TOTAL VICTORY

(How and Why God Is Building the Christian Church)

Copyright © 2017 by Robert B. Thompson.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18)

It is possible that the Father has interrupted here and is referring to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

God's goal is to make a Church in His image, fill it with Himself, and use it throughout His creation to enforce His will and also to bless people. The ultimate goal is that the entire universe obey and worship God.

This goal shall be accomplished in two stages. The first stage is to select people, a church, a royal priesthood, and to create in them the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE FIRST STAGE

The first stage is a progressive work and has been proceeding for roughly two thousand years.

The individual selected to be a member of the Church is to be in the image of God in behavior.

From the following passage, can you gain the sense of a struggle as the Apostle sought to prepare himself for the coming of the Lord Jesus?

And so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

God has given us a new covenant, a covenant of the Spirit so that we no longer are only the flesh attempting to keep rules but now have the indwelling of the Spirit of God to help us do what is pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit himself is the Law of God under the new covenant.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 6:7)

Overcoming sin is one of the major issues of the first stage. It is taught commonly in the Christian churches that as long as we are living in the world we somehow are obligated to sin, But "grace" makes it impossible for God to "see" the sins of those who profess belief in Christ. This is an error. It is not based in the New Testament, to the best of my knowledge.

The Bible truth is that under the new covenant, with the assistance of Christ:

We are to say an uncompromising "No" to all forms of sin.

To all the enticements of the world.

To all the enticements and works of Satan.

To all that is not pure and innocent, including all sexual excesses.

To the desire to govern other people.

To put our physical needs above God's call on us.

To govern our life by our own will and desires.

We are to say an uncompromising "Yes" to any and all demands God makes on us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12,13) (The terms "die" and "live" here are referring to the resurrection unto eternal life, the eternal change in our body at the coming of the Lord.)

To yield to any sort of sin, to disobey God, is unthinkable for a dedicated Christian. Once we know what God's will is we are to go to Him for the wisdom and strength to be obedient. Any attitude other than this is rebellion.

I personally have told God in advance that my answer is "Yes" to anything He wants me to do, knowing He always will provide the wisdom and power for me to be obedient.

A spirit of Humanism is commencing to govern the thinking of Christian people. We are under the impression that Christ came to earth to be an atonement for our sin because He loves people so much.

I believe Christ came to earth and suffered Gethsemane and Calvary because of obedience to the Father. (It may be significant that I had to resort to another translation for an appropriate passage of Scripture.)

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Hebrews 5:7-9—KJV)

Learning obedience "by the things which He suffered" means that Christ suffered pain when He obeyed God. Christ was obedient because He feared God. If there is a greater need in the Christian churches than the fear of God, I do not know what it is.

It appears from the Scripture above that Christ was made perfect in obedience to God before He could become the Author of our eternal salvation.

According to my understanding at the present time, the struggle to attain to God's goal while we still are in the first stage takes place with equal urgency in both the spirit world (for those who have died); and the present physical world.

The struggle to be prepared for the second stage reminds us of the life of a chrysalis while still in the cocoon as it awaits its emergence as a fully formed butterfly. It reminds us also of the Lord's teaching about conducting ourselves properly so we will be found worthy of a superior state.

His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness! (Matthew 25:21)

Perhaps when all has been said and done, the reason why numerous believers are bound with the various sins of the flesh, as well as by disobedience to Christ and God, is a misunderstanding of what it means to "believe" in Christ.

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John we find that Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom God has sent."

Now, this statement easily can be interpreted to mean if we believe in the virgin birth; in the Deity of Christ; in the crucifixion of Christ to make an atonement for our sins; in the physical resurrection of Christ from the dead; if we believe these facts, we have eternal life and will go to Heaven when we die.

We might term such an approach to the Gospel of the Kingdom a "theologic salvation."

But this is unsound, I believe.

In the main body of Christ's statements in the sixth chapter of John, the emphasis is upon eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, not upon a theologic confession.

So "belief" means more than an intellectual assent.

Revelation 2:7 informs us that the right to enter Paradise, press past the flaming sword, and eat of the Tree of Life, is derived from our overcoming sin through Christ. Overcoming sin means not only being freed from guilt but also driving out the power of sin from our body.

Not from our "sinful nature," as the New International Version has it, but from our "flesh."

When we perceive we are transgressing the standard set by Galatians 5:19-21; and Ephesians 5:3-7; and Colossians 3:5-10; we are to confess our sin to Christ and seek His assistance in getting rid of it. The promise of Christ is that He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 3:9)

If I am not mistaken, the Christian churches have placed an almost exclusive emphasis on Christ forgiving our sins. One could wish the same emphasis were placed on Christ delivering us from our sins. The Kingdom of God is not so much in forgiveness as it is in deliverance. The Kingdom, the rule of God, does not operate as we are forgiven but as we are willing and able to conquer our sinful tendencies.

Our diligent and consistent efforts to overcome the enticements of the world culture and the forces that inhabit our flesh, plus our determination to submit continually to God's will rather than to maintain our own way before God (the "rest" of God), prepare us to receive the powerful interventions of the second stage.

THE SECOND STAGE

Unlike the prolonged travail of the first stage, the second stage will take place instantaneously. The second stage includes the following Divine interventions. It applies only to those persons who complete the first stage:

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. The Father and the Son come to make the believer Their home. It is the indwelling of the Fullness of God.

Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14:23)

The clothing of our physical body with a new body—the first resurrection.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

An adoption to sonship.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

Changing the person from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

The appearing of the Lord Jesus from Heaven.

This shall be accompanied by the change of the body of the firstfruits of the Church.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." (I Corinthians 15:53,54)

Such is the first resurrection of the Church. This resurrection includes the body of the believers on the earth as well as the believers who accompany the Lord Jesus as He descends from Heaven.

The coming down of the entire glorified Church from Heaven through the new sky to be located forever upon the new earth.

This is the final, complete resurrection of those of the Church who did not attain to the first resurrection. This will occur a thousand years after the coming of the Lord and the first resurrection.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:9,10)

The eternal work of the Royal Priesthood, the Church, the new Jerusalem, as it brings the Presence and rule of God throughout the creation.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4)

In this essay I am saying that the work of rebuilding the devastation will be instantaneous. By this I am maintaining that it will begin suddenly when Christ commences to govern the nations in His thousand-year reign.

It may be noted above that there will be two major appearances of the Lord Jesus, accompanied by two major resurrections:

First, the outpouring of Glory at the Lord's next appearance:

"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you." (Isaiah 60:1,2)

Second, the coming down to the new earth of the eternal Tabernacle of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God." (Revelation 21:3)

FURTHER EXPLANATION

Speaking of the firstfruits of the Christian Church, when Christ appears to set up His Kingdom:

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

And then we have that which will take place a thousand years later:

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

The coming down to the new earth of the new Jerusalem reveals the resurrection of the members of the Church who did not attain to the resurrection of the firstfruits of the Church. That "first resurrection," which had occurred a thousand years previously as the Lord descended to establish His Kingdom on the earth, was a firstfruits of the redemption of mankind.

This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5,6)

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) (Revelation 20:5)

These, the majority of the Church, have been brought to the necessary maturity by those who did attain to the first resurrection and were appointed to the task of helping their brothers and sisters. This is the reason for the thousand years between the first and second resurrections—the bringing to maturity of the majority of the Church.

We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on the day she is spoken for? (Song of Solomon 8:8)

The firstfruits, those who helped bring the less mature to maturity, are set forth in the following manner:

I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment. (Song of Solomon 8:10)

And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)

The following speaks of the clothing, the resurrection of the members of the Church who had not attained to the first resurrection, with their body from Heaven. They have become one with those who did attain to the first resurrection.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

May I add that the firstfruits, who are reigning with Christ over the nations for the thousand years, as well as assisting the less mature believers as they grow to maturity, also are maturing as they have fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

As soon as the entire Church, the Royal Priesthood, have been clothed with their body from Heaven, it shall descend from Heaven to be installed for eternity upon the new earth.

Creating the moral character, the Life of the Lord Jesus, in the selected person, takes place as they open their mind, speech, and actions to the Lord Jesus. As they continue to live in this manner they are given, in the spirit realm, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus to eat.

Eventually the individual is filled with the Life of Christ in their mind, speech, and behavior, and now are ready to participate in the second stage. This is why entrance into the indwelling of the Father and the Son is based upon our obeying the teaching of Christ and His Apostles. Jesus replied: Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

As we continue through Christ to triumph over sin, we are given to eat of the Tree of Life, that is, of the Lord Jesus. The result of our faithfulness in eating and drinking of Christ is that we ourselves become a tree of life, planted along the banks of the River of Life.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

We might think of the Word of the Kingdom as a mighty torrent of resurrection Life flowing endlessly from the Throne of God. On both sides of the river, trees are growing —trees of resurrection Life. When they are mature they will be sent throughout the world to bring the rule and blessing of God to the nations in the spirit world and upon the earth.

On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:7)

This is why the material creation is awaiting the revealing of the sons of God.

The clothing of our present body with our new body from Heaven takes place instantly, along with the other Divine interventions we have listed above.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (I Corinthians 15:51,52)

The verse above is referring to the trumpet that will sound at the next appearing of Jesus from Heaven. Such is the resurrection of the firstfruits of the Church.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)

We must pray that God will strengthen us through His Spirit in our inner being, that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Then, when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven, we shall be drawn to Him and receive a new body.

May I interject a thought here. Christian people, recognizing their inadequacies, are hoping that by being caught up to Heaven they will be conformed to the image of God. This is an incorrect concept. Going from earth to Heaven will not change us.

I believe that the Divine redemption operates with equal power in the spirit world and on the earth. Those who have died are being made perfect along with us. Redemption is not a change of where we are but of what we are.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

God's goal for us is that we behave as He does, look like Him, be filled with His Fullness, and then be sent forth by Him to bring His will and His Kingdom to the farthest reaches of His creation. All the while we are remaining as a pillar in His eternal Temple. We, like our Lord, will have the power of multiple presence.

It is not true that when Jesus next appears, the rank and file of Christian believers will be drawn to Him to be resurrected. This will be true only for those who have attained to the inner resurrection.

And so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

It may be difficult for us to believe. But the day absolutely shall arrive when the entire universe is one great panorama of obedience to God and the unhindered worship of God and His Christ. At that time the choirs of Heaven shall proclaim the holiness and righteousness of the only true God accompanied by numerous organs playing in unison.

The realms of darkness shall not partake of any of this.

You know, I have given considerable thought to Galatians 2:20, where the Apostle Paul claimed that he was not living, it was Christ who was (and still is) living in Him. Was it Paul or Christ who was arguing with the Jews? Who wrote the Epistles?

The Lord Jesus claimed that His Words actually came from God. Yet, in Gethsemane He prayed: "Not My will but Yours be done!" So the Lord Jesus had a will of His own, and yet He was doing God's will.

This is marriage. Two distinct wills are involved; yet the one will continually defer to the other. The Two are One, are they not? But They are still Two. Not My will but Yours be done. Two distinct wills.

Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)

We must keep in mind always that we are not Christ, yet we "are" Christ in the sense that we continually defer to His will, and live by His Life. We are the Body of Christ, are we not?

He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them "Mankind" (Lit. Adam) when they were created. (Genesis 5:2)

Notice in the passage above that Adam and Eve were both "Adam."

In the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke of our being one in Him as He is One in the Father. This is an example of the Father increasing the size of His family, not an occasion for theologians to quibble about whether or not we think we are God.

In my writings I will keep emphasizing that we are being made one with Christ in God, because in so doing we can assist in bringing all mankind, who will receive us and our message, to peace with God.

Eternal life is that of thinking, speaking, and acting along with the Lord Jesus Christ, as He thinks, speaks, and acts, along with the Father. We of the Church are to be growing to the place where we can do nothing except for that which we see Christ do, just as Christ can do nothing except for that which He sees the Father do.

I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity (oneness). Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:23)

The Glory I have portrayed above is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. God intends to live in His Royal Priesthood so that all of His creation can have fellowship with Him, do His will, and be healed and blessed.