Pastor's Page - Archive
Introduction —Welcome to our site. You may notice some ideas that are new to you. Hopefully they will be helpful, or at least cause you to stop and think about what is being said.
We have come to the conclusion, after 60 years as a Christian, that some of our traditions need to be looked at again in the light of the Scripture. Our position is, if our tradition does not square with the Bible, then we need to change the tradition and not the Bible.
We certainly question the idea that our behavior does not affect our salvation, or that our salvation does not affect our behavior. Our salvation normally will be revealed in our behavior.
We question also the doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture."
The "prosperity" and "faith" messages do not fit the Scripture, as far as we are concerned.
We look for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, rather than eternal residence in Heaven. Have you ever tried to find in the Bible where we are supposed to spend eternity in Heaven?
We want to be with Jesus where He is—in the center of the Person and will of God, not stuck in an unscriptural mansion somewhere.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is beginning to be preached in all the world for a witness. After that, the end of the Church Age will be here.
Finding Our Safety in the Lord
As I prayed carefully before the service this Sunday morning, I kept "seeing" war! war! war! As I began to prepare the morning sermon, Psalms 91 came to mind immediately; then, the sixth chapter of the Book of Ephesians where it speaks about putting on the whole armor of God. I felt God wanted me to tell the people to prepare themselves in the Lord because perilous times are on the way.
Audrey and I have been pastoring Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway for thirty years. Throughout that time I have been saying that revival is coming to the United States in the midst of trouble. This has been a consistent burden.
I think I may be able to modify this a bit. It appears to me now that the revival will be in the form of calling a remnant of God’s people to participate in the spiritual fulfillments of the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. These are the fifth and sixth celebrations of the seven feasts of the Lord.
Participation in these two convocations will causes us to turn to the Lord Jesus and cooperate with His Spirit as He removes the various aspects of the sinful nature that dwell in us. While these acts of redemption are taking place, there will be all sorts of chaos and calamities in our environment.
Psalms 91 promises us protection during the perilous times. However, such protection depends on our dwelling continually in the shelter of the Most High, that is, in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are living in Christ, trouble cannot touch us except as ordered by the Lord for our change into His image.
How do we abide in Christ? We think about Him continually throughout the day and night. This is quite difficult in America because of the frantic rush to acquire material goods. We are exhausted because of the anxieties of life caused by our worship of money. We find it difficult to stand before the Son of Man.
We are to be speaking to the Lord and listening to Him continually. How are we to do this when we are so rushed by the demands our job makes on us? We ask the Lord to give us the strength and time each day to abide in Him. He always will answer this prayer, but we must do what He shows us.
No matter how chaotic our environment becomes, no matter how great the danger that surrounds us, we will be kept safe, walking with the Lord Jesus on our high places of joy.
We live near a nuclear installation. Some day the terrorists may blow it up. If we do, the fallout may surround us. What do we do then? Do we rush about in distraction because of our fear for our children? Not at all. We wait on the Lord to see what He would have us do in order to save ourselves and others who depend on us.
The Spirit of prophecy seems to be telling us to prepare ourselves to stand in the time of evil. We are not to be careless. We are to do everything in our power to make certain our loved ones are guarded in Christ. Everything—all relationships, circumstances, and things—must be placed on the altar so that if any of them are destroyed we know God will keep safe for us all that is of true value.
Many believers are going through very difficult times in the present hour. This is to prepare them for what is ahead. If they learn to trust God today, then in the future they will save themselves and those who hear them.
At night I stressed standing resolutely in Christ. We are to put on the belt of truth and the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness is not that of an imputed, legal sort of righteousness, but kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, honesty, freedom from malice. The greatest need of the hour is for Christians who interact with Christ until their behavior is righteous. This breastplate will protect them from the onslaught of the enemy.
Victory Over Sin
In 1948 while in Bible school I received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Soon after this, the Lord spoke to me that the next move after Pentecost would be the judgment of the Church. He associated this with the sixth of the feasts of the Lord, the Day of Atonement. I asked an elder at that time, Brother Oliver Ellenwood, if he thought it was the Lord who spoke to me. As I remember, he seemed to think it was, although I believe he did not understand what I thought I heard any more than I did. I had been saved for about three years so I had no idea what was meant by the judgment of the Church, or what the Day of Atonement was all about.
I have been studying the Bible, and preaching off and on, since 1948. I have learned a lot about the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Also, some understanding of the judgment that is coming upon the Church has been given to me.
Recently I have been reading and thinking about the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation ("Reformation: Europe’s House Divided, 1490-1700. Diarmaid MacCulloch, Penguin Books, 2004).
It appears there was no small discussion, among the theologians of that period, concerning the role righteous behavior plays in our salvation. The idea that no law governs Christians (antinomianism) was considered, and then rejected.
Finally a model emerged:
Man is hopelessly corrupt.
Man is obligated to keep the moral law of God.
Man should make every effort to keep the moral law of God.
Man’s efforts to behave righteously always end in defeat.
Therefore man is admitted to Heaven on the basis of grace (forgiveness.
When I came to Christ, while in the United States Marine Corps, this is what I was taught. I received it without question.
Over the last 58 years I have noticed that the above model seems to prevail in numerous Evangelical churches. I have noticed also that it makes no provision for actually overcoming sin.
When I was reading MacCulloch’s book a couple of nights ago, it became clear to me that the above model is unscriptural. It also is impractical.
When we tell someone he ought to live righteously, and then tell him he will fail, he will not make much progress. It would be as though a general ordered men into battle, telling them at the same time they were going to be defeated; or telling a long-distance runner there is no finish line. It is a formula for failure.
Now the question arises, what does the New Testament tell us about overcoming sin while living in the present world? Does the New Testament inform us that we ought to try to do good, but that it is impossible? Or does the New Testament tell us that if we are to inherit the Kingdom of God we must, through Christ, overcome sin?
One can see at a glance how important this question is.
The New Testament declares in several passages that if we are to inherit the Kingdom of God we must overcome the works of our sinful nature. The Apostle Paul, while urging us to gain victory over sin, informs us that if we do not, we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The New Testament teaches without hesitation that Jesus Christ came to earth to deliver us from sin—not only from the guilt of sin but also from the power of sin; the desire to sin; the compulsion to sin.
Here are a few passages in support of what I have just stated:
I John 3:4-10 (Please note this passage carefully. It reveals how unscriptural the Reformation model is.).
I John 1:9.
I Corinthians 15:34.
Daniel 9:24 prophesies of the time when God puts an end to sin.
Matthew 13:40-43 says that at the end of the age, all sin will be removed from the Kingdom. I submit that this removal will apply with equal force to deceased believers in the spirit world and those alive upon the earth, and, furthermore, that this great day of salvation from sin has begun.
I remember how people used to tarry for the baptism with the Spirit. We had to have faith that it was in the Bible, and then we had to persevere until we received it.
Now we are moving past Pentecost to the Day of Atonement. God will begin to show you the forces in your life that are not godly, not in the image of Jesus Christ.
When God reveals to you the ungodly desires in you, confess them clearly to God. Denounce them as unclean. Renounce them, asking the Lord to remove them totally from your personality. You will find after that, that their power is greatly weakened and you can gain the upper hand over them.
Remember, for the program of judgment (on unclean spirits) and deliverance to be effective you must be denying yourself, taking your cross, and following the Lord Jesus at all times. If you do not, the unclean desires will return in greater number, because you have provided an empty house for them.
Ours is the day when both the tares of sin and the wheat of Christ are coming to maturity. God wants to tear out the tares and increase the Presence of Christ in us.
It is a step-by-step entrance into the Fullness of God, into our inheritance.
What I have just written has been proven in my own life and in the lives of many others. We are not speaking of some foolish sinless perfection fantasy, but of a patient war against the acts of the sinful nature. Check out Romans 8:13. If we as a Christian live according to the actions of our sinful nature we will die spiritually. If, on the other hand, we through the Holy Spirit put these desires to death, we will live. We will attain to complete readiness for the resurrection, the redemption of our mortal body, when Christ appears.
The time is now. The Day of Redemption has begun. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ if what I have written is true. If He says yes, then listen to the Spirit; for He will lead you to complete victory over all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.
You may hear the sermon at listen.
Building God’s House
The burden for Sunday was very clear. Usually I do not get the morning message (or the evening either, for that matter) until an hour before the service. But from Tuesday of the preceding week I knew that God wanted to emphasize the building of the eternal House of God, which is Christ—Head and Body.
In 1948 the Lord gave me three burdens that correspond to the last three feasts of the Lord. The last three feasts are, the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. The three burdens are, war and vengeance against Satan; reconciliation to God until we are in God’s image in every detail of our personality; and finally the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in That (Christ) which has been created in us.
The text was John 14:1-24. In this passage the Lord Jesus informs us that God has a house, and in that house are to be many rooms. The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal dwelling place of God. We are being made rooms in that great house of God.
The fact that God has created us to be His dwelling place means that we have to be crucified with Christ. Every part of our personality must die, so to speak, and be raised again in Christ if is to be suitable as a habitation of God.
In America we have what are called "fixer-uppers." These are houses that have been allowed to deteriorate. If a person is willing, he or she can buy a fixer-upper for a lesser price than would be true if the house were in excellent condition. Then the new owner can fix up the house according to his or her desires.
So it is with us. We are fixer-uppers. However, in our case the old house has to be demolished and a new one constructed from the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When you think of it this way we realize that God’s way of saving us is to crucify us. Flesh and blood cannot possibly enter the Kingdom of God.
God slays us by putting us in situations that are unpleasant, and keeping us there for many years sometimes. Also, He denies us our most intense desires. If we are willing to wait patiently for the Lord, He resurrects the things, circumstances, and relationships that ultimately will bring us love, joy, and peace. They then are our possession for eternity.
To be a genuine Christian is to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ at all times. There is no other kind of true Christian. The rest merely are members of the Christian religion.
Does God need a house in which to live and express Himself? Both the Old and New Testaments state clearly that He does. What His temple in Heaven is like we do not know. But we do know that the Lord Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone as well as the Capstone of the new house that God is building. We also are living stones in God’s house if we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as Christ is formed in us.
If we are willing to obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles, Christ will be formed in us. Then the day will arrive when the Persons of Christ and the Father come and dwell in the new room of the eternal habitation of God.
When the eternal Tabernacle of God has been completed it will come down through the new sky and be established forever upon the new earth. This is the Bride of the Lamb, the glorified Christian Church. This is the new Jerusalem. All the creation of God will be governed for eternity from the new Jerusalem. The saints who compose the new Jerusalem will see the very Face of God—an unheard of privilege.
Therefore let us patiently work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are being built as a habitation for the living God. He knows how He wants each room furnished, just as we do when we buy a fixer-upper. This means that we must listen to Jesus day and night so we are able to submit to and cooperate with the changes God desires to make in us.
But think of the blessing we will be to our loved ones and the remainder of the creation when our thoughts, words, and actions reflect the Person, way, will, and eternal purpose of God in Christ! This pure witness of God is true of Christ. This pure witness of Christ is to be true of us. Then—and only then—the world will believe that God has sent Christ and loves His holy ones as He loves Christ.
Salvation Is a Pregnancy
The burden for Sunday had to do with the birth of Christ in us. Satan is determined to devour the Child the moment it is born. Satan does not fear any kind of Christian program. But when a believer is willing to set aside his or her life that Christ may be born, it is then Hell trembles!
We are considering the events described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, the account of the birth of the male Son and the casting down of Satan and his angels to the earth.
Now, here is an important fact to consider: Notice, in Revelation 12:12, that after Satan had been overcome and cast down to the earth, a woe is pronounced on the earth and the sea because "the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." This means the overcoming of Satan and the hurling down of him and his angels will take place BEFORE CHRIST RETURNS.
But when will this triumphant victory take place? At the end of the Church Age, just before the return of Christ from Heaven. What time are we in now? Perhaps most of us would agree that we now are close to the end of the Church Age.
If in the present hour it is true we are moving toward the end of the Church Age, if this indeed is true, then it follows that now is the time for Satan and his angels to be hurled down to the earth.
Notice that his army of angels are hurled down. A few verses previously we note that "his tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky." These stars obviously are not the entire company of angels that will be hurled down to the earth. Rather, these are the stars of God—the saints who had been in Christ at the right hand of God.
Rebellion was found in the host, according to the Book of Daniel.
What do we see today? We see pastors and members of their congregations, who at one time had been in Christ at the right hand of God, now watching pornography on the Internet. They have lost their place with God and now are feeding on the filth of the earth. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall"! They can recover their place if they will sternly repent and cast themselves on the mercy of God. Remember David and Bathsheba!
If it is time for Satan and his angels to be hurled to the earth, and if it is the "brothers" who overcome the accusations of Satan, thus enabling Michael and his angels to drive Satan and his angels from the heaven, by what means do the brothers overcome the fiery dragon?
By the blood of the Lamb.
By the word of their testimony.
By loving not their life to the point of death.
To conquer by the blood of the Lamb means our sins have been forgiven by the atonement made by the Lamb on the cross. It means also that we have been fed with the blood of the Lamb to the point that His resurrection has been created in us.
To conquer by the word of our testimony means that our thinking, our speaking, and our actions have all been brought into line with the Word of God.
To conquer by loving not our life to the point of death means we have turned aside from our own desires, hopes, plans, ambitions, and now speak and act only in accordance with what we are hearing from Jesus. "We" are "living" no longer. Christ is living in us.
Now—today—we have the opportunity to overcome the fiery dragon so that the conflict of the ages, evil against good, will be brought to the desired conclusion. The church will crush the head of the serpent, as has been prophesied from the beginning. The Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will shall be done in the earth.
The Lord Jesus told us that many who are last in time shall be first in the Kingdom of God. It is as though all who have gone before us have established base camps on the way to the summit. Now the summit is in site; the fullness of God; the gaining of the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for our possession, in that we are coheirs with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today is the day of our visitation. It is a time of the most extraordinary opportunity and the most extraordinary spiritual danger. Many will fall because of the maturing of wickedness. Opportunity to satisfy the lusts of our flesh and soul abound. Only the most dedicated will survive to stand before the Son of Man. But these shall shine as the stars forever and ever.
The opportunity to gain the throne is unprecedented. The opportunity to fall into the cesspool of moral filth is unprecedented.
What are you going to choose?
At night we continued the discussion of the birth of the male son. The Christian salvation is not a religion, it is a pregnancy. The central idea is that Christ, the male Son, the ruler of the creation of God, is to be born in us.
When Christ has been formed in us, we then are the flesh made the eternal Word, the covenant of man with God. We are the one Seed of Abraham through whom the nations shall be blessed. We are members of the one body, the Head of which is Jesus Christ. We share that priestly anointing. We are an integral part of Him whom God has chosen to fill all in all; to sum up all things in the heavens and upon the earth.
God is not saving us, He is crucifying us. He is slaying us so that the only true, eternal Life may be brought forth. All else of our personality and life is so much temporary garbage. It is Christ alone who Himself is the Kingdom of God.
We become the Kingdom of God when He has been brought forth and has ascended to the One who has made Him the Cornerstone and the Capstone of all there is. Then He, and we who are part of Him, shall be subject to the One whose infinite wisdom and power has planned all things from the beginning, that God may be All and in all.
The Day in Which We Are Living
I believe the Lord wanted us to review the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Actually, the tenth and eleventh chapter should be considered one chapter. When the eleventh chapter, which concludes with the return of Christ to set up His Kingdom on the earth, speaks of the "Two Witnesses, it is referring to the commission given to the Apostle John (who represents the victorious saints) in the tenth chapter.
How excited I was to receive a book from our Foursquare president, Dr. Jack Hayford, titled God’ Promise and the Future of Israel, by Don Finto. Pastor Jack spoke highly of this book, telling us pastors it is next in importance to the Bible as portraying the future. You may listen to my excitement at listen, Tape 6304. The book tells of the place of Israel in God’s Kingdom. The emphasis is on the return of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom on the earth. This has been my own emphasis over the past thirty or so years.
Of particular interest to me is Dr. Finto’s view of the "rapture." Instead of being a fleeing of the believers to Heaven to escape trouble, the "rapture" is a going forth of the victorious saints to meet Christ and return with Him as He establishes the Kingdom of God on the earth.
I believe this to be the case, and all the concern about pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib is misdirected. The real issue is whether one views the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians as referring to a removal of the believers to Heaven, or the return of Christ to rule on the earth from the city of Jerusalem.
It is so uplifting to me to realize that the leader of our denomination, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, is endorsing a book containing the viewpoint that we are waiting for our soon-coming King, not a soon-going church.
It is time we return to the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. For hundreds of years the idea of salvation is that we are to make our eternal home in Heaven. This is not at all scriptural. There is no basis for the concept of making our home in Heaven to be found in the Old or New Testaments. The Hebrew Prophets, John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb, all taught concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
It is no wonder that the churches are drying up, as Andrew Strom points out so passionately, when the sheep are being fed the unscriptural "grace-rapture-Heaven" error.
God’s people are hungry for the truth concerning the coming of the Kingdom to the earth, and the role of Israel in God’s plan. We certainly can suggest with confidence that we all read "God’s Promise and the Future of Israel, by Don Finto, a Regal publication.
As I said, the tenth and eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation are a description of the time in which we are living.
There is a powerful angel governing this period.
Perfect power, the seven thunders, will be withheld from us until the people at the Altar of Incense have been measured. It is at this place, which we arrive at after Pentecost, after the Lampstand to speak in a figure, that we cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done!"
We cannot receive the power necessary to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation as a witness until we die to our self-will. Both the world and the Christian churches are filled with self-will; personal ambition including spiritual ambition. We do not always move according to the will of the Head. We do not deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. Therefore Divine power is withheld from us.
God’s will, His witness, for the last days is a little scroll. We do not merely read this scroll, we have to eat it. When we eat the scroll we begin to realize that all the proud works of the flesh of man shall be cast out of the Kingdom. The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day.
After the saints have been measured and delivered from worldliness, sin, and self-will, they shall be given the means to bear witness of the Kingdom of God to the whole world. This witness shall be accompanied by unprecedented Divine power. It shall be given before Christ returns.
This may not be what we envision when we think of a "revival," but rather a powerful announcement of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth in order that people may have a chance to believe and be baptized. The witness will be accompanied by works of destruction until the ends of the earth realize that Almighty God is present and speaking!
The "two olive trees" reveal the limitless anointing that will rest on God’s witnesses.
When the witness has been concluded to God’s satisfaction, God will withdraw the witness and Antichrist shall rule for a season.
When the world is crying "peace and safety," under the Antichrist government, the Lord Jesus shall return. It will be earth’s darkest hour. Then the Glory of the Lord shall be seen upon the saints on the earth and upon the saints who return with the Lord Jesus Christ to take up their bodies from the places of interment.
At this time will occur the worldwide revival we always have hoped for but is not possible during the Church Age. The Church Age has included the work of converting people to belief in Christ; but its main purpose has been that of bringing the members of the Body of Christ to the stature of the fullness of Christ—as our Lord prayed to the Father: "I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours."
We now are in the period when the seventh angel is about to sound. The Holy Spirit is inviting us to cooperate with Him as He removes the sin from our nature and brings Christ to maturity in us.
Our problem today is one of distraction. The crushing weight of information coming through the various media distracts us with worldly opportunities. Then we do not take the time to ask the angel for the scroll so we can eat it and become part of the last-day witness of the Kingdom of God.
The hour of our visitation is here. Will we keep before Christ constantly so we do not miss His perfect will for us? Or will we play with the toys of the world, which may seem important today but will sidetrack us until we miss what God has for us?
Each one of us must make our choice now; for the spiritual pressures, both righteous and wicked, are so enormous that unless we take a determined stance to follow Christ in strict discipleship we shall default to the power of evil.
The Image of God
You know, it is difficult to sum up the topics mentioned during the two services on Sunday. The topics include: the image of God; the witness; the two witnesses; making disciples, the Lampstand; the end-time revival. All of these were mentioned as we discussed the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation.
Perhaps I should discuss the concepts in the order I have just stated, since they all are connected.
First, the image of God. In the beginning God declared that man is to be in His image and likeness. We are to be in His image in our moral character. We finally are to be in His outer likeness when we are raised from the dead and clothed with a body like that of the Lord Jesus.
Obviously we have to be changed into God’s image in our moral character before we will be entrusted with a body like that of Jesus Christ.
What a momentous hour we are living in! Prior to this time the emphasis has been on imputed righteousness, that is, a righteousness assigned to us independently of how bound we are with sin. All the righteousness most of us have known is a de jure righteousness, a righteousness assigned to us because of our faith in the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus.
If we think about it we soon will come to the conclusion that a righteousness ascribed to us while we are unchanged in character is not satisfying. It is not what is meant by being made in God’s image. There shall come a day, according to the New Testament, when the Lord will give us a de facto righteousness, a moral transformation that will cause us to keep, by nature, God’s eternal moral law. Maybe we never thought that our salvation would include actual deliverance from sin, as well as forgiveness while we yet are sinning.
But Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, not to forgive the works of the devil.
We have experienced the fullness of the Divine redemption, that which was purchased by the blood of Christ on the cross, when all that is of Satan has been removed from us; Christ has been formed in us; the Father and the Son are residing in us; and we have been raised from the dead and clothed with incorruptible resurrection life.
Can God actually make us in His image? Yes, He can.
The reconciling of us to God in our personality is prefigured in the two goats of the Jewish Day of Atonement. One goat provided forgiveness of sin. The second goat portrayed the removal of sin. Both were goats of atonement. This is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We now are experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of Yom Kippur.
The Holy Spirit is using circumstances and people to provoke us so all that is not of the image of God in our personality is revealed. And example of this would be a critical spirit. When we see that we have a critical spirit we are to confess this to God as not being of His image, and then firmly denounce it, asking Christ to remove it from our personality and put His Spirit in its place.
And so on and on until all that is not of the image of God has been removed from us and replaced with Christ. If we are utterly diligent in following the Holy Spirit in this matter, we will reap the image of God a hundredfold.
We have to have faith that God is able to make us in His image and we have not been condemned to be unlike Him in our personality.
By the way, going to Heaven will not cause us to suddenly appear in the image of God. We cannot find the image of God by going to another place; only by interacting on a day by day basis with the Lord Jesus. It is He who transforms us, not our environment.
Then we spoke of what it means to be a witness. There only is one Witness of God: the Lord Jesus Christ. We can bear witness only to the extent that Christ has been formed in us and is living His Life in us. We can talk about the Witness, about Christ, but Christ Himself is the eternal Witness of God.
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation we read about the two witnesses. The two witnesses are Christ—Head and Body. The two olive trees indicate that during the end-time revival, God’s saints, and Christ working in them and with them, will be anointed with a double portion of God’s Spirit. We shall be endued with power from on High so we can bear witness to the ends of the earth.
The first verse of Chapter Eleven refers to the measuring of God’s elect. This measuring, or judging, is the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. Its purpose is to prepare us to present the last great witness, as described in the last verse of Chapter Ten.
The Bible says that before the end comes, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God shall be preached in all the world for a witness. This last great witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth shall be provided by the Head and Body of Christ—Christ in and with His saints.
The Lampstand is Christ, the Light of the world. Now, in our day, as the Spirit of God begins to unwrap the graveclothes from us, we shall be the Light of the world because the only true Light of the world is being formed in us and we are reflecting His Divine Glory.
As we go into all the world and make disciples, we must be able to say, "Follow me as I follow Christ." Words alone will not be sufficient to bear the last witness. We will have to be the testimony, the covenant of God with man. People must be able to see Christ in us. Also, God will entrust us with miracles as signs of His Presence. But miracles apart from a transformed, obedient, cross-carrying personality is the False Prophet.
We can make disciples of all nations only as Christ is revealed in our words and actions. There is much "Christian ministry" in America today. But the witness, the testimony, has been destroyed because of the worldliness, lust, and self-seeking of the so-called "ministry."
The Lampstand (not candlestick!) of God is Christ, as set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah. The Lampstand is solid gold, representing Divinity. But at that time there was only one Lampstand.
During the two thousand years of the Church Era, the second Lampstand, the Body of Christ, has been created.
When God is satisfied that Christ has been formed in us sufficiently, we will be anointed with a double portion of His Spirit. Then shall come to pass the saying: "not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord." The Capstone shall be put on the Temple. The mystery of God, Christ in us, shall be completed. All shall be accomplished by the Spirit of God, not by human endeavor.
As far as the end-time witness, the great harvest rain of the Spirit, is concerned, please consider the following: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14—NIV)
The Gospel of the Kingdom: hidden for two thousand years, and now being revealed.
In the whole world: no peoples, nations, languages, or kings will be omitted, as set forth in the last verse of Chapter Ten of the Book of Revelation.
As a testimony: a clear revelation of the Person, way, and will of God, and His eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The end will come: the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
What a time in which to live! God is ready to make man in His image, through Christ.
Surely the Lord Jesus has kept the best wine until now!
Self-will and Presumption
It may be true that in all of past Christian history, there never has been, except for a few outstanding exceptions, anywhere near the amount of knowledge that is true today. Some of the current topics, such as the Body of Christ, the gifts and ministries of the Spirit, the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, were not, it seems to me, in the possession of the average believer.
However, while the opportunity to reach the fullness possible in Christ is present in our time, there is a corresponding danger. The danger is that of self-will and presumption in the things of Christ.
I have been teaching for years that the Charismatic churches will be split on this issue: are we to go forth with our knowledge and gifts and attempt to build the Church and save the world now?; or are we to return to Christ and wait until He reveals His plan to us each day and obey what He shows us?
Anyone who thinks it is easy to do nothing until one hears from the Lord, when the majority of leaders and people are crying "sons of God, march forward," has never tried it. We end up appearing as an impractical "loser" who ought to rise up and "do something for Christ." I settled the question for myself many years ago. If Christ does not make a move, I am dead in the water, as they say.
Well, are the sons of God to march forward, or are they to return and wait for Christ to show us what to do and enable us to do what He is commanding?
I am not speaking of passivity but of a dynamic looking to Christ every day and every night until we know what we are doing. The Old Testament gives us Abraham as an example of the chaos wrought by not seeking to fulfill the promise until God’s time.
What would Church history have been like if none of the Christians took a major step until he or she heard from the Lord? Would anything have been accomplished in the Kingdom?
Then the word of the LORD came to me: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know the LORD Almighty has sent me to you." (Zechariah 4:8,9). At this point, Zerubbabel represents the Lord Jesus Christ.
What about it? Will Christ complete the eternal Temple of God or won’t He? Is it our responsibility to go out and build, using our common sense, or are we to wait on Christ so He is able to use us to build His Church by His own wisdom and power? Did Christ say or did He not that He shall build His Church? An extremely important question in our day, given the spiritual knowledge available to us.
I have been speaking about the two witnesses, the sixth such set of two witnesses from the time of Adam and Eve. Each of God’s set of two witnesses heralds a new day in God’s working with mankind; the new day will come forth from the witnesses, just as the day of physical form came from Adam and Eve; and the new day will last for eternity. People always will look like people, no matter how glorified; for man is destined to be in the likeness of God.
Then I compared the words of one of the old hymns with what we hear today. What do we hear today?
We are to command the Holy Spirit.
We are to take spiritual dominion over geographic areas.
We are to command the angels.
We are to march forward and "take the world for Christ."
We are to control our circumstances by faith.
We are to speak the creative word.
We are to use our gifts to "save and lost and dying world."
We are to step forth and walk on the water before the Lord bids us come.
We are to look to the Christ in us rather than the Christ at the right of the Father.
The old hymn I chose is "Living for Jesus." Think about the chorus, and compare it with the self-will and presumption in the attitude of today:
"O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee, for Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me;
"I own no other Master, my Heart shall be Thy throne. My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone."
Do you see any difference in the sentiment expressed in "Living for Jesus," as compared with today’s self-willed, presumptuous attitude.
I do! I see a great difference. I see the difference between the "old paths," wherein we are to find rest, and the False Prophet.
What do I mean by the False Prophet? I means Christians who will support Antichrist in the last days. Why will they support Antichrist? Because the False Prophet will have the power of the Lamb (the two horns of the Lamb), but will speak with the voice of the dragon.
What is the voice of the dragon? It is! I will! I will! I will! I will be like the Most High! I will set my throne above the stars of God!
Who is the False Prophet unless it is the believer who is seeking the power of the Lamb but is not walking behind the Lamb in cross-carrying obedience?
After speaking about the seven sets of two witnesses, and the current self-will and presumption (jump off the roof; the angels will bear you up in their hands), I held forth with might and main about the need for each of us to make the following declaration to the Lord Jesus Christ: "As You give me the grace, I will do Your perfect, complete will each moment of each day and night." This declaration must be made verbally and determinedly.
For centuries Satan has told God’s people that no one can do His will perfectly and completely. This monstrous lie has held the believers in guilt and confusion. It is Satan who is never satisfied with our behavior. God’s commandments are not grievous. They are entirely doable when we keep coming to the Mercy Seat for assistance.
Any attitude on the part of the Christian other than that of doing God’s will perfectly and completely is unacceptable. It is rebellion against the only valid will in the universe.
You and I, with all our imperfections, passions, and fears, indeed can do God’s will perfectly; and we are expected to do so.
If you care to do so, declare your determination to God. You will find out that all God requires of you is made possible by Divine wisdom and power so you can walk joyfully before the Lord.
Certainly there are times of severe testing. The people of the world also pass through severe crises. But for those of us who look to Christ, the testing proves to be another step in conforming us to His image and bringing us into untroubled rest in the Person and will of God.
Although I cannot go into it right now (you can read an explanation at here), the present period of time in which we are living may be the preparation for the sixth of the great days of God’s plan for mankind. As such, we can expect from now on the emphasis to be that of making us in God’s image in character, and, at the return of the Lord, in God’s likeness.
The Last and Greatest Witness of the Church Age
The fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah is the source of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. There is only one Lampstand, in Zechariah. There are two Lampstands in the eleventh chapter of Revelation. The second Lampstand, which as I see it, consists of the saints in whom Christ, the Lampstand of God, has come to maturity. The two olive trees speak of the double portion of the Spirit (Elijah plus Elisha) that will be poured out on the saints who have prepared themselves.
In the present hour we are in a period of preparation, of measurement, as set forth in Revelation 11:1. We are being prepared to give the greatest witness of history, the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit is revealing to us the sins and frailties that are in us—everything in our personality that is not in the image of God—and helping us renounce them in Jesus’ name. The Holy Spirit also is forming Christ in us, for Christ is the true Lampstand.
The angel told Zechariah the meaning of the Lampstand. The meaning is this: "Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord."
Zechariah was prophesying during the period that the Temple was being restored, after it had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. The angel was saying that the Temple will not be perfected by the ability of man but by the Spirit of God.
This is, of course, a prophecy of the last days of the Christian Era. Both the Old Testament and the New reveal that Christ will suddenly come to maturity in His saints. The mystery of the Gospel shall be accomplished. The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us, the hope of glory. For two thousand years the Christian churches have emphasized Christ with us. The emphasis of the Spirit now is Christ in us.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal House of God, the Tabernacle that one day will come down from Heaven and be installed on the new earth. In that day Heaven will be on the earth. This is the hope of the Glory that depends on Christ being formed in us—not the Christ of history, but the Christ who is being formed in us in the present hour.
Jesus Christ is also the Capstone that holds the Temple of God together.
The two olive trees are the Anointed Ones who stand before the Lord of the earth. They are, I believe, Elijah and Elisha. Their spirit will come down upon the saints of the last days, just as John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah. The coming anointing of the Spirit will be without measure, as signified by the olive branches pouring their oil directly into the cup of the Lampstand so that there is no need for the High Priest to replenish the oil every twenty-four hours, as in the case of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
Our Lord said that the Gospel of the Kingdom, that which He and John held forth, will be preached to every nation for a witness. For a witness! The world today needs to be confronted with a true witness of the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in Jesus Christ. We have a great deal of preaching in our time, especially in America. But the witness too often is that of self-serving preachers and denominations.
The nations need to see God. This will happen in the future, but only as those with whom God is dealing today are willing to forsake their sins and frailties and their self-will.
The witness will not be given by fancy preachers in expensive clothes. It is a sackcloth revival.
Perhaps the most important issue that confronts the saints in our day is that of self-will. It is a simple matter to receive the blood atonement, receive eternal life, be filled with the Spirit of God, preach, speak in tongues, prophecy, heal the sick, and still be moved by self-will. It happens all the time in the Christian churches.
Can we cast out self-will like we can the demons that drive our flesh? No, although we can ask God to remove our self-will. When we do, God permits Satan to throw us into some kind of prison. There we must remain, patiently waiting for God to bring us forth.
We must humble ourselves, as did the Lord Jesus, not viewing our state as sons of God something to be grasped. We must become nothing, waiting for the promise, not kindling our own sparks. We have the lesson of Ishmael to consider!
We are not to lay our hand on the Ark of God. The Divine Glory is coming down the road today. We are to be rejoicing and praising the Lord. But that vehicle brings judgment; and so we must purify ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and Spirit, as the Holy Spirit enables us.
We are in a time of tremendous spiritual opportunity. The very thrones that govern the universe are waiting for those who will overcome, through Christ, all that seeks to distract them from the single-minded pursuit of the heavenly calling.
We are in a time of tremendous spiritual danger. The False Prophet is being fashioned as believers seek to do great things in the name of Jesus, desiring to administer the things of the Spirit rather than waiting on the Lord for direction in every detail of life and ministry.
Will Jesus be able to find any who care enough to turn away from the vibrant culture of America and seek to live in the Presence of Christ throughout each day and night? I hope so, for only these are qualified to be transformed and to be caught up to meet the Commander-in-Chief in the air, and to return with Him to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Many are called but few are chosen. You can be one of the chosen. But you must, like Peter and the others, resolve to remain with Christ when the majority of believers continue with their casual approach to Christ and His salvation.
At night I emphasized again and again that whoever would desire to be a part of the end-time witness must turn away from all sexual lust, especially the Internet. Those believers who look at pornography on the Internet must resign themselves to the fact that they will not remain at the right hand of God in Christ but will be pulled down to earth by the tail of the Dragon. They are not preparing themselves to bear witness of the coming Kingdom of God
The evening message can be obtained by sending for the tape. Please contact Mount Zion Fellowship for this. We are hoping to soon be able to point you to a Sunday-evening tape on the Audio page.
We have this one opportunity to be one of God’s stars. Let’s you I and go for it!
Aspects of Our Preparation for Participation in the End-time Witness
From our point of view, the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation portray the final witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God. The witnesses are Christ and His Saints, who will be endued with a double portion of the Spirit of God. Perhaps every true Christian wants to be a part of this witness; but there are conditions we must meet if we are to participate in the witness; and then pressures that must be overcome if we are to stand spiritually during the reign of Antichrist, which will follow the unprecedented witness.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The last witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God will be a "sackcloth" revival. The current Christian "ministry" sometimes appears in a showy fashion, wearing expensive clothes. This no longer is acceptable.
What must be stressed, if we hope to be part of the last witness, that which may be closer at hand than we realize, is that the Holy Spirit is seeking those who will listen to Him as He deals with the worldliness, lust, and self-will in our personality. If we are not willing to obey the Spirit as He guides and enables us to throw off all that is not of God in our personality, we have no hope of being a part of the "two-witness" testimony.
There is a period of time spoken of by Bible scholars as Daniel’s seventieth week. The clock stopped ticking when Christ came to the earth. It soon will be ticking again.
There shall be a prophetic week. The first half of the week will be occupied with the great end-time witness, empowered by the harvest rain of the Spirit. The second half of the week will see Antichrist governing the cities of the earth. The godly remnant, according to my understanding, will be driven to wilderness areas. There they will be joined by the elect of the Jews who were told to flee by the Lord Jesus when they see the abomination that makes desolate.
The abomination that makes desolate consists, as I see it, of a statue of a man standing on the roof of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, where Christ stood during His third temptation. Also, Antichrist himself will sit on the Seat of Reconciliation in the Temple.
Perhaps, in his presumption and personal ambition, Antichrist will leap from the roof of the Temple and be miraculously kept from injury, thus proving he is greater then Christ (meanwhile declaring that Christ was afraid to jump). I think I see the hand of the False Prophet in this. The False Prophet is composed of miracle-working Christians who are not patiently bearing their cross and looking to Jesus for everything. Remember, it is the False Prophet who give breath to the image of the Beast, to the image of Antichrist.
How can we keep from being deceived when these awesome events take place? Only by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following Jesus.
When the witness has been given to God’s satisfaction, the special anointing will be lifted. Then Antichrist will be able to overcome the testimony. The testimony concerning the coming of the Kingdom of God will be driven from the cities of the earth.
The most significant aspect of Antichrist is self-rule, self-will. Self-rule, as distinguished from Christ’s rule, is admired in America today. Even Christians have "got to be me." This is the opposite of God’s will for us, which is to place Christ on the throne of our heart.
But Antichrist will in the future emphasize the value of self-will. He himself will be the most complete example of self-will. He will have a charming appearance; but the fires of Hell burn in his soul.
Some of those who bore the anointing will flee into wilderness areas, as I have stated. Christ, the Ruler of the age to come, will be brought to maturity in them. The birth of Christ in His saints is described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
After Christ has decided that Antichrist has had a full opportunity to reveal to Heaven and earth the fruit of Satan’s personality, He shall return. The elect Gentiles and elect Jews shall be transformed at His coming. They will join together with the witnesses of all time, beginning with Abel, who will return with Jesus and take back their bodies from the grave.
However, some who bore the Divine testimony will yield to the abundance of sin, just as today many Christian pastors, and members of their congregation, are watching pornography on the Internet. They will be removed from their position at the right hand of God in Christ and thrown to the earth.
Yet others will be tortured and slain because they will not obey Antichrist as he works with the leaders of the churches to feed the poor, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and perform other works of social benefit. The majority of the "believers" in the church will not realize the Holy Spirit has departed and that the Christian institutions, which once had been the habitation of the Spirit of God, are now "dead bodies."
It will be just as Anna and Simeon recognized Christ, while the remainder of the Jews in the Temple were going about their religious duties.
The godly remnant will flee; the indecisive will yield to the flattery of Antichrist; the remainder will be tortured and killed. Thus the testimony will no longer be present in the cities of the earth. Only in Mount Zion, in the godly remnant in the wilderness, will there be salvation.
Of all the millions of believers who attend a Christian church in our day, there seem to be just a few who are listening to hear what the Lord Jesus is saying. They are confessing and turning away from their worldliness, lusts, and self-will.
They also are preparing themselves for the persecution and martyrdom that shall follow the great witness of the Kingdom of God. They have placed their families on the altar of God and will give up everything they treasure rather than deny Christ in any manner.
There is a godly remnant today. They can hear the Spirit of God. You too can be one of them. But you will have to seek the Lord with all your heart. The American culture is no friend of the true saint. It is one long Siren call to lure us to destruction.
Only the most determined will escape being destroyed by the present distractions. But their rewards in the Kingdom are unimaginable in the present hour.
The Kingdom of the World
An error has existed in Christian thinking from ancient times. It is that man’s eternal home is Heaven, that is, in the spirit world. It is true that our citizenship is in Heaven. We have been born from Heaven and our Father, Christ, the holy angels, and the saints are there. But Heaven is not our eternal home. The earth, first the present earth, and then the new earth, is our eternal home. We were not created in Heaven. We were created on the earth, and this is our proper dwelling. Satan and the fallen angels have no right to be here.
Christians for so long have regarded Heaven, the spirit Paradise, as being their destiny and their eternal home, that it may take the next fifty years before we understand that while our salvation comes from Heaven, our home is the earth. The time we spend in the spirit world after our physical death is temporary. And we actually know very little about it, in spite of the multitude of our myths and traditions. The Bible largely is silent on this topic.
The purpose of the resurrection is not, as supposed commonly, to bring us to Heaven. The purpose of the resurrection is to give us back our physical (although spiritualized in some manner) body so we can live once again on the earth. This idea seems to confuse God’s people, although had we never been taught to the contrary, it would appear to be both scriptural and logical.
The reason our transition from Heaven-thinking to earth-thinking indeed shall take place is that we are drawing near to the Lord’s return from Heaven. He is not returning to bring His Church to Heaven (from what passage of Scripture did we derive this notion?). The purpose for the Lord’s return from Heaven is that He might install His Kingdom on the earth. Since that event is certain, it also is certain that before too long we will be thinking of our place in the Kingdom of God on the earth, as we prepare our minds and hearts for the coming of the Lord.
Although I have been teaching for years that the goal of salvation is change into the image of Christ, and dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of God’s Person and will, and that this change in us is has nothing to do with where we are but what we have become in Christ, I was stirred anew on Sunday as we considered Revelation 11:15:
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."
Think of it! The kingdom of the world. Not the kingdom of Heaven, but the kingdom of the world.
What is the kingdom of the world? It is the world of today. The spirit of the world is one spirit, the spirit of Satan. The kingdom of Satan includes every nation on earth, from the greatest down to the smallest. All is pervaded with the spirit of Satan. He is the ruler of the authority of the air.
Where is Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of the world, located? It is located on the earth.
What is going to happen to Satan’s kingdom, the kingdom of the world?
The kingdom of the world shall become the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Christ and His victorious saints.
I cannot emphasize this fact enough. Our destiny is not the spirit Heaven. Our destiny is eternal life in the Kingdom of God on this earth, and on the new earth when it comes down from Heaven.
Will we be able to move back and forth from the spirit world to the physical, material world? Undoubtedly, yes, depending on where our service to God directs us.
Can we look forward to going to Heaven when we die? Yes, and we ought to place our affections on things above, not on things in the world. But we must come to understand that what our life will be like after we die and are in the spirit world is not known to us. The Lord Jesus has told me many times that while I am free to imagine what will happen to me when I die, I actually have no idea of what my circumstances when I enter the next life.
The Lord Jesus exhorted us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. This we are to do. "His righteousness" includes the righteousness ascribed to us when we turn from the works of the Law of Moses and place our faith in Christ. But "His righteousness refers primarily to the righteousness of personality formed in us as we follow the Spirit of God.
The Kingdom of God has two dimensions. The first dimension has to do with what we are experiencing now, on the earth. The second dimension has to do with the awful descent of Christ with His saints and angels at His appearing.
There appears to be a tendency today to ignore the awful descent of Christ to establish His Kingdom on the earth, and to stress that we are entering the Kingdom today as we seek to practice righteousness. This is a weak approach, because our motivation for seeking to practice righteousness today is greatly enhanced by the knowledge that the Lord shall appear and with violence set up His Kingdom on the earth.
We begin our entrance into the Kingdom of God when we are born again. After that we establish our life in the Kingdom of God as we follow the Holy Spirit in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature. There is no sin in the Kingdom of God, and we cannot continue in the Kingdom while we are yielding to the lusts and passions of our flesh and carnal mind.
As long as we are following the Spirit of God in confessing and renouncing the deeds of our sinful nature, the Passover blood of the cross is shielding us from the judgment of God.
But when we are not following the Spirit of God in confessing and renouncing the deeds of our sinful nature, the Passover blood of the cross is not shielding us from the judgment of God. Those who continue in the deeds of their sinful nature shall reap corruption and have no place in the Kingdom of God.
The vision of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will, into the earth, is far superior to the vision of living forever in the spirit Paradise.
Paradise was on the earth in the beginning. Because of man’s disobedience, God withdrew Paradise into the spirit world. Paradise is destined to return to the earth at the hands of Christ and His saints. They shall govern the present earth, and then the new earth, at their appearing. Disobedience to God shall be driven from the earth forever.
In that Day we will have no desire to remain confined to the spirit world.
We do not realize it, but we actually have no desire to live among creatures with four faces, or to stand beside a sea of glass laced with fire. What we truly desire is an earth from which all distressing aspects have been removed. This is what is on the horizon. Give this some thought and determine what you actually desire.
But God is not willing to give Paradise back to man until God is certain that man will not lose it again through disobedience. Therefore the history of the world has been for the purpose of teaching angels and humans the folly of following Satan, and also for the purpose of developing rulers who will be faithful to God and govern the world according to the laws of righteousness, the laws which are God’s Character.
The rulers of the world to come are being prepared now. Perhaps God is dealing sternly with you in the present hour. Your life has been interrupted and all your plans and hope seem to have been wrecked beyond repair. Do not quit. Do not curse God. Wait patiently while He examines your soul. You will emerge in triumph if you do not give up in despair. Keep trusting the Lord. Your are being prepared to govern the new world of righteousness.
At night we considered the ordeals that some of our members are experiencing. These can be very severe. But we are not to regard our fiery trials as strange. They are the normal part of our discipleship, as we change from knowing only the house of God to knowing the God of the house of God.
Toward the end of the evening study I explained the following passage:
Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm. (Revelation 11:19)
After the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the only temple God is interested in is Christ and those who are part of Christ. In Christ and each saint must be the three articles contained in the Ark of the Covenant: the stone tables of the Covenant, the memorial jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.
When the Lord Jesus appears with His victorious saints, at the revealing of the sons of God, the living Temple, which always is in Heaven at the right hand of God, shall be opened. The peoples of the earth will see those whom God loves as He loves Jesus Christ, His Firstborn son.
These saints will show within themselves the eternal moral law of God (the Ten Commandments, the eternal covenant of God with man); the memorial jar of manna (the members of the governing priesthood who live by the Word proceeding from the mouth of God); and transformed believers who abide faithfully in their calling, never seeking to usurp the pace of another in the Kingdom (Aaron’s rod that budded).
When the peoples of the earth behold such believers, they will understand that it is God who has sent Jesus Christ to the earth, and who loves the saints as He loves Christ.
Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed. (Isaiah 61:9)
The Character of the Victorious Saint
We focused this morning on Revelation 11:19: "Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm." You might think of this as a somewhat abstract passage, not related to our daily behavior at the present time, when the believers are having so many "practical" problems. The truth is, the passage above provides the reason for our tribulations.
Notice the three major elements in the passage: the opening of God’s Temple in Heaven; the Ark of His Covenant; and the rumblings, peals of thunder and so forth.
The purpose of the lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder is to draw our attention to the other two elements, God’s Temple and the Ark of the Covenant. When I say something significant during my sermon I like to have Sandi bang on the cymbals to show that I have quit talking and now am going to say something.
First let me point out that God’s Temple is the Church. God created man to be His living Temple (Check out Ephesians 4:21.)
I realize it says "God’s Temple in Heaven." This is because God’s Temple always is in Heaven. When the Lord Jesus was on earth He also was at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. When we are in Christ we also are at the right hand of the Father. Our new born-again nature is now in Christ at the right hand of God. Heaven is not a far distant place. Heaven is another dimension that we enter at physical death, not a far-off land that people can visit in a spacecraft! The Bible says we already have come to Mount Zion.
After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, God is not interested any longer in a temple that shuts Him off from His creatures. Christ is the living Temple of God, and each true Christian is a room in that living Temple. Thus God through us can bless people and give them eternal life. In fact, Christ, who Himself is the Tree of Life, is making us trees of life, provided we are learning to live by His body and blood.
The Temple is opened and what is seen is the Ark of the Covenant. Since Christ rose from the dead, the Ark of the Covenant is just a gold-covered box. The Lord Jesus Christ, and those in whom He is being formed, are the true, eternal Ark of the Covenant.
In case you are wondering if it is true that God no longer has use for a gold-covered box, or if His Throne is to be located in His people rather than far away somewhere, let’s hear what Jeremiah says:
In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the LORD.’ It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:16,17—NIV)
What is this? Jerusalem is to be God’s Throne? The Ark of the Covenant will be forgotten and not missed? Hey, I didn’t say this. Jeremiah did!
So we see Jeremiah’s prophecy fulfilled when the kingdom of the world becomes the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.
Actually, I believe our passage is referring to the revealing of the sons of God, an event that will take place when Christ returns to earth with His victorious saints to establish His Kingdom by force.
Didn’t the Lord say that when we are one in Him and the Father the world would believe that it is the Father who has sent Christ to us? Didn’t the Apostle Paul write that the material creation is eagerly waiting for the sons of God to be revealed?
Thus we can state that the opening of God’s Temple and the revealing of the Ark of the Covenant is referring symbolically to the time when Christ appears and we appear with Him.
But before we can occupy the role of the Ark of the Covenant, Jesus Christ must work certain changes in our character.
The changes are symbolized by the three articles placed in the Ark of the Covenant: the golden jar of manna; Aaron’s rod that budded, and finally, and most importantly the two tables of stone, the Ten Commandments, God’s righteous covenant with man.
The reason we have tribulation while we are in the world, as Jesus warned us, is that tribulation is necessary if the jar of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the righteous covenant are to be formed in our character.
The battles you are having each day, if you are living as a victorious saint, have to do with the manna, Aaron’s rod, and the Divine covenant of righteousness.
The manna in us means that we are being compelled to trust God each day for our survival and safety. We like to hedge ourselves against disaster as much as we are able. Finally God sweeps away all our protection and we are forced to look to Him alone for daily health, safety, and survival. Has this happened to you? Probably!
The expression "the just shall live by faith," which often is used to mean we do not have to live righteously, just believe correct doctrine, actually means the righteous live by trusting God rather than their own resources. Check it out. the expression appears four times in the Bible.
Aaron’s rod that budded is found in the 16th and 17th chapters of Numbers. The message is that God chooses who is holy; who he is drawing to Himself.
There is so much envy in the churches! Christ was not murdered by the Jews or the Romans. Christ was murdered by the spirit of envy in the rulers of Israel who were spiritually ambitious.
If we are to accept patiently the role God has assigned to us, and be content with the circumstances in which God places us, we must be free from the desire to be preeminent in the Kingdom. We are going to see ordinary people ("no better than we are!") exalted to positions of unbelievable glory, authority, and power. We will see them chosen by the Lord, while we ourselves can only look at such majesty.
Here comes the royal parade. Some of your acquaintances are in the front chariot with the Lord Jesus. An angel hands you a shovel and tells you to clean up behind the horses.
How do you feel about this? Is there a little twinge maybe? Take it to the Lord and tell Him to just give you a broom and you will sweep up manure while you are singing praises in the Spirit.
I’m not kidding! We have to get this religious envy out of us. Pilate realized that the leaders of Israel had murdered Christ out of envy.
And now we come to the most important aspect of our character, and that is righteous behavior. When the Ark of the Covenant was moved from David’s city of Zion to Solomon’s newly constructed Temple, there was no golden jar of manna in the Ark. There was no stick that had buds, blossoms, and almonds. There was only the stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments.
What does this fact tell us? It informs us that after the game has been played to the end, and the new Jerusalem has descended to the earth. what remains is righteousness. Righteous behavior is of total importance in the Kingdom of God.
A grievous error has entered Christian thinking. It is that God has given us grace as an alternative to righteous behavior. Any intelligent person who reads Paul’s writings carefully can see at once that such a definition of Divine grace is totally opposite to God’s intention under the new covenant.
I wonder how long it will be before Christian leaders decide that Paul was arguing against the works of the Law of Moses, not against righteous behavior. We have destroyed the testimony of the Christian churches by our teaching that since grace has come, we enter Heaven by professing faith in Christ rather than by interacting with the living Jesus until we become a new creation of righteous behavior.
The fruit of the maturing of the born-again experience is a character in the moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants righteous behavior on the part of all people. God demands righteous behavior, and when He doesn’t get it, judgment soon follows.
Righteous behavior is possible only as we have power. Other religions may teach righteous behavior, but they cannot furnish the power. The power to live righteously comes only from the Divine Life that flows from the Lord Jesus, from nowhere else!
So we see that Revelation 11:19 has practical application to what happened to us last week and what will happen to us this coming week. We will respond to our tribulations by interacting with the Lord Jesus, or we will groan about how we are being treated unjustly and continue interacting with the American culture.
Do you, as a Christian, choose to die spiritually? Then ignore Jesus and pursue money and pleasure.
Do you choose to live spiritually? Then pay attention to the Lord. He is dealing with you. He wants you to live, to enlist His help until you are making righteous choices.
The choice is before you, Christian believer. Will you choose death or life?
The Warrior’s Prayer
The Scripture passage of interest today is Psalms 18. I call it "The Warrior’s Prayer. It is an excellent text to dwell on when we are in deep trouble.
As I prayed in my office this morning, Psalms 18 came to mind. I believe the last time I preached on this psalm was about two years ago.
As I pored over some of the familiar passages, I received the distinct impression that God was telling us to prepare for the future—that many of us will be going through deep waters indeed, and not to panic when we find ourselves in distressing circumstances.
The key to survival in our time of ordeal is to trust in the Lord as our strength. It is not just that He gives us strength, He Himself is our Strength, our Rock. We look to Him alone to bring us out of deep water.
As Christians we do not go through many crises such as David is describing here. We have our day to day problems, and always enough grace to keep our joy in the Lord.
But when God decides to make Himself known to us personally, we may find that all we have trusted in has been swept away. When we enter such a Gethsemane experience, we find we no longer have victorious faith. We are brought down to a naked trust in God’s faithfulness that we once again will see the light of day.
Then we are to call on the Lord. Today we have many formulas for spiritual victory, directions in which to exercise "faith" so we gain health, wealth, and happiness. Perhaps some of these work at times, but not when God begins to reveal Himself to us personally.
So we cry "Help!" We do not attempt to rebuke Satan, we fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus. We cease "saying our prayers" and begin to really call out to the Lord for deliverance from our troubles and pain. Psalms 18 describes what takes place in the spirit world as God begins to move on our behalf.
Everything in our life is shaken. The foundations of those "mountains," those previously unshakeable "rocks" we have trusted to save us, are shaken. They all are moved out of their place as the God of Jacob descends to help us and save us.
But why does He clothe Himself with darkness? Why is He covered with a canopy of darkness?
It is because He does not wish to reveal to the enemy or to us how He is going to deliver us. God will be God! He does not ask anyone’s permission to do what He chooses.
Sometimes God appears to be unfair. We proud Americans are prone to examine God’s works to see if He is fair. The truth is, God is the only One who is fair. It is just that His ways are so far above us we cannot see the whole picture. Some day we will. In the meantime we understand that He who gave His Son for us is "fair."
The Spirit seems to be saying that dreadful days are ahead for us in America. We are a proud, arrogant nation and are legalizing all kinds of filthy moral practices.
Our worst sin against God is abortion without sufficient cause, such as rape or the health of the mother. The idea that a mother is free to slay her offspring or permit it to live is manifestly wrong, except to minds corrupted by prevailing values. God is very displeased with this practice and our nation is going to suffer for it.
If we press into the Lord today, and become founded on the Rock, we will stand during the spiritually dark days on the horizon. Furthermore, we will be able to help other people survive, whether or not they are Christians.
But if we waste the present period of preparation, we will be swept away by the demonic power that is to be released, even though we make a profession of faith in Christ.
We continued at night with Psalms 18. We find David, in verse 20, claiming that God rewarded him according to the cleanness of his hands.
It is a wonder we got out of church by Monday morning, because the topic of righteous behavior is central to my thinking and teaching.
Our teaching today says that God does not reward us according to the cleanness of our behavior. All of our righteousness is as filthy rags. We are deemed righteous on the basis of our assent to the facts concerning the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved by "faith" alone. This is the prevailing understanding of the new covenant, and it has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian churches throughout the world.
There are three aspects that make us know the idea of being saved by "faith alone" is not what the Scripture means when it says we are saved by faith and not by works.
First, "faith," as defined by the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews means obedience to the revealed will of God.
Second, the Apostle Paul in several letter to the churches, informed the believers that if they continued to walk in the sinful nature they would not inherit the Kingdom of God; they would reap corruption.
Third, when Paul was contrasting works and faith, he was contrasting the works of the Law of Moses with a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, a faith that causes us to interact at every moment with Christ as the new creation of righteous behavior is formed in us.
Remember, Paul went about teaching in Jewish synagogues. Paul was proving to Jews from the Scriptures that now that God has given Christ, we no longer obtain righteousness by practicing the works of the Law of Moses but by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.
We Gentiles have interpreted Paul’s statements in the early chapters of the Book of Romans to mean that a belief in the facts relating to Christ relieves us from all necessity for living a godly life.
The truth is, genuine faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that interacts with the living Christ each day, always results in moral transformation. We become a new creation that chooses to do God’s will at each moment. Salvation is deliverance from the power of sin and the creation of a desire to live righteously. A careful reading of the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans will reveal that eternal life is the result of living a holy, righteous life.
How could such obvious truth be overlooked by the competent Christian scholars who are directing God’s people today? I do not know, unless God hides the truth from people until He is ready to bring individuals here and there to Christ, ignoring institutions and mass movements.
People write to me via E-mail. So often the message is: "All the churches we visit are preaching grace-rapture-Heaven-health-wealth-success in this present world. What should we do?"
This is not an isolated condition. Such preaching is heard every Sunday morning in the Christian churches of America. The result is immoral people. The result of immoral people is an immoral government. The end of this spiritual drought is chaos. The newspapers reveal the crime and destruction that abound. And all of this is due to the incorrect doctrine being advanced.
The blood-washed have been deceived royally.
It is my point of view that somehow the Lord God of Heaven will bring His ministers back to the clear truths of the Kingdom of God. I would guess this transition will take place during the next twenty or thirty years.
Until such a return to the original truths of the New Testament occurs, we can expect the deterioration of every aspect of the American culture.
The Conditional Nature of Salvation
The lesson today was from the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews. There are Bible teachers who, using a few verses of Scripture, have deduced that once a person "accepts Christ," he or she never again can be removed from God’s favor. I think this totally unscriptural position has arisen from man’s love for himself. He wants to be assured that whether he serves God or not, he will go to Heaven when he dies.
There are many passages—I am tempted to say the message of the entire Scriptures, Old Testament and New—that tell us God can change His mind, based on our behavior. Consider God’s words to Eli, the High Priest, when he did not rebuke his sons.
Scholars used the concept that since God is sovereign, once He declares that we are saved we never can be lost. Perhaps the antecedent of this idea is the overemphasis on predestination, that surfaces at times in Christian thinking.
There are several passages that declare flatly we can draw back from salvation after we begin walking in the "way of righteousness." Second Peter states that it would be better never to have walked this way than to draw back after once having done so.
One illustration used by New-Testament authors is that of the Jews dying in the wilderness after having started out from Egypt. What could be plainer than this illustration?
Another factor that impacts modern Christian thinking is the phrase "God’s unconditional love." The idea here is that God loves us even though we do not obey Christ and His Apostles. An intelligent individual who read the New Testament would marvel that people could be so confused.
There is no question in my mind but that the current people-centered philosophies in the American culture are spilling over into Christian thinking. "People must be happy no matter whether God is obeyed or not." This attitude accounts for the "once saved, always saved," "unconditional love," "God wants us to be wealthy and never suffer," "God will take all Gentile believers to Heaven so they will not experience the Great Tribulation or the reign of Antichrist," doctrines that abound. All of these are contrary to the message of the New Testament.
The third chapter of the Book of Hebrews is a good antidote for the poison that has entered the bloodstream of Christianity in America.
There are those who recognize that Hebrews is incompatible with current doctrine. So they either claim the book is not written to Christians, or else they use arguments from the Greek to prove certain passages do not mean what they state. This is a pseudo- scholarship, and its proponents should be ashamed of their lapse of intellectual ethics.
The third chapter of the Book of Hebrews states that we are part of Christ’s house if we hold fast to our courage and hope.
"If" means "on the condition that." We are the house of Christ on the condition that we hold fast to our courage and hope.
Does this statement in the third chapter of Hebrews mean that if we do not hold fast to our courage and hope we will not be the house of Christ?
There is no other way to interpret the passage.
But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. (Hebrews 3:6)
Perhaps there are Bible teachers today who would claim that being Christ’s house and being saved are two different circumstances. We can be saved and yet not be Christ’s house.
I heard of one teacher who is saying that we can be cut from the Vine, from Christ, and still be saved. There may be others who teach that we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God because we continued to behave according to our sinful nature. But we still can be "saved."
From my point of view, it is a wicked practice to teach believers that even if they continue to sin they will still go to Heaven, because once they "accept Christ" they never can be cut off from the Lord.
I wonder how the Apostle Paul, who toward the end of his life was still attempting to "gain Christ," would view the current man-centered gospel.
If I am hearing correctly from the Lord Jesus, a great revival is sweeping this way. Past revivals have emphasized one or another aspect of salvation: sinners being saved and being born again; Divine healing; speaking in tongues, for example. I believe the revival that is on the way will emphasize repentance on the part of God’s people. Because of false doctrine the moral strength of the believers is so weak that it no longer is having much of an impact on our government and culture. This not always has been the case in America. I believe the record will show that Christian people were largely responsible for the emancipation of African-Americans. The book "Uncle Tom’s Cabin," a contributing factor to the Civil War, was written from a series of visions given to a Christian lady.
The Christian religion has played a major role in the history of Europe, America, and South America. Little by little the Christian influence has been eroded. My personal opinion is that this is because of the teaching that if we make a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will go to Heaven no matter how we behave. I do not see where today’ position is much different from the Muslim belief that if an innocent child is murdered in the name of Allah, the murderer upon death will enter Paradise.
Religion tends to destroy common sense as well as conscience.
Sunday night another vital concept was introduced. This has to do with the first resurrection, the resurrection out from among the dead. Paul speaks of this ejxanavstasin in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. The same event is termed hJ ajnavstasi" hJ prwvth, or first resurrection, in the twentieth chapter of Revelation.
Very little is taught today, I believe, concerning the fact that there shall be two resurrections from the dead. The resurrection out from among the dead was the principal goal of the Apostle Paul. Paul, while in prison, said that he felt he had not attained the first resurrection as yet, but was pressing forward toward that goal.
After the thousand-year Kingdom Age has transpired, the general resurrection of the dead will occur. This will include all human beings ever born on the earth, but who did not attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection that is out from among the dead.
Those who attain to the earlier resurrection will have been judged previously, so no books will be opened when the Lord comes. They will have fellowship, and then rise to meet Him in the air.
Those whose bodies are called forth from the grave at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age will be judged according to what they have done during their lifetime. This does not mean they automatically are lost, as is taught erroneously. No individual will be thrown into the eternal fire unless his or her name is not found in the Book of Life.
And let me say in concluding, that in spite of what is taught today, no person, young or old, will be thrown into that most terrible of fates on the basis or never having heard the Gospel. If he has heard the Gospel he will be judged on that basis. If he has never heard the Gospel, he will be judged according to his behavior, whether wicked or righteous.
We must come to understand that "accepting Christ" does not guarantee we can never be thrown into the Lake of Fire. God has given the Lake of Fire authority over eight types of behavior. Placing our faith in Christ does not waive that authority, except temporarily while we have a chance to become a new creation. But the authority of the Lake of Fire is cast in steel. Whoever persists in those behaviors, not being willing to permit Jesus Christ to deliver him or her, will finally make the Lake of Fire his or her eternal home.
We have made the Lord Jesus Christ an alternative to moral transformation. This would mean God has given up on His plan to make man in His image. Such a change in the Divine program never has happened and never shall happen. Through the Lord Jesus we can fulfill God’s intention and be made in His image. But those who resist this moral transformation, claiming God loves them too much to permit them to suffer, are heading toward a frightful destiny unless they repent.
The Army of the Lord
The lesson today had to do with the army of the Lord, the army that shall descend with the Lord Jesus and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. The Day of the Lord and the descent of the army of the Lord from Heaven is one of the most important topics of the Bible. Until we understand this doctrine we have a false vision of the coming of Christ. A false vision of the Day of the Lord will have a negative effect on our discipleship.
Good morning. We spoke today of the Day of the Lord, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His saints to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Another important burden the Lord gave me for today has to do with the seriousness of the Gospel of the Kingdom. We American Christians are far too silly, frivolous, careless. We have been lulled to sleep by the American materialistic culture. We think we are ready for the return of Christ. We are not. We are not working out our salvation with fear and trembling but with the thought that God is overlooking our lack of cross-carrying obedience. We are neglecting the daily, lifelong demands of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
But back to the army of the Lord. I like to employ the second chapter of the Book of Joel to teach this subject. Some today are insisting Joel is speaking only of locusts. As in so many cases in the Prophets, there is an obvious, immediate fulfillment; but hidden in the text there is a fulfillment in the Messianic Kingdom, the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
After all, in the first Christian sermon Peter said: "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." It seems to me this gives the Book of Joel a special importance as far as Christians are concerned.
But for those who feel strongly that Joel is referring only to locusts, let me list some of the other passages that deal with the same topic: Psalms 149:6-9; Isaiah 13:9-13; Habakkuk 3:3-19; Micah 5:7-9; Malachi 4:3; Romans 16:20; Jude 14,15. You may notice in the reference in Joel:2-11 the mention of the signs in the heavens. This is true also of the passage in Isaiah, and the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew.
The vision of the coming of the Lord held today by so many Christian people is that of a joyous event. The truth is, the return of Jesus Christ to the earth will be the most terrible event of all history. The only people to whom it will bring joy are those who are living in daily cross-carrying obedience. The remainder of the believers, those who are trusting in grace to save them from the Divine wrath, will be dealt with severely.
Do you remember that Jude spoke of those in the churches who turned the grace of God into a license for immorality?
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 4—NIV)
This precisely is what is occurring throughout the churches of our day. Divine grace has become a license for sin. Also, the Lordship of Christ is not mentioned, only His forgiveness. How many believers of today have made Jesus the Lord of their life so they give every decision to Him?
But then notice what will happen to these among us who are using grace as a license for sin:
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 14,15)
Who are "these men"? They are the "believers" who use grace as an excuse for their sinning, and who refuse to make Christ the Lord of their life.
What shall happen to "these men"? They shall be judged and convicted when the Lord Jesus returns with His true saints.
We are blowing the trumpet in Zion, not in the world. We are saying to God’s people that there is coming a great and mighty army of dead-living people who will judge them for their neglect of their salvation. The soldiers of the army of the Lord are dead because they have been crucified with Christ. They are living because Christ is living in them.
These saints can fall on the sword of God and not be harmed because they already have been judged by the two-edged sword of the Spirit. They are without compromise. No lie is found in their mouth. They cannot be frightened, persuaded, or moved in any other manner from strict obedience to their Lord, Jesus Christ.
This is a true vision of the return of Jesus Christ. The purpose of His return is not to carry the carnal church members to Heaven. There is not a passage in the Bible to support such This soulish, contemporary doctrine.
The Day of the Lord will include the outpouring of God’s wrath. The demons pleaded with Jesus that He not torment them before the time allotted for their torment.
There is a Day of Judgment on the horizon. The Christian churches have lost their vision of the Day of Wrath. They are expecting a fun-filled "rapture," but no such event is portrayed in the Scriptures, except as a person filled with the spirit of error is willing to cut and paste verses out of their context.
The whole Bible speaks of the coming of the Day of Judgment. Satan in the university professors is persuading people that human beings evolved from lower forms of life, and that there is no intelligent God. Satan’s purpose in emphasizing evolution is to turn people away from the prospect of being judged for their behavior. The consequence of such belief is a tremendous increase in immorality so Satan and his demons can feed on human flesh.
This same consequence occurs as Christians are taught they need have no fear of the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is why so many pastors, evangelists, and church-attenders spend hours slobbering over the naked flesh portrayed on the Internet.
We can see readily that our vision of the Day of the Lord, the coming of Christ to the earth, will determine the quality of our discipleship. If it is true that when the Lord returns He will carry the present immature believer gaily to Paradise, then we will keep going as we are, business as usual, neglecting to strive to attain to the resurrection which is from the dead—in other words, not being careful to emulate the Apostle Paul.
If however our vision is that of the Day of Wrath, in which all but the most diligent of the disciples will be rebuked for their lack of cross-carrying obedience to Jesus Christ, then we are going to cry out to the Lord that He will grant us the grace to live a godly life—wire-tight as I like to say.
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand— A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:1,2)
At night the teaching was much the same, stressing the need to be serious, working out our salvation with fear and trembling rather than with an unscriptural overconfidence. We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We have to do certain things to make our calling and election sure, according to the Book of Second Peter.
God is a Person but not a human being. He does not forgive our sins until an atonement has been made and we have acknowledged and turned away from our sin. God does not just overlook sin, until proper steps have been taken!
We are picturing God as some "good ol’ guy." We have been deceived by the softness of our culture. We would have a clearer picture of God if we were living in the southern part of Sudan.
Drawing Nearer to Christ
There was a clear burden today. It is that Christ wants us to draw closer to Himself. He impressed us with the thought that the problems and frustrations a Christian experiences are for the purpose of pressing him or her further into Christ.
The scriptural background for the preaching this Sunday morning was John 14:2-23, with a touch of Revelation, Chapter Fourteen.
The passage in John says this: "that where I am, there you may be also." What a tremendous invitation this is!
The Lord’s statement has nothing to do with Heaven as a place. It is referring to closeness to Himself. It is the call of the Lamb to the firstfruits of His bride.
Revelation, Chapter 14, speaks of those who "follow the Lamb wherever He goes."
The call today is for those who will cleave to the Lamb with all their might. There is nothing they will not surrender to the Lord if He calls for it, including their own life.
The Lord is offering to give up His privacy and independence for eternity. Those who become His counterpart, who follow Him wherever He goes, also must give up their privacy and independence for eternity. This fact may cause some to draw back. To not answer the Lord’s call in this hour would be an error of such magnitude as to be indescribable.
The offer is to whosoever will. But some will refuse, unbelievable as it may sound, preferring to remain an animal rather than a new Divinely wrought creation married to God.
The Father’s House is the Lord Jesus Christ. In this great house, of which the Lord Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone, there are many rooms in which the Father and the Son can find rest.
You know, the Lord Jesus two thousand years ago could have taken control of the government of the whole earth. He possesses that authority and power, given to Him by the Father. This would have saved us two thousand years of insanity and agony.
But it is His desire to have a body, a body through which He and the Father can express themselves.
This is what the Lord meant by saying, "If it were not so I would have told you." If He were to remain as the only dwelling place of God, He would have said so at that time. But He went to the cross, and then into the heavens with His own blood to remove the defilement that occurred when Satan and his followers rebelled.
By means of the atonement Christ has prepared a place for us in Himself and the Father.
Christ said He would come again and receive us to Himself. This is happening today. We are not speaking of His return in the clouds of glory but of His coming to the individual disciple who is keeping His commandments and those of His Apostles.
The following passage is related to John 14:2,3:
He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him." (John 14:21-23—NASB)
The above three verses speak of a coming of the Lord to His disciples before He comes to the world. It is in this context that Jesus said in John 14, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you."
It no doubt is true that there have been pioneers, scouts out ahead of the rest of us who, in days gone by, have experienced the personal coming of the Lord. Today the wagon train, so to speak, is coming up to this new location in God.
Now we must be clear about this. The coming of the Lord in this personal sense is the fulfillment of the final three feasts of the Lord, the three feasts that come after Pentecost.
The twentieth century was the Pentecostal century. Today God is moving forward. The demands on the disciple are much greater than was true for the initial salvation experience or the Pentecostal experience. Now the Lamb is looking for those who will give all to Him that He may give all to them.
If we are to become the eternal dwelling place of the Father and the Son, we must follow the Holy Spirit as He deals with the love of the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the self-will that abide in us. All three areas of sin must be dealt with vigorously and thoroughly until we are living in victory each day. The Holy Spirit will do this for us if we will ask Him to and obey His leading.
In addition to being cleansed from all the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, Christ must be formed in us to a greater extent than has been true. Christ is formed in us as we turn away from sin and choose to do His will. Then we are fed with His body and blood in the spirit realm.
I remember when an old Pentecostal preacher, Elmer E. Fullerton, in 1948, told us Bible students that there was more of God after Pentecost. This was a thrilling thought to me. I hope it is to you.
The Bible types show clearly that there are three great works of grace, not just two.
There is initial salvation through the blood of the cross.
There is the baptism with the Holy Spirit and life lived in the Spirit.
There is the coming of the Father and the Son to find Their place of rest in us for eternity.
And so the Lord is telling us this morning to press closer into Himself. The greatest opportunity every to be offered to man is here now. If we do not make up our mind to go all the way with the Lord, we will miss the day of our visitation.
I think it not likely that ever again will such an opportunity be presented to people.
We continued in the same vein at the Sunday evening service, pointing out that the firstfruits to God and the Lamb, set forth in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, are being prepared today. Who would be so foolish as to trade the passing allurements of the present world for the opportunity to be forever with the Lamb!
What Salvation Is All About
There was an outstanding pageantry production Easter Sunday morning. In the evening Carina Arceo, co-pastor of our sister church in the Philippines, Mount Zion Sanctuary, gave a marvelous account of the work of her and her husband, Edgar. In addition to promoting the Gospel of the Kingdom they operate a growing Christian school. Also they feed the poor and provide medical services for the needy.
You can listen to Carina's testimony at morning.
While I was praying during the day the Spirit of God made an issue clear to me. As you may know, many years ago the Lord impressed on me that eternal residence in Heaven is not the scriptural goal of salvation. During subsequent years the promise of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has become ever clearer.
But yesterday the meaning of "salvation" entered forcefully into my mind and spirit with greater clarity than ever before. Hopefully I will have opportunity to spread what I believe has been revealed to me.
Perhaps the best place to start is the concept of "redemption." To redeem a person or property is to buy back the person or property from someone who has gained or seized him or it by forfeiture of some kind, or by force.
By obeying Satan rather than God, mankind became the slave of Satan, such that people portray the person and will of Satan rather than the person and will of God. Man no longer is in the image of God but in the image of Satan.
Make sure the two paragraphs above are clear in your mind, because what we have to say further will build on this fact.
In my explanation of the meaning of salvation, or redemption, I am going to use both terms synonymously. However, salvation refers primarily to the preservation of our personality, while redemption refers to a change of possession, that is, whether or not we still are bound to Satan in some manner or have become united with God through Christ.
Satan is our enemy. We are saved (preserved) in the sight of God. We are redeemed from the power of the enemy.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, (Psalms 107:2—NIV)
If we are to be able to understand the meaning of salvation, or redemption, we will have to hold clearly in our mind that we are not redeemed from the earth but from Satan. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them
To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. (Acts 26:17,18—NIV)
Thus, salvation, or redemption, has to do with our release from the chains of sin rather than with eternal residence in the spirit world (Heaven).
It would be correct to say we are being redeemed; we are working out our salvation. It is not accurate to say we were saved at some previous time, because salvation, or redemption, is a process that leads to God’s image. We are not "saved" until we have persevered to the end of the program. It would be more correct to state we have been sealed for the Day of Redemption.
The paragraph above is worthy of our deepest consideration. Although it obviously is true, I know of no instance in current teaching where being saved is viewed as release from the chains of the world, from the lusts of the flesh, and from self-will. Historically there may have been such teaching, as in the doctrine of John Wesley for example. But it never has taken hold to any great extent. The biblical concept of redemption appears to be missing from our thinking.
The paragraph above is worthy of our deepest consideration. Although it obviously is true, I know of no instance in current teaching where being saved is viewed as release from the chains of the world, from the lusts of the flesh, and from self-will. Historically there may have been such teaching, as in the doctrine of John Wesley for example. But it never has taken hold to any great extent. The biblical concept of redemption appears to be missing from our thinking.If you doubt this, ask any Christians of your acquaintance, or any unsaved person for that matter, what is the result of being "saved." It is quite likely that not one person in a million, saved or unsaved, will answer that we are saved, or redeemed, from the power of Satan. Every individual, even in other religions, will answer that we are saved in order to go to a spirit paradise when we die, there to live forever free from the pains and frustrations of life on the earth.
If I am correct in saying that very few people understand the goal of salvation, then we have need for an overhaul of Christian thinking. Doesn’t it sound that way to you?
If it is true that salvation, or redemption, consists of deliverance from the possession of Satan such that we are preserved in the Presence of God, are formed in His image, and are dwelling with Christ in the center of the Person and will of God, then the question becomes when, where, and how such redemption will take place.
As of now the believers are looking forward to going to Heaven to live forever, whether by death or by an unscriptural "rapture." They appear to be assuming that such movement from earth to Heaven is equivalent to salvation or redemption. But what passage of Scripture supports this common belief?
As the Lord Jesus prayed, the object is not to take us out of the world but to protect us from the evil one.
Does going to Heaven result in our being saved, that is, freed from the control of Satan and brought into the image and will of God? What passage implies that it does? Does release from our love for and trust in the world system, release from the filthy passions of our flesh and spirit, and release from our tendency to perform our own will rather than following Christ in self-denial and cross-carrying obedience—do these three releases occur when we die or are "raptured" into the spirit realm?
Consider: sin began in Heaven around the Throne of God when Satan chose to exalt himself above the Father. Many angels followed Satan. The Lake of Fire has been prepared for them. They were in Heaven. Yet, they sinned. Also, the demons that harass us constantly, inflaming our love of the world, the lusts of our flesh and spirit, and our self-will, live in the spirit world.
If this is true, then on what basis do we hope that our entrance into the spirit world will redeem us from the chains of Satan? What logic provides the basis for our hope? What passage of Scripture provides the basis for our hope?
If entrance into the spirit world does not redeem us from the hand of the enemy, does not release us from the chains of sin and self-will that bind us, then it must be true that dying and entering the spirit world does not automatically save us, that is, if we view salvation as deliverance from the power of sin.
Salvation, or redemption, is release from the power of Satan. We have not been saved, or redeemed, until we are in the image of God in personality and behavior, and finally in body. To claim that being "saved by grace," or by "accepting Christ," redeems us from the hand of the enemy is contradicted by the fact that Christian people claim to be "forgiven but not perfect." By this we understand that they realize they still are bound with many sins, even though they have been forgiven through the blood atonement.
Is it possible to be forgiven on the basis of the blood atonement made by Christ, and still not be saved, or redeemed? If our above statements are true, then yes—one can be forgiven on the basis of the blood atonement and yet not be redeemed from the image and behavior of Satan.
It is obvious to unsaved people, and to the members of other religions, that Christian people have not been redeemed from the hand of the enemy. The Christians can speak of being new creations in Christ. This is the position they take by faith, but it has not as yet been brought into reality. Until it has been brought into reality, they have not been redeemed.
The New Testament speaks of the coming of the Day of Redemption in the future. If we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been sealed for the Day of Redemption.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30—NIV)
Who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5—NIV)
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28—NIV)
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11—NIV)
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24—NIV)
Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)
It may be understood from the above verses that salvation is in the future; that Paul was looking forward to release from the sinful nature; that Paul’s view of redemption was the filling of his body with the Holy Spirit. The redemption of his body would be the answer to his prayer in Romans 7:24. When the Lord Jesus spoke of not perishing but of having eternal life (John 3:16), He was referring to the redemption of our body, to that which was lost in the Garden of Eden. It is the body that perishes in physical death.
When Jesus spoke of enduring to the end that we may be saved, He meant enduring the processes of redemption that we finally might be freed from Satan. It is another way of looking at salvation, isn’t it?
The Father has given the Lake of Fire authority over eight behaviors. These behaviors never will be permitted in the Kingdom of God, not by grace, mercy, forgiveness, belief in Christ, or any other means. When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior the authority of the Lake of Fire is suspended; but it never is waived. The salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ, by forgiving us and providing us with many forms of Divine Virtue, gives us an opportunity to be delivered from the eight behavior listed in Revelation 21:8. It is this deliverance that itself is salvation, or redemption.
But if we are unwilling to be changed, we, whether or not we call Jesus "Lord," will be claimed by the Lake of Fire.
But does the New Testament tell Christian people that they cannot inherit the Kingdom of God as long as they continue to sin? Yes, in several places.
And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21—NIV
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8—NIV)
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5—NIV)
Is it possible that we can be saved and go to Heaven and live forever and yet not inherit the Kingdom of God? I do not believe any serious Bible student would care to defend that position.
It is obvious the above passages are referring to Christian people. First of all, the passages were addressed to the Christian churches. Second, if they were addressed to unsaved people it would be implying the unsaved could enter the Kingdom of God by not engaging in the specified behaviors.
To say no true Christian would engage in these behaviors would be to eliminate most of the Christian believers of the past and the present. Such reasoning is specious. This is in fact the way in which Christians behave. A common expression among Christian people is, "As long as we are in the world we are going to sin." By this they mean they have not found the program of redemption from the chains of Satan. Although their sins have been forgiven, they still are the slaves of sin.
The expression "saved by grace" means, in current usage, that our sins have been forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ and now we are eligible to live forever in the spirit Paradise. It is understood that we have not been delivered from the power of the enemy, just forgiven. The Bible does not teach that the power of God is limited to forgiving us; that it cannot deliver us from Satan. If God could only forgive us, but not deliver us, then we are doomed. It would be best we never had been born!
The feasts of the Lord (Leviticus, Chapter Twenty-three) provide a useful outline of the program of redemption. The feasts begin with the covering of the Passover blood, and conclude with the feast of Tabernacles, which portrays the dwelling of the Father and the Son in the personality of the believer.
Just prior to Tabernacles, and after the major convocation of Pentecost, the Day of Atonement takes place. The Day of Atonement portrays in symbolic form the total reconciliation to God of the human personality.
During the Day of Atonement, two goats were used to make an atonement for the sins of the people of Israel. The first goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled before the Mercy Seat. The second goat was not slain, but the sins of Israel were confessed over it and it was led away into the wilderness.
The meaning seems apparent. The atonement includes both forgiveness of sin through the blood sacrifice, and also the removal of sin. If it did not include both forgiveness and the removal of sin, our future, as I stated previously, would be grim indeed!
The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement shall continue until there is no sin left in the Kingdom of God. All sin shall be confined in the Lake of Fire.
Seventy "sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24—NIV)
"To put an end to sin"! "An end to sin"! Not an end to guilt, but an end to sin, that is, to sinful behavior.
If we are not saved, or redeemed, until the power of Satan has been broken in our personality, the important question is how, when, and where does our redemption from the hand of the enemy take place?
The "when" is stated in Chapter Thirteen of the Book of Matthew.
As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41—NIV)
The "where" is not stated. I would suggest redemption can take place in either the spirit world or on the earth. Peter writes that the time has come for God to judge the living and the dead. Since the judgment falls on Satan and his works, we may infer that redemption from the hand of the enemy is not bound by our location at the time the work of deliverance takes place.
The "how" embraces all of the Divine grace given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. The program of redemption begins with the blood atonement. We have to be forgiven if we are to start on the program of salvation. Christ prepared a place for us by going to the cross, and then ascending to the Father, there to cleanse the sanctuary in the heavens.
We must keep in mind that the end result of bringing us perfectly into the image of Christ, and into untroubled rest in the Person and will of the Father, necessitates not only the removal of sin from our personality but also the forming of Christ in our personality. The removal of sin and the forming of Christ work together to create the new personality in the image and will of God.
God has given us many forms of Divine Virtue that by these we might be partakers of the Divine Nature.
We have access in prayer into the Most Holy place in Heaven that we may obtain Divine wisdom and strength through which we can overcome the evil one.
We have the born-again experience in which the Seed of God is planted in us.
We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
We are nourished with the body and blood of Christ as we choose to obey the Holy Spirit at all times.
We have the covering of the Passover blood of the cross to protect us when the judgment of God falls on the idols of the world.
We have the words of the Old and New Testaments to guide us
We have the testimony of the Apostles of the Lamb.
We have water baptism as a sign that we have washed away our sins and now are going to serve the Lord.
We count that we have been crucified with Christ and now are learning to live by His Life.
We have the fellowship of other disciples.
We have the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God.
We have the example of the men and women of God of the Old Testament.
Soon we will have the fullness of the indwelling of the Father and the Son, and then a sin-free body from Heaven that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones.
But do we have a part to play in our redemption from the hand of the enemy?
Yes. We must pray without ceasing.
We must meditate daily in the Scriptures, if they are available to us, and obey them with the enablement provided by the Spirit of God.
We must add to our faith moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love, patience, and courage.
We must obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles sternly, as well as the personal commands given to us by the Lord.
We must endure hardship.
We must confess our sins and turn away from them, as the Holy Spirit guides us
We must gather as often as we can with fervent saints.
We must present our body a living sacrifice that we always may be aware of God’s will.
We must give of our material possessions as the Lord guides us.
We must seek the wisdom and will of Christ in every decision throughout the day and night.
We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ at all times.
We must live a righteous, holy, obedient life, always increasing in consecration, diligence, and integrity.
The above is what it means to be a victorious saint and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. There are some who are doing this, and they are making progress in redemption.
The standard held up in the preaching of salvation is far too low in America at this time. The future shall reveal God’s attitude toward us, and the salvation He has prepared for us. We have been sealed that we may be preserved and delivered in that Day.
Whoever chooses to live as a disciple, working out his or her salvation with fear and trembling, will inherit all that the Father is making new in the Lord Jesus Christ. God shall be his Father, and he shall be God’s son.
The Lake of Fire no longer can claim him. He has been redeemed from the hand of the enemy and changed into the image of God.
God’s Vengeance on Evil Spirits
Now is the day when the last three feasts of the Lord, the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles, shall be fulfilled spiritually. The three observances speak of the coming of the King, Jesus, to declare war against His enemies; removal of all of His enemies from His people; and the coming of the Father and the Son to make their home in our personality. These are the three great works of redemption that follow the Pentecostal experience, to which we have become accustomed.
This morning I emphasized the second of the three last platforms of redemption, that is, the removal of the enemies of Christ from His people. This is typified by the Jewish "Day of Atonement." There is no more significant convocation in the Jewish calendar.
Let me begin by explaining "redemption" and "salvation." "Redemption" has to do with wresting us from the possession of Satan and restoring us to the possession of God. "Salvation" has to do with preservation in the Presence of God. Restored possession, and then preservation.
We are redeemed from the hand of the enemy so we may be preserved in God’s Presence. We are preserved in God’s Presence so we may have fellowship with God, and so we may serve Him joyously in our appointed role in His Kingdom.
In the late 1940s and early 1950s God made real to me that it was time to begin the "Day of Vengeance of our God."
When the Lord Jesus opened the scroll of Isaiah, while in His home synagogue, He read:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18)
Then the Lord rolled up the scroll and sat down.
When we refer to the Scroll of Isaiah, from which the Lord Jesus was reading, we find there is no concluding period after "the year of the Lord’s favor." Rather, the verse continues:
To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:2)
Think about this. The Lord stopped before reading, "The day of vengeance of our God."
Why did He not include this phrase? Because it was not time for Divine vengeance to be executed upon unclean spirits. This is why the demons asked Christ if He had come to torture them before the time, that is, before the day of vengeance of our God.
The distinction between judgment and vengeance must be clear in the reader’s mind if He is to understand what God is doing with His saints today.
"Judgment" is highly desirable. When Divine judgment comes upon us it shows us what is in us that is evil. This is clarity we want if we love God and want to please Him.
We are not God’s enemies. The devil and his angels are God’s enemies, along with the multitude of unclean spirits that harass mankind continually. It is upon these wicked spirits, ranging in importance from Satan to the least demon, that God’s shall avenge Himself. The Lake of Fire was not prepared for humans but for Satan and his angels. The only human beings who will be placed in the Lake of Fire are those who refuse to be redeemed from Satan and brought into God’ Presence as servants of Jesus Christ.
It is time now for us to be redeemed from the hand of Satan. If we are sons of God we are being led by the Spirit of God. If we are being led by the Spirit of God we are being instructed concerning the wickedness that is in our personality—not all at once, but city by city, so to speak.
When the Holy Spirit points out evil in our behavior, such as lying, profanity, or fornication, we must put it to death. We put the behavior to death by confessing it as sin; by denouncing it as fit only for the Lake of Fire; by renouncing it firmly, saying we never want to yield to that behavior again; and then, with the Lord’s help resisting it whenever it seeks to move us to fulfill its lusts and rebellion.
When we confess our sins, resolving fervently to turn away from them, God forgives our sins and purifies us from all unrighteousness. We simply are not debtors to our flesh that we should yield to its filthy desires at any time or for any reason.
We Christians have been taught for so many years that as long as we are in this world and in our mortal body we are obligated to sin. This is not true. It is a lie Satan has promoted in order to keep us in slavery. If we will follow the Holy Spirit carefully, He shall give us victory over every sin.
What sin is there that is too great for Christ to overcome?
So we understand that the Day of Vengeance is not speaking of vengeance upon people but upon wicked spirits. Divine vengeance will fall on only those people who refuse to be redeemed from the hand of the enemy, preferring to retain their worldliness, the lusts of their flesh, and their self-will.
There are eight behaviors over which the Lake of Fire retains authority. That authority never shall be taken from the Lake of Fire. When we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we are protected from the authority of the Lake of Fire. But if we refuse to be redeemed from the hand of Satan, then that protection will be removed and the Lake of Fire will claim its own.
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Notice that it is not an abstract spirit of cowardice that shall be confined to the Lake of Fire, but the "the cowardly." These eight objects of vengeance are those who behave in the specified manner, whether they are devils or people.
All cowardly people. All unbelieving people. All vile people. All murderers. All sexually immoral people. All those who practice magic arts. All idolatrous people. All liars.
We may be taught today that such is the destiny of cowards, of unbelieving people, of the vile, "unless they profess faith in Jesus Christ." This concept, that "accepting Christ" nullifies the numerous warnings in the New Testament, is a monumental lie. It is Satan claiming, "You shall not surely die."
God watches to see that His Word is fulfilled. God watches to see that Revelation 21:8 is fulfilled.
Is there a fearful individual (fearfulness reveals a lack of faith in God) who will not confess his timidity to God and be delivered from it? This person shall find his or her home in the Lake of Fire with the devil and his angels.
But what if he or she professes faith in Christ? If the individual refuses to be redeemed from the specified behavior—fearfulness in this case, he or she shall be thrown into the Lake that burns with fire and sulfur. God’s Word shall never be despised or forgotten, no matter how human beings boast themselves of their righteousness and goodness.
No coward, no vile individual, no liar, shall be brought into the Presence of God and serve Him in His Kingdom.
It is not God’s will that any human being be thrown into the Lake of Fire. God has given His Son to make an atonement for our sins. God has given us the Holy Spirit. God has given us the born-again experience in which the Divine Seed has been planted in us.
God has given us the Bible, including the testimony of the Apostles of the Lamb. God has given us various gifts and ministries to build us up in Christ. God has given us access to Himself in the Holy of Holies. All of these aspects of Divine grace are for the purpose of redeeming us from the person and works of Satan. If we refuse to be redeemed from the person and works of Satan, how then can we be saved into the Presence of God and serve Him in His Kingdom?
John the Baptist spoke of our being baptized the Holy Spirit, and then with Divine Fire. Today we are to be baptized with fire. This means the Holy Spirit will abide on us as a tongue of fire, as at the birth of the Christian Church. The Divine Fire will expose every work of Satan that is in us. Our part is to confess our sins and turn away from then. This is the program of redemption that we are to be working out with fear and trembling. The result of redemption is salvation in the Presence of God.
If I am hearing from the Lord correctly we are going to see a great increase in the manifestation of demons in the days to come. The moral restraints that should be coming from the government of the United States are slowly being eroded. The result will be a multiplication of murder, various psychoses, cannibalism, and unbridled sexual behavior including homosexual aberrations, man-boy "love," incest, various episodes involving teachers and their students, intercourse with animals, and perhaps the harvesting of commercially grown fetuses so their parts can be utilized in the practice of medicine.
The grandeur and might of the United States in the present hour is not due, as some suppose, to democratic government. Rather the blessing of God has been on America because of the number of godly people who feared and served God in the early days of the Republic.
Now the wicked are making their desires known. The Christian churches, having been deceived by the teaching of grace-rapture-Heaven, do not have the spiritual-moral strength to combat successfully the spread of wickedness. The moral fabric of America is being shredded. History points out to us that whenever a nations loses its moral strength, its willingness to legislate moral behavior, God will take away its place among the nations.
The behavior of the American people, unsaved and saved alike, is hastening the day when America sees its power of leadership taken from it and given to a culture that will insist on godly behavior.
The sixth chapter of the Book of Resurrection mentions the doctrines of the resurrection and of eternal judgment. These two doctrines are being restored to us today.
Concerning the doctrine of the resurrection, we now are coming to understand that the goal of redemption is not eternal residence in Heaven but resurrection unto life in the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
We have not understood that we are creating our own resurrection today. We are laying up a treasure in Heaven. That treasure is a body that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of the Lord. The body with which we will be clothed will reveal in itself how we have behaved during the days of our discipleship.
If we have indulged our sinful nature, our heavenly body will reveal in itself that corruption.
If we have followed the Spirit of God in the work of redemption, our heavenly body will reveal in itself that eternal resurrection life.
This is why the Apostle Paul set forth the resurrection as his supreme goal.
As soon as we experience eternal life in our personality, at the onset of salvation, or redemption we might say, we enter the program of eternal judgment.
It appears it has been understood generally by Bible scholars that our judgment was finished when Christ died on the cross. It is true that the judgment on us as a human being was finished on the cross of calvary. The atonement has been made.
But the Apostle Peter stated that in his day it was time for judgment to begin in the household of God. Is there contradiction here? Not at all.
When we are baptized in water we are to understand that we have died with Christ on the cross. We now are to count ourselves as dead with Christ and raised with Christ. This is how God views us, if we truly have entered the work of redemption and have not just submitted to water baptism as a formality of religion.
It is appointed to man once to die, and after this the judgment. As soon as we have died with Christ and been raised with Christ, we now are to enter the program of eternal judgment. The program of judgment after resurrection is portrayed in the incident of Lazarus who was called forth from the grave. After this the graveclothes had to be removed from him (symbolizing the work of eternal judgment.)
We ourselves were judged on the cross and Divine vengeance was exercised upon Jesus Christ. Now it is time for God to judge the wickedness that is alien to us but dwells in us nevertheless. We are baptized with the Fire of God’s Presence so all that is alien to us may be removed from us.
The sins of the past have been forgiven. We are dealing at this point with the sinful compulsions of our personality. These must be dealt with one at a time and removed from us. It is necessary that we cooperate with the process of redemption by confessing our sins as the Spirit points them out to us, accepting Divine forgiveness, and in the future refusing to yield to them ever again. It is an eternal judgment on Satan.
This is what Peter means by writing that judgment begins with the house of God.
Remember our statement at the beginning: Divine judgment is not Divine condemnation or Divine vengeance. Divine judgment means only that God is enabling us to differentiate the part of our behavior that is evil from that which is good.
In fact, the writer of the Book of Hebrews informs us that maturity is the ability to distinguish good from evil.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)
What a wonderful, and yet dangerous era we are entering!
When I was in Bible school, in the late 1940s, the Lord spoke to me that the next move of God would be judgment on His churches, and that this work of judgment is portrayed by the Jewish convocation of the Day of Atonement.
I had been saved only a few years, not having been brought up in a Christian home. As you can imagine, I was excited because I felt it was God who had spoken to me. But my understanding of what God was saying was definitely limited.
A few years later the Spirit of God caused a revival of confessing sin to break out in the Armory, a large church in Detroit. The news came to San Diego, where Audrey and I were living. As I remember, I don’t think I associated at first that the confessing of sins was what God had referred to as judgment, and the Day of Atonement.
As time went on, and I became more acquainted with Jewish tradition concerning the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, the ten intervening days being referred to as the "Days of Awe," the period when God judges His people, the whole idea of eternal judgment began to take shape in my mind.
This Sunday, the 23rd of April, 2006, I had a strong impression that I should warn the believers that the age of moral and physical horrors is approaching rapidly. Christ is being formed in the victorious saints and caught up to the Throne of God in Heaven. Consequently, as it is written, Satan and his angels are being thrown down to the earth.
Because Satan will be confined to the earth and no longer permitted to exercise wisdom and power from the heavens, he will be furious with those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of the Lord Jesus. He will wage war against them.
This means that the Christian believers of today, many of whom in America do not pray every day and read their Bible, who are morally weak, some watching pornography on the Internet, will be overcome easily. They will be frightened to death when they see the open manifestation of Satan and his demons.
Those of us who prepare ourselves in the present hour will have an abundance of opportunity to strengthen those who want to stand in the Presence of Jesus Christ. We will know in ourselves that Christ has given us authority over all the power of Satan such that we can trample the great lion and the serpent. We will convey that faith to those who are trembling with fear.
But if we do not prepare ourselves today; if we continue with "business as usual," being occupied primarily with making money and watching television, we will not be able to help ourselves, the members of our family, or anyone else.
Such is the clear burden I had this Sunday. I know it is from the Lord. I know we are going to see Satan and his demons, and their antics, throughout our nation. This is because our government is not insisting on the moral guidelines offered in the Scriptures.
There are some who are fighting a rearguard action on our behalf, striving to warn our people of the wickedness that is occurring in some of the institutions in our land. But barring an outpouring of the Spirit of unprecedented power in the near future, America shall lose its position of leadership in the world and shall be reduced to an inferior position—that is, if it survives at all; if its citizens are not carried off into captivity as has happened in the past to arrogant nations that did not observe the laws of God and of conscience.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe. (Psalms 107:1,2)
So what are we to say to God when we consider His willingness and ability to deliver us from the person and works of Satan? What are the redeemed to exclaim?
"Thank you, Lord. You are good, and Your love endures forever."
The message this Sunday morning was drawn from the fourth chapter of the Book of Second Corinthians. As we know, the Apostle Paul experienced much suffering during his ministry to the Gentiles. Paul did not view his many pains as being nothing more than hindrances thrown up by the enemy. Rather Paul saw them for what they were: the means God used to render powerless Paul’s natural abilities so that the resurrection Life of Jesus Christ might be brought to Paul’s listeners.
The Apostle Paul was subjected to many pressures. He was perplexed. He was persecuted. He was struck down. Paul had the sentence of death in himself that he would not trust himself but God who raises the dead.
Paul was not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned not destroyed. Why not? Because the Life of Christ continued to lift him up. To slay Paul, Satan would have had to be able to slay the resurrection Life of Christ.
What was the result of this continuing pressure, persecution, bewilderment, being knocked down? The result was, the Life of Christ was revealed in Paul’s body bringing eternal life to Paul’s hearers. Death worked in Paul with the result that life worked in other people.
Here is the true Christian way of bearing eternal fruit. We follow God faithfully as He submits us to pressures, perplexities, persecutions, and various blows of one kind or another. Our own ability to help others is brought down to nothing. Then Christ is able to bring eternal life to people.
All sincere Christians wish to bring eternal life to other people. But eternal life can come to other people only as we are willing to experience the sufferings of Christ. Resurrection life can come only from the cross. Words have their place, but the eternal righteousness and holiness of the Kingdom of God proceed only from those who are willing to bear their cross of self-denial
The thought was brought up by Andrew Palm, and then reinforced by Ron Smitter, that when we are suffering pain or frustration, the only acceptable, profitable response is to praise and worship God. When we have been brought very low, and yet continue to praise and worship God, God is pleased and is able to answer the accusations of the enemy.
There are two reasons why the Church is in the world. The first reason is so we can be changed into the image of God. The second reason is that the spiritual leaders among the angels might gain an understanding of God as they watch what happens to Christian people.
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, (Ephesians 3:10)
Because of these two reasons, our change into the image of God and our being used as an object lesson to highly placed angels, we are going to encounter problems and pains of all sorts. We are to respond with praise and worship, knowing that God is in the process of bringing us to a glorious end.
Judy Fowler added to this by suggesting that we savor the dealings of God, being content to dwell in His Presence one day at a time, even though we do not particularly enjoy what is taking place and do not understand what God is doing with us.
Sometimes believers, when they are suffering or being denied what they fervently desire, question God’s love. Actually we may not know what love is, confusing it with attraction.
To begin with, love is behavior. To love someone is to act in a manner that benefits the other person, even though our action may not always make us comfortable. If we love Christ we will keep His commandments.
If we correct a child for his good, he may exclaim that we do not love him and that he hates us.
As far as the emotion of love is concerned, there are times when God gives us a feeling of love for someone so we can bring God’s mercy and blessing to that individual.
Ordinarily, love between two people is developed over a period of time as experiences, sometimes painful, are shared. This kind of love is based in memory.
And then there is the love of parents for their children.
But romantic love, "love at first sight," and so forth, is a fraud. It soon evaporates in the presence of the fires of our struggle to survive the problems we encounter during this present life.
The mainspring of the Christian life is death and resurrection. Each day a part of us is brought down to the death of the cross of self-denial and tribulation. Each day a part of us is raised in Christ. This is the only path of redemption. This is the only way to the new creation. This is the only means of progressing to the redemption of the body.
People who thus are changed from a living soul to a life-giving spirit are the members of the Body of the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, the members of the Bride of the Lamb.
All other Christian activity is religion. Only death and resurrection in Christ are the means of attaining to the image of God, the method of providing the object lesson to the rulers in the heavens.
At the evening service we progressed further in the fourth chapter of Second Thessalonians and entered the fifth chapter.
Our subjection to the program of death and resurrection brings eternal life to other people.
Our subjection to the program of death and resurrection causes thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Our subjection to the program of death and resurrection achieves for us an eternal weight of glory. That weight of glory is the house being prepared for us, a house in Heaven, as set forth in the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians.
Perhaps due to the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, the concept of our physical resurrection has been neglected in current Christian teaching. We may perceive our salvation as being the discarding of our present physical body while our salvation resides in some mystical manner in a spiritual personality in Heaven.
The opposite is true. Our salvation includes, is directed toward, the redemption of our physical body.
There are two bodies involved in our resurrection from the dead. The first body is our present mortal body. This shall be made immortal by being filled with the Spirit of God in the Day of the Lord.
The second body is the body, or robe, from Heaven. This heavenly body, or house, is constructed from the program of death and resurrection that takes place during our discipleship on the earth.
Our body from Heaven shall reveal in itself what we have become through Christ. If our inner nature has been transformed through death and resurrection, this shall be revealed in a body of surpassing glory. If instead we as a Christ chose to yield to the lusts of our flesh, this shall be revealed in a body of corruption. Today we are determining the nature of our resurrection.
Paul wrote that we speak from the spirit of faith that we have. When trouble comes our way we can grumble and complain against God. Or, if we have faith, we can worship and praise God in the midst of our afflictions. We overcome Satan by the word of our testimony, our testimony that God’s Word is true and unchanging.
The true Christian always has the sentence of death in himself, realizing that God will keep on bringing him down to the death of the cross so he will not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead. We rest our hope on God that He will continue to deliver us as He has in the past.
Attaining to the First Resurrection
I don’t suppose there is a more needed concept in Christian thinking than that of attaining to the first resurrection, the resurrection from the dead (not the resurrection of the dead, for the resurrection of the dead requires no attaining to—all shall be raised at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. The resurrection out from among the dead, at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, was (is) the stated goal of the Apostle Paul. Paul exhorted us to be "thus minded."
The event described as "the first resurrection" is mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5,6)
"The first resurrection."
Paul sets attaining to the first resurrection as his goal.
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
The special form of the Greek term for "resurrection, as used in the above verse, supports the translation "from the dead." Paul was not striving to attain to the resurrection of the dead but the resurrection out from among the dead—the advance resurrection that will occur at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, that is, at the next appearing of the Lord from Heaven.
The doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, which is a central aspect of the Divine redemption, has been largely ignored. I believe this is the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism, that does not recognize the resurrection of our flesh and bones body.
It is time to return to the scriptural goal of redemption. The scriptural goal, as set forth by the Apostle Paul in the Book of Philippians, is attainment to the resurrection from among the dead of mankind—the resurrection to life and glory as a priest of God.
In any system, if the correct goal is not identified and emphasized, the entire system is thrown into disarray. Quality control and operations are without a basis.
This is what has happened to the program of redemption, as we seek to apply it. We have set the goal of redemption as eternal residence in Heaven. Consequently our measuring criteria and operations are unscriptural, confusing, and ineffective.
Some statements of the scriptural goal are as follows: to be changed into the image of Christ; to the stature of Christ; oneness with God through Christ; and the first resurrection from the dead.
If any of these are alluded to in today’s preaching, I have not been present to hear them.
There is no passage of the New Testament, to my knowledge, that speaks of eternal residence in Heaven as being the goal of redemption.
We emphasize being saved and going to Heaven. It is no wonder the believers do not grow to the stature of the fullness of Christ. They seldom have been taught that attainment to the stature of the fullness of Christ is the goal of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit of God.
Notice that Philippians speaks of "attaining to" the resurrection from the dead, not just "attaining" the resurrection from the dead. This is because the first resurrection is not an open-ended accomplishment, as, for example, one might attain excellence in the performance of a Beethoven sonata. Someone might come along whose standard of excellence was higher than ours.
Rather, the first resurrection is a specific event that one must attain to. Either he attains to it, or he does not. No one can come along with a higher standard of attainment.
Paul did attain to the earlier resurrection, as we note in his words in Second Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:7,8)
Paul had longed for a body that was free from sinful compulsions. He had fought the good fight of faith, and will receive a body of righteousness and life when the Lord appears. The goal is possible of attaining to.
The Lord Jesus came to earth to prepare a place for us in God. In order to prepare our place in God He went to the cross, and then into Heaven to purify the scene of the original transgression.
Now the Lord Jesus has come in the Spirit to those who earnestly are seeking Him. He is preparing a place in us for God. First a place for us in God; now a place for God in us.
The criteria for attaining to the resurrection from the dead are set forth in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians.
The actual experience of attainment to the advance resurrection is described in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians. We shall be clothed with immortality in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the enemies in our personality have been driven from us.
The first resurrection as our goal is outlined in the early verses of the fifth chapter of the Book of Second Corinthians. It is the clothing of our resurrected flesh and bones with the house that has been prepared for us in Heaven, as we have suffered many afflictions and have remained faithful to the Lord Jesus.
In First Corinthians we read of the last trumpet; of being changed in the twinkling of an eye; of the corruption of our flesh and bones being clothed with incorruption.
We must come to understand that the resurrection from the dead has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven, although we will be caught up into the air to meet the Commander in Chief that we may descend with Him and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The resurrection from the dead occurs as our flesh and bones are reassembled, and then clothed with incorruptible life. The resurrection we are seeking is a clothing with immortality, not a flight into the air. Its purpose is that we might once again live on the physical earth.
What must we as a Christian believer do in order to attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection that is out from among the dead of mankind? We must count everything else as garbage that we may gain Christ. We must learn to live in the power of His resurrection and experience His sufferings. It is a day by day death and resurrection as the Spirit of God points out to us the aspects of our personality that are not in the image of God, and enables us to confess them as sin (missing the mark), renounce them, and turn away from them with the wisdom and strength the Lord gives us when we call on Him for assistance.
The standard outlined by the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians is much higher, much more demanding, than any concept of salvation we may have held. This probably is why the Spirit had several people of the congregation give encouraging words to us, so we won’t quit.
Also, in the evening, Mrs. Alba Villalobos from Mexico spoke to us in Spanish, translated by Margaret Porcelli. She also, as she followed the Spirit, spoke encouraging words to us, exhorting us that when we stumbled, to get back up immediately, wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb, and press forward in Christ.
Yes, the goal is more demanding than we have realized. My guess is that few believers will make the effort to follow the Apostle Paul. But Christ will make attainment to the goal possible for anyone who will apply himself or herself. And the reward for doing so is beyond any poor words of mine to describe.
There may be believers who will contradict what I have written, claiming that we are saved by grace and not by works.
Let me answer by saying that God never intended for grace to be an eternal relationship of God to man. Rather grace is a temporary suspension of the authority of the Lake of Fire over the behaviors that God will not permit to exist in His Kingdom. The purpose of grace is to give us an opportunity to be changed from the possession and image of Satan to the possession and image of God.
If the grace of forgiveness were a permanent provision, then it would be best we never had been born. There would be no new world of righteousness on the horizon. The Kingdom of God would have no existence in reality. It would be a fantasy.
The truth is, the Kingdom of God is flesh and bone reality and it will be located on a physical earth. When God created the physical world He made it more desirable than the spirit realm. God always moves from the lesser to the greater. Satan understands this and that is why he is here temporarily. But God is going to move here for eternity, dwelling in Christ and the Body of Christ, in the Lamb and His Wife.
You can hear the morning sermon at morning.
You can hear the evening sermon at evening. After Wednesday, click on the bottom link of the middle column. The right column includes the links to Stan Josephsen and Edward Reiter.
The Mountains of Bashan
For many years I have been troubled about the fact that the tribe of Dan is not listed among the sealed servants of the Lord set forth in the seventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. This morning on the way to church I believe I received the answer.
I have read some commentaries, with no help. One scholar thought that Dan may be associated with the Antichrist.
I know the sealing in the seventh chapter of Revelation cannot refer literally to Israeli tribes because there has been so much marrying between Jews and Gentiles, and between Jews of one tribe with those of another. Who would know who was of the tribe of Levi, for example, and had no Gentile blood? Therefore, like so much of the Book of Revelation, the tribes probably are symbolic, being representative of kinds of believers.
In a couple of my books and sermons I conjectured the reason for the omission was that the name "Dan" means "He judged," and the omission of Dan from the sealed servants means those who will be sealed against the Divine judgments of the trumpets are spared from judgment, or have already been judged. Somehow this did not satisfy me.
I searched the prophecies of Jacob and Moses. Jacob referred to Dan as "a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward" (Genesis 49:17). Moses spoke of Dan as being "a lion’s cub, springing out of Bashan" (Deuteronomy 33:22). We know the name "Dan" is one of the gates of the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christ Church, the Wife of the Lamb.
This morning I was mentioning to Audrey, as we were driving along, that I just did not understand why Dan would not be sealed against the curses of the trumpets. And then it hit me—Bashan! "Dan is a lion’s cub, springing out of Bashan"!
In 1992 I wrote a booklet titled "The Mountains of Bashan." Bashan stands for the envy, the ambition, the "leaping" (King James) the self-seeking, the presumption of religious people—particularly of the members of the household of Christian faith. You can read this book at http://www.wor.org/booksmain.htm.
The key to the understanding of "Bashan" is found in the sixty-eighth Psalm. I have examined several translations, and while they differ among themselves, they are in agreement that Bashan is a mighty mountain (high hill; majestic mountain; mountain of God–in the sense of being exalted) that tends to look down with disapproval, if not scorn, on Zion, the mountain that God has chosen.
The translation that rings with me is found in The Jerusalem Bible (Darton, Longman &Todd Ltd and Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1968):
"That peak of Bashan, a mountain of God?
Rather, a mountain of pride, that peak of Bashan!
Peaks of pride, have you the right to look down on a mountain where God has chosen to live, where Yahweh is going to live for ever?"
"Dan" is omitted from the sealed servants of the Lord because "Dan," a "lion’s cub springing out of Bashan" represents those of the household of God who are presumptuous, envious, striving, ambitious, competitive, self-seeking.
We think immediately of Korah, Dathan, and Abram, of Absalom, of Gehazi the servant of Elisha, of Ahimaaz (II Samuel 18), of Judas, of the Pharisees and elders of Jesus’ day who crucified Christ out of envy, of Ananias and Sapphire. Each of these were of God’s house. Some of them, such as Korah, who was a Kohathite Levite, were very close to the Divine Glory.
But these people were "Dan." They were "peaks of Bashan."
How many of God’s people today are envious, ambitious, self-seeking? They are of "Dan" and they shall not be sealed against the judgments of the trumpets (Revelation, Chapter Eight).
In fact, presumption was made synonymous with faith, a few years ago. "Step out in faith." "Name it and claim it." "Speak it into existence." "Put on your administrative hat and bind the ruling spirits in your locality." "Do not say ‘Your will be done,’ command the sickness to leave."
To urge such actions on people is to make them part of "Dan." Man is in the saddle. The lion’s cub is springing from Bashan.
But is there ever a time for a Christian to command the spirit world. Yes, there is. But only as the believer is being directed by the Lord Jesus.
The way Jesus performed miracles, and His teaching, seem to suggest that we are to behave in the same manner. We do not realize that Jesus did nothing except what He saw the Father doing. We are not to "step out in faith" until we hear from the Lord. Otherwise we are as "Bashan," and we will end up being envious of those who Christ is really using, that is, those who are of Mount Zion.
When we read Psalms 68:18 we realize this was the passage Paul was quoting from in the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians.
Paul was pointing out that Christ gave gifts to men in order that they might build up the Body of Christ to full maturity. What is the purpose of building the members of the Body of Christ to full maturity? It is that God might have living stones in whom He can find rest.
Here is the concept that often is lacking in the church activities of our day. The stated goal of the working of the Christian ministry is to obtain and bring to full maturity the members of Christ’s Body. We have made the goal evangelism. The goal is not evangelism. Evangelism is a means of obtaining raw material from which God can build His house. Evangelism is scriptural in its place; but it is not scriptural when it becomes a cry for more and more people while neglecting to build to maturity those who have come to Christ for salvation.
There is no question today but that we are emphasizing the work of evangelism far out of proportion to the emphasis of the New Testament. In fact, much if not most emphasis on evangelism is coming from the ambition of leaders. It is "Dan." It is "Bashan."
We need a change of priority. We need to make satisfying God’s need for a house our first priority, a house in which He can find rest. It may be true that not many believers of our day are a house in which God can find rest. They are driven with their own desires. Their pastors often are emphasizing the need for more members of their church rather than the need to build the believers to full maturity in Christ.
Go to any Christian church and see for yourself if the Pastor is presenting the current burden of the Spirit. The current burden is that the believers cooperate with the Spirit as He points out the aspects of their personality that are not of the image of God. If we look to Christ, He will enable us to renounce that which is not restful from God’s point of view, and will give us to eat of His flesh and to drink of His blood that He may be formed in us.
What you probably will hear on Sunday morning is grace, rapture, Heaven, grace, rapture, Heaven, grace, rapture, heaven. Or, "go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in" (which, of course, most of the listeners will agree to but do not have the Divine grace to do other than go to a fast-food restaurant and order french fries and a cheeseburger.)
At least, this is how it is in America. Check it out for yourself.
So we talk much about "saving souls" but not many of the believer have the gifting for this ministry. Some assuredly do, but most do not. But if the believer will present his body a living sacrifice such that he is able to discover God’s will for himself, he will find ways of contributing to the bringing of his fellow Christians to full maturity.
The point is, God wants a dwelling place in which He can find rest. The gifts and ministries of the Spirit are given for the purpose of bringing each of us to full maturity so we may become part of the eternal Temple of God.
The seven trumpets shall be blown, and the Divine curses shall follow. The true servants of the Lord shall be sealed so as to be protected from the curses. But if they are presumptuous, envious, full of strife, ambitious, competitive, self-seeking, they shall not be sealed, even though they have been forgiven their sins by believing in the blood atonement.
In the evening service I reviewed what had been preached in the morning, and told the story of Ahimaaz, the son of Zadok, who ran with the message when he was advised not to, and the folly that resulted.
You can hear the morning sermon at morning.
You can hear the evening sermon at evening. After Wednesday, click on the bottom link of the middle column. The right column includes the links to Stan Josephsen and Edward Reiter..
Our Vision of the Future
What I was to present this morning was clear to me after prayer. God wants to prepare us for the future. The Apostle Paul exhorted us to set our hearts and minds on heavenly things where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, not on earthly things. We know we should do this, but the tremendous material emphasis of the American culture keeps us occupied with eating, sleeping, playing, working, and reproducing. Little or no time is left to us to occupy ourselves with the things and life of Heaven.
If we are to survive spiritually and physically in the future, and help our family and ourselves, we are going to have to devote ourselves today to being built up in Christ. We absolutely must learn to be citizens of two worlds, the physical and the heavenly, so no matter what dangers or chaos we encounter in the future, we can walk with Christ confidently in the heavenly Zion.
One factor which tends to keep us immature is our vision of the future.
There are, as I understand it, three main areas of understanding found in the New Testament. The first has to do with the mysteries concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. The second is composed of the numerous exhortations to righteous behavior. The third is the vision of the future events of the Kingdom of God.
The mysteries concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, the born-again experience, the coming of God to dwell in us, are not too well known to us. The forgiveness of sins through the blood atonement has been preached well throughout the world. The born-again experience has become confused with "getting saved." As for the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us, we know little about this.
The second area, that of righteous behavior, is found from Matthew through Revelation. This is the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We are confused about this area, supposing it means we are righteous by identification with Christ. This is not what the expression means. The Kingdom of God is the righteousness that is formed in us as Christ is born in us and comes to maturity in our personality. Here is true righteousness—a righteousness demonstrated in our thinking, our speech, and our actions.
The third area, that of our vision of the future, has been corrupted. This may be because Satan understands that our vision of the future determines the fervency of our discipleship.
The true vision of the future is found in the Book of Revelation. This morning we reviewed Revelation 20:4. Here we learn about the first resurrection. I do not believe I ever have heard one sermon preached concerning the first resurrection. Have you? Yet this concept is so utterly important!
There shall be two resurrections, a first resurrection from among the dead, and then the general resurrection of the dead. As the Apostle Paul pointed out to us, the first resurrection, the "out-resurrection," which will occur when Jesus returns to earth, must be attained to. The general resurrection of the dead, which will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, will include everyone who did not receive his body in the first resurrection—the resurrection which is out from among the dead of mankind.
Only those who attain to the inner aspect of the first resurrection will receive the outer aspect of the first resurrection when Christ next appears. Given the fact that so few believers actually live the victorious life in Christ, denying themselves, carrying their cross and following Jesus, it seems reasonable that only a small fraction of the Christian believers will attain to the resurrection Paul was seeking.
The remainder of believers, as well as the rest of mankind, will be raised in the general resurrection at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. At that time they shall be judged according to their works, being brought forward into life on the new earth, or else thrown into the Lake of Fire.
We are saying that only a minority of Christian people will be raised from the dead when Christ appears, only those who have fallen asleep (died) in Jesus. If it is to be true of us that when we die we fall asleep in Jesus, we must have been abiding in Christ when we died. It does not appear that most Christians are abiding in Christ, at least not according to the standard set forth by the Apostle Paul in his letters to the churches.
As for the teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture of the believers, this vision of the future is so unscriptural as to be not worthy of discussion. The immaturity of the believers may be traced, at least in part, to this frivolous doctrine.
One can see readily that our vision of the future is to be that of the Apostle Paul. If we believe the first resurrection must be attained to with the fervor and diligence Paul was applying, laying aside all else as garbage, then we are not going to adopt the customary stance of the American believer—that of living a careless life in the world, trusting that any moment we will be carried up to eternal bliss in Heaven.
The Book of Revelation informs us of the army of the righteous who will follow the Lord Jesus on the white war stallions. Our common sense tells us that to make the transition from the adamic life of flesh and blood we now are living, to an immortal soldier of Christ, descending from Heaven with Him so we may assist in driving Antichrist from the earth and establishing the Kingdom of God, will require our complete cooperation with the Holy Spirit as He transforms us from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.
Great glory lies ahead of us, but it will not be a a fun-filled, carefree existence. During the worst of the troubles that are ahead of us in America, we can be dancing with the Lord and rejoicing with Him on the heights of Zion, preparing to govern the world with the iron rod of the Spirit of God.
The burden today has to do with alerting us to the program of change set before us. We can make the transition from flesh-and-blood life successfully, but we American believers will have to lay aside much of what we think is part of our normal life that we may grasp what is being offered to us.
Mighty episodes are ahead of us. Some will rise to the challenge and stand before the Lord in glorious victory. You can too if this is what you desire with all your heart, and give yourself wholly to following Christ.
At night we taught from one of the most important chapters of the Bible–the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John.
The sixth chapter of John has to do with the first resurrection from the dead. The Lord shows Himself to be the Bread of Life. We are to do more than just study what Christ did and said. We have to eat Christ. We have to drink His blood.
Christ Himself is the Resurrection from among the dead, and eternal Life. If we would attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection from the dead, we must feed constantly on the flesh and blood of Christ.
Every time we choose to go God’s way, when faced with a decision, we are fed in the spirit realm with the flesh and blood of Christ. In this manner Christ is formed in us. In this manner the Resurrection and eternal Life are formed in us.
When the Lord appears, in the regeneration, our mortal body will become immortal–but only if first our inner nature is regenerated by being filled with the body and blood of Christ.
Notice in the following two verses the inner regeneration, and then the outer regeneration:
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5)
And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)
We are to attain to the first resurrection in our inner nature during our discipleship on the earth. Then, when Christ appears, He will make our mortal body immortal, whether we are asleep in Jesus at that time or are alive and living on the earth.
We understand, then, that our vision of the future determines the fervency with which we apply ourselves to our Christian walk. If we believe that at any moment every individual who has made a profession of faith in Christ will be carried up to Heaven in order to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, then we are going to occupy ourselves primarily with the things of the American culture, while giving a small amount of our time and thought to obeying Christ.
But if we truly believe that our being made immortal when the Lord appears from Heaven, and our being caught up to meet Him in the air, depends on our imitating the Apostle Paul by laying all else aside that we may gain Christ, then we will resist with all our strength the enticements of the American culture that we may follow Christ with our whole heart, presenting our body a living sacrifice in order to prove the perfect will of God for our life.
What Is Faith?
I don't suppose there is a word used more often than "faith," in the Christian religion. The Protestant Reformation seems to have left us with the saying, "the righteous shall live by faith." Perhaps we have come to believe that living by faith has something especially to do with the new covenant, the Christian salvation. It doesn't! The expression itself came from the Old Testament, while people were under the Law of Moses.
What is faith? A good question. We have several different answers today, some of which are not scriptural.
We speak of the "Baptist faith" or the "Pentecostal faith." Perhaps "persuasion" would be a more acceptable term.
A denomination may draw up a "Statement of Faith." Perhaps "theological position" would be a more fitting description.
Ordinarily when we speak of "our faith," or "we are saved by faith," we are referring to our belief system, not to what the Bible means by saving faith.
Sometimes faith is used as a kind of magic. If we had enough faith we could work miracles. It is as though if we would apply ourselves with enough determination we could make changes in the physical world by believing our desires into existence.
Did Jesus say, "If we had faith we could speak to a mountain and it would obey us"?
Yes, He did. But this is not an invitation to presumption. Jesus was marveling at how far we have fallen from the heavenly romance that was true in Eden—the blending of the physical and spirit realms.
There is a fairly recent trend involving "faith" to gain wealth. This is comparable to Satan advising Jesus to make bread from stones.
Then we have "speaking the creating word," imaging, "name it and claim it," getting what we want now. This is an adventure into the metaphysical realm. It is faith in faith, not faith in Christ. In the last days this approach will develop into the False Prophet, mentioned in the Book of Revelation, if I am hearing the Lord correctly.
The most destructive error of all is the contemporary notion that God accepts "faith" as an alternative to righteous behavior. We are saved by "faith" rather than by works, meaning that if we believe the theological facts concerning the Lord Jesus Christ it is not critically necessary that we become a new creation of righteous behavior, revealing in our personality the Character of Christ. Can you imagine! We are making belief in Christ a substitute for moral transformation. This is totally destructive of God's intention in giving us the new covenant.
In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, which is a long definition of "the righteous shall live by faith," we find that belief in doctrine is not mentioned. This chapter is an account of works—not works to earn the favor of God, but works of obedience coming from the faith that proceeds from a righteous conscience, or from the will of God revealed to the individual. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, (Hebrews 1:1)
Furthermore, all the examples, found in Hebrews, Eleven, are from the Old Testament, going back to Abel. We learn what saving faith is from people of previous covenants.
If we would take all the examples mentioned in this chapter we could induce a scriptural definition of what the Bible means by "we are saved by faith."
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews begins with a definition of faith. Four aspects are set forth:
Faith is a substance.
Faith is the substance of things hoped for.
Faith believes that God exists.
Faith is persuaded that God rewards those who seek Him fervently.
We notice immediately that faith is much more than belief in the theological facts concerning the Lord Jesus.
It becomes apparent that faith is a way of life, a continual seeking of the Lord. The righteous live by faith. This is how they live, not just what they believe.
We would suggest there are many ingredients that go to make up biblical faith:
A strong love for God probably is the most important part of faith.
Obedience to God's commandments in the New Testament and His specific will revealed to us personally is such an essential part of true faith that obedience may be considered a synonym of faith.
Confidence in God is part of faith.
Trust in God's faithful Character enables us to survive when our outlook is grim.
Courage is a necessary ingredient of faith. When people fear Satan they incur the displeasure of Christ. He is a King and He is Jealous!
The wholesome fear of God is included in faith. Noah prepared an ark because he feared God. The individual who does not fear the result of disobeying God is ignorant and foolish. True faith in God reminds us that God is able to bring us into exceedingly great pain. Better to pluck out our eye than to be cast into the fire, Jesus warned.
Humility is an important aspect of faith. The just live by humble faith rather than by their pride and self-confidence.
Optimism is a part of faith. The continually pessimistic, negative individual reveals his lack of faith in the goodness and power of God.
Patience is an ingredient in the compound of faith. Patience has its perfect work as we wait patiently and confidently for the Lord.
Perseverance also is important. If we would enter the rest of God we must keep on turning away from our own ambitions and plans and look to Christ for every decision we make. There can be no turning back from this.
Related to perseverance is a willingness to keep making our requests known to the Lord until we "pray through." Of course, all such importunity is tempered with, "Not my will but Yours be done." The modern approach of the presumptuous believer is not to say, "Your will be done." By this position he reveals his ignorance of true faith—that it moves solely in God's will, not in the will of the individual.
Faith is a gift from God, as we learn in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans.
There is a time for boldness, when we know we are performing the work with which we have been charged by the Lord.
How then shall we sum up "faith"? What is its heart?
I would venture that the above ingredients are best summed up in the concept of communion with the Lord; abiding in Christ.
Without faith no individual can please God. Enoch, Noah, Job, and Daniel pleased God. Therefore they had faith. We understand from this that faith is not some new and magical theological formula by which we please God apart from walking with Him and obeying Him sternly and completely.
How did Enoch please God? By walking with God.
How did Noah please God? By being a righteous man in his conduct, and then by obeying God in the matter of the Ark.
How did Job please God? First, by being a thoroughly righteous man. Second, by humbly repenting when he realized he did not know the Lord as well as he thought.
How did Daniel please God? By setting himself apart from Babylon by continual prayer and a holy life. Daniel's faith brought him into the lions' den, and then out again safely.
We see, then, that Bible faith, the faith by which we are saved, is not a light head-believe in the facts concerning Jesus Christ. If the four men mentioned above knew Christ, it certainly is not mentioned in the text of the Bible.
What role, then, does Christ play in our faith? God told us to hear His Son, Jesus Christ, and we would be saved from wrath and brought into the Presence of God. When Enoch, Noah, Job, and Daniel, having died and now living in the spirit world, were told of God's edict concerning Christ, we can be certain they believed and obeyed. This they always did and always shall do. They are men of faith.
The weak, silly belief system that is advanced today is not faith. In many instances it does not produce Enochs, or Noahs, or Jobs, or Daniels. It has little in common with these heroes of faith. Rather immature, self-centered babies fill the Christian churches, claiming God is required to bring them to Heaven in a "rapture" so they will not be inconvenienced by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.
I have just described a pathetic condition—one that is largely ignorant of the bloody footprints left in the snow by God's true saints. It indeed is a pitiful condition. What shall God have to do if the worldly, self-seeking "Christians" of our day are to see the necessity for denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following Christ throughout the age of moral and physical horrors that is on the horizon?
The Three Stages of Redemption
The Foursquare Convention this year lasted from May 29 through June 1. Pastor Stan and his family went as well as my wife, Audrey. They came back with a glowing report. Stan preached wonderfully on Sunday morning. You will be blessed if you listen to it
As soon as Stan came in early Sunday morning he said, "Guess what! You know what was preached at the convention? Bishop Ulmer said there is more for us after the Pentecostal experience. Salvation is not in two stages but in three. We are to move past Pentecost to the feast of Tabernacles."
I am sure this fact does not excite you. But consider that Stan and his family have stood with me through the years as we have taught about the feast of Tabernacles and about the three stages of redemption. We just never heard anyone else mention it. (Pioneering does not increase the ranks of one's fellowship!)
Several years ago, and I think it took place at The Church on the Way, a prophecy was given. It stated that God was going to bring a revival of repentance to the United States, and it would come through the Foursquare denomination.
I have hoped in that word since that time. Now it appears as though God is ready to bring to pass what was prophesied.
You see, the third great stage of redemption is the feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles cannot be experienced prior to the two celebrations occurring in the same month as Tabernacles. They are the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.
The Blowing of Trumpets and the Jewish Day of Atonement portray the coming of Christ to assist the Church as she is brought to repentance. It is obvious God will not dwell in us until our personality has been reconciled to God, not only legally through imputation, but actually through the removal of worldliness, lust, and self-seeking from our personality.
Dr. Ulmer mentioned that Pentecost is the middle feast. There are seven feasts of the Lord. Pentecost is number four. It follows that if we believe in the Passover blood, and the Pentecostal experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, we ought to be looking forward to what comes after Pentecost. Does this make sense to you.
Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, I was told, said, at the Convention, that the main word from the Holy Spirit today is "repentance." This is what I also have been hearing from the Lord.
Stan maintained that the emphasis of the Convention was on hearing from the Lord, rather than the presentation of new programs to save the world.
You cannot imagine how encouraging this is to Stan and me. I have been a Foursquare pastor for thirty years. To my knowledge, this is the first time the idea of the three stages of redemption has been emphasized at a convention, or hearing from the Lord instead of trying a new program for saving the world. I attribute this change to the leadership of Dr. Jack Hayford, the president of the Foursquare denomination, as God has guided him.
Although I was not told that the relationship of the feast of Tabernacles to the Kingdom of God was stressed at the Convention, there is such a relationship. The Kingdom of God is the dwelling of the Father and the Son in us, which is the spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical feast of Tabernacles.
I hope to hear soon that the unscriptural teaching of the pre-tribulation "rapture" has been replaced by the true Gospel, which is: "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." When that is preached in our denomination, my response will be: "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace."
I hope it won't be too long.
At night we watched a DVD of an address by John Mazariegos, a member of the Board of Directors of the Foursquare denomination.
The Feast of Tabernacles
Dianne McIntosh preached both services today. Do you remember, in Numbers, Chapter Thirty-two, the story of the two and one-half tribes that settled on the East Bank of the Jordan River? They did not wholeheartedly follow the Lord, being content to settle down with their cattle while the remainder of Israel followed the Ark of the Covenant into Canaan.
Are we in a comparable situation today? Indeed we are?
The ornate Veil separated the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation from the Holy Place. The Holy Place, in our discussion here, speaks of Christian activities, including the Communion service, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and prayer and worship.
The Most Holy Place portrays that to which the Christian activities bring us—the Presence of almighty God.
The Veil that divides the two areas is death to our self-will. We can perform all the activities in the Holy Place and still be acting according to our own will. But in the present hour the Spirit of God is seeking those who will look to Jesus Christ for every decision, every motive, every thought, every word, every action. This is death to self-will. Here is the entrance to Canaan. Here is the rich fruit for which Christians have longed throughout the Christian Era.
The Veil, the separation, stands for the Jordan River. Until we are willing to follow Christ against Satan and his hordes, we shall remain in the realm of church activities.
The tribes of Israel were tired of the seemingly endless pilgrimage through the wilderness, and the wars that took place there. They had to fight even to occupy the East Bank of the Jordan River, the kingdoms of Sihon and Og.
To go across Jordan meant facing an even greater number of enemies, the inhabitants of Canaan for hundreds of years. We are not surprised that Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh decided that they and their cattle would establish their homes on the East Bank.
But oh, what a dreadful mistake! The Ark of the Covenant, the Glory of God, the Ten Commandments, were about to invade Canaan, dispossess the demon-worshiping tribes of the land, and bring God's Presence and Law into the centers of satanic worship.
Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh chose their cows and their comforts over the manifest Presence of the God of Israel.
What would you have chosen? What are you choosing now?
We have been past the Lampstand, that is, the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Now some are dancing about, making merry, jumping up and down next to their pews in anticipation of the unscriptural "rapture."
Others are hearing the call of the Spirit. They are advancing to the holy Altar of Incense. They are prostrating themselves, crying out: "Not my will but Yours be done." When God hears this cry, the Veil is moved aside and they enter the Presence of Christ.
Inside the Holy Place is Jesus Christ and those who are becoming an integral part of Him. But Christ is a Man of war! He has come to us today in fulfillment of the Jewish feast of the Blowing of Trumpets. He is declaring war against those satanic hordes that fill the earth, and also God's people. Christ is ready to drive Satan and all that belongs to Satan out of the earth. Satan has no part in the Lord Jesus Christ!
To follow Jesus Christ into the conflict of the ages requires that we arm ourselves with the whole armor of God. We set our mind to endure the suffering and the hardships that we will experience as the Spirit of God leads us against the enemies of God and man.
The Canaanites (Satan and people controlled by him) have occupied their land for hundreds of years and are striving to the present hour to remain in it. Satan and his angels and demons have controlled the nations of the earth as well as the physical bodies of God's people for thousands of years. They are not at all willing to surrender their territory. They will fight viciously with every weapon at their disposal to maintain their home.
Some of us have been making our way through the wilderness of this present life for many years. We have fought some difficult battles. Now the trumpet of war is sounding. El Shaddai, the mighty God, is ready to express His will in the earth. The Kingdom of God is at hand.
How about you? Will you choose to settle back and content yourself with the current church activities? Or do you have a mind to fight? Are you willing to settle for anything less than the fullness of the Glory of Christ?
If you are, I do not say you will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. But I will state this plainly: When the new world of righteousness comes down to us from Christ, you will be among those who are governed by believers who chose to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.
And, as Moses declared, "Be sure your sin (of not following the Lord wholeheartedly) will find you out!"
At night Dianne spoke about how the fear of man brings us into bondage. We are his slave whose will we do. When we act to please others, without hearing from the Lord, we are the slave of those whom we are seeking to please. As a pastor, I know how easy this is to do.
I am concerned at times that my messages are too hard for American people. I asked the Lord about this. He said to me: "If you won't preach it, I'll get someone who will!
"Lead on, O King eternal."
Crossing The Jordan
Stan Josephsen preached this morning from Numbers, Chapter Thirty-two, continuing our evaluation of the story of the two and one-half tribes that settled on the East Bank of the Jordan River. He emphasized that what the two and one-half tribes valued about the land that was good for their cattle was not necessarily wrong so much as not being willing to accompany their brethren in the fight for the rest of the land that needed to be conquered. The hands of the men of war who had yet to obtain their inheritance were being weakened by those not willing to press on for the good of the whole. Nevertheless there were lessons to be learned by the remaining nine and one-half tribes, also.
Many of God's blessings and promises can be obtained on the East bank of the River Jordan. But we are called to inherit more than His blessings and His promises. We are called to inherit God's fullness---Christ. Inheriting Christ Himself can only occur after we cross the Jordan. Between the blessings and promises of God and His fullness our selfish ambition must come to an end.
When we hear news that the Gospel of the Kingdom is increasingly being preached and understood by others who seemingly have not toiled in the effort as long as ourselves we run the risk of accusing the Lord wrongly as did the laborers who all agreed to work for a penny did as told in Matthew 20:1-16. If we question who God is going to use to preach this gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth we are revealing that we have yet died to self, we have not yet crossed Jordan and left selfish ambition in its waters.
Also, we cannot cross the Jordan with the "elder brother syndrome" still operating within us. The elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son did not understand that by questioning his father's celebration of the return of his lost son, he himself was not fully comprehending the nature of his own inheritance. The father told the elder brother that all was his, whether he had remained at home and not left and wasted his part of the inheritance.
We who have a grasp of the Gospel of the Kingdom should rejoice when the knowledge of it begins to spread to the rest of the Church. It will be God's business to reveal to them that they must not settle down on the east bank of the Jordan content with His promises and blessings instead of His fullness. If we do that we reveal that we ourselves are beginning to cross the Jordan, losing our self-interest in who joins us or when, and that we are maturing more in the Image of Christ.
At night Edward Reiter spoke about "the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God" from Mark Chapter One.
This good news should begin afresh within us each new day. We should realize that the good news comes out from "a voice in the wilderness," the separation that exists between the best but limited religious efforts of mankind and the complete perfection resident in the sovereignty of God.
Often times the good news will ask us to do things that seem out of place, like John being asked to baptize the Lord Jesus. If we obey however the heavens will open and we and others will hear the proclamation that God is pleased with His Son. Obedience to Christ bears eternal witness.
When the good news comes to us it can separate us from our vocations and our family. Are we willing to leave our nets, our earthly fathers and follow Christ alone?
Jesus took His first disciples to minister the good news in the synagogues, among those who seemingly had all the right knowledge of God. In their midst, however, there was a man with an unclean spirit. Christ came to drive the unclean spirits of out the Church first, and then those that are in the world. Jesus ministered initially to the needs in the synagogue and then to the needs of His disciples (Peter's mother, sick of a fever) and then to the townspeople.
The good news does not tire. It ministers all day along and into and through the night like Jesus did in Mark One. But it does not stay around to receive accolades ("all men seek Thee"), it presses on to other synagogues and towns where more needs remain unmet.
(The above essay was written by Edward J. Reiter).
The Will of God
The Lord gave me two words this morning, as I prayed before the service. The first was: "Paradise can exist only where God’s will is being done completely." The second was: "The Lord Jesus Christ is not coming to bring His Church to Heaven but to enforce God’s will in the earth." "Your Kingdom come. You will be done in the earth." As I pondered these two word I became aware of the awesome consequences of these two truths.
I have realized for some time that the Lord is not returning to take His Church to Heaven but to install God’s Kingdom on the earth. Somehow this morning what it means to install God’s Kingdom on the earth became clearer to my mind. The installing of God’s Kingdom on the earth means God’s will shall be done throughout the earth, in answer to the "Lord’s Prayer" that is prayed throughout Christendom: "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven."
Since Paradise can exist only where God’s will is being done, then if Paradise is to be returned to the earth, God’s will must be enforced throughout the earth. This accounts for the rule of the rod of iron.
But think what this means for each of us. If we are able to do God’s will by overcoming what comes against us, we will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth. When the Lord Jesus returns we will be raised from the dead, caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and then return with Him to enforce God’s will in the earth.
However, it appears few Christian people believe they can do God’s will completely, and so they turn to "grace" to save them in their defeated state.
There is a lie that originated in Satan. It is that we cannot do God’s complete will during our present lifetime. The Christian people have accepted this lie as being the truth. They do not believe they can do God’s will completely. They have accepted defeat uncritically without realizing the New Testament does not teach this.
The New Testament teaches us we can be more than a conqueror through Christ; that we owe nothing to the flesh to walk in its craving; and that if we continue to yield to our flesh we will die spiritually. This what the Bible teaches. Can you believe it?
All we have to do is to look to Christ each day and obey Him. When we do this He enables us to gain victory over every sin and do the will of the Father perfectly.
Why don’t you try it and see if I am telling the truth?
However, we really do not have a choice. If we do not conquer through Christ all that would prevent our doing the Father’s will perfectly and completely each day, we will not be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord.
Now, why is this? It is because the purpose for His coming is that He might, together with His saints, enforce the will of God among the peoples of the earth. Obviously, if we ourselves have not been able to do God’s will, how can we possibly work alongside Christ and enforce God’s will in the earth.
It is a fact that we either will be ruled by the conquering saints or we will be a conquering saint. Every individual in the Kingdom of God will either rule or be ruled. Why? Because without strict, uncompromising government, people will not do the Father’s will. This is why Paradise was lost in the first place.
Let’s think about Paradise. First of all, the supreme goal of the mentally healthy person is love, joy, and peace. These are the fruit of the Spirit as we learn to live in the Spirit of God.
When we think of Heaven, of Paradise, we think of a beautiful, carefree environment, such as was true in the garden located in Eden.
But we see, as was the case in Eden, that a beautiful, carefree environment can be lost readily if we disobey God. Isn’t that true?
Eve did not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because she wanted to be a suitable helper for Adam but for her own aggrandizement. This motivation caused her to disobey God. Paradise was lost at that moment. Love, joy, and peace disappeared. Murder and confusion have followed to the present hour.
The most important element of the entire universe is the will of the Father. Even our Lord Jesus Christ is subject to the will of the Father.
We have been washed in the blood of Calvary. We have been sealed with the Spirit of God. The issue before God’s people in the present hour is that of stern, uncompromising obedience to the Father.
If you are reading my words, a choice has been placed before you. You can believe the satanic lie that no one can do God’s will perfectly and completely. You will make Divine grace a substitute for victory in Jesus; an alternative to righteous behavior; an excuse for immoral behavior.
Or, you can grasp the fact that the new covenant offers you total victory through Jesus Christ; that doing the Father’s will perfectly and completely in every circumstance of life is possible as Christ assists you; that such behavior is expected of every person in the universe; that doing God’s will is the Kingdom of God.
God does not expect you to raise yourself by means of your own strength and dedication. You cannot save yourself from the bondages of sin and disobedience. But He does expect you to believe Christ can deliver you from sin. God does expect you right now, at this very minute, to look up to Him as ask Him to enable you to do His will at all times—and furthermore, to delight in doing His will.
To fear God and keep His commandments is the whole duty of man. Religions, including the Christian religion, place grievous burdens on the back of the believer. Christian leaders would have us believe we are saving the world by our efforts.
I had been taught in Bible school that souls were sliding into Hell and it was my responsibility to get out there and prevent this from happening.
One evening I was in church, listening to an exhortation to commit ourselves to missionary endeavors. I told the Lord I would go anywhere He wished; do anything He said.
The Lord spoke to me and said: "I love you."
I have a friend who finished Bible school. His denomination exhorted him to "plant a church; plant a church; plant a church." So he tried to "plant a church." After two or three years he gave it up. He went to the Lord to see what God wanted. The Lord spoke to him: "Lose weight." This actually happened.
It appears to me, after 61 years as a sincere Christian, that most Christian activity is babylon, that is, man-driven religious enterprise. How few believers can claim they are hearing from the Lord and doing His will.
I feel in my bones, as the saying goes, that the Lord is ready to save us from all this babylonish confusion. He is at hand. He is present. All He asks is that we look to Him at all times in every circumstance, seeking His wisdom and His help. This is the rest of God. It is so easy! His commandments are not grievous. God will not require anything of us that He will not make possible. This means we always can do His perfect will.
The choice is ours!
An Open Door
As I prayed this morning I felt the television outreach we are in the processing of preparing really is of the Lord. We have a lot of work to do yet. We are hoping that after we get the programs recorded we will be able to put the Sunday sermons on our WOR site on the Internet as well as on a television station. This would be a wonderful opportunity for us to communicate to the Body of Christ worldwide the truths that seem to have been made real to us.
We have been pastoring the same church for thirty years, a relatively small congregation of about 90 people. Our outreach, which includes two Internet sites, has been growing, to about 1200 visits per day on our main WOR site. In addition we send out audio and video tapes, monthly newsletters, books and booklets, and have about 950 subscribers to our daily essay.
Different ministers who have come to Mount Zion Fellowship have stated that something is being birthed. We have wondered what the baby will look like.
It seemed this morning we had a fresh witness that Christ is going to open a door for us that no power can shut.
We are interested in spreading the understanding we think God has given us. Perhaps the most important concept is that the present understanding of Divine grace as an alternative to our change into God's image has destroyed the work of God in the earth.
Andrew Strom (I think it was) wrote recently that Christianity is being destroyed in the United States. I believe it is due to our understanding that Paul contrasted faith and works as contrasting faith and godly behavior, rather than what actually is true, the contrast between faith and the works of the Law of Moses—a most important distinction!
Also our use of belief in Christ as a sort of talisman, a magic by which untransformed people enter Heaven, rather than our entrance to the work of redemption that moves us from the image and works of Satan to the image and works of God.
Another important understanding we have received over the last fifty years is that the goal of salvation is not eternal residence in Heaven but deliverance from the person and works of Satan so we can have fellowship with God wherever we are.
The great goal of the Divine redemption has two components: change into the inner image and outer likeness of Christ, and untroubled rest in the center of God's will and Person.
There are a number of other topics, roles, and tasks having to do with the Kingdom of God that need to be brought to the attention of God's people, we believe, such as:
To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb.
To be part of the Temple of God.
To be a member of the Body of Christ.
To be the light of the world.
To be a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival.
To be a restorer of Paradise on earth.
To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations.
To be a member of the royal priesthood.
To be a witness of God.
To be salt.
To be a son of God.
To be a brother of Jesus Christ.
To be an overcomer of the accuser.
To be a governor of the nations.
To be a soldier in the army of the Lord.
To be a judge of men and angels.
To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God.
To be a part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints.
There are many other concepts outlined in the "Book Library" of the WOR site, that may be of interest to the maturing believer.
Perhaps it is time for us to put our stone in the wall, as God is building His Kingdom. It is apparent that we now are entering the spiritual fulfillment of Rosh Hashanah, the time of the Blowing of Trumpets, as the Lord Jesus Christ begins to make war against the spiritual enemies of God and man that seek continually to prevent our entering our inheritance.
Making Visible the Invisible God
"Making visible the invisible God" is another way of saying "making witnesses." As I prayed this morning the word came to me, "Christ is the word made flesh." I had not been thinking in these terms, and so I did not know what to make of it at first. So I sat down with my Bible and asked God if this is what He wanted me to preach on. Verse after verse came to me. Then I knew this was to be the topic this Sunday morning.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word, the Expression, The Revelation, the Radiant Glory, the eternal Witness of God. God is invisible. God always has been, always Is, always shall be. He is everywhere at once. All the creation reflects God in one way or another.
There are three Persons in the eternal Godhead at this time: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are not the same Person, but they are in such perfect oneness that sometimes one is tempted to believe they are the same individual. But they are not.
God the Father is invisible. He cannot be seen by any human, or perhaps by any angel for that matter, though some angels may stand in His Presence.
The Word, whom we know as Christ, came forth from the Father. He is the fullness of the expression of the Father. Moreover, He is visible. He is the visible representation of the invisible God. This is why Jesus could say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." This is not because Jesus is the Father, it is because He is the Word, the eternal Expression, of the Father.
At some point, it was decreed that the Word would become Flesh, and also be referred to as the Firstborn of the Father. Jesus Christ, formerly the Word, now is the firstborn Son of the Father; and also the Firstborn from the dead.
The purpose of all of human history is to make possible the creation of a counterpart for the Firstborn, referred to as the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the sons of God, the brothers of Christ.
Perhaps all I have said so far has been understood by most Christians. What may not be as clear to us is what God has in mind for these who have been elected to be the conformed to the image of Christ, thus to become His brothers.
God's plan is to bring these people into the Oneness that we refer to as the Godhead. Such a thought would be blasphemous, were it not clearly scriptural. And it certainly is scriptural! We are to become one with Christ and the Father, and with one another.
According to the Apostle Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, we are to be filled with all the fullness of God. Think of it! God means what He says.
You know, there are numerous promised in the Scriptures. Some of them are quite understandable. Some of them, such as being one with Christ, or being filled with all the fullness of God, are a bit staggering. But they are as true as those which require relatively little faith or imagination.
How are we to approach the promise that we are to be one with God and filled with His Fullness? If we intend to please God, we are to lay hold of it, believe it, and expect its total, uncompromised fulfillment in our personality.
Do we lay hold on the promise presumptuously, or with the intention of becoming some great one in the Kingdom of God? Not at all. We look up to God, knowing that His ways are high above ours, and say, Amen! Why God would extend Himself in this manner we are not certain. But God said it, and that settles it.
Actually, God's purpose in calling us into Himself in this manner, is not that mysterious. God desires to be visible to all of His creatures, whether in the heavens or on the earth.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Truth. What does this mean? It means that when we see Jesus we understand what is true of God and man.
Satan is a liar. When we see Satan we derive a different understanding of what is true of God and man.
The contest between the truth and the lie has been from the beginning. God showed His love to Adam and Eve by placing them in Paradise. Satan, the lie, came and planted a doubt in the mind of Eve and Adam concerning God's Character.
So it is today. Numerous people, including many "Christians," are giving a false witness of who God is and what man is. A few believers are showing in themselves the truth of God and man.
Sometimes Christian people are ready to tell others accurately concerning the theological facts pertaining to Christ and His salvation. But these people may be bearing Satan's witness. Why is this? Because their behavior is telling the world that God is an unforgiving, lustful, covetous person. With their mouth they are reciting religious doctrine. With their behavior they are preaching the lies of Satan.
Jesus could say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father." What did people see in Jesus? Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. They saw the Father. This is the image of the Father.
We want it to be said of us that whoever has seen us has seen Christ, just as the Apostle Paul spoke concerning himself, "Christ is living in me." When people see love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control in us, they are seeing Christ. In fact, they are seeing the invisible Father, for this is what He is like.
Aeons in the past God spoke into existence a plan that stretches from then to the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem. That plan is coming to fruition today. One can study the history of the Christian Church to the present hour and notice the self-seeking, the wars, the selfishness, the murderous rage directed toward those who were not in agreement with the doctrine of one group or another.
A study of the churches today reveals more politics than it does faithfulness and truth. People look at us but they do not see Christ. They do not see the invisible God.
This situation will change over the next few years. Those who have come as far as the Pentecostal experience are being challenged to press forward into the spiritual fulfillments of the final three feasts of the Lord. When these have been experienced, the world will get a glimpse of Christ in the Christian people—a glimpse of the invisible God. God will give the fullness of His Glory to Himself and not to another, by giving His Glory to Jesus Christ and those who are filled with Him. Christ is not separate from God and we will not be separate from God.
We are speaking of bearing a true witness of God. Our adamic nature, that which we inherited, cannot bear a true witness of God. It is a fallen creation. In Adam's sin we all died, we all received a sinful nature.
The only way out of our prison is by working with the Holy Spirit as He enables us to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature. As we confess our sins and turn away from, with the Lord's assistance, we are changed into His image. As this transformation takes place, the Father and the Son come to us and make Their abode with us.
The adamic nature in us is put to death, the death of the cross. Then the reborn, spiritual nature grows in strength until it can be said of us: "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet it is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me."
It is God's will that we of today press on past Pentecost until we have been filled with all the fullness of God. Some of the believers will do exactly this. They will become hundredfold reapers of Christ, we might say.
Marvelous promises are held out to those who overcome and keep Christ's commandments. While the remainder of God's people are wandering about in confusion, eating, sleeping, playing, working, reproducing, and doing little else. A minority will seize the hour and press forward in Christ, counting themselves crucified with Christ and risen with Him.
You can be part of Christ's firstfruits and follow Him wherever He goes, if this is what you desire with all your strength.
"Narrow is the gate and filled with obstacles is the way that lead to life. Few find it"!
Get Off the Throne!
Within each human being there is a throne room. The throne room is the area of decision making. God has created that room in us so He and Christ can dwell in us. Most human beings, included those who make a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, sit on the throne of their own personality. We can enter the Kingdom of God only as we get off the throne and put God and Christ on that throne.
It is obvious that the Christian churches are not bearing the image of God in themselves. This is because we have experienced only the first two of the three great works of redemption. We have been forgiven through the blood atonement. We have been filled with God's Spirit, and are familiar with the gifts and ministries of the Spirit.
However, most of us have not entered the third platform of redemption. We are not certain there is such a third work; and if there is, we would like to know more about it.
In the Father's house there are many abiding places. The Father's house is the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being made the many rooms in that eternal house. We are living stones in the structure. We were born to be the dwelling place of God.
In order for God to dwell in us we must be willing to get off the throne of our life. This is a personal decision each individual must make, if he or she is to move past Pentecost into the spiritual experience of the feast of Tabernacles.
We were born with the ability to make up our own mind; to make our own decisions; to plan our own way. But to be in the Kingdom of God we learn to look to the Lord for our decisions; to know what path to take.
This is a difficult decision for most of us. Nevertheless, there is no other way. Either we invite the Lord into the throne room of our life, or else we continue as a wanderer in the universe.
The Lord Jesus is knocking at the door of the Laodiceans. He is requesting entrance that He may dine with us: we on His body and blood; He on our obedience and worship.
An era of physical and moral horrors is approaching the United States of America. If we are to stand we must "die in the Lord." It will be an hour when no man can work. But God will work in those who have chosen to get off the throne and accept Christ as their personal Lord.
If we are to survive in the coming spiritual darkness, and be of help to our loved ones and friends, we absolutely must make that personal decision to die in the Lord; to declare that our life is over and from now on we are living in the Life of Christ. "I am crucified with Christ. Yet I live. But it is Christ living in me."
If we are willing to joyously submit to God and let Him have His wonderful way, we may experience years of delayed gratification. We may have to continue in hope and trust; because everyone God receives He chastens. Those whom Christ loves He rebukes and chastens until the peaceable fruit of righteousness comes forth.
If we remain faithful to the point of death, there will come a time when we are permitted back on the throne of our own personality. Now the Father, the Son, and we are dwelling together in love, joy, and peace in one body.
Whoever overcomes the obstacles placed before him, just as our Lord overcame the obstacles placed before Him, will sit with Him on His throne.
Heaven is not God's house, it is God's throne. It is the place from which God governs. As of now, Heaven is located in the spirit realm and is invisible to us. But it is God's will that His throne move into the hearts of His saints. When God does this, the saints become "heaven."
Think about this. If you were to die and go to Heaven, and God and Christ were not there, would it be "heaven"? No, it would not; because Heaven is God and Christ. The rest is environment.
Well, if Christ has been formed in you, and the Father and the Son are abiding eternally in the throne room of your personality, and are governing from there, isn't it true that you are experiencing what Heaven is?
For so long we have pictured heaven as an area where we go some day. There is a place termed "Heaven." "Our Father who is in Heaven." Christ is in Heaven at the right hand of God.
But Heaven is not an area that we could travel to in a space ship. Heaven is in another dimension. In fact, it is all around us. We are surrounded with a cloud of witnesses. We already have come to Mount Zion.
So when we say the Throne of almighty God is entering us, we do not mean it is coming down from a long distance away. We mean that which is invisible to us is being revealed in us so all of God's creatures may be blessed and guided by Him.
The Christian Church shall be brought to perfection by the third work of redemption, as we are willing to surrender our own life that Christ may live in us. As the Church approaches perfection, the nations of the earth will be able to behold His Glory in us. He shall not have given His Glory to another, because it is He Himself who has been formed in us and now is dwelling in us.
It is true that we are approaching an age of moral and physical horrors. God has designed a most marvelous solution for us. It is not that we will be caught up to Heaven in our immaturity and foolishness. What good would that do? It would be out of the frying pan into the fire for us.
Rather God's solution for the dark days ahead of us is to make His home in us. We are to become the place of God's eternal rest. When the Father and the Son are living in us, there is no horror, no terror that can harm us in any manner. During that night no man will be able to work. But it will be a period of the greatest glory and fruitfulness for those who have "died in the Lord."
Growing to Maturity
Pastor Steve Ross from Indiana spoke in the morning service. We understand today that the work of Calvary often is aborted. People receive the forgiveness of their sins through the atoning blood of the cross. But after having been forgiven and born again they may not know how to come to maturity in Christ.
Pastor Steve spoke of several factors that prevent our growing to maturity. He expounded on growing from knowledge, to understanding, to wisdom. There is a great need among us for understanding and wisdom.
Steve's main text was Isaiah 28:9,10. This always has been one of my favorites:
Who is it he is trying to teach? To whom is he explaining his message? To children weaned from their milk, to those just taken from the breast?
For it is: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule a little here, a little there. (Isaiah 28:9,10)
The following three verses explain the meaning of the two verses above:
Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, To whom he said, ""This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:11-13
The thesis of the Book of Hebrews is that we are to leave the elementary aspects of salvation and press forward to perfection, to the fullness, to the rest of God. The above verses from the Book of Isaiah tell us how we enter the rest of God.
It is by "sav lasav, sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav" (do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule). The translators of the New International Version suggest that these possibly are "meaningless sounds."
This is an Old Testament representation of speaking in tongues.
"With foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people."
Let me sum up for you what God is saying here.
After we have been weaned from the breast, spiritually speaking, God wants to teach us so we will have understanding and wisdom and grow to maturity.
But He does this by writing His Word on our mind and heart. This is Christ, the Word, being formed in us. This is the flesh of man becoming the Word of God.
How does such understanding come to us? By the foolishness of God. By speaking in tongues.
What does speaking in tongues do for us? It brings us into the rest of God (that we might "go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured").
Going, falling backward, being injured, being snared, and being captured is a picture of the manner in which God deals with our personality. It is the death of the old adamic nature and the entrance of the new, born-again nature into the rest of God. We have to go through numerous experiences, some of them painful, before we finally have been "captured."
Speaking in tongues teaches us how to yield to the Spirit of God. It requires much experience before we learn how to live in the Spirit of God. Meanwhile speaking in tongues shows us how to change over from praying according to our natural mind to praying in the Spirit of God.
There is no other way to come to maturity in Jesus Christ. It is by sav lasav, sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav, that is, by word upon word, by eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ each day. Here a little and there a little we change from that which is purely adamic to that which is the Lord from Heaven.
Pastor Steve is correct. The burden of the Lord for us at Mount Zion Fellowship is to grow to maturity. Christ will enable us to do this as we look to Him continually.
Isaiah, Chapter Sixty-one
When the Lord Jesus began His ministry, He read aloud a prophecy concerning Himself found in the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Jesus said He is the One whom God has anointed to carry out the plan of God. God has filled Him with His Holy Spirit in order that Christ might build up the members of the royal priesthood. Then they, in turn, can restore what has been destroyed in the earth and also bring God's Presence to the nations.
Isaiah, Chapter Sixty-one tells how God has anointed the Lord Jesus with the fullness of the Holy Spirit so He might build up the elect until they are oaks of righteousness.
Here is a concept that needs to be brought to the attention of all Christian believers. It appears that, to a great extent, the Gospel has been that God is ready to forgive those who turn to Christ. This is a fact. But forgiveness is only a beginning part of the charge given to the Lord Jesus.
The Lord is to work until He has bound up the brokenhearted among God's people; has delivered each member of the elect priesthood until that individual has been set completely free from moral and physical bondages; and has brought spiritual and physical sight to those living in darkness.
Jesus is to proclaim the Good News that it is time for God to view us with favor. The Day of Vengeance shall operate until God has exercised judgment against every unclean spirit that would keep the elect in bondage. The anointed Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ, has been empowered to comfort those who are mourning; to crown with beauty in place of ashes those who are grieving in Zion.
The end product of these several ministrations will be a number of oaks of righteousness.
Can you see what is written here? God's plan not only is to forgive people but to bless and strengthen them until they are rooted and grounded in righteous behavior.
It may be true that no other word in the English language suffers as much ambiguity as does "righteousness." "Righteousness" to the Christian of today means God's sees us through Christ. We are totally righteous because we are identified with God's Son, Jesus Christ.
But when Isaiah speaks of "oaks of righteousness" he is not referring to the legal righteousness given to us upon receiving Christ as our Savior. The members of Zion are not delivered so they can be oaks of righteousness by identification. They are delivered from darkness so they can behave righteously.
Does it make sense to you that Christ, the anointed Servant of the Lord, will minister deliverance and joy to His disciples so they will be righteous by ascribed righteousness? This is nonsense.
It may be true that in time past, God was content that His people knew only the righteousness that is ascribed to the person who is behaving unrighteously. But such ignorance is not to be the case any longer. The Lord Jesus is ready now to minister deliverance and sight to every believer who will respond to Him.
Any thoughtful believer can see the difference between ascribed righteousness and actual righteousness of behavior. Today when someone preaches that redemption deals primarily with actual righteousness of behavior, and that imputed righteousness is not the final righteousness of the Kingdom of God but is a means of getting us started in the way of righteousness, that teacher is accused of maintaining we have to live righteously in order to earn salvation.
This appears to me to be willful ignorance. I wonder how long such blindness will persist. We are not saying that we earn salvation by living righteously. Rather we are teaching that salvation includes deliverance from sin so we can grow into oaks of righteous behavior. I trust the reader can see the simplicity of this, and then realize that today's Christian churches are deceived concerning the actual plan of salvation; concerning what Christ has been charged to accomplish.
Christ through the Spirit offered His body as an atonement for our sins. Now Christ through the Spirit is ready to redeem the purchased possession to Himself by removing the graveclothes of sin from us. You can prove this to yourself by asking Jesus to come to you and begin the work of making you an oak of righteousness.
But what is the purpose of creating righteous behavior in God's elect? It is so they may return with Jesus and bring the ways of God into the earth.
The Lord's royal priests will rebuild that which has been destroyed. They also will serve as rulers and priests for the people of the nations.
One concept that needs to be presented to God's people is that of the multitudes of individuals who have not been destroyed during Armageddon but are living on the earth. Like most people in the world today, they have a limited understanding of God. It is not God's intention to throw all these people into the Lake of Fire but to send them rulers and priests who will teach them the righteous ways of the Lord.
This is what these people will say:
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
They will refer to the members of Zion as "priests of the Lord, the ministers of our God." They will bring their wealth up to Jerusalem and give it to the Lord's servants there.
Such is the grand plan. First, build up the members of the priesthood. Second, the royal priests will return with Christ and bring healing and guidance to the peoples of the earth.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)
God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. To accomplish this for the inhabitants of the world, God has called out from the ranks of mankind a body of believers. God works with these chosen ones night and day that they may become oaks of righteousness.
When they come to maturity, they will return to earth with the Lord Jesus Christ. They themselves will be trees of life who will bring healing to mankind. Out from their inmost being will flow the Holy Spirit until the Life of God is available to all who will come up to Jerusalem and partake.
It is a simple, direct plan. However, the resistance of Satan and his demons, and the sinful nature of the elect, requires that numerous operations of redemption be employed. But God shall have His way. Jesus Christ, the anointed Servant of God, will persevere until He and His saints, His holy one, have brought restoration to every person on earth who is willing to accept His lordship.
Those who rebel against the rulership of Christ and His saints will never again experience love, joy, or peace.
This is what is going to take place when God has produced His purified Church:
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:11)
Salvation and Redemption
Throughout my writings I have treated the terms "salvation" and "redemption" more or less synonymously. If I am not mistaken, the two terms often are used synonymously in the New Testament. Very recently the idea that salvation and redemption, though certainly related, are different enough to warrant our examination. To my way of thinking, this is a much needed distinction for God's people to understand. We may be concentrating on merely being "saved" when we ought to be entering diligently each day into the program of redemption.
I awakened, last Saturday morning I think it was, with a substantial concept in my mind. The concept was that of the meaning of "redemption." There were supporting ideas, such as the four aspects of the Divine fiat, found in the first chapter of Genesis; the thought of entering the land of promise; the resistance of the enemy; the admonition that runs throughout the Book of Deuteronomy that we are being trained now so when we enter real life (life after physical death) we will know how God expects us to behave.
These thoughts obviously are pregnant with meaning, and are related.
I suppose the primary concept that came into my mind is that "salvation" has to do primarily with being saved from wrath; with not perishing or being destroyed in the Day of the Lord. However, "redemption" refers to the prolonged program of creating us in the image of Christ and bringing us into untroubled rest in God's Person and will.
It may be noted by the Bible student that salvation takes place instantly—"He who believes and is baptized shall be saved."
However, most of the New Testament appears to be emphasizing a prolonged program of redemption, such that we find the Apostle Paul toward the end of his life still laying aside all else that he might attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection that is out from among the dead.
One interesting understanding has to do with the meaning of "redemption" as it is employed in ordinary usage. Redemption has to do with restoring to the original owner something which was removed from him by force, forfeiture, or trickery. Since it is God, our Creator, who owned us originally (we have never owned ourselves except in our imagination), then it is God who is redeeming back to Himself that which originally belonged to Him. Have you ever thought of that? I never did!
An aphorism might be that we are saved in order that we may be eligible to participate in the Divine program of redemption.
We are redeemed from the hand of the enemy so that God's original fiat concerning man may be carried out, and His plans and purposes for His Kingdom implemented.
Let us deal first with the eternal Divine fiat concerning man. Then we will mention some of the plans and purposes God has for man, concerning roles and tasks in the Kingdom of God.
The Divine fiat concerning man is that:
Man be in God's image in character and in outward form.
Man be male and female, that is, capable of union with God and other people. This capability does not seem to be true of angels. We do not read of angels loving God, one another, or people.
Man be fruitful and multiply. This refers to our spreading the image of Christ throughout the universe.
Man exercise dominion over all the works of God's hands. We are not to be governed by any personage, thing, or experience other than God.
If we are going to understand God's purposes concerning man, the reason for the four dimensions of the Divine fiat, we must realize that God has needs and desires. He needs and desires an eternal resting place. He needs and desires brothers for His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He needs and desires persons who can govern the world of the future so that all the laws of righteousness are strictly obeyed.
I have identified eighteen roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God. These may be found at this link.
In order to fulfill totally the Divine fiat, every saved human being must be totally redeemed. This may require many ages of time as we measure time.
This is the meaning of it all—that God may be glorified and pleased as the eighteen roles and tasks of His Kingdom are performed.
I suppose we always imagined we have been redeemed for our own sake. This is not possible. We never were the original owner. It is God who originally owned what the devil stole by trickery. It is God who paid the price of redemption that God might regain what belonged to Him originally.
But how do we profit when God redeems His creation from Satan?
There are numerous rewards and benefits that accrue to us:
- A position in Christ at the right hand of God for eternity.
- Eternal placement as a pillar in the Tabernacle of God.
- Participation in the first resurrection.
- The salvation of our loved ones.
And there are many more.
Let's think for a moment about the several acts of redemption that Christ operates in our personality. He:
- Forgives our sins totally for all time, provided that we obey Christ in all matters.
- Ultimately removes from us every trace of the sinful nature, including all spiritual and physical bondages.
- Forms our character in the image of Christ.
- Brings us into untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person and will.
- Teaches us how to live, move, and have our being in the Spirit of God.
- Fills us with the Fullness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- Gives us a desire in our body, soul, and spirit for iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.
- Clothes us with an immortal body from Heaven that is free from all sinful motivations.
Now, let us look for a moment at the larger picture. God has brought His churches as far as salvation through the blood of the cross, and the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Numerous believers enjoy these acts of redemption. However, we must understand that these are preparatory, because the actual Kingdom works of redemption are still ahead of us.
We can think of God's warrior remnant being at Jordan, receiving their last instructions before entering all the good things that God has for them, some of which I mentioned a minute ago.
God did all the fighting when we first were saved. Now we are going to have to fight to enter our inheritance, and the Spirit of God will guide and enable us all the way if we will listen and, as I said before, follow the directions.
Real life is ahead of us. Our present sojourn in the wilderness of the present world is a time of problems, of probation, of preparation for the true eternal life for which man was created.
God gave careful instructions while Israel was in the wilderness so the chosen people would know how to behave in the land of promise. This is what God is doing for us now.
Why such careful instructions? Because if they are not followed, we will lose our inheritance.
This really opens up an area of concern, doesn't it? We are implying that once we enter the good things of the Kingdom of God we can lose them if we do not take advantage of the training that is going on today.
Of all the concepts of the Kingdom of God, the once that Satan seems to attack most violently is the idea that we are not eternally safe after we have taken certain steps of salvation. Satan proclaims incessantly: "You shall not surely die!"
But indeed we shall die! The thought that at some point we can rest, knowing we never can place our inheritance in jeopardy, leads directly to the slipshod "discipleship" that is so prevalent in our day.
We are eternally safe only as long we we abide in Christ. The forces of destruction always are as blasts of lightning on every side. Only Christ is our safety. Heaven is not our safety. Our theology is not our safety. An experience of redemption we had yesterday is not our safety. The day of salvation always is today. This is because time as we know it does not operate in the spirit realm. All that matters is our continual interaction with the Lord Jesus. Nothing—absolutely nothing else—guarantees our love, joy, and peace. Christ is our life, our resurrection, our Fortress.
There is a real life to come. That Life is Jesus Christ. We can walk with Him today. If we do, we never shall die. He promised us this.
But don't we die physically some day? Of course we do, but physical death is sleep, according to the New Testament. True death is that of not having a relationship with Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.
If we are walking with Jesus we never shall die. True, our body shall fall asleep some day. But our conscious, inner personality shall continue in the Presence of Christ, if such is true of us right now.
There is no other thought in the inventory of men's imagination that is more joyous than at the moment of physical sleep we shall not die but shall continue hand in hand, looking to Jesus, offering every decision in prayer, praising God, growing in Christ's image and in God's will. Can you imagine anything more wonderful than that?
To live in the animal nature is to insure corruption and an uncertain future, except that we will grow senile, incontinent, and wither away. But the righteous shall shine more and more until that day when God is smiling on a creation that on its way toward the fullness of redemption.
The Coming Salvation/Redemption
The New Testament speaks of an immediate salvation/redemption, in which we place our faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins; in which we choose to turn away from the world and be baptized, meaning we are entering the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection. After this we are born again as the Spirit of God plants the Life of God as a seed in our personality.
The New Testament also sets forth clearly the concept that we have been sealed unto a salvation/redemption that is coming in the future. When we grasp what is coming, we experience a 180 degree shift in our thinking from the idea that being saved means we will go to Heaven to live forever to the idea that Christ is coming to put an end to the power of sin in our personality so we can practice righteous behavior upon the earth at Christ's appearing and His Kingdom A radical change in our viewpoint, but the true scriptural emphasis.
We started off this morning thinking about the goal of salvation, the end product of the Divine redemption. This is an awesome concept, and represents a radical change in the Christian viewpoint. If we are to believe the New Testament, we of today are not teaching the Gospel of the Kingdom but a humanly conceived plan to bring untransformed people to the spirit paradise when they die.
I prayed this morning to God that the Holy Spirit would enable me to portray clearly to God's people what I think I am seeing with the Lord.
We spent some time on John 3:16, a verse most Christians know—and then apply their own interpretation to it.
For God so loved the world He gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Is that about what it says? Do you agree with this?
Now, here is how we interpret this verse ordinarily. See if you can see a relationship between our interpretation and what the verse actually says.
For God so loved the world He gave His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not go to Hell but to Heaven when he or she dies.
Whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Whoever believes in Him should not go to Hell but to Heaven when he or she dies.
Do you see anything about Hell, Heaven, or dying in John 3:16? Neither do I.
What, then, does it mean? It means the believer will not be destroyed in the Day of Judgment but receive immortality in his body and enter his or her role in the Kingdom of God.
One might say, "But these basically are the same outcome."
Hardly that. One is a change of destination by believing in Christ. The other is a transformation of personality, particularly in the body, by believing in Christ.
A change of location rather than a change in what we ourselves are in personality.
Why bother with such a distinction? Because how we view the program of salvation/redemption directly affects our daily life.
If we view salvation as being a ticket to Heaven when we die, we may not exercise the diligence necessary for the program of redemption to work in us. This especially is true if we believe Jesus did it all for us and we will go to Paradise when we die regardless of the consistency of our diligence in serving Christ.
However, if we view salvation as a program that enables us to pass from death to life each day of our discipleship so that we will be qualified to receive immortality in the Day of Christ, then we will not be in a waiting mode. We actively will be cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He guides us each day in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature in preparation for the transformation of our body into immortality at the coming of the Lord.
If we understand and believe what I have just written we can see how desperately important it is for the believers in America to wake up, turn away from their worldly, halfhearted "Christian" life, and begin to serve Christ as though their eternal life depends on it—which it does!
When I became a Christian, in 1944, I was in the Marine Corps. I was taught the customary Scofield stance, that we are saved by grace so we can go to Heaven when we die. Later I became aware of the doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture." Scofield plus the rapture are a formula for disaster.
I think the Lord has opened up the scriptures to me over the last fifty years so I can see what actually is written in the New Testament.
One major emphasis of the Apostle Paul (something you seldom hear preached) is his desire for the redemption of his physical body. Now, we might mention Paul's groaning for the redemption of his body, but thanks to the current teaching, we would misunderstand why he wanted his body to be redeemed.
Since we are Gentiles, we do not understand Paul's desire to be righteous. He was a Pharisee, an Orthodox. Paul wanted to be righteous so his behavior would be pleasing to God.
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul tells us of his grief because he wanted to obey God's laws but could not do so because of the power of sin in his flesh.
Paul wanted to be redeemed so he could behave righteously. I was not taught that in the beginning. I was taught that God was overlooking my unrighteous behavior so I could go to Heaven to live in Paradise. I was taught just the opposite of the emphasis of the Apostle Paul.
I was taught, when I first received Christ, by devout Marine believers, just the opposite of the emphasis of the Apostle Paul!
This fundamental misunderstanding arose probably because I am a Gentile being taught by Gentiles. I was presented with residence in Heaven as the goal, not righteous behavior. In fact, I was taught that righteous behavior was not an issue because Christ died so we don't have to behave righteously. Can you imagine the enormity of this error—an error that persists, I am afraid, to the present hour. Scofield's notes are still being sold in Bible books stores, where the proprietors, apparently have little interest in the truth of what they are selling—just as long as the money comes in, I guess.
Gentile confusion! But let us look at this problem from another angle.
The philosophy of Gnosticism has been influencing Christian thinking from the first century. The root concept of Gnosticism is that matter is evil and spirit is good.
This, brothers and sisters, is not a Christian concept.
The result of this viewpoint, that matter is evil and spirit is good, has led to the notion that we are saved in order to go to Heaven. The scriptural truth is, redemption includes the filling of our mortal body with eternal life in the Day of Christ.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is physical death.
We will not be raised from the dead so we can to to Heaven, to the spirit world of the Gnostics. We will be raised from the dead so we can live once again on the earth. This is the true Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
The end product of salvation/redemption is people who can be raised physically from the dead and then clothed with a house from Heaven. The house from Heaven will eternalize our mortal body—make it immortal. This is why the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture as an escape from trouble is so illogical. According to the fourth chapter of the Book of Thessalonians we will be made immortal, raised from the dead, before we are caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air. How then could Antichrist or the Great Tribulation harm us after we have been clothed with immortality? What mythology is taught today in place of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!
Man is spirit, soul, and physical body. When we lose our physical body through physical death, we no longer will be "man."
But will we have a heavenly body? Not so. Our heavenly body, which we are forming now by our decisions, indeed is in Heaven before the throne of God. In the Day of Christ, our heavenly body will clothe our resurrected mortal body, making it immortal.
When we die we will be a conscious spirit and will be placed where we belong, in terms of our closeness to Jesus Christ. God does not approve of mixtures, so thoroughly godly spirits will be placed with thoroughly godly spirits, and so on down the line.
We will not be made "alive," in the sense of once more becoming "man," until the Lord returns and our body is raised from the dead and then clothed with the house from Heaven.
One important aspect of this picture is the fact, as we have said before, that God is the one who redeems us from the enemy. We are brought back to God's possession, not our own possession. Our body is the eternal temple of the Spirit of God. Thus God has a vital interest in what happens to our physical body.
God wants our body to be a house, a resting place, for the fullness of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is our destiny if we will cooperate with what the Spirit is enabling us to do today.
God wants to redeem from the enemy the possession He has purchased with the blood of the cross. The program of redemption includes removing the guilt of our sin; removing our sinful nature, the compulsion to sin; transforming our character in the moral image of Christ; clothing our resurrected mortal body with the robe or righteousness and eternal life which has been fashioned in Heaven as we have chosen to serve Christ instead of our flesh; and finally the filling of our immortalized body with the fullness of God.
There is a window open today. The Kingdom of God comes to mankind in stages. At any given stage the faithful will press in and gain the redemption offered at that moment, that window.
The window opened today is ready for Spirit-filled people to press toward the redemption of their body. We must confess and turn away from all worldliness, lust, and self-will as the Spirit of God guides and enables us. We must prepare ourselves for the immortalizing of our physical body, of the eternal Temple of God.
The spiritually lazy among us will have no robe from Heaven in that day. They will not be given eternal life. They will "perish" (John 3:16) in that they will be found "naked," their flesh and bone raised at the voice of Jesus Christ, but no glorious house from Heaven to clothe their nakedness.
They will have no spiritual life, because whatever eternal life they did have has long since drained away as they have neglected daily prayer, daily Bible reading, meeting with fervent disciples on a regular basis, and have not sought to find out God's will for their life.
Thus they have no spiritual life in their personality. Their resurrected flesh and bones will find them in the same condition as when they died.
They have no house of eternal life from Heaven with which to be clothed.
They shall be placed in a situation, along with others of their kind, wherever Jesus Christ decides, whether in the deepest flames, or outer darkness, or in whatever other domains there may be.
As far as the Kingdom of God is concerned, as far as the new earth is concerned, as far as their loved ones are concerned, as far as love, joy, peace, the laughter of little children is concerned, as far as the delights of all the good things God has provided for the righteous and yet shall provide for the righteous, they have perished!
I have bolded some of my statements, which I am not accustomed to doing. It is like yelling at people. I have done this because I believe Christ of late has revealed to me that my message is to the American people, to warn them of their spiritual, and consequently physical, danger.
Previously I had pictured that whatever truth Christ has given me was for the Body of Christ throughout the world. Like John Wesley, I had flattered myself that the world is my parish.
But I cannot deny the strong impression that I am speaking primarily to American people. Thus the bolding.
Appearing With Christ
The Apostle Paul taught us clearly that we will appear with Christ. I don't know what has happened to this clear scriptural truth. Whether it is the emphasis on the catching up ("rapture), or just our desire to get to Heaven and stay there, I do not believe we are placing nearly enough emphasis on the fact that we will return with Christ when He returns to earth to establish His Kingdom here.
The burden all day today had to do with Paul's statement that when Christ appears, we shall appear with Him. At the evening service I asked one of the ladies what she had been taught concerning our appearing with Christ. This particular person had been raised in Evangelical teaching.
I asked, "What were you taught concerning our appearing with Christ at His coming?"
She responded that we were to be caught up to be with Christ in Heaven in order to escape the Great Tribulation. Then seven years later we were to return with Him to earth.
I asked, "What were we to do when we returned?" She answered that we were to fight the Battle of Armageddon. (She did not seem too clear on this.)
I then asked, "What do we do after the Battle of Armageddon is over?"
She seemed not to sure of the answer. Then she said, "There will be a new heaven and a new earth."
I said, "What about the Millennium, the thousand-year Kingdom Age?" At this point she was not sure at all.
If I am not mistaken, our sister, a devout Christian, had been taught doctrine which unfortunately is common throughout the Evangelical churches. There has been no clear emphasis on our appearing with Christ or the reason for it.
Yet, according to the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of the Book of Colossians, the reason it is necessary that we put of our old earthly nature and put on the new man of righteous behavior is that we are destined to appear with Christ at His coming.
Since the one thing Satan fears is that the believers will begin to behave righteously, making it necessary for him to flee, Satan has sought to bury the concept that we are to appear with Christ.
Yet, the idea that we are to appear with Christ at His return is one of the cornerstones of our faith.
Why is this? It is because our return with Christ is for the purpose of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Everything depends on our return with Christ. The creation itself groans in its slavery to sin, anxiously awaiting the revealing of Christ and the other sons so it, the creation, may be released into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Can you understand now why there has been such an effort to conceal this truth? It has to do with the removal of the chains of Satan from God's creation.
To grasp the importance of the appearing of the sons of God along with the Son of God, we might turn to the story of Adam and Eve.
When the Lord God created Eve from the substance of Adam, God placed in Eve all that was needed if Adam was to fulfill God will for him. Eve was created as a helper suitable for Adam. Thus she contained in herself all Adam needed to be successful.
God issued a decree concerning man: that man be in God's image; that man be male and female; that man be fruitful; and that man have dominion over all the works of God's hands.
It was impossible for man to be completely in God's image apart from Eve, because God is both Male and Female.
It was impossible for man to be male and female apart from Eve, because a man by himself cannot be both male and female. This, by the way, is why Satan places so much emphasis on homosexual relationships and transgender activities. In so doing Satan attacks the very root of God's intention concerning man.
It was impossible for Adam to be fruitful apart from Eve. God desires that mankind increase upon the earth; because from the ranks of mankind God draws out the ones He has chosen to be His ruling priests. Again, we see the purpose behind the emphasis on homosexual behavior, an attempt to frustrate God's original decree concerning man.
It was impossible for man to be have dominion apart from Eve, because dominion comes from fruitfulness. As man increases in number his power increases.
Such is God's original decree concerning man. However in addition to consisting of real circumstances and relationships, the account of the four decrees is, although imperfect, an allegory concerning Christ and His Church.
It is impossible for Christ by Himself to be in the image of God, because God is both Male and Female. The Church is the female counterpart of God's firstborn Son.
Is impossible for Christ by Himself to fulfill the Divine decree concerning male and female because Christ is not both male and female. Christ is the universal, supreme Male.
It is impossible for Christ to be fruitful and multiply apart from the Church, because Christ is the Vine. He does not bear fruit of Himself but through the branches, the members of His Body.
It is impossible for Christ to have dominion by Himself, that is, not the kind of dominion He desires. Two thousand years ago He could have commanded worldwide obedience by issuing commands to the warrior angels. But it is the Father's will that Christ gain dominion through His saints as His instrumentality.
Now we can understand why it is so important that we appear with Christ. The Father has chosen that Christ fulfill His Father's will according to the decree of image, male and female, fruitfulness, and dominion. But it is not good that the firstborn Son be alone. He must have a counterpart, a fullness, a helper suitable for Him.
Because our destiny is to be a suitable helper for the firstborn Son, our orientation to existence must be brought into conformity to this reality.
We are not our own. We have been purchased with a price. We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ as His helper.
Here we see the failure of Eve. She and her husband were together at the time of the awful incident. Notice that Satan did not approach Adam. It is likely that Adam was impressed with the beauty of the first woman to the point of worship. Satan new this. He knew if he could get Eve to disobey God, Adam would follow in order to please his wife.
Eve did not say to Satan, "My role is to help Adam succeed in fulfilling God's will for him. How will my becoming like God, knowing good and evil, help Adam?"
Rather, Eve became excited about the idea of being like God—never mind about Adam.
This is such a true picture of the Christians of our day. We want to have power so we can be like Christ, heal the sick, cast out devils, perform miracles, gather a great audience to ourselves. But we do not ask ourselves how this will help Christ be successful in carrying our God's will concerning Himself.
If the truth be known, we may be more interested in becoming something great rather than in finding out what Christ wants of us.
August of the year 2006 finds us at a turning point in the history of the Christian Church. While the various Christian institutions are busily carrying out their ideas of what God wants (much like the Jewish leaders in the Temple when Joseph and Mary walked in with the Child), God is opening His Word. We are seeing that our Evangelical teaching is missing God on many counts.
However, the primary problem is not our ignorance of the Bible, it is our behavior. We bear the name of Christ, but we are eating our own food and wearing our own clothes, so to speak. The churches are filled with worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, and self-will. Yet we blindly speak of being caught up to be with Christ to escape suffering, only to return to earth seven years later to do we know not what (nor do we care).
We have an incorrect view of the future, and it is causing us to remain spiritually immature.
The true vision of the future is that we (if we have been adequately prepared) shall return with Christ. Our world is in a valley overshadowed by the death that is between us and the Light of God. God has promised that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. This glory shall come to the Satan-bound earth through the Son and His brothers, the other sons of God.
This is why it is absolutely necessary that we call upon the Lord until He enables us to prepare ourselves by putting of the old, earthly nature and putting on the new Nature of Jesus Christ.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10)
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
The True Vision
I suppose most of us have heard of the passage that states: "Where there is no vision the people perish (are unrestrained)." Let me paraphrase this a bit: "Where there is a false vision the people follow false gods." This is the way it is in our day. The Christians often have a false vision, an incorrect picture in their mind of the return of Jesus Christ, of the Day of the Lord.
It appears to me that the picture of the coming of the Lord is is being painted in our day as a time of rejoicing, a period in which God's people will be carried up to Paradise. What we are to do there is not always made clear. However, the idea is, we will be supremely happy for eternity.
Is that how you view the future?
This is an incorrect vision. It will cause you to follow false gods.
Do you know why we have developed an incorrect vision of the coming of Christ? It is because we do not understand God's goal. We suppose God's goal is to forgive people so we can go to Heaven. This is not God's goal. How could it be? How would this solve God's problem of sin and rebellion on the part of His children?
God's goal is to put an end to sinful behavior. God has a plan to do this, and it is mentioned by the Prophets:
Seventy "sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9;24)
Notice carefully: "To put an end to sin."
As you might expect, God wants all sin out of His creation, and He is going to accomplish this.
For two thousand years the Christians have prayed, "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is in Heaven."
God's will is not being done in the earth while there yet is sin. Therefore, when we pray the Lord's prayer, we are praying that God will put an end to sin and disobedience in the earth.
Is this what we desire? Do we believe God will answer this prayer? Do we believe God wants to answer this prayer? Do we believe God has enough power to answer this prayer?
A lot depends on our faith, doesn't it?
If God wants to remove sin from the earth, and has enough power to remove sin from the earth, how is He going to do this?
The answer is in three parts: first, God will forgive the sin of those who will come to Him through Jesus Christ. God already has done this.
Second, God will form Christ, the Righteous One, in those who will receive Him. God already is doing this.
Third, God will create an army of saints who will return with Christ and enforce God's righteous ways on the saved peoples of the earth. We do not see the army as yet, but if we are following the Lord Jesus each day we may note that He is dealing with us constantly.
Christ is helping us turn away from the temptation to involve ourselves in the Antichrist world system.
Christ is helping us turn away from the passions and lusts of our flesh and spirit.
Christ is bringing us into various prisons and sufferings to burn the self-will out of us that we may begin to do His will instead of our own.
We may have a question in our mind: "Why is the Lord bringing me through such an ordeal?" The answer is, Christ has chosen you to be one of those who will return with Him and set up His Kingdom on the earth. If you hope to return with Him when He comes, or to be transformed and caught up with His soldiers to meet Him in the air, pray for the strength and faith you will need to respond correctly to His dealings with you, because they may be severe!
Think for a moment. In the beginning the man and woman were placed in a perfect environment. We do not know how long they enjoyed the garden before they fell through disobedience. But they could have been joyously happy for eternity.
This is what God desires—that His children be joyously happy for eternity. In His Presence is fullness of joy. At His right hand there are pleasures forevermore.
Human beings have been created to play.
Alas, we could not maintain Paradise. We were not experienced enough. So it is that we lose that which is given to us freely and have to regain it through much suffering and hardship. This is the story of all of us, isn't it?
God knew we would not be able to remain in Paradise, so God withdrew Paradise into the spirit realm. But Paradise began on the earth, belongs on the earth, and will be returned to the earth. But first, God has to be sure it will not be lost again.
God's answer is the Divine Nature of Christ planted in us. Also, the forming of a Kingdom maintained by an army of conquering saints.
There are several scriptural passages that mention the victories to be won by God's armies: Joel, Chapter Two; Obadiah, verse 21; Habakkuk, Chapter Three; Isaiah, Chapter Thirteen; Micah, Chapters Four and Five; Malachi, Chapter Four, Jude, verse 14; Revelation, Chapter Nineteen.
I say "armies," plural, because the battles must be won by both the army of saints and the army of angels working together (Mahanaim).
My favorite from among these several passages is the second chapter of the Book of Joel. As we study the first eleven verses of the second chapter we can see the discipline required of each soldier. This is why we know the Lord is not going to return tomorrow or ten years from now. Many of God's people have not been brought under the total discipline required of a soldier of Christ's army.
Incidentally, the saints who have died and now are in the spirit world are being subjected to the same discipline, the same Divine redemption, as we. They cannot be made perfect apart from us. My guess is they wish we would hurry up and decide to do the will of Christ, because they are anxious to return with Christ and rule on the earth.
And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9,10)
"They will reign on the earth."
They shall rule with the rod of iron that today is being formed in their character. Their word shall be law, enforced by the mighty angels of Michael's army.
You can be one of the Lord's mighty men if you so desire. But you will have to follow the Spirit of God diligently and be sternly obedient to God in all He requires.
If you are one of those who will be saved to life on the new earth, who will enjoy Paradise on the earth forever, please keep in mind that you either will be ruling or else you will be ruled by those who have been more faithful to Christ.
The choice is yours. Act on it today.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was of old nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2)
To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)
"A large and mighty army comes."
"He will rule them with an iron scepter."
"They will reign for ever and ever."
If we hold to this true vision of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth, we will not follow the false gods summoned by the pleasure-loving "believers" of our day.
What Comes After This Present Life?
Since I am eighty-one years of age, the following verse is interesting to me:
The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. (Psalms 90:10)
According to the Bible, I am supposed to fly away. Because of this, I am very interested in what comes after this present life.
I have had an interesting life. God has given me a fine wife, many friends, and a ministry that I have employed to share what understanding I have. Now I am ready to "fly away," according to the Bible. This does not mean to fly up to Heaven in a rapture, because there is no Old Testament support for a rapture, as far as I know. Rather, it means I will pass into the spirit world.
What shall I encounter when I leave my physical body and enter the spirit world? The Bible does not have as much to say about this as one would think, from current preaching.
Recently a real estate salesman said to me, reflecting on our large Internet site: "Because of your ministry you will have a large mansion when you die." Being a seller of houses, the idea of having a large house with no mortgage is his idea of the best future we could have.
However, a large house is not my idea of a desirable future. Once we have no physical body, what would be the benefit of a large house? What would we do in this building, sit around all day and read? I could do that now if I wished.
I enjoy my work, which is that of bringing understanding of the Bible to the believers. But I have always believed that my ministry will cease when I die. There are two passages of Scripture that have left me with the idea my ministry no longer will operate when I die and enter the spirit world.
The first passage has to do with the death of Aaron, the high priest. When Aaron, in obedience to the Lord, went up on the mountain to die, his priestly garments were removed from him and placed on his son. To me this always has meant that when we die our ministry will be removed from us and given to another.
The second passage is the well known "love" chapter, the thirteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians. Paul tells us that when that which is perfect comes, the gifts of the Spirit will be done away.
However, the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter of Ephesians informs us that the gifts and ministries given to the Body of Christ will operate until we all come to the stature of the fullness of Christ, to spiritual perfection.
It is obvious to me, after sixty-one years as a Christian, that few Christians attain to the fullness of Christ before they die. Since the unchanging Scripture declares that Christians are built up into maturity in Christ by means of the gifts and ministries given to the members of the Body of Christ, then the ministries must continue to operate in the spirit world, after we die. How is the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, going to arrive at unblemished perfect unless ministry continues in the spirit world?
The idea that the believers will be made perfect by dying physically, or by the coming of the Lord, does not appear to me to be scriptural. In fact, we derive the concept from the thirteenth chapter of Matthew that at the end of the age a great work of redemption will take place in which all sin is removed from the Kingdom of God.
Even though sin and sinners will be removed from the Kingdom at the end of the age, there still is the issue of Christ growing to maturity in us. Deliverance from worldliness, and the lusts of the flesh may take place over a period of time at the end of the age. But the Kingdom of God is the Divine Seed that grows in us, and such growth cannot be accomplished by any period of redemption.
I am left with the idea that ministry continues, and the Body of Christ comes to perfection, in the spirit world after we die. After all, the patriarchs and prophets of Israel who lived prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ were born again in the spirit world after they died. No one was born again until Christ rose from the dead. Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of the dead, the Beginning of the eternal Kingdom of God.
I like the idea of ministry continuing after I "fly away." It is an exciting concept—far more attractive than the thought of sitting around in a large house doing nothing of significance. Perhaps I am weird and to be pitied because I am not captivated with the thought of a mansion and a backyard filled with diamonds.
But how about Aaron's priestly garments? And how about the coming of "that which is perfect? Don't those two passages mean that our death and the coming of the Lord wil result in the end of our ministry?
Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, (Numbers 20:28)
But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (I Corinthians 13:10)
So I was at an impasse. It seemed to me that the Scripture and logic demand that ministry continues beyond the grave. Yet the two passages above appear to suggest that ministry is about to vanish. And we must never go against the Scriptures.
So I went to the Lord about Aaron's garments. I felt the Lord reminded me that Aaron's ministry lasted only as long as he was alive physically, but we, being part of the Body of the great High Priest, have an eternal ministry.
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. (Hebrews 7:23,24)
So the first objection was removed. But how about First Corinthians, Chapter Thirteen.
But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (I Corinthians 13:10)
As I prayed and asked for understanding, it came to me that Paul's statement here does not mean that a grace is coming from Heaven that will remove the need for ministry. Rather, the perfection that is to come is spiritual maturity. When the gifts and ministries have accomplished their goal in an individual, when he or she has come to maturity, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, then the ministries and gifts no longer are needed. This makes perfect sense to me.
So both scriptural obstacles to the idea of ministry continuing beyond the grace have been removed, at least to my way of thinking. This thought brings joy to me. Since I am about to "fly away," I am not faced with the prospect of sitting in an ornate house, doing nothing of significance (something like a retirement community, the thought of which appalls me).Rather, my ministry will continue without interruption. As the Lord promised, I shall never die.
Think of the unimaginable number of people who have entered the spirit realm and have little understanding of the Bible. These are my future students. Wonderful beyond all wonders!
My primary students will be the members of the Body of Christ—God's elect. The promise that we all will come to full maturity in Christ is made to the elect.
Because of past excesses, the idea of election has fallen into disrepute in many quarters. This is because of an ignorance of the fact that there are two groups of saved people. One group consists of the members of the Body of Christ, the royal priesthood. These are the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb. They are God's Israel.
The other group of saved people includes the remainder of mankind who will accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They must believe, repent of their wickedness and be baptized in water, just as the Scripture teaches.
Until we grasp that the Bible is written to God's people, His elect, and that their role is to represent the people of the world to God, and God to the people of the world, the overall sense of the Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, is lost.
Notice that the new covenant, the only covenant that takes the place of the Law of Moses, is made only with Israel. Notice also that what is preached today as the covenant that replaces Moses is quite different from the scriptural covenant.
This is an awesome fact, isn't it? What is being preached today as the covenant that supersedes the Law of Moses is a patchwork constructed from several verses taken out of context. The covenant that we say supersedes Moses is, "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will go to Heaven when you die." The actual covenant that supersedes Moses is the writing of God's law in our mind and heart. How did we get so far off base?
Notice that the new covenant is not made with the people of the world, only with God's elect. God's elect is Israel, that is, all who are part of Jesus Christ whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.
But God found fault with the people and said "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." (Hebrews 8:8)
What is the nature of the new covenant?
This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)
In order for an individual to not be destroyed in the Day of Wrath he or she must believe in Christ and be baptized in water. However, the actual plan of salvation for God's elect, His Israel, consists of God writing His laws in our mind and heart. This is another way of saying that Christ, the Word of God, is formed in us.
Notice that every one of God's elect shall be ministered to until he or she knows the Lord. This is "that which is perfect."
No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord,"’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:11).
The gifts and ministries shall continue into the spirit world until every member of God's elect, the Body of Christ, God's Israel, has come to spiritual maturity. I believe I am correct in maintaining this. As I said, this pleases me and gives me something happy to look forward to.
According to the Apostle Paul, each Christian believer has been given a portion of grace, a gift, a ministry. We must go to the trouble of finding out what our particular contribution is to be.
Now, we know from the parable of the talents that if we are diligent with the Divine grace that has been given to us, we will enter joy when we die. We will be given additional responsibility because we have faithfully used what we have been given.
However, if we do not go to the Lord to find out what our contribution to His Kingdom is to be, or having found out what it is do not set aside our other interests as necessary that our gift may be used fully, then, when we pass into the spirit world, our gift will be taken from us, given to someone who has been more diligent, and we ourselves will find ourselves confined to the outer darkness.
No member of God's elect chose Christ. Christ chose us. They all originally belonged to the Father, and He gave them to Christ so that Christ might give them Divine Life.
Christ then gives them something to do in His Kingdom The Holy Spirit is active in the giving and operating of various gifts and ministries. Every member of the Body of Christ has a specific function, just as every member of the human body has a specific function.
Christ expects each one of us to function in the building of His Kingdom. If any member does not function, having been attracted to the world, his or her ability to contribute to the Kingdom will wither and die, just as any part of the human body that is not used withers and dies.
Those who seek the gifts of grace Christ has for them, and then diligently use them, will have the joy of never dying. At the time of physical death the diligent saint will step right along in the spirit world, continuing to minister as Christ directs.
Those who prefer the attractions of the world rather than the attractions of Christ will not assign a high priority to discovering what their role is in the Body of Christ. Even if they do know somehow what they are supposed to be doing in the Kingdom, they will treat their responsibility casually, being taught that they will go to a lovely mansion when they die and be treated with every imaginable delight.
What a terrifying awakening will be theirs when they die and face a frowning Christ! Their abilities will be removed from them and given to another, and then they will be lead away into the dark caverns, their to share their fate with people like themselves.
I think the Lord spoke this message to me clearly, and I proclaimed it to the congregation Sunday. It truly has some terrifying implications.
It rejoices my heart to realize that when my body goes to sleep, my eternal spiritual nature will continue as ever, ministering to God's elect as they have need, and perhaps also to the great sea of people whom God intends to save but who are not part of His elect.
What Are We Christians in America Facing in the Future?
What I have had to say today applies to all Christians. Yet, if I have heard correctly from the Lord, I am responsible to help wake up the Christians in America to what we are facing in the future. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is not based in the Scriptures. It is a false vision. It has put us to sleep spiritually, as we wait in vain for Christ to lift us out of the troubles that are to come upon America because of our sinning.,
I noticed as spoke in the evening about the error in the current teaching of Divine grace, that this warning came the day before the anniversary of the destruction that occurred in America on the eleventh of September, some years ago. More destruction indeed shall come, because our unscriptural teaching of grace has so weakened the moral strength of God's people that we are not able to resist the moral slide taking place in our country.
But to return to the vision of the future. As far as the Scriptures are concerned, the coming Day of Christ shall not be a time of revelry as complacent American believers are caught up to Heaven to continue their comfort in blissful circumstances.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament portray the army of saints that shall appear with Christ and drive wickedness from the earth. There are several such passages in the Old Testament. The principal passage of the New Testament is found in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. There we see Christ and two armies, the army of angels and the army of saints descending from Heaven on the white stallions of war, empowered to drive Satan and all of his representatives from the earth.
I do not understand why this vision of the coming of Christ and His saints and holy angels is not preached more often. Instead we have an unscriptural rapture that is supposed to take place before this scriptural appearing. The reason probably is that the pastors are afraid to present the truth to their apathetic congregations, who are far more interested in the Super Bowl than they are in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
In any case, most of us are woefully unprepared for the coming of the Lord. We are not prepared to return with Him, should we die before His appearing. Neither are we prepared to meet Him if we are alive on the earth at time. It may be true that the main reason for our lack of spiritual strength is the scandalous manner in which grace is being preached. The doctrine of grace being presented today does not resemble the teaching of the Apostles
The second chapter of the Book of Joel portrays Christ's saints in the Day of the Lord, as they appear from Heaven as the mightiest of all armies. Read about these warriors and then compare them in your mind to the fleshly believers of our day who are expecting to be caught up to Heaven at any moment in order to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. You then may conclude, as I have, that if the Lord were to come from Heaven with His army right now, the Christian churches would be in absolute chaos.
In one of the recent bulletins that came from Andrew Strom's prophetic site, a believer recounted a vision titled "Just One Roar of the Lion." I think this vision is well worth considering.
What stood out to me was that fact that the power of the world is to shift from the West to the East. I will tell you why that vision stood out to me.
A few months ago I seemed to have the Spirit of prophecy on me. What came to me was that there is to be in our country a powerful revival of repentance, in which the believers confess and turn away from their sins.
Then the gift of repentance will be lifted, and there will be a war in which much blood shall be shed. Following this, America shall become a weak nation, and the spiritual power will move to an Eastern country. The Lord did not tell me what Eastern country, only that it would be in the East.
So when I read "Just One Roar of the Lion," and noticed the emphasis on the shift from the West to the East, I felt that what I had been given had been confirmed.
Our country is facing severe Divine judgment because of the abortions, sexual perversions, and other rebellions against God's Person and laws. The wicked in America may believe they will prosper and that their hypothesizing of evolution proves there is no God; but God is laughing at the foolishness of the ants on the ground waving their feelers at Him. Woe unto us in America when God stops laughing!
One cause of our moral collapse, if not the main cause, is the unscriptural manner in which Divine grace is defined. The following is what I presented in the evening.
For several years I wrestled with the concept of Divine "grace," realizing that something was wrong with contemporary Christian teaching. I finally have arrived at some sort of clarity.
What do we mean by "grace"? Do we mean God will bring us to Heaven even though we do not keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles? If so, we have been deceived by the greatest of all deceptions.
There is no passage in the New Testament that informs us grace will set aside, weaken, or modify in any manner the warnings issued by Christ and His Apostles.
The first individual to preach grace, as grace is preached today, was Satan. God said, "You shall die." Satan said, "you shall not surely die" (lit. not to die you shall die).
The term "grace" is used in the New Testament to mean the Presence and power of Christ to declare us righteous apart from our observance of the Law of Moses, and then to remove us from the authority and power of Satan and bring us into God'/s image and Kingdom purposes.
The modern teaching of grace either is correct and most of the admonitions of Christ and His Apostles are not necessary for our salvation, or else the modern teaching of grace is the most destructive error ever presented to mankind.
The Bible tells the Christian he must turn away from sin. The teaching of grace tells the Christian he should turn away from sin.
The way in which grace is preached today makes the preaching of Christ and His Apostles of no effect.
Paul said to Christians, "What you sow you shall reap." Grace says to Christians, "If you believe in Christ you shall not reap what you sow."
Paul said to Christians, "If you continue to live according to your bodily desires you shall die spiritually." Grace says, "If you believe in Christ you can live according to your bodily desires and not die spiritually."
Jesus told us if we will do what He commanded we will build our life on a rock. Grace informs us that if we will call Jesus "Lord," we will build our life on a rock even though we do not do what He commanded.
Jesus told us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. Grace tells us we can love Christ and believe in Him, and yet not keep His commandments.
Jesus told us if we endure to the end we shall be saved. Grace teaches us we do not have to endure to the end to be saved.
Christ told us if we live a victorious life in Him we shall inherit all things. Grace tells us we can live a defeated life and still inherit all things.
Christ warned us that if through carelessness we run out of the Holy Spirit we will not be admitted to the wedding. Grace tells us we can run out of the Holy Spirit and still be received by the Bridegroom.
The Lord told us if we do not use our gifts to profit the Kingdom of God, our gifts will be given to another and we will be placed in the outer darkness. Grace tells us God loves us too much to let this happen.
The modern preaching of grace is the voice of the enemy telling us we can disobey Christ and His Apostles and still inherit the Kingdom of God.
The enemy is preaching from the pulpits of America: "If you believe in Christ and yet continue to sin, not to die you shall die." Consequently our nation is facing destruction.
God's grace does not diminish God's wrath toward sinful behavior. Rather, grace provides the wisdom, strength, and virtue so we can cease behaving in a manner that makes us subject to Divine wrath.
God is not a merciless tyrant. Neither is He the soupy grace preached in America. We are out of balance in the matter of God's Personality. This lack of understanding is producing a breakdown of national morality.We have been lied to!
Levels of Eternal Life
We Christians have made eternal residence in Heaven our goal. This is not scriptural. Our goal is eternal life.
What is not commonly understood is that eternal life is a kind of life, like biologic life, and we can have it in degrees. There is more abundant life for those who seek it. We have to lay hold on eternal life; we have to pursue it with single-minded dedication.
The New Testament is about eternal life, not about going to Heaven. Jesus told us, "The gate is small, and the way is narrow that that leads to life, and only a few find it."
"But I have accepted Christ so I have eternal life." Do you really? Not all people who have made a profession of Christ have eternal life. You can tell by the way they behave that the adamic nature is in control. If they have any portion of eternal life, it is minuscule compared with the strength of their adamic nature.
It is true, as the Lord said, that few really find eternal life.
I knew a week in advance that I was going to preach Sunday on the 47th chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. I realized that the burden had to do with the Life of the Holy Spirit. This hardly ever happens. I usually get my message about an hour before the service.
But then the son of a member of our church was killed in a car accident on Friday. And so everything fit. In the morning I spoke of pursuing Divine Life. In the evening I spoke of the reality of the resurrection of the body, which is the central message of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
We are really off the track when we emphasize making our home in Heaven. Jesus Christ came to bring us eternal life, to restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden. John 3:16 is speaking of the resurrection from the dead of our physical body that we may live again on the earth.
In the forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel we find four levels of eternal, Divine Life. There is water to the ankles, to the knees, to the waist, then a river that cannot be forded.
There are four measurements. These refer to judgment on our personality. Whenever God decides to move us into more eternal life. He first judges us.
The first judgment is that of the cross. This gives us a portion of eternal life.
The second judgment is that of our behavior. If we pass this level we are in eternal life to our knees.
The third judgment is on our self-will, our desire to retain our own life. If we are willing to die to self, the water covers the strength and fruitfulness of our personality.
The fourth judgment deals with our willingness to lose ourselves in the Lord until we are an instrument of blessing in His hand. Now we are in a river that cannot be forded, meaning God's working with us no longer is comprehensible. We are filled with all the fullness of God.
Then we see, in this same chapter, that we have become a tree of life along the bank of the River of Life. We furnish God's Life to a the dead sea of mankind. We become fishers of men.
Throughout the Christian Era the Lord has sent times of refreshing upon us. We may think of these refreshings as being intended to save the people in the world. They are not. They are the call of God upon those whom the Lord has chosen to be sources of life and healing for the nations of the earth.
The nations are dead, being cut off from the Life of God. When the Lord Jesus Christ has the designated number of prepared saints. He and they shall return from Heaven. The Apostle Paul refers to this appearing as the revealing of the sons of God. The purpose of the coming of Christ and His brothers is to bring eternal life to the dead creation, just as described in Ezekiel.
There is revival at hand in America. Undoubtedly there will be converts to faith in Christ. However, the emphasis will be upon the repentance of the Christians. God's people, because of a misunderstanding of Paul's teaching of "grace," are controlled by numerous kinds of sins of the flesh. God will not abide where there is unrighteousness and spiritual uncleanness. Consequently the Christians in America must repent of their sinning. Even if they do, America is facing severe judgments because of the practice of abortion.
At night I preached on the resurrection from the dead. The death of this young man and the grief of his mother were weighing heavily on me. I tried to show the reality of the resurrection of our flesh and bones.
It is apparent that Satan fears the doctrine of the literal resurrection of our body. From the first century there has been considerable pressure on Christian teachers and preachers to spiritualize the resurrection, or to consider it quite unnecessary, or to view it as a way of going to Heaven.
Think of it! The central doctrine of the Gospel of the Kingdom has not been emphasized throughout the centuries, to the best of my knowledge, and certainly is not being emphasized in our day. The Christian teaching always is pointing to our escape from our body and eternal residence in the spirit world.
Today we have the doctrine of the rapture to Heaven. This doctrine is not found in the Bible. Yet it is preached as though it can be found on every page.
Resurrection and rapture (catching up) are not the same experience. The resurrection from the dead has to do with the reviving of our physical flesh and bones so they can walk once more on the earth. The so-called "rapture" of the believers is a catching up to Heaven of all who accept Christ. It is a truly destructive error!
Of course, one must be resurrected before he is caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Somehow this fact gets lost as people see themselves flying away from all their troubles.
The resurrection of our body is the destruction of the last enemy, physical death. All other enemies must be destroyed first. There is a whole chapter devoted to the resurrection. There certainly is no chapter devoted to the catching up of the saints. The catching up is not an act of redemption; neither is it the destruction of the last enemy.
Perhaps the aspect of the physical resurrection most in need of teaching is the effect our behavior today is having on our resurrection. Those who do good deeds shall experience a resurrection to life. Those who do evil deeds shall experience a resurrection of judgment. This is what Jesus said, and "accepting Christ" does not change His statement.
Sunday night I emphasized the reality of the resurrection of Christ, how He stood on the beach and ate the fish and honeycomb. According to the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians, Christ is the first of many who shall be raised. I would rather stand on the beach, eternally alive, eating broiled fish and honey, than I would sit in a mansion in Heaven, even though the back yard were filled with diamonds. (What are people thinking of to preach such nonsense?)
So we will see our young friend again. Will he be a white sheet with a pumpkin for a head, as the Hollywood film has it, or will he be able to say: "Look at me, Mother. I am alive! I am not a ghost! I am your son whom you love. I have been busy serving the Lord Jesus. Now our family is together again?
As Americans, we are accustomed to material goods. Our life is in this world. Most of us are not mystics, contemplating invisible spiritual worlds.
If I am hearing from the Lord Jesus, the time is near when multitudes of American will die, perhaps at the hands of terrorists or a force of nature. We will not be prepared for the death of our loved ones unless we have learned to live as American citizens and also as citizens of Heaven. Only then will we be able to help ourselves and others to stand confidently in Christ.
Abiding in the Vine
The Lord Jesus Christ refers to Himself as a vine, and God the Father as a Farmer. We believers are the branches. Everyone knows that fruit is borne on the branches, the purpose of the vine being to hold up the branches to the sun and bring up the necessary water from the roots. Perhaps we don't often picture ourselves as bearing the fruit of righteous behavior that God is looking for, thinking that such an image of God will be found only on the Vine. But the metaphor was given by the Son of God!
Jesus' statement that He is the Vine and we are the branches is pretty well known throughout Christendom. But its meaning may not be as universally acknowledged.
When a farmer plants a vineyard he is not interested in vines or branches. He is looking for fruit. So it is that God the Father is looking for fruit. "Israel will blossom and sprout and fill the whole world with fruit," the Scripture claims.
What is the fruit the Farmer is looking for? The fruit is the image of God, the image of Christ. The fruit is faithfulness, truth, honorable behavior, moral cleanliness, courage, faith, obedience to God. If we are abiding in the Vine, our behavior is going to change into conformity to the behavior of Christ, which is the behavior of God.
Now, right here is an extremely important concept for the Christians of today. There is much discussion of how we are saved by our belief in Christ and not by our behavior. So whether we are faithful and true, or a faithless liar, has no bearing on our salvation.
This is an inappropriate discussion. The issue is not whether or not godly behavior saves us, the issue is whether or not we are going to be cut from the Vine.
Thus we see that godly behavior does not earn salvation for us. Godly behavior itself is the salvation.
What do I mean by this? We know from Paul's writing that God will not have fellowship with unrighteousness. So as long as we are a faithless liar we cannot have fellowship with God. We are lost, in this sense, not experiencing the fellowship of God.
However, if we abide in Christ, the faithfulness that Christ is and the truth that Christ is begin to reveal themselves in our personality. Now we can have fellowship with God. Therefore it is the change in our behavior that itself is the salvation. So to say we can be saved apart from our change into godly behavior is to stress that we can be saved without being saved.
If this is true, then the question is, how do we remain in Christ. Having received Christ, we then are to pray every day, read our Bible every day (if we have access to one), have fellowship with fervent saints, give, serve, seek the gifts of the Spirit, and do all else commanded in the New Testament.
By doing these things we are not earning our salvation. We are abiding in Christ so we can bear the fruit of salvation in our personality.
To bring people into union with Christ is the true goal of all Christian religious activity. All the rest is our human response to theology, and often is the enemy of the Spirit of God.
Above all else we must learn to obey Christ in every matter, including His commandments and those of His Apostles, as well as directions given to us personally. Apart from our stern obedience to God we cannot possible abide in the Vine. We shall be cut off if we are disobedient, no matter how much we profess faith in Christ.
If we love Christ we will obey His commandments. If we do not obey His commandments we do not love Him. If we do not love Him we cannot possibly abide in the Vine. If we do not abide in the Vine we will be cut off from the Life of Christ. If we are cut off from the Life of Christ we will not bear the fruit of salvation.
I have heard it speculated concerning whether we can be cut from the Vine and still be saved and go to Heaven when we die. Such speculation proceeds from people who have no concept of God or Christ. They do not have even common sense. Our goal is not to go to Heaven. Our goal is fellowship with God. Assuredly, if we have been cut from Christ we will not have fellowship with God. This is nonsense and all such idle talk and speculation will be blown away by the fierce Divine judgments that are to be exercised against our country.
We abide in Christ by practicing His Presence at all times, looking to Him for every decision we make throughout the day and night. We are to set our affection on things above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.
Sometimes God operates on us with His sharp knife. He prunes us. He cuts away much of what we believed to be an essential part of our personality. Sometimes a loved one is taken from us. It is then that we set our affection on things above, because our dearest treasure is there now.
But something else takes place. Our life is as a slip that is grafted on the Vine, and then tied in place until the vitality of the Vine accepts the slip and gives it continual life. The fruit that is borne results from the Presence of God shining on the new branch, as it is supported and nourished by the Vine.
If for some reason the branch is cut from the Vine, the branch dies quickly. No fruit is forthcoming.
We must live in Christ continually if we are to bring forth the righteous conduct that causes the people of the world to glorify God. They may not be interested in our religion, but they certainly are impressed when we demonstrate faithfulness and truth in our personality.
Recently a Muslim writer stated that the Muslim religion is superior to the Christian religion. I have no argument with this. It certainly is superior when it demands moral cleanliness while the Christian religion talks about going to Heaven by faith alone.
The truth is not found in a comparison of the two religions. The truth is found only in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I was not raised in a Christian home. I found the Lord Jesus at the age of nineteen while I was seeking to find meaning in life.
A year later I had a supernatural call to preach the Gospel that I had discovered. In obedience to God I have been preaching ever since, and have been a pastor for some thirty years.
I have little patience with the games that are played in the Christian religion. My life is directed toward fellowship with the Lord Jesus. He is alive. He is true and faithful. He guides me in every detail of life. He, the resurrected Lord Jesus, guides me in every detail of life.
Although I am an ordained minister in a respected denomination, the meaning of my daily existence is found in the Lord Jesus Himself, who is real to me. He is guiding me throughout each day and night. He is the Friend who sticks closer than a brother.
So as the foolishness rages over which is the better religion, or whether we go to Heaven by faith alone, our behavior not being critically important, I am living in fellowship with the only religious Teacher who has come back to life after having been killed by wicked men.
After abiding in Christ for 61 years, my personality has experienced radical transformation. I cannot understand how anyone can survive in the valley of the shadow of death in which we are living, and not have the wisdom and strength of Christ to help him through the various afflictions problems of life. Such individuals certainly have more strength than I.
The invitation is open to all. "Abide in Me. Find true life, love, joy, and peace. Become the kind of person you admire and want to have fellowship with throughout eternity. Learn what it is like to never be lonely again. Receive the assurance that when you are being rushed to the hospital with a heart attack, there is One who will meet you and walk with you into the next world, the real world.
Rebuilding Our Life
Deeper-life teachers often speak of dying to self, or entering the crucified life, or something of this sort. It is true that such death is prescribed in the New Testament, but it is not mentioned frequently, at least not directly. I would venture the major topic of the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, is that of directions for entering eternal life in the Kingdom of God, with death to self being an important aspect of these directions.
A few days ago, Colossians 3:1-4 came into my consciousness.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Now, I have preached this text numerous times. We understand that if we are abiding in Christ a firstfruits of our new born-again life already has been raised with Christ, being seated in Him at the right hand of God. No problem here. This is a fact we portray when we are baptized in water.
We are to set our heart and mind on Christ and God. This is difficult in America because of the emphasis on material wealth. Nevertheless, our mind and heart are not to be occupied only or even primarily with the things of earth. To maintain the scriptural attitude requires constant prayer, daily Bible reading, consistent fellowship with fervent believers (if we can find any).But the phrase that entered my thinking is, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."
Although I have preached this many times, I had not given sufficient thought to precisely what this expression means. How did we die? What part of our life is hidden with Christ in God?
I asked the Lord to give me the meaning of Paul's words.
I thought about the sixth chapter of Romans, another of my favorite passages. There we find that our old life has been crucified so that the body of sin might be done away. Self is to be crucified. The desire to sin is to be done away. Obviously self and sin are two different factors, however intertwined.
I realize that when we are baptized in water we are to count that we have been crucified with Christ and now have risen with Him. We accept these two states as a fact, and then God makes them practical and true in our daily life.
So I suppose the main problem with my understanding is, precisely what is "life"? What is it about us that is to be crucified? How does God crucify it? And—importantly—specifically what results from our old life being crucified? Is our life being taken from us or restructured in some manner?
I then made a list of items that constitute our life. I am sure this list is not complete, and the reader may want to add some elements of personality to this list.
Our life is our:
Justice and judgment.
Trust in the World.
The Drives of Sin That Dwell in Us.
Everything Else That Motivates Us.
Do the above pretty well define our life? I am sure there are factors I have not thought of.
When deeper-life teachers mean we must die to self, they mean we are to die to our will, our relationships, our desires, our memory, our plans, our hopes, our dreams, and so forth. The thought of dying to our life does not make the believers happy, particularly the young people. They may assent to the need to die to self, and promptly proceed to some other idea. Who can blame them? What mentally healthy individual wants to lose his or her life?
The problem here may be twofold. First, we do not know exactly how to die to our will, our relationships, our desires, our memory, and so forth. Second, we do not know exactly what will result from our doing this. From my point of view, our inability to understand these two areas prevents the majority of believers from making dying to self of first priority in their Christian life. Would you agree to this?
Let us consider how we die to these several areas of personality. How do we die to our will, our relationships, our desires?
One aspect of this process must be kept in mind: we are not to attempt to crucify ourselves. Self-crucifixion, practiced on occasion by zealous believers, results only in self-righteousness and a strengthened self-will. God will do the crucifying, if we tell Him this is the direction we wish to take.
Let us examine the most important factor—our self-will. We simply cannot move past the Pentecostal experience into the spiritual fulfillment of the remaining three feasts of the Lord until we cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." Here is the linchpin of spiritual progress beyond the elements of redemption.
But how does God put to death our self-will? He puts us in one kind of prison or another. We are denied our most fervent desires over a period of time. We are required to perform unpleasant service. Suffering is necessary if we are to die to our self-will. We learn stern obedience to the Father through suffering.
How many believers in America are willing to yield their will to the Lord Jesus, when doing so deprives them of their most intense desires? Yet, spiritual maturity is not possible when we cling to our pleasures. We can claim grace, mercy, God's love, all we wish. The fact remains: spiritual maturity is not possible when we cling to our pleasures; when we cannot bear to have our intense desires unfulfilled.
I have believed for years that the Charismatic movement is at this very place, being symbolized by the Altar of Incense of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. We are familiar with Pentecost and the gifts of the Spirit of God. But in order to press forward toward the Veil and the Ark of the Covenant, to speak figuratively, we have to be willing to permit God to crucify our will. To seek the power of the Lamb without submitting to the crucifixion of our will leads to the False Prophet.
The same is true of relationships, desires, memory, plans hopes, dreams, treasures, and all the other factors of our life I have included in my list. When God calls for them they must be given to Him. There is to be no holding back, no hesitation. We are not speaking of sinful behavior, we are speaking of giving to the Lord Jesus that which is our legitimate life, our "Isaac."
There are three means by which we overcome the accuser of the brothers.
We conquer by means of the blood of the Lamb, which justifies us in God's sight.
We conquer by maintaining our testimony in accordance with the written Word of God.
But the most important means of conquest is by loving not our life to the death. Until we are ready to give all of our life to Christ, we cannot conquer the accuser.
The rich young ruler had kept the commandments of the Law. But money was an important part of his life. When Christ asked him to give away his money, the man went away sorrowful. What a loss! Wherever the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached, this individual is a dramatic portrayal of the utter folly of clinging to some part of our life when God calls for it. Where are he and his possessions now!
If we cling to any part of our life we will lose it.
Now we come to the second aspect of being "dead"—"For you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God."
It is this second part that is the central point of my thesis. Sometimes we are informed that we must be crucified with Christ, or we must take the "death route." But we are not always told what will result from our doing this.
The result is, we gain back our life in a vastly superior eternal form. Our life is restructured, not abolished. Better yet, it forever is hidden with Christ in God, just as Christ, no matter where He may be at any give time, always is in the very center of the Father's Person. So we are forever in Christ, as the various elements of our life die, and then are raised in Christ to the right hand of God.
Our will becomes razor sharp. But our will now is one with God's will. The only true, lasting freedom any human can experience occurs when God's will and his will are identical.
Our relationships are eternal. We now are one with all who are an integral part of Christ in the same oneness that exists in the Godhead.
Our desires are from God and fulfilled totally. We have fullness of joy. We have pleasures forever. After having been denied our most intense desires for so long a period, we now have received every desire of our heart. Otherwise, fullness of joy is not possible.
Every element of our memory brings joy and peace.
We do not ask God to bless our plans. Our plans now are God's plans, and God blesses His own plans.
Our hopes come from God and always are realized.
Our dreams our fulfilled. There is a magic kingdom. There is a fairyland. There is every bright and joyous vision ever conceived. Eden is restored many, many times over. Those who experience Job's death experience Job's restoration.
The treasures we have laid away in Heaven are given to us. Sometimes God takes a loved one from us. What a deep, agonizing wound! But if we have been serving Him, God does this so we never again are at home in this present world. Our home now is in Heaven, and we never will have perfect joy until we have been reunited with our loved one who has gone on before,.
We may have had to turn aside from our personal ambitions. But in Christ we are possessors of all the works of God's hands.
Perhaps we have been treated unjustly. Now we sit with Christ on the white throne, judging mankind
We may have been brought very low, as was Christ. Now we are a royal priest, recognized as such by the members of the saved nations of the earth. For our shame we have received a double portion of glory.
We may have seen our values trampled underfoot by society. Now our values are Kingdom principles, enforced throughout the earth by mighty angels.
Perhaps we had our heart set on increasing our education. Now in Christ we have all the knowledge we need.
Our wisdom may have been spurned by the people of the world. Now our wisdom is established in Christ and shines as the light of the new world of righteousness.
As we grow older we grow increasingly tired. If the Lord asks us to use our remaining energy in His work, we will be given the boundless energy that holds the stars in their courses.
It is difficult in America to maintain an awareness of Christ and of the world of the Spirit. If the Lord requires that we walk in spiritual blindness for a season, as He does sometimes with true believers, in that Day we will know as we are known.
There are occasions when the Lord permits our perception to fail us. We cry for truth, and then fall into deception as Christ deals with a "king of darkness" in our personality. If we remain faithful, repenting, and making restitution if necessary, true perception is granted us.
The Lord may ask for our money, as He did the rich young ruler. If we know the Lord we quickly will give Him what He asks for, knowing well that He will not permit us to go without what we need.
If we have a strong desire for power, as often is true of those in political life, the Lord may bring us down to weakness. If we remain faithful, in the future we shall receive power and authority such as no earthly monarch ever has imagined.
Some believers are quite emotional, and Christ may bring them down to a place of ashes. Their romantic dreams are crushed. If we are willing to give this side of our personality to the Lord, we will discover in the future that all of the romantic dreams of poets are but a faint shadow of the marvelous realities of the heavenly kingdom.
The spirit of Antichrist invites us continually to look to the world for survival, for success, for pleasure, for security. This is a deception. For those who turn their back on the siren song of the world, the true, eternal survival, success, pleasure, and security will be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and only in Him.
It may be true that the most difficult decision American believers make is to choose the way of righteousness when it means turning aside from what is pleasurable. We are so accustomed to material ease, comforts of every sort. But the saints of old have left bloody footprints in the snow. Until we are willing to follow them, we are not worthy of the Kingdom of God.
I have found personally that one of the best methods of practicing the Presence of Christ is to look to Him for each decision I make during the day. We may not always realize it, but we make numerous decisions each day, depending on our material circumstances.
For example, an American may commence the day by deciding what clothes to wear. He can use his own judgment, or ask the Lord. I prefer to ask the Lord.
He can decide what to eat for breakfast. He can go by his feelings, or ask the Lord.
A believer may think that Christ does not care what he eats for breakfast. He is mistaken. Christ does care, and will guide the person if he asks for guidance. Obesity and other aspects of our diet are issues in America at this time.
We can go through the day relying on our abilities, judgment, and experience. But we just as easily can keep looking to the Lord, in all our ways acknowledging Him. I prefer this method of decision-making, and recommend it.
There are all sorts of growth we experience in life: physical growth, mental growth; emotional growth, spiritual growth, social growth, and so forth. We prosper when we dedicate each of these areas to Christ so His will and pleasure are accomplished.
The more money we have the freer we are to travel from place to place, it seems. People often desire to move to another locality, believing they will be happier there. They may not find the satisfaction they are looking for, because the lessons God is teaching them will follow them into the new environment. Best not to move unless we really are hearing from the Lord.
There are drives of sin that motivate us. In order to get at these and remove them, God must crucify our adamic nature. There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. Those who would enter the Kingdom must follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us into putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
We must not hold back any aspect of our life, when the Lord calls for it. To do so is to prevent our attaining to the spiritual maturity God desires. All the factors of our first life are temporary. Each of them, no matter how noble, how praiseworthy, eventually will become corrupt and poisonous. It is only as each factor of our personality dies and is raised in Christ is the corruption and poison removed.
Now we understand how God crucifies our old life. We understand also that it is not a question of being deprived of anything of value. Rather, we are trading our threadbare garments for the purpose robes of the royal priesthood. Our life is being rebuilt.
The elements of our new nature, rather than being temporary as is true of our first personality, are our possession for eternity.
What does it profit an individual if he gains the whole world, and in the Day of Resurrection is found to have nothing in his personality of eternal worth? Will he then lose his soul and become merely a spirit, no longer having the ability to make moral judgments; no longer being able to enter union with Christ and other people; no longer being in the image of God?
The Throne of God
It may be true that the central issue of the Kingdom of God is the Throne of God. We know that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, that is, in the new Jerusalem, the perfected and glorified Christian Church. This fact has an awesome significance for the Christian believer.
The burden of today concerned matters of the Throne of God. Heaven is God's Throne. Man has been created to be God's ruler, under the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for us to be God's ruler, His Throne must be created in us. We might say that Heaven is being created in us and shall come to the earth as the new Jerusalem.
A human being is much larger than we think, with a much greater capacity than one would guess from looking at our physical body. Consider that Paul prayed we might be filled with all the fullness of God. If we can be filled with all the fullness of God, each one of us must be a mammoth temple that can house the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and a vast multitude of people.
Christ invites us to abide in Him, that is, in the throne room that is the core of His Life. In that room there is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and whoever else will accept the invitation. There actually is room enough for every person born into the world.
But it also is true that in addition to abiding in Him, we also are to have Christ abiding in us.
Now, here is a problem. Each of us has a throne room at the core of his personality. Before we come to Christ, we are sitting on that throne.
When we place our faith in Christ for salvation, He places His Holy Spirit in us. This is a portion of eternal, Divine Life.
Then we are to keep Christ's commandments. This means we are to remove ourselves from the throne at the core of our personality and do what Christ and His apostles have commanded in the New Testament. Also, we are to obey the commands Christ gives us personally.
When we obey Christ's commands, the Father loves us. Then the Father and the Son enter the throne room at the core of our personality.
But there is a problem. Our personality is filled with all kinds of garbage that is not in the image of God. There are lust, seeking preeminence, gossip, thievery, treachery, a desire for the occult, and every other form of demonic activity and personal ambition.
God hates all of these motivations, and goes to war against them. This is what is going on today in sincere Christians.
The key to victory over the garbage lies in our desires. It is God who works in us to will and do His pleasure. The expression "to will" is speaking of God's desires for us.
If we are to please God and get the garbage out of our throne room, we must cooperate with God as He changes our desires. It can be so difficult for a human being to release his own desires and receive God's desires for him that he will draw back and refuse God's redemptive work in his personality.
To seek God's desires to the point that our desires and His are the same is death to our first personality, but the only true freedom there is. Numerous people in our day are called to this death, but, unless I am mistaken, only a few will agree. However, unless we take this path we will not appear with Christ at His next appearing.
Ours is a day in which the accuser is being overcome by a few determined believers. These are the individuals who trust in the blood of the Lamb, who reflect God's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Christ in their thoughts, their words, and their behavior, and who love not their life to the point of death.
The removing of Satan from his superior position in the spirit world such that he is cast down to the earth will result in rejoicing among the inhabitants of the spirit world. This is the beginning of the end of Satan's dominance over the affairs of mankind.
When God's war against our personality has been completed, and our throne room has been swept clean, then it is occupied by the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and ourselves. Now there is room for other people, as God directs. Our inheritance as members of the royal priesthood is the nations and farthest reaches of the earth.
When we receive Christ and choose to abide in Him we come to a spacious throne room. Here are Christ, the Father, the holiest of the angels, and other personages known to Christ. If we are wise we will seek every day to remain in this room, for there is love, joy, and peace in here.
But when Christ comes to dwell in us He does not find a spacious throne room. Rather He finds us sitting on the throne, and along with us every kind of garbage, junk, and landfill. Yet He chooses to make His home here amid all the corruption.
Perhaps the first concept we should consider, a concept singularly lacking in our present preaching it appears, is that forgiveness does not remove our compulsion to sin, the sin that dwells in us. How often we hear that God takes away our sin when we receive the Lord. But what we mean is, God takes away the guilt of our sin. The sin, the cause of our unrighteous behavior remains in us.
You can say "yes," or "no", or "O me!" But the fact remains, we Christians do have sin dwelling in us; not the guilt of sin, but the sin itself. Accepting Christ as our Savior does not remove the sin from us.
Now, we know there is no sinful behavior in the Kingdom of God. Sin is not present in the Kingdom and covered by the blood. Sin simply is not present in the new world of righteousness we are approaching. If it is, it would be best we never had come into existence.
The seven feasts of the Lord compose one of the major types of the Old Testament. Today we have come as far as the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. But the spiritual fulfillment of the most solemn convocation of the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement, is now approaching us.
The term "atonement" has several meanings. After examining all of them, the meaning I like best is "reconciliation." It is the period during which God reconciles man to Himself.
First we are reconciled legally through the blood of the cross. God accepts us and is willing to hear our prayers and work with us because of the atoning authority contained in the blood of the cross. But the forgiveness obtained when we place our faith in the blood of the cross does not remove our sin. It does not remove that in us which is hostile to God. Rather it forgives the sin so God can accept us.
Next comes the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation. The Spirit of God begins the work of removing the sinful compulsions from us.
Christ and the Father come to the throne room of our personality and seek to find rest there. But as long as cowardice, unbelief, murder, immorality, sorcery, idolatry, and lying are found there, the eight behaviors over which the Lake of Fire retains authority, God and the Lamb cannot settle down to rest.
After we receive the Pentecostal experience, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, God examines our throne room. He discovers enemies there. He is angry with them and begins to war against them (the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets, the fifth of the seven feasts of Israel).
Often God's anger is expressed in suffering, in wounding, in a feeling we are being treated unfairly, or God has forsaken us. Have you been there? It changes the center of gravity in our personality so we are more God-centered than previously.
The fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter tells us about the suffering that saves us. It is a fiery trial. It cleanses us from the actions of our earthly nature. Even the righteous are saved with difficulty because of the struggle they must endure as God wages war against His enemies in their life.
But, as Peter tells us in the last chapter of his first epistle, after we have suffered for a while, God will restore us and make us strong, firm, and steadfast.
The concept of God being angry with His saints and wounding them, and then restoring them, is found several times in the Old Testament.
In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:2
"For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)
Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1)
Until we go through the experience of suffering under the hand of God, and then His binding up, we are a spiritual lightweight, so to speak.
Has this been happening to you lately? Are you experiencing the sufferings of Christ? One of our sufferings may be that of being treated unjustly. There are believers who can stand any kind of suffering except that of being treated unjustly. Their cry fills Heaven and earth about how they have not been treated fairly.
But there are other forms of suffering, including financial problems, family difficulties including the loss of a loved one, physical ailments, and several forms of imprisonment in which we are denied our most fervent desires for a season, or are compelled to endure disagreeable or painful circumstances.
As I said, until we are kept in the Lord's prison for a season, we remain a spiritual lightweight. When God is satisfied we are going to remain faithful to the point of death, He will restore us. He will bring us forth into love, joy, and peace.
Best of all, however, is our increased knowledge of the Lord. Like Job, we had heard about God. Now our eyes have seen Him. We have passed from Bethel, the house of God, to El Bethel, the God of the house of God.
Eddie Reiter spoke passionately this morning of his desire to move past the light of the sun (the Courtyard), the light of the Church (the Holy Place), and enter the Light of God Himself (the Most Holy Place). There are believers of today who have that passionate desire.
But we cannot know the Lord like this until He has had His way with the enemies in our life. When our warfare has been accomplished, then God and we have peace.
If you are in a dark place right now, and you have been serving God faithfully, do not despair. Remain steady under the Lord's hand. He will bring you forth when He is satisfied, and your throne room will be clean and ready for the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, yourself, and those people whom God has given you. Thus you shall have love, joy, and peace until eternity comes to an end and you then enter the fullness of the destiny of the sons of God.
In the evening another vital topic arose, the concept of God's mighty men, so to speak. It is clear from major types of the Old Testament, and some illustrations from the New, that God will begin the perfecting of His Church, His Tabernacle, by first drawing out a firstfruits of saints.
We are careful when we speak of an elite, because it is easy to fall into the trap of considering ourselves superior to the remainder of the Body of Christ. However, the true elite do not have the attitude of superiority but of that of blessing God and serving the believers and the rest of mankind with the ability God gives them.
We see how Jesus chose only three of His disciples to see Himself, Moses, and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration. According to the twentieth chapter of the Book of Revelation, there is a first resurrection in which the specially blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood participate. Also there is the marriage of the Lamb that comes at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then the marriage of the Lamb that is seen at the time of the new sky and new earth.
Jesus spoke of thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold. The fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells us of a firstfruits who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
One major Old Testament type of the division of the Body of Christ into victorious saints, and then the remainder of God's elect, is found in the account of the victory won by Gideon and his three hundred.
Another type is that of the "mighty men," and then the remainder of Israel.
Yet another is found in David's reign in Hebron for seven and one-half years, and then over all Israel for an additional thirty years.
The fact that during David's reign the Ark of the Covenant was located in David's city of Zion, while the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was established at the high place in Gibeon, is of the greatest significance. This tell us that the thousand-year Kingdom Age, which will begin when Christ returns, will be a Davidic reign of war, of the rod of iron, of the subduing of the nations. This will be followed by the Solomonic rule of eternal love, joy, and peace, which will commence when the glorified Christian Church comes down through the new sky to rest in unconcealed splendor on the new earth.
Today the Spirit of God is moving among the believers to see who will "climb Mount Everest," so to speak. The base camps have been being established since the days of the Reformation. Now the summit is in sight. Not too many will be moved by the unprecedented Kingdom opportunities before us today.
But there are those who see the gleaming summit in the distance, the fullness of God, the stature of the fullness of Christ. They will prepare themselves and set out to attain to the highest and best God has to offer—to be seated on the Throne of Christ.
Are you one of these? Are you willing to forsake all and follow the Master as high as He will take you? Then set out for the summit right this instance, and never quit until you stand in victory on Mount Zion with the Lamb.
The Goal, Nature, and Process of Resurrection
The resurrection of the physical body is the central act of redemption, the conquering of the last enemy. From the first century, Satan has vigorously fought the concept of the physical resurrection. The teaching of other philosophies, such as Gnosticism, has confused this central doctrine. The current source of confusion is the so called "pre-tribulation rapture."
What is the nature and process of the resurrection of the physical body? Most of us probably have never thought much about this, since apparently the resurrection of our mortal body is not emphasized in current Gospel teaching.
Yet, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul sets forth attaining to the resurrection as his goal. Also in the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, and the fifth chapter of Second Corinthians, Paul writes of his longing for the redemption of his body, the making alive of it by the Spirit of God.
The Lord Jesus, as recounted in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, stresses the fact that His body and blood are the source of our resurrection.
How can we, in the present hour, dare to remain ignorant of a Christian doctrine that the Apostle Paul points toward as his goal? Perhaps it is time now for the Holy Spirit to restore this central topic of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The first aspect we should consider is precisely what is meant by "resurrection"? Two of the prevailing notions are misleading. One such notion is that the resurrection has something to do with going to Heaven. It does not. The resurrection has nothing to do with location.
The second notion is that implicit in the term "resurrection" is the idea of elevation. I do not know the etymology of anastasis, the Greek term for "resurrection," but I rather doubt that the flavor of "elevation" is found in the word. Perhaps it is.
But raising up from the ground, and Heaven, have little to do with resurrection. Resurrection is reconstruction, the reconstruction of our physical body, of the "tent" in which we are living at the present time.
Consider for a moment our mortal, physical body. It is not a desirable dwelling place for God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, or a child of God. It is weak, perishable, subject to every sort of pain, sickness, and tiredness. Worse than that, it is prone to sin. It is our "body of humbling" (Rotherham), and the children of God are placed in this animal body so we may demonstrate the constancy of our faith in God.
Jesus told us the flesh profits nothing. What worse thing could He say about this "jar of clay" (Paul) in which has been placed "the light of the Glory of God in the face of Christ"?
Wouldn't you like a body like that of Christ? We find in the New Testament that our present flesh-and-bone body shall be made alive by the power of God, and then clothed with a "house from Heaven" (the gold of Divinity covering the wood of humanity).
The body of Christ is portrayed in the second chapter of the Book of Revelation. It is an improvement over the body in which He appeared to His Apostles after His resurrection.
Our body shall be restructured in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. Such a restructuring was the goal of the Apostle Paul.
But won't all believers be made alive in their body at the return of Christ? I do not believe this is true. In the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, where Paul mentions attaining to the resurrection as his goal, he describes his straining to know Christ, to walk in resurrection power, to share the sufferings of Christ. It appears to me Paul's statements about his own consecration suggest that the resurrection of all believers, regardless of their personal consecration, may not be founded on spiritual reality.
So the nature of resurrection is not movement to another place but a restructuring of our physical body. I emphasized this goal in the morning service, and then the nature of resurrection, and the process that leads to resurrection, in the evening service.
The central idea of the process of attaining to the resurrection is that we must experience an inward resurrection before we will be entrusted with the resurrection of the vehicle in which our inward nature is housed.
The body and blood of Christ are the building blocks, we might say, of our inward resurrection. As our inward nature is resurrected, a body that reflects our inward nature is being constructed before the Throne of God in Heaven, and shall be given to us as our reward when the Lord returns. Here is the perfect justice of God.
If we have taken up our cross of self-denial, and are following Christ diligently, we experience some sort of inward restructuring each day. Our personality potentially is a throne room for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but it is filled with the garbage of love and trust in the world system; various lusts and passions, and self-will. Our throne room, our inward nature, must be cleansed if it is to be a suitable house for God.
So God by various means, often by suffering, sometimes by temptation, sometimes by permitting us to be deceived, highlights some aspect of worldliness, or lust, or self-will in our personality. This aspect may be dearly loved by us, and we are not anxious to surrender it. But surrender it we must if we are to proceed with our discipleship.
If we say yes to God, giving up a coveted relationship, or pleasure, or other idol, the Spirit of God will put it to death. As this death occurs, we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of Christ. If the specific aspect of our personality we have yielded up to God is a desirable part of our personality and will bring us love, joy, and peace, it will be returned to us, now filled with Christ, who Himself is the resurrection. The house that will be given us in the Day of the Lord is modified accordingly.
However, if we refuse to give to God the relationship, or pleasure, or ambition, or plan, or possession, or whatever He is requiring of us, the process of resurrection ceases. We remain an intelligent animal without Divine Life, without Christ. In the Day of Resurrection we will be clothed with the corruption we have sown. We may lose our soul at this time and become a carcass, doomed to be placed in the area where the worm of corruption never dies.
Thus the goal of our discipleship is to attain to the resurrection from the dead. The nature of resurrection is the reconstruction of the body in which our inward nature is housed. The process of attaining to the resurrection is that of dying a little bit each day, and having a little bit of our personality restructured in Christ each day.
Christ Himself is the End of all of God's redemptive working. In order for God to be pleased, Christ must be in every element in the new world of righteousness. Any relationship, thing, or circumstance, which is not of Jesus Christ is perishable and eventually shall be discarded.
With the above in mind, let us study Paul's words in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, and set our course accordingly.
All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (Philippians 3:15)
The Last Trumpet
The tenth and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation should be considered as one whole. They describe the time we are in now, the time of the seventh, or last, trumpet. An important aspect of this period is the final witness of the Kingdom, symbolized by the "two witnesses."
The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation are Christ and His Church. The symbolism is taken from the fourth chapter of the Book of Revelation, where there is one lampstand and two olive trees. The one Lampstand is Jesus Christ. The second lampstand, of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, is that which is taken from the first and also is the light of the world, as is true of the original Lampstand. There is but one second lampstand, instead of the seven lampstands of the second and third chapters of Revelation, because they are the victorious saints are are found in each of the seven churches.
The two olive trees of the fourth chapter of Zechariah and the eleventh chapter of Revelation symbolize the Spirit without measure that shall rest upon Christ and His Church as they bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to every city and village upon the earth. They are the power of the seven thunders, given only to those who have died to self-will and are alive in Christ. They portray that the mystery of the Gospel, Christ in us, shall be brought forth not by the wisdom and ability of human beings but by the Spirit of God.
The Lord Jesus told us that before the end came, the Gospel of the Kingdom would be preached to every nation as a witness. These are the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of Revelation. God shall permit the witness to be "killed" for a season that the terrible sin of man seeking to be God may come to maturity. This does not mean that Jesus Christ or the victorious saints will be killed. It means that the witness shall be taken out of the way so the dread spirit of man attempting to be God can be revealed in all its horror.
The Father and Christ were two Witnesses two thousand years ago. Yet only Christ could be seen. So it is true that Christ and His victorious saints shall compose two witnesses, although only the saints will be seen.
We now are in the time when the seventh angel is about to blow. The work of the prior six trumpets is described in the preceding chapters of Revelation. Now we have come to the seventh, and last, trumpet. When the last trumpet sounds, the victorious saints shall become immortal; those who died in Christ shall return with Him; and the kingdoms of this world shall become the Kingdom of God and His Christ, including those who have become an integral part of Christ.
This is the time of the "again" prophecy (Revelation, 10). But notice, as chapter eleven begins, the saints are judged. Therefore we are being judged today. The closer we are to Christ, the sooner the judgment begins.
How does this work out in practice? The Holy Spirit begins to point out those areas of our personality and behavior that are not of God, that are not in the image of Christ. As soon as we notice this darkness we are to confess it, naming it specifically to the Lord. Then we are to ask Him for the strength to turn away from it. When we do this, God is faithful and righteous to forgive our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
After we have done this, we still may be tempted to commit this sin. However, we now find that we have the strength to resist it. The Spirit has killed it; taken the life from it.
What we have just described is a real, specific, experience, just as is true of being born again or speaking in tongues. Try it for yourself.
Now that a portion of His Church has been at Pentecost for a season, the Lord is bringing us forward to a further aspect of redemption. The time is now for the messengers of God to remove from His Kingdom all that is offensive to God, as we read in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew.
It is a baptism with the fire of Divine judgment on the enemies of Christ that dwell in His people. There is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. After this comes the baptism with fire. His fan is in His hand and He shall blow away the chaff and burn it up with eternal fire.
Thank God forever! He has determined to make an end of sin, as Daniel tells us.
The tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation sets forth the last-day witness of the Kingdom of God. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the forming of Christ in those who are bearing witness. Christ who is being formed in us shall not be revealed to the world until the time comes for the saints to take the Kingdom, that is, until the Lord Jesus returns to take His inheritance to Himself.
We can understand readily that the saints must be judged in this fashion before they can bear witness to every city and village. Today the believers, in numerous instances, talk about Christ but are not bearing an accurate witness of God, His Person, His ways, His will, and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ. Until we are bearing an accurate witness of God in our mind, words, and actions, we cannot overcome the accuser of the brothers.
When God is satisfied that a true witness has been given to the ends of the earth, He will withdraw the power. At that time the witness shall be overcome by Sodom (the lusts of the flesh, just as Christians are being overcome today by the pornography on the Internet); by Egypt (involvement in the Antichrist world spirit, looking to the world for survival, security, and pleasure); and Jerusalem (religious arrogance and presumption) This is how the witness shall be overcome, after the great worldwide testimony has been given.
Also, according to Daniel, some of the saints shall be killed by persecution. The result of overcoming of the Kingdom witness will be a season of the rule of man, during which an illusory peace and safety shall fill the earth.
When spiritual darkness has come to its fullness, the seventh trumpet shall sound. Christ shall descend from Heaven, followed by those who have been purified from all worldliness, all lust, and all self-will. There is no guile found in them. The will of God has been created in them as a rod of iron.
Antichrist and his adherents shall be destroyed by the power and fire of their advance. The Word of God, the sharpest of all swords, shall be spoken by Christ and His saints. The enemy shall be torn to pieces; ripped to shreds until he is as dust in the street.
Christ has been waiting until the Father makes His enemies His footstool. He has enabled His victorious saints to overcome the accuser by His own blood; by the word of their Christ-filled testimony; and they have permitted the Spirit of God to take from them their fallen nature and replace it with the eternal Nature of Jesus Christ.
All that has been described above shall surely occur. It remains for you and me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit until we have been fully prepared to ride behind Christ in His Day. He cannot return until every member of His army is faithful and true, for otherwise the forces of righteousness would be driven back into the spirit world as they sought to establish the Kingdom.
The warrior angels will do the fighting. But they cannot overcome Satan until Satan has been overcome by Christ in the saints.
In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city; He sets up walls and ramparts for security. "Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, the one that keeps faithfulness." (Isaiah 26:1,2—NASB)
The Poisonous Premise
John the Baptist came preaching that the Kingdom of God is coming. The Lord Jesus came preaching that the Kingdom of God is coming. The Apostles preached that the Kingdom of God is coming. We preach today that we are saved so we can go to Heaven when we die. Why did we leave the original Gospel?
Whatever happened to the original Gospel, the message preached by the Apostles? There may have been instances through Church history when the original Gospel was preached, I don't know. But it is obvious that the coming of the Kingdom of God is not being preached in our day.
I don't believe that the Kingdom of God is so much as mentioned in the Statement of Faith of our denomination. Is it in yours?
I notice that the term "Kingdom" is being used a bit more. But it seems to be saying that we all ought to try to do better. The idea of a kingdom coming from Heaven and establishing the will of God on the earth by force, and that we should repent because of this, may not be presented as often as we might wish.
There are many aspects of the Kingdom that we could discuss. The one I wish to emphasize this morning is the aspect of ruling. Our traditional concept of going to Heaven when we die seems to be that we are going to do nothing but rest for eternity. Even a brief review in our mind of what this would mean is enough to assure us that a residence in the spirit world where there were no challenges or responsibilities, and we did nothing but praise God continually, would not please the typical believer of our day.
The truth is, the Kingdom of God is not a place. It is a system of government. The Lord Jesus and His saints are going to be ruling people. To be in a position of rulership means that we are able to govern our own circumstances and the circumstances of others.
When the Book of Revelation says there will be no more sea on the new earth, it is speaking symbolically of ungoverned people. Every saved person in the world of the future will either be in a position of rulership or else will be being ruled by someone else. We may not have given much thought to that.
The laws of God shall be kept forever, in the world that is at hand. No lawlessness shall be permitted. This is possible because every individual will be under rulership of some sort. The reason sin occurred in the Garden of Eden is that there was no government, no kingdom to compel Adam and Eve to obey God.
The purpose of the Church Age has been to develop rulers—individuals who have been able to conquer through the Lord Jesus Christ that which has come against them. The general salvation of mankind shall come later, as described in the Book of Isaiah.
If we are to be one of the Lord's rulers, we must live victoriously in this world. "If we suffer we will rule with Him," Paul states.
What is it we are to overcome? We are to overcome our willingness to find survival, security, and satisfaction in the world spirit; we are to overcome the various lusts and passions of our flesh and spirit; and we are to overcome our habit of making our decisions apart from Christ. Unless we prove to be a conqueror in each of these three areas we are neither qualified nor competent to return with Christ and force the will of God on the people of the earth.
The conquerors will govern with "the rod of iron." The rod of iron is formed in us as we, through Christ, overcome in the three areas I have mentioned: worldliness, lust, and self-will.
The authority, wisdom, and power to rule comes from the Holy Spirit. Those with more of the Holy Spirit will govern those with less of the Holy Spirit. Some will have thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some a hundredfold of the Life of God in them.
The Holy Spirit is our eternal life, the Life of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is filled with the Life of God and serves as the highest Priest by means of the indestructible Life of God.
Paul commanded Timothy to lay hold on eternal life. We receive more of the Holy Spirit every time we turn away from the world, lust, and self-will, and obey God. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him.
The New Testament has quite a bit to say about crowns and the rulership of the saints. Christ told us that if we overcome as He also overcame, we will sit on His throne with Him. He warns us to be careful that someone does not steal our crown.
Thus the Kingdom of God is not a place but a system of rulership. We are heading toward a government, not a place in the spirit world in which we have no responsibility, no challenges, and no one telling us what we must do. The Gospel of the Kingdom is a whole different vision than that to which most of us have been accustomed.
The Kingdom of God is within us, as Jesus pointed out, referring to the fact that it is born in us when Christ is born in us. Then it is to grow as a seed.
However, the Kingdom also can be seen as an entity. Jesus said some of the subjects of the Kingdom would be able to see the people in the Kingdom while they themselves were driven into the outer darkness.
Let us prepare ourselves for the coming government of God. His will shall be done in the earth, and we are to pray to this end. Hopefully God's leaders will begin to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, just as did John, Jesus, and the early Apostles.
In the evening we discussed congruence and inheritance.
The first topic, that of congruence, has to do with Galatians 5:19-21. In this passage Paul declares that if the believer lives in the bondages of the flesh he or she will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
However, in the early chapters of Romans, and in other places, Paul says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works of righteousness we have done.
There appears to be a lack of congruence. On the one hand we are told if we behave unrighteously we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. On the other hand we are told that our behavior is not at issue, we are saved by forgiveness through our faith.
It is a marvel to me that Christian people have not wondered more about this lack of congruence.
The resolution of the problem is as follows: in the early chapters of Romans, where most of the discussion regarding faith and works is found, Paul is speaking to Jews. In Galatians, and in the other epistles, Paul is speaking to Gentiles.
Most of us are not Jews, so we cannot appreciate how thoroughly Paul's Jewish audience was filled with the concept that righteousness and life come only through obeying the works of the Law of Moses. Paul used various passages from the Old Testament to prove that righteousness is possible apart from the works of the Law of Moses.
It was Paul's responsibility to convince Jewish people that they could turn away from Moses and look to Jesus Christ for righteousness. Such a transition was very difficult for many of his listeners.
This was the reason Paul stressed that we are righteous and are saved by grace and not by works, meaning the works of the Law of Moses.
But in the Epistles, Paul stressed that we must walk in the Spirit of God with the resulting change of our moral behavior, or else we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.
We do not go from the Law of Moses to no law. We go from the Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of Life, a far stricter law in that it governs every moment of every day of our life. We are required to present our body as a living sacrifice to God, rather than a dead animal. Far stricter!
Christian scholars, with their misunderstanding of Paul, have developed a fundamental premise. It is a poisonous tree that bears all sorts of poisonous fruit, such as once we are saved we cannot be lost, and it is our belief system that is important, not how we behave.
The fundamental premise is that God, seeing that human beings cannot keep His commandments, has given us a covenant of "grace." God's covenant of grace blinds God to our behavior. God sees us only through Christ. God's purpose in doing so is that He may now regard us as righteous, regardless of our behavior, and admit us to Heaven where we will dwell in bliss forever.
This means that if we behave in all the ways Paul describes in Galatians 5:19-21, it does not matter. When we practice immorality, for example, God sees only the moral purity of Christ.
There is a teaching that this dispensation of grace will last until Christ returns. At that time Christ will remove all unrighteousness from our personality and we will be in the image of God.
But if such were the case, Paul would not have told the believers in Galatia that if they practice the sins of the flesh they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The reason God trains and tests us in the wilderness of this life is so we will be able to govern in righteousness in the next world. Why would such training be necessary if we suddenly are going to be made righteous? Also, if God were able to produce righteous behavior in an individual by speaking a word, why does He bring us through such painful experiences?
Those who are teaching that we are made righteous at the coming of the Lord are forgetting the parable of the man who wasted his talent. The Lord called him a wicked, lazy servant. The Lord did not remove the man's wickedness and laziness, He sent him into the outer darkness.
So those who are teach that we can ignore Paul's several admonitions concerning the penalty for unrighteous behavior are leading themselves and their followers to destruction.
There is no problem with congruence between the early chapters of the Book of Romans and the statements Paul makes in other places (even in the sixth chapter of Romans) concerning the fact that spiritual death follows sinful behavior on the part of the Christian believer. If we as a believer practice the desires of our sinful nature we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But let us think about the term "inherit." There are many believers who have been and yet are in the Kingdom of God. This means they have been born again of Christ and have a portion of God's Spirit in them. This is what it means to be in the Spirit of God.
But if they do not nourish this new life by putting to death, through the Spirit, the deeds of their sinful nature, they will have this life removed from them and they will be sent into the outer darkness. From there they will be able to see the Kingdom of light and glory, but they will not inherit it.
Consider the following:
When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:10-12)
Notice that they were "the subjects of the kingdom." This means they were in the Kingdom. But they were thrown outside because they did not please the Lord.
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:41)
Those who hold to the poisonous premise of which I spoke will declare it is impossible to be in the Kingdom of God and then thrown out. But the Scripture says otherwise.
I have been accused of preaching works, of saying that we have to earn our salvation by doing good works. I do not teach this.
It is true rather that the Kingdom of God itself is found in righteous behavior. The rule of God produces righteous behavior. We are not redeemed because we behave righteously, it is the power of the Divine redemption that produces righteous behavior.
To not be transformed morally means we are not living as we should in the Holy Spirit.
There is one fact we must understand: In order for redemption to take place, God must act and we must act. Redemption never is one-sided, in which God does everything or we do everything.
A careful reading of the New Testament will reveal the sovereign work that God does, and the works that we must do in order to benefit from the sovereign work of God. God simply will not permit us to be passive while He "saves" us. This is not scriptural.
Would we be Christ's disciple? We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. We must do this. God will help us if we ask Him; but if we do not deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus at all times we are not a disciple.
The poisonous premise, that God sees we are unable to keep His commandments and therefore must be brought to Heaven by forgiveness (grace), ignores the help that God is offering the believer who will set out to overcome the world, the flesh, and his own self-will. It ignores the power of the new covenant, the power that produces new creations of righteous behavior and holy personality.
The poisonous premise is at the heart of much of today's theology, If is found in the footnotes of today's translations of the Bible. Without doubt it is the supreme deception presented by Satan, and may be the greatest misunderstanding in the history of mankind.
Shall we stand together and put the axe to this poison vine whenever we encounter its poisonous tentacles. It has brought about the destruction of the moral character of numerous believers in the United States. Many pastors look at pornography on the Internet. Many of their members practice the behaviors condemned so strongly by the Apostle Paul. The result shall be fierce judgment upon our country.
The new covenant forgives, and then transforms the individual into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiveness based on belief, apart from character transformation, is not the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, but the evidence of the influence of the philosophy of Gnosticism on Christian thinking.
Preparing Young People for the Future
The Lord has told us that if the watchman sees the enemy coming and he does not warn the people, the blood of the town will be on his hands. I see two forces coming in the future that will affect the young people of today. One force is that of intense moral temptation. The second force is trouble of one sort or another—trouble greater than we are accustomed to in America. I am calling out a warning!
Today there was joy in the church during both services. Dr. Dianne McIntosh was our speaker. In the morning she spoke of the things in us that must leave, and the things in us that we must cultivate, if we are to have the joy of Christ overflowing in us.
In the evening Dr. Dianne continued to emphasize joy. She pointed out that the Holy Spirit and our carnal nature are warring against each other. She had the sponsors of each young person pray over him or her. She said that if we are to have the joy Jesus promised we must ask the Holy Spirit Spirit to help us put down our carnal nature so the Spirit can direct all of our daily decisions.
Then Dianne and Lloyd, our new Youth Pastor, went around and prayed over each young person. There was great joy after this.
The morning and evening tapes are well worth listening to. Please click on the links below.
At about 2:00am, Sunday morning, the Lord impressed me that I was to speak to the young people of our church concerning four practices that bring God's judgment on us. These four warnings might be thought of as though a judge told his son not to do drugs, because his father did not want to send him to prison. In other words, God is telling us what to look out for so we are not harmed in the future.
The first practice, and one that is going to bring Divine wrath upon the United States of America, is that of abortion. From the time that an egg begins to multiply in the uterus, it is a person whom God intends to bring into the world. To then kill this developing fetus is murder and will be regarded as such in the Day of Judgment.
If we have committed an abortion and then turn to God in sincere repentance, it may well be that God will forgive us. But we will suffer for it, because this act is grievous to the Lord.
Abortion may be justified in the case of rape, or if the life of the mother is in jeopardy. Also, if medical tests show the child is severely disabled in some manner, the parents can pray with the elders of the church to see if God wishes the child to be brought to term.
But to willfully end the life of a developing child for no reason other than its birth would be inconvenient, or to demonstrate the "rights" of the mother, is murder—pure and simple.
The second practice is homosexual activity. Some are claiming that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. They have not read the Bible. Homosexual behavior, and other sexual aberrations, are viewed seriously by the Lord. They will bring God's judgment on those who participate in such acts.
The third practice has to do with those who are sexually active but refuse to have children. The Bible says younger women are to bear children. The Bible states further that a woman shall be saved in childbearing. This means that in the process of training up a child in the righteous ways of the Lord, the character of the mother is changed until she is worthy of the Kingdom of God (saved).
Notice that the three practices I have just mentioned are designed to prevent the birth of children. These actions are of Satan, who wishes to prevent the coming of people into the world who might be a threat to his kingdom, and also to show his hatred of God.
Jesus told us that many who are last in time shall be of first rank in the Kingdom of God. Satan understands this, and, as he did when the greatest of all Rulers was to be born, will try to kill all the children so the rulers of the Kingdom cannot be brought into the world.
The fourth practice which bring God's judgment on the individual concerns drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes. These defile the human body, which is the temple of the Spirit of God. God warned us He will destroy those who destroy His temple.
To those who would argue that drugs of these kind may be beneficial, let us reply by saying that any material that interferes with the working of our central nervous system prevents our being fully prepared to respond to the Holy Spirit. We are vulnerable to spiritual motivations which are not of the Lord. The victorious saint keeps himself free of all that would weaken his or her spiritual discernment and strength.
We are not living 200 years ago. We are living in the year 2006. Available sin is increasing in America and Divine judgment is on the way. In the future it will be nearly impossible for a human being to resist the moral temptations that Satan will be permitted to introduce. Only the fervent, cross-carrying disciple will be able to say no to such temptations.
Because of the increasing moral corruption of the American people there shall be troubles of various kinds. We Americans are soft. If it comes to pass that serving Christ will mean that we suffer in some manner, it is likely that the majority of today's "believers" will chose to return to the world for survival, security, and comfort.
If our young people are to be armed adequately so they can stand against what they certainly will be facing in the near future, they must be taught the necessity for praying each day; reading the Bible each day; and obeying the Lord in every detail of life.
Because of the current false definition of "grace," it often is true that the young people believe they can sin and still be accepted by the Lord. Their leaders are bringing them down to destruction, telling them that God loves them too much to permit them to suffer.
Suffering is ahead for them, even if they do not succumb to sin. Even the righteous will be saved with difficulty. The suffering will purify them and make them stronger Christians, if they will pray without ceasing.
But the young church member of today who is partaking of the things of the world, indulging in immoral behavior, watching the filthy Hollywood productions, living like the rest of the world, will fall away in the days to come, losing whatever eternal life he or she once possessed.
I know there are Christian teachers who say we cannot lose our eternal life once we are "saved." They are mistaken. Eternal life is the Life of God. It simply will not remain in someone who is behaving sinfully.
The four practices listed above were put into my mind clearly, early Sunday morning as I stated previously. They were so clear, and remained so clear, that I told the young people Sunday to regard them as though I were prophesying to them. They really were a "thus saith the Lord" to the young people of Mount Zion Fellowship in Poway, California.
My hope is that our new youth pastor and his co-workers, will keep reminding our young people of the four areas of concern until avoiding them is second nature to them.
Six Aspects of the Kingdom of God
We often speak of going to Heaven, although this expression is not found in the Bible, to my knowledge. Perhaps we can be more specific concerning the destiny of the saints. There are at least six specific aspects of our goal that we can focus on, while the term "heaven" may refer to the entire spirit world, part of which is good and part evil.
Of course, there is no problem with using the term "Heaven" to refer to the area where the Father, Christ, saints, and holy angels reside. The word is used in this manner in the Bible. It may be true, however, that as we approach the end of the age and the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, there are specific parts of our destiny that are being pointed out to us. All are scriptural.
In an attempt to make the parts easy to remember I have used the letter "p":
The internal palace.
The external palace.
An understanding of these aspects of our inheritance may help us in our daily walk in Christ.
The first area of understanding is that of our "position" in Christ. Perhaps many believers are not fully conscious of their position in the Lord. The truth is, when we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, Christ is born in us. There is a new personality in us. This new "firstfruits," we might say, of our new Kingdom personality immediately is caught up to the right hand of God. There is Christ we are above all other authoritative personages.
We have been born in Christ at the right hand of God, we might say. An awareness of our position in Christ may be helpful in the last days. It seems evident that Satan increasingly is being forced down into the earth. As he is, he will attempt to frighten us away from doing God's will.
But if we are aware that in Christ we have been raised higher than any other authoritative personage in the spirit world, we will not be frightened by Satan. Rather we will keep our attention focused on Christ. He then will deal with Satan. Christ has vastly more authority and power than is true of Satan. When we are resting in Christ we partake of that Divine protection.
So when we speak of going to Heaven, we need to realize we already have been placed at the right hand of God in Christ. Now our task it to maintain our place, our crown of righteousness and life. It is possible to be lured down from our high place in God, particularly is there if any form or rebellion or disobedience in us. We have been warned lest another take our crown!
The second unfolding understanding concerns our purpose in existence. From the beginning of the world, God decided what our role in His Kingdom is to be. Then, in God's time we were brought into the world. Our prime effort in life is to fight our way into our proper role, our proper place in Christ. Numerous enemies will seek to turn us aside.
The thesis of the Book of Hebrews is that of entering the "rest" of God, that is, into the purpose for our life that was decided on the sixth day of creation. After our purpose was decided, God rested. We are to enter that purpose, that rest.
The fact that we are seeking to enter that which already has been decided upon should have a total impact upon the manner in which we live our life. Are we endeavoring to do and become what we think desirable, or are we looking to the Lord Jesus every moment to find out what God's will is for us?
It is easy to come short of God's plan for us. It is difficult to maintain an attitude of battle and discipline until we can look up to Christ in complete confidence that we are doing exactly that which God foreordained we should do.
We see, then, that we already are in the highest heaven in Christ, and our role in the Kingdom has been decided. So when we say we want to go to Heaven, what are we really saying? Perhaps we should instead announce that we are resting in Christ, in God's perfect will, at the right hand of God in the highest of all heavens.
The third "p" is that of the internal "palace." This is a somewhat contrived way of saying that the Kingdom of God is God in Christ making His eternal home, His palace, in us. Here is an important part of our inheritance. We have been created that we might be the eternal dwelling place, the throne, of God and of the Lamb.
Each one of us is to get off the throne of our personality and install God and Christ there. When They are satisfied that we will always do God's will perfectly, in every detail, They then will permit us to sit with Them on the throne of our own personality. Thus They and we shall share the same palace for eternity.
The fourth "p" is the external palace in which we will reside with God and the Lamb. The external palace could be termed the "headquarters." The Kingdom of God has a headquarters. During the thousand-year Kingdom age, God's headquarters will be at Jerusalem on the present earth. During the new heaven and earth reign of God and Christ, the headquarters will be the new Jerusalem. The headquarters of the Kingdom of God always will be Jerusalem.
The Book of Hebrews refers to the headquarters of the Kingdom of God in the following manner:
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
It is interesting, isn't that, that we already are at the right hand of God; we already are entering the rest of God each day; we already are inviting God and the Lamb to sit on the throne of our personality; and we already have come to the external palace, the headquarters of the Kingdom of God.
What "p" remains? Paradise. Jesus said to the thief, "This day you shall be with me in Paradise." The Apostle Paul was caught up to Paradise. The Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, is still in the Paradise of God.
Mankind was created in the Paradise of God. It is the one part of our inheritance that we do not have as yet. We want to go there when we die, don't we? We refer to Paradise as "Heaven."
Somehow we remember Paradise in our subconscious mind. This probably is the reason we enjoy flowers and trees. When we think of "Heaven" we think of a beautiful garden in which there is love, joy, and peace, as in the beginning.
Our hope of Heaven is not an idle hope. Paradise is one of the important aspects of our inheritance.
But when you think about it, our position at the right hand of God in Christ is actually more important to us than being in a garden. So is finding the place God has marked out for us. So is the dwelling of God and Christ in us. So is our place in Jerusalem, the headquarters from which the Lamb governs.
Given the supreme importance of the first four "p's," we ought to pay serious attention to them. Paradise is nothing more than environment. But the first four aspects merit our serious consideration.
Actually there is a sixth "p" that is an extremely important part of our inheritance in the Kingdom of God. The sixth "p" is "people. Our relationship to God and Christ is of supreme importance. Our relationship to people is next in importance.
When our relationship to God and Christ has been fully and firmly established, God will give us some people as part of our inheritance. God will bring us into union with them to the same extent we are in union with Him through Christ. This may seem impossible, but it is what Christ prayed for.
We cannot at the present time fully appreciate the value of the inheritance of people. But at the appropriate hour, God will open our eyes, as it were, and we will see the ineffable splendor of what has been prepared for those who love God and do His will from the heart.
Love for God and love for other people. All else relatively is insignificant.
So let us continue patiently until we finish our course. He who endures to the end shall be saved. Being saved means being brought into the fullness of position; the fullness of purpose; the fullness of the indwelling of God; the fullness of our place in Headquarters; and the full blessing of a beautiful environment.
Best of all, however, is to experience God's love in Christ as it flows out from us toward other people. Such a life of outpouring love is the grandest of all heavens.
The Message of the Two Witnesses
Two witnesses will prepare the world for the coming of the Kingdom of God. The two witnesses are Christ and His victorious saints. They will be anointed with a double portion of the Holy Spirit, the two "olive trees." The two olive trees speak symbolically of the "two anointed ones who are standing by the Lord the whole earth." These are Elijah and Elisha.
The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation does not tell us what the message of the two witnesses will be. However, we know from the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew that they will preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to every nation as a witness.
The Book of Malachi tells us of a special aspect of the message of the two witnesses. Remember, Christ and His saints will be anointed with the spirit of Elijah, as well as that of Elisha. Malachi tells us that Elijah will turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the hearts of the children to their parents."
As part of our American culture we have what is known as a "generation gap." The "generation gap" means that the youth of our country are deriving their values, attitudes, and approval from people of their own age rather than from older people. This "gap" comes from Satan.
By separating the youth from their parents and elders, Satan hopes to lead them to moral, physical, and emotional destruction. He is succeeding in this, as we notice the "freak" dancing in the high-school proms, in "My Space" on the Internet, and in the willingness of young people to be led into error by the teachers of evolution and promoters of homosexual behavior.
Notice, in Malachi, that first the hearts of the parents must be turned to their children. The nature of the American culture is such that the parents are consumed with the problem of making enough money to pursue the "American dream." There often is not enough time, strength, or desire to sit down each day and hear about how school went, troubles with the boyfriend or girlfriend, or some other issue which may bore the adult but is central in the thinking of the young person.
Also, the adults often are too proud to admit that they have been unjust in their demands or incorrect in their conclusions. If the heart of the adult is to be turned to the young person, and the young person to the adult, each must be willing to admit when he is wrong. Each must be reasonable, recognizing that God wants the family unified.
Extremely difficult times are coming to the United States. Soon it will not be like it is today, where families are busily occupied with Christmas presents and with deciding whether to have turkey or ham for the Christmas meal. When the day of trouble arrives, only true disciples of the Lord Jesus will be able to survive spiritually, and perhaps physically, and be able to assist other people.
The young person who decides to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus must derive his or her values, attitudes, and approval from Christ, from his or her parents, and from the elders of his or her church. Sometimes parents are not as approachable as could be desired. In that instance the youngster must find Christ for himself or herself and walk with Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ has sent the spirit of Elijah, the spirit of power and prophecy, to the American family today. Christ is demanding that the parents return to their children and the children to their parents. This is going to require trust, love, patience, understanding, and humility on the part of both parents and children. We cannot afford any longer to be satisfied with a youth culture, within or outside of the church. There is no such thing as a Christian youth culture. This is to make young people an incomprehensible species to which older people cannot relate. It is destructive. It is of Satan.
We cannot correct all Christian families, but we can ask God to help us with our own family. Some Christian adults dominate their children, slapping them when they try to speak their mind, or driving them from the house when they disapprove of what the young person is doing or saying. This behavior has got to stop! No one is benefited, ordinarily, when the youngster is slapped or driven from the house. If this takes place, the young person will turn to people his own age for counsel, and that counsel most likely will be destructive.
We adults are busy making a living so we can support our family. But we may be so busy our young people are being destroyed while we are endeavoring to support them.
It absolutely is imperative that each parent learn what his child is doing on the Internet, with "My Space" or on a chat room. We might think of this as silly, boring, or beneath our dignity. But the Internet may be where your child is getting his or her values. It is your responsibility to find out what your youngster is doing on the Internet, and everywhere else. To not find out is to turn your child over to Satan, to the destroyer.
"Turn the hearts of the parents to their children." This is the Lord's command for the days prior to His return.
At night I spoke about John 14:1-6. This may be the best known of all New Testament passages, and the least understood.
Christ was a carpenter, but He is not building fancy houses for us in Heaven. Christ Himself is the House of God. In Him there are many rooms. He wants us to be with Him where He always is, that is, at the right hand of the Father.
If one will read John 14:2-23 he will discover that the subject of this chapter is not the second coming of Christ in the clouds of Heaven. Rather it is about Christ coming to make His home in the saint, bringing His Father with Him.
As Paul tells us, because our life now is hidden with Christ in God at the right hand of the Father, we must place our affections, our interests, our hopes, our desires, our treasures, our dreams, our attention, in the heavenlies with Christ.
When we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, not just going through a religious formula, our new born-again inner nature is raised in Christ and seated with Him at the Father's right hand, on the very highest of all thrones. This is our position for eternity. From then on, Satan will employ every device know to him to pull us down from our high place in God, just as Sanballat attempted to call down Nehemiah from the wall.
In the days in which we live, only the most resolute disciple will be able to maintain his place in Christ at God's right hand. Every conceivable temptation, threat, and perversity will be brought against us so we will step down and live as a fleshly human being in the present world rather than as a son of God who has been raised with Christ.
Some of the highest ranks in the Kingdom have been reserved for the last days, because it is in the present hour, as Antichrist increasingly becomes manifest, that God's heroes of faith will fight through to total victory.
You can be one of those who bear the double portion of anointing and bear witness during the closing days of the Church Age, meanwhile maintaining your place at God's right hand until Christ has been fully formed in you. You can do it, whether you are young or old. Christ will bring you to total victory, but you must deny yourself each day, bear your personal cross faithfully and patiently, and obey Christ sternly throughout each day and night.
Will you do it? Christ, and a multitude of people, some not born as yet, will be affected by your decision!
The Disciple and the New Covenant
This Sunday I spoke in the morning about the difference between a mere church-attender, and a disciple of Jesus Christ, and at night about the new covenant. These two ideas are related. I had a nice row of young people on the front rows. I am anxious to establish the youngsters in true Christian discipleship, because the days to come in America are going to be difficult spiritually and physically.
There really are two kinds of saved people mentioned in the New Testament. The first kind are those who are saved from destruction. Whoever receives Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and then is baptized in water, will be saved from destruction in the Day of Judgment and brought forward to life on the new earth. Whoever refuses to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior is lost to the Presence and redemptive operations of God. To be saved is to be part of the Kingdom of God.
But the great bulk of the New Testament is written to God's elect, the saints (holy ones), those who have been called out of the world to be specially close to God, just as was true of the nation of Israel of the Old Testament.
The elect also shall be saved from destruction in the Day of Judgment, but they are called to be disciples. This means they must deny themselves, put Christ above their relatives, friends, and their own life, take up their personal cross of pain and imprisonment, and follow Jesus Christ each day of their life.
These are the members of the royal priesthood. They are disciples. They are God's elect, chosen from the foundation of the world to serve the nations of saved people as rulers and representatives of God and the Lamb.
It is interesting to note in the Old Testament that when one of God's leaders was in charge, such as Moses, or Joshua, the people obeyed the Lord. But as soon as Joshua died, the people milled around in confusion, not destroying the inhabitants of Canaan but inter-marrying with them and worshiping their idols.
So it will be true in the ages to come. If order is to prevail, if Paradise is to be maintained, there must be strong, righteous rulers who are sternly obedient to God. They will govern mankind for eternity.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
I am terming this briefest of essays "The Disciple and the New Covenant." This is because the new covenant, the only Christian covenant, is about discipleship, not about being saved, as we use the term "saved" meaning to go to Heaven when we die. The new covenant, found in chapter Eight and Ten of the Book of Hebrews, is about writing the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart.
Each disciple of Jesus Christ must have the eternal moral law of God written in his or her heart and mind—in his mind so he will understand it; in his heart so he will be rejoice in it and be willing to perform every aspect of it.
I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8)
The verse above is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. It must be true also of every disciple, every member of the royal priesthood.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life. He also is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the eternal moral law of God. It is the Word of God in judgment.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. He is the eternal moral law of God made flesh. He does by nature that which pleases God. He abhors and rejects by nature that which does not please God.
The new covenant is the forming of Christ in us. The new covenant is the forming of the eternal moral law of God in our heart and mind. The end result of the working of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is a disciple who has become a new creation. He himself, the new creation, is the eternal covenant of God to the people of the world. Through his life and words he reveals what behavior will bring the blessing of God on a person, and what behavior will bring the curse of God on a person. Each saint, each person called to be a holy one, is the covenant of God with mankind.
The disciple does not think of himself merely as someone who has been saved from wrath and who will go to the spirit paradise when he dies. Rather, he is a person who each day is having the eternal moral law of God written in his mind and heart. He is having Christ, who Himself is the New Covenant, formed in him.
What must the disciple, the one learning from the Master, do each day to insure that the eternal moral law is being written in his mind and heart?
First, he must receive Christ so that the Seed of God is deposited in his personality. When the Seed of God has come to maturity, it will be in the exact moral image of the Lord Jesus Christ. After that, the physical body of the new creation will be changed so that it is like the body of Christ. Thus the new man shall resemble Christ in internal character and in external form.
Now it is time for the Seed to grow. How is the disciples to take care of this Seed and nourish it; because otherwise the Seed will bear no lasting fruit, the fruit of the moral image of Christ?
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)
Here is what each of us must do if we are to have Christ formed in us:
Pray each day.
Read the Bible each day.
Obey Christ's commands, found in the New Testament and also given to us personally.
Confess and renounce any sin we are committing.
Praise God and rejoice in Him at all time and under all circumstances, as much as we are able.
Gather with fervent disciples on a regular basis.
Be ministered to, and minister our gifts as the Holy Spirit enables.
Give of our substance.
Forgive everyone without exception.
Look to Christ for every decision we make throughout the day.
Cultivate the Presence of Christ, talking to Him throughout the day and night.
Put on the whole armor of God, as found in the sixth chapter of the Book of Ephesians.
Add to our faith the virtues found in the first chapter of Second Peter that we may partake of the Divine Nature.
Deny ourselves and put Jesus first in all things.
Carry our cross patiently.
Love not our life to the death, if it proves necessary.
Work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.
In the evening service we also discussed Heaven. The Heaven we want to go to is found in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. The amazing fact is that we already are here in Heaven. It is not a case of our waiting to die to go to Heaven. Rather we are to live in Heaven, as God has appointed each of His elect.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,To Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
The above is the "Heaven" in which each of God's elect is to live forever. We won't "go there" when we die. We already are here.
We have come to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God.
We now are part of the church of the Firstborn, the Lord Jesus Christ and our name is written in Heaven.
We have come to God. Jesus is the way to God.
We have come to the spirits of righteous people made perfect.
We have come to Jesus, who Himself is the New Covenant, as we have described.
We have come to the sprinkled blood which keeps us holy in God's sight, and does not accuse us of murder.
As we consider what has been written above we may note that there is a huge difference, a difference in kind, between the individual who has professed faith in Christ in the hope he will not be destroyed in the Day of Judgment, and the individual who has denied himself, put the Lord Jesus above everything else in his life, and is patiently following Jesus each day, bearing his personal cross—the cross that will destroy his self-centeredness and place God and Christ on the throne of his life.
Hopefully this Sunday's message will inspire many boys and girls, young people, and older people, to attend to the writing of God's law in their heart and mind so they can become the new covenant of God to the people of the world.
The Nature of Eternal Life
It appears to me that the main subject of the New Testament is eternal life. The Lord Jesus came to bring us eternal life, the Life that He Himself is. But we have made the primary subject of the New Testament eternal residence in Heaven. There is no scriptural support for this change in emphasis. Emphasizing residence in Heaven instead of eternal life as the goal of redemption may seem harmless and unimportant, but it leads us astray from what God actually is doing in His plan of redemption.
What is eternal life?
Is eternal life residence in Heaven? No, it is not.
Is eternal life endless existence? No, it is not. It seem unclean spirits and wicked people have endless existence, but they do not have eternal life.
Eternal life is the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is eternal Life, because His Spirit is One with God's Spirit. It is God's will that each believer become part of that same Oneness, such that he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with the Lord.
Man was formed from the dust of the ground. He remains dust until his spirit is one with the Lord, until He is filled with the eternal Divine Life.
When we first are saved we receive a portion of eternal life, a down payment on what God wishes us to have in full measure.
After we are sealed with the Spirit, receiving the down payment, how do we proceed to gain more eternal life?
We have to lay hold on eternal life. If we are to eat of the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, we have to "overcome." This means we have to choose to do the Lord's will every time we are tempted to follow the world spirit, or the lusts of our flesh, or our own will instead of God's.
Every time we choose to do go God's way, praying for wisdom and strength to do so, we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of Christ. His eternal Life is contained in His body and blood. They are eternal Life. They are the resurrection. It is Christ's body and blood in us that will lift us to meet the slain Lamb in the air at His appearing.
Eternal life increases in us as we increase in holiness. We increase in holiness, in spiritual cleanliness, as we choose to be the slave of righteousness. After we believe in Christ and are baptized in water, we must decide whether we wish to be the slave of sin, or the slave of righteousness. When we choose to be the slave of righteousness we increase in spiritual cleanliness. The result of spiritual cleanliness is eternal Divine Life.
We must continue each day and night to choose to do God's will. As we do this, eternal life increases in us. We continually graze on Christ's body and blood, we may say. If we persist in this practice the day will come when the Father and Christ establish Their throne in us. Then we will be a life-giving Spirit, just as our Lord is. We will be able to nourish the nations of saved people who will be living on the present earth during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then on the new earth. The Spirit and the Bride will say to them, "Come!"
People will need to come and partake of our life so they will not become weak in the areas of righteousness, love, joy, and peace.
It may be noted in the New Testament that we have eternal life now. It is true also that we will inherit more eternal life, a crown of life, if we pursue Christ until we die.
Eternal life is not a place to which we go. Eternal life is in us. I John tells us that no one who hates his brother has eternal life in him. By this we understand that a hateful believer has no eternal life, although he may think he does as a result of "accepting Christ."
The Apostle John speaks of that Eternal Life who was with the Father and now has been revealed to us. Thus Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life, in that the Spirit of God dwells in His fullness in Christ. Christ is Christ, the Anointed One. We are members of the Body of Christ, of the Anointed One. Thus we are to become, as He is, a life-giving spirit. This precisely is what we will be when the Father and the Son make Their eternal dwelling place in us.
The Lord Jesus Christ serves God as a priest, living by the power of an endless life. So it is true that each member of the royal priesthood shall serve God by the power of an endless life.
Christ told us that all who are in the grave shall hear His voice and come forth. Some shall be raised to eternal life. Some shall be raised to judgment and condemnation because they behaved wickedly on the earth.
Each of us believers must give serious thought to the goal of being raised to eternal life. We are dust. Each day God gives us an opportunity to gain some eternal life, as we keep on choosing to overcome the forces of sin that come against us. If we persevere in our quest for life, we will be raised to life when He appears. Our mortal body then shall be filled with eternal resurrection life. How utterly glorious!
But if we as a Christian choose instead to follow the world, our fleshly lusts, and our self-will, we shall remain dust. We were born in corruption and have chosen to live in corruption. In the Day of Resurrection we shall be raised in corruption, the corruption of the sinful nature. What will be our destiny then? Only the Lord Jesus Christ will decide in that Day.
There is a persistent, pervasive error in Christian thinking. It is that our belief in Christ saves us. The truth is, unless we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ, we do not believe in Him. We acknowledge Him, perhaps. We give mental assent to the facts concerning Christ. But this is not eternal life. The demons know Christ is the Holy One of God, but they do not have eternal life.
The concept of belief saving us comes from the fact that the Apostle Paul, in his effort to prove to the Jews that righteousness is possible apart from the Law of Moses, stressed that Abraham believed what God had told him. Abraham was declared righteous because He believed God.
In our confusion we understand this to mean that somehow belief itself has a mystical power. This concept may be found in Christian Science, in Hinduism (I think), and in "the power of positive thinking." The "prosperity" and "faith" doctrines depend upon the metaphysical power of belief to accomplish their objectives.
The truth is, it was not Abraham's belief that made him righteous. It was the fact that belief was what God required at that time. It was the obedience to God, the true faith in God, that resulted in righteousness.
On other occasions God spoke of Abraham's righteous behavior, and finally tested Abraham to the limit by requiring that he offer Isaac. It was not Abraham's belief that he was to offer Isaac that brought the Kingdom promises made to him, it was Abraham's obedience. We can be sure that if Abraham had refused to offer Isaac, he no longer would have been considered righteous.
The only response on our part that brings righteousness is obedience to the will of God, whether found in the Bible or spoken to us personally. Head belief never, never, never is a substitute for obedience.
Since current Evangelicalism depends on belief as our appropriate response to the plan of redemption, it is grossly misleading.
Jesus told us the work of God is to believe in Christ. We conclude that if we agree that Christ is God's son, we will be saved. But true belief is the work that God requires on one occasion. On another occasion it may be an action of some sort. So the correct response to God always and forever is obedience, not a mere acknowledgment of thelogical truth. What an error this is!
We are given to eat from the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, when we obey God by overcoming the dark forces arrayed against us.
Our change from the life of the soul to the life of the Spirit must be taking place today. Such change does not take place by virtue of the fact that we have died and entered the spirit world. One can be in the spirit world and have no eternal life!
The only source of eternal life, the Divine, incorruptible, resurrection life that comes from the Father, is Christ Himself. As we draw near to Him we are drawing near to eternal life. As He is formed in us, the Resurrection and the Life are formed in us. As we possess Him we possess eternal life. This is true whether we are alive on the earth or alive in the spirit world.
Christ is the only Tree of Life in the present hour. However, there will be more trees of life as believers press forward into the fullness of Christ.
The way is narrow and the path difficult to pursue that lead to life. Few find it. The Apostle Paul made striving to attain to the resurrection that is unto eternal life his primary goal.
Walking With God
The difference between religion and eternal life is that religion usually does not look to the Lord for direction and fellowship. Religion is presented in the Book of Revelation as "Babylon the Great." Eternal life, on the other hand, lives and behaves in close interaction with the living Lord Jesus. It walks with Him and talks with Him, like Enoch. Religion stresses its "Statement of Faith" and its practices. Eternal life emphasizes walking with Jesus.
The utter simplicity of what God expects of us has dawned on me. Our Creator, our Father, asks only that we behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.
The simplicity of this astounds me. I have been a fervent Christians for 61 years. Like all of us, I have been confronted with numerous problems, temptations, complexities. There is this and there is that! So many voices in the world.
But I have kept plugging along, repenting and making restitution when I have been deceived. At the present time I am in a broad place with the Lord, enjoying His Presence.
I have noticed several times how religions of various sorts, including the Christian religion, talk about God but do not listen to Him. We have our sermons, our responsive readings, our hymns, our choir selections, our special music, our giving, our building. But we tend to ask God to bless our efforts rather than to ask Him what He wants. Perhaps we don't believe He will talk to us or make His desires known.
As far as I can tell, the Christian religion began when Peter exclaimed, "Let us build three tabernacles." The Bible says he did not know what he was saying. So it is true that religion in numerous instances does not know what it is doing or saying.
In ancient times people said, "Let us build a tower to heaven." "Let us build three tabernacles." How much better it would be to say, "Should we build a tower to heaven?"; "Should we build three tabernacles?"
Notice in the account of the transfiguration that Christ did not answer Peter. This is because the Lord does not intrude on our plans. He waits patiently until we come to an end of our own works—if we ever do!
It is so simple! It is so utterly simple to walk with God!
Religion cries out: "Work, work, build, build, build, give, give, give. The King's business requires haste. Souls are sliding into Hell. We must rush to the aid of a lost and dying world!"
Jesus says, "Follow Me, and I will make you a fisher of men." Not "Go fish!" "Follow Me. My yoke is easy. My burden is light."
A teacher in Bible school told us this means Christ's burden is light, as opposed to darkness. It means light as opposed to heavy.
How many passages of the Scriptures does religion twist to its own ambitions. "The wages of sin is death," we preach, meaning that the unsaved will die unless they "accept Christ." The context of the statement means that if believers who are baptized in water continue to be the slaves of sin they will die spiritually. "God gave us His Son so we will go to Heaven and not Hell," we announce. But the Bible proclaims that God gave us His Son so we will not perish but have eternal life. Not the same thing at all!
There are numerous religions in the world today. The two that seem to be in the most direct confrontation are the Muslim and the Christian. Both look to their written sources for direction. Neither one to any observable extent claims to hear from the Lord.
Jesus Christ wants us to practice His Presence at all times. "He walks with me and He talks with me," the old hymn says. This is what Christ wants.
Do you have a particular problem right now? Are you worrying about it? Are you endeavoring to solve it by you own wisdom and strength?
Why don't you, instead, go to prayer and pray until you know the Lord has heard you. I think it is First John that says if we know He hears us we know we have the petition.
Do you know how to wait in prayer until you have the assurance that Christ has heard you? If not, you have a great adventure and joy ahead of you. You can pray until you strike fire. Then you can't pray anymore. All you can do is praise God.
I know we say we go by faith and not feeling. This is an ignorant statement. The opposite of faith is unbelief, not feeling. If you have no feeling that accompanies your walk with the Lord, it is time to get busy and pray for a personal encounter with Christ.
David prayed that God would not take the joy of his salvation from him, and David was not born again. God will give you love, joy, and peace if you will keep following Christ.
You can know that Christ is with you. If you will acknowledge Christ in all your ways, I said, in all your ways, He will direct your paths and make them straight.
But many of us are too busy to pray. Everyone knows at the holiday season there is no time to get alone and pray until we know God has heard us.
The reason Christian people become deceived is because they don't bear their personal cross faithfully and they do not pray and read their Bible faithfully.
Take every decision of your life to Jesus. Ask for guidance. Begin the moment your eyes open in the morning. You probably will make a thousand decisions during the day, one or two great decisions, the rest minor. Ask Christ about every step you take. Practice His Presence. Seek continual fellowship with Him.
As you make a practice of going to the Lord about everything, you will become more aware of Him. There may be seasons of perplexity, pain, misunderstandings. Do not let any of this deter you from your quest for Christ. It is important that various aspects of your personality be dealt with. Sometimes God's dealings are not pleasant.
But they all are designed to bring us to the place where, like Enoch, we can walk with God until we are ripe for fellowship with God in Heaven.
Being Born Again
What happens when we are born again? Why is it necessary to be born again in order to enter the Kingdom of God? If we are to answer this question, we must realize we are born with a rebellious soul. We are in the image of God in that we have a spirit and soul, but our soul is distorted. Consequently our spirit is distorted, because our spirit reflects our soul.
Our play, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, was the big event of the morning. At night I taught about the need to convert our soul into the image of God. We must realize that when we die and pass into the spirit world, there will be no change in our soul. Our soul is what we are. It is our unique identity. There is none other like it in the universe.
What our soul is, is what we will be like when observed by others in the spirit world. In the present hour we can conceal what we are; but after we die the nature of our soul will be evident to God and people.
If during the present life we have been faithful in obeying God, our soul will be in His image. Then upon death we will ascend to be with similar souls, in the Paradise of God. But if we have not been faithful in obeying God, our soul not having been changed from its original fallen state, it is my opinion we will be placed with others with a soul like ours. I derive this thought from the Old Testament teaching that the Lord does not like mixtures. He wants His way made straight.
I do not say that all misshapen souls will be cast into Hell or the Lake of Fire. It is my belief that people will have a chance to learn and grow spiritually after death. But at some point they must receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Master. If they refuse to receive the rulership of Christ and His saint, insisting upon living their own life as they see fit, their destiny will be to exist in perpetual darkness as a wandering star, a spirit kept apart from God and His blessing.
This is only reasonable. If we pass into the spirit world with a misshapen soul, we would not be comfortable with the refined souls of those who have been walking with the Lord. We would be more at home with souls like ourselves.
Our soul is our moral personality. That is, it is our soul that makes moral judgments. In our soul we decide whether or not we are going to obey God. If we do not seek to live a righteous life in Christ, our soul remains in its original rebellious form. "Accepting Christ" does not change this. How many people have "accepted Christ" but never have learned to do Christ's will every moment of every day? Christ is our Lord and Master. God wants us to "hear Him." If we do not obey Christ, our soul remains misshapen, not in God's image, even though we profess faith in Christ.
God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 6:2-8)
The above passage includes "each person," including those who have "accepted Christ."
Some believers insist we will be changed "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." But they are deriving this belief from the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the "Resurrection Chapter." The instantaneous change that will occur at the coming of the Lord is in our body only. Our soul cannot be changed instantaneously. If it could, God is wasting time teaching us so many lessons of obedience throughout our lifetime on the earth.
Physical death will not change our soul. What our soul is, it is. When we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Master, the Divine Seed, Christ, is planted in our soul. Each day after that we must receive Christ as our Lord and Master. We must pray each day and read our Bible. We must gather with fervent saints (if we can find any). We give, serve, and do all else that is part of the Christian discipleship. Above all, we must obey Christ sternly and completely. We must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow our Lord and Master at all times.
During our pilgrimage we will be faced with numerous temptations, difficulties, dangers, desires to act in a manner contrary to Christ. Christ is teaching us to respond as a lamb to those who harm us. Therefore we must pray without ceasing, overcoming through Christ all of the ungodly temptations that beset us. If we do not, we soon shall be deceived.
It is only those who are living in victory who continually are being given to eat from the Tree of Life, which is Jesus Christ Himself.
As we walk in obedience to the Lord, Christ is being formed in our soul. If you can picture it, it is as though our soul is misshapen and a balloon is placed inside of it. As the balloon is pumped full of air (eternal life), it expands. As it expands, the distortions in our soul are leveled out. Eventually Christ fills our soul and it is in the image of God. Then our spirit is one with God's Spirit.
The soul that sins lives in spiritual death, separated from God. The salvation that is in Christ Jesus accomplishes several works of redemption. First of all, it enables us to live in God's Presence without guilt. Second, it converts our soul into the image of God. We cannot go to be with the Lord and enjoy fellowship with Him and His saints on the basis of forgiveness alone. Our soul must be transformed into the image of God's soul. Then we can become one with Him and live in the center of His will in untroubled rest.
To be born again is to have a new creation formed as our soul—a new soul, as it were—is brought into being. It is a new, unique creation. It is a blend of Christ and us. We are living. Yet we are not living. It is Christ who is living in us. Yet, it still is us! It is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things have become new and are of God.
Our soul is the source of our moral judgments. As Christ is formed in us, the eternal moral law of God is written on our heart and mind. Now by nature we embrace that which is pleasing to God, and of His will, and utterly renounce and reject that which is not pleasing to God, which is not of His perfect will. And this at all times, in every circumstance, for eternity! This is what it means to be born again. This is the Kingdom of God which we enter when we are born again.
We used to speak about "praying through." I haven't heard that expression in a long time. Have you? Maybe the emphasis on "name it and claim it," the idea that we can "speak the word of faith" has done away with the need to pray until we strike fire. Or the reason may be that the old Pentecostal custom of "tarrying for the Holy Spirit" no longer is practiced in many Pentecostal churches. Whatever the reason, the idea of praying until we know God has heard us doesn't appear to have many proponents in these days. What we have in place of praying through is plans, plans, and more plans. I think we are chopping with a dull axe!
Well, this is the last time I will preach this year. The Lord gave me two burdens for our assembly this morning. Both are found in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans. One is the idea that we are not to be conformed to the present world. We are to present our body a living sacrifice.
The second burden is that each one of us is to have a gift or gifts by which we can minister to the needs of the members of the Body of Christ.
In order for us to experience both of these biblical exhortations we are going to have to pray more. And we aren't going to do enough praying until we learn how to pray long enough to strike fire. By this I mean, we pray until we know the Lord has heard us. When we break through, we cannot pray anymore. We know our answer is in the bank of Heaven.
If you never have had the joy of praying through, you don't know what you are missing. Once you really break through with the Lord, you will get hooked on prayer. Your daily prayer time will be the highlight of your day.
I said Sunday morning, and I will repeat it, that if we are not praying and grazing in God's Word for at least an hour each day, we are not going to survive spiritually in 2007. We are going to be deceived in one manner or another, perhaps into becoming angry with people in the church. Or, it may be in the area of sexual lust, or stealing, or whatever.
You and I are not going to make it if we don't set aside time each day to pray until we hear from the Lord.
I know we are too busy. Then we have to pray that God will arrange our schedule until we have time to talk to Him and listen to Him. If we don't do this, we simply are not going to survive spiritually in 2007. How do we present our body a living sacrifice? We do it by making our lazy, cowardly, lustful body stop what it is doing and wait while we seek the Lord. Our body is our enemy. Our natural mind is our enemy. They will fight us all the time so we won't spend time dealing with the invisible God. By the way, when we spend enough time in prayer we will find He is not as invisible as we may have imagined.
God wants us to walk with Jesus all the time. Practice righteousness, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. All of our religious practices are second in importance to walking with Jesus in a personal way.
Also, we need to be careful of how much we partake of the American destructive culture. We are in the world but we are not supposed to be of it. The endless flow of information, music, and entertainment is calculated to keep us in Satan's image. We need to spend more time in the Scriptures. Otherwise we are going to be conformed to the world. I think most American "Christians" already are conformed to the world and don't realize it. They never have denied themselves, taken up their cross, and set out to follow the Master as all times.
I believe also that most American believers have no idea what their spiritual gifts are. They suppose they are to work hard, make a living, and help support a pastor who lives a spiritual life on their behalf. Such have no understanding of the Body of Christ.
How are we going to find out what our gifts are? By praying until we hear from God!
I think many believers would like to have a gift of miracles, or healing, or discernment. I know I would, and am praying to that end. Also I have encouraged two other men in the church who are beginning to get serious about waiting on the Lord.
Do you remember the parable about the person who was so persistent in prayer that God finally "got out of bed" and gave him what he needed for his hungry friend? This is how we are to pray for the Holy Spirit, and for gifts of the Spirit. We are to keep it up until God answers in some manner. We need to reject the spirit of inevitability that says God will not give us a gift of healing. Jesus said we can ask what we will and it shall be done. But we talk ourselves out of it, believing that God already has exhausted the heavenly treasures. And anyway, we don't count!
People with needs come to us, don't they? Do we have enough of the Holy Spirit to meet their needs? Let's pray throughout 2007 until God hears us and supplies all the needs that come to us.
I know our church needs more of the Holy Spirit. We need the gifts of power operating among us. I for one believe God wants to bless us with every spiritual gift we want or need.
If He says no, it is because He has something even more wonderful in mind for us. But we won't find out about it until we pray through./
Our American culture is failing fast. As a boy I can remember a hit song: "Lookie, lookie, lookie, here comes Cookie, walking down the street." What is it today? Some kind of aberration called "Gangsta Rap." We Americans have been burned badly and we do not realize it. Whatever good there is in Hollywood, the fact remains it is producing Satan's standards for us to live by. There is no use fretting about Hollywood if we can't do anything about it. But we can make sure this massive sewer pipe is not emptying its dung and garbage into our front room.
The Lord told me one time the darkness in America is greater than I know. So it must be awful!
Most believers seem to be drifting along with the currents from the media, not realizing they are heading toward spiritual destruction.
We either are a disciple of Jesus or we are not. From what I see, it appears most church attenders do not know what a disciple is and do not intend to find out.
Well, all I can say is, if we don't get serious with God, pray through each day until we are hearing from Jesus, fill our minds with God Word instead of the abominable late-night television programs, we and our loved ones are going to be harmed spiritually, and perhaps physically, in the near future. We have no guarantee that God will protect us (even though we name the name of Christ) unless we are living under the shadow of the Almighty, that is, living in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ at all times and doing His will faithfully.