Pastor's Page - Archive
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.
The World To Come
Yesterday morning at church the burden concerned our need to recognize the importance of our calling as a saint and the need to press forward to the fullness of God.
Actually two related concepts were expressed. First, that we are being made in God's image after His likeness. To be in God's image means that we are thinking along with God; speaking along with God; and acting along with God. This is the way the Lord Jesus Christ, The Expression of God, has been thinking, speaking, and acting from eternity. This is the rest of God. To live in the rest of God is not difficult. As we keep asking God to express His thoughts, words, and actions in us, He does just that.
The second topic, related to the first, had to do with the nature of the Kingdom of God. The Church is the government of the Kingdom of God. The purpose of the Christian Era, the Church Era, has been to develop the government of the Kingdom of God. The forming of the Kingdom began with the revealing of the King of the Kingdom, the Lord Jesus Christ.
After the Lord Jesus come the victorious saints, the nobles of the Kingdom, we might say.
After the victorious saints will be developed the remainder of the Church, the fullness of the Body of Christ.
This is the eternal government of the new world, the world of righteousness, the New Jerusalem.
As soon as God is satisfied with His government, He will provide us with a new sky and a new earth. Living as citizens on the new earth will be the great mass of mankind, having been raised from the dead and declared worthy of eternal life. The Church will serve these citizens as a governing (royal) priesthood.
Every individual who lives in the new world of righteousness will have a portion of Christ in him, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, some a hundredfold. Thus Christ shall be all in all and God in Him. This is the Kingdom of God, including the government and the citizens.
Today God is seeking those who are willing to think, speak, and act along with Him so they can serve to govern, deliver, and bless those of mankind who have not been called as saints. We are to pray that God will give us more of His Holy Spirit so we can bless other people with eternal life.
The Spirit along with the Bride say to mankind, "Come and drink the waters of eternal life!"
The Rest of God
The sermon this morning had to do with the "rest of God," mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
The Jewish saints, to whom the Book of Hebrews was addressed, were seasoned Christians. They had been saved through the blood of the cross. They had been baptized in water. They had received the Holy Spirit. They had been persecuted, their property having been confiscated.
The writer of Hebrews warns them sternly that they are not to stop with these experiences but to press forward to the fullness of the rest of God.
The rest of God is that state of being in which our will and God's will are in total agreement.
In the fourth chapter, we are informed that all of God's works have been finished and we need only to find His will for our life. We are to rest with God because His works have been completed in His timeless vision. We are cautioned also that we are going to have to labor, to fight in order to enter this promised-land rest.
Our goal is to abide in Christ, nothing more nor less than this. But so many forces seek to remove our eyes from Christ, such as our love for the things of the world, the lusts and appetites of our flesh and spirit, and the personal ambitions of our soul.
Fretting is a major force that seeks to remove our eyes from our steadfast gaze at Christ. Today we read in the paper about much wickedness and perversity. As the writer of the seventy-third Psalm reminds us, we are upset when we see evil prospering as arrogant people vaunt themselves on every side. They have no fear of God They prosper while we, who are seeking to keep our heart pure, are dismayed and oppressed.
When we come before the Lord we discover that these wicked, perverse people are but a fantasy, a mist that soon shall be blown away. But we who seek to do God's will at every moment shall abide forever.
Don't let any force, within our outside of your personality, cause you to remove your eyes from Jesus. The world shall become more wicked, more perverse in the days to come, because it is time for the wheat and the tares to come to maturity. Jesus will take care of and provide for those who trust Him. Christ sits as King of the flood. "He holds the whole wide world in His hands."
Sunday evening was a continuation of the same topic, with an emphasis on our letting go of all that we are grasping so we might do God's will ever more perfectly. Right now, as I am writing, it is Monday morning. Now, this morning, is the time to pray that we are accurately reflecting God's thinking, words, and actions in all that we are and do; that we are overcoming the accuser of the brothers by the word of our Holy Spirit-guided-and-empowered testimony.
Being Born Again
The sermon this morning focused on what it means to be born again. The passage of Scripture was Matthew 13, the parable of the sower.
The parable of the sower may be the basic parable of the Kingdom of God, of Heaven. This parable tells us the Christian salvation is not a ticket to Heaven but the means of being transformed into the image of God.
We were put in this world so we would have an opportunity to choose what kind of person we want to be and to be with after we die. The purpose of coming to Christ and receiving Him is so we can be made in the image of God in our character.
If we make a profession of belief in Christ, but our character does not then begin to change into the image of God, when we die we will be placed where the kind of person is that we have chosen to be and to be with. Accepting Christ enables us to be transformed in character. Accepting Christ is not a religious device that enables us to maintain a wicked, self-seeking, lying, perverse character; and then, when we die, go to live among the righteous in the Paradise of God.
Today there are numerous Christian churches that are filled with gossiping, slander, arrogance, seeking preeminence, covetousness, lying, haughtiness, bitterness, unforgiveness, enmity against one another, immorality, strife. Does this describe your assembly? It was true of the church in Corinth. And then we say we have been born again? Where is the baby?
We often hear of "born-again Christians." This may be a misnomer. Being born again is not the same as being converted to the Christian religion. Being born again means Christ has been conceived in us and now we are setting aside our own life that the new Divine Life may multiply in us.
True salvation is a change in what we are in character. After we die we will be gathered to our people, that is, to people who behave as we do. "Accepting Christ" does not alter this fact. The Lord Jesus Christ will change us into God's image if we ask Him to and then cooperate with His Spirit. But making a profession of faith in Christ can never bring a self-seeking member of a religion into the midst of the saints in Paradise.
Why did Jesus say the prostitutes would enter the Kingdom before the religious people? It is because the social outcasts may recognize their wretched condition, humble themselves, and ask God for help. But the religious people in their arrogance do not recognize their wretched condition and do not humbly ask God to change them.
Deliverance From Sin
The sermon yesterday morning had to do with the commandments of the New Testament and what to do about them.
When I first came to the Lord sixty years ago I was told that the purpose for the commandments found in the New Testament was to show us our need of a Savior. God did not expect us to be able to keep them but was willing to receive us by grace.
This impression lasted for some years. After a while I felt the need to write. I was working on a book titled The Tabernacle of the Congregation. I started a chapter on the holiness of the Tabernacle. As I went along it crossed my mind that perhaps God and His Apostles expected us to keep Their commandments, a revolutionary thought and one that changed my thinking and teaching.
So I started through the New Testament and began to write down the commandments we clearly were expected to keep. Soon I gave up. There simply were too many. In fact, I was faced with a major portion of the text.
For example: "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. (Ephesians 4:17)
Now, it is nothing short of ridiculous to assume that Paul knew we could not do this and wrote it only for the purpose of our seeing a need to be saved by grace. So the current understanding of the "state of grace" is unscriptural and therefore erroneous. Yes, we indeed are to obey the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles This is the purpose for the Great Commission.
Here are three steps one can take to break the bondages of sin that prevent our obeying Christ.
Announce; Denounce; Renounce. When you take these three steps, God has promised to forgive your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.
Announce to the Lord the sins you are committing. Describe as clearly as you are able what you are doing that is against His commandments in the New Testament.
Denounce the specific behavior as being evil, filthy, unscriptural, fit only for the Lake of Fire. Denounce it vehemently, diligently. Mean business so the spirit world will know sin is being judged.
Renounce the behavior, saying sternly, fiercely, and determinedly that you never, never, never again, by God's help, act like this—no, not for eternity!
Try these three steps with one of your bondages, such as profanity, fornication, lying, stealing. You will be so delighted with the results that you will continue on until you are able to live as the Apostles commanded.
Remember, if you are to be able to maintain your freedom you will have to live as a disciple. This means denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following the Lord. Read your Bible and pray every day. Find the most fervent church you can and then assemble regularly with the saints. Watch carefully in prayer! The spirits that went out of you will be looking for an opportunity to return to their comfortable house.
We American Christians are going to have to learn to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
At night we ventured that the purpose of the Christian Era has not been to bring everyone on earth into Heaven but to call out from the ranks of mankind a company of holy ones (saints)—people drawn close to God as a firstfruits of the population of the earth. When the firstfruits have been brought to maturity in Christ, then the world will believe in Christ. Then the Glory of God on the saints will draw the nations to them, and thus to Christ and God. This concept indicates that at the present time, while the work of evangelism continues, our main resources should be directed toward bringing the holy ones to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Abiding in Christ
By nature the fruit we bear in our personality is the image of Satan: hatred, misery, anxiety, impatience, cruelty, evil works, treachery, harshness, and lack of self-control.
The image of God is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Salvation changes us from a hateful to a loving person.
Salvation changes us from a miserable, bitter person to a joyful person.
Salvation changes us from an anxious, fearful, tormented to a peaceful person.
Salvation changes us from an impatient to a patient person.
Salvation changes us from a cruel to a kind person.
Salvation changes us from a bad to a good person.
Salvation changes us from a treacherous to a faithful person.
Salvation changes us from a harsh to a gentle person.
Salvation changes us from an undisciplined to a disciplined person.
Ordinarily the Christian salvation is viewed as our entrance into Heaven. It is not. Salvation changes us, and movement from one place to another does not do this. If we are a hateful person, this is the kind of individual we will be whether in California, Maine, Germany, or Heaven.
The fruit of the Spirit, which itself is salvation, is grown only as we abide in Jesus Christ. Our adamic nature may struggle to gain love, joy, and peace, but because of our sinful nature and the spiritual darkness of our environment, Adam is unable to produce a stable virtuous character.
Righteous behavior always is an issue of power. There is universal, galactic power in Jesus Christ. When we live in Him, as in a house, the fruit of the Spirit is grown in spite of every hindrance. We must keep on living in Him if we are to be saved. When we do not keep on abiding in Him, the program of salvation ceases in spite of our theological protestations.
The way to be saved is to abide in Christ. We abide in Christ as we pray without ceasing; meditate in the Scriptures each day; obey the commandments found in the New Testament; present our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the will of God for ourselves and to obey it diligently and sternly; to join with fervent believers as we have opportunity; to pray for the gifts and ministries of the Spirit that we may help with the work of building up the saints to the stature of the fullness of Christ; to give of our means; and, most importantly, to take up our cross of self-denial and follow Jesus Christ every moment of every day of our life.
Some may find the above words a bit challenging if not threatening. This is because the standard of Christianity in America in numerous instances is so far below the requirements of the Bible that it is not worthy of being considered the Divine salvation.
If I am hearing from the Lord, terrible days are ahead of us in America, as well as in England and other places. If we are wise we will devout ourselves to serving the Lord Jesus Christ with our whole heart. By so doing we will save ourselves, our loved ones, and those who hear us. It is a "lamb for a house." When the angel of judgment passes over America we and our loved ones will be spared.
Remember Abraham and Lot!
Passing From Pentecost to Tabernacles
The sermon this morning was preached by Stan Josephsen, the Assistant Pastor of Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway, California. Stan's subject was the transition from the Pentecostal experience to the Tabernacles experience.
Some who are reading my words may not be acquainted with the terms I am employing.
There are millions of people in the world who have experienced "Pentecost." As we ordinarily use the term, we mean they have spoken in tongues and perhaps continue to speak in tongues as a "prayer language." Perhaps many of these believers may not be aware that the term Pentecost is taken from the fourth of the seven feasts of the Lord (Leviticus, Chapter Twenty-three).
It is important for us "in Pentecost" to understand that there are three more feasts to be experienced as we move forward in the plan of salvation. These three observances are the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the final convocation of Tabernacles.
As Stan pointed out, it is not possible to jump from the Pentecostal experience to the Tabernacles experience. In between these two acts of redemption lie the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.
For those Pentecostal people who are pressing forward in Christ, the Lord Jesus is sounding the trumpet of war. The Lord of Hosts is standing before each one, pointing out the enemies in his or her personality. "Behold! I stand at the door and knock."
As soon as we recognize there are areas of spiritual darkness in us, we open the door of our personality and the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement begins to operate. As we pass through the solemn Day of Atonement, we confess, denounce as evil, and renounce our love of the world, the lusts and appetites of our flesh, and our self-will (our unwillingness to remain in the prison where God has placed us).
We can gain total victory over each of these three areas of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have been reconciled legally to God through the blood of the cross. Now we are being reconciled actually by the power of the Holy Spirit so that our thoughts, words, and deeds bear a true witness of God and we are at rest in His Presence and will.
It is only as the darkness that is in us is removed by the power of God that the Father and the Son can make us Their eternal dwelling place, which is the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.
All of the above can be true of you, but you will have to go to Jesus and claim it for yourself.
The Great Cloud of Witnesses
The sermon this morning was taken from the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, no doubt referring to the suffering saints mentioned in the eleventh chapter.
This statement may be figurative, of course. But I tend to think it is literal. We all have profited from reading about the saints of old. Who knows but what they may be surrounding us at this time and profiting from our experiences. Later in this chapter we discover that we already have come to Mount Zion, to an innumerable company of angels in joyful assembly, and to the spirits of righteous people made perfect.
One time while on my prayer walk I looked up to see if there was anything to be observed at this time (I do this frequently). I saw what seemed to be a company of people watching me and taking notes. At that time I was having a terrific struggle over a temptation. (I emerged victorious, praise the Lord!)
Since the inerrant Word states we all shall come to the stature of the fullness of Christ, and also that all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest, it is necessary that there be teaching in the next life. In fact, I believe one of the components of the spirit world is an area, facilities, teachers, and students dedicated to education. I envision a huge, light-filled structure filled with happy people being instructed in the Kingdom of God. I have termed this structure The Institute of Kingdom Learning. How about that!
We must keep on throwing off all that hinders us from keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus, and run with patience the race marked out for us as an individual. Jesus began our faith and He will perfect it.
I will tell you a secret concerning how to survive your personal cross. Don't focus on what you don't have, or on what you have and do not want. Keep your mind on something else, on something you can have or can do. And—by all means—ask God to set joy before you. You will need a hope of joy if you are to endure your cross.
The struggle against sin you are having is part of the program of discipline you are enduring. Thank God for this struggle; this discipline! This process is creating a rod of iron in you so you will be able to govern the world alongside Jesus when He returns.
The past two thousand years have had as their primary purpose the developing of the rulers of the Kingdom of God. Be thankful that you have been chosen to rule with Christ, and take advantage of every moment and every opportunity afforded you during your sojourn on the earth.
All of the above can be true of you, but you will have to go to Jesus and claim it for yourself.
Let Christ Come Into Your Heart
Yesterday morning I preached to the Christian people: "let Christ come into your heart." We say this often, don’t we. But do you know, the Apostles did not preach this. The Apostle Paul did not say to the people of Ephesus, "Let Christ come into your heart."
This is strange, isn’t it? One of our most common expressions was not used as such by the Apostles of the Lamb.
I realize the substance of the concept, that the mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us, was taught by Paul. Yet this was never preached to the unsaved to my knowledge. But this is the first thing we say to the unsaved!
The fact is, I have pondered this discrepancy for several years. I think the Lord has called me to teach the Bible, not our traditions; so the fact that the Apostles did not go forth preaching "let Christ into your heart" has bothered me.
I’ll tell you what’s worse! I found myself saying this to people—it seemed so right.
Yesterday morning (Sunday) I was praying about what to bring to the people who showed up for the service. The twenty-fourth Psalm came to me, about letting the King of Glory come in. Then the passage in Revelation about Christ standing at the door and knocking.
After this, the last three of the feasts of the Lord, the feasts that follow Pentecost, entered my thinking. The light went on. Voila! It suddenly came together. We are in a historic change in the Kingdom of God, and this accounts for the emphasis on "let Jesus into your heart." The Judge is standing at the door!
For those who have not studied the feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23), the fourth feast is Pentecost. The Pentecostal experience of speaking in tongues has been prominent in the twentieth century. Now God is moving into the spiritual fulfillment of the last three feasts.
The least three feast are to be taken together:
The Blowing of Trumpets, telling us that the Lord Jesus has come and is standing at the door of our heart. "Lift up your heads, O you gates."
The Day of Atonement signifying that the Lord, mighty in battle, will come in and deliver us from the enemy.
The seventh feast, Tabernacles speaks of the settling down to rest in us of the Father and the Son.
First we ask Jesus into our heart. This is a message to Christians, primarily, to the church in Laodicea. Christ enters and dines with us. Then He drives out the enemy that is troubling us.
But why the dining? We dine on His body and blood, His healing Virtue. He dines on our obedience and worship. If you will notice in the Psalms 149 we praise God on our bed. It is only then that we can execute the judgment of God.
So we ask the Lord into our life. Then we rest in His Virtue. Then He drives out the enemy. The result is, the Father and the Son make Their eternal abode in us.
How often are we to ask Christ into our heart? Every moment of every day and night of our entire life. We always are to be asking Christ into our heart. He always is knocking. We always are opening so that we may be delivered. This is the Kingdom of God!
He, the Overcomer, is always seeking entrance. When we grant Him entrance, He overcomes the enemy. Then the Father and the Son sit on the throne of our heart. When we have been proven faithful, we are permitted to sit on that throne with them. This, again, is the Kingdom of God.
So all us Christians had a great time in church Sunday morning last. We all asked Jesus to come into our heart.
If you want the problems solved in your own life, and you are a Christian, ask the Lord of Hosts to come into your heart. Rest in His glory and love. Then He will drive out the enemy.
Not Neglecting Our Salvation
This morning I preached from the second chapter of the Book of Hebrews. I spoke of the fact that the new covenant is stricter than the old, and we will suffer under the hand of God if we drift away from our intense serving of the Lord; if we neglect our salvation.
Notice, in Hebrews 2:2,3, how much stricter the new covenant is when compared with the Law of Moses.
The Jewish Christians to whom the Book of Hebrews is addressed were saved and filled with the Spirit, as we use those terms. In fact, they were ahead of us in doctrine, for they regarded the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the doctrine of eternal judgment as elementary teaching.
We of today are preaching an unscriptural "rapture" in place of the resurrection of the dead, and we know little or nothing of eternal judgment because we have made Divine grace an alternative to godly living.
The thesis of Hebrews is entrance into the rest of God. The rest of God, the eternal Sabbath in which the Lord Jesus always lives, is the goal of our redemption. All the other acts of redemption lead us into the rest of God.
The rest of God is that state of being in which we are at perfect rest in the center of God's Person and will. This is where Jesus always is and He wants us to be with Him where He is.
I spoke also of the need for holiness. We American Christians to a great extent are oblivious to the necessity for holy living. We go to see worldly movies, such as the Titanic. We join in the worship of the Statue of Liberty. We gaze at the Olympics as though we were watching the glorifying of the Lord Jesus. Someone said we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed through the renewing of our mind.
We are not to be weird, peculiar, or odd. But we do belong to the Lord Jesus in a special manner, a manner not true of the majority of people in America or in the world. We are to be attending to our worship of the Lord and our service to Him, not to the pleasures and pursuits of the world.
I believe difficult times are coming to our country. I think the only hope of avoiding wholesale destruction is for the Christian people to turn away from the pleasures and ease of life in the United States and begin to press forward into the fullness of God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
From Sheep to Soldiers
Yesterday morning the subject was taken from the Book of Joshua. I wonder how many of us have thought about the enormous change from Moses to Joshua. To the present day the Jewish people speak of Moses. I have never heard them refer to Joshua. Yet it was Joshua who brought them into the land of promise.
Change! We are moving from the 23rd Psalm to the 24th Psalm, aren't we. We are changing from Christ as the Shepherd to Christ as the Lord of Armies.
How many of us are ready to move forward with God in this hour? We are not at Jordan as yet but in a time of preparation for war. God did all the fighting when we came out of Egypt, so to speak. But we will have to fight, under the Lord's direction, in order to enter our land of promise.
Our goal, our land of promise, is not Heaven. Canaan is not a type of Heaven. Rather Canaan is a type of all that we have been promised in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our inheritance includes change into the inner and outer likeness of Christ; complete rest in Christ in the center of God's Person and will; and then the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. Heaven is a place of waiting until Christ comes to set up His Kingdom on the earth.
There is an inner war and an outer war. In our day the Holy Spirit is leading us in the inner war. He is examining our personality and revealing to us the enemy within: hatred, unforgiveness, lust, lying, seeking the preeminence, haughtiness, pride, strive, rebellion against God's will, the love of the things of the world, our idols including partying, drunkenness, money, jealousy, and all the other idols that dwell in God's people.
The outer war, that is, the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth at the coming of Christ, cannot be waged until Christ has an army of saints who live in iron righteousness of behavior, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
Do you want to be in the army of the Lord Jesus? Do you want to be raised from the dead when Christ next appears and then caught up to join the Commander in Chief in the air?
Then raise your right hand and repeat after me: I do solemnly swear to obey the Lord Jesus Christ in all He shows me to do. I will not draw back from the battle through fear and unbelief. I will follow Him all the way to total victory over my personality and then over the kingdoms of the world, as He helps me and provides wisdom and grace. Amen."
Keeping in Step With the Lord
This morning the subject was that of continuing to press forward in the Lord. This has proven to be difficult for people to do.
When we think of the spiritual movements that have occurred since the time of the Reformers we can see how quickly denominational walls have been erected; statements of faith have been issued; seminaries have been organized. It is the adamic nature that does this.
What is wrong with organizing a denomination as soon as new doctrinal understanding has been gained? The problem is, God remains but a brief time at that one place and then moves forward. The staves remain in the Ark of the Covenant. Then, when God moves, the ego and financial involvement cause the latest movement to refer to what God is now doing as "being of the devil." The idea is, no one can possibly be ahead of us in God!
The truth is, there always will be someone ahead of us in God and someone behind us. We are to be helpful and courteous to those behind us and learn from those ahead of us.
But we do not do this, to our shame. We impolitely refer to those behind us as spiritually cold and those ahead of us as being of Satan. Will we ever learn?
If you are a second-grader, don't you just know that everyone ahead of you in school is of the devil! Perhaps some second-graders think so.
Our goal as Christians is twofold. We are pressing toward being in the full moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ, and being in complete rest in the center of God’s Person and will through Christ. I am not there yet. Are you? But I am pressing on the upward way and gaining new heights every day. Will you come along with me?
Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh chose to remain on the east side of the Jordan River. They preferred their smelly cows to the Glory of God, which was leading the way into the land of Canaan.
Moses rose up in fury. "You are a sinful generation! Be sure your sin will find you out!"
What was their great sin? It was that of neglecting to follow God to the fullness of the inheritance.
The Apostle Paul to the end of his life was seeking to gain Christ, to attain to the resurrection which is out from among the dead. Did you ever hear anyone preach on those words in the third chapter of Philippians? Probably not.
Why not? Because it has not been God’s time until now. But Moses is dead and Joshua is anointed. We now are preparing to cross the Jordan, so to speak, and engage in the conflict of the ages.
God wants you to be in His perfect image and complete will—nothing short of these. Exert faith and courage and call on the Lord Jesus. He has enough power to accomplish this transformation in you.
The discussion at night had to do with the fact that the adamic creation ended on the cross. Therefore we assign our entire first personality to the cross so God may bring forth resurrection life in us. Each day we are to pass from death to life until we can say, "I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."
Protected by the Lord
About once a year I preach from the thirty-fourth Psalm. If you do not know this Psalm, please meditate on it. It is a comfort when we are in trouble.
Our task is to keep lifting up the name of the Lord, even when we feel depressed and are afraid. We call upon Him continually. The Lord Jesus sends His angel to guard us. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them. When we fear the Lord, He delivers us from all of our other fears and troubles. What a promise this is!
No evil force can get past the angel of the Lord and harm us. In order to attack us, Satan has to lure us out from our protection, just as the Moabite dancing girls lured the Israelite warriors out from under the Lord’s blessing.
Satan deceives us. Any Christian, no matter how consecrated, can be deceived. We always are to pray, "lead us not into temptation." When we begin to question one of our thoughts, words, or deeds, no matter how familiar, we are to go to the Lord immediately and ask Him to put His fire on it. When it finally becomes clear to us that we have been deceived, we are to confess our sin and turn away from it with all determination possible, meanwhile asking God to help us.
Sometimes it is helpful to confess the questionable area to your husband or wife, or to another mature believer of the same gender as yourself.
I branched off to a burden of mine, which is that families be drawn closer together. Sometimes we pastors offend in this area by assigning youth activities to a department of the church, not realizing we are contributing to a generation gap.
The Lord has spoken to me to acquaint the young people with the seriousness of our times, and while we include games and good times, we must not overdo these. We Americans are apt to baby our young people, thus leaving them unprepared for the age of moral and physical horrors that are upon us in America.
"Turn the hearts of the parents to the young people, and the young people to the parents," the Lord is commanding.
Powerful forces are operating in our country that seek to divide the members of the family. "Fun" activities should be family times, as much as possible; not confined to groups of young people apart from their parents. This especially is true of minor children.
The Gift of Barrenness
Here we are at 9/26/2004. The burden is the 54th chapter of the Book of Isaiah.
I began Sunday morning with a brief review of the subject of holiness, picking up from last week. I had said that the current movies are not acceptable for Christian people because of the foul language and the sexual innuendos. Refusing to join with the world in its hopeless confusion, gambling casinos, horse races, and so forth are battles fought on this side of Jordan. Abstaining from these is not entrance into the land of promise but battles we fight as we are approaching Canaan. The New Testament does allude to external holiness, although holiness of behavior has become a bad word among many Christians.
But the sixty-six items of genuine heart holiness that I have identified (we will send you a copy free of charge, or you can read Perfecting Holiness at the main library on our site) have to do with our entrance into our inheritance.
Now back to The Gift of Barrenness.
If you have been Divinely chosen to be a part of the holy city you are going to go through a season of suffering. These are the sufferings of Christ and are the source of resurrection life. You will suffer every sort of injustice, perversity, frustration, the delay of your most fervent desires. God may seem far off. It indeed is a severe test, a dark night of the soul. You will be barren for a season.
If you are to be a deliverer, as was Joseph, your are going to be rejected; tempted; and then thrown into prison for resisting the temptation. But never permit your imprisonment to make you a prisoner in heart. Be like Joseph. One moment in prison. The next moment governing the land of Egypt.
Joseph did not demur, as did the beggar in the story by Shalom Aleichem who asked only for a hot roll and butter. Joseph said: "Where is my chariot and horses. Let’s get the program rolling." (Or something like that.)
With God all things are possible. Do not permit life to beat the idealism out of you. Give thanks to God for all things and then pray for the deepest desires of your heart. Whatever you ask in the name of Christ He will do for you.
Time is not the issue. The substance will come when you have been prepared.
Read the entire 54th chapter of the Book of Isaiah and claim every promise in this most marvelous of texts.
God said it. We believe it. That settles it. Amen.
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus
Actually I was all over the place Sunday morning. But I had three burdens on my mind: the peace and quietness of the twenty-third Psalm; the difference between the Lord’s firstfruits and the remainder of His elect; and the lack of integrity one finds in the Christian ministry and among God’s people, sad to say.
The twenty-third Psalm is a quiet time with the Lord. When we find in our Christian walk that we are not lying down in green pastures it is because we are not keeping our eyes on the Shepherd.
My friend Bob Taylor, recovering from his near-death experience, had two words from the Lord concerning the twenty-third Psalm. One word was that the promises apply only to those who follow the Lord as their Shepherd. The other word was that the expression "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me" does not mean the goodness and mercy are given only to us; rather they follow in our train so that other people receive goodness and mercy. I like that interpretation, don’t you.
The second idea concerns the firstfruits of God’s elect. These are found in the sixth chapter of the Song of Solomon as "the only one of her mother." Also in the fourteenth chapter of Revelation as the "firstfruits to God and the Lamb."
The fact that there is no lie in the mouths of God’s firstfruits led me to my third topic, that of integrity. One time God went through Jerusalem and could not find a person who told the truth. This always seems to be true of God’s people, particularly of the ministry. There is more cheating, lying, stealing, seeking for preeminence, fraud, immorality, and every other thing practiced by the Christian ministry, and also by the believers, than anyone could guess.
If I am correct, the problem has arisen because we are defining grace as an alternative to righteous behavior.
God has integrity. He is "faithful and true." But His people are not always faithful; neither do they always tell the truth.
Does God still have 7,000 people in the churches who have not kissed Baal? I am not certain.
The common people heard Jesus gladly, but the leaders of Israel ordered His crucifixion because of their envy.
If there are only three believers out of a thousand who walk with Jesus in integrity, then there are three people who will sit at Jesus’ table in the Kingdom.
What about the great multitude of God’s elect who slip and slide around? I believe God is going to save them, but only after He has pounded them in His mortar until there is no lie left in them.
The Truest Witness of God
Well, here it is, Sunday 10/17/2004. I missed doing the Pastor’s Page a week ago (10/10), so I will tell you what I preached on that day.
The subject on 10/10 was that of being a witness. I started with Colossians 3:5. Beginning with Colossians 3:5, The Apostle Paul gives us a list of behaviors that we are to turn away from. As Paul says, the reason we must turn away from these behaviors is that we are going to appear with Christ when He appears.
We Christians are to be the light of the world, not only in this present world but even more so when the Lord appears.
But in what way do we light the world? We light the world by being a witness of Christ. The world of today exists in the grossest moral darkness!
It may be true that in most churches the idea that we are to be witnesses of Christ is stressed. But I don’t believe we are using the term correctly. By witnessing we mean telling others what we know about the plan of salvation, or passing out tracts. However, telling others what we know and believe about the plan of salvation, or passing out tracts, probably has more to do with ministry or with proselyting to our religion than it does with witnessing.
The truest Witness of God is the Lord Jesus Christ. But how does Christ bear witness of God? Christ bears witness of God by being the exact representation of God’s Person. Christ always thinks as God is thinking. Christ always speaks as God is speaking. Christ always acts as God is acting. This is what it means to be a witness of God.
This precisely is true of us. We are a witness of Jesus Christ to the extent we are thinking as Christ thinks. Speaking as Christ speaks. Acting as Christ acts.
But is this possible? Of course it is. We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ, who is the Witness of God, the Light of the world. Is the God of Heaven who created the universe unable to perform His Word?
How do we go about fulfilling God’s intention that we be His witness? Simple! We learn to pray without ceasing; to commit every thought, word, and deed to Christ. This is not as difficult as it may sound, but it does mean we have to turn aside from our own life and seek the Life of Christ. Continually throughout the day and night we are to be asking, " Lord, am I thinking as you are thinking? Am I speaking as you are speaking? Am I behaving as you are behaving? If I am not, please make it so that I am–right this very minute! Such constant communion and obedience is the rest of God.
This is what we ought to do, isn’t it, our reasonable service of worship? Are you ready to walk so closely to the Lord Jesus?
Judgment Begins With the Family of God
Well, Sunday, 10/17/2004, has finally come. The message for today was taken from the fourth chapter of First Peter.
The thesis of this chapter is judgment on the family of God. The idea is that God judges His people whether they are alive in the world or deceased and living in the spirit world. Since this may be a new idea to some of us, it might be well to stop at this point and read the fourth chapter.
We have been taught for so long that Christians are not judged that we may find it difficult to accept what the Apostle Peter wrote. The point is, our sins of the past are forgiven when we place our faith in the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus. But the emphasis now is on our behavior from this point forward.
To claim that God does not care how we live now is to reveal an ignorance of the Christian redemption. The Christian redemption is not primarily one of forgiveness but of moral transformation, of a new creation brought forth from the body and blood of Christ.
Salvation is not a ticket, it is a program of deliverance. We begin in the image of Satan and finish in the image of Christ, who is the image of God. We actually are in a program of education, as are the believers in the spirit world. We all are being brought into various experiences that cause us to react in some manner. If we react in an undesirable manner, the Holy Spirit guides us to repentance. If we then harden our heart, refusing to be corrected, we will receive the bad we have done. If however we are willing to learn how to behave in a righteous manner, we will receive the good we have done.
When you think about it, Divine judgment is not necessarily punishment. Divine judgment is instruction concerning what is acceptable to God and what is not acceptable to God. Divine judgment separates the light from the darkness so that the Light, Christ, is formed in us and the darkness, Satan, is driven from us.
We may have a mythological picture of the spirit world in our mind, containing mansions and streets of gold. The truth is, the next world, as well as this one, is a school—a school in which we receive holiness in our inward nature and righteousness in our outward nature. This is a protracted curriculum which has not been completed until we attain to the stature of the fullness of Christ—every one of us. All shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest.
If I am correct, we now are passing from the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost to the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. It is during this new experience that God deals with our personality until we have been reconciled to Him. It well may be the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The point is, we, if we are wise, will take advantage of our daily lessons, thus growing in the image of Christ. This is how we, who are members of the family of God through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, become witnesses of God.
Putting an End to Sin
Sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God. Sin began with the self-will of Satan; self-will is the mother of all sin.
We may never have believed we would see the day when all sin is removed from the creation, but God has declared it shall be so.
"Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
"To put an end to sin." Think of it! Everyone say, "To put an end to sin."
Notice it does not say who is to put an end to sin. The fact is, it shall be God and man working together that will put an end to sin. God shall bruise Satan under out feet. It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon.
The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, and He is going to do this through His saints.
We know from the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew that at the end of the age the messengers of God will remove sin and sinners from the Kingdom of God. It is our conviction, based I believe on the Scriptures as well as our experience of sixty years as a Christian, that the work of removing sin has begun, and it has begun with those who are seeking the Lord fervently.
But how do we remove sin from our life. We do so one day at a time, under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of the blood of the cross.
We name the specific behavior clearly.
We denounce the behavior as being unworthy of the Kingdom of God.
We vehemently renounce the behavior, stating we want nothing to do with it for eternity.
We draw near to the Lord Jesus Christ for comfort and strength.
In the future we, through the Lord’s help, resist the specific behavior.
Thus we can be perfect for the day although we have not as yet been perfected.
It never is God’s will that a Christian walk in known sin.
The above five steps will be effective, but only if the believer is faithfully carrying his or her cross and serving the Lord fervently in all areas of Christian discipleship. Otherwise the spirits of darkness will return and the condition will be worse than before.
Try what we have outlined and observe the results. Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Preparing for the Battle
The Day of the Lord will begin with a tremendous battle. The time has come on the Kingdom clock to prepare ourselves for the war that will put an end to sin in God’s creation.
The subject of the morning sermon was the coming of the Lord, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to remove sin and set up His Kingdom on the earth.
I believe we ought to emphasize to a greater extent than we do that the Lord Jesus will be accompanied by a great cloud, a mighty host of those who have lived by faith from the days of Abel. Millions upon millions of saints will accompany Christ when He returns.
Another emphasis was on the fact that when these holy ones descend to regain their bodies from the place of interment, the graves will explode, perhaps with a great noise, and the astonished nations will tremble at the sight of warriors shining like thousand-watt bulbs.
While the newly resurrected soldiers are embracing in the most marvelous fellowship of history, standing once more on the earth—many of them for the first time in a thousand years, we who are alive are remain shall be changed so that when the summons comes we can rise with them to meet the Lord at His coming.
We need to give thought to this change. Our flesh and bones will remain intact, I believe. The change will occur as our blood is replaced by the Spirit of God. This transition will require faith if we are not to draw back. Remember Lot’s wife.
Here we have the army of Christ that will meet the Lord in the air and descend with Him to drive all sin from the earth.
In order for God’s will to be done there must be two armies, the army of saints and the army of angels. It is the army of angels who impose the necessary force. The army of saints are judges.
Michael and his angels are already prepared for the final conflict. It is the saints, the judges, who are not prepared. God will not issue authority and power to Michael until the saints are in the position where they can condemn evil.
The Holy Spirit is beginning to reveal to us what we must do to prepare for the battle. We must dedicate ourselves to live in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. We must decide to endure hardness as good soldiers, fleeing from useless "civilian" activities.
Of special importance for our ministry as judges is our cooperation with the Spirit as He leads us to confess and turn away from the numerous aspects of spiritual darkness that affect our personality.
I have identified 83 of such personality traits, each of which must be confessed and denounced firmly.
Man in God’s Image
All that has taken place in the history of the world has been to bring us to the present hour. From this point forward we are to be made in God’s image. It is the creation of the Bride of the Lamb that gives significance to all that has gone before.
Bob Taylor preached this morning. He was revived after dying twice. He has a message for the Christian churches.
In his first vision he saw a graphic display of the prayers being offered for him.
In his second vision he saw the twenty-third Psalm on a sort of ticker tape, and was given some insight into this passage.
In his third vision he went through a corridor and discovered that we may have to make some decisions after we die.
In his fourth vision he saw the faces of people, perhaps at the time of their resurrection from the dead. At first they were joyous; but as the light of God became brighter they found to their horror that they were not prepared to dwell with God.
Bob sees this as a wakeup call to the Christians churches. It may be true that in America numerous assemblings of believers are in a delusion brought on by a misunderstanding of Paul's doctrine of grace. From what I have heard recently, including a recent decision of Andrew Strom to leave the "prophetic movement" and why he is leaving it, I gather we are sorely in need of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will bring us to repentance.
At night I held forth on the topic "It is time for God to make man in His image." I believe the events of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis took place literally. I believe also that these events are one of the major Bible portrayals of the program of redemption.
First, God gives us light in the form of an awareness of the forgiveness of our sins through the blood atonement.
Second, God makes us aware of two realms—the physical and the spiritual—separated by a heaven.
Third, dry ground and fruit appears, speaking of the giving of the moral law, the Ten Commandments. Now we have solid ground to walk on.
Fourth, the sun, moon, and stars portray the giving of the Holy Spirit, furnishing us with the necessary wisdom and power if we are to walk in God's will.
Fifth, fish and birds. These were the beginning of animal life, the first indication of God's intention.
Sixth, tame and wild animals, and insects. Finally, man.
From light to animals, nothing that appeared had significance. There was nothing but a zoo, a menagerie. All the creation was a preparation for the creation of man in God's image.
The account of the creation, while happening literally I believe, reveals the plan of redemption. Everything that has taken place in the history of the world is little more than the development of a menagerie. The time is at hand for God to begin to create man in His image.
The first Man to appear on the earth is the Lord Jesus Christ. He perfectly reveals God's Character.
But God said it is not good for man to be alone. So God is creating a helper suited for the Man, and together they are called "Man." To them has been given authority over all the works of God's hand.
Today the Bride of the Lamb is in tatters. From this point forward the Lamb will begin the process of removing the tatters and imparting to the Bride His Divine Character. When the Lamb is finished, the Bride will be without any blemish whatever.
We are not being created to live in Heaven forever. We are being created to be an integral part of the Lamb forever. God knows better than to entrust the works of His hands to someone other than Himself. God has entrusted everything to the Lord Jesus Christ because Christ is an integral part of God. When we become an integral part of Christ, then God will entrust us with the works of His hands and we shall judge and govern all.
Dying in the Lord
This morning I preached from Revelation 14:6-13. I spoke briefly of how the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God is being restored to us.
Then I reminded us of the difference between religion and salvation. Salvation is God reaching out to man through the Lord Jesus Christ. Religion is man by means of his own mind and efforts trying to find God and use God for man’s own purposes. Religion is referred to as Babylon.
In addition to the maturing of the religious spirit, we notice the Antichrist world-system. We see this in the wealthy nations in which the god is money and material goods. We in America suppose that democracy and capitalism are Christian models of government and finance. They are not. If we will look about us we will see much that is destructive and hurtful to people in the democratic nations, including America.
Religion, and a world system that holds the acquisition of material wealth as its supreme value, are more of Satan than they are of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that from the time that religion and the Antichrist system have come to fruition, we must die in the Lord. If we are to survive and help others we must die in the Lord. This means we are to deny our own lives and bear our cross so that Jesus Christ and the Father can find Their home and resting place in us. When it is true of us that we have become the dwelling place of God, then our works shall follow us. Then it shall be true of us that wherever we go, love, joy, and peace will follow in our train. We will be a continual blessing to needy people.
Goodness and mercy shall follow us because it is Christ who is thinking, speaking, and acting in us. This is the Kingdom of God and it always bring righteous, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit—and this throughout the darkest hour every to come upon the earth!
At night I held forth on "This is that" from the Book of Joel. You know, the Book of Joel is couched in agricultural terms, but, as in some other Prophets, there is a parallel spiritual meeting that floats to the top as we pray. Some are saying today that the second chapter is speaking only of locusts, but I see in it the coming of Christ with His saints to execute judgment. However, I would not argue with anyone.
The main point is, Joel is a book of restoration. It commences with destruction and ends with Divine Glory.
Some years back, Aimee Semple McPherson had a vision of a clock. A tree in full bloom was at twelve o’clock. Then as the hands move toward six o’clock the tree was reduced until it was only a stump. Then at 7 o’clock the leaves and fruit began to return until at noon it was fully restored. God shows us through this vision the history of the Christian Church. It began in glory, was reduced to a stump, and then shall be restored to much, much greater glory. Wonderful days are ahead of us!
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God
The Book of Daniel tells of the setting up of a kingdom that will never be destroyed but will crush all other kingdoms and will itself endure forever.
John the Baptist announced the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom. The Apostles asked the resurrected Lord if He was about to restore the Kingdom. The Apostles wrote about the Kingdom of God. We have been instructed to pray "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven."
But today we do not preach the coming of the Kingdom of God, God’s will, to the earth. We preach that we have been saved so that when we die we will go to Heaven to live forever. Obviously, we are not preaching the Christian Gospel.
At some point in Church history the Gospel was changed. Perhaps it remains for a candidate for the Doctor of Divinity degree to make his or her dissertation precisely when, where, how, and why, this alteration occurred.
The Lord’s parables were about the Kingdom of God. As far as I know, the only parable that could be construed to refer to our going to Heaven is the parable of the foolish virgins. But if this parable is examined closely it will be seen that the goal was to meet the Bridegroom and go in to the wedding banquet. The object here is not a place but a Person and a situation.
Actually, I think the preparation for this event has begun already. We are being prepared to be united with Christ, not to go to a place termed "Heaven." The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John is clear that the resurrected Lord Jesus will come to His disciples and live in them prior to His return in the sight of the world.
So we are in error today. We are preaching an incorrect message. Do we have enough integrity to go back to the Bible and see if such is the case; and if it is to change our preaching and teaching until it lines up with the Scriptures?
Hell is a place. The rich man is there. Heaven is a place. God, Christ, the saints, and the holy angels are there.
The Kingdom of God is not a place. It is not Heaven. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in the saints ruling the works of God’s hands.
Escaping Hell is mentioned but not emphasized in the New Testament—not even discussed in the Epistles of Paul. We are not born again in order to escape Hell but to see and enter the Kingdom. We do not believe in Christ in order to go to Heaven but to have eternal life—a state of being, not a place.
There are two primary emphases of the New Testament. They are first, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Second, eternal life.
The Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth and everywhere else. God’s righteousness is the righteous behavior of the saints as the Life of Christ replaces their rebellious adamic nature.
Imputed righteousness and the bit of Divine Life given to us at our conversion are nothing more than a seal, a down payment on that which we are to receive at a later time as we pursue the rugged way that leads to life.
Eternal life is the Life of God of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the personification.
As we seek God’s help in keeping the commandments found in the New Testament, always choosing to be God’s slave, our inward nature becomes a new righteous creation. The end result of the new righteous creation is the fullness of the eternal Life of God. If—and only if—we sow to that Divine Life today, we will reap a body of life in the Day of Christ, a body of life that will clothe our resurrected mortal frame.
The reason Satan enjoys the current grace-rapture-Heaven gospel is that it prevents the development of the new righteous creation in the believers. It puts off to the future the goal of salvation, rather than alerting people to the fact that that we are to press into the Kingdom today. Today is the day of salvation, not when we die! We receive no eternal life nor moral transformation by virtue of dying?
We have come, as Aimee Semple McPherson saw in her vision of the clock of trees (Lost and Restored, Gospel Publishing House, Springfield), to the restoration promised in the Book of Joel. The last century saw the restoration of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. The present century will witness the restoration of Christian preaching to that of the first century of the Christian Era: "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news."
Sons and Brothers
First let us think about the office of Christ, and then we will discuss the Substance and Nature of Christ.
The following might be thought of the office of Christ, the ways in which Christ is different from us:
Christ was in the beginning with the Father.
Through Christ all things were created.
Christ made an atonement with His blood for the sins of the world.
We can worship Christ and pray to Christ as we do to God, and are baptized in water into His name.
Christ is the supreme Lord over all of God’s creation. We share this dominion with Christ, but, as Pharaoh said to Joseph, Christ will remain greater in the Throne of God than will be true of us.
Having maintained the Lord Jesus Christ in His supremely elevated place, the office given to Him by the Father, let us now emphasize the ways in which we are truly His brothers, His bride, His body.
Theologians have made it impossible for us to be genuine brothers of Christ. Theologians appear to envisage God as one Entity who has been sliced into three pieces. One piece is the Father. One piece is the Son. One piece is the Holy Spirit. This Entity in three coequal, coexistent, coeternal pieces is referred to as the Trinity. As I see it, the doctrine of the one God in three pieces is unscriptural.
How can we, in any meaningful sense, become the brother of a piece of God? The gap between us would be uncrossable, in my thinking.
What does the Bible say about Jesus Christ? The Bible says Christ is the Son of God. This is what I believe Jesus is—the Son of God.
Since God has no wife, it must be true that God is both male and female. When God created man in His image He created him male and female.
So God has a Son. His name is Jesus Christ. God has made Him Lord of all.
Now here is a mystery, although it is proclaimed clearly in the Scriptures. God is giving birth to more sons. It is as simple as this. God’s one Son has now become the Firstborn of many sons.
"But, we exclaim, that is all fine and dandy. But we never can be a brother of Jesus Christ in the full, literal sense of a brother. He is God and we are man."
Here we are mistaken. God has given birth to us just as He gave birth to Christ. We do not have the same office as Jesus Christ. God has made Jesus Christ King of all kings and Lord of all lords. This is not true of any of us.
But when we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood we are being made of the same Divine Substance as He. When we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as the spiritual evil and darkness is being driven from us, and the Substance of Christ is taking its place, are being made of the same Nature as He.
Born from the same Father. Filled with the same Substance. Changed into the same Nature. Genuine brothers. Genuine members of His bride. Genuine members of His body.
The Personality of Christ is perfect. Ours is not as yet, but if we will keep pressing forward we shall arrive some day at the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Some may protest that this cannot be. We can remove ourselves from the program if we so desire. But this is what God has stated, and I choose to believe the Scriptures.
How about you?
If we are to be as fruitful as God would have us to be, each member of our church must be living a righteous, holy life. We must be praying specifically until God answers or redirect our prayer. We must be obeying the commandments of Christ written in the New Testament or given to us personally. We also must be maintaining a sense of hope and expectancy.
And we all must be in one accord.
The above is the solid foundation on which fruitfulness can be based.
I have set some goals for our church for the year 2005. One goal is an increase in attendance. Another is that each member of the assembly would seek the Lord for his or her own gift and ministry. A third is the bringing into our midst of Spanish-speaking people, of whom there are many in our area.
There are other areas of outreach, such as to the Filipino community. Perhaps we should host an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous chapter. There are such needs all around us.
In the future I wish to get into how we actually go about finding out what God wants us to do. First of all, we must understand that the Bible is a record of God taking the initiative, not of man’s ambition or creativity, only his obedience. The interaction of God and man is critical. I like to say it is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, with the Lord being given 51 percent.
We take a step, and then look to the Lord to see if He is pleased, if desirable fruit is being borne. Usually we get nowhere if we only wait for God to speak to us.
If God tells you ten camels are going to be watered, watch for the tenth camel. Very often nine camels will be watered instantly, but the tenth camel is left out. That tenth camel is the proof of God’s will. Understand what I say.
God’s will for us is never contrary to the Scriptures. God’s will for us brings us joy and peace. God’s will for us is reflected in our surroundings. Sometimes we are not particularly joyous or our surroundings do not agree. But if we are in God’s will they come around eventually.
It always is a dance, a romance, an adventure with the Lord Jesus. We do not burn out when we are skipping with Him on the mountains of spices, although difficult times will come. The true work of God is a burning bush.
This morning we had a marvelous "movie." It was filmed by our own David Wagner, and told of a little girl who found peace through the Lord Jesus.
This evening I spoke of several issues that face us as our church looks forward to the new year. One of these issues is the need for us all to be in one accord. This requires that we set aside all criticism, refusing to give in to Satan in this area.
Another area to which we must apply ourselves is that of finding our individual gifts and ministries. We can find these only as we present our body as a living sacrifice, and pray fervently for the gifts and ministries to which we believe God has called us.
A third very important aspect is learning how to find God’s will so He may keep the initiative. My suggestion is that after prayer we take a small step in the direction we feel God would have us go. Then we think about what kind of fruit has resulted. Has there been love, peace, and joy, or not?
If the fruit seems good, then we take another small step, praying earnestly in the meantime. The Bible says if we turn to the right hand or the left we will hear a voice saying, "This is the way, walk in it."
So we may not hear anything from the Lord unless we are beginning to get out of His will.
I added a test that I use to determine God’s will. What I think God is telling me must not be contrary to the Scriptures. Also, when I think about the direction I am to take I look to see if thinking about it brings me joy or a sense of heaviness.
Next, I look at my circumstances. Do my surroundings, particularly the advice of people I respect, agree with what I think I am hearing from the Lord?
If one of these three do not agree, then I go back and pray to see if God will give me peace, or if the circumstances will come into agreement.
We can hardly be too careful in these days. Deception abounds among the believers. We need to pray, and pray again—particularly if we have a burning desire along some line. This usually is not of the Lord but an idol.
Hagar may inflame our personality, but it is good old Sarah who produces the eternal inheritance.