket. God laughs at those who rebel against Him. Woe, woe, woe to the earth when God stops laughing!
God Himself is our Salvation. God Himself is our Rock that no spirit or human can dislodge. Those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be as Mount Zion which never can be removed.
The person who chooses to make the secret place of the Most High his or her eternal home shall be eternally secure under the shadow of the Almighty God.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
Have you ever envied Enoch? I have. How wonderful it would be to have God lift us into His Presence.
I wonder how Enoch lived that God would do this for him. You know, it wasn't a resurrection, because Jesus has the honor of being the firstborn from the dead. Enoch did not die. He apparently was carried up to Heaven in his body.
Now, we might think that no one can be in his or her body in the spirit world. But the Lord Jesus Christ is in the spirit world and He did not leave His body here. The cave of Joseph of Arimathea is empty.
How could anyone live in the Spirit world in a human body? There is no air to breathe. Actually Jesus was in a resurrected body, having been raised from the dead. But Enoch was still in a human body, as far as we know. Also Elijah was carried up to Heaven in a human body. All that was left was his mantle, that became the possession of Elisha.
The people in the spirit world do not have physical bodies. They have spiritual forms of some kind. But Enoch and Elisha are in the spirit world with their physical bodies. How can this be? I guess we will have to wait until we die and are in the spirit world before we find out.
Before Enoch was taken away from the earth and his family he had this testimony: He pleased God. So the way to be snatched up from our present life is to please God.
Also, we have to have faith.
By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)
Well, I think today, no matter how we please God, or how much faith we have, we are not going to be carried up to Heaven. God is doing something in us that Enoch and Elijah had not experienced when they were taken away. We, through the Spirit of God, are putting to death our sinful nature that we may be resurrected in our spiritual nature and live in Christ at the right hand of God.
Paul the Apostle was not seeking to be translated to Heaven but to attain to the resurrection of his inward nature that he might be prepared to be resurrected in his body when Christ returned. Perhaps it is true that Enoch and Elijah, and numerous other members of the Body of Christ, are experiencing this inward resurrection while they are in the spirit world. Otherwise, how can they be made perfect together with us?
What would it be like to have a physical body in the spirit world? I do not know, and I don't see any passage of Scripture that would give us understanding of this issue. Perhaps when they return with Christ they will be clothed with their new body, just as will be true of the saints alive on the earth when the Lord returns.
Remember also that during the thousand-year Kingdom Age (the Millennium), those who were raised in the first resurrection will have access to the spirit world, just as the resurrected Jesus has a resurrection body while in the spirit world today, and they will be teaching and otherwise helping people who at that time will still be in spiritual form.
So I don't suppose it makes much difference in the spirit world whether we have a physical body or a spiritual form. There is a difference while on the earth, however. If we have only a spiritual form we cannot be seen by other people.
Now to get to the main purpose of this brief essay: what it means to walk with God.
In our day, a great emphasis Is place on "getting saved," or "accepting Christ," or winning souls for Christ. I do not see this emphasis in the Scriptures. It reminds me of what Christ said about compassing land and sea to make one proselyte. I guess from this the Jews had this same emphasis at that time.
Indeed, that is what we sometimes makea proselyte to our religion rather than a man or woman who walks with God. It is this emphasis on what can amount to nothing more than an initiate into our religion, our statement of faith. But the true work of the Kingdom, which is the bringing forth of a new creation, is not always accomplished.
I will go so far as to say it seldom is accomplished, from the looks of things.
How many pastors and evangelists preach every Sunday, or during "revival" meetings, about getting saved; about grace that hides our behavior from God's sight; about a pre-tribulation rapture of the believers so they will not have to endure Antichrist and the great tribulation; and about living forever in a mansion in Heaven?
Where is the emphasis on walking with God? Enoch pleased God by walking with God. Elijah's whole life was one of fellowship with God. This was true also of the Apostle Paul.
If we preach that grace hides our behavior from God's eyes, how will that result in our listeners walking with God?
If we preach that at any moment we are going to be carried up to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation, how will that result in our listeners walking with God?
If we preach that when we die we will live in a beautiful mansion in Heaven doing nothing of significance for eternity, how will that result in our listeners walking with God?
After we get someone to take the initial step of redemption, we challenge him to go forth and bring in the lost. The truth is, the people we are challenging to go forth and bring in the lost are themselves the merest babies in the Kingdom of God. They do not actually go forth, most of them. But they hear repeated Sunday after Sunday that they must go forth and save "a lost and dying world." They soon learn to let this exhortation flow over their head while they think of something else during the "service."
Why this unrelenting emphasis on the initial step of redemption? Why is there little or no emphasis on becoming a new creation of righteous behavior that causes the people of the world to glorify God?
I am not speaking of political activity in which we rail against abortion or homosexual behavior. This sort of action, while it may be fitting on some occasions, ordinarily is not sponsored by the Lord. It is just our frustration with the immoral state of the American public.
I think the reason for our misplaced emphasis is nothing more than the desire of the leaders of the organization and churches to increase their prestige. Perhaps in some instances they are hearing from God, but I do not hear them speaking of what the Lord told them. It is more of a challenge to go out and obey the "Great Commission," which means get as many souls saved and brought into a church as you can.
However, the Great Commission is not about getting souls saved but about making disciples who keep Christ's commands. But we speak to them about a "grace" under which they are not obligated to keep Christ's commands.
There may be many ministers of pure hearts who really are hearing from the Lord, but you would not know this from their speech and writings. In fact, in some instances they scorn those "useless" people who are warming benches and not out "saving souls," even though these same "useless people" are not being taught how to walk with God.
You must understand that I am speaking generally. Yet I believe the churches need to wake up to the fact that they do not know what Christ is saying to His people today. In many instances the Spirit is telling us to confess and renounce our sins. This is because the Day of Atonement, of reconciliation to God, follows Pentecost. It is the current move of the Spirit.
We must teach the people first of all that walking with God is a personal experience. It is not a group experience, even though we may be part of a large assembly. God spends many years perfecting one of His witnesses before that individual is ready to bear a true witness of Himself.
During this period of perfecting, God becomes increasingly close to the person, sometimes, but not always, speaking to him or her about using a gift of ministry that God has given. Ordinarily this gift or ministry is not about foreign missions but about helping the fellow members of the Body of Christ to grow in Christ.
The stated goal of the gifts and ministries is as follows:
Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
You almost never hear about the gifts and ministries being given to every member of the Body of Christ, and the need to exercise them. Yet, the Body of Christ cannot come to maturity without the operation of these endowments.
Instead what do we hear: "Go out and save the lost." This is not the calling of the majority of the believers. The admonition is coming from the mind of well meaning ministers who are not hearing from God.
God is looking for people who will walk with Him, as Enoch did. God loves that daily, personal interaction between Him and the individual whom He has called. Perhaps you may have noticed that Jesus said if we would open the door of our personality to Him, He would dine with us. He did not say He would strengthen us so we could go forth and save "a lost and dying world."
It is a love story, as we see from the Song of Solomon. Our present-day administrators would scorn the idea that the primary calling of some people is to love and worship Jesus. They would cry, "Get out and save the lost. Why are you moaning about how you love Jesus when there are sinners who are going to Hell?"
When you hear this you know you are in the presence of Babylon. This is the way Babylon talks, because it does not know Christ, only religion.
One time, when I was teaching an adult Sunday-school class in a large church, we often spent some time singing in the Spirit and worshiping. An evangelist who came to the church mocked the people who were singing in the Spirit. Can you imagine such ignorance? Well, it is widespread in the churches of our country.
The emphasis seldom is on taking up our cross of denial and following our Lord each moment, communing with Him, being careful to obey His slightest wish. Rather, what is stressed is workthe work of building babylonish structures.
Well, such leaders and the people who listen to them are missing the true, lasting joy of the Christian experience. It is that of walking with Christ, learning His will and His ways, coming to know Him, as Paul emphasized.
You notice when Paul told us his goal, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, he said nothing about our going forth to save a lost and dying world. Rather, he told us about how he was pressing forward to know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings and the power of His resurrection, that Paul might attain to that resurrection.
Those that want to can work under the whiplash of the babylonish denominations. However, let's you and me draw closer to Christ every moment of every day, having fellowship with Him even though there may be times of suffering.
There just is nothing like being in continual interaction with the Lord Jesus. If our ministry is needed, Jesus will make it happen and it will be the greatest joy we have experienced. In spite of the great joy of drawing water from our own well of salvation to give drink to people thirsty for the water of eternal life, our walk with God must remain the highest priority of our life.
No matter how great may be our successes in life, the most important consideration must always be our walk with the Lord Jesus. Other religious people may live according to their religion and their sacred texts. We Christians are to walk humbly at all times with the living Christ and have fellowship with Him.
Notice that the words above are not addressed to the people of the world but to Christians. They very well could be addressed to several of our churches in America.
The Lord's thinking is different from ours, isn't it. We would prefer that a person be lukewarm for Jesus than out and out for Satan or for the world. The problem is, the Lord cannot do anything with a lukewarm Christian. If he were wicked, the Lord could judge him and lead him to repentance, or deliver him to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.
But the lukewarm believer is not wicked enough to be put in Hell or to be delivered to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. Neither is he righteous enough that God can have fellowship with Him and he can bear witness of Christ. He is useless as far as the work of the Kingdom is concerned.
What does it mean to be lukewarm? It means that the following passages of Scripture are not being fulfilled in our life:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)
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." (Luke 9:23)
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:11,12)
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
How many believers do you know who are presenting their body a living sacrifice to God that they may prove His will concerning their gifts and ministries? Most church attenders, I believe, have no idea what gift or gifts the Spirit of God has given them. If they do know, they are not making the use of them the top priority of their life.
They are lukewarm, not violently wicked, not sold out to Jesus or Satan, but lukewarm.
How many believers do you know who deny themselves rather than choose the way of Christ, when they are faced with an attractive temptation? How many believers do you know who remain in God's prison for many years, even when they are denied what they desire so fervently and are compelled by circumstances to keep serving God in unpleasant circumstances?
How many believers do you know who take up their cross and follow the Master faithfully through every day and night? Not very many, I am afraid.
They are lukewarm, not violently wicked, not sold out to Jesus or Satan, but lukewarm.
How many believers do you know who have the sentence of death in themselves, as did the Apostle Paul, and trust in Him who raises the dead to keep them alive one day at a time? How many believers refuse to permit sin to control their body? Not very many.
They are lukewarm, not violently wicked, not sold out to Jesus or Satan, but lukewarm.
How many believers do you know who listen carefully to the Spirit of God as He points out the filthy parts of their personality, and then confess these areas of darkness and with all their might, pray to Christ to help them denounce and renounce these behaviors, and resolve vigorously never to practice them againnot even one time? Not very many, I think.
They are lukewarm, not violently wicked, not sold out to Satan, but lukewarm.
Well, what happens to lukewarm believers, of whom we have enough in America to share with the rest of the world? They shall be spit from the Lord's mouth.
I wonder if being spit from Christ's mouth is the same as being cut from the Vine? Precisely what would it mean to a church-attender to be spit from Christ's mouth? It certainly would mean an end of fellowship with Jesus!
"Oh, Brother Thompson, not our gentle, loving Jesus! My Savior would never do such a thing to me."
"The Scripture says He shall. He never tells lies, you know."
We have a soft, soupy, timid Gospel in America. We will come out boldly against the people of the world, declaring that all aborters and homosexuals with go straight to Hell. Yet, we will not tell God's people that God views their lukewarmness as unworthy of His fellowship.
Their casual, careless, worldly minded, undisciplined, wasteful of their talents, approach to their salvation is not going to be tolerated by the Lord. Sooner or later He will act to force them to be hot or cold. The coming of that Day of Judgment to America is more certain than the rising of the sun in the morning.
"But God is love," we gush in our sentimental manner.
We know nothing of God's love. What father would give the son that He loves as a blood sacrifice on behalf of others? Think of this sometimes when you are viewing God's love as some sort of human sentimentality.
It may be true that the greatest surprise we will have when we die and go to the spirit world is how literally and specifically true the words of the Bible are.
The Bible is much harsher, if I may use the term, than ordinarily is presented in America. The prophets are warning us that terrible judgments are on the horizon because of our lukewarmness, our carelessness with the Kingdom treasures that have been allotted to us. The purpose of these judgments is not to destroy us but to get us off the fence that divides fervent discipleship and casual church-attendance.
We simply must become more fervent in our obedience to Christ; in our inviting His presence each moment of each day and night. Many of us may have lost our first love, substituting religious work for fervent love for Christ.
Notice what Jesus stated concerning the closing days of the Church Age. We may be in this period now, or shall be shortly:
"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:9-14)
That does not sound like our good ol' loving Jesus, does it? How are the soft church-attenders of our day going to respond when the time comes?
I will tell you how I believe they will respond. Those who are lukewarm now will either become fervent disciples or else fall away.
Jesus told us that when we are one with each other, in Him, in the Father, the world will believe. It seems to me that it will require great tribulation before the casual, undisciplined, worldly Christians of America will grow hot or cold, either turning to Antichrist and the world system, or else becoming one with all true saints in Christ in the Father.
The teaching of grace-Heaven-rapture has certainly been responsible for much of the lukewarmness. The believers have been lulled to sleep, believing that before the words of Jesus will be fulfilled we will be carried up to the great Sunday school picnic in the sky.
After many years of study I have come to the conclusion that only the firstfruits of the Church, the godly remnant, both in the spirit world and on the earth, will be raised from the dead and ascend to meet Jesus in the air when He returns, and then descend with Him.
When the Lord descends with His saints it is for the purpose of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. Only those in whom the four passages I presented previously have been fulfilled are qualified and competent to work with the Lord Jesus in installing the Kingdom of God, the will of God, on the earth.
It seems to me that this should be obvious to every intelligent, unbiased reader of the Bible. How could the casual church-attenders of our day descend with the Lord and face the angry nations, who are accustomed to living according to their own pleasures? I think some of the angry people will be the casual church-attenders, who will be blaming everyone in sight because they were not raised in this first resurrection.
This is the way they behave now, and I see no reason they should change. They are self-centered and worldly minded, and that is the best that can be said of them. They do not have the fruit of the Spirit because they have not sown to the Spirit.
The days in which we are living are those during which the seventh angel is preparing to sound. It is a time of preparation. Those who are hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches are confessing their sins and seeking Christ with all of their heart that they might serve Him night and day.
The "believers" who are leading worldly lives are not hearing what the Spirit is saying. They are spiritually dead and will be spiritually dead when they die physically. Theirs is not an enviable destinynow or after death.
There is no need for anyone reading my words to remain deaf to the Spirit. If he will obey the four passages I am setting forth as an example of what Christ expects of us, there is no reason he or she can't join the godly remnant and be prepared for the marvelous, unbelievable Glory that is at hand.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to Godthis is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)
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." (Luke 9:23)
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Romans 6:11,12)
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
But those who continue in their careless manner are facing horrors no matter how much they profess to believe in Christ.
Restore us to yourself, O LORD, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure. (Lamentations 5:21,22)
Israel was tricked into permitting the Gibeonites to live among them as woodcutters and water carriers. They were supposed to have slain them all, because the Gibeonites lived within the land of promise.
Later in the history of Israel, Saul sought to kill all the Gibeonites. But because Joshua and the elders had sworn to them that they could remain alive, the Lord imposed a famine on the land. It is interesting that during the reign of King David, the Tent of Meeting had been situated at the high place in Gibeon while the Ark of the Covenant remained in Jerusalem.
How often is it true that when a Christian has a strong trait of character that he doesn't want to be delivered from, and yet he thinks might not be of God, he decides to "use it" for Christ.
For example, he might have a violent temper. He is not certain this is pleasing to the Lord, but he decides he can use it to force to be done what he believes is God's will. His anger is not of the Spirit of God, but he thinks God may have given it to Him to accomplish God's will. Speaking symbolically, he made his anger a woodcutter and water carrier for the House of God.
His trait or "gift" may be a talent or ability of some sort. He decides to "use it for God" without inquiring of Christ if the Lord desires that he use his ability in the service of the Kingdom. He or she may have a spectacular ability in music, or business, or one of the sciences, or art, or teaching, or politics, or in a sport. But these usually are of the natural man and are of little use in the Kingdom.
Well intentioned people will urge him to "use your ability for Christ." But the Lord did not say that. And so, the ability, which may not be of God at all but of his original adamic nature, is inserted into Gospel work and causes the believer to miss what God has for him. I wonder how many ministers there are who missed their calling in life!
A Christian couple may have a child who shows extraordinary ability in music, or art, or athletics, or even preaching the Gospel. They think this is a sure sign that God wants their child to develop the ability and enter into the "obvious" career. If they had gone to the Lord in the beginning and let the Lord lead them and the child. they might find out none of these areas was in the mind of the Lord for the young person.
So they were tricked, just as Joshua and the elders were tricked into making peace with the Gibeonites. If they had been careful to ask Christ before they became enthusiastic about the career of their child, they would have put their thinking and efforts into the right direction.
The husky, muscular boy might be the Lord's choice for an elementary teacher, and athletics would be a false trail.
That beautiful, talented girl with acting ability might be chosen by the Lord to be a missionary to Kolkata, India, to work with poor, afflicted people. But her parents, being ambitious, might prod her from an early age into a school for aspiring actresses. This very well could lead to her downfall, since drug use and homosexual behavior seem to be unusually common among actors and actresses. Also multiple marriages. Is money the motive of the parents?
We might suspect that our strong points are not compatible with the way in which we think God may be leading us. If we do not ask Jesus, we may attempt to make our abilities "woodcutters and water carriers," something we think we can use to serve Christ. But they may not be pleasing at all to the Lord.
We might desire to marry a handsome man or a beautiful girl, imagining he or she could help us in Gospel work. But it is not too long before we see that the individual is of no help at allactually a hindrance.
So the lesson that Joshua and the elders of Israel, and each of us has to learn, is to pray carefully over each decision we make, and never take anything for granted. We are in a warfare, and our opponent walks about ceaselessly seeking to prevent us from serving Jesus as we should.
God does not lead everyone in the same manner. Some communicate with the Lord continually and often hear words in their mind or spirit. Others have developed a set of cues that they look to, to determine what way God is leading.
Then there are Christians who are not even aware that they can have a continual interaction with Jesus. However, they read their Bible each day and seek diligently to know the Lord's will.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the way to determine God's will is to present our body a living sacrifice. This is the safest, surest way to prove God's will.
I have heard prophecies pronounced over believers. Usually these are somewhat grandiose in nature, promising great things. It is seldom that these "great things" materialize. I think it is because the believer is not carrying his cross after Jesus, denying himself and obeying the Lord implicitly.
There are numerous believers who tell us God does not speak to us today, except through the Bible. They are mistaken. In every generation God speaks to those who will listen. This is true in all the covenants from the beginning.
The Bible is a general guide to us, helping us judge the spirits. But a general guide is not sufficient help when we are faced with specific decisions, in which the alternatives are equally godly. Say we have two job offers. They are excellent. As far as we can tell, each has the same advantages and the same disadvantages. In this case, it would be difficult to be led by the Bible.
So we commit our decision to the Lord and pray without ceasing. In one way or another, if we hold steady before the Lord, God will in some manner indicate the job offer we should take.
Which reminds me: Don't jump too quickly. Keep things on the back burner until you hear the whole counsel of God. What you hear immediately may not be the voice of the Lord. And don't tell me you always know the Lord's voice. Satan and his demons can imitate God's voice until the most experienced Christian can be deceived.
Wait, and pray. Wait, and pray. Wait, and pray until you have to make a decision. After you do make your decision, watch carefully the fruit of what you are doing. Does it look like God? What are other people saying? Bring it up to God again if peace and joy do not follow your decision.
Ordinarily God's will, will bring peace and joy when you think about it. You may be considering another direction that seems logical to you; but you have a sinking feeling concerning that other direction. This seldom is the Lord's will.
God will lead you by circumstances. When I got of the Marine Corps I was in San Diego. The Lord had called me to preach a year earlier. So I began thinking of a seminary. Having been brought up near Yale University I naturally thought of Yale Divinity School.
But I did not have a good feeling about Yale, although it certainly was logical in that I am familiar with the New Haven area.
So I cast about looking for a school of divinity, or Bible school. Since many veterans had just been discharged, and the GI Bill was available, there were no openings.
Finally I heard from a small, Assemblies of God Bible school in San Diego. They had an opening, and so I attended Berean.
Well, I am here to tell you, that was God's master stroke. There I became acquainted with Pentecost, speaking in tongues, Azusa Street, and the rest.
Some of the men that came to the Bible school were Stanley Howard Frodsham; Elmer E. Fullerton; Walter Harris; and Thomas Wyatt of Wings of Healing. There were other speaker as well. I, who never had heard of Pentecost while being raised in New England, was immersed in the Pentecostal culture.
One thing led to another until here I am, over sixty years later, an ordained Foursquare pastor of a church in Poway, California.
Speaking in tongues is the entrance into the rest of God, where we learn to live by the Life of Jesus. This has been my experience.
I have a talent as a pianist and a good musical education. I have composed many original choir anthems. Recently I composed a piano piece titled "God Is My Salvation." I will tell you for a fact that that piece kind of wrote itself. But none of this means I am to be a "musical evangelist."
In fact, when I went to the Lord about it, He said playing the piano was only for my own enjoyment and was not a significant aspect of my ministry.
When I write it is from a burden. I preach without notes, except for Scripture references, for an hour each Sunday morning. I receive a burden and preach from that rather than from an outline.
So my life has been one of following the leading of the Spirit of God. Even though I might have made a success as a classical pianist, the Lord did not lead in that direction. I worked in public education for a quarter of a century, and then the Lord spoke to my wife Audrey and me that it was time to enter the ministry. I was fifty years old at that time.
We left everything, including my state pension, and started in a small Foursquare church in Poway, California. We have been there over thirty years. I have preached without notes all that time, leaning on the Lord to give voice to the burden I was feeling at the time.
We have a church council and they started me at a small salary. I have never asked them for a raise, although they have seen fit to give me one from time to time. Audrey and I have never lacked anything, a house, car, food, or anything else.
Now all of this was accomplished by following the Spirit of God. Has there been fruit? I think so. We now are averaging 4,000 downloads a day on our Internet site. I never seek to add people to the church. Yet God has sent in just the people we need to send out the word of the Kingdom to all parts of the earth.
All of my writings are in the Kindle library, over 800 books, booklets, and essays. They are available throughout the world where anyone has an electronic tablet reader.
I am writing all this personal information to emphasize that we can be led by the Spirit if we are prayerful and careful. We have to be leading a consecrated life, being absolutely obedient to Christ when we are sure of His will. When we are not certain what He wants, we go carefully, one step at a time, observing the fruit of the decision we have made.
I resolved when we first came to Poway to have no plans of my own but to let God build His own church the way He wanted it. A newspaper women, whose assignment was to interview each new pastor in the area, asked me what my plans were. That startled me. I suddenly realized I had no plans. So I told her that.
She was amazed. She told me I was the first pastor she had ever interviewed who did not have numerous plans.
Well, I still do not have plans.
Without doing anything but obeying the Lord we have two Internet sites; our writings in the Kindle library; numerous books and booklets that we send out free of charge to several third-world countries; we are on two local television stations; we send out audio and video tapes; we have an outreach to Mexico; and are supporting some Filipino efforts.
I had prayed early one morning, while living in Palo Alto and teaching in an elementary school, that God would enable me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air. This was before the personal computer and the Internet, so I had no idea how God would answer.
After that prayer I taught five sessions at the Morris Cerullo school when it was in San Diego. There I was able to speak to many leaders of third-world countries. I have preached in Iceland and in Europe. We have friends in the Faroe Islands.
So from a simple prayer of a fifth-grade teacher of the Walter Hays elementary school in Palo Alto has emerged all these things. I think these are a good example of what can happen when we cease from our own ideas and works and just follow the Spirit of God.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenantnot of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
The inference in the verse above is that the Law of Moses is a covenant of the letter. The new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit of God. And what does it mean that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life?
The Ten Commandments, perhaps the most prominent of the various ordinances of the Law of Moses, was inscribed on granite slabs. As far as I know, there was no spiritual assistance to help an individual believer obey the commandments.
In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote that although he was covetous there was no problem. But when Paul learned of the commandment outlawing covetousness, the sin revived and Paul died.
But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (Romans 7:8-10)
Now here is a strange thing. When he was apart from the Ten Commandments, Paul was alive. But the Law caused sin to spring to life. (Think of that!) The result of sin springing to life was that Paul died, that is, became guilty before God. This reminds us of Adam and Eve being guilty before God by eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
It is clear, therefore, that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Law of God. Even more than that, it is Christ Himself, for Christ is the Word of God made flesh. It is through Christ that we learn to embrace righteous behavior fervently and to vigorously denounce and renounce unrighteous behavior.
There was no help offered to the worshipers when God wrote the Ten Commandments or issued any of the other ordinances of the Law of Moses. If you wanted God's blessing you obeyed them as well as you could.
But, as Paul pointed out, he wanted to obey the Ten Commandments but he was unable to do so because of the sin dwelling in his body.
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:17,18)
God realized when He issued the commands that people were unable to obey them. So God provided a way for an individual to maintain a clear conscience toward God. The way of forgiveness was through animal sacrifice.
Scholars, in their haste to show the superiority of the new covenant, have maintained that sins were not actually forgiven under the old covenant. This is not true. The Scripture in several places says they actually were forgiven.
He shall burn all the fat on the altar as he burned the fat of the fellowship offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the man's sin, and he will be forgiven. (Leviticus 4:26)
Was the man forgiven or wasn't he? The above is an example of scholars twisting the Scriptures in order to support their own conclusions.
So we see that sin was dealt with in two manners. First, righteous and unrighteous behavior were defined. Second, provision was made through animal sacrifice so the worshiper could regain fellowship with God after he or she had broken the Divine Law.
Sin actually was sin and forgiveness actually was forgiveness.
How then is the new covenant superior? The new covenant is superior in several ways:
First, a perfect sacrifice was offereda sacrifice that does not need to be repeated upon every offense.
Second, "Grace" was provided. It is right at this point that the current theology so often breaks down. The purpose of grace is twofold. It relieves us of having to obey the Law of Moses. Through grace we die to the Law so it has no more jurisdiction over us.
Grace also provides a blood-covering over us as long as we are following the Spirit of God. If this were not the case, we never would have a clear conscience. But we can have a clear conscience as long as we are obeying Christ and only as long as we are obeying Christ at all times. The destructive teaching of today tells us that "grace" is a perpetual covering over us whether or not we are obeying Christ at all times.
What a monstrous lie this is. It is a masterpiece of satanic deception and has ruined the testimony of the Christian churches.
What horrid teaching I had in Bible school. About the only accurate instruction I had, as I remember, was Bible geography and New Testament Greek.
I was taught that no one can do God's will. I have lived long enough to learn differently:
The greatest lesson any creature of God will learn is that we were created to do God's will and not our own.
I was taught that the purpose of grace is to keep us in a state of forgiveness, because God knows no individual can do His will.
This is not the purpose of grace. The purpose of grace is to provide a way for us to be forgiven, and then to please God by our behavior. In other words, to make us a new creation of righteous behavior. The purpose of grace is to free us from the authority of the Law of Moses so we can look to Christ and follow the Holy Spirit.
What I have written above is so clear to me that I do not understand why it is not just as clear to every sincere Christian. To the contrary, because of my teaching about character transformation I am accused of teaching "works."
Once again let me protest. I am not teaching that we save ourselves by behaving righteously. I am saying rather that righteous behavior is produced by salvation. When righteous behavior does not begin to be evident in a believer's life, he or she is not being "saved."
How can I say that? It is for this reason. Being saved customarily means that when we die we will escape Hell and go to Heaven. This is not a scriptural definition of being saved. Being saved means being delivered from the chains of sin. We are saved from lust, drunkenness, lying, covetousness, hatred, unforgiveness, and so forth.
As long as we are bound with sexual lust and perversions we have not been saved from sexual lust and perversions. As long as we are filled with bitterness we have not been saved from bitterness. Does that make sense?
Follow it through. Since there is no lust and bitterness in Mount Zion, the Church of the Firstborn in Heaven, we are not qualified to live there if we are bitter and unforgiving. Does that make sense to you?
So we need to be saved from such behavior if we are to live in Heaven. Does that make sense?
The reason I keep asking if I am making sense is because it appears the majority of Christians do not believe what I am teaching. So either I am making sense or I am not. I leave it up to you to decide.
Now, I will be asked, if I am not saved from bitterness and unforgiveness, will I still go to Heaven when I die? What do you think? Probably not, because the saints in Heaven are not filled with bitterness and unforgiveness.
"What am I to do?" You must be saved from bitterness and unforgiveness if you wish to be a saint in Heaven.
"I was told when I die I will be freed from bitterness and unforgiveness." It is true that when you die in Christ you are free from the Law of Moses; this is to say, you are free from the guilt of bitterness and unforgiveness provided you are following Christ each day. But no one is freed from the bondages of sin by dying. What we are we are, even after we die.
The saints in Heaven are not bitter and unforgiving. So you do not belong there until you have been saved from these chains of sin.
I was told that when Jesus comes He will set me free. Think about the parable of the sowers. Was the man who buried his talent set free when the Lord came?
But the Bible says I will be changed in a moment when the Lord comes. That expression comes from the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians and is referring only to the change in the body of the victorious saints.
Is what I am saying logical, reasonable, and totally scriptural? If it is, then we are not preaching the new covenant today. That is all there is to that!
So I really am not teaching that we save ourselves by works of righteousness that we do in our own strength. I am claiming that salvation is the process of changing us from the image of Satan to the image of Christ. I cannot see why any devout Christian possibly could object to that statement.
Under the new covenant the believer is to accept the atonement made on the cross of Calvary as resulting in the complete forgiveness of his sins of the past, and also of the future if he or she continues to live in obedience to Christ, denying himself, taking up his cross, and following Jesus every day. This is a better covenant than having to offer an animal upon every transgression.
Now we come to further points of superiority. Whereas the Law of Moses was written on stone tablets, the new covenant is written in our mind and heart.
How is it written? Line upon line. precept upon precept, principle upon principle, teaching upon teaching.
Now that we do not have to worry about our sins of the past, we can, having been assured of God's favor, spend time each day in waiting upon the Lord Jesus and meditating in the Scriptures. If we do not put in at least an hour a day, under ordinary circumstances, we never will make a success of the new covenant.
While we are listening to Jesus, a passage we have read will stand out; or perhaps this will happen during the day or night, or when the Pastor is preaching, or when a friend is speaking. If that passage convicts us of sin, we are to set a time aside as soon possible and confess that sin clearly to the Lord. Then we are to ask His help as we renounce this behavior and never, with Christ's help, practice it again.
If we can't seem to get deliverance, we should go to the elders of our church, or to one or more strong Christians of our gender and who do not gossip, and confess the sin and ask for prayer. We will be delivered! This is the hour for such deliverance and salvation. This moral law then will be written in our mind and heart: in our mind so we can understand it; in our heart so we delight in doing God's will.
Then we are to pray the next time we are tempted. We will discover that now we have the strength to resist Satan. We have put the behavior to death by the Spirit. We are to do this for every sin the Spirit of God points out to us.
It is the Spirit of God who is leading us in the work of putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature. We are sons of God, and this is what the Spirit leads us to do:
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, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13,14)
We understand, therefore, that the Spirit of God operates the new covenant, giving us assistance that was not available under the Law of Moses.
Under the Law of Moses we read the words of the covenant and obeyed them to the best of our ability. When we failed, we could resort to the sacrifice of an animal. Notice that when Paul was troubled with covetousness he did not look to the sacrifice of an animal. Such no longer is needed.
But Paul did not then say "whoopee! I am free to live as I please." That is the attitude of today. "I ought to try to please Jesus, but it is impossible," we maintain.
Rather, Paul continued in the eighth chapter to tell us about how, under the new covenant, to be free from the bondages of sin.
The blood of bulls and goat cannot take away sin. The new covenant both forgives sin and delivers us from the bondages of sin. Therefore it is an infinitely superior covenant.
Paul wrote that the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. We can understand now how that can be.
The words of the Law of Moses are themselves the Law, the covenant. The words of the New Testament are not the law, not the covenant. Rather, they are a record of the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the testimony of men who themselves were living under the new covenant. There is a difference between these two vehicles of the moral law of God.
The written Law of Moses is not a testimony of people who were obeying the Law. The New Testament is a testimony of people who were living under the new covenant. As such, they were living in the rest of God, the eternal Sabbath in which Jesus lives.
In the rest of God we think as the living Jesus is thinking right now; we speak as the living Jesus is speaking right now; and we act as the living Jesus is acting right now! It is a continual interaction with the living Jesus.
In Galatians, where Paul and Peter were arguing about the application of the Law to the Christian covenant, Paul defended himself by announcing that he was living by the Life of Jesus. In other words, he was in the rest of God, as Jesus always is.
To the present hour, there are numerous Christians, good people, who are still observing the Sabbath commandment. Their intentions are the best, and their faith is entwined in not working on Saturday. So I will not trouble them.
My point in this brief essay is not to bother those Christians who are following part or all of the Mosaic Law. Rather, I am pointing out that the new covenant is one of the Spirit of God. Trying to obey the letter of the New Testament as though it were the same as the old covenant, will result only in spiritual pride, I think, or perhaps in frustration.
One simply cannot obey the Word of Christ without the help of the Spirit of God. Jesus said if someone sues us for our car we are to give him the car and our house also. I am paraphrasing, obviously. How would you like to obey that commandment? If someone punches you on one side of your face, turn your head so he can punch the other side of your face.
I know there are Christians (not many) who attempt to literally obey the words of Christ. This can become difficult. Actually, under the new covenant, when such a situation arises, we are to pray and ask God for guidance in what to do.
The Law of Moses is to be taken literally. The words of the New Testament are to be obeyed as the Lord leads us. There is a world of difference here. The first brings death. The second brings life, according to Paul.
A prophet of the people of Crete said they always were liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons. The Apostle Paul agreed with the prophet. But is it true? Some of the people of Crete of today say it was their prophet who was the liar.
So when reading the New Testament we have to try to get a flavor of what the writer is saying, and ask the Spirit of God for the true meaning, how it should be interpreted, and for wisdom and strength to do what it commands.
It likely is true that the people of Crete of today are different from Paul's time.
There are those who maintain that according to the New Testament, women are not permitted to speak in church. Being a pastor, I have to deal with this. My way is to go to the Lord on each occasion. As a result, women do speak in our assembly, although I believe it generally is acknowledged that men are to be in positions of leadership.
Are we going against what Paul said? I hope not. I have peace about what we are doing, and I always am open to hear from Jesus when I am wrong.
The law against people who were not descendants of Aaron eating the Showbread was exceedingly strict. The penalty was death.
But, as Jesus pointed out, David and his men were hungry, and it was a very special occasion. And Jesus always upheld the Law. So even then it was permissible to heal on the Sabbath. Religious people love to boast in their knowledge of the law and how they keep it. But such an attitude can really be destructive.
One time I was preaching in another country, and the Pastor told me of a man in his congregation who was divorced and wanted to remarry a lady evangelist who was single. Come to find out, the man's wife had left him and his children and moved with another man to another country.
The Pastor wanted me to comment on it publicly, since the congregation did not feel it was right for the man, although innocent, to remarry.
I got up from where I was sitting and said: "I think, since the man was innocent and left with small children, the elders of the church should pray about this matter for six months. If after that time they feel it is permissible for the man to marry the evangelist, they should give him permission to do so." As I remember, the congregation all rose, signifying their approval.
The last time I heard, the man and his new wife were going through the country passing our tracts.
When we are going by the letter of the New Testament, and obey it strictly without any considerations, we are apt to bring a harsh doctrinaire spirit with us that is not of Christ. When we see an apparent conflict between what is written in the New Testament, we do well to pray and ask the elders of the church for their advice.
Sometimes it is the right thing to do to heal on the Sabbath Day.
Do not imagine I am soft on God's Word. I have learned during 67 years as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ that every word of the Scriptures is eternal. None shall ever be changed.
The issue is whether we read the passage and seek to obey it literally regardless of the circumstances; or whether we go to God and find out how to apply it. This last is what it means to be a minister of the new covenant by the Spirit and not by the letter.
First of all, we need to understand that the Kingdom of God is a kind of "down home" thing. It is not weird or mystical. It is "matter of fact," plain and simple, reasonable, and logical. If you want to know what the spirit world is like, look about you. Our world was made from the spirit world and so in many respect they are similar.
It is true that the spirit world is not illusory, as our present world is. Our world is a matter of atoms and molecules. Our eye is not a window. It does not "see" things. Light is reflected from the properties of molecules, such as color, and travels along our optic nerve. Our brain then interprets the impulse. At least this is what I understand.
But in actuality, the apparently solid matter we see is a form of energy, one might say. It has mass, which scientists still are attempting to understand as they pursue the Higgs boson. There are other properties, such as elasticity, melting and boiling points, weight, temperature, and so forth, that all can be accounted for by a study of atoms and molecules. In short, the apparently solid matter is the result of energy and is mostly space.
I read somewhere that if all the space were removed from a human being, he would be the size of a postage stamp, although apparently his mass would remain the same. He still would weigh the same on earth, since gravity is the attraction between the center of masses.
And then there is the fact that neutrinos, atomic particles, are passing through our bodies all the time.
This is not true of the spirit world. Matter is real with no spaces in it. We see with our eyes what actually is present. Time, light, distance, no longer are binding in the spirit world, as far as I know. Perhaps there is no attraction between the center of masses, if there is mass. So a person does not weigh anything. That should be fun.
If anything is fantastic, or mystical, or spooky, it is our present world. It has been fabricated by God to prepare us for the real world, the spirit world, that lasts forever. We are brought into all sorts of situations so God will know what we will do when we are permitted to enter the spirit world.
The following verse is related to what I have just said:
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. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
Someone said we need to make the supernatural natural. I like that idea. It prevents us from dabbling in mystical areas of ghosts, dreams, and visions. Yet there is a place for dreams and visions, as long as we keep our head on straight, so to speak.
I have had many supernatural experiences during my 67 years as a disciple of Jesus. He has kept me, I think, from some of the destructive excesses that I have observed in other believers. So I would like to mention some of these in order to keep novices from falling into these traps.
One of the major mistakes is made by writers who break up the Church, the one Body of Christ, into different groups. The Body of Christ marries the Bride is an example of this. The sons of God are different from the average believer, The sons of God are to be manifested now.
Another error is that since Christ is in us, there is no more need for water baptism.
If you notice, it always is our little group that is superior to the others. We have no need for the Christian churches. They all are Babylon. If our little group would look around they could see that these babylonish churches are doing a lot of good for the believers.
I sympathize with those who withdraw and call themselves sons of God who are about to be revealed. They get into this kind of error because many of our churches have little life in them. The people, especially the more fervent, are starving for supernatural experiences. It reminds me of the people in the days of Saul and Samuel who were eating meat with blood in it because they were starving.
Someone said that the last place to look for a miracle is in the typical Evangelical assembling. This probably is true because of the lack of the Presence of the Lord. Why should the Lord be present when people are able to make the system work by their own energy and talents?
There are, of course, various cults. I will not go into them because only God can bring people out of them. I am speaking rather to fervent Christians who, because of the spiritual deadness and traditional errors in so many churches, branch out into unprofitable errors.
Another mistake that sometimes is made is to ignore one's family and read the Bible and pray all day. Ordinarily this does not bear good fruit. It is enough for most of us to spend at least an hour each day in the Word and being quiet before the Lord. Prolonged fastings and prayers in one's closet, unless specifically directed by the Lord, do not accomplish much that I can see.
As I have studied the lives of Kathryn Kuhlman, William Branham, and Aimee Semple McPherson, the impression I get is that their marvelous gifts of miracles and healing were given to them as they were serving the Lord. They did not decide they wanted to work miracles and then make some heroic effort to force God to work. These very real gifts were given to them in the Lord's time and way to do his will. They were not the result of unusual spiritual ambition.
It is well for a young person who wants to serve the Lord to get a job or go to college. They have so much to learn, and the ungodly people of the world will teach them if they have a willingness to learn from others whom they may despise as not being spiritual.
A recent error is found in the desire to accomplish our goals by metaphysical means. It may have started with The Power of Positive Thinking, though I am not certain of that.
This method of manipulating the physical world by soulish faith is familiar to Hindu ministers. If I am not mistaken, these ministers do work miracles, but I think they are assisted by demons.
You may have heard of "speaking the creative word," or "name it and claim it," of speaking the "word of faith," and so forth. You will not find this in the Bible. The faith we conjure up in our soul is not the same as true Bible faith.
One time when I was walking in the woods of Arkansas, I asked the Lord about this emphasis on believing things into existence. He said to me at that time, several years ago, that this practice would diminish for a while and then appear with more strength in the future. We will have to wait and see if this was a true word from the Lord.
We are not to use spiritual formulas to get what we want from the Lord. Rather, we are to call on the Lord. I simply cannot emphasize this too strongly. Do not look for secrets of power. Call on the Lord Jesus. He said we can ask what we will in His name and the answer will be given to us. This is what we are to do, not to try to accomplish something "by faith." That is not scriptural.
But aren't we supposed to use faith? Yes, but not the kind of faith that comes from trying to make ourselves believe something. I will tell you from experience that true faith for healing is a gift from God. It is not worked up. It comes into your spirit as solid as a truck. It is good to pray for faith, but wait until you get it.
Someone suggested that we should "put legs on our prayers." A prayer with legs is like an eagle with shoes.
If you are going to solve your own problems, why involve God?
Never say you are healed until you are healed and it is verified. I myself had an experience with an arthritic knee. Suddenly, while I was preparing to go to the hospital to get another cortisone shot, the Lord touched my knee. This happened in a house on Carlson Circle in Palo Alto.
I knew I was healed. I did not expect it but I felt it. I jumped around the house telling Audrey I had been healed. Sure enough, in a week or two the swelling went down and the pain has never returned.
Sometimes my knee begins to hurt again, although nothing like before, so I begin to hop on that one leg and tell it and God that it has been healed. Sometimes you have to get belligerent like that.
But that is a totally different matter than saying you have been healed when it only is a matter of the belief you have worked up.
When you have a need, ask Jesus for the answer. I must have had a million answers to prayer because I pray about most everything. But I never say "by faith" that I have the answer until I get the answer. Then I praise the Lord.
If you claim you have been healed when you haven't been, why should the Lord bother to heal you?
One time when I was preaching, I think it was in Iowa because I can remember the farmers coming in and saying to one another, "the corn is in."
After the service, as we were leaving, I saw a child about to put his hand where it could get pinched when the door closed. I said to the child, "Don't put your hand there, you may get hurt."
Instantly the mother said, "Don't say that because it will cause her to get hurt." This is the kind of perversion that arises from the emphasis on positive thinking.
In this briefest of essays I would like to emphasize once more that God's people are starved for His Presence and for the true miraculous working of the Spirit of God. I have read that when the witch of Endor brought up Samuel, it wasn't Samuel at all but a demon impersonating Samuel. This is one example of the lengths the modern ministry will go to keep everything on a physical plane. They do not want us to hear the horns of Elfland, I guess.
Well, our country is ripe for another Aimee Semple McPherson, Smith-Wigglesworth, William Branham, Dr. Price, and Kathryn Kuhlman. We are thirsting for that which truly is visionary and miraculous, and that is why the errors I have mentioned become traps for the fervent believers.
Because of the lack of the real thing, so-called "revivals" have occurred in various places. Because my wife and I in Bible school met people who really knew about the Pentecostal revival that took place at the beginning of the twentieth century, we are of the opinion that the contemporary "revivals" have been worked up by the enthusiasm of ministers who wish God would move.
Certainly the video clips we have seen of the behavior at those meeting, the undisciplined laughing, barking like dogs, jumping around, women pretending they are pregnant, and so forth, are just not the same as took place in the early days of Pentecost.
Audrey and I have been with people who saw Smith-Wigglesworth in action. A fellow Bible student, Sister Good, had worked with Aimee Semple McPherson. Sister Good's husband had receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Azusa Street.
My wife Audrey's pastor was A. C. Valdez. One time brother Valdez prayed for a man with no eyeball and a new eyeball was created.
Write to the Gospel Publishing House in Springfield Missouri, in the USA, and order the book by Stanley Howard Frodsham titled With Signs Following if you want to know what took place in the Pentecostal revival of the last century. Audrey and I drove Brother Frodsham back and forth to church when he was ministering in San Diego. He was the editor of the "Pentecostal Evangel" for many years.
Maybe if some of us get enough of a thirst for the miracles that took place at Azusa Street, as Brother Seymour prayed (a one-eyed African American, a son of a former slave), God will send down His Spirit and we will see Bible days once again.