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.
Pressing Toward the Rest of God
No such congratulations are to be found. Rather, the Book of Hebrews is a book of warning. A warning concerning what? A warning concerning their lack of diligence in pressing toward the rest of God, toward the place where God could find rest in them.
Given the fact that they were saved and had been baptized with the Spirit, we might find it strange that the writer was cautioning them that they might not be made a partaker of Christ. We would not talk like this today, in many instances. We would say, or assume, that once people had been "saved," as we use the term, they were to live the Christian life to the best of their ability, spread the Gospel, and wait to die and go to Heaven. Obviously, we are coming short of the Lord's expectations concerning us.
Precisely what is this "rest of God," concerning which the writer exhorts us in the fourth chapter? The rest of God is our land of promise. It is the goal for which salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit prepares us.
As was true of Canaan, our land of promise, our "rest," is filled with enemies. As we attempt to please God, doing His will and resisting sin, many forces come against us. We are advised by other Christians that "no one is perfect"; "as long as we are in the world we have to sin"; "we are saved by grace so it is not necessary to overcome our sinful urges." We have our fallen nature to contend with. We in America are living in a demon-filled culture. Not only are the activities of Satan protected by our Constitution, but the continually expanding media is diverting and oppressing our minds until there is little or no time for waiting on the Lord.
God expects each one of us, living in the current manure pile, to ask God's help in setting aside time each day to pray and read God's Word. If we do not, the year 2007 will witness our spiritual destruction.
The Israelites shouted for the battle for forty days, but no one went forth to challenge Goliath. It is like this today. The Christians gather together and encourage one another to serve the Lord. But the Goliath of sin remains unchallenged.
I am not referring to the sin found in the world, I am speaking of the lust, lying, pride, spite, foolishness, drunkenness, love of pleasure, unforgiveness, malice, seeking preeminence, selfishness, and other idols and compulsions common among God's people. Goliath has convinced us that Jesus Christ will not or cannot make it possible for us to get rid of our sins, the urges in our personality that prevent God from finding rest in us, and us from living in peace in the center of God's will.
But we need faith, don't we, that total victory is possible. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. What does the New Testament say about victory over sin? Perhaps if we find out, we will go to Christ and claim victory over each and every enemy that is preventing our entering the rest of God.
Let me say in advance that the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans is not telling us the Christian is compelled to sin. The seventh chapter of Romans was written by Paul to Jews to remind them that the Law of Moses does not give us victory over sin.
Also, the common teaching "we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye" is referring only to the change from mortality to immortality of our body. It has nothing to do with the change of our inner nature, except for the fact that until Christ is formed in our inner nature we are not qualified or competent to experience the change in our body from mortality to immortality.
But does the New Testament indeed teach us that victory over sin is possible as well as necessary if we are to inherit the Kingdom of God?
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:12,13)
He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:8,9)
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, (Hebrews 10:26)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; Idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (I John 2:1)
When we sin we are to confess our sin and renounce it with all our might. When we do this, the Lord Jesus will forgive us and help us in the future so we do not practice the same behavior again.
We have not been perfected as yet, but we are to be perfect each day. That is, we are not to be continuing in a known sin. We are to go to Christ for victory. If we are so bound we still keep on sinning, we are to get other Christians to help us pray through to victory.
We are not to be continuing to sin. There is total victory in Jesus.
The Muslims are lied to when their leaders tell them they can murder innocent people and then go to Paradise when they die. The Christians are lied to when their leaders tell them they can continue in their casual approach to the Gospel of the Kingdom, and any minute now they will be caught up to Heaven to live forever in Paradise.
Both groups of people are being lied to by their leaders. It is up to both groups to go to God and find out what He is saying, because it will be a frightful experience to die and face an angry God because we murdered the innocent; or, in the case of the Christians, ignored our salvation by not pressing through to complete rest in the perfect will of God.
Some will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Others will hear, "Depart from Me. I never knew you because you did not walk with God in a righteous, merciful, humble manner.
Which will it be for me? Which will it be for you?
We studied the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews this morning. It is clear from this chapter that after we have been saved and have spoken in tongues, which was true of these Hebrews Christians, we still have not attained to the goal that has been set before us. In fact, we will not be a partaker of Christ until we persevere to the end of our discipleship.
The writer is telling us that God has set before us a "rest," as typified by Canaan. The Israelites, because of unbelief and disobedience, did not enter the rest of God. They did not become a "partaker of Christ," to speak in a figure.
The difficulties and hindrances experienced by the Israelites were thirst, a hostile environment in the wilderness through which they traveled on foot, wild animals, enemies, and other problems of every sort. These caused them to complain and rebel against the Lord.
Our difficulties, hindrances, and distractions are of a different kind. They are dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life, to use the Lord's words.
We have been exhorted, in the New Testament, to put our treasures in Heaven; to set our affection on things above. This means to become conscious of the spirit world and to take time to pray and read our Bible every day. But the American culture crushes the spiritual life out of us. It leaves little time for waiting on the Lord each day. Consequently we easily are deceived.
Unless we set aside at least an hour a day to wait on the Lord and meditate in the Scriptures, we are not going to stand spiritually during the coming days in America. If we do not have time because of our busy schedule, then we must ask Christ to make time for us, and to give us the desire and strength to pray. This absolutely is necessary, or we are going to fall spiritually before long.
God has set a "rest," a Canaan, before us. There are three major aspects of our Canaan, our inheritance. They are an eternal position in the heart of God such that we are living in untroubled rest in the center of His will; change into a personality identical to that of the Lord Jesus; and the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for our possession. We have to labor to enter into this rest because so many distractions keep us from following Christ as closely as we must if we are to enter our land of promise.
America is a very difficult environment in which to press into the rest of God. We are barraged with every sort of material wealth and luxury, and these keep us from the wonderful experience of living in Christ.
At night I stressed what must become the viewpoint of every disciple of the Lord. It is that all we are experiencing in this present world is a teaching-testing curriculum to see how we will behave when we die and become eligible for the true riches that the Lord has prepared for those who love Him.
Adam and Eve were given Paradise on earth. Because of their lack of training, they were unable to keep their heavenly gift. It was withdrawn, and Adam and Eve were forced into the backbreaking work of farming. What a miserable existence, after having been living in Heaven on earth! But such always will result from disobedience.
God has sent His Son to make an atonement for the sins of people, enabling them to be reconciled to God. God tested His Son in the fires of life on earth until His obedience was proven beyond all doubt. Then God gave all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth to His Son. This marks the beginning of the Kingdom of God.
The next phase in the setting up of the Kingdom of God is the development of lesser kings and lords. Jesus Christ is King of these kings and Lord of these lords.
Each of these lesser rulers must be tested in the fires of earth, as was the highest of all Kings. This is what is taking place today. God is going through the earth, examining those who have been saved and filled with His Spirit, to see who is willing to press forward to the fullness of their inheritance.
It is impossible for worldwide peace to be established until the King, and the kings who rule under Him, return from Heaven and go throughout the earth, forcing out all that is of Satan. Satan himself will be bound by one angel and thrown into the bottomless pit.
Now the nations of the earth will come up to Jerusalem to be taught and governed by the lesser kings. They will be taught the Sermon on the Mount, and will cease altogether from killing each other. The earth will never see such peace until Christ returns.
This marvelous hope of the future can be made possible only as some of us are willing to follow Christ in total obedience to God. We will not be tested as severely as Christ was, because we are not strong enough for this. But we will be tested to the full extent of our ability to respond in obedience.
Fiery trials are ahead for those whom God has called to the thrones of the universe. We can overcome through all these testings, but we must place our treasures in Heaven. We must live with one foot in the present world and one foot in the spirit world. We must be citizens of both worlds if we are to survive.
Please keep in mind that Christ is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted above the grace God has given you. He will make a way to escape in every case. It may seem that all is lost. Your future is grim, chaotic, and incapable of being understood.
Whatever you do, never, never, never quit. Press on through every pain and problem. God is there. He is preparing you to judge, rule, and bless multitudes of people in the future.
So we see that we should not attempt to insure our joy in the present world. If we do try to make our present life "heaven on earth," we will be deceived. Our purpose in being here is to be prepared for a better world. If we fasten on making ourselves comfortable and happy now, we will be pierced with unbearable remorse when we die and enter the spirit world. We will be able to see that our inheritance has been given to another. We will turn away and of our own will enter the darkness, because we will not be able to stand the sight of the victorious saints rejoicing in the Presence of the Lamb.
The Gospel of the Kingdom always has been a hope for the future. Today we in American are seeking to make it a means of obtaining what we desire now. Thus we have been burned and do not realize it. We are losing our eternal inheritance while we are clutching the weak, perishing pleasures of the present world.
Let each one of us begin to view our present life as preparation for a future that will be glorious beyond our most fantastic imaginations. Let us make sure that every treasure has been placed in Heaven. If we do, that is where our heart will be. Only then will we be free to dance among the stars with the Lord Jesus Christ.
There may be no term more familiar to Christian people than that of eternal life. Yet it may be true that this expression is not as clearly understood as could be desired. Probably in the minds of most believers the thought is that somehow, somewhere, probably in Heaven, we will live in some form or another. We will be preserved, maybe in much the same condition as we are, for eternity. Honestly, I don't believe that many of us would want to remain in the same state as we are now, with the same kind of personality, forever. Do you?
Eternal life. What is it? Is it merely immortality? No doubt numerous grief-stricken people would not want to continue forever as they are now, although those who have lost loved ones might want to be reunited with their relatives or friends.
What does the Bible teach about eternal life? The Bible teaches that eternal life is a Person—the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Life. He Himself is the Resurrection.
The Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden of Eden no doubt was Jesus Christ. There is no other eternal life.
Thus eternal life is a "thing," we might say. It is not merely the continuance of our existence.
Mankind is dead, spiritually. Jesus Christ, who is Eternal Life, came down to live among the dead people of mankind. Then He was crucified to make an atonement for the sins of mankind. But more than this, He ascended to God, and God made it possible for us to eat the flesh of the Living One and to drink His blood.
This is how we receive and then grow in eternal life. We eat continually from the only Tree of Life.
Under what conditions are we authorized to partake continually from the Tree of Life?
We must overcome all the forms of death that are in us or come against us. Every time we are tempted to please our sinful nature, or Satan, or the pressures of people, or our own expectations concerning ourselves, and to do something we know is wrong, we must look to the Lord for the strength and wisdom to do what pleases God. When we do, we are able to choose to behave righteously.
"Walk by the Spirit," Paul says, "and you shall not carry out the desire of the flesh."
Every time we choose to overcome the death that surrounds us, by calling on the Lord for help, we are fed with the body and blood of Christ. Every time!
In this way we are married to the Lamb. In this way we grow in eternal life. I should say, eternal life grows in us.
It is this eternal life that will lift us to meet the slain Lamb in the air.
It is this eternal life that is our resurrection.
When we think of the term "resurrection," we associate it with being lifted from the earth. Being lifted from the earth is our ascension, not our resurrection. This misunderstanding is common among us.
In fact it is the eternal Life of Christ that has been formed in us that will lift us to meet the Lamb when He appears. However, this is ascension, not resurrection. Resurrection is the removal of death and the creating of the Life of God in us.
Do the angels have eternal life? No. The angels are animated by Divine energy, as are the stars and planet that inhabit space. Jesus Christ upholds all these by the word of His power.
Eternal life is another matter altogether. Eternal life is the very Life of God. Of course it continues forever, just as God continues forever.
Is it possible to be in Heaven and not have eternal life? Yes. As I said, the angels are in Heaven but do not have eternal life.
Angels do not have eternal life because they cannot be "born again." Only human beings, those creatures formed in God's image, have eternal life. The least human being is eligible to have eternal life, if he or she will come to the Tree of Life. But the most exalted of the angels cannot be born again; cannot have Christ, eternal Life, conceived in him (it).
People have inherited a name greater than that of God's messengers. That name is "son." We are children of God by receiving Christ, and we are sons of God when we are led by the Spirit of God.
What do we then do, if we are to inherit the fullness of eternal life? We must learn to live in the Spirit of God. Every moment of every day and night we are to involve the Lord Jesus Christ in all we think, say, and do. In every decision we are to look to Christ for His will, His desire.
The Lord Jesus Christ lives by, from, out of, and because of the Father. Those who continually feed on the body and blood of Christ live by, from, out of, and because of Christ. Our animal nature is to be crucified that Christ may live in us.
Adam and Eve are real people, but they also compose a representation of the Lamb and His Bride. Adam was formed from the dust. Eve was formed from Adam. She was Adam in another form. She was intended to be Adam's glory.
The Lamb was formed from God. The Church is formed from the Lamb. The Church actually is the Lamb in another form. She is the glory of the Lamb.
Such perfection of unity was/is the eternal goal of the Apostle Paul. Paul counts all else as garbage in order that he may gain the full knowledge of Christ; the power of His resurrection; the fellowship of His sufferings.
Paul turned away from all else that he might attain to the resurrection, that is, that his whole personality might enter the resurrection of Christ.
We Christians hope to be raised from the dead when Christ appears. But there is something we must come to understand. The resurrection into the eternal Life of Christ must be attained to. It is there for us, but it must be attained to.
New wine cannot successfully be put in old bottles. There is no way in which a worldly, sinful, self-willed human personality can successfully be placed in a glorious body like that of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace will not accomplish this, nor will mercy, nor the "love of God," nor any other device self-willed believers would like to employ to insure that they can live as they please in the world and then be transformed into spiritual giants at the appearing of the Lord.
As I review what the Bible says about eternal life I am persuaded that most believers in America today do not have eternal life in them. Their theological position is accurate, they mentally accept correct doctrine, but their behavior reveals that eternal life, the Life of God, is not being formed in them.
If any person does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ. Just because we have made a profession of belief in Christ does not mean we have eternal life. Eternal life is a substance, not a theological position.
Let each one of us now lay hold on eternal life. In order to do so we will have to pray for strength and wisdom to wrench ourselves from the seemingly endless array of material fascinations that form the American culture. We must devote time each day to seeking the face of Christ that we may know His will.
It may be that many of us have a unique Divine calling for service resting upon us; but we are so embroiled in the American pursuit of money and pleasure that we cannot hear His voice. Consequently our talent will be remove from us and given to another who has been more faithful.
Our reward will be a loss of the Presence of God, an untransformed character; and the inheritance of people that would have been ours will be given to another. Our destiny will be darkness, being separated from the love, joy, and peace of Christ and His faithful saints.
Believe me—this is what the Scriptures teach!
The New Creation
We Christians need to think more clearly about the Divine redemption. The Divine redemption occurs in two major phases. The first phase is that of forgiveness. Our forgiveness was authorized by the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. The first phase authorizes us to enter the second phase. We need only believe and receive our forgiveness in order to participate in the first phase.
The second phase of redemption is that of personality transformation, that is, to be transformed into the image of God, the image of Christ. The second phase takes place over a period of time and requires our cooperation. It is not just a matter of believing and receiving.
It may be true that the Christian churches of our day are concerned principally with the first phase of the Divine redemption, that is, with our forgiveness. Forgiveness is preached regularly and vigorously on a worldwide basis.
However, God is concerned principally with the second phase. A forgiven creation is of little use to God until it has been freed from the compulsions of sins and filled with the Lord Jesus Christ. However, one could conclude from today's preaching and hymnology that there is no second phase—at least not a second phase that is clear-cut and capable of being applied in a practical manner. At least the second phase of transformation is not nearly as important as the first phase of forgiveness, we assume.
Let's do some clear thinking. What would a sociologist predict concerning Christian behavior if he knew Christians believe their redemption consists primarily of a perpetual forgiveness, with minimal attention being given to transformation of character? He would predict that the believers would behave in the same way as the unbelievers. He would, of course, be correct.
So it may be true in America that the rank and file of Christian people behave as do the unsaved. This means there is no testimony. This means the secular society, including our governmental leaders, have no example of moral character to follow. This precisely is true of America today. The Christian testimony is too weak to affect our populace. The manner in which the national elections are being pursued reveals cynicism and skullduggery at the highest level.
What does the New Testament say about redemption? It says if any man be in Christ he is a new creation, not a forgiven creation. Old things have passed away. All is new and of God. This definition of being in Christ hardly seems limited to forgiveness.
How, then, do we become a new creation? We become a new creation by being born again. What does this mean?
When we by faith receive Jesus Christ as our Lord, God plants a piece of Himself in us. This piece is made alive by the Holy Spirit. From then on we have two personalities. The first personality was descended from Adam. The second personality was descended from God.
The second personality is strong and familiar. The first personality is an embryo; then a fetus. If we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus at all times, that which begins as a seed will come to term as a new creation in the image of the Parent (God) from whom it came.
Keeping this in mind, we see how necessary it is that we live in such a manner that the developing Life in us is brought to maturity. When Christ comes to maturity in us, then we are a mature son of God and a brother of the Lord Jesus. To this we have been destined.
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. Throughout Church history to the present day, the emphasis in our preaching and hymns is Christ with us. He is our Lord who will return and be with us.
The righteousness of God, as we have pointed out, comes to us in two phases. First in forgiveness. Then in personality transformation.
It is true also that the experience of Christ in us comes in two phases.
The first phase of Christ in us is the transformation of our personality that occurs as Christ is formed in us. The second phase of Christ in us is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in that which has been formed in us.
It is the Father's intention to make us His eternal Temple, His Throne, the essence of Heaven, we might say. But the Father will not dwell in our first personality. The Father will dwell only in Christ. Christ is the eternal Temple of God, the Throne of God, the Essence of Heaven. Isn't it so?
Therefore, in order for God to dwell in us, to make us His eternal Temple, His Throne, the essence of Heaven, Christ must be formed in us. God will dwell only in Christ. Christ must be formed in us so God can find rest in the new creation that has been formed in us. The new creation in actuality is neither us nor Christ, but a creation formed from the eternal blend of Christ and us. Thus it is Christ, but it is true also that we are included and our individuality, our uniqueness, is marvelously enhanced. The new creation is Christ to such an extent that God will dwell in it and give His Glory to it without giving His glory to another.
It is Ezekiel's wheel in the middle of the wheel: God is in Christ who is in us who are in Christ who is in God. This is the new Jerusalem. This is the headquarters of the Kingdom of God.
I think eternal relationships are being formed in our day. If such be the case, choose carefully the social environment in which you wish to live forever. There are some who have an insatiable thirst for God. There are some not as desirous of God, and so on down the line. Choose your group carefully. Make sure this is the society you enjoy. Perhaps we cannot change at a later time.
The Kingdom of God
It actually is amazing, given that Christianity has existed for two thousand years, and the Bible has been widely available for several hundred years, that no scholar (that I know of) has recognized that we have changed the Gospel of the Kingdom to the Gospel of going to Heaven when we die. Although from Matthew forward, the emphasis is on the Kingdom of God (or Kingdom of Heaven, as Matthew calls it). Yet we teach that to be saved means to go to another place, that is, to live forever in the part of the spirit world where God and Christ are.
Being eighty-one years of age, I am looking forward to being released from the constraints of the physical body and to be at home in the spirit world with the Lord. The spirit world is quite real to me, and my attention is turned there increasingly. Sometimes it seems it is given to me to see people after they pass away, but I do not cultivate this or attempt to communicate with them. However it is comforting to know that people really are alive and identifiable after they die, and we do not have to mourn as do the unbelievers.
I can see from the Bible, and what our traditions suggest, that we have created an imaginary "Heaven," a heaven in some ways reminiscent of the Garden of Eden. What we Christians picture concerning Heaven is not found in the Scriptures, only in our imagination. We do not know what we will experience after we die, except that those who have served Christ with their whole heart will go to be with Jesus.
In spite of what we may assume, the subject of the New Testament is not that of going to Heaven when we die. Neither John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, nor the Apostles of Christ preached about going to Heaven. They preached and taught about the Kingdom of God.
It is not true that Heaven and the Kingdom of God are basically the same thing. Go through your New Testament and substitute "Heaven" for "Kingdom of God." You soon will discover the difference between Heaven and the Kingdom of God.
You will notice also that the New Testament does not speak of going to the Kingdom of God. It refers to "inheriting" the Kingdom of God. Conversely, the New Testament never speaks of inheriting Heaven. Heaven and the Kingdom of God simply are two different things. Heaven is a place. The Kingdom of God is a realm of authority that operates wherever the believer is, whether he is in Heaven, on the earth, or someplace else.
If we envision our destiny as eternal residence in Heaven, then we must wait to die until we get there. But if we envision our destiny, our goal, to be inheriting the Kingdom of God, we commence entering the Kingdom right now. If we wait until we die we will find that we have missed God's plan for our life.
The most prominent feature of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will, especially in the earth. "Thy will be done in earth," we pray. Let me state at this point that there is nothing else as important to an individual as that of doing God's will perfectly.
If we do not do God's will diligently at all times, as it is made known to us, we can forget about being resurrected when the Lord returns. It is not going to happen. He is coming for those obedient soldiers who will help Him establish His kingdom, the doing of God's will, on the earth
As for the idea of an any-moment "rapture," this is unscriptural foolishness and should not be taught. If the present crop of American Christians were to be caught up to Heaven, it would be a disaster for the inhabitants of Heaven. The Lord Jesus had best remain a bachelor!
Now, what about inheriting the Kingdom? If we use the phrase "be given" in place of "inherit," it may be clearer in our mind.
The most important fact to understand about the Kingdom of God is that the Kingdom is Jesus Christ Himself. As He is formed in us we are given the Kingdom. This is why we must be born again to see and enter the Kingdom.
There are three primary phases of the Kingdom, we might say. All three are given to us as Christ increases in our personality until He dominates our old nature.
The first and most important phase of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will. It is written in the Psalms that Christ delights to do the Father's will. This fact was validated in Gethsemane, although it was not a delight at that time. Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered on the earth.
Because of the spirit of obedience that has been brought to perfection in Christ, when He is formed in us that same spirit of obedience is formed in us. This is how we are given, or inherit, the Kingdom of God.
The second phase of the Kingdom of God is eternal life. Jesus Christ Himself is Eternal Life and the Resurrection from the dead. As Christ is formed in us, eternal life and the resurrection from the dead are formed in us. This also is how we are given, or inherit, the Kingdom of God.
These two phases having been brought to maturity in us, we are ready for the third phase of inheriting the Kingdom of God. The third phase consist of all that God is making new in Christ: in other words, all that is described in the last two chapters of the Bible. The overcomer, he who presses through the world spirit, Satan, and his own fallen nature, will be given all that God is making new in Christ. This also is how we are given, or inherit, the Kingdom of God.
Is the Kingdom of God in Heaven or on the earth in the present hour? The Kingdom of God exists wherever there is an individual who is inheriting the desire and power to do God's will in every circumstance, and who is being filled with eternal life and the resurrection from the dead. The fullness of the inheritance will come from Heaven with the Lord and His obedient saints.
When I speak of living the victorious life, of overcoming sin, of doing God's will in every instance, people easily can become discouraged. There is no need whatever to be discouraged. When you receive Christ, the Divine Seed is implanted in your personality. Your task is to pray, read your Bible, gather with the saints, give, serve, and otherwise live a practical Christian life, looking always to Christ for wisdom and strength. It is God's task to bring Christ to maturity in your personality.
Christ was revealed in order that He might destroy the works of the devil. This He always is ready to do. Christ has enough power to destroy the work of Satan in your life and in my life. What is at issue is our willingness to believe that God will do this for us. Christ has all the power necessary to deliver you from worldliness, lust, and self-will.
We must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God. It is not a party. It requires all the integrity we can bring to the struggle. But victory always is assured, because through Christ we are more than conquerors.
Our supreme goal is to have fellowship with the Father and the Son. Such fellowship is possible for us only as we permit God to redeem us, that is, to deliver us from all that is found in the personality of Satan and to fill us with His Divine Nature.
Such transformation is possible for you. Don't come short of it. It is here now, waiting for you to believe and receive.
The Tabernacles Experience
There are three major feasts of the Lord: Passover, Pentecost (Weeks), and Tabernacles. They refer respectively to basic salvation, the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in us.
The program of redemption is that of removing from us all that is of Satan's personality and filling us with all that is of God's Personality. The three feasts of the Lord portray the fact that salvation has a specific beginning, a specific process, and a specific conclusion. There is an alpha and an omega, a beginning and a conclusion. All of this is wrought by the Lord with our faith and obedience.
God is seeking a dwelling place, a resting place, an eternal temple. For this purpose He has created the Church, the Body of Christ. He calls out from the world people whom He has chosen to be His dwelling place. Then God brings them to Christ that they may become rooms in the great house of God.
The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. There are two phases to the dwelling of Christ in us. The first is the forming of Christ in us, which results in a new creation composed of the integration of Christ's Personality and our personality. Then the Father and the Son will come and dwell in that new creation that has been formed in us.
Many of us have been forgiven through the blood atonement and also have been filled with God's Spirit. Now we must look to Christ, for it is time to press forward to the concluding acts of the program of redemption.
At this point in time we are facing the coming of Christ to confront the enemy that dwells in our personality. As the Holy Spirit points out to us the several areas of darkness in us we are to confess them specifically, renounce them, turn away from them, and receive more of the Life of Christ in their place. This is in preparation for the Father and the Son to come and make Their eternal abode in us. We may be more acquainted with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit than we are with the Father. Now it is time for us to move forward until Christ makes the Father known to us in a greater way. Christ is the Way to the Father.
Heaven is the throne of God, as Isaiah proclaimed. The question is raised by Stephen as to what house we will build for God. The Apostle Paul gives the answer, in the second chapter of the Book of Ephesians: it is the Christian Church that is the eternal house of God, the place of God's rest.
It seems likely that at one time God had a temple in Heaven, in the spirit world. Apparently God wants to build a new temple for Himself. Each faithful disciple is a living stone in the new house of God, and the place of God's throne. In a manner of speaking, this makes the disciples "heaven," that is the place from which God governs.
The Lord Jesus told us that in God's house there are many rooms. God's House always is the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we are being fashioned as members of the Body of Christ, who Himself is the chief Cornerstone of the eternal Tabernacle of God
On the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the priests were pouring water from the Pool of Siloam on the Altar of Burnt Offering. Jesus, speaking prophetically, cried out that if we believe in Him we will become the source of living water, that is, the throne of God.
In that day the Spirit and the Bride will invite mankind to come and drink of the water of eternal life that will be issuing from the Bride, from the Church, from the new Jerusalem.
The blood of the cross gives us the authority to press into the fullness of the Kingdom of God, that is, into the Tabernacles experience. The Holy Spirit gives us the wisdom and power necessary if we are to enter the Tabernacles experience. Now it is up to us to follow Christ to the fullness of redemption.
The Lord gave two commands to our church this Sunday. First, we are to totally forgive everyone who has offended us. Second, we are to cease endeavoring and striving to accomplish our projects. We are to look to Him in every aspect of life and follow and obey Him as He accomplishes His projects.
As we were gathered together as an assembly Christ told us if we would do these two things He would do a mighty work among us. Perhaps the same will be true of your assembly.
Today we studied some of the verses of John, Chapter Seventeen. There are many concepts covered in these verses. In the morning, election was emphasized. In the evening we pursued the idea that God is making us one with Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible is clear, from the calling out of Abraham through to the giving of eternal life to those whom God has chosen, that the plan of redemption and the construction of the Kingdom of God are sovereign works of God. Romans, Chapters Nine and Ten are occupied with this thought.
Since the rise of the philosophy of Humanism, man increasingly has become convinced that he is the center of the universe. Many do not believe there is a God. Some view God as having created the universe and now is remaining somewhat aloof from it.
The modern interpretation of Divine grace is a perversion of what Paul taught, as it attempts to show that God is ready to receive whoever desires to go to Heaven whether or not there is any moral change in the individual. This interpretation, being man-centered, is a product of Humanism.
One can say today's gospel can be summed up as, "How to get to Heaven without really trying." This viewpoint holds a deep appeal for Americans, since they are consumed with participation in the trinkets and toys of the world system and are not inclined to pursue the rigors of discipleship with the necessary application of time and effort.
When I was in Bible school it was pointed out that souls were sliding into Hell by the millions because so few were willing to go forth and "burn out for Christ" in some foreign country. God is sitting in Heaven, waiting to see how many will make their life's work that of saving souls from Hell.
Being a conscientious person, I could not bear to go from day to day with the thought that if I just applied myself more diligently, souls would be saved from Hell.
I began to question in my mind if God has a plan; if He knows what He is doing; if He is in control. It is obvious that a verse such as, "No person can come to me unless the Father draws him," has no place in what I was hearing.
So I said to myself and God, "If You will tell me what you want me to do, and give me the grace to do it, I will obey, no matter what it is or what the cost to me personally." I said that and I meant it. (I mean it to the present hour.) I don't ever want to hear again, "God is waiting to see who will go all the way with Him." I have put the ball in God's court; and it is up to Him to respond (if there is a God, and if He knows what He is doing and is in control.
This commitment (challenge; dare, as you like) was made in 1948. I was fresh out of the Marine Corps and in my early twenties. Now I am eighty-one.
For a long time little of unusual spiritual significance seemed to happen. I just kept doing whatever was set before me, meanwhile praying and reading the Bible on a daily basis.
At that time (1948), God began to unfold the Scriptures to me (and He still is). I could see that much of what I had been taught was not scriptural. God does have a plan. He knows exactly what He is doing with every individual as well as every sparrow. He is in control of His universe. The earth is the Lord's and all its resources, as well as all the people. I rest in this.
When I was fifty years of age, the Lord directed Audrey and me into the work of pastoring, which we do to the present hour. Also, I was directed to begin to write down what I felt the Lord was teaching me. Thus I find in the seventeenth chapter of the Book of John a precise confirmation of the idea that redemption is a sovereign act of God.
Am I claiming by this that there is nothing we are to do? Not at all! Redemption is a joint act of God and the individual, as is true also of ministry. God's intervention in our lives always is an opportunity. We can cooperate with the Spirit of God, or we can turn away from the Spirit of God and go our own way.
Christ did not learn obedience in the spirit world, He learned it during His lifetime in the world. We are put in the world to learn obedience to the Lord. Every Christian goes through a school of obedience, just as we put a dog through a school of obedience.
We cannot redeem ourselves by our own power. Only God can redeem us. But if we do not obey God in all matters, we remain unredeemed. It is as simple as that. It is the sword of Gideon as well as of the Lord.
John, Chapter Seventeen, is the real "Lord's prayer." In this prayer Jesus pointed out that God has given Him authority over all mankind. Some members of mankind belong to God in a special way. God gives them to Jesus. Jesus gives them eternal life.
The above is not "fair." The Kingdom of God is not fair. The Potter is not fair. The Potter always is righteous, but not fair. The Bible is about sin and righteousness, not about what is fair.
God exalts and uses whomever He will, whenever He will, however He will. He is God. He is the Creator. He has chosen to give of His authority to Jesus Christ. God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (the Anointed Deliverer from God).
Mankind struts about like ants in a garbage dump, who are convinced that a rotten banana skin is the highest good in the universe. Man makes great pronouncements, much as ants wave their feelers, being totally confident that they are in control of their environment—until they get stepped on!
Some people belong to God in a special way. This is not fair. God brings these elect to Jesus Christ. This is not fair. Christ gives the chosen ones eternal life. This is not fair. God is not fair. The Kingdom of God is not fair. The plan of redemption is not fair.
Can a "vessel unto dishonor" choose to become a vessel unto honor? Absolutely! Christ never will refuse anyone who comes to Him in humility! Let no one say we are teaching inevitability!
Is there such a thing as predestination? Yes, there is. But it applies to the fact that God elects certain people from the foundation of the world to be members of the royal priesthood, the Body of Christ. But can we, having been predestinated, fail to follow through to our inheritance? Absolutely!
Can someone who is not of the elect choose to be of the elect? I do not believe this is possible. Election is election.
But when it comes to salvation from wrath, the Bible is clear and simple: "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." No "ifs" or "buts" about it. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved from wrath.
If we will read the early verses of the seventeenth chapter of other Gospel of John we may notice that what we have just stated is in line with their teaching.
In the evening we stressed that almighty God is calling His elect into total integration with His Personality. God is in Christ who is in us who are in Christ who are in God. Thus we have one perfect, complete God, ready to minister eternal life and health to a needy world. When we choose to enter this total integration into God through Jesus Christ, the world will believe that God has sent Jesus Christ into the world, and loves the saints (holy ones—holy because they belong to God in special way) as He loves His own beloved Son.
Building and Fighting
In the morning, Pastor Stan Josephsen exhorted us concerning our need to be at peace with one another. Within Christian circles there is a considerable amount of malice, spite, unforgiveness. The Lord desires that we confess our sins one to another and pray one for another that we may be delivered from these bondages.
In the evening, Pastor Thompson followed up with the importance of lifting up the Lord at all times, taken from Psalms 34. Putting the two concepts together we find that while we are building the wall with one hand, we must always be ready to fight against the enemy who is endeavoring to keep us from building the House of God, which is Christ in us.
Satan is persistent in his work of accusing the brothers. Satan knows of the Scripture that assigns him to eternal torment in the Lake that burns with fire and sulfur. He is hoping to prevent this from taking place, and this is why he seeks to set Christians against one another. He wants to be able to show the Father that the Christians are doing the some works concerning which Satan is found guilty.
Satan will do anything in his power to prevent a Christian believer from walking victoriously in Christ. We join Satan in his work when we become angry with one another. Only the strongest of the believers are able to overcome the temptation to become angry and unforgiving toward another Christian.
Part of the path to victory is to recognize when we are becoming angry at another Christian and to take steps toward total reconciliation. Another part is to keep our attention fixed on Christ, always giving praise to Him and lifting Him up in our own sight and in the sight of others.
We always are to have the Lord's praise on our lips. Then the brothers and sisters who are being afflicted will hear us and rejoice in the Lord.
We are to be seeking the Lord. If you will notice, contemporary Christians are seeking formulas by which they hope to use God to solve their problems. This, that, or the other practice will help your marriage; result in wealth; heal your sickness; and solve every other problem. We are not to try to use Christ or Christian principles to solve our problems. We are to seek the Lord. If we do this, He will answer us, even though we may not understand how He or why He solved the problem.
The demonic oppression is so great in our nation that we may find ourselves surrounded with gloom and anxiety. Numerous Christians are afflicted with depression. But if we will seek the Lord Jesus, He shall deliver us from all our fears—all our fears!
When we look to Christ we are radiant. Our face reflects the eternal Divine life that is growing in us. The darker spiritually the world becomes, the brighter will shine those who are walking with Jesus.
"This poor man cried," the Psalm declares. Sometimes we Christians are accused of being arrogant. This accusation may be true. We will receive nothing if we come before God with a self-satisfied attitude. God sends the rich away empty!
When David called, the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. When you and I call on Christ, the Lord will hear us and save us out of all our troubles. "The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it."
"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him." There are three Psalms that I believe will be of special help to us when the Divine judgment falls on America: the thirty-fourth, the thirty-seventh, and the ninety-first. These have been a blessing to me personally, a source of wisdom and strength.
The Lord's angel encamps around those who fear Him. Those who fear Him! I wonder how much fear of God there is in America today. The newer translations advise us to reverence God, but say little about fearing God. Why is this?
It is because we Americans are so proud we do not mind reverencing God, but we certainly are not going to fear Him! This may be one of the reason we are not delivered from our sins and troubles.
There is our subjective god, the god we think God is, and then there is the objective God. Our subjective god is a cheerful, loving old fellow who certainly would not permit us to suffer serious pain. This is the god of the puppy dog. But the objective God is the God not only of the puppy and the little child but also the Creator of the Siberian tiger and the Tasmanian devil.
Our subjective god is fine until we lose a member of our family; or we have a dreadful disease; or until we are wiped out financially; or are sued; or some other drastic event takes place in our life. Then we wonder, where is God? Our subjective god has disappeared, and in its place is the God of Heaven, the God of light and darkness, of thunder and calm.
Divine judgment is coming upon America, as we see many enemies rising up from various countries of the world. Why is this? It is because of abortion and other wicked practices. There is no solution to the troubles we are entering, except for the moral practices of America to change radically. Since this may not occur, we must place ourselves and our loved ones in the ark of safety.
"The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, AND DELIVERS THEM"!
Satan cannot get past the angel of the Lord no matter how hard he tries. So he seeks to lure us outside the camp of the angel of the Lord. Then we are fair game.
God is a God of love, also of wrath. Let us both love God and fear God. Then we will be poised spiritually and prepared to stand in the hour of judgment that is quickly approaching America.
The Day of Atonement
I spoke this morning about the Day of Atonement, the sixth feast of the Lord. In the evening I taught the significance of all seven feasts. If you are not familiar with these seven celebrations you might find both of these tapes informative.
It would not be possible for me to overemphasize the importance of the Day of Atonement (Day of Reconciliation) The preceding steps of redemption, the blood atonement, water baptism, the born-again experience, and the baptism with the Holy Spirit are preparation for what God intends for mankind. God's purpose for people is that they be in His moral image, and finally in His outer likeness. Salvation and the baptism with the Holy Spirit accomplish neither of these two purposes, as we may notice when we observe believers who are saved and baptized with the Spirit.
You may observe in what I have just written that I am assuming you understand that the seven feasts of Israel are typical of seven phases of redemption. I will proceed with this assumption, hoping that if you are not aware of the spiritual counterparts of the seven feasts you may take the time to read "The Feasts of the Lord," and similar texts found on the WOR Library of my writings.
In the beginning God declared that He was going to create man in God's image, after God's likeness. One might refer to "image" as God's Character and behavior, and "likeness" as being God's outward appearance.
In any case, it is clear that people today do not reflect God's Character and behavior. This is true even of numerous Christian people, who will cheat you in a business transaction if you are not careful.
Being saved and filled with the Spirit does not accomplish God's original declaration. There are people who are "saved" and "filled with the Spirit" who at times act like Satan himself. You know this is true if you have had much experience with Christian people.
We have converted the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to mean that if we will make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ we will go to Heaven when we die. But this does not accomplish God's purpose. Going to Heaven does not change our character. Passing from the physical world into the spiritual world does not change our character. Dying physically signifies only that the last enemy, death, has overcome us.
We say that if a sinner repents, God welcomes home the erring one. This idea is exemplified in the prodigal son. But the father did not go to the son in his wretched state and say, "If you will only believe you can continue with your liquor and girl friends but you still will be my son and will inherit my estate when I die."
It is true, rather, that the father waited for his son to become aware of his wretched state and return home. We understand from this that the son had gained humility and was ready to be a worthy son of his father.
If the prodigal son had brought his girl friends and liquor home, would the father have received him? Would the father have permitted his household to be ruined?
So it is today. We are preaching "accept Christ," but not repentance. We are not requiring of the seeker that he turn away from the world, revealing his repentance by dying to the world in the drama of water baptism. He enters the Kingdom of God upon emerging from the water, determined from this point forward to follow the way of righteousness.
This apostolic formula is not adhered to today. We give the seeker the impression that making a profession of belief in Christ is a ticket that will admit him to Paradise when he dies, and he can behave as he chooses because he has been "saved by grace."
Thus we have destroyed God's plan for man. We are preaching error today, and the testimony of the churches has been destroyed. The true Christian testimony is that of a transformed life, not of a statement that "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven, and are about to be caught up to Paradise in an unscriptural "rapture." How in the world can devout, intelligent people believe such a concept to be God's plan of redemption?
The Divine program of redemption does not move people from earth to Heaven, it moves people from the person and behavior of Satan to the Person and behavior of God. We need to understand this clearly if we are to grasp the true Gospel, and how poisonous is the destructive perversion that is preached and taught in our day.
God is building His Kingdom at this time, but it is not something we are doing. Our part is to keep on looking to Jesus and cooperating with the Holy Spirit.
As I see it, the twentieth century was the "Pentecostal Century." The Pentecostal blessing was spread far and wide throughout the world. Pentecost is the fourth of the feasts of the Lord.
The sixth feast is the Day of Atonement. We are entering this supremely phase of redemption in the present hour. We know this is taking place as the evil in our personality is uncovered a bit at a time, through varying circumstances, and we have an opportunity to confess that this part of us is not in the image of God. We then are to denounce it as such. Then we ask the Lord Jesus Christ to fill the vacancy with His Presence and Life.
If you are having such an experience, know that you are passing from Pentecost to the Day of Atonement (or Reconciliation to God). We have been reconciled legally to God through the blood of Calvary. Now it is time for us to be reconciled actually to God in our character and behavior.
During the celebration of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus, Chapter SIxteen), a goat was slain and its blood employed to cleanse the people and the Tabernacle furnishings. This signified the Divine forgiveness, the atonement.
A second goat was brought forward. Aaron confessed the sins of Israel over the second goat, and that goat was led out of the camp. This action signified God's plan to remove sin from His people.
In order for us to be redeemed fully, sin must be removed and Christ must be formed in us. These two actions are taking place in our day.
There is much religious work taking place taking place. I am not suggesting we should cease doing what has been set before us to do. Rather I am pointing our that during this time of religious activity we should spend time with Christ until He tells us what He actually is doing in our day.
Otherwise our hard labor will have been found to be busywork, having little or no eternal value.
God is kind, and He will lift the current deception wherever He finds an honest and good heart. But it is obvious to me that numerous Christian ministers of today are not even saved. When they die they are going to hear "Depart from Me," because of their behavior.
It seems to me that much of the Christian ministry of our time has their hands on the Ark of God as they seek to build the Kingdom of God by their own strength and wisdom. This is why they have died spiritually and cannot hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
The burden of this Sunday clearly was on holiness. In time past, holiness has been an important topic. It was an important issue in the early Pentecostal churches. Then the believers got the idea that the old-fashioned holiness of dress and behavior was not required under "grace," so the entire concept was discarded. Today the doctrine of holiness is not expressed as commonly as one might wish.
Holiness is a major topic of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Probably most of us are familiar with the expression, "Without holiness no one will see the Lord." This is the same as, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
But what exactly is Bible holiness? We understand that Christ Himself is our holiness. This does not mean that because we profess belief in Christ we are as holy as He is, it means that the Holy Spirit continually applies Christ to us until the sin resident in our personality is cast out and Christ is formed in us. The extent to which this transformation is taken place can be gauged by our behavior.
Holiness is freedom from unclean spirits and the formation of Christ's Character in us. God is holy. He is without spiritual darkness of any kind whatever. We are to be created in God's image. This means we are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit of God until there is no spiritual darkness of any kind whatever in us, and we have become a new creation in Christ.
God requires of all human beings that they be righteous in behavior. This means they are to be kind, forgiving, truthful, faithful, merciful, honest, possessing integrity, and so forth. This is true of saved and unsaved people alike. There is to be no unrighteous behavior in the Kingdom of God, either in the governing priesthood or in the saved people of the nations.
Holiness, however, is a calling. The nation of Israel was a holy nation because God had called the people of Israel to Himself in a manner not true of the remainder of mankind. God required of Israel particular food, particular clothing, and a number of other unique cultural aspects. Also, God placed the Tabernacle of the Congregation in their midst. The presence of the Tabernacle and the priesthood were not given to the other people of the world.
The Nazirites were holier than the remainder of Israel. Thus we see that holiness, or closeness to God, exists in degrees. There is the holy, the more holy, the most holy.
We Christians, those whom God has chosen out of the world, are not to compare ourselves with unsaved people. They and we have to behave righteously, or we will suffer for our unrighteousness. But in addition, God's elect are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God that we may prove His will for our life.
In the present hour, God is calling out from among His elect those who will obey Him completely. We are to work with the Holy Spirit as He cleanses us from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Filthiness of the flesh would include watching pornography, telling dirty jokes, body piercing, tattoos, drinking beer, wine, liquor, taking drugs, smoking cigarettes or a pipe or cigars, chewing tobacco, sexual perversions, homosexual behavior.
Filthiness of the spirit would include a lying spirit, a devious manipulate spirit, self-centeredness and self-love, a man-pleasing spirit. A complete list of inner spiritual darkness, attitudes which are not of God's image, may be found in my book "Perfecting Holiness," located in the Library on the WOR site.
The result of becoming holy is that we can have fellowship with God. We can serve in the various roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God. We can live righteously. It is the inner spiritual darkness in us that results in unrighteous behavior.
The forming of Christ in us provides the basis for righteous behavior. But in addition, if we are to be pleasing to God, we must be delivered from unclean spirits.
The work of the Holy Spirit delivers us from the spiritual darkness in us that causes us to be spiritually unclean. If we, through the Holy Spirit, put to death the sinful actions of our body, we will grow in eternal life. Eternal life always results from holiness of personality.
If we choose to be a slave of God we will grow in holiness. As we grow in holiness we grow in eternal life.
To love God with all our heart is to be holy. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to be righteous.
It is not enough that we behave righteously. If we have been called to be a saint (holy one), we must listen to the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit points out to us the unclean spirits that dwell in us and motivate us we must confess to God that a particular unclean spirit is in us. We then must vigorously denounce this spirit, calling it by name, such as self-pity, self-justifying, seeking preeminence, lust, pornography, alcohol, drugs. We must announce that it is fit only for Divine judgment and the Lake of Fire.
Then we are to renounce this spirit, declaring that we want no more to do with it for eternity.
After this we are to draw near to Christ that we may receive more of His Presence and resume our fellowship.
The above actions will remove the life and fire from these evil spirits so we always can overcome them, resisting Satan at every point.
"Be holy for I am holy." Our God is holy, without darkness of any kind. He has given to us His Holy Spirit that we might become holy as He is holy.
The current misdirecting of Divine grace is preventing spiritual growth in God's people. When they are convicted of sin in their behavior, instead of dealing with it and overcoming it, they say, "I am saved by grace so God cannot see my sin." This destructive notion is, as I have stated preventing spiritual growth in God's people. Spiritual growth is growth in being able to distinguish between good and evil, and strength to embrace what is good and drive from us what is evil.
If we are to proceed into God's Kingdom we must maintain a clear conscience. If there is any point at which we sense guilt, we then are to go to prayer to find out what the problem is. If we continue in known sin, we will lose our eternal life. Christ will not be offered again so that we can regain our standing with God. At one time we were walking blamelessly as far as we knew. Now we are continuing in sin. Our conscience is defiled. We are not walking in the Light. Therefore cannot have fellowship with God and the blood of His Son is not cleansing us from all unrighteousness.
If you as a Christian have become convicted of sin, deal with it as I have described above. Get rid of it. Take enough time out of the American frenzy of buying and selling and seek God until you regain right standing with Him.
I do not know how long it will be before serious judgment falls on our country. Right now we have a window of opportunity to go to the Mercy Seat and get the help we need so we can live in holy fellowship with God.
Let each one of us take full advantage of this opportunity so we can save ourselves and our loved ones.
Victory Over Sin
Many unscriptural traditions, and several theological errors, have entered Christian thinking over the past two thousand years. It may be true that the most destructive, the most morally weakening, of these traditions and errors is the idea that the Christian redemption does not include deliverance from the power of the sinful nature. It is understood clearly that through the atoning blood of the cross of Calvary our sins are forgiven totally. What is not understood as clearly is that the Christian redemption includes freedom from the sinful nature, from the bondages of sin that prevent our personality from being in the image of God.
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)
Think carefully about the above passage:
Everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave of sin!
A slave has no permanent place in the family of the owner of the slave. Nowhere is this more true than in the family of God.
One who is a son is no longer a slave but a permanent member of the family.
When Christ sets us free we indeed are free. Free from what? Free from being a slave of sin!
I understand that there have been during the Christian Era various attempts to gain freedom from slavery to sin. Two with which I am acquainted are the Nazarene experience of sanctification; and taking the attitude of reckoning ourselves dead. However, the results of these worthy attempts do not seem to bring release from slavery to sin, although they may result in some partial relief.
Perhaps the greatest enemy of all is the lie that Satan has injected into Christian thinking. The lie is "as long as we are in the world we have to sin." Although there are Bible verses to the contrary, this lie prevails. It is widespread throughout Christendom.
We have given up. We have ceded victory to Satan. "Satan," you can have the earth and the nations of it. We Christians are going to flee to Heaven to live forever in a better world."
Thus the nations and the earth, which according to the Scripture are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ, have been given to Satan to enjoy, while we make our eternal home in the domain of the angels and cherubim.
This is where we are today in Christian thinking. Victory over sin is not possible.
But does the Scripture promise there will come deliverance from the power of sin. Yes, it does, in 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)
Perhaps this work of deliverance has begun already. To begin with, there are New Testament passages that tell us if we have been born of God we will not continue to sin. Perhaps we could not perceive such passages previously, but they certainly are clear now:
No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9)
This passage suggests that most people who attend Christian churches have not been born of God.
Another passages informs us that if we are obeying our sinful nature we do not have the Spirit of Christ, that is, eternal life, in us:
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. (Romans 8:9)
What wild, outlandish statements I am making this morning! (I made them last night in church also.) It reminds me of the time the scroll of the Law was found while they were cleaning out the Temple. King Josiah was astonished, because the accumulation of traditions and errors had caused people to forget what the Scripture stated clearly.
If the pastor of one of today's American mega-churches stood in front of his or congregation of ten thousand people, and declared, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God," what do you think would happen? If you are a pastor, try it and see.
Yet, the pastor would be doing nothing more than quoting Scripture.
In other words, we church members in America are way off the track, just as in the days of King Josiah of Israel.
As I pointed out, the relevant passages concerning deliverance from sin under the new covenant are becoming clear to us. Another factor causes us to wonder if perhaps the dispensation of deliverance declared in Matthew has begun already. The factor is, we now know how to proceed with release from slavery to a specific sin:
We confess the specific sin clearly, naming it, declaring it loudly enough that the unclean spirits can hear us. Unclean spirits realize that God has given Christians authority to judge sin, and so a clear pronouncement of the behavior is absolutely necessary.
Second, we denounce the sin as being evil. The reason believers do not gain release from besetting sins is that they are not fully persuaded that the behavior (profanity, for instance) really is a wicked, spiritually filthy practice.
Third, we renounce the sin, stating a vigorously as possible that we not longer want to be associated with this behavior for eternity. It is an eternal judgment.
Fourth, we then are to draw near to Jesus Christ that we may receive more of His Life in us.
Fifth, in the future when we are tempted to practice this behavior, we resist Satan.
Taking the four steps just mentioned will put the unclean spirit to death. It will remove the life and fire from it. Now we are able to resist it successfully.
The effectiveness of the five steps of deliverance depends on our living as a disciple, that is, denying our self-will, taking up the cross of our personal imprisonment, and following Christ at every moment of every day.
If we are not living as a disciple, then we should not be dabbling in the above work of eternal judgment, because Satan may use our attempts at spiritual warfare to deceive us and bring us into further slavery to sin.
Perhaps you are a Berean. You do not jump readily into every new idea that comes along. If this is the case, let me suggest the following:
Ask the Lord Jesus to point out one of your behaviors that is displeasing to Him.
Confess with your mouth this behavior, naming it clearly.
Denounce this behavior firmly as being totally wicked, filthy, and depraved.
Sternly renounce this particular behavior, declaring that you never, never, never again want anything whatever to do with it.
Then draw near to the Lord Jesus, asking Him to fill you with His Life.
The next time you are tempted to think, speak, or act in this manner, make every effort to resist it.
Please be aware that Satan will attempt to take advantage of your new vulnerability and accuse you of numerous behaviors of the past, or practices that you are not now guilty of. When in doubt, ask the Lord to put His fire on the behavior, removing it if it is sinful, or giving you peace if it is nothing more than a satanic accusation.
The Lord be with you should you decide to launch into the above efforts, and give you the promised total victory over sin.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
Hypocrites Among the Believers
The Book of Jude ought occasionally be gone through in every Christian assembly in America, I believe. Jude warns us that in our assemblies there may be those who are not true Christians at all. They are hypocrites. A hypocrite is not a weak believer who is appalled by the sins that so easily beset him, but someone who pretends he is living the victorious Christian life while his or her heart is far from God.
We will know who the hypocrites are as soon as the Christians in America are being persecuted.
The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14)
It is interesting that as soon as Jude begins his epistle he identifies the main characteristic of the hypocrites:
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)
The godless were written about "long ago," in the Book of Isaiah, for example, and also, apparently, in the Book of Enoch.
What is the primary action of the godless hypocrites? They "change the grace of our God into a license for immorality." They also deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."
Changing the grace of God into a license for immorality, and denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ, are related. They both are often the case with believers in America.
At some point in the Christian Era, perhaps as far back as the days of the Apostle Paul, the teaching of Paul concerning "grace" was perceived as a new Divine approach to the sinful compulsions of man. Man no longer is required or expected to live righteously. In place of moral change in man, God has substituted "grace," meaning that how an individual behaves is not a part of his redemption. The one all-important action man must take to be saved and go to Heaven is to "accept Christ." Once he does this, Divine grace takes care of all sinful behavior on the part of him who accepts Christ.
This is what Jude meant by "changing the grace of God into a license for immorality." The extent of the moral havoc produced by this perversion of the Apostle Paul's teaching of "grace" may be quite beyond our ability to calculate.
But how is this perversion related to denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
We Americans are lovers of pleasure. We can find it in ourselves to accept the fact that Christ is willing to forgive our sins and overlook our sinful behavior by means of His shed blood on the cross. He is our Savior. He became poor that we might be wealthy. He suffered so we do not have to suffer. This sort of abomination is preached today as being the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
But the concept that we are to install Him as absolute Lord of every detail of our life, that we are to die to our self-will and personal ambition, is repugnant to us. One seldom hears "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me." Rather we hear how Christ is going to make us rich and spare us all inconvenience and suffering.
Can you see how the perversion of grace and the rejection of the Lordship of Christ go hand in hand? How to be a Christian without really trying! All the riches of this world and Heaven too!
We Americans, and perhaps all of the Western nations, have been cruelly, grievously, deceived. We are not Christians at all, in numerous instances. Many of today's congregations would fire a pastor who preached that in order to please Christ they must die to their self-will and accept Him as the King and Lord of their lives. They would rather hear about how they are going to be caught up to Heaven to live in bliss while the Jews without the Holy Spirit suffer under the reign of Antichrist.
How will we ever be delivered from this deception? Will it require terrible destruction upon America and severe persecution if the hypocrites are to be driven from the Christian assemblings?
The "rapture" passage, in First Thessalonians, speaks of Christ bringing with Him the deceased saints. The current teaching is that the returning saints and all current believers will be "raptured" into Heaven in order to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation. This is unscriptural.
Jude tells us what the returning saints will do. After they have been resurrected and caught up to be with Christ in the air, they will bring Divine judgment upon the hypocrites in the churches.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men (the hypocrites in the churches): "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)
How many believers of our day are following the way of Cain? They are jealous of those whom the Lord blesses. They will attempt to injure those who are patiently waiting for the Lord.
How many believers of our day are following the way of Balaam? They expect that their profession of Christ will make them wealthy. "Give the preacher a thousand dollars and God will give you ten thousand dollars?"
How many Christian entrepreneurs are acquiring money by means of their religion? How many will prophesy over someone if given enough money."
The American people by and large worship money. The worship of money has entered the Christian churches to a great extent.
How many believers of our day are following the way of Korah? American people, whether or not they are believers in Christ, tend to resent authority. They will pull their leaders down to their level if they are able.
We ought not to be following leaders who are immoral or covetous. But if we find a pastor who is not immoral, or seeking money, or attempting to take God's Glory to himself, and God seems to be with him, then we ought to be willing to follow his lead. He is responsible for the welfare of the flock, and may be called upon from time to time to rebuke them and urge them to cease their worldly ways and live a holy life.
Jude has a lot to say to us today. It is amazing who the congregations Jude was acquainted with are similar to those of today.
All true believers in Jesus Christ are looking for His appearing? But how many will be able to stand in the Presence of the Consuming Fire of Israel. You and I can, if we are pursuing iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God.
The Three Testings
The Lord Jesus Christ was tested in three areas: in the area of bread, in the area of worldly pleasure, and in the area of personal ambition. Every son of God is tested in these three aspects of personality and behavior. Until we have overcome Satan in each of these three areas, we neither can be in the image of God nor can we be at rest in the center of His Person and will.
The first area of testing is the "bread" question. It has to do with our security and survival while living in the physical world. What shall we eat? With what shall we be clothed? How shall we be sheltered from the elements?
The Lord Jesus told us that God will provide our physical necessities and we are not to worry about them. We know God expects us to work and provide for our families and ourselves. But our most important responsibility is to find God's will and do it.
Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from God. God always is speaking to every individual. Our problem in America is we are so consumed with material necessities and comforts we are too busy to hear what God is saying to us.
We must learn to listen to Jesus at all times. I personally make a practice of asking the Lord about everything I do during the day. By so doing I am able to maintain the Presence of Christ throughout the day.
Jesus is interested in all that we do, our work, our eating and drinking, our buying and selling, our ministry—all that we do down to the smallest detail.
God always is speaking to you. If you will keep looking to Jesus in every decision you make, and keep obeying Him, you will be living by every Word that comes from God's mouth. This truly is the manner in which all of us are to live, and it is a way of love, joy, and peace.
The second testing we all experience is that of the kingdoms of the world. This is the realm of worldliness, including eating and drinking to excess, every kind of sensual pleasure, self-gratification, lying, usurping the place of another, stealing, seeking preeminence, treachery, lack of integrity and faithfulness. This sort of behavior is what we are witnessing in several instances in our own government.
The American people love pleasure and are accustomed to pleasure. This is why they are seeking to make the Gospel of the Kingdom a message of self-indulgence. My estimation is that if the pastors of America were turn from preaching how Jesus wants us to be happy in the present life, and held before their congregations the prospect of self-denial and the patient carrying of our cross after Jesus. there would be a large-scale exodus from the churches.
Christ does not present us with self-fulfillment but with the cross of self-denial. It is after we have accepted His will in every area of our life, and we have been stripped of many of our pleasures, that everything of true value is restored to us. To endure the period of stripping requires unwavering faith in the Character of God, His faithfulness; His desire to bring us finally to love, joy, and peace.
It may be true that it is the third area of testing that we are approaching today. I have said many times that the Charismatic people will be divided over this issue, because they desire to have the power of God but are not embracing patiently the cross of self-denial. The Glory of God without the cross.
Satan wants to be "like God," but he has no intention of doing God's will, which is that we worship and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe this is why Christians pray for power. Why do they want power if it is not to act independently of God? Perhaps a better prayer is that God will give us a spirit of obedience to God.
I have come to the conclusion that pleasing God is a simple matter. All God requires of us is that we fear Him and keep His commandments. His commandments are not grievous. Whenever He gives us a personal direction He accompanies it with all the grace, wisdom, and strength we need to fulfill His will perfectly.
The most important aspect of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will perfectly. Whoever is not willing to do God's will perfectly is a rebel against God, whether or not he or she is a Christian by profession.
Christ was "imprisoned," shall we say, on the roof of the Temple of Herod. What a useless place to be for someone who has a desire to minister God's Life to people.
Why didn't the Son of God jump off? Because Christ does not act apart from the will of the Father. He does not put God to the test, as the people did at Massa, to see if God keeps His Word.
After we have been forgiven through the blood of the cross, and have been filled with the Holy Spirit, we are faced with the work of redemption. The work of redemption is the reconciling of our fallen nature with God's utterly holy, righteous Nature.
The program of reconciliation is rigorous. Each day the Spirit of God challenges us concerning some part of our fallen nature. Each day we choose whether to follow our own desires or else let Christ have His way in our life. There may come a point in our life when we face a severe crisis, like God asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. But most of the time it is the daily dying and the daily living.
Over a period of time we are tested in the three areas of our personal desires. We must ask Christ to help us, for it is impossible to be formed in the image of God or rest in the center of His Person and will unless we look to Him for all security and survival; all pleasure; and all fruitfulness and dominion.
Personal ambition, even though expressed in Christian ministry, or wherever else, is of the spirit of Antichrist. It has no place in the Kingdom of God.
The Dead "in Christ"
There are two major doctrines of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God that are not emphasized sufficiently at this time, from my point of view. One is the resurrection of the physical body of the believer. The other is the personal Lordship of Christ over the individual believer. Easter Sunday morning I spoke on the resurrection of the physical body of the believer.
The doctrine of the resurrection of Christ and of all other people is central to the Gospel of the Kingdom.
There are two main resurrections with which we are faced. The first takes place at the beginning of the thousand-year period (which I term the "Kingdom Age"). The second resurrection will occur at the end of the Kingdom Age.
It is commonly understood, I believe, that the first resurrection is for all who are "saved." The second resurrection is for everyone else—the lost of mankind.
It is my point of view that the common understanding will not stand up under a careful consideration of what is written in the New Testament.
I would suggest, rather, that the first resurrection, the resurrection that will occur when the Lord returns to earth, is for God's governing saints. The second resurrection, that which will occur at the end of the thousand-year period, is for everyone else. It is the general resurrection of the dead. All will be raised at this time who were not raised in the first resurrection.
Those who are raised at the second resurrection will be judged. Those who pass the judgment will be brought forward as citizens of the new earth. Those who fail the judgment will be thrown into the Lake of Fire—the final location of Satan and his angels. This is a destiny so frightful at to be beyond comprehension. Yet, according to the Scripture, some people will be placed in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
The "rewards" to the victorious saints, set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, actually are increments of life, authority, and responsibility that lead to participation in the first resurrection. The saints raised at the next coming of Christ will not be judged at that time. No books will be opened. They passed through the Judgment Seat of Christ during their discipleship on the earth.
Note that the "rewards," mentioned in the second and third chapters of Revelation, begin with the eternal life given to those who conquer through Christ the various troubles they encounter during their discipleship. The "rewards" end with the conqueror sharing the throne of the universe with the Lord Jesus Christ.
It may be noted that the Apostle Paul, as recorded in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, was pursuing an extraordinary consecration that he might attain to this "out-resurrection." It is no small matter to be raised from the dead when the Lord appears, or to be suddenly transformed into incorruptibility, and forever be with the Lord. This early resurrection must be attained to. It was the "mark," the goal set before Paul.
In our day, the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians is sometimes employed in support of the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture" of all who profess faith in the Lord Jesus.
But if you will observe carefully, in the fourth chapter, it is the dead "in Christ" who participate in this awesome event.
We may be apt to perceive "in Christ" as referring to all who profess belief in Christ. But I would suggest this is a misperception.
To be "in Christ" is to be living, as Paul lived, such that Christ is our entire life. Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the "race" we are running. He is the "fight" we are fighting. Everything of spiritual value in our life is the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what it means to be "in Christ."
I have known of Pentecostal people of thirty-years experience who died in a state of unforgiveness, bitterness, and gossiping. They did not die "in Christ." They are neither qualified nor competent to sit with the Lord Jesus Christ on the highest throne of the universe.
At any time that we do not press forward to victory in Christ, when our ungodly behavior is pointed out to us, we are not "in Christ" concerning this issue.
After we have been forgiven and filled with God's Spirit, we are to keep pressing forward every day until we have been filled with the Fullness of God. We simply must not come short of this mark, this goal.
To attain to the fullness of God is to attain to the early resurrection from the dead. When we succeed to this state of fullness, we then are prepared to be raised from the dead when Christ appears.
But the churchgoer who does not make the effort to live victoriously in the Lord Jesus will not be raised from the dead when He appears. This is the truth, and those who prefer to gamble that it is not the truth, and choose instead to continue in the typical American casual approach to the program of redemption, will discover to their horror in that Day that every word of the New Testament has been inspired by the Spirit of God and will come to pass in totality.
The greatest surprise we will encounter when the Lord Jesus returns is that there are no surprises. The event was described clearly beforehand in the New Testament.
Every word of the New Testament shall come to pass in totality! Divine grace is not an alternative means of preparing us for Christ, a means that does not require stern obedience to the Lord Jesus. Rather, Divine grace is the enabling wisdom and power God has provided through Christ so we might be able to overcome all opposition and stand in joy and confidence before the Lord at His coming.
The Image of God
The first chapter of the Book of Hebrews tells us that God has declared the Word of God, who was from the beginning and created all things, to be His Son, God, the Lord, the heir of all things, and His Firstborn. It is interesting that the statement is made that God created all things through Christ. This relationship has existed from the beginning, and is seen in the Gospels. When Christ works, it is the Father working through Him. Christ made all things as the Father worked through Him.
The emphasis, in the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews, is that Christ is God's "Son." Perhaps we do not always realize how important it is that we are referred to as sons of God. We are coheirs with Christ because we also are God's sons and brothers of Christ.
Notice carefully the expression, "the exact representation of his being." The Lord Jesus Christ is the exact representation of the Father's Being.
When God made man, He made him to be in His image, that is, the exact representation of His Being. The first Man to appear on the earth, who fulfilled the Divine decree, was Jesus Christ.
We also are to be made the exact representation of God's Being, which also is Christ's Being, and is to be our being.
To be in the image of God, two things must be true of us. First, our character must be formed in the image of God's Character. This means that all of our behavior must be righteous. We must be faithful, kind, merciful, peaceful, loving, truthful, joyous, honest, patient, hopeful, just as God is. Such transformation of our character into God's image is accomplished only as Christ is formed in us. Christ is formed in us when we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ at every moment.
Second, we must carry the Presence of God with us. We must reflect in ourselves, at any given circumstance, the thinking, speaking, and acting of God, just as Jesus did and always does. We must become, as Paul exclaimed, a magnifying glass such that people can see Jesus enlarged in us at all times. As our character is transformed by the Spirit, God Himself dwells in us and can be seen.
We are to be, like our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus, the exact representation of God's Being. This is why we must be born again and Christ formed in us. To be in the image of God is impossible for our adamic nature.
We understand then, that when God said "Let Us make man in Our image," He was speaking prophetically of that which would take place with Adam's descendants, Adam being but the raw material, as it were, from which God would create that which was on His mind.
Jesus Christ sustains all things, including outer space and its stars and planets, by His powerful word. The heavens declare the Glory of God. Any time we are tempted to believe that God cannot create each of us in His express image, we need to consider the power that guides the stars and planets. Then we can realize that that same power is able to create us in God's image.
Christ is greater than the angels in that He is God's Son.
In the second Psalm, God informs Him who had been the Logos, the Word, that the Word now is to be known as God's Son: "Today I have begotten you." What day? Perhaps the day Christ was born of Mary, because God speaks prophetically.
There have been many marvelous happenings since the creation of the world. But none compares in awesomeness with the birth of the Logos as a human, a Son.
"Let all the angels of God worship Him." And let all other creatures of God worship Him who now is God's Son, the Firstborn, the Heir of all God Is and possesses.
But that word "Firstborn" is loaded with significance. Can it be possible that Jesus Christ is the First of many sons who also will be heirs of God and the exact representation of God's being? Will God also refer to Himself as our Father? Will we also sit with Jesus Christ on the highest throne of the universe? Is this scriptural? Will righteous behavior be the scepter of our Kingdom?
Is such a scepter, such a rod of iron righteousness, being created in us today as we set our will to resist every temptation that we might do God' will perfectly and completely?
Now we come to what may be the most puzzling of all passages of Scripture: "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."
Could it be true that the Creator of all was standing in the midst of "companions" (whom He had created), in the spirit world, when the Father singled Him out and declared that God anointed Christ (the Anointed One) with the oil of joy because He loved righteous behavior and hated wicked behavior? (I add "behavior" to "righteousness" because today's overemphasis on imputed righteousness has befuddled the minds of the believers until they are unable to think clearly about what God means by "righteousness").
Is this why Satan is consumed with envy, forever attempting to tear down all God is doing through Christ?
Or does the passage mean that we believers are Christ's companion and He has been anointed with joy more than we?
I prefer the first explanation, although I have no quarrel with those who have another explanation. It indeed is a difficult passage, in my opinion.
Note the emphasis the Father places on righteous behavior. It is true today. When we choose to behave righteously, God anoints us with love, joy, and peace. As we grow in righteous behavior, we receive increased love, joy, and peace. These are not rewards that we earn, they are the natural result of our increased fellowship with Him who is the source of all love, joy, and peace. God give His Spirit to those who obey Him!
One day the physical universe that we are accustomed to will flee from the face of Jesus Christ. The present world, which is a cesspool, will have served its purpose.
God understands fully the incredible moral filth of the world we live in. We Christians are not to fret ourselves about it. The rulers of the creation that God is creating, under the Lord Jesus Christ, cannot be fashioned in Paradise. The Lord Himself was made perfect by means of the suffering He encountered in the world.
All the events of history are working together to produce the brothers of the Lord who, under Christ will rule the world to come. When we can do some good in the present world, we should do so. But in all other matters we are to cease our fretting, realizing that Christ is in control of the present world and understands precisely what He is doing.
When Christ is through using the present world to accomplish His purposes in His elect, He will discard the present physical universe, and then bring into view a new world of righteousness that will surpass in splendor any vision we possibly can imagine in the present hour.
And the new world of righteousness and splendor shall last forever. Think of it!
But the Lord Jesus Christ will remain the same, yesterday, today, forever!
Jesus Christ has had to sit patiently at the right hand of God until God decides to make Christ's enemies a footstool for His feet. This work has begun on our day.
The Lord Jesus has come to us in the Spirit, in fulfillment of the convocation of The Blowing of Trumpets, to declare war against His enemies that live in us.
When the Spirit of God points out to us a behavior that is not of the image of God, such as unforgiveness, we are to denounce it as an enemy of Christ. We are to renounce it, declaring firmly that we want nothing more to do with it. When we confess a sin, such as unforgiveness, and resolve by the Lord's help to turn away from it, God forgives our sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Thus Christ's enemies are made a footstool for His nail-pierced feet.
The following statement shows us where the writer of Hebrews is taking us: "Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"
"Those who will inherit salvation." The writer has spoken of the high state to which God has raised the Firstborn. Now we see what really is on the writer's mind: the remainder of those who also are born of God.
The entire Book of Hebrews is a rebuke directed toward experienced Jewish Christians. They had been forgiven through the blood atonement and filled with the Holy Spirit. They had been taught by those who themselves had been taught by the Lord Jesus.
Now they were drifting away. They did not realize they had not entered the promised "rest" as yet.
The "rest" of God is our Canaan, it is our land of promise. It is the state of being where we are in the express image of God and dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.
Those Jewish Christians to whom the Book of Hebrews was addressed were certainly as far along in God's plan of redemption as we are, according to what we read in the text. Yet they are being rebuked soundly.
We need to take heed, understanding that after we have been forgiven and filled with the Spirit we are prepared to press forward into that exceedingly high calling resting on all who are called "sons of God."
We are being challenged today to press forward until we attain to the inward resurrection upon which our outward resurrection into glory depends. Are we going to move forward with Christ, or are we going to drift, thus putting in danger our very inheritance in Christ.
How shall we escape if we neglect such an awesome salvation?
What Does the New Testament Teach Us Concerning Sinful Behavior?
It is clear to me that we must revise our understanding of how the new covenant addresses the problem of the sinful nature of man. To this point in the thinking of Christian scholars and people, sinful behavior is accepted as an inevitable aspect of life on earth. The New Testament takes no such position.
When many years ago I began to preach the Kingdom of God, there were not many preachers, it seemed, who were on the same track. In fact, some may have regarded me as a member of the Jehovah's Witnesses persuasion.
Now it appears there are many who are talking about the Kingdom of God. However, as often is the case, Satan is perverting the true Gospel of the Kingdom. The Gospel of the Kingdom, in some instances, is being regarded as a kind of improved Christian experience in which we all do better and experience a happier life, in preparation for the return of Christ to the earth.
Anyone who knows the Lord can see what a sidetrack this is. The Kingdom of God is not a system for improving our life on the earth. The Kingdom consists of saints who have died to worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, and self-will, and in whom the Father and the Son exercise complete rulership. The great majority of such saints are with Christ in Heaven at the present time. They will return with the Lord Jesus and exercise Divine force as they establish with violence the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ on the earth.
The work of the Kingdom always serves to satisfy the needs and desires of the Lord Jesus, that is, to establish righteous behavior on the earth. The purpose of the coming of the Kingdom is to please Christ, who patiently is waiting until the Father makes His enemies His footstool. It is not a program to enable human beings to live a more satisfactory life.
But the pleasure-loving, humanism-inspired believers of our day succeed in perverting the Gospel of the Kingdom, the original gospel, into a plan for making people happy. We American Christians, in many instances, are totally backslidden to the point we easily are deceived by those "Christian" leaders who are making merchandise of us.
One of the symptoms of the current delusion is the emphasis on the removal of physical afflictions. The idea is, if we can locate the areas of sin in our life, we can correct these areas and thus become completely healthy.
It is true that physical health often can be gained through the application of the redeeming authority of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, redemption can proceed while the believer still is afflicted. But the program of redemption cannot proceed while the believer is practicing sin of which He is aware.
There is power in the Lord Jesus by which we can gain victory over the sinful practices of which we are aware. It never is the Lord's will that we continue in known sin. But we can press forward in Christ while we are afflicted physically.
As we see in the case of the Apostle Paul, physical affliction was necessary if he was to learn to depend upon the power of Christ. This never is true of sinful behavior. Thus there is a difference between spiritual and physical deliverance.
Paul advised us that we are not debtors to our flesh that we should live according to its sinful desires, for if we do so we will jeopardize the making alive of our mortal body in the day of resurrection.
We ought to gain physical health when we can; but when physical healing becomes the focus of our Christian life we will miss what God is seeking in the plan of redemption.
The Bible is about sin and righteousness. There at one time was a rebellion of angels. The Bible is about God's response to that rebellion. The emphasis of the Bible is on the installation of praise and worship on the earth—in particular stern obedience to God on the part of every saved creature. Thus an undue emphasis on the welfare of people leads us away from God's desire for our life.
When considering our deliverance from sin, we must begin with the fact that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is the final atonement for sin. Christ will not have to die again to atone for the sin of mankind.
Because of the above fact, sinful behavior is not acceptable under the new covenant. There is no additional sacrifice for sin!
One of two conclusions may be drawn from the fact that by one offering Christ has forgiven the past, present, and future sins of people.
The first, and nearly universally accepted conclusion, is that since we have been eternally pardoned, it is not necessary that we gain victory over sinful behavior. It is true that we should try to "do better" in order to please the Lord; but the work has been done. We never again will be guilty of sin.
The second conclusion is, while the above is true, eternal forgiveness is conditional being based on our behavior.
By examine the writings of the Apostle Paul and the other Christian Apostles we discover that our eternal freedom from condemnation indeed is conditional.
Let us look at one of many such passages"
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:11-14)
The above text tells us that the program of redemption includes the giving of eternal life to our body when Christ returns.
It informs us that we Christians are not obliged to live according to our sinful nature.
If we obey our sinful nature we will die spiritually, that is, our mortal body will not be made eternally alive when Christ returns.
We are to put to death the actions of our sinful nature.
If we are led by the Spirit of God in putting to death the actions of our sinful nature we are the sons of God.
The above comments are crystal clear and prove that our eternal freedom from the guilt of sin is conditional
It is taught commonly throughout the Christian churches that we cannot overcome sin.
As I was considering, in Ephesians and Colossians, Paul's comments concerning the deeds of the sinful nature, I was struck by the fact that Paul was telling us to just quit sinning! It is as though we have the ability to stop sinning"
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 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 (Colossians 5:3-5)
Does the above sound to you like we are unable to stop sinning? If we are unable to stop sinning, then the above is a waste of words.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
Does the above sound like we cannot stop sinning?
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)
Does that sound like we cannot stop sinning?
Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (Colossians 3:9
Does that sound like we cannot stop lying no matter how hard we try?
And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:10)
Are we supposed to put on the new self?
Have we not been greatly deceived?
I would suggest three methods of stopping sinning:
First, just stop doing it. Probably eighty percent of our sinning consists of behaviors we can just stop doing, meanwhile going before the Mercy Seat for assistance.
Second, we can confess our sin to the Lord, denounce it as evil, renounce it, saying we want no more to do with it, draw near to Christ with thanksgiving for forgiveness and deliverance, and then resist that behavior in the future.
Third, in the case of a severe bondage, we can go before the elders of the church, confessing our sin and receiving the laying on of hands (and anointing with oil if they desire). The prayers of the elders will succeed in breaking that chain.
It never, never, never is the will of Christ that we walk in known sin. There is power under the new covenant to gain victory over sin.
There are at least four major consequences of putting our sinful behavior to death:
Ability to do God's will in every circumstance.
Ability to bear a clear witness of God's Person, way, will, and eternal purpose in
Continual fellowship with God.
Entrance into abiding love, joy, and peace.
Physical healing may or may not result from our ceasing to sin. Physical healing is important to us, perhaps, but it is not nearly as important in the Kingdom of God as the ability to do God's will in every circumstance.
As I said at the beginning, the Christian churches must adopt a whole new attitude toward sinful behavior. It is not the inevitable condition we had supposed.
Not only that, but if we do not press forward to victory in every area of behavior we are in danger of dying spiritually, of slaying our own resurrection to eternal life.
The Removal of Sin
On many occasions I have written about and preached about the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish celebration termed "The Day of Atonement." The concept has returned to my mind forcefully and clearly. It truly is an awesome vision.
The concept simply is this: The God of Heaven has determined to remove all sources of sin from His creation. This removal is typified by the Day of Atonement. It has begun now and shall continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age often referred to as the "Millennium."
The redemption of mankind from the bondages of sin occurs in two phases, as shown by the two goats of the Day of Atonement (Leviticus, Chapter Sixteen).
The first phase is the Divine forgiveness of the guilt of sin. The first phase was accomplished through the blood of the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. The sin of mankind has been forgiven for those who will obey Christ. Forgiveness no longer is an issue. The perfect Sacrifice has been made. There never shall be another sacrifice made for sin!
The first phase, forgiveness, has been understood and preached throughout the history of the Christian Church. Forgiveness generally is considered to be the limit of what God is willing to do concerning sin. Any idea of the removal of sin itself appears to be vague at best, and sometimes thought of as impossible. "We always must be saved by grace (forgiveness)," it is ventured
The second phase is the removal of sin. The work of redemption will not have been completed until all sin has been removed from the creation. The second phase could not proceed until the first phase had been accomplished.
Consider carefully the following two passages:
Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
"To finish transgression." "To put an end to sin." "To bring in everlasting righteousness."
There are two aspects of sin. One aspect is motivation, or compulsion. The other aspect is the behavior caused by the motivation or compulsion.
The two sources of motivation are unclean spirits, and human self-will.
The behavior occurs either in the spirit world or on the earth through human beings.
God has determined to put an end to sin. This means sin will be forgiven totally. It means also that the motivation to commit sin and sinful behavior will be removed from the creation. There shall be a new world of everlasting righteousness.
Now, think about this second passage:
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)
I would define the "end of the age" as the end of the Church Age. I would suggest further that messengers (angels) are coming to the churches already, telling us how to get rid of sinful motivations and behavior.
As I see it, the removing of all sin from the Kingdom, and then through the Kingdom from the remainder of mankind, will take place from the present time to the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Only then can the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church, descend through the new sky to be located forever upon the new earth.
Notice above the weeding out of the Kingdom "everything that causes sin and all who do evil." This is what I meant by stating that all sin and sinners shall be removed from the Presence of Christ and His saints, and incarcerated where and how God decrees.
If we are to understand the Bible and the Divine program of redemption we must come to the realization that the Bible and the redemption are God's response to the original rebellion of the angels. God has determined to portray to the angels, and to mankind as well, the folly of disobedience to God. When we depart from this global concept we rapidly become man-centered and begin to view the Christian salvation as some sort of plan to make people happy and solve all their problems.
The Scripture is clear that all sinful motivations and behavior are to be removed and confined where they cannot trouble God or His people any longer. But this is difficult to grasp because we have been taught for so long that the removal of sin is not part of the program of redemption.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (I John 3:8)
We have not been able to perceive such passages because we have been taught that grace (forgiveness) is the only manner in which God is able to deal with the sinful behavior of His people. We have not understood that God is not benefited when we are forgiven. God is not benefited until our sinful behavior has been removed from us.
The father is blessed when the prodigal returns, but not if the prodigal returns and carries on his wicked behavior in the family home.
"Accepting Christ" without repenting of our behavior is worse than if we never had accepted Christ. Why is this? It is because we have supposed that although we have not changed our behavior, the Father accepts us because we have made a profession of belief in His Son. Thus another destructive witness of Christ comes into being.
It was necessary that we be blinded throughout the Christian Era and remain in the belief that God has forgiven us and is ready to bring us to Heaven, not being able to remove the motivations and behaviors of sin from us. We have rejoiced in our forgiveness, and many have made an effort to live righteously. It was not time for Christ's enemies to be made His footstool.
Now it is time. The Spirit of God is ready to help us put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
There are three ways in which we can cooperate with the Spirit, as He begins to deal with us concerning our sinful motivations and behaviors.
First, once we realize we are sinning we are to stop doing it, meanwhile looking to Christ for strength to do so.
Second, more formally, we are to confess the sinful behavior to the Lord; firmly denounce the behavior as sin; renounce the behavior, declaring that it has no place in the Kingdom of God; draw near to Christ for renewed fellowship; and finally, sternly resist the behavior when we are tempted in the future.
Third, more formally yet, if the first two steps do not give the desired removal, we are to come before the elders of the church, confess the behavior to them, declare in their presence we absolutely want no more to do with this behavior, and have them pray a prayer of deliverance over us.
It never, never, never is the will of Christ that a believer continue in known sin. There is power in the new covenant to release us from every sin. We just need to make up our mind that we want to quit the sinful practice. When we make up our mind, total deliverance is at hand.
The time has come for God to put an end to sin. The pressure of unclean spirits shall continue to grow in the United States, because our courts are legalizing immoral behavior, such as abortion and sexual excesses and perversions. The demons are coming from every corner of the globe because they are welcome in the United States. Consequently only the most determined believer will be able to stand before Christ in victory.
The most destructive pressure may be that of sexual lust. Sexual lust afflicts young and old people. God has revealed His displeasure with ungoverned sexual behavior in the form of several kinds of venereal disease. Yet human beings plunge ahead to their own destruction. Teachers, politicians, men of science—all throw away their careers in their attempts to satisfy the demonic lusts pressing upon them.
During the coming age of moral and physical horrors we can save ourselves and our loved ones, but only by following the Lord Jesus closely and obeying Him in every detail.
The Surrendered Life
The surrendered life is God's ultimate goal for all people. It is that we are to relinquish control of our life to the Lord Jesus Christ. We call Him Lord, but in numerous instances He is not the Lord of us personally. We still make our own decisions in almost everything we do.
There is no better life than living in the rest of God, that is, in the place of abiding in Christ such that we continually are looking to Christ for all we think, say, and do. In fact, in which we constantly are praying that Christ would remove all desire from us that is not from Himself.
I hardly can write on this topic, it is so utterly important to all that takes place in God's creation.
Each one of us was created a little god with a will of our own. We have a throne room in us, and most humans, including Christians, are sitting on that throne. But that room in us has been prepared for the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and on then for us after God has been established firmly and eternally in us.
Where can I start? Perhaps with the Lord's admonition that we abide in Him and He in us. In order for Christ to abide in us and we in Him, we must be totally obedient to Him in every detail of our life. We find His will throughout the Bible, and then in His personal directions to us. If we are to find His complete will for us we must present our body a living sacrifice. This is to say, we must pray continually, giving thanks and letting our requests be made known to God at all times.
Christ Himself is the Resurrection from the dead. As we are dying to our own self-will, and learning to live in His will, we are living in resurrection life. Then, when the Lord appears from Heaven, our body will receive this same life that has been developed in our inner nature.
All sin comes from a desire to act outside of Christ. We may think of sin only as transgressions of God's moral law. But to act outside of Christ invariably leads to a transgression of the eternal moral law, and thus to sin.
Satan wanted to be like God, not in Character but in power to act independently of God. Satan brought his desire down to earth and infected Adam and Eve with the desire for power to act independently of God. The result was, as it always is, chaos.
Several recent doctrines added to Charismatic thinking, such as the faith, prosperity, and positive thinking ideas, on occasion have helped people. But they are attempts to put God-like power in the hands of the believers so they can act independently of God. To these formulas has been added the idea of seeking the spiritual bases of physical afflictions so we can heal ourselves.
The most important element of our life is union with Christ. From union with Christ proceeds God's image in us, fruitfulness, and dominion. Apart from union with Christ we are a dead branch, bearing no worthwhile fruit.
However, we cannot abide in Christ, cannot be in untroubled union with Him, except as we continually are looking to Him for His will in all of our thinking, speaking, and doing. I simply cannot overemphasize the importance of acknowledging God in all we do. This is the key to our very existence, as well as the opposite of our human tendencies.
Man was created to be the throne of God, that is, Heaven. Heaven is God's throne. Heaven is the place from which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit govern. When God's will has been established firmly and eternally in us, we are able to bring the best of Heaven to needy people.
Our prayer is that God's will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven. This is the Kingdom of God. As soon as God is on the throne of our life, we will be given the authority and power to compel God's will on the earth. This government shall be brought to earth with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How we wish today that we could change things in the world! We indeed shall be able to make such changes when the Lord comes from Heaven, but only if we are willing to surrender our own will to that of Christ.
Yielding to the will of Christ is not passivity. We have to struggle night and day to enter the rest of God, that is, into that place where we are ceasing from our own works and looking to the Lord Jesus for guidance. The key is faith. If we are to give to God the right to guide us, then we must believe in God's desire to bring us to the fullness of love, joy, and peace. We must have faith in God's Character—especially His unswerving faithfulness.
The problem from the beginning has been that of man attempting to have God-like power (wisdom)—to be "like God" without being part of God. This is Satan's desire and comes from Satan.
The world of today portrays to us the end of man trying to govern himself, to be "in control." Paradise cannot be restored until God's will and the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ fill everything.
Such will and such Presence indeed shall fill the creation, including the earth. The Kingdom is being formed today as each of us cooperates with the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit directs us to put aside the actions of our sinful, self-willed nature and acknowledge the Lord Jesus in all we think, say, and do.
Four Forces of the Last Days
We spent time in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation this morning. This book has a special blessing on it. I think the reason is, the closing days of the Church Age will be so filled with lies that the authority of Revelation will be questioned. Four evil forces are mentioned: Antichrist, the False Prophet, Babylon, and the lukewarmness of the Church of the Laodicean. We of today would prefer a friendlier Christ, not the Christ (Lamb) of the Book of Revelation. However, those who adhere closely to the warnings of the Book of Revelation are wise and have the blessing of the Lord on them.
We don’t hear too much about Antichrist after the eleventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, until we come to the Book of Revelation. Antichrist has been with us from the first century, according to the Book of First John, but apparently will increase in influence until just before the Lord returns. We need to recognize this danger.
While I am on the subject of danger and deception, we need to remember that Christ advised us to ask the Father that He not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Whether or not we fully understand the need for such a petition, we do well when we obey Christ.
Antichrist emerges from the sea, that is from the multitudes of mankind. Antichrist is man making himself a god. I believe, from the Book of Daniel, that the Antichrist spirit will be personified in one individual, whether man or woman. However, the spirit of Antichrist is in all of us until we deny ourselves, take up our personal cross, and follow Jesus with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Antichrist is the spirit of the world. The world always attempts to make its way without God. It is natural for a human being to make decisions and solve problems according to his experience, wisdom, and knowledge. God has given us a brain, hasn’t He? However, our brain is not to be used to plan our life but to understand what it is Christ wants us to think, say, or do.
From my point of view, the greatest single need in the Christian churches of our day is to learn to listen to Jesus. From the way we rush about, buried under problems, looking for solutions, one would assume Christ will not communicate with us; or is unconcerned; or has left it up to us to do the best we can.
Both the Old and New Testaments portray God speaking clearly to people—from major issues right down to the smallest detail of the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Why, then, do we suppose in the twenty-first century God no longer will speak to us?
It is not uncommon today to hear believers saying the Lord told me this or the Lord told me that. From what I have seen, I think they really are hearing from the Lord. But then they pursue their life as though Christ will speak only in certain instances and not in the case of the multitude of decisions and issues with which they are confronted.
The Christian denominations are notorious for making plans without hearing from the Lord. The leaders of the denomination apply common sense. They look where the need appears to be and then pour their resources into solving the particular problem. Then they pray mightily that God will bless their undertaking.
But in numerous instances Christ did not tell them to do anything. They are reacting to what they suppose Christ wants, or to their own expectations or the expectations of others, or out of fear that they will be left behind in some manner. This tendency to assume what Christ wants is prevalent in the ministry, as well as among the people the ministry serves, as far as I can tell.
The Bible commands: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
This method for living on the earth is directly contrary to the scientific method: observe; hypothesize; test; measure results; revise the hypothesis if necessary. Directly contrary!
The blessing today is on the person who is "in control." When we lean upon our own understanding we default to Satan. We humans are only dust. We are no match for the spiritual titans who are at war. When we do not look to Jesus Christ, we default to Satan—which is exactly what he desires.
Satan urges us to obtain power and security through the acquisition of money. Christ invites us to obtain power and security through the Spirit of God.
Satan urges us to gain wisdom and knowledge through education: Christ opens the door to wisdom and knowledge through the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
The spirit of the world and the Spirit of God are totally opposed, the one to the other!
The basic struggle of the Kingdom of God is righteousness against wickedness. The current misapplication of the grace of forgiveness has so obscured this struggle that the warnings of Revelation appear to apply to anyone except ourselves. We Christians of the twenty-first century are almost totally deluded, as we seek the build the Kingdom of God according to our own understanding of the Kingdom and of the Lord God and His ways and goals.
After Antichrist comes the False Prophet. Where Antichrist comes out of the sea, the multitudes of peoples, the False Prophet arise from the earth, that is, from the soul of human beings.
Antichrist is the desire and willingness of human beings to make decisions and act independently of their Creator, or to declare their Creator nonexistent. The False Prophet is the desire of Christian people to use the name and power of Christ and yet maintain their own life and ways of doing.
Notice that in the case of both Antichrist and the False Prophet, man is attempting to preserve his own life and ways independently of hearing from the Lord Jesus.
The False Prophet has the two horns (double power) of the Lamb but speaks with the voice of the dragon. The dragon says, "I, I, I will do this; I will do that." And the False Prophet acts according to his own understanding and attempts to call on the promises of Christ that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it.
Listen to the ministries of our day and see if they are setting forth their own ideas and plans, ("I can do all things through Christ who strengthens ME"), or they meekly are expressing what Christ has directed them to say and do.
The antidote for the poison of the False Prophet is to deny ourselves, take up our personal cross, and follow the Lord. The False Prophet is Christianity without the personal cross of the believer.
We find, in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, that the False Prophet assists Antichrist. They work together to control mankind. It is the False Prophet who orders mankind to set up an image in honor of the beast and is given power to give breath to the image so it can speak. It is the False Prophet who will force everyone to receive the mark that gives the authority to buy and sell.
Will the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement be divided into a majority who seek to use God to accomplish their own ends, and a minority who take up their cross of suffering and wait patiently on the Lord?
Will the majority then interact with the secular governments, setting up the image (of gold—Nebuchadnezzar!) so money is worshiped? Will the majority then proclaim Christ intends to give them most of the money of the world in order to demonstrate that they have been chosen? Do we hear this abomination being preached today?
Will the Antichrist government, at first at least, se the political advantage of getting together with the multitudes of Christians who have been brought into the churches as the churches have called down miracles in the name of Christ?
The Lord spoke to me one time in Alabama and said, "The "faith" and "prosperity" messages will fade for a while and then return with great power. Is this what the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation is telling us?
The common denominator of Antichrist and the False Prophet is that man remains in control. The only manner by which we can survive and minister during the dark days that lie ahead is by "dying in the Lord" until it becomes Christ who is working and not us.
666 on the right hand or forehead means the individual (Christian or not) is acting or thinking independently of hearing from the Lord Jesus. Compare this with the name of Christ and the name of Christ’s Father written on the foreheads of the firstfruits to God and the Lamb, of Chapter Fourteen of Revelation.
Babylon the Great is described in the seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of Revelation. Babylon is organized religion. The reference possibly is to the Roman Catholic Church, and to her daughters, the Protestant churches.
The name is taken from the attempt of people to build a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens. It is confusion. Religion is man attempting to please God and use God for man’s purposes. Salvation is God reaching down to man to make man in God’s image. Religion (Bablyon) always will seek to murder those who want to serve God apart from the religious organization.
We see this tendency also in the Muslim religion, as its adherents seek to murder those who desire to serve God in another manner.
If I understand the Book of Zechariah, the headquarters of the unified Christian religion will be established at the original site of Babylon, in the nation of Iraq. The Christian leadership will rule the world jointly with Antichrist, until Antichrist no longer will accept a divided leadership, and he and the ten kings destroy Babylon with fire.
As for the fourth problem, the lukewarmness of the Laodicean churches, it is appearing today—at least in America. Many congregations profess to love Christ, and their doctrine and services are scriptural to a certain extent.
But there is something missing! It is the fierceness that is required if we are to press through the overwhelming spirit of the world and serve Christ with a pure heart.
Do you know why the Father has anointed Christ with the oil of joy? It is because Christ passionately, fervently, embraces righteousness and renounces wickedness. This passion, this fervency, comes from God.
The spirit of the churches of Laodicea know little of such a passion. They have developed a doctrine of grace that effectively destroys the struggle between righteousness and wickedness, not being able to perceive the church people to a great extent are still behaving wickedly—with the molestation of the their children, for example.
The Laodicean believer is casual. He has added a religious life to his regular pursuits on the earth. He is trusting that grace will take care of any imperfections in his behavior.
He has little concept of what it means to grow in the ability to embrace righteous behavior and reject wicked behavior. When he sees the term "righteous" or "righteousness" in the New Testament he automatically translates this imputed righteousness. But in most instances these terms are referring to actual righteous behavior.
The Laodicean believer scorns any attempts at honesty, faithfulness, truthfulness, self-control, as being the "dirty rags" of self-righteousness. Thus he is totally confused and deluded.
Consequently he does not have a passionate love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness that are such an important part of the Personalities of God and Christ. Thus he is not in God’s image.
Christ wishes the Laodicean would either join Christ or join Satan. However, such a clear decision would offend the Laodicean. He does not want to be able to say "for me is live is and to die is gain." He certainly does not want to go to such an extreme. Yet he professes to believe the Bible is God’s Word.
On the other hand, he does not want to give himself unconditionally to Satan. But he would not mind a little sin.
So the Laodicean believer is nauseating vomitus to the Lord. The Laodicean would never accept such a description of himself, because he has a "nice" Jesus who is helping him and his family lead a somewhat well-rounded, wholesome life.
Christian, make no mistake. Antichrist, the False Prophet, Babylon, and the churches of Laodicea are with us today in power. There is a blanket of spiritual oppression on us today in America such that it is difficult to think clearly. But Christ will give us a clear mind, clear perception, the ability to make righteous decisions, if we ask Him.
Let us continually pray: "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one."
Suffering as Part of the Rest of God
The burden of the Word of the Lord for our congregation this Sunday seemed to be the role of suffering in our attaining to the rest of God. There are several passages of the Bible that allude to suffering as God’s way of bringing us into His rest. We went over some of them.
I have preached a great deal about the rest of God, which is symbolized spiritually by the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Here is the goal of redemption. All we experience along the way, from the time we first receive Christ and place our faith in the atoning blood, until we stand perfect and complete in all the will of God, being filled with the Fullness of God, is to bring us to the place where it is Christ and not we who is living.
I view the 20th century as being the "Pentecostal Century." During the preceding centuries, many apostolic truths were restored to the churches. But the previous century seemed to see a marked increase in emphasis on the Holy Spirit, His baptism and His gifts. The Pentecostal experience has been celebrated around the world, including in many of the historic denominations.
Now we are in the 21st century. What now?
I have been stating over the past several years that the Pentecostal-Charismatic churches have come to a fork in the road. One path is that of taking hold of the gifts of the Spirit and going forth "to save a lost and dying world" with our gifts of power. The believers who choose this path (and they well may be the majority!) have little patience with the idea of suffering being an important aspect of salvation. They are ready to march and regard every hindrance to their self-driven ways as being "of the devil."
The other path leads to Jesus and to our personal cross of suffering. As we come to the Lord, many of us do not hear "go forth and save a lost and dying world." Rather, what we hear is, "Be still and know I am God."
I am not encouraging passivity. The Christian discipleship always is dynamic, as we read our Bible, pray throughout the day and night, meet with other disciples, give, and serve in whatever area is placed before us. I am not at all encouraging passivity! The passive, casual, double-minded believer will make little progress in the Lord, and will not bring forth the fruit Christ is looking for.
But I must say that the true Christian life, for most of us, is not "going forth to save a lost and dying world." It is that of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following the Lord Jesus moment by moment. In all our ways we acknowledge the Lord and do not attempt to build the Kingdom of God by means of our own wisdom, strength, and talents.
Here we are, in the Charismatic movement Do we adopt some plan or another and try to get God to bless our ideas? Or do we wait patiently until we have heard clearly from Jesus. The latter approach to our discipleship requires trust in Christ, doesn’t it?
"What if nothing happens during our whole life, as we wait to hear from Jesus?"
"What if Christ has no plan for us as an individual and is waiting to see if we will grow impatient and take matters into our own hands?"
"What if it is our responsibility, and not God’s, to save people from Hell? Hadn’t we better get busy and 'do something’"?
Trust is required to enter the rest of God, the feast of Tabernacles, the place where "for us to live is Christ and to die is gain."
The seventh chapter of the Gospel of John tells about Jesus at the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles. Jesus cried out (referring to the twelfth chapter of Isaiah): "Living water will pour forth from whoever believes in Me."
People can drink eternal life from the Lord Jesus. Or, when Christ has come to maturity in us, people will be able to drink eternal life from us.
This is why the Spirit and the Bride together invite whoever will to come and drink eternal life.
What has to happen to us if we are to become such a tree of life? Since the water of eternal life flows from the Throne of almighty God, and from nowhere else, we have to get off the throne of our life and permit God and Christ to reign in our personality.
Here is the rub. We won’t want not to be able to do what we want. We may talk about wanting to be a sanctuary of the Lord, or about giving Jesus our heart; but this is a very difficult thing to do because of the idols we are grasping.
What is God’s answer? Suffering. Imprisonment. The denial of our most fervent desires. Being forced to remain in a situation we detest.
For how long? Until we can say from the bottom of our soul, "The Lord alone is exalted."
We will know we are in the rest of God, in the "Tabernacles experience," when the twelfth chapter of Isaiah is our testimony.
There is no way in which we can learn the depths of obedience God requires of every member of the governing priesthood, other than by suffering under God’s hand. Even the perfect Word of God learned obedience to the Father through suffering.
It is not a walk in the park to go through a season of suffering with God. It appears as though He has abandoned us. It is obvious He is angry with us. "Where is God?" we cry in our misery. I used to be a happy Christian, and now look at me!
It reminds us of Job, doesn’t it, and his comforters abound in the churches.
"How long is this going to last? If I only knew how long this is going to last?
"I will take comfort in Job. I will take comfort in Lamentations. This is a miserable time for me—and I thought I had all the answers!
"I wanted to be a great apostle—God’s man of faith and power. Now I will be content to have a little place in the corner of Gloryland, or at least to sweep up behind the horses in the royal parade."
This is what is going on today. Make your choice. Will I go with the crowd of Charismatics who are out "to save a lost and dying world," or who are talking about such an effort because it is the thing to say.
Or will I quiet my soul, understanding that Christ is requiring only that I obey Him; that I do what He says; that I trust Him to build His own Kingdom.
Oh well, there may be few who hear, few who are willing to become nothing that Christ may become everything. But if one or two are encouraged by my writing, then it has been worthwhile.
I will tell you as one who has been there: "If you wait patiently for the Lord, the time will come when He will bring you forth. Then you will know the Lord in a fuller measure. Your time of darkness will remain in your memory, but you scarcely will remember what it was like when you were so low you had to look up to see the bottom.
"If you are there now, hold steady. Your time of restoration will come."
"Then shall you know if you follow on to know the Lord. As surely as the sun rises, He shall appear to you."
You are passing through the Valley of Achor.
The Concept of the New World
There is a concept of the arrangement of people in the new world that is entirely scriptural, straightforward, and easy to understand. Yet the concept is new to many believers, and so they sometimes have a difficult time understanding it. It is that there are two main classes of people in the new world: the royal priesthood, and the saved people from the nations who are not of God’s elect.
We spoke today concerning the concept of "Israel." We all know under the old covenant, God chose the nation of Israel and called it out from the other nations of the earth. He revealed Himself and gave His moral law to the Israelites, while the remainder of mankind carried on to the best of their ability.
We may not have thought much about what calling out one nation like this says about God. It tells us that He does what He will among the peoples of the earth, and no one can successfully prevent His actions or call them into question.
The choosing of one nation, and destroying another nation in order to put into motion a great illustration to serve as a guide to other chosen people over two thousand years later, is not exactly according to the idea of democracy and "fairness." We just have to settle in our mind that what God considers to be fair is truly fair, and let it go at that.
After the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God continued to call out from the world a people for His own purposes. God calls both Jews and Gentiles, but not all Jews and not all Gentiles, only those whom God has selected.
What is God doing? He is forming a governing priesthood, people who will bring God’s ways and Presence to the remainder of the inhabitants of the earth.
The new elect do not come out of Egypt but out of sin.
The new elect do not wander through the desert between Egypt and Jordan but through numerous obstacles, problems, and battles that come upon them during their discipleship on the earth.
The land of promise of the new elect is first, God and Christ themselves. After that, the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. They are God’s king-priests who will govern forever, under the Lord Jesus Christ, all the works of God’s hands.
The sixtieth and sixty-first chapters of Isaiah are clear concerning the relation of God’s Israel to the other peoples of the earth. The task of the elect is to bring God’s Presence, Glory, and blessing to people who choose to obey Christ but are not of the elect. They have to be taught God’s ways.
Many peoples will come and 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 we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)
An enormous job of teaching will have to be done from now until God’s will is being done throughout the earth.
The last two chapters of the Book of Revelation portray the end result of all God’s labors. By that time the Church has been perfected in the spirit world. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, God creates a new sky and a new earth. Living on the new earth are the people of the nations who have chosen to obey Christ. Some will be citizens on the new earth because they assisted Christ’s brothers during their sufferings on the earth. These are the sheep nations of the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew.
The nations of saved people on the earth will be governed by righteous kings over whom Christ is the supreme King. King of kings!
Then down through the new sky will descend the perfected Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem. These are God’s elect from all covenants. The names of the apostles are in the foundation of the wall and the names of the tribe of Israel are on the gates that open into the city.
Now we can see clearly that there are two classes of saved people on the new earth. There are those of the nations whom God has chosen to save, and then there is the new Jerusalem. The new Jerusalem is Zion, situated on God’s holy hill. This is the city that shall govern the earth for eternity.
I think it is helpful to us realize while the world of today is chaotic, filled with every imaginable evil, God is in control. Every event of history, including the current events, are working together for good for those whom God has called. The good is that each one of the called has been or is being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers.
When a firstfruits of the brothers have met God’s standard, Christ shall appear and they shall appear with Him. The nations of the earth shall see the revealing of God’s sons. There shall be a great light upon the saints. All the ends of the earth shall flock to that Light. God has come to the earth. God is here! God is present in His Church, His elect, His called out holy ones (holy by calling and then by transformation.)
Let us not grow weary in well doing. Each trial, each frustration, each denial of what we desire, each imprisonment in which we are being held, is working for our good, that we might be transformed into the image of Christ and be His brothers for eternity.
One day, if we will remain faithful, God shall give us the desires of our heart. We shall receive fullness of joy and pleasures forever. This is God’s promise to those who abide faithfully in Christ and do all He commands.
We are studying the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation. This is a portrayal of the glorified Christian Church, the eternal dwelling place of God, coming down to rest on the new earth. God's solution to the chaotic confusion of the history of mankind is to save everyone who will come under the authority of the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and from this group of saved people to select a set of individuals who will be especially trained to worship God and to serve as priests and rulers over the remainder of the group of saved people. This set of individuals is the Church.
I realize Christian people find it difficult to understand that there will be two sets of people in the new world of righteousness—the Church, and then the larger group that is composed of nations of saved people. Until this simple concept is grasped, Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61 cannot be understood, nor can the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
The concept is straightforward: God is preparing people who will serve Him as kings and priests over the remainder of mankind.
Think about Israel. Let's view all the Israelites as representative of the saved peoples of the earth. But inside the linen fence of the Tabernacle of the Congregation were the priests and Levites. The priests and Levites also were Israelites, but they were selected to be especially close to God and to serve the remainder of the Israelites as priests, judges, and (before Israel grieved God by demanding a king), rulers.
All Israel was a holy nation, a nation of priests to the remainder of mankind. But the priests and Levites were especially holy. Isn't that true?
To be holy means to be close to God and spiritually clean.
The eternal dwelling place of God, the Church, shall be with the remainder of mankind, wiping away their tears and being a source of healing and eternal life for them. This is the endgame, the ultimate goal of the Christian redemption.
A clause in the fourth verse caught my eye: "The old order of things has passed away."
Notice the following passage from Isaiah:
Many peoples will come and 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)
Before I entered the role of pastor I was a public-school teacher at many levels, including that of college, and also served four years as principal of a public elementary school. So when I see the expression "He will teach us His ways," I naturally think of school.
Notice carefully that in verse four, of the second chapter of Isaiah, that the outcome of the teaching that proceeds from Zion and Jerusalem is that there are no more wars.
Now think: First the Scripture says the old order of things has passed away. Then it states that people will go up to Zion to be taught. The final result is, there are no more wars.
How would you like to go on a little visit with me, a possible vision of the future?
Let us say that when Jesus returns He establishes Zion University. He installs campuses all over the earth and all over the spirit world.
He then selects, from earth and from the spirit world, teachers of every area of endeavor, from the care and feeding of infants to theoretical physics. He selects school administrators. He chooses building engineers. He also selects angels who can supply spiritual wisdom and force to all the people who have been chosen to build and operate Zion University.
After He has provided opportunity and time for all of these people and angels to become acquainted with each other, He says: "People and angels, as President of Zion University I want to inform you of the purpose and operation of our school. Our goal is that every individual love God with all of his or her heart, soul, strength, and mind, and his neighbor as himself. The second objective, always secondary in importance, is that each person develop the talent he or she has been given.
For the transfer of knowledge, such a scientific knowledge, or geography, or history, there will be directors of multimedia presentations.
For proficiency in skills, such as music, art, athletics, handwriting and reading at the lower grades, there will be coaches.
All necessary seminars and practicums in associated areas will be provided.
But the instruction of primary importance will that which deals with relationships, with social behavior. Beginning with very young children, the supreme goal of education will be presented: that each individual love God with all of his heart, soul, strength, and mind, and his neighbor as himself. Personal development in these two dimensions of personality must always be held as more important than progress in any other discipline.
From the earliest years, role playing, playground supervision, and other more sophisticated devices will be employed to measure attainment toward the supreme goal. No person will be graduated from Zion University until his sponsors have determined that he has passed satisfactorily each objective that taken together compose the supreme goal.
Any individual who consistently demonstrates an unwillingness to love and serve God, or to live in love and peace with his neighbor, will be removed from the general populace and trained rigorously until all anti-Christ and antisocial tendencies have been removed.
Incorrigibles, those who absolutely refuse to be corrected, will be delivered over to severe and perhaps eternal punishment. While this may seem unduly harsh, it is better that an incorrigible suffer or be removed from society rather than to have lawful, Christ-loving, peaceful people endure the confusion, frustration, and agony that have characterized civilization from its earliest days
Because of our American love of independence and privacy, the above vision may seem intolerable. But let us keep in mind that to go our own way rather than to submit to Christ is the source of all sin, all agony of mind, emotion, and body. Is this what we desire? Is our right to be independent and self-willed worth the pain of life on earth? Do we desire a bloody, unbowed head? Is it actually better to rule in Hell than to serve in Heaven.
Not for me it isn't! I want to be the first student in Zion University.
How about you?
The Tree of Life
God has a goal for His saints. It is that they become trees of life—life-giving spirits, as Paul says. Most of mankind is spiritually dead. Among mankind there are people who have received the atonement through the blood of the cross and have been touched with eternal life. Their goal now is to press forward each day, obeying Christ implicitly so they may receive more of God’s Life.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life. He was the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden of Eden. Whoever eats of His fruit, to think in terms of an allegory, will receive eternal life, the Life of God, the Holy Spirit. Now the Tree of Life is in Paradise.
It is God’s will that from the roots of Christ grow up more trees of life, more available fruit for people who need eternal life. This is why the Scripture says, "The Spirit and the Bride say ‘come.’" The Spirit says come because the Life of God is in Him. The Bride says come because God’s Throne has been established in her and she has become the source of God’s life.
Today the challenge directed at us who have been saved and received a portion of God’s Spirit is to press forward into the Spirit of God until we become trees of life from which needy people can receive the Life of Christ. The forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel describes a person who goes from waters to the ankles, the knees, the hips, and finally waters to swim in. Then he stands by the River of Life so that eternal life might flow to the dead sea of mankind.
We have to lay hold on eternal life, as Paul charged Timothy. Each day provides an opportunity to choose to obey Christ and thus be given to eat of the Tree of Life. So each day we make progress toward the time when we can be a tree of life. In fact, we can be a tree of life for someone today, if we will follow Christ closely.
You may notice, in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Revelation, the Tree of Life standing on each side of the River of Life. Since one tree cannot be on two sides of the River, we conclude we are speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ and those trees growing out from Him. The trees growing out from Christ are those who are living by His body and blood today. His body and blood are eternal life.
Now, here is an interesting thought. These trees of life are "bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding their fruit every month.
I have given some thought and prayer to each of these crops, and the following is what I have come up with . See if you agree with some of these.
The first and most important fruit of eternal life is to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind. To not love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind is spiritual death.
A second important fruit of life is to love our neighbor as ourselves. To not have this attitude is to live in the death of hatred, animosity, revenge, unforgiveness, bitterness, meanness, malice, and so forth.
A third fruit from the Tree of Life is joy. When we are full of the Spirit of God we have joy. To not live in the Spirit is to be miserable, seeking joy through immorality, drugs, alcohol, or some other source.
A fourth fruit from the Tree may be courage. Without courage it is impossible to please God. We are living in the midst of the conflict of the ages, the conflict between good and evil. The fearful end up in the Lake of Fire. Christ will give us His courage if we ask.
A fifth fruit is faith. By faith I am not speaking of subscription to a Statement of Faith, an adherence to theological statements, but rather of our assessment of God’s Character. Is God really faithful? Will He actually bring us to joy? Can He be counted on in our time of trouble and peril? To not believe in God’s goodness and faithfulness is spiritual death.
A sixth fruit is holiness, spiritual cleanliness. We of the Pentecostal persuasion used to place an emphasis on holy living. This thought seems to have been abandoned, and the believers have no guidelines in many instance. Thus the young people drink beer, smoke cigarettes, go to movies that include four-letter words, sexual innuendos, and worse. God will never accept this! It is death!
A seventh fruit of life is truth. Our world today is one huge lie. The emphasis is on money, sexual intercourse, covetousness, violence, and independence of thought and action. That which God abominates is exalted. That which God honors is despised. The nations, particularly the wealthy nations of the West, are living in spiritual death.
An eighth fruit self-control. Laws that used to control human behavior are being removed by the various governments so people can live undisciplined lives. Lack of self-control is a fast track to physical destruction and spiritual death.
A ninth fruit is humility. God loves a meek, quiet spirit The opposite of humility is pride and arrogance. Pride is of the nature of Satan. It is not in keeping with the image of God, who want us to walk humbly with Him. It is spiritual death.
A tenth fruit may be that of contentment. God is pleased when we learn to be content in the situations in which we are placed. We always should pray for what we desire. However, the ultimate prayer is, "Your will be done." Having prayed this we are to practice contentment in our present circumstances. To not be content is to live in spiritual death.
An eleventh fruit is the love of mercy. God is merciful. God is never slack in His exercise of righteous judgment, but He tempers His actions with mercy according to His awareness of every contributing circumstance. Today the idea of God’s mercy is misplaced. It is translated as a weak kind of fleshly love that does not support His Word and neglects of exercise judgment when stern judgment is warranted. This misunderstanding of God’s merciful Nature is leading numerous believers to destruction. True mercy is of God’s image, and the believer who is harsh in his judgment of others is in spiritual death, and will himself experience judgment without mercy.
A twelfth fruit is obedience to God. Disobedience to God is spiritual death. God has given Jesus Christ to be our lawful King. Whoever does obey Christ the Lord will never be given citizenship in the new world of righteousness. He or she is doomed to spiritual darkness and death.
You may find other virtues that you feel are more to the essence of eternal life. The idea is, if we will obey God every day until we are in "waters to swim in," we will be able to provide people who come to us with one or more of these forms of spiritual life. We can instruct people in the ways of life, and we also can lay hands on them and ask the Lord to fill them with love for God, or for their neighbor, or for joy, or for faith, or any of the other forms of eternal life.
We can minister to people today with whatever life we have, and keep looking forward to the day when we can stand with the Spirit and say, "Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life."
It appears to me there are four ages of man’s history. The first age, the Preliminary Age, goes from Adam to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second age, the Church Age, goes from the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to His next coming. The third age, the Kingdom Age, goes from the next coming of the Lord to the doing away with the present sky and earth. The fourth age, the Eternal Age, begins with the coming down to earth of the glorified church, the new Jerusalem, and shall last forever.
(6/24/2007) I think it may prove helpful to some of the believers to get these four ages firmly fixed in their minds. To not understand them is to invite confusion into one’s thinking, I believe.
The Old Testament primarily tells us what we need to know about the Preliminary Age. The important aspect of the first age is that the personages and events provide understanding to us who are living in the Church Age. I think most of us understand this, and read the Old Testament every day to glean what truths God has for us.
The purpose of the present age, the Church Age, is not always made clear. The main event seems to be the calling out from mankind of people who are to be trained to serve as rulers and priests for the benefit of the remainder of those who are saved into the Kingdom of God.
Although there are many passages that point out the precision with which God calls out people for His purposes, such as "No one comes to Me except the Father draw him," we insist on focusing on getting as many people as possible to "take the four steps of salvation. We appear to do little beyond urging those who have taken the four steps of salvation to try to get as many others as possible to take the four steps of salvation.
The purpose of taking the four steps of salvation. we assume, is so when we die we will not go to Hell but to a heavenly environment in which we do nothing of significance for eternity. If this were true we would be leaving one hell for another.
The emphasis of the New Testament, it seems to me, is that of running a race after we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are pointed toward becoming a new creation in the image of Jesus Christ, and toward seeking to attain to the resurrection. There are many passages devoted to the idea of pursuing redemption to its completion, particularly in the Book of Hebrews, and warning us of the danger of not following through with what we have started.
No writer I have read treats the text of Hebrews honestly, because the scholars are determined to make the book say that once we "accept Christ" we have nothing more to do or to be concerned about.
So we hear "go out and save the lost"; "go out and save the lost"; "go out and save the lost," over and over again. But how often do we hear what Paul taught us, in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians, about pressing toward perfection, toward the first resurrection? We hear rapture, rapture, rapture, but not about being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ that we may be His brothers.
The reason for such unscriptural emphasis is that we do not understand the purpose of the second age, the Church Age. We are seeking to save the nations instead of making cross-carrying, obedient disciples from the people of the nations. We simply do not understand the purpose of the Church Age.
The third age, the Kingdom Age, is virtually unknown to us. The fact that the Lord Jesus Christ will be sitting on His Throne on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and governing the nations of the earth with a rod of iron is unknown to us. We suppose it has something to do with the Jews, as though there are two brides of the Lamb, a Jewish Bride and a Gentile Bride. Totally unscriptural! Yet this is promulgated by those who profess to believe in the full inspiration of the Bible.
The third age is inserted between the Church Age and the Eternal Age because the Christian Church, the new Jerusalem, is not ready to come down from Heaven and be established on the earth. Therefore the third age, the Church Age, will be one of instruction. The nations have to be taught moral values. Such instruction has to be administered with iron force because the people of the nations have not been taught by most of the Christian churches, let alone the government, to love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves. They are going to resist fiercely their right to determine their own way of life. In fact, Isaiah tells us they will be taken on "field trips" to look on the bodies of those who have resisted God.
The church members, for the most part, will be in the spirit world, not having attained to the resurrection that will occur when the Lord returns. In numerous instances the church people are as rebellious in their hearts as are the people of the nations. No one is going to tell them they have to obey Christ. They will obey Christ whenever and however they feel like it. Until this rebellion has been removed from the Christian believers during the Kingdom Age, they never shall be a part of the glorified church. Never! Whoever, whether believer or not, does not accept and obey the absolute authority of Jesus Christ, has no part whatever in the Kingdom of God.
So much for the American love of independence, of self-determination.
Very little is said about the people on the earth during the Kingdom Age. A few passages in Isaiah. We know from the second chapter of the Book of Isaiah that the people of the nations that have survived the Battle of Armageddon are going to want to go up to Jerusalem to learn the ways of the Lord.
As far as the fourth age, the Eternal Age, we have just the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation to guide us. We are nowhere near being ready to see the Face of God. But we shall be some day if we hold fast to the end our confidence in Christ.
Meanwhile, let us keep praying to Christ that He will help us love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbors as ourselves.
In the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Revelation the statement is made that the servants of God and of the Lamb will be given light by the Lord God, and they will reign for ever and ever. The two ideas are associated. The servants will reign by virtue of the light they have been given. It will be impossible to govern in the future apart from Divine light.
The following passage is difficult to understand. At least it has been for me:
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)
What kind of light will they be given? It must be some kind of physical illumination, for there will be no need for the sun or a lamp.
Are we speaking of understanding—the light of understanding? Perhaps in part.
Are we speaking of righteous behavior? Perhaps in part?
Are we speaking of the Glory of God? Probably?
But what kind of light will come from Divine Glory? Will it be illumination, such that one could read a book by the light of it? Probably.
Will the light that comes from the Divine Glory give an understanding of God and His ways? Probably.
Will the light that comes from the Divine Glory be revealed in righteous behavior? Probably.
Will the light that comes from the Divine Glory enforce and enable righteous behavior? Probably, because the servants of God and of the Lamb will govern by means of that light..
When Jesus said, "I am the Light of the World, precisely what did He mean?
When Jesus said we are the light of the world, what did He mean?
In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis we read that there were an evening and a morning for three days before there was a sun. How can this be? It is apparent that the original state of the creation was darkness, and then God commanded some kind of light, and God separated the light from the darkness—not the darkness from the light, as we would suppose, but the light from the darkness. This is significant.
What God is doing today in the believers that are cooperating with the Spirit of God is dividing between the light and the darkness in us. The Spirit is bringing us into many challenging, sometimes distressing, experiences. The purpose of these experiences is to reveal the darkness that is in us.
When we find ourselves upset, we are not—absolutely not!—to become angry with the tools that God uses to frustrate, irritate, or upset us. We are to go to the Lord and ask Him why we are angry and upset. Almost invariably we will discover some area of darkness that is causing us to fret.
Then we are to confess that darkness clearly to God, asking His forgiveness and cleansing. This God will do faithfully. While God may not remove the sin that dwells in us, He will take the life out of it so we can overcome it in the future.
I cannot possibly overemphasize the importance of cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He separates us from the darkness of sin and rebellion. Such is the move of God that follows the Pentecostal experience. If we have been forgiven through the blood and filled with the Spirit of God, the next move in the program of redemption is to separate our personality from the darkness of indwelling sin; from the darkness of our self-will; and from the darkness that surrounds us in America.
God is light, and anyone who claims to love God and to abide in God absolutely must be separated from the darkness of sin and disobedience. The grace of forgiveness is not light. The grace of forgiveness is God’s forbearance while the Spirit is working to separate us from all sin and rebellion.
Often the statement is made that as long as we are in the world we are compelled to sin. This is a lie. It has no scriptural support whatever. It is true that there is sin in us. But when the Spirit reveals the problem area to us we are to confess and forsake it, by the wisdom and power that Christ gives.
Can we follow the program of redemption until there is no darkness in us? Of course. Can it happen in this present life? Of course. Can it take place in the spirit world after we die? Of course. Else how could there ever be a Church without blemish, a new Jerusalem that is the eternal dwelling place of God and that will govern the people who are members of the saved nations of the new earth?
I do not mean to imply by this that, as is commonly taught, that we are to wait until we die in order for God to separate us from the darkness of sin and rebellion. The program of redemption occurs in steps, and is independent of whether we are alive on the earth or with Jesus in the spirit world. The point is this: when the Spirit is dealing with us, whether here or there, we must be obedient. If we do not cooperate with the Spirit of God we will be dealt with as a wicked, lazy servant, whether we are on the earth at the time or in the spirit world. Our Christian mythology certainly is filled with unscriptural ideas concerning sin, and concerning what will happen to us when we die!
The spirit world is a great school in which we will learn the ways of Heaven. But if we do not obey the Spirit of God now, we will not obey the Spirit of God then. The day of salvation always is today.
The previous century was the Pentecostal century. Now, as might be expected, God is moving forward in His program of the redemption of the created world. The present move, the present truth, has to do with the Divine judgment of God’s people. The Spirit is ready to point out the darkness that is in the personalities of the saints and which prevents us from ruling with the Lord Jesus. We must cooperate with the Spirit by confessing the darkness that is in us and turning away from it.
If our eye is single, always looking upward toward our treasures which we have placed in Heaven, and which will be returned to us in the Day of Christ, then our whole body will be filled with light. But if we are not always looking upward, have not placed our treasures in Heaven, but are emphasizing our pleasure in the present world, our whole body will be filled with darkness; and that darkness, as the Lord warned, will be great!
Today was devoted to the testimonies of those who have just returned from our summer camp in Indiana, Mission: Truth. There were several outstanding testimonies. The testimonies this year were more profound spiritually than has been true in time past. It is evident our young people are grasping what is being taught at Mount Zion.
It is inspiring to hear young people, down to the age of eleven or twelve, speak so knowledgeably concerning repentance. They have been taught by Dianne McIntosh that we must repent whenever we realize we have said or done something that is part of the sinful nature. These kids mean business with the Lord!
Stan, our Assistant Pastor, was told by the Lord to speak about putting off the old man and putting on the new man. Stan thought to himself, The kids are not going to go with this!
But God kept insisting. Sure enough, there was confirmation that this is what the Lord wanted at the 2007 camp. Sometimes we sell young people short, thinking they must have only fun, fun, fun, when actually they are able to understand the idea of putting off the old man and putting on the new man.
It is a good thing the young people are moving in this direction. It appears evident that the United States of America is going to be a quite different place in a few years. We are gridlocking because, without a considered opinion by the mass of citizens, we are changing from a melting pot philosophy to a multicultural concept. The politicians, who appear to desire only that they remain in public office, regardless of the welfare of the country, regardless of what is right and what is wrong, are hoping that various races of people will vote as a bloc. They then can concentrate their efforts on finding favor with that bloc—not that they particularly care about that race but because they want high political office.
So the old American idealistic dream of a republican government is giving way to cynicism. An unthinking (in terms of God or the future) pragmatism is carrying the field. Given such hypocrisy and wickedness, the only possible result is weakness and chaos on every hand.
Therefore, if our young people are going to survive spiritually and help other people, they are going to need more than ice cream socials and "fun times." They need to get hold of Jesus with all their might.
Stan spoke about putting off the old man and putting on the new. Stan reminded us also that we are given a package, our first personality. Then given a gift, whatever God sends us in the way of talents and directions. Then we display what we have done with our package and our gifts. We will go through eternity looking on the outside what we are on the inside. A sobering thought!
Lloyd, our Youth Pastor, was in a military mode at camp and yesterday at church. Lloyd has had Ranger training and was an officer in the army. He knows his stuff. He had everyone in the church yelling "HOOAH!," which means, I agree with and am going to act on what you are saying.
Lloyd had a good thought. He drew an analogy between Special Ops (Seals, Delta Force, etc.) and the Lord’s firstfruits, His remnant.
We may not like to think of an elite group within the Christian Church, but there is.
There are the Nazarites of the Old Testament. There is the "firstfruits" of the Book of Revelation.
It is true of Special Ops that their training is much, much more grueling than is true of the average soldier or sailor. The Seals have their "Hell Week," which weeds out all but the most determined.
This is more true of God’s firstfruits, His Nazarites, than we realize.
If we hope to be among the Lord’s remnant, than we better be ready for some hard discipline and suffering, just as is true of the elite groups of the military.
Today we can see at a glance the sloppiness and casualness of Christian people. If they do not have the latest electronic gadget they think they have entered the Great Tribulation.
The truth is, we American Christians are spoiled rotten! And we hope to be raptured up to be with those believers who were led into the arenas of Rome with their children; with the Prophets, like Isaiah, who, according to tradition was sawn in half?
If we are wise, we of today are preparing our young people for a different America than we are experiencing right now. We are encouraging them to spend some time each day praying, reading their Bible, and—especially—listening to what Jesus has to say to them.
After listening to our young people yesterday, I realize that children and young people indeed can learn to listen to Jesus and obey Him. It is we adults who are in love with ourselves and living out our fantasies through our children, who are consenting to the ways of our culture. We are selling the kids short!
Let us at once take hold and begin to lift the standard. We have to be the model. If we smoke and drink, our children are going to smoke and drink. If we gossip about people, our young people are going to gossip. If we treat our local church as a social club, then our young people are going to be fixated on boy-girl relationships (or worse!)—which is exactly what Satan desires.
I do not know how much time we have left. The Spirit is saying that many Americans will be killed in the future and that America is going to lose its place as the leader of the world. That’s fine, if it stops the abortions and the spread of sexual perversion.
But remember—your boy and girl and my boy and girl are going to have to survive spiritually in the midst of moral and physical chaos.
And—they are going to react just as you and I are reacting today.
The Continuing Warfare
I think the reason the believers in Christ do not exercise more diligence in avoiding moral temptation is that they do not realize they are in a war. If we could see what is going on in the spirit world we might be much more determined to resist temptation. When it comes to alcohol, or drugs, or cigarettes, or profanity, or homosexual behavior, or pornography, if we could see the demon personalities who keep on seeking to draw us into their influence, we might recoil in disgust or horror and turn away from them. But it has pleased God that we choose to obey His commandments on no basis other that we want to please Him and obey His will.
As I was praying in preparation for the morning sermon my mind was drawn to Psalms 18. This is one of my favorites. In fact, I have written a booklet based on this Psalm. It is titled, "The Warrior’s Prayer."
Psalms 18 was written by David, a warrior. He tells of the horrors he experienced as the enemy sought to destroy him. David reveals how he learned to trust God, to know God as his strength, his shield, his fortress.
We do not learn the importance of having God as our Protector and Deliverer until we undergo severe attacks by the forces of evil.
As I spoke I began to realize how vulnerable our young people are. They are bombarded by the wicked forces of our culture. There is the constant invitation to pornography, drugs, alcohol, filthy speech, abortion on demand, and in particular, homosexual behavior. May I say in passing that homosexual preference is the ultimate in selfishness. We take that which is designed to bring new life into the world and squander it on our desire to feel good.
In the young person’s mind may be a variety of reasons why he or she would like to engage in pornography, or drugs, or alcohol, or homosexual behavior, or any of the other destructive activities of our culture—behaviors which destroy our health, or emotional or mental strength and stability, or which may result in imprisonment.
In some instances, the young person is rebelling against the values of his or her parents. Even though he may pick up AIDS or some other venereal disease, he is getting back at his parents for denying him what he wants.
Sometimes the reason for deviating from what the Bible tells us is pleasing to the Lord is that he wants to be acceptable to his friends.
On other occasions the sheer power of the lust, as in pornography, overcomes his better judgment.
The problem is, the young person cannot see what is going on in the spirit world. He does not realize the final battle between God and Satan, between Christ and Antichrist, is at hand. He does not see himself as a potential soldier in Christ’s army who could help bring about victory in the final battle. He sees only the "fun" he will have as he engages in the fruitless, destructive behaviors the Bible condemns.
If he actually could see Satan and his demons, he then would have perspective on what he is choosing.
When Christ returns it is for the purpose of setting up His Kingdom on the earth. Because of Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the armies of demons, all of whom consider the earth and its nations to be their desired and proper inheritance, the Kingdom of God must be established on the earth by force.
The force is not that of physical combat, or even of spiritual power against spiritual power. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, retains all power. The warfare is truth, righteousness, and strict obedience to God as opposed to lies, wickedness, and disobedience to God.
Any believer who is not living in the truth, who is not behaving righteously, who is not sternly obedient to God, will not be resurrected and ascend to meet the Lord in the air when He comes. Why not? Because he has not conquered evil in his own personality and therefore is neither qualified nor competent to help with the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.
It is instructive to examine how Satan has managed to move Christian people away from righteous conduct, which is central to Christ’s government. The Catholic Church emphasizes the doing of penance instead of repentance. This is a form of conducting our own atonement.
The Protestant churches emphasize faith and belief in Christ rather than righteous conduct, believing that somehow a mystical belief in the existence and work of Christ will enable them to have fellowship with God. This actually is more Gnostic than it is Christian.
Where does one go to hear about how we are to live, and the power to live that way, rather than being instructed in the nearly worthless tenets of a particular religion? One can see that the Muslims make some attempts to promote righteousness in the avoidance of alcohol, in modesty of dress, and in the abhorrence of homosexual behavior. But without Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God they cannot possibly overcome the wiles of Satan, and so they end up murdering the innocent in their blindness.
But do not go into a Christian church and expect to hear about how the Bible condemns adultery, fornication, anger, unforgiveness, covetousness, gossip, slander, and how through the Spirit of God we are to renounce these and similar wicked behaviors. No, you will hear about how we should attend that church, make a profession of belief in Christ, and look forward to release from trouble through a "rapture."
What I am saying is, there is little clear, power-filled teaching of righteous, obedient behavior in the United States of America. Having been involved in public-school teaching and administration for a number of years I know how little emphasis there is on moral behavior. Since the Bible is not considered an authoritative guide to moral behavior, what is left is a vacuum. Into this vacuum is stepping how we should be tolerant of homosexual behavior.
How different life would be if there were no Satan, no world spirit, no demonic pressure, no continual attacks by anti-God forces on every person. We perhaps could just make up our mind that we were going to be a godly person, and proceed live a wholesome life.
But today we are bombarded by Satan using the electronic communication devices. Only the strongest are able to shout a resounding "No!" when demons whisper in their ear and work on their glands.
I know from the Old Testament that God is not giving up on the earth. He is going to come in supreme power and take the operating of the world away from mankind. We have had at least six thousand years to make a better world. Today we are on the edge of wiping life from the face of the earth. We have had our chance.
Now it is God’s turn. He is going to use the rod of iron to compel obedience to Himself and His commandments. Those who refuse and resist will be removed from civilization, and who knows what other torments they will endure—perhaps for eternity!
Ours is a time of preparation for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, and for a chance to be a soldier in the army of the Lord. What are you doing about it?
Such an opportunity may never come again for you!
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; Let the sea resound, and all that is in it; Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy; They will sing before the LORD, for he comes, He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in his truth. (Psalms 96:11-13)
At night, Psalms 73 was the topic. When we see wickedness coming to maturity in our country we can join in the sin, or we can become angry and fret ourselves, or we can pray until we have peace.
The Right To the Tree of Life
I think there is a whole lot about eternal life that we do not understand. The Lord said that the way to eternal life is narrow and few find it. Yet we say just accept Christ and you have all the eternal life there is to have. I think the problem arises because we think that "accepting Christ" means we will live forever in Heaven. Once we have our ticket, we think, we are kept out of Hell and will go to Heaven when we die. The Scripture does not teach anything like this. Rather the New Testament, which is the source for our understanding of eternal life, tells us that eternal life is a kind of life. It is not speaking of existing forever. And we have to lay hold of it after we have received Christ as our Lord and Savior. Otherwise we lose it.
Think about the following two passages:
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. Revelation 2:7)
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)
"The right to eat from the tree of life."
"The right to the tree of life."
"Him who overcomes."
"Wash their robes."
The Tree of Life is the Lord Jesus Christ (and in the time to come, those who are an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ).
It is access to this Life that was lost through the rebellion of Adam and Eve.
Eternal life is a kind of life. There is biologic life, the life of blood, that we all experience. Then there is the eternal life that God experiences. Eternal life is life in the Presence of God; life filled with God. As such there is no tiredness, no death, no sickness, only love, joy, and peace.
The object of the Christian redemption is to redeem us to God as His children, and eternal life to us as the only kind of life suitable for God’s children.
Eternal life, the Life of God in Christ, is the goal of redemption. However, we do not receive it as a legal position on the basis of making a profession of belief in Christ. Rather, it is the Life of the Spirit of God that wars continually against our fleshly, sinful nature.
When we place our faith in the Lord Jesus for righteousness, instead of in the works of the Law of Moses, we have permission to eat from the Tree of Life, from Jesus Christ. But then we have to eat, obviously.
In order to eat from the Tree of Life we have to obey Christ at all times, every moment of every day and every night.
Let us say we are a Christian, and it has been emphasized to us that we are not to gossip. Then the Spirit of God points out to us that we are gossiping. We are to confess our sin to God. God is faithful to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. At this point we are eating from the Tree of Life and receiving into our personality the eternal Life of God.
But let us say that after having been warned, we continue to gossip. In this case we are not given to eat from the Tree of Life. Adamic life is prevailing in us, and adamic life is spiritual death.
Every day, by renouncing our sinful acts and looking to Christ for wisdom and strength, we eat from the Tree of Life. Every day eternal life gains more mastery over our thoughts, words, and actions. The end result of this is, when the Lord returns, we will be clothed with a body of eternal life, coming down over our resurrected flesh and bones.
If, on the other hand, we do not continually look to Christ for wisdom and strength that we may be able to turn away from our sinful behavior, sin increases its mastery over our thoughts, words, and actions. When the Lord Jesus returns we will be clothed with the corruption and death we have sown. We will reveal in our body the sinful nature we have continued to obey.
The monumental error of our day is that Divine grace invalidates the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. "Saved by grace" has come to mean that we go to Heaven to live forever even though we have not undergone the transformation unto eternal life. There is no scriptural basis whatever for this current fable. Being saved by grace, as the Apostle Paul uses the term means we now come to God by placing our faith in Christ instead of in the Law of Moses. The Law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. The distinction is between Moses and Christ, not between faith and moral transformation.
"O for a thousand tongues!" O that I might be able to stand on a pinnacle somewhere and declare to the Church of Jesus Christ, "You are not relating correctly to Christ! You are calling Him Lord, Lord, but not doing what He taught! You are not keeping His commands!
Perhaps such a voice will sound one day with undeniable clarity through the mouths of a multitude of God’s ministers: "If you desire eternal life, the Life of God in Christ; you must turn from your sins. When you do you will be given to eat from the only Tree of Life.
But if you do not turn from your sinful behavior, meanwhile maintaining you are going to go to Heaven (which is not the issue, the issue is God’s Life!) by professing belief in Christ, and are teaching this to people, you are going to face not only an angry Christ, but also angry people whom you have betrayed with your false teaching.
We had two outstanding services today. Dr. Steve Ross, a pastor from Richmond, Indiana spoke in the morning. Dr. Dianne McIntosh, the president of Grace Ministries, headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, spoke Sunday evening, after having conducted the Biblical Exhortation Master’s Program on the four prior evenings.
Dianne has a gift of psychologic counseling, as well as formal psychologic education in the secular realm. She spoke to us Sunday evening about God’s love for us, and how we are unable to receive it until we love ourselves. We cannot love ourselves until we forgive ourselves. And we cannot love others as ourselves, the second great commandment, until we receive God’s love and love ourselves.
Dr. Steve spoke of conversion, using the story of the prodigal son, and I might comment on this for a bit.
When someone makes a correct theologic statement concerning the atonement made by Jesus Christ and the Lordship of Christ, we say he or she has been converted. The truth is, by our profession we have oriented ourselves correctly to the work of redemption, but we really haven’t been converted as yet.
To be converted is to be changed from the fallen adamic nature to the new eternal life that is in Jesus Christ. Such change in our personality, such a conversion from the old creation to the new creation, can occur only as we take up our cross and follow the Lord each and every day. Given the poison in our culture, we must make every effort to obey the Holy Spirit as He converts us from Adam to Christ.
Pastor Ross went on to talk about the idols that dwell in us until we truly have been converted from Adam to Christ. He emphasized gossip and slander. He told of the suffering he and his family went through because of gossip in the church.
The story of the prodigal son is used sometimes to show how easy it is to return to the Father. No living of a victorious life is required. We just leave the filth of our fleshly ways and God always is there to receive us.
I know there is a lot of truth in this idea, and God welcomes those who sincerely repent and puts their sins behind His back. This is the absolute truth.
But belief alone without repentance is being preached today. Just believe, and all Heaven is waiting to congratulate you.
But stop just for a moment. It says the prodigal "came to himself," meaning he came to his senses, he realized he had squandered his inheritance. He was ready to return and be treated as a hired hand. He had repented thoroughly. The Book of Acts speaks much of repentance, not just belief alone, but belief coupled with sincere repentance.
To repent is to leave the way of life that has been destroying us and return to obedience to Christ.
If the prodigal son, upon returning home, and brought his old friends with him and they continued with their carousing, what would have taken place? I tell you what would have taken place. His father would have sent him away so he wouldn’t destroy his family with his wicked ways.
The key to being received joyfully by the Father, to being called a "son," to being given the best robe, the ring, and sandals, to have the fattened calf killed and a feast being given in our honor, is to come in humility before God with the attitude that we are not worthy to be called His son.
But what do we have today in many instances? The believers are being taught that God is so anxious to bring us to Heaven that all we have to do is raise our hand and say "I do," and God falls all over Himself to welcome us and to remove all difficulties from our life.
The truth is, once we profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we will pass through numerous testings and trials as God converts us from the old adam to the new Man, Jesus Christ. The Christian discipleship is a rugged way. Many start, but not all finish.
Small is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. Many start, but then find they were oversold salvation by evangelists who were seeking to get as many as possible to make a "profession of Christ." But when the new believer experiences the dealings of God, he decides at that time whether he wants to move forward to genuine conversion, or else draw back into the ways of the world and the flesh.
The Servant of the Lord
I preached this Sunday morning about the Servant of the Lord, from Chapter 42 of the Book of Isaiah. The Servant of the Lord is "Christ," that is, the One whom God has anointed to do God’s will in the creation, particularly to bring justice to the nations of the earth. According to the Apostle Paul, we who have received the blood atonement have been baptized into the Body of Christ, the Body of the One anointed to do God’s will in the creation, and to bring justice on the earth.
"Behold my servant whom I uphold." The Servant of God is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. Because each one of us who has placed his or her faith in the blood of Christ has been anointed with the Spirit of God (the oil always comes upon the blood), all that is written concerning the Servant of the Lord applies to us.
For two thousand years the Lord’s people have not been able to "see" what is written clearly in the Psalms and the Prophets. We have not understood that God is going to come to the earth, exercise judgment, and cause His will to be done. Even though the Christian people have always prayed, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on the earth as it is done in Heaven," we have not believed it possible. Therefore the Christian message has been, and continues to be, "Receive Christ as your Savior and you will spend eternity in a mansion in Heaven. Even though such a goal is not taught anywhere in the Scriptures, it persists nevertheless.
The truth is, the Bible is not about our going to Heaven to live forever. It is about the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. It appears to me the Kingdom is perfected in Heaven, in the spirit world, and when it has been perfected it will be installed upon the earth. The Kingdom will bring justice, love, peace, and joy into the earth and maintain these and all such blessings for eternity.
If such is the case, what is the program?
The program has been designed to operate in four major steps:
The first step is from the creation to the resurrection of Christ. Its purpose has been to orient us to God and to provide physical allegories, metaphors, and similes so we can understand spiritual realities.
The second step is from the resurrection to the return of the Lord.
The third step is from the return to earth of Christ until the resurrection of the dead of mankind has been completed, and people have been or have not been authorized to be accepted as citizens in the new world of righteousness. During this period the members of the Church shall be brought to perfection so they may be able to serve God as ruling priests.
The fourth step is the populating of a new earth with nations of people, and the installing of the Church on the new earth. The Church is the new Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God, the government that shall govern the nations of saved people
If we think carefully about this design, we can see that we did not choose Christ, He chose us. He has called us out from the ranks of mankind that we may be prepared to govern with Him.
If we accept this idea, then we can go to Isaiah 42 and find out what God is saying to us. We are the members of the Body of Christ, the fullness of His who fills all in all. We are the members of the Servant of the Lord. Once we have been called by the Lord, the purpose of our very existence is to obey the Spirit of God at all times until we are ready to rule with Christ.
I think—and I have been saying this for years—that our biggest issue today may be that of obedience. We are Americans. We are proud, arrogant, self-willed. Nobody, but nobody, is going to tell us what to do.
But consider for a moment. God is our Creator. Does our Creator have the right to tell us what we can’t do and what we must do? Answer that question in your heart.
Jesus Christ died to save us from spiritual death. Does He have the right to tell us what we can’t do and what we must do?
I believe any sincere Christian would answer yes to both question.
But when it gets right down to it, we will do the will of God and Christ when we feel ready, at the time we chose, under the circumstances we choose.
For two thousand years the churches have emphasized that Jesus is our Savior. And they are correct in this. But they have not emphasized sufficiently that He also is our Lord.
The best attitude to take toward Jesus is that He is the Master and we are the slave. If He then chooses to elevate us to the level of friend, that is His business entirely. We so not deserve any such elevation.
You tell me. How many American believers are willing to be the slave of Jesus Christ?
How many American young people are willing to set aside all their hopes and dreams of marriage and success that they might be the slave of Jesus Christ?
How many American parents are willing to put their children on the altar of God, and tell God that the children are His to do with as He wishes?
Anything less than total obedience to the Lord Jesus is simply not acceptable in the Kingdom of God.
We Americans are arrogant. We will serve God on our terms or not at all. We must come to understand this attitude is not acceptable. We have been deluded. We think of God as a kindly, indulgent grandfather, rather than as the dread Sovereign who must be appeased with blood.
What I am saying is, we are dangerously off track in America. Because we have refused the Lordship of Christ, severe judgment are coming to our shores. Multitudes of people are going to die. If we are wise. we will put our household in order. We will tell our children to put their treasures in Heaven; to keep their attention focused on things above; and especially that to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Is this taught in your church—that to die is gain? That Christ is our Life? That our treasures are to be in Heaven?
If I am not mistaken, we need to emphasize to the children and young people that we are pilgrims and strangers in this world, and we are looking for a Kingdom to come to the earth that will enforce the will of God.
One thing is certain: We are not qualified to serve as a member of the governing priesthood until we ourselves are totally obedient to the Lord Jesus. Because of this lack of preparation, we will not be resurrected and ascend to meet the Lord when He appears in the clouds.
The present space of time in America is to give us an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the chaos to come. If we are wise we will set ourselves to obey Christ in every detail. If we will do this, we will save ourselves and our loved ones throughout the age of moral and physical horrors that is on the horizon.
What It Means To Believe in Christ
his morning I spoke about what it means to believe in Jesus. Then I proceeded to the main topic, which was that of the resurrection of our body. The central act of redemption is the bringing of eternal life to our physical body. Yet, perhaps due to the early influence of Gnosticism, the Christian salvation has come to mean the forgiveness of our sins so our spiritual nature can live in a mansion in Heaven for eternity.
I started off this morning talking about what it means to believe in Jesus. I had prayed for the burden of the Lord, and the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John came to mind. As I read it I noticed that Jesus exhorted us to believe in him, and then He went on to direct us to eat His flesh and drink His blood, because by doing so we attain to the resurrection of our body.
Now, it is obvious that believing and eating are not the same action. So do we gain eternal life by believing, or by eating? Today we would ignore the eating and drinking and focus on believing.
I have noticed that many people who say they believe in Jesus are not substantially changed after many years of believing. Yet we are to be a new creation in which old things have passed away. All has become new. But such total change does not occur as often as we might like.
So what is it. Is it believing in Christ, or is it eating His flesh and drinking His blood? What gives us eternal life? What bring us to the resurrection of our body?
I began to think about what it means to believe in Christ Does it mean to believe that He exists? Does it mean to believe He shed His blood as an atonement for our sins? Does it mean to believe He is the Christ, the Anointed One? Does it mean to believe that God raised Him physically from the dead?
Is it belief in these truths that enables us to be raised from the dead?
The modern Evangelical churches would give us a resounding "Yes."
The Bible would thunder, "Absolutely not."
If I am correct in this, we are in a mess today.
I asked our congregation this morning what it means to "believe in Christ." Tony Damianos, along with others, gave the correct answer. To "believe in Christ" means to "do what He says."
Is Tony correct? Does believing in Christ mean obeying Him and His Apostles, or does it mean only believing in the correct facts about Christ?
My personal opinion is that God is not nearly as concerned about our theological position as He is about our behavior.
When we stand before God I think He will judge us according to how we treated God and our fellow man. Of course, we cannot refuse the Lordship of Jesus Christ when God brings us to Christ. To do so is to live in spiritual darkness.
I think the problem today is we have attempted to divide between belief and obedience. You hear teachers cry, "Faith alone." What they mean is, we will please God no matter how we treat God or other people if we profess to believe in Christ. I don’t think a greater misunderstanding of God is possible.
The entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is a statement concerning good behavior and bad behavior, between unrighteousness and wickedness. Good behavior is that of keeping God’s commandments. Bad behavior is that of not keeping God’s commandments.
The two greatest commandments are that we love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. This is what God is looking for.
God gave Jesus Christ to us so we could be forgiven our past sins, and then, through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, learn to love God with all our heart and our neigbor as ourselves.
In order to receive the transforming work of the Holy Spirit we have to confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead. When we do this, we receive God’s Spirit so we can be "saved," that is, rescued from the power of Satan so we can live a godly life in Christ.
Because of our self-love we have said that we must confess Christ and believe in Him, and that is all God requires. We seem unable to comprehend that the purpose of receiving and obeying Christ is so we can be made a new moral creation.
To heap confusion upon confusion, we claim that to be saved is to go to Heaven, rather than what it actually means to be saved, which is to be rescued from Satan so we can serve God in righteousness.
God is looking for His moral image in us, not our belief system. Our belief system is of value only as long as it serves to deliver us from Satan’s image and bring us into God’s image.
The whole point of eating of the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, is that we may regain that which was lost in the Garden of Eden. What was lost was bodily immortality. We ate the tree and we died physically.
Christ has come that we might have eternal life, that is, that our inward nature may be filled with the Spirit of God leading to the filling of our deceased physical body with the Spirit of God at the return of the Lord.
To stand once more upon the earth in a physical body, now clothed upon with a robe of indestructible life from Heaven, our personality being filled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is to be fully redeemed, fully saved.
The Heart of the Bride of the Lamb
There are any number of current doctrines that divide the Church into two or more groups. Some hold that the sons of God are different from the Church; or the brothers of Christ are different from the sons of God; or Christ has a Jewish bride and a Gentile bride; or the sons of God are different from the bride because the sons are male and the bride is female.
The truth is, there is only one Church, one Bride of the Lamb, one Olive Tree, one elect of God, one Kingdom of God, one Seed of Abraham, one new Man. Any other point of view brings confusion.
First I want to establish that while there are members of the Church who have a higher rank than others in the Kingdom, there is only one Church. In its glorified form it is the new Jerusalem, the holy city. All of God’s elect, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, are part of the new Jerusalem, of the governing priesthood.
Having settled this as an eternal fact, we can speak about the heart of the Bride of the Lamb.
In Ephesians 5:27 we see that the Church is to be without blemish. Yet, each of the seven churches of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation is blemished.
In Revelation 19:7,8 we read about the Bride of the Lamb who has made herself ready. After a thousand years passes, we read, in Revelation, Chapters Twenty-one and Twenty-two of the Bride of the Lamb who has not made herself ready but has been made ready by others.
It would seem at first that there are two different brides. But there are not. The Bride of Revelation 19:7,8 is a firstfruits of the entire Bride, not another Bride.
So we see that there is a Church within the Church, but only one Church in the end. the new Jerusalem.
And let me say right now that when Christ appears, the entire Church, all the believers in Christ will not be resurrected and then ascend to meet the Lord in the air. Most Christians are not nearly ready to descend with Christ and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth by violence. Only a small part of the entire Church will be ready for resurrection when Christ next comes. The majority will be raised later, after the thousand years Kingdom Age has been completed, according to my understanding at this time.
For six thousand years God has permitted mankind to follow its own will. As we can see, the result has been unbelievable chaos, insanity, injustice, torment, frustration, remorse, untimely death, which continue to the present hour.
All this will change with the return of Jesus. He along with the members of His army will enforce God’s will in the earth with the rod of iron that has been formed in their personalities. No person from then on, for eternity, will be able to decide the course of his or her life, to exercise his or her self-will. God’s will shall be enforced throughout the earth.
The will of people to resist God will be crushed, broken to pieces, as the Scripture declares. God’s will shall be done in the earth in everyone’s life, whether or not he agrees with it.
The result of the enforcement of God’s will shall be that people love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves. Love, joy, and peace, instead of hatred, murder, misery, and torment will prevail everywhere when God’s will is done.
The Old Testament, particularly the Psalms, tells of the time when God comes to judge the earth. Satan has caused the Christian people to believe that God’s solution to the sin of man is to carry people to Heaven. This is not what the Scriptures teach. The Scriptures teach that God is going to come and establish His Kingdom, His way, on the earth.
And this precisely is why the entire group of believers is not going to be resurrected, ascend to meet Christ, and then descend on the white war stallions. The church people, the Christian believers, are not competent to govern the nations. They are self-willed, rebellious, disobedient, casual, lukewarm individuals, for the most part. Any observant pastor can tell you that.
How then can such an undisciplined mob of church members rule over the nations of the earth. This concept is ridiculous!
Let us speak of reality. Christ always has a remnant of believers in the earth, found in the many churches, who really have denied themselves; who really have taken up their cross; who really are following Christ at all times. For them to live is Christ. To die is gain, because they have put their treasures in Heaven.
They, and only they, are the ones who will be raised from the dead, ascend, and then descend with the Lord to establish God’s way on the earth. This is sensible and scriptural. This actually is going to take place.
I cannot tell you how soon the Lord will return. It may be a hundred or more years from now. In the meanwhile Christ is looking for soldiers for His army. They must be obedient to death. They must suffer hardship without complaining. They absolutely must count all as loss in order to increase their knowledge of Christ.
This is the New Testament standard. God does not lie. It is he or she who overcomes the obstacles and enemies of this world who will inherit the "all things" of God.
I know Satan is telling God’s people this is not so. You will not surely be denied the blessings of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation even though you do not lead a cross-carrying life."
But I tell you, and warn you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, that every word of the New Testament shall come to pass as written. Only those who have been fervent disciples of Christ will be raised when Christ appears, then ascend, and then descend to work with Him in establishing God’s Kingdom on the earth.
You indeed can meet the standard Paul outlined in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. But you will have to be far more fervent, far more diligent, than is true of most American believers of today.
It is only such believers who are the heart of the Bride of the Lamb. And they shall dance with Him in the heights of Zion when the world is in flames.
God loves the remainder of His elect, and they shall experience love, joy, and peace for eternity. But it is the heart of the Bride, the warriors of the cross, who will bring into being and maintain that new world of love, joy, and peace, just as King David and his warriors made possible the prosperity of the reign of Solomon.
At night the subject was the importance of living the victorious life in Christ, and what it means "to overcome."
The Body and Blood of Christ
There is a very great difference between the written Word and the living Word. There is a great difference between doctrine and the Man, Christ Jesus. There is a great difference between religion and eternal life. The Pharisees knew the Bible, but the Lord Jesus said, "You won’t come to me!" The Greeks who came to Philip wanted to see Jesus. The did not come to learn about a new religion. Mary wanted to know where they had laid her Lord, not where they had laid her Bible.
The expressed goal of the Apostle Paul, and it ought to be our goal, was to attain to the resurrection from the dead. It appears we know virtually nothing about the resurrection of our body, although the resurrection of our body is among the central goals of the Divine redemption.
Since the last century there has been tremendous emphasis on the ascension which follows the resurrection of our body. This is human thinking. We want to escape trouble. So we picture that any day now we all will be caught up to Heaven and never have any more trouble. There is no scriptural support for this familiar doctrine. It is not the way God works. God saves us in the lions’ den.
Actually the Scripture does not emphasize our ascension to meet the Lord in the air (not in Heaven, as is supposed, but in the air, in preparation for our descent to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth).
What is not commonly understood, it would seem, is that we have to experience resurrection before we can be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
Our body will be raised from the dead, just as was true of the Lord Jesus. However, this is not something to be taken for granted. It is the product of effort on our part, just as Paul pointed out to us as He pressed forward toward the mark.
Before we can experience immortality in our body, our inner nature must experience resurrection.
What is the nature of resurrection life in our inner nature? The resurrection of our inner nature is the body and blood of Christ. Christ is the Tree of Life. It only is by eating and drinking of Him continually that we grow in resurrection life so we can be caught up to meet the slain Lamb in the air when He descends from Heaven.
How do we go about feeding on the body and blood of Christ? Only the victorious saint is authorized to eat from the Tree of Life. It is not a matter of correct doctrine or of theologic belief. It is a matter of overcoming sin. We gain access to the Tree of Life by overcoming the forces that would keep us from doing the will of Christ.
Let us say we are bound with a spirit of unforgiveness, of revenge, of getting even. There is someone we hate. The Apostle John would say we are a murderer, and no murderer has eternal life in him.
So what do we do? We call upon Christ for deliverance. We confess our spirit of hatred and murder and turn away from it. We ask Christ to remove this spirit from us. This He will do if we are sincere. Once that spirit leaves us we receive a portion of the body and blood of Christ. This is our inner resurrection that absolutely must precede our resurrection to life when Christ appears.
The same program pertains to pornography, to gossip, to pride, to arrogance, to alcohol, to drugs, to fornication, to every form of sexual perversion. Every time we seek deliverance from these spirits of death, calling upon the Lord for help in turning away from them, we are nourished with the "hidden manna," with the body and blood of Christ.
There is a world of difference between correct theology and feeding on the body and blood of Christ. Belief is belief. Reading is reading. Knowledge is knowledge. But eternal life comes from none of these, only from feeding on the Tree of Life.
Correct theology will bring us to the Man. Reading should bring us to the Man. Doctrine should bring us to the Man. It is the Man who is Salvation.
Religion should be a school that brings us to eternal life, that is, to the Man, Jesus Christ. Oftentimes, however, religion becomes an end in itself. It is seductive. How many wars have been fought because believers desired to propagate or defend their religion. All violence in the name of religion is for the purpose of defending or propagating the religion; it never is for the purpose of defending or propagating the Man, Christ Jesus.
Christ never, never, never condones violence. He stands courteously at the door of the heart and knocks, whether we are a Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or an agnostic. If we are willing to open that door, we will dine with Him—He on our obedience and adoration; we on His body and blood.
Let us by all means meditate in the Old and New Testaments every day. And then let us look up from the printed page and gaze on Him who alone is Eternal Life.
The Firstborn From the Dead
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead, meaning He is the beginning of a new race. Actually the adamic race is being made new in Him. God is making all things new. When Christ said "It is finished," the perfect atonement had been accomplished. In addition, the entire adamic race came to an end. The work of redemption does not fix up our adamic nature. In Christ there comes forth a new creation. Old things pass away. All things are made new. All things then are of God.
As I see it, there is a problem in contemporary preaching. Today’s Christian thinking can seen in the current books with such titles as: "How Christ Can Improve Your Life"; "How Christ Can Make You Rich"; "Christ Can Make You a Success." I have made up these titles, so if there actually is a book with one of these titles, it is a coincidence.
You could have a title such as, "How Christ Can Make You a Better Person." And it certainly is true that Christ can make us better people. But given the American emphasis on self-centeredness, self-improvement, self-love, the pursuit of happiness (often meaning the pursuit of fun), self-interest, such a title probably will give the prospective purchaser the impression that if he will receive Christ, his life will become interesting, pleasurable, and successful by the American standard of success.
The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation speaks of the False Prophet who comes out of the earth. He has the two horns of the lamb but speaks with the voice of the dragon.
The current emphasis on improving our life through the Lord Jesus Christ is the voice of the dragon. It is the voice of the False Prophet. It is this spirit that will support Antichrist during the closing days of the Church Age.
The spirit of Antichrist is that of love for the world and for the things of the world, rather than love for God and His Christ.
The spirit of the False Prophet, that which supports Antichrist, is that of seeking to use Christ to facilitate our life in the world.
The spirit of the False Prophet is prevalent in Evangelical Christianity. I do not have knowledge of other Christian persuasions.
It absolutely is true that Jesus Christ makes us a better person. But He does not do so by improving our lot in life. Rather, He asks us to lay down our life for His sake and the Gospel’s. He commands us to present our body a living sacrifice that His will may be performed. He tells us that if we save our life we will lose it.
Christ indeed offers us eternal life, but such life can come to us only as we die in Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead. He is the Beginning of the new creation. Those who would have fellowship with Him as His brothers must also be born from the dead.
When we think about the suffering of the saints, as outlined in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we readily can see how far removed we American Christians are from the Gospel of Christ. The testimony of our behavior is leading the Arab people to believe we are a synagogue of Satan, as indeed we are in numerous instances. Certainly the moral corruption that issues from Hollywood, California is sufficient to validate the belief that we are "The Great Satan."
The term "born again" is bandied about in Evangelical preaching. Being born again is thought to occur when we first make a profession of faith in Christ. This hardly is true.
To be born again is to be, like Christ, born from the dead. To be born again means that we have become a new creation. To have become a new creation means that we have followed the Lord through a rigorous, thorough examination of each aspect of our adamic personality and have put it to death under the Lord’s direction. It is then we are fed with the body and blood of the Lamb.
What is the result of such death, life, death, life, death, life?
The result is a blend of Christ and our personality such that all of us is made new. Is it we who are living?" Yes, and no. It is a new creation. It never has existed before. It is a unique infiltration of the Divine Life of God into our personality. We are living. Christ is living. It is one new man.
We all want Christ to walk with us, to be close to us. He indeed wants to walk with us, to be close to us. But more than this, He wants to infiltrate our personality until He can see His image in us.
I wonder how Adam felt when he first saw Eve. You know, Adam actually was looking at himself. Every aspect of Eve’s body was taken from Adam’s body. There was no wedding ceremony. The marriage occurred as Eve was fashioned from Adam.
And so with us. We do not wait until we go to Heaven to be married to the Lamb. We are married to the Lamb as His Life replaces our life.
I don’t imagine the Lord to too overcome with joy when He sees what goes on in the churches that are called by His name.
But I do believe He is overcome with joy when He sees an individual who has walked with Him until every part of that individual has come from Himself. He now is looking at Himself.
Has the Apostle Paul become Christ? Yes, and no. Paul is not the Lord Jesus Christ, he still is Paul. And yet it is Christ who is living. This precisely is true of Christ and the Father. Is Christ the Father? No, He is not. Yet it is the Father who thinks, speaks, and acts in Christ. It was the Father through Christ who created all things.
Here is the greatest of all mysteries. He who has seen Christ has seen the Father, because the Father lives in Christ. It is God’s intention that ultimately he who has seen a member of the Body of Christ has seen Christ, and thus has seen God.
It is the desire of the False Prophet that we keep on viewing Christ as our means of gaining a better life by American standards: more money, more things, success in the material realm, perfect health.
The truth is, Christ brings us through deep waters that we may die, and through that death come to experience the Divine Nature.
Walking in the Light
Dr. Dianne McIntosh preached both services today. In the morning Dianne emphasized being blind. We are born blind, and then Satan and other factors contribute to our blindness. In the evening Dianne spoke about being blind, being a fool, and being lame. This was very practical preaching, stressing the restoring of relationships.
Dianne pointed out that we make ourselves fools when we are rebuked and then are not zealous to repent. She mentioned several factors that cause us to be blind to our foolishness, and also factors that result in our being lame. Being blind and being lame prevent us from walking successfully in Christ.
Dr. Dianne’s comments reminded me of the passage in First John that tells us if we are to continue to be cleansed from all sin we must walk in the light of God’s Presence and will. It is only as we walk in that Light that we have fellowship with God.
I understand the importance of the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The Old Testament informs us that God will meet man only at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, meaning at the place of the Altar of Burnt Offering and the Laver. The spiritual idea is that God will meet man only at the cross. We cannot come to God other than through the blood of the cross. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.
This being undeniably true, and absolutely scriptural, let me express the thought that we are not viewing the blood atonement properly. We have made the blood atonement the beginning and the end of the Christian redemption. Once we profess faith in the blood we are saved, and the rest of the plan of redemption is peripheral, comparatively unimportant, an assortment of relatively trivial details.
By means of the blood of the cross we are saved to go to Heaven. This is the basic meaning of the Christian salvation, we believe.
Placing the blood atonement as the centerpiece and goal of redemption is not scriptural. How often does the New Testament speak of the blood atonement?
Well then, if the blood atonement is not presented in the New Testament as the centerpiece and goal of salvation, what is?
From Matthew through Revelation the centerpiece and goal of redemption is presented as obedience to the commandments of Christ such that we live a righteous, holy, obedient life. This is the emphasis and the result of the growth of the Kingdom of God in us.
What, then, is the role of the blood atonement? The blood atonement makes it possible for God to accept us so we can proceed with the program of the growth of the Kingdom of God, which leads us to being formed in God’s moral image (and finally in His outer likeness) and ultimately to our becoming an integral part of the eternal Temple of God.
I have preached this same concept in so many different ways! Forgiveness is not the goal of salvation, although it appears often to have been presented this way throughout the two thousand years of the Christian Era. Here is the free gift (a redundant term) of salvation. Let us all thank God for the free gift because now we are on our way to Heaven.
I do not know about the rest of the world, but this viewpoint certainly is appreciated in America. Just think! We can’t or won’t behave righteously, so God has decided to see us through Christ so He can have fellowship with us now and in Heaven for eternity.
Can you see what a travesty of the Gospel of the Kingdom our doctrine of grace and imputed righteousness is?
But isn’t this what Paul taught? The Apostle Paul wrote in several passages that if after we are saved and filled with the Spirit of God we continue to obey our sinful nature, we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. It appears we have misunderstood the Apostle Paul.
No, forgiveness is not the important part of our salvation. It may be from our standpoint, but it assuredly is not from God’s standpoint. God is looking for sons, saints, brothers of His Son who are made in the image of the Son. When we limit our concept of salvation to the blood atonement, we fall far, far short of the Glory of God that is available through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The way of salvation, the way of faith and righteousness, the way to have fellowship with God, is that of walking in the Light of His Presence and will. Every conscious moment of every day and night we are to be presenting ourselves before Christ as His servants. We look to Him for every decision. We keep practicing His Presence. We count all else as garbage that we may know Christ and be found in Him.
Paul told us to live is Christ and to die is gain. This does not mean we are to stop seeking Christ after we have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.
Paul told us to press forward until we attain to the out-resurrection from the dead. This does not mean we are to stop seeking Christ after we have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.
Paul told us to live is Christ and to die is gain. This does not mean we are to stop seeking Christ after we have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.
Paul told us we are to present our body a living sacrifice that we may prove God’s will for our life. This does not mean we are to stop seeking Christ after we have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.
Paul prayed that Christ would be magnified in his life whether by his life or by his death. This does not mean we are to stop seeking Christ after we have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.
Paul claimed he has been crucified with Christ and now it is Christ who is living in him. This does not mean we are to stop seeking Christ after we have been forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.
The Gospel we are preaching today is unscriptural and, in fact, is destructive. It is destructive because it leaves the impression that the Christian salvation primarily is one of forgiveness. While forgiveness through the blood atonement certainly is included, this is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is God in Christ in us. The forming and dwelling of God in us results in our being formed in God’s image and in our always doing God’s will. Such forming and dwelling is what redemption is all about. The blood atonement makes it possible for God to accept us so He can proceed with the work of forming His Kingdom in us. If we stop with forgiveness through the blood atonement we have aborted God’s intention through Jesus Christ.
There are seven churches mentioned in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. The message to each of the churches tells us about some obstacle that must be overcome by the saint The rewards offered to the overcomer in each of these seven churches is a step toward the first resurrection from the dead, and also toward placement with Christ on the throne of the universe.
This morning the emphasis was on the church in Smyrna.
The message to the angel of the church in Smyrna Christ speaks of the prison which each person appointed to rulership in the Kingdom must endure.
The Lord permits Satan to put us in prison for a limited time. If we are faithful to the point of death, we receive the crown of life. The reward for remaining faithfully in our prison is rulership by the power of an endless life.
When we are put in the Lord’s prison we may be forced to continue in an unpleasant situation, or we may be denied the most fervent desire of our heart. This is the way God tests us to see if we are fit for rulership.
To be fit for rulership we must be totally obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ. If during our imprisonment we seek to break out, we must go against God’s laws in order to do so. In this manner we demonstrate that we are not qualified to rule in the Kingdom. We will disobey God if obedience becomes painful.
The Scripture states that Christ learned obedience by the things He suffered. We can talk about obeying God, but the only manner in which we learn obedience is by being willing to obey Christ when doing so may be distressing.
Christ is the First and the Last. What He began in us He will conclude successfully, providing we do not bolt The person in the midst of imprisonment must keep this in mind—the suffering leads to unbelievable joy if we faithfully remain in our prison.
One secret of successfully carrying your personal cross is not to dwell on it. Focus on the things you have to be thankful for, not on the area that you don’t enjoy. If you focus on your cross you eventually will reach forth your hand to take that which is not permitted.
I have taught for years that the Charismatic movement is going to be split over the issue of suffering, of patient cross-bearing obedience. The majority of believers will follow those preachers who tell them Christ did it all; He became poor that they might be rich; that they are saved by the gift of grace and all they need do is accept it; that they are going to be removed from trouble by an "any-moment rapture"; that if they have faith they can get everything they want; that they do not need to prepare for the "evil day" because they are not going to experience any evil day.
The fear of God has departed from numerous American churchs. Thus the believers are foolish, silly, spiritually immature, easy to deceive. By no means will they be able to stand spiritually and help others during the period of physical-moral horrors that rapidly is approaching the United States of Ameria.
If at the present time you are locked up in the Lord’s prison, hold steady. Keep asking God to deliver you, but don’t deliver yourself. God will let you out of jail in His time, as soon as He is persuaded that if you receive the crown of life you will not disobey Him.
One characteristic of a saint that God enjoys is the saint’s willingness to be content in whatever state he finds himself . Satan’s discontent was the original sin. If you break out of prison you may be captured and locked up for a longer time. Always pray for what you need and desire, but do not make a move ahead of God’s time.
Don’t try to make the present world a paradise. It is the valley of the shadow of death. The real, eternal world is ahead of us. If you seek to evade your necessary suffering you will open yourself to deception. The purpose of the present life is to train and test us. Eternity is a long, long time. If we live so as to please Christ we are going to have countless ages during which we shall enjoy the fruit of our patient obedience.
At night I continued with another promise to the imprisoned saint who remains faithful. It is that he will not be hurt by the second death, the lake that burns with the smell of sulfur. The Lake of Fire has authority over the eight behaviors, listed in Revelation 21:8, even while we are a Christian. God has given us a season to gain victory through Jesus Christ over each of these eight behaviors. If we are victorious we no longer can be harmed by the Lake of Fire. But if we do not gain victory over these behaviors, then the Lake of Fire retains Divinely appointed authority over any of the eight behaviors we continue to practice.
Treasures in Heaven
I know I have written a great deal about putting our treasures in Heaven. But this is so important! We Americans live in the lap of luxury compared with some of the other societies in the world. We have numerous material treasures. I might say, in some instances we have numerous material idols! We would not dream of giving up these things and relationships we value so highly. But if we do not place everything on the altar before the Lord, for Him to do with as He desires, we are in a position of great weakness.
Today I was unable to be in the services. Our Assistant Pastor, Stan Josephsen held forth in the morning. Our head elder, Ron Smitter, preached in the evening service. I have heard very good reports from both services. You can hear the morning and evening sermons by clicking below, as indicated.
This week I have been pondering the concept of placing our treasures in Heaven. The believer who puts all of his or her treasures in Heaven is in a position of the greatest strength. He or she is invulnerable.
I believe the Spirit is speaking clearly that an age of physical and moral horrors is approaching. Those of us who are older can remember the former values of our country. It is so utterly, utterly sad to see the disintegration of our moral values. In fact, the descent into demonic behavior seems to be accelerating, if anything.
Honestly, I don’t see much hope for a change. The churches, for the most part, seem to be preaching about free grace and going to Heaven in a rapture. When a minister does speak about morals, it often is about how "they" are aborting their children; or "they" are homosexuals" or "they" are blaspheming God.
I do not say the churches should not protest the sin that is so abundant in our society. But what I hear the Holy Spirit saying is that it is God’s people, who are called by His name, who must repent. If the light of righteous behavior is not shining in the churches because of the overemphasis on grace and the so-called "rapture," then how can we expect the secular society or the government to change?
There is moral filthiness, child molestation, gossip, slander, jealousy, envy, covetousness, the love of money, lying, hardness of heart, unforgiveness, bitterness, seeking preeminence, anger, dishonesty, arrogance, haughtiness, divisiveness, on the part of the Christians. They are lovers of pleasure. They much prefer partying to seeking the Lord. The problem is in the churches, not in the secular society!
I said an age of moral and physical horrors is approaching America. The moral horrors are apparent when the public schools in some instances are considering doing away with the idea of a Mom and Dad in favor of partners, or something else. The strongest bastion in any culture is the solid home with Mom, Dad, and children. Satan knows this and is doing everything in his power to destroy the original Divine fiat: that man is to be male and female, and to be fruitful. Satan hates the idea of the strong family unit, and so he appears to be invading the thinking of professional educators.
I am eighty-two years of age. I never thought I would live to see the day when school districts are cooperating in the effort to destroy the idea of Mom and Dad. Did you? Isn’t this terrible? A child has no Mom and Dad. Oh well, I know sometimes there is conflict in the home and the father or mother leave. I do not wish to add to someone’s grief by making him or her feel guilty. But all of us should pray that there be as many family units of Mom, Dad, and children, as possible.
An age of moral and physical horrors is approaching. The moral horrors are here now. They will result in an outpouring of God’s judgment upon us, because the living God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will never, never, never tolerate a social system that kills fetuses without good and sufficient reason, or does away with the family unit.
There is going to be much blood shed in the future, as God raises up enemies of the United States. Because of our immorality our country is destined to become a third-rate power. World leadership will move to the East. This is what I think I am hearing from the Spirit of God.
What are we as Christians to do. It may be too late to save our nation from Divine judgment, so we had better concentrate on setting our own house in order.
One step we must take is to place all of our treasures in Heaven. At present I am writing a book titled "To Die Is Gain." I am hoping parents will read the appropriate parts to their children. It is written with children in mind so they will not be afraid of dying, or of having their loved ones die. If we live a life pleasing to the Lord, there certainly is no reason to fear physical death. It is a release unto real life, not some kind of mystical life, real life!
I will try to let you know when my book is finished. It is a story that some may find interesting and helpful.
If we have all of our treasures in Heaven we are invulnerable. There is nothing terrorists or war can do to harm us. When our life is the Lord Jesus Christ, for us to die is gain. Anyone of sound mind would certainly desire gain!
Meanwhile we serve the Lord. If we really have our treasures in Heaven, when the terrorists set of a biologic bomb, or nuclear device, or a bomb that destroys all of our electronics (I forget what you call this type of device, but it is in existence), and we see literally millions of Americans killed, and our own life is in danger from anthrax, or radiation, we will not panic. Our trust is in the Lord Jesus. Our treasures are in Heaven.
We will be a source of strength for our children, our fellow believers, and our neighbors. While they are rushing about screaming because the banks are closed on account of the frying of electronic communications, we will be at peace and will share our peace. We know our Lord will provide.
So it is not to panic. The more trouble we are in, the closer Christ will be to us, provided we are looking to Him today and serving Him with a full heart.
Do draw close to Jesus, and do put your treasures in Heaven. In the not too distant future you are going to be awfully glad you did!
The week before last my wife, Audrey, had to go to the hospital because of pressure in her head. In addition, she was extremely weak. The diagnoses were varied, including tuberculosis in one lung and a kidney infection. However, the main culprit turned out to be a lack of sodium due to the daily use of a diuretic. I would never have believed that a low balance of an electrolyte could have such a devastating effect on an individual.
I was preaching from the second chapter of the Book of Revelation concerning the church in Pergamum. We got as far as "you have those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans." "Nico" refers to the idea of conquering. "Laitans" refers to people, according to my understanding. So the doctrine of the Nicolaitans may refer to that which conquers the people.
This made me think of the priest-people concept which came from the Jewish arrangement through the Catholic Church through the Protestant churches to the present day. It is that of the clergy-laity division.
We are so accustomed to giving our spiritual proxy to a "minister" that we simply cannot comprehend the nature of the one Body of Christ. There are no clergy-laity distinctions in the Body of Christ, and the custom of referring to a "minister" as a clergyman is understandable, giving the historical precedent, but it really is a destructive practice.
It is not at all helpful to have "superior" Christians sitting on the platform. Obviously this is going to cause those in the congregation to feel they are inferior!
Why is it destructive? Because it robs the great majority of believers of the motive to seek their unique gifts and ministries. We Americans who love money, sexual enticement, and power, willingly give our proxy to the minister. The minister prays. The minister seeks God on our behalf. But we are to spend our efforts in the world, where our heart is.
Isn’t it about time for this abomination to cease? The only manner by which any of us can come to the fullness of Christ is through the ministries of all the members of the Body. We give lip service to this idea. But every time we refer to a clergy, a laity, a reverend, we show clearly that we do not believe that the Body of Christ is made up of many contributing members, all of equal importance.
All of equal importance? Where do I get that?
Think about the sodium ions. How much do you know about them? Did you ever hear of anyone falling in love with a person because of his or her sodium ions? Probably not.
Suppose the mouth (the pastor) says to the sodium ions (some of the congregation, maybe), who needs you? You are not important. I am important. I am the mouth. I sit in one of the big chairs on the platform. I am someone of importance around here!
The sodium ions say, "Oh is that so!" I think we will just take a little vacation and see how you do, big mouth."
Pretty soon big mouth is on his back in the hospital, scarcely coherent. He no longer is able to preach the Word. All he can do is hope that soon the doctor will put enough sodium back into him so he knows where he is and can get out of bed without help.
A proper balance of electrolytes is necessary if we are to be able to live, move, and have our being, even though we never see them.
So it is in the Body of Christ. Each and every member is needed. There are no members who are clergy. There are no members who are laity. There are no members who are reverends. All of us are necessary if the saints are to be brought to maturity.
If we only knew, each of us, the vast treasures that await us if we use the talents God has given us to build up His Kingdom. But if we do not use our talents, and I would venture to say that the majority of believers in America have never taken the time to find out from the Lord what their gifts and ministries are, we are in danger of the outer darkness.
Without doubt the churches of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation were not perfect in the sight of Christ. Yet the Apostle Paul spoke of a Church without spot or wrinkle.
How are we going to have a mature, perfected Church? Only as the members of the Body of Christ cease giving their spiritual proxy to a "minister" and begin to exercise their unique gifts and ministries.
To not do so is to displease Christ greatly, and none of us wishes to do that!
Delighting Ourselves in the Lord
The study this morning was in the 37th Psalm. The idea is that because we are facing such moral abominations in our country, and will be increasingly so in the days to come, we must choose at all times to avoid fretting and to delight ourselves in the fear of the Lord. According to the eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah, delight in the fear of the Lord is the seventh of the seven Spirits that are before the Throne of God.
It is not going to be easy! When we see the wicked exalting themselves on every side. When we see Jesus Christ scorned and even blasphemed. When we see those mocked who are endeavoring to live righteously. When we read how all religions serve the same God. When we learn that our country no longer is solely Christian but part Islamic, part Hindu, part Buddhist. We see parades that are a visible representation of Sodom, and people from around the world come to America to look at them. When we read how people are arrested for cruelty to animals because of using them for sex objects. When there are those who hold that a woman who gets an abortion is to be honored. When the public school authorities are so afraid of being sued by atheists or by those of other religions that they relegate Christian principles and artifacts to the sidelines. When we see all that historical America esteemed being mocked, scorned, thrust aside in favor of "alternate life styles. When we see this rapid descent into Hell, we can destroy our relationship with Christ by fretting about it.
Whatever good we can do, we should do. But when all we can do is fret, we are disobeying God.
The 37th Psalm commands us several times to not fret ourselves concerning the actions of the wicked. When we fret and complain about the moral decline of the United States of America, we are accusing God of losing control of the world. We are honoring the wicked. Yet, the downfall of the wicked is inevitable. It is the meek who will inherit the earth. The almighty God will see to that!
When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Rome he directed us to rejoice in the Lord always. This is not merely a good idea, it is necessary if we are to live a victorious life in the Lord Jesus Christ.
God is in control. It is God who is permitting the wicked to vaunt themselves in the smug assurance that their way is everlasting.
Why would God tolerate this sort of behavior, when the earth, all its populations, and all its resources, belong to God? It is because God is using all this garbage to bring forth His sons—son who will stand in the Lord Jesus Christ although they are living in a cesspool. This world is the valley of the shadow of death, David reminded us.
If you want good potting soil, turn some worms loose in a pile of manure. A lady who sells potting soil informed me of this. So manure has its uses. In like manner, the social patterns of America have their Divinely ordained value.
We simply must delight ourselves in the Lord. If we will choose to do so (and we always can choose whether to delight ourselves or whether to fret and complain!) God will give us the desires of our heart. Paul told us God will supply our needs. David told us God will give us the desires of our heart. God supplies our needs and fulfills our desires, when we wait patiently before Him.
I cannot emphasize this Bible teaching too strongly. America is becoming Sodom. I have lived in America for eighty-two years and have witnessed the slow decline of morality. But I think the rate of decline is accelerating. To read of a comedienne who mocks Christ is bad enough. But then to find she now is entertaining overflow audiences because of her "joyful, spontaneous creativity," makes me realize the world of Sodom is on the way.
We read in Matthew that both sin and righteousness shall come to maturity just before they are reaped. The way of the Lord shall be made straight. The wicked are becoming exceedingly wicked. The Lord Jesus will make the saints exceedingly righteous in behavior if we will cooperate with the Spirit of God.
If I am hearing from the Spirit correctly, much blood is about to be shed in America. If you fear the prospect of death for you or your children, I suggest that without delay you draw close to the Lord. Spend some time each day in the heavens with Jesus. Get used to the spirit world. Know that if that darling child of yours is killed in the coming warfare, he or she is happily at play with other children in the parks of Heaven.
If you and the members of your family will love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as yourselves (and you can do both of these things if you will ask Christ to help you), and accept the rulership of King Jesus over every aspect of your lives, than when you die you all will be together again forever in that world that is marvelous beyond all marvels.
Paradise was on the earth in the beginning. Jesus will bring it back to the earth in His time. But what good is Paradise if you are not with your loved ones? Love alone is what the world was made for, as the old song says.
So be full of courage and peace. Do not fret yourself concerning the antics of the wicked. They soon shall be removed from the presence of decent people. You and your family can survive and help others during the coming era of moral and physical horrors.
But if any of you are killed, you then will be released into that true, wonderful, eternal world where there is no more death; no more mourning over the demise of a loved one or a child; (and this is important to some people), no more having to take your beloved pet to the veterinarian to be put to sleep. Are there animals in the new world of righteousness? The eleventh chapter of Isaiah suggests there indeed will be.
So the future is bright with promise for those who love and serve the Lord Jesus. He shall put an end to wickedness when He is ready to do so. We never, never fret about the wickedness of the world because God in His love has given us the Spirit of delight in the fear of the Lord.
Gates of Heaven
Alison Humbert spoke at both services today. Alison has traveled extensively to several countries, including Haiti, Ukraine, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. She experienced a considerable amount of spiritual opposition. She learned to bring the Life of Heaven into her surroundings so God’s will would be accomplished.
Alison’s pastor (not myself) taught his congregation to bring Heaven into the earth, rather than try to get people into Heaven. This is a marvelous and eminently practical concept.
I have been saying for years that an age of moral and physical horrors is approaching the United States. I believe it has begun, in that I have read in the newspaper that in the State of California it now is illegal to use the terms "Mom" and "Dad," "Husband" and "wife," in any state-supported institution. I hope I am mistaken in what I read, but I don’t think I am. The reader can check it out by reading the recently passed SB777 and AB394.
From my point of view, this is a very significant step downward in the moral decline of the United States. In fact, it nearly is incomprehensible.
We are not to fret ourselves over these two bills. Listening to Alison I realized that we can go to prayer, targeting the practice of excluding Mom, Dad, husband and wife, from the reading materials of the public schools of California. Possibly some good can be done through political endeavors. But I am persuaded that we must bring the Life of Heaven into play such that God’s wisdom and power overthrow this sort of thing.
When Jacob left Beersheba on his way to Haran to get a wife, God met him in a dream.
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’" (Genesis 28:16,17)
Please notice the expression, "This is the gate of Heaven."
In his dream Jacob had seen a stairway "resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it."
Obviously the point of origin for the angels was the earth.
This passage is significant for us. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the stairway resting on the earth with its top reaching to Heaven.
He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." (John 1:51)
When we are living in the will of God, Jesus Christ is dwelling in us. When the Lord Jesus Christ is dwelling in us, we are Jacob’s stairway, Jacob’s ladder. When we are Jacob’s stairway, we are the "gate of Heaven."
When we are the gate of Heaven we are a passageway through which the power and wisdom of Heaven can issue forth wherever there is spiritual darkness in the earth.
I get the impression that today Satan is attacking the concept of "gender." He would like to erase the idea of gender from our minds, I think.
Now, what could Satan hope to accomplish by doing away with the idea of gender?
In the beginning, God defined man. Man is a son of God. Man is in the image and likeness of God, Man is male and female. Man is to be fruitful. Man is to have rulership over the works of God’s hands.
As far as I know, this fiat always will define man—even to eternity.
After God is through working, man will be a son of God, having been truly born of God, not merely created, as was Adam.
Man will be in the moral image and outer likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Man will be male and female in some transcendent sense that we do not see as yet.
Man will bear the image of God throughout the universe until additional planets are needed to host the ever increasing population.
Man will govern all the works of God’s hands.
Thus there was an adamic prototype of "man"; and then there will be a marvelous, nearly incomprehensible, fulfillment of the Divine fiat regarding man.
The concept of male and female is intrinsic to the five aspect of the fiat. Apart from the union of male and female there is no full image of God. Apart from the union of male and female there can be no fruitfulness, consequently no dominion, because the power of rulership comes from fruitfulness.
Satan is seeking to interrupt this fiat by confusing the idea of gender, of "Mom and Dad," of husband and wife.
Another dimension of the effort to confuse the fiat concerning male and female is to prevent the solid family unit, consisting of father, mother, and children. A stable, loving family unit well may be the best source of wholesome personality development. Lawless, God-despising children are not likely to come from a stable, loving home environment. So Satan will do all in his power to prevent the forming of such sources of personality nourishment.
Today we see powerful forces in government, education, and the media attempting to do away with the family unit; or, in the case of abortion, with the product of the union of a Mom and Dad.
We Christians are witnessing this moral and social destruction and are tempted to fret ourselves because of the rampant wickedness. However, fretting results only in our losing our joy in Christ.
God has a better response for us than fretting. If enough Christians agree in prayer there will come an end to the multitude of unnecessary abortions. If enough Christians agree in prayer, the laws that outlaw the mention of Mom and Dad, husband and wife, will be overturned; will be made null and void.
Better yet, if you, dear reader, and I, direct our attention specifically to some of these abominable developments, and pray, pray, pray without ceasing, change shall take place. Alison demonstrated this in her testimony of events in Haiti and Ukraine.
Will you pray specifically? Will I pray specifically? If we shall do this, change will occur.
Our job is to live before Christ in such a manner that we are a gate through which the Life and Light of God Almighty can issue forth and dispel the spiritual darkness that is invading the United States of America.
Christ In You
The New Testament states that Christ in us is the hope of glory, and the mystery of the Gospel. It is amazing, isn’t it, that for two thousand years this mystery, this hope, has not been emphasized. The emphasis has been on the Christ of history, the Christ of Calvary, or Christ with us. However, the essential aspect of the Gospel of the Kingdom is Christ in us, not Christ with us or the Christ of history.
Well, Christ in us, our hope, still is a mystery, isn’t it? But now, in our day, God is explaining the mystery.
Notice carefully the following verse:
But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets. (Revelation 10:7)
When the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God, which is Christ in us, will be accomplished, or fulfilled, or finished.
There can be no doubt that we now are in this period. The mystery is being explained and brought forth in those believers who are following Christ closely.
The fifth chapter of Micah, the last chapter of Isaiah, and the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation speak of the travail that will bring forth Christ in His Church.
Those of us who are involved in s church work, as I am, being a pastor, are occupied with numerous activities, aren’t we? But you know, these all are scaffolding, as it were. The truly important accomplishment is that Christ come forth in us. They are what to do until the Doctor comes, so to speak.
Satan is not afraid of any church activity. Satan is afraid only of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of God; not of our hymns, our liturgies, or our musical "specials," no matter how much we are blessed and inspired by them.
There are two primary aspects of Christ being in us. The first aspect is the forming, or birth, of Christ in us. Paul wrote, "My little children for whom I travail in birth again until Christ is formed in you." Paul wrote these words to the Christians in Galatia who were becoming occupied with circumcision.
Notice that Paul was in a travail until Christ was formed in the believers. So it is that the ministries of the churches are to travail until Christ is formed in the people.
When Christ is formed in us there is a new creation. Are we still present? Yes. We never lose our identity as a person. But now there is a new creation, a creation that never has been in existence before. That new creation is an eternal blend, or whatever you want to call it, of Christ in us. Is it still us? Yes. ;Is it Christ? Yes. It is a new creation.
Paul is still Paul even though it is Christ who is living in him.
Such is the first aspect of the mystery of the Gospel. According to the three passages I mentioned, the fifth chapter of Micah, the last chapter of Isaiah, and the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, it is quite clear, I think, that in the closing days of the Church Age there is going to be an unprecedented emphasis on the bringing forth of Christ in the members of the Church.
I think the wheat of righteousness will come to maturity alongside of the weeds of wickedness. Christ will be formed in the sons of the Kingdom. Perhaps Satan will be formed in the sons of the evil one. It certainly looks like this is happening in America as we see the unbelievable moral decline that is taking place.
So the first aspect of the mystery of the Gospel is the bringing forth of Christ in us.
The second aspect is the coming of the Father and the Son from Heaven to dwell in that new creation. The Father’s House is Christ. God will dwell only in Christ. It is only as Christ is formed in us that we become a room in the eternal House of the Father.
Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)
So we see there are two main aspects of the mystery and hope of the Gospel. The first aspect is the forming of Christ in us. The second aspect is the coming of the Father and Christ to make Their eternal home in our new personality.
Some may wonder, "How can I go about having Christ formed in me so I can be the eternal Home of God?
First, ask God in Jesus’ name to form Christ in you. Remember, the Galatians were believers, the Seed of Abraham, but Christ had not been formed in them as yet.
Second, confess clearly to the Lord each and every area of spiritual darkness in your personality that the Holy Spirit points out to you, all that is not in the moral image of Christ. As you do, God will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. In the future you will discover, to your delight, that you now have the power to resist that behavior and put it to death.
Third, every time you are tempted to act in a way you know is not godly, pray earnestly for help from the Mercy Seat. Ask Christ to strengthen you. Each time you do this, Christ will feed you with the "hidden manna," with His body and blood, which are our eternal resurrection life.
As you sincerely and diligently take these three steps, getting up and pressing forward if you should stumble in some manner, Christ will be formed in you. Guaranteed!
In so doing you are preparing yourself for the resurrection, the redemption, the making immortal of your mortal body when the Lord appears.
I have not figured out as yet whether God and Christ make their home in us in increasing measure as Christ is formed in us, or whether there is going to be a grand coming in the future to those who have become new creations.
Whether a gradual coming of the Landlords, or a sudden grand occupying after we receive the resurrection of our body, I am not certain.
However, I am absolutely certain of one thing: If we do our part, God will do His part.
This is as sure as the written Word of God!
The Birth of the Male Son
Yesterday was a powerful day in the Lord. Heidi Baker, of Mozambique, Africa, prophesied that the Western Bride is ready to bring forth Christ in the saints, that is, the Male Son, of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. The Male Son, the future ruler of the nations of the earth, consists of the saints who have been made new creations in Christ. They live by His Life.
The Male Son has been an interest of mine for many years, and I wrote a book by that title. It can be found in the Library, on the WOR site.
I have taught previously that the Male Son is our Lord Jesus Christ. And so He is, in one sense, but not in another, more scriptural, sense.
First, we understand that the woman clothed with the sun is not the virgin Mary. Mary, with all due respect, is not clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet.
But there is one who does fit this description, and it is the Christian Church. She is the heir of all of the works of God’s hands.
Since the woman, of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, is the Church, what is she going to bring forth.
First, she is not going to bring forth the Lord Jesus. From time immemorial Jesus has been with God and today is at God’s right hand.
If it is not Jesus who is to be brought forth, then who is it?
The Male Son is Christ formed in the saints.
Now, give this your careful thought. If the Male Son is Christ formed in the saints, then it is a new creation, a creation that never has been in existence before.
Paul told us that if any person is in Christ there is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come.
Fine. But precisely who is this new creation?
It certainly is not one of us, because we have been in existence prior to this time.
It certainly is not Jesus, because He has been in existence prior to this time.
Then who is it?
Paul told us he was not living, but Christ was living in him.
Now think. Is that individual still Paul? Assuredly, yes.
Is that individual Christ? Assuredly, yes.
Is that individual the Lord Jesus Christ? Assuredly, no.
He is a new creation. He has never been before. He is Paul. He is Christ.
What is his name? Not Paul, not Christ, not Paul-Christ, but a new name that God shall give him.
What shall we call these new creations? Saints? Believers? Transformed individuals?
Each one is a male son who is part of The Male Son, the ruler of the nations with a rod of iron.
Let’s bring this marvelous vision down to right now. What does this mean to you and me right this minute. It means that the most important aspect of our life is the bringing forth of Christ. This means the old adamic nature dies. In its place is a transcendent, much improved, humanity. The new man is an eternal creature. He originally was human, and now is becoming a Divine human, we might say.
We really are becoming the brothers of the Lord Jesus, in every aspect of the term, being begotten of the same Father.
The United States of America, as is true also of the other Western democracies, is being filled with moral corruption. It seems hardly a week goes by that some new abomination is not presented to us. Satan is coming to maturity in the sons of the evil one.
Christ is not bothered by this. He wants His way made straight. It is His intention that He come to maturity in the sons of the Kingdom.
All we have experienced previously in our Christian life in the churches has been preparatory for God’s climactic work, the accomplishing of the mystery of the Gospel, which is Christ in us. God shall confront Satan through His Church. Christ shall confront Antichrist through His Church. The Holy Spirit shall confront the False Prophet through the Church of God.
We humans are but dust. Satan is not afraid of any church activity no matter how expensive. Satan fears the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The conclusion we draw from the above fact is that our emphasis is to be on following Christ so closely that He is being formed in us at all times.
For so long the emphasis of Christian teaching has been on how God is saving us. This no longer is to be the case. The emphasis now must be placed on how Christ is coming forth in us. The installation of the Kingdom of God in Heaven and upon the earth can be performed only as the Father works through the Son through us.
Our part is to wait on the Lord and to diligently obey Him, because He has new and surprising things prepared for those who will listen to Him and obey Him.
Let us not limit the Holy One of Israel. The nations of the earth and all their clamor are but a drop in the bucket to Him. He is seeking those who will look up to Him in total confidence, knowing that He remains in control of this world. Christ sits as King of the flood.
Ours is a marvelous day. It is time for Zion to travail and bring forth her children. Those of us who have received Christ and have experienced the Life of the Spirit of God are qualified to participate in this, the greatest of all of God’s works.
Am I ready to forget about all that is behind and to press forward to the fullness of resurrection life?
Devouring the Male Son
There is no question in my mind but that the bringing forth of the Male Son, of Revelation, Chapter Twelve, is one of the central ideas at this time concerning the Kingdom of God. The Male Son is Christ formed in the saints. The Son is not Jesus Himself. The Son is not the saint. The Son is a new creation resulting from the interaction of Christ and the soul of the believer. I am capitalizing "Son" because of the predominance of Christ. The new creation, although a transcendent human, is born of God.
The order of the Kingdom of God is as follows: First, is God the Father; Second, is the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom the Father has made God and to whom God has given all authority in Heaven and upon the earth.
Third, is the Male Son. These are a firstfruits to God and the Lamb, and they shall govern the nations with the rod of iron.
After the members of the Male Son are the remainder of the members of the royal priesthood. These did not attain to participation in the Male Son, but are of God’s elect and part of the new Jerusalem. They shall serve God and the nations as royal priests.
Finally, the great bulk of mankind. These are the inheritance of Christ and His coheirs. The fundamental meaning of "being saved" is to be part of the inheritance of Christ and His coheirs. To be "lost" is to not be permitted to enter the new world of righteousness.
The Kingdom of God is a genuine Kingdom that shall govern all the works of God’s hands. The structure of rulership is as I have just described, according to my understanding at this time.
Our emphasis this Sunday morning is on the term "devour." Please notice in Revelation 12:4 that Satan "stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born."
The Greek term for "devour" means "to eat." Satan is not seeking to kill the Male Son but to "eat" Him.
Satan is not as concerned about the "woman," the Church, as he is about what the Church has the potential to bring forth.
In our day both the wheat and the tares are coming to maturity. This means that Christ is to come to maturity in the sons of the Kingdom, and Satan is to come to maturity in the sons of the evil one.
It appears, that in America at least, we are going to witness abominations of an increasingly evil nature. Things are said and done that even a few years ago would have scandalized the American people. But today they are commented on and fretted about, but it seems not a great deal can be done about them. The moral slide is steep and growing steeper every day. One wonders what it will be like twenty-five years from now, given the increasing moral filth of the previous twenty-five years.
But we Christians are not to react and pay attention to Satan. We are to look steadfastly at the Lord Jesus. He has new and surprising things for us today. He is bringing us through many fires and waters so the Male Son may come to birth in us. We are in a fight to bring forth the new creation, no doubt whatever about that!
Satan is seeking to "devour" that which the Holy Spirit is forming in us. Satan nibbles, nibbles, nibbles, at our new Divine nature. What are the nibblers? The pursuit of more money than we need. Improved electronics. Drugs. Alcohol. Pornography. Sexual lusts of all sorts. Unforgiveness. Envy. Bitterness. Rage. Covetousness. Personal ambition. The seeking of preeminence. All of these nibble, nibble, nibble, at what is being formed in us.
As the Holy Spirit points out these nibblers to us we are to pray fervently that they may be driven from us. We pray, pray, pray, until the new creation in us is caught up to God and to God’s Throne.
One of the believers had a visitation in which she was informed that the great cloud of witnesses, of the Book of Hebrews, are being strengthened as we continue to press the battle. I never heard of this before, but the Bible does say that they without us cannot be made perfect.
There is no doubt that those who manage to overcome all opposition until their new nature is solidly established in God and in His Throne are a firstfruits to God of the earth. "These are those who did not defile themselves with women (idols of all sorts), for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb."
We may notice in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians the extreme statements of the Apostle Paul as he strove to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead. Not all are of the same rank in the Kingdom of God. There are the greatest, and there are the least.
Our day is one of the most marvelous opportunity to attain to God’s best, and the most dreadful danger that someone may steal our crown of authority. Let’s you and me turn away from the multitude of worthless, and sometimes destructive, distractions found in the American culture, and make the seeking of Christ the first priority of our life.
The Double Reward
In the morning the study was in the eighteenth Psalm. The subject was our need to pray each day, read our Bible each day, and obey Christ diligently. When we do this we build our house on the Rock. We will be able to save ourselves, our loved ones, and those who will listen to us during the age of moral and physical horrors that has come upon us in America. At night the message was about a misunderstanding that has crippled the Gospel message from the first century.
There is a fatal flaw in Christian thinking. Paul mentioned it when he said, "Let us do evil that good may come." Even in his day his message was being perverted. Today the error is stronger than ever, affecting, I believe, the majority of Evangelical churches.
I wish to compare two passages, although there are numerous other pairs that reveal the same apparent contradiction. I do not know why the following explanation has not been given earlier in Church history. Perhaps it is because of the complexities of the way God is putting an end to rebellion.
May I say also that I believe, as scholars on the earth are explaining how these two passages complement rather contradict each other, the elect in Heaven are being given the same understanding. They without us cannot be made perfect. The entire Bride, in Heaven and on the earth, is to be made blameless
Here is a pair of seemingly contradictory verses.
The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight. (Psalms 18:24)
As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;" (Romans 3:10)
The current explanation being given today, in the majority of churches (please correct me if I am wrong) is that we now are in a new dispensation. In David’s time it was possible to behave righteously (although consider Bathsheba!). Under the new dispensation of grace, we conclude from Paul’s writing that no one in the world is righteous. Therefore God is not looking to us to behave righteously but forgives us freely if we profess belief in Jesus Christ.
Grace now is our righteousness, rather than the clean hands of which King David spoke.
Consider for a moment the awesome consequences of this doctrinal position. The fiery temptations offered by demons in America, such as pornography, are the life of Hell. We understand that Jesus would be pleased if we did not view pornography. But we will avoid Hell by believing in Him, even though we watch pornography on the Internet, as numerous Christian people do.
There is no doubt whatever in my mind that the "new dispensation" teaching has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian in America. It has undermined the teaching of the old hymns ("Each victory will help you some other to win"; "Be of sin the double cure. Save me from its guilt and power").
I notice that the new choruses glorify God and the Lord Jesus. But they do not instruct us in the paths of righteousness, as do the old hymns. I think this fact is tremendously significant and points to our tendency to call Jesus "Lord! Lord!" and not do what He says. Maybe we should return to the old hymns, and jazz them up a bit to make them more palatable to today’s believers.
No one but no one is going to effectively overcome the temptations of the American culture by thinking he ought to do good to show his love for Jesus, but he is saved from Hell by "believing in Christ." If he is going to be determined enough to resist the fiery temptations of our day, he has to be fully persuaded that the believer in Christ who practices sin is living in spiritual death and shall reap corruption in the Day of the Lord.
Please permit me to present a verse that says this. I could bring up many more; but if you don’t receive the one I present you would not be impressed by a hundred additional passages.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:10)
What does this mean? It means what is says.
Is it spoken to believers?
From the context, obviously yes.
Does it mean if the believer continues to live in the sinful nature he will prevent the making alive of his body in the Day of Resurrection?
Yes, in terms of Romans 8:11—two verses previously.
How can today’s preachers get around this? They can’t. They ignore it and emphasize how we are about to be caught up to Heaven in a "rapture."
Has this verse always been in the Bible. Yes, along with many other passages from Paul’s writings that say much the same thing.
No Christian who continues to obey his sinful nature will inherit the Kingdom of God.
Then much preaching that we hear is destructive! This is a fact. The blind are leading the blind.
How, then, do we reconcile the numerous passages in Psalms that refer to righteous people, and Paul’s statement that there is none righteous. Is there a clear, simple explanation?
Yes, there is. Do fellowship with God and eternal life always follow righteous behavior on our part? Absolutely. How could it be otherwise! Are people who are practicing sin living in the Kingdom of God, the doing of God’s will in the earth?
The explanation is as follows: In King David’s day, righteous behavior was that of obeying the Law of Moses. Spiritual life, prosperity, physical health, fellowship with God, and other blessings resulted from obeying the Law of Moses.
Under the new covenant, righteous behavior is just as necessary if we are to have spiritual life and fellowship with God. But the righteous behavior comes from God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are two stages in the development of righteous behavior, under the new covenant:
First, we must look to Christ for salvation, be baptized in water, and then set out to obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. These can be obeyed if we will keep seeking the Help of the Lord. We must pray and read our Bible each day, and do all else associated with the Christian life. If we do not, do these things we will live in spiritual death, even though we profess belief in Christ. (How can we say we believe in Christ and not do what He has commanded? This is ridiculous!)
When we live as a Christian disciple, confessing our sins as the Holy Spirit points them out to us, Christ delivers us from these bondages. Deliverance from spiritual chains is the first step toward righteous behavior under the new covenant.
Our reward for our faithfulness in obeying Christ is deliverance from the bondages of sin.
As we are released from the bondages of sin, we begin to practice righteousness. When we are released from the spirit of lust, we cease watching pornography on the Internet. When we are released from the spirit of gossip, we cease gossiping. It is as simple as that.
Our deliverance from the bondages of sin leads to righteous behavior on our part, as we continue to live as a Christian.
Now another event happens. God rewards us for living righteously. The first reward was deliverance so we can live righteously. Now we are rewarded for living righteously. There is a double reward, we might say.
How does God reward us for living righteously? By giving us love, joy, peace, all the enlargements mentioned in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, the fullness of our inheritance in Christ, and every other blessing imaginable.
Our greatest reward will come as we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ. There we shall receive a crown of anointing that will include all the works of righteousness we have done through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Can we see now that we are not in a "new dispensation" in which the Old Testament emphasis on righteous behavior is made null and void? Rather, under the new covenant, righteous behavior is made possible. Divine grace is infinitely more than forgiveness. It is in fact the desire, willingness, and ability to behave in the will of God at all times.
How infinitely superior the actual new covenant is to that which has been patched together with a few passages removed from their contexts!
A warning is in order at this point. The moral strength of the Christian churches in America and the other Western nations has been eroded because of the concept of a "new dispensation of grace." We ought to know that God will not bless us in our sins no matter how much we "believe in Christ."
We have been utterly deceived because we are selfish, self-seeking, rebellious creatures living in the lap of luxury while much of the world starves. Because we have not received the love of the truth, God Himself has sent a strong delusion on us.
America is moving toward Divine judgment. I seriously doubt there is much we can do about our nation as a whole. Perhaps our emphasis should be on putting ourselves and our household in order before the Lord, turning away from the attractions of our culture and spending time with the Lord. If we will do this, we will save ourselves and those who hear us throughout the age of moral and physical horrors that is approaching our shores.
When we turn to the eighteenth Psalm, we see that God will come and save us if we call on His name. He will be faithful to us if we are faithful to Him.
But let us make no mistake. God is not the kindly grandfather being presented in the churches of our time, anxious to pour out toys on his disobedient children. His wrath is building with every abortion, every sexual perversion, every amassing of money with no intention of helping the needy, every lie in the business arena, every abuse of a child.
The Spirit is warning us in America. We need to awake from our spiritual slumber and put on the whole armor of God that we may stand in the evil day; for the evil day surely is approaching!
The study this morning was in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter truly is the holy of holies of the Bible. This is a prayer Jesus offered to the Father, and it certainly shall be answered to the fullest extent.
In the seventeenth chapter of John, the Lord Jesus points out that while He has authority over every person on earth, there are specific individuals whom the Father gives to Him to whom Jesus is to give eternal life. Then Jesus proceeds to define eternal life.
It is impossible to understand the Divine program until we grasp the concept that God’s salvation is not a free-for-all. From today’s preaching one would conclude that there is no pattern in the plan of salvation. Christ died for all, so whoever wishes to do so can "accept Christ," become a part of the Church, escape Hell, and go to Heaven. Everyone who doesn’t "accept Christ" goes to Hell.
There is some truth in this viewpoint, but it is so lacking in essential elements that it gives a false impression as to what actually is taking place.
While Jesus has been given authority over all of mankind, the Father chooses certain people and brings them to Christ. No individual can come to Christ unless the Father draws that person. Then Christ gives eternal life to the chosen one.
These who thus are called out from the world are the Church. They are the saints, the holy ones. They did not choose themselves. The Father chose them and gave them to Christ. It is not true that the remainder of mankind has been assigned to Hell. Rather it is true that the role of the Church is to minister the things of God to mankind. It is the incorrigibly wicked and rebellious who will be placed in Hell, whether they are part of the Church or part of the rest of mankind.
According to the Book of Isaiah, the time will come in the future when God will have made the Church a lighthouse of righteousness and praise. The remainder of mankind will come to that light, and then enjoy life in the new world of righteousness.
Hopefully the words I have just written will cause all believers in Christ to recognize that their belief and repentance are gifts from God. Their "sainthood" as members of the Church, the Bride of the Lamb, sets them apart from the rest of mankind. Their calling is the greatest treasure they possess; but it must be guarded, for assuredly it is possible to forfeit through neglect, disobedience, or deception.
Every member of the called-out people, the Church, is a member of the Bride of the Lamb. This means his sole purpose in existence is to be a helper of Jesus Christ, just as Eve was created to be Adam’s helper. All else in a saint’s life is secondary in importance. God has decreed that it is not good that Christ be alone. Therefore God is creating a helper for the Lord Jesus on His body and blood.
How do we help Christ? By presenting ourselves each day to the Lord so we may discover His plan for our life. We may spend many years in preparation. But in God’s time, we will assist in some area that is to be a part of Christ’s Kingdom. If we do not present ourselves as Christ’s helper, we will be punished severely and lose the inheritance planned for us. Or our destiny may prove to be even worse than that! Make no mistake about this, because current Christian preaching is bearing a false witness concerning the severity of God.
Being called to be part of the Church, Christ’s Body, is a deadly serious business. The debt of each one of us was paid by the agony of Christ on the cross; so you can infer from this God’s attitude toward that individual who is called to be a helper of Christ, but chose instead to spend his time, strength, and talents on his own desires and pursuits.
Christ defines "eternal life." Eternal life is to know the Father and the Son.
"Know" in what way? Know in the sense of the Apostle Paul, as he told us in the Book of Philippians how he had laid aside all else that he might gain Christ; that he might know Christ. To know Christ is to partake of all that Christ is.
Christ is Divine love. Divine love, which is incomprehensibly more powerful and faithful than any form of human love, is eternal life. We are to be brought through the sufferings of Christ until our human love is replaced with Divine love. Divine love is the true basis for all Christian ministry.
Christ is the fullness of Divine joy. God desires that we be filled with His joy, no matter how desperate and painful our circumstances. Divine joy is eternal life.
Christ is Divine peace—peace that passes all understanding. We are going to need this aspect of eternal life, because the sword of Divine judgment is hanging by a thread over the United States of America in the present hour.
Christ is the Resurrection. The Resurrection is a Person. Eternal Life is a Person. The Way of God is a Person. The Truth of God is a Person.
But we have to gain Christ, gain the resurrection, gain eternal life, gain the way of God, gain the truth of God.
How do we do this? By reading our Bible every day. By praying every day. By presenting our body a living sacrifice at all times that we may prove God’s will in each and every circumstance.
Each one of us is to become the personification of iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. We are not in the slightest degree to come short of such total transformation.
We have been called to become part of Christ, part of Eternal Life. If we pursue our vocation diligently we will pass into the ranks of the chosen. Then we must be proven faithful.
To attain to the first resurrection, to achieve the highest goal God is offering, requires all of our attention. Can we attain to such a high calling? Absolutely! Christ has all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth. It is to His advantage that we gain the fullness of eternal life.
There are many enemies, many distractions, many deceptions. We must overcome Satan and all his works. And we can! Through Christ we certainly can! All that holds us back is our own unbelief and disobedience.
Will you be one of those who attains to the mark? Will I?
The Church Within the Churches
I had a clear burden this morning, but it involved more than one passage of Scripture. We started off with the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John. This prayer of Jesus’ reveals clearly the difference between the elect, the only true Church, and then the people of the world.
The thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew tells us that at the end of the age the Lord will send messengers who will remove all sin and sinners from His Kingdom. I seem to feel in my spirit that this removal has begun.
There are several errors in today’s Christian preaching, such as the idea that "grace" is a new way in which God relates to man, and the notion that our goal is to live forever in Heaven.
Another profound error is our concept of the role of the Church, the Body of Christ—its relationship to the remainder of mankind.
Our preaching of today is so "democratic" one would suppose that the Gospel call goes forth, and then whoever responds is the Church. The remainder of mankind are doomed to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire.
It is true and scriptural that whoever chooses to believe and be baptized into the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit shall be saved. It is true also that many passages, both Old Testament and New, point out that the Church consists of people called out from the world. The Church began as physical Israel and continues as spiritual Israel, turning again to physical Israel at the end of the Church Age.
True Israel is God’s priesthood. chosen from the beginning of the world. This hardly indicates that the remainder of mankind is assigned to the Lake of Fire. Rather, it is the role of Israel to reveal God’s Person, will, and way to the remainder of mankind; to be the light of mankind, revealing God’s Person, will, and ways.
The Church is the Kingdom of God, the ruler over mankind for eternity. The Church in its final form is the new Jerusalem. The members of the new Jerusalem will rule the nations of the earth forever and ever, according to the last chapter of the Book of Revelation.
When the Lord Jesus came, He did not minister to the world or pray for the world. He ministered to those whom God has given to Him. He gave, and yet gives, eternal life to those whom God has given Him.
We read in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew that at the closing of the age, that is, the Church Age, the messengers will go forth and remove sin from God’s Kingdom. Most Christians believe we are living in the end of the Church Age, and the Kingdom Age is about to commence with the appearing of our Lord. Therefore it is time for the removal of sin to take place.
I personally believe the time for removing all sin from the Kingdom has begun.
There are thousands of competing Christians denominations. None of these is the Church. But in almost all Christian churches there are true members of the Church. From the present time forward, November 25, 2007, if I am correct, the believers are going to be subject to every kind of testing. God will remove our idols from us, sometimes by painful procedures. All of our idols, those things, relationships and experiences we are grasping—all must be relinquished. Our treasures must be placed in Heaven.
There may be one, two, five, ten genuine Christians in your church. The remainder may be excellent people. But they have been drawn to the earthly institution, not to Christ. They will not understand what the genuine Christians are going through. It will make no sense to them, just as Job’s boils made no sense to Job’s friends.
The Church is the eternal light of the world. But the Christian institutions of today are not serving as the moral light of the world, except in a few instances. We are a long way from being a Church without blemish, a living proof God has sent Jesus Christ; has given His Glory to His Church; and that God loves His Church as He does His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Because of the magnitude of the work that must be performed before the world will believe in God because of what it sees in the Church, I cannot see how it is possible for Christ to return within fifty years. So much Scripture remains to be fulfilled. And the Church is not yet close to being one in the Father and the Son.
As we consider the moral abominations taking place in the United States, as we see the rejection of Christ in our nation, we understand that Matthew Thirteen is coming to pass. The "sons of the evil one" are coming to maturity. Satan is coming to maturity in his people.
But the promise is that in the same hour the "sons of the Kingdom" will come to maturity. Christ will come to maturity in His people, and sin will be removed from them by God’s power, as we cooperate with the guidance of the Spirit of God.
It always has been true that the mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. Up to the present hour the emphasis during the Church Age has been on the Christ of history, or Christ with us. But there are passages of Scripture that indicate Christ suddenly will come to maturity in His people at the end of the age. We will become much more conscious that the Kingdom of God is Christ in us, not Christ with us or the Christ of history.
I have written all this to say that from this point forward God will act to remove all sin from His Kingdom. There is to be no sin whatever in the Kingdom of God. Christian people have been taught for so long that it is impossible to be delivered from sin while we are in this present world, but when we get to Heaven we will be delivered from sin. Yet, sin began in Heaven, not on the earth. So our hope is neither scriptural nor logical.
Sin is nothing but a collection of nasty little bondages. Our main problem is our will. Christian people have a difficult time accepting the will of God. They maintain their own will. They attempt to live the Christian life according to their own understanding. They do not always look to Christ for each decision of life. They make up their mind what they think may be God’s will, then set forth according to their own plans and ask God to bless them. This is why they do not gain freedom from sin.
If we are willing to give over every aspect of our life to the will of Christ, holding nothing back, God will deliver us from sin. We do not owe it to our flesh to continue to sin. This is a lie that has come from Satan and which people have chosen to believe.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ so lacking in power that He is unable to deliver us from sin? As I said, the problem is not that Christ does not have the power or authority to deliver us from sin, rather the problem is our self-will, our ignorance of God’s Word and power, and our unbelief.
If the Father has chosen to bring you to Christ as a member of the true Church, you are going to be tested, tested, tested. Things will take place in your circumstances that you used to believe would never take place. Do not be amazed. This is the Lord. This is the dust of His feet. Just do not fall away in unbelief. You started off believing in Christ. Do not be unfaithful now as God is preparing you to be a part of the new Jerusalem.
As I said, we are going to rule the works of God’s hands forever. Of the increase of His Kingdom and of peace there shall be no end—no, not forever.
We now are at the very beginning of what God has planned for mankind. The all important work of developing rulers and judges is taking place now—right now!
So do not give up. He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.
In due time the emptiness and corruption of institutional Christianity, Babylon, will be revealed. In that day the Bride will no longer be a part of Babylon. That day is not yet. Today is the hour for the individual members to be purged from self-will and sin.
Nothing can hold you back from Christ’s fullness except your own disobedience and unbelief. He will fill you with God’s fullness by applying the riches of His Glory to your personality and circumstances.
You will gain all if you do not turn away from the work of the Spirit of God in your life.
Romans 8:1-4 explains clearly the transition from the Law of Moses to salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But it seems that through the centuries of the Christian Era the understanding of this passage has not always been clear.
Even in Paul’s day some were saying, “Let us do evil that good may come.” They thought Paul was declaring that Divine grace is an alternative to righteous behavior, instead of his actual insistence that Divine grace is an alternative to the commandments of the Law of Moses, to the “works” of the Law of Moses.
To the present hour, sincere scholars are maintaining that we are “saved by grace and not by works,” meaning that righteous behavior no longer is part of God’s plan for mankind; God has given up attempting to make man in His moral image. Without intending to, certainly, today’s scholars are misinterpreting the Apostle Paul. The new covenant is far, far stricter in terms of righteous behavior than ever could be true of the Law of Moses, since the Law of Moses depends on the adamic nature of people to obey its statutes and precepts.
Let’s take a look at the passage in question:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4—NIV)
If we would understand this critical passage we first must be clear as to the meaning of “the law of the Spirit of life,” and “the law of sin and death.” and also what it means to be set free from the law of sin and death.
The law of sin and death is the interaction of our sinful nature with the Law of Moses. When the Law of Moses tells us not to take the Lord’s name in a useless manner, our sinful nature swears. Thus we are in confusion and guilt because we are being condemned by the Law.
The law of the Spirit of life is the Holy Spirit. When we are “in Christ,” that is, thinking, speaking, and acting in the Holy Spirit, presenting ourselves to Christ many times during the day, looking to Him for each decision we make, then we are without condemnation.
Just because we have “accepted Christ” does not continue to keep us free from condemnation. We must be living “in Christ.” Multitudes of Americans have “accepted Christ” but they are not living “in Christ Jesus.”
The Law of Moses is the law of the old covenant. The Holy Spirit Himself is the Law of the new covenant, the Law of the Spirit of Life. When we are filled with the Spirit we are able to resist the temptations of the sinful nature.
I personally have been in the Pentecostal movement since 1948. It is my opinion that to a certain extent, we Pentecostals do not understand the purpose of speaking in tongues.
God gave us the ability to speak in tongues. He did it so we might learn to live in the Spirit, in Christ. Isaiah tells us speaking in tongues is our entrance into the rest of God. The rest of God is that state in which we are learning each day to live increasingly by the Holy Spirit.
When you go from a Pentecostal church to a church that does not teach speaking in tongues, you can feel the difference. Speaking in tongues is a gift from the wisdom of God. It is not to be driven from the assembly so we do not offend the worldly people of the community. Speaking in tongues is from God and is our path into the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Seeking to bring in the worldly people of the community is not of God. It proceeds from the ambition of our sinful nature.
It is interesting that when the Jews celebrate the feast of Pentecost they emphasize the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai. It is believed by some that the Law was given on the day of the feast of Pentecost, that is, fifty days from the celebration of Passover.
We may not understand that the Holy Spirit is our law, but it is. When we do not obey the Holy Spirit in our daily walk we are breaking the law given to us under the new covenant.
This is the purpose of tongues—it is to bring us under the Law of the Spirit of Life, that is, into the rest of God where we live by the Presence of Jesus Christ just as He lives by the Presence of the Father.
How does the Law of the Spirit of Life set us free from the law of sin and death? In the manner I just have described. The Holy Spirit give us the wisdom and power through which we can resist the temptations of sin. The more of the Holy Spirit we have the more able we are to overcome sin. Give gives us more of the Holy Spirit when we ask Him to, and when we obey Him diligently.
There was no sinful nature in the Lord Jesus, because He was born of God. The shedding of His blood on the cross made an atonement for the sins of you and me, that is, it reconciled us to God. It balanced the scales of righteousness so God could accept us. The innocent died on behalf of the guilty.
The Jews of Paul’s day would be afraid of abandoning the Law of Moses because it was through their attempts to obey the Law that they sought to obtain righteousness—freedom from Divine condemnation. Paul is telling them that through the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ they now are free to follow Christ and His new law and yet have the righteousness attributed to them that would be theirs if they were able to obey the Law of Moses perfectly.
Right at this point lies the dreadful, horrible, destructive misunderstanding of current Christian teaching. It currently is often believed that the Law of Moses has been done away so now we are without law. However, God never, never, never leaves any of His creatures without law.
It is not that we now are without law, it is that we have been freed from the Law of Moses that we may be married to Christ, that is, that we may live by the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Obedience to this new law requires that we present our body a living sacrifice in order that we may prove the will of God at each moment of our life. Such unrelenting obedience is not gained immediately but must be developed each day as we pray, read our Bible, meet with fervent disciples, use our self-control to quit the sins we can control, use our gifts and ministries, give of our means to our church, and take up our cross of self-denial and patiently follow the Master.
From what little I have seen over the past sixty years, I do not believe most American Christians are living such a life of consecration to the Lord. But I will tell you this, in the name of the Lord Jesus: There is a time of moral and physical horrors coming upon our country. Only those who are living fully consecrated lives will be able to stand and help their loved ones to stand in the coming period of Divine judgment.
Our silly lawless-grace-rapture teaching has destroyed the moral fiber of God’s people. This is why the Muslims are attacking our country. They do not want their families to be corrupted with the Western way of life. Who could blame them? The answer is not to kill them, it is to live in such a manner that they can see Christ in us.
The Muslims are under the impression that all the people of the Western nations are Christians. Can you imagine what their opinion is of the Lord Jesus Christ after they see the sewage pumped out by Hollywood and adored by the Western “Christians”?
We of the West have been given much, and much is required of us. Consequently the handwriting is on the wall for the Western nations, and the leadership of the world will pass to the East, if those nations persist in their attempts to lead moral lives. God will reveal Christ to them, and they will have their own “Azusa Street” outpouring. May it happen soon, for there are many Muslim families who would put us to shame with their emphasis on morality and honor.
The Muslims, generally speaking, do not know Christ. Their ignorance is due to the moral corruption of the Western nations, which at one time were deriving their standards from the Bible.
If each one of us will choose right now to seek Christ at all times until we are living in the Spirit of God (and speaking in tongues helps with this), we will see our behavior changed from that which is of Satan to that which is of God. Only as we pursue this path will we be without condemnation. Only as we pursue this path will we save ourselves and those who hear us, in the coming days.
Only then will the Muslim people honor Jesus Christ and find the redemption that is in Him.
God Is in Control
God is in complete control of the world today, always has been, and always shall be. The tenth and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation should be considered as one chapter. They tell of the period of time during which the seventh angel is about to blow his trumpet, and then when he does sound his trumpet. It is our point of view that we now are in the days when the seventh angel is about to blow his trumpet.
At the beginning of the tenth chapter a mighty angel has his right foot upon the sea and his left foot upon the earth. This angel represents the authority of God’s rainbow Throne.
The “sea” symbolizes the spirits that operate in the world and the behavior they cause. The “earth” symbolizes our environment—all that can be weighed and measured, including our physical bodies.
This symbolism is telling us that God is in control of the spirits in the world, and also of our natural environment.
Before I go further, let me describe what I believe the Spirit of God is saying. First, in the political world: The leadership of the world, the power of the world spirit, will move from the Western nations to an Eastern nation. This is because the historically-Christian Western nations have traded their Divine covering for the killing of fetuses, and sexual excesses.
Second, in the Christian world: The Spirit is speaking to those in the Christian churches who have ears to hear. Christ is ready now to remove from each saint our worldliness, our various lusts, and our self-determination. We must forget the past and listen to Jesus carefully. He has new and surprising things for those who will listen to Him and obey Him diligently.
As soon as all sin and those who continue to sin have been removed from His Kingdom, the sons of the Kingdom will shine forth in the glory of their Father. The main burden of the morning and evening services had to do with the prayer of relinquishment. It was taken from Revelation 14:13:
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, ‘Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.’”
Please notice the expression, “which die in the Lord from henceforth.”
This means the blessing will begin when Antichrist and the False Prophet become prominent. This is happening now. The spirit of Antichrist is that of man becoming his own god. The spirit of the False Prophet refers to Christian people who are seeking the power of Christ but who are not following the Lord and patiently bearing their cross of denial.
To “die in the Lord” means that we let go of everything the Lord calls for. We relinquish to Him our very life. He will bring to our attention those relationships, circumstances, and things that we treasure; that we grasp; that we clutch. One by one they must be given to Him without any hope of getting them back.
I am not speaking of passivity, of becoming an “empty vessel” such that we have no desires. We are to keep our desires, our decisions, strong and clear. We always are to be thankful and to praise the Lord, meanwhile letting our desires be made known to Him. If we float about in double-mindedness, not being able to make up our mind what we want, we will get nowhere with the Lord.
We become ill. We lose our job, our money. A coveted relationship is destroyed somehow. We are living in a situation we detest. We are not receiving what we desire fervently.
What do we do? We pray. In the case of illness, we go to the elders of the church and have them pray over us. We keep our desires firmly before the Lord. But nothing happens. Then we “let go and let God have His wonderful way.” We cannot figure out why He is treating us like this. But having done all, we walk forward in trust, hand in hand with the Lord Jesus. This is what it means to “die in the Lord.”
I believe the Lord has spoken clearly to me, I believe that we in America are entering a period of chaos. Our land is becoming filled with the demons of sexual indulgence, with drugs, with entertainment, with violence with the lust for more and more money. We will see chaos in our educational systems, in our military, in our government, in our financial institutions, in our health, in every political, moral, mental, physical area.
One example of educational chaos is today’s dilemma in one of our public schools as the choral director is choosing to include Handel’s Messiah in one of their presentations, and people are questioning whether this is suitable. Imagine, is Handel’s Messiah suitable in a public school presentation! How ridiculous! If there is better music I have never heard it.
Also, the current emphasis in California, and other states, on doing away with gender, such that men and women, boys and girls, share the same restroom facilities in schools and in public facilities. What can the officials be thinking of? Do they have any idea what this will lead to? This is chaos.
And these two examples are just the beginning. The monster that is arising on the horizon is that of enabling people of all ages to experience every human activity via virtual reality on the Internet and television. Can we possibly imagine what this will lead to? It will be graphic pornography raised to the tenth power.
The Lord Jesus warned us that the hour is coming in which no man can work. Such an hour is close at hand. We humans will not be able to combat the coming evil in our own strength. We are going to have to “die in the Lord” so that the good works He will perform with and through us will follow us in the midst of the darkness.
The secret of survival throughout the coming age of moral and physical horrors will not be an unscriptural “rapture,” a fleeing from the battle. Rather it will be that of relinquishing to Christ all He requires of us, understanding that He is in control of the spirits of the world and also of the earth and all its resources.
Realizing that Christ is in control of the flood of evil, our strength in the coming days will be in quietness and confidence in Him.
The Massive Evangelical Doctrinal Error
Being eighty-two years young, and somewhat conservative in my thinking, and having no desire whatever to be radical or an iconoclast, I do not title an essay “The Massive Evangelical Doctrinal Error” in order to be cute or sensational. If the current (12/17/2007) Newsweek is true, there are 100 million Protestant Christians in the United States—one-third of the population. And these Christians believe that their salvation does not depend on how they have behaved on the earth. This belief is so totally unscriptural that the title of our essay is found to be understated. Whew!
Please let me present the exact quote on page 33 of the current Newsweek. Mind you, this purportedly is the position held by 100 million American Protestant Christians. My limited experience (61 years) as a Christian suggests that what Newsweek has presented probably is a reasonably accurate assessment:
“Salvation comes when the individual develops a heartfelt faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation is not dependent on how one acted on Earth but rather on a relationship with Christ.” End of statement.
Such a doctrinal position indeed is massive error!
According to the Apostle Paul in several passages of the New Testament, if we behave on the earth according our sinful nature, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I would not want to be placed in a position where I had to maintain that we could be saved and still not inherit the Kingdom of God. But I feel certain that there are ministers of the Gospel who would maintain that just because we did not inherit the Kingdom of God does not mean that we wouldn’t be saved.
In fact, one minister lately claimed that even though we were cut out of the Vine because we did not bear fruit, that still did not mean we would not be saved. This is how intent today’s ministry is to prove that no matter how we behave during our life, if we “accept Christ” we will be saved, meaning we will go to Heaven when we die and live in a mansion.
It is true that salvation depends on our relationship with Christ. The problem is, Evangelical believers interpret this to mean that if they believe in an orthodox (depending on their denomination) Statement of Faith, they have a saving relationship with Christ.
However, belief in orthodox doctrine is not a relationship. It is doctrinal belief.
What, then, is a true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? A true relationship with the Lord Jesus can come only through our death with Him.
How do we die with Him?
We die with Christ as the Holy Spirit points out to us our wordiness, our physical lusts, and our self-will. The Spirit does not point out our entire sinful nature at once, but item by item. When we become aware of an item of worldliness, or lust, or self-will, we are to confess it as sin and, by the Lord’s help, turn away from it.
When we confess a sinful behavior and turn away from it, the Lord removes it and in its place issues resurrection life. Thus the true discipleship is death and life, death and life, death and life.
This is the only saving relationship with Jesus Christ.
Will such a relationship change our behavior on the earth? How could it not? Obviously, it will. Thus we are not saved by works; but true salvation always and inescapably results in the fruit of Christ’s moral behavior while we are living on the earth.
The only certain proof that we are being saved is that our behavior is being transformed. If God only forgave our sins but did not transform our behavior, than a future Heaven would be impossible.
As far as our behavior on the Earth is concerned, Second Corinthians 5:10 advises us that at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive what we have done in our body, whether good or bad. This means that how we behave on the Earth is an integral aspect of our salvation.
Let us say we make a profession of faith in orthodox doctrine. We “accept Christ,” as the saying goes. Then we continue to lie, fornicate, and break our vows. What will receive in the Day of Christ? A lying spirit. A spirit of lust. A spirit of treachery. This will be the nature of our resurrection.
Second Corinthians 5:10 is the unchanging word of God. It cannot be changed no matter how humanistic today’s Christian preaching becomes.
We indeed shall receive the good and the bad we have done. What we have sown we indeed shall reap. God cannot be mocked. Let God be true and every man a liar.
When we, after making a profession of faith in Christ, continue to live a sinful life (sin is correctly defined as disobedience to God’s will; thus what is sinful is not always the same but depends on the circumstances), we are not obeying Christ. Christ has commanded us to do good works so that when people see us they will glorify God.
Because these 100 million American Protestant Christians are waiting to go to Heaven to do good works, there is little moral testimony in our country. We are sliding downhill into moral depravity and utter corruption. I may be mistaken, but I think it is too late to avert the Divine judgment poised over (and already happening in) America. It may be true that the best we can do is save ourselves and those who hear us.
The doctrinal positions set forth in the current Newsweek may seem like a squabble among religious people and not to be taken too seriously by the secular position. The truth is, the Protestant Evangelical position is going to result in governmental, financial, social, educational, medical, military, and psychological corruption and destruction.
We of the Christian churches in America have failed our nation by ignoring the precepts written in the New Testament. We have chosen a lie so we may perpetuate our comfortable life style. We have chosen to listen today’s “palace prophets” who are showing us how we can keep our adamic life alive and cover it with various sorts of religious cosmetics. We have shunned the reproach of the cross!
But newness of resurrection life arises from the crucifixion of our old personality, and from nowhere else.
Let each of us choose to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and patiently follow the Master. By doing so we will save ourselves and those who hear us throughout the age of moral and physical horrors that is approaching us so rapidly in America.
Preparing for the Day of Trouble
Today we had our Christmas program. It was excellent, as always. As I looked upward toward the Lord, which is my custom, I was troubled. I think the Lord was saying that He appreciated our fervent worship, but we still need to press in further. I had a presentiment of danger, that we are facing trouble—perhaps war on our own soil.
I felt not to preach after our program. Instead, I felt directed to call on five people with a proven ministry of prophecy to speak out. You know, if we have prophesied accurately in the assembly, that gift is there. We just need to stir it up.
I wanted corroboration of what I felt I was seeing with the Lord.
The prophesies were along the line of preparing the way of the Lord and pressing further into Him. We were not being congratulated as to our spiritual condition.
I was anxious to bring the people up to the present, after the presentation of the historical Jesus in our program. I wanted to remind them to keep the prophetic atmosphere on their life during this Christmas season, asking the Lord Jesus about every decision they make.
The prophesies were strong and clear, and it appeared the Lord wanted some who have gifts but are not using them to become more involved. So I gave an altar call for those who felt they have gifts and ministries they are not using. There was a good response.
At night we read the ninety-first Psalm in unison. Then I stressed two main points. The first was about abiding in Christ. The second was about how God was able to keep Jeremiah in the midst of the destruction that was all around him.
“He who dwells in the secret place,” that is in Christ at the right hand of God.
I firmly believe we are preaching salvation incorrectly. We make “accepting Christ” a ticket that we purchase at some point, and then look back to the time when we were “saved.” I don’t believe the expression “accept Christ” is in the Bible. Romans 15:7 speaks of Christ accepting us. That statement at least is scriptural.
We cannot point back at a time and say that was when we were saved. This is not scriptural. The day of salvation is always today.
You could say truthfully, I repented and was baptized in water twenty years ago; but that was when you began the program of salvation. According to the Word of our Lord, you are not fully “saved” until you endure to the end.
Salvation is a specific program, tailored to the individual. It always is a continual interaction with the Lord Jesus Christ. It has a specific beginning when we confess Christ as our Savior. It has a specific process that we are to work out with fear and trembling. It has a specific conclusion when we have been redeemed totally from Satan and he has no part in us.
We must dwell in Christ at all times if we are to appropriate the promises of the ninety-first Psalm. We must seek to dwell in Christ at all times by looking to Him for every aspect of our life. If we will do this, then Christ dwells in us. We dwell in Him, and as we do, He dwells in us.
Salvation has nothing to do with eternal residence in Heaven. Salvation is deliverance from the person and works of Satan. Redemption begins in the present world and may continue in the next. It does have a definite conclusion. But I believe we will grow in the image of our Father for eternity.
“A thousand shall fall at our side.”The 39th and 40th chapters of the Book of Jeremiah are an account of an astonishing incident. Nebuchadnezzar’s forces had invaded Jerusalem. They removed the Ark of the Covenant and burned down the Temple. They captured King Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. They led away numerous Israelites in chains, bringing them across the Arabian desert to Babylon.
Here was the prophet, Jeremiah in the midst of this tumult. One man. Nebuchadnezzar commanded his highest officials to take care of Jeremiah. This they did. Jeremiah was set free by the Babylonians, but later forced down into Egypt by Israelites who escaped the Babylonians.
There is an important lesson for us here. The commander of the Imperial Guard, Nebuzaradan, made clear to Jeremiah that Jerusalem was destroyed because the Jews had sinned against God. However, Nebuchadnezzar, under God’s direction I am certain, commanded that Jeremiah be spared.
We are going to see numerous moral abominations in the United States of America, and the result will be severe Divine judgment. Let us keep firmly in mind that our enemy is not the people that God uses to punish us. Our enemy is Satan. If we will be careful to serve God, as did Jeremiah, the people who bring Divine judgment will spare us.
It was the uncircumcised Cyrus who commanded that the Temple be rebuilt.
If we will press into Christ diligently, leaving behind the foolish grace-rapture teaching that has so bemused the ministers of our day, we need have no fear of the Divine judgment that is approaching America.
But if we, like King Zedekiah, refuse to listen to the Spirit of God, we will be punished severely.
The message to me, yesterday, was to remind the people that during this holiday season we are to refuse to be caught up in the American frivolities and to pray without ceasing. Danger! Danger! Danger! Christ is warning, if I am hearing correctly.
He who has an ear to hear, let him follow Christ closely. In so doing he will save himself and those how hear him; for a season of moral and physical horrors is approaching the United States of America.
The Practices of the Nicolaitans
This morning we were studying the second chapter of the Book of Revelation. The Lord Jesus said that the members of the church in Ephesus hated the practices of the Nicolaitans, and that He does also. I have not found agreement among Bible scholars concerning the identity of the Nicolaitans or what their practices were.
Some years ago I made a study of the Nicolaitans. If memory serves, there were three definitions offered by various writers: That the Nicolaitans were followers of Nicholas of Antioch; that they were antinomian in doctrine; that they emphasized the division between the clergy and the laity, and this somehow was related to the Catholic Church.
As I sat in my study, preparing for the Sunday morning sermon, I felt the Lord impressing me strongly that these three areas of concern would come to maturity in the coming years, and that our young people would have to deal with them from now on if they are to remain as true disciples of the Lord.
The first area is that of making the church understandable and palatable to the local community, which seemed to be the desire of Nicholas of Antioch.
The second area is that of lawless grace, the doctrine so prevalent today.
The third area is that of man-directed Christianity.
I would like to comment for a minute about each of these three areas. They are very prevalent today, and as they come to maturity they will destroy true Christian discipleship unless they are resisted resolutely and continually.
The first concern is the popular "seeker-friendly church." We may have heard that expression. This means that we trim the services until the newcomer is comfortable and feels at home.
We in America judge the value of a church by the number of people in attendance. If we are to have large numbers, we are going to have to trim the services to fit the opinions of the people of the community. They are not going to enjoy hearing how they are to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. Neither are they going to appreciate people talking in tongues or prophesying. They want to hear how "accepting Christ" is going to make them a better person, more successful in every area of their life.
In actuality, a Christian assembling is not a social group or a part of the local community. It is the Lampstand of God, lighted by the Spirit of God. If it remains holy, separate from the world, then God will draw to the Lord Jesus the people He selects.
I am not referring to weird sectarian practices that will alienate most people. I am referring to looking to the Lord Jesus continually so that He may build His own Church as He sees fit. We Christians are not part of the world and do not need the help of the world; although if we really are doing God's will, God very well may have people of the world assist us.
The second concern is Antinomianism, a doctrine that dates from the first century. Antinomianism is the prevailing doctrine among Evangelical people. They have misunderstood Paul to mean that our salvation is a sovereign action of God's grace, unrelated to our behavior in the world.
The result of the lawless-grace doctrine (Antinomianism) is the destruction of the Christian testimony of good works. The Divine judgment that is approaching America is a direct result of the teaching that we are saved by grace, and how we behave may be important, but certainly not critically so.
The third force with which our young people will be called on to face is Babylon, that is, man-directed Christianity.
Our day is one of communication, of various effective media. There are books, magazines, and electronic media that are telling us how to live the Christian life; also, how to bring our nation back to its original Christian foundation.
I have not heard one of these authors or ministers claim to know what Christ is saying. Every one I have heard is presenting a series of righteous works, such as repenting, praying, fasting, using our gifts, forgiving people, confessing our sins, giving our money, helping the poor, and so forth. All of these certainly are worthy enterprises. But are these what Jesus is emphasizing in our day?
For two thousand years the Christian churches have endeavored to affect society positively, usually in terms of conforming people to the thinking of the particular denomination. This sounds innocent, but it is not innocent at all. It ends up murdering the saints, murdering all who disagree with the beliefs of the system. Sometime the murder is actual physical murder, including torture. Sometimes it is nothing more than ignoring the "unbelievers."
This is Babylon. This is the attempt of man to build the Kingdom of God according to the thinking, desires, efforts, and talents of people.
I have not heard one outstanding, well known minister of the Gospel, claim to be hearing from the Lord. Not one! Not one! Of course there are fanatics who say the Lord told them this or that. I am not counting this sort of thing.
I mean with all these plans to redeem people, restore our country, and so forth, not one major minister is claiming to hear from Jesus. They have excellent plans, all of which are biblical, I suppose. Their plans are what they believe the Lord might be saying. At least this is my observation.
The Book of Revelation devotes two chapters to Babylon, to man-driven Christianity. To religion, in other words. The blood of the saints is on the hands of fervent religious people who maintain that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, according to church history. Religion and salvation are not at all the same thing. Religion is man-made. Salvation is the work of the living Lord Jesus with the individual. Religion cannot control salvation, and so in one manner or another it murders the saints. This is Babylon.
At the time of the rise of Antichrist, the Christian denominations will unite, and the headquarters of this massive religious organization (which may include other religions as man attempts to "build the tower to Heaven") will be located in Babylon, in what is now Iraq. Antichrist and Babylon will govern the world as the same time, as hundreds of years ago the people of Europe were governed by secular leaders as well as by the Pope.
But eventually Antichrist will turn against Babylon and destroy it. When Babylon, man-directed Christianity is destroyed, there will be tremendous rejoicing in Heaven.
What is Jesus saying today? If I am hearing Him correctly, Jesus is coming to individual Christians and counseling them to make their way perfect before Him; to make His way straight. I am not hearing anything about saving America, or bringing the world to Christ. Perhaps other believers have those burdens. But Jesus is telling me clearly that He is dealing with individuals to set their own houses in order. Is He saying that to you?
The Bible suggests that in the last days, many people slated to be rulers in the Kingdom of God are to be born. Many who are last shall be first. This is why, I believe, that Satan (King Herod) is going to such great lengths to move government leaders to endorse abortion and homosexual behavior. It is to prevent, if he can, the birth of these rulers, just as Herod sought to kill Jesus.
Without a doubt, wickedness is about to come to maturity. Our young people must be brought to the demands of Jesus, that they must lay down their lives for the Gospel. They do not need to be coddled. They need to be challenged. They are facing a future in the world in which these three forces, worldly churches, lawless grace, and man-directed Christianity, will struggle to take control of their souls and prevent them from becoming true saints.