SERMONS ON PASTOR’S PAGE FROM 2008
Copyright © 2008 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. 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.
It seems that the understanding of God’s Kingdom, and also of the manner in which we are being fashioned by the Lord, is becoming increasingly clear. Perhaps these brief thoughts drawn from my sermons will be of help to the saints of the future.
Table of Contents
One Size Does Not Fit All
The End Game
The Holy City
Heaven, or the Earth?
The Eternal Sabbath
Moses to Christ
Becoming a Tree of Life
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Many Dwelling Places
The Three Lessons of the Kingdom
Preparation for the Change
Sodom; Egypt; Jerusalem
The Truth and the Lie
The Gifts and Ministries of the Body of Christ
The Servant of the Lord
The Overcomer: Part Two
The Overcomer: Part Three
The Overcomer: Part Four
Here and There
SERMONS ON PASTOR’S PAGE
Introduction—Welcome to our site. You may notice some ideas that are new to you. Hopefully they will be helpful, or at least cause you to stop and think about what is being said.
We have come to the conclusion, after 60 years as a Christian, that some of our traditions need to be looked at again in the light of the Scripture. Our position is, if our tradition does not square with the Bible, then we need to change the tradition and not the Bible.
We certainly question the idea that our behavior does not affect our salvation, or that our salvation does not affect our behavior. Our salvation normally will be revealed in our behavior.
We question also the doctrine of the pre-tribulation “rapture.”
The “prosperity” and “faith” messages do not fit the Scripture, as far as we are concerned.
We look for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, rather than eternal residence in Heaven. Have you ever tried to find in the Bible where we are supposed to spend eternity in Heaven?
We want to be with Jesus where He is—in the center of the Person and will of God, not stuck in an unscriptural mansion somewhere.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is beginning to be preached in all the world for a witness. After that, the end of the Church Age will be here.
One Size Does Not Fit All. Sometimes a store will sell a product, declaring that “one size fits all.” It might be an adjustable watchband, or a pair of men’s socks. The Kingdom of God is not like that. It is true that when an individual comes to the Lord for forgiveness, he or she is just as forgiven, just as holy before God, as the most experienced saint. Also, he or she is raised with Christ to sit at the right hand of God. However, after this the demands made on the individual by the Spirit of God are as varied as there are believers.
(1/6/2008)The parable of the talents, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, reveals to us that the Lord does not give the same responsibility to every believer. In another place it speaks of those to whom much has been given.
What is a Kingdom talent? It is whatever is given to us as an individual. It can be our level of intelligence, some special ability in the arts or sciences, our health, our children—in short, all our resources; all of that which we can use to further the work of the Kingdom of God.
The parable of the talents impresses on us that if we set aside our own ambitions that Christ may be served, our reward will be increased responsibility in His Kingdom. However, if we place our own life in the world ahead of our service to the Lord, we will be regarded by the Lord Jesus as a wicked, lazy servant. Our talent or talents will be take from us and given to another. Finally, we will be removed from the light and glory of the Kingdom of God and placed in spiritual darkness. From my experience I would say that such dire consequences can happen to us in this world, before we die.
So how we employ what has been given to us is an extremely serious business. I think the modern teaching is that somehow “grace” covers our laziness, such that no matter whether or not we use our resources to please Christ, we will be blessed and be received into Paradise in any case. Thus today’s preaching makes the Word of God of no effect. It is no wonder that America is in the state it is, as it is being weakened in every area of life!
So it absolutely is not true that if we bury our talent, so to speak, we will be regarded favorably by the Lord God because of His grace and mercy! It will happen to us just as the Lord said. It is obvious that much of today’s Christian teaching is coming from Satan himself. Such teaching is leading the Christian people to destruction!
Actually it is the greatest pleasure to serve Christ. Whether we are to be of high rank in the Kingdom, or have been appointed to a lesser place, the demands on us are always accompanied by love, joy, and peace. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. God’s commandments simply are not grievous!
Christ does require of every believer that he present his body as a living sacrifice. This means we approach every day with the attitude that what Jesus is desiring of us that day is of supreme importance. We look to Him continually for wisdom, strength, and joy in His service.
We never, never, never are to consider making a living to be more important than what Jesus wants of us. God’s Word promises us that if we place the Kingdom of God first in importance, and seek it at all times, our needs shall be taken care of. If this promise can be broken, then none of the Bible promises are trustworthy.
Each member of the Church, the Body of Christ, has a place of importance. Each believer has something to give to build the Kingdom of God. We do not have to fret ourselves trying to find out what it is. We just have to keep looking to Jesus at all times, listening to Him, and obeying Him strictly. If we do this, He will keep us from the judgments that are to come upon our nation because of abortion, sexual perversions, and other sins.
If you wish to know what your role is in the Kingdom of God, what you are to do, do not compare yourself with another believer. Do not be presumptuous and “step out of the boat” unless the Lord invites you. Neither be lazy, sluggish, bowed down with the cares of the world. Be content in the prison where the Lord has placed you, meanwhile letting your requests be made known to God. Walk hand in hand with Christ throughout your lifetime.
Jesus’ mother at the wedding said to the household servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” This is it in a nutshell. Do what Christ directs you to do. Follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Ask God in Jesus’ name if He will help you give up your own hopes and ambitions that you might live by the Life of Jesus Christ; that you might be His helper; that you might be an extension of Him. God will answer this prayer each day if you keep at it and don’t give up.
“One size does not fit all.” We are not to compare ourselves with another believer. We are entering an age of chaos in America that no new president is going to repair. This is because, as happened to the Israelites of old when they forsook the Lord, we are losing the Lord’s covering that has been on America in the past. No president, no matter how capable or sincere, can prevent the Divine judgments that are to come on America. We can see them already in so many areas, can’t we.
What can the individual believer do? Jesus said to me, “I have new and surprising things for every Christian who will forget about the ways of the past, wait on Me, listen carefully to Me, and be strictly obedient.” This word came to me a few months back during a pastors’ conference. I know it was the Lord, and still is the Lord.
Remember Jeremiah and Nebuzaradan. It does not matter how dreadful the circumstances, God will take good care of every person who is faithful to Him. Nebuzaradan invited Jeremiah to go and live safely in Babylon. Thus the world will “swallow up” the river of moral filth with which Satan hopes to the destroy the Lord’s people, and they will be saved if they are keeping the Lord’s commandments. But the Israelites, in their wickedness, carried off Jeremiah to Egypt.
Be of good cheer. Hope in the Lord. Serve Christ patiently and He will save you and your loved ones from the flood of Satan that is starting to cover our land.
Your friend in Christ,
Pastor Bob Thompson
The End Game. I felt the Lord would have me speak a little bit about the end game, that is, where all of our Christian efforts are taking us.
Before I tackle this subject, I would like to emphasize something the Lord wants me to say. Change is coming to our lives in America. We Christian people need to make certain we are doing the will of Christ, and as much as possible leading our children and young people to do the will of Christ.
Many of us parents are endeavoring to make sure our children and young people get the best education possible so they can have a comfortable income; and that they are able to participate in all the activities of our culture. We ourselves may be spending considerable time making sure that in our “golden years” we will have enough money to live comfortably and independently.
I am not suggesting for one moment that we act foolishly regarding money or education. What the Lord is stressing to me is that we realize change is coming and life may be quite different in the near future.
For example, if the terrorists set of a plutonium dirty bomb in Manhattan it could leave several square miles uninhabitable for many years. If the terrorists set off an electromagnetic pulse bomb it could destroy all wireless communications over a large area. Can you picture what chaos that would cause in our daily lives? Our banking? Our employment? A great part of our daily life? It is almost unimaginable; yet not at all unrealistic.
A great part of our preparations for the future for our children and ourselves will not help in such situations, which very well may occur in our lifetime—certainly in the lifetimes of our children and young people.
The Lord is warning us strongly to prepare ourselves by walking with Him and listening to Him at all times. No matter how desolate the future may be in America, there is one aspect of life that will not change. That is our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He is not subject to these changes. He is able to keep each of us who lives in His Presence at all times. Read about how the Lord protected Jeremiah when Jerusalem was being destroyed. Christ can do the same for you and me. Count on it!
The weight of this warning on my spirit makes me feel like Ze’ev Jabotinsky, as he traveled through Europe, warning the Jews to leave, pleading for the evacuation of the Eastern European Jews: “In the name of G-d. Let anyone of you save himself as long as there is still time. And time there is very little.” Some Jews left and went to other countries. Many did not. Then came the Holocaust.
(1/13/2008) I felt that today I should take a look at where we are, and the end game of all of this.
If we are to think clearly about the Kingdom of God we must realize we are dealing with three groups of people who will be saved into life on the new earth—that which will come down through the new sky, as described in the last two chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The three groups are as follows: the firstfruits of the Church: the entire Church, of which the firstfruits is a part; the nations of saved people on the new earth.
The program is as follows. The two thousand years of the Church Age have as their purpose the calling out of God’s elect from the nations of the earth; also the opportunity for those who choose to do so to overcome the obstacles they encounter and become part of God’s firstfruits of the earth.
The thousand-year Kingdom Age has as its purpose the preparing of those of the elect who are not part of the firstfruits, for their eternal role as members of the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church. The firstfruits will help the less mature members. The stronger will help the weaker.
Once the present sky and earth are dismissed from the face of Jesus Christ, and the glorified Christian Church comes down through the new sky to be settled on a high mountain of the new earth, God will place on the new earth those people whom He has found worthy of salvation.
If I were to give you the entire scriptural background for what may be to you a new and astonishing thought I would be writing all night. You can hear the references if you will listen to the morning and evening tapes of 1/13/2008.
As far as the firstfruits of the Church are concerned, you can find references to this group in the sixth chapter of the Song of Solomon; in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation; and in the seventh and eighth verses of the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. She is “the unique one of her mother.”
As far as the whole Church is concerned, including the firstfruits, you can read about those people in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
As far as the nations of saved people of the earth, who are not part of God’s elect, you will find them mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation.
As you read Chapters 60 and 61 of the Book of Isaiah, you will see the clear distinction between, and the interaction between, the saved peoples of the earth and God’s elect. God’s elect are always Israel. God glorified Church is always Jerusalem.
We Gentiles have come to believe that the Church, the elect, primarily is a Gentile creation. This is not at all the truth. The Church, the elect of God, God’s Israel, began with Abraham. It continued through the physical land and people of Israel. After the resurrection of Jesus, the Church consists of elect Jews and Gentiles. There is only the one new Man. Until this is grasped firmly, the words of the Hebrews Prophets will not be comprehensible.
Peter, the Jew, told us that the Prophets were speaking of us—Jews and Gentiles who are part of the Messiah, Jesus.
So the end game is the new Jerusalem. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” They say this to the peoples of the earth. Whoever chooses to do so may come to the members of the Church and receive healing and eternal life without cost. This is true even today, of those mature saints who are able to bring Christ to others. But the pattern of the members of the Church bringing life, healing, joy, deliverance, and every other good thing to the peoples of the earth is eternal. This is the end game.
So, Christian, do not quit. Press on! Press on! God loves the peoples of the earth He has created. But He cannot draw near to them except through you. And He cannot use you as a vessel of blessing until He gets the love of the world, the lusts of your flesh and spirit, and your self-will, out of you. Once He does this, and fills you with the Father and the Son, you will be the fulfillment of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. This is the end game. Go for it.
But remember what I said in the beginning. Very difficult times are coming to America. The way to prepare for trouble is not to amass money, or increase your education, or fortify and defend yourself and your loved ones in any other manner.
The only wisdom and power that will enable you to stand with your loved ones no matter what comes upon our nation because of sin, is the wisdom and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Learn to live in His wisdom and power today, and teach your family, as much as possible, to live this way also.
The Holy City. I really have had a breakthrough in my thinking over the past few days. The breakthrough has to do with the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
The new Jerusalem, is the Wife of the Lamb, the glorified Christian Church. It is what I like to term the “end game.” You know, it is said that “without a vision, the people perish.” I believe that today we have an incorrect vision of Heaven, of what we are going to face when we die, of the goal of our salvation. An incorrect vision definitely affects how we live our Christian life. The goal of our salvation is that of becoming an integral part of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church.
(1/20/2008) Before I tell you what I think God has shown me concerning the holy city, let me offer a design that is not always presented in Christian teaching. There are two, not just one, groups of saved people. By “saved” I mean eligible to be brought over to life on the new earth, after the present earth has fled from the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The two groups are the Church; and then a much larger group consisting of the saved people of the nations of the earth. This simple design has gotten lost somewhere along the line.
The members of the Church (hopefully of the new Jerusalem, if we obey the Spirit of God and do not turn back into the world) were chosen by the Lord when He created the earth. The term “Church” means “called-out.” The term does not refer to a building or to a denomination. There is only one Church, regardless of denominational affiliation. I think all true believers know in their heart this is true, although you wouldn’t think so the way we talk!
In the Old Testament, the Church was Israel. In the New Testament the Church still is Israel (the new covenant can be made only with Israel) but it includes many people who were born Gentiles, as well as those born of Jewish people.
There is only one Olive Tree, only one new Man. That Man is the Church, the Wife of the Lamb.
Throughout the two-thousand-year Church Age, the Holy Spirit has been adding people to the Church. Our Evangelistic efforts are directed toward getting everyone “saved.” While the Apostles indeed have been commanded to preach the Gospel to every person, the main business of the Holy Spirit has been to add people to the Church.
God’s plan for the members of His Church, which is a called-out group of people, a small minority of Earth’s population, is twofold: first, it is to change them into the image of Christ, first internally and then, when the Lord returns, externally. Second, and equally importantly, it is to bring them into the Oneness that the Godhead Is. It an increase in the incarnation of God, with Jesus Christ remaining the supreme Head and Lord.
It may sound blasphemous to claim that God’s elect are to be made an integral part of God. But I can’t see any other conclusion from John 17:21-23.
When Jesus returns, those believers who, through Christ, have chosen to overcome the Satan, will be raised from the dead, caught up to meet Him in the air, and then will return to work with Christ in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. A great deal of Divine force, the rod of iron, will have to be exercised if the people on the earth are to be persuaded to do God’s will rather than their own.
Then there will be a period of one thousand years (whether literal or symbolic) during which those saints who were caught up to Christ will govern the nations of the earth.
The reason, as I understand it, for the thousand-year period, is that the members of the elect who did not attain to the first resurrection, will be brought to increased maturity while they are in the spirit world, and perhaps on the earth as well, while they still are here. Every member of the elect (except those who choose to withdraw from God’s plan for their life), must be made ready to descend through the new sky to be installed on the new earth.
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)
We see a great, jasper wall separating the Church, the eternal Israel, from the nations of saved people on the new earth.
For years I have been disappointed that I was not able to see within the wall. I wondered what activities are carried on; what kind of buildings there are; how people and/or families conduct their business.
I have always suspected that the wall, the street of gold, the river of eternal life, the trees of life, while they may have some kind of form, primarily are symbolic. The precious stones in the foundations of the wall represent the character of saints formed by extraordinary heat and pressure; the twelve gates being representative of the pearls formed in us as we patiently endure our tribulations.
And then, the other day, I think it began to become clear to me. There are no human activities or families or anything else we would expect to find. The new Jerusalem is not Paradise. Paradise is outside the wall, for the people of the nations, who are our inheritance, whom God loves dearly, to enjoy with their families.
The new Jerusalem is the Throne of God. What takes place inside the jasper wall is, first of all, the worship of God. The Throne of God and of the Lamb are in the center of the city. The holiness of God’s Glory and Presence proceed out from the Throne in concentric circles.
Each one of us is living at one of those circles. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, putting to death through the Spirit the actions of our sinful nature; learning to live by the wisdom and strength of the body and blood of Christ; being transformed little by little as we behold His Glory, move toward a circle closer to the Throne.
I repeat: we already have come to Mount Zion and to the spirits of righteous people being made perfect as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the work of becoming holy as God is holy.
How utterly and unspeakably marvelous to dwell in a city which itself is the Throne of almighty God! We are becoming more holy today, if we are walking hand in hand with the Lord Jesus.
We have been made one with one another in Christ in God so we can go forth through one of the twelve gates and bring the Presence and rule of God to the people on the earth. Again, this is true even today as the Lord leads.
The River of Life is to come out of us. We are becoming trees of life so people may be healed. The Spirit and we give the water of life without charging a cent, to all who will come and partake.
The street of gold is the way of faith. The righteous always live by faith. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Truth there is. He alone knows the way and the will of God. We hurl aside our own understanding that we may walk by total faith in Him who is the only Truth; the only Way; the only Life.
I am content now. I think I know what is within the wall. I know also that in the hearts of some is the desire to never leave that city. It is their destiny to be there eternally, to worship God and to add to the beauty of the city. They are God’s “doors,” whom we, as Christ guides, enclose in planks of cedar.
But in others of us there is a fervency to bring the Light and the Glory to specific people of the nations whom God has given us for an inheritance.
The demons are arriving in increasing numbers in our country, because we no longer regard sin as being against the law of the state. The temptation to turn aside into lust and other aberrations will become terrific. Only the strongest will stand. But it is they of whom it is written, “Many who are last shall be first.”
You have been invited to be one of God’s victorious saints, and to serve God in His Temple, the new Jerusalem. Whatever you do, do not trade your calling for the trinkets of the world.
The flesh profits nothing!
Heaven, or the Earth? Today I spoke about the army of the Lord, and the Kingdom of God coming to the earth. It appears to me that for two thousand years the Christian churches have declared that if we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord, we will go to Heaven to live in a mansion for eternity. What we will be doing there is not clear, except that it will be enjoyable, if not actually fun!
Where do you suppose this concept of salvation came from? It certainly was not derived from the Old Testament or the New Testament. It clearly is a tradition, not a scriptural idea.
As far as I know, most religions have a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. There certainly is a place called “Heaven,” where God and the angels are. There certainly is a place called “Hell,” where the wicked are. No doubt about these two facts. But they are not the main subject of the Bible. The main subject of the Bible is the coming of the righteous Kingdom of God to the earth.
So today we are being oriented correctly to the Bible and to the Kingdom of God. What a massive change in perception? I know from my experience in the public schools that human institutions move with all the speed of a herd of turtles. We are afflicted with “iron lids,” which I believe is an expression of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
(1/27/2008) You know, I don’t think I have the ability to change anyone’s thinking to this great an extent. I guess the Holy Spirit will have to enlighten our minds. We really have had an incorrect view of salvation all these years.
Let me make an initial statement, to see if this helps: God’s purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ is to bring His Presence, His throne, Divine justice, into the earth. Man has gone his way without God for at least 6,000 years. Look at the world. It is getting worse every day. The politicians are making many promises, but there is little they can do. The problems are spiritual in nature and can only be solved by spiritual means, no matter how well intentioned people may be.
We have thought that God’s solution to the problem is to carry His believers to a wondrous world in the spirit realm and send the rest of mankind into the Lake of Fire. All we have to do to escape Hell and the Lake of Fire is to profess faith in Jesus Christ. A change in our behavior is not the main issue, it is to profess faith in Jesus Christ, even though we do not intend to give Him complete control over our decisions.
What an unscriptural wasteland Christian theology is! What a departure from God’s intention!
God is coming to the earth. The Throne is moving from Heaven to the hearts of the saints. Paradise shall restored on the earth. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, shall be located for eternity on the new earth. A new world of righteousness is on the horizon.
What has been the prayer of the Christian people for two thousand years? “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven.”
This is our chief prayer, is it not? What is our chief hope? That we will go to Heaven when we die, to live forever in the spirit world.
Our prayer is for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on the earth. Our hope is that we will escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die.
What is wrong with our thinking? Why cannot we see that this is ridiculous? Why are we wasting time praying that God’s Kingdom will come and His will shall be done in the earth, when we don’t believe it ever is going to happen?
Assuredly if God’s Kingdom is coming to the earth, if His will is going to be done here, if His throne is going to be in the saints of the new Jerusalem on the new earth, and if Paradise is going to be on the earth once again, then most of us would not want to be stuck in the spirit world doing nothing of significance for eternity. I think I am correct in writing this.
Do you, dear reader, have iron lids that are opened with the greatest difficulty? Do you, when you are faced with the obvious, move from that which is unsound to that which is of greater clarity, with all the speed of a herd of turtles?
I hope better things of you. I hope you will move at once from “Heaven thinking” to “Kingdom thinking.” If you are willing to do this, the whole Bible will begin to make more sense.
Several of the Psalms speak of God coming to bring justice to the nations. Several passages in the Old Testament, and the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, tell of the armies that are going to come from Heaven, destroy the power of the wicked, and then establish a godly society on the earth.
This is what the Bible is about. The Church is a called-out group of people who are being prepared to work with Jesus Christ in bringing Paradise to the earth and maintaining it.
Not everyone will be saved. There will be some who will refuse the Lordship of Jesus Christ. We cannot remain in God’s world and refuse the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
But the great majority of people who have been born on the earth shall indeed be brought over to life on the new earth. They shall be governed by the saints, whose base of operations is the new Jerusalem. They will not be “free moral agents.” They will obey God in all matters. “Your will be done on the earth”!
This is the true Gospel. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The proper response is to repent, that is, to stop our wicked behavior and to begin to walk hand in hand with Jesus. This is the good news. Paradise is on the way back to earth. If we would participate in the marvels that are at hand we must begin at once to practice righteous behavior; love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
The army that is going to follow Christ from Heaven is being prepared today, both on the earth and in the spirit world. Are you getting your directions from the Commander in Chief? Are you enduring hardships? Are you learning to walk straight ahead in your rank and not injure your fellow soldiers? Are you learning strict obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ? If you are not, you will not be ready to ride behind the Lord Jesus when He returns.
How about it? Are you willing to be trained as a soldier of the army of the Lord? I am, as the Lord helps me.
The Eternal Sabbath. The theme of the Book of Hebrews is the “rest of God.” The writer warns us not to come short of it. Perhaps the rest of God needs some explanation. It may be that some of the Lord’s flock do not know what the rest of God is, and so they would not know if they were coming short of it. Yet, the rest of God is the climax of our redemption, and is the emphasis of the Spirit of God in the present hour.
(2/3/2008) The Eternal Sabbath. The theme of the Book of Hebrews is the “rest of God.” The writer warns us not to come short of it. Perhaps the rest of God needs some explanation. It may be that some of the Lord’s flock do not know what the rest of God is, and so they would not know if they were coming short of it. Yet, the rest of God is the climax of our redemption, and is the emphasis of the Spirit of God in the present hour.
Saturday is the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath day. Along with circumcision, the Sabbath day is one of the most important of the Jewish observances. And, like circumcision, the Sabbath points to a spiritual fulfillment that is as superior to the Old Testament observance as our Lord Jesus Christ is superior to Adam, with respect to being the image of God.
The eternal Sabbath was proclaimed by the Prophet, Isaiah:
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, (Isaiah 58:13)
The Lord Jesus lives in the eternal Sabbath of God. He has no works, no words, no motivations of His own. The words Christ speaks are the words of God. The desires Christ has are the desires of God. The works Christ does are the works of God.
This is the rest of God. This is our goal: to live by the Life of Christ as He lives by the Life of the Father.
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)
“Feeding” on Christ means living by His body and blood. How do we do this? Every time we resist temptation, not yielding to it, we are fed with the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. This is the “hidden manna.” It is hidden to all except those who resist Satan and obey the Spirit of God.
Think for just a moment. In what way does Jesus Christ live because of the Father? Christ lives because of the Father in that it is the Life of the Father that is in Him, governing all that Christ is and does. Christ has no desires, words, motivations, or actions of Himself. All Christ is and does comes from the Father, is of the Father, and—we might say—indeed Is the Father, in this sense.
Now, precisely what is the rest mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, and is the primary thesis of Hebrews?
The rest of God, which we are make every effort to enter, is that place where it is Christ who is living in us. We live because of Christ. We are to have no desires, words, motivations, or actions of our own. We are to be living by His Life.
Let us point out that it is God’s rest. God rested on the seventh day, of which there is no evening or morning because it is without end, being an eternal rest.
God finished all His work through to the coming down to the new earth of the new Jerusalem. Our life was ordained at that time. We are not to seek our own destiny. We are to press into that which God ordained for us. His works have been finished from the beginning of the world. God is resting. We are to enter that rest, ceasing from our own works.
We are to live by the Life of Jesus Christ, just as was true of the Apostle Paul. We are to live in Christ and He in us. Only then will we bear eternal fruit.
When we seek to live by the Life of Jesus Christ there is a trap we must learn to avoid. This is the trap of passivity. We may decide that we are an “empty vessel” and wait for God to fill us. We will not be filled by the Lord, if we adopt this stance. We may be filled with some spirit, but it will not be the Spirit of the Lord. This is not the true rest. We are not to become “empty vessels!” Did the Apostles write about empty vessels? This is a trap, a false rest.
The true rest of God is entered as we rest from our own works and seek to find out what Christ wants of us.
There are three forces that keep us from the simplicity of walking hand in hand with the Lord Jesus. The first force is our love of the things of the world, our trust in the world for security and survival. As we pray and ask Christ, He will enable us to reject the values of the world and trust in God for our security and survival.
The second force that complicates our effort to walk hand in hand with the Lord consists of the various lusts and passions of our sinful nature, our flesh, our spirit, our human mind. These forces war against us and keep us subject to Satan and his demons.
We are to cleanse ourselves from these. We do this by walking as close to Jesus as we can. As we do, the Spirit of God will reveal the several elements of our sinful nature. As He does, we are to confess them to the Lord, and then renounce them with all of our strength. Then we are to draw near to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing. After that we are to turn away from our former patterns of behavior.
The third force that complicates our efforts to live in the rest of God is our self-will, self-love, self-determination, self-confidence, self-assurance, self, self, self! This is the most difficult victory to gain. How can we enter God’s Live when we are attempting to live our own.
I have been “in Pentecost” for sixty years. I have felt in my spirit the change that the Holy Spirit of God is bringing about in our day. He is urging us to press forward to the work of redemption that follows the baptism with the Holy Spirit. That new work (to most of us) is to learn to say, “Not my will but Yours be done” in every area of our life.
The way the Spirit enables us to get rid of our self-determination is to place us in a situation that we do not enjoy. If we are willing to have our desires deferred for many years, and remain faithfully in our prison, the self-will shall be burned out of us.
During the last few years I have been giving every decision to the Lord. I do not trust myself to know or do anything. I try not to assume anything. I ask the Lord about everything from what number to set my metronome on, when I am practicing Chopin, to what to feed the dog. When you get accustomed to asking Christ about the details, you are apt to ask Him when you come to big decisions.
If you are under the impression that Christ is not interested in what you eat for breakfast, you do not know the extent to which He wants to be involved in all you think, say, and do.
I wonder how many Christians of our day are willing to look up to Jesus and say, “Jesus, from now on I am going to accept you as my personal Lord. I am going to stop living my own life and look to you for every decision, every word, every action, from the least to the greatest. I am going to press into God’s rest every moment of every day and night for the rest of my life.”
The writer of the Book of Hebrews warns us of the peril of having started in Christ and then coming short of God’s rest; of not finishing the job.
This is the burden of the Lord today. The major work of the last century was the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The major work of the present century is that of entering the rest of God, the Life of Jesus Christ.
Now I ask you, as your friend. Are you going to continue doing and grasping you religious works, or are you willing to cease from your own striving and give every second of every day and night to the Lord Jesus so He can guide, strengthen, and bless you, and make you fruitful? What is it going to be? Your way or God’s way?
I have made my decision. Come on in. The water is just the right temperature. You can swim in it, if you want to, and become a tree of life on the bank of the River of Life.
Brother, Sister, the dead sea of mankind is waiting for your decision.
Moses to Christ. I think Galatians 2:11-20 is difficult to understand; yet, its message is of vital importance to Christians today. Notice that the Apostle Peter was confused about the relationship of the Gospel to the Law of Moses. It appears that he took a stand for faith and grace, and then was influenced by Jews who were insisting that Christians keep all or part of the Law. Confusion over the relationship of the Law of Moses to the Gospel of Christ continues to the present hour.
(2/10/2008) It is my opinion that Christian believers are not clear as to their relationship to the Law of Moses, particularly to the Ten Commandments. There are two expressions of this lack of clarity, two responses.
The first expression, or response, is probably that of the minority of Christians. It is that we are under part of the Law, at least the Ten Commandments; possibly circumcision; possibly the Sabbath; possibly the feast days.
The second expression, or response, is that we are completely free from all law, including the Ten Commandments, except for the so-called “law of love.” This interpretation holds that our salvation is virtually unrelated to our behavior. We are saved by our faith in a sovereign work of God, which we did not earn, which we do not deserve, of which we cannot boast.
Both of these responses are incorrect, according to the second chapter of Galatians.
The first expression may result in lesser damage than is true of the second. The damage caused by an adherence to any part of the law, including the Sabbath day (Saturday), is that it causes us to remove our eyes from Christ in order that we may observe our religious duty. Refraining from working on Saturday in order to gain righteousness prevents us from entering the eternal Sabbath in which Jesus lives, and wants us to live. Also, it clearly is opposed to the teaching of the Apostle Paul.
The second opinion, that we are not under any law, has destroyed the Christian churches in America. This lack of moral law, working together with the philosophy of democracy, is having two results in our country. First, it is making possible the rise of unrealistic behavior, such as that of viewing gender as being an attitude of mind rather than a physical, biologic fact. This departure from nature is being carried to extremes in our public schools, perhaps because of the fear of lawsuits.
The second result of the lack of moral law and the philosophy of democracy working together is the increase of the Muslim religion in the United States, and in England as well. A hundred years ago, the idea that England or America could become Muslim nations would not be regarded seriously, I believe. Yet today this projection is entertained by serious scholars.
A strong emphasis on freedom of speech and of religion is part of the culture of America and England. There may be nothing we can do about this. And it well may result in a takeover of these two countries by energetic proponents of the Muslim faith.
But there is something we can do about the idea that we are under part of the Law of Moses, or under no law at all, except the “law of love.” Using “the law of love” as a basis for our behavior is ineffective, as Christians today struggle again their demon-inflamed temptations to sin.
What is the new covenant counterpart of the old covenant? It is summed up by the Apostle Paul as his own testimony: “I am crucified with Christ. I am not living, it is Christ who is living in me.” This is the same idea Christ expressed when He said it is the Father who is living in Him. This is the eternal Sabbath. This is what it means to live by every Word of God—every present Word of God, not only the words in the Bible.
We have died with Christ on the cross. We have been raised with Christ to the right hand of God. We live by Him as He lives by the Father. Paul states these as facts.
When we begin as a Christian we look to the Apostles to guide us in our moral decisions. We refrain from adultery, lying, and stealing, because of what the Apostles wrote in the New Testament. But our restraint, which we manage with the help of the Holy Spirit, is not the new covenant. Rather, our obedience to the words of the Apostles of Christ bring us into the new covenant.
The new covenant is fulfilled in us when Christ lives in our personality. We keep the moral laws of God because Christ who is being formed in us, and who is dwelling in that which is being formed in us, always keeps the moral laws of God—the laws which are what God is; which always have been in force; which always shall be in force.
We are not to attempt to keep any part of the law of Moses. We are to live by faith in Christ, not by faith about the things of Christ, but a living faith in a living Christ who guides and strengthens us in every detail of our life.
We do not die to Moses so we can do as we please. Doing as we please is the opposite of the eternal Sabbath. Rather, we die to Moses so we can be married to Christ. This is a far, far more comprehensive law than the law of Moses.
The Sabbath-day commandment of the Law of Moses required that we set aside one day of the week for the worship of God. The new-covenant eternal Sabbath results in our worshiping and serving God every second of every day and every night.
The eternal Sabbath is being observed when we are in interaction with the living Jesus at all times and in every area of our life. We feed on His body and blood in the spirit realm as we continue, by His assistance, to resist the temptations of the flesh and spirit. As we feed on His body and blood we begin to live by Christ precisely as He lives by the Father.
Thus there is one rest of God: Christ is resting in God’s Person, not doing His own works. We are rest in Christ’s Person, not doing our own works. Because we are resting in Christ, and Christ is resting in the Father, we actually are resting in the Father’s Person and will.
The goal of our redemption is that we may be formed in Christ’s inner and outer image, and also always abide in perfect rest in the Father’s Person and will. We cannot be at perfect rest in the Father’s Person and will, which is the eternal Sabbath, until we have been formed in Christ’s inner image. This is because every aspect of our personality that is not in the image of God will strive against our resting in God’s Person and will. Have you found this to be true?
So it is onward and upward as we lay aside our adamic personality, seeking at all times to be living by the Life of Christ. There is no other path to lasting love, lasting joy, and lasting peace. sting joy, and lasting peace.
Becoming a Tree of Life. In the 47th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel we read of four levels of water: to the ankles, to the knees, to the waist, and waters to swim in. The water is the Spirit of God, which is coming from God’s Throne in our day.
- To the ankles is basic salvation.
- To the knees is learning to follow the Spirit of God.
- To the waist is the surrender of our will to God.
- Waters to swim in is life lived in the Fullness of God.
(2/17/2008) Many people in our day have been forgiven through the blood atonement. A smaller number have entered the Spirit of God to the point they speak in tongues and perhaps prophesy.
Now God is looking for those who will surrender their will to Him so He may have His unhindered way in them.
Waters to swim in has to do with our being filled with all the Fullness of God. It is written of the Lord Jesus that in Him dwells all the fullness of God. Our destiny also is to be filled with all the Fullness of God. But it is a strenuous battle as we seek to move past Pentecost and enter the rest of God, the place where God’s will is performed in every aspect of our life, and at all times, day and night.
There is vastly more of God to be had if we are willing to minimize our involvement in the security and pleasures of the world system; are willing to confess, denounce, and renounce the evil that dwells in us; and are willing to let go of our own plans and ambitions that God’s will in its entirety might be done in us.
In God’s House, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, there are many dwelling places. These dwelling places are not small cubicles. They are great palaces. Each one of us is a great palace in which the Fullness of God and Christ can dwell for eternity.
The Lamb knocks at the door of our personality. We open the door. The Lamb dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on His body and blood. In this manner we are married to the Lamb. The marriage of the Lamb is taking place now, as individual believers are willing to open the door of their heart and permit the King of Glory to enter.
Today is one of rare opportunity in the Kingdom of God. If we have been forgiven by trusting in the blood atonement made by Christ on the cross, and have yielded to the Holy Spirit, we are qualified now and competent to press forward to the Fullness of God. Paul wrote that we are to become strong in our inner man until we are filled with all the Fullness of God. All the Fullness of God! Think of it! All the Fullness of God!
But to what end are we to be filled with all the Fullness of God? So that we may give eternal life to other people—in particular to every person of the nations of the earth who will receive. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the last great feast of the Lord, the feast of Tabernacles.
We note in the 47th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel that after we are swimming in the waters of God’s Spirit we return to the bank of the river. Along the bank, on each side, there are trees of life. These trees are growing from the one Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spirit and the Bride invite all who will to come and partake freely of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of eternal Life. God has not called us merely to teach our religious doctrines to mankind. God has called us to show forth in ourselves the light of righteousness and praise. When the people of the world see our light they will come. When they come we will not give them doctrine primarily, we will give them eternal life, flowing out from our personality.
But we cannot serve mankind as a tree of life until we have passed through the four levels of water.
We must turn away from finding our pleasure and security in the world system. We have to set ourselves to touch the media and entertainment lightly, and spend more time in prayer with the Lord and with Bible reading. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This is water to the ankles.
Then we must press forward until we are conscious that the Holy Spirit is pointing out the various areas of darkness that dwell in us. The lust, jealousy, rage, covetousness, arrogance, and all the rest of the motivations of our sinful nature must be confessed, as they are pointed out to us. We must denounce them as evil, renounce them vigorously, stating we want nothing more to do with them. Then we are to walk carefully before the Lord Jesus every minute of every day and night of the remainder of our life. This is water to the knees.
Then we must press forward until we overcome every enemy that would cause us to be discontent while we are waiting patiently in God’s will. Satan fell through discontent with his God-given position. We are to abide in Christ, waiting until He gives us the desires of our heart. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Your will, not mine, be done. This is waters to the waist.
We are to persevere with all our strength and determination in each of the three areas, until we are filled with all the Fullness of God, and God brings us back to the bank of the River, so to speak. Now we are ready to bring Divine Life to whoever is willing to receive it from us.
God was angry with us for a season, and we had to walk through dry places, even while we were struggling through the water. But then God brings us into rest. God wounds us, and then God heals us.
God is raising up mighty men and women of God today from all parts of His Church. The invitation includes you. Tell God you want His best, and you are willing to give up everything He asks for, so you may receive His best.
You are not seeking God’s best so you can be some great one in the Kingdom of God. You are seeking God’s best so you humbly can serve mankind with eternal life. The people of the nations are dead and do not know it. But God loves them and wants to save everyone who will receive His salvation.
Don’t stop for anything. Don’t quit. If you keep doing God’s will faithfully, His mighty warrior-angels will hold Satan at bay. You will overcome and succeed if you do not quit.
You shall be filled with all the Fullness of God!
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. The Messiah, the Anointed One, is presented in the Old Testament. The Jews assumed the Messiah would be a great king, like David or Solomon, who would deliver them from the Romans. I imagine this is what Judas thought; and he followed Jesus until he saw that Jesus was not going to bring His disciples into glorious rulership but into weakness and shame. Then Judas left.
(2/24/2009) We are making the same mistake today. We are looking for outward manifestations of the Glory of Christ, when the truth is, the Lord is coming to individual believers today to prepare them for His coming to the world. The Kingdom of God is first internal, then external. As the inner Kingdom is formed in us, the world see the results on the outside as we begin to behave in a righteous manner.
The burden of the Lord today is to warn God’s people that there is something going on right now. We are being prepared for the resurrection—that which will take when the Lord appears. It is an inner work. Our American culture is so materialistic that many, if not most, of the Christian people will not hear the Spirit and will not be prepared for the Lord’s outward coming. Therefore they will not be raised from the dead when Christ comes.
The call to the virgins is taking place today. Those who have the oil of the Holy Spirit are hearing the voice of the Bridegroom and are going in to the marriage. The majority of the “virgins” ran out of oil a long time ago. By the time they choose to leave the world and come to Christ the door will be shut. Hear me loud and clear—the door will be shut! Our American love of materialism is making it impossible for us to hear Christ today!
The Church of Laodicea is the last church of the Church Age, I believe. It is the church of the people. It is the church of democracy, of freedom of speech. Man is in love with himself. He does not need God.
To this church, the worst of the seven churches. Christ gives the two greatest promises of all, and these two promises are related.
First, Christ says if we will open the door, He will come in and dine with us. We dine on His body and blood in the spirit realm. He dines on our obedience and worship. This is the marriage of the Lamb, of which the Scriptures speak. It is taking place right now. It is necessary to enter into this marriage if we hope to rise from the dead when the Lord appears.
The second promise is that if we will overcome all the spiritual darkness that is thrown at us by Satan, just as Christ did, we will sit with Him on His throne as He sits with the Father on the Father’s throne.
The throne of which Christ is speaking is the throne that is within each human being. We were born with a throne in our heart.
As we open our heart to Christ, and we dine with Him and He with us, He takes His place on the throne of our heart. When Christ is on the throne of our heart, and He also is on the Father’s throne, then it is true that God and Christ are dwelling in us.
We were created to be the throne, the resting place of God. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is not our temple. We are in this temple which our body is, at the present time. But we have not been fulfilled as long as we are on throne of our own life. The throne belongs to God. Until we permit God to sit on the throne of our life, we cannot be fulfilled; because we were created to be the throne of God.
The great problem of today, in America at least, is that people believe they can receive Christ and be “saved,” and yet save their own life. This is an exercise in futility. We were not created to be saved. We were created to be the eternal house of God.
The rule of Christ in us has to be worked out in practical action. We must come to God in faith. We must declare clearly and resolutely that we no longer want to be the ruler of our life. We want the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Ruler of our life.
Such an action on our part requires much faith. By doing so, we are relinquishing the right to do as we please. The reason American people love democracy and freedom of speech is that through this form of government they are able to do as they please.
I noticed years ago that democracy and the Kingdom of God are opposing forms of government. The purpose of democracy is to enable people to govern themselves, to engage in the pursuit of happiness. It is government from the bottom, so to speak.
This is the opposite of the Kingdom of God. The government of the Kingdom of God is from the top down. The purpose of the government of the Kingdom of God is that all of God’s creatures will be obedient to Him and do His will.
God has made Jesus Christ a Monarch with total authority and power over the works of God’s hands. There is no human, angel, cherub, seraph, or whatever creature there may be, who can prevent the will of Christ from being performed. We humans can be hindered by other people and by Satan. But Christ Himself cannot be hindered.
The Father has given to His Son, Jesus Christ, all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth.
This is why Satan emphasizes religion. The nature of religion encourages us to save our life, so to speak. Even if we enter a monastery, this still can be a form of saving our life, unless Christ Himself has directed us to seclude ourselves in this manner.
Satan does everything he can think of to keep us alive in our religion. We pose no threat to Satan’s grip upon the world and its peoples as long as we are alive in our religion. We do not begin to threaten Satan’s empire until we open up our life to Christ and live by His body and blood, putting Him firmly on the throne of our heart.
We had to take a conscious action when we came to Christ for salvation. We confessed our need of His atoning blood.
We had to take a conscious action when we were filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues. We had to get down before the Lord and ask Him to fill us. You know (speaking now to Pentecostal-Charismatic people), we don’t do enough seeking of the baptism today. When Audrey and I came into Pentecost, after every service, people came up to the altar and waited on God in order to be filled with the Spirit. We do not do this in the church, Mount Zion Fellowship, where Audrey and I pastor. Perhaps we will get back to this some day.
Those were great days, in early Pentecost. But greater days are upon us now, if we will seek the Lord with a pure heart.
In order to enter the rest of God, the “Tabernacles experience,” call it what you will, we have to take a definite action. We have to tell the Lord out loud that from now on He is going to direct our life. Then we have to back up this commitment by looking up to Jesus as often as we can throughout each day and each night, in order to make sure we are thinking, speaking, and doing what He wants us to think, say, and do.
You may believe such a life is impossible. It is not impossible at all! It is a whole lot easier to look to Jesus for guidance than to plan our own way.
Of course, there may be things we desire fervently, and the Lord Jesus is telling us to get away from them. Such deferral of desire certainly does take place.
What do we do then? We obey Christ. If this is difficult, we ask for His strength. To not obey sternly and in every detail the Lord who purchased us with His blood, is unthinkable.
If you are not serving Christ in strict obedience, you and your loved ones are going to suffer in the future in America. God is removing His covering from our nation. Satan and his demons are directing the activities of our government and our citizens with increasing power.
The present popularity contests, that we call our presidential campaigns, may yet put someone in the office of President who is totally unsuited to meet the hostility of the Eastern and Western nations that is directed toward the United States of America.
Be warned! Take action! Go to Christ right now and tell Him you will obey His will from this point forward and on throughout the endless ages of eternity.
Many Dwelling Places. It may be true by now that most Christians understand that John 14:2 is not talking about expensive houses in Heaven. The Father’s House is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the eternal Temple of God. In fact, Christ is the Chief Cornerstone of the eternal Temple. There are many more living stones that all taken together will compose the Father’s House. You and I are stones, or dwelling places, in the eternal house of God, provided that we diligently follow Christ.
(3/2/2008) The fifth chapter of the Book of Second Corinthians tells us about the dwelling places of God. The thought begins in the fourth chapter, where we are told that our suffering is achieving for us a weight of glory.
Then in the fifth chapter, we find that the weight of glory is a body from Heaven that will clothe our mortal body when our mortal body is raised from the dead, in the Day of Resurrection when Christ appears with His saints.
What about this body, this house, this robe from Heaven that will swallow up our mortal body? It is fashioned from our behavior.
In the Day of the Lord, we will receive what we have done in our body. This does not mean that we will be rewarded for what we have done, it means exactly what it says in Second Corinthians 5:10. We will receive what we have practiced.
For instance, if we have made a practice of lying, Christian or not, we will receive lying in that Day. Our mortal body will be swallowed up by a house from Heaven that wants to lie. If we have been faithful to Christ, we will receive a body what wants to be faithful to Christ.
So often in our present circumstances, we have to fight against our body. Our sinful nature wants to lie, cheat, steal, fornicate, commit adultery, fight, covet, and so forth. Every unclean thing you can think of—that is what our sinful nature coaxes us to do.
If we yield to our sinful nature, then we are going to receive a body from Heaven that is filled with that sinful nature. Then the rottenness that is on the inside will be revealed on the outside. We will flee from the presence of the righteous, because we are ashamed.
If we resist the motives of our sinful nature, then that very resistance is added to our house which is being formed in Heaven. Every godly decision we make becomes part of that body. In the Day of Resurrection, when our mortal body is raised and clothed with our body that has been fashioned in Heaven, we will beside ourselves with joy and gladness because now we are living in a house that wants to serve God and resist evil. This is our reward for serving Christ faithfully.
I do not know about you, but I can think of few things as wonderful as being clothed with a body that wants to serve God. Yet that will be our state of being if we are faithful in living a victorious life in Christ.
Our body, our dwelling place for eternity, has the potential of being filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as our own soul, spirit, and mind. In addition there will be people who are living under our influence. They will look to us to bring God to them. We will be to them a source of life and healing.
Our inheritance is people. As God loves Christ, Christ will love us. Then that boundless love of Christ in us will extend to those people whom God gives us. Except for God, The only inheritance worth having is people.
Christ has prayed we will be one in Him and the Father, and one with each. Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, prayed that we would be strengthened in the inner man until we can be filled with all the Fullness of God.
Today Satan is attacking the idea of gender. Have you noticed that? It seems to be the new thing in America, particularly in the public schools. Little children are being asked if they want to be a boy or girl. This is, of course, satanic confusion.
Why would Satan be so interested in gender? It is because gender is something he does not have. No angel or cherub has gender. They are “its,” not he’s or she’s.
Because Satan does not have gender, he cannot truly love another creature. And so he molests children, rapes, perverts normal sexual drives, because he wants to experience the ability that God has given to His offspring, the ability to love, that is, to enter union with another person.
By enter union I am not referring to the flesh. Animals are flesh and have gender, but they cannot enter union with God or with one another.
But we humans can love God and enter union with Him. We also can love another person and enter union with that person. Again, I am not speaking of human love but of the Divine love that can come as a gift of God. According to Paul, we have to be strengthened in the inner man before we can have that love of Christ that passes knowledge.
God gave me that kind of love one time when I was on a brief missionary trip. He gave me such an overwhelming love for the people that I would have laid down in the middle of the street if one of these people could be brought to God. I guess I had to have that experience so I would know what Paul was talking about.
God is Love, and we are being formed in His image. Love is the desire to enter into union with another person, just as Christ prayed in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
In God’s House, that He is forming, Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone. We also are living stones in that one House. The House is for God, so God can live among His offspring—human beings.
We of God’s family, His elect, have been formed for the purpose of providing a house in which God can dwell and through which He can love and bless (and also judge) the people He has created.
God brings each of His elect through deep waters and hot fires. Sometimes we think we are going to perish. But then we find that we did not drown and were not consumed in the flames. Rather, we came out of our trials with a knowledge of God we did not have prior to our ordeal, just as was true of the patriarch, Job.
There are so many wonderful things at hand today. In the midst of the satanic playground that the United States of America is rapidly becoming, God is revealing to us through His Spirit treasures beyond our imagination. Such is His love for those who love and serve Him.
A future beyond description in its glory awaits each person who serves the Lord Jesus Christ diligently. A future beyond description in its pain and frustration awaits each person who understands what God wants of him or her, and turns aside in disobedience and rebellion.
The horrible travesty of Paul’s intention, when he taught the Jews that Divine grace has freed them from the laws and statutes of Moses so they can be married to Christ without condemnation, has destroyed the Gospel in the United States. Instead of people who are being transformed in the image of God, we have “grace” that we think trumps every commandment of Christ and His Apostles
We have been, and are now, terribly deceived. Grace is not an acceptable alternative to obeying Christ. How could it be? How have we been so blind we cannot see what was written by the Apostles of the Lamb—all godly men who taught godly behavior, not merely a profession of theologic facts about Christ and His redemption.
America is on its way to becoming a minor power in the world, because of the demonic practices it permits, particularly abortion. God is not mocked. Our nation is going to reap what it is sowing, and it is sowing the seed of demons.
We do not have to fall with America. If we will turn again to Jesus, keep His commandments and those of His Apostles, and walk humbly with God, we can save ourselves and our loved ones. But if we do not, if we stiffen our neck, as some have done, and say that God has to save us because of grace no matter how we behave, we are facing a terrifying future in the present world and in that which is to come.
I think it is time to blow the trumpet in Zion!
The Three Lessons of the Kingdom. The Three Lessons of the Kingdom. Daniel spoke of a Kingdom that would demolish the other kingdoms on the earth and govern forever. When the Lord Jesus and John the Baptist announced that the Kingdom is at hand, I think the Jews must have remembered what Daniel had said.
What has happened to the Gospel of the Kingdom? How and when did it get changed to the Gospel of saved people going to Heaven? I do not know of any passage of the Bible that speaks of saved people going to Heaven. Do you? But there certainly are many passages, in both the Old Testament and the New, that tell us about the Kingdom of God, the will of God, coming to the earth.
(3/9/2008) During a funeral service yesterday I asked the question, “Why is the Lord Jesus going to return to the earth? I planned on using this question to introduce the topic of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
Someone, not of our church, answered: “To carry His Church to Heaven.”
I have been preaching the Kingdom of God for so long, I did not realize that people still believe that Jesus is coming “to catch His waiting Bride away.” I had been taught that, when I first became a Christian. But as I have studied the Bible, I see that the Lord Jesus is not returning to carry His Church to Heaven but to install His Kingdom, the rule of God, on the earth.
We do not preach the Gospel of the Kingdom today. We preach the gospel of Heaven. The gospel of Heaven is not found in the Scriptures, only in Christian thinking and teaching. This is so obvious from the Scriptures that I do not wish to spend more time on it.
There is only one world of people. Most people are in the spirit part of the world, and are invisible to us at this time. The smaller group are in the physical part of the world. This is the part of the one world we are familiar with.
Both parts of the one world are schools. The present physical world is a school. The spirit world, where deceased people are, also is a school—at least for people who are “saved.” In fact, “saved” means eligible to go to school.
The two parts of the one world are very similar, except for the environment, and for the fact we no longer have a physical body when we are in the spirit part, at least for the present. But the relation of people to God and people to people is identical as far as I know. People hope they will be changed when they die, but they won’t be.
What would change them? It is only Christ who changes anyone, and He can change someone in either part of the world. Peter told us that God judges the living and the dead.
The twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the coming down through the sky of the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church, the Kingdom of God, the “house” of which Jesus spoke when He said, “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. Each saint is a living stone. Taken together, the saints compose the new Jerusalem, the holy city that is to govern the earth forever, according to the Book of Daniel.
The new earth, with its governing city, is the new world of righteousness that eventually will include all saved people. Before a new world of righteousness is possible, all the people in it, both of the Church, and of the nations of saved people which the Church will govern, must learn three lessons. No one can remain in the Kingdom of God if these three lessons are not mastered.
The first lesson teaches us that we must obey Christ in every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and acting. We no longer are “free moral agents.” We are the servants of Jesus Christ. God has made Christ our King. We absolutely must obey Him.
No person among the nations of the earth who is not a Christian knows he is supposed to obey Christ, that Christ is God’s King. It is true also that most Christians do not understand they are supposed to obey Christ. They have not been taught this. They do not understand we are to be presenting all of our decisions to Christ so He can direct us at all times and in all situations. We are not free to do what we want. We are free to pray and act according to what we are hearing from Jesus, rather than what we are imagining we ought to do.
Most Christians want Jesus to be their Savior, but they do not understand He is first of all our personal Lord. We must obey Jesus Christ in all matters if we wish to be in the Kingdom of God. Once we choose to walk in the light of the will of Christ, the blood will cleanse us from all sin. The issue is not the blood atonement. The issue is the Lordship of Christ!
The second great lesson of the Kingdom of God has to do with loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. This does not mean necessarily that we feel affection toward God. It means we put Him first in our life.
We Americans have many idols, including money, sexual lust, professional sports, and entertainment. We worship these in place of God. Whatever you spend your time and attention on is your god. Wherever you find fulfillment and security is your place of worship.
Jesus told us if we would seek God and His Kingdom, what we need will be added to us. The world does not understand this. Neither do most Christians. But we are not candidates for citizenship in the new world of righteousness until God is in first place in our life.
The third great lesson we have to learn has to do with loving our neighbor as ourselves. This does not mean we feel affection toward our neighbor. It means we help him or her when we have the power to do so. We leave all revenge with God. We feed and help our enemy when he has needs. This is acceptable to God, and is His image.
The physical part of the one world, and the greater spirit part, are schools. There are three lessons to learn: to obey Jesus Christ; to put God first; and to assist people we like and people we do not like, when they have need of our help.
There are people throughout history, as well as people of today, who have learned these three lessons. These are the only ones who will be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord when He next appears. To “overcome” means to have mastered the three great lessons.
The task of those who are raised and then caught up to Christ is to instruct the rest of mankind in these three areas of behavior. The period of instruction will continue from this moment throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
The overcomers will inherit all that God is making new in Christ. They will instruct the members of the churches who did not learn their lessons satisfactorily. They will govern the nations with a rod of iron, forcing the mastery of these lessons.
After the thousand-year Kingdom Age has been completed, the Bride, the greater Church, shall have been made ready. Being made ready means every member of the new Jerusalem will obey Christ perfectly. Every member of the new Jerusalem will have put God in first importance in his or her life. Every member of the new Jerusalem will treat every other person with kindness, helping when help is called for.
The same lessons will be required of every individual who is to have a place on the new earth, even though he or she is not of the Bride; not of the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
Thus the brilliant new sky will look down on an enormous earth in which every person is in subjection to Jesus Christ; every person holds God to be of primary importance; every person treats every person in a kind, helpful manner.
These three lessons can be taught and learned, and they indeed shall be.
The Psalms teach us clearly that God is coming to govern the earth. This shall take place. God’s Kingdom shall come to the earth. God’s will shall be done on the earth.
God has permitted man for two thousand years to do pretty much as he pleases. Now our earth is part of Hell, and grows worse every day. People do not obey Jesus Christ. People put numerous gods in place of the one true God. People compete with each other, seeing how they can prevail over those around them.
There is a new world coming. The Lord’s prayer, that He taught us to pray, shall be answered. God’s Kingdom shall come to the earth. God’s will shall be done, first on this earth; and then forever and perfectly on the new earth.
This is the true Good News, the Gospel of the Kingdom. What is being preached today, that we are “saved” to escape Hell and to go into the spirit part of the world to live forever, is a lie.
“Grace,” as it is preached today, is not scriptural. The current teaching resembles Satan’s original statement: “You shall not surely die. Even if you never master these three lessons, you shall not surely die.”
Mankind bought this lie and has suffered for it for six thousand years.
The original lie still is being preached in the pulpits of America, as the ministers seek to build huge congregations.
The truth is, you surely shall die if you do not obey Christ sternly and consistently. You surely shall die if you do not put God in first place in your life. You surely shall die if you avenge yourself on those who harmed you and do not forgive them and place them in God’s hands.
You surely shall die if you trust in “grace” to protect you from Divine judgment, when you are refusing to serve God as you should.
You surely shall die! But you won’t die if you will turn to Christ, obey Him, and keep the two great commandments on which all the Law and the Prophets are based. Rather, you shall inherit all that God is making new in Christ.
Redemption. Assistant Pastor Stan Josephsen spoke this Sunday morning from the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans. As Stan mentioned, this chapter seems to suffer a muddled interpretation in many instances. Actually it is clear from this chapter that we are not supposed to continue in sin after we have been baptized in water. Perhaps the reason it is not preached with clarity is that the prevailing understanding of the Christian redemption does not stress that we are not to continue in sin.
In any case, Stan’s teaching is well worth listening to. If you will go to the Audio page, you can listen to his sermon. After he spoke he baptized two men in water.
(3/16/2008) The current understanding of the Christian redemption, or salvation, is that we are forgiven so we may go to Heaven when we die. The purpose of bringing us to Heaven when we die is that we may be happy and not experience any more pain or worry.
In actuality, the purpose of redemption is to conform us to the image of God and to create in us stern obedience to the Father.
The works of redemption that are in addition to forgiveness, are the primary subjects of the writings of the Apostles. But it often is true these additional subjects are not taught. This is because the Christian people, believing they have been forgiven and are on their way to Heaven by Divine grace, see no reason to become too concerned about further works of redemption.
The purpose of conforming us to the image of God and creating in us stern obedience to the Father is that we might be able to fulfill all of God’s needs and desires; to assist in the building of His Kingdom.
Three examples of God’s needs and desires are: a living temple for Himself; a bride for the Lamb; brothers for God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Let me point out that the goal of today’s preaching is that we might go to Heaven and be happy. The actual goal of redemption is that we might be conformed to God’s image and enter rest in His will so He can use us to build His Kingdom.
Of these two different goals, which sounds to you like it may be the correct, scriptural goal? If you have chosen the first, I can’t help you. It is not scriptural. If you choose the second, as I have, let us proceed to describe seven steps that we have to take if we are to satisfy God’s needs and desires.
It is important to remember, as we encounter these several phases of redemption, that we, in water baptism, have chosen to regard ourselves as having been crucified with Jesus Christ and raised from the dead with Jesus Christ. This position, firmly established in our mind, frees us completely from the authority of the Law of Moses.
We now are legally free to turn away from the Law of Moses and follow the Spirit of God as He leads us through the program of redemption. The Law of Moses cannot condemn us because we by faith have become an integral part of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Except for forgiveness and the resurrection of the body, the seven phases of redemption do not take place in order. They all are in the Lord Jesus Christ; so they are applied to us at various times and in various manners until they are brought to maturity.
The first step of redemption is the forgiveness of our sins. Christ has made an atonement for the sins of the whole world. This was a sovereign act of God. Our task is to receive the atonement by faith. We then are completely forgiven, and qualified to follow the Holy Spirit in the next six steps of redemption.
The second step of redemption is deliverance from dependence on the world system. God helps us with this as we pray and seek His guidance. He sends suffering upon us, so the world no longer is pleasant. There may be sickness in our family. We may experience loss of income. Our children may become incorrigible. We may lose our job. People may treat us unjustly and harm us. All sorts of things may happen so we will turn from involvement in the world and seek the Lord.
The third step of redemption is that of following the Holy Spirit as He proceeds to point out the various elements in the body of sin that dwells in our flesh. Because we have counted ourselves crucified with Christ, the Law of Moses no longer can condemn us. The Law has no authority over “dead” people. We are free to follow the Spirit of God at all times.
We can think of the “body of sin” as a suitcase filled with poisonous snakes. It is baggage we bring with us when we enter Christ. As we confess and renounce these motivations, turning away from them with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit takes the life out of them so we can reject them readily in the future.
As we follow the Spirit of God in our daily life the righteousness which would have been ours had we kept the Law of Moses perfectly is ascribed to us. We are free from condemnation, while we are following the Spirit of God.
The fourth step of redemption is that of learning stern obedience to the Father. As in the case of freedom from dependence on the world system, God has to create obedience in us through suffering. God permits Satan to put us in some kind of prison, into some situation that we do not enjoy. It is our responsibility to remain in that prison. If we try to break out, we will not learn the lessons of obedience and will lose our crown of rulership.
The suffering God sends to make us holy, to separate us from the filthiness of the world system, cannot be avoided. All we can do is pray and seek wisdom as to how to survive our pain and gain victory. Perhaps a son or daughter is taken from us by death or sickness, and there may be nothing we can do. But the tragedy may turn us away from the world as we seek Christ for His wisdom and guidance. The same is true if we are seriously injured in a car accident. Perhaps we are being sued unjustly and are not able to defend ourselves successfully.
However, the suffering God sends to teach us stern obedience to God can often be avoided. For example, Abraham could have refused of offer Isaac. Christ could have refused to drink the cup of suffering. The husband or wife who leaves his or her mate for another who seems more desirable, is refusing to remain in an unpleasant situation.
It is by refusing to break out of God’s prison, though we may have our hopes deferred for many years, that we gain the crown of life. We always are to pray that God will give us the desires of our heart; but we are not to move until we know God has released us.
It is your cross of suffering you can. You can choose to bear it patiently, or to escape from under it.
The fifth step of redemption is that of being born again. When we repent of our ungodly life and are baptized in water, the Seed, Christ, is planted in our personality. We must patiently nourish this new Life with prayer, daily Bible reading, gathering with fervent disciples, giving, serving, and communing with Christ constantly.
As we faithfully nourish our new Life, our first, adamic, animal nature becomes increasingly weak while the new Life becomes increasingly strong. This is the Divine Nature of God that has been born in us, and it will bring forth an entirely new creation. The new creation itself is the Kingdom of God.
It is possible to kill the new Life by not taking care of it properly.
The sixth step of redemption is the resurrection from the dead. Our mortal body, minus its blood, will be raised from the dead. Then our behavior during our lifetime on the earth, which has taken the form of a house, or robe, in the spirit world, will descend from the spirit world and clothe our mortal frame.
If we have obeyed the Spirit of God, our house from Heaven will be a body of eternal life like that of the Lord Jesus. If we have obeyed our sinful nature, our house from Heaven will be filled with the corruption we have sown. In this case we have not been redeemed.
The seventh step of redemption is the coming of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to dwell with us in our new body. We now are seated with Christ on His Throne as He is seated with His Fatdy. We now are seated with Christ on His Throne as He is seated with His Father on the Father’s Throne.
What I have just set forth are the seven steps of redemption. Faithfully followed they will conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ and bring us into perfect rest in the center of God’s Person and will. Then we will be qualified and competent to fulfill all of the roles in the Kingdom of God to which the Father may assign us.
Preparation for the Change. It is interesting that the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians does not mention the catching up. Since this chapter is referred to sometimes as the “Resurrection Chapter,” you would think the catching up (often referred to as a “rapture”) of the resurrected, or “changed” believers, would at least be alluded to. But it is not. The Important aspect of the resurrection from the dead is the “change” in the body; not what happens to it after that.
Why have we of today ignored the “change” and focused on the catching up? Is it because we are ignorant of the importance of the resurrection, the change, in the plan of salvation?
(3/23/2008) We had a play in the morning (Easter Sunday) that was a blessing to everyone. God really was present!
In the evening, Valerie told of how the Lord has been dealing with her. Again, God was present. Bill Ott intends to post on the Pastor’s Page what Valerie said. Also, if it works out, I will try to put the text of what Valerie said, somewhere on our site, and put a link to it. It really is right on!
Meanwhile I will fill up space here with an essay on the nature of the resurrection of the bodies of the victorious saints, seeing as how it is Easter and all.
Only the victorious saints will be resurrected, or changed, at the next appearing of Christ. The weaker believers will be resurrected at the general resurrection of the dead, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, according to my understanding at this time.
When Christ returns He will bring with him the victorious saints of all ages, beginning with Abel, I believe.
Included in this first resurrection will be the “change” in the bodies of the victorious saints who are alive on the earth at that time.
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. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:51-53)
“We will not all sleep.” That is, some will be alive when the Lord appears.
“We will all be changed.” Whether we have just appeared with the Lord from the spirit world, or are living on the earth at the time, we all will be “changed.”
What is the nature of the change? It is that our mortal body will “clothe itself” (an interesting expression!) with immortality.
Obviously, this change occurs prior to our being caught up together (the returned plus the present saints) to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. From there we shall return on the white war-stallions and work with Christ in the task of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
I guess what I have just written is clear enough from the Scriptures, so I will move now to the point of this brief essay, which is, preparation for the change in our body.
The last enemy that shall be overcome is physical death. We have to overcome all other enemies before we are eligible for the change in our body.
According to the Apostle Paul, if we live in the desires of our fallen nature we will die, that is, not attain to the redemption of our body. If, however, we put to death the desires of our fallen nature we will live, that is, be qualified and competent to receive the redemption of our mortal body when the Lord appears.
Jesus cautioned us to “remember Lot’s wife.” This is because experiencing the change from a mortal body to an immortal body, while we still are on the earth going about our business, is a very radical happening.
Picture so many of today’s professing Christians. It is Super Bowl Sunday. They are sitting in church, but their mind is on who is winning the big game. The moment the sermon is finished and the concluding hymn is sung, they rush home and turn on their television.
Worse yet, they may be watching the game on a big screen in the sanctuary. This is what the National Football League is permitting, I understand.
Let’s says the score is tied. The game has gone into overtime.
Suddenly the trumpet blows, and it is time for their bodies to be clothed with immortality. Such a change will require an inward nature that already has been accustomed to living by the resurrection power of Christ. The inward nature must be able to receive the outward change. New wine cannot be put in old bottles, Jesus told us.
Now I ask you: “How many believers do you know who could instantly forget the Super Bowl game and prepare themselves mentally to pass from flesh-and-blood life to Holy-Spirit-driven life? All of this without a thought of their loved ones? All of this without a thought of those loved ones who are not in church at this time?”
Then, when the catching up comes, their eyes have to be fastened on Jesus as they leave all that is familiar and rise up into the air to be with Jesus and to be placed on the back of their white war-stallion, ready to come against all the forces of evil in the earth.
Now I ask you again: “How many believers do you know who are ready to forget about all of their things, circumstances, and relationships, and rise to meet Christ in the air?”
I don’t think the majority of American professing Christians are prepared for this. Am I mistaken? If I am not, then it is cruel and unconscionable for today’s pastors to assure their listeners that at any moment they will be caught up to Heaven and never have a worry thereafter.
Perhaps you don’t agree with me; but I have given a lot of thought to this, after 62 years as a Christian. There simply is no basis in the Scriptures, Old or New Testament, or in reasonable thinking, for today’s preaching of the “any moment, pre-tribulation rapture” of every person who has made a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.
As this were not enough to raise a warning about today’s “any-moment-rapture” teaching, the Apostle Paul, when giving the clearest of al statements concerning his goal as a disciple of Christ, exclaimed: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10,11)
“To attain to the resurrection from the dead”!
Since we know from the teaching of the Lord that all shall hear His voice and come forth from the dead, it must be that Paul is speaking of the resurrection that will occur when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven. There is no need to attain to the general resurrection, which will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
But the resurrection of the victorious saints that will occur when Christ is next revealed must be attained to. We attain to this prior resurrection by following the Apostle Paul in counting all things loss in order to gain Christ, not having the righteousness that occurs by obeying the Law of Moses but the righteousness that is gained by setting aside all else, denying ourselves, and patiently bearing our cross after the Master.
There is coming to the United States a season of very great trouble. Only those who prepare themselves today by seeking Christ earnestly will be able to save themselves and their loved ones, and others as Christ directs them.
We are not going to be caught up to meet the Lord in order to escape being harmed by the coming Divine judgment on America. There simply is no scriptural basis for claiming that the purpose of our being caught up is to escape Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. After we have been changed into immortality, neither Antichrist nor the Great Tribulation can possibly harm us. Isn’t that true?
If we have prepared ourselves adequately, we are going to be changed into immortality and join with the saints who return with the Lord, as we all are caught up together to get ready to take part in the attack against Antichrist and the setting up of the promised Kingdom of God on the earth.
Sodom; Egypt; Jerusalem. There is on the horizon a time of judgment on America because of our sins. There is approaching also, perhaps appearing at the same time, the greatest witness ever given of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
When the Kingdom witness has been borne to God’s satisfaction, the power of the witness shall be lifted, and Antichrist then will be able to overcome the witness of the saints. Antichrist will overcome the Kingdom witness of the saints, as he has already in America, by their love for the world, by their willingness to yield to the lusts of the flesh, and by their determination to live their own life apart from Christ. Symbolically speaking, the source of the death of the witness is Egypt, Sodom, and Jerusalem.
(3/30/2008) The scenario set forth above will not take place neat, discrete steps but over a period of time. It has commenced already.
Thinking of our own country, its moral collapse is evident. Because we have turned away from the Lord, God is raising up terrorists to attack us. Our economy is not healthy. Murder, rape, fraud, violence, and gluttony characterize the American way of life. As a result, God’s hand of protection is lifting from America.
At the same time, God is preparing saints who will bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. They are learning to live one moment at a time. Everything that would obscure the testimony of Christ is being removed from them, and they are being taught by the Spirit of God to conduct themselves in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God.
As far as the Christian churches people as a whole are concerned, both in the spirit and physical worlds, there will be a severe shaking that will separate those who are divided in their consecration to Christ from those who are wholly dedicated to Christ.
There are several passages in the Books of Daniel and Revelation that speak of the overcoming of the saints by Antichrist. Their testimony of the Kingdom of God shall be slain by Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem.
- Sodom represents the lust of the flesh, particularly unnatural sexual activity.
- Egypt speaks to us of the world spirit that we are tempted to look to, to provide survival, safety, and pleasure—particularly entertainment.
- Jerusalem portrays the intersection of self-aggrandizement and religion. “Jerusalem” always will murder Christ wherever He appears.
Antichrist will be given enormous authority in the days to come—enough authority to enable him to reach to “the host of heaven” and throw some of the host to the earth and trample on them.
We see “Sodom” today as Christians are drawn away by sexual lust. The pornography on the Internet is killing their witness and they do not realize it. Some of the believers are leaving their wife or husband. The witness of the coming of the righteous Kingdom of God to the earth has been destroyed in the United States of America by “Sodom.”
As far as “Egypt,” the love of the world, is concerned, I do not know how it is in the rest of the world. But in America, many Christians think nothing of spending their time on worldly entertainment. They are accustomed to going to the theater and watching films that contain four-letter words.
The Christian testimony, the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and His coming Kingdom, is being killed in America by the immorality of the believers and their leaders, and by their worldliness. Numerous believers hold football and baseball games on the same level of importance as the gathering of the saints to worship God.
“Sodom” and “Egypt” always kill the witness.
However, the greatest murderer of the witness, the murderer of the Lord Jesus, is Jerusalem. Jerusalem represent self-direction.
The most destructive practice in which a human being can engage is that of ordering his life according to his own desires and understanding, instead of by looking to Jesus, day and night, for every step.
Under the Law of Moses, a lamb was slain every morning and every evening. Whenever the lamb was slain, wine was poured out in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle next to the Table of Showbread. This ceremony tells us that the believer is to offer his body a living sacrifice every morning and every evening. Every time he does, he is fed with the Showbread, the flesh of the Lamb, and given to drink of the blood of the Lamb. By doing this he is living by Christ as Christ lives by the Father.
When self-direction and religious ideas intersect, religious organizations and denominations are produced. We then have Babylon, the murderer of all true worshipers of God.
Self-direction is displayed differently in various religions. In the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, self-direction is revealed in the worship of demon gods. The gods are horrible looking and bring destruction in their path.
The Muslim religion displays its self-direction by murdering all who oppose it. It presents God as a murderer who will kill anyone who does not conform to his tenets. Anyone who loves and worships God, and knows God, is well aware that God does not murder people because they are confused about religious practices and memberships. This simply is not the way of the Lord—not since Christ came and died for the sins of the world.
The Christian religion displays its self-direction in a love of wealth, fine surroundings, lightness, and foolishness. There is a false sense of freedom from condemnation that accompanies the self-seeking gospel. “We all are fine and on our way to mansions in Heaven, while everyone not in our group is to be thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is because our god is so loving and merciful.”
We can look for a diminishing of the influence of America in the world, because of our turning away from Christ. There shall be various catastrophes, some weather related; perhaps others having a military source. There shall be earthquakes. Our culture, largely through the influence of the productions that proceed from Hollywood, is losing its strength.
In the midst of this confusion, God is calling out a remnant of people to bear the authority and power of the final Kingdom witness, and is preparing them.
The temptations to be involved in the Antichrist world system; to yield to the passions of the flesh; and the determination to live our own life apart from constant communion with the Lord Jesus; are going to increase greatly in the days to come. Those who are not wholly committed to Christ will not be able to resist these demonic persuasions.
In the middle of trouble, sin, and revelation, there shall arise strong Christians of all ages who will bear witness to every nation of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. As soon as the witness has been completed to God’s satisfaction, the anointing of power and authority will be lifted.
Then, everything God has created from the beginning of time, both in the spirit world and the physical world, shall be shaken. All people and things which have not been the result of the working of Jesus Christ shall be shaken out of the Kingdom of God. Only that which God has performed through the Lord Jesus will remain in the Kingdom. All else shall be removed.
Then the Kingdom of God shall be established on the earth at the hands of Christ and His victorious saints.
The end of all of this is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is done in Heaven. We can prepare ourselves for the events I have just described by looking to the Lord Jesus at every moment of every day and night, asking Him to show us His will and to give us the strength and wisdom to perform His will perfectly and completely.
In the new world of righteousness on the horizon, the doing of God’s will shall be enforced by the rod of iron wielded by those who have consecrated themselves totally to doing God’s will, as it comes forth through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Truth and the Lie. Truth is infinitely more than an accurate account of facts or a probability that specific causes result in specific effects. Scientists deal with such facts in the physical world. However, there is a dimension of truth that scientists cannot determined by their measurements. It is the truth that is an accurate picture of God, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ.
Satan is a lie. What Satan tells us about God is a lie. What Satan tells us about God’s will is a lie. What Satan tells us about God’s ways is a lie. What Satan tells us about God’s eternal plan is a lie. Because the Antichrist spirit, the spirit of Satan, controls the activities of the world in the present hour, the whole world is one great lie.
(4/6/2008) The teaching today is taken from the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. We find that Michael and his angels are going to drive Satan and the rebellious angels from the heavens and force them into the earth. When that takes place, there will be great rejoicing in Heaven, but it will be the worst period of world history for those living on the earth.
God at any time can empower Michael to remove Satan and his angels from the heavens. However God, according to His own wisdom, is waiting until some of the saints overcome their accuser.
The struggle is between the truth and the lie. It does not matter how the politics of the United States are resolved. Earth’s problems, including wars, are caused by the struggle between the truth and the lie. Do not nourish your fallen nature by becoming angry over who is left-wing and who is right-wing. Set your mind on God and His Christ. Here is where the solution lies.
Satan and his angels shall be cast into the earth when enough saints press forward into total victory in Christ. Christ overcame the lie that the world spirit is. Now we, through Christ, must overcome the lie that the world is.
We overcome the lie, the accuser by three means. First we must have faith in the authority of the shed blood of Christ. Second we must overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony. Third we must set aside our own life that Christ may live in us. If we come short in one of these three area, the accuser, the lie concerning God, will not be overcome.
The shed blood of the cross makes it possible for us to approach God without condemnation. Apart from trusting in the forgiving authority of the blood of Calvary, we will not be successful in overcoming the accuser.
Remember, the lie has four dimensions: the Nature of God; the will of God; the ways of God; and the eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ, that is, God’s intention to enter the earth and establish His Kingdom and His will here. The true testimony, the true witness of God, must portray accurately these four aspects of God.
Much American preaching in our day does not tell the truth about God. It overemphasizes the love of God and minimizes the severity of God. As a result, American believers often believe a lie about the Nature of God.
Much American preaching in our day does not tell the truth about the will of God. The will of God is that those who profess faith in Jesus Christ behave in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. Instead the lie being preached numerous pulpits is that we presently are in an unscriptural “dispensation of grace,” meaning that all God requires is a statement of faith in Christ.
The truth that God demands a change in our sinful behavior is not always presented. Thus we have a lie that cannot possibly overcome the accuser. This is because what Satan accuses us of is our sinful behavior!
Romans 10:9,10 is repeated again and again. Romans, Chapter Six, is ignored or preached incorrectly. We in America are in a theologic no man’s land, believing and preaching a lie.
Much American preaching in our day does not tell the truth about the ways of God. The ways of God are described in Micah. God has shown us what is good. It is that we behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, as did Enoch. Instead we are hearing that none of this matters because of the dispensation of grace. Once we profess faith in Christ our behavior is irrelevant. We have believed a lie. A dispensation of grace will never overcome the accuser.
Much American preaching in our day presents a lie concerning God’s eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are told that it does not matter what happens to the earth or its nations. All that is significant is that at any moment now, Christ will appear and “catch away His waiting bride to Heaven.” The earth will be possessed by Satan. The saints will be in a sort of Disneyland in the sky, doing whatever they please, enjoying themselves to the fullest.
I think we have decided that the prayer, “Your Kingdom come; Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven,” will never be answered
It is difficult to decide which of the four lies is the most destructive. However, as long as this is the witness the Christian churches are giving, the accuser will not be overcome. Satan and his rebellious angels will remain in Heaven.
We overcome the accuser by trusting in the forgiving authority of the blood of the Lamb. We overcome the accuser also by the word of our testimony concerning God, His will, His ways, and His eternal plan in Christ. If the testimony we are given is a lie, we cannot overcome the accuser.
There are three areas of our personality that must be active as we set out to overcome the accuser by the word of our testimony. First, we must keep the four truths firmly in our mind. We do this by presenting our body as a living sacrifice each day so that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. If we permit our mind to be polluted with the lies of the world spirit, we cannot possibly overcome the accuser.
Second, we must reveal God’s Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose in our speech. The mark of spiritual maturity is that of speaking only what is purposeful and builds up the listeners.
Numerous Christian believers talk altogether too much. They do not think about what they are saying or are going to say. Their mouth runs far ahead of their brain. If we would give a true testimony with our mouth we must consider carefully what we say, and pray about it before blurting out whatever delicious morsel appears on our tongue.
The third area of our personality that must be active as we set out to overcome the accuser by the world of our testimony is that of our actions. Several passages of the New Testament
tell us how we as Christians are supposed to behave. An excellent example of these passages is the third chapter of the Book of Colossians.
We are admonished, in this chapter, to set our interests in Heaven where Christ sits at the right hand of God, and we with Him. We are to put off the activities of our sinful nature. We are to clothe ourselves with the new man who behaves in true righteousness and holiness.
Whenever we break God’s moral laws, we bear the testimony of Satan, who himself is the false day star. We assure both the physical and spirit realms that Satan’s way is correct. We cannot overcome the accuser when we are lying, stealing, raging, seeking preeminence, gossiping, committing adultery or fornication, speaking words that are nasty, seeking to amass more money than we need.
It is important what we say about Christ and His salvation. But if we ourselves are thinking, speaking, or acting in an ungodly manner, we are testifying of the fact that Satan’s rebellion against God is the path to love, joy, and peace. We have joined ranks with Satan. We are strengthening his position in Heaven.
Jesus Christ is the true Day Star, the Morning Star, of God. He tells us the way to God. Satan encourages us to move away from God. Jesus tells us the truth concerning God, His Person, His will, His ways, and His eternal purpose. Satan tells us that God wants us in Heaven so there is no witness of God in the earth.
Christ gives us the Life that God is. Satan give us the death that Satan is.
The Christian witness in the Western nations of our day is more true to Satan’s desires than it is the desires of Jesus Christ. As a result, God is raising up enemies who are seeking to destroy the Western nations and install a religion other than Christianity. It is our fault, pure and simple.
We have not begun to experience the hard times that are coming. We can see glimpses of it as the courts set themselves to decide whether the parents have the right to govern what children are being taught in school, or whether the decisions are to be made by professional educators. To resist this trend may result in numerous Christian families being broken up, as seems to be happening in Germany.
We cannot possibly overcome the accuser until we are ready to forget about our own survival and safety and live each day in the Presence of Christ. Christ absolutely must become our life if we are to survive and assist others throughout the age of moral horrors on the horizon. We must “love not our life unto the death.”
The saints who have gone before us preferred to live underground with their families rather than submit to the edicts of the government of Rome. We are nowhere near such iron consecration in America. We are soft, pleasure-loving people who have been lulled to sleep by the unscriptural teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture that will carry us to Heaven lest we experience the suffering that has been the lot of Christians throughout the centuries—and the true prophets of Israel before them.
I do not know how God is going to get us ready for the trouble that is at hand. The Christian preaching simply has got to change from traditions to the Scriptures. We preachers must not be telling people they are not going to suffer, because if we do we are going to see them deny Christ in the day of trouble. If we deny Christ, even though we are facing the loss of everything we hold dear, Christ will deny us before the Father. Are we prepared for this?
By and large, Evangelical preaching is not bearing a true witness of God. Let each one of us make certain we are finding Christ for ourselves, and know what He wants us to think, say, and do, at all times. If we follow the crowds to the churches, destruction may come upon us before we are prepared.
Every true Christian has been chosen to be a witness to the truth of God, according to the pattern set forth above. When we bear a true witness we are hastening the day when the Father will empower Michael and his angels to drive Satan from the heavenlies.
The Gifts and Ministries of the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ cannot come to maturity, and serve as the fullness of the Head, until God’s people become serious about their individual ministries. It may be true that not as much as one percent of Christian people spend time asking, seeking, knocking, that the Holy Spirit might give them a supernatural gift of ministry.
How do we account for this lack of gifts and ministries in the Body of Christ? This lack exists because we do not understand what the one Body of Christ is, or what God’s plan is for the mature Body.
In our mind the Body of Christ is confused with the local assembly, which we refer to as a local body. “Local body” is misleading terminology and should not be used to describe a local assembly.
The Body of Christ is, along with the great Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Servant of the Lord, the Anointed Deliverer who is to come and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. I don’t believe Jesus, the Head, will return until at least a firstfruits of the Body, of the Church, has come to maturity. A physical head cannot do work apart from the rest of the physical body. Christ cannot serve the purposes of God apart from the rest of the His Body.
(4/13/2008) Today I spoke from the twelfth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, concerning the gifts and ministries which must be operating in the Body of Christ if the believers are to grow to maturity in the Perfect Man, the Anointed One of God.
By the way, the gifts of the Spirit are not given to a local assembly. Elders are appointed in a local assembly. But the gifts of the Spirit are given to the Body of Christ for the purpose of building up the one Body.
The Holy Spirit assigns the gifts. Jesus Christ administrates the gifts. God the Father empowers the gifts so they operate effectively.
Perhaps the core of the present lack of gifts and ministries among the believers is that we still are maintaining the priest-people model of the Catholic church. We Protestants call our leaders “pastors,” or “ministers.” Because of this, the people give their spiritual responsibilities to their pastors. Without realizing it, we are regarding our pastor as our priest.
Since the pastor has only a small part of the wealth of supernatural abilities God wishes to exercise among the believers, very, very few believers come to maturity, as measured by the full stature of Christ.
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Luke the disciples asked the Lord to teach them how to pray. Jesus taught them the traditional “Lord’s prayer.” Then He went on to exhort the disciples to beseech God persistently for more of the Holy Spirit so they could minister to the needy around them.
Ask, seek, knock, the Lord commanded. Keep on asking. If you do, you will receive that empowerment of the Spirit you need. Keep on seeking. Don’t give up. You will receive the desires of your heart in terms of ministry to others. Keep on knocking. Doors will be opened to you of which you have little knowledge in the present.
How long do we ask, seek, and knock? Until we get what we are asking for. Will it really happen? God said it would. Yes, we shall receive. But we must set aside any number of distractions in our culture if we are to look to the Lord for our request long enough to obtain a response.
In 1965, when I was teaching the fifth grade in the Walter Hays school in Palo Alto, I asked the Lord early one morning to enable me to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air. Jesus had said, “Ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” I believed that statement, and so I asked.
Extraordinary events have happened since that early morning prayer-walk. have preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to hundreds of thousands of people all over the world, in books, the Internet, audio and video tapes, and radio and television programs. When I prayed that prayer in 1965, personal computers were not commonplace, nor was E-mail, nor was the Internet. These inventions have made possible the answer to that prayer. Also, I have been the full-time pastor of a Foursquare church, and have trained several people in the Kingdom of God who are well able to carry on my teachings.
If we hope to see the Body of Christ brought to maturity, and to hasten the appearing of the Lord Jesus, we have to persuade the people of God that their ministry is vital to the maturing of the Body.
Some people have found to their dismay that if they do not have sufficient potassium in their body they may become very ill, needing hospitalization. Yet no one knows about potassium until there is a problem. We know about our eyes, ears, hair, fingers, but we don’t know about potassium, most of us.
The same is true of the one Body of Christ. We may notice the pastors, teachers, and evangelists. But we know little or nothing about the members who have the “potassium” the Body of Christ needs to function. Not only do we not know about them, the believers whom the Lord would use as “potassium” have not sought the Lord fervently enough to receive the “potassium,” to know they have it, and to be sensitive to Christ so they know where and when to operate their ministry.
Thus the gifts and ministries of wisdom, knowledge, discernment, faith, apostles, prophets, helps, administration, and so forth are not serving. What are the believers doing to whom the Spirit would give such gifts and ministries? They are living the “normal” American life, going to church on Sunday, giving, perhaps serving their local assembly in some manner.
But the idea that their ministry is as important as that of their pastor is not known to them. They do not realize that if they pray long enough the Lord will hear them and give them a supernatural ability that will enable them to build the Body of Christ wherever the members of the Body happen to be, an ability their pastor simply does not have.
I am not suggesting we abandon the role of pastor or evangelist or teacher. This would not accomplish a thing. The priest-people mentality would find expression in some other pattern of Christian activity.
We can maintain the offices we are accustomed to. But we can make some small changes, like not giving the pastor a special parking place. Why should the pastor have a special parking place? It may be needed by some elderly believers.
Special clothing, surplices, cassocks, collars turned around, and so forth are destructive, if we wish to impress the believers that their ministry in the Body is as important as that of the pastor. This is what such ecclesiastical devices say: “I am holier than you. I am more important than you. God hears my prayers more than He does yours. You should work so you can support me, because I am your priest.” This is what we are saying when by our ecclesiastical trappings and customs we perpetuate the concept that the pastor somehow is closer to God than the rest of the believers.
It was true of the Jewish priesthood that they were holier than the people. But it is neither scriptural nor beneficial to carry the role of priest over to the Body of Christ. Very few believers will seek God for their ministry while they are regarding another believer as more important to God.
It is scriptural to honor the elders of a local assembly. Hopefully by their godly behavior the elders serve as models for the less experienced Christians. But the role of elders is to preserve order and dignity in the services. They are not supernaturally empowered to build up Christ in the believers, unless in addition to being an elder they have one or more of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit.
I would guess that it will be several years before God’s people are able to remove the priest-people concept from their thinking, and begin to seek God as though they actually are important in the coming to maturity of the Body of Christ. But until all the enablements of the Spirit of God are operating throughout the ranks of the disciples worldwide, there is no point in the Lord Jesus appearing. The Bible states that it is when the Lord builds up Zion that He shall appear in His Glory.
The Servant of the Lord. The fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians speaks of the Body of Christ. The Lord Jesus is the great Head of the Body. The believers in Christ, when they come to maturity, will form the Body of Christ. There is one Christ, one Anointed Deliverer, consisting of a Head and a Body. The Christ, Head and Body, is the Servant of the Lord, spoken of in Chapter 42 of the Book of Isaiah.
(4/20/2008) As I said last week, the Lord Jesus will not return until there is a remnant of the believers who have been brought to spiritual maturity. The rest of the members of the Body of Christ will be worked with until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Then the perfected church, the fully mature Christ, Head and Body, the new Jerusalem, the holy city, will be established forever on the new earth as the government of the Kingdom of God.
The fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians speaks of five ministries. They are not to be regarded as super ministries of some sort. They only are representative of the kinds of gifts God gives to believers so they can assist in the coming to maturity of the Body of Christ. These ministries should be treated in an offhand manner. The twelfth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians lists apostles and prophets along with the working of miracles and gifts of healing, which would not be the case if they were some kind of super ministries.
The fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians tells us that the ascended Christ gave gifts to men. To one believer the Spirit gives the gift of apostleship that the believer might be equipped to contribute to the maturing of the Body. To another believer the Spirit gives the gift of prophecy that the believer might be equipped to contribute to the maturing of the Body. To another believer the Spirit gives the gift of working of miracles that he or she may be equipped to contribute to the maturing of the Body.
Such gifts always are given to the one Body, not to a local assembly. The Scripture says that the gifts and ministries shall contribute to the members of the Body until the entire Body, most of the members of which are in Heaven at any given time, comes to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
We might wonder why is it so important that the members of the Body of Christ come to maturity. What does this have to do with our being saved and going to live in a mansion in Heaven, as the present mythology teaches us?
Take a look at the world of today. It is obvious we are approaching the reign of Antichrist, the period when man seeks to rule to world without Christ. As a result, filthy moral practices and horrible injustices abound. We may fret. We may believe that if we elect the right president things will improve. This is not going to take place no matter who is elected. The problem is spiritual and cannot be remedied by physical means. Evil must be overcome with the good of Christ.
In order for the United States to escape the destruction on the horizon there would have to be wholesale repentance and turning to God. Hollywood would have to experience radical changes. The educational institutions would have to promote the Christian Gospel. Do you believe this actually is going to happen? If it does not, the United States of America soon will become a third-rate nation, and worse things than this may happen to us.
There are some major forces that prevent the coming to maturity of the members of the Body of Christ.
The first major force is the priest-people concept. I have mentioned this factor in a previous message. As long as we regard the pastor as being more spiritual than the rest of the people, the believers are not going to take their own gifts seriously. They are not going to persevere with the Lord until they are equipped with the means of building up the members of the Body.
The second major force is the concept of Divine grace as an acceptable alternative to our growing in Christ, our becoming a new creation of righteous behavior. “Grace” is viewed as a new way in which God has fellowship with people. It most certainly is not, as any casual survey of the New Testament will reveal. In every covenant God insists on righteous behavior, that we love mercy, and that we walk humbly with God. Such behavior is as true of the new covenant as it is of any previous covenant, if not more so.
The only thing grace replaces is the Law of Moses. Now we have to obey Christ through the Spirit of God.
The third major force is the emphasis on everyone going out and “getting souls saved.” This is not a New Testament emphasis, although one would think so because it is so prevalent.
Nowhere in the New Testament are the believers encouraged to “go out and save souls.” Rather, they are encouraged to come to maturity as members of the Servant of the Lord, so they can bring justice to the nations when the Lord returns—and in some instances even today, as Christ directs.
But what about the Great Commission? Is it in force? Yes, especially for apostles, to whom the commission was given.
But let’s pretend the Great Commission has been given to every believer in Christ. Isn’t he or she supposed to go forth, get people saved, and build churches?
The Great Commission is that Christ’s apostles (“sent ones”) go into all the world and make disciples, not “get souls saved.” But isn’t this the same thing? Indeed it is not! How many Americans make a profession of faith in Christ but would not dream of denying themselves and bearing their cross after Christ? So they are not disciples.
Again, the Great Commission instructs the apostles to teach the disciples to obey the commands of Christ. But what do today’s missionaries often do? Tell their proselytes they do not have to keep Christ’s commands because they are saved by grace.
So every believer today is instructed to go into all the world, tell people how to get saved, and advise them it is not necessary to keep the commands of Christ because they are saved by grace.
It is obvious there is tremendous doctrinal confusion in America today, and the churches show this confusion by not moving forward in the repentance the Holy Spirit is stressing, by getting off into unscriptural errors such as the faith and prosperity emphases and the pre-tribulation “rapture,” and leading lives that leave something to be desired in terms of moral rectitude.
How many Christian families go to the theater and watch films that contain filthy language?
It is because of the confusion that results from ministers preaching traditions instead of expounding on passages from the Bible kept in context.
A few months ago I attended a meeting of young pastors. The Lord gave me a prophecy for them. It was that we are entering unique times as far as moral problems are concerned, and that Christ will give to those who wait on Him and obey Him strictly, not being bound by what they have experienced in the past, unique solutions to the unique moral horrors that will abound increasingly in America.
I read in the newspaper recently that a prominent children’s hospital in America is injecting children with hormones that will delay puberty until the child decides whether he or she wants to be of a gender different from his or her physical characteristics. If the child does want to change the natural physical gender, then an operation is performed to produce the desired gender.
This must be a remarkable operation, given the unbelievable complexity of the male and female reproductive systems. I wonder if the child thus transformed will be able to produce children. Imagine planting a uterus, ovaries, and eggs in a young boy, or sperm and a prostate gland in a young girl. Maybe they can make a wholly successful transformation. In any case, I believe it is what the Lord meant by unique moral problems.
We are not to fret about such abominations. We are to realize that the darker the spiritual environment becomes, the brighter will be the light of the actions of the Spirit of God. All things still are working for good!
It is certain that Christ will not return until there is at least a remnant of His Body who are mature enough to work with Him in establishing His Kingdom in the earth. It will do no good for just the Head to return. There must be a Body that will respond perfectly to the Head and do the needed work.
What can we do? Refuse to give someone our spiritual proxy. Petition the Lord for some spiritual equipment so we can help with the maturing of our fellow saints. And, except for those who really do have the gift of evangelizing the unsaved, and must operate their gift if they are to please Christ, quit worrying about going forth and doing that which we do not have grace to do.
When we worry about trying to “get souls saved,” and do not find the grace or opportunity to do anything about it, we may not find out from the Lord what our unique role is. The “good news” of the Gospel is to be brought to people at every level of spiritual development if they are to come to maturity in Christ, and so our ministry may be directed at those who already have been born again and need to grow in the Lord.
If we are willing to be a responsible, contributing member of the Body of Christ, we will hasten the appearing of the Lord from Heaven.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:1-4)
Do you want to a part of God’s Servant? I do. All the wonderful promises of the forty-second chapter of Isaiah are for those who choose to be God’s servant instead of trying to persuade God to be their servant.
Knowing God. I have been a Christian for more than sixty years. I suppose I have had as much exposure to Christian churches and people as the average believer. I have come to the conclusion that while there are millions of people in America who profess salvation through Jesus Christ, not many of them really know the Lord. They just know religion and the Statement of Faith of their denomination. In fact, some of them don’t even know what their own Statement of Faith actually says.
(4/27/2008) The emphasis this Sunday was on knowing the Lord; talking to the Lord; listening to Jesus; obeying Jesus.
You might say, “Oh, we all do that.” I don’t think so—at least numerous believers don’t talk as though they are seeking to know God, and Jesus Christ whom God has sent to us. Yet, such knowledge is what eternal life is.
I have exhorted our congregation for several years to ask Jesus about everything they do. That is how I live. I think that many if not all of the believers could learn to listen to Jesus. He doesn’t always speak to us in words; but when we commit our ways to Him, He most assuredly directs our paths.
Being a pastor, I am presented with numerous plans for church growth (which almost always means in numbers, not growth in Christ); for “getting souls saved”; for influencing the community. I have never, that I can remember, been advised to listen to Christ and find out what He wants me to do as a pastor.
When I was in Bible school in 1948 I was fed the usual stuff: “every minute a thousand souls are slipping down into Hell.” Somehow it came out that it was my fault for not “burning out for Christ” (I guess this means having a nervous breakdown from working so hard).
Most of the kids in Bible school had heard this sort of talk all the while they were growing up, and realized no one is doing anything about it, including the pastor. I was not raised in a Christian home, so I was taking all this seriously. What a burden! What an impossible weight on my conscience!
So I said to the Lord, “I prefer to believe You know what You are doing. If You will tell me what You want me to do, and give me the grace to do it, I will do whatever You say, to the best of my ability. But I absolutely refuse to live under the guilt that thousands of souls are slipping into Hell each minute because I am not “burning myself out for Christ.”
How often we are told we must have a “passion for souls.” Another weight on my conscience. I am sure there are intercessors and personal workers who really have a passion that is part of their gift. I myself do not have a “passion for souls” (how awful!), but I do have a genuine passion for doing God’s will. This passion is God’s gift to me, and it is genuine, not something I have been told I should have.
I have come to the conclusion that most religious talk is traditional, and people cannot obey the exhortations because they do not have the grace to do so. All they can do is worry, and hope somehow they will end up on a golden street playing a harp, wearing golden slippers, possessing a mansion and a backyard full of diamonds, and doing nothing significant for eternity except eat candy without getting fat.
We need to stop and ask Christ what we should do. We are chopping with a dull axe. Christ has new and surprising things He will do to overcome the deplorable moral chaos in America of our day. We are to not compare ourselves with the past. We are to make no assumptions, pray, listen to Jesus, and obey Him implicitly. If we do this, the rest is God’s responsibility.
This is my attitude, and I have rest in it.
It has been said that an elephant was employed to haul teak logs to a river so they can be floated down to a sawmill. He asked a little mouse to remain close to him while he was doing this work so he would not be lonesome. The elephant had a yoke on his neck and a chain with which to drag the log. The mouse also had a yoke so he would feel important, but a chain would be too heavy for him.
The mouse felt really enthusiastic, so he began to look for a better way to haul logs. He tried every trick he could think of, until he wore himself out (burned out for Christ).
Meanwhile the elephant continued with his work, hauling logs to the river.
I believe this is a true allegory. For two thousand years the religious organizations, for the most part, have attempted to figure out the best way for preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom to every person. But usually they do not ask the Elephant for help. Rather, they ask His blessings on their plans.
We have this option today. We can use computers and determine the most logical approach to getting our message to the most needy people.
Or, we can quit planning and stay before Christ until we are certain we have heard from Him. It may be an hour, or twenty years, before He is ready to bring an awakening to America that has enough power to change what is going on in our country. While we are waiting, we are to continue to do the simple tasks He places before us.
Our nation needs a powerful awakening. Your city and my city need a powerful awakening. Terrible moral horrors are taking place in the schools of our country. Imagine telling little boys and girls to think about what gender they would like to be, and making it happen with an operation, if necessary! This is an abomination so great that no words can describe it. The truth is, because of lustful perversions we have received minds void of judgment (Romans, first chapter).
The media and entertainers, as well as artists, are blaspheming Jesus Christ in an unheard of manner. What can stop this slide down into satanic filth? Only the power of the Holy Spirit. Who directs the Holy Spirit? The Lord Jesus Christ.
But Christ is not going to bless our plans to save our nation or the world. Rather, we are to quit looking for new devices and systems and pursue Him for wisdom. Christ will be no one’s co-pilot!
So we keep swinging with the dull axe. If we dare stop long enough to sharpen it, we will get a lot of criticism and derision because we are “not doing anything for God.” Souls are slipping into Hell by the millions while we are sharpening our axe.
Well, someone has to have enough strength to put his or her faith solidly in Jesus Christ and wait until He tells him or her what to do. It is certain we will have no awakening powerful enough to stop the moral filth in America until someone decides to quite trying this and trying that, and looks to Christ for the solutions.
The decision I had to make many years ago in Bible School involved these question: “Does God have a plan? Does God know what He is doing? Is God willing to share His thoughts with us so we can work along with Him? Or has God dumped the whole thing in our lap while telling us that millions of souls are slipping into Hell, and it is our fault, even though most of us don’t really have the power to do much about it.
For two thousand years the mice have attempted to move logs, believing it to be their responsibility. In the meanwhile, the Elephant accomplishes whatever the Father wants at any particular time.
The moral crisis in America is not going to be solved by politics, money, or education. It will be solved when Christian people cease from their own works, listen carefully to the Lord Jesus, and then obey Him promptly and completely.
But what if nothing gets done while we are waiting on the Lord? If we are willing to wait and listen, and then obey, the problem of getting things done is God’s, not ours.
“On this rock I will build My Church.” Either Christ is going to build His Church, or we are. Who is it going to be?
Do we dare believe that God knows what He is doing?
Pentecost, at the beginning of the twentieth century, was birthed and sustained in prayer. Now we have departed from the Pentecostal way. We are trying to take the Evangelical programs and stick tongues on them. But Pentecost is a way, the way to the rest of God.
Christ has something new for us today. We do not know as yet exactly how it is going to work out, but it is typified by the last three of the seven feasts of the Lord. It will be God’s answer to the in incredible moral filth of America, and it must be birthed and maintained in prayer.
No more guessing about what God wants. Let’s go to Christ today and find out!
Election. The teaching today was from the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. The emphasis was on the idea of election. The seventeenth chapter describes the massive wall that divides God’s elect from the people of the earth whom God intends to bring over to His new world of righteousness.
(5/4/2008) If there is a more neglected concept in Christian thinking than that which describes the difference between the world and the Church, I don’t know what it is.
The term “Church” means called out. Being a verb and a preposition, the word properly cannot refer to a building.
The Church consists of God’s “elect,” God’s family, the royal priesthood.
In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was the Church, the elect. The Israelites were chosen by the Lord. They were different from all other peoples in that God dealt with them in a very special, remarkable way. No other race of people was given the Ten Commandments on tables of granite, nor a Tabernacle with its furnishings, nor a priesthood. No other nation was called out from another nation and led by a cloud and a pillar of fire as were the Israelites. No other nation was fed manna, the grain of Heaven, for forty years.
It is true that other nations created priesthoods and altars, but these religious devices were developed by human beings. They were not given supernaturally, as was true of the elements God gave to the Jews.
Now, on what basis were the Jews chosen? Because they were better than other people? Not at all! The Jews were chosen according to the sovereign, inscrutable purposes of the Lord God of Heaven. There is no accounting for God actions in the matter of selecting the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. It was not fair to the other people on the earth.
We who have been heavily influenced by the philosophies of Humanism and Democracy have a difficult time accepting an action of God that does not take into consideration the worth of people. There must be a reason why God will choose one person and not another, saying He loves one and hates the other before they are born.
If we are going to understand the Bible we will have to get used to the fact that God is not fair in the sense of giving everyone an equal chance and selecting people on the basis of the worth of their character or actions.
This same “arbitrary” approach to selecting the members of God’s Church is as true of the Christians of today as it was of the Israelites. God chooses whom He will and brings them to Christ.
It is true that the alms of Cornelius were accepted by the Lord, and the result was Peter was guided to the house of Cornelius that Cornelius and his friends might hear the Gospel.
Yet, when I think about myself, and it probably is true of numerous Christians, there was no behavior on my part that would cause God to open my eyes to the blood atonement. There were many Marines in the same company as I who never were given an understanding of the atonement. But I think many of them were more noble, more worthy, than I.
And then God called me to preach the Gospel. On what basis? I don’t know, but He did, and in a supernatural manner at that.
This is what the Lord Jesus is saying in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. He is saying that some people belonged to God, and God gave them to Jesus that Jesus might give them eternal life. Jesus did not pray for the world, but for those God gave Him.
We may accept this at face value, or try to make some humanistic sense out of it. For myself, I believe there are things God does we just have to accept without understanding why He does them. How do you feel about that?
So here we have the Church, the elect. God brings each one to Christ. They no longer are of the world. There is the Church, and then there is the world.
What is the destiny of the world? If I am not mistaken, the common teaching is that every member of the world that does not “accept Christ,” whether he or she has or has not heard of Christ, automatically goes into the fire when the individual dies. You may not believe it, but this travesty actually is taught. in Christian circles.
So if we accept the several passages in the Old and New Testaments that teach about God’s calling people out of the world to be a holy nation, we are forced to the conclusion that God calls out some people to serve Him as priests and all the others go to Hell because God did not bring them to Jesus.
Does this make sense to you? Not to me either.
The truth is, God does choose people from among the ranks of mankind. But it is not to go to Heaven while the majority of mankind is thrown into Hell, but it is to be conformed to the image of Christ that they might be brothers of Christ; members of the Wife of the Lamb; living stones in the eternal Temple of God. The Scripture is clear enough on this point.
Now the question is, what about the great majority of mankind, those who are not chosen out of the world to be the brothers of Christ, living stones in the eternal temple of God? Is their destiny eternal residence in the fire. Of course not! What an affront to God’s righteous character such a teaching is!
Here is the truth. Are you ready for this?
God’s purpose is calling out from mankind a Church is that the members of the Church might reveal God to the remainder of mankind—today, as God leads, and for eternity on the new earth.
If you understand the sentence above, you understand the Kingdom of God. If you do not understand the above sentence you will not understand why God brought you to Christ, supposing that you will do nothing for eternity except walk on a golden street wearing your golden slippers, doing nothing of significance.
There is the world. Can a person of the world who is not one of God’s priests be saved to the new world of righteousness? Of course. If not, whom would the royal priesthood serve as priests? Several times in the Book of Isaiah the priesthood is mentioned as serving the people of the world; and they certainly are not serving people who are lost!
The inheritance of Christ is people. We are co-heirs with Christ. Therefore our inheritance is people, not people who are members of the Church, nor lost people, but just plain people living on the present earth and then on the new earth.
Today God is calling out the members of His Church, and each of us is required to present his body a living sacrifice that he might prove the will of God for his life.
If you will read the 60th chapter of the Book of Isaiah you will find that multitudes of people in the last days are going to come to the Light of God on the Church. They are going to come from every nation. These are not members of the Church. Rather they are coming to the Light on the Church.
Now, on what basis are these people saved to life in the Kingdom of God? On the basis of accepting the rulership of Jesus Christ over their lives. I don’t think they will see and obey Christ directly, but through the members of the priesthood.
You know, it appears that most Christian people do not accept the rule of Christ over their lives. They accept the forgiveness of the blood atonement, but then they proceed to live their life as it pleases them. They do not look to Jesus for every decision they make. Do you find this to be true. They cling to their idols.
The most important rule of the Kingdom of God is not that people receive forgiveness, it is that they obey Christ implicitly and in every aspect of their life. If we expect to be resurrected when Christ comes, and then ascend with Him, we are going to have to be obeying Him today. If we are not obedient ourselves, how can we work with Christ in installing the Kingdom of God on the earth? The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will.
The salvation that has been preached for two thousand years has been largely that of forgiveness. Now God is emphasizing obedience—stern obedience to the Father in every detail of life. This is the essential aspect of the Kingdom of God.
Two current doctrines that work against obedience are as follows: first, that we are saved by faith alone, meaning we can have fellowship with God apart from obeying God; second, that once we make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ we can never be lost. These two doctrines are terribly destructive.
The first tells us that Christ will save us even if we do not obey Him. Our common sense tells us better than this, but religion has never been comfortable with common sense.
The second teaches us that once we perform a particular religious rite, God is forced to accept us into the new world of righteousness even though our subsequent behavior is demonic. Again, our common sense ought to tell us better than this.
In the beginning Satan said to the effect: “You will not surely die if you disobey God.”
You can hear the same lie repeated every Sunday in the churches of America.
The Overcomer. It may be true that the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are the most ignored passages of the entire Bible.
Why is this, do you suppose? My opinion is that what Jesus is saying here goes against current Christian doctrine. The two chapters are stating that if we are to receive the increments of authority and glory mentioned here, which really are steps toward the Throne of God and the first resurrection from the dead, we will have to do more than just belong to a church and make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ.
We will have to overcome through Christ the temptation to become too involved in the spirit of the world; the temptations of the flesh and spirit; and the temptation to follow our own will instead of what Christ wants us to do. These three pressures attempt to entice us into doing what we know to be wrong.
(5/11/2008) I have been preaching and teaching victorious Christian living for more than half a century, telling God’s people we can overcome the world, the lusts of our flesh and spirit, and our self-will. Through Jesus Christ we can gain victory each day. We cannot be forced to sin, as long as we are willing to look to Jesus for strength and wisdom when we are tempted.
I know we have been taught that we have to sin while we are living in the world and so we have to rely on grace to save us. This is not scriptural, as we can observe in the following passage:
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you dill die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12,13)
In context this indicates we will not be clothed with eternal life when our body is raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord.
Paradise was on the earth at one time. Then Paradise was withdrawn because of our sin.
But Paradise is meant to be on the earth, with its fruit trees, all the beauty of nature, and animals, and so forth. Paradise was not designed to be located in the spirit world.
Therefore God is permitting the insanity and murder that always has characterized mankind on the earth to continue for thousands of years. God has a purpose for allowing this cesspool to occur. It is that He might select out people who demonstrate that they are candidates for rulership.
When God has identified His rulers, Christ will return with and in them. Working together they will install and maintain Paradise on the earth. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God.
You and I can be members of this governing priesthood. But to be competent and qualified we will have to overcome through Christ the obstacles that God allows to test our character, especially our faith.
Let me tell you of the following dream that I had in the early 1950s, when we were living in a trailer. The trailer was on the grounds of the tent in which Pastor J. O. Dowell was holding services. The tent was located on the border of National City, just before you came into San Diego.
I was on a ship. The ship was foundering in the waves. Many of the passengers were jumping over the side. I also jumped over the side, and was kind of paddling around, keeping my head above water. I had done a lot of swimming while I was growing up and am at home in the water. I could see the shore in the distance, maybe two or three hundred yards away. I could make out the sailors standing on the beach. Perhaps they got there in lifeboats. They had joined hands and appeared to be playing Ring Around the Rosy, or some childhood game like this. I looked back toward the sinking ship. I could see the passengers in the water. They were thrashing about and drowning in their terror.
I suddenly noticed that my feet kept touching the bottom. So I stopped thrashing and stood up. The water was only waist deep. The passengers were panicking and drowning in waist-deep water. I looked again at the shore. The sailors still were playing their game. I turned back toward the passengers to tell them to stop struggling and stand up straight. Then I awakened.
I wondered what the dream meant. I knew it was from God.
After about three days the interpretation came to me. “Although the churches (the sailors) do not always tell us so, it is entirely possible to overcome sin and live righteously.
God’s people remain bound and guilty when it is not necessary to live in such a condition. They have not been taught how the new covenant operates. They do not understand that the same grace that forgives their sin has the power to set them free from sin.
When I got out of the Marine Corps I went to Bible school, because the Lord had called me to preach while I was in the service.
Although I had several Christian friends while still in the Marine Corps, the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego was my first immersion in the contemporary Pentecostal culture. I had not been raised in a Christian home.
The teachers and students of the Bible institute were good people and sincere Christians. But I heard the same idea expressed in different ways: “As long as we are in the world we have to sin. We will keep on sinning until we get to Heaven.”
As I think about it, it must have been God who put it into my heart to decide that we do not have to sin. Through Christ we can overcome sin.
I can’t remember what I did of said about this decision, except I told God I would do His will whatever it proved to be, provided He gave me the grace to do it.
When I had the dream about the sinking ship, which occurred a couple of years after Bible school, it came to me that God’s people are ignorant of the victory over sin we can have through Christ. We can overcome sin!
So I have been preaching ever since that through Christ we can overcome sin each day. We can be perfect one day at a time. Finally, if we do not stop somewhere along the way, we will be perfected, fully redeemed from sin. Then we have eternity to grow into the image of Christ.
It may be noted that the promises we ordinarily associate with salvation, such as ruling with Christ, are reserved for “him who overcomes.”
I have never in my sixty years as a disciple of the Lord heard a sermon on what it means to overcome, or a discussion of the rewards to the overcomer.
Someone said recently that every person who makes a profession of belief in Christ is automatically an overcomer.
But stop and think. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor. It can be assumed, I believe, that most of the members of these seven churches professed belief in Christ.
If this is true, then all the members of the seven churches were overcomers by virtue of the fact that they had made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In this instance, the two chapters do not make any sense.
Every day of our Christian experience we have the choice of yielding to sin or not yielding to sin. Every day we choose either to do what is right or to disobey God.
I am here to say that each day you can choose to do what is right, and the grace of God that is given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ will enable you to do so.
You can overcome through Christ
You can live in victory over sin.
Stand up straight and fix your eyes on Christ.
The water is only waist deep.
The Overcomer: Part Two. The reward to those of the church at Ephesus is to have the right to feed on the body and blood of Christ. As we through Christ choose to do what is right, we are fed in the Spirit the body and blood of the Lamb. These are our eternal, resurrection life. In this manner we keep on laying hold on eternal life. We are to grow in eternal life until we are fully prepared for the redemption of our body. This was Paul’s goal, as we may notice in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians.
(5/18/2008) We still are hammering away at the rewards to the overcomer, mentioned in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. Remember, the rewards to the overcomer are incremental. Some of them are applied to us now, at least in a measure.
We are to move forward from the right to partake of the body and blood of the Lamb (the Tree of Life) all the way to our position on the Throne of Christ—finally to inheriting all that God is making new in Christ.
I do not have the ability to describe the Throne of Christ, that to which we have been called. But on that Throne sits Christ and every victorious saint from the time of Abel. The Throne of Christ is exalted above all other authority and power.
May I mention at this point that none of the promises to the overcomer are given by mercy or grace. This is because they are given to us as we are qualified and competent to receive them. For example, we are not given the right to eat from the Tree of Life until we turn back and do the works we did when we first came to Christ. We used to read our Bible and pray each day; we were kind to our fellow believers and did not judge or criticize them; we attended the gathering of fervent disciples on a regular basis.
As Oswald Chambers has stated, one of the problems of the Christian life is that of boredom. We are fervent when we first come to Christ. But if nothing exciting happens after several years, we may become too involved in the world and neglect prayer, Bible reading, and gathering with fervent saints.
All the members of the seven churches were believers in Christ. But only a minority of individuals qualified as overcomers. The same is true today. I think Christian people do not take Revelation, Chapters Two and Three seriously. I suppose they figure that it all will come out right in the end, whether or not they gain victory over the forces that come against them
Part of the reason for this casual attitude to the need to overcome may be due to the mythology that accompanies our preaching of salvation, that is, we are saved to go to Heaven to live in peace and joy for eternity, with no responsibilities or problems whatever.
The truth of the matter is that the Kingdom of God is a real Kingdom. It is not Heaven. It is a hierarchy of authority, with Christ at the Head. Underneath Christ are the victorious saints. They shall govern with Christ for eternity.
We Americans do not enjoy being told what to do. But in the Kingdom of God we either will rule or be ruled. We will not be permitted to do as we please. If we do not press through to victory, people who have been more diligent than we are going to be telling us what we can and can’t do.
If you do not want people telling you what you can and can’t do, then get busy and prove your stern obedience to Christ. Follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Turn aside from excessive involvement in the world spirit until you can hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches. Pray for the spirit of wisdom and revelation until you understand how high is our calling in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It appears to me that God’s people in America are not fervent enough, in many instances. Little by little we are seeing our values trampled on. It may come to the place, as is true now in Canada and Sweden, that if a pastor preaches that the practice of homosexuality is a sin against God, he will be fined, or put in jail, or both, and his ministry shut down.
I don’t believe the time is far off when the same will be true in the United States of America. God wants us Christians to wake up and realize that Satan is having his way in our country, and more so each day. The practice of abortion-on-demand is sufficient to bring the wrath of God on our country, and we slumber on!
God is looking for saints today who will pursue the life of victory in Christ. They shall be rewarded greatly, beside being enabled to stand during the age of moral horrors that is upon us.
Every believer can, through Christ, overcome every force that comes against him or her. He can come to the end of each day as a victorious saint, having the satisfaction in his heart that he is pleasing the Lord and doing all that is required of him. This is the way every Christian is to live.
The believer in the church at Ephesus had to return to his or her original fervency. He had to repent and do the things he did at first, because he had fallen from his high place in God.
If he did not return and do his first works, his lampstand, his testimony of Christ, would be removed.
The Overcomer: Part Three. We have left Ephesus for now, and are dealing with the church at Smyrna. This is the church of suffering. Paul tells us that in order to reign with Christ we must endure whatever problems come against us. The cross and the crown go together. I think Christians in the past understood this, but the concept of the cross and the crown going together appears to have gotten lost along the way.
There are two factors that stand out when we study the overcomer of the church at Smyrna. These two factors are obedience and rulership. The reward to the believer who obediently remains in his place of trial is the crown of life, the power to govern by the power of indestructible resurrection life.
(8/25/2008) May we take a look at the big picture for a moment.
God showed what He has in mind when He planted the Garden of Eden and placed two people there. Keep in mind that God created man to be in God’s image; to be male and female; to be fruitful and multiply; and to govern the works of God’s hands. Man is to be the son of God, in the truest sense of the word.
Then God placed man in a delightful environment. God created man to live in love, joy, and peace.
God never begins what He does not finish. He is the Beginning and the Ending; the Alpha and Omega; the First and the Last; the Author and the Finisher. God always knows from the beginning what the ending will be. God does not start something He isn’t going to finish. We may change our mind and drop out of the program, but God proceeds along the way He has in mind.
God is building a new world of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. God is building a Kingdom. The King of the Kingdom is righteous, compassionate, merciful, and sternly obedient to God. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. All authority and power have been given to Him by the Father because of His obedience. This giving of authority and power occurred two thousand years ago.
Why, then, the two thousand years of chaos and insanity that followed the giving of authority and power to God’s first Son?
The purpose of these two millennia has been to bring more sons into glory, sons who are filled with the first Son and sternly obedient to Him. The heart of the Kingdom of God is stern obedience to God.
The first Son learned obedience through the things He suffered while on the earth. Now it is the rest of the sons who have to learn stern obedience to God, and they will do so through the things they suffer. If we do not endure suffering, we will not reign with Him.
Each true saint is given a personal cross to bear. The personal cross may be in the form of the denial of our most fervent desires for what may prove to be a lengthy period of time. Or it may be a prolonged prison that we do not enjoy. God permits Satan to place us in situations that are disagreeable to us.
God fully intends to restore all that was lost in Eden and place it on the earth in the midst of the nations of the earth. But the Paradise that was lost must be established by saints who are absolutely obedient. Then it must be maintained by obedient saints.
The problem is that of rulers! If God had assigned experienced, obedient saints to govern the Garden of Eden, they would have kept Adam and Eve from sinning. This is why we are experiencing the tribulations and problems that we are. It is to test us and perfect us in obedience. We simply cannot restore Paradise to the earth until we are obedient to Christ.
God is envisioning a new world of righteousness in which His children can live in love, joy, and peace. This perfect environment will be established on the earth by saints who have remained in their “prison” until obedience has been perfected in them. It is as simple as this. This is the reason for our suffering.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Kingdom of God is not Heaven. Heaven is a place, a location in the spirit world. The Kingdom of God is a realm of authority. Jesus is the supreme King. There will be kings and lords under Him. He is King of these kings and Lord of these lords.
It absolutely impossible for there to be justice, love, joy, and peace on the earth until there are rulers who are righteous, merciful, compassionate, and obey Christ totally in every detail.
Satan desires to sift us as wheat is sifted. When God sees the right time has come for us, He permits Satan to test us severely. God wants to know if He can trust us to govern the works of His hands.
The future kings will be tested in every conceivable manner, just as the Lord Jesus was tested so severely
One of the rewards to the believer in the church at Smyrna is the power to govern with indestructible resurrection life, the crown of life. But the believer will gain that crown only by remaining patiently in the circumstances in which he has been placed.
Many today have been called to reign with Christ. Only a few demonstrate a consecrated life and thus pass into the ranks of the chosen. They are called. They are chosen. Then they have to be proven faithful.
It is interesting to note that in the beginning, God created all creatures and things through Christ, both spiritual and physical. Yet, the almighty Christ had to be made a Man and be tested in the earth as to His obedience to His Father. This is absolutely incomprehensible. But it shows the importance of the role our own testing and suffering play.
We are coheirs with Jesus Christ. If Christ had to be tested so severely, how much more necessary will it be for us to be tested before we are placed in a position of responsibility in the Kingdom of God?
If we patiently endure throughout our allotted time, we are given the crown of life. If we break out of our prison, we are not eligible for the crown of life, the authority to govern by the power of indestructible, resurrection life.
The purpose of the prison is to destroy any trace of disobedience to Christ that remains in our personality
The reason the overcomer of Smyrna cannot be harmed by the second death, the Lake of Burning Sulfur, is that the behaviors over which the second death maintains authority have been overcome by him as he patiently has remained in the circumstances in which Christ has permitted Satan to place him.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)
The Overcomer: Part Four. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation tell us of the rewards we usually think of as being that which will be given to all who make a profession of faith in Christ. These include eating from the Tree of Life, the crown of Life, and ruling the nations with Christ.
However, the basis for receiving the rewards is that we “overcome.” Chapter Twenty-one, verse eight, sets forth the personality traits that we must overcome.
So our eternal destiny depends on our definition of “he who overcomes.”
(6/1/2008) The current definitions of “to him who overcomes” are: “to him who is identified with Christ”; and “to him who believes that Christ died to forgive his sins.”
The following verse is used to support the “belief” position:
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (I John 5:5)
The above verse is interpreted to mean all there is to overcoming is to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But the remainder of First John is largely an exhortation to stop sinning. The reason John made that statement, which so often is taken out of context, is that he was fighting a doctrine of his day (probably Gnosticism) that stated Jesus Christ was not the Son of God and did not come in the flesh.
But every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (I John 4:3)
The reader who wishes to assure himself that John was not saying all we have to do is believe can review the third chapter of First John. Using the passage in the fifth chapter of First John to prove that all we have to do to overcome is to believe, apart from any change in our behavior, is an example of doctrine cut and pasted out of the contexts of the verses.
The current understanding of salvation by faith alone apart from works is derived from the teaching of the Apostle Paul, and the Protestant Reformation.
What Paul meant by “works” was the works of the Law of Moses.
What Martin Luther meant by “works,” at least in the beginning, was the actions of the Catholic religion, such as penances.
Today “works” is being interpreted as works of righteousness, such as honesty, truthfulness, moral cleanliness, kindliness, doing to others as you would have them do to you.
Can you see why we are saying today that it does not matter how you behave? We do not understand what it means to be saved apart from works. We are assuming it means we are saved apart from righteous behavior. The truth is, genuine salvation always and of necessity produces righteous behavior. It is that new creation of righteous behavior that is the proof we are being saved.
Neither Paul nor Luther would condone the current belief that faith saves us apart from any change in our behavior. How we have come to such an outlandish conclusion defies common sense. But religion and common sense often are not closely related.
Let us proceed now to two verses, which actually are part of one thought:
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:7,8)
Since it is those who overcome who will inherit all God is making new in Christ, it is of the greatest importance that we understand exactly what is meant by “overcoming.”
The eight personality traits mentioned in Revelation, Chapter Twenty-one, verse eight, are what we are to overcome. The Father has given the Lake of Fire authority over each of the eight behaviors.
While we are walking in the light of God’s Presence and will, our judgment is suspended. Little by little, as our sins are made clear to us and we confess them, we are forgiven and cleansed from these behaviors. While we are gaining the victory through Christ the blood of the cross keeps us without condemnation in God’s sight.
As we continue to walk in the light of God’s Presence and will, the Spirit of God points out the darkness in us over which the Lake of Fire retains authority. Then we are to confess our sins to the Lord clearly and specifically, and turn away from them. If we do our part, the Lord will forgive us and give us victory over the particular behavior.
Are you getting a feeling at this point of what it means to be an overcomer?
Since immorality is accepted in the United States at this time, and is one of the eight behaviors listed in Revelation 21:8, let’s think about what it means to overcome these behaviors.
Under the main heading of immorality, according to the Scriptures, we have adultery, fornication, pornography, homosexual activity, and child molestation.
Let us consider fornication as an example of immorality. If we are engaging in fornication, which is sexual relationships outside of legally sanctioned marriage, we are practicing a behavior that belongs in the Lake of Fire.
So if we want to escape being harmed by the Lake of Fire we have to overcome fornication.
How do we “overcome” fornication. That is the key question, isn’t it?
If we continue to engage in fornication is it reasonable to say we have overcome fornication by believing that Jesus I the Son of God? Is it reasonable to say we have overcome fornication by believing that Jesus died for our sins? Is this nonsense, or what?
Suppose we are committing fornication several times a week. This puts us in the Lake of Fire unless we overcome it. Does “overcoming” fornication mean “we believe Jesus is the Son of God, or does overcoming fornication mean we stop fornicating by the power of Christ.?
Stop and think. If we are an adulterer, a fornicator, a watcher of pornography, a child molester, can it be said with any kind of sanity that we are not an adulterer, a fornicator, a watcher of pornography, a child molester, because we are “identified with Christ”?
The Lord Jesus becomes our Righteousness when our sins have been forgiven by the shed blood of the atonement, and now the Lord is dwelling in us and enabling us to stop practicing sinful behavior. Does this make sense to you?
The Kingdom of God is a change of our behavior. It is not a legal state in which we do immoral things but are righteous because we believe in Christ and are identified with Christ. It seems to me that any sensible Christian would agree with that. But this is not what is being preached today in America in numerous instances.
What does it mean to overcome adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, child molestation, watching pornography, using filthy language, seeking preeminence, arrogant behavior? It means to interact with the Lord Jesus until we stop doing these things.
What does it mean to overcome cowardice? It means to seek Christ until we have courage.
What does it mean to overcome unbelief? It means to look to the Lord until we have faith.
What does it mean to overcome vile practices? It means to pray until the Lord Jesus gives us the victory over these practices.
What does it mean to overcome a murderous spirit? It means to come boldly before the Throne of Grace until the murder is gone from our heart.
What does it means to overcome the practice of magic arts? It means to confess what we have been doing and come to Jesus for help.
What does it mean to overcome idolatry? It means to name our idols, as the Holy Spirit guides us, and turn away from them.
What does it mean to overcome lying? It means to confess we have lied and ask Christ to help us always to tell the truth.
What does the Bible mean when it promises “He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” It means when you cease practicing what the New Testament describes as sin you will inherit all that God is making new in Jesus Christ. Also, God will be your God and you will be God’s son.
What happens when you don’t overcome? You do not inherit the wealth of God. God is not your God. You are not God’s son. Your final destiny will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
We Christians have been deceived. We have believed the lie of him who always says, “You shall not surely die.”
Who among us is ready to endure pain, fire, and bloodshed until the foundation of truth has been established? This is what has been required in the past.
Remember, when we pass into the spirit world we are going to be among those who suffered and died for the Name of Jesus Christ.
Our nation rapidly is becoming anti-Christian. If we Christians do not stand up for what is right, if we deny our Lord in front of our generation, He will deny us in front of the Father.
Here and There. The annual Foursquare Convention was held this year in Houston, Texas. Stan and Lisa Josephsen, our assistant pastors, came back from the Convention refreshed. They covered many bases as they told us their experiences. Perhaps the most significant was the account of a prominent Foursquare pastor whose wife committed suicide due to intense, incurable back pain (three ruptured disks). Stan applied this testimony in a practical manner—well worth listening to.
You can hear both sermons, as indicated below.
(8/8/2008) The following is an incident that actually took place. It is an episode from my book, Godwill Castle. I hope you will find it helpful. This is an experience I had in downtown Los Angeles, during the late 1940s
I don’t remember why I was in Los Angeles that morning, but I was looking for a place to eat breakfast.
A man approached me. He obviously was a tramp. He had a stick over his right shoulder with his possessions tied up in a bindle attached to the end of the stick. We don’t see bindles much any more, but they used to be carried by hobos.
He asked me for money so he could get breakfast. I said, “Walk with me. I will buy you breakfast.” Pretty soon we came to a small café. I said, “Order what you want. I will pay for it.” We got our trays of food, went over to a table and sat down. I thought to myself, “I wonder if I am supposed to talk to this man about the Lord.” You see, it was a Sunday morning. As I was walking and looking for a restaurant, I was pondering which church to go to. This happened before Audrey and I were married.
I had read in the paper the night before about two large churches. The pastor of one was Robert Shuler, the Trinity Methodist Church. I never had been in this church and I thought it would be interesting. The other church was The Church of the Open Door. I heard about this church from the Navigators, and had visited it previously. I was wondering which church to go to. I started to say something to the “bum,” and he interrupted me. I suddenly had the feeling I should be still and listen. He said, “I will be walking down a country road. I will start singing, “Jesus is passing this way. Why is this?” He said some other things, but I don’t remember them.
Pretty soon he picked up his bindle from the chair where he had placed it, got up and went out the door. I thought to myself, “I have entertained an angel here.” I got up and went to the door. I looked up and down the street. It was as I expected—no bum!
I think I decided to go to The Church of the Open Door. I sat in the balcony. Then I realized what the “tramp” was saying to me. “Christ is a simple Man. He is at home with plain, ordinary people. We do not have to look for Him in a large church or elaborate surroundings.”
I have never forgotten that message—no, not to this very hour.
I think we American are drawn to what we call “hype.” An evangelist whips up enthusiasm and people think it is the Spirit of God. The first thing you know they have a huge auditorium, a television program, and are a household word among Christians.
They claim to be “apostles,” but are they? Does anyone go to the trouble to ask Jesus if this man or woman is representing Him? I think we believers are fooled easily by people who are seeking money and a large following.
But you know what? God in His goodness has kept my attention focused on people and on His Word—on that which is of eternal value. I am glad for that!
Hopefully some good has resulted from my having “passed this way,” carrying my cross behind the “Tramp.” To Christ be all the glory.
(“Sermons On Pastor’s Page—www.wor.org from 2008”, 4333-1)