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.
Call on the Lord
Ever since Adam and Eve chose to act independently of God, their descendants have been afflicted with this most deadly of all behaviors. You know, God was present in the Garden. All Eve and Adam had to do was to go to Him and ask if eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil would be good for them. They chose rather to use their own judgment, based on what the serpent had told them.
This is my first Sunday back in the pulpit since the fall that broke my right femur. That was on Sunday, 9/13/2009. The fall was on the stairs in my home after returning from the morning service. I am in pretty good shape now, although I am using a cane to prevent falling while I am mending.
Stan Josephsen and Lloyd Darlington have filled in with preaching during those five months. From what people told me, they did an outstanding job. Our Church Council continued with the business of the church in my absence, including the annual business meeting. My thanks go out to Stan, Lloyd, the Council members, and the congregation, all who steadfastly continued with the message of righteous behavior we have preached in Poway for over thirty years. Thanks also to John Arterberry who fashioned a chair so I can sit behind the pulpit while I am preaching.
The burden of the morning has to do with the historical error of mankind. The error is that of acting independently of the wisdom and will of Christ. It is as true of Christians as it is of non-Christians. We simply are not aware, many of us, that Christ wants to direct our lives. We are seeking to please Christ without knowing exactly what He desires of us as an individual.
I am persuaded that most Christians do not realize they can conduct all the aspects of their daily life in the Presence of the Lord Jesus. When the Apostle Paul urged us to pray without ceasing, he did not mean that twenty-four hours of every day we are to beseech Christ to keep our ninety-five year-old aunt from dying. He was speaking rather of living our life in the Presence of Christ.
How do we "pray without ceasing"? We start each morning by committing ourselves to Jesus, asking Him to get us out of bed on time. At my age, one needs supernatural help to get up in the morning!
Then there is the decision, for many of us, of what clothes to wear. Then the decision of what to eat and how much to eat (if we have food). How many cups of coffee to drink. Perhaps helping the children off to school. During the first hour we may have made a hundred decisions.
Now, there are two ways in which we can make a decision. We can bring our desires, experience, and knowledge into play and do what we think is the best. Or we can look up to Jesus and ask His assistance as we bring our desires, experience, and knowledge into play.
Did you know the Book of Proverbs advises us not to lean to our own understanding but to acknowledge Christ in all our ways? This is what it means to pray without ceasing.
Do you know what happens to you if you persevere in this manner of living? Eventually you can say with Paul, "It is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me." To live by the Life of Jesus Christ is our very highest goal.
What kind of world would this be if every person looked to Jesus for every decision he or she made? What would have happened in the Garden of Eden if Adam and Eve had looked to God to see if they were supposed to eat the forbidden fruit?
The American ideal is the self-possessed individual who is "in control." This may be the American ideal but it is not God’s ideal. The self-directed person is a loose cannon in the universe. This is why the world is in such an uproar.
Having been a Christian for 65 years, I am fairly well acquainted with the manner in which churches and denominations operate. It is very seldom that one hears of a church or a denomination waiting to hear from God before it embarks on a plan. The assumption is that we are to go into all the world and build Christian churches.
You may notice, in Matthew, that Christ did not charge the multitude of believers and disciples to "go into all the world." He spoke to eleven chosen individuals whom He named Apostles.
And Christ did not command them to build Christian churches, but to make disciples. There is a vast difference. One can build a church that has few or no disciples in it. A disciple is someone who denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows Christ at all times. How many genuine disciples are there in your church?
I do not know how often the missionaries of today hear from the Spirit of God as the Apostle Paul did. I think in many instances we are working for Christ instead of obeying Christ and following His directions.
I believe the Lord Jesus has new and surprising things for us today, if we will get our eyes off what has been and just look to Jesus. Maybe–just-maybe–He has some ideas that will more than conquer the spiritual darkness into which we are sinking in America.
A corollary of the willingness of the believers to seek to work for Christ instead of listening to what Jesus actually wants, is the practice of looking for spiritual formulas for success. We have arthritis, so we do this. We need money, so we do this. We want to save our marriage, so we do this. We need healing, so we take this approach.
Believe me, we are entering the hour of darkness in which no man can work. In order to survive and help others we absolutely must "die in the Lord." Only the wisdom and power of Jesus Christ will be able to operate in the coming days.
Therefore, when you are facing a need, do not try to use a formula for success. It may have worked at one time. It will not work in the future. Check out the eighteenth Psalm and see what King David did when he was in trouble.
In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalms 18:6)
"I called to the Lord"! Can you hear this? David called to the Lord. He did not attempt to wait for the sound of marching in the mulberry trees or do anything else that had worked in time past. David called to the Lord.
In my experience, this concept is violated continually as Christians seek to employ some recipe for spiritual success. In fact, people travel to locations where God has moved in time past, hoping that somehow God will repeat what He has done before.
God does not repeat Himself, ordinarily. But people want to "work the moves." They would rather water the plants in the sanctuary, or organize a parade, or do whatever, in order to get God to move. They may use a computer to find out what parts of the world need evangelism.
All of these religious efforts are attempts to find something that will "work." Why don’t we quit doing this and call on the Lord? God is not broke. Jesus is in control. He is not confused or impressed with the vain boasting of today’s political leaders.
If you want to be shocked, read the rest of Psalms Eighteen and see what took place when David called on the Lord. These kinds of results are not obtained when we assume from reading the Bible what Christ wants, and then set out to accomplish it with money and human talent and effort.
The Lord Is Our Refuge; Our Fortress
There are many promises in the Bible informing us that God will protect us in the time of trouble. I think most Christians know of these promises. But God’s promises may not mean too much to us until we are in serious trouble. The days ahead in America are going to be dreadful and very threatening. We need to keep ourselves under the protection of Christ.
It may be true that the ninety-first Psalm is one of the more familiar of the passages that deal with the time of trouble.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalms 91:1-4)
I would like to point out an aspect of the promises of this familiar Psalm:
"Dwells in the shelter."
"Rest in the shadow."
"He is my refuge."
"And my fortress."
"Saved from the fowler’s snare."
"Saved from the deadly pestilence (disease)."
"Cover you with His feathers."
"Under His wings."
"Your shield and rampart (an embankment for defensive purposes)."
Do you see the commonality here? In order to be protected we have to abide in Christ.
I hope I am incorrect, but I don’t believe many believers in America actually abide in Christ. They are good religious people, church people, but they have not been taught what it means to abide in Christ.
You can think of Christ as a castle. One type of castle has an outer wall surrounding the outer ward. Then there is an inner wall surrounding the inner ward. The inner ward is where the people and animals conduct their lives.
There are towers in the inner ward, sometimes consisting of rooms at three levels. The rooms are entered by climbing a spiral staircase. These rooms are where people reside.
If an enemy breaks through the outer wall he is faced with an even higher wall, the inner wall. If he manages to break through the inner wall he will find that the inhabitants of the castle have taken up their positions in the towers.
The towers are large and solid, and have arrow loops so that the defenders can shoot at anyone in the inner ward; and also at anyone in the outer ward if the tower forms part of the wall guarding the inner ward.
If a person goes out through the inner and outer gates, and across the drawbridge, the several defensive elements no longer will protect him.
So it is in Christ. If we go outside of Him, the promises of protection in the day of trouble no longer can be relied on. Did you know that? It is not enough to say "Christ will protect me." He will not protect you, even if you name His name, if you do not abide in Him.
Now, how do we live in Christ, in the Castle God has constructed?
Living in Christ requires a conscious effort at all times. We always must be aware that He is present, even though we may not feel it. His Presence and protection are there if we are praying continually.
In my own experience, I find that I am confronted with numerous choices throughout the day and part of the night. Should I eat this or that? If so, how much? What time should I go to bed? What time should I get up? What should I do before I go to work? What should I do when I return from work? And so forth. There are numerous such choices each day for many of us, aren’t there?
Now, how we decide what we should do at each point of decision will determine if we are living in Christ.
If we just choose to do what we want, or what seems pleasurable, or what has proven in time past to be the best choice, or what we are afraid not to do, or what we feel is expected of us, or what we believe will bring the best results, then we are not living in Christ. We are living in the flesh, according to our own resources, experiences, and talents.
There is another way of making a decision. This is to look to Christ in every instance. As the Bible says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." This admonition is found in the Book of Proverbs.
"But how about little things I do every day, like eating breakfast or taking care of the children?" ("In all your ways")
Yes, bring Christ into those decisions also. Bring Christ into every decision. Talk to Him constantly. "Pray without ceasing."
"But I can’t do that. It is too hard!"
Many activities are too hard when you first attempt to do them. You could not play music on the piano the first time you tried. It is only after years of practice that one can play the piano or violin with any kind of assurance.
So it is with abiding in Christ. It is going to take you a period of time and unrelenting practice to bring Christ into every decision. But this is how you:
Dwell in the shelter.
Rest in the shadow.
Make God your refuge.
And your castle.
Are saved from the fowler’s snare.
Are saved from the deadly disease.
Stay under His feathers.
Remain under His wings.
Make God your shield and rampart.
Another important illustration of dwelling in Christ is Noah’s Ark. It was a day of Divine judgment. God called the righteous into a place of protection. They were saved through the Divine judgment by remaining in the Ark.
If they had stepped out of the Ark during the rain they would have been destroyed with the wicked.
I have just described what the Bible means by "walking in the light." It is when we walk in the light of God’s perfect will that the blood of God’s Lamb cleanses us from all sin.
It may be true, although I hope it isn’t, that most believers in America are not filled with eternal life. I think there are many who have no eternal life at all, they just have made a profession of belief in Christ but they do not abide in Christ.
When the Lord said, "He who believes in Me shall never die" He meant those who were spiritually alive and abiding in Him.
I do not know where all the nominal (dead) Christians go when they die. Perhaps to a place of instruction where they have a chance actually to receive Christ into their lives, or else to reject Christ altogether. American people do love their independence of thought, speech, and action!
Divine judgment will fall on America soon, I am convinced. Today God is calling those who love and serve Him into a place of abiding in Christ. If they turn away from the wickedness of America, they and their loved ones will be saved during the destruction, just as was true of Noah and his family. But those who choose to live their lives in the ways of the world will be destroyed.
"Isn’t it enough to pray and read my Bible each day, and go to church on Sunday?"
No, it is not. These are necessary activities. But their purpose is to bring you to the place where you are abiding in Christ at all times, in every detail.
You can attain success in abiding in Christ. But you will have to bring the best that you are, the best that you have, to this challenge, this war, if you are to gain the complete victory Christ desires that you have.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psalms 112:7)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:4-7)
The Righteous and the Wicked
In our day the wheat and the tares are coming to maturity. The rise of lawlessness in our own country and in the rest of the world is obvious. What may not be as obvious is the way the Spirit of God is moving on some of the Christian believers. While the Christian denominations stagger forward in their spiritual blindness, frustrated because they are not making the impact on the world they desire, individual believers are following the Spirit of God as He leads them on to the fullness of redemption.
As I prayed about the sermon this Sunday, the thirty-seventh Psalm came to mind. I have preached many times from this Psalm. Yet, its message is so relevant, as wickedness and unbelief increase in our country as well as in the remainder of the world, I thought I would have another go at it.
The Psalm tells us not to fret because of evil men, nor to envy wrongdoers. I think fretting is going to be a major problem with us who love Jesus.
The New Testament commands us to rejoice in the Lord always. We are told that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. When we fret, which, of course, is what Satan desires, we are not rejoicing. We are coming down from our high place in Christ that we may contemplate the works of Satan among mankind. We are disobeying the command not to fret.
We pastors need to be more firm, perhaps, in urging our congregation to refrain from spending our time cursing the darkness.
"But if we don’t curse the darkness, the wicked will prevail," some may say. Well, it is certain we are not going to accomplish anything by disobeying the Bible. If we are in a position to prevent wrongdoing, that is one thing. But to just fret about the evil in the government does nothing but weaken us spiritually.
Each of us can pray. That is one thing we can do. I have prayed much about the evil I see in our government. You know what? The Lord is telling me that our enemies are prospering because the covering of God is lifting from our country.
And why is the covering lifting? Because of sin, particularly that of abortion. We can rail against the liberals and what they are doing; but until abortion-on-demand is made illegal, all of our efforts, financially, militarily, politically, will end up only in disaster. God will never accept a country which is murdering its children.
One thing to keep in mind is that eventually evil men will wither and die away. The infallible Scriptures promise this; and for this reason we are not to fret. Sometimes God is doing something we do not understand, and we need to pray and ask Him what He is doing before we begin to rage about what sinners are doing.
If we will heed the Scripture, and trust in the Lord and do good, we will be taken care of. We do not have to spend our time fretting about the actions of the lawless.
The fourth verse of Psalms 37 is one of my favorites. It informs us that if we will delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart—not just provide our needs, but grant us the desires of our heart.
I don’t know about you, but I am a dutiful, conscientious person. It is difficult for me to know what the desires of my heart are, because I am so loaded down with responsibilities and worries.
So I have to get before the Lord to find out what it is I really want. But when I do, I often am surprised. Then I am assured that if I keep on delighting myself in the Lord, I finally will receive what I truly desire. Why, then, should I fret about the corruption brought about by lawless people?
I am old and experienced enough to see the stupidity that is being practiced in our nation and it is difficult to quit fretting about it. But fretting does no good. I can pray, and find peace by doing this. You can too.
We are to commit our way to the Lord. Proverbs advises us to acknowledge God in all our ways. I am endeavoring to do this, right down to the smallest decision.
I am tying my shoes. I miss a turn and one of the laces knots up. Now I can rage and fume, particularly if I am late for a meeting. Or I can stop yanking on the lace and look up to the Lord for help. When I do this, the knot comes undone as I work on it. Try it for yourself!
And then there are the major decisions that face every pastor, and every other person as well. "What should I tell this person?" "What should I do about that individual who is causing division in the church?" Of course I can act out of anger, but that only compounds the problem. Or I can commit my way to the Lord. As you might guess, doing this will solve the problem.
Then God makes our righteousness evident. If we ask God’s help, and do what He counsels, we act righteously.
You know, the only people who do not know what righteousness is are the Christians. Why is this? It is because we have perverted Paul’s teaching of grace to mean that we must believe in Christ, but it is not necessary to obey what He and His Apostles have commanded.
We have been instructed to believe in Christ and also informed that if we do not obey Him there is no trouble because we are "saved by grace." This means we will be brought up to a mansion in Heaven and spend eternity admiring how rich we are.
Indeed, it is time for a reformation of Christian thinking!
The scepter of Christ’s Kingdom is one of righteousness. We have been taught that this means we are righteous because we believe in Christ, or are identified with Christ.
How do you like that for a masterful lie?
The result of believing our righteousness is one of belief, and not integrity of behavior, has resulted in a religion that is not bearing witness of Christ. Now the pollsters are telling us that people are leaving the churches. Why shouldn’t they?
The churches are teaching a lie.
The world knows that anyone who really is serving God will behave righteously. The Christian churches are the only group of people, it appears, who do not understand this, believing in a mystical, fruitless "grace."
When we commit every decision and action to the Lord, He causes the onlookers to witness true righteousness. They glorify God when they see our good works. The Christian churches are demanding that the leaders of our government act righteously, while every work of the flesh is being practiced by the Christian people.
There must be a billion people in the world who adhere to the Muslim faith. There is a part of this group who are villainous terrorists. The majority are ordinary people who want to serve God according to their lights. These people, whom God loves, will never, never, never come to Christ when they see how the American Christians behave.
The testimony of America reaches around the world. It is coming from Hollywood. This is where the Muslim people receive their impression of America.
I have felt for some time, that in view of the severe Divine judgment that is to fall on America, it may be too late to save our nation from destruction. But each of us as an individual believer can draw near to Jesus, thus saving ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s you and I do this.
Living by His Life
It may be true that the greatest confusion in Christian thinking lies in the transition from Moses to Christ. Are we under at least part of the Law? Are we completely free from the Law? Does being under "grace" mean there are no laws governing our behavior? I have never heard this problem resolved clearly. It seems today, in Evangelical thinking, the majority opinion is that "we are not under the Law but under grace," meaning that if we believe in Jesus we will go to Heaven when we die no matter how we behave.
I came to Christ in 1944. I was taught by fellow Marines that the purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive us, since we are unable to meet God’s righteous demands. Then we would be eligible to go to Heaven when we die. Since that time, probably before you were born, I have found this to be the prevailing doctrine of most, if not all, Christian churches.
According to the Scriptures, this is not the purpose of the grace of the new covenant. The purpose of the grace of the new covenant is to forgive all of our sins so we will be able to focus on the work of the Holy Spirit as He creates the Life of Christ in us. As the Life of Christ is formed in us, we begin to meet God’s righteous demands. The objective of the new creation is to create us in the image of God in order that we might please God and have fellowship with God wherever we are.
Paul was upset with some of the Christian Jewish leaders.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (Galatians 2:14)
Then the Apostle Paul explained the only manner in which we can be free from the demands of the Law of Moses:
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
It simply is not true, and an error of the greatest magnitude, that because of "grace" we are free from the laws that govern our behavior. It is only as we have died to our first life and now are alive in Christ, and living by His Life, that we are free from external laws.
Until we are living by the Life of Christ we are under the moral laws of the Old Testament. There never is a time when a person is not under one of God’s laws. Either we are living by the Life of Jesus, and therefore being directed by the Spirit of God; or we are under the Law of Moses. There is no place in between, that is, for a lawless person, and still be accepted of God.
There are at least six major goals toward which the disciple is to press. Each of the six is to be true of us eternally: righteous in character and behavior; completely holy; totally obedient to God; love for God and our neighbor; always filled with joy; abiding in peace in our calling. The only way in which these goals can be attained to is to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no greater challenge to the disciple of Jesus than to live by His Life. From the time of our birth we are endeavoring to stay alive in our original inward and outward natures. We are a person. Like all the other creatures of God we fight for our life.
Then along comes the Lord Jesus. He tells us that if we would see and enter the Kingdom of God we must be born all over again.
Now what? We are not speaking of religion at this point but of killing of our first nature as we choose to live by a new Life that has invaded our personality. If you think such death and resurrection are easy to experience, you have not attempted to make this transition.
We cannot make such a radical change in a moment. This is why the current teaching that states the moment we "accept Christ" we are born again is so misleading. The expression "born again" is not used many times in the New Testament, although what the expression implies is the heart of the new covenant.
We might be more accurate if we said, "I have decided to die with Christ and live with Christ; and if I am faithful through the years the day will come when I am a new creation, that is, I have been completely born again in Christ."
What does it mean to live by the Life of Christ? It means that our thoughts, our imaginations, our motives, our words, our actions, while they are part of who we are and what we are doing, have continually been presented to Jesus so that they reflect His thinking, imagining, motives, words, and actions. To enter this blend of us and the Lord we must pray without ceasing. This does not mean we continually are beseeching God for our needs; it signifies rather that we keep looking to Jesus and listening to Jesus as we go about our daily business.
Right now as I am typing I am looking to Jesus and listening to Jesus. I desire that He speak to His people in this hour. In fact, I looked to the Lord for the current burden: "Man is to live by every Word of God." At the time I went to sleep last night, and the moment I awakened, I was asking God what His Word is to me right now.
I looked to Him as I was eating breakfast, just kind of musing. Then I decided to work on the present topic in preparation for Sunday’s sermon. I could have put off working on the topic until tomorrow, Saturday. But as I was reviewing my E-mail I decided to look to Jesus to see if I was supposed to write the weekly essay today.
I asked the Lord what the topic should be. Immediately I "heard," "living by His Life." As I began to type, the paragraphs were formed in my mind. This is how all my writing has been done. It is a combination of His thoughts and my efforts.
The process, or program, I am describing actually is steps to the first resurrection from the dead, the inward resurrection that always must precede the outward. Also, it is the new covenant—the writing of God’s eternal moral law in our mind and heart.
My latest four books, Godwill Castle; Heaven–God’s Wonderful World; The Theology of Robert B. Thompson D.Ed.; and John and Mary Visit Heaven; and also the piano composition "God Is My Salvation," came rather suddenly with an increased Divine impetus after about a year of not writing.
It is interesting, and just like the Lord’s sense of humor, that I, who have preached over and over that Heaven is not our eternal home, should find myself writing about the spirit world, which is becoming increasingly clear to me. I tell you, learning to live by His Life is an adventure with a surprise at every turn.
Another interesting thing: I had titled the children’s book (written for children who are facing death) "God’s Wonderful World." But then I thought, people will think it is about the present world (which I do not regard as wonderful). So I added the word "Heaven." It sure is a good thing I did. I did not realize how many books are on the market with "God’s Wonderful World" as the title.
So God was leading all the way. I felt Jesus telling me to hurry up and get out Godwill Castle and Heaven–God’s Wonderful World, because a lot of blood is going to be shed in the United States as God’s covering is withdrawn from our nation because of our sin.
Heaven–God’s Wonderful World is currently available in bookstores. Hopefully some publisher will pick up the other three books.
Each moment of each day and part of each night we choose whether to keep Christ in our consciousness or whether to pursue our own thoughts, pleasures, and ambitions. Sometimes to choose what we think Christ desires rather than our own lusts and passions is a real crucifixion leading to an increase of our possession of the Life of Christ. This is why the Apostle Paul spoke of being crucified with Christ, but living nevertheless by the Life of Christ.
Living by the Life of Christ is the "rest," the primary thesis of the Book of Hebrews. We have to fight continually to enter the rest and remain in the rest. God has planned our life from the foundation of the world. Now we have to labor continually to attain to that which from the beginning was spoken concerning us.
I will say one thing: The evil approaching our country is so great no human will be able to survive spiritually and do the works of God. But Christ can survive spiritually and do the works of God. We absolutely must die to our first nature that Christ may live in us. When we do, we will reign with Him throughout the dark days of Divine judgment on the United States of America.
Set Free From the Law of Sin and Death
The explanation of redemption, beginning in Chapter Six of Romans and ending with Chapter Eight, is not the easiest argument to understand.
(March 7, 2010). In Romans, Chapter Six, which numerous Bible teachers incorrectly apply to the unsaved, Paul tells us that when we have been baptized in water we should count that we are dead with Christ and alive with Christ in order that the body of sin that lives in us may be destroyed. Paul states that if we then continue to sin we will die spiritually, because the wages of sin is death. God, on the other hand, will give us the gift of eternal spiritual life provided we continue in slavery to righteousness and holiness.
Chapter Seven is written to "men who know the Law," that is, to Jews. Paul is saying that under the Law, while our inner nature wants to practice righteousness, our sinful nature causes us to act as a slave to sin.
I realize that Christian teachers often use Paul’s words as an excuse for sinful behavior, maintaining that as long as we are alive in the present world we can be compelled to sin. They are misapplying Paul’s argument. Paul is saying that trying to be righteous under the Law is futile, because of our sinful nature. He then proceeds in Chapter Eight of Romans to show us how under Christ, instead of under the Law of Moses, we can be set free from slavery to sin.
The exceedingly important issue with the Jew is whether he can abandon Moses and look to Christ, and remain righteous in the sight of God. This is why Paul, as he begins to explain how Christ can set us free from bondages of sin, starts off with "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ." You can leave Moses, come to Christ, and still be counted righteous. This is an awesome concept to the Jew who has lived under the Law for many years.
One troublesome area of Christian thinking is the misunderstanding that being set free from sin means being set free from the guilt of sin. Actually, when speaking of being set free from sin, we are not referring to being set free from the guilt of sin but from the sinful bondages that cause us to sin against our will. In other words, we are referring to righteous behavior.
The monumental error in the Christian thinking of our day is that Christ forgives our sin, but He cannot set us free from slavery to sinful behavior–that is, not in this present world. This misunderstanding arises perhaps from applying Chapter Seven of Romans to Christian people.
Because our tradition holds that to be saved is to be ready to go to Heaven when we die, it is difficult to understand substantial parts of the New Testament. Actually the subject of the New Testament is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, not the going of saved people to Heaven when they die.
The Father promised Christ that His enemies would be made Christ’s footstool. All the works of Satan are to be crushed under the feet of Christ. Therefore, putting to death the actions of our sinful nature is equivalent to Christ’s enemies being put under His feet. We understand, therefore, that it is time now for God’s saints to begin to work with the Spirit of God in putting to death all of the sinful actions of our body.
The eighth chapter of Romans is not primarily about deliverance from the guilt of sin but deliverance from the practice of sin.
Consider the following carefully, remembering this is written to "All in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints":
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 8:12-14)
Please notice that we are not obliged to live according to our sinful nature.
Does the above passage sound to you like deliverance from the guilt of sin or deliverance from the practice of sin?
There are two aspects of redemption we might consider. First, the critical role of God’s Spirit in delivering us from the practice of sin.
Second, the above three verses (Romans 8:12-14) follow Paul’s statement that if we diligently live in continual obedience to the Spirit of God, then eventually the Spirit of God will redeem our physical body by filling it with Himself.
The following three verses confirm what we are saying in this essay:
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
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.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-25)
Notice the sorts of behaviors we are to crucify:
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.
These spirits dwell in our flesh. God has designed our battles so He may choose from among His elect those who will govern His Kingdom. If we do not put these behaviors to death through the Spirit of God, we will not be given an incorruptible body when the Lord comes. But if we do put them to death through the Spirit of God, if we are an overcomer, if we are a victorious saint, we will govern the creation with Christ at His appearing and His Kingdom.
So we see that we have a part to play in our destiny. If we choose to live in victory, we will live and reign with Christ. If we choose to live as most Christians in America do, we will live and die as any other person, and then be raised and judged at the final resurrection of the dead.
Paul’s point is this: The making alive of our physical body, which will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears, depends on our being faithful in putting to death the sinful deeds of our body. If we thus are faithful, when Jesus appears, at the sounding of the last trumpet, those who sleep in Jesus will be raised from the dead and our body will be made alive in the Spirit of God. The redemption of his body, which was Paul’s goal, would enable Paul to have that freedom from his "body of death" that he so desired, freedom from the desire to sin.
One reason we Gentiles have a difficult time correctly interpreting Paul’s writings is that Paul’s goal was righteous behavior, whereas our stated goal is eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven. The true goal of the Divine redemption is righteous people. It is a change in what we are as a person, not the transfer of us from earth to Heaven.
Romans 8:13 offers us the redemption of our body if through the Spirit of God we keep putting to death the desires of our sinful nature; but–Christian or not–the assurance that if we continue to live according to our sinful nature we will not experience a change in our physical body when the Lord appears.
Paul says the same thing in the Book of Galatians:
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)
Perhaps we could sum up Paul’s statements in the sixth through the eighth chapters of the Book of Romans by saying that if we choose to obey the Spirit of God each day, the guilt of our sin incurred under the Law of Moses is removed on the basis of the blood atonement made by the Lord on the cross of Calvary.
Now we are free to be led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is ready, willing, and able at all times to guide us in each aspect of our daily behavior. As we choose to turn aside from behavior that we know to be displeasing to God, the Spirit strengthens us and puts to death the sinful compulsions that are in us.
The process, or program, I am describing actually is steps to the first resurrection from the dead, the inward resurrection that always must precede the outward.
In light of some of the current teachings, let me utter a word of caution. It is true that the Spirit of God performs every act of significance in the Kingdom of God. We have fellowship with Him, as well as with the Father and the Son. We are baptized into the Name of the Spirit of God.
However, the fellowship is one-sided. The Holy Spirit speaks to us and guides us. But we never speak to Him or attempt to guide Him. We never pray to Him. We never are to sing to Him. We never are to worship Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. He died for our sins. The Spirit did not die for our sins. Christ is the Bridegroom. The Holy Spirit is not the Bridegroom. Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is not true of the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is our elder Brother. The Holy Spirit is not our elder Brother.
Think of the Spirit as one whose Presence we feel, a Presence that comforts us. Whatever we need, we are to go to Christ who in turn goes to the Father. We can go to the Father directly, if we wish. Then the Father guides and empowers the Son so He can direct the Spirit to assist us in our hour of need. This is the actual, scriptural, management pattern of the Kingdom of God. This is what the Spirit guides us to do.
If we look to Jesus at all times, in all situations, the Spirit of God will continue to guide and strengthen us. We have been delivered from the guilt of sin and now are being delivered from the power of sin to control our behavior. (from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson)
Following the Cloud and the Fire
During my recent devotional readings in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, I have been amazed at how present God was and how detailed were his directions. I kept wondering, "Since we are under a better covenant, why isn’t Christ just as present? Why doesn’t he give us detailed directions about building his Church, as he did about the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation?"
Sometimes it is claimed that now that we have the New Testament we do not need to hear personally from the Lord. This is not true. All of us are faced with decisions each day that the Bible does not address specifically so we know what to do.
Should a young person go to college? Whom should he or she marry? He has two job offers. Which should he take? You want to go on vacation. Should you go, and where should you go?
The Bible tells us to commit our way to the Lord and he, not the Bible, will direct our paths.
The Bible says the sons of God are led by the Spirit, not by the Bible.
It is impossible to enter the rest of God, mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, until we commit every decision of every day to the Lord, looking to him for guidance. The role of the Bible is to enable us to tell when we are being led astray by unclean motives or spirits. In this manner the written Word is a light on our path.
In addition to the numerous specific directions God gave to Moses and Aaron, there were the Urim and the Thummin, the "lights and perfections." These were some kind of device on the breastpiece of the High Priest at which a person could inquire and receive advice in a specific situation.
I came to the place where Moses asked his brother-in-law, Hobab, to help the Israelites find suitable camping places in the desert. Can you believe this? After God had been leading them so specifically with the Cloud and the Fire! When I read of Moses doing this I become angry against him, a person I truly admire.
"Moses, why in the world did you ask Hobab to guide you when God himself was specifically leading you by day and night? What nonsense is this!" (Behold how I vaunt myself against the elders!)
Then I thought about how, during the days of Samuel, the Israelites wanted a king they could see. They were not content with the Lord leading them through the Prophet, Samuel.
Believers want a pope, a priest, a pastor, an evangelist, who will pray for them and to whom they are willing to give their spiritual proxy. Then they can give him or her money and continue to live their own life.
Why is it that God’s people insist on being guided and ruled by human beings rather than being governed and guided by the Lord? But it has been this way throughout human history. It is God, not man, who is to be guiding all human activity—every element of it.
When we humans are left to guide ourselves through life we continue to do foolish, hurtful, destructive things. Every sane individual has love, joy, and peace as his or her goal. But we simply cannot trust God to direct us to our goal. As in the case of Eve, we believe we will gain what we desire by taking matters into our own hands.
Some might respond that now we are to live by faith, meaning God is not willing to speak to us. This excuse will not hold up. The "faith chapter" of the Bible is the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Every example of "faith" in this chapter comes from God’s heroes of olden times. Moses certainly was a man of faith, as was Noah. Yet God spoke to them clearly.
No, it is not because now we are supposed to live by "faith." Rather it is because we prefer to lean on our own understanding. We simply do not look to Christ to guide us in every aspect of our daily life, nor do we trust him to lead us to love, joy, and peace. We would rather continue with our own works than enter the rest of God in which God conducts our life.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5,6)
To every individual who is reading my words, and who would love to live a life directed in detail by the Lord Jesus, let me tell you it is not only desirable but possible and expected. It is the way I have learned to live, after serving Christ for over sixty years. Have I made mistakes? You bet I have. But I have learned from them and am pressing on the upward way.
The sons of God are to be led by the Spirit of God. The purpose of the Bible is to keep us on the right track, because there are numerous voices in the spirit world that strive continually to deceive us and lead us astray. But if we remain prayerful and patient, meditating in the Scriptures daily, we can make a success of the Spirit-directed life.
People, including Christians, often long to hear God more frequently than they do. Well, we can, even though this fact is often not emphasized in Christian churches, and sometimes is scorned as being a frivolous, dangerous area we should not investigate.
Perhaps it is true that in many instances Christian leaders do not tell their followers that they can hear from God personally each day, if they will ask and obey. In fact, the most exciting part of our discipleship is to hear from Jesus each day. Why don’t we tell the believers that such communication is possible?
All of our discipleship is by faith. But that faith includes and results in having a daily awareness of God’s will for us on each occasion. This requires continual prayer and looking to Jesus in every situation.
I trust in the promises of God found in the Bible and read them each day. In addition, I hear from Jesus at each point of decision of my life because I continually ask for such direction. This does not mean I always hear a voice. It means, rather, that I am guided in one manner or another.
I learn about Christian conferences, gatherings, and what the promoters hope will result. Have they actually heard from Christ that they should make such an effort? Or are they doing what they imagine God wants them to do?
I remember overhearing a pastor and his associates planning a "revival" and who the speakers should be. The pastor said a certain individual should be invited because "he draws the crowds." Can you imagine the Lord Jesus saying such a thing to his disciples? Neither can I. As I recall, this "revival" did not accomplish much.
Jesus Christ said he would build his Church. When we attempt to build his Church there is confusion. Consider the multitude of competing denominations! Soon, I think, Christ will call to the dead bones and they will come together to form an army.
What do you think would happen if all the Christian leaders in the world stepped back for a moment from their programs and plans and listened to Jesus? What do you think Jesus would say to them? I believe the Holy Spirit is proclaiming today that the Christian people should turn away from their sinful ways and cease using grace as an excuse for their transgressions and rebellions. Is this what the leaders would hear from the Lord do you suppose?
What we are hearing from the leadership is a renewed emphasis on saving the lost.
It is well that those who are called to evangelize go forth to preach the Gospel to the lost. But what about the Christians in America who are not growing in Christ? Is the primary emphasis of the Spirit of God in America that we should try to "save the lost," or is it that we should lead the Christian people from their infancy to maturity in Christ? If the primary emphasis of the Spirit is that of leading the believers to maturity, then the leadership is not hearing from Christ. It is not following the Cloud and the Fire.
Which is the greater threat to Satan’s kingdom: more people who confess Christ, or a Christian who has set aside his or her own life that Christ may live in him or her? Are we more interested in overcoming the accuser or in spreading our religion?
If a Christian who is setting aside his own life that Christ may live in him is more of a threat to Satan than numerous new converts, why are our primary efforts devoted to gaining more converts? It is this kind of misguided emphasis that is a direct result of making our own plans without hearing from the Lord.
From the standpoint of the Kingdom of God, would it be more important to gain more new converts to Christianity, or to impress on the current believers the supreme need of setting their own lives aside that Christ may live in them?
There is a great need that each Christian in America come to understand that if God has called him to a high place in his Kingdom, he is going to have to die to his own ways. He is going to have to accept the fact that if he attempts to save his own life, to cause matters to go according to his own ways and standards, he may succeed in preserving his life; but in doing so he will lose part or all of his appointed inheritance.
It seems most Christian churches are implying that we should be led by the Bible. But the Bible itself states the sons of God are to be led by the Spirit. I think that people prefer to be led by the Bible rather than by the Spirit of God so they can remain in control. To be led by the Spirit we must ask Jesus to guide us, and we must obey him strictly when he shows us what he wants.
There is no adventure available to man on the earth more marvelous than that of walking hand in hand with the Lord Jesus through the minefields of life.
He will guide us through our times of sickness, trouble, financial distress, and also when the way appears to be simple and easy. We have to keep looking to him, asking him for help, and obeying what he directs us to do.
If we don’t keep praying and looking to the Lord at all times, we won’t know when the Cloud and the Fire have lifted from the Tabernacle and we are supposed to move to a different place.
It is a common practice today to ask Christ for healing, for deliverance from trouble, for money. There are instances when such a prayer is appropriate and necessary. I am not referring to this common practice. Rather I am suggesting that we use each of our distresses as an opportunity to have close fellowship with the Lord. Sometimes he leads us in new and surprising ways to the victory we need.
We cannot be led by the Spirit and then expect to plan our own way. We must ask the Lord to help us keep all of his commandments spoken to us personally, as well as those we read about in the New Testament
Following the Cloud and the Fire can be like walking on the water. On some occasions, if we are not truly hearing from the Lord, the consequences can be severe. We must have courage as we learn to be led by the Spirit, and Christ will help us if we sincerely are seeking to do his will, just as he reached out and assisted Peter.
It is kind of like flying by instrument, isn’t it!
It is acceptable to ask Jesus if we are permitted to step out of the boat. But we then do not proceed to do so. We wait until he says, "Come."
Not hearing from the Lord continually can lead us into attempting to duplicate a Divine visitation of the past. There is something of this tendency in the practice of the Israelites who were burning incense to the bronze snake that God on a previous occasion had given for the healing of those who had been bitten by snakes.
Most of us know how God spoke to Abraham throughout his life. Abraham ran ahead of God in the case of the birth of Ishmael. The Seed God had in mind came through Isaac. We always produce a wild man when we act apart from God’s leading.
I think the manner in which the living creatures, of the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, moved straight ahead without turning, tell us something about the life lived in the Spirit of God. We are not to be subject to momentum. Christian institutions appear to be filled with momentum. Once they get started along a certain line they continue on that same line unto the ages of ages—long after God has left.
A denomination has a large monetary and ego involvement in the revelation that was given it in the beginning. It is quite difficult for it to move when God moves. Thus the denominations are landmarks in the wilderness that show where God was at one time.
It happened in a church service that a man yelled "Hallelujah"! As soon as he did, the Spirit of God fell on the assembly and they had a great meeting.
Guess what he did the following Sunday? And guess what happened? You are correct: nothing!
I think sometimes church fill in with music the vacancy left by the absent Spirit of God. It reminds me of the Jews placing the Altar of Incense in the Holy of Holies because the Babylonians had removed the Ark of the Covenant. I like music, but music ordinarily does not form Christ in the believers.
Because we do not always have the immediate Presence, direction, wisdom, and guidance of Christ we may turn and begin to worship what God has done in the past. We may go to a place like Wales, or Azusa Street in Los Angeles, in the hope that God will repeat what he did previously.
A prominent evangelist was known to have gone to the grave of a person greatly used by the Spirit in the hope that her mantle would fall on him.
Sometimes relics are venerated.
We may study the Divine interventions in the lives and ministries of outstanding Christians of the past in the hope of finding what "works," that is, what draws in crowds of people. We do not appear to be equally interested that the Spirit of God builds up the believers in Christ. Thus our motives are suspect, aren’t they?
We just can’t seem to grasp that Christ chooses whom he will, when he will, how he will, where he will, and uses that person in the manner Christ knows will build his Church. We are not always willing to follow the Cloud and the Fire and send Hobab home.
I think sometimes if the present nation of Israel would look to God instead of to world opinion it would emerge in victory from the present distress. Israel needs a prophet who hears from God more than it does a statesman who hears from the United Nations.
It is such a delight to hear directly from the Lord Jesus, why do people insist on governing their lives apart from him?
I was taught in Bible school that the Apostles looked about for population centers, for the most advantageous location from which the Gospel could be spread. I never have found such a thing in the Book of Acts.
There is a human desire to solidify, to establish, to instutionalize an intervention of God. "Let us build three tabernacles." Why are we unwilling to look for the fresh intervention of God instead of seeking the past Glory?
There was the manna each day in the desert. There was the memorial jar of manna stored in the Ark of the Covenant. Do these teach us that God is willing to give us grace for the day; that as our days are, so shall our strength be?
There can be a reasonable amount of planning in the life of a disciple, but he always must be looking to the Lord for every action, not taking anything for granted.
Yesterday’s manna has a bad smell.
I may be accused of being impractical. I am eighty-four years old and have been a disciple for over sixty years, so I think by this time I am a fair judge of what is practical and what is a fantasy. Actually, much Christian activity is impractical from a Kingdom standpoint, although humans may regard it as practical and understandable.
I must say, when the churches maintain when we die we go to live in a mansion with a backyard filled with diamonds, walk in our golden slippers on a street of gold and play a golden harp, and have no other responsibilities for eternity, they are in no position to accuse me of being impractical, illogical, or unscriptural.
I am ready to agree that it certainly is easier to pursue the activities of our religion than to wait on the Lord moment by moment. I think many of us would rather water the plants in the sanctuary than spend an hour in prayer before the Lord. How do you feel about this?
It requires considerable experience before we can avoid many of the pitfalls in the path of the believer who is seeking to be led by the Spirit. This is why there are elders in the assemblies. Experience is the coin with which we buy wisdom. By the way, God never will rebuke you for questioning spirits. You can test spirits all day long and God will not be insulted.
A statement by Jeremiah has remained with me through the years:
Then Hanamel my uncle's son came to me in the court of the guard according to the word of the LORD and said to me, "Buy my field, please, that is at Anathoth, which is in the land of Benjamin; for you have the right of possession and the redemption is yours; buy it for yourself." Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD. (Jeremiah 32:8)
"Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord."
Can you see in this statement how even Jeremiah tested his revelations against what actually took place?
When thinking about following the Cloud and the Fire, it is necessary to realize the importance of learning to deal with deception. Because the power of Satan over people was broken on the cross of Calvary, Satan uses deception to gain control over people.
Satan is a master of deception. Sometimes Christians in their ignorance believe they cannot be deceived if they pray and read their Bible. I am here to tell you, based on personal experience, that you can pray fervently, read your Bible every day, and go to church on a regular basis, and still be deceived.
When we come to Christ we may have open doors in our personality through which Satan can work his works of deception. We may have a romantic nature, or a greedy, covetous personality. We may always be striving for preeminence or leadership, to be in control. We may have a murderous or hateful nature. The door to our personality may be along the line of intellectual pride.
Satan studies our personality profile. He estimates the best tactic to use to get us into his power. If we are a romantic person he will not use a crudity of some sort. If we have a hateful nature he probably will not seek to tempt us with money
We may have many dimensions of our sinful nature that can be dispatched readily if we are willing to follow the Holy Spirit as he points them out. We are to confess and renounce them with all our might, asking Christ to help us.
But then there are these kings!
The kings are kept shut up in the Cave at Makkedah, so to speak. When the Lord sees we are strong enough to withstand his dealing with our kings, he brings them forth.
Sometimes Christ lets us wrestle with a king of our personality throughout our discipleship. This is how we gain a conquering personality. We never yield to the king, but he just doesn’t leave as readily as some of the lesser traits.
On occasion the Lord permits us to be deceived. Satan reasons with us until we accept the king as being of God, even though the Scripture lists him as unclean. If we remain prayerful in the midst of our deception, Christ finally will bring us out. We have learned a hard, hard lesson that we will not soon forget. This is the manner in which Christ may deal with a major aspect of our sinful nature.
Deception comes through our mind, our reasoning. We may be well versed in the Bible, and this usually is helpful. We may be determined to serve the Lord. But it is our personal cross that is the wall against deception.
We become deceived when we attempt to make our life pleasurable. "God is so good! Surely he wants me to have her, or him, or this thing, or that circumstance." Be exceedingly careful with anything you crave—that you simply have to have in order to be happy. This is the arena of deception.
God has promised to give the desires of their heart to those who delight themselves in him and his righteous, holy ways. And indeed he shall! He is bound by his unchanging Word to do this. But every such burning desire must be slain, and then raised in Christ, before we can receive it without being bound by it.
Before, it was an idol. Now it is an enlargement, a blessing, and no sorrow shall be added to it.
Deception is very prevalent among Christian people. Regular church attendance helps. Often a person who is deceived will receive spiritual assistance just by being in the company of other praying people.
However, it is in faithfully carrying one’s cross of self-denial that by far is the best protection against deception. This world is not Heaven, and any attempt to make it Heaven will almost certainly lead the believer into deception.
If you suddenly realize you, a devout Christian, have been deceived, maybe for years, do not panic. Go to Christ, ask him to forgive and deliver you. He may require some sort of restitution. If he does, pray and ask his help as to what he wants you to do.
Sometimes it is nothing more than to withdraw from what you have been doing and go on your way in victory. On other occasions the Lord will direct you and help you to make things right if you have stolen something or offended someone.
If you have sinned against your wife or husband, it is best that you do not confess what you have done to the injured partner just to get rid of the feeling of guilt. You may really hurt him or her unnecessarily.
Or if you have hated someone. You do not have to confess that to a person. Keep your confessions to a minimum and just work it out with the Lord. Satan will try to take advantage of you and urge you to do something that will hurt someone, or otherwise cause unnecessary trouble.
The thing is, you have learned a hard lesson. Get right with the Lord and go on your way, a sadder, wiser Christian. Christ will help you to do just that.
I also might mention "passivity," another trap into which the person may fall while attempting to follow the Cloud and the Fire. This error is made by the fervent believer. He desires to be an empty vessel, filled with God and moved by the Lord just as a puppet would by one holding the strings.
One of the signs that the believer has fallen into the trap of passivity is that he cannot stay with a decision. He makes a decision, and then he changes his mind. This going back and forth continues until he is disabled.
When a believer is climbing out of this pitfall the solution is to pray, make a decision, and then stay with it even though he "feels" he is not doing what the Lord wants or what is best in the circumstances. He is to keep staying with his decisions until his will is razor-sharp. In order for this procedure to work correctly the believer must continually be looking to Jesus and committing everything he does to the Lord.
The Lord does not want empty vessels. Just be yourself. Keep on pressing forward and accept your chastenings. You will be cast down and frustrated on numerous occasions. Keep praying and pressing forward in Christ.
A sailboat cannot steered until it is in motion. Commit your way to the Lord constantly and do what is before you if it is reasonable. If you wait for the Lord to speak you probably will wait for the rest of your life. God does not like being forced to speak.
Pray much. Take one small step. Look at the fruit. If it is good, take another small step. Look at the fruit. Keep praying. If you are going in the wrong direction, Jesus will correct you.
But if you go in your closet and pray all night, it is possible nothing will happen. If it does, it probably will not be the Lord.
This especially is the case with young people. Go to college. Get a job, Follow your desires after you have prayed. If you pray and fast, asking the Lord to speak to you, you probably will be deceived.
Get out in the educational or work realms of your culture. When the ungodly correct you, listen to what they say. They probably are giving you good advice. If you can see it is good, wholesome advice, don’t reject it because they are ungodly.
We Christians tend to be smug and conceited. We think we know more than the people of the world or people of other races or religions. We often are incorrect in this. We need to listen to their comments and weigh them carefully. They may be correct in their judgment of us, and we need to humble ourselves so we can profit from their observations.
Keep praying, take your knocks and learn from them, get up and press forward in Christ. He loves this kind of courageous, consistent, determined attitude.
I have been in the Pentecostal movement for many years. I have heard much prophesying. Some of it was from the Lord. Some was not. I do not say this to discourage any believer who wants to launch out in prophesying. But I will say when something you state does not bear witness with other Christians, or does not come to pass, admit that you need to be a bit more careful. It was prophesied over me that I was going to die. This was many years ago. Just remember, when it is God who speaks, the rooster crows.
Our Lord Jesus is our example of how to live in the Presence of God. Christ did nothing, thought nothing, said nothing, apart from the Father. This is the rest of God toward which we are to press.
We can get a flavor of this perfect obedience to the Father in the following expression:
Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11:6)
The Lord Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick and would die, but he did not go to Bethany immediately. He waited for the Father to tell him when to go. This is how we should make our decisions—always waiting to hear from Christ.
Notice in the following passage how Christ was following the will of the Father closely. Every one of Jesus’ steps was ordered with great care. So will ours be, if we ask God to carefully control our actions.
We see in the passage that this was not true of the disciples:
Therefore Jesus told them, "The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. (John 7:6)
When learning to follow the Cloud and the Fire, it is helpful to learn to live in the "now," not in the future or the past. Just make it a habit throughout the day to ask the Lord for the next step, even though you are in the midst of your work routine. It might save your life someday!
We are not to go to the mulberry trees at the next battle just because we are too lazy to seek the Lord afresh!
Joshua was tricked by the Gibeonites. He didn’t ask the Lord about them. This is why we are to pray about everything and not take anything for granted.
"Do whatever he tells you," Mary said. This is the whole idea, isn’t it?
Don’t forget, your life on earth is a pilgrimage, just as was true of the camps of Israel in the desert. You may stay at one place a short time, or a long time. If God has moved you to one place it does not mean you are to stay there forever. Follow the Cloud and the Fire.
The Lord Jesus wants us to have a happy heart, confident that he will take care of the future. This may be difficult to do, especially in times of trouble or sickness. But if we ask God to create this happy, confident, cheerful spirit in us, he shall do it. Such optimism is not carelessness, it is based on God’s faithfulness.
The book, Godwill Castle, was given to me as I followed the Cloud and the Fire. The piano composition, "God Is My Salvation," was given to me as I followed the Cloud and the Fire. As for the publishing of these, that will be up to Christ. He will take the initiative in this task in his time, should he desire they be published.
Only one life ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done by the Lord will last."
In our day the Ark of God is coming down the road, so to speak. If we lay our hand on it, attempting to assist or modify it, we will die spiritually. If we just let God have his wonderful way we will live and experience great blessing.
In the new world of righteousness God will bring into existence, every citizen will be living in the Spirit of God and not according to his or her thinking or ambition. We can begin our preparation for the new world by looking to our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, for every aspect of our life.
All who choose to accept the Kingship of Christ and are willing to be directed by him shall be saved.
All who choose not to accept the Kingship of Christ and who refuse to live by Christ’s will rather than their own will, are now, and forever shall be, lost to the Presence and blessing of God.
You, dear reader, can inherit all the glory of Christ’s Kingdom. But you absolutely have to set aside your own life that Christ may live in you.
If you choose to do this, the Lord will help you. You will be so glad that you have made this most important decision of all. If you do not choose to be part of Christ in this manner, you will be shaken out of the Kingdom in the coming days. Only what is part of Christ will survive the shaking.
With Christ’s assistance you can follow the Cloud and the Fire until you reach your land of promise, your unique destiny, your own castle.
And now I want to sound the trumpet to all believers in America. If you wish to survive during the coming days of Divine judgment upon America you are going to have to know how to follow the Lord one step at a time. If you attempt to use your own judgment, wisdom, training, or any other source of direction, or take anything for granted, you very well may run into danger thinking you were escaping or going to a place of safety.
I say also to other people, including Muslims, Hindus, agnostics, atheists, and all other leaders and followers —I say to you that in the days of trouble that are coming, if you seek Christ and ask for his guidance and help, he will help and guide you. You do not need to join another religion or throw away your Scriptures.
I am not speaking about a religion. Christ is alive. I will not bear a false witness. I have followed this Man for over sixty years. He is alive and I am living what I am teaching here. He has great power and wisdom. He will help you if you call on him. He has helped and still is helping me. Try it and see for yourself that whoever calls on the name of Christ shall be saved.
Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, "Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you." So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island." (Acts 27:23-26)
(Taken from "Following the Cloud and the Fire," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
God has not given us faith so we can change God’s mind. God has given us faith so we can hear God’s voice clearly and obey Him diligently.
The righteous are to live by faith, according to Habakkuk and the Apostle Paul. This is how we are to live. Living by faith is not speaking about theological belief. The contrast, in Habakkuk, is between those who are "puffed up" and have unrighteous desires, and those who are not puffed up and who have righteous desires.
The person who is living by faith is walking humbly with God, not thinking and acting according to his or her own desires and goals.
The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews is one long definition of "the righteous shall live by faith." It tells us what the Bible means by "faith."
We are informed that "faith is being sure of what we hope for." The term "hope" is significant. Many of the errors of today emphasize getting what we want "now" from God. Actually, the Christian redemption is a vision of the future. This is why patience is such an important part of our salvation.
"Sin" is a shortcut to what we want. We become deceived when we seek to live in pleasure with our desires satisfied immediately.
God commended the heroes of faith of history because they lived their lives according to the vision of God they held, not in terms of their present circumstances.
When we look about us at the marvelous works of the universe, we become aware of the might and glory of God. We glorify God by faith because of His handiwork in nature, although He remains invisible to us.
Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God because in his heart, Abel was worshiping God in faith. Cain gave his offering out of duty. His heart was elsewhere, as sometimes is true of the church people of our day when they are singing hymns.
Abel’s faith instructs us that God is more aware of our heart than He is of our offerings or our religion. If our heart is not in our religious service, then God is not pleased with us.
Enoch was obsessed with God. Because of Enoch’s faith, his thoughts continually were focused on the Lord rather than on his earthly circumstances. God was pleased with Enoch’s attitude; and God is pleased with our attitude when we keep Christ in our consciousness at all times.
Noah’s obedience to God is an excellent portrayal of faith. Notice that Noah did not "dare to believe God," as we say today. Rather Noah "dared to obey God." "Faith" and "obedience" are synonymous.
I wish to emphasize this concept. Faith is not our attempt to change God’s mind or get God to do something. Faith has to do with our seeking God until we know what He wants of us, and then obeying Him promptly and diligently.
The errors in today’s Christian teaching seek to put man in control. Man is to discover and practice spiritual principles that will move God’s hand. Man in control of the power of Christ is nothing less than the "False Prophet," the deceiver who will assist Antichrist in his effort to gain control over the nations.
Historically, neither the religious nor the secular realms have emphasized the daily, diligent doing of God’s revealed will. This is the central problem of life on the earth, and it will not change until Christ returns in His Kingdom and His will is done in the earth as it is in Heaven.
Faith is used today as a synonym of "presumption." This is what we would expect of a society that is in love with itself, that seeks pleasure rather than God. There are so many books and tapes that tell us how to have power with God; how to move God’s hand. There does not appear a hint of such an attitude, in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
Rather, the focus in the "faith" chapter of Hebrews is on seeking and obeying God. None of the people described here were trying to "do great things for God" by "stepping out in faith." Rather they were occupied with obeying God, and in some cases with their survival.
What do we hear today? We by "faith" are to take spiritual dominion over our city. Try to find that sort of thing in Hebrews, Eleven!
The temptation of Christ in which Satan counseled him to jump off the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem is the sort of action that is presented today as faith. "Find a passage in the Bible and dare God to fulfill it at your command." This is what Satan was saying, along with many Bible teachers of our day.
"Take hold of God and make Him do what you want." Can you imagine such an attitude? Yet, how is this different from "take the gifts of the Spirit and go out and save a lost and dying world"?
"Dare to be a Daniel." Personally, I do not believe even Daniel would have dared to be a Daniel. Rather, all Daniel wanted to do was to be left alone while he prayed to God.
We have a choice today, don’t we? We can go to the Lord Jesus, and at every moment of our waking hours ask Him what He wants us to do. This is how we live by every word that comes from the mouth of God. This is how we live by faith. (What a wonderful adventure such a life is!)
Or we can do, as I was taught in Bible school, "Go forth to the nations and burn out for Christ." Of course, none of our teachers had any intention of doing this; but it was what everyone seemed to be saying.
I wish we all would cease from our own works and find out what Christ wants each one of us to do. Our nation, America, is sinking into sexual lust rapidly and no human agency can arrest this trend.
But how about prayer? When I pray, the Lord seems to tell me that we American people are getting what we deserve, the kind of government we deserve. We have asked for Tash, and Tash has come (to quote Lewis).
The word of the Lord to me is, encourage everyone to get close enough to Jesus to hear what God’s word is to them as an individual. Then they will save themselves and their loved ones when God begins to judge America because of its love of money and excessive and perverted sexual activity; and also because of the practice of abortion-on-demand.
(Taken from "True Bible Faith: II," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
The righteous are to live by faith, according to Habakkuk and the Apostle Paul. This is how we are to live. "Living by faith" is not speaking of theological belief. The contrast, in Habakkuk, is between those who are "puffed up" and have unrighteous desires, and those who are not puffed up and who have righteous desires.
In our day, faith often is viewed as a sort of magic by which we can manipulate the spirit and physical worlds and get what we want. However, that does not fit the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, does it? I think the "faith chapter" would suggest that faith is the act of persevering in the face of difficulties because of our confidence in the word and faithfulness of God.
There are at least three misconceptions believers have concerning "faith."
The first misconception is that by faith we can manipulate the physical and spirit realms. Faith is a kind of magic. This thought obviously appeals to people.
The second misconception is that the adamic personality can generate faith. If we try hard enough we can believe something into existence.
The third misconception is that we can use "faith" as we see fit. The truth is, all genuine faith in God resides in God Himself. Sometimes God gives faith to us as a gift, but only to accomplish His own purposes.
Joshua commanding the sun to stand still, and Jesus multiplying food and cursing the fig tree, give the impression that if we could just believe strongly enough we could work miracles. In actuality, there do come times when God invites us to command one thing or another. But these incidents originate in God, not in our desire to work miracles.
Miracle-working faith is one of the gifts of the Spirit. But to utilize properly the gift of miracles, the believer must be walking in the light of God’s will, closely following the Lord Jesus at all times. In the last days, Christian people will seek spiritual power in order to glorify themselves. These Christians compose the False Prophet.
When it comes to healing the sick, or raising the dead, or turning water into wine, we are not to thrash around, trying to believe for the miracle. Rather we are to follow the Lord Jesus as closely as we can, continually looking to him to see what he is going to do and what part we are to play.
Jesus’ mother said, "Whatever He says to you, do it." This precisely is the way we are to work miracles. If it is to fill the pots, or take the hand of the dead man and raise him up, or put clay on someone’s blind eyes, we are to do it. We are to obey Christ in every detail. We are not the healer, the miracle worker. The Lord Jesus is. We exercise true Divine faith when we look to Jesus and obey His command.
The faith by which the righteous live is not that of working miracles. Rather it is found in gaining victory over the spirit of the world, over the lusts of the sinful nature, and over walking according to our own plans rather than seeking to obey Christ. True faith always obeys Christ. It is not an attempt to believe for something we think is a good idea.
The faith by which the righteous live is that of "persevering in the face of difficulties." Every true Christian learns that much of our life includes persevering in the face of difficulties; working out our salvation with faith and patience. We have to learn to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
One example of faith might be that of parents whose daughter has joined the army. They receive notice that their daughter has been captured by the Taliban. Jesus whispers to them that Sally is fine. They continually battle the mental pictures of Sally being raped and tortured by the Taliban soldiers, choosing by faith to believe what they have heard from the Lord.
There may be a person seeking employment. Without a job he will not have enough money for food or to pay the rent. He has a wife and children to support. By faith he keeps believing God will help him in his trouble, meanwhile doing all he can to earn enough money to keep going.
We American Christians have not experienced a great deal of persecution. The day may come when we by faith have to stand true to the name of Jesus. This may mean jail and forced association with wicked people. We remember that if we deny Christ, He will deny us before the Father.
A young person might have to endure mocking and rejection if his faith requires that he not go along with his friends as they drink and take drugs. The young Christian must exercise consistent faith by refusing to go along with the crowd, when his friends are inviting him to do sinful things. The Christian girl must by faith keep herself pure.
It will require strong faith in America in the future to resist the temptations to sexual misconduct. Sexual lust is becoming so intense in America that it is difficult to resist. Only the Christians of strong faith will be able to overcome the temptation to engage in immoral, even unlawful, immoral conduct. By faith we turn away from that which is unclean, and the Spirit of God helps us when we hold up the shield of faith against moral temptations.
It is so easy to grumble and complain when things go wrong in our life. By faith we keep on rejoicing in Christ, even when we feel we are in the lowest level of a pit.
The Bible commands us to rejoice in the Lord always and not to fret. As we see the evil practiced by the leaders of our government, as the wicked boast themselves, we have to exercise faith if we are to obey the Bible command to not fret because of evildoers. To refrain from fretting will be especially difficult as we see America, against the will of the majority of the people, being changed from a democratic to a socialistic country.
Sometimes we feel the Lord is requiring us to do something that we see no reason for. Perhaps Noah wondered if it really was necessary to build a huge ark. When we are certain it is the Lord who is speaking to us and we are not being deceived, we must exercise faith and obey Christ. We must trust Christ even when we do not understand Him.
To be a disciple we must deny ourselves and turn away from the world. Faith is required if we are to do this.
It requires faith if we are to be content where God places us. Discontent with one’s assigned position is the original sin.
We by faith must continue to believe there is a reward for serving the Lord. We must place our treasures in Heaven, realizing we may never possess them until we die and enter the spirit world.
An outstanding high school senior in our city, Poway, California, recently was raped and murdered. Her parents scarcely are able to cope with their loss. But cope they must; and coping will be possible if they have faith that their Chelsea is in a delightful land, far, far more pleasant than what is true today on the earth, and that when they die they will see their daughter at her loveliest.
On occasion God promises us something. The fulfillment of the promise may be many years away. Meanwhile circumstances may arise that seem to prevent our ever gaining what has been promised to us. By faith we keep on trusting God to keep His word. It is in the interval of time between the vision and its fulfillment that holy character is formed. "Faith is being sure of what we hope for."
By faith we do not grasp this present world. We understand it is preparation for life in a better, eternal world. The purpose of the present world is to teach us about God and to select and train the future rulers of the Kingdom of God.
By faith we understand that our present physical world was made from the spirit world, and the two worlds therefore are similar. It is the spirit world that is full of peace and love, and is eternal. The present world is temporary. It is the valley of the shadow of death. By faith we know this to be true and are looking forward to our death as release from a nightmare.
By faith we know that God loves us and is leading us to joy, even though our present circumstances are miserable. By faith we understand that God is good; and if we obey Him we will attain to the love, joy, and peace that are eternal.
Every true Christian is given a cross to bear. This may mean he is denied something he wants fervently, or is forced to endure a situation he detests. By faith he does not force his way out of this prison, thus breaking God’s laws. He endures patiently, knowing that by doing so he will acquire a better resurrection.
The above statements describe how the righteous live. When we try to escape the demands of discipleship in order to have a more pleasant life, we open ourselves to deception.
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5"
(Taken from "True Bible Faith: III," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
He Who Overcomes
The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation speak of the rewards to "him who overcomes." Personally, I do not believe enough attention is paid to these two chapters. It is like they are not in the Bible; or else they apply to all believers whether they are living in defeat or in victory.
An even more startling statement is made in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, where God has said that the believer who "overcomes" will inherit all the promises made in the first six verses of this chapter, and God will be his God and he will be God’s son. What does this say about the defeated believers?
There is one thing about the Bible. Either we believe every word or we don’t. I choose to believe that every word of the accepted manuscripts is the Word of the one true God.
This adherence to the Scriptures has led me into positions that are not in keeping with much of today’s presentations. I certainly adhere to the fundamental view concerning the blood atonement and the literal return of the Lord. But so much tradition has been added to this fundamental view that I find myself at odds with the current preaching and teaching.
If we are to take the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, and the seventh verse of the twenty-first chapter, we must conclude that the believers in Christ are divided into two groups. There are those believers who overcome the obstacles presented in the two chapters; and then there are those who do not overcome these obstacles.
Even more challenging is Revelation 21:7. Are we to conclude that only those who live victoriously in Christ are God’s sons?
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
And the Greek term here is "son," not "child" as in John 1:12. Also, as many as are led by the Spirit, they are God’s sons, we find in Romans.
Now, are we to say that there is a difference between God’s children and God’s sons? I do not like special, mystical interpretations of the Bible. I want an interpretation that comes on boldly in both Testaments, like a huge truck on which you can kick the tires. You know what I mean?
I don’t like to dabble with novel interpretations. If it doesn’t lie clearly in the Book, then I don’t have time for it.
But you know, there is something here of value. The second and third chapters of Revelation tell us of many rewards, or increments of growth, or positions of responsibility, however you wish to view them, that are the inheritance of those who live victoriously.
Now, this is the problem. These increments of growth, or spiritual capabilities, are those we assign ordinarily to all saved people!
Some have taken the position that all believers are overcomers by virtue of their having "accepted Christ." But I do not think this position can be defended. The two chapters are written to the churches, so I think it is reasonable to assume that everyone addressed has "accepted Christ."
If every believer in the "seven churches in the province of Asia" is an overcomer by being a member of one of the seven churches, then the two chapters do not make much sense. After all, each of the seven churches is rebuked by the Lord because of its works.
If we are going to adhere to a straightforward interpretation of the Book of Revelation, then we must conclude that Jesus is saying: "To each one of you who chooses to overcome the problems present in your church I am giving increments of spiritual growth which qualify you for the first resurrection, and will climax with your being seated with Me on God’s Throne.
And, I might add, being referred to as God’s son.
While the two chapters do not mention the first resurrection, it is implicit in the fact that the victorious saints will be governing the nations with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
So we have here a line of thought that definitely is contrary to the gospel to which we have been accustomed. We are saying that there are members of Christian churches, and then there are individuals who through Christ are able to gain victory over the problems that beset their churches. It is these individuals who will inherit the increments of spiritual growth promised to the victorious saints, and who possibly forever after will be designated as God’s sons.
I hope you can see how radical this position is. But the important thing is not that it is radical, the important aspect is that it obviously is what the infallible Word declares.
If we conclude that the position we have outlined indeed is true to the Scriptures, then there should be some evidence in the Old Testament that God intends to have a Church that is divided into two parts: those who were able during their lifetime on the earth to overcome the numerous forces coming against them; and those who believed in Jesus but for whatever reason did not live in victory.
There are several examples in the Old Testament, as well as statements in the New, that portray this division of the Christian Church. One of the prominent examples is that of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The Tabernacle Tent was divided into two parts. There was the Holy Place, and then the Most Holy Place, separated by the ornate Veil. Please keep in mind that that Tent is a portrayal of the Church, the Body of Christ.
Also, we think of David’s reign over part of Israel, and finally over the entire country. And then there was the division between Judah and Israel.
In the Book of Revelation we find the two marriages of the Lamb. The first at the beginning of the thousand-year reign. The second at the coming down from Heaven of the new Jerusalem.
And notice the "firstfruits" of the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. They are treated differently from the remainder of the elect.
The eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the two Lampstands. One Lampstand is the Lord Jesus. The other Lampstand is the Lord’s firstfruits.
In any case, the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation portray clearly that there are the churches, and then there are the victorious saints.
Why would there be a division of the one Church? It is because there are many members of God’s elect–in fact the majority of members–who simply are not willing or able to overcome the deceptions of the enemy that abound in the "valley of the shadow of death" (life on the present earth). Those who do overcome these deceptions are a minority.
If you find this hard to believe, look at the members of any Christian church and notice how many are denying themselves and patiently following Jesus each day. If you find one out of a hundred of the members who really are cross-carrying saints, you are in a church that is above average in spiritual growth.
If the important issue were that of dying and going to Heaven, living in victory in the earth would not be so crucial to God’s purposes. But God is looking for individuals who prove, by their willingness to stand true regardless of the opposition, that they have a personality strong enough in righteousness to govern the works of God’s hands. God then will appoint them in places of rulership when He sets up His Kingdom.
Jesus Christ overcame that which came against Him, and He is King over all. They who through Him manage to overcome, are the nobility of the Kingdom. It is just as simple as that.
It seems to me that this separation between the victorious saints and the defeated saints will endure throughout the Kingdom Age (which we term the Millennium). But how long after that I am not certain. Perhaps we can notice that David’s "mighty men" always were an integral part of Israel. Yet they continued to be famous because of their exploits in war.
So maybe David’s mighty men suggest to us that these who overcome always will be referred to as "God’s sons," while the rest are children of God. I do not wish to make a big point of this and start a new denomination called "God’s sons." But I am aware that the Book of Revelation is sealed with a special blessing and a special curse; and that if two of the twenty-two chapters are devoted to the subject of overcoming, we certainly should be hearing more about this subject than is true today in America.
Suffice it to say, there is a reward for serving the Lord. If any person, male or female, young or old, chooses to not only believe in Christ but also to follow Him in genuine discipleship, forsaking all else in order that he or she may cleave to Christ at all times throughout his or her lifetime, I believe he or she will find himself or herself one day transformed into a great pillar of light and glory who will serve as a patriarch over a vast multitude of people throughout the endless ages of eternity.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
(Taken from "He Who Overcomes," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
Attaining to the First Resurrection
The concept of the first resurrection of the dead, although it is set forth clearly in the Scriptures, does not seem to be familiar to many Christians.
(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5,6)
I think the current belief is that the first resurrection is for all who have made a profession of belief in Christ. But this does not fit the words of the passage. Rather, the first resurrection is the regaining of the bodies of those who have, through Christ, overcome the world, the lusts and passions of their flesh and spirit, and their self-determination.
It ought to be clear to any sincere reader of the Book of Revelation that the promises we ordinarily associate with being a Christian are reserved for the "overcomers." But the idea of only the overcomers inheriting the promises of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation is not always preached and taught with emphasis, as it should be.
The second resurrection, which comes at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, is for every individual who did not attain to the first resurrection. At the second resurrection, the majority are carried over to citizenship on the new earth. The minority are imprisoned in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
We notice in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians that the Apostle Paul was striving to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead. It would be ridiculous to believe this meant Paul was striving to be saved, to go to Heaven instead of Hell when he died.
If Paul was not attempting to attain to salvation, what then had he set before him as a mark? Whatever it was, or is, we certainly do not hear much about it today.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)
Paul was laying aside everything, counting it all as garbage, that he might attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead, that is, the first resurrection.
What is so special about the first resurrection? The first resurrection is that of the kings who will govern the nations of people who survived the return of Christ with his saints to set up the Kingdom of God on the earth. At that time, those people of the nations who helped the members of God’s elect will receive eternal life, inherit the earth, and be governed by the saints. Those who did not assist the members of the elect during their time of testing on the earth will enter eternal punishment.
The rest of the dead will not regain their bodies until the end of the Kingdom Age, whether they are of God’s elect or of the remainder of mankind. At that time, those in the Book of Life will be separated from the wicked and saved to the new world of righteousness.
I believe the Scripture is clear enough concerning the firstfruits of the royal priesthood who will govern the "sheep" nations throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.
Also, I may be correct in saying that those who attain to the resurrection out from among the dead will not only govern the saved nations but will minister to the majority of the royal priesthood who still are being prepared for their descent to the new earth to govern the citizens of the new earth. This is my understanding, according to the eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon.
Thus the ruling kings will be able to govern on the earth for the thousand years, and also minister to the rest of the Body of Christ who still are in the spirit world. The victorious saints will be able to be in two or more places at once, just as is true of the Lord Jesus.
Having stated my view of the advantage of being in the first resurrection, that which will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears to the earth, let me proceed to discuss how one attains to the first resurrection.
We note first, as I said previously, how the Apostle Paul laid aside all else and pressed forward with singleness of purpose in order to attain to the first resurrection. Such fervency is required if one is to be with Paul and the other Apostles when the Lord returns.
However, I would like to describe how one attains to the resurrection of our inward nature, which is absolutely necessary if we are to participate in the resurrection of our outward nature, that is, our physical body.
From my point of view, the resurrection of the inward nature is described best in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. A careful review of the sixth chapter will reveal the relationship between partaking of the body and blood of Christ, and the inner resurrection.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)
Is Jesus referring to the outward resurrection in the passage above? Let us think of it this way: The inner resurrection is to be taking place each day of our discipleship. The death resident in our old nature must be being replaced by the life that is in the body and blood of God’s Lamb, Jesus Christ.
The outward resurrection, then, will take place as a final step of attainment, having been preceded by the daily steps of exchanged life throughout the life of the disciple. The outward resurrection will take place when Jesus returns.
Now, how do we eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood?
Each day we have at least one opportunity to choose whether or not to do what we feel Christ would have us do. Sometimes we have several opportunities.
When we pray for wisdom and strength, and do the right thing, we are fed in the spirit realm with the body and blood of God’s Lamb. When we continue to walk in our own desires we are not fed with the body and blood of God’s Lamb. We remain in our dead spiritual state.
When we are fed with the body and blood of the Lamb we receive eternal resurrection life in our inward nature. When we continue in our fleshly, adamic nature we do not receive eternal resurrection life in our inward nature. We remain unchanged.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
The "hidden manna" is the body and blood of the Lamb. The white stone is a voting pebble, meaning that the recipient is being voted into the ranks of the chosen.
The thoughtful reader can see instantly that as we make godly decisions each day we are attaining to the resurrection of our inward nature. At the coming of Christ, that which we have attained to by following the Lamb and obeying him will extend to our outer form.
When the Lamb appears in the sky, those "eagles" who live by his body and blood will be caught up to him because they are an integral, eternally inseparable part of him.
One of my favorite verses is found in the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John. It is as follows:
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:56,57)
Here is my personal affirmation of faith: I am learning to say, one step at a time, "What’s next, Lord?" I want to live this way forever, living by the Presence and Life of the Lord Jesus.
You may remember the morning and evening lamb of the Old Testament. Twice a day two young lambs were offered as a burnt offering. While they were being offered, wine was being poured out next to the Table of Showbread in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle.
This ceremony tells us that each day we are to be partaking of the body and blood of God’s Lamb, as we present our body a living sacrifice to the Lord.
Say to them: 'This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the LORD: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day.
Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight,
The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the LORD at the sanctuary. (Numbers 28:3,4,7)
Aren’t the above passages a wonderful portrayal of the daily walk of a consecrated Christian? Each day we eat of the slain Lamb and each day we drink his blood, thus attaining to the first resurrection, the resurrection that is out from among the dead.
Dear reader, you can do it. You can, through the Lord Jesus, overcome the Antichrist spirit of the world, your own sinful nature, and your insistence on living your life apart from the Lord Jesus.
For myself, I am finding righteousness, love, joy, and peace by living by the wisdom and strength of Christ in every aspect of thinking, speaking, and acting. I do not claim to have attained, to be perfect, but I am pressing on the upward way.
In the third chapter of Philippians Paul says he had not attained. But by the time he wrote Second Timothy, the crown of righteousness and life was his.
It can be this way for you and me. If we keep on pressing forward in Christ we can attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the firstfruits of the royal priesthood, who will be given back their physical bodies when Jesus comes.
(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5,6)
And so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection (Greek: out-resurrection) from the dead. (Philippians 3:11) (from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson)
Laying Hold On Eternal Life
The expression "eternal life" is not referring primarily to living a long time. Rather, eternal life is the knowledge of God and Christ; and is found also in the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. "Eternal life" does not refer to duration of existence. Rather, it is a kind of life.
I suppose the main difference between the "ticket" doctrine of eternal life, and the true, covenantal doctrine of eternal life is that in the covenantal doctrine, eternal life is not viewed as a one-time pass into Heaven but is seen as a daily working out of the Divine redemption. Also, unlike the "ticket" doctrine, it is seen that we possess eternal life in degrees, according to the effort we have made to walk with God.
It is absolutely true that eternal life is a gift. However, it is the gift of an opportunity to attain to eternal life, not a ticket that is handed out to us on the basis of our "accepting Christ." I enclose "accepting Christ" in quotes because what often happens is a religious confession of sorts, not a genuine receiving of the Man, Christ Jesus.
That eternal life is "the gift of an opportunity to attain to life" can be seen in the following passages:
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:11,12)
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:16)
Today too much emphasis is placed on what Christ does in the work of redemption. It absolutely is true that all redemption proceeds from Christ. But the New Testament teaches plainly that many responses are expected from us, such as presenting our body a living sacrifice; taking up our personal cross and following the Lord Jesus. If we do not do our part, the work of redemption ceases.
Can you imagine how greatly this understanding is needed today in the Christian churches?
It is obvious from the Book of Romans that eternal life is not a package tied with a bow that is just handed to us. Rather, unlike what was true of the Law of Moses, eternal life is now made available to us. But we have to "take hold" of it by pursuing godly behavior.
The Apostle Paul toward the end of his life was still endeavoring to "take hold" of the inward resurrection which is the prerequisite for receiving the first resurrection, that is, the redemption of the physical body that will occur when the Lord next returns to the physical world.
It appears we have made eternal residence in Heaven the goal of the Christian redemption. It assuredly is not. The goal of redemption, according to the Apostle Paul, is the making alive of our inward nature, and then, when the Lord returns, the making alive of our physical body.
I think sometimes that Christians believe being resurrected means going to Heaven. Resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. Resurrection means making alive what has been dead, whether the personality is in Heaven or upon the earth.
"Death" means the Spirit of God is absent.
The Apostle Paul had as his goal the complete resurrection of his inward nature. This would mean that he was living by the Life of Jesus rather than by his own life. Such resurrection of the inward nature is the necessary prerequisite for the making alive of the mortal body. God never shall make alive the physical body of any person until first the inward nature has met God's requirements for that individual.
Faithful Enoch, and also Elijah, were carried into Heaven, apparently. But that is not resurrection.
In the parable of the sower, the Lord spoke of three degrees of fruitbearing in those who have a noble and good heart, retain the word, and who persevere.
The fruit that is to be borne always is from the Spirit of God. The more of the Spirit ,we have, the more fruit we bear. The fruit is the moral image of Christ, and untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.
The forty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel also tells us of levels of the Spirit. There are the three levels that follow the Divine judgment on us, and then there is the fourth level, the waters to swim in.
The three levels of Ezekiel speak of the increasing work of redemption. The fourth level is the Fullness of God. At this point we are planted by the River of Life and have become a tree of life, like our Lord, because we are filled with our Lord.
The water of eternal life will go out from us into the dead sea of mankind, bringing eternal life to all who will receive it. Thus there is a vast inheritance to those who will never cease pressing forward in the Lord Jesus. This was how Paul lived.
Both the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." All who are thirsty may come and drink freely of the water of eternal life.
It is my point of view that every member of the new world of righteousness will have a portion of God's Spirit in him or her. There will be no more "sea" of people who are living according to their fallen nature and who can be swayed by demagogues.
How much of the Spirit we possess depends on the diligence with which we obey God each day. God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him.
If we will bear our personal cross and follow Jesus diligently all our life, we will be of enormous benefit to God and mankind, and also to ourselves and our loved ones.
Let's do it!
The Fullness of God
Read Ephesians 3:1-21.
There are at least three major platforms in the work of redemption. There is the basic platform of forgiveness through the blood atonement. There is the development of the Life of the Spirit in us. Finally there is what the Apostle Paul sets forth as the "Fullness." These three platforms are pictured by the three levels of water, in Ezekiel, Chapter 47.
The fourth level, of Ezekiel, is that of service as a tree of life growing on the bank of the River of Life. Isaiah, Twelve, that describes the personal testimony of those who are filled with the Fullness of God, speaks of how they with joy bring forth the water of Life to the dead people of mankind. The Lord Jesus also, during the feast of Tabernacles, spoke of the living water coming from those who believe in Him.
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
Paul's prayer for the saved, Spirit-filled saints in Ephesus was that they might be strengthened in their inner nature until they were filled with all the Fullness of God.
As we press forward in the operation of redemption we experience three deaths and three resurrections before we can bring forth eternal life to others to the extent God desires.
The first death is our death to the world. We die this death when we are baptized in water, signifying that we have died to the world and have risen to live with the Lord Jesus in newness of life.
We experience the second death and resurrection as we resolutely put to death through the Spirit the evil deeds of our old personality and come to life in the Spirit of God.
We enter the third death and resurrection as we keep saying, "Not my will, but Yours be done." We maintain this attitude while we patiently are enduring the prisons we are placed in. Our motivations must be given over to the will of God so that His will is done in the earth. This is the Kingdom of God, the rule of God over our personality.
Throughout our lifetime on earth (and perhaps for eternity, I do not know) we are to keep on knowing more of Christ, experiencing more of Christ.
Have you noticed in the Scriptures some of the startling passages concerning our life in Christ? The following is one of my favorites.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57).
I can't speak for you, but it is the desire of my heart to feed on Jesus until His Life is my life. This promise is in the Scriptures, so it is available to whoever will.
Another passage that has been very meaningful to me is as follows:
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)
Now take a deep breath and notice carefully what is being said here. This is one of the most remarkable prayers in the Bible.
"That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you."
The Father and the Son are totally One, because the Father is in the Son in His Fullness and the Son is in the Father in His Fullness. The members of the Wife of the Lamb are to be one in the Oneness that is God.
"May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
The purpose of our being created one in God is that the world may believe that the Father is the One who has sent the Son. This is the true goal of our election. It is not that we might spend eternity in Heaven. It is that the people of the nations may come to realize that Jesus Christ is from the Father. God wants the world to hear His beloved Son and obey Him.
"I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one."
The Lord Jesus has received the Fullness of the Glory of God because He is an inseparable part of God. We cannot receive from Christ the Divine Glory until we are an inseparable part of Christ. God will never give His Glory to another!
"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
Here is an extremely interesting statement. God's purpose is to bring the members of His Church into the oneness with Him that is true of Jesus Christ so that the world will understand that God loves His elect just as He loves His only begotten Son.
It is time for us Christians to grow up into the Fullness of Christ. We have been redeemed through the blood atonement, it is true. But the world does not see God in us.
We have been baptized with the Spirit of God, it is true. But the world does not as yet see Christ in us. In fact, in many instances the people of the world are disgusted with the antics of the church people.
But God gave His Son so that the spiritually dead of mankind might not perish in their corruption but come to Divine Life. This resurrection cannot take place until the elect are willing to do God's will rather than their own, are filled with the Fullness of God, and are in their places as trees of life growing on the banks of the River of Life.
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:6,7)
If you wish to be a tree of life bringing eternal life to the dead sea of mankind, then tell God about it and press forward in Christ. If you do, Isaiah, Twelve will become your personal testimony:
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2,3)
These promises are for you and me; but we are going to have to pursue Jesus with total diligence if we are to attain to all the Fullness of God!
Arminianism and Calvinism are two somewhat divergent philosophies regarding being saved. Arminianism appears to emphasize that being saved is the free choice of each person. Calvinism, on the other hand, appears to emphasize Divine foreknowledge and election regarding being saved.
The seeming discrepancy between free will and election proceeds from seeking to interpret the Bible deductively–fastening on a few passages and ignoring the others. The Bible has to be interpreted inductively. The believer must accept every passage of Scripture as God's Word. Any seeming contradictions must be understood as proceeding from our limited understanding of the whole counsel of God.
The Scripture teaches clearly that whoever believes the Gospel and is baptized in water shall be saved.
The Scripture teaches clearly that God draws to Jesus whom He chooses.
Are these two truths contradictory? Not at all! As we follow Christ diligently we understand that both are true.
One aspect of the problem is that scholars often do not seem to recognize that there are two classes of saved people. One class consists of God's royal priesthood. The other class is the members of the nations who believe and are baptized.
Whoever, of the nations of the earth, believes the Gospel and is baptized shall be saved. This is God's unchanging promise. They shall be held over to citizenship in the new world of righteousness.
Then there are those, like the Apostle Paul, who are struggling to the end of their days to grasp that for which they have been grasped. This struggle is true of every member of God's elect priesthood. They are "Israel." They struggle with God.
The saved members of the nations must seek to live according to the Bible; for it is possible to turn back into the world after having been baptized in water. Then they are as a dog that returns to its vomit.
The members of the Church, the elect, must make their calling and election sure by embracing the virtues of godly behavior.
In no case, whether of the elect or the saved members of the nations, does Christ "do it all." We could wish that He would! But He doesn't. The New Testament is filled with exhortations to righteous behavior. I know that some teach that salvation is ordained of God and no matter what we do we will, when we die, go immediately to Heaven to live in a mansion.
They are mistaken as to means and ends.
The position that any person can choose to attain whatever position in the Kingdom he or she desires is acceptable to the American ideal of equality of opportunity. However, this is not true of the Kingdom of God. Our position in the Kingdom is God's choice.
If we are to grasp that for which we have been grasped by the Lord, we have to obey Jesus Christ strictly and consistently. It is entirely possible for someone to steal our crown of righteousness, life, and authority if we are not diligent.
The people of Israel are an excellent example of election, and also of the danger of not obeying God after we have been called out from the nations of the earth.
God has dealt with no other nation on earth as he has with the Jews. This election continues on through to the new Jerusalem, the gates of which are inscribed with the names of the families of Israel. The gifts and callings of God are without repentance.
The ninth chapter of the Book of Romans includes clear teaching on the matter of Divine election. If we are to accept this chapter as being the Word of God, we cannot in conscience deny the reality of election. "God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy, and He hardens whom He wants to harden.
Again, Paul states that before the twins were born, God loved Jacob and hated Esau.
If we cannot accept Paul's statements about election, why should we accept anything Paul wrote? Of course, this seems unfair. I think we Americans are just going to have to get used to the fact that God is the Potter and human beings are the clay. The Potter can form the clay into whatever He wishes.
Can any person choose to follow Christ? Of course. Jesus will never turn away anyone who comes to Him, unless that individual knowingly and willfully has chosen to disobey Christ.
Where all of this comes together is that no person can even want to come to Jesus unless the Father draws that person. Even the desire to come to Jesus proceeds from God.
Sometimes people are afraid they have blasphemed the Spirit of God and are afraid they are doomed. I tell them that if they even have a desire to be accepted by the Lord they have not gone past the point of no return.
So much depends on our desires! If we are wise we will ask God to give us His desires for us. I pray this prayer frequently. We do not know what will bring us love, joy, and peace; so we are wise if we ask God to give us His desires for us. Then He can give us the desires of our heart.
There is a practical effect of clearly understanding the role of elect. It helps us realize we are not of the world. Christ has called us out of the world to be part of the royal priesthood. We are not of the world as He is not of the world. The word "Church" means "called out." Did you know that?
We are not to compare ourselves with the unsaved. The local assembly is infinitely more than a social gathering. It is supposed to be the Light of God among men. It is a prophet, a lampstand, a witness of Almighty God. The local church should have a healthy social component, but its first purpose is to reveal God to the world.
The follower of Jesus Christ is a "saint," a "holy one." As such he is to come out from the world, as the Spirit enables, and touch not the unclean thing. He is to purify himself in the fear of God, putting out of his personality all that is not clean in the Lord's sight.
I mentioned before the conflict between the "free will" and the "elect" philosophies of salvation. At one time the "elect" emphasis prevailed. Today the "free will" emphasis is prevailing. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back to the middle so that election and free will are assigned their rightful places in Christian thinking.
The Servant of the Lord
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)
The passage above is speaking directly to each member of the Body of Christ. It is telling us that he or she is God's servant. The Christian preaching of today seems to be stressing that God is our servant. He is not. God's will is the only legitimate will in the universe.
There is no part of the Bible that tells us of the good that will come to us if we do not do God's will instead of our own. But for those who set themselves to do God's will, and only God's will, the Bible offers us an inheritance more glorious than our wildest hopes and imaginations.
Each member of the Servant of the Lord, the Body of Christ, is upheld by the Father Himself. This means that during the chaos that is approaching America, those who believe will find that the everlasting Arms are under him or her.
Each member of the Body of Christ is a chosen one. Many people are called to partake of the Kingdom of God. But to qualify for the responsibilities and inheritance of the servants of the Lord, we must pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen. We do this by faithfully following Christ, bearing our personal cross.
God puts His Spirit upon us because we are obedient to Him.
"He will bring justice to the nations." This thought may be new to us. The traditional view is that once we "accept Christ" we will go to Heaven when we die. What we will do there is not clear, except that we will recline at our ease forever in our mansion while an angel pops grapes into our mouth.
It becomes apparent at once that the traditional view of the Christian salvation is far removed from what the Scriptures tell us. We have not been saved, filled with God's Spirit and built up by the gifts of the Spirit so we can spend eternity doing nothing of value. God has called us, chosen us, and built us up through the ministries of the Body of Christ so we can bring justice to the nations.
As we look about us today we can see the efforts being made to bring about a world government with the power to enforce its rules on the citizens of every country. This might be beneficial, if it were not for the fact that the rules of the world government will conflict with the values of Christian people.
There finally will be "peace and safety," but it will be a peace and safety in line with Satan's personality and desires. We Americans had better awaken from our comfortable beds, because our nation rapidly is being prepared to be a part of this world government that does not know, fear, or honor God.
The Servant of the Lord has been chosen by the Father to bring justice to the nations. The stated purpose of the world government will be to bring justice to the nations. But the world government always will fumble and end up denying justice to many people. This is because the evil nature of unregenerate people will be self-serving, personally ambitious. The result inevitably will be iniquities, lies, and treacheries of every kind. Governments always are like this, it seems.
However, it is not God's desire that the nations of the earth live in injustice. God has permitted the past 6,000 years of agony and insanity so angels and people could see what happens when angels or people follow their own will.
I think the time is up. The audio-visual instruction has been completed. A few more agonizing, insane years of the rule of self-seeking man and self-seeking angels, and Christ shall appear with His righteous angels, and called, chosen, and faithful saints. The resistance of the nations will be smashed with the rod of iron created in the victorious saints. Righteousness, love, peace, and joy will fill the people of the nations of the earth as the saints, having been filled with Christ and taught by Christ, assume the thrones that govern the earth.
"He will bring justice to the nations." This is the Word of God, less shakable than Gibraltar. It shall take place! We who have been chosen to be members of the Servant of the Lord must endure many frustrations and pains while the rod of iron is created in us. But our inheritance is God and the people of the nations whom God chooses to save.
It will be worth it all when we see Jesus and are invited to share with Him the greatest treasures of all—people.
I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, (Isaiah 42:6)
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Perhaps we would change this to say, "God so loves the Church." But this is not what is written. God loves the world!
God does not love the present world spirit, for that spirit is Antichrist. But God loves the people of the world, and He desires that as many as possible have eternal life instead of a dead spiritual nature that does not know God or have fellowship with Him.
Because of His desire, God has called out of the world His Church, His servant. For two thousand years God has been calling out His servant, the members of the Body of Christ and bringing them through every conceivable testing and experience. God is not doing this so His servants will be happy doing nothing in Heaven but so they will be able to bring eternal life to whoever will come and drink, and thus come to know God and to have fellowship with Him.
God makes us to be a covenant for the people of the nations. If they will do what we say, we on our part will open their eyes to God; we will bring them out of the prison of spiritual death and separation from God; we will open the door of their dungeon so they may come out into the Light of God's Presence.
Perhaps God makes it possible for us to do some of this work today. But the redemption of mankind will come with the return of Christ and His saints and holy angels. The creation is travailing in pain today, because the Kingdom of God is about to be brought forth.
The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)
Notice the following prophecy, the Word that I think gave to the three travelers from the East the knowledge that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. (Micah 5:2,3)
"Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites." This is speaking of the "ruler in Israel," who obviously is the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus has not asserted His rulership over the nation of Israel, because the time had not come of the Church to bring forth Christ in the members of His Body. Jesus has determined that His brothers shall rule with Him and share in the inheritance.
I am inclined to believe the time has come for Jesus and His brothers, the members of the Body of Christ, to return and deliver the Jews from their oppressors; and this is why the Scriptures are opening to us the way they are.
The following passage may suggest that the forming of Christ in the members of His Body may be a somewhat sudden event:
Hear that uproar from the city, hear that noise from the temple! It is the sound of the LORD repaying his enemies all they deserve. Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" says the LORD. "Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?" says your God. (Isaiah 66:6-9)
Before the Church went into labor, the Son, Jesus Christ was born. But then, just as soon as Zion travailed in birth, she brought forth the brothers of the Lord. This warns us that events in the spirit realm will develop quickly from this point forward. The spiritual darkness will increase, but so will the Light of God.
First the Son, born without travail. Then the travail and the brothers are born.
Notice the travail of the Church:
"She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth."
Do we find evidence in the New Testament of the birth of the brothers of Christ?
The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:4,5)
The child who is born at this moment is not the Lord Jesus. It is His brothers. The "woman" here is not Mary, it is the Church.
The members of Christ's Body are caught up to God and to His throne. This is an event we experience. As we keep praying until we "pray through," we feel in ourselves that we have overcome the darkness of the world. We sense that we have been caught up to the Throne of God and are seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
Are the saints actually going to govern along with Christ?
Notice the following:
In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13,14)
Of course, the Person "like a son of man" is our Lord Jesus.
But notice carefully the following:
I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: "The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever." (Daniel 7:16-18)
The interpretation of the vision is that "the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever."
The "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven," is the Lord Jesus. But the interpretation of the vision is that "the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdoms and will possess it forever."
I take from this that either "the clouds of heaven" are the saints with whom the Lord comes, or their coming is the same as His coming in that He is in them and they are living by His Life. Even if they are the clouds of heaven mentioned here, it still is true that it is Christ in them; for it is certain we cannot rule apart from the Life of Christ in us.
When Christ walked the earth it was the Father who was doing the works and announcing His own Words. This is what Jesus told us. But the Father Himself was not visible to us.
I do not think it is too much of a stretch to think of the appearing of the governing saints to be actually the governing of Christ who is in them; but yet when the Lord returns, in some instances it will be only the saints who are visible.
It is true and scriptural that we are to be made one with Christ as He is One with the Father. This is the prayer of the Lord. Also, Paul, in Romans, tells us that we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Him who is the Firstborn among many brothers.
So, in accordance with the Scriptures, Mount Zion, the Church of the Firstborn, is in travail today. You and I are experiencing these birth pangs. They demand our compliance in the deepest roots of our being.
We have been destined to sit with the Lord Jesus on the highest throne of all. The price attached to such an exalted position is the highest possible. All that we think, say, and do must be given to Jesus until we are living by His very Life. Only then will we be a part of the One to whom the Father has given authority, glory, and sovereign power over all peoples, nations, and men of every language. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
God is not building up the members of the Body of Christ so they can go to Heaven but so they can return with Christ and bring justice to the peoples of the earth.
The Two Witnesses
God always has a witness of Himself in the earth, and shall up to the time that the Lord Jesus appears. God's witness tells of His Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ. There is a great deal of preaching today, but I think a true witness may be in short supply.
According to the Bible, there will be one last witness before the Church Age comes to a close. The witness is set forth as "two witnesses," because it will be composed of Christ bearing witness within His victorious saints.
The tenth and eleventh chapters of the Book of Revelation really should be one chapter. The vision begins with the coming down from Heaven of a huge, powerful angel, with one foot on the sea and other on the land. He is fiery, representing Divine judgment; and he had a rainbow over his head, revealing that his authority comes from the very Throne of Almighty God.
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. (Revelation 10:1)
I think this mighty angel has come already. The seventh (last) trumpet is about to sound, at which time we will be changed into immortality.
The mighty angel shouts causing the seven thunders to speak. The seven thunders are the fullness of Divine power. But they cannot be released as yet because the Christian ministry at this time is characterized by self-will, self-direction.
And he gave a loud shout like the roar of a lion. When he shouted, the voices of the seven thunders spoke. (Revelation 10:3)
Although the seven thunders are being restrained, the hour has come for the mystery of God to be accomplished. The mystery of God is Christ in us. The Scriptures, both Old Testament and New, show us that in the final hours of the Church Age, Christ will come to maturity in those who are living by His body and blood rather than by their own natural life.
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)
The final witness that is to be borne will be given by those who "eat" the Word of God rather than merely read it. It will be as honey in the mouth, but it will crucify the inner nature until Christ is formed in the saint.
I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:10,11)
The words on the scroll are the prophecy that is to be given at the closing of the Church Age.
The saints, who eat the book, are destined to "prophesy again" about peoples, nations, languages, and kings. The Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached as a witness to all nations, and then the end of the Church Age will be here and the Kingdom will come to the earth through Christ—Head and Body.
Notice the "prophesy again." The first prophecy was on the Day of Pentecost. These are not prophecies to build up the members of the Body of Christ but prophecies to the world of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
But first the saints must be judged (measured), especially those who are crying "Not my will, but Yours be done." While this judgment is taking place, the weaker Christians will be trampled on by the ungodly. I believe we can see the beginning of this prophecy today, as there is a separation between those who are living by the Life of Jesus and those who are casual concerning Christ and His Kingdom.
I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles." (Revelation 11:1,2)
As soon as the saints have been judged, the power of the seven thunders will be given to them. They no longer are self-directed. Christ, the one Witness is directing them. The saints constitute the other witness.
The two olive trees speak of the double portion of power, symbolized by the power given to Elisha. This is the "again prophecy," the first prophecy occurring when the Spirit of God was poured out at the beginning of the Church Age. First the power of Elijah. Then the power of Elisha.
These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (Revelation 11:4)
The end-time saints will not be primarily teachers of the Bible. Rather, their role will be to announce and bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Notice that Elijah and Elisha were not characterized by what they taught. Rather they were witnesses, reminding the Jews of their God.
This tremendous witness will be given over a specific period of time. Then the power of the witness will be withdrawn, and the results of the witness will be sifted. Many who bore the witness will succumb to lust, worldliness, and personal ambition (Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem). Those who are able to stand will be hidden away by the Lord.
When an unusual anointing is bestowed, marvelous acts are performed. When the anointing is lifted, character is revealed.
In the last days there will be spectacular signs and wonders. The two witnesses, Christ and (in) his victorious saints, will work colossal miracles, as described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
But there is another set of people who also will work miracles. These are described in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. (Revelation 13:11-13)
The above miracle worker is often referred to as the False Prophet.
So now we have two sets of people who work miracles in the days of Antichrist. The False Prophet is composed of people who work miracles but are not cross-carrying disciples. They speak with the voice of the dragon (I will! I will!) while they demonstrate the double portion of power (the two horns of the Lamb).
The two witnesses, on the other hand, are judged before they are entrusted with the power of the seven thunders. They have died to their own self-will.
These two kinds of people are in the earth today. The first group is seeking power rather than to walk in humility with the Lord Jesus. The second group, the true, victorious saints, are learning each day to look to the Lord Jesus for His will in every detail of their life.
Now when they (the two witnesses) have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7)
Now we have come to the time when Antichrist will be allowed to exercise great power. His spirit and way will prevail in the earth. However, even in the deepest moral darkness, when ignorant people are crying "Peace and Safety," there will be deliverance available in the remnant whom God has hidden away.
At the time of the greatest spiritual darkness ever to be experienced on the earth, Christ will appear. The power of the witness will be restored. The true saints will be caught up to Christ in a cloud.
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Revelation 11:11,12)
Do you remember how the dead man touched Elisha's bones and came to life?
Now the seventh angel will sound his trumpet, and the saints will receive immortal bodies. They will descend with the Lord, and the kingdom of the world will become the Kingdom of God and of His Christ—Head and Body.
God is preparing His witnesses in the present hour. They are measured, and measured, and measured again. Every particle of their personality is being examined. They must become dead-living people before they can be entrusted with the total power of the seven thunders.
It is not impossible to cooperate with the demands of the Holy Spirit as He prepares us for the final witness. But we must be prepared to give everything to Christ.
This final, terrifying witness is God's love for mankind. God wants as many as possible to repent so they will be saved when the Kingdom of God comes with power and by force is established among the nations of the earth.
The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." (Revelation 11:15)
The Baptism With FireThe Baptism With Fire
There is a baptism with the Holy Spirit. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish observance of Pentecost. There is a baptism with fire. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish observance of the Day of Atonement. During the previous century, numerous believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit. During the present century, numerous believers will be baptized with fire. Our God is a consuming Fire!
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matthew 3:11)
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. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)
Notice the timing: "At the end of the age." We are here now.
Please notice also that at the end of the age, everything that causes sin will be weeded out of the Kingdom of God. Also, all who do evil will be weeded out of the Kingdom of God. All this at "the end of the age."
It appears that for the two thousand years of the Church Age, the Christian salvation has been regarded as one of forgiveness, grace, mercy, etc. Now a radical change is here. The Christian salvation still is one of forgiveness, but the emphasis is on the removing of sin and sinners from the Kingdom of God. The Savior has become the Man of War. Moses has become Joshua. The twenty-third Psalm has merged into the twenty-fourth Psalm.
It had to happen sometime, didn't it? We know intuitively that the Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of people who are continuing to sin. The new Jerusalem is not a city of those who do not do God's will. But when will the sin be removed—not the guilt of sin, but the sinning itself?
"At the end of the age." The time is now. The place is wherever we are. The program involves God and our cooperation with God.
Christ will not do it alone. We cannot do it alone. It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon, so to speak.
The Fire of God will burn the sin out of our personality. If we refuse to cooperate with the Lord, we ourselves will be removed from the Kingdom of God—Christian or not. It is a purging of the Kingdom, not a purging of the world!
Each one of us carries a suitcase loaded with snakes. Our snakes are in three categories: our love for and trust in the world system; the lusts of our flesh; and our self-will, self-determination. The Holy Spirit deals with each of these areas of sin in a different manner.
Concerning our love for the world spirit: we take the first step by being baptized in water, reckoning ourselves crucified with Christ. Then each day we make an effort to keep our involvement in the world, in the Antichrist spirit, to a minimum. We are not of the world and we need to act like it.
As we make this determination, God helps by bringing tribulation on us so that we have to keep praying fervently in order to come successfully through our problems. When we do our part by being in the world but not of the world, the Fire of God gives us the wisdom and strength we must have if we are to live a victorious life in the Lord Jesus.
Concerning the lusts of our flesh: the Spirit of God keeps pointing out to us the specific uncleannesses in our thinking, speech, and actions. Sexual lust, for example, is a major problem in the world today. Numerous leaders in the government and the churches are falling into sexual sin.
When we become aware of a specific fleshly sin, we are to confess it, denounce it as fit for the Lake of Fire, renounce it, turning away from it with all the strength we have, and then come to the Lord Jesus for wisdom and help so we do not fall into the same pit again. Many believers of today are going to be torn down from their high position in Christ because they are yielding to the fiery temptations that afflict our flesh.
Satan works with deception, particularly but not exclusively in the area of sexual lust. The only manner in which we can avoid being deceived is to take up our personal cross and carry it behind Jesus each day. This world is not Heaven, and when we try to make it heavenly we fall into deception.
Also, we are to pray constantly, "Do not lead me into temptation but deliver me from the evil one." God hears this prayer if we are sincere and fervent.
Concerning our self-determination: of the three areas of sin, self-determination is the most difficult to deal with, and the most prevalent in Christianity.
I believe God has impressed on me that the only way to survive the coming age of moral horrors in America is to be very close to the Lord Jesus. I make it a practice at all times to talk to Jesus about everything I am doing, sometimes praying for help. In this manner I keep in the Lord's Presence.
But as I look at how the denominations and the churches approach their work, it is as though they are doing what they think is best for Jesus and His Kingdom, but they are not actually hearing from Him. They are taking for granted that He wants everyone on earth to make a profession of faith in Jesus. But is this actually what Christ wants? They are guessing, I believe.
There has been much talk about the timing of the so-called "Rapture." But has anyone heard from the Lord or are they offering their opinion?
Concerning the welfare of America: there are calls for repentance so our nation will be saved. But is this what Christ wants? Or has the practice of abortion-on-demand pushed America over the edge where Christ is not willing to hear our prayer for our nation? Do we know for sure, or don't we? It is not enough to just assume this is what God wants.
The principal problem of mankind is that of making decisions apart from Christ. This problem began in the Garden of Eden. It has continued to the present day. It exists in secular society and it exists in the Christian churches.
How many believers of our day are listening to Jesus and obeying Him diligently? I think there may be numerous believers who do walk with Christ through the day. But I do not know of a Christian organization or group that waits on the Lord. They all seem to have an idea of what Christ wants; but their decision so often is mental, not prophetic.
What would happen if every Christian organization stopped what it is doing and assigned some people to pray until God revealed His will?
According to what I was told by Einar Gislason, an Icelandic pastor, it was by assigning an individual to remain in an oxhide tent until he heard from God that Christianity was chosen as the religion of Iceland. It is a thrilling story!
To put it simply, we Christians must cease taking things for granted, assuming what Jesus wants today. Rather, we are to keep petitioning Him to make His wishes known. I do this. He has instructed me to seek Him fervently in every decision of life, down to the smallest detail, and to encourage others to do the same. No decision we make during the day or night is too insignificant to merit the Lord's attention.
I think Jesus is saying that we now are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a time of being reconciled to God as He points out the various sins of our personality. We confess our specific sins as being unworthy of the Kingdom of God. We judge them as evil. We denounce and renounce them with all of our strength, plus Jesus' help.
Some denominations may have a true call to go forth and bring the Gospel to the spiritually dead people of the world. But I believe Jesus is telling me that what He desires is that His people turn from their sins and listen to Him at all times for directions for their life.
Those who make the change from self-determination to the rule of Jesus over their life will save themselves and those who hear them, throughout the coming age of moral horrors in America.
It is time for the baptism with fire that we might be reconciled to the Consuming Fire.
But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, (Malachi 3:2,3)
God is holy. He has commanded us to be holy as He is holy. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. Holiness is that important. But what exactly is holiness? Holiness is God Himself.
God Himself is Holiness. All that is of God is holy. All that is not of God is not holy. Thus we see that Divine calling, and obedience to God, are part of true holiness.
There are holiness of dress and speech. But these are not holy unless God has ordained them. They are nothing more than religious practices, although the believers may be people of integrity and sincere in their actions.
We must be careful at this point, however. In early Pentecost there were strict opinions about dress, makeup, hairdos, usually aimed at women as we see. Then there was a reaction to these outward holiness guidelines. The pendulum swung too far the other way. Now Christian people could go to X-rated movies, swear, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and do as they please. "To the pure all things are pure," they cry.
However, not all things are pure to the Lord Jesus. They simply do not know the Lord and how important holiness is to God. I guess they forgot Paul said, "Come out from among them and touch not the unclean thing.
The truth is, a Christian should look like a Christian; talk like a Christian; dress like a Christian; act like a Christian. Common sense tells us this; but sometimes common sense is in short supply, isn't it?
If a believer does not know how to act like a Christian or look like a Christian, all he or she needs to do is to ask Jesus, or an unsaved person. Either one will set the record straight.
The filthiest aspect of the human personality is self-will. The Pharisees murdered the Lord because of their self-will, reflected in their love to be preeminent.
There is no foolishness, silliness, giddiness, joking, mischief, abandonment to revelry, spite, insincerity, lying, or duplicity in God. These are unclean spirits. They are not holy.
When we are brought before God our speech must be sound, sincere, void of craft or guile of any sort. This is why little children can stand in His Presence.
There is an ultimate sincerity and lack of foolishness in Gethsemane and Calvary. This is why the thought of them is such a comfort to us when we are suffering and at the end of our strength.
There is a romantic spirit that comes from God and is holy. God created such things as music, poetry, sunsets, and sunrises. This spirit leads us to the new Jerusalem.
There is a romantic spirit that comes from Satan and is unclean. This spirit results in treachery, despair, and sexual perversions. It leads to torment and finally to Hell.
A matter is holy if it includes the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. A matter is not holy if it does not include the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How are righteousness and holiness related? Righteousness has to do with our behavior toward people. Holiness has to do with the relationship of our thinking, speaking, and acting toward God.
Ordinarily, truly holy people will behave righteously and are people of integrity. However, God may choose someone to be holy; but while he is coming to maturity he may from time to time behave unrighteously. We see this in the case of Jacob lying to his father.
One way of looking at holiness is that there is an absence of unclean spirits. God is totally spiritually clean and wants us to purge ourselves from all spiritual filthiness of the flesh and spirit. The Holy Spirit will accomplish such purging if we will cooperate with Him.
When we are totally in God's moral image, totally free from unclean spirits, and totally at rest in the very center of His Person and will, then we will be totally holy. May God grant this for each one of us.
I think the essence of holiness is obedience to God. It is true that God may regard us as holy if we are seeking to please and obey Him, and not be behaving as yet in total obedience to Him. But in the final analysis, the person who truly is holy is the individual who is committing all of his or her ways to the Lord.
Our God is a Consuming Fire. All that does not proceed from Him cannot possibly survive His Presence. The time soon will be here when God shakes the heavens. Then all that has not been wrought in Christ, especially religious people and their works, shall be removed.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken, that is, created things so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26,27)
When the above passage mentions "created things" it is referring to the works of human thinking and ambition. None of them will survive the Divine shaking. Only that which God brought forth in Christ is holy and unshakable and shall remain in God's Presence.
As I grow older I increasingly am aware of how much Christian work and activity is coming from the good intentions of Christian organizations and people. How often do denominations cry, "Let us go forth and save the world." They are assuming that this is what God wants, because of the Great Commission.
But they do not seem to realize that the New Testament describes a covenant of the Spirit of God, and must be interpreted and obeyed only as we wait until we hear from the Lord Jesus.
Thus our well-intentioned Christian work may not be holy and may be subject to shaking and removal. God may not be authorizing it.
For years I have been making it a practice to listen carefully to what Jesus is saying. His word to me has been consistent. "It is time for God's people to listen to His Spirit as He points out to them those areas of their personality that are not holy. They are to diligently confess, denounce, and renounce these unclean areas. The Holy Spirit will help all along the way."
God is not speaking to me about going forth and trying to save the world. Is He to you? Rather He is telling me to advise His people to listen to Him and to obey Him. God has new and surprising things to show us that will survive the shaking and will enable us to stand in Christ throughout the age of moral horrors that America is entering, and to help others to stand.
Is Christ saying this to you, or is He urging you to go out and save the world?
The behavior of the leaders of our government and their supporters in the mainstream media, is difficult for some of us to understand. It appears obvious to me that our nation is being destroyed from within. So many people seem to be devoid of common sense.
I realize this is God's punishment because of our tolerance of abortion-on-demand and other abominations. We have been given minds void of judgment. So our country increasingly is being weakened. If I am not mistaken, other nations of the world are seeing this destruction and are rejoicing that the once mighty America is falling to its knees, like so many great empires of the past.
Numerous sincere Christians are humbling themselves and praying that God will restore America. May God hear them and grant their prayer, provided we do not return to the present abominable practices.
There came a time in the history of Israel when God declared that He would not spare the nation from destruction. On one occasion God told Jeremiah that the people who surrendered to the Babylonians would be spared.
My point is, we need to hear from God before we tell Him what we want Him to do. Do you agree with that, or are you willing to pray against what God has determined? If we keep praying, and keep listening, then we will be able to pray in line with God's Spirit.
"Be holy, because I am holy," says the Lord." If we would see the Lord and live in His Presence we must be holy.
What does this mean? It means each day we are to bring more of our thinking, speaking, and acting into conformity to Christ's will for us. It increasingly must be true that our personality and behavior are reflecting the current Word of God to us.
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 6:17,18; 7:1)
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. (I Peter 1:15)
Becoming the Throne of God
God intends for Christ, Head and Body, to be His Throne. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is Christ–Head and Body. The new Jerusalem shall govern the creation for eternity.
The work of placing His Person, His Throne in us, has begun today. We may notice in the Book of Revelation that to the last of the churches our Lord says, "I stand at the door and knock." Then He says that to him who overcomes will be given to sit with Christ on His Throne just as He overcame and sits with His Father on the Father's Throne.
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:20-22)
From my point of view, the passage above is telling us that Christ wants to enter and have fellowship with us. As He does, we become the Throne of God. Christ Himself is the Throne of God, and when He is dwelling in us, we become the Throne of God.
I am glad He said He would eat with us and we with Him. He dines on our obedience and worship. We dine on His body and blood. He did not claim that because He enters us we would become a powerful person who will control or save the world.
It appears to be inherent in human beings that we want to govern other people. In some individuals the desire to govern others is so strong they become politicians. Then their intense desire to gain and maintain a political office often leads them to make decisions that do not truly benefit those over whom they rule, just as long as they remain in office.
Obviously, to such people the concept that God is setting His throne in us can be seen as a means to power and glory. This is the reverse of what God has in mind.
Even the disciples of Jesus argued among themselves as to who would be the greatest. Jesus responded that whoever is to be greatest must be the servant of all. The politicians of today, regardless of their philosophy of government, speak of how they are going to benefit the people. Very seldom is this the truth. The truth is they want to rule other people.
To say to such a person that he or she is supposed to serve, not seek preeminence, would be a mortal wound. He would have to experience a change of heart before he would be glad to serve others without thought of how it would benefit himself.
As far as I can tell, and I certainly hope I am mistaken, I do not believe there is a government on the earth today that is not filled with lying, bribery, treachery, self-seeking, love of preeminence, supplanting, gossip, backbiting, dishonesty, and every other satanic trait.
When God is on the throne of our heart we are free from such guile and treachery. We have a love for those whom we are serving. Our heart is pure toward God and toward people.
So no, the fact that God is installing His Throne in us does not mean that now we can order people and circumstances to conform to our will. Rather we are learning to wait patiently on Christ as He shows us His will and then guides and empowers us so we may perform His will.
You may remember that Satan offered Christ the kingdoms of the world. Jesus replied that He never would worship Satan, only God. Those today in positions of political leadership are often doing the will of Satan although they may not realize it.
I have been saying for years that in our day the Christians are going to be divided into two groups. The majority will seek power so they can go forth and minister to a "lost and dying world," doing great things for God, as they imagine. There will be a minority who will continually seek increased fellowship with the Lord Jesus so they may do His will and only His will.
You can see the difference. The majority will attempt to use God to accomplish what they believe to be pleasing to Christ. The minority will worship and obey Christ; and out from their close fellowship with Him will be borne the powerful testimony of the closing days of the Church Age.
A prophecy was given recently to a Christian denomination. The Spirit said to this large group of believers that there were problems in their midst and they needed to repent and make things right. What the leadership interpreted from this prophecy was that the denomination is to go forth and save the world.
Now we can understand why the Word says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
How do we get ears to "hear" the Spirit, and eyes to "see" God? I know that if we are to see God we have to be holy. We have to have a pure heart.
I do not know how we get "ears" to hear. Maybe it is by waiting on the Lord and not running ahead of Him. Or maybe it is by Divine appointment. I am not certain. But to derive from this recent prophecy that we are to go out and save the world reveals that not everyone has "ears" to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.
The fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John exhorts us to "abide" in Christ. Now, what does it mean to abide in Christ and He in us? It means that we are to be continually inviting the Lord Jesus into every word we speak, every thought we think, and every action we take. Our whole personality and life is to be filled with Jesus. We are members of His Body; and it is His greatest wish that we would open the door to Him at all times so He can live His Life in us.
If Jesus is living His Life in us, is it not true that we now are the Throne of God, in that Jesus is the Throne of God?
The fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John speaks of many "rooms" in the Father's House. The Father's House is Christ, plus the members of His Body. The proper inhabitants of each room are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
When we are ready, and at rest in God's Person and will, we then can express our personality in our "room." Now there are four persons in our room: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and ourselves.
Next, after we are in proper relationship to God, God gives us people to love and care for. Some members of Christ's Body can receive a few people as an inheritance. Others are destined to be patriarchs in the new world of righteousness. They will share with Christ millions of people whom God accounts worthy of salvation.
It is paradoxical but true that by being more concerned with God than with people we do the most good for people. It flies in the face of today's emphasis on how good people are; how we always ought to be concerned with their rights and comforts regardless of God's will for them; how God is so in love with people He never would permit them to suffer. The paradox is that the more we love God the more able we will be to bless and help people.
The majority of believers, whom we mentioned earlier, will think of our being made the Throne of God as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement. They will seek miraculous powers, as so many Christians are doing today.
Christian people, who are not content to follow after Jesus bearing their cross, and are seeking powerful gifts of the Spirit, are becoming the False Prophet. They will assist Antichrist during the closing days of the Church Age.
The minority will think of our being made the Throne of God as that which their heart cries out for–a close fellowship with God. They will enter the eternal dance with their Lord. Although they place pleasing God as the most important aspect of their life, and serving people second in importance, as always is true of the Lord Jesus, they will, as does Jesus, succeed in being the greatest possible blessing to the world.
The concept that everyone eventually will be saved, because God is too good to let people suffer very much, is a satanic lie. It comes from Satan who is hoping that people will persuade God to save him from the Lake of Fire. The truth is, he, and all those who love him, will spend eternity in the fire.
As far as rebellious people are concerned, those who will not obey Christ, the Prophet Isaiah tells of their eternal destiny:
"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:22-24)
The above is the Word of God to us. Let God be true and every man a liar!
In those days, when your numbers have increased greatly in the land," declares the LORD, "men will no longer say, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made. At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the LORD, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the LORD. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:16,17)
Becoming the Throne of God, continued
Living in the Spirit of God
The Spirit of God guides us in the two great works of redemption: release from all that is of Satan; and change into Christ’s image and rest in the center of God’s Person and will. We must live in the Spirit; think in the Spirit; behave in the Spirit; speak in the Spirit. Little by little we are to bring our entire personality under the control of the Spirit of God.
(7/11/2010) Those of us who speak in tongues refer to ourselves as "Pentecostal." This name is derived from the fourth of the seven Jewish celebrations. The Holy Spirit fell on the assembled disciples when the Jewish celebration of Pentecost had come. This is why so many Jews were assembled in Jerusalem to witness this event.
My wife and I have been "in Pentecost" for over sixty years, so we have had considerable experience with Pentecostal people. I will say that the Spirit of worship in a church in which speaking in tongues is exercised is more fluent than in other Christian churches, regardless of the level of righteousness and holiness of the other churches. This can be verified by experience.
God knows what He is doing. When He established speaking in tongues as the way of entering the rest of God, then that is the way we enter the rest of God. It is my firm belief, however, that many fine Christians have the Spirit of God although they never have pressed through to speaking in tongues.
I am of the opinion that most of us do not understand the role of the Spirit of God in our life. It may be noted that Jewish people, who often have a sense of God's workings, associate the celebration of Pentecost with the giving of the Law on Sinai. It is believed by some scholars that the law was given at the time of the feast of Pentecost, that is, fifty days after the first Passover.
So the Holy Spirit is more than the Comforter who guides us into all truth. He is our Law, the law of the new covenant. He is to be obeyed as He leads into deliverance from sin and also into the development of Christ in us.
The expression, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14), follows and explains the preceding verse, which warns us about living according to our sinful nature. The Spirit of God, if we are listening to Him, is always leading us to put to death the actions of our sinful nature and to press into the eternal life that results finally in the immortality of the body.
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 8:13,14)
The Law of Moses is the servant who brings us to Christ. This relationship between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is not always explained clearly.
Are we under any part of the Law of Moses? No, if we have "died with Christ" and are living by His Life, the Life of the Spirit of God.
When we are following the Spirit of God each day, we are without condemnation. The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us.
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 8:4)
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:18)
What does the Apostle Paul mean when he states that the new covenant is not of the letter but of the Spirit?
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)
Now, precisely what does Paul mean by "the letter kills but the Spirit gives life"?
Paul means that attempting to obey the text of the New Testament, which consists of the words of Christ and His Apostles, without looking to the Lord, results in confusion and a religious spirit.
The reason there are so many divisions among the Christian denominations is that the ministers as well as the people are endeavoring to follow the text of the New Testament as though it were the same as the Law of Moses. Since one person interprets a passage one way, and another person interprets it in a different way, we have division.
The Scriptures did not come through the human mind. The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, came through holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures can be rightly understood only as holy people are moved by the Holy Spirit.
Take the Book of Revelation, for example. How many devout teachers of the Bible have constructed timelines in connection with their explanation of the meaning of the Book of Revelation. It appears that every such teacher disagrees with the other teachers.
The only manner in which the words of Christ and His Apostles can be interpreted is by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. They cannot possibly be understood or applied correctly by scholars using their intellectual processes.
In order to understand and apply the words of the New Testament we have to have apostles. Teachers learn from other teachers, and soon we have a hodgepodge of error. This is true today. Every once in a while God sends apostles to the Body of Christ. They are people whom Christ draws to Himself and explains what He has said, is saying, and yet will say to the Body of Christ.
If ever a generation needed an apostle it is the present generation. There are ministers today who claim to be apostles; but it is not evident that they are. And so error is heaped on error.
There are numerous errors in current Evangelical theology. Perhaps the most damaging of all is the current presentation of Divine grace as an alternative to growth in righteous behavior. The emphasis on an "any-moment rapture" of the believers also is damaging, because it is leaving the Christian people unprepared for the moral chaos we are entering.
The pattern of redemption that God has followed in the Protestant Reformation is revealed in the seven feasts of Israel. We have been at feast number four, Pentecost. Now the Spirit of God is moving us into the fulfillments of the last three celebrations: the blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles.
The true apostles of Christ will be explaining to us the fulfillments of the final three observances, because this is what the Spirit of God is telling us about today. This does not mean they will necessarily refer to the seven feasts of Israel. But they will emphasize the fulfillments: the Lord coming to cleanse His people; the reconciliation of our whole personality to God; God making His Throne and settling down to rest in prepared saints.
Those who are following the Spirit of God are finding themselves moving into these fulfillments, although they do not always understand what is happening to them.
In conclusion let us say that the new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the New Testament. The Spirit will never lead us contrary to what Christ and His Apostles have spoken and written. But the Spirit will, using both the Old Testament and the New Testament, tell us what Christ is saying today.
The Spirit will enable us to correctly understand and apply the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, until the Morning Star arises in our heart and we think, speak, and act in the Spirit of God, just as our Lord Jesus always does.
Entering God's Rest
Canaan, and the Rest of God
The Feast of Tabernacles
Being Led by the Spirit
Being a Disciple
A Christian is a disciple of Christ. A disciple of Christ is a Christian. The terms are absolutely synonymous. There is no basis whatever for viewing a disciple as some sort of superior Christian.
And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. (Acts11:26)
"The disciples were called Christians." I seriously doubt that at that time there was another group of believers who were called Christians but who were not disciples. How do you feel about this?
If such is the case, then at what point in church history were there believers in Christ who were not disciples?
But let us think for a moment about what a disciple is.
And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:22-26)
We can insert the term "Christian" and be perfectly consistent with Bible usage.
"If anyone would be a Christian, he must deny himself."
What does it mean to deny ourselves? It means to make the Lord Jesus the focus of our lives. When what Christ wants is pleasant for us, then we follow His leadershipl When what Christ wants is very unpleasant for us, then we pray for wisdom and strength and obey Christ. Always! There is no exception to this for the individual who wants to be a Christian, a disciple.
"If anyone would be a Christian he must take up his cross daily and follow me."
What is our cross? It is some aspect of our life that is not pleasing to us. It may be that what we want we cannot have, without disobeying Christ. It may be that we are required to remain in a situation we detest, but we cannot leave without disobeying Christ.
For the true Christian, there is no exception to this. If he does step out of the Lord's will, then Christ may, out of His love, bring much trouble on His disciple. If the disciple repents and returns to the discipline required of him, then the Lord will forgive him and he is to press forward in Christ.
The true Christian follows Christ daily. His whole life is centered on finding the Lord's will for him each day, and praying for wisdom and strength so he can do it perfectly. This is the true Christian walk. There do not seem to be a great many church members who take up their cross and follow Christ each day; but these, and these alone, are the Christians. The rest are only church members. They are not "in Christ" and they will not die "in Christ," and therefore will not be raised to meet Him in the air when He appears.
"If any person wants to save his or her life, he or she will lose it."
How is it that if a person seeks to save his life he will lose it. Christ has called us to turn away from our own life and to live according to His will for us. If we choose instead to follow our own path, we will lose our inheritance as a child of God and come to an unpleasant end. We sought to grasp what we desired, and in doing so we lost everything.
"If any person loses his or her life for Christ, he or she will save it."
If instead of following our own desires we live each day in the Lord's will, then all that will bring righteousness, love, joy, and peace to us will be given to us. By turning away from our own path, we gained everything of value. This Adam and Eve did not do, and reaped misery.
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25)
If you live in your own pleasures, you will live and die alone. If you lose your life in Christ you will have an inheritance of people.
"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"
Most of us look to the world for our survival, security, and comfort. We may yield to the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul. We may strive to be preeminent, to gain power and fame, or wealth. We may want to "be somebody."
But what if in the pursuit of our own goals we lose our very personality, our uniqueness as an individual? This is what it means, you know. We lose our soul, that gift from God that makes it possible for us to be in His image. Then what are we? A soulless spirit adrift in the boundless universe, along with all the other spirits who forfeited their soul.
To lose our uniqueness as a personality is indeed a fearful prospect!
"If anyone is ashamed of Christ and His words, Christ will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."
The day shall come when Christ appears to this world. Then those who have served Him faithfully will rejoice exceedingly when they see Christ in the fullness of God's Glory, accompanied by the mightiest angels of Heaven.
But we do not see Him as yet.
I am 85 years of age. I have lived in America all my life. I never thought I would see the day when it was a shame to speak of Christ. But it is true now.
According to a report in the media, it is alleged that a man who had worked as a counselor for a number of years spoke comfort to a dying patient by saying "Place your trust in God," or something to this effect. It was reported that he was fired for saying this.
Perhaps we do not know the whole story, but it is well known that people, young and old, who profess Christ publicly may face scorn or even arrest. And this in America! While growing up and serving in the United States Marine Corps, I would not have believed that I would live to see the day that to hold up the name of Christ would be considered a disgraceful act.
That day is here now. What does the Lord tell us? He tells us that if we are ashamed of Him and His Words, He will be ashamed of us when He returns in His glory. I don't want Christ to be ashamed of me, and I am sure you do not want Him to be ashamed of you in that day.
So we see that the standard of discipleship is the same standard that must be met by any person who desires to be a genuine Christian. Those who today are maintaining that a disciple is some sort of super-Christian are reflecting the abysmal depths to which our standards have fallen in America in the present century.
(Taken from "Being a Disciple," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
Fruitfulness and Rulership Out of Death
(Taken from "True Bible Faith: IV," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
The Royal PriesthoodThe Royal Priesthood
The Royal Priesthood, continued
From Moses to Joshua
From Moses to Joshua, continued
"Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites." (Joshua 1:2)
The death of Moses and the appointing of Joshua as the leader of Israel was as great a change as could be imagined. There do come changes in God's eternal plan. We are in such change today.
What is the nature of the change that is occurring now? The change has to do with the phase of redemption we are entering. Up to the present hour the Christians have experienced the blood atonement, repentance and water baptism, the born-again experience, and the various ministrations of the Spirit of God.
Now we are to build on what has gone before. It is the same God, the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, the same Bible. But it is not the same wandering in a wilderness while looking backward. Now we are to look forward. Our task now as Christians is to follow the Spirit of God into the promised rest, the inheritance, the goal toward which our redemption is bringing us.
Our inheritance is not eternal residence in Heaven. Our inheritance consists of rest in the center of God's Person and will; change into the inner and outer image of the Lord Jesus Christ; plus whatever individual goal that is part of our destiny. Of special importance is the inheritance of the people whom we are to serve as a member of the royal priesthood; also the farthest reaches of the earth.
This promised rest, this inheritance, is occupied by demons. So we are going to have to fight in order to lay hold on that which God has promised us.
Christ is coming to us now as the Lord, mighty in battle. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of the Blowing of Trumpets.
The Spirit of God is prepared to cleanse us from all trust in the world, all the aspects of our sinful nature, and self-will. Every part of our personality that is not perfectly reconciled to God, that is not in perfect harmony with the Father, must be dealt with until all obstacles to our rest in Him, and His rest in us, have been removed. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement.
The final result of God's present dealing with us will be the dwelling of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in us. This is what God desires. Hopefully this is what we desire. If we do not want to be filled with all the fullness of God, we are wise if we immediately make the possession of such a desire our continual prayer. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.
We are entering spiritual warfare. The spiritual warfare is reflected in the physical warfare in which the nations of the earth currently are engaging.
I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. (Joshua 1:3.4)
In the passage above we see the two aspects of moving forward with God. First, God will give us every place we set our foot. Second, God very specifically tells us where to place our feet.
It is taught currently that Christ has done everything concerning our salvation. All we have to do is believe that He has done everything. This is not at all true. As Paul said, we are to grasp that for which we have been grasped. The true Christian experience of redemption is that of ceaselessly pressing forward toward the mark.
We are in an unrelenting warfare as we seek to move forward in Christ. There is no vacation from this pressing forward until the day we die; and for all I know, the need to press forward in Christ continues after we die.
The Word speaks of the Body of Christ being brought to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, and of a Church without spot or wrinkle. We know that the Word always is fulfilled perfectly and totally. Would anyone want to claim that such maturity is gained in the present world?.
There is much in our personality that vigorously resists our finding perfect rest in the Person and will of God; and resists also a change from our adamic image to the image of Christ.
What passage of the Bible supports the idea that when we die physically we automatically are at rest in God's Person and are changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ?
After all, sin began in Heaven when Satan, one of the two cherubim that guarded the Throne of God, decided he wanted to take God's place. What is to prevent a person or an angel from doing this in the future? I can see men on the earth today who are trying to usurp the place of God!
We have to place our feet. Christ has not done it all for us. Also, we need to know where to place our feet. Knowing where to march must come to us at all times from the Spirit of God. We are not to guess at our inheritance. We are to follow the Spirit as He leads us in putting to death the lusts and actions of our sinful nature.
Each member of the Royal Priesthood has had, from the creation of the world, a specific commission. He or she has been called according to God's purpose. As long as the individual is pressing forward as led by the Spirit of God, all things of world history are working for the good of him or her.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that we absolutely must keep ourselves in the place where we are denying ourselves and following Christ. He is our Joshua, our Commander in Chief. We cannot possibly enter the rest of God in our own wisdom and strength. We must remain in Christ, in His Presence, at all times.
The wickedness in the world is increasing every day. The enemy is too wise and strong for us. All of our notions of how we are going to remove the abominations are useless. Only the Lord Jesus Christ is wiser and stronger than the enemy who is operating today in our own country as well as other countries. We will be only as successful in conquering our enemy to the extent we are dwelling in Christ.
When we review the events that occurred as Joshua led the Israelites against the Canaanites, we can see that victory was gained only as the Israelite army obeyed the Lord, as He led them from city to city.
Joshua's only failure occurred in the case of the Gibeonites. Joshua did not ask the Lord, he assumed the Gibeonites were telling the truth. If we are going to be successful in spiritual battle we must learn never to take anything for granted. We are to look to the Lord about everything.
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Joshua 1:5)
There is no power of Satan that can prevent our gaining the fullness of our inheritance. But this is true only as we are obeying Christ diligently. We are not to do, as some are suggesting, "put on our administrative hat" and go about challenging the powers of Hell. We are to move only as directed by the Spirit of God.
We now are at the end of the Church Age. God is facing Satan. The conflict is between titans, whereas we are only dust. We always must keep in mind that Christ never will leave us or forsake us. No matter how grim and dark our situation may become at times. no matter how we feel, Christ will never leave us in the hands of the enemy. If we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us.
I do not say Christ will remain with us if we act carelessly or foolishly. Today is no time to be careless or foolish as we prepare to enter the inheritance promised to us.
"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. (Joshua 1:6)"
Notice the emphasis on strength and courage. The fearful will not be able to gain their inheritance. Why is this? It is because fear is an indication that we do not trust God's ability, or His love, or His good intentions toward us. Remember how the Israelites were turned back into the wilderness.
The preaching of the "rapture" includes the idea that the believers in Christ will escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. It is a doctrine that encourages the Christians to be afraid of Satan. There is no thought of standing in the evil day, only of escape from the forces of Hell.
The doctrine of the "rapture," as taught commonly, is not of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is leaving the Christian people unprepared for the spiritual darkness on the horizon–that even now is entering our country. God would have us confident in Him that He will make us more than conquerors in Christ.
We have been commanded to be strong and courageous. Christ is the epitome of strength and courage and He desires that we be like Him. At what time we feel fear attempting to master us we are to call on Christ. He will share His perfect courage and strength with us.
Remember, we cannot cower in fear believing that God will feel sorry for us. He won't. He is a king. We are His sons. He expects us to act like sons of the Greatest of all kings. We just have to pray until we gain the strength and courage we need to face the problems of the day. They will be given to us! But if we yield to fearfulness and unbelief we will suffer for it, and perhaps lose part or all of our inheritance.
"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it." (Joshua 1:7,8)
The passage above was given to me by some fellow Marines when I first became a Christian. These Marines were followers of Dawson Trotman. They placed great emphasis on learning the Word; memorizing the Word. I have never forgotten this emphasis.
Since I got out of the Marine Corps I have retained that reverence for the written Word. But I have found that many churches are preaching their traditions rather than the written Word. I have spent a good part of my adult life seeking to point out where the current evangelical preaching, such as the doctrine of the "pre-tribulation rapture," is not scriptural.
Without a doubt, the worst of all errors is that all we are to do is believe that Christ has done everything for us. Consequently numerous Christian people are waiting for an unscriptural "rapture" that will carry them up to Heaven before the Day of Resurrection. There is nothing for them to do but wait for this event. Can you imagine such blindness!
Such an attitude toward the Christian redemption is so totally unscriptural that one can only marvel that any believer has accepted this point of view.
Following is the scriptural attitude, the attitude we should be taking toward our salvation:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)
Does the above sound like the current preaching of "Christ did it all" and all we are to do is believe that Christ did it all? Do you see any inkling that God sees us through Christ and His grace excuses our indifference and disobedience.
No, the passage does not fit the current emphasis in so many instances.
I believe many preachers of today see that we have departed grievously from the written Word of God, from the teaching of the Apostles. Hopefully they will convince numerous believers to turn away from the "grace-rapture-Heaven" teaching and begin to "run in such a way as to attain to the prize."
So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: "Go through the camp and tell the people, 'Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own.'" (Joshua 1:10,11)
(Taken from "From Moses to Joshua: II," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
From Moses to Joshua, continued
(Taken from "From Moses to Joshua: III," an excerpt from
Possessing All of Our Inheritance
Anyone who is acquainted with the Bible knows that the Israelites through fear, or unbelief, or disobedience, did not possess the inheritance that God had promised them. To the present hour, the Jews are living in just a small part of their land of promise. Even this little area is being contested bitterly by those who worship a different god.
Have you ever thought about the area that God has promised to the Jewish people"
Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. (Joshua 1:4)
The desert is the Negev on the south. Lebanon is on the north. The great river is the Euphrates. At its greatest extent the Hittite Empire covered much of Asia Minor, an area many times larger than Canaan. Perhaps it was not as large in the days of Joshua. The Great Sea on the west is the Mediterranean.
The Jews have not been able to possess this large area even though God, who owns all the earth, gave them title to it. The closest they came to possessing it, as far as I know, was during the governments of David and Solomon. Because they did not serve the Lord as they should have, their inheritance was challenged continually until finally they were removed from their land by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.
Think of how today the Jews are being forced to give up, piece by piece, the tiny bit of land they are living in. Currently the West Bank and Jerusalem are at issue. Can they keep what they now have, including the Golan Heights—originally a City of Refuge? Time will tell.
The Israelites had some national promises, such as the defeat of their enemies. They also had many personal promises, such as those found in the twenty-third, the thirty-fourth, and the ninety-first psalms, and in other places in the Prophets. The personal promises included a long life, material prosperity, and deliverance from harm.
As far as I can remember, we Americans have no national promises. This is because America is not a people and land that God has chosen, such as is true of the Israelis and their land. But we have any number of personal promises.
The following are some of the promises of God to those of us who care enough to pursue them through Christ. Just think of what we have been promised:
We have been promised that if we overcome we will sit on the highest Throne with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will be termed "God's sons.
We will inherit all that God makes new after the present heavens and earth pass away and the new world of righteousness comes into view.
We will be filled with all the fullness of God, the same fullness that has been written concerning our Lord.
We will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron.
We will be loved by the Father as He loves His Firstborn Son.
We will receive the glory which has been given to the Lord Jesus.
We will be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus.
We will dwell in Christ as part of the Father.
We will be crowned with righteousness and eternal life.
We will be more than a conqueror through Christ.
We will be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
We will attain to the standard which is the full measure of Christ.
We will bear much fruit—reproducing Christ's image in ourselves and others.
We will inherit the nations of the earth.
We will bring justice to the nations of the earth.
We will inherit the farthest reaches of the earth.
We will be a living stone in the eternal Temple of God.
We will receive an eternal, Spirit-filled body in the Day of Resurrection.
We will know the Father.
We will see God.
We will be a member of the Royal Priesthood.
We will be a brother of Jesus Christ.
We will gain total victory through Jesus Christ over all sin and disobedience.
Do you know what our response has been to these promises? We have created a "rapture" that will carry us up to Heaven so we can escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation and sit in a mansion, praising God for saving us by His grace while we lead an ungodly life.
The Jews never have been able to possess their inheritance due to fear, unbelief, sin, and disobedience. They have been squeezed into a tiny corner of what could have been a marvelous possession.
The Christians never have been able to possess their inheritance due to fear, unbelief, sin, and disobedience. We have given up on gaining victory over sin and possessing the earth and its peoples. We just want to flee to Heaven where there is no danger—we hope!
God is not pleased with our neglect of entering His rest, our Divinely ordained inheritance in Christ. God compares the unbelief and disobedience of the Jews with our unbelief and disobedience, and warns us of the consequences:
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed
? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:16-19)
The three great platforms of redemption are typified by the three major convocations of Israel:
Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. No man should appear before the LORD empty-handed: (Deuteronomy 16:16)
The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents our basic salvation experience: coming under the Passover blood; repenting and being baptized in water; and the born-again experience.
We have named the Feast of Weeks, "Pentecost" because it is celebrated fifty days after the Passover. It speaks of our obeying the Spirit of God. The Law of the Spirit of Life replaces the Law of Moses.
Our goal, our land of promise, is typified by the Feast of Tabernacles. Every other aspect of the program of redemption is for the purpose of bringing us to the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. Here is the rest of God. God finds rest in us. We find rest in God.
Immediately preceding the Feast of Tabernacles are the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement. The Blowing of Trumpets, and the Day of Atonement are the final two steps toward Tabernacles. The Blowing of Trumpets announces the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King, to destroy His enemies. During the Day of Atonement we are reconciled to God as we overcome worldliness, sin, and self-will. These two steps make it possible for God to find rest in us and we in God.
By and large, the Christian churches experienced the first phase of redemption from the beginning of the Reformation to the twentieth century.
The spiritual fulfillment of Pentecost spread throughout the world during the twentieth century. The twentieth century was the "Pentecostal Century."
Now the Spirit of God is ready to bring us through Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and finally Tabernacles.
I think the Spirit of God is telling me it is urgent that God's people turn away from their numerous distractions and press forward into the spiritual fulfillment of Tabernacles. The Spirit is warning that the coming days will see the works of Satan abounding throughout the world. We will have to "die in the Lord," so to speak, and live by the Life of Christ if we are to survive spiritually and help others to survive.
As I pondered what the Spirit means by "urgent," the work of Ze'ev Jabotinsky came to mind. Just prior to the Holocaust, Jabotinsky went through some of the countries of Europe, warning the Jews that destruction was about to fall upon them. In particular, he urged the Jews in Poland, Hungary, and Romania to leave their countries and emigrate to Palestine.
It seems that very few heeded Jabotinsky's warning. He died in New York of heart failure at the age of 59, worn out from trying to instill a spirit of resistance in the Jewish people. This was in 1940. We know the rest.
I believe the Spirit of God is telling me that terrible days are ahead of us. If we are willing to "die in the Lord," and live by the Life of Jesus, we will, in the darkest hour, show forth the works of Christ. But no mere human will be able to testify of God in those days.
I do not know about other countries, but America is filled with every imaginable distraction. Just as was true of the European Jews, we are "at ease in Zion," so to speak, believing that nothing can possibly invade our security as we move toward retirement. The Jews in Europe had been there for centuries. Their roots were there. They just could not bring themselves to leave their homes and possessions and emigrate to an uncertain future in Palestine.
Then came the Nazis. Most of us know of the nearly unbelievable horrors that some eight million or so Jews suffered. If they had listened to Jabotinsky they would have found a home in Israel, at that time Palestine.
I do not know what is ahead of us. I do realize that sin is multiplying to an astonishing extent in what used to be a nominally Christian America.
The Spirit has been warning me for several years that much blood is going to be shed in our country. Christ, I believe it is, has directed me to write three books whose purpose is to remove the fear of death from people. One of the three, Heaven—God's Wonderful World, has been published.
In connection with the writing of these three books I am experiencing an increased awareness of the spirit world, which to my surprise is just an ordinary world in which ordinary people are working at ordinary tasks. Apparently the fantastic symbolism found in the Book of Revelation actually is speaking of ordinary events as seen from God's standpoint.
In any case, I am being warned clearly that the time is short. Each of us Christians is to make every possible effort to live as close to Jesus as he can, looking to Him for guidance and enablement in every activity of our life throughout the day and night.
(Taken from "Possessing All of Our Inheritance" an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
(Taken from "Circumcised Again," an excerpt from
The Battle for the Body
The Battle for the Body, continued
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
We will appear in that Day as we actually are. If we are unrighteous, it will appear in the body that clothes us. We willl be seen as shameful and contemptible. If we lead many to righteousness. we will shine as the stars, as Daniel informs us.
(Taken from "The Battle for the Body: II," an excerpt from
The Battle for the Body, continued
(Taken from "The Battle for the Body: III," an excerpt from
Deliverance From Sinful Behavior
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— Romans 6:6)
The Resurrection of the Body
The Father's House
(Taken from "The Father's House," an excerpt from
The Lord's Prisons
(Taken from "The Lord's Prisons," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
Dying in the Lord
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (II Timothy 3:1,2)
The Book of Revelation has much to say about Antichrist, the False Prophet, Babylon, and Laodicea. We are entering such an hour at the present time.
Notice carefully these dark days:
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12)
Now, notice the admonition directed toward the saints who are living at that time:
Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13)
Dying in the Lord has nothing to do with physical death. Physical death is the sleeping of the body. The inward nature still is dead or still is alive, depending on its state prior to physical sleep (death).
"From now on." From the time that wickedness comes to maturity in the earth, it is as the Lord said: "Night is coming when no one can work." But the Lord Himself can work in that day. Therefore, if we are to continue to do good deeds during the hour of darkness we must "die in the Lord."
What does it mean to "die" in the Lord. It means to give over our will to the Lord. This does not mean we become passive, or an "empty vessel," as some have said. Rather it means that at every point of decision during the day we keep looking to Jesus for His wisdom and enablement.
How is this a "death"? Try doing this, and you will find out. It means that instead of charging about according to our own desires and reasoning we look to Jesus instead. And we do this at all times and in every circumstance.
Another way of expressing this is we place all our treasures in Heaven. We may or may not see them before we pass into the spirit world.
This is the exhortation to God's people in the present hour. In light of what we are approaching we must cease living according to our own will. We must become subject in every aspect of our being and doing to the will of Christ. This is the kind of relationship Christ had and yet has with the Father in Heaven.
I admit, it takes a while before we become accustomed to looking to the Lord Jesus for all that we are and do. But it is the only condition that can survive the shaking that is coming. The heavens themselves shall be shaken, and all who are not living by the life of Christ shall be removed from their position.
All of our religious activities that have not been wrought in Christ will be brought down to the dust so that we may start over in Christ.
The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation tells of the great rejoicing in Heaven when Satan and his angels are thrown down into the earth.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:10,11)
The inhabitants of Heaven are rejoicing because Satan had access to God and was accusing the saints day and night.
This situation is true today. It is time now for Satan to be hurled down from his access to God in Heaven. In order for Satan to be so weakened that he can be forced down, he must be overcome by God's saints.
You and I today must meet the qualifications required if we are to triumph over Satan, thus enabling Michael and his angels to prevail.
The qualifications are threefold: First, our faith must be anchored in the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary.
Second, our testimony of God, His Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ, must be true. Today we use the term "testify" to mean telling others what we know about Christ and His salvation. This can be fruitful, but it is not the fullness of the testimony that will triumph over Satan.
Remember, God is Truth. Satan is a lie. Only the truth of God is able to overthrow Satan.
In order to bear a true testimony of God, His Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Jesus Christ, we must spend our life coming to know God as He leads us through the fire and the water. All of our experiences bring us to a further knowledge of God if we continue in obedience, prayer, and Bible study.
There is a great deal of preaching in the United States. How much of it is bearing a true testimony of God? Certainly the current emphasis on Heaven, grace, and an unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture" of every individual who professes to believe in Christ, is not the word of our testimony that is adequate to overcome Satan; to weaken him to the point that Michael and his angels are able to drive him from his position in Heaven.
What do people conclude about me and you after they come to know us? Are they seeing God, His Person, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in Christ?
If we are to strengthen Michael and his angels to the point they can overcome Satan and his angels, we must have our faith anchored in the blood atonement, and we must be bearing a true witness of God.
If I am not mistaken, the emphasis today is on the third prerequisite: loving not our life to the point of death. Again, this is not the death of the body but the death of our willingness to pursue our own ideas and pleasures.
I believe there have been outstanding saints in time past who have pressed forth into this third realm with God. Certainly the faithful Abraham is an inspiration to all of us. Can you imagine how Abraham felt during that hike up to Mount Moriah with Isaac by his side, picturing in his mind what he could say to Sarah when he told her he had offered Isaac as a burnt offering to God? This is what it means to "die in the Lord." A physical death would be much easier, wouldn't it?
It is obedience that is the watchword in our day, an obedience that will enable Michael and his angels to prevail. Christ learned obedience through the things He suffered, and thus was made perfect. If the sufferings of Christ were required to bring Him to total obedience, when His nature, having been born of God, was not filled with rebellion as ours is, what will it take to perfect obedience in us?
Of course, Christ's agony in Gethsemane goes far beyond what Abraham suffered and what we shall suffer. Nevertheless, the principle remains the same.
So the Spirit of God is going through the Christian churches today to find out who is willing to take this final step with God–final after we have placed our faith in the atonement; have been born again; and have learned somewhat of the Life of the Spirit of God. Will we do it? Will we tell God with our mouth that He may use us as He will; when He will; how He will; where He will?
Every Christian who will make this consecration, and there may not be many who will, shall serve Christ in a maximum way. This opportunity for service most likely will never come again. Can you and I rise to this supreme challenge?
Let's do it. Then we will have all of eternity to realize that in the hour of supreme testing we chose to honor Christ and God with our life instead of serving our own needs and pleasures.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Matthew 6:19,20)
(Taken from "Dying in the Lord," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
Holding Firmly to the End
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13)
It is as though making an initial profession of Christ is a pass out of Hell and an admission to a mansion in Heaven. The idea that the gate and the way to life are constricted and difficult to enter and pursue, and that few find it, is not emphasized very often—at least not in my experience.
In fact, in over sixty years as a Christian I have never heard anyone preach on Matthew 7:14 ("only a few find the narrow road that leads to life"). I can understand why. It is because it does not fit our idea of someone gaining eternal life by making an initial profession of Christ. Actually the way to eternal life is a rugged road indeed!
At the present time we who are citizens of the United States are entering an era known as the "Hour of Testing." The Greek term employed in Revelation 3:10 means a period of intense pressure to sin; an extreme arousal of evil desires.
We see this as so many people, prominent in both the secular and religious realms, succumb to criminal sexual practices. How many Christian children have been molested by their parents or relatives?
Because of the increasing pressure to sin that surrounds us, we must become aware that our salvation has to be worked out at every moment. We must keep choosing life while death is pressing on us.
The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan lasted forty years. It was a very difficult period for the Jews. Were they "saved" when they left Egypt (a type of salvation often employed)? Yes, and no. They were saved out of Egypt but they were not at that time saved into Canaan, into the promised rest.
Do the writers of the New Testament tell us we are to consider the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai an example of the Christian redemption? Indeed they do, and very clearly.
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)
The reason we are slow to grasp the fact that the Christian redemption is a process and not a ticket, is that we have been taught that eternal residence in the spirit Paradise, in Heaven, in an ornate mansion, is the goal of salvation.
If we make a profession of belief in Christ, there is nothing left to do but to wait to die and go to Heaven. This hardly fits the New Testament emphasis on enduring the rigors of the Christian discipleship.
We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first (Hebrews 3:14)
We might conclude the above verse means we remain confident we are saved by grace and there is nothing left to do. However, the context of the verse is referring to maintaining faith in God while enduring the numerous difficulties and privations of the pilgrimage through the Sinai desert.
Indeed, if we would be a disciple of the Lord Jesus we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desire, and follow Christ at all times.
Sometimes we go through very deep waters and very hot fires. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
We endure many years of boredom, during which nothing seems to be happening. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
On occasion the Lord asks us to give up the idol nearest to our heart. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
In the future in America, the way things are going, the day may come when we are persecuted viciously. Our children may be removed from us if we do not let them attend classes on how to be a homosexual. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
It may cost us dearly to maintain our testimony as a Christian believer. But we hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
We may encounter difficulties among our family members. But we continue to hold firmly the confidence we had at first.
Of what are we confident? We are confident that Christ is with us and is leading us to change into his image; to untroubled rest in the center of the Father’s Person and will; to eternal righteousness, love, peace, and joy; and to the unique inheritance planned for us as an individual from the beginning of the world.
Most of us American churchgoers are spiritually soft because of the teaching of the any-moment rapture, and unconditional grace. Many pastors make certain their members are comfortable and will keep coming and giving of their money. Such pastors are going to have to answer to Jesus Christ why they did not preach cross-carrying obedience to their listeners.
One major problem is the incorrect goal that is presented. Our goal is not to go to Heaven. It is to be conformed to the image of Christ, and to be dwelling in untroubled rest in the Center of God’s Person and will.
The salvation which God has given us through our Lord Jesus Christ has as its purpose the making of man in God’s image, and the directing of him to be sternly obedient to Christ in every situation. Obviously, the goal is not often preached today, at least not in America.
Because we have the wrong goal, we cannot understand why redemption should be a process. When we die we go to Heaven by grace, no matter whether we serve Christ or not, so what is the problem?
The paragraph above reflects the thinking of countless American Christians. Since this is the case, our political leaders appear to be leaving ethics behind in their desire for power. Therefore, God is removing his covering from our country.
The chaos approaching America is due to the lack of a clear testimony of Christian people because of the false teaching they have received.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12,13)
God is ready to change every Christian into the image of Christ, and to bring him or her into complete rest in the center of his Person and will. But this is a process. Sometimes there are difficulties, and rigorous demands are made on us. This is why we have to continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.
Why do we work it out with fear and trembling? Because it is a dangerous path. There are many minefields, many traps. Every believer who thinks he is standing firmly in Christ needs always to be careful that he is not led astray.
In the days to come we are going to need strong elders, men and women who have considerable experience in Christ, to keep us from being led away into some sort of sin or deception. We do well to pray continually. When we rejoice it should be accompanied with a sober appraisal of our circumstances.
So the happy, jolly American way of life is coming to an end. I dare say in the not too distant future, America will join England as an erstwhile major power, while the leadership of the world passes to a nation that forces ethical behavior on its citizens.
If we are wise we will walk before Christ day and night, obeying him in every circumstance, giving a clear testimony of righteousness so those who are watching us can learn and follow Christ also. By so doing we can save ourselves and those who hear us.
Our government has not outlawed abortion: and for this reason, if for none other, the handwriting is on the wall. Our leadership shall be given to another nation that fears and serves God.
Babylon was a mighty nation, one that God helped against its enemies. This also has been true of America. But the king of Babylon was not careful to worship God.
Do you remember this instance in the life of Daniel? The handwriting on the wall was addressed to the trembling Belshazzar.
This is the inscription that was written: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.
This is what these words mean: Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
"Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
"Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5:25-28)
Has America been weighed in the balances? Is moral filth flowing out from California to televisions all over the world? Are babies being murdered every day? Are the late-night "comedians" mocking the Lord Jesus Christ?
We Christians had better look to our business!
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)
Taken from "Holding Firmly to the End," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
The Shelter of the Most High
I am not certain that a great deal of prayer is going to alter the destiny of our country. I think the Lord is saying that it is up to each believer to save himself and his loved ones and whoever else listens to him or her.
There are millions of professing Christians in the United States but not that many genuine disciples. A true disciple of the Lord Jesus is someone who denies himself (turns away from his own will and does the Lord's will); take us his cross (accepts the "prison" in which he has been placed); and follows the Lord Jesus at all times, looking to him for every decision that is made throughout the day.
Notice the following verse:
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalms 91:1)
"Dwells in the shelter of the Most High." This is speaking of abiding in Christ; living in Christ at all times. I have found the best way to do this is to keep up a running conversation with Jesus throughout the day and night
So many decisions have to be made each day. We can reason our way through all these, or we can keep on referring each decision—in fact, all that we are doing—to the Lord Jesus. "Help me Lord with this." "Thank You for helping me with that," and so forth. Do you do this? It is an excellent way of maintaining the Presence of Christ throughout the day and night.
There is no way in which I could overemphasize the importance of looking to Jesus at all times, in every situation. We are to keep opening the door to Him and dining with Him, not just on one occasion but all the time.
We are to keep up this dialogue with the Lord Jesus until we are living by His life. There is no life worth living except that which is shared with the Lord Jesus. He and He alone is our wisdom, power, righteousness, and holiness.
The night of moral chaos is approaching rapidly when no human being will be able to work the works of God. But the Lord Jesus can and shall through us if we are willing to "die in the Lord."
Do you remember that the Lord said whoever believes in Him shall never die? Whoever is serving Jesus now, when he or she dies will continue in full memory and consciousness to serve the Lord. The remainder of mankind will be assigned to their appropriate places, some pleasant and some unpleasant, until they come back to life in the Day of Resurrection. Therefore no true Christian need be terrified when the Divine judgment on America commences.
The believer who is living in the Presence of the Lord Jesus, under His shelter, will find perfect peace and rest in God's shadow. Whatever goes on on the outside cannot possibly reach through and harm the person who is living under the shadow of the Lord. The angel of the Lord surrounds those who fear Him and delivers them whenever danger is present.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:7)
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalms 91:2)
We Americans, most of us, may not in time past have seen the need to have a refuge or a fortress. But I believe we will in the coming days. It can be difficult to keep trusting God for our preservation when all around us destruction is occurring. We have to keep exercising our faith and trust rather than to give way to fear and dread. Faith and fear cannot dwell in our heart at the same time.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. (Psalms 91:3)
Jesus advised us to pray, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one." The "fowler" continually is laying traps for us. If we are wise we always will post a guard. There are many occasions when Christians let down their guard, when at a party, out shopping, or just at home with their family. If we do not pray without ceasing, we will fall into some sort of trap. It may be a while before we recover.
Personally, I don't think Christian people realize we are in a war. The enemy always is seeking to trip us up. We may be comfortable in our religion, not understanding that the climax of the ages is upon us. Christ alone is Truth. The world spirit is a lie, and that lie continually is being communicated to us in America. It requires a strong Christian consecration if we are to keep our mind from being polluted by the lie that the world is.
One of the "deadly pestilences" of our day is cancer of all kinds. There also are other afflictions, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, cholera and kidney diseases. There are many childhood diseases such as cerebral palsy and Down's syndrome. The promise is that God will save us from these if we are abiding faithfully in Christ.
Sometimes fervent Christians are afflicted with cancer or another affliction. If we have been following the Lord diligently, then these are to perfect us. Nevertheless, we always are to look to Christ for healing in His time.
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalms 91:4)
Again we are reminded that God hovers over those who choose to live in Christ's Presence at all times. We are far more precious to God than a baby chick is to the mother hen, or a cygnet is to a mother swan.
God's faithfulness! How often does the experienced Christian depend upon God's faithfulness. None of us would last very long if it were not for God's faithfulness. When we are brought into a place of danger we have to rely on God's faithfulness.
Faithfulness is part of the image of God, and He will help us grow in this virtue.
I never have found God to lie. Have you? It is a point of honor with Him.
A rampart is a defensive wall. The faithfulness of God is our shield against the enemy, a wall that keeps out those who would harm us, particularly unclean spirits. We keep our rampart and shield in place as we look to Jesus continually.
As I stated previously, we Americans have lived in a relatively safe environment. The Spirit seems to be speaking that we need to prepare ourselves for the dangers that are ahead. We must live close to Jesus if we are to be able to stand and help others to stand as the period of judgment draws near
You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, (Psalms 91:5)
Have you noticed that you are weak at night? I make it a practice that the moment I awaken and feel dread or fear, I ask in Jesus' name that fear be cast out of every room of our house and the grounds outside, God is quick to honor this prayer, and soon there is a sense of peace and safety.
The "arrow that flies by day" speaks of military conflict. It is not unlikely that our country will be attacked one day. There are tensions among the various nations, and America is a target of envy and jealousy. The promise is that we will not "fear."
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. (Psalms 112:7)
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4)
In our time, two of the greatest dangers are that of a nuclear bomb or a electromagnetic pulse bomb. We will be tempted to jump in our car, join the traffic jam, and attempt to go somewhere we think will be safer. This could very well be "out of the frying pan and into the fire." We must practice today to look to Jesus for wisdom when we see danger approaching. This is so very important!
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalms 91:6)
There have been pestilences and plagues at various times in history that have killed millions of people. One of the best known is the "black death," bubonic plague that killed over a fourth of the population of Europe. The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more people than died in the First World War.
There is no certainty that a similar plague will not come upon the world one of these days, such as cholera. There is so much wickedness being practiced that Divine judgment surely is not far off. But we are not to fear any plague, because we are protected by God's faithfulness. This is true provided that we are dwelling in the shelter of the Most High.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. (Psalms 91:7)
The teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture" is a major error of our day. It is designed to allay the fears of the believers by promising them a free trip to Paradise before they could possibly be faced with the dangers outlined in the ninety-first Psalm.
That the rapture teaching is erroneous can be seen in the verse above. "A thousand may fall at your side." That sounds to me like we will be present during these violent dangers, but preserved by God's faithfulness. Does it sound like that to you? If we are removed to Heaven, how is it possible that a thousand people will fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand?
Christians who place their faith in the so-called "rapture" will not prepare themselves to stand in the evil day. If this is what is happening today in America, then we know the source of the "rapture" concept.
God did not "rapture" Daniel to Heaven when he was thrown into the lions' den. God protected Daniel while in this dangerous situation. This is God's way of deliverance, not removal from the danger. Think about the three Hebrew young men in Nebuchadnezzar's furnace!
You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. (Psalms 91:8)
Again, we are not going to be carried up to Paradise when plagues come. We are going to be protected while in the midst of them. We actually will be here to see what happens to wicked people.
If you say, "The LORD is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalms 91:9,10)
Notice the "If." "If we say 'the Lord is my refuge.'" If we choose to honor the Lord by saying "He is my refuge," and make Him our dwelling place, then no harm will overtake us nor will disaster come near us.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalms 34:6)
There is an expression circulating today among Christian people. It is "God's unconditional love." Anyone who is familiar with the Bible realizes that God's blessing is always based on the behavior of the recipient.
It absolutely is true that God can forgive the worst of sinners. The atonement is not prevented by any past works of wickedness. The forgiveness is full, free, and does not need additional works of penance.
The Bible tells us that God repays the faithful with faithfulness and the wicked with destruction. The current idea that a believer can live in sin and disobedience to God, and still be protected by grace, is as big a lie as has ever entered the universe.
God sees all that we do, whether or not we are a Christian. If we serve Christ faithfully, we will abide under God's blessing. If we live according to our sinful nature, we will reap corruption. As we sow we shall reap.
This truth is not always heard in today's preaching in America, but it most certainly is what both the Old Testament and the New Testament declare clearly and forcefully.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalms 91:11,12)
As I was writing my new book, Godwill Castle, I began to realize the great number of angels who work in God's universe and the variety of their services. There are angels protecting every one of the true followers of the Lord Jesus. They guard us in all of our ways, not just some of our ways.
We have been created to love God and to be in union with God through the Lord Jesus. This is not true of any angel. The angels do the work of the Kingdom, including fighting against the evil spirits, and serve the elect in numerous other ways as well
I rather suspect that Jesus was able to walk on the water because angels were lifting Him up in their hands. God sent an angel to Gethsemane to strengthen Christ at the time of His greatest agony. Angels keep us from innumerable dangers and traps.
But we must remember that God's angels belong to God and do His will. God's angels always will honor and assist those who are obeying Christ. We never are to presume to direct an angel. Our role is to pray to Jesus. When we do, God sends His angels to deliver and help us.
Do you remember how the Commander of the army of the Lord told Joshua that he was not for Israel or for Israel's enemies? Rather he is the servant of God! We need to keep this in mind, because there is presumptuous talk in our time about what great spiritual power and authority we think we have.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. (Psalms 91:13)
One of the ideas that accompany the unscriptural teaching of the "rapture" of the believers is that such an evacuation is necessary so we will not be injured by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. This teaching does not take into account the power of Christ or the authority He has given to those who live in His Presence.
We not only are protected against Satan and all his helpers, we will stamp on them. As Paul wrote, "God will crush Satan under your feet shortly."
This does not mean we are to go charging about, rebuking unclean spirits. We must wait until the Lord Jesus directs us to go on the attack.
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name." (Psalms 91:14)
Again, we have a condition: "Because he loves me." How do we know we love Jesus? We know we love Him when we keep His commands. We know we love Him when we talk to Him all day and through part of the night. We know we love Him when we are willing to lose our life in Him that He may control our mind, emotions, words, and deeds. We know we love Him when we have no other gods that we worship.
Then He rescues us. Then He protects us. Then He sets us on high with Him, far above the turmoil and dangers of the present world. Rather than trust in our own understanding, we acknowledge the name of Jesus in all that we do; in every decision we make; in all our hopes and desires.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (Psalms 91:15)
"He will call on me, and I will answer him." There is a tendency today in Christian circles to try to find some formula that will bring an answer to prayer. There is a multitude of books and tapes that counsel us to do this or do that. Then we will be healed, or receive a large amount of money, or otherwise get what we want.
In the eighteenth Psalm, King David, when he was in trouble, called on the Lord. Read this Psalm and notice the tremendous response. This is what we are to do. We are not to look for a formula or something that someone says will "work." Do not try to be your own deliverer. Call on the Lord!
Be courteous and thankful for all your blessings. Don't rely on some method to obtain what you desire. Call on the Lord!
Call on the Lord! Call on the Lord! Always be courteous and thankful, not rude or belligerent. But call on the Lord! He likes to hear your voice. Blow the trumpet of prayer so God knows you are in a battle and need deliverance. Call on the Lord until you receive your answer. This is what David did
"With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." (Psalms 91:16)
Such is the reward for serving the Lord. As I said previously, if we spend our life calling on the Lord, then, when we die, we will keep on serving the Lord. He who follows Christ like this will never actually die but will walk into the spirit world; continuing to look to Jesus for all things; continuing to come to know Him; continuing to endeavor to find His will and perform it diligently. This procedure will keep on like this for eternity.
To partake of God's salvation means to be conformed to the inner and outer likeness of the Lord Jesus, our elder Brother, and to abide in complete rest in the very center of God's Person and will. It means to have unbroken fellowship with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. It means to inherit people whom we can love and bring into God's Person and ways.
All this if we choose to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest in His shadow.
(Taken from "The Shelter of the Most High," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)
The idea of integrity, of decency and trustworthiness, seems to have been diminished greatly in our country, and perhaps in other countries as well, in addition to its lack in our churches.
Perhaps "integrity" is another name for "righteousness"! However, there may be a slight difference in the way the terms are used.
To be righteous in the sight of God is to be pleasing to him at any given moment.
Integrity refers to sincerity, truthfulness, and honesty of character and behavior, regardless of our knowledge of the Lord.
The question that needs to be raised in today’s Christian preaching is, "Can a person be righteous in the sight of God but lacking in integrity in the sight of people?"
"Absolutely," roar the "faith alone" proponents.
"It depends," responds the thoughtful Christian. If a believer obeys the Spirit of God at all times, that individual is righteous in the sight of God. If he is lying or stealing or committing adultery, the Spirit will point out his sins and enable him to overcome them. So while he is growing spiritually, he still may be lacking in integrity but righteous in God’s sight.
The problem with today’s preaching is it offers a perpetual righteousness to whoever makes a profession of belief in Christ, even though the individual is not obeying the Spirit, and not growing in integrity.
It is as though we are permanently righteous in God’s sight even though we continue to obey our sinful nature.
We do not need to be a Bible scholar to see immediately that the New Testament does not teach we can continue behaving according to our sinful nature and then inherit eternal life. The New Testament certainly does not support this point of view. It has been deduced by selecting a few verses, taking them out of their contexts, and them using them as axioms.
I remember as a boy the anecdote about George Washington telling the truth about what happened to the cherry tree. Also, there was a story, that I remember as having originated in England, about the man who walked several miles barefoot to borrow a pair of shoes he needed to participate in a wedding. He returned home barefoot, carrying the shoes.
After the wedding, he carried the shoes back to the owner, walking barefoot so as to keep the shoes in the best possible condition. Many of today’s Americans would laugh at and scorn such ideals. The late-night comedians would find this uproariously funny and many "Christians" would laugh along with them.
And then we wonder why our country is in so much trouble!
Mothers wanted their sons to grow up to be President of the United States, implying that only the very highest and purest of mortals could ascend to that lofty position of honor and purity of character.
And then we have President Clinton and his aide and their behavior. The difference between their behavior, and that held as exemplary as recently as a hundred years ago, is just about unimaginable. And he still is perceived by many Americans as a distinguished politician! Also, I think he is viewed, by himself at least, as a Christian.
Men prided themselves on returning a borrowed tool in better condition than when they were given it: the axe was sharper; the crescent wrench was oiled and polished. A man’s word was his bond, they used to say. A person’s promise was as dependable as a written contract.
When one is selling or buying a property, there are twenty or thirty forms that must be signed or initialized. All this paperwork is designed to protect against dishonesty. But there was a day in time past when it was only necessary to agree and shake hands on it.
Well, it is not true today. We have become more "civilized," I suppose.
Perhaps how people behave is none of my business.
But being a pastor, a Christian leader in that sense, I think that how Christians behave is indeed my business. Perhaps we assume that "accepting Christ" results in an individual of greater integrity than that of non-Christians. Then we remember that the Protestants and Catholics of Ireland are given to murdering each other. They all worship the same Christ, and yet they rejoice as they cripple and murder each other.
How can this be? Is there no power in the blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ to make better people? Is being "born again" nothing more than a religious slogan? When we review the history of Christian people we see that the majority are little different in character from the non-Christians. Can this be true? Did the Christians in England force opium on the Chinese? Did wealthy Christians in America engage in the slave trade, and steal land from the Indians? It is little wonder so many of the world’s people are not overly impressed with the Christian religion.
Yet God has promised that righteousness and praise shall spring forth before the nations of the earth.
It appears the power of the Divine redemption has not had its full effect as yet. The goat of the blood atonement has been operating, but the goat of removal is not in effect as yet, referring to the Jewish Day of Atonement.
I have noted on several occasions a lack of integrity on the part of Christian pastors and evangelists. I have been surprised at this lack. I was not raised in a Christian home or under any other kind of Christian influence. However, while I was growing up I looked on churches and ministers with respect and confidence, although I did not want to attend services.
But now, after many years as a Christian, both as a member of congregations and also as a pastor, I see that various forms of immoral behavior characterize many Christian leaders, ranging from mere lack of disciplined character to outright moral filth and dishonesty.
I have speculated on the reason for this undisciplined character and lawless behavior. As I see it, there are several causes.
It may be true that one primary cause for the paucity of integrity is that through the centuries the Christian salvation has consisted largely of words, of philosophy one might say, rather than of power that transforms character and behavior.
I do not claim to be well versed enough in Church history to make definitive statements about the Christians of the past, but I can venture my impressions. As I outline what seems to be the bulk of the record of the Christian religion, it must be kept in mind that throughout the Christian Era there have been outstanding saints.
Also, it is clear that the Christian religion has influenced the nations positively in which Protestant Christianity is the dominant religion. There are efforts in the "Christian nations" to treat people humanely that we do not always see in non-Christian nations.
Having issued this important disclaimer, let us proceed.
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, the dominant religion in Europe was Catholicism. I would say that the emphasis of Catholicism at that time was on obedience to the various aspects of the religion rather than on transformed character.
I believe I am correct in stating that the same is true today. While the Pope stands resolutely against abortion, as I do also, the concept of the Divine transformation of the individual seems to be set aside in favor of various penances. Perhaps I am incorrect here.
The Protestant Reformation may have reacted against the religious works of Catholicism, such as self-abuse, by overemphasizing the role of belief. "Faith alone!" But as I have listened to this watchword for many years, I have come to the conclusion that it is interpreted as "belief alone."
Why do I say this? Because "belief" suggests a mental acceptance of the theologic facts about Christ. "Faith," however, includes obedience to the commands of Christ and his Apostles. The strident call to "faith alone," at least in our day, means "belief alone."
I have been criticized many times for teaching "works." What I actually am teaching is the behavior that results from the work of the Holy Spirit in us. However, the "faith alone" crowd will have nothing to do with any suggestion that true salvation always results in a new moral creation, not the same old creation which by some magical "grace" is seen by God to actually be righteous.
Obviously, if one views "faith" as belief in the principles of theology subscribed to by a denomination and portrayed in its "Statement of Faith," then even the most feeble attempt to emphasize integrity will be viewed with suspicion if not outright hostility.
What a mess we are in today! It is no wonder our government has lost its moral compass!
It appears the basic cause of our lack of integrity (righteousness) is the confusion about Christ’s work of redemption. It seems to have been true over the past period of time, perhaps throughout the entire Christian Era, that our salvation is principally "forgiveness" so we can go to Heaven and not Hell when we die.
The fact is, the genuine Christian salvation primarily is not forgiveness but deliverance from the chains of sin plus the desire and willingness to behave righteously, that is, to demonstrate integrity of character. God’s salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ brings forth a new moral creation, a person in God’s image.
Until the confusion about the purpose and nature of salvation is taught clearly, I do not believe that integrity will become a part of the Christian experience. Yet God will not dwell where there is a lack of integrity.
So the current lack of integrity on the part of Christian people and their leaders may not be due to a willingness to behave dishonestly but to confusion concerning what Christ can do for us. And because the Christian people do not reveal in themselves the good works that are the light of the world, the rest of mankind plows forward in the mud, so to speak, not realizing that the problems and frustrations they suffer continually, are the result of their behavior.
Another reason for the lack of integrity is the sense of sins forgiven. When an individual comes to Christ for forgiveness he experiences a lightness of spirit. A sinner has come home. This is why many Christian adults behave foolishly, not exhibiting the discipline and restraint of unsaved people.
Yet another factor leading to lack of integrity is the example set by older Christians and their leaders. When we are young, or a new Christian, we are apt to regard the older saints with awe. We suppose they are pillars of holiness and obedience to God.
After a period of time, as we see repeated instances of a lack of sincerity or even of truthfulness and basic honesty, we become disillusioned. We had supposed that the older Christians behaved during the week as they did during Church on Sunday. We were not aware of the Christian "game," of the practice of repeating the expected phrases of carrying our cross and serving Christ on Sunday, and then living as a worldly person during the week.
When Audrey and I went to pastor a church for the first time, an influential lady in the congregation asked us, "When are you going to get real?" She meant when were we going to "let our hair down" and have a party or two. She did not believe people actually lived like my wife and I were teaching.
The pastor you looked up to when you were a youth leader in his church, who left his wife and moved to a distant city in order to live with another woman.
The evangelist who appointed someone in the audience to stand up and say he would give the first thousand dollars.
The pastor who arranged for air to blow through the air conditioning ducts so people would think it was the Holy Spirit.
The evangelist who had all the young people starry-eyed, who actually was fornicating with women of the church.
The evangelist who sent out workers to the homes of widows to get them to change their wills so their inheritance would go to the evangelist rather than to their children.
The televangelist who bundled up the prayer requests and put them in the garbage.
The evangelist who tells his audience that if they will give him a thousand dollars they will never get cancer.
The lying evangelist who makes up stories about incidents that never took place.
The patriarchs of orthodox churches who fight with one another over property.
The thousands of priests who have molested children.
The "Christian" woman who leaves her husband and goes off with another man who also left his spouse. Then the two of them go from church to church singing musical "specials." They also record CDs.
The pastor is too busy figuring out how much of the morning offering to hide from the IRS, to spend time inquiring about the integrity of his musical evangelists. Yet the Bible warns us about deceivers, about wolves in sheep’s clothing.
I could easily enlarge this list.
Why is this? Why does the religion that bears the name of the Lord Jesus Christ not change people?
I will tell you why. It is because no religion actually changes the hearts of people. It is only a personal walk with Christ that really changes people. Whenever a Christian church places more emphasis on the faithful practice of its sacraments and rites than it does on growth in integrity of the individual communicant, that church is more of Satan than it is of Jesus Christ.
I know from personal experience that there are fine Catholic people. But when the Catholic churches emphasize penances rather than genuine, heartfelt repentance, a turning away from sin, they are not doing the work of God.
Do you remember the story of the "old prophet" who caused the death of the younger man of God? So it is that a minister as he grows older may neglect to follow Christ. He may go into selling insurance or real estate. He may remember the days when the Spirit of God rested on him. But he has fallen short of what God had for him.
When we say someone has been converted we often mean he has accepted Christian theology as being truth. He did not actually enter the death and resurrection of Christ when he was baptized in water. He went down dry and came up wet. No one ever told him he now is dead to the world that he may live in the Presence of Christ and keep his commands.
I think denominations often regard the local church as a business. The pastor is the chief executive officer of a business. The mark of the successful pastor is an increase in the offerings and in the number of people who attend. "Nickels and noses," as someone said.
This being the case, the pastor may be wise not to tell the people that in order to be a disciple, a Christian, we have to deny ourselves, take up our cross (our personal imprisonment), and follow the Lord Jesus every day and night. The pastor will choose either to preach what God wants, or else to curry favor with the people so the church grows in numbers. It reminds us of the parable of the unrighteous steward.
There simply is no middle ground. Either we faithfully present the burden of the Word of the Lord, or we keep in mind how what we are preaching is going to affect the offerings and the attendance.
Sad to say, in addition to the above examples of weak, worldly ministers of the Gospel, there are a few who are blatantly wicked. They have learned how to move congregations with their "great swelling words," as the Apostle Paul said, and obtain a great deal of money in this manner. But they are of their father, the Devil, so there is no use even discussing them.
After reviewing in my mind the sorts of things that take place in the Christian religion, I have concluded that "Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness" will be the reception numerous Christians are going to receive when they die and stand before Christ.
Integrity! God will not work where there is lying and treachery. It does not matter if ten million souls "accept Christ." The end never justifies the means with God. Man-directed Christianity, with all of its self-seeking and moral filthiness, will never be accepted by the Lord Jesus.
Those who continue in their sinful nature might just as well leave the Gospel and pursue some other philosophy or religion; for God and his Christ do not know them and have not accepted their works. They are doing harm rather than good!
So he called in each one of his master's debtors. He asked the first, "How much do you owe my master?" "Eight hundred gallons of olive oil," he replied. The manager told him, "Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred." (Luke 16:5,6)
(Taken from "Integrity," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2010, by Robert B. Thompson.)