Pastor's Page - Archive
The Importance of the Body of Christ
When Our Prayers Do Not Seem To Be Answered
We Need More of the Holy Spirit
The Importance of Doing God’s Will
Did Jesus Abolish the Law of Moses?
From the Old Covenant to the New Covenant
More Righteous Than the Scribes and Pharisees
Moving up to a Higher Level of Faith
Walking in Light, Life, and Love
We Are Denying the Lordship of Christ!
Judgment Has Begun in the Household of God
The Nature of the Kingdom of God
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.
You Shall Ask Anything
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13,
I don’t know if I suddenly have become aware of the above promise, but it is central in my thinking at this time. The congregation has responded and we prayed during New Year’s Eve, and also a great deal during both services on Sunday. I think I am seeing a difference already.
I have the feeling that God wants to send a mighty revival on the United States, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that will make God’s lampstands, the churches, shine in the midst of the moral darkness that has overtaken the United States.
A friend of mine who listens to our tapes told me some people in his church have begun praying, and already they are seeing a difference in the Sunday-school children.
We have to pray fervently for specific requests, specific healings, specific help for specific families. If we are to have our prayer answered we will have to obey God’s commands in the New Testament and also what He tells us to do personally.
The design of the Tabernacle of the Congregation reveals that as we pass from the Church Age to the Kingdom Age we will have a double portion of God’s Spirit poured out on us, containing the gold of Christ’s Nature and Virtue, and the bronze of Divine judgment (50 gold rings and 50 bronze rings).
Also, the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. When we go to the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah we find that the Temple of God, which is the Body of Christ, will be brought to perfection by the Spirit of God. My understanding is that the two lampstands are Christ and His Body, and, referring to Zechariah, will be receiving the fullness of the Holy Spirit (the olive trees pouring oil into the Lampstand).
"Not by might but by My Spirit, says the Lord." This has been the slogan of the Pentecostal Evangel for many years, reflecting the history of the Pentecostal revival of the last century. My belief is that this slogan is speaking of today. Today is the time to pray for rain in the time of the harvest, spring rain.
Will you join your prayers with ours for a tremendous outpouring of the Spirit of God upon America that will include Divine Glory as well as Divine judgment.
You Shall Receive Power
We need power. We need enough spiritual power to bring the Christian people in America to repentance. We need the power of the Spirit of God. We need another Pentecost
America ought to be a witness to the world of the Person of Jesus Christ. It is not. With its lust, perversions, fraudulent business practices, self-seeking, arrogance, it is more of a witness of Satan than it is of Jesus Christ.
And I think the nations of the world, and other religions, recognize this and are repulsed.
But what are we to do? The media are no help. They are preaching the wrong message. The entertainment productions, moving pictures, television programs, are pushing us down into the gutter. The electronic games we give to children are an absolute abomination of violence. The large corporations that should be pillars of integrity are rotten at the core. The government wrings its hands over the vulgarity of the pornographic material available to children and young people but can do nothing about it because of our worship of the "rights of people" and the "freedom of the press."
Because of the bloating of the concept of the separation of church and state, the Bible is being removed as a moral standard, leaving us with no moral standard. Everyone does what is right is his own eyes, to use a Bible expression.
The God-fearing people of America see this, and protest as much as they dare. But the ungodly are in the saddle.
The feeble effort to teach "intelligent design" as an alternative to the foolish hypothesis of random grouping of atoms and molecules into such incredibly complex organizations as the male and female reproductive systems, is discredited as not being scientific. This is nonsense. What is science if it not logical conclusions drawn from observable phenomena. We look at the various aspects of human beings and their environment and conclude that these are not the product of intelligent design?
We have become fools, while strutting about as though we understood what we are claiming. The truth is, the native in the bush understands in a minute more about life and the forces that govern us than the most accomplished of our puffed up academicians.
There is no answer for the mess we are in except the power of the Spirit of God. We must have an unprecedented outpouring of Pentecostal power. Righteousness always is a question of power. No array of education, philosophy, money, or political activism will deter the fallen cherub from his efforts to debase the image of God in mankind.
Will you, dear reader, join with us as we of Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway, California, pray ceaselessly for God to pour out His Spirit on us until we have a revival of repentance in our blessed nation?
Gifts and Ministries
At this time in our church (Mount Zion in Poway, California) we have two main burdens of prayer. The first is for an outpouring of God’s Spirit that will cause many of us to repent. The second is for each member of our assembly to seek and find his or her ministry and gifts of the Spirit.
We are not unmindful of the tragedy in Indonesia. We are not unmindful of the manner in which unrighteousness is filling our nation and the rest of the world. We are not unmindful of the need of so many people to come to know Christ as their Savior and Lord.
But we know these immense problems are not going to be solved by political schemes, by an outpouring of money, by war, by teaching, or by any other human effort. While all of these may play a part, the only true and lasting solution is for God to bring us to repentance by an outpouring of His Spirit.
We need a Pentecostal outpouring that will shake our nation, and we are praying for it. We intend to pray until we receive such an outpouring. Many believers know about what God has done in time past, particularly at Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The same God is ready to pour out His Spirit if we will pray and obey the Lord.
We are praying also for each one of us to find and operate whatever ministry the Holy Spirit has for him or her. It is only through the ministries and gifts of the Spirit that Christ can be formed in His people.
A while back the Lord told me that He is angry because of the unrighteousness being practiced in the world. Of course we realize that unrighteousness is being practiced in the world. But I had the sense that God was saying the unrighteousness is becoming worse and He is going to have to act.
For this reason I believe we who are Christians regardless of our particular persuasion need to call upon the Lord until He stops the slide downward into moral filth, into the unclean behaviors that are destroying the bodies and minds of people, particularly the children—many of whom are being sold into prostitution.
We in America are particularly guilty because of the lust and violence that pour forth from Hollywood California and pollute people around the globe. Their blood is going to be on our hands unless we Christians pray and turn from our wicked ways. Perhaps if we do, God will put a stop to the depravity that is issuing from our country.
The Body of Christ
As we stated on the previous Sunday, we are going to have to change our perception of what constitutes a church. Instead of a platform ministry and a congregation to which it ministers, the entire assembly of believers is to be invested with gifts and a ministry.
The concept of a "local body" is not scriptural, I believe. Too much stress on the local body tends to promote a self-contained kingdom. Rather all true disciples of the Lord are part of the one universal body.
When a believer receives a ministry from the Lord, that ministry will operate wherever the believer is—even on occasion in the world. Perhaps the gifts of mercy and encouragement are notable among those gifts that can help meet the needs of the people in the world.
We must revise our thinking about our own life. In America we view ourselves growing up and being educated; being married; working at one or more jobs and supporting our family; retiring; and then dying and going to Heaven.
For the disciple of Jesus, this is an incorrect viewpoint with incorrect goals and priorities. We must seek God until we discover what our role is in the Body of Christ. I mean, every one of us, not just the pastors and elders. Then we are to build our life around our service to Christ. We derive our goals and priorities in terms of our God-given assignment. Otherwise we are lukewarm church members, and we know the end of that!
If we do not turn to God in the present hour and begin to function under the guidance of the Head of the Body, we are going to be of no use to people during the age of physical and moral horrors that even now is on the horizon.
We minister first to ourselves, and then to our fellow members of the Body of Christ. When we are built up in Christ we are a light to the people in the world. Then the entire Body is the Lampstand of God, revealing the Person, will, and ways of God, and His eternal purpose in Christ, to the nations of the earth.
When we view the possible outcomes of the current clashes in the world, considering the hostility of many nations toward the United States, we are faced with the possibility that in the not too distant future we may be defeated by a coalition of Russia, China, North Korea, Syria, and other countries.
Such disaster may come upon us because of widespread abortion, and homosexual practices and other perversions. It may be true of us, as it was of King Josiah, that America already has gone past God’s mercy.
Whether or not such is the case, our response should be as that of Josiah. We should do all in our power to obey God, calling upon Him to send a mighty revival of repentance that will sweep across America. Perhaps if we will be obedient and pray, turning from our sinful ways, God will hear us and delay what appears in the present hour to be inevitable destruction.
Preparing for Revival
If God is to use us in a mighty way, we are going to have to learn not to touch the glory, the girls, or the money. We must never point to ourselves or seek personal aggrandizement. We must be totally pure in the realm of morality. We must not covet material wealth. Any one of these three pitfalls can make our testimony worthless.
We always must look to Jesus Christ to take the initiative. We are to do only what He directs us to do, without exception. No matter how great are the needs around us, in the church and in the world, the Lord Jesus must lead the way.
The Holy Spirit gives the gifts and ministries. The Lord Jesus always is to direct their use. It is God the Father who empowers that which Jesus directs.
We are to petition the Lord ceaselessly for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and for ourselves that we may be led into the use of our gifts and ministries.
Our general calling is as a saint, a holy one. Once we are called to be a saint we have no other calling, although we may work diligently at some secular occupation.
Our special calling concerns gifts and ministries. Gifts and ministries are not an interesting appendage we add to our busy church life. Our gifts and ministries define our role in the Body of Christ, the Body of the Christ. We are to look constantly to Christ for the use of our gifts.
Gifts are not given to a local body of believers but to the universal Body of Christ in Heaven and on the earth. They operate everywhere we are. But we have to be walking with Jesus to know where and when to put to work what God has given us.
The Body of Christ cannot come to full maturity apart from the functioning of every part of the Body.
Gifts range from the visible, spectacular working of miracles to the quiet giving of encouragement. None is more highly esteemed than the other in the sight of God. God is interested in our faithfulness, not how visible or dramatic our ministry may be.
We absolutely must assign our gifts, no matter how seemingly insignificant, the highest priority in our thinking and the organizing of our activities. We must covet earnestly what we esteem to be the best gift for us at this time. Prayer will help us with this decision.
The day of the idolized minister is over. We are to be prepared to use our gifts only as the Lord Jesus directs, regardless of any pressure put on us. Then we are to retire into anonymity until the next occasion, as the Lord leads.
All that God has given us in this present life is a talent to be used in the building of the Kingdom of God. If we are industrious with what God has given us, whether a spiritual enablement, or our family, or wealth, or health and strength, God will add to us opportunities for service. But if we are not diligent in the use of what God has given us, do not employ what we have in Christ’s service, seeking with all our heart to build the Kingdom of God, then our talents shall be removed from us and given to another. We shall be placed in spiritual darkness. This can take place even in the present life.
What a marvelous day we live in. It is the time of the harvest rain. Unprecedented works of power shall take place. The worldwide witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God shall be given. The thrones of glory await those who care enough to seek the Lord.
Don’t miss your one chance in all of eternity to justify the Father’s wisdom in directing the Lord Jesus to purchase you with His blood, to pay the awful price that you might have eternal life.
The Importance of the Body of Christ
As far as I know, the concept that the promised Messiah, Christ, consists of a great Head, and then a Body, which is His fullness, was given only to Paul the Apostle. We do not see this idea in the other New Testament writings.
I dare say that to be a member of the Body of Christ is an assignment so utterly important that all else of our life becomes insignificant by contrast.
The Holy Spirit gives various gifts and ministries to the Body. Although these gifts appear to be temporary, limited to the Church Age, it may be true that if we are faithful in using our gifts they may grow into a larger enablement that then defines what we are as a member of the Body. For example, we may use the gift of prophecy, giving ourselves to it, until we become a prophet. Perhaps this office will carry over into the coming Kingdom Age.
In other words, the gifts and ministries of Romans, Chapter Twelve, and First Corinthians, Chapter Twelve, may be much, much more than appendages we add to our business-as-usual discipleship.
The Lord Jesus Christ has been made a priest after the order of Melchizedek. This means Christ is King of righteousness (His scepter is one of righteousness); King of peace (the Prince of Peace); and also the eternal Priest of God.
If this is true of Christ, then it is true of each member of His Body, in that the Head and the Body form one Divine Organism.
I am not indicating that we are as great in rank as is the Lord, nor were we with God from eternity. We did not create all things, as did He. Nevertheless our office is that of a king-priest.
It if my point of view that the 6,000 or so years of the history of the world have been for the purpose of bringing forth God’s king-priests, the brothers of the Lord Jesus. God has purchased the whole field, as it were, the whole drunken, insane debauchery we term the "world," because there is a treasure in the field. The king-priests are that treasure.
There may be a billion professing Christians in the world, including all denominations and persuasions. Within this mass of believers there may be but a few who are worthy to walk with Christ in the white robes of the priesthood.
To attain to the high calling of the king-priests requires every bit of dedication we can bring to the effort. Small is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to the crown of life.
Whoever reads these words can choose to be a king-priest of God after the order of Melchizedek. But you will have to trust in the blood of the Lamb; you will have to follow the Spirit each day as He makes you a testimony of God’s Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose of God in Christ; and you are going to have to love not your life to the point of death.
There will be people in these last days who will attain to this goal. It can be you.
We are different from Melchizedek in that he was not a son of God. We who follow Christ have been born sons of God. Now we are pursuing the priesthood that is empowered by indestructible life.
As I said previously—nothing, absolutely nothing—in this world compares in importance with being a member of the Body of Christ. When we are saved and baptized with the Spirit we have the potential to become one of those who will return with the Lord Jesus and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Whether we develop this potential depends on whether we choose to follow the Apostle Paul in laying aside all else that we may gain Christ.
A Change of Priorities
I have been on the subject of the Body of Christ for several weeks. The concept keeps expanding in my mind.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that the Christ, the Messiah of God, consists of a Head and a Body. This does not mean that the members of the Body are equal to the Head in many instances. We were not with the Father from the beginning and did not create all things. People do not pray to God in our name. No one is baptized in water into our name. Jesus is Lord and the Father has made Him so. This fact is established for eternity.
Having thus safeguarded us from the error of thinking that Jesus is but one member of a many-membered Messiah, or Christ, we can continue to emphasize how utterly important it is that we are members of this illustrious Deliverer who will come down from Heaven and establish justice on the earth.
What is man that You are mindful of him? In the case of God’s elected royal priesthood, man is an indivisible part of the revelation of the invisible God. He is the chariot of God, the eternal temple in which the fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shall dwell forever.
It ever has been God’s plan to have a dwelling place through which He can govern and bless His creatures. To do so from the temple in Heaven has not proven to be satisfying to the Father. He wants to come down among us, and that is the reason for calling out the Church from the ranks of mankind.
How wonderful to be a part of God’s eternal Temple? This concept is to assume first place in our thinking.
When we pray for gifts and ministries of the Holy Spirit we will receive them. Then they are to be guarded and nourished, being given the place of first importance in all that we are and do, twenty-four hours of every day.
What a transition this is from the concept of being a member of a Christian church! We are that, but so much, much more! At all times we are serving the Body of Christ, as well as all people with whom we come in contact, as the very Presence of God.
We all are to be witnesses of the living Christ. We bear witness primarily by what we are. When we are filled with the Spirit, the people around us can sense this. Some will reject Christ. Some will begin to glorify God in us; and in some instances we may be able to lead them to Christ. Or maybe just be a friend, or a counselor. The Spirit always will guide us if we keep looking to Jesus for wisdom.
A prayer: "Lord today—right this minute—cause me to be thinking God’s thoughts; to be speaking God’s words; to be acting as God is acting. By your infinite glory, make me the representation of Your Being, just as our Lord Jesus is."
When Our Prayers Do Not Seem To Be Answered
Many of us have prayed for the desires of our heart. Jesus promised us that we would receive the answer. Yet time—sometimes a long time—goes by and the answer does not come.
How can this be, when we know God has heard us and is bound by His Word to answer. There are at least two reasons.
The first reason is that God may understand that what we are asking will not bring us love, joy, and peace, which are the goal of all of us if we are mentally healthy.
A good example of this is the young man or young woman who falls madly in love with another person.
Then he or she begins to pray fervently: "O Lord, please cause this individual to be attracted to me so we can be married and live happily ever after." But God sees that such a marriage will bring hatred, misery, and anxiety. So He does not answer.
If the petitioner is wise, he or she will keep looking to the Lord and waiting, but not forcing the answer. The unwise person will rush off and do what his flesh is urging, and end up in total misery. "Patience, and the Kingdom of God!"
We simply have to believe that God is good, has all power, and is seeking our welfare. This Eve did not believe, apparently.
The second reason God does not seem to answer our prayer is that He has to prepare us to receive and maintain the answer. There have been times when God has answered a prayer, and the answer has destroyed the one who asked. The prayer was righteous and came from the desire that God had placed in the individual; but he or she could not maintain successfully that which had been given.
Adam and Eve in the garden possessed love, joy, and peace. But they were not prepared sufficiently to maintain that which had been given.
There have been believers who have been given powerful gifts of miracles and healing. Yet they became covetous, or proud, or unwise in their family responsibilities. Thus their gift destroyed them.
Sometimes we have superficial desires which are transitory. If we wait long enough they will weaken and disappear.
On other occasion there are deep desires that God has placed in our heart. When we pray for these to be fulfilled, God hears, because this is what He has in mind for us. Then God sets about to prepare us to profit from the answer.
Satan will tempt us to take a shortcut to the destiny to which we have been called, as he did with the Lord Jesus. Because of this, much patience is required. Like Abraham, we have to keep the birds off the sacrifice.
If we hold out to the end, we shall be saved and we shall receive the full destiny to which we have been called.
Also on yesterday morning’s file on the Audio Page (Joseph probably has it posted already) I went into the need we have to prepare for the future. Satan, the fallen angels, and the demons are going to become increasingly manifest, as they are already in the children’s toys. Then the casual Christian will become terrified and succumb to their seductions, just as so many Christians are watching the pornography on the Internet. If they could see the slobbering ghouls who are prompting them to watch the flesh on the Internet they would drop to their knees in prayer.
And—people believe me!—it is going to get much, much worse. So go to the Lord today so you may be found in Him when the spiritual darkness increases.
We Need More of the Holy Spirit
In our church we are engaged in unified prayer for an outpouring of God’s Spirit on our country. We intend to keep praying until Christ sends the Spirit upon America in an unprecedented manner.
We cannot bear witness effectively apart from the power of the Spirit.
This morning we took a look at the passage in Luke where the Lord told us to pray persistently and boldly for the Spirit. Jesus said if we would ask we would receive; if we would seek we would find; if we would knock it would be opened to us.
I know this is true. I have a witness in my spirit, faith if you will, that God will pour out His Spirit on our nation, although it may be during a time of great trouble.
A friend has come to us in his or her journey. Who is this friend? It is the people of America. They do not know it but they are hungry for the Spirit of God.
We can give them words, but these will not meet their need. Only the power of God’s Spirit will bring back the transvestite, the lesbian, the gay, the girl ready to abort her baby, the man ruining his health on amphetamines, to the days long ago when he or she was a youngster in Sunday school; to the dad and mom who prayed and had high hopes for him or her.
And for those from dysfunctional families, who never had a godly bringing up—the Lord Jesus will draw near and tell them they are precious to Him, that He died that they might have a better life now and a joyful homecoming when they die and enter a better world.
The only answer is God’s Spirit! "You shall receive power!"
If we are to have God’s Spirit to the extent we desire we will have to ask for the Spirit, and then be totally obedient to God in every detail of life. Once we begin to pray for the Spirit, Christ will come to us as individuals and test us to see if there is any wicked way in us. We must cooperate with the Holy Spirit concerning all that we are shown about our personal behavior.
At night we spoke about the fact that the 2000 years of the Church Age may prove to have been primarily for the development of rulers for the ages to come. Perhaps the most important virtue of a future ruler is stern obedience to God. In order to develop this stern obedience in us, God must bring us through many tests, some of them quite difficult
Also, we must pray for the strength to forgive everyone who has harmed us. No person can hope to rule with Christ who does not forgive everyone who has harmed him.
The Importance of Doing God’s Will
As we obey Christ and His Apostles, Christ enters us to a fuller extent. The Day Star rises in our heart. Then we know God’s will for us moment by moment. As we follow God obediently, it becomes ever more true of us that God’s will and our will are brought into perfect harmony. To live in such harmony with God’s will is the greatest good we ever will experience; and we are wise if we pray each day that that such harmony will be brought about.
There are three major aspects of redemption. They are the blood of atonement, the Presence of the Holy Spirit in our life, and finally the dwelling in us of the Fullness of God.
The first two, the blood and the Spirit, are means to an end. The blood gives us the authority to enter the Fullness of God. The baptism with the Holy Spirit provides the wisdom and power by which we enter the Fullness of God. The Fullness of God is the supreme goal, the Omega of salvation.
How do we move past Pentecost to the Tabernacles experience, to the fullness of God? The issue is that of our will versus God’s will. After we have been forgiven through the blood atonement, we still can behave according to our own will. After we have been filled with the Spirit, have spoken in tongues, perhaps have exercised other gifts of the Spirit, we still can behave according to our own will.
But the Kingdom of God is the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. God is seeking an eternal temple, a place of rest for Himself. God cannot rest while we still are behaving according to our own will.
Therefore we are to pray that God might move us into this final experience. As we do, we begin to be challenged in many different ways. The common aspect of our challenges is the issue of God’s will versus our will. Are we going to resist the Spirit, following our own ideas, blaming people and circumstances for our pain, yielding to the lusts of our flesh, or are we going to pray "not my will but Yours be done" in each and every test?
You probably are being stretched today, for it is God’s will in our day to find as many believers as He can who will devote themselves to the moment by moment doing of the will of Christ.
There will be four great institutions of evil in the last days: the Antichrist government; Babylon; the false prophet; and the church of Laodicea. Each of these institutions will be guided and driven by the human mind.
The Antichrist government is civil government that ignores God and proceeds according to the wisdom and strength of man.
Babylon is religion, including Christianity, that is organized and guided by the wisdom and strength of man.
Laodicea is the lampstand of God that is keeping Christ outside the door, as we see today in the numerous programs and seminars that ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit.
The false prophet is the attempt of religious people to exercise power by various metaphysical means, such as imaging, speaking creative words, and employing faith in faith instead of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the last days we will have the mark of Antichrist in our head and hand, or the name of the Lamb and His Father written on our forehead. To have the mark of Antichrist means we are living according our own will. To have the name of the Lamb and His Father written on our forehead means we are living according to God’s will.
Make your decision today whose name you desire to be written on you, for the age of moral and physical horrors is fast approaching.
Christ In You
There is both an outer Kingdom and an inner Kingdom of God, of Heaven. The outer Kingdom will come down from Heaven. It is the visible rule of God in Christ in the saints. However, it is the inner Kingdom that is of supreme importance and is the issue today.
The inner Kingdom is the subject of Jesus’ parables. The inner Kingdom is a Seed, a Seed that comes from God. The Seed is of the Divine Nature. The Divine Seed contains in itself all that is of God, just as the seed of a flower or a tree contains within itself all that is of the organism from which it came.
We cannot see or enter the Kingdom of God until we have been born again. First we are born of water, of a woman. Then we are born of the Spirit of God. It is the new birth that itself is the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom from Heaven. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
Once that Seed from God is planted in us and begins to grow, our entire life must be oriented toward insuring that we do not let anything else in our personality and behavior crowd out that seed. It is possible to have the Seed germinate, and then wither and die, as we see in the parable of the sower.
Today the Lord is seeking for those who are willing to become of first rank in the Kingdom of God. They reap the growth of the Seed (Christ) to a hundredfold extent. If I am hearing from the Lord correctly, it is right now that the Spirit of God is moving through the entire Body of Christ, on earth, and in the spirit world as well, to determine who will yield himself completely to the Lord so that Christ may become All in all in him.
Day by day Christ is crucifying what we are in order that His Life may be formed in us. Will we patiently cooperate with the Spirit of God so that we reap the fullness for which we have been ordained? Some will, and you can be among them if this is what you desire above all else.
Those who, because of their willingness to submit to pruning and thus to bear abundantly the fruit of the image of Christ in their personality will, as a result, turn many to righteousness. These lights of God will shine, in the Day of Resurrection, like the stars. The stars give forth light and heat because of the inconceivable energy developed by the nuclear implosions within them.
So it is that those who care to fight through to total victory in the Lord Jesus Christ will wake in that Day to find the fullness of Divine energy serving as the source of their life. These are the sons of God, the brothers of our Lord, and they shall govern God’s creatures for the ages of eternal ages.
This is the Glory of Christ who is being formed in us in the present hour.
At night the emphasis was on faith, from the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. The point was made that the faith by which the righteous live is the abandonment of our life to Christ, holding back nothing. Complete abandonment is necessary if we are to reap Christ a hundredfold. This is available on audio tape.
The division in the new covenant is not between faith and works. The righteous have lived by faith from the time of Abel. Rather, the division is between the works of the Law of Moses, and the grace of God. Grace is defined as our means of obtaining righteousness apart from the Law, as we are forgiven through the blood atonement and transformed morally by the Presence of God in Christ.
Today’s sermon addressed the idea of the righteous living by faith. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is one long definition of what it means to live by faith.
It is interesting that the Holy Spirit teaches us faith from the lives of the patriarchs. We mistakenly believe the new covenant is distinguished from the old by its emphasis on faith. This is not the case. No one under any covenant has pleased God other than by faith. The new covenant is distinguished from the Mosaic covenant by issuing righteousness to us by means of the blood atonement and life lived in the Spirit of God, rather than by obedience to the laws given by Moses.
The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through the Lord Jesus Christ. The distinction is between the Law and grace, not between the Law and faith.
As we seek to understand from the eleventh chapter of Hebrews what is means to live by faith, the first item we come to is hope. Faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for.
Hope is ranked along with faith and love as being among the highest values in the Kingdom of God. Why is this? It is because the opposite of hope is despair. Indeed there are occasions when we despair even of life. But then we reach up and take hold upon God’s Character and realize that such experiences are for the purpose of teaching us to trust in Him who raises the dead. Thus our hope is renewed. Faith actually is our grasp on God’s unchanging Character.
God is not pleased with pessimism or self-pity. Neither of these reveals that we believe God knows about the details of our life; has the power to bring us to joy; and is bringing us to joy.
Certainly the Father chastens every son whom He receives. Assuredly He wounds us and then heals us. He brings us down to the Valley of Achor; but the place of judgment becomes a door of hope for us if we do not turn away from the Lord.
I have noticed that today many believers are being brought down to the Valley of Decision. I believe a period of great glory is approaching. God is looking to see who really loves and trusts Him. Like Jacob, once our integrity has been established beyond doubt, we will receive a name that is our name in place of the arbitrary name given us by our father and mother.
Who are you anyway? Who am I? Do we actually know? Perhaps we are well established in Bethel, the house of God. But it may be time for us to come face to face with El-Bethel, the God of the house of God. In that Day we will say with Job: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." It at this point we learn our true name.
Much pruning is going on now as God prepares us for a revival of repentance in the United States. Are you being pruned now? What a blessing! Gather up the strange ashes—all that is left of your hopes and dreams. Hold them up before God and say, "You yet shall give me the desires of my heart. Therefore I will continue to trust and obey you, knowing that my end shall be glorious."
Never, never, never give up. The best is yet to come. You yet shall have the desires of your heart if you do not turn away from the Lord and yield to hopelessness. This is how the righteous live.
At night we continued in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Faith includes offering our sacrifice to God with a loving heart, unlike Cain who hated and was jealous of his brother.
By faith we walk humbly with God at all times, as did Enoch.
Noah portrays to us the believer who prepares himself for years as he awaits the fulfillment of the vision the Lord gave him. So we must labor for years as we await the vision God has given us. This is how the righteous live.
It is of note that Noah’s sons did not belong to a "youth group." If they did they would not have worked alongside their father. In order to gain favor with their peers they would have scorned their father as being a crazy old man
Recent experiences are suggesting to me that we should not be dividing our families by age groups. When Satan can manage to split off the youth from their parents, such that the youth are gaining their values from their friends rather than from their family, he readily is able to lead them astray.
There are youth leaders today who seduce their charges away from their parents by entertaining them with fun and games. Each pastor needs to watch out for this and put a stop to it. It is destructive.
It is my conviction that the Lord Jesus want to turn the hearts of the young people to their parents and the parents to their children. If we continue to foster "youth groups" we are going to bring the curse of God upon us.
See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse. (Malachi 4:5,6)
I think the prophets are warning us today to withdraw from the teaching of the American culture that would create generation gaps. Let us look to Shem, Ham, and Japheth as our models as they worked side by side with their dad for so many years as he obeyed God. It is time for the family unit to be emphasized.
The Lord Jesus told us that everyone who is in the graves shall hear His voice and come forth, the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to condemnation.
Our bodily resurrection is important for two reasons: first, what we receive at that time will determine what our true name, our true character is and our destiny for eternity; second, we will be able to live once again on the earth. Paradise on the earth shall be regained. The Lord Jesus is redeeming for us all that we lost at the beginning.
The influence of Gnosticism has influenced Christian thinking to the extent we do not look forward to bodily resurrection but to life in a mansion in Heaven. Eternal life in a mansion in Heaven is not the inheritance of God’s people. Our inheritance is physical life once again on the earth, although in a superior body.
We cannot be "raptured" (caught up to meet the Lord as He comes to install His Kingdom on the earth) until we first have been resurrected. It is the resurrection that is the victory over the last enemy, physical death. Right now, by the decisions we are making, we are deciding the kind of resurrection we will have, whether to contempt and corruption, or else to eternal life and glory. It may be true that there is no truth more needed to be restored to us.
We must remember there are two resurrections, both set forth in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation. There is the first resurrection, the bodily resurrection of the members of the royal priesthood. No books are opened at this resurrection for the people thus raised have passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ prior to their restoration to life on the earth.
After a thousand years (literally or figuratively) have occurred, the remainder of the people on the earth will be raised. Each individual will be judged according to his or her works. Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Those whose names are found written in the Book of Life, when the sheep are separated from the goats, will enter life in the new heaven and earth reign of God and the Lamb. These "sheep" are the inheritance of the Lord and His priesthood.
The Apostle Paul, in the Book of Philippians, listed the requirements for participation in the first resurrection. We must set aside all else, counting it rubbish, that we may gain Christ. In this manner we attain to the resurrection (Greek: resurrection out from) the dead (Philippians 3:11). Those who attain to this early resurrection, which shall take place at the next coming of the Lord, are His priests, His mighty men, His soldiers who will work with Him in the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The United States Marine Corps has need of a few good men, they say. The Lord Jesus Christ has need of a few stalwart believers who will press forward until they stand with the Lord on Mount Zion. These compose Gideon’s army, and they shall destroy the enemy so that all Israel may be saved.
Abiding in the Vine
There are many religions in the world, aren’t there? Religion kind of runs parallel to salvation. Sometimes religion assists our salvation, sometimes it hinders it. But we must never permit religion to interfere with our walk with God or our knowledge of God.
Jesus Christ is the only true Vine. He is vastly more than a religion. He is the Tree of Life from God. There are many religions, as I have stated; but there is only one Tree of Life.
Whatever our religion may be, the one essential action we must take is to abide in the one true Vine, in Christ. How do we do that? We do that by entering the eternal dialogue. The eternal dialogue operates as we continually look to the living Lord Jesus all through the day and night.
Our life, as you think about it, is a series of problems and decisions. From the time we get up in the morning until we lie down at night, we are faced with problems and decisions of various kinds. These problems and decisions vary according to our culture.
In the wealthy Western nations we decide what to eat and how much to eat. What clothes to wear. Then we arrive at work and are faced with the problems of our vocation. The people of the poorer countries encounter the various problems of survival.
We can face each problem and make each decision according to our experience, wisdom, and strength. Or we can keep on looking to Jesus for wisdom and strength.
We are late for work. We jump in the car and the battery is dead. Our teenage son left the lights on. What do we do now?
We can rave and swear, rush in the house and berate our son. Our we can stop for a moment, look up to Jesus, and ask for His wisdom, His solution.
Just then a friend stops by. "Dan, remember we were going to car pool today. Hop in."
Every time we yield to our adamic nature we remain dead spiritually. Every time we subdue the adamic impulse and look to Jesus we abide in Christ. Pretty soon our entire day is filled with prayer for help concerning the things that go wrong, and thanksgiving for the things that go right.
When we thus remain in Christ, we begin to bear fruit. The fruit we bear is the Life and Character of the Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit we bear is for the people of the world. When they come to us and receive what we are, do, and say, they receive God's life. "The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’"
We have been called to be saints so we can bring God’s Life, His love, joy, and peace, to the people of the nations of the earth. It is God’s will that Israel blossom, bud, and bear fruit; that righteousness and praise spring forth before earth’s multitudes.
There are two factors that work to determine your rank in God’s Kingdom. One factor is the Divine election directed toward you. The other is your willingness to be pruned.
As you are willing for the Divine Farmer to cut away parts of your personality and accomplishments, you will bear fruit, more fruit, and then much fruit. To grow up to the rank of much fruit means you will shine as a star in the firmament of God. Your righteousness and wisdom that have come to you from Christ will result in the winning of many souls, a splendid banquet for the Lord’s table.
Two Kinds of Love
The burden yesterday was on John, Chapter 15, verses 9-17. How often did the Lord Jesus tell us to love one another?
There are two kinds of love, there is the love we feel, and then there is the behavior of love that operates whether or not we feel loving.
There is romantic love, which usually is nothing more than a somewhat disguised sexual attraction. It is highly prized in America. It actually is a device of nature to insure the growth of the population. It consists of how you make me feel and how I make you feel. Since romantic love may not last longer than six months after the wedding, it is not a good basis for marriage.
There is the love of parents for their children. There is the camaraderie that used to exist between friends in the armed services; but now such friendship often turns into lust and perversion.
There are many additional kinds of emotional love, such as the love of a teacher for her students.
Then there is behavioral love. Behavioral love consists of what we say and do. We are to act kindly and constructively toward others whether or not we like them or love them.
When Jesus commands us to love one another He is not referring to emotional love. We cannot produce emotional love upon demand. Christ is referring to behavioral love, because this is the kind of love we can produce upon demand, although sometimes we have to pray diligently and patiently before we overcome our hatred toward another person.
We must never yield to hatred, bitterness, or unforgiveness. To do so is to injure ourselves spiritually. We pray until we can give our enemy a cup of cold water. To do so may cause us to die inside, but it is this kind of death that produces resurrection life in us.
We love our enemy by assisting him or her when we have an occasion to do so. But we do not have to have a good feeling toward him when we do so. Christ told us to continue in His love. His love is sacrificial.
I don’t believe Christ left the ivory palaces because He felt emotional love for us. Perhaps He did. But the Bible says He came to die for our sins. He laid down His life for us, just as we must lay down our life on occasion for another individual. But I do not believe He enjoyed doing so. After all, He wanted the cup to pass. He drank it in obedience to the Father. We also must obey Christ whether or not we feel like it.
The husband is the priest of the home. He must sacrifice himself for his wife and children, as the Lord leads him. If he expects his wife to make him happy, constantly giving in to his desires, he is a self-centered baby. He never will have a happy home unless his wife is an unusually mature saint.
This passage in John reminds us that if we would be the friend of Christ we must obey His commandments given Personally and through His Apostles. The current teaching of lawless grace and unconditional love is Satan’s device to keep the believers in sin. If we do not keep His commandments and those of His Apostles we do not love Him.
We will not remain in Christ’s love if we do not keep His commands. This is what Christ said, although current Christian teaching is to the contrary.
Christ chose us; we did not choose Him. We speak of people "accepting Christ." This expression is not found in the Scriptures. Why do we preach what is not scriptural?
The truth is, Christ accepts us. He choose us. Then we have to confirm the wisdom of His choice by keeping His commands and those of His Apostles. This is the fruit we are to bear. When we do not keep His commands, showing His love toward those we love and those we detest, we are cut off from the Vine, from Christ.
Then there are the Alexander the Coppersmiths. We turn these over to the Lord, as He directs.
Let each one of us continue in Christ’s sacrificial love. As we do so we will remain in His love, and whatever we request of the Father in His name we shall receive.
Pastor Stan spoke at night about his three major prayer requests: that God would come to Him in a greater way; that the Father would charge Michael to throw Satan out of Heaven; and that the Lord would hasten His coming.
The burden today had to do with Romans 8:1: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
This verse was written to Jews who were troubled over the idea of leaving the Torah and placing their faith in Christ. Paul was telling them that they could look to Jesus and still be counted righteous, without condemnation, even though they were not adhering to the statutes of the Law of Moses.
We Gentile do not understand this background. We have fastened on the idea of making a profession of faith in Christ, and thus receiving a permanent freedom from condemnation whether or not we behave righteously.
We interpret the verse as follows: "There is now no condemnation for those who take the four steps of salvation." This is not what Paul said. Paul taught, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Is there any difference between taking the four steps of salvation and being in Jesus?
Yes, there often is a world of difference between the two.
The first is a doctrinal position, often accompanied by an affirmation of faith in Christ.
The second is a way of life. Being in Christ Jesus means exactly that—living in Christ.
There are millions of people in the United State who have taken the four steps of salvation, who have professed faith in Christ as their Savior and Lord, but who are not living "in Christ."
To be in Christ means we are not obeying the sinful impulses of our flesh and spirit. We are looking to the Holy Spirit for all things. The Holy Spirit becomes our law—the Law of the Spirit of Life.
Numerous believers today are oppressed with various bondages. Some are alcoholics. Some are addicted to narcotics. Some are bound with gossip, lying, stealing, arrogance, unbelief, unforgiveness, bitterness. They know these are sinful practices. One response is to try to overcome and then fail to gain victory. Another is to claim we are saved by grace so it does not matter how we behave.
Neither response is the salvation Jesus Christ came to bring to us. Christ came to destroy the power of Satan in you and me. It is up to us to press into Christ until we gain full release from the power of darkness.
Our nation is dropping into a moral cesspool because the good works of Christ are not always being revealed in the Christian churches. Isn’t that the truth?
We can and we must be delivered from the works of the sinful nature if we expect to remain without condemnation. We are without condemnation as long as we are abiding in Christ. We abide in Christ by praying every day, reading our Bible, gathering with fervent saints, looking to the Lord for help in making the decisions we are faced with each day.
Listen: "In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." Can you hear what Paul is telling us? He is saying that the righteous requirements of the Ten Commandments are fully met in us if we do not yield to our sinful nature but follow the Holy Spirit at all times.
Is it possible to follow the Holy Spirit at all times? Absolutely. We just have to make up our mind that this is how we want to conduct our life.
We are in need of revival in America. We have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. The handwriting is on the wall. The Spirit of God is calling for a revival of repentance. We shall have such a revival, but it will be in the midst of trouble.
The wise individual will set his house in order to the best of his ability. Ask Jesus to help you. The darkness is coming, and only those who are living "in Christ" are going to be able to save themselves, their families, and those friends who will listen to them.
You can be a deliverer throughout the age of moral and physical horrors that is approaching, but you will have to be abiding in Christ at all times.
You can do it if you really want to!
Hearing From God
Dr. Dianne McIntosh spoke at both services today. She emphasized that we need to hear what God is saying.
She brought out the point that Christ continually is making intercession for us. We need to ask the Lord what His prayer is for us; what His prayer is for other people. When we pray for ourselves and others as Christ is praying, our prayer always is answered.
As she always does, Dianne emphasized repentance. The Lord Jesus said we are to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. It is vain for us to go to church and pretend we are living a righteous life, when this is not the truth. When we find we are doing this we need to repent and confess to the Lord that we are not being sincere.
Dr. Dianne feels as many of us do, that she no longer wishes to "play church." We want to hear from the Lord. We want to know what Christ is saying, not what we think He might be saying as we play our little church games.
There is no question in my mind but that the Lord Jesus wants to do a deeper work within us, and within many other congregations as well. We need to permit Him to speak to us so all that is not sincere in our life will be renounced as we draw closer to Him.
She told how in her own family that if they fought on the way to church, and then pretended while in church everything was lovely, they then would have their own prayer meeting on the way home from church as each family member repented of his or her behavior.
It certainly is time to make straight the way of the Lord!
Dianne remarked, concerning the woman at the well, that she had had five husbands and now was living with a new man. Dianne remarked that sometimes we or our children have to live in the pigsty for a while before we are ready to drink of the water of eternal life; and for this reason we should not despair concerning a wayward young person.
What a wonderful time we are living in as the Lord Jesus Christ comes to us and shows us our need of Him, and how we should be conducting our life. Without doubt the coming of Christ in His Kingdom is near at hand, and He is preparing us to work with Him as He establishes justice upon the earth.
At night Dianne elaborated on training people to hear the Lord. She pointed out that we sometimes hear Christ in our inner man, but when the message reaches our brain we may misunderstand what God is saying because we have "itchy ears." By this she meant we select what we want to hear and screen out the rest.
She brought out several passages of Scripture that speak of our having ears to hear. She emphasized that God’s sheep hear His voice but the lambs do not. Therefore we have to teach our children how to listen to the Lord.
Well, if making our eternal residence in the spirit Paradise is not the reason be get saved, is not the reason we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then exactly what is the goal of the new covenant?
The goal of the new covenant is to move us from the sinful bondages of the adamic nature to the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit.
But aren’t eternal life and Heaven basically the same thing? No indeed they are not! The Heaven where God, Christ, and the saints live is a place in the spirit world. Heaven is an actual place where the saints go when they die.
Eternal life is not a place. Eternal life is a form of life, just as is true of flesh and blood life. One can be in Heaven and have eternal life or not have eternal life. For example, Satan never had eternal life, so far as we know. Yet he was one of the cherubim that guarded the very Throne of God. The angels are in Heaven and they do not have eternal life.
How do we know that angels do not have eternal life? Because eternal life is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it is not given to angels to possess Christ.
Adam and Eve were not created with eternal life, only the life of flesh and blood. In order to have possessed eternal life they would have had to eat of the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only Tree of Life; although if we lay hold on eternal life as we should, faithfully following the Holy Spirit, the day shall come when we also are trees of life, life-giving spirits.
Into the midst of dead mankind strides the Tree of Life. Mankind is dead because the only life the people have is the corruptible life of flesh and blood. Their bodies burn cells in the presence of oxygen, and from this burning they derive warmth and energy.
"Eat My flesh and drink My blood," invites the Son of God. "These are true food and true drink. Those who learn to live by My body and blood shall live by Me as I live by My Father, and I shall raise them in the last day."
Flesh and blood cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God. We enter the Kingdom of God as we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lord Jesus. There is no other source of Divine Life.
I say all this to emphasize that our whole purpose in existence is to pursue the Life of God that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from Christ we remain dead. True we are thinking, speaking, and acting. But such behavior proceeds from our human mind, which is hostile toward God and therefore prone to grievous bondages.
If we are wise we will pursue the Life of Christ every moment of every day and night of our time on the earth. The gate is small, and the way is difficult that leads to life; and few Christians find it, it appears.
The Apostle Paul had set as His goal to attain to the resurrection. This means he was laying aside all other ambitions to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings.
To know and live in the power of Christ’s resurrection—this must become our goal.
What is resurrection? Resurrection is a Person. Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life.
This means that when we have Christ we have the resurrection from the dead.
This does not mean that our flesh and bone will not be raised at the return of the Lord from Heaven. They indeed shall be. How wonderful it will be to be clothed upon with a body fashioned from Divine, incorruptible, all-powerful life! What love, joy, and peace will be ours then.
But that resurrection shall take place at the blowing of the seventh trumpet.
As marvelous as the resurrection at the coming of Christ will be, the important resurrection is that which takes place every time we deny the cravings of the adamic nature, choosing instead to submit each aspect of our thinking, speaking, and acting to the Lord Jesus.
Paul testified that he was crucified with Christ. Nevertheless he lives. But it is not Paul who lives but Christ who lives in Paul. This means that Paul’s thinking, speaking, and acting are proceeding from Christ, who is the Resurrection, living in him. This is what it means to attain to the resurrection from the dead. The bodily resurrection, which shall take place at the last trumpet, will prove to be a demonstration of that which already has been completed in the saint.
The problem with the current "ticket" doctrine (accept Christ and when you die you will go to Heaven) is that it misses the program of redemption. While we are waiting to die and then present our ticket to Saint Peter at the gate, our opportunity to pass from spiritual death to spiritual life shall have passed us by.
We may desire to live in Paradise. God desires that we first become filled with eternal life so we practice iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to Himself. We shall enter Paradise as soon as the life and laws of Paradise have been created in us.
The burden of yesterday had to do with the fiery trials that are coming and yet shall come upon God’s people—especially those who are close to Him. The text used was the first thirteen verses of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
We are enjoying life, having only our ordinary amount of confusions and frustrations. Suddenly we find ourselves being oppressed by various forms of suffering. There may be health problems, cancer, domestic discord, financial problems. "Where is God?" we wonder.
We may have been taught that Christians are not to suffer. "Christ suffered so we do not have to experience pain." "Christ became poor so we may be rich." "Christ was despised and rejected so we may be successful in this world." These are the deceitful messages that prevail in our day.
If we are to survive spiritually we must look to see if the doctrines we are being taught are leading us to righteous conduct. If they do not, they are of the enemy. They are of the deception that Christ told us would abound in the last days.
Then too we must avoid fretting about the evil in America. Certainly there are abominations being performed in America, and there are periodicals that tell us how awful everything is. But the Bible commands us not to fret. If there is something we can do to bring about righteousness and justice we should do it, as the Lord leads. Otherwise we are to pray that God will correct the problem area, and then look up to Christ with rejoicing; for it is certain His glory fills the earth.
Sometimes we pray for people to be delivered from problems when God has sent these problems to bring the individual closer to Himself. We need to ask how Christ wants us to pray—what He is praying for, as Dr. Dianne McIntosh suggests. You know, no one could have prayed for Job to be healed until God was through dealing with him. Isn’t that so?
According to the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter, suffering saves us by removing sin from us. God is judging the living and the dead. When He judges us He shows His anger toward the sin and rebellion in us. If we submit ourselves to God as to a faithful Creator, the day shall arrive when we stand before Him in the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Jesus told Peter that Satan was going to sift him. Why? Because the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom.
Jesus did not tell Peter He was going to rebuke Satan so Peter would not be sifted. Rather Christ prayed that Peter’s faith would be strengthened so he would glorify God by standing firm.
How is it with you, friend? Have you suddenly found yourself in a dark pit where you have to look up to see the bottom? You used to arise full of joy and enthusiasm, ready to serve the Lord in the new day. Now the moment you awake you remember you are awaiting the results of the biopsy. You remember that your son is in jail for killing someone in a hit and run accident while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You dread the fact that your job is going to be terminated. Perhaps you are being sued, having been accused of negligence. Your daughter has left home and is living on the street as a prostitute—she who once was a beautiful little blond-headed darling with her blue ribbon and her teddy bear.
These kinds of things surely can’t happen to Christian families who attend church regularly? Yes, they can and they do. Everyone suffers in this world. It is the valley of the shadow of death. If you have not found this to be true, you shall in the future.
Remember one thing: if you are not an evil doer, your suffering is for the purpose of bringing you closer to God. Pray that your faith does not fail. Every son God receives He punishes with a view to correction. Your end will be peace, and a knowledge of the Lord you did not have previously. Consider the end of Job.
It appears that many Christians are experiencing fiery trials in the present hour. These trials are to prepare us for what is ahead in America.
A behavior is righteous when God deems it righteous. Our behavior and attitude are holy when God regards them as holy. It is the inability to flow with the flowing of the Godhead, in the matter of righteousness and holiness, that is the death that lies at the heart of religion and causes us always to err in our heart. Only the life of Christ is the light that gives us true understanding of righteousness and holiness. Religion usually operates in terms of mental understanding, not in terms of the Life of Christ, and therefore does not produce true righteousness and holiness.
I taught on the topic of holiness today. I usually speak very little about movies, cigarette smoking, being tattooed, body piercing, drugs, and alcohol. My main topic is the forming of Christ in us, and the need to move past lawless grace to the development of the new creation of righteous behavior.
Truly our doctrines of today need to be reexamined. But once in a while I discuss some details of Christian living that we need to consider.
One lady said the sermon was just for her. She had been thinking about the practice of tattooing permanent eye shadow on her face, and also drinking wine. She has been asking the Lord for a clear word on these two topics. She said I was clear in the morning sermon.
God is holy, free from unclean spirits. His children must be holy if they expect to see Him. We must come out from that which is unclean and purify ourselves from all uncleanness of flesh and spirit. Otherwise the Lord will not be with us; we will not be His children; He will not live in us and walk in us. This is what the Bible says.
Why must we be holy? It is because we have been called to be saints; called to he "holy ones." The Holy Spirit, whom all true Christians have, is a priestly anointing. By means of this anointing we are able to live a holy life and to bear a true testimony of God, His Person, His ways, His will, and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ.
Apart from the Holy Spirit we can do neither of these two things.
The term "church" has nothing to do with a building. the word means "called out from." Every true Christian, and Christians are but a small part of earth’s population, has been called out from mankind in order to be a moral light to the rest of the world. God does not want to destroy mankind, so He has predestined some people to be holy, that is, closer to Himself than most people. The purpose of the holy people is to show forth in their behavior the moral Character of God. Thus our preaching of lawless grace is destructive of God’s plan in Christ.
A few hundred years the doctrine of John Calvin led many individuals to believe that some people were predestined to be saved; that it did not matter too much how we behaved. If we were predestined to be saved we would go to Heaven. If not, we were doomed to eternal punishment.
Now the pendulum has swung the other way. Christianity has become kind of a democracy in which no predestination is involved. "Whosoever will," a true biblical concept, has been enlarged until the idea of saints being chosen from the beginning of the world, which also is a biblical concept, is scarcely understood in many quarters.
If you are a genuine Christian, it is not because you chose Christ but because Christ chose you. You no longer are just another person. You have been called to be a priest of God. You are not to live like everyone else. You have been called to be holy. This means you must learn to look to Jesus Christ for every thought, every word—everything you do. You no longer are of the world, you are of Christ.
We Christians have an obligation to the remainder of mankind. We are to let the light of good works shine until people see them and glorify God. Letting our light shine is important in the day in which we are living, and shall be in the future. Divine judgment is approaching the United States of America because of our sinful ways. We have a brief space now in which to repent. If we do repent, turning from our wicked ways, we shall save ourselves and those who follow us. We shall be able to stand during the coming age of moral and physical horrors.
We Christians use the term "faith" a great deal. Sometimes what we think is faith is not faith at all but our own effort to believe, or some kind of emotional experience.
Genuine faith is of Christ and comes down from Heaven. It cannot be worked up by human effort. It is of Divine substance.
When their boat was tossed about by the storm, Christ being asleep on a pillow, the disciples were terrified. They had faith in the storm, not in Christ. It was easier for Christ to calm the storm than to calm His disciples. Such always is the case!
How many times we place our faith in money, or our own abilities, instead of in Christ. Often we do not look to the Lord until we have tried everything else—and perhaps not even then.
We should not place our faith in anything or any person except the Lord. It may require years before we are able to look to the Lord for all that concerns us.
At night Dianne spoke on trust. She emphasized that we need to start teaching our children at an early age to trust the Lord.
For example, we might promise a child something and then forget to fulfill our promise. When the child reminds us of our promise, we can say, "Mommy (or Daddy) often make mistakes and forget. But the Lord Jesus never forgets what He has promised. In this manner the child learns we are not perfect but Christ is. We are teaching him or her to depend on the Lord.
Dianne is a great believer in repenting when we have hurt someone, even a child. She believes in discipline, but also openness in the family so that when a family member does something hurtful, he or she will repent to the injured individual. There is nothing wrong with telling a child we made a mistake!
I enjoyed particularly what Dianne said about submission. Submission has been discussed a good deal, the idea being that the wife must obey her husband at all times.
I have been a pastor long enough to know that sometimes women refuse to submit to their husbands, and the result is a disorderly household that leads finally to deception.
On the other hand, I have seen instances where the husband was commanding his wife to do things that were not God’s will, and attempting to beat her down verbally until she yielded. This obviously is an abomination.
The true relationship between a husband and wife exists when the husband loves his wife through Christ and the wife obeys her husband through Christ. When any relationship we have does not operate through Christ it will prove to be faulty and trouble may result.
She added a side note about those who work with children or young people encouraging the young person to look on the worker as their parent rather than to their true parents. Apparently this is becoming common in our day. Dianne regards this usurping of the role of the parent as being a perversion.
Those who work with youth must keep in mind that their job is to reconcile the youth to their parents rather than seeking to draw the affection to themselves. This is easy for a youth leader to do; because sometimes parents are harsh, and the youth leader can put himself or herself forth as someone who really cares for the child and wants the child to have fun and not be frustrated in any manner.
Since the last words of the Old Testament warn the fathers to turn their hearts to their children, and the children to their fathers, the youth worker (or other leader) who entices the child or young person in order to supplant the true parent is under a curse.
The word for today was taken from the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Since these believers were so advanced, it is a marvel that there are so many rebukes found in this epistle. Apparently they were in danger of neglecting their salvation.
Since they possessed all the experiences we associate commonly with being a saved, Spirit-filled Christian, of what were they coming short?
The writer warns us about coming short of the rest of God. What precisely is the rest of God?
The rest of God is that state in which we have overcome the enemies that press us into trusting in the world system; into obeying the passions of our flesh; and into exercising our personal ambitions instead of God’s will. As long as there is a door in us in which one of God’s enemies and ours can enter, we cannot find rest. Also, God cannot find rest in us.
The truth is, the Christian salvation is a reaction against the ancient rebellion in the heavens. Since that rebellion, the Lord God of Heaven has been seeking a house, a dwelling place in which He can find rest. This is why He created man—to be His resting place.
Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal house of God. But there are to be many rooms in the house of God. We are being fashioned as living stones in that house.
If we will withdraw for a season from our pursuit of money and pleasures (I am speaking now to American believers) we will discover that the Spirit of God is ready to help us press into perfect rest in God. If we will walk carefully before the Lord He will begin to bring to our attention the forces in our personality that seek continually to prevent God finding rest in us and us finding rest in God.
As we become aware of worldliness, or lust, or personal ambition, we are to confess this compulsion to the Lord and ask Him in Jesus’ name to remove it from us totally. We are to give no place to the enemy, not making the mistake made by ancient Israel who neglected to drive out all the inhabitants of their land, their rest.
Do not permit Satan or people to persuade you that perfect victory is not available through our Lord Jesus Christ. It is available. We can walk in complete victory each day if we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
It never, never, never is the Lord’s will that we continue in known sin. There always is the power through Christ to deliver us from the chains of darkness.
It appears to me that we are entering a new day of redemption, a period during which God’s people can be delivered from the shackles of satanic bondage.
On many occasions, just before a major calamity overtook a nation, God sent a revival. I believe this is true today. The future very well way witness a major conflict in which much blood is shed and the leadership of the world passes from America to a more disciplined culture. Therefore the Spirit of God is present to help every believer get himself and his family as close to Jesus as possible
Someone, a rich relative perhaps, might give us a Steinway grand piano. We did not earn the gift of the piano by working for it. It is a gift, freely given.
Unless we have a large house with many rooms we might have to sacrifice a living room in order to accommodate the piano. There it sits in all its gleaming, illustrious splendor.
In that piano are the great masterworks of Chopin, Beethoven, Brahms, and Bach. But the piano is silent. Why? Because in order for the European composers to yield their Divine gifts, someone will have to spend many, many hours of disciplined effort under the guidance of a qualified teacher. Time and money must be expended if the piano is to give us its treasures. Isn’t it so?
The piano was given to us without cost. But it will be nothing more than attractive furniture until we are willing to devote a significant part of our life to its mastery.
So it is with the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot earn Christ with any amount of good works. But Christ will be nothing more than a piece of furniture, so to speak, until we set out to develop what God has given to us.
They used to say that the world was waiting for someone to go all the way with Christ. I do not know if this the case. But I do realize that the Apostle Paul toward the end of his life was still pressing forward to know Christ.
Why isn’t this preached more? Why do we give people the impression they can "confess Christ" and this is all they need to do? Why aren’t we explaining to them that they will get out of Christ only what they put into Christ, just as in the case of the grand piano. Why have we made "accepting Christ" a ticket instead of what is in actuality—a gate that opens into the rugged path that leads finally to eternal life?
Where and when did the "ticket" doctrine originate? Why are we making church members instead of disciples?
Sunday morning I presented the idea that the name Son is greater than that of any angel; that God has called the Logos, God, and has given Him an eternal throne.
In addition, the point was made that when people have an outstanding gift, such as in music, or art, or athletics, or whatever else, we ought to give glory to God for the gift, and not idolize people who, apart from Christ, are nothing more than intelligent dust.
Because of the righteousness of the Logos, the Word who proceeded from the Father, the Father has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows.
This is two Sundays in a row that we have concentrated on the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
Our Great Salvation
The key to the theme of Hebrews is that of the danger of neglecting our great salvation. Since these believers already had every experience and were familiar with every doctrine that is possessed by us today, what is the great salvation that must not be ignored without severe penalties.
The answer is, we have not been called just to be forgiven and make our eternal residence in the spirit paradise. We have been called to be sons of God and brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
God has put His entire creation under the feet of man, with the Lord Jesus being the Chief Man. Under Christ we are to govern the works of God’s hands.
The proper order of rulership in the universe is God the Head, Christ under God, each saint under Christ, and the created world under the feet of the saints.
The problem is, there are many creatures and things over our head instead of under our feet. We have all sorts of idols that live between Christ and us and demand our worship.
Our idol may be a relationship with an individual. Our idol may be money, Our idol may be some profession or skill. Our idol may be an artistic talent. Our idol may be pleasure, or drugs, or alcohol. Our idol may even be our ministry.
We have been commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. However, in actuality we are "married" to all sorts of creatures and things.
How can we tell if we have an idol? Any person or thing that we would be unable to give up if the Lord asked for it is an idol. Any person or thing about which we are passionate, that we are grasping to ourselves, probably is an idol. A great deal of our Christian discipleship consists of God taking the idols that stand between us and Christ and placing them under our feet. As we know, this is a painful operation.
One aspect of Christian maturity consists of our yielding our desires to the Lord so He can fill us with His desires. Our desires often lead us into confusion and regret. But when God works in us to will and to do His pleasure, we are led into green pastures. We walk beside still waters. A table is set for us in the presence of our enemies.
To thus surrender the desires that motivate us, the idols that drive us, we have to believe that God is seeking our joy and has the ability to lead us into joy. None of us truly knows what is good for him. Only God knows what will bring love, joy, and peace to us. Since this indisputably is true (although Satan has challenged this truth from the beginning), the wise individual will turn over his or her desires to the Lord and cooperate with Him as He brings us into peace and joy.
If we look to Him, God will give us understanding. Wisdom is to be desired and knowledge often is helpful. But greater than either wisdom or knowledge is understanding. Understanding combines wisdom and knowledge and mixes into them compassion, sympathy, a sense of humor, an awareness of the complexity and frailties of life, and a willingness to see past the rigid rules of religion. Understanding is "salt," and it must be sprinkled on every sacrifice in order to avoid the error of the Pharisee.
When we receive Christ we gain the name of "son." We now are sons of God and must learn to follow the Spirit of God in all matters. There is no name greater than son. No angel is privileged to bear this name. Rather, the angels, as great as they indeed are, are responsible for the welfare of the sons of God, and have been given charge over them lest they stumble over the stones in their path.
Let us not stop with being saved and filled with the Spirit of God. These are the necessary orientation to the program of redemption that continues until we stand perfect and complete in all the will of God, a fully mature brother of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Sons of God
What is man? Man is God’s appointed rulers of the works of God’s hands, and also God’s appointed judges who will judge the world, and angels as well. There is no higher calling than that of man. Angels have been appointed ministers to these heirs of salvation.
In view of this nearly inconceivable inheritance, we readily can see why the writer of the Book of Hebrews was so concerned lest the Hebrews Christians should stop at being forgiven and filled with the Spirit.
We do not as yet see man in his appointed inheritance. But we do see the Lord Jesus, brought down to death for our sins, and then raised again that He might be the Firstborn of many brothers.
I wonder if we realize what it means to be a son of God and a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ. We might think of this appointment as some kind of religious designation which must be interpreted as an imitation of some sort. Surely we are not a genuine son of God, a genuine brother of Jesus Christ!
To think of such a thing would be blasphemous. Christ is Divine. We are human.
It is right at this point that we stagger at the promise of God because we are unwilling to remove the barrier between man and God. However, it never is appropriate to water down what God has said because of a false humility.
God’s unfailing Word declares we are genuine sons of God, not in some religious sense but in an actual (organic, if you will) sense. When we receive Christ as our Savior and Lord we are born of God. This is not a figure of speech. We genuinely are born of God!
What does this mean? It means that like our elder Brother, Jesus, we now are both son of man and son of God. This would have to be the case, wouldn’t it, if we are to be married to the Lamb?
Do we then vaunt ourselves because we are the offspring of God? No, we do not. Like our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, we do not regard being a son of God as something to be grasped. Rather, we humble ourselves and submit ourselves meekly to Christ as our Divinely ordained King. After we suffer we shall be revealed to the world as God’s offspring. This unveiling shall occur at the coming of Christ to the world.
The issue today is not whether or not we actually are sons of God, it is that of obedience. It is God’s will that His Life pour forth from us so that a dead mankind can be brought into the glorious liberty of those who live in the Spirit of God. But all such Life comes only from the Throne of God. So until we are willing to turn over the throne of our life to the Lord, we cannot be the blessing to mankind that God has ordained.
At night we spoke of the two heads of redemption. First, there is the sovereign plan of God. Then, in order to validate the contract, we must respond to all of the experiences into which the Spirit leads us,.
We mentioned also the two great epochs: the first lasting from the creation of the spirit and physical worlds to Calvary; the second beginning with the resurrection of Christ and extending to eternity, ages without end.
External and Internal Change
As we study the first three chapters of the Book of Hebrews we notice the actions we are supposed to take, such as "see to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart." Right here, in this admonition, is exposed the error of today’s Evangelical teaching. We are being commanded to do something. There is no indication that God will do this for us in some sovereign manner.
I will make a statement right now. We of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ have two desperate needs. One desperate need is to to bring our teaching into alignment with the New Testament. The second need, equally desperate, is that God will pour out on us His Spirit.
Perhaps most of us would agree that we are in desperate need of an outpouring of God’s Spirit on our churches. For too long, administrative-type leaders (who are needed in the operation of denominations) have striven for success by consulting their computers and demographic studies rather than looking to the Spirit of God to accomplish the work of the Kingdom.
The second need is not apparent, probably, to most Evangelical leaders and teachers. This second need has to do with our misunderstanding of the operation of the new covenant. But until we change our doctrine, no outpouring of the Holy Spirit will produce the lasting impact we desire. We are defeating with our unscriptural teaching the building of God’s Kingdom.
We all would agree, I believe, that it is desirable we be changed into the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we may have two destructive opinions concerning how such change is to come about.
The first opinion, often expressed these days, is that we do not have to be concerned about a change in our behavior. Christ living within us will bring about such change without effort on our part.
The second opinion, even more widely expressed, is that behavioral change is not critically necessary in the present hour. When the Lord comes He somehow will accomplish such change by His sovereign power, that is, if such moral transformation actually is necessary. Who knows? Perhaps we will continue forever as sinners saved by grace! There will not be many new creations after all.
The result of such unscriptural reasoning could be predicted by a sociologist. The behavior of numerous Christians remains unchanged. The result is a severely damaged testimony, the consequence of the damaged Christian testimony being the current moral degeneration of our country.
Perhaps we do not understand the mechanics of moral change, much less the supreme importance of moral change to citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
Let us think about two aspects of behavioral change: external change and internal change, and their relationship to each other.
External change has to do with the behavior people can see. Internal change has to do with the forming of Christ in us such that our behavior is conformed to the moral image of the Lord Jesus.
Internal change is the goal, and such change is eternal. However—and this is the mistake in current thinking, perhaps—external change comes first and is our responsibility.
As we read the New Testament, from Matthew through Revelation, we notice numerous exhortations to righteous behavior. All such exhortations were given by Jesus, some by Him in Person when He was on earth; some by Him through His Apostles.
When we read an exhortation, such as "Awake to righteousness and stop sinning," we are to go immediately to God in prayer. We are to ask for His help that we may fulfill this command.
The Holy Spirit operates the new covenant. When He warns us that we are coming short in some area, such as that of forgiving someone who has harmed us, we are to go to prayer immediately until we have been enabled to forgive the individual. This is external change.
When we cooperate with the Spirit of God in the work of external change, Christ is formed in us. When Christ has been formed in us sufficiently, we will be able to forgive everyone who injures us. Christ is not formed in us until we cooperate with the Spirit in external change.
Therefore the new covenant works along two line. First, the Spirit of God enables us to conform our behavior to the commandments found in the New Testament. Second, as we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood, His Divine Substance and Nature are formed in us. As Christ is formed in us we begin to keep His commandments by our new nature.
Our goal is to endure such transformation until it truly can be said of us that we are living no longer but Christ is living in us.
Belief and Obedience
And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19—NIV)
Now, I think that this merging of disobedience and unbelief is significant.
We currently are teaching that if we will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved. But what do we mean by "believe"?
Each denomination has a statement of faith.
We believe in the verbal inspiration of the original Scriptures.
We believe in the absolute trinity of the eternal God-head.
We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And so forth.
The question is, are these beliefs what the Scripture means when it says "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved"?
I don’t think so. From my point of view, the main purpose of a denomination’s Statement of Faith is to define the denomination. I think a person could memorize and believe the entire Statement of Faith and not be abiding in Christ.
Perhaps we do not understand the difference between believing about the Lord Jesus Christ and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are to believe the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is the same as obeying the Lord Jesus Christ.
It may be true that most Christians would not disagree too violently that if we believe in Christ we should obey Christ.
But it appears to me that in today’s teaching, the impression is left that after we believe in Christ (whatever we mean by that) there is nothing else we are to do that is critical to our salvation. We are saved by faith alone (whatever we mean by "faith") and any effort we make in addition to our "faith" is works, and this we never must do!
Thus we throw out the bulk of the text of the New Testament.
To say we are saved by faith alone apart from any effort on our part may be compared to an Israelite sitting in Egypt and saying God has promised him a land of milk and honey. There he sits, making no effort to follow the cloud and the fire. I think this is the situation today and accounts for the pitiful moral condition of so many believers.
Do we work for our salvation? Absolutely not, salvation is a gift of God purchased on the cross of Calvary.
Do we earn salvation by trying to be good? Absolutely not. We cannot earn the Divine salvation by anything we do.
What, then, is the relationship between godly behavior and the Christian salvation, keeping in mind that the Apostle Paul told us on several occasions that if we Christians continue to live according to our sinful nature we will die spiritually; we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The relationship between the Christian salvation and godly behavior is as follows: true salvation always results in godly behavior. If it does not, we will be cut out of the Vine, our of Christ. Salvation is given to whoever will receive it, but then it has to be worked out patiently each day of our life. It is not a ticket, it is a program of redemption.
Can you think of an explanation more needed in our day in America?
I am convinced that if God pours out His Spirit in our day, the good that is done will not be lasting. Why not? Because we will continue to teach people that all they are to do is believe, and then wait to go to Heaven.
At night we reviewed the relationship of belief to obedience, mentioned the four faces of the cherubim, and then dwelled at length on what Hebrews means when it cautions us about not entering the rest of God.
God rested on the seventh day, the day of eternity that has no evening or morning. God did not rest because He was tired. God rested because His work in Christ was completed at that time—all the way through to the new Jerusalem. Every person was assigned a destiny. All was finished.
This means your life and my life was established from the beginning of the world.
This is true. However, the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews warns us that we can come short of our destiny. Although the work was completed from the beginning of the world, we can refuse to permit God to lead us in our foreordained path.
If the days ordained for us were written in God’s book, as it says in Psalms, then we have a basic choice to make. Should we conduct our life according to our own desires and wisdom, or should we look to the Lord Jesus constantly in order to determine what God has ordained for us?
The Apostle Paul was determined to grasp that for which he had been grasped. The truth is, each one of us has been grasped for a specific destiny. But in order not to come short of that ordained destiny we have to, as Paul did, count all else as garbage that we may gain Christ and attain to the resurrection that is unto life and glory.
I have come to the conclusion that salvation is unique for each person. God has a plan for each one of us. If we are obedient to God’s will for us, entering into His vision, His rest, we will be saved. But if we know God’s will for us and choose our own way, or are too busy to seek for His will for us, then we will not be saved.
What do I mean by saved, in this instance? I mean brought with joy into the Presence of God and the Lamb; being appointed a place in the new world of righteousness.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews was very firm in insisting that we not stop at the elementary principles of salvation but press forward until we are perfect in all the will of God; until we attain to that destiny appointed to the sons of God.
The writer of Hebrews, in the fourth chapter warned us about coming short of God’s rest.
He told us that this is the eternal Sabbath, the Sabbath in which Christ dwells eternally.
He informed us that God’s work was completed at the beginning, but that it is possible for us to miss God’s will for us.
He pointed out that Canaan is an Old-Testament type of God’s rest, signifying that we will be resisted as we strive to bring all of our personality into subjection to God’s will. The enemies in our own flesh will resist any such effort.
The writer made clear to us that the Word of God will penetrate our soul and spirit, joints and marrow, judging the thoughts and attitude of our heart, until every aspect of our personality is brought into subjection to Christ. He assured us that God sees into every detail of our life.
Many of us have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, and filled with God’s Spirit. Now we need to lay aside all else that we might press into that holy place in the center of God’s will where the Lord Jesus always abides.
At night we continued our discussion of the rest of God, stressing that in view of the dangers facing the United States we must press, press, press into Christ each day and night from now on.
War in Heaven
The passage from Revelation tells us that the casting down of Satan and his angels will result in the coming of salvation, power, and the Kingdom of God. The inhabitants of Heaven will rejoice as a result. But this means trouble for the people living on the earth, because Satan will be furious, knowing that his rule is soon to come to an end.
Have you noticed how moral horrors are increasing in the world? Is this because Satan and his angels are relinquishing their position in the heavens and expressing themselves in the earth? It seems so, for the things that are happening are clearly diabolical. Innocent people of all ages are being blown apart by bombs.
It appears that individuals are being driven by demons, for what they are doing is not human. For example: the traffic in sexual activity and perversion using little children. Can this be nothing more than human lust, or are supernatural beings controlling the appetites of people? Then there are the instances where students in school are murdering their classmates.
If Pastor Stan is correct, we can expect to see a rapid increase in unbelievably horrible behavior as fallen angels drive their victims into hellish crimes.
A substantial number of young adults are strapping bombs on themselves and killing ordinary people who are going about their business, and doing this in the name of God! No doubt we are at the beginning of the third world war. But it is not a war of nation against nation but of groups of individuals who are determined to tear down society, being willing to kill themselves in order to accomplish their goals.
It is our point of view that no effort by any government or combination of governments will be able to control terrorism. Only the Lord Jesus Christ has the power to stop terrorism, and He is not going to do this until there is widespread repentance. I personally believe that millions of people are going to die in the United States as terrorists smuggle in atomic bombs and detonate them. Or we may experience poison in our water sources or anthrax in the air.
Remember, we are not struggling against human beings but against spiritual lords who rebelled against God at one time, and then were driven down to a lower heaven.
Stan stressed Zion as a symbol of a militant remnant who will serve God in the last days.
At the evening service I emphasized that Satan is being torn down because there are those believers who are overcoming him by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives to the point of death. It is only as some Christian people are willing to give themselves wholly to Christ that Satan can once and for all be driven from the heavens, and ultimately from the earth. Are we willing to set aside our own life that Satan and all his works may be overcome and removed from the creation?
Pressing Into a Higher Level
Mike Clardy, while he was ministering in the transition prayer, reported that he saw several large angels with swords. The angels were looking carefully at the banners as they were being carried up the aisle. Mike asked the angels who they are. They answered, "Guardians of the Glory."
The angels were not looking at the pastors or the congregation. They were staring at the banners. This tells me they were not assigned to any of us, only to guard that which is honoring the Lamb.
This reminds us of the answer given to Joshua when he queried the man with the sword in his hand: "Are you for us or for our enemies."
"Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come."
We would expect the commander to say, "I am on your side."
But like our angels from yesterday, the commander of the army of the Lord let Joshua know the warrior angels are present to glorify and protect Christ, not the believers, except as Christ directs.
There is a lack of sympathy and camaraderie between us and the angels because they are not of our race. However they do rejoice when a child of God repents; and they serve as ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation.
Steve Ross from Indiana told us of the three aspects of our existence that we must value and develop if we would move to a higher plane. They are "who we are"; "where we are"; and "what we are."
Sometimes we are so anxious to move to what we believe is a superior state that we do not value the present. Yet, if we do not make a success of who, where, and what we are today, we will not be entrusted with a greater area of service.
Dianne McIntosh finished up in the evening service with an emphasis on young people as well as adults, speaking about how anger turns to murder. Sometimes we murder other people with our hatred. Sometimes we murder ourselves in an act of suicide.
There is no doubt that we absolutely must get rid of our anger, for it is a spirit of murder.
We would not believe that young people in our church would have suicidal thoughts; yet it appears that in some cases this is a fact. Therefore we adults have to set an example for them by dealing with our anger promptly, if necessary confessing and repenting of it. Otherwise we may lead our children and young people into destructive behavior.
All in all it was a tremendously uplifting day. My personal opinion is that Christ is dealing with our assembly, telling us to bring to Him a larger vessel that He may fill it with more of Himself than we have experienced to the present hour.
Trees of Life
The Scriptures speak clearly that God has a master plan and that it is being unveiled in increments. There come times of refreshing from the Lord as He restores all that was spoken by the Hebrews Prophets.
Ours is a day of extraordinary significance. There shall be delay no longer, as Revelation says. The mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory is being revealed. Think of it!
Most of us understand the blood atonement. Within this larger group may be found believers who look to the Holy Spirit to help them lead a holy life and bear witness of Christ and His ways.
However, forgiveness through the atoning blood, and the baptism with the Spirit, are preparatory experiences. The goal of God is to dwell in an eternal temple constructed from those who belong to Christ. When God dwells in us through Christ we become life-giving spirits. We become trees of life, from whom the people of the world can obtain Divine life and healing.
The forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel tells the story. We pass through increasingly deep levels of the Spirit of God. Finally we are living fully in the Spirit of God. When this is true we are a tree of life, growing along the bank of the River of Life. Now we are able to bring the Glory of God to the sea of mankind. This we do in a measure now, but in its fullness when the Lord returns.
The river of eternal life always flows from the Throne of God. Therefore the issue of the hour is our perfect obedience to God so He may establish His throne in us.
Pentecost is the rain of the Spirit upon all flesh. Tabernacles, the celebration that follows Pentecost, is the forming of the Throne of God in us. When this takes place we become a guardian of the Glory of God such that the Glory can be brought by us into all situations in which the Lord chooses to bring us.
As we are brought into water to the ankles, to the knees, to the waist, and finally into waters to swim in, we are measured. This means that as we draw closer to the Lord Jesus we are examined to see what remains in our personality that is hindering the perfect expression of the Divine Glory in us.
We absolutely must keep saying yes to the Lord as He raises the issues in our life. So much "stuff" must be removed from us! This the Spirit of God does, as we refuse to blame people or circumstances for our distress and cooperate with the Spirit by refusing to yield to our old nature.
What a marvelous day in which we live! Evil is increasing. Deception abounds. At the same time more grace is being presented. Our responsibility is to keep following Jesus so we may receive the increase of Virtue now available.
We indeed can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. But for this to be true we have to keep our eyes focused on the Lord Jesus, permitting no person, thing, or circumstance to come between us and Him.
God is bringing sons to maturity today, and they are following the Spirit both in moral transformation and in ministry. You and I can grow to maturity if we refuse to let anything deter us from our course.
How To Become a Tree of Life
This means that once we have been delivered from the chains of Satan we can become strong in righteous behavior. In addition we can become so filled with the Spirit of God that we can bring eternal life to the people of the world who will accept what we have to give.
The third chapter of the Book of Nehemiah tells us that the sheep gate shall be restored before the fish gate. This shows us that God intends to build up His Church so that His Church then can become fishers of men.
It appear that today there is great emphasis on "getting people saved." This may be of God. I don’t know. I do know that the people who already have received Christ are not, in many instances, being brought to maturity by their teachers. This means that we have millions of spiritual infants. A spiritual infant may be able to persuade other people to come to his church. But he cannot birth people into the Kingdom of God, because he himself is an infant. Infants do not give birth to infants!
The sheep gate will be restored before significant progress is made with the fish gate.
But how does Christ make us trees of life so other people may gain Divine Life?
God does this by sending all sorts of afflictions on us. The purpose is to weaken our adamic nature so the supernatural life of Christ may take its place. We are knocked down constantly, but the resurrection power of Christ keeps lifting us up if we continue to look to Him.
The Lord always sends more power than we need to raise us. The surplus power goes to other people so they may live in eternal life. We keep dying and they keep living. We can bring life to other people only as we remain crucified with Christ.
Also we must, through the Spirit, keep ourselves pure. God will not have fellowship with wickedness, with a believer who continues to live in sin.
At night I became greatly exercised about the love of money and the bondage of pornography. Both of these devils are devouring American Christians.
If we wish to see the Lord and be like Him when He appears, we have to purify ourselves (I John 3:3). The believers of today have been taught they can pursue money, and watch pornography, and then, when the Lord returns, they will be like Him and see Him as He is. They have been taught error, an error that has the potential to destroy part or even all of their inheritance in Christ.
We need to understand that our culture is destructive of the Christian discipleship. It appears that there are few cross-carrying disciples in the churches of today.
The Seed of Error: Sola Fides
The sermon of yesterday might be titled "The Seed of Error." The reference is to the unscriptural concept that was planted during the Protestant Reformation.
We are not unmindful of the value of the teaching of the early reformers nor of the price they paid for standing for the truth of the Gospel. They were true heroes of the faith and their memory is to be revered.
One part of their struggle was against the concept of selling indulgences. An indulgence is a method of remitting punishment, especially a way of relieving a deceased individual from having to do penance in Purgatory. It may be noted that doing penance is not the same as repentance. Repentance is not a religious duty we perform in order to show we are sorry for our behavior. Rather, repentance is a change in our behavior.
Martin Luther, a man of God if there ever was one, may be the most famous of the Protestant reformers. Yet, Martin Luther planted a seed of error that is flourishing today.
In his effort to combat the concept of doing penance, Luther stressed we are saved by faith alone.
Keeping in mind the extraordinary pressure that Luther was under, and his stalwart stand for the truth, it may be true that Luther adopted an improper familiarity with the New Testament, casting doubt on the inspiration of the Books of Hebrews and James, and inserting the word "only" when the term is not included in the Greek text.
Let me quote from Diarmaid MacCulloch:
"He (Luther) could treat the text in a startingly proprietorial way. Whenever, for instance, Luther found the word equivalent to ‘life’ in Greek or Hebrew, he would extend it in His German to the phrase ‘eternal life.’ ‘Mercy’ became ‘grace,’ and ‘the deliverer of Israel’ ‘the savior.’ When he translated a crucial proof-text in Romans 3, ‘we hold that man is justified without works of the law, by faith,’ he made no bones about adding ‘only’ to ‘faith.’"
"Luther also had no scruples about ranking different parts of the Bible as more or less valuable depending on whether they proclaimed the message which he had discovered." (Reformation: Europe’s House Divided, 1490-1700. Diarmaid MacCulloch. Penguin Books, 2003)
The result of this overfamiliarity with the Scriptures caused Martin Luther to cast doubt on the value of the Books of Hebrews and James. But without doubt the gravest error was the inserting of "only" so that instead of our being saved by faith we are saved by "faith alone"—a rallying cry of today’s Evangelical preachers.
When I first became a Christian I came under the influence of people, such as Dawson Trottman, who implanted in me an awe of the Scriptures. To this day I regard every word of the Old and New Testaments as inspired by the Spirit of God.
What incomprehensible harm has been done to the Gospel, and consequently to the moral condition of the churches, the world of which they are to be the moral light, by the insertion of the little word "only"!
I do not know if you ever have come across it, but there is a deadly teaching that the four Gospel accounts contain Christ’s words to the Jews; but after His resurrection they no longer apply to Christians, because they imply that righteous behavior is an essential part of the Kingdom of God. We now are guided by the writings of the Apostles and can safely ignore the words of the Lord. Have you ever heard this teaching?
This would mean that being born again, John 3:16, abiding in Christ, the Sermon on the Mount, "In my Father’s house are many dwelling places," and so forth, have no bearing on us Christians. Or perhaps these well-intentioned teachers pick and choose the parts of Jesus’ teachings that apply to us, leaving the rest for the Jews of Jesus’ day.
Also, it may be demonstrated that Jesus’ teachings appear in the Epistles. And why not? After all, the writings of Paul proceeded from Christ who is living in Paul.
So we may have a problem today in determining how the four Gospel accounts are related correctly to the writings of the Apostles.
I would like now to describe the relationship between the four Gospels and the remainder of the New Testament.
First, let’s think about the goal of the new covenant.
We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)
The goal toward which we should be pressing is that we may have fellowship with the Apostles, and that fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.
Fellowship with God was lost to mankind when the rebellion occurred in Eden. The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth that fellowship with God might be restored to us.
But we cannot have fellowship with God when our ways displease Him. Therefore God sent Jesus Christ to us, not only to forgive our sins but also to demonstrate by His behavior and by His words the kind of personality that results in fellowship with God.
It is right here that "faith alone" has borne its deadly fruit. We would say today that we can have fellowship with God by grace, or by faith alone. This is not scriptural.
"Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:17)
Does the above verse sound to you like God will have fellowship with unrighteousness? I wonder what Martin Luther would do with this passage.
So we understand that by obeying the words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel accounts, and taking note of His behavior, we realize what is required if we would attain to our goal of fellowship with God.
But where do the Epistles of the Apostles fit into this picture?
The Epistles tell us how to obey the commandments given to us by the Lord; how to live as He always lives.
The Apostles tell us to present our body a living sacrifice; to crucify our sinful nature; to put to death the deeds of our body; to take our place on the cross with Christ so we may live by His resurrection life; to awake to righteousness and stop sinning; to obey the Holy Spirit at all times.
Now, let’s consider the whole picture, and then we can understand the correct relationship between the four Gospel accounts and the remainder of the New Testament.
First, we hold firmly in mind that our goal is fellowship with God.
Second, we read and reread what Jesus told us in the Gospel accounts so we may know how to gain fellowship with God.
Third, we read carefully every day the writings of the Apostles so we may know how to attain to that way of life the Lord Jesus presented to us.
The above three aspects of salvation reveal the correct relationship between the four Gospel accounts and the Epistles of Paul and the other Apostles.
The concept of salvation by "faith alone" is the seed of error. It is bearing horrid fruit in our time.
The idea that Christ came and spoke to the Jews of His day, and His words do not apply to us, deprive us of the value of Christ’s teaching. After His resurrection salvation is by grace, meaning no change of our personality is necessary, removes the possibility of fellowship with God. There no longer is a new creation.
We do always err in our hearts, don’t we? God sent Christ in order to produce good people. We have changed this simple purpose into God sent Christ in order to forgive us and give us the right to enter Paradise when we die.
As I said at the beginning, we may be in the greatest spiritual awakening of all time. There must be repentance on the part of God’s people. There must be worldwide preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, the gospel that is being restored today after being hidden for the two thousand years of the Church era.
But no matter to what extent the Spirit of God is poured out on us, no lasting good will be accomplished until God’s preachers thoroughly, vigorously, repudiate the seed of error: the righteous shall live by faith alone.
Keeping Christ’s Commandments
I have written much on this subject. But if I exhausted all the writing materials in existence I could never completely portray the moral—and yes, physical—destruction produced by the perversion of God’s intention that well-meaning but deceived scholars have presented to God’s people. It is past time for a reformation of Christian thinking and preaching.
We have been studying the Sermon on the Mount. These are the eternal laws of the Kingdom of God
The Sermon says we are blessed and are to rejoice when people falsely say all kinds of evil against us because of Christ. The Sermon says we are blessed when we are merciful and pure of heart. The Sermon says we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. The Sermon says we must forgive our debtors if we want God to forgive us.
We can approach these commandments of Christ in several ways. We can claim no one is perfect, and thus excuse ourselves.
We can say no one else is doing them so we don’t have to.
We can protest that as long as we are in the world we have to sin.
We can imagine that Christ spoke these knowing that we cannot do them so we will understand we have to go to Heaven by His forgiveness. He does not expect us to obey His commandments or those of His Apostles.
The modern understanding is that we are saved by grace and God receives us and has fellowship with us even though we are not observing His commandments.
Thus we have despised the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.
What an awesome error!
Does the Great Commission command us to teach the nations to keep Christ’s commandments? Or does it command us to "get people saved" and build churches?
Are we not terribly confused.
Of course we are to obey the commandments issued by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. They are the eternal laws of the Kingdom of God. We cannot disobey them and have fellowship with the Apostles, with the Father, and with His Son, Jesus Christ. What unscriptural nonsense is taught today!
How, then, are we to keep these commandments. By our will power? No! By means of our sinful nature? No!
We keep them by three means.
First, by the forgiving, delivering authority and power of the blood of the Lamb. There is Virtue in Christ’s blood that will enable us to overcome every temptation to disobey Christ’s commands.
Second, by the word of our testimony. This means that no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, we choose to believe God and give glory to Him. He has promised that all things work together for good for those who love Him. Therefore in the darkest of nights, in the most impossible circumstances, we cry out: "My Father, I do not understand you but I trust you!" We speak faith in God. Thus we overcome Satan by the word of our testimony that God is faithful.
Third, we must live on the cross and in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. We must love not our life to the death, trusting always in Him who raises the dead.
As we persevere in faith, praying always to the Father in Jesus’ name, we can overcome evil with good. We can maintain a pure heart. We can show mercy. We can forgive those who have wounded us. We can do what Christ has commanded.
The Veil has been torn asunder. We can keep on entering the Most Holy Place, obtaining Divine Virtue and grace, not so our conduct can be excused but so we can be created in God’s image.
Never, never, never give up. You can overcome through Jesus Christ. You can be more than a conqueror. If you do not live the victorious life in Christ, it is because you have chosen not to; not because He does not possess all the wisdom and power you need to overcome every obstacle.
Did Jesus Abolish the Law of Moses?
The Lord taught that not the smallest letter will disappear from the Law of Moses until Heaven and earth disappear. Yet, the Apostle insisted we are not under the Law of Moses but under grace.
The reconciliation is as follows: the Law of Moses is a condensed version of the eternal moral law of God. The eternal moral law of God shall never pass away because it is the moral Nature of God, and that never changes.
It is the format of the Ten Commandments that is obsolete. The Ten Commandments can be written on stone, parchment, or paper. However, the eternal moral law of God can be written only in the human mind and heart.
The new covenant consists of God writing His eternal moral in our mind and heart. This is what salvation is—the writing of God’s law in our mind and heart. We have ignored God’s new covenant and have created a covenant of our own that consists of verses gathered and there. We term this compilation "the four steps of salvation." They are not the new covenant! They are a manmade covenant that ignores the true covenant, the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart.
The "four steps of salvation" may appear to be an innocent attempt of personal workers to systematize our approach to Christ. What they accomplish is to leave people with the impression that they are on their way to Heaven without moral transformation. But moral transformation is what salvation is!
When Christians are not transformed morally there is no light for the world to see. The light of Christians is their good works. These good works are God’s way of teaching people what is acceptable to Him and what is not. When kindness, truthfulness, a forgiving nature, gentleness, uprightness are not being revealed in the Church, then the world has no way of understanding how to have fellowship with God.
The Lord Jesus is absolutely correct when He maintains that no part of the Law of Moses will disappear. This is because the Ten Commandments are the essence of the eternal moral law, which is to love God with all our might and our neighbor as ourselves.
What shall we do? We have abandoned the salvation of the Lord and have substituted a neat little formula that does not require thorough repentance or a life of cross-carrying obedience.
The Lord Jesus and His Apostles expanded the statements of the Law because they are compressed. To lust in our heart is to commit adultery. To hate our brother is to be a murderer. The Sabbath commandments is greatly expanded until our body is presented as a living sacrifice to God every moment of every day and night.
Why is our world in turmoil today? It is because the Church of Jesus Christ is not bearing the moral light of the Kingdom of God, the light that teaches people how to live so as to please God and have fellowship with Him.
What is to be done about this dreadful situation? The ministers of the Gospel must begin to teach the true new covenant, which is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our heart and mind.
Our task is to read our Bible, pray every day, and assemble with fervent believers on a regular basis is such can be found. Also, we must obey the commandments found in the Epistles, and any personal directives we are given by the Spirit. When we are scrupulously faithful in doing these things, the Spirit of God will write God’s eternal moral laws in our heart and mind—in our mind so we can understand them and in our heart so we will be motivated to obey them.
Such writing does not occur all at once but line upon line; commandment upon commandment.
The result is a change in our behavior—a change people can see. When they see our good works they will give glory to God who is revealing Himself through the behavior of the Christian people.
This is the true grace of God and eternal life.
The Truth and The Lie
We focused today on the second chapter of the Book of II Thessalonians. We discovered several things. One passage tells us that we will not be gathered to Christ until first there is the great rebellion against authority and Antichrist is revealed.
Also we noted that Antichrist cannot be revealed until that which is hindering him is removed.
As often is the case, we cannot see how the Bible relates to that which is going on around us. It is obvious that in the last three or four hundred years, lawlessness, the Antichrist spirit, has been developing. The Antichrist spirit has not attained maturity as yet, but it certainly is more pronounced than it was in America and Europe two hundred years ago.
There are many manifestations of the Antichrist spirit. Four of the principal manifestations are the worship of entertainment; the worship of the world; the worship of sexual lust; and the worship of self, which is revealed in the practice of abortion.
This year there have been gay parades. One of the outstanding gay parades was scheduled to take place last week in New Orleans, the week of the disastrous flood. It is termed "Southern Decadence."
This year there was a gay parade in San Diego, where we live. It was supported by some of the large local industries.
I believe I am correct in stating that a gay parade would not have been tolerated in San Diego a hundred years ago. I think it is true also that Mardi gras or Southern Decadence would not be permitted today in San Diego as has been true annually in New Orleans.
What is standing in the way of the manifestation of this Antichrist spirit, this lie, that it could not have been revealed to such an extent two hundred years ago in America? It is the Spirit of Christ in the believers that is blocking the full manifestation of lawlessness.
According to the Books of Daniel and Revelation, the power of the saints will be broken before the Lord returns. The testimony will be destroyed and Antichrist will be revealed throughout his appointed period.
How will the saints be overcome? They will be overcome just as they have been overcome in New Orleans and San Diego. They will be overcome by their sexual lust, by their love for the world spirit and their trust in it, and by self-centeredness and personal ambition (Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem).
The reason there can be a gay parade in San Diego is that there is not sufficient strength in the Christians to prevent it. The reason there is abortion practiced in our land is that there is not sufficient strength in the Christians to prevent it. That which prevents the manifestation of Antichrist, the spirit of lawlessness, has been removed from his path in America and Europe.
The maturing of Antichrist, of lawlessness, of the tares, is upon us. But the teaching of lawless-grace and our imminent trip to Heaven have prevented the believers from seeing the need to put on the whole armor of the Spirit. Thus they cannot stand in the day of wickedness, of lawlessness.
How many pastors are watching pornography on the Internet in the wee hours of the morning, believing they will go to Heaven by grace?
What are we to do? The Spirit of God is searching the churches today to see who are crying out for righteousness; for those who will say, "Not my will but yours be done." We have become so soft today because of the lawless-grace, rapture, Heaven teaching that we will be overcome in the near future by the ready availability of entertainment, of worldly comfort, of sexual lust.
The ministers of the Gospel absolutely must cease preaching Divine grace as an alternative to godly behavior. The Lord Jesus told us that those who stand firm to the end in the midst of wickedness shall be saved. But in order to be "seeker friendly" we no longer tell people that we cannot be a Christian unless we are willing to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus each day. When we begin teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom the pleasure-loving believers will flee to a church where they are told that God loves them too much to permit them to suffer.
But what about the many Christians in New Orleans? Has God rejected them? Or is it not true that unless we repent we likewise will perish? Why weren’t these good black folks raptured to Heaven so they wouldn’t suffer as they did for four days? Does the Lord discriminate against black people? I don’t believe so!
The experts of the media are not connecting the Southern Decadence parade and the flood. They are speaking of failure on the part of the government and socioeconomic inequities. While these may or may not be true, the experts are missing the point. The point is, the disaster happened during the week of Southern Decadence (what a title!).
Judgment on America has just begun. What will it take before the American people recognize that God is speaking to us? What will it take before we cease preaching grace, grace, grace, and cry for righteousness, righteousness, righteousness?
... When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? Amos 3:6)
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (Amos 5:24)
Preparing for the Future
We have an incorrect vision of the future, and this is why Christian people are not prepared for the Divine judgments that are to fall on America. One incorrect vision is that of the "rapture" of the believers before they experience suffering. Another incorrect vision is that of emphasizing God’s love without balancing our teaching with God’s wrath. The burden of the Word of the Lord for today focused on the true vision of the Day of the Lord, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth. According to the Prophets of the Old Testament, the Day of the Lord will be a terrible time of the outpouring of God’s wrath. The righteous will be saved with difficulty. This is why we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
The Apostle commanded us to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to stand in the evil day. We have not done this because of incorrect teaching. Therefore we are not prepared to stand.
There are several passages of the Scriptures that portray the return to earth of the Lord Jesus Christ accompanied by the armies of saints and angels. The nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation is one such passage.
A parallel passage, that we employ frequently, is the second chapter of the Book of Joel. While the immediate context may be referring to locusts, it is obvious that behind this immediate, temporary application we can see the true nature of the Day of the Lord, the time when "the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine." There is only one period in all of earth’s history when this heavenly uproar takes place, and that is when the Lord Jesus returns to earth with His army. These signs in the heavens are the calling card of the Lord Jesus.
As we study verses one through eleven of the second chapter of the Book of Joel we notice the expression "a large and mighty army comes." The true vision of the Day of the Lord is not the removal of the Christian Church to Heaven—a totally unscriptural and destructive vision. The true vision is that of a large and mighty army.
This army is being prepared today in Heaven and on the earth. Each member of the army is one of God’s elect. The qualities of character that must be possessed by each soldier are described in verses seven and eight. A close study of these qualities will reveal steps of growth that we must take today if we hope to be prepared to ride with the Commander in Chief in that Day.
Today many of us are woefully unprepared. The emphasis on an any-moment rapture so God’s pets will not suffer any inconvenience (tell this to the people from New Orleans), plus the overemphasis on God’s love, have created a set of believers who are silly, fatuous, careless, self-centered, self-seeking, knowing little or nothing of what it means to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Master.
This is not Joel’s army. This is not the armies clothed in the white linen of our righteous deeds who will ride alongside the Word of God as He descends from Heaven to install God’s Kingdom on the earth.
We have been deceived by well-meaning but deceived teachers of the Gospel. What we have today is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, the Gospel that teaches us of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. What we have is the gospel of the flight to Heaven of immature, undisciplined, soulish professors of faith in Christ who become angry with God if they are disappointed in any manner.
The Book of Romans speaks of the revealing of the sons of God who will release the creation from the chains of corruption until people are able to walk in glorious freedom of the Holy Spirit. This revelation of God’s handiwork will take place at the descent of Christ from Heaven. This is Joel’s army.
But woe to the hypocrites in the churches when the army of Christ descends with Him. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. The soft, compromising believers of today will not be able to dwell with the Devouring Fire of Israel.
It is time today for God’s ministers to sound the alarm, to blow the trumpet in Zion, as it were. If we have assured the believers that they are just about to be carried off to Heaven in order to escape unpleasantness in the earth; that God is so loving He sees them through Christ and is unaware of their adultery, fornication, lying, unforgiveness, maliciousness, worship of money; that they cannot possibly hear anything negative at the judgment seat of Christ; that Divine grace is an alternative to godly behavior; then we need to repent and preach the text of the New Testament instead of our traditions.
Otherwise we are going to stand with our spiritually immature babies and answer to Christ for our neglect of His plan of redemption.
The scene is as bad as I am portraying, if not worse. There is still time for us to repent and return to the Gospel. The Lamb is looking today for those who will seek Him earnestly until they find He is helping them prepare for the great and terrible day of the Lord. When we enter a victorious life in Christ we are fed each day with the hidden manna, that is, with His body and blood. As we turn away from our sinful nature and choose to deny our worldliness, our fleshly passions, and our self-will, we are given of His body and blood. These are our Resurrection. These are our Life. It is the Lamb’s body and blood that will raise us to Him when He appears in the clouds, and even now, spiritually, is raising us to Him that we might live by His Life.
Let us be ready to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. Divine judgment most certainly shall be poured out on America because we have not repented of our aborting of children, our worship of the dollar, our sexual perversions and ungodly displays.
The World Trade Center. The war in Iraq. Fiscal problems. The flood in New Orleans. The realistic threat that one day soon terrorists will set of nuclear devices in our country, or blow up one of our nuclear power stations, or poison our water, or fill the air with poisonous vapors. What will it take to alert America to the fact that God is speaking?
From the Old Covenant to the New Covenant
The burden of the day had to do with the role of God’s laws in our Christian salvation. The common belief among Evangelicals is sola fides (faith alone). Another name for this point of view is antinomianism, meaning that we are saved by grace through our faith apart from any law or set of commandments.
One would be hard put to conceive of a doctrine more destructive of the Divine salvation than that of "faith alone" (antinomianism). It is believed and preached by ministers more devout and knowledgeable than I. Yet it is poisonous error.
When we study Romans, Chapters Three through Five, we can understand how Christian scholars could be seduced into this morally destructive error. Paul, as he strove against the Jews, kept repeating that we are saved by faith independently of our works.
The problem lies in how we define faith and how we define works. If faith is an acknowledgment of the facts concerning Christ, and works consist of honesty, truthfulness, moral purity, generosity to the poor, works of righteousness in other words, then, yes, the doctrine of "faith alone" (antinomianism) is supported by Paul’s writings. We can say that Paul taught we need only make a profession of belief in the things pertaining to Christ and there is no need to behave righteously.
But if we define faith as a daily, fervent pursuit of Christ with the resulting moral transformation, and works as the statutes of the Law of Moses, then "faith alone" is not supported but is revealed as the masterpiece of satanic deception that it in fact is. Paul then would be teaching we are saved by a fervent pursuit of Christ apart from the dictates of religion.
"Faith" is defined by the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, not by the Statement of Faith of a denomination.
Getting back to Christ’s statement that the Law shall never pass away, and the text of Hebrews that claims the Mosaic covenant is passing away, let us examine why it is that there is no actual conflict here—for the several seeming inconsistencies found in the Bible are resolved once we understand what is being set forth.
The Old Covenant consists of the Law written on granite tablets, on parchment, and on paper. The New Covenant consists of the Law written in the mind and heart of the believer.
Are these the same law? Yes, and no. The Ten Commandments are an abridged version of the eternal moral law of God. When the Lord Jesus discussed them He greatly amplified them. Murder is enlarged to all forms of hatred. Adultery is enlarged to all forms of lust; and so forth.
The Law was instituted to keep sin under control until the Seed came to whom the promises of God always are made. The Law of Moses, perfect as it is, could not bring about the moral transformation that God desires. But when the Seed, Christ, is planted in our heart, the desired change in our behavior begins to occurs, provided that we follow Christ in intense interaction each day.
Under the Old Covenant we sacrificed our goats and young bulls. Under the New Covenant we offer our body a living sacrifice. It can be seen that the New Covenant is far more demanding than the Old Covenant, although they both have the same goal—that we behave righteously. All of God’s covenant have righteous behavior as their goal. How could it be otherwise?
Under the New Covenant the demands on us are total. But look at the grace we have been given: the blood atonement made by the Son of God; the born-again experience; the fellowship and indwelling of the Holy Spirit; the gifts and ministries given by the Spirit; the testimony of the Apostles. If we lay hold diligently on all the Divine enablements that are available, we can succeed in the program of changing us from Satan’s image into Christ’s image.
Now we understand what Christ meant when He said the Law will never pass away until the righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God that the Father desires have been accomplished fully.
Think about the first commandment: we are to have no gods that we seek more fervently than we do the God of Heaven. Is this injunction still in force? Of course. Much of our Christian life consists of the Lord Jesus bringing us to the place where we worship the Father above all else.
Think about the second commandment: we are not to worship what our hands have created. Is this still in force? Of course. We are not permitted to worship a family member; our job; our talent; our reputation; money; the passions of our flesh and soul; or anything else we have acquired during our sojourn on the earth. Much of our Christian life consists of our putting our idols under our feet.
Think about the third commandment: we are not to misuse God’s name. This commandment refers to more than profanity. It has to do with any time we use the name of God or Christ in a manner that is less than totally sincere.
Think about the fourth commandment, that of not working on Saturday. This has been expanded to what the Book of Hebrews refers to as the "rest of God." The rest of God is that state of being in which we dwell in God through Christ to the extent that every thought, every word, and every action is wrought in the Lord. We are to become the representation of God’s Person, reflecting Him in all that we are and do.
We understand, then, that the laws and directions that applied specifically to Israel are no longer binding on us. But the full moral meaning of the Ten Commandments reveals the Person of God. They are what God is in Character. Thus they never shall be done away—no, not for eternity. Rather they shall shine as the sun in the radiance coming from the new Jerusalem, the perfected Church, the Bride of the Lamb.
We now can see what a destructive error "faith alone" is. This doctrine leaves the believer thinking that his salvation consists only of the belief that his sins have been forgiven. It does not present the actual salvation, which assuredly includes forgiveness, but has to do primarily with our change into the image of Christ—that to which we have been predestined.
Because the relationship between the two covenants has become so clear, I have the feeling that God just now is opening our understanding to His Word in preparation for the soon coming of His Kingdom to the earth. The Kingdom is not found in a legal state of justification but in the actual, observable doing of God’s will in the earth.
More Righteous Than the Scribes and Pharisees
The seeming contradiction is resolved readily. Under the new covenant the true and eternal meaning of the Ten Commandments is written in our heart and mind. Thus the Law does not pass away, it passes from stone tablets and is engraved in the human personality.
Each of the Ten Commandments is included in the forming of Christ in us. The forming of Christ in us is equivalent to writing the Law in our mind and heart.
We have been reviewing the Commandments and have arrived at the fourth Commandment, the Sabbath Commandment. How is the Sabbath Commandment expanded and applied to us under the new covenant?
The heart of the Sabbath is, I believe, set forth by Isaiah in the following words: "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
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.
If you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words.
To my way of thinking, this is the heart of the Sabbath Commandment, rather than the emphasis on not working on Saturday.
The Lord Jesus always kept these aspects of the Sabbath, although He was criticized for healing on the Sabbath.
The primary thesis of the Book of Hebrews is that of ceasing from our own works and pressing into the rest of God. This is the same idea as abiding in Christ. Here is the heart of the Sabbath.
But unlike that of not exerting ourselves on Saturday, the true, eternal Sabbath, the eternal rest of God, is that of abiding in Christ every moment of every day and night.
God finished everything, including your life and mine, on the seventh day. Therefore our first responsibility in life is to press into that which God foreordained for us.
The decision that is placed before every human being is simply understood: either I am going to determine my own life, or I am going to look to God for my life. We cannot possibly enter our Kingdom inheritance until we are willing to forsake our own imaginations and enthusiasms and set ourselves continually to finding out what the Lord desires at the moment. If we are not in the habit of hearing from God, we can continually acknowledge Him in all our ways and He shall direct our paths.
We can exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees in every one of the Ten Commandments because we have grace they did not have. The several aspects of new-covenant grace are as follows:
The blood atonement.
The born-again experience.
The Holy Spirit guiding us, comforting us, helping us, enabling us to bear witness, enabling us to overcome sin, and dwelling in us forever. While the blood of the cross gives us the authority to enter the Kingdom of God, it is the Holy Spirit who provides the wisdom and power that enable us to live in a manner pleasing to God.
We have the gifts and ministries of the Spirit.
The testimony of the Apostles.
We have the writing of God's eternal moral law in our heart and mind.
We have the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
If we keep Christ's commandments faithfully, the Father and the Son will make Their eternal abode in us.
If we are faithful in overcoming sin today, when the Lord comes we shall receive a body that is filled with righteousness instead of sin.
God has spoken to us in the two hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. These are messages to America, saying that we are sinning and must repent. Otherwise there are going to be more catastrophes.
If we would save ourselves and our loved ones we must lay hold upon the various aspects of grace I have mentioned until we are able to keep the true, eternal commandments of the eternal moral Law of God.
Moving up to a Higher Level of Faith
Steve’s message was one that every Christian could agree with, I believe. He spoke of defending the faith. By this he means obeying the Scripture in all it commands. There certainly is a need for this today.
Steve has encountered many problems in his church recently which were quite beyond his control. As a result, the power of God was at the retreat and at the church. Steve preached with anointing and power because of the pressure on him.
He referred to the fourth chapter of II Corinthians, which is one of my favorites. We are
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:7-12—NIV)
Isn’t it the truth? Have you been there, done that, and got the T-shirt as they say. I certainly have!
Have you been hard pressed on every side lately? You will not be crushed, because of the resurrection power of the Lord Jesus. He never forsakes those who trust in Him!
Are you perplexed, having a difficult time trying to understand what is taking place in you life? Not to worry! :His Life will keep you from despair. "God, I do not understand you but I trust you (Basilea Schlink).
Are you being persecuted? The Lord will never, never, never leave you. You can count on that!
Have you been struck down? Just hang in there. The power of Christ will lift you up.
Also, the people whom you affect will experience the Life of the Lord because Christ will give enough power to lift you and bring life to them. There simply is no true Christian life apart from these pressures.
Sunday evening Steve spoke about something I never heard of. He called it Shadididiah. No, I did not misspell it. It means God Almighty.
Steve said that when you put a stethoscope over someone’s heart, what you hear is Shadididiah with every beat. Steve’s point is that every person living on the earth is proclaiming the Glory of God Almighty. I would not doubt this for one minute!
Steve’s entire message, Friday evening, Saturday morning, Saturday evening, Sunday morning, Sunday evening, was practical and anointed. He did us a lot of good.
If some pastor is reading these words, I can put you in touch with Steve. I do not believe you would be disappointed if he spoke in your church.
Walking in Light, Life, and Love
Our Assistant Pastor, Stan Josephsen, ministered to us concerning what it will take for us to be able to stand as true Christians in the troublesome days ahead.
Stan warned us that "business as usual"---including routine church attendance and service---will not be enough to bring us through the judgments that are set to fall upon our nation and across the whole earth.
Instead, we will have to learn how to walk in Light, Life, and Love in order to survive and be of good use in God's hands. This process will require from us the willingness to receive chastening and instruction both from the Lord and those whom He has placed in our lives to work change in our personalities.
While many in the Christian churches of today focus primarily on Love, that is something that is an end result of walking first in the Light and letting it lead us into Life. Love comes from His life, which comes from walking in the Light together with Him.
Light was defined as anything that makes visible, or brings sin out from its cover of darkness.
Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5:13-14---NIV)
When we recognize and allow God's Spirit to point out the sin in our life we are coming to the Light. We walk further into it by asking Him not only for forgiveness but also deliverance from that darkness. Too many church people are forgiven but not delivered from their sins and so they fall into repetitive cycles of victory followed by defeat.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9---NIV)
Walking in the Light requires fellowship, both with God and His people. Fellowship is based on accountability---the willingness to cooperate with the process of having our own sins, not those of others, brought out in the open as God knows how best to do.
Living as children of light produces fruit---goodness, righteousness, and truth. This produces Life and enables us to prove God's will.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8-10---NIV)
The product of Life is being able to love God, your neighbor, and yourself as the Lord intended---to understand its real meaning. Loving God requires keeping His commandments. Walking in the Light, living by His Life enables us to love Him by doing what He has said.
Sudden change is on the horizon. To walk in the Light we need to become accountable to God's Spirit and the people He will use to challenge our personalities and reveal any darkness that may yet reside in them. If we cooperate with the Light, His life will grow in us and His Love will follow close behind.
The Third Great Work
In order to come to God and obtain the forgiveness of our sins we must receive the forgiveness that was purchased by the blood of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Cavalry. Now we have been made righteous through our faith. Such ascribed righteousness grants to us the authority to enter the program that leads to the eternal Sabbath, the rest in which God rests in us and we in God.
Next we must yield to the Lord that He may grant us His Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, as we walk in daily fellowship with Him, furnishes us with the wisdom and power to press forward to the fullness of God’s rest. Through the Spirit we are able to overcome sin and also to bear witness of the atoning blood and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Now we possess the authority to enter the Kingdom of God, and also the wisdom and power to begin the lifelong program of transformation into the image of Christ, and untroubled entrance into the Person and will of God.
We have passed the guard at the gate and have approached the tool shed that we may receive all the equipment we need to do the job.
The "job" is to enter fully into that perfect rest in which all that we are, think, say, and do is proceeding from the Lord Jesus Christ.
We stand in relationship to Christ as Christ stands in relationship to the Father. Christ lives by the Life of the Father, drawing every aspect of His being and doing from God. We are to live by the Life of Christ, drawing every aspect of our being and doing from Christ.
To thus become the Kingdom of God and Christ, the chariot of God we might say, we must follow the Spirit carefully. Satan will resist us at every turn. We overcome Satan by trusting in the blood of the Lamb to keep us acceptable to God; by always confessing our faith in God and His Word, thus testifying to the faithfulness and truth of God; and by loving not our own life to the point of death.
Obviously we have to choose between our own life, our own desires, our own plans, and God’s Life, God’s desires, and God’s plans. We are living in the eternal Sabbath when our first nature is crucified with Jesus Christ and now we are living by His resurrection life and power.
The emphasis of the true Sabbath is not on our not working. It is on not working according to our own desires. God rested on the seventh day. Now we are to enter that rest by ceasing from our own works and looking to God for every detail of life.
We have come now, in God’s calendar of days, to this third great area of redemption. First, the blood of the cross. Second, the Holy Spirit. Third, the fullness of God dwelling in us through Christ such we have been crucified with Christ but nevertheless live.
The rest of God was known to the Apostles, as we read in the Book of Hebrews. When the original Apostles were taken to Heaven, the Spirit of revelation went with them. Then men began to write commentaries on the Scriptures.
Hundreds of years passed, and then the Reformers began to grapple with the doctrine of justification. The Bible was translated into the language of the common people. The priesthood of the believers was regained along with water baptism by immersion.
The concept that a holy life must follow justification if the work of salvation is to proceed in our life was emphasized in the nineteenth century. At the turn of the twentieth century the baptism of the Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues was restored.
Now we are in the twenty-first century. The Ark of God is coming down the road. We are not to put our hand on the Ark, so to speak. The Glory of the Lord is approaching, and there are mighty angels whose task is to guard the Glory.
All that God has planned from the beginning is at hand. But who will take advantage of the day of his visitation? It is easy to miss what God is doing. We may be content to remain with justification, or with Pentecostal manifestations. We may not be willing to set aside our own life in order that Christ may have His undisputed way in us.
There are multitudes who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and their Savior.
There is a part of this multitude who have learned to yield to the Spirit. Actually, the purpose of tongues, according to the Scriptures, is to lead us into the eternal Sabbath, into that state where it is Christ who is living in us rather than our original nature.
Now the Spirit of God is searching among the multitudes of the saved to determine who is willing to take this further step in God. To press forward to know Christ, to know the power of His resurrection, to experience the fellowship of His sufferings, requires total consecration. First justification. Then sanctification through the Spirit. And now total consecration—the presentation of our body as a living sacrifice that we might prove the will of God for our life.
Christ died that we might live. Now we have to die that He might live in us.
How about you? You know, Jesus has kept the best wine until now. Now we are understanding and entering God in a manner seen from afar by the prophets and wise men of old. It is the perfection for which Abraham is waiting, because he cannot be made perfect apart from us.
Again I ask: How about you? Are you going to gladden the heart of Christ by giving all that you are and do to Him? Will you open your heart to Him that He may enter and dine with you? Or is He knocking in vain as far as you are concerned?
Open the everlasting doors of your personality and the Kingdom of Glory will enter. Who is this King of Glory? He is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Armies, soon to come and install His rightful rulership over the earth.
The wise individual will tremble at the thought and hasten to enter the Sabbath rest of God that he or she may be able to stand throughout the age of physical and moral horrors that is approaching the United States, and then return with Christ and all those in whom He is reigning to help with the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
"Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven. Amen."
Entering the Kingdom of God
The original Gospel of the Kingdom was preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles of Christ. After the Apostles died, the Spirit of revelation lifted and men began to write commentaries. At some point the Gospel of the Kingdom of God changed to the Gospel of going to Heaven when we die.
Considerable spiritual darkness prevailed for several centuries. Then, a few hundred years ago, it appears that the Spirit of God began the work of restoring what had been lost since the days of the Apostles. Many aspects of the new covenant have been added to the Christian churches since then, including the role of faith in the work of justification; the priesthood of the believer; water baptism by immersion, the born-again experience; the importance of holy living, and finally, during the twentieth century, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in gifts and ministries.
Now, in our day, the original Gospel of the Kingdom is being restored. The goal of salvation now is seen to be entering or inheriting the Kingdom of God, rather than escaping Hell and entering Heaven when we die. Since this change in Christian thinking is so radical, so profound, it seems to me that it will take another twenty-five years before even a dent is made in "Heaven thinking."
Is there a Heaven where God and Christ are? Indeed there is. Is there a Hell where wicked people are sent? Indeed there is. But neither of these places is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God has only to do with Jesus Christ, not with Hell or Heaven.
If you will take a marker of some kind and go through the New Testament and highlight passages that use the word "kingdom," you will be amazed at the number of occurrences. It is the Kingdom that is emphasized in the New Testament. The expression "go to Heaven" is not mentioned one time in the New Testament. The frequency of mention of the Kingdom should be enough to cause the devout reader to change from Heaven thinking to Kingdom thinking. But it is likely no such change will take place. Although scriptural, it may be too much for us to handle at this time.
Is there a practical purpose for teaching the Kingdom of God rather than being saved to go to Heaven? Indeed there is. Supposedly we go to Heaven by grace, meaning that a change in our personality and behavior is not absolutely required. Also, we do not attain our goal until we die physically, often resulting in a passive belief in Christ throughout our lifetime.
But to enter the Kingdom of God takes place right now. We can say "enter" or "inherit" the Kingdom of God. Both verbs are true, although one stresses the battle that is required to enter the Kingdom while the second verb, "inherit," makes us know that Christ is ready to give us that which He Himself has inherited from the Father.
The reason we have to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God is that it is the Kingdom that is born in us. Jesus Christ Himself is the King of the Kingdom and the Kingdom itself. As Christ is formed in us we perform the will of God while on the earth just as it is performed in Heaven.
The reason we have to overcome our sinful nature through the Holy Spirit before we can inherit the Kingdom is that there is no sin in the Kingdom. Sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God. But there is no sin in the Kingdom of God. As Jesus pointed out, when unclean spirits are cast out, then the Kingdom has come to us.
As Christ is formed in us we begin to practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Such transformation takes place now—today—while we are alive on the earth. However, there also will be a coming of the Kingdom to the earth when Christ appears with His saints and installs the Kingdom by force.
The Lord told us the Kingdom is entered forcibly and forceful men take hold of it. In order to enter the Kingdom today we have to be very determined. Numerous forces oppose us, including the demons and our own corrupt nature. We have to take ground by continual prayer, faith in Christ, obedience to the Spirit, patience, and courage. It is city by city as Satan gives ground before us and we being to practice iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
Many in our day are destined to become members of the nobility of the Kingdom. The nobility are tested constantly. They have to drink the cup of suffering until they have learned total obedience to Christ. They are the rulers of the age to come, being brought forth in a period of enormous temptation to sin. Many who are last in time shall be of first rank in the Kingdom.
If you have been chosen to rule with Christ you will have to overcome every enemy that comes against you. You indeed can overcome through Christ; but He will not do it for you and you cannot do it by yourself. Please keep this balance in mind, for it is necessary if you would live the victorious life in Christ.
We are in marvelous days—days of great danger as well as days of great opportunity to enter and inherit the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Many, many pastors and members of congregations will lose their first love because of the pornography that is available. To resist physical lust now and in the future will require much more dedication than ordinarily is true of Christian believers. We have been given a space of time in which to prepare ourselves. If we do not, we will fall into spiritual destruction in the coming age of moral and physical horrors. If we succeed in standing in Christ we will save ourselves and our loved ones.
Remember, as you make the change from Heaven-thinking to Kingdom-thinking, Heaven is a place. It is our term for Paradise which at one time was on the earth, is now in the spirit world, and when the Lord Jesus returns will once again be on the earth.
But entering and inheriting the Kingdom of God is independent of Heaven or Paradise. It is a change in us in which our natural, adamic life is destroyed and in its place is created the very Life of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Life of Christ is formed in us as we keep choosing to walk in the Spirit of God and refuse to yield to sinful behavior. As we do this we are given the hidden manna, which is the body and blood of the Lamb of God fed to our inner nature.
Remember—you can live a victorious Christian Life. Christ will provide you with all the wisdom, strength, and courage you need to be completely successful. But it is up to you to keep pressing into Christ each moment of each day and night.
It is kingdom against kingdom, the Kingdom of God against the kingdom of Satan. There are more for us than those who are against us. On whose side do you choose to be? The forces are too great for you to remain neutral.
A New Frame of Reference
I realize that most Christian ministers will claim they always have preached the Gospel of the Kingdom. This same kind of phenomenon occurred when God poured out His Spirit in the last century. The Christian ministry often claimed that they already had the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues was only for the first century.
The truth is, we have not been preaching the original Gospel of the Kingdom set forth by Joh the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the early Apostles. We have been preaching the Gospel of Heaven. We are saved to go to Heaven when we die. Am I correct in this?
There is no passage of Scripture, Old Testament or New, that informs us to be saved means we are eligible to escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die; at least no passage of which I am aware.
It is true that to be saved means to be saved from the Divine wrath that will be poured upon mankind in the closing days of the Church Age; and then to not be thrown into the Lake Fire at the last judgment. The lost are those who will be denied citizenship on the new earth when it comes down from Heaven.
But the goal of our salvation is more than escape from the Divine wrath, it is entrance into the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the subject of the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New Testament.
The Kingdom of God has both an internal aspect and an external aspect. The external aspect will be a consequence of the internal aspect.
The previous century was that of the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost. It was the Pentecostal century.
The feast that follows Pentecost is the Blowing of Trumpets. The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of the King. The seven trumpets of the Book of Revelation describe the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. But the concern now is the personal fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets.
The Lord Jesus, the Lord of Armies, of Hosts, is standing before His churches in this hour. He is ready to wage war against His enemies who dwell in us. If we are an experienced Christian we may note that various unrighteous, unholy impulses are beginning to surface in our personality. This is because the Spirit of God is calling them forth.
How do we respond when unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, rage, lying, adultery, fornication, addiction, trust in money instead of in the Lord, begin to rear up in us?
If we say we have been saved by grace and so it doesn’t matter what we do, we cannot enter the internal Kingdom of God. If we blame other people or our circumstances for our ungodly behavior, we cannot enter the internal Kingdom of God.
What then are we to do?
We are to fiercely, diligently confess these enemies to the Lord so He can destroy our sinful nature. Such judgment and deliverance is not accomplished in a moment but takes place over a period of time as we follow the Lord Jesus.
The Kingdom of God is actual righteousness, actual peace, actual joy in the Holy Spirit. Numerous enemies will conspire to prevent us from behaving righteously; from having peace; from having a deeply settled joy during our present circumstances.
It is a fight, a prolonged battle. But this is how we inherit the inner Kingdom of God. No form of sinful behavior is permitted to enter the Kingdom of God.
The preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God includes the external Kingdom. The external Kingdom will come to the earth as soon as the Lord Jesus has a company of saints who have battled through until the internal Kingdom has been developed in them.
We are in a paradigm shift, a change of our frame of reference. We no longer are looking for residence in the spirit world. We do not know what residence in the spirit world will be like. Our traditions picture a sort of fairyland in which we will enjoy visiting with our deceased loved ones. No such fairyland is set forth in the Old or New Testaments.
What actually is set forth is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, the doing of God’s will in the earth. Then the little children will be able to play safely in the Paradise of God. Heaven is coming to the earth, so to speak. This is a superior vision to that of eternal residence in the spirit world with the angels and cherubim. Our home is the earth. This is where we were created, and this is what we shall inherit. The Lord Jesus Christ shall inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth, and we are coheirs with Him.
When I first became a Christian I was taught by the Navigators that I was to study and meditate continually in God’s Word, and that if I did so I would make a success of the Christian discipleship. This I have done. But when I returned from military service, where I was converted, I found that the churches were not adhering to God’s Word but to their traditions.
An age of moral and physical horrors is upon us. We cannot stand on our traditions, for they shall fail us. Our hope for our survival and that of our loved ones must be based solidly on the written Word of God. No matter what we think may be true, it is what God has said that will stand in the day of trouble.
Don’t you agree? I think we need to return to the Bible and find out what it actually says.
I had a heavy burden Sunday morning concerning the deterioration of the American culture, particularly concerning sexual indulgence. It is incredible that children in the primary grades are being introduced to the idea of sexual activity. This instruction is given because of the notion that somehow this will enable the children to have a normal, healthy life. However, the opposite is true. It will lead the youngsters into early experimentation with sexual intercourse in its various perverted forms. The result will not be psychological health but unwanted pregnancies, abortion, and venereal disease.
As a former public-school teacher and administrator I witnessed firsthand the early sex-education classes. The ridiculous aspect of such "education" was that the youngsters already knew where babies come from, so the money spent on such instruction was wasted, from my point of view. It did, however, elicit an interest in sexual activity, as suggested by the girl’s underwear draped around the girls’ restroom in the school.
As I see it, the overwhelming emphasis on sexual activity now filling our country is of Satan. Why? Because he and his demons cannot express their lusts in the spirit world. Unclean spirits must enter human beings, even children, and use people as vehicles through which they can express their uncontrollable lusts
We know that abortion is murder in the sight of God. Abortion is the reason why the United States shall be visited with severe judgments in the coming days.
The desire for wealth, for power, and for sexual indulgence are chains that bind human beings, preventing them from finding God’s will for their life. Binding people with the chains of physical lust accomplishes Satan’s goals. He is inspiring American people to plunge into the cesspool of sexual indulgence. Young and old, pastors and congregations, stare at the pornographic spectacles on the Internet, not realizing that they are being hindered from entering the Kingdom of God.
I am under the impression that by the expression "many who are last shall be first," the Lord Jesus meant that in the days in which we are living there shall be many saints who will press forward until they attain to their predestined position on one of the thrones that will govern the works of God’s hands for eternity.
Two factors are making it possible for the development of such kings in our day: the bloodstained record of the saints who have gone before us and have laid the foundations of Christian doctrine, in preparation for the Gospel of the Kingdom that now is going forth. The second factor that is a necessary part of the development of God’s kings is the character that is being built as diligent disciples are fiercely resisting the demonic pressures in the areas of the pursuit of money, the pursuit of power, and especially in the area of sexual indulgence.
I have said in time past that the day would come when the temptations to sin would be so powerful we no longer could resist them, unless we truly are leading a sanctified, consecrated life. This day may well be here, as we see the drive to place pornographic filth on cellphones, thus making the most debased antics of adults visible to children.
Why are the Christian churches unable to stop the flood of moral degradation? The reason is, we are doing what Jude warned against. We have made Divine grace an excuse for immorality. We have emphasized, emphasized, emphasized that justification and our works, whether good or evil, are unrelated. So pastors and their congregations when they visit a motel check out the vilest films to watch in the privacy of their rooms (not to mention what they are doing in their homes in the midnight hours).
What a mighty, sustained effort is required if we are to resist Satan and his demons as they parade objects of lust in front of us! How many believers will be able to stand when they can gorge themselves on most perverted sexual behavior—made readily available on their cellphones at all times and in all places. The resolve of people to resist the barrage of explicit sexual material is destroyed as the pulpits of America thunder that it does not matter how we behave because our behavior can never interfere with our free trip to Heaven.
No civilization has sunk into moral depravity, as is happening in America today, without being destroyed by the Lord. It may be we have gone past the point where our prayers will save our nation. Perhaps all we can do now is to save ourselves and our loved ones by turning away from the continual invitation to engage in sexual indulgence.
The demons of lust are powerful and murderous. This is why we witness the violence that is exhibited when homosexuals believe their agenda is being threatened. However the Lord Jesus Christ is more powerful than the demons. When we are tempted to succumb to inappropriate sexual activity we must call on Jesus for help. He will send His Spirit and strong angels until we are able to turn away from the chains of sexual indulgence.
In the evening service the suggestion was made that we pray for God to make a population of people our inheritance along with a designated area of the earth. These are the inheritance of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we ar coheirs with Him.
Pressing Through The Veil
In the Tabernacle of the Congregation, which Moses constructed according to God's instruction, there was a veil between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. Placed directly in front of that veil was the Altar of Incense. This veil and altar are symbolic of the the third death and resurrection God's victorious saints must experience to become fully developed into the image of Jesus Christ and be in union and at rest with God the Father.
Our Assistant Pastor, Stan Josephsen, spoke to us about interpreting the intense trials and suffering we are currently experiencing as evidence that God is beckoning us to press forward into His fullness.
Stan shared the difficulties he faces in his employment as a supervisor in the drywall industry. He is in a position where he is in the middle between the builders seeking to construct as many homes as possible before the end of the year and the homeowners who expect to receive a new house that is nearly perfect. The pace that the builders set almost guarantees that the workmanship by the various construction trades will not provide the kind of quality that each new homeowner reasonably expects. It is Stan's job to manage a group of men who do their best to settle the differences between the homeowners expectations and what the construction industry has provided given its frantic end of the year production.
The pressure and frustration of dealing with people in such a situation provides us all with two choices. We can become upset, attempt to defend ourselves or to blame others lack of professionalism. Or, we can go to the Lord and ask Him for the grace to meet each need as it comes from the ability and strength the new creation within us can provide.
When we choose the first course of action above we may find temporary relief but we have kept our Adamic nature alive and missed an opportunity for growth in the Kingdom of God. Choosing the second option places on the path to coming closer into union with God.
Each day God designs opportunities and situations, using people and things to bring us to this point of decision of keeping our own will and way active or choosing to allow God to bring us through in the manner He knows is best for us to mature in Christ. Each time we die to our own will and choose God's will instead we enter more fully into the image of Jesus Christ.
One of the outcomes of coming into the image of Christ is that we are transformed into people that can help those around us through their own particular difficulties. Instead of offering them religion God enables us to offer them eternal life coming forth from Christ in us.
Stan encouraged us to cooperate with God in these difficult situations so that we might become a drink offering in His hand poured out before His Presence so that others who follow us might have a clear path to follow on their own individual journey to find God's will for their lives.
We Are Denying the Lordship of Christ!
I have been teaching for many years that we do not understand the role of Divine grace in our salvation. God has given Divine grace to us as an alternative to the Law of Moses; but we are viewing Divine grace as an alternative to moral change, an alternative to righteous, holy, obedient behavior. It is as though God is going to relate to us forever in terms of forgiveness rather than in terms of our change into His image. Grace, as we understand it today, is God’s apology for our lawlessness. It marks a change from every other covenant God has made with man.
I began today by stressing that ours is a day of preparation. We are in the time of the fat cows. The days of the lean cows are just ahead of us. If we take advantage of all the spiritual blessings God is providing today, we will be able to stand and help others to stand when the lean cows come. But if we do not take advantage of what is being offered today, we and our loved ones will perish during the period of moral and physical horrors now on the horizon.
I have said many times that our understanding of grace is the common denominator of the several errors that have sprung up rather recently, such as belief in a pre-tribulation rapture; the faith and prosperity messages; imaging; and other unscriptural emphases that view salvation as a plan to benefit man. These aberrations do not realize that the Christian salvation is a program to satisfy God’s needs and to fill the roles and activities necessary for the establishing of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
These ideas to a great extent have destroyed the moral strength of the American churches, and of the American government which depends on the Christian churches for its moral compass. It is not possible that moral guidelines can proceed from the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. They must proceed from the churches, and the members of the churches more often than not are not being delivered from the sinful nature.
As if the destruction of America that shall take place because of our immorality were not enough, an even more sinister aspect of our misunderstanding of Divine grace may be perceived. It is that we are denying the lordship of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We place great emphasis today on the fact that Jesus Christ is the only Savior sent from God. He is the only Savior and is able to save to the uttermost those who trust in Him. I do not mean He is able to bring them to Heaven, for that is not the goal presented in the New Testament. Rather Christ is able to save us from the Person and works of Satan and bring us to the Person and works of God—a terribly important distinction if we are to understand the program of redemption.
However, we have lost sight of the fact that Jesus Christ is our personal and collective Lord. If we are to receive Him as our Lord, then we must do all He commands.
Because of Augustine’s emphasis on the depravity of man, apparently, we recognize that we cannot save ourselves. But we have ignored the numerous passages in the New Testament that inform us we can be changed through the power of Christ. We indeed can gain victory over our sinful nature until we no longer are walking in known sin.
Because of the misunderstanding of Divine grace, plus the belief that we are hopeless sinners and must be saved by forgiveness alone, we have decided that we can love Christ, worship Christ, receive the salvation of Christ, and yet not obey His commands or those of His Apostles. In other words, we will accept the Savior but not the Lord. And this is a terrible state of affairs! We are stressing the Savior at the expense of the Lord. How wise Satan is! It is the Lordship of Jesus Christ that Satan fears. Satan wants to be our Lord. We have been deceived!
How often do we say to sinners, "Let Jesus into your heart and you will be saved." Search the Old and New Testaments. Underline the passage that tells us to let Jesus into our heart if we would be saved. The message to the unsaved is to turn away from sin, put your faith in the atoning blood for the forgiveness of your sins, be baptized in water, and you will receive the Spirit of God, which is eternal life.
What about "let Jesus into your heart"? The only supporting passage would be in Revelation where the Lord is knocking at the door of our heart. But this passage is not directed at the unsaved but at the seventh Lampstand of God, the church of Laodicea.
Apparently the church of Laodicea was filled with self-direction. It claimed to have need of nothing; but it was in a wretched condition, just as is true of so many Christian churches of our day.
To the church of the Laodiceans (it certainly wasn’t the church of Jesus Christ)—to us if we will receive it—the Lord Jesus is asking entrance. Christ wants to dine with us. We dine on His body and blood. He dines on our obedience and worship. If we will do this we will be seated on the heavenly throne with Him.
Now the question is, why does Christ want to enter and dine with us. Who is This who wants to enter us and commune with us at the deepest level of our personality?
The answer is, the King of Glory; the Lord of Forces, of Hosts.
Why does He desire to enter and dine with us (shades of the Song of Solomon)? It is so that He can drive the enemy from us, and then through us from the earth. It is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets, the celebration that occurs after the feast of Pentecost.
Today Christ, the King of all other kings, is knocking at the door of your heart and my heart. Will we obey Him? Will we obey His commands and those of His Apostles found in the New Testament? Will we listen to Jesus and do what He tells us to do personally?
If we claim "grace," stating that we are not saved by works but by His forgiveness alone, we will be guilty of denying His right to be our Lord. If we deny the right of the Lord Jesus Christ to be our personal Lord, then we can forget about His being our personal Savior.
Would we say to the Lord Jesus: "You have to save me and take me to Heaven because I am saved by grace, even though I am not doing what you have commanded; I have been saved by a sovereign grace, so you have no right to tell me I have to obey You in order to go to Heaven?
At night we touched on another aspect of the manner in which grace is being misunderstood. Using Romans and Ephesians he expounded the following:
Paul strove in chapters three through five of the Book of Romans to set people free from the Law of Moses so they could look only to Christ to bring forth the fruit of godly behavior. He did not, as is believed today, strive to set people free so they could continue to obey their sinful nature and still be counted righteous in the sight of God.
We are considered righteous when we turn from the Law of Moses and place our faith in Jesus Christ. Then we are to continue in righteousness and inherit the Kingdom of God by putting off our old sinful nature and putting on the new Nature of Christ.
Paul had to emphasize repeatedly that we are justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ apart from works, meaning the works of the Law of Moses. This is because until we are released from the observance of religious laws we are not free mentally to follow the Holy Spirit in bringing forth the fruit of righteous, holy, obedient behavior.
Any sort of religious guidelines, whether the Law of Moses or another set of rules, will hinder our walk with Christ. We will look to the rule rather than to the Lord. Such rules may help us at first. But eventually they will prevent the fullness of our ability to look to Christ for every thought, word, and action of the day and night, a practice necessary if we are to be conformed to Christ’s image and dwell in the center of God’s Person and will.
You can hear the sermon at listen.
Salvation and Redemption
The term "salvation" is quite well known to Christian people. The term "redemption" also is familiar, but perhaps not used as often. We can think of salvation as preservation in the Day of Wrath. Redemption has to do with the restoring of man’s inheritance as a son of God in God’s image.
If someone were to fall overboard and we rescued him or her we could say we saved that person, that is, saved him or her from drowning. This tells us nothing about what kind of a life the individual would live from that time. The concept of rescuing someone is similar to the manner in which the term "salvation" often is used in the New Testament.
Redemption has to do with gaining back a possession we had lost because of hardship, or because we had been deceived, or had been overcome by a powerful adversary. For example, if we had been forced to pawn a personal item in order to obtain much needed money, we might at a later time be able to redeem our possession from the pawnbroker by paying the amount we borrowed plus interest.
Satan is the pawnbroker. We sold our inheritance to him in the Garden of Eden. We ourselves do not have the price of redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. His atoning blood pays the full price for our redemption. However Satan, although the debt has been paid in full, is unwilling to give us back our inheritance. Therefore the Lord Jesus has to go to war to help us regain what we forfeited in the beginning.
When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we are sealed unto the Day of Redemption. It is as though a buyer went through a warehouse containing obsolete machine tools, such as drill presses and turret lathes, and marked some of them, the ones he wanted to save, with a piece of chalk. The remainder of the machinery was to be discarded as scrap iron. This is what it means to be sealed to the Day of Redemption, so to speak.
Redemption then would be compared to the buyer placing the "sealed" machinery in his factory, cleaning it up, and putting it to work.
We have been "sealed" to the time of redemption It is our point of view that the time of redemption has begun, and is symbolized in the Bible by the three Jewish convocations that came after the Jewish feast of Pentecost: the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. We have been at the spiritual fulfillment of Pentecost. Now we are entering the spiritual fulfillments of the remaining three feasts.
Being forgiven through the blood atonement and filled with the Spirit provides the tools we need for the operation of redemption. We are ready to move forward to the restoration of that which was forfeited in the Garden of Eden.
There are four aspects of the inheritance that we were given in the beginning, and now must be redeemed from Satan by Christ and we working together. Christ, our Redeemer, will not hand us back these four aspects by Himself, and we are unable to wrest them back by ourselves. It is Christ and we working together.
It is like power steering in an automobile. The steering wheel will not turn by itself. We have to turn the wheel in the direction we desire to go. Then the motor will take over and turn the car in the right direction. We have to ask to go in the right path. Then our Redeemer will provide the power.
We have been forgiven our sins through the blood of the cross. Now there are four aspects of our inheritance that are to be restored in the Day of Redemption, which we believe has commenced: fellowship with God; eternal life; self-control; and Paradise.
When Adam and Eve sinned they hid from God. They lost fellowship with Him. Today people are afraid of God and do not want Him too close to them. This is true of many people in the world and also of some Christians. The Bible tells us that if we would walk with God we must come out from that which is unclean and live a holy life. If we desire to do this, Christ will help us.
Eternal life was lost when Adam and Eve were barred from the Tree of Life. Today we can eat from the Tree of Life as we overcome sin. Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life. When we turn away from sin, with His assistance, we are given in the spirit realm His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. We should be eating and drinking of Him at all times, always turning away from sin. This is how we grow in eternal life. If we choose to live by His body and blood, instead of just by natural food, He will raise us to Himself in the Day of Resurrection.
The third aspect of our inheritance is self-control. Adam and Eve were made in the image of God. They had no sin nature. They were innocent of evil. God pronounced them as being "very good."
But sin was crouching at the door. Sin is spiritual, not physical. God told Cain it was up to him to master sin, because sin desired to have Cain, to posses him, to control him. Sin controls us until through Jesus Christ we are able to master it. Until such time we have sin-control in place of self-control.
The Book of Matthew tells us that at the end of the age the messengers of God will remove sin from the Kingdom. We see this happening today as little by little we are able, through Christ, to gain victory over our sinful impulses. The regaining of our self-control is a very important aspect of redemption. Up to this point in time most of us believers have been guided by sin-control rather than self-control.
A point was raised during the night service that bears emphasizing. In the Book of Genesis, God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door and wanted to have him. God told Cain it was up to him to master sin. Cain did not do this, and sin entered him and drove him to murder his brother.
Someone asked me how Cain could master sin apart from the power of Christ. My response was that Cain had to make a decision to master sin, and then God would have helped him.
Here is a concept that needs to be stressed in our day. We have been taught that we cannot overcome sin, and that it is not necessary that we overcome sin. Absolutely unscriptural on both counts.
When we read the New Testament exhortations concerning the sins of the flesh we find the writers telling us to just stop sinning. This exhortation is found in many passages. The warning to stop sinning is not qualified by the idea that there is nothing we can do and Christ must do it all.
Any believer can stop sinning, as he becomes aware of his unclean behavior, by asking the Lord to forgive him and help him. It never is the will of Christ that a believer knowingly continue in sin. Any person can be delivered from the most severe bondages by relentlessly coming to Christ for deliverance. The power of Christ to deliver us from sin is limitless.
The inheritance that must be restored to us (redeemed) comprises fellowship with God, increasing measures of eternal life, and self-control, that is, the ability to stop sinning.
The final aspect of our inheritance is Paradise. Paradise is the environment that was enjoyed by Adam and Eve in the beginning.
We cannot be admitted to Paradise until we have regained our self-control. If we were to be allowed into Paradise while sin was still controlling us, Paradise would become like the world is today.
We know Christ took the thief on the cross to be with Him in Paradise. We can assume that the thief still had a sin-nature. We know also that no sin ever will be permitted to remain in the Kingdom of God. We conclude, therefore, that at some point and in some manner Christ, with the cooperation of the thief, will deal with the sinful urges in the thief. If the thief does not cooperate, he will be expelled from Paradise.
It is true also of us. We have a sinful nature. God accepts us on the basis of the blood of the cross. After that, Christ deals with us concerning our sinful nature. If we cooperate willingly with Christ in the work of redemption, we will continue in the Kingdom. But if we refuse to cooperate with Christ in the work of redemption, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. It is as simple as this.
You can hear the sermon at listen.
Changing Our Hope
The "blessed hope" of Christian people is that Christ will return from Heaven and take us back to Heaven. This is not the hope presented by the Apostle Paul. The hope presented by Paul is that Christ will return and complete the work of deliverance from the presence of sin in our body; that we no longer will be trapped in a body of sin and death.
When I became a Christian I was told I was a sinner; I could not save myself. If I received Christ as my Savior I would go to Heaven when I died. Naturally I regarded eternal residence in Heaven as my hope. This is what I had been taught.
As I have studied the New Testament I have begun to see that eternal residence in Heaven is not the stated hope of salvation. Anyone can read the New Testament and verify my conclusion.
What, then, is the hope offered by the new covenant? The hope of the new covenant is that we may be freed from the authority and power of sin.
Why do we want to be freed from the authority and power of sin? For two reasons. First, because we want to be pleasing to God. We do not want to live our life doing things that displease our Creator. We love God and want to please Him. It is as simple as this.
Second, we never shall enjoy lasting love, joy, and peace until we have been delivered from the sinful desires that dwell in us. Love, joy, and peace are the goals of every normal individual. The things, circumstances, and relationships we desire are thought by us to bring love, joy, and peace. This is why we seek them. But no thing, no circumstance, or no relationship can bring us lasting love, joy, and peace while we have sinful desires.
Let us think for a moment about the model of redemption.
We are redeemed from guilt.
We are redeemed from sinful motivations
We are redeemed from spiritual death
We are redeemed from alienation from God.
We will be redeemed from a cursed environment.
Each of the five are given us by our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. But we have a role in acquiring each aspect of redemption.
The blood of Christ pays the price of redemption for the guilt of our sin, but we have to obtain this redemption by faith.
The Holy Spirit acting upon the authority of the blood of the cross drives from us the various aspects of our sinful nature. But we have to cooperate by confessing, denouncing, and renouncing each sinful motivation as the Spirit points it out to us.
We are given to eat from the Tree of Eternal Life, which is Jesus Christ, every time we obey Him.
Freedom from the guilt and power of sin, and growth in eternal life, enable us to have fellowship with God.
When these four areas have been redeemed, we are able to receive and maintain Paradise.
The conventional hope of the Gospel is that Christ will return and bring us to Paradise to live forever. But as long as we lack deliverance from sin, eternal life, and fellowship with God, we would be as miserable in Paradise as we are on the earth in the present hour.
The Apostle Paul states clearly that what he desires is freedom from his sin-bound physical body. Paul terms this deliverance the redemption of his body. A body free from the bondages of sin is the true hope of the Christian salvation.
So we see we are due for a midcourse correction of our hope. If we are to knowledgeably cooperate with the Holy Spirit today, and every day, we must keep going to the Lord every time we face a problem. It is our problems that point out the sin and idols in us that keep us from love, joy, and peace. We can be released from every sinful desire, every idol, if we will continue to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
We enter the Kingdom of God by gaining release from the uncleanness in our flesh and spirit, not by dying and going to Heaven. Dying and going to Heaven have nothing to do with the operation of redemption.
In the evening we discussed the nature of sin. Sin, first of all, is a verb. "I have sinned," we might say.
Second, sin is a noun meaning an action, a transgression of God’s laws. Adultery is a sin.
Third, sin is a noun referring to an unclean spirit. Paul spoke of the sin that dwelled in his flesh. The madman of Gadara was possessed by intelligent spirits. God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door. Obviously we are referring to spirits that possess some sort of intelligent life.
It may be true that one of the most important facts we ever shall learn concerning sin is that it is not guilt. Guilt is not a synonym of sin. Guilt is God’s reaction to sin.
Sin is not always a verb. Most importantly, it is a noun, a thing, we could say.
We cannot understand the Scriptures correctly until we define sin as a thing that can be removed from us.
"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Christian scholars apparently without exception define sin as guilt. "The Lamb of God who takes away the guilt of the world." This is incorrect. The Lamb of God shall take away the thing that sin is—basically the evil presences that entered Eden in the beginning. He who commits sin is of the devil, John says.
The Book of Hebrews speaks of doing away with sin. To this day scholars view the new covenant as being superior because it provides a superior forgiveness of guilt. This is incorrect. The new covenant contains the authority and power necessary for the total removal of sin from the creation of God, beginning with those who are walking closely to the Lord Jesus.
So we have come to a midcourse correction, a change in our hope. Our hope is not to go to Paradise. Going to Paradise shall follow automatically as soon as we have been forgiven, delivered, filled with Divine Life, and are walking in fellowship with God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is of great importance that we view sin as a thing, or a collection of things. These things can be removed from us. They can be removed from the world.
The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew informs us that at the end of the age the messengers of God will remove all sin from the Kingdom of God. The removal of sin shall take place, as I understand it, in both the physical and the spirit realms.
Whether we are alive on the earth or deceased and in the spirit world, we shall be required to cooperate with the aspect of redemption that has to do with the removal of the alien presences we refer to as "sin."
The redemption of our freedom from sinful desires shall take place throughout a specific period. It is our point of view that this redemption is announced by the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Trumpets; is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement; has begun now, in our time; and shall continue throughout the thousand-year Kingdom age that will commence when our Lord returns from Heaven.
You can hear the morning sermon at listen.
Judgment Has Begun in the Household of God
The morning and the evening messages taken together encompassed five major areas of redemption: shaking; suffering; the Day of Redemption; attaining to the resurrection of the body, and the thought of salvation coming at the end of our discipleship. These indeed are important topics and we are just now becoming aware of them, it appears.
It seems to me that the shaking mentioned in the Book of Hebrews has begun. All that has been created by God and man will be shaken. Only that which has been wrought in the Lord Jesus Christ will endure to eternity.
The shaking manifests itself as we are brought into various kinds of suffering, frustration, and perplexity. Such suffering is absolutely necessary if we are to come to know the Lord. Every thing, every circumstance, every relationship must be brought down to death in Christ. Only that which is of Kingdom worth shall be raised in Christ and endure to eternity.
You will never come to know the Lord until He has waged war against his enemies in your personality. After you are filled with the Spirit there must come a period of battle. Do not give up. Maintain your trust in the Lord. He shall bring you through to victory when your warfare has been accomplished.
If we have received the atonement by faith and have been filled with the Spirit of God, we have been sealed to the Day of Redemption. The Day of Redemption is the period of time, which will come at the end of the age, when all that we have forfeited to Satan shall be restored to us. We have been chosen to be in the image of God. God will not rest until we are completely in His image and likeness!
Adam had a pure nature. We have a personality that contains elements of Satan. God has the power and shall, according to the both Testaments, remove from us the elements of Satan until our nature once again is pure.
In addition, Christ is being formed in us. We are learning strict obedience to the Father. So as part of our redemption we will receive a pure nature. On this new nature will be written the eternal moral law of God. Finally we will be filled with all the Fullness of God and our body will be transformed until it is like the body of Christ.
These are sovereign works of God, set forth in the immutable Scriptures. However, they will not become our inheritance unless we begin today to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He brings us to those part of our personality that are not in the image of God. When these are pointed out to us we must confess, denounce, renounce them specifically, rejecting and turning away from them with all the grace the Lord gives to us.
What a day we a entering!
The thought that salvation comes at the end of our discipleship may be new to us. Yet, we know Jesus said, "He who endure to the end shall be saved"!
We have to contend for our inheritance. We shall pass through fiery trials. These are judgment on the parts of our personality that are not found in God. It is difficult for the righteous person to be saved because of the diligence and determination necessary to walk with God through the cleansing of our personality and the bringing forth of the new creation.
Does salvation indeed come at the end of our discipleship and is a product of our discipleship? Paul said so, speaking of the redemption of our body, our adoption as a son of God. Paul also spoke of the coming Day of Redemption, and of the fact that our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. Paul mentioned that we save ourselves and those who hear us by taking heed to ourselves and continuing in the doctrine, and women are saved "through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety."
Peter said we are shielded by the power of God until the coming of the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews maintains that to those who are waiting for Jesus "He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation."
Matthew tells us of the removal of sin from the Kingdom of God that will take place at the end of the age.
When we review these scriptural statements we realize that the current Evangelical lawless-grace-rapture-Heaven preaching is foreign to the Bible. It is "another gospel." Yet, it is no gospel at all when we teach that the "born again" (not understanding what it means to be born again) believers will be carried up to Heaven to the supposed marriage of the Lamb while the majority of mankind are experiencing every torment? This is the redemption of the creation of which Paul spoke? This is God’s love for the world?
No, current Evangelical teaching is a monstrous deception and will bring persecution on us when non-Christian people awaken to the fact that we are condemning them to a blood bath while we ourselves look down complacently from the balconies of Heaven. The current doctrine is anti-Semitic and anti-mankind.
He who has ears to hear the Spirit of God will come away with the Lord while He enters into marriage with them, helping them cleanse their garments from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
Are you one of those who are hearing the Spirit of God today? If so, do not return to the rest of the "Christians." Let them return to you. They may fight against you, but God will make you a reinforced bronze wall. In the end you will be where Jesus always is, in the center of God’s Person and will. But the religious Christians who do not know the Lord will be burned with fire, being part of Babylon the Great.
You can hear the morning sermon at listen.
The Nature of the Kingdom of God
The burden for our church this morning had to do with not getting caught up in material concerns. Throughout the nations of the world there always is some aspect of the culture that makes it difficult to enter the Kingdom of God. In some countries it is persecution. In other countries there may be pressure to follow a particular religion or denomination. In America the problem is material wealth. Jesus told us it is difficult for rich people to enter the Kingdom. Paul warned us about wanting to be rich.
There was little doubt about what the Lord wanted preached this morning. The burden was strong and clear
When thinking about the material concerns the believers often have at Christmastime, the parable of the sower came to mind. We American believers need to give careful thought to the parable of the sower.
Jesus asked us, "Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable?" We see from this question that the parable of the sower may be the most important of the parables of the Kingdom of God.
The Evangelical message of today is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will escape Hell and go to Heaven when you die." This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is another gospel, perhaps derived from Eastern religions that refer to torment or Paradise after death.
It is the parable of the sower that is the Christian Gospel. This tells us the salvation that is in Christ is not a place we go to but a change in what we ourselves are as a person. The difference here is total!
The parable of the sower informs us that a Seed that comes from God has been planted in us. It is supposed to bear fruit. The fruit is the image of God, and finally the bodily likeness of God.
The parable of the sower informs us that the truth is given in the form of a parable so it can be understood only by those to whom the understanding is given by the Lord.
The parable of the sower advises us that the hearts of some people are so hard the seed does not germinate. Other hearts do not permit the forming of deep roots. Still others have so many concerns and anxieties that the germinating plant is choked out.
The parable of the sower reveals that of four kinds of hearts, only one kind, the honest and good heart (Luke) bears lasting fruit. Remember, if we do not bear the fruit of God’s image we shall be removed from the Vine, from Christ.
Finally, and particularly relevant to the Christian season in America, some of the honest and good hearts bring forth God’s image thirty fold. Some bring forth God’s image sixtyfold. Some bring forth God’s image a hundredfold.
How these three levels will differ throughout eternity I do not know. But I believe the differences among these three levels will be incredibly, spectacularly tremendous!
How can we account for the three levels of fruit bearing?
Does God decree that some shall be thirty; some sixty; some a hundred? I do not believe so. I think the difference arises according to the diligence we apply to following the Lord Jesus.
The Bible says God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The more diligence, the greater the reward. Some people regard the Divine rewards with more seriousness than is true of others.
It is written of Moses that he considered disgrace for the sake of Christ to be worth more than all the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward
Here it is! If we have faith we will seek God diligently knowing there is a reward for doing this. If we have great faith we will go all out for Christ. If we have lesser faith we will give some attention to Christ and some to the things of the American culture.
How many today will go all out for Christ? Will you seek first the Kingdom of "God and His righteousness?
While I was preaching today I was reminded of the parable of the unrighteous steward. This story is describing some of today’s preachers of the Gospel. They are telling their congregations to change to a lesser amount what they owe Christ. This tricky action of the steward did not actually change what the debtors owed the rich man, they just thought it did—until the day of accounting came.
The rich man commended the steward for making friends with the debtors. When they die they will have some friends to be with.
So it is true of all of us that for eternity we will be with people to whom we have ministered. All of us are deciding today the people with whom we will be for eternity.
If we fail to attain to the hundredfold image of God, it may be that a million years from now we will be unaware of the glory we lost. Perhaps God in His love will remove from our memory the opportunity we had to attain to His best. Otherwise we would be remorseful for a very long time.
But the truth is, had we persevered diligently, making certain we redeemed the time, looking to Jesus Christ for every decision of life, we would have attained to the fullness of God’s image, and also have brought many people with us. We would be seated on the highest throne with the Lord Jesus, living in a state of Divine Glory so astounding that the mightiest of the angels would need to shield their eyes at times. We would shine as the stars forever and ever, ages without end.
Some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold, some with no lasting fruit, some saved by fire. There shall be greatest and least in the Kingdom of God—not in Heaven, but in the Kingdom.
Now is our only time to attain to God’s highest and best. If we do, God will profit; other people will profit; our loved ones will profit, and we ourselves will profit.
If, on the other hand, we permit ourselves to be occupied with the endless fascinations and opportunities of the American culture, we will lose part or all of what God has promised.
You and I must choose today. Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow may be too late, and we will have lost for eternity a state of glory not remotely capable of description in the present hour.
At night I stressed again the value of going all out to attain to bearing the image of God a hundredfold. Attaining to this supreme state will require total diligence on our part. God rewards those who seek Him diligently.
You can hear the morning sermon at listen.
The Birthday of the King
Today is Christmas day. This is the time we celebrate the day the Lord Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a manger. Indeed we should celebrate the birth into the world of our Savior and Lord. However, there is another day on which Christ is born. It is the day when He is born in our heart. In fact, every day of our Christian discipleship should be a day when Christ is born in our heart.
The Apostle Paul said he did not any longer know Christ according to the flesh. What did Paul mean? Paul meant that while he used to think about Christ being born of a virgin in Bethlehem, he no longer regarded Christ in this manner. Rather Paul was experiencing the birth of Christ in him.
Paul went on to say if any person is in Christ, that individual is a new creation. That which once was true of him, and was his life, is no longer his life. The old things of his nature have passed away. New things that are of God have taken their place in his personality.
Christ in us is the Kingdom of God. When we first come to Christ (really come to Christ, not just make a profession of belief), He gives us a part of His Life. Now we are two people. We have a first, adamic nature, and now a new nature. There are two lives in us. This is what it means to be born again.
If we are to bear lasting fruit, we must pay attention to the new life. Our adamic life will clamor consistently for our attention. It is our task to see to it that we pray each day; read our Bible each day; and meet on a regular basis with fervent disciples.
The promise of becoming a new creation is not to those who have made an initial profession of belief in Christ but to those who are "in Christ," that is, to those who are interacting with Christ many times during the day. They are speaking to Him. They are listening to Him. They are obeying Him diligently and strictly.
The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to earth to tell us about Heaven or to bring us to Heaven. Search the Scriptures! The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth to fulfill the words of the Hebrew Prophets. The Hebrew Prophets spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth; of the coming of righteousness and peace to the earth, the time when the poor and needy receive justice.
Christ came once, and yet the proclamations of the Prophets have not been fulfilled. Righteousness and peace are not filling the earth, as we hear in our Christmas carols. The poor and needy of the earth are not receiving justice. Wars are still occurring and sin is increasing. Seemingly the promises are not happening.
We know Christ is coming again. But this is not the manner in which the Glory of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, as has been promised. This is not the doing of God’s will in the earth for which Christians have prayed throughout the Christian Era.
However, the glorious hope we sing about in our carols shall be realized. But in what manner? By Christ being born. But not by Christ being born in a stable. By Christ being born in us.
If we are following Christ as we should, He is being born in us each day. Each day a part of our old nature is to be overcome. Each day more of Christ is to be added to us.
John the Baptist stated: "I must decrease. He must increase." This is the message. This is the whole Christian experience.
One may say, "I was born again ten years ago," as though this were some kind of unchanging state. Were you a new creation at that time? Not likely! But you had begun on the path toward the new creation.
We learn, however, in the parable of the sower, that it is possible for the Seed, the Word of God, to begin to grow in us and then to wither away because of a lack of roots or because it is choked out by the cares of life.
We do not instantly become a new creation in which the old has passed away and new things have come to us from God. The Bible speaks of patience, saying we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There are many exhortations in the New Testament directed toward those who are seeking to become a new creation. We will experience fiery trials. The righteous are saved with difficulty. But we never are to quit. If we do, we shall not inherit Christ.
The world, although it does not realize it, is waiting for Christ to appear. Not by Himself alone but in a company of sons. Through the sons of God the greater Son will bring to pass every declaration of the Hebrews prophets. Peace, joy, love, and righteousness will fill the earth. Little children will be able to play without fear among what today are the most dangerous of animals.
The knowledge of the Glory of the Lord indeed shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.
What a glorious hope the Gospel of the Kingdom is! But the hope of the Kingdom cannot be brought to reality until there are people who are willing to set aside their own will and desires that Christ may be formed in them. When Christ has such a company of "new creations" He shall return and establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
How wonderful is God our Father that He has developed such an infinitely wise plan! Jesus Christ, and we as His coheirs, shall receive the nations of the earth for our inheritance and the farthest reaches of the earth.
Just a few more weary steps, Christian; just a bit more self-denial; just a continuing in diligent obedience to the Lord whether or not what He is commanding is understandable to you, and you shall behold Heaven coming to the earth. And—best of all—Heaven shall come to the earth through you and me because we were willing to proclaim every day of our discipleship as the birthday of the King.
Happy birthday, Lord Jesus.
At night I emphasized the travail we must experience if Christ, who always is with us, is to be brought forth in our personality. We see Him in us after a period of darkness.
The travail to bring forth Christ, the Ruler, in us, can be intense. But afterward we do not remember the pain because Christ has been born in us. The male Son of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation is Christ who is born in us.
The Christian religion is different from all others, as far as I know, in that the master of the religion changes his disciples into the personality and behavior He desires by being formed in them and dwelling in them.
Christian believers are like sacks of seed in a barn. When God is ready to select one of the seeds to know Him and to bear fruit, He plants that seed in the ground. Now it is separate from the other seeds and begins the journey that at first is dark and lonely, and then emerges into the light as a son of God; as a member of the Kingdom of God.
You may hear the sermon at listen.