ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE NET
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The supreme goal of the Divine redemption is to make a body for God. In any system, the most important information is what the goal of the system is. The more precise the definition of the goal is, the more effective the various components of the system can be made: quality control operations; the procurement of needed materials; the work of production. If the goal is not clearly defined, the effectiveness of the operations of the system cannot be evaluated with confidence.
So it is with the Divine redemption. We of the churches are endeavoring to facilitate the work of redemption among people. It is traditional to set escaping Hell and going to Heaven as the goal of salvation. This is not the scriptural goal. Consequently, our efforts often are misguided. The actual working goal of most of the Christian organizations is to bring as many people into a building as possible, and to persuade them to “accept Christ.” The actual goal of the Gospel is to build believers into the fullness of the stature of Christ so we can serve as the dwelling place of God, the place of His rest.
We are not paying nearly enough attention to the actual goal of the Gospel of the Kingdom. We are using the best part of our efforts in bringing people into the churches and persuading them to “accept Christ.” If God’s goal is to prepare a house, a resting place for Himself, our efforts are missing the mark.
On every side we hear: “Bring the lost souls to Jesus. Go out and get souls saved. Everyone must hear. Use a computer to find out where the unchurched are, and spend your efforts in that direction. Remember the Great Commission! Go forth and save a lost and dying world.”
Actually, the Great Commission is to make disciples, not to bring people into a church and persuade them to “accept Christ.”
The goal guiding the Christian churches today is never clearly defined from the Scripture. I think—although this is a harsh thing to say—that the accent on evangelism and saving souls more often than not is proceeding from the personal ambition of the religious denominations, not from the Spirit of God.
Our overemphasis on evangelism is filling churches with a mixed multitude of people, most of them baby Christians. Some of them know only the teachings of the religious group and have never become acquainted with the Lord Jesus, even though they have “accepted Christ.” If we use escaping Hell and going to Heaven as our goal, then perhaps the inordinate emphasis on evangelism could be defended, But because the goal actually is preparing a dwelling place for God, the inordinate, all-consuming emphasis on evangelism, cannot be defended.
Perhaps we might want to “sharpen the axe” by looking at the Scriptures to see what our goal should be. Maybe then our efforts will produce the result God wants.
You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. (Exodus 15:17)
As far as I know, this is the first mention of God’s purpose for creating man in His inner image and His outer likeness. “You made for Your dwelling.”
Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)
The above refers to the Tabernacle of the Congregation, sometimes referred to as The Tent of Meeting.
This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” (Isaiah 66:1)
Notice below how this is repeated at the birth of the Christian Church:
Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things? (Acts 7:49,50)
It appears, to this point, that God is interested in having a house, a resting place, a body.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
The Father’s House is the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t believe the word “there” reflects careful scholarship. I think it should be, “I am going to prepare a place for you.” Jesus went first to the cross. Then Jesus went to Heaven to finish the work of atonement so God could receive us as living stones in His eternal temple, of which the Lord Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone.
Jesus is the beginning of the Body of God, the making visible of the invisible God. We see this is the following passage:
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. (I Timothy 3:16)
It is the desire of Christ that you and I become part of this manifestation. This is the true goal of our redemption.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)
God will dwell only in Christ. If God is to dwell in us, Christ first must be formed in us. God will not dwell in an adamic human being, only in Christ.
Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20-22)
Why did God give gifts and ministries to the members of the Body of Christ? It is to build an eternal dwelling for God.
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)
The glory we hope for is that one day we will be placed in our foreordained position in the new world of righteousness, making our home on the new earth. We must have Christ in us for this to be true.
It may be noticed, in Hebrews chapter four, that the “rest of God” is associated with Canaan. Our goal, our land of promise, is to enter the rest of God. When we are living in the rest of God, we cease from our own works and perform the works that God has determined beforehand that we accomplish.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
After reading the Scriptures above, perhaps you agree with me that God’s purpose in man is to prepare a dwelling place for Himself.
To be finally saved is to be brought over to the new world of righteousness. This new world will come into existence after the final resurrection. All of the citizens of the gigantic new earth will have Christ in them to at least a thirtyfold extent. They will be far larger, grander, and more competent in what they do, than any human being who has lived on the former earth. They are children of the resurrection, no longer just intelligent animals, no longer just the offspring of Adam and Eve.
The next level of the inhabitants of the new earth is the Royal Priesthood, whose home is the New Jerusalem. They are larger and more competent yet. Christ has been brought forth in their personality to a sixtyfold extent, as I see the picture.
The purpose for the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium) is to give an opportunity for the sixtyfold members to grow in Christ until they are prepared to descend to the new earth as the Royal Priesthood, the Presence of God. These sixtyfold members did not attain to the first resurrection. At the present time, they dwell in the heavenly Jerusalem, if they are true Christians, and shall during the thousand years. They were not members of God’s Firstfruits. They are far larger in number than the Firstfruits, and will be ministered to by members of the Firstfruits who will have access both to the earth and to the heavenly Jerusalem.
You can think of the division between the sixtyfold and the hundredfold in terms of the Tent of Meeting. The Holy Place was twice as large as the Most Holy Place, the Most Holy Place representing the Firstfruits who will reign on the earth for the Thousand Years. It is interesting that the volume of the Holy Place was 2,000 cubic cubits, suggesting the two thousand years of the Church Age. The volume of the Most Holy Place was 1,000 cubic cubits, portraying the thousand years during which the Firstfruits will govern the earth.
It is interesting also, in terms of the Tabernacle of the Congregation (Tent of Meeting), that the Table of Showbread represents basic salvation, as we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood. The Lampstand speaks of our life in the Spirit of God. The Altar of Incense represents the stage where we say “Not my will but Yours be done.” When we can say this from our heart, we are in the rest of God. Our life then becomes as incense to God.
We must press fully into surrendering to God before we can go past the Veil and appear before the Mercy Seat, the Lid of Reconciliation. Then we will be part of the Ark of the Covenant, part of the Body of Christ, part of the manifestation of God.
The hundredfold, the Firstfruits, will be supervisors and rulers over all the creation, shining literally as stars. The hundredfold and the sixtyfold members of the Royal Priesthood will be God’s Presence among His creatures. But the hundredfold will be grander yet and the most competent.
The hundredfold are evident now. They are the Christians who are living in victory in Christ. They are the Firstfruits to God and Lamb. They will ensure that the will of God is done throughout the creation.
There will be no mixtures among the inhabitants of the new earth. Do you recall that Israel was divided into the people, then the Levites, and then the sons of Aaron? These divisions were created by the Lord, not by decisions of the elders. So it will be on the new earth. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will bring this about, and all the other aspects of the new world of righteousness as well.
When we place our faith in the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary, we appease the wrath of God concerning our past sins. We now are eligible to participate in the Divine redemption that leads to our full salvation.
When we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, we receive the Divine wisdom and power that help us gain victory over sin. Also, we receive gifts and ministries that enable us to build up ourselves and our fellow members of the Body of Christ until we all come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Think of it this way. When we first receive Christ, we have been saved out of Egypt. When we walk in the Spirit of God, we are saved from sin. But these two initial stages of salvation have no meaning until we take possession of Canaan, that is, enter the rest of God in which God lives, moves, and has His being in us.
The blood atonement and the baptism with the Spirit of God are the enabling foundation upon which we can proceed to enter our spiritual inheritance—that of being filled with all the fullness of God. How do I know this? Because the Book of Hebrews urges experienced Christian people to press on to the “rest of God.” The rest of God is shown to be our land of promise, our goal, our inheritance.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; (Hebrews 4:8,9)
Since the possession of Canaan was not what God means by His rest, then the rest typified by the seventh day of creation still is to be possessed by us. The writer of the Book of Hebrews, addressing experienced Christian people, urged them and warned them about not pressing through to the eternal goal—the rest of God.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)
There is a rest for the people of God. God rested on the seventh day. The seventh day is an eternal day, there being no evening or morning.
The Kingdom of God, including the new heaven and earth, were all completed in God’s mind by the time of the seventh day of creation.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2,3)
Therefore God asks us to cease from our own works and to seek Him continually that we might flow with that completed work and not bring confusion with our own plans and works.
“One the same side of the net.” A simple expression, but it reveals the heart of the “rest of God,” which the Book of Hebrews speaks of. It portrays also the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, in which the Fullness of God dwells in the saint.
For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10,11)
I am using the game of volleyball as a metaphor. There are two opposing teams on each side of a net. Our relationship with God often is like that. If we fast, God answers our prayer. If we give to the church generously, God gives back to us. If we pray that God will keep someone from dying, then God may heal the individual. Back and forth we go. The Lord Jesus told us that if we ask, we shall receive. If we knock, it shall be opened. If we seek, we shall find.
Sometimes Christians try to force God to do something. “If we can get enough people to agree, God must grant our petition.” Persistent prayer often will bring the answer we desire. Perhaps our problem is that we do not pray often enough, not that we pray too much. However, there is a better way.
I have written quite a bit about learning to live by the Life of Jesus. We endeavor to slow down enough to know what He is thinking. Then we think the same thoughts. The same way with speaking and acting. We press into Jesus continually so we know what He is saying and doing, just as He lived by the Life of the Father. This is the rest of God, and we are encouraged to cease from our own works—even religious works—and enter God’s rest.
Of course, we keep on diligently with our necessary duties. Even in these, we seek to understand how Christ wants our duties performed.
- There is basic salvation.
- There is the baptism with the Holy Spirit.
- Then there is the rest of God.
The concept of the rest of God probably is new to us. It is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, and the goal God has for each one of us. When we press into the place where we are thinking, speaking, and acting as Jesus wants us to, we are in the rest of God. Now we are on the same side of the net with God. God no longer is our adversary. We are on His side. We were holding God’s hand. Now God is holding our hand.
Obviously, we must set aside our own life if we are to live by the Life of Jesus. Would you like to do that?
Let’s take a look at Isaiah chapter 12. The Jews chanted this passage when they celebrated the feast of Tabernacles. The Jews, who have an unusual ability to understand God, knew somehow that this passage in Isaiah had to do with God making His habitation (booth) with the believers.
In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.” (Isaiah 12:1)
Once you decide that you really want to live by the Life of Jesus, you may experience trouble. Notice this in the following passage:
Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1)
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5,6)
Every son God receives, He punishes. He is angry with us because of our worldliness, lusts, and self-will. There is no exception. If we are to enter the rest of God, we must respond faithfully to God even though we are being “torn to pieces.” This is God’s way, and we cannot avoid it.
But then He comforts us, and we now are ready to praise Him. We have come to know Him in a deeper way. Our mind is turned away from how wonderful we are and we perceive how wonderful God is.
Narcissism is an exceptional admiration of ourselves, and even though we may have experienced salvation and the baptism with the Spirit of God, we still may be narcissistic. We cannot approach God while we have this attitude, and so He “tears us to pieces” until we adore our Creator instead of ourselves.
God has injured us, but He will heal us and bind up our wounds. The healing and binding up make all the tearing to pieces worthwhile. I am speaking now of entering the rest of God—getting on the same side of the net with God, so we no longer are adversaries.
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)
Did you catch that? God Himself has become my Salvation. It no longer is the situation where God is saving me. He now is my salvation.
I am not sure I can convey the fullness of the thought here. But if the distinction between God saving you and God becoming your salvation is not clear to you, the understanding of the difference is worth praying for.
Trust may not be as strong as militant faith. But it helps us to maintain our relationship with God while we are being “torn to pieces.” If we will pray and ask Christ to remove fear from us, He will do that. As we continue to trust God through the dark nights, we find that the Lord Himself is our strength and our song. It is not that He gives us strength or gives us a song. Rather, He Himself has become our strength and our song. We were holding God’s hand. Now God is holding our hand. How utterly marvelous!
God has become our salvation. What is salvation? It is total deliverance from the person and works of Satan, and entrance into life lived in the Divine Presence. It is not only that God is saving us, it is that He Himself has become our holiness and our righteousness.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
When we enter the rest of God and are a part of the eternal house of God, the very Throne of God is in us. The Holy Spirit always flows from the Throne of God as a River of Life.
The Lord Jesus Christ has been the Tree of Life since the days of Eden. Now because He has been formed in us and is dwelling in us, we also are trees of life. Our role from then on will be to bring eternal life, the Life of Christ, to whoever is willing to receive it.
We are able to experience the greatest joy when we have the opportunity to give the water of eternal life to a thirsty soul.
In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” (Isaiah 12:4)
In that day. That “day.” That day is the Day of the Lord. That day is the day when the Lord alone is exalted. That day is the day when we are free from our own works and God and Christ have settled down to rest in us. Then we will live in a state of thanksgiving. Then we will call on the name of Jesus concerning everything we do throughout the day and night.
In that day, our personality will reveal to those around us what marvelous things God has done in us. We, along with our Lord, Jesus Christ, will be the manifestation, the body, of God that people can see, hear, and touch.
We always will exalt the names of God and Christ. This selflessness will come naturally to us, the narcissism in our personality having been completely destroyed.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. (Isaiah 12:5)
Perhaps as a young person, when we first look at the narrow way of the cross, and compare it with the broad highway on which the world is rushing by, seeming to enjoy itself, we wonder what we should do, which way we should go. Those of us who, as I, have been blessed enough to choose the thorns and briars of the narrow way, find one day that we indeed have made the correct choice.
Now we have righteousness, love, peace, and joy that the people of the antichrist world system can never know. Our eyes are opening to the glorious works of the Lord, even while our world is sinking into the swamp of delusion.
As of this moment, we are being made the house of God. When the work has been completed, we will be able to show the world the marvels we have discovered in the Lord Jesus. God indeed has become our Song!
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. (Isaiah 12:6)
“People of Zion.” The words of Isaiah are not addressed to the world but to the elect of God, the Royal Priesthood. We are the ones who are being made the House of God, the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
In our day, the world is a corrupt environment in which to live. Even little boys and girls are not safe from the demonic predators. Old people are abused. Some parts of the world are experiencing famine. We Christians are experiencing tribulation. We suffer hardships as we strive to enter the Kingdom of God. But this is not the end.
Our time of shouting and singing for joy is near at hand. Our God, the Holy One of Israel, is drawing near to us. He is opening His Word to us. He is showing us the fantastic plan He has for us—that we might be His Body, the Body of Christ, the bodily manifestation of God Almighty.
There is no end to the Glory that is approaching us. In the darkest of spiritual night, His Glory will arise upon us and we shall shine. People from the ends of the earth shall come to partake of the Presence of God that is dwelling in us in His Fullness.
With all this marvelous grandeur ahead of us, why don’t we surrender to God? Why don’t we move over to the same side of the net with God? Then we will think as He is thinking. Speak as He is speaking. Pray as He is praying. Work as He is working.
May the Lord Jesus help each one of us so that we do not come short of the rest of God.
(“On the Same Side of the Net”, 4069-1, proofed 20210909)