BE STILL, AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD
Copyright © 2017 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.
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)
I preached recently on the subject of the rest of God. I do not believe I was very clear.
Like some other subjects of the Bible, it is easy to overdo the rest of God. Are we to do nothing? There is one parable that teaches us persistence in prayer. So we can't maintain we are to do nothing.
For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. (Luke 11:8)
Which is it to be? Shameless audacity or rest from our works?
Yesterday, after church, I counted up the books, booklets, and essays I have written over the past forty-or-so years. There are 1140 texts. So I cannot be properly called a "do-nothing," can I? So what is the common denominator of do nothing and work persistently?
The common denominator is "listen to Jesus and do what He says." So simple, but I wonder how many of us listen to Jesus and do what He says. Jesus might tell us to work very hard. Or He might counsel us to come apart and rest for awhile.
A famous Christian leader informed us recently that God does not speak to us today. The Bible tells us all we need to know.
The Jews had the scrolls of the Law, didn't they? Yet they needed their Prophets and the Urim and Thummim to keep them current with God.
I do not believe a more damaging advice could be given to Christian believers, particularly young people, then to say that God does not speak to us today.
Sometimes the college-age young people begin to ask, "Is there a God?" I counsel them, "Why don't you ask Him"? I did that seventy years ago, and God still is talking to me.
I maintain a running dialogue with the Lord Jesus at all times: "Should I do this? How about that?"
Sometimes Jesus interrupts the conversation and tells me something I am to do that I had not thought of.
During the day I frequently ask the Lord if I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. Ordinarily He assures me that both answers are yes.
If I get a "No," which does not happen often, I get busy and begin to ask the Lord what is wrong.
How do I hear from the Lord? Not in an audible voice, but in my mind and spirit I can tell what the Lord is saying. It takes practice to learn what is the Lord and what is some other voice.
I have been wrong sometimes; but the Lord Jesus straightens me out before I get into trouble.
What is wrong with a person who claims Jesus does not speak to us today? They must lead a pretty dry Christian life. I can't imagine being a fervent disciple of the Lord Jesus and not keeping up a dialogue with Him.
We teach the young people in our church to spend time listening to Jesus, and watch over them in case they should get into error—which is seldom.
Jesus is alive! He is not still hanging on the cross. He is very much alive and able to speak to anyone who will listen.
One time years ago we were having an evening prayer service on Boundary Street in San Diego. I was really pumped up, pressing the battle, praying with all my strength out loud.
Christ spoke to me and said, "Be still, and know that I am God." I tell you, that settled me down. I have been trying to do that ever since.
When I first became a Christian I was taught that I was supposed to testify to everyone I met.
Around the third week I was standing in the chow line. I turned and said to the big Marine behind me, "I want to tell you what Christ has done for me."
He asked, "What has He done for you?"
I could not think of one thing to say at that time. I could today!
Personal evangelism does not work for me.
One day, after the war, I was sitting alone in the chapel of the Berean Bible School, in San Diego. I was reading the Bible. Someone (angel or Christ) came and stood behind me to my right.
Suddenly the Bible began to make sense. To a certain extent it was not what was being taught in the Bible School, although they all were good Pentecostal people.
I decided I had better follow what my mind and heart were telling me. Here I am, 1140 texts later.
Back at that time, 1948, the Lord told me that the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical Day of Atonement was coming and it would be judgment on the sin in the Christian churches. That is taking place now. If we look to the Lord Jesus, He helps us turn away from our worldliness, the sinful promptings of our flesh, and our self-will.
In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, (Colossians 2:11)
I think we Christians of America need to ask Christ to circumcise us and help us turn away from our worldliness, the appetites of our flesh, and our determination to control our life rather than to listen to Jesus.
Yesterday, during the worship time in church, my wife Audrey wanted to know what I was "seeing." I told her I was "seeing" two armies coming toward us. One army is on black horses. One army is on white horses.
The black horses tells us that there is going to be war among the nations of the earth.
The white horses tell us that we Christians must now prepare ourselves for war, because the enemy is going to attack us.
The Spirit of the Lord has never spoken to me about a "rapture," and I do not find a rapture discussed in the New Testament. I believe the teaching of the rapture is false, its purpose being to keep the Christian people from preparing themselves to stand in the "evil day."
Before you start to argue with me, please show me in your Bible where the clear statement is made that Christ is going to carry His believers to Heaven so they will not be harmed by the Great Tribulation.
You will not find any such teaching in your Bible; and you will not hear anyone prophesying in the Spirit of the Lord that a rapture is on the way.
When I was in Bible School in 1948 we were taught that the Great Tribulation was at hand; there would be no more revivals; and we were going to be raptured any day now. Do you suppose this is still being presented in some churches?
Personally I believe that the greatest revival of all time is at hand and that it is revealed in symbolic form in the two witnesses (Christ and His victorious saints) found in the Book of Revelation. Also, that we of today need to put on the whole armor of God. Everyone who is listening to Jesus may now say "Amen".
But back to the theme of this present essay (number 1141).
Are we supposed to do nothing and wait for God to do it all? Or are we supposed to go forth, save souls, and work miracles?
I believe the current teaching would favor the second choice. The congregations are being informed that it is our job to go to every nation, save souls, and build churches. The listeners assent to this, but few of the people do anything except become increasingly spiritually dead because they are not performing that which they feel obligated to do.
They do have the grace to go out after church and eat more food than their body needs.
What is the answer? It is to learn to listen to Jesus.
If Jesus tells us to step into water over our head, and we obey, the water will part and we will come to no harm.
But if we dare to jump off the pinnacle to prove that we believe the Scripture, or to show people that we are God's man of faith and power, then we will end up in the garbage and nothing will be accomplished in the Kingdom of God.
I do not like the expression "step out in faith," because it invites presumption. If Christ tells you to step out, then you step out. But otherwise, no, unless you want to bring a reproach on the Gospel and confusion on yourself.
In 1948 I promised the Lord that I would do whatever He wanted, if He would make it clear to me and give me the necessary grace. I have kept that promise until the present hour.
There have been rough times, and periods of relatively smooth sailing. But to this day, Christ has made clear to me what He wants and has given me the necessary wisdom and strength to obey Him completely.
And I am no exception. If the person reading this brief essay will make the same promise to Christ, the results will be the same as in my case.
It may be true that there are a few people who have crossed the line and Jesus no longer will help them. After dealing with them repeatedly to do His will, God gives them over to a final time of judgment.
And this judgment can be severe, make no mistake! God is not the kindly grandfather pictured in our country today. God is a Spirit, and His wrath is as tremendous as His love. You might wish to refer to my essay, ("Dancing With the Living Dead").
According to the Bible, God completed His work in six days. Whether they were six calendar days I do not know. But I do believe the completed work that was finished extended to the new Jerusalem coming to earth and man being made in the image of God. Thus God is working today, as we are being formed in the dark places of the earth, as the 139th Psalm says.
Every detail of your life and mine was created during the sixth day.
But, since there were no evening and morning of the seventh day, I believe God is telling us that all these works will be completed from the beginning of the creation until the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem.
It is a good thing that God's plan is working today, isn't it? What would we do if we had a need, and God was resting and did not come to our aid.
So while God is resting, His previous work is being carried out, and God is watching over His Word to perform it.
We have been commanded to enter God's rest—not our rest, but God's rest. Therefore we are to cease from our own planning and scheming and present our body a living sacrifice so that we may determine what God's predetermined will is for us right now. Then, with God's help, we are to do it promptly, completely, and cheerfully as well as we can.
While you are ceasing from your own works you may find that God is dealing with you intensely. This is because on the sixth day of creation, God announced that you would be made in His image; that you always would behave as God behaves.
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)
Being changed into the image of God's behavior is an ongoing program. We must keep gazing at Christ, coming to know Him, being clothed with the Splendor of His Shekinah, which is our eternal life. Thus Christ is formed in us. As Christ is formed in us our behavior becomes increasingly like that of the Lord.
Now we can see readily why we must cease from our own attempts to promote ourselves. Our task, rather, is to pray without ceasing that we always are aware of that plan for us that was formulated at the time of the creation.
It is not that we lose our unique identity as a person. Jesus is One in God but always remains Jesus. The Apostle Paul lives by the Life of the Lord Jesus but always remains Paul.
You and I are to pursue Christ until we are one with Him as He is One with the Father.
It is no small request to ask a human being to turn from their own thinking, speaking, and behaving and keep looking to Jesus that they may be reflecting His thinking, speaking, and acting. But this is the result of entering God's rest.
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)
As we are willing to let Christ put away our old self in spiritual circumcision, we are fed continually with the body and blood of Christ. As the Life of the body and blood of Christ permeate our personality, we find it increasingly easy to enter God's rest.
As we enter God's rest, we think, speak, and act along with Christ just as Christ thinks, speaks, and acts along with the Father.
When Audrey and I came to Poway forty years ago, we determined to let God order matters as He wished. The church still is small, but we know everybody; and so it is like a family. I like that.
This month we had one-half million hits on our Internet site. There are seventeen hundred subscribers who receive our free daily essay. In addition we have sent hundreds of books free of charge to third-world countries.
All of my writings are in the Kindle Library. Perhaps this is to be our ministry, rather than that of pastoring a large congregation.
Maybe it is a good idea for us to just wait on the Lord and work with Him as He deals with the people of the world. It seems to have worked out that way.
We must be still and know that God is God.
"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 in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13,14)
This is the way we are to live—in the eternal Sabbath of God.