WHAT GOD IS DOING TODAY

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.

John 17:21-23 and John 14:18-23 are my favorite passages in the Bible. They both are telling us of the ultimate plan of God, which is to make man in His image and to dwell in man for eternity.

The fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews mentions "the rest of God." The two passages I have just set forth are describing some features of the rest of God. They tell of the supreme goal of our redemption.

Some of us have been as far as the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Now, in the year 2016, we are facing the third platform of the Divine redemption, that is, the bringing back into God's possession that which was stolen from Him by the great Deceiver, Satan.

The God of Heaven has given us His best in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, if we are to enter the third work of redemption, we must give God our best.

John 14:18-23 speaks of a coming of the Lord. This is not the great worldwide coming but a time of preparation for His worldwide coming.

The Christian churches set forth a "rapture," a flying away to Heaven of all who profess belief in Jesus Christ. This hardly is true.

Rather, the Lord shall appear in due time to gather to Himself all who have made Him their Life.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

"Who is your life."

I am speaking now of a prior, invisible coming that is to prepare us for His appearing in the clouds.

How many of the "believers" of today can truly say, "Christ is my Life"; or is it not true that they, although terming themselves "Christian," are living the life of an ordinary human being?

He then shall descend with those whose Life He is, and those He has brought with Him, destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet, force Satan into the Bottomless Pit, and remove all sinners from His kingdom.

"As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear." (Matthew 13:40-43)

Those whose Life Christ is will be gathered to Him when He appears and descend to the earth with Him. Then they will work with Him at the task of preparing the people living on the earth for the thousand-year reign of the Kingdom of God.

This concept is a bit different from that of immature believers, with whom the churches are filled because of the overemphasis on evangelism, being carried to Paradise and doing nothing of significance for eternity.

Many are not prepared for the return of Christ! But He is coming today to make ready for His appearing as many as will pray and obey the Spirit of God.

Those who do not prepare themselves for the Lord's return may experience more trouble than they did during the Great Tribulation!

Because of false teaching, numerous Christian people are waiting for Jesus to carry them to playland in the spirit world so they can have fun while those left in the earth are suffering under the tyranny of Antichrist and the delusions of the False Prophet.

But Jesus is not coming to remove us from the earth, or to rebuke us because of our worldliness, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-seeking, but rather to free us from these. It is a time of release, a Jubilee of deliverance, for all who will seek the Lord.

The spiritual fulfillments of the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles, are readily available for all who are willing and obedient.

You and I need to be faithful and obedient to the Lord Jesus at all times so we do not miss out on the glory that is in Heaven just waiting for those who care enough to receive it.

Now we will examine the provisions God has made for us so we are prepared to receive Him and with Him to govern the nations of saved people on the earth.

The three great festivals of Israel tell us of the three platforms of redemption (giving back to God that which was stolen by Satan) that Christian people are to experience so that God's final purposes in them may be fulfilled.

Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: (Deuteronomy 16:16)

The Festival of Unleavened Bread is symbolic of basic salvation: the blood atonement, removal of the Antichrist spirit of the world, and the born-again experience.

The Festival of Weeks is symbolic of Pentecost.

The Festival of Tabernacles is symbolic of the final acts of redemption.

The Christian Church, in some instances, has celebrated the first two gatherings. The third gathering, Tabernacles, is just beginning to be fulfilled in the days in which we are living.

"Tabernacles," as its name suggests, has to do with God's plan in creating man: it is the dwelling of God in man and the dwelling of man in God.

God desires a house, a home, a resting place, and a location for His Throne. Mankind has been created to fulfill God's desire.

Jesus declared: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." Such is to be the testimony of all of God's children. Whoever sees us is seeing the Father, because of our behavior.

We see the Father in Jesus because of the purity and righteousness in which Jesus behaves. When the Lord Jesus has come to maturity in us, and the Father and the Son are dwelling in that which has been formed in us, we will be in God's image in our behavior. Then whoever sees us will be seeing the Father''s Character.

Man was created to be in God's image.

The following behaviors are not in God's image. Whoever continues to behave in this manner shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The acts of the flesh 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)

When we are immoral sexually, the people around us do not see the image of God. We can profess our Christian beliefs as much as we care to. But our family, our friends, and everyone else do not see the image of God but the image of Satan.

When we are filled with hate, our children and other people see the image of Satan. We can go to Sunday school and church, but everyone sees the image of Satan.

When we are selfish or drunken, gossiping and criticizing other people, other people do not see the image of God but of Satan.

It is as simple and forthright as that!

But Christ has the power to free us from all of this if we will confess our sins and self-will and do what He says. Such is part of the third platform of redemption.

"I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

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 14:18-23)

I wonder how many would agree with me if I maintained that John 14:23 is one of the greatest of all the promises of the Bible. Are you marching along with me in this?

I will come to you. This is a coming of the Lord, but not the worldwide appearing.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. I believe I am beginning to experience "seeing" Christ, but it is not a physical "seeing." It is more of a closeness, an awareness, with the result I find myself talking to Jesus a good deal of the time. He often answers my questions. I don't see how people make it through this problem-filled life without being able to converse with our Lord frequently.

Our Lord Jesus desires this closeness with you and me far more than we desire it, I believe!

Because I live, you also will live. Now here is something. We live because Jesus lives. Notice the following, for it is the key to the victorious Christian discipleship:

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)

Now consider this fact: If we put off our entire self, how are we to continue to live? The answer is, we continue to live by the Life of Christ. This exchange is not going to take place in a moment. We have to work at it each day of our life.

But how do we work at exchanging our life for His?

Are we a car mechanic? We ask Jesus throughout the day to solve the problems with the car through us.

Are we a school teacher? We keep on looking to the Lord as we teach the lessons to the children. We ask Him to teach through us.

Are we a housewife? We keep looking to Jesus to help us do an excellent job.

In my own case, I would not dream of going in Sunday morning and teaching the congregation a sermon I had written down, with an introduction, three points, some anecdotes, and a conclusion. This is what the Icelanders call "canned fruit."

Rather, I keep looking to the Lord Jesus for the "burden," for the exact concepts He wishes to be presented to His sheep at that moment. Of course I have done a lot of studying in advance. But when I preach, I look carefully to observe what Jesus wants emphasized, just as I am doing right now as I write this essay.

I do not want to bring any minister into bondage at this point. It may be very true that Christ will direct you as an individual to write down exactly what you are to say, reading from your notes to the congregation. In that case, do exactly as He is leading and enabling you. Each of us who ministers must follow Christ carefully.

My personal opinion is that all ministers of the Gospel should listen to Jesus carefully, and not just guess at what He wants and then ask Him to bless our efforts.

In other words, we should walk with the Lord, and not expect Him to walk with us when we are following our own plans.

Each day we should be leaning more and more on Christ, so it is obvious to all who observe us that it is Christ who is speaking and behaving in us. Otherwise we are going to find ourselves receiving the glory that belongs only to God.

We are to be living by the Life of Jesus, just as was true of the Apostle Paul.

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)

If I am not mistaken, the greatest need of today is for all Christian believers to press into the Lord Jesus until they are thinking, speaking, and behaving by His Life rather than their own. We have to work at this each day and night. It will not just happen as we go about our business. I am speaking of praying continually.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. The expression "that day" refers to the time when it is God who is being exalted rather than us.

In that day you will say:

"I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation." (Isaiah 12:1,2)

The arrogance of man will be brought low and human pride humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day, and the idols will totally disappear. (Isaiah 2:17,18)

I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Once these relationships have been established beyond all doubt, perhaps in the future, we will be in God's image. Christ, the Word of God who created the universe, has been formed in us. The eternal moral Law of God thus has been engraved in our character by the body and blood of the Divine Word.

The Word Himself along with the Father has entered us. Our outward form has been transformed by the Spirit of God. Now we behave as God is behaving; as Christ is behaving.

This has been the plan from the time before the creating of the angels by the Lord Jesus Christ, the hour when the Word proceeded from the Father.

The Kingdom was planned at that time. Satan was created in shining beauty, his Creator knowing he would fall in love with himself. The Father and the Word understood Satan would be the means of the redemption and forming of man in God's image as they resisted the desires of the cherub who fell.

Every smallest detail of the Kingdom of God was designed at that time, and then God rested. We are to choose to enter that finished work of God, ceasing from our own works, doing only that which God planned for us as an individual. In that hour, He who now is Jesus Christ was not a human being but the Expression of God's will.

There are numerous promises in the Bible that will be fulfilled in the individual who meets the qualifications. But those abiding in the rest of God, in the center of God's Person and will, shall fulfill those qualifications only as they are directed by the Lord Jesus while they seek Him continually.

God is watching over His Word to make certain it is being carried out as He planned from the beginning of the creation.

Christ always is in the Father, and we are to see to it that we always are in Christ and He always is in us and guiding our behavior.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. I marvel that those who are teaching that God has given us grace because we are unable to meet His demands, cannot see that there are many passages in the New Testament pointing out to us that we show our love for Christ by actually doing what He commands.

Our tendency seems to be to say "Lord, Lord, how wonderful you are." And then not do what He commands. How disappointing this must be to the Lord Jesus.

There are many today who attend church services so they can enjoy an emotional experience. I wonder in how many churches the written Word is being expounded such that the believers go away with an understanding of how they are to behave.

Falling down and writhing on the floor when touched by the "minister" will not create the image of God in anyone!

The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. I believe it is clear from the New Testament that Christ and the Father are two different people, although they behave as though they were one Person. The Father is the very Life of Jesus Christ just as Christ desires to be our life.

Christ shows Himself to us by drawing so close to us that we are conscious of His Presence all times. Try looking to Him as much as you can, and obey His will with all your might.

Delight yourself in the Lord. Rejoice and be glad for each day the Lord provides for you. Then see if His Presence in your life has increased. I think you will agree that it has.

Also, you may find yourself being more aware of the Father as a separate Person.

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" This is the big question, isn't it? Why should there be this special visitation to the disciples prior to the worldwide appearing of the Lord?

The answer is as follows:

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 reward given to those who obey Christ is the coming of the Father and Christ to make Their home in that individual.

God needs a house, a home, a place of rest, and a location for His throne. Man has been created to meet this desire, this need; but only as the individual obeys the teachings of the Lord Jesus.

And by the way, God desires and needs a home, not just a house. Do you know the difference? A house is just a cold building. A home is where your loved ones are, and perhaps the family dog. God wants a resting place among people who love Him dearly.

I wonder if this is the reason for the widespread teaching of "grace" as an alternative to obeying Christ and God. Is Satan seeking to provoke Christians to disobey Christ because he understands that disobedience will prevent the Father and Christ from dwelling in the believer?

I would not be surprised if this is the case. A believer can be fervent in their beliefs, but Satan has no fear of a fervent believer. However, Satan is terrified of a Christian who has turned away from their own life and are thinking, speaking, and behaving in concert with the living Lord Jesus.

Perhaps this is why our need as Christians is to pray continually for the indwelling of the Father and Christ. The concept of a change in us is not emphasized often, it seems, while leading people to salvation is the main objective of most Christian organizations. Perhaps Satan is involved in this emphasis.

The New Testament does not emphasize evangelism but the behavior of the believers and their obedience to God. Read it and see for yourself.

I think it is time that these emphases be reversed. The need today is for mature Christians. The moral standards of our world will not change until the Christians become the moral image of God. It may be true that the work of evangelism will be enhanced when the Christians lead godly lives. Jesus said people would glorify God when they saw our good works.

The next three verses are especially important:

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)

I think the passage above is saying much the same thing as John 14:18-23. It refers to the rest of God, that place in God in which we continuously seek to know His will for that day, a will that was determined at the beginning of the creation.

When one ponders the significance of these words of our Lord, it becomes clear that God the Father is enlarging Himself through His children, with our Lord Jesus being the Firstbegotten and the Firstborn from the dead.

The entire Entity includes the Father, the Son, and those who have become part of the Lord Jesus, that is, have become the Body of Christ. It is this Oneness, with everyone partaking of the Divine Nature, that absolutely is sublime, when you think about it.

It may be true that the developers of the "Trinity" doctrine, while their objectives were of the highest possible reverence, gave us a confusing picture. Part of that confusion arise from the practice of using the name "God" as a family name. God is not a name like Tom or Sylvia. God is a title.

We do not know what God's family name is, or if He even has one.

Jesus is a family name, a flesh and blood person, like us.

To say that Jesus is God, does not mean He is the Father. It refers rather to the exalted authority that the Father has assigned to Him.

So the Father is God. Jesus is God. The Holy Spirit is God. This does not mean they all are the Father, only that they are of the highest authority.

Jesus referred to His Father as "My God."

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

Let me repeat what I said previously. The entire Entity includes the Father, the Son, and those who have become part of the Lord Jesus, that is, part of the Body of Christ. It is this Oneness, with everyone partaking of the Divine Nature, that absolutely is sublime, when you think about it.

The reason I have been pointing out that the Father and Jesus are separate Persons, although One in all They are and do, is that we have been called to be part of this Oneness. The widespread doctrine of the Trinity may, to some people, seem to be so unapproachable that they could not conceive of being part of the glorious Oneness.

I think people that picture one Person in three manifestations, or three persons in one Trinity, and are comforted and blessed by this belief, ought to continue in this point of view. It all may become clearer when they die and go to Heaven.

However, when the Bible states that Jesus is God's Son, many of us take comfort in this familiar idea. When we realize that Jesus came to bring us to our Father, and we will be able to know the Father as our "Dad," we are greatly blessed.

Also, the idea of the Lord being our older Brother, or even our Husband; we are familiar with these relationships.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

The Lord Jesus is the Way to the Father. And I believe, as we enter the third great platform of redemption, the Father will become much more real to us than has been true in the past.

So today there may be an unprecedented opportunity to know Jesus and the Father, and to have them dwelling in us to the point that we can speak with them throughout the day and night.

Since the spiritual atmosphere is becoming increasingly dark, this close relationship with the Father and Christ may become necessary if we are to survive and assist our loved ones to survive spiritually.

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.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:16,17)

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:21)

APPENDIX

The Glory of God is that surpassingly wonderful Presence that brings righteousness, holiness, love, joy, and peace to all it embraces. It brings us the feeling of finally being "home."

The Father and the Son are not the same Person, although they abide in total union, union into which the obedient believer is brought—a union with God and with one another.

Perhaps the confusion concerning the Godhead comes from Satan who is intent on destroying our simple, straightforward fellowship with the Father and the Son.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

Our goal, the rest of God, is two-headed. One head is that of behaving morally like God and Christ. The other head is that of dwelling always in the Person and will of the Father. These two heads are interdependent.

A sign along the highway is not the destination. Miraculous signs are not our goal. When we make them our destination we do not arrive at our true goal, and we replace Bible teaching with violent shaking, writhing on the floor, imitation drunkenness, weird sounds, an emphasis on acquiring wealth and gaining political power, and other unscriptural actions. We are not behaving decently and in order.

We often are indulging in "triumphalism."

Perhaps the worst error, to emerge from those who are emphasizing miraculous signs as the goal of our assembling as Christian people, is the teaching that we are to restore our adamic nature.

Any believer who knows anything about the program of sanctification understands well that if they are to make progress in learning to live by the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus, they must cut away from themselves all traces of their old nature.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6)

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)

"Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off." That is the end of Adam. And good riddance! Are you marching with me in this?

The self-seeking Christian leaders of today, who do not understand that we must deny ourselves and carry our cross after the Master, are becoming the False Prophet. By emphasizing miraculous signs instead of the Bible, they will help Antichrist. establish throughout the world the worship of money.

The living Jesus is not seen in them as they vaunt themselves.

Because of the signs it (the False Prophet) was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. (Revelation 13:14)

It has been said by some that if a miracle is done in Jesus' name, that is proof that Jesus is present. This is not true.

Consider the following:

Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (Matthew 7:22,23)

Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. (Revelation 13:11)

The second beast, the False Prophet has a double portion of the power of the Lamb (the Lord Jesus), but is speak lies because it is motivated by Satan.

"Triumphalism: The attitude or practices of a church that seeks a position of power and dominance in the world." (Dictionary.com)