Pastor's Page - Archive

Table of Contents

Introduction

From Doctrine to Christ

Sing, O Barren

The Climax of the Conflict of the Ages

The Redemption of the Body

The Overcomers

Changing the World

The Coming of the Kingdom

The Coming of the Lord

The Servant of the Lord: II

Remaining in Christ

The Temporary and Then the Eternal

The Awaking of the Mortal Body

The New Covenant

Canaan, and the Rest of God

The Saved People of the Nations, and the Tabernacle of God

Trees of Life

The Great Rebellion

The New World of Righteousness

Serving the Lord

The Firstfruits

Not by "Faith Alone"

We Can Overcome

He Who Overcomes

A Change of Theology

The Altar-call Mentality

The Kingdom Is Coming to the Earth

Do Not Fret

The Angel of the Lord

After Pentecost

Justified and Then Saved

The Eternal Dialogue

Becoming One With Christ

The Tabernacle of God Is With Men

Living in Heaven

Two Witnesses

The Most Holy and the Holy

The Tail of the Dragon

The Eternal Witnesses

Living by the Invisible

The Greatest of All Errors

The Guilt and Power of Sin

The Importance of Entering the Rest of God

The Father

'Til I See You Again

The Drums of El Shaddai

A Place For You

When We Die

Christ—Head and Body

The Concept And Operation Of The Body Of Christ

The House Of God

Three Parables of the Kingdom

What It Means to Walk With God


Introduction —Welcome to our site. You may notice some ideas that are new to you. Hopefully they will be helpful, or at least cause you to stop and think about what is being said.

We have come to the conclusion, after 60 years as a Christian, that some of our traditions need to be looked at again in the light of the Scripture. Our position is, if our tradition does not square with the Bible, then we need to change the tradition and not the Bible.

We certainly question the idea that our behavior does not affect our salvation, or that our salvation does not affect our behavior. Our salvation normally will be revealed in our behavior.

We question also the doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture."

The "prosperity" and "faith" messages do not fit the Scripture, as far as we are concerned.

We look for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, rather than eternal residence in Heaven. Have you ever tried to find in the Bible where we are supposed to spend eternity in Heaven?

We want to be with Jesus where He is—in the center of the Person and will of God, not stuck in an unscriptural mansion somewhere.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is beginning to be preached in all the world for a witness. After that, the end of the Church Age will be here.


From Doctrine to Christ

2011-01-02

The leaders of the Jewish people have a high regard for the Scriptures. So high a regard that when the Author of the Scripture taught in their cities they hated Him, preferring to "search the Scriptures." How can this be? Do the Scriptures, which came God through Christ, tell us to ignore Christ when He comes? How can this be? Does it happen today?

When I first became a Christian I came under the influence of fellow Marine Christians. They were adamant about the importance of the written Word. Some of them were followers of Dawson Trotman and stressed memorization of many passages of the Bible.

Being a new Christian I was impressionable. From that point forward I memorized many verses. Also, I embraced the attitude that the entire Bible is the infallible Word of God. I hold to that attitude to the present hour. I believe God has put His blessing on the accepted Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic translations of the Received Text.

Since I left the Marine Corps, at the end of World War Two, I have found several errors in the beliefs of fundamental Christian believers. While most fundamental believers subscribe to the full verbal inspiration of the Received Texts, they have adopted a number of traditional beliefs, such as the goal of salvation is escape from Hell and eternal residence in the heavenly Paradise. Any individual can read the New Testament and notice that nowhere is the heavenly Paradise presented as the goal of the Christian redemption.

Perhaps the most destructive of the adopted traditions is the misunderstanding of the Apostle Paul's doctrine of "grace." "Grace" appears to be regarded in our day as an alternative to righteous behavior. Much of the writings of the Apostles make this definition of "grace" violently unacceptable. What Paul meant by "grace" is that we are to serve Christ through the Spirit of God rather than by obeying the Law of Moses.

Such a simple misunderstanding, but so terribly awesome in its effect on the spiritual maturity of the Christian believers throughout the world.

I have discussed this issue in many of my writings. I wish to veer now to a different, although related, issue. But first I had to assure my readers that I subscribe wholeheartedly to the full, verbal inspiration of the Received Text. I consider every word of the Bible to be heavier than the combined weight of the sand on the shores of every ocean, sea, and lake in the world.

The Bible is, in fact, the very Word of the living God. The Old Testament and the New Testament were spoken by the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ, although human vehicles were employed in their transcription. These are not the words of men but of God!

The different issue about which I am writing is the way the New Testament is to be interpreted and obeyed.

The New Testament, unlike the Old Testament, is not to be interpreted and obeyed in the same manner that was true of the Old Testament. The Old Testament was to be read and obeyed. Righteousness and prosperity were given to those who learned the Law of Moses, and the words of the Prophets, and obeyed them.

To a certain extent this is true of the New Testament. It may be noted that adherence to the text of the New Testament is the basis for the numerous divisions among Christian churches. Some scholars interpret and stress passages of the Bible in one manner, and some in another. We see this in the disagreement concerning the Sabbath day, some pointing toward Saturday, and some, Sunday.

How can this be, given the scholars on both sides are godly, competent people? It was true even before Christ, wasn't it, as we see the Pharisees and the Sadducees arguing about the resurrection. Everlasting disagreements, and yet but one God and one Christ.

Why is this? It is because the Bible so often is interpreted and obeyed by the human mind. And humans in all kinds of endeavors, whether scientists or artists, disagree one with another.

The Apostle Paul told us that the Lord's desire is that we become one in Christ. We never can be one in Christ on the basis of theology or doctrine. It is not going to happen. Unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God is arrived at only when people are filled with Christ, regardless of their doctrinal understandings.

It may be true that we have gotten into the incorrect doctrines that we have as a result of our cutting and pasting verses from the New Testament to produce a simplified "plan of salvation," which we then have the unsaved recite (the famous "four steps of salvation).

But we have ignored the description of the new covenant presented in the Book of Hebrews. There we are told that the new covenant is the writing of God's eternal moral law on our heart and mind. This means that the new covenant is one of personality transformation rather than one primarily of forgiveness; and certainly is not a pass out of Hell into everlasting residence in Heaven.

When we speak of the writing of God's eternal moral law (not the Law of Moses!) on our heart and mind, we are referring to the creation of Christ in us. He alone is the Word of God. And this is exactly what the new covenant is. It is the forming of Christ in us, for which the Apostle Paul travailed in birth.

To a very great extent our teachers today are stressing doctrine rather than interaction with the living Jesus. We search the Scriptures, hoping to find eternal life therein. But perhaps we do not come to Jesus Christ Himself. There is no eternal life in the Scriptures. The eternal life is only in Christ, who Himself is the Resurrection and the Life.

When we emphasize doctrine rather than Christ we create division and death. When we emphasize the living Jesus we emphasize unity and life.

I have been impressed during the last several months to stress that we Christians need to invite Jesus into our life–not just once, but continually in all that we are doing during each day and night. If we are to stand during the Divine judgment on America, we cannot be relying alone on our faith in doctrine.

We must be living by the Life of the Man, speaking to Him constantly; asking for His wisdom and strength in all that we are and do. When two people are doing this, they may discover that they are dwelling in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. Doctrinal agreement never will accomplish such unity and knowledge.

It is difficult for us to understand that the new covenant is one of the Spirit and not of the letter.

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, exactly what is a covenant of the Spirit?

Paul gives us the answer is the Book of Romans:

In order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)

The righteousness of the Law of Moses is ascribed to us if we live according to the Spirit of God. This is the covenant of the Spirit. We do not make our daily decisions on the basis of the letter of the Testaments but on the basis of what we are hearing from the Lord Jesus. We walk in close fellowship with Him.

What, then, is the role of the written Scripture? The role of the Scripture is that of a slave who brings us to Christ. The New Testament commands us to study the writings of the Apostles, and the Old Testament Prophets as well. It takes a considerable period of time before we can follow the Spirit without being deceived. This is why continued, daily meditation in the Bible is absolutely essential if we are not to fall into the traps of Satan.

I believe it is the role of the elders in the churches to watch over the younger believers as they seek to follow Jesus. Each of us can learn to follow and have fellowship with the Lord; but such ability requires a lifetime of patiently pressing ahead, meanwhile confessing our mistakes when we make them and then fighting forward.

Christianity is not a philosophy. It is not even a religion, although people have made it a religion. In actuality, our salvation, our redemption from the hand of Satan, is found in our ever increasing knowledge of Christ. "I want to know Christ," Paul exclaimed. And this when he was a mature, experienced Christian.

We are in a new day, the third day of Hosea, Christ is raising us up. For those of us who are pressing forward, the vestiges of churches and religion and doctrine are slowly passing away.They have accomplished their mission. In their place is Jesus Himself to worship and obey.

Religion has gone. The Lord is here. All who truly are growing in Christ are entering the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. This is the message, the burden of the hour.

When we die and pass into the spirit world, or when Jesus comes, the trappings of religion will exist no longer—church buildings; liturgies; ceremonies peculiar to our particular denomination or sect. For example, the Communion service will endure only until he returns, according to what he told us. We are to proclaim the Lord’s death "until he comes."

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. ( Corinthians 13:12)

However, instruction in the Bible will continue—persisting, perhaps, into the new heaven and earth reign of Christ. It appears there always will be a need for moral instruction; also for the knowledge of how God has worked in time past.

The following passage tells the story quite clearly:

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)

I believe Peter is telling us here that we must pay close attention to the written Word. As we do, a day dawns within us. The "morning star," Christ, rises in our heart. It is the purpose of the written teaching to bring us to Christ. The Bible is not a substitute for an intensely personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

It is necessary that we read the Bible and pray every day. When chaos comes to our country, as it surely shall, we need to know the living Jesus. He will guide and protects us if we follow Him obediently and diligently.

We had a prophecy in our church last Sunday morning. It was to the effect that the Lord Jesus said He is lonely. It reminded me of the old saints who spoke of the "Lonely God."

Why is Christ lonely? Because He is standing and waiting while our attention is on our church and our doctrine. He will enter and dine with each of us every moment of every day and night if we will keep opening our heart to Him.

You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life. (John 5:39,40)

(Taken from "From Doctrine to Christ," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Sing, O Barren

2011-01-09
Those who have spent time in one of the Lord's prisons will understand readily what it means to be "barren." Other believers appear to be prospering. They are having no problems, apparently. But we seem to be desolate. Has God forsaken us? Are His promises no longer valid? Where is He, the One who is supposed to be faithful? Is He a liar, as Satan declares so often?

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (Psalms 73:2,3)

The route to fruitfulness is barrenness. Why is this? It is because Christ wants to be the One who prospers us. He Himself wants to be our strength, our joy, our song, our wisdom, our hope, our peace, our fruitfulness.

Perhaps we have had some success as a Christian. We have brought forth some fruit in personal growth and in ministry to others. We have a solid testimony of godly behavior. We may have come to the conclusion that this is all there is to the Christian discipleship.

Then God sees that we are ready to bear more fruit and much fruit. So He begins the pruning process. Little by little what we have trusted in is removed from us. We do not understand what is taking place in our life. We may have been taught that Christ wants us to be happy; He suffered so we do not have to suffer; He was poor so we may be wealthy.

I am afraid this is what is being taught in our day; but such teachers have not walked very far with the Consuming Fire of Israel. They have not shared in the sufferings of Christ. They are "saved," but for the most part are little more than an intelligent animal.

All people, saved and unsaved alike, are intelligent animals until God decides they are ready to become a new creation in Christ.

When I first became a Christian I was taught that if any person is in Christ, he or she is a new creation. I did not realize that this passage of the Bible is literally true. But stop and think! If we are to become a new creation, what then happens to the old creation? Obviously the first creation, the natural man, must give way to a new personality.

All fine and good. But what must happen if the first personality is to give way to a new creation? The first creation must be removed, obviously. I must add that the first creation cannot be modified and adapted to the Kingdom of God. Our natural abilities are as clay. The new creation is as gold and silver. They do not mix.

As the sixth chapter of Romans informs us, the old creation must be crucified so our sinful nature may be dealt with and removed.

If we have prospered in our natural state, Christ will replace this with His prosperity. We may be reduced to poverty until we have to look to Christ in order to survive. It may get down to one day at a time. This is the lesson of the daily manna. Such utter dependence on Christ must become part of our character, just as the jar of manna was placed in the Ark of the Covenant.

If we have been strong spiritually and physically, Christ will bring us into circumstances that weaken us until we have the sentence of death in ourselves. Only then can He replace our natural strength with His unlimited, eternal strength.

The weakening process is not pleasant, in any case. But we can make it easier by not holding on to our own way of doing things and looking to Jesus constantly that we may live and work in His strength.But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (I Corinthians 12:9)

It may be true that we are a naturally joyful person, optimistic, looking at the bright side of things. Christ may bring us into situations in which it is difficult to rejoice. But Paul commanded us to rejoice in the Lord always—and this when he was in prison!

We may have been brought very low. Anyone can rejoice and praise the Lord when he is surrounded with pleasant prospects. But to praise the Lord when we are in the midst of dreadful prospects is an act of majestic faith and very pleasing to the Lord. We may have to pray much before we are able to rejoice in the midst of adversity.

The first personality can sing hymns and choruses when in church and his circumstances are reasonably pleasant. When we are in one of the Lord's prisons it may be easy to fret and complain. But Christ can be our song at that time. His song does not depend on our circumstances.

We may be an intelligent person and careful in our decisions. Yet we will learn from our experiences never to take anything for granted; never to rely on our own judgment. The more we look to Jesus for His wisdom in every situation, the more we will avoid the traps set by Satan. We may be wise. But Christ is infinitely wiser; and true wisdom on our part is to ask Jesus about everything throughout each day and night.Christ wants to be our hope. We never can make a success of the victorious Christian life until we place all of our treasures in Heaven. It is so easy to grasp things, relationships, and situations, believing we will find love, joy, and peace in these. But they all will fail. For this reason we absolutely must place all of our treasures beyond the grave into the next world. If we do not, we will not be able to make the transition to the new creation.

Peace is a treasure of incalculable worth. The history of the world is largely the attempt of people and nations to find peace. But enduring peace always seems to elude the sincere attempts of people and nations. Certainly an abundance of money does not bring peace. The individual possessing one million dollars is miserable because someone else has two million dollars.

The supreme goal of the intelligent individual is righteousness, love, joy, and peace. But outside of Christ there is no lasting peace. He Himself is the Prince of Peace, and there is no other. The peace of Christ dwelling in our heart is able to overcome adverse circumstances.

To be fruitful is to have the Nature of Christ developed in our personality, and to assist in the growth of Christ in other people. This is not possible until we have been pruned such that our natural strength and abilities have been replaced by the Virtue that is in Christ.

We do not have to strain in order to bear such fruit. Rather we have to abide in Christ. In order to abide in Christ we must, through Him, overcome the myriad of forces that come against us that would cause us to look back to our own strength and wisdom instead of dwelling in Christ.

This is why the barren rejoice. True, they have endured a season of grief during which it seems the Lord has forsaken them. They remember that God has promised joy, although weeping endures for a season. They stand on the promise that those who weep now will rejoice later."For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you," says the LORD your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (Psalms 30:5)

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

One of the main problems of today is that of fretting about the wickedness in the world. We American Christians are seeing the trampling of our values as the government pursues its own objectives. But if we are to be elders, standing always before the Throne of God, we must keep on casting down our crowns in the Presence of God and the Lamb. This means that we keep saying "Not my will but Yours be done."

It has been given to the saints to govern the works of God's hands; but not in our natural wisdom and strength. We must patiently await God's time so that it always is Christ, and not us, who is prevailing. God has promised that the events of history are working for our good. Realizing this, fretting about the current evil is a sign of our unbelief, of our unwillingness to rejoice as God works His works in the earth.

Whenever we read the Bible promises that we will be made barren, we notice that they are followed by Divine treasures of restoration and glory.

Our prisons, our barrenness, are bringing toward the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ.Afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will rebuild you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with lapis lazuli. I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace. (Isaiah 54:11-13)

(Taken from "Sing, O Barren," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Climax of the Conflict of the Ages

2011-01-16
I suppose many Christians realize our discipleship is a battle against the forces of spiritual darkness, although this may not be preached as much as it should. Satan goes about as a roaring lion, deceiving as many believers as he can.

However, what may not be realized is that this warfare will be concluded with total victory going to the Lord Jesus and His saints. How often you will hear Christians say, "As long as we are in the world we have to sin." Added to this is the thought that once we "get to Heaven" we won't sin anymore. There is no scriptural basis for either idea.

What I would like to present in this brief essay is that total victory finally will be achieved. There is coming a new world of righteousness. God carefully is laying the groundwork for the removal of Satan and all who choose his ways—spirits and humans. We of today are drawing close to the climax of this struggle. It will terminate with a world without sin or rebellion against God whatever.

Would you enjoy a world in which everyone does the will of Christ at all times and in every circumstance? This is what the present travail relentlessly is bringing us to.

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. II Peter 3:12)

Think carefully about the following passages:

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20)

"Seventy sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish[ transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (Daniel 9:24)

"To put an end to sin." "Everlasting righteousness." Think of it!

But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:26,27)

Consider these three passages. What are they telling us? They are saying that Satan and all his works are to be done away. Who are to inherit all things? "The holy people of the Most High," that is, the saints.

Do you know the primary consideration if the saints are to inherit "the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven"? It is that the saints are one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father.

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)

The passage above, John 6:57, may be the most important verse in the entire Bible, as pertaining to the life of the believer. Do you remember that the Lord said He can do nothing apart from the Father? This is to be true concerning you and me. We must do nothing apart from Christ. This means that every thought we think, every word we speak, and every action we perform, must be of Christ.

This may appear impossible to some of our readers. It assuredly is not. I do not say it is accomplished in a moment. But it is the will of God today that we pray continually that our thoughts, words, and actions are part of Christ. Is it possible for Him who stretched out the heaven to achieve this unity with Christ for you and me?

Isn't this what the Apostle was telling us when he said that it was not he who was living but Christ who was living in him?

If we are to inherit "the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven," then it must be true of us that we have "died in the Lord" and now it is Christ who is living in us. I think that Christians often have quoted Paul when he speaks of being crucified with Christ, but it has been more of an ideal. Today it is becoming a reality in those who are seeking Christ continually and fervently.

At the time that the world is worshiping Antichrist and his image (perhaps the spirit of the world that says man can choose his own way apart from Christ, with money being the image that is worshiped), what does the Spirit advise?

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)

Today we see the forces of evil filling the world. They are very active in America as well as in other countries. They are too strong for us. The outlook may seem hopeless to people who love Christ.

What is the answer, and the only answer, to this abominable world spirit? The answer is people who have chosen to turn their life over to Christ so that their being and behavior are in perfect union with Christ.

Human beings do not have the power to overcome the evil of today. Only the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority and power of the Father to put an end to sin and rebellion. The wisdom and energy of man will not stop the spread of the influence of Satan in the countries of the world.

What are we to do? First, look to the blood of the Lamb to keep us free from the guilt of sin in the sight of God. Second, bear a true testimony of God's Person and will, as Christ helps us line up our life with the Scripture. There is a good deal of preaching today, but much of it is not giving a true testimony of God's Person and will.

Finally, and of supreme importance, we must love not our life to the death. This is difficult for us. To think of surrendering our life to another person goes to the core of our individuality. But Jesus Christ created us; and if He wants us to live by His Life, then this is what we must do.

I would imagine that the traditional Christian Gospel is preached successfully in numerous places, and people are placing their faith (at least nominally) in Christ. However the kind of Christian religion most of us are used to will not survive, much less overcome, the evil that is filling the world today.

To place our faith in the blood atonement is absolutely necessary if we are to please God. God will meet man only at the cross where Christ gave His life.

The baptism with the Spirit of God is absolutely necessary if we are to be able to overcome sin. We must put our sinful compulsions to death through the Spirit.

However, neither of these two steps of faith will suffice to enable us to work with Christ in destroying all sin and rebellion from the creation. We absolutely must turn over our thinking, speaking, and acting to the Lord Jesus. Until we do this, we still are using our own wisdom, our own talents, our own ambitions, our own strength, to serve Christ.

We believe in the authority of the blood atonement and we have been filled with the Spirit of God. But the power of darkness will be so great that we will be defeated in one way or another.

Jesus said the time is coming when no man can work. We must be quite close to that time. But Christ can work during the hour of darkness. No door can be shut against Him. Therefore we have to die to our own efforts and ways so that His unlimited authority and power can be expressed in us.

We always must be living through Christ in front of the Throne of God, casting down our crown, our self-will, at all times. Then we are elders who can govern the creation. First we are tested, and tested again.

Finally we take our place with Christ and work only as He works. In this case we never will "die"; but when we do die physically we will find that we still are "alive" in the spirit world, the true, eternal world, with all our faculties unimpaired, except those that are part of our dead body.

The Apostle Paul said that the ministries of the Spirit would continue until we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to full maturity as measured against Christ. It is obvious that few Christians during their lifetime attain to this lofty goal.

This fact tells us that ministry will continue after we die. However, it is a mistake to put off serving Christ fervently in the hope of gaining spiritual maturity when we die. The Bible is clear enough in the parable of the talents that if we have not used our God-given gifts in the work of the Kingdom, when we die our talent will be removed and we will be driven into the land of darkness.

So the current understanding is that if we do not serve the Lord diligently while alive on the earth, it does not really matter because when we die our sin and rebellion will not be mentioned and we will be a servant of Christ. This belief is rendered invalid by the parable of the talents.

Physical death is not our redeemer, it is our enemy. The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the Law. Only those who through Christ have overcome sin can look forward to entering joyously into the Presence of the Lord, continuing to serve Him just as they did during their lifetime on the earth.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name. He replied, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.(Luke 10:17-19).

(Taken from "The Climax of the Conflict of the Ages," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Redemption of the Body

2011-01-23
Two expressions refer to the making alive of the mortal body. The first expression is, "the resurrection of the body." The second expression is, "the redemption of the body."

The "resurrection" of the body refers to the making alive of the body, the raising up of that which lies helpless. The "redemption" of the body refers to the rescuing of the body from the power of death and Satan. When we refer to "resurrection" in this present essay we are speaking of the making alive of the body; of the resurrection of the body; and of the redemption of the body.

(January 23, 2010). In the following two passages the Apostle Paul points out that the resurrection of his body is his goal:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25)

Why do you think Paul would want to attain to the resurrection (literally out-resurrection) from the dead? It is because this is the first resurrection. Those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead will rule with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

Anyone who understands that the resurrection of the dead will be in two stages, and is aware of the glory and honor associated with the first resurrection, and the opportunity to install with Christ the Kingdom of God on the earth, likely will desire fervently to attain to the first resurrection.

Blessed and holy are those who share 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.

In view of the glory which is part of the first resurrection it is readily understandable why Paul was laying aside all else that he might attain to such fellowship with the Lord.

I do not believe I ever have heard anyone teach about the first resurrection. Have you? This is surprising, isn't it, in that attaining to the first resurrection should be our goal, according to Paul

Perhaps because of the general viewpoint of Christian people that Satan will never be defeated, and that as long as we are in the world we have to sin, Christian teachers and preachers have made eternal residence in Heaven the goal of our salvation. They assume that our physical death and entrance into Heaven will deliver us from sin. But there is not a whiff of such a goal or such deliverance in the Old Testament or the New Testament.

However, both the Old Testament and the New Testament teach clearly that sin finally shall be driven from the creation of God and Satan shall be crushed under the feet of the saints.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20)

The Good News of the Kingdom of God is that Satan shall be overthrown and sin shall be brought to an end. This Good News is infinitely better than the "Good News" that God's people shall be moved from earth to Heaven so that Satan can inherit the earth.

"Seventy sevens" are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish[ transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. (Daniel 9:24)

But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him. (Daniel 7:26,27)

Physical death itself shall be destroyed under the powerful hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.

For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (I Corinthians 15:25,26)

In light of the above we can see how we have been deceived. The purpose of the Divine redemption is not to bring God's people to Heaven to reside forever. The purpose of redemption, or salvation, is to destroy Satan and all of his works and followers from God's creation.

We are to be pressing toward the redeeming of our body from the power of death and sin. This is our hope. Not to go to Heaven but to live by the Life of Jesus Christ as the Father puts all of Christ's enemies under His feet. We are to work with Him as He installs the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Such is the original Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The myths about mansions in Heaven have been developed throughout the centuries of the Christian Era until the idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God has been buried under the rubble of tradition. The original Gospel is being restored in our day.

I said at the beginning of this present essay that the making alive of the physical body, the resurrection of the body, and the redemption of the body, all refer to the same Divine salvation. I have just been discussing the resurrection of the body. Now I wish to treat the concept of redemption.

The redemption of the human body is the deliverance of the body from the authority and power of Satan and death. Notice Paul's hope in the following passage:

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:22-25)

We already have mentioned why Paul would desire attaining to the "resurrection" of his body. But why would he hope for the "redemption" of his body. Both "resurrection" and "redemption" are referring to the making alive of the body, its change into immortality, its being clothed with the "house from Heaven."

The following passage is the reason for Paul's hope:

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:21-24)

The Apostle Paul desired the redemption of his body, its release from the bondage of Satan and sin, so he could live righteously.

Because we Christians have the tradition of going to Heaven and living there forever, we find some of Paul's writings to be difficult to understand. Paul at one time told of his desire to be with the Lord. But he never spoke of wanting to go to Heaven to live forever.

Paul's goal was the redeeming of his physical body so he could serve God in righteousness. This should be our goal also.

It appears to me that we are due for a reformation of Christian thinking. Much good has been accomplished by the Christian religion throughout the Christian Era. Now we are beginning to understand what the Gospel of the Kingdom really is all about.

We always have prayed "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven." But we have not believed our own prayer. We have assumed, it seems to me, that Satan and sin never could actually be banished from the earth, and so our best hope is to go to Heaven to live.

But this is not what the Bible teaches, is it? The Bible teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ shall return with His saints and holy angels and establish His Kingdom on the earth—just as the Christians have prayed for so many centuries.

The Kingdom of God is coming. It is at hand! When the Lord returns He will bring with Him those who have died while abiding in Him. Then they shall be raised to immortality. Also at this time we, the living, shall be changed so that we also have an immortal body.

After a time of fellowship, all of us who have immortal bodies will be raised up from the earth, in the sight of the people of the world, to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. Then we shall be mounted on the white war stallions.

The vials of wrath will be poured out on the earth. Then we shall descend with the Lord Jesus. Antichrist and the False Prophet shall be hurled into the Lake of Fire. One mighty angel will bind Satan and throw him into the Bottomless Pit. Now the Lord Jesus and His saints will govern the earth with a rod of iron. They shall rule from Jerusalem on the earth, as I understand it.

If we desire to be associated with our Lord in these epochal events, we must press forward in Christ each day, gaining victory over the world, our flesh, and our self-will. Many Christians will not deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ. If my understanding is correct, even though they profess faith in Christ they will not pass from mortality to immortality when the Lord appears.

If I am correct in this, we are well advised, I believe, to emulate the Apostle Paul by laying aside all else that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead.

In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:52,53)

(Taken from "The Redemption of the Body," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Overcomers

2011-01-30
Honestly, I have written and preached so much about the overcomers that the word has taken on a special meaning in my mind. It is as though overcoming is part of the Gospel message and everyone knows about it.

I checked out "the overcomers" on Google. There are numerous addresses. I only looked at a few. Some seemed solid. Others were a bit flaky, in my opinion. But it is evident there are believers like myself who are aware that overcoming is an important Bible issue.

(1/30/2011). What does it mean to "overcome"? What if we do not overcome? Do we really lose anything of worth by not pursuing the victorious life in Christ? Why are two whole chapters of the Bible devoted to "him who overcomes"? Since "overcoming" has been a central aspect of my preaching and teaching for many years, I would like to add my two cents to the array of available material on this subject.

Let us notice first of all that the "rewards" to those who overcome are offered to Christians. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are addressed to churches in Asia Minor. They are not presented to non-Christians.

I point out this obvious fact because some are teaching that all Christians by virtue of their having made a profession of faith in Christ are overcomers. If this were the case, the two chapters would make no sense. If every member of the seven churches automatically were overcomers, what is the meaning of "to him who overcomes"?

Those being addressed had made a profession of Christ, in that they were part of one of the churches. What sense would it be to challenge them to be overcomers if they already were overcomers?

It is not unusual for those who speak of "overcomers" to be engaged in weird references. "The sons of God marry the Bride of the Lamb," and so forth. Such strange ideas are not presented clearly in the Scriptures, in my point of view, and I cannot for the life of me see how they lead to righteous behavior. It is my position that all Christian teaching should lead to righteous behavior.

Speaking of righteous behavior, I have noticed that those who are teaching about overcoming stress that the concept does not refer to a change in behavior but to a change in attitude. It is held that we never could experience any comprehensive change in our behavior, only in our attitude toward salvation. Here is the deadly influence of the grace-dispensational teaching of the present time.

Over and over the Lord stresses that He knows our works. Check out Revelation, Chapters Two and Three. See if this is so. See if He says, "I know your attitudes."

After reflecting on the teachings of Christian theology for over sixty years, I have concluded that there is a grievous, destructive idea present, at least in Evangelical theology. The idea is that Christ can forgive us but cannot make us a new righteous creation. He is the Overcomer. We are overcomers by believing that He is the Overcomer. How this travesty of the Gospel must disappoint our Lord!

You know, it may be true that the fact that our redemption includes our deliverance from the authority and power of Satan has not been widely understood throughout the Christian Era. I think also that Gnostic thinking has influenced the Christian Gospel–the idea that if we hold the correct beliefs we will go to Paradise when we die.

I have noticed also–perhaps stemming from Gnosticism–the concept that spirit is good and flesh is evil. Believe it or not, the reverse is true. When God created the material realm He pronounced it "very good." Actually, the flesh is morally neutral. Sin began in the spirit world and entered the physical world as a serpent. To this very day, our problems are coming from unclean spiritual forces.

Whatever additional influences there may be, the conclusion in so much of today's preaching is that while we ought to try to please Christ by our actions, righteous behavior is neither possible nor necessary in order to gain the rewards promised to the overcomer.

Maybe I am coming with good news. I hope so. In the present hour of moral decline in the world, especially in the United States, the Holy Spirit is ready to remove sin from us and to enable the growth of Christ in us.

First, how does the Spirit remove sins from us? As we are following Christ, some unclean aspect of our behavior will manifest itself. We then are to confess our action to the Lord clearly. "I have stolen." "I have lied." "I have fornicated." "I have harmed someone in a fit of anger." "I have gossiped about someone." "I have practiced sexual acts that the Scripture condemns."

Then we are to confess that what we have done is vile and does not belong in the Kingdom of God.

Next we are to renounce the specific behavior, declaring that we want nothing more to do with it ever again.

Finally we are to draw near to Christ with a clear conscience. We have done what the Scripture has commanded. We through the Spirit have put to death a sinful practice of our body.

Part of living the overcoming life is that of keeping our involvement in the world to a minimum. In America it is easy to waste time playing with electronic toys; or acquiring wealth we do not actually need; or wasting time on entertainment; or surrounding ourselves with luxuries.

We are not to be conformed to this world but renewed by the transforming of our mind.

Perhaps the most vital ingredient in the overcoming life is that of denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following the Lord Jesus. If we are a sincere Christian, God will see to it that we are confined in one kind of prison or another. We do not enjoy our circumstances. There is something we desire intensely and we are not getting it.

The purpose of such prisons, such crosses, is to kill our self-will. We absolutely must die in the Lord if we are to overcome Satan. There is no other way.

Permit me now to discuss the difference between works and fruit. When we state that the actions I have mentioned above are necessary if we are to live the life of victory in Christ, a great cry goes up to Heaven. It reminds us of the people shouting "Great is Diana of the Ephesians"!

"He is teaching works! We can't have that! He is a legalist! He is detracting from the sovereignty of God in the work of salvation! We are saved by faith (translated 'belief') alone! Anything we do, any effort we make, takes away from the grace of God!"

How ignorant so many believers are! They would acknowledge that God wants us to live a righteous life. But they have been taught that it is impossible.

The good news is that He who stretched forth the sky above us has the power to enable you and me to do good works, so that people who see us acting in this manner will glorify God. Do you believe this? I know you do. We just have been taught error.

Does Christ save us in our sins or from our sins? What do you think?

Well, to sum it all up, an overcomer is an overcomer, not just someone with a better attitude. Each day there comes some sort of pressure or influence to provoke us to do something we know would not please Christ. How are we to respond?

When we read a command in the Bible, or the Lord speaks to us, are we then to say, "No, I can't do this. I must be saved by the grace of forgiveness"?

Are we to pray, "Dear Lord, I thank you for your grace. I know you are kind and forgiving. I know that God sees me through Christ. As long as I am in this world I have to sin. I wish I could do better."

Or are we to pray, "Lord, help me to do what you have commanded"? You have the power to help me resist this temptation. Help me right now, in Jesus' name."

Then do not do it! As you turn away from the temptation, Christ will feed you in the spirit realm with His own body and blood. These will build you up in Christ so that the next time you are tempted you will have the strength to resist Satan. "Resist Satan and he will flee from you"!

There is a difference between trying to save ourselves by our own works, and the works that proceed from our daily interaction with the Lord Jesus. The first are dead religious works. The second are the fruit of abiding in Christ.

Works, and fruit. Can you see the difference.

The "rewards" we associate with the Christian life, such as ruling with Christ, are reserved for those who pursue victory in Christ. The rewards actually are steps of authority and competence that lead to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the ruling priests. They shall be raised and receive the making alive of their bodies when Jesus next appears.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

(Taken from "The Overcomers," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Changing the World

2011-02-06
"For the law shall forth from Zion and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem."

If you are a Christian, your calling is to work with the Lord Jesus Christ in changing the world to conform to the Laws of the Kingdom of God. You may be able to make small changes now; but total change will take place with the coming of Christ with His saints to install the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, on the earth.

Your witness is vastly important. When people see your good works they will glorify God. This is how you can change the world today.

But the reason God deals with you as He does is that you might be prepared to work with Christ in the future. The world is in terrible shape. If you are to work with Christ in establishing the Laws of the Kingdom of God, you will have to cooperate diligently with the Holy Spirit as He brings forth in your personality a new creation that lives by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

The adamic man, no matter how hard he tries, simply cannot bring the required changes. Only Christ can do that. It has pleased the Father that Christ use those people who pursue the victorious Christian life to make the changes. They then become co-heirs with Him of the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth.

We cannot change the world by means of our own talents and energy. We absolutely must wait upon Jesus until we learn from Him what it is we are supposed to do, just as He waited on His Father to learn what to do..

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me." (John 8:28)

Our country and our world are changing. The Muslim forces are establishing a perimeter around Israel, with Lebanon on the north; Jordan on the east, Egypt on the south; and Gaza on the west. If God does not help the Jews, the outlook for them is not good. It does not look like they are going to get the help they need from the rest of the world, including America.

Also, the moral and financial state of the United States are not comforting. The American way of life is giving way to various pressures, such as the Muslim religion, socialism, and sexual perversions of one kind or another.

One of the greatest of all abominations is abortion-on-demand. How many millions of boys and girls have been murdered for no good reason? There also are the various sexual perversions and gender changes. God is not at all pleased with these, and Divine judgment will follow. The Day will come when we can do something about the distortions of God's intentions.

We ought to know better than to spit in the Face of our loving, gentle Creator!

We can respond by fretting, but there is a better way, a better world view.

There are many statements in the Bible about the saints ruling God's creation. But I do not believe these are really clear in our thinking. They just do not seem real. The reason is, we have been told that one day we will go to another place—Heaven—and there we will have no problems.

However, our going to Heaven is not the solution to bringing us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace, and certainly not the means of making the world a better place. Going to Heaven is not presented in the Scriptures as the goal of salvation. This hope comes from our Christian mythology, influenced, at least in part, by the religion of Gnosticism.

Dying and going to Heaven will not bring us to righteousness, love, joy, or peace. These come only from the Lord Jesus Christ. He can give us these right now on the earth, and in Heaven later. Actually, we are protected here on earth just as much as we will be protected in Heaven. Our troubles come from spirits, not from the physical things of earth, although physical things and circumstances may appear to be our troubles.

The whole universe of spiritual darkness came to earth from the spirit world. The earth and all its inhabitants were pronounced "very good" by the Lord Jesus when He created them. And they shall be very good once again when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.

Right at this point is where Christian thinking must be changed. The Scriptures do not teach that man is to be removed to the spirit world to live forever. The spirit world is not our home. The earth is our home. The spirit world is a temporary residence for us until the Kingdom of God comes to the earth.

We are not aware of it, but the spirit world is not far away in some distant area of the firmament. The spirit world is all around us. We "have come to Mount Zion."

But Jesus went up in the sight of His disciples and He will come again from "up there." Will He? How about the believers in China, of whom there are millions? Will He also come from "up there"? Direction is different in the spirit world, as are many of the other dimensions we are accustomed to. For example, Jesus at the same time can be talking to you and to someone across the world from you. (I think someday we will have the same ability if we remain faithful to the Lord!)

The spirit world is all around us. For the past five years, now, I have had an increased awareness of the spirit world. It is a wonderful world, that is, the "Heaven" part of the spirit world where God and Jesus are. The Lord told me He is giving me this experience so I can tell people, especially children, that if they live a decent life, and receive Jesus when He is presented to them, that there absolutely is no need to fear death.

He said He is having me do this, and perhaps many others whom I do not know, because a great multitude of people are going to be dying in the near future, and He wants them to not be afraid of what they see and experience.

Perhaps now you can understand the reason for the many passages of Scripture that speak of the Christians being given the power and authority to govern, through Christ, the works of God's hands. While such power and authority may on occasion take place now, through prayer, the main exercise of government will occur when the Lord returns.

The weapons of our warfare are not physical, they are those of righteousness, prayer, and truth. We are to place all of our treasures in Heaven where they are safe. Then when the Kingdom comes to earth they will be our possession for eternity. Our treasures are relationships, circumstances, and things.

The needed changes in the world will not take place because the Church goes to Heaven. The needed changes will come through the saints when they return with the Lord. May I say that in the future, people who have been called, chosen, and have proven faithful, will be on the highest Throne with the Lord Jesus Christ.

At that time every person either will rule, or be ruled by the believers who have pursued the life of victory in Christ. There will be no individual who is not a ruler or else ruled. The rulers will be relatively few in number, we know, because most believers of today are not pursuing the life of victory in Christ, although they could if they would put their mind to it.

Following are some of the passages that tell of the rulership of the victorious believers. They will bring the desired changes to the world when they appear with the Lord Jesus:

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (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 share 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 20:4-6)

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown. (Revelation 2:10)

Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.' (Daniel 7:27)

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one 'will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery'—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8)

Did you ever wonder why John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus did not preach about our going to Heaven? Rather, they bore witness to the rule of God (which Matthew calls "the Kingdom of Heaven" and the other writers refer to as the "the Kingdom of God"–same kingdom!).

"The Kingdom of God is at hand"! "Your kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven." Such is the testimony of John and Jesus.

The present spirit of the world is Antichrist–against Christ. But the earth and all its resources, including the nations, are the inheritance of Jesus Christ and of those who are co-heirs with Him.

It is evident that the changes we desire will not occur when we die and go to Heaven. They shall take place when we return with the Lord Jesus and govern with the rod of iron. Only then will there be peace on earth. No political effort will accomplish this, only the return of our Lord Jesus Christ and His victorious believers.

But the holy people of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever. (Daniel 7:18)

(Taken from "Changing the World," an excerpt from: The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Coming of the Kingdom

2011-02-13
John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus declared that the Kingdom of God is at hand. That was two thousand years ago.

The Jews knew about the Kingdom that is to come to the earth, for it was revealed by the Prophets. Notice their question to the resurrected Jesus:

Then they gathered around him and asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6)

What has happened since? How did the Christian hope change to the idea that if we are saved we will go to Heaven to live forever? Was it the influence of Gnosticism or of other religions? What has happened to the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?

The advent of Dispensational theology did not help, because it cut off the Prophets from the Christian believers. The truth is, the destiny of the Christian Church is found in the Prophets. When the Prophets spoke of Israel, they spoke concerning the one Olive Tree. That Olive Tree is the Spirit of Christ, and once we Gentiles receive Christ we become part of the one Olive Tree.

So today we have another gospel, the gospel of Gentiles going to Heaven to live forever in mansions while the Jews inherit the earth. Such confusion! It is completely opposed to the teaching of the Apostle Paul about the one new Man.

It may be true that the Prophet, Isaiah, was foremost in declaring the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

The "you" above is Christ, Head and Body. During the last days, which we are entering now, the disciples of the Lord are in a travail to bring forth Christ in His followers. The maturing of Christ in His followers will them into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.

When the Church (or a remnant of the Church) has been brought to maturity, the world will believe that God is the One who has sent Christ to the earth. That which has been the goal of missionary endeavors for the past two thousand years will be accomplished in a short time.

We of today are at the very beginning of the work of bringing the disciples to maturity. Much remains to be done. But all that God has declared in His Word shall come to pass, and there is no power than prevent any part of it.

See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. (Isaiah 60:2)

The spiritual darkness is increasing today. Would you agree to that? It is to grow much worse. Perhaps the Muslim religion will prevail in many countries of the world. At the height of the darkness the Lord Jesus will clothe His true people with Divine glory. All the nations shall see this light and be drawn to it. It is the same Glory that God has given to the Lord Jesus. Then the people of the nations will understand that God loves the saints as He loves the Lord Jesus.

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:3)

Here is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, announced by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus.

In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2)

Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the hip. (Isaiah 60:4)

The Father promised the Lord Jesus that He would inherit the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. The Apostle Paul informed us that we are co-heirs with Christ. Here we see it happening as families of people come from all over the earth bringing to us our sons and daughters. People are the best inheritance of all.

Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:5)

I believe the "seas" symbolize nations of people. Perhaps the "riches" are children. The nations will bring material wealth also; but the true wealth always is people. I do not believe that the heart of a true saint would "throb and swell with joy" because he or she received material riches. But children? Yes indeed!

Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD. All Kedar's flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple. (Isaiah 60:6,7)

In the present hour "money" and other forms of material wealth reign as gods. They are worshiped. The true disciples of the Lord seek the Kingdom of God first, trusting all such things will be added to them. They place their treasures in Heaven, and sometimes are among the poor of the earth.

It will not be so when the Kingdom comes to the earth. The people of the nations will turn from their worship of material wealth and will bring their treasures to the Lord's saints. Please keep in mind that God's "glorious temple" is Christ, Head and Body. They are God's Throne. They have come from Heaven to the earth to receive their inheritance.

Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? (Isaiah 60:8)

Look, he is coming with the clouds,and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7)

Jesus is coming with clouds. No doubt these are clouds of saints; for the Scripture declares that we will appear with Him. A dove returning to its nest is coming home. It has been preached for so long that Heaven is our home that this concept is commonly accepted. But it is not Scriptural. It is true that our citizenship is in Heaven, but it is the earth that is our home. The meek shall inherit the earth.

After we die we will be busily occupied in the spirit world. But the spirit world, while it is the home of the angels and other creatures of God, will never be the home of human beings. Even though our life may be joyous while we are waiting, in the spirit world, for the time when we are to appear with the Lord Jesus, we still will have a longing in our heart to return to man's home, which is the earth.

Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your children from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. (Isaiah 60:9)

We may notice how America is becoming increasingly secular. Little by little the Christian people, who in time past were at least accepted if not honored, are being regarded as some kind of fanatics who do not want to "get along" with ordinary people. The idea is that we must not offend anyone. Yet the wicked have no problem with offending us!

But in the future the saints will be governing, with the Lord Jesus, from Jerusalem, The Light of the Glory of God will be on them. This light will be seen all over the earth, and people will come from every part of the globe to honor the saints, realizing that by doing so they are honoring God.

Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion. (Isaiah 60:10)

If we think back about the history of God's anointed people, Jews and Gentiles alike, we become aware of the amount of suffering and deprivation that the holy people have endured. Even today, while we in America are asleep in our beds of ease. Christian people are being imprisoned and killed by Muslim activists. The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews describes the suffering of the saints. God's people have left bloody footprints in the snow.

But when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth. the people of the nations will make haste to serve God's elect.

The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:26)

Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations—their kings led in triumphal procession. For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. (Isaiah 60:11,12)

It may seem impossible that those who live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ will one day be the center of government of the earth, and that all other nations and kingdom will be forced to bring their wealth to Jerusalem, to serve God's holy people.

In the present hour it appears that the Muslim warriors have established a perimeter around Israel, with Lebanon on the north; Jordan on the east; Gaza on the west, and Egypt on the south. It may be true that they are gloating as they see the possibility of completely destroying Israel.

They do not understand that Israel is unique. While the Israelis appear to be at this time a largely secular nation, depending on the United States to help them, the truth is, God has called the Israelis by name and will help them in their darkest hour. God has said the Israeli s belong to Him. He will not desert them in their hour of need. God's honor is at stake here.

Every nation that does not help the Jews will be punished, and every nation that assists the Jews will be blessed. We can count on this immutable fact!

Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end. Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly. (Isaiah 60:20-22)

Go out at night and look up to the heavens. The Lord Jesus Christ stretched out these bodies. Their number and size cannot be comprehended. The distances between them are beyond our ability to imagine.

He who spoke all this into existence, and who one day will remove them as one would throw dirty clothes into a hamper. and who after that will breathe out a new and incredibly larger sky and earth, has said: "In its time I will do this swiftly."

I do not know if I will see the sun tomorrow. But after serving Christ for sixty-five years, I am certain of one thing: All that Christ has spoken in the sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah the Prophet, shall come to pass in detail. Let God be true and every man a liar. Amen.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. (Isaiah 60:1)

(Taken from "The Coming of the Kingdom," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Coming of the Lord

2011-02-20
The disciples asked the Lord Jesus what would be the sign of His coming.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:1-14)

If we want to know about the return of the Lord Jesus, then we must consider His answer to His disciples.

The first thing we notice is that there will be no "rapture" prior to His coming. Given the fact that the neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament speaks of a rapture of God's people to Heaven prior to the coming of the Lord, it is amazing how widespread this deception is. I think the "rapture" deception will fall by the wayside as world history unfolds.

The truth is, there will be no special "rapture" before the coming of the Lord. There only is the one coming of the Lord, except for the coming to each disciple personally, as described in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:6-8)

Wars and rumors of wars are not the sign of the end, nor are famines and earthquakes. These are the beginning of the birth of the Kingdom of God and of the new world of righteousness that is on the horizon.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13)

Wickedness is increasing in our day. There is coming a worldwide revival, as portrayed in the two witnesses of Revelation. It may be true that most people in the world will believe in Christ because of the revival. But there will be so much evil, the love of the majority finally will grow cold. Then the believers must stand firm to the end if they are to be saved.

So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:15-22)

"For the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." Since it is the Great Tribulation that is being discussed, does it sound to you that the elect will be present or absent during the Tribulation?

The doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the Christians is a foolish, fatuous, fanciful, totally unscriptural teaching. It is part of the Dispensational-grace theology which is nothing less than a sophisticated rebellion against God.

Whoever is teaching a pre-tribulation "rapture" of the Christian people is preventing them from being prepared to stand during the chaotic days that lie before us.

I think "the abomination that causes desolation" will be the figure of a man sitting on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem; and also the statue of a man standing on top of the Temple, at the place where Jesus was tempted.

The idea is that man is supreme. The spirit of Antichrist is that of man making himself God, as is promoted in America today. However I think that Daniel is clear that there will be a human being, man or woman, who will exemplify the ideal of man rejecting all other gods and being his own god.

Whenever man usurps the place of God, every sort of desolation follows, financial, educational, military. This why the strength of America is diminishing.

For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:27)

The coming of Jesus Christ will not be a "secret rapture." This is the very thing Christ warned us against!

Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:28)

The "carcass" is the slain Lamb in the sky. The "vultures" properly "eagles" are those who live by His body and blood.

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.

Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30)

Does the above sound to you like a "secret rapture"? It doesn't to me either.

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:31)

Now think for a moment. How could there be a secret rapture before the worldwide return of Christ, when it is at His return that the angels gather Christ's elect from one end of the heavens to the other? Are there two gatherings of the elect? This is ridiculous? It is totally illogical and unscriptural.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. (II Thessalonians 2:1,2)

The above is Paul's description of the same event. There is only one time that we are gathered to Christ, and that is during the Day of the Lord. The same Greek term for "coming" is employed in Matthew 24 and First and Second Thessalonians.

Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24:33,34)

It may be true that "all these things" are the signs in the heavens, the darkening of the sun and moon, and so forth. The generation that experiences these signs will live to see the Lord's return.

Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:40.41)

From the context it is difficult to determine whether the one who is taken is the one who is saved, or whether he or she is the one who is lost, as in the case of those drowned during the days of Noah. In any case it is clear that the judgment of God will carefully divide between the closest of people.

We must conclude that it is not enough just to "accept Christ," unless by this we mean receiving Jesus into our life every moment of every day and night. In this manner we "keep watch" so the coming of Christ does not catch us unprepared.

How different this exhortation is from the current comfortable teaching that once we make a profession of Christ we are saved eternally no matter how we behave.

If we are cruel to people, not helping them along the way, then we will not be blessed by the Lord when He returns. Rather, we will be cut to pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites.

There is no question in my mind but that we have been lied to, having been taught that all we need do is make a profession of belief in Christ. After that it does not matter how we behave, just as long as we keep on "believing in Christ. I don't know about you, but since my eternal welfare is at stake, I prefer to act according to the admonitions of the Scriptures rather than trust in the traditions of today's Bible teachers.

If through prayer and obedience to Christ we are able to escape the carousing, drunkenness, and anxieties of life of these last days, we will stand in victory in the Presence of Jesus Christ. He who endures to the end shall be saved.

(Taken from "The Coming of the Lord:II," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Servant of the Lord: II

2011-02-23
The Servant of the Lord, announced in the forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah, is Christ—Head and Body. It appears to me that not every person who professes belief in the Lord Jesus Christ is part of the Body of Christ at this time. There is a firstfruits of the Church, of God's elect, in the present hour. It is they who will be raised from the dead and raised to meet Christ in the air at His coming. They will perform the work of Christ described in the Book of Isaiah.

The rest of the Church will come to maturity in time to be part of the new Jerusalem as it comes down through the new sky and is established as the Kingdom of God upon the earth. I have written in other essays about the temporary division of the Church, the Body of Christ, and so I will not go into detail at this time. It reminds one of David and his mighty men. They were part of Israel but distinguished by their proficiency in war.

I do not advance lightly the radical thought of a temporary division of the Christian Church into a firstfruits and then the balance of the Church. However, the Book of Revelation mentions a firstfruits (Revelation, Chapter Fourteen).

Also, when one thinks about the Lord saying that no person can be His disciple without denying himself and bearing his cross after Christ, and then notices in the Book of Acts that the original Christians all were disciples, it is seen that only a small percentage of today's churchgoers actually are Christians. The standard set by Christ and His Apostles simply is not attained to by most believers.

Perhaps this is why the Gospel has been watered down in our day, such that anyone who "accepts Christ" (a term not found in the Bible) is eternally assured of residence in Heaven regardless of his or her growth into a new creation of righteous behavior.

Any individual who examines objectively the Christian churches of our day can observe that not very many "believers" are presenting their body a living sacrifice and have no intention of doing so.

So when we declare the Servant of the Lord is Christ and His Body, and that only a firstfruits of the Church of the present hour qualify as a member of the Servant of the Lord, we have objective evidence that such is the case.

The forty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah continues with Divine statements concerning the Servant of the Lord, whom we believe consists at this time of the most consecrated believers. They will appear with Christ and establish the rule of the Kingdom of God on the earth. The remainder of the Christian people must wait until the final resurrection before taking part in their predestined role as members of the Royal Priesthood, as an integral part of the new Jerusalem.

But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: do not fear, for I have redeemed you; have summoned you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)

Whenever Isaiah speaks of the Servant of the Lord, referring to him as Jacob, he is not speaking of the Jews by physical birth but of those who are called to be members of the Royal Priesthood, whether Jew or Gentile by physical birth. They are the one Seed of Abraham, in whom the nations of the earth shall be blessed.

Each such member is a special creation, called from the beginning of the world to be part of Christ. God forms such individuals into new creations of righteous behavior. God already has redeemed us. God has called us by name. We belong to Him in a special way, just as was true of the members of the Aaronic priesthood.

And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isaiah 43:2)

Every true Christian disciple experiences this promise. We go through very deep waters indeed, but they do not go over our head; we do not drown. We go through hot fires, but somehow, like the three young Hebrew men, we are not burned.

God delights in those whom He has called to be members of the Body of Christ, of the Servant of the Lord. He watches over and cherishes them. Although there are times when they feel forsaken, He always is there making certain they are not tested beyond what they are able to bear.

Don't ever give up. Keep on pressing forward. God always is there watching. If your testing is severe, it is because God has prepared a throne for you from which you will govern and bless your inheritance of people.

It may seem at times like you will drown or be set ablaze, but you won't. Just keep trusting, if your tests last for many years. And they may!

Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. (Isaiah 43:4)

There is no need for us to fear the tumult in the world. All of these chaotic conditions have as their purpose to bring forth the brothers of Christ. This may not seem fair or democratic, but it is the truth.

I think many of God's people do not realize what it means to be called as a "saint," a holy one of God. It doesn't seem fair that God would call out from the ranks of mankind a special people for his own use. But this was true of the nation of Israel, wasn't it? The Israelites were called out from the rest of the nations, although there was no merit in them that would cause God to do this.

This calling remains on the nation of Israel to the present day. There are some who would destroy Israel. But they labor in vain. Israel is the only nation that God has chosen to know Him in a special way, and He will defend Israel when necessary.

Those of us who are Gentiles by physical birth have been chosen to be part of the one Seed of Abraham, along with those Jews who have been chosen in like manner. We ought therefore to seek God with all our might that we might be found worthy of this high calling. We are not of the world, because the God of Heaven has called us out of the world that we might be a special treasure for Himself.

This may not seem fair to us. But it is the truth. If we are wise we will serve the Lord with a perfect heart. Otherwise our crown may be removed from us and given to another.

I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:6,7)

Our Lord Jesus told us that when we Christians are one, the world will believe that it is the God of Heaven who has sent Jesus into the world. That day is coming. The time of denominationalism is nearly over. There will be pressures in the future that will compel the true believers to come out of the man-made structures and become one in Christ.

This will be true of everyone whom God created for His glory, whom He formed and made. As I said, there are a relatively few Christian churchgoers who reveal in themselves the new creation of righteous behavior. The remainder are good people, (although some are malicious and do not have the Spirit of Christ.) But they are not abiding in Christ. They are not living in the Spirit of God but in the lusts and passions of the flesh.

The day will come when the firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb will be filled with the Glory of Christ. All who see them will acknowledge that they are the Seed whom the Lord has blessed. They will be referred to as the ministers of God, The Lord Jesus said that this revelation of Himself will be seen by all mankind, causing numerous people to believe and turn to the Lord.

Lead out those who have eyes but are blind, who have ears but are deaf. (Isaiah 43:8)

The people of the world see, but they do not see. The members of the Servant of the Lord do not see, but they see. Each of us needs to pray that we do not see the world as the world sees itself, but we see the world as God sees the world. That which is highly esteemed among men often is an abomination to God.

All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, "It is true." (Isaiah 43:9)

It is the way of the world to boast of its prowess and to proclaim what the future will be. This especially is true in our day because of the increase of electronic media. Such prideful boasting! But the world spirit is one massive Antichrist lie. Only that which has been proclaimed by the Lord Jesus will prove in the end to be the truth.

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior." (Isaiah 43:10,11)

There is a great deal said in the Christian churches about "witnessing." Actually, what is meant is preaching to others, telling them about the salvation that is in Jesus Christ.

However, true witnessing occurs when we know and believe Christ. God alone makes witnesses of Himself. I think it requires quite a long period of time before we can bear witness as God intends.

When we go through the waters and not drown, then we can testify of that. When we pass through the flames and are not destroyed, then we can testify of that. Many experiences through the years teach us about God's faithfulness. We then can bear witness of His faithfulness. Isn't it so?

So preaching and personal evangelism are one thing. Witnessing is something else. There is a great deal of preaching in America in our day; but the witness being given is not always a true representation of God, His Person, His ways, His will, and His eternal purpose in Christ. Would you agree to that?

Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it? (Isaiah 43:13)

There is so much unrest among nations in our day. But we have no need to fear. No one can deliver from God's hand those appointed to judgment. If we are serving the Lord Jesus, God will keep us safe from those who would harm us.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)

A few years ago, the Lord said to me in effect: "There is going to be much sin and commotion in the days to come. Put your eyes on Me. I am going to do new and surprising things that will be more than sufficient to cope with the problems in the world. Look to me and be strictly obedient. Forget the past ways of doing things."

So we see that the nations will scheme and rage. But all of this uproar is the pains of birth as the Kingdom of God and the new world of righteousness are ready to be brought forth. We have no need to fear the boastings and threats of evil men. They soon shall be brought down to nothing.

However, if we are to be safe during these terrible days, and to be able to help our loved ones and friends, we must—we absolutely must!—learn to live by the Life of Jesus. Again I say, we must live by the life of Jesus. It must be said of us that we are living no longer but it is Christ who is living in us.

We can learn to live by the Life of Jesus, but we must continually ask the Lord to help us do this.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

(Taken from "The Servant of the Lord: II," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Remaining in Christ

2011-03-06
I do not believe enough attention is being paid to the development of Christ in us, and then the abiding of the Father and Christ in that which is developed in us. It is true that when the New Testament speaks of our gaining eternal life it is referring to immortality in the body. Nevertheless, the gaining of immortality in the body depends on the forming and dwelling of Christ in us.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)

It is of the utmost importance in the present hour that we remain in Christ; that we learn to live by the Life of Christ. We are facing chaotic days in America. The light commitment of so many churchgoers will not survive the dark pressures of the future. Satan is being released, it appears, and many Americans are showing murderous hatred toward each other.

Our present government seems bent on leaving the old ways of America. While the old ways were far from perfect, there was an attempt to at least show respect toward the moral standards set forth in the Bible. The recent hostility toward Christians in America also is true in England at the present time, we may notice.

There are alien gods seeking to influence our country, gods our fathers would never have accepted. Actually there appear to be two Americas at the present time: one America that is longing for the old, familiar folkways; another newer America that is espousing moral standards that are repugnant to many of us.

Although the media do not seem to recognize this, the division no longer is between conservative and liberal thought, it increasingly is between those who are holding to previous moral standards and those who reflect global, secular values.

The pressure in the coming days will be too much for the average American churchgoer to resist. He may wonder what the country is coming to, and fret about the changes in thinking and behavior. But there will be little he can do about it except voice his indignation. The truth is, the conflict is between Christ and His adversaries, and human efforts to effect change are not sufficiently powerful or wise.

Because of our inability to successfully combat this new level of evil, Christ is urging all today who will obey Him to lay aside all their former methods and plans and seek to remain in Him, to live by His Life. Religious efforts that may have borne fruit in time past no longer will avail.

How, then, do we remain in Christ? We remain in Christ by seeking Him every moment of every day and the part of every night in which we are awake. We pray without ceasing, as the Apostle Paul admonished us. We keep looking to Jesus at every point of decision, talking to him, asking His guidance and help, giving thanks for each answer to prayer.

You may notice the proliferation of electronic devices, the various cell phones, tablets, and so forth. These increasingly fascinating devices serve to keep us from looking to Jesus. In America we have numerous distractions, including the television and the Internet. The various manufacturers of electronic communication instruments and games are laboring day and night to gain our attention so they might make more money. You may notice also the ever increasing emphasis on sexual activity, particularly involving nakedness.

We are in the closing days of the Church Age, and the tares are coming to maturity. It also is time for the wheat, the Lord's righteous people, to come to maturity. Our maturity is the fullness of Christ in us. This maturity will completely overcome the tares of wickedness; but mere human efforts will not survive the conflict.

The Lord Jesus has given us a period of time in which to learn to remain in Him. There is unrest and rebellion in some parts of the world, and a bit of this in America in the present hour. We are not accustomed to see such displays of rage. But rebellion against authority is being exercised at this time.

We absolutely must learn to walk with Jesus in every part of our daily life, not just during Sunday worship or other religious observances.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. (John 15:2)

Not only are we in danger from the forces of spiritual darkness that are increasing, but God has warned us that if we do not bear the fruit He is looking for, we will be removed from Christ, from the Vine. The fruit is the moral image of Christ in ourselves and in those whom we influence. The only way in which we can bear the moral image of Christ is by remaining in His Presence and will at all times.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)

All of our religious efforts will come to nothing if we are not remaining in Christ.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

A tree does not have to strain to bear fruit, but it must remain in the ground in order to do so. Neither do we have to strain to bring forth the image of Christ in ourselves and in others. But we do have to remain in Christ.

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

The massive error of out times is that of emphasizing believing in Christ when we should be emphasizing obeying Christ. The current message is that by grace we are relieved from obeying the commands of Christ and His Apostles. "We are saved by grace rather than by works."

We understand that Paul meant we are not saved by the works of the Law of Moses. However, numerous Christians are not at all clear about this. To interpret Paul's exhortation to mean we are not saved by obeying the commands of Christ and his Apostles is the worst possible error. The emphasis on grace rather than on obedience to Christ has destroyed the testimony of God in the United States.

If we keep the commands of Christ we will remain in His love. If we do not keep the commands of Christ, and those He gave through His Apostles, we will not remain in His love. We will not bear fruit. We will be cut out of the Vine.

This idea that grace excuses us from having to obey God and Christ is firmly entrenched in Fundamentalist Christian thinking. But it is false and destructive. The effect of this widespread error is directly responsible for the weakening of our country.

The grace error is based on the fact that we cannot possibly keep the commandments of God and Christ. It is true that we cannot keep God's commandments in our own strength and wisdom. But there is wisdom and power under the new covenant to deliver us from Satan and to enable us to obey Christ.

Is it a new thought to us that the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority and power to enable us to obey Him, His Apostles, and His Father? He kept His Father's commandments. We are to keep His commandments. What could be plainer than this?

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.

Now I am yelling at you. Could we be so bold as to venture that if we do not keep the commands of Christ we will not remain in His love—in fact, we will be cut out of the Vine?

When I first was brought to Christ while in the Marine Corps, I was taught that we must believe the Bible. I believe the Bible. Do you?

Who do you believe is the source of the concept that grace takes the place of keeping the commands of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you have any idea? I do, and it isn't God!

So we have a tremendous lie, a new gospel that is taking the place of denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following our Lord at all times.

Sure the Lord said that if we do not remain in Him we will not bear fruit and will be cut out of the Vine. Sure the Lord said that we remain in His love provided we keep His commands.

Oh yes, the Lord said those things. But we know better. We know that Paul told us we are not saved by works, and so Paul knows better than Christ. Do you believe this? Neither do I.

What did Paul mean when he said we are not righteous by works? He meant that we no longer are found righteous by observing the works of the Law of Moses. How come everyone doesn't understand this? It is no wonder I yell. People, we are supposed to go by the Bible, not by the traditions of Bible teachers.

There are many unscriptural teachings brought forth every Sunday, in the United States of America. But beyond all doubt, the most horribly destructive is the idea that Paul taught we do not have to keep the commands of Christ. What doctrine possibly could be more against the will, ways, and purposes of God? It is a false witness of God! Maybe this is the doctrine of the Nicolaitans mentioned in the Book of Revelation. It certainly has conquered the people!

I don't claim that it really is that doctrine. But if anything it may be worse!

I am too old to be carrying on like this. But I do hope to see a giant turn around before I die, in which God's people are walking with the Lord Jesus and obeying His commands. Wouldn't that be the most wonderful thing that could happen!

If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:6)

(Taken from "Remaining in Christ" an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Temporary and Then the Eternal

2011-03-13
Yesterday I went to the dentist. A crown on one of my teeth had broken. The dentist took it off. Then he inserted a temporary crown. He said, "Come back at a later time and I will remove the temporary crown and replace it with a permanent crown."

I was praying in the early hours of this morning. Suddenly it came to me: The temporary crown and then the permanent crown are an excellent example of what takes place as we endure the rigors of redemption.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

I sometimes have wondered why God requires that we allow Him to crucify our first personality. We have so much good in us and so much that is evil. Why didn't God make us the way He wants us in the first place? Why go through this prolonged, painful process of crucifixion?

I cannot answer the question "why." But it is clear that this is the way God works. First there is the flesh. Then there is the Spirit.

The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. (I Corinthians 15:41-49)

"The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead." Paul is telling us here that when we are raised from the dead and assume our eternal form, we will reveal a splendor that we have not known while in our original adamic form.

We were of the dust of the earth. Now we are a "heavenly man." But we still are "Adam." This is true of both male and female persons.

We will be raised in an imperishable form. Here is John 3:16 fulfilled: "Whoever puts his faith in Christ will not perish but have eternal life," that is, immortality.

"All flesh is grass," the prophet proclaimed. So it is true. Our first form is of the earth and is temporary. Our second form, if we are remaining in Christ, is eternal. Our resurrection from the dead will result in our being a son or daughter of God—that which we always were meant to be.

I hope I can communicate in this brief essay the fact that our present life on the earth is not only temporary, it is an animal existence compared with the life-giving spirit that we are destined to be. Such a change requires that we remain in Christ, obeying Him at all times. The inheritance is "to him who overcomes."

"The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

Perishable; dishonorable; weak; fleshly. Such is our present body. If we remain faithfully in Christ, we one day will have a form that is imperishable; honorable; powerful; filled with the Spirit of God. Such is our great hope.

I have written previously that what we have now is a guarantee on the full redemption that will be ours when we are raised from the dead. In several passages we find that we will not be "alive" until we have been raised from the dead. Notice carefully the following passage:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23)

Notice in the above that we are not "alive" until Christ comes, that is, until we have attained to the resurrection from the dead.

Again:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

Now think about this. John is telling us about Christians who had not worshiped Antichrist. John says, speaking of the first resurrection from the dead: "They came to life." Obviously they had been spiritually alive prior to this time. But they were not "alive" in the scriptural sense until Christ returned.

I believe Christian theology has been influenced to a great extent by the religion of Gnosticism–so much so that we have lost sight of the fact that the good news of the Christian salvation is that we will regain what was lost in the Garden of Eden.

If I understand the Gnostic religion, it views the flesh as evil and the spirit as good. This is not at all true of the Christian salvation. The flesh itself is not evil, it is the spirits that inhabit the flesh that are evil. There is wickedness in our spirit also, and the program of redemption makes our spirit holy.

What was lost in Eden was immortality in the body. Christ has come to overturn this curse and restore immortality to us. This is our great hope, not that of a "rapture" in which we flee from the earth and live in a mansion in Heaven. How utterly ridiculous!

Notice Paul's hope and goal:

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

Now, what does all this mean to us as individuals? It means that we have a temporary form and an eternal form. The first is weak and perishable. The second form is powerful and eternal.

Seeing that such is the case, the wise person will always be looking toward the day when the Lord Jesus appears and changes him or her from a perishable, weak individual into a glorious, powerful, eternal individual.

We may think of ourselves as person A and person B, with A being the perishable form and B being the imperishable form. If we are to be changed from A to B when Jesus returns, we must be remaining in Him at all times, always looking to Him for every detail of our life.

The promises of glory found in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are reserved for the victorious saints. I am convinced that our most difficult battle is that of learning to live by the Life of Jesus.

It appears that we were born with a fierce desire to control our own life. I do not know of many Christians who have turned over their life to Jesus so they can say truthfully, as did the Apostle Paul: "I am living no longer but Christ is living in me." We all seem to be filled with self-determination.

But I am persuaded that our present life is little more than that of an intelligent animal—at least compared with life B. Therefore we should devote our attention to listening to Jesus so we may obey Him diligently and continually.

Given what we know about the two forms of man, the animal and the Divine, the wise person will see to it that he each day attains to the inward resurrection. We must prepare ourselves so that when Jesus appears we are qualified and competent to be changed into the form befitting the offspring of God

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

(Taken from "The Temporary, and Then the Eternal" an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Awaking of the Mortal Body

2011-03-20
As far as I can tell, the New Testament is not focused primarily on gaining eternal life in our inward man but on gaining immortality in the body when the Lord Jesus appears.

When we die our body sleeps, according to the Scripture. So the resurrection will be an awakening. People often speak of a glorified body, as though we are going to lose our present body and get a new one. However this is not true.

The truth is, the body we have now will be made alive at the coming of the Lord, if we have lived a victorious Christian life. It appears the New Testament is not addressed primarily to our gaining eternal life in our inward man, as important as that is, but on attaining to immortality in the body when the Lord Jesus appears. At least that was Paul's goal.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10,11)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

In the present hour our body is dead spiritually because of the sin that dwells in it. But our inward nature is alive because the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to it, and because we are making every effort to obey the Law of the Spirit of Life, that is, the Holy Spirit.

Our inward nature is alive because we have put our faith in Christ. The Life of God always proceeds from righteousness, first imputed as we come to Christ, then actual as the Spirit of God begins to make us a new, righteous creation.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)

Notice in the above verse that eternal life is a result of freedom from sinful behavior, and obedience to God. The great error of our time is the notion that if we make a profession of Christ we have eternal life, even though after a period of time there is no evidence of a change in our behavior.

God will give life to our mortal body because His Spirit is living in us. This is referring, of course, to the Day of Resurrection. If, however, we as a Christian continue to obey the sinful compulsions of our body, God's Spirit will not dwell in us.

This means that when the Lord returns our body will not be made alive. We have killed our spiritual life. If our inward nature has died because we have not chosen to put to death the actions of our body, our body will not be made alive at the coming of Christ.

Because confusion concerning the resurrection seems to be prevailing in our day, partly because of the unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture" of the believers, I would like to emphasize that it is our present body that will be made alive.

"Will give life to your mortal bodies." Not only will our body be raised from its place of internment, but it will be clothed with a body from Heaven that has been formed according our actions during our lifetime on the earth. The heavenly body has been fashioned by the Spirit of God. Our mortal body will be made alive by being clothed with our heavenly body.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)

This is what will take place for those who are "asleep in Jesus" when Christ returns. To be asleep in Jesus means we have steadfastly maintained our commitment to Christ while living on the earth. We have remained in Him. We have lived a victorious Christian life.

To have our mortal body made alive and filled with the Spirit of God is the crowning work of salvation. The last enemy has been destroyed. Now we are alive forever in the Presence of Christ and of God. This was the goal of the Apostle Paul, and is to be our goal also.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (I Corinthians 15:42-44)

Notice that our present mortal body is perishable. If we continue to live victoriously in Christ, then, when He appears from Heaven, our body will be raised from its place of internment and clothed with our house from Heaven. The clothing of that which is mortal with that which is immortal was prefigured by the gold that covered the wood of the Ark of the Covenant.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

Now here is a marvelous thing. As soon as our body has been raised and clothed with its house from Heaven, it will be able to give eternal life to God's creatures. In that day we will bring forth with exceeding joy, from the Throne of God that has been established in us, the Water of Life that will cause the creation to live.

This is why Paul wrote that the creation will be made alive when the sons of God, those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, are revealed in their glory.

The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. (I Corinthians 15:47)

We need to remember that in our first form, which previously I have termed Form A, is dust. We may view ourselves as someone great, but we actually are of the dust of the earth. The second man, Form B, is of Heaven.

Both the old man and the and the new man from Heaven are "Adam," that is, "man." This is true of both men and women. Because of the curse, women have been made subject to man. The fact is, once the curse has been lifted it will be seen that the woman, along with the man are both in God's image. The woman shows one aspect of God. The man reveals another aspect of God.

I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (I Corinthians 15:50)

Notice that the first man in his or her mortal body cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. It is the new man, having the newly created inner man and clothed with the House from Heaven, who inherits the Kingdom. This is why Paul advised us that if we continue to live in the sins of the flesh we will kill our inward nature and not inherit the Kingdom.

Of interest here is the term "perishable." This reminds us of John 3:16, that informs us if we believe in Christ we will not perish. Spirits do not perish. As I see it there is no way to kill or destroy a spirit once it has been created.

When I refer to our inward nature being killed I mean that the Spirit of God has been withdrawn from it, not that our spirit has been obliterated. A spirit once created endures for eternity, as far as I know. It will be conscious somewhere in the universe.

The influence of Gnosticism can be seen as Christians view the flesh as evil and perceive their salvation as eternal residence in the spirit Heaven. The truth is, God is going to make alive our flesh such that it has immortality. John 3:16 is speaking of gaining immortality, not of going to Heaven.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. Romans 2:7)

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."(I Corinthians 15:51-54)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:11)

(Taken from "The Awaking of the Mortal Body" an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The New Covenant

2011-03-27
Perhaps it is true that there is not much said today about the new covenant. Most of the preaching is about how to "get saved." We say we are under a different dispensation when the Bible says we are under a new covenant. These two concepts are not at all the same in the way they work out in practice.

I believe the new covenant is summed up in the words of Peter when he told us to take heed to the Scriptures until the day dawns and Christ, the Morning Star, arises in our heart.

This teaches us that if we are to bring forth Christ, we, in a sincere adamic personality, must read the Scriptures and pray for help in being obedient to the Word until Christ is formed in us. Such is the true approach to salvation, to the new creation.

Here are the traditional "four steps of salvation:

All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

We cannot save ourselves.

Christ died to forgive our sins.

When we die we go to Heaven to live forever in a mansion.

There is no moral transformation, no new creation, in the traditional four steps of salvation. Therefore this is an unscriptural way of salvation.

Here are four steps of salvation that would agree with the new covenant described in the Book of Hebrews:

We repent and turn away from our sins.

We are baptized in water into the death and resurrection of Christ.

We live as a disciple, pray, read our Bible, deny ourselves while patiently carrying our cross after Christ, and obey God in everything while Christ is being formed in us.

We have eternal fellowship with God and Christ.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The Apostle Paul travailed in birth until Christ was formed in the believers in Galatia. By doing so, Paul was travailing that the new covenant would be formed in the believers. Christ Himself is the New Covenant!

You know, the Book of Hebrews states clearly what the new covenant is. I don't believe I ever have heard anyone teach from the Book of Hebrews exactly what the new covenant is. However, it no doubt is true that numerous Bible scholars have taught the new covenant clearly and scripturally.

What I have heard consistently from the time I became a Christian is the famous "four steps of salvation," including the ideas that all people have sinned; we cannot save ourselves; Christ died to forgive our sins through his atoning blood; if we believe and profess this we will go to Heaven and not to Hell when we die.

I think this approach to salvation must proceed from dispensational theology. It certainly is not laid out as clearly in the New Testament as the new covenant is.

A study of the Book of Acts will reveal that the emphasis was on repentance, that is, on turning away from sin. Then the believers were to be baptized in water and continue to serve the Lord while the new covenant was taking effect.

The American Christians are so weak morally, because of the unscriptural application of Divine grace, that they cannot prevail against the spiritual forces that are driving abortion and homosexual behavior in our country? They are attempting to battle against Satan with political activism instead of with righteous behavior, holiness of personality, and stern obedience to God. When the righteous are not righteous enough they will be overcome by the wicked.

How do you feel about this? Is this what you have been taught—that God's grace is a substitute for moral change?

Compare the "four steps of salvation" with how the Scriptures describe the new covenant:

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:10)

The passage above from Hebrews is a quotation from the Book of Jeremiah. The thought is that God was not satisfied with the results of the Law of Moses. There was nothing wrong with the Law itself; but the sinful nature of man prevented satisfactory obedience to the various commandments and statutes.

Right here is the point I am pressing. God has given us a new covenant because the people did not keep his laws. Do you think God's solution to our sinning is that God no longer will regard our behavior as sinful, having come to the conclusion that we are hopelessly bound in disobedience? Or would it not be reasonable to conclude that the new covenant is a better covenant because it enables us to obey God's laws?

What do you think would be a "better" covenant from God's point of view?

The current teaching is that because we could not keep God's laws under the covenant of Moses, God, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, now counts us righteous whether or not we are obeying his laws. Am I correct or incorrect in my understanding of the present teaching?

Perhaps some would be troubled by the fact that God made the new covenant with the "house of Israel," not with us Gentiles. You may have heard the expression "the Gentile Church." There is no such institution. There only is the one Olive Tree, the one house of Israel, the one Seed of Abraham, the one new Man.

When we receive the Lord Jesus Christ and become part of him, we are true Israel. All of God's Kingdom promises are to the true Israel, although God has promised to visit physical Israel with salvation, at the end of the Church Age.

According to current teaching, the writer of Hebrews should have said, "God has mercy on the people of Israel because they are bound in sin. Therefore he took the penalty of sin upon himself, dying on the cross that they might be forgiven. Now they are reconciled to God forever through the authority of the atonement made on the cross of Calvary."

How do you feel about this? Does what I have just written correspond with what is being taught in America as being the plan of salvation, the new covenant?

But is this what the Word of God states?

Now, let us compare what the Bible says with what is being taught today and see if we can determine whether God has concluded that we are helpless sinners and must please him only by being forgiven regardless of our conduct, or whether the new covenant does something to correct our behavior.

There really is a vast, practical gulf between these two conclusions regarding the new covenant.

Think about the following carefully, and compare it with the popular conception of the Christian salvation:

"I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts."

Contrast this with:

"We are reconciled to God (made righteous) forever through the authority of the atonement." Can you see any significant difference, any practical difference between the two understandings?

What is the significant, practical difference? The scriptural version of the new covenant is that of writing God's laws in our mind and on our heart. The current version is that of forgiveness alone. The current version does not contemplate a change in what we are or how we behave, except in an incidental manner: "We ought to try to do good in appreciation for what Christ has done for us on the cross."

But there is no power in that stance. There only is the good will of the believer. Such good will cannot possibly survive in the demon-infested culture of the United States of America. Our endeavoring to please Christ out of appreciation for what he has done for us is not mentioned by the Spirit when setting forth the new covenant. This approach to our redemption from the hand of Satan does not possess enough strength to resist the present wave of pornography, for example.

Let me clarify what is meant by the laws of God. The laws of God that are to be written in our mind and on our heart are not the same as the Law of Moses. They are the eternal moral laws of God. The eternal moral laws of God are what God Is. They compose his moral image. They have existed from eternity and shall exist into the future, ages without end. God never changes what he Is.

The Ten Commandments and the remainder of the Law of Moses never were intended to be the permanent covenant of God with man. They are a reflection of the eternal Divine Character. Their purpose was to keep sin under control until the Seed of Abraham, the Lord Jesus Christ, came making it possible for the eternal moral law of God to be created in the personalities of God's sons.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the eternal moral law of God, made flesh. We, through Christ, are the flesh being made the Word of God, the eternal moral law of God, the moral image of our Father, God.

We conclude that if God's intention is to make man in his moral image, conforming him to the Firstborn Son, then forgiveness alone is not going to accomplish God's purpose.

But precisely how does God go about putting his eternal moral laws in our mind and writing them on our heart? First we notice that it is God who does it. It is not merely a program of memorizing the Scriptures and then attempting to obey them.

I think there is a passage in the Book of Second Corinthians that provides some insight into the process of writing God's eternal moral laws in our mind and on our heart:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18—NASB)

When the statement is made about the "unveiled face" it means the Glory of the Lord no longer is hidden from us, as the covering over Moses' face concealed the Divine Glory from the people of Israel.

But precisely what is the mirror into which we are to look in order to see the Glory of the Lord.

That mirror is, first of all, the Scriptures. It is the Scriptures that reveal the Glory of the Lord. It is the Scriptures that show us whether our face is clean or dirty.

The Scriptures work together with the things that happen to us, the problems and challenges we encounter.

We do not see all the dirt on our face all at once, but little by little, line upon line, commandment upon commandment.

This is how it works. Paul, in the first chapter of the Book of Romans, tells us that those who gossip are worthy of death. It may happen that someone points out to us that we are gossiping. We may become angry and justify ourselves, saying, "I am no worse than anyone else in the church!"

Then the next morning, during our devotions, we happen on Paul's statement in Romans. The Holy Spirit causes the word "gossips" to stand out. We are convicted of sin.

So we go to prayer. We tell the Lord Jesus that we are sinning. We are gossiping. We are slandering others. We are judgmental. We confess this attitude as sin. We ask for forgiveness, resolving that with the Lord's help we never again will gossip.

Because of our confession and resolve, we are given to eat of Jesus Christ, the Tree of Life. In this manner the power of the new covenant is increased in us.

By the way, our actions here drive out the spirits of gossip. This is the doctrine of "eternal judgment" mentioned in the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. It is an eternal judgment of evil spirits.

What happens when we do this? The result of our prayer indeed is profound and has eternal consequences. First, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us for gossiping, our hateful, judgmental attitude.

We do not realize it, but by confessing our sin and resolving to turn away from it, we have partaken of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We are more able now to recognize that which is good and that which is evil. This is how Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness, isn't it?

In addition we are given to eat of the Tree of Life, which is the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. It is eternal resurrection life, the Life of Christ. We now have strength that we did not have before to embrace that which is good and renounce that which is evil.

We are more in the image of God than we were before we confessed and turned away from the sin of gossiping.

Whenever the Israelites obeyed God strictly, slaying all the inhabitants of the designated cities, as they did under Joshua, they prospered mightily, But when they became careless and did not pursue the enemy ruthlessly, they were defeated and forced to permit their enemies to live among them.

So it is if we are not ruthless in dealing with the sins of our flesh and spirit, parts of our sinful nature will cling to us and may even profess to help us

God now has written his eternal moral law in our mind so we understand that gossiping is evil and not of the image of God. It belongs in the Lake of Fire with all other aspects of murder and hatred.

God has written his eternal moral law on our heart so that we desire to cease gossiping and from now on seek to speak that which builds up our fellow members of the Body of Christ.

While we are undergoing this transformation into the image of the Glory of the Lord, God forgets our sins of the past and overlooks those aspects of our behavior that he has not dealt with as yet.

What I have just described is the operation of the new covenant. It is a better covenant, not because God only forgives us but because God redeems us from all the works of darkness, from the person and image of Satan, from all that is not of the image of the Lord God of Heaven.

If we will be faithful to confess and turn away from our sins as the Spirit of God points them out to us, God will give us an inheritance among those who have been made holy, as they obediently have cooperated with his Spirit throughout the process of creating the believers in his image.

The Book of First John states that God has forgiven the sins of the whole world. Forgiveness is on the table. We have to eat of it by faith. Christ never will be crucified again.

There is no provision, under the old or new covenants, for willful sin, only for sins of ignorance; or when someone suddenly and fiercely is tempted, falls, and then is in an agony of repentance. But the Christian who willfully and knowingly keeps on sinning would be crucifying Christ again and again, and God will not stand for this. That individual is near to cursing and burning.

The new covenant presumes that the sins of every believer have been forgiven once and for all, the sins of the past, present, and future. The new covenant presumes also that the believer is a consecrated Christian who is not following his sinful nature but is praying and seeking the Lord every day.

Thus we see that the new covenant is a covenant between two or more people. It is not a testament, in which a person bequeaths money or property to chosen people and the recipient has no obligation but to receive the inheritance.

The blood atonement, on the other hand, is a testament, requiring the death of the Testator. It is not a covenant. We are obligated only to receive by faith the forgiveness paid for by the death of Jesus. Thus forgiveness comes as an inheritance, we might say. The new covenant includes the testament of forgiveness, but its primary purpose is to change the character of the person entering into the contract with the Lord God of Heaven.

The new covenant is a covenant, not a testament. It is a contract. If one of the parties defaults on the contract, the other party is not obligated to fulfill his part of the contract.

In every contract there are considerations—benefits that accrue to each signer of the contract. So we need to think what benefits accrue to God, and what benefits accrue to us if we keep our end of the contract. God always will keep his end of the contract if we are faithful to do what we have agreed to do.

The benefits that accrue to God, if we are faithful to follow Christ each day, begin with God receiving a loving, obedient son or daughter. The son and daughter then can become living stones in the eternal tabernacle of God, the tabernacle through which God can govern and bless the nations of the earth. Additional benefits include brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ; a Wife for the Lamb; judges of men and angels; soldiers in an army that shall install with force the Kingdom of God on the earth; and the means of fulfilling all of the other roles and tasks that must be performed in God's Kingdom.

The benefits that accrue to us are first, we are counted righteous in God's sight. We are approved of God. This was the Apostle Paul's main goal.

And then the following: We now can have fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We will live eternally in the fullness of the Presence of God. We will have immortality in our body. We will inherit people whom we can love and serve as members of the Royal Priesthood. All these considerations and many more will accrue to the individual who keeps his or her part of the new covenant.

The doctrine that teaches the benefit that accrues to the faithful disciple is eternal residence in the spirit world, and that he arrives there by grace apart from any moral transformation, has destroyed the witness of the Christian churches in America. Therefore Divine judgment is in store for us. The Christian people have not served as lights of the world because they have not been transformed morally.

Our nation may be past the point of restoration, as in the days of King Josiah. But the Book of the Law has been found, so to speak. If we will repent, as did King Josiah, God will bless us and our loved ones with righteousness, security, love, peace, and joy throughout the coming Gentile holocaust, even though, because of abortion and other abominations, our nation loses its position of leadership in the world.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Hebrews 8:1)

(Taken from "The New Covenant," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Canaan, and the Rest of God

2011-04-03
Traditionally, Heaven has been viewed as that which is symbolized by Canaan, the land of milk and honey. Thus, going to Heaven when we die is considered to be the goal of our salvation. This concept well may be the most destructive of all the man-made interpretations of the Scriptures.

The major doctrinal errors of today, such as the ideas that "grace" is an alternative to righteous behavior, "eternal security," and the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture," are all based on the idea that the goal of our salvation is to go to Heaven when we die and live there forever in a mansion.

I have walked with the Lord Jesus for more than sixty-five years. During the last four or five years, I have become more aware of the spirit world. The spirit world is much like our own world, which is not surprising since our world was made from the spirit world.

In fact, if the curse were lifted, and the Spirit of God filled the earth, and God removed Satan and all his works (and that actually is going to happen), I think we would be pleased to stay right here after we died.

Something to think about, isn't it?

But let us consider for a moment the true goal of salvation, the inheritance of the righteous. It has nothing to do with moving from earth to Heaven. Our primary inheritance is to be changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, both internally, and then, at His coming, in outward form.

Equally important is that we be at rest in the center of God's Person and will. When these two objectives have been fulfilled, then the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will make us Their eternal dwelling place.

Canaan, the land of promise, is akin in meaning to the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Canaan speaks of the coming of the Father and the Son to make us Their home. Once we have been saved and filled with God's Spirit, we then are to press forward into the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Included in our inheritance are those whom God has given us to care for, and then the farthest reaches of the earth.

You easily can verify these aspects of our goal, our inheritance, by examining the Scriptures.

Is there a Heaven where God, Christ, the saints, and holy angels are? Of course. But it is not our home, except during the period before Christ sets up His Kingdom on the earth. Eventually the spirit and physical worlds shall become one new world of righteous behavior.

I stress "behavior" because for so long we have been accustomed to believe that the only righteousness we ever can know is that which is ascribed to us by "grace." We always will be miserable sinners, it is supposed. The truth is, Christ desires to make us a new creation of righteous behavior.

The Kingdom of God does not consist of miserable sinners who are righteous only by ascribed righteousness but victorious saints who are in the image of the Lord.

Now let us think for a moment about the practical outworking of what I am teaching. The practical aspect is that we do not enter our land of promise by dying and entering the spirit world. We enter our land of promise now, today, by following the Lord Jesus as he guides us through His Spirit.

The Book of Hebrews refers to our Canaan, our land of promise, as God's "rest."

God's rest is our state of being when we are abiding in the center of God's Person and will. Obviously, there is a great difference between waiting to die so we can go to Heaven, and pressing each day into God and His will.

Can you see why I said at the beginning that the concept of our goal being to go to Heaven when we die is not only unscriptural, it is a major hindrance to most believers? It puts them in a waiting mode rather than pressing forward, as did the Apostle Paul, into that which God has appointed for them.

All I wish to say in this briefest of essays may be found in the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Hebrews.

The Jewish believers being addressed in the Book of Hebrews were seasoned Christians, having been saved through faith in the blood atonement, filled with the Spirit of God, and had survived persecution and also tasted the powers of the coming age. They were more spiritually advanced in the things of Christ than is true of most of today's Christians, it appears.

We would expect the writer of Hebrews to congratulate them on their religious accomplishments, comfort them with the assurance of salvation, and point them toward their mansions in Heaven as their reward when they died.

Instead the Book of Hebrews is largely a rebuke, an exhortation to them to enter further into God, that is, into God's Person and will for them.

Notice in the third chapter of Hebrews how the writer compares our salvation with the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. I would suppose most of us recognize that Israel coming out of Egypt is a type of our being saved by repenting of our life in the world, and being baptized to show we now are dead to the world and alive in the resurrection of Christ.

Perhaps a smaller number of us view the time spent in the wilderness of wandering as symbolic of the rigors of our discipleship. I think some reject this symbolism because it does not fit their understanding of Divine grace. However, it is clear that the writer of Hebrews accepts the wilderness wandering as a portrayal of the many dangers and sufferings of our pilgrimage.

But then the writer warns his audience that they were in danger of not inheriting the land of promise, just as the Israelites, except for two people, did not enter the land of milk and honey. It is obvious the writer believes that it is possible for a Christian to "die in the wilderness" and not attain to the goal set before him.

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19)

The "believers" often do not seek to lay hold on that for which God has grasped them!

Then the writer exhorts us to "make every effort to enter that rest," that is, into the state of being where we are resting in God's Person and will.

In some instances, the Israelites did not "make every effort" to enter their inheritance. God told them to show no mercy but to destroy utterly the enemy that was living in their land of promise.

You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you. (Deuteronomy 7:16)

When we seek to enter into the state of being where we are resting in God's Person and will, we are resisted by the forces of Satan, whether dwelling in our flesh or in the atmosphere around us. It is up to us to show these spirits no mercy but to ruthlessly drive them out by the authority and power of Christ.

Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. (Deuteronomy 7:20)

The unclean spirits may go into hiding, or attempt to persuade you that they are harmless, or "everyone is doing it," or "God wants you to be happy," or they are not dwelling in you any longer. This is why in order to enter the rest of God you have to meditate in the Scriptures, pray continually, and gather together on a regular basis with fervent believers.

If some of these efforts are not possible, you might ask God to make them possible. You have to be diligent if you are to be successful in driving the enemy from your "land."

In many instances the Israelites settled down and did not make the supreme effort to obey God by utterly destroying the enemy. They are suffering to the present hour for this lack of diligence.

The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites. (Judges 1:21)

But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. (Judges 1:27)

When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. (Judges 1:28)

"And you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.'" (Judges 2:2,3)

God in His Word has given His Church numerous promises, including total victory over the enemy—more than conquerors. But we have chosen instead to flee to Heaven. We also have created a doctrine of "grace" that permits the enemy to live with us in peace.

As God has declared, these spirits and gods we have accepted have become snares to us. The result is, our country, America, is overrun with sexual lust. It is in danger of being weakened until it no longer is a leading nation of the world.

So the issue is, what does Canaan represent? If we think of Canaan as representing going to Heaven when we die, then the idea of making every effort to enter God's rest does not make sense. Either we, as Paul, are pressing with all diligence that we may grasp that for which we have been grasped, or we are waiting to die until we go to Heaven.

It easily can be seen that we are facing a major problem in Christian thinking. Either we are to be "saved," filled with the Spirit, and then wait to die to enter our land of promise; or we are to be entering it today as we follow the Spirit of God in all of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

How often the Christian salvation is viewed as being a waiting to go to Heaven where (we think) our problems will be solved! Our dangers and afflictions are thought of as being random attacks of Satan.

Thus when we die we are unprepared for what we will face in the spirit world.

Would we be more able to march in victory, ready to walk with Jesus when we die, if we perceived our daily battles as part of the process in which we move toward our goal, the rest of God?

There are different ways of coping with our tribulations. We can become angry with God, or feel sorry for ourselves, or blame people. God is not pleased with these responses. The correct manner in which to respond to problems is to keep seeking Jesus for understanding and deliverance. In this manner we grow in God's Person and will, entering our land of promise.

One primary characteristic of Canaan is that it was filled with enemies who had lived there for hundreds of years. God told Abraham he could not possess the land until the sin of the Amorites had matured. So it is today, isn't it, that sin is coming to maturity? Consequently God is ready to give us the land; but we have to take it by fighting the enemy that dwells in us and with us.

There are three major enemies that prevent our dwelling contentedly in the Person of Christ and His will for us. The first enemy is our looking to the world for our survival and security. The second enemy is the sinful forces that dwell in our flesh. The third enemy is our self-will, our determination to live our life the way we want instead of looking to Jesus for every decision we make.

If we are to enter God's rest, our Canaan, we have to be ruthless. There is to be no compromise with the spiritual darkness that has lived in and around us throughout our lifetime.

First, we must refuse to be involved in the world spirit any more than is necessary. This world is not our home. The earth is our home, but the spirit of the world is Antichrist, and we can never find peace in it except as we follow Jesus carefully.

Second, as the Spirit of God points out to us the sins we are committing, we are to confess them specifically; denounce them as evil; renounce them with all our might, and turn to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.

Third, we must remain in the prison in which Christ permits Satan to place us. We cannot have what we intensely desire. We are forced to remain in situations that are unpleasant. This crucifixion may persist for many years. Thus we have to place our treasures in Heaven.

It is in God's prisons that the self-will is burned out of us. We have to suffer just as the Apostle Paul had to suffer; just as Christ Himself had to suffer. We have to be made weak until we are living by the wisdom and strength of Christ rather than by our own wisdom and strength.

Until these three areas of spiritual darkness are overcome, we cannot possibly find eternal rest in God's Person and will.

So today we have been brought to the Jordan. The Jordan River symbolizes death to our self-determination. We have left Egypt, the world. We have received the Law of the Spirit, symbolized by Mount Sinai. And now we are at the Jordan. We must be circumcised in our heart. The daily manna is about to cease and we will be given to eat of the grain grown in the land of Canaan, that is, of Christ who is being formed in us.

Who among us is willing to take up his or her cross and follow the Master into Canaan, into the rest of God? It will cost us everything. But not to do so will result in eternal loss that may be irreparable. We may never again have the chance to follow our heavenly Joshua into the fullness of our assigned inheritance.

Have I not commanded you? "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

(Taken from "Canaan, and the Rest of God," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)Traditionally, Heaven has been viewed as that which is symbolized by Canaan, the land of milk and honey. Thus, going to Heaven when we die is considered to be the goal of our salvation. This concept well may be the most destructive of all the man-made interpretations of the Scriptures.

(4/3/2011). The major doctrinal errors of today, such as the ideas that "grace" is an alternative to righteous behavior, "eternal security," and the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture," are all based on the idea that the goal of our salvation is to go to Heaven when we die and live there forever in a mansion.

I have walked with the Lord Jesus for more than sixty-five years. During the last four or five years, I have become more aware of the spirit world. The spirit world is much like our own world, which is not surprising since our world was made from the spirit world.

In fact, if the curse were lifted, and the Spirit of God filled the earth, and God removed Satan and all his works (and that actually is going to happen), I think we would be pleased to stay right here after we died.

Something to think about, isn't it?

But let us consider for a moment the true goal of salvation, the inheritance of the righteous. It has nothing to do with moving from earth to Heaven. Our primary inheritance is to be changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, both internally, and then, at His coming, in outward form.

Equally important is that we be at rest in the center of God's Person and will. When these two objectives have been fulfilled, then the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will make us Their eternal dwelling place.

Canaan, the land of promise, is akin in meaning to the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. Canaan speaks of the coming of the Father and the Son to make us Their home. Once we have been saved and filled with God's Spirit, we then are to press forward into the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Included in our inheritance are those whom God has given us to care for, and then the farthest reaches of the earth.

You easily can verify these aspects of our goal, our inheritance, by examining the Scriptures.

Is there a Heaven where God, Christ, the saints, and holy angels are? Of course. But it is not our home, except during the period before Christ sets up His Kingdom on the earth. Eventually the spirit and physical worlds shall become one new world of righteous behavior.

I stress "behavior" because for so long we have been accustomed to believe that the only righteousness we ever can know is that which is ascribed to us by "grace." We always will be miserable sinners, it is supposed. The truth is, Christ desires to make us a new creation of righteous behavior.

The Kingdom of God does not consist of miserable sinners who are righteous only by ascribed righteousness but victorious saints who are in the image of the Lord.

Now let us think for a moment about the practical outworking of what I am teaching. The practical aspect is that we do not enter our land of promise by dying and entering the spirit world. We enter our land of promise now, today, by following the Lord Jesus as he guides us through His Spirit.

The Book of Hebrews refers to our Canaan, our land of promise, as God's "rest."

God's rest is our state of being when we are abiding in the center of God's Person and will. Obviously, there is a great difference between waiting to die so we can go to Heaven, and pressing each day into God and His will.

Can you see why I said at the beginning that the concept of our goal being to go to Heaven when we die is not only unscriptural, it is a major hindrance to most believers? It puts them in a waiting mode rather than pressing forward, as did the Apostle Paul, into that which God has appointed for them.

All I wish to say in this briefest of essays may be found in the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Hebrews.

The Jewish believers being addressed in the Book of Hebrews were seasoned Christians, having been saved through faith in the blood atonement, filled with the Spirit of God, and had survived persecution and also tasted the powers of the coming age. They were more spiritually advanced in the things of Christ than is true of most of today's Christians, it appears.

We would expect the writer of Hebrews to congratulate them on their religious accomplishments, comfort them with the assurance of salvation, and point them toward their mansions in Heaven as their reward when they died.

Instead the Book of Hebrews is largely a rebuke, an exhortation to them to enter further into God, that is, into God's Person and will for them.

Notice in the third chapter of Hebrews how the writer compares our salvation with the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan. I would suppose most of us recognize that Israel coming out of Egypt is a type of our being saved by repenting of our life in the world, and being baptized to show we now are dead to the world and alive in the resurrection of Christ.

Perhaps a smaller number of us view the time spent in the wilderness of wandering as symbolic of the rigors of our discipleship. I think some reject this symbolism because it does not fit their understanding of Divine grace. However, it is clear that the writer of Hebrews accepts the wilderness wandering as a portrayal of the many dangers and sufferings of our pilgrimage.

But then the writer warns his audience that they were in danger of not inheriting the land of promise, just as the Israelites, except for two people, did not enter the land of milk and honey. It is obvious the writer believes that it is possible for a Christian to "die in the wilderness" and not attain to the goal set before him.

And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19)

The "believers" often do not seek to lay hold on that for which God has grasped them!

Then the writer exhorts us to "make every effort to enter that rest," that is, into the state of being where we are resting in God's Person and will.

In some instances, the Israelites did not "make every effort" to enter their inheritance. God told them to show no mercy but to destroy utterly the enemy that was living in their land of promise.

You must destroy all the peoples the LORD your God gives over to you. Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you. (Deuteronomy 7:16)

When we seek to enter into the state of being where we are resting in God's Person and will, we are resisted by the forces of Satan, whether dwelling in our flesh or in the atmosphere around us. It is up to us to show these spirits no mercy but to ruthlessly drive them out by the authority and power of Christ.

Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet among them until even the survivors who hide from you have perished. (Deuteronomy 7:20)

The unclean spirits may go into hiding, or attempt to persuade you that they are harmless, or "everyone is doing it," or "God wants you to be happy," or they are not dwelling in you any longer. This is why in order to enter the rest of God you have to meditate in the Scriptures, pray continually, and gather together on a regular basis with fervent believers.

If some of these efforts are not possible, you might ask God to make them possible. You have to be diligent if you are to be successful in driving the enemy from your "land."

In many instances the Israelites settled down and did not make the supreme effort to obey God by utterly destroying the enemy. They are suffering to the present hour for this lack of diligence.

The Benjamites, however, did not drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day the Jebusites live there with the Benjamites. (Judges 1:21)

But Manasseh did not drive out the people of Beth Shan or Taanach or Dor or Ibleam or Megiddo and their surrounding settlements, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that land. (Judges 1:27)

When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. (Judges 1:28)

"And you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.'" (Judges 2:2,3)

God in His Word has given His Church numerous promises, including total victory over the enemy—more than conquerors. But we have chosen instead to flee to Heaven. We also have created a doctrine of "grace" that permits the enemy to live with us in peace.

As God has declared, these spirits and gods we have accepted have become snares to us. The result is, our country, America, is overrun with sexual lust. It is in danger of being weakened until it no longer is a leading nation of the world.

So the issue is, what does Canaan represent? If we think of Canaan as representing going to Heaven when we die, then the idea of making every effort to enter God's rest does not make sense. Either we, as Paul, are pressing with all diligence that we may grasp that for which we have been grasped, or we are waiting to die until we go to Heaven.

It easily can be seen that we are facing a major problem in Christian thinking. Either we are to be "saved," filled with the Spirit, and then wait to die to enter our land of promise; or we are to be entering it today as we follow the Spirit of God in all of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

How often the Christian salvation is viewed as being a waiting to go to Heaven where (we think) our problems will be solved! Our dangers and afflictions are thought of as being random attacks of Satan.

Thus when we die we are unprepared for what we will face in the spirit world.

Would we be more able to march in victory, ready to walk with Jesus when we die, if we perceived our daily battles as part of the process in which we move toward our goal, the rest of God?

There are different ways of coping with our tribulations. We can become angry with God, or feel sorry for ourselves, or blame people. God is not pleased with these responses. The correct manner in which to respond to problems is to keep seeking Jesus for understanding and deliverance. In this manner we grow in God's Person and will, entering our land of promise.

One primary characteristic of Canaan is that it was filled with enemies who had lived there for hundreds of years. God told Abraham he could not possess the land until the sin of the Amorites had matured. So it is today, isn't it, that sin is coming to maturity? Consequently God is ready to give us the land; but we have to take it by fighting the enemy that dwells in us and with us.

There are three major enemies that prevent our dwelling contentedly in the Person of Christ and His will for us. The first enemy is our looking to the world for our survival and security. The second enemy is the sinful forces that dwell in our flesh. The third enemy is our self-will, our determination to live our life the way we want instead of looking to Jesus for every decision we make.

If we are to enter God's rest, our Canaan, we have to be ruthless. There is to be no compromise with the spiritual darkness that has lived in and around us throughout our lifetime.

First, we must refuse to be involved in the world spirit any more than is necessary. This world is not our home. The earth is our home, but the spirit of the world is Antichrist, and we can never find peace in it except as we follow Jesus carefully.

Second, as the Spirit of God points out to us the sins we are committing, we are to confess them specifically; denounce them as evil; renounce them with all our might, and turn to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.

Third, we must remain in the prison in which Christ permits Satan to place us. We cannot have what we intensely desire. We are forced to remain in situations that are unpleasant. This crucifixion may persist for many years. Thus we have to place our treasures in Heaven.

It is in God's prisons that the self-will is burned out of us. We have to suffer just as the Apostle Paul had to suffer; just as Christ Himself had to suffer. We have to be made weak until we are living by the wisdom and strength of Christ rather than by our own wisdom and strength.

Until these three areas of spiritual darkness are overcome, we cannot possibly find eternal rest in God's Person and will.

So today we have been brought to the Jordan. The Jordan River symbolizes death to our self-determination. We have left Egypt, the world. We have received the Law of the Spirit, symbolized by Mount Sinai. And now we are at the Jordan. We must be circumcised in our heart. The daily manna is about to cease and we will be given to eat of the grain grown in the land of Canaan, that is, of Christ who is being formed in us.

Who among us is willing to take up his or her cross and follow the Master into Canaan, into the rest of God? It will cost us everything. But not to do so will result in eternal loss that may be irreparable. We may never again have the chance to follow our heavenly Joshua into the fullness of our assigned inheritance.

Have I not commanded you? "Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

(Taken from "Canaan, and the Rest of God," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Saved People of the Nations, and the Tabernacle of God

2011-04-10
There is a concept basic to the Kingdom of God that is assumed in the Twenty-first and Twenty-second chapters of the Book of Revelation. This basic concept is that at the end of God's working there will be two classes of people on the new earth. The first class is that of the elect, the called-out, the Church, the Tabernacle of God.

The second class of people, the great majority, is that of the people of the nations of the earth whom God has saved to eternal life on the new earth.

Revelation, Chapter Twenty-one tells us that the Tabernacle of God is with men. The Tabernacle of God is the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, God's elect, his Israel, the Wife of the Lamb, the eternal Temple of God.

If the new Jerusalem is the Christian Church, who, then are the "men" with whom the Christian Church is dwelling on the huge new earth? Did you ever wonder about this?

The "men" whom the Church is with are people who have been saved from among the nations but who are not part of the Church. I find this simple statement causes bafflement and confusion when I present it, but it is set forth in the last two chapters of Revelation as clearly as can be.

Until the design that I have just presented is understood, much of the Bible remains unintelligible. Also, Gospel work can be ineffective if the workers are laboring in terms of a faulty concept. Actually, the correct design is simple and easy to understand. It becomes difficult to understand when we try to blend it with our traditions. Then there is confusion.

The end product of much of God's working is his Tabernacle. God intends to plant his Tabernacle among the nations of saved people on the earth so he can guide and bless them. That's all there is to it! Not so difficult, after all.

Contemporary Christian thinking is that there is only one class of people, namely the saved. They are the Church. They are destined to live forever in Heaven. This idea is not scriptural. It does not at all fit the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation, or much of the writings of the Prophets, particularly Isaiah.

Until we understand that God is creating a Church that he will use as a dwelling place, through which he can have fellowship with the people of the world and become their God, their Father, and their Helper, how can we interpret correctly what God is doing with Christian people?

God is coming to the new earth to live in His Church, His eternal Temple. Then the saved people on the earth can come up to God's House and be blessed. Can you think of anything more wonderful than that!

Today the emphasis is on getting as many people of the world "saved" as we can, meaning, they will go to Heaven and not Hell when they die. Because of this emphasis, numerous pastors preach nothing but basic salvation.

Perhaps every member of their congregation has been "saved" for fifty years. It doesn't matter. There always is the possibility that someone will enter the building who is not "saved." Therefore, every Sunday the Pastor preaches about the need to get "saved."

The remainder of the believers go without most of what is taught in the Bible. The result is churches filled with people who never have grown in the Lord. Tell me I am incorrect in this!

Because the people of the congregation are not being fed, they are filled with adultery, hatred, meanness, unforgiveness, a desire to be preeminent, gossip, covetousness, jealousy, hatred, divisiveness, selfishness, and the love of pleasure more than the love of Christ. They are starved spiritually.

Are such people "saved"? Saved from what? No, they are not saved. They are revealing Satan in their personality rather than the Lord Jesus. But they will go to Heaven when they die because they have "accepted Christ," won't they? They may have received Christ at some point in their life, but then they did not keep on receiving Christ each day.

Why not? Because they have not been taught this is what they are supposed to do. While the pastor is trying to get other people "saved," the flock under his supervision is not entering the Kingdom.

The 2000 years since the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ might be termed the "Church Age." It is not the Kingdom Age. It is not the age during which the people of the nations are to be saved. It is the "Church Age." The other ages will come later.

What is to be done during the Church Age? During the Church Age the Gospel is to be preached to every person. Those who believe shall be saved in the Day of Wrath.

Then what is to happen? God is to choose, from among the people who have been saved, those whom he wants for His Church, His Tabernacle.

God has given the Lord Jesus Christ absolute authority over all mankind. Then from among the people of mankind, God has given Jesus certain people that Jesus may give them eternal life. Christ does not pray for the world but for those whom God has given Him.

These people whom God has brought to Christ are the elect, the Church. They will become the Body of Christ, the Bride of the Lamb, the eternal Tabernacle of God, if they submit to the work of the Holy Spirit. If they do not submit, they will be cast aside as dead branches.

God has given all kinds of gifts and offices that those whom God has called may be brought to maturity—maturity as measured by the Standard that Jesus Christ is.

Now, what is God's purpose in building up the members of the Body of Christ to the full stature of Christ? It is so that in the last days God can pour out His Glory on the mature saints. When He does, the nations will come running to the light. That which the Church hopes to achieve by its own money and efforts will be done quickly and easily once the members of the Body of Christ come to maturity.

Realizing this, would you say we ought to emphasize getting new converts, or should we emphasize building up the church members? I am not speaking of ignoring the need to gain converts, I am speaking of emphasis—the major application of time, money, and energy. This is not really a difficult question, I think.

There is one more point I wish to make. The Lord Jesus said when the people God has given Him from the nations of the world, the Church, His elect, have arrived at oneness in Christ in the Father, the world will believe that Christ is from God. With this in mind, should we be trying to get the world to believe, or emphasizing that the Christians become one in Christ? Instead, the denominations compete against one another.

Here is the critical issue: In order to become one in Christ in God, a believer must trade his right to be an individual in order that he or she may become an integral part of Christ. We find this difficult, don't we? We find it hard to live every moment saying, "Not my will but Yours be done." But until we do, the world will never believe and come to God for His blessing.

Why is this? It is because God will not give His Glory to another person. God gives His Glory to Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ lives as part of God, not as a private individual. God will not give His Glory to another person, not even to the Lord Jesus if Jesus chooses to live as an individual apart from God.

Now it comes down to us. Are we willing to trade our right to be an individual (which "right" consists largely of our self-will) in order that we may become an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ? We cannot have it both ways. We cannot do our religious dance from the vantage point of our individuality, telling God what we are willing to do to gain His favor.

I like the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet with very expensive perfume. She did not sell the valuable perfume and give the money to the poor, thus serving God on her own terms. Instead she "wasted" it all on Jesus.

What a lesson this is for us, isn't it? Are we willing to "give up" as we realize we cannot make a success of life by our own efforts? Are we willing to give up and become part of Jesus; or are we going to say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face"?

God is looking today for believers who will surrender all their hopes, ambitions, and plans to Jesus in order that the individual may be an eternal part of the Glory of Christ. Are you willing to give up trying to be someone important? Are you ready to be nothing that Christ may be everything?

I will tell you why Christian people do not abandon their own ways and walk humbly with God. It is because they don't understand this is what they are supposed to do.

Why don't the believers know this is what they are supposed to do? Because their pastors and teachers all too often neglect them so that they can "get more people saved" who in term are to go out and "get more people saved" who are to set forth and "get more people saved" etc. etc. etc.

This is why the believers do not come to maturity and then take their maturity and wash Jesus' feet with it. No one ever told them that this is what God wants.

Until we become one in Christ in God, the world will not believe.

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 17:23)

Following are a few of the passages that point out the difference between the nations of saved people, and Israel—the Tabernacle of God:

For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined.(Isaiah 60:12)

Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)

In the above instance, people from the nations are given the Kingdom of God because they ministered to Christ's brothers when they were in need.

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (I Peter 2:5)

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Revelation 21:26)

"It," in the above verse, is the Wife of the Lamb.

(Taken from "The Saved People of the Nations, and the Tabernacle of God," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Trees of Life

2011-04-17
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life who always is in the Paradise of God. His body and blood are our resurrection life. If we would eat and drink of Him we must overcome our sins and self-will. As we partake of Him we grow in inward resurrection life, which is the necessary requirement if we are to receive outward resurrection life in the Day of Resurrection.

I believe the following passage speaks of the purpose for our transformation into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45—NASB)

Man is body, soul, and spirit. God's Spirit is a projection of His Soul. Our spirit is a projection of our soul. If we are to be a life-giving spirit, and our spirit is the projection of our soul, then it seems that our soul must become a source of God's Life.

If our soul is dead in sin and self-will, then it is obvious what we will project is spiritual death, no matter how theologically correct we may be. In order for us to be a life-giving spirit, our soul must be made alive in the Lord Jesus.

For our soul to be alive in Jesus, we must be more than a casual church member who professes belief in Jesus Christ. Many, perhaps the majority of those who attend Christian churches in the United States, are spiritually dead even though they have "accepted Christ." How do we know this? By their behavior.

You can recognize a tree by its fruit. If its fruit tastes good and is nutritious, then it is a good tree and the fruit is good to eat. If its fruit tastes bitter and is not nutritious, then we know that the fruit of that tree is not good to eat.

So it is with those who attend Christian churches. If a member projects love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, then we know that the soul of that individual is filled with the Life of God.

If, however, a member projects hatred, bitterness, misery, unrest, impatience, harshness, wickedness, treachery, boastfulness, lack of self-control, as is true of multitudes of those who profess belief in Christ, then we know that the soul of that person is not filled with the Life of God.

We know them by their fruit, as the Scripture states. This is true whether or not the individual professes Christ and is engaged busily in some sort of Christian work.

A true Christian is known by his or her behavior, not by any declaration of belief in Christ. If this is true, and the Bible appears to support this idea, there are not as many Christians in the United States as we might wish.

How is a person to become a life-giving spirit, planted along the River of Life? He or she becomes a life-giving spirit by possessing a soul that has been transformed by being filled with Christ.

How then does an individual become transformed by being filled with Christ? He or she must live each moment of each day by the Life of Jesus.

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)

There you have it. We must live at all times by the Life of Jesus. We must feed on Christ continually.

How do we feed on Christ continually? By submitting all of our thinking to Him for His approval.

If we have not been accustomed to abiding in Christ in this manner, we might think such a life is difficult or impossible to attain to. Actually it is not, but one must practice it and grow strong and proficient in it.

The first thing when we wake up, while our mind is on many different problems and concerns, we say, "Good morning, Jesus, I love you." Then we think of some things to thank Him for. Perhaps we don't feel like it this morning. Jesus didn't feel like going to the cross either. It is important to begin to pray the moment we wake up.

Then we pray: "Lord Jesus, fill my mind with Your Person and will. Cause me to do Your will today. Take charge of my thinking, my speaking, and all that I do."

It is a good idea as we go to sleep to think of something to praise the Lord for.

Then, according to our circumstances and our culture, we begin the day. Immediately we are confronted with decisions to make, or with fears and dreads, or with occasions for thanksgiving, for example.

We bring each decision to Jesus. We bring each fear and dread to Jesus so He will remove them and give us His peace.

If there is an occasion for thanksgiving, an answer to prayer for example, we look up to the Lord and give Him thanks. Always remember to thank the Lord when a prayer is answered. Sometimes we feel that the problem just solved itself, and forget to thank the Lord. He likes to be thanked!

Being 85 years of age my memory sometimes lets me down. So I make a practice of asking Jesus to remind me of things I must not forget. He always does remind me, without fail!

One of the concepts of computer technology is that of the "cloud." The idea, as I understand it, is that data is saved in a cloud of memory rather than on the hard disk of our computer. That is the way in which I visualize my memory. The facts are not stored in my brain. God has all I ever will need to know in a cloud of memory. When I ask Him to remind me of something, He goes to the cloud and brings forth the desired information.

If you start to fall down or otherwise are in immediate danger, begin to pray instantly. Begin to pray before you hit the ground, so to speak.

Does such a plan seem difficult to follow? It is no more difficult than fretting and worrying about our decisions and actions. Practice makes perfect. As we keep on looking to Jesus like this, it becomes easier.

He always is standing at the door to our personality. He always wants to dine with us. Our part is to keep opening the door and inviting Him into all we are thinking, saying, and doing. There is no aspect of our life that Christ does not want to be involved in, I mean, absolutely no aspect!

It is not accepting Christ but abiding in Christ that saves us. He continually is knocking and we continually are to be opening to Him every day and every night.

The great error of religious thinking is that of accepting Christ as a ticket, rather than as a way of life.

I am a pastor of a Christian church. It may happen on an occasion that someone wants to do something that involves the church. The person may say, "I don't want to bother Pastor with this," and then he goes ahead and do what is on his or her heart.

There may be circumstances the individual does not realize. The result is, Audrey and I may have to try to clean up the mess. It would be so much better all around if that person, no doubt having a good heart, would tell us about it beforehand.

It is like that with the Lord Jesus. There is no detail of our life that Christ is not interested. One of the great mistakes we often make is to proceed on an assumption. In the demon-inspired culture in which we are attempting to serve the Lord, it is wise to assume nothing—no matter how familiar—and to pray about everything. Remember Joshua and the Gibeonites, and the defeat at Ai!

Sometimes we have a passionate desire to do something, but we have a feeling it may not be the Lord's will. We may derive this sense from the written Word or from something Jesus has said to us.

If we will obey what we feel is Christ's best for us, and not plunge ahead in our own lusts, Christ will feed us with the hidden manna; with His body and blood. In this manner He is increased in us. We then are living by His Life.

If the desired action is pleasing to the Lord, He will give us peace and wisdom and show us how to attain to our desires. There is no disappointment in Jesus. He always is leading us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace. We can depend on this utterly.

In Chapter 47 of the Book of Ezekiel we are told of three levels of water. These represent three deaths and resurrections our soul must endure if we are to be filled with all the fullness of God.

If we will be absolutely obedient to Christ, cooperating with the Spirit of God as He directs us, the time will come when there are "waters to swim in." Then we are planted by the River of Life.

Now we are a source of eternal life to the people of the nations of the earth. We along with the Spirit of God invite all who will do so to come and partake of the Life of God without cost.

Now we have become a life-giving spirit. There is nothing more wonderful than this!

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let the one who hears say, "Come!" Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17—NASB)

(Taken from "Trees of Life," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Great Rebellion

2011-04-24

It usually is difficult for us to "place" ourselves historically. I think most people assume that, by and large, what we are experiencing today has always been true of people. What we may not realize is that the philosophy of humanism, like a foul virus, is infecting many nations—and the Christian churches as well. We may assume that "it has always been like this." But it hasn't!

From 1400 A.D. onward the philosophy of humanism began to compete with religion for the thinking of learned men. Whereas the Christian religion had, in Europe, generally been assumed as truth, scholars and teachers now were looking toward human reasoning as the basis for values and behavior.

America from its foundation has been oriented toward the Christian Gospels as the basis for values and behavior. This point of view came with the immigrants from Europe. In our day, however, secular humanism is striving successfully against our traditional Christian values.

Our current President as well as some members of Congress do not seem to uphold the typical Christian attitude toward abortion or deviant sexual lifestyles. Piece by piece the traditional American cultural norms are reflecting humanistic rather than Christian beliefs.

Anyone can see that the removal of the fear of God as a basis for a disciplined life is leading us toward moral, educational, military, political, and financial chaos. In today's paper we notice that for the first time America is being warned by Standard and Poor that its financial stability is being viewed with concern.

The philosophy of democracy is allied to humanistic thought. I suppose we Christians always have considered that democracy somehow is a Christian philosophy. It is not. Democratic government is the rule of people. The Kingdom of God is the rule of God. Democracy and the Kingdom of God are opposite in their basic premise.

Democracy supposes that people are basically good and should be free to pursue happiness. The Christian Gospel supposes that people are driven by a sinful nature and are to be pursuing righteousness of behavior. These two suppositions actually are hostile one to the other.

The Apostle Paul warned us what would take place when humanism, and its political handmaid, democratic government, begin to flower:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; avoid such men as these. (II Timothy 3:1-5—NASB)

When there neither is strong governmental control, nor strong ecclesiastical control, with predictable rewards for good behavior and punishments for bad behavior, the sinful nature of people will come to the front.

The above list of behaviors is the fruit of humanistic thought. People are not inherently virtuous. All of us have a sinful nature. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can deliver us from such destructive thoughts, words, and deeds. Because of this, secular humanism and democratic government, albeit with the best of intentions, always will result in moral chaos. And moral chaos results in the most undesirable and destructive relationships.

At the present time we are attempting to spread the American way of life to other countries, particularly Arab countries. This is so foolish! We here in America do not have enough money to put everyone in jail that should be there. We are in a mess, socially and financially.

It may be true that the Arab people would favor some sort of theocracy rather than a democracy. In this case, we are wasting money attempting to force our form of government on them. From the looks of things, we have enough trouble at home without attempting to force other people to adopt our way of life. Our culture increasingly resembles Second Timothy 3:1-5 (above).

The subject of the present thesis is the Great Rebellion, The Great Rebellion is the ultimate flowering of secular humanism. Let's turn now to see what the Apostle Paul had to say about this flowering.

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, (II Thessalonians 2:1—NASB)

In First Thessalonians, the fourth chapter, Paul spoke of the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to him. The Greek term for "coming" is the same word throughout First and Second Thessalonians. It is the same coming and gathering described in Matthew, Chapter Twenty-four, also employing the same Greek term.

Paul is going to speak now concerning the one coming of the Lord Jesus and our gathering together to Him.

That you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (II Thessalonians 2:2—NASB)

Notice that the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to Him was in dispute. Apparently in Paul's day that there were various splinter groups who were preaching their own beliefs. We know that some were into Gnosticism. Others were baptizing for the dead. And now we find a group who were claiming that the Day of the Lord already had come. Sounds kind of like the situation today, doesn't it?

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy [the Great Rebellion] comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (II Thessalonians 2:3—NASB)

It sometimes is taught that prior to the rise of Antichrist, and the consequent Great Tribulation, all who have "accepted Christ" will be carried up to Heaven to avoid suffering. There absolutely is no scriptural basis whatever for such a notion.

Now notice: "It" (the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to Him) "will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is revealed."

The "apostasy" (the Great Rebellion) comes first and Antichrist is revealed. After that will occur the coming of the Lord and our gathering together with Him.

It does seem, doesn't it, that the Great Rebellion and the revealing of Antichrist will take place before the Lord Jesus comes and we are gathered together to Him. For myself, I prefer to go by the Bible rather than by the traditions of Christians teachers.

Who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (II Thessalonians 2:4—NASB)

"Who," in the above verse, is Antichrist, the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction.

Daniel has quite a bit to say about the man of lawlessness.

Out of one of them came forth a rather small horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. It even magnified itself to be equal with the Commander of the host; and it removed the regular sacrifice from Him, and the place of His sanctuary was thrown down. And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. (Daniel 8:9-12—NASB)

You can see from the above the power that Christ will permit the man of lawlessness to exercise. All this will take place before the coming of Jesus and our gathering together to Him.

And again:

Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven "sevens," and sixty-two "sevens." It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two "sevens," the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:25-27—NASB)

The "abomination that causes desolation" possibly refers to the man of lawlessness sitting on the Mercy Seat in a restored Temple in Jerusalem. Also, there may be a statue of a man erected on a wing of the Temple, standing at the place where Satan invited the Lord Jesus to jump off and prove that He is the Son of God.

This is the invitation to presumption, which still is given to us today. We refer to it as "stepping out in faith."

Let us think about this for a moment. The whole issue is that of obedience to God. People either are going to be their own God, or they are going to worship and serve the Lord. The man of lawlessness will personify the human being who rejects all gods except himself.

Here is the problem with secular humanism and democracy. Both philosophies imply that man should be his own God.

The coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth means that only one will shall be performed. That will is the will of God, the only valid will in the universe.

If you can imagine, I was taught in Bible school that no one can do God's will completely; and for this reason God has given us grace so we can escape Hell and go to Heaven, even though we do not do God's will to any great extent.

I defied that reasoning at the time. I told God if He would make His will known to me, and give me the grace to do it, I would do His complete will at all times for the rest of my life. Although I have been deceived on a couple of occasions and got off the track, I have made things right and have fought on. I can say truthfully that right now I am doing God's complete will for me, as far as I know.

I have found God's will to be a delight. The Christian people to a certain extent have accepted a lie concerning the doing of God's will. I will say also that to not do God's will at all times and in all circumstances is to rebel against God. The modern teaching of "grace" is a massive, destructive lie, a sophisticated form of rebellion against God!

It is true that we have not been perfected as yet. It is true also that we can be perfect for the day and are expected to be perfect for the day.

The reason Christ and His saints are going to have to govern with a rod of iron when He appears is that people have been infected with the virus of self-will, with their so-called "rights." Brother, sister, the only right we have is the right to do the will of Christ as it is revealed to us.

Anything other than the doing of God's will is lawlessness. Antichrist is the man of lawlessness; therefore the son of destruction. In the new world of righteousness that will come after the Lord returns, every person who is saved to that world will have to do God's will at all times.

No disobedience to Christ shall be permitted in the Kingdom of God. There will be no such creature as a "free moral agent." The Lord Jesus will give us the Spirit of delight in the doing of God's will, if we ask Him to.

Antichrist is the man of lawlessness. Secular humanistic thought leads to anarchy, to rebellion against God's will. This is true also of democratic thinking. Such thinking is related more closely to agnosticism than it is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another thought is as follows:

And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; (II Thessalonians 2:6-8)

Traditional teaching often states that "what restrains him" is the Spirit of God, and that the Spirit of God will be lifted to Heaven with the Gentile believers prior to the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to Him. Those teachers should realize that God never will remove His Spirit from the earth and turn the earth over to the spirit of Satan, leaving His chosen people, the Jews, here to try to serve God without the Holy Spirit.

"He who now restrains" is the Lord Jesus Christ bearing witness in His saints. But sin and rebellion against God will become so prevalent the witness that today restrains the full revealing of the man of lawlessness will be overcome. Isn't it true that when a saint is overcome with sin, his witness no longer is effective? That is all I am saying.

Now consider:

When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them. And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7,8—NASB)

Antichrist will wage war against the saints who will bear the last great witness. There are two witnesses. Christ, and then the victorious saints. We see then that is actually is Christ; just as when the Father was dwelling in Christ, it was the Father who was speaking the words and doing the works.

Now, how are the saints overcome? By three means: first, by Sodom; second, by Egypt; third, by Jerusalem

Sodom represent sexual lust. Many of God's leaders of today are falling into sexual lust. Thus their witness is destroyed.

Egypt represents material wealth. Many of God's leaders of today are forsaking the Gospel in order to become wealthy. Thus their witness is destroyed.

Jerusalem represents self-will and presumption on the part of religious leaders. How many of today's famous Bible teachers and pastors are acting from their own self-will and presumption? As they do, their witness is destroyed.

In the above three areas, lust, money, and pride, the last-day witness will be slain. It is the removal of this powerful witness that opens the door to the revealing of the lawless one, the son of destruction. This individual, whether man or woman, will come to prominence before the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to Him.

Whenever man begins to assume the role of God, as we see today in England and America, every kind of destruction follows. Financial ruin occurs. Also God raises up vicious enemies whose intent is destroy America and England, because these two nations have been strongholds of Christianity.

The forces that have been let loose upon the earth in our day are spiritual titans. We can make every political, military, and educational effort of which we are able. There will be no remedy. In order for the United States and England to regain their former power, the citizens would have to abandon their sexual lust, pursuit of money, and self-direction, and turn again to the God who at one time had made them great.

Since such national repentance may not take place, the leadership of the world will move from the Western nations to the Eastern nations. I expect this to take place in the not too distant future.

What can we as an individual do? We must cease from our own works and enter the rest of God, that place where we are looking to Jesus for every thought we think; every word we speak; and every action we take. We absolutely must learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus if we are to survive and help our loved one and friends to survive the chaos that is on the horizon.

The issue is obedience to God, which is the same as obedience to Jesus Christ. Will we as an individual set ourselves to obey Christ in every aspect of our life? If not, we ourselves are part of the Great Rebellion. We are a rebel against God.

And we cannot say "I am saved by grace and therefore do not have to obey God completely and sternly." Such an attitude will lead us to destruction.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

(Taken from "The Great Rebellion" an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The New World of Righteousness

2011-05-01
There is coming a new world of righteousness. Our present world was designed by the Lord to create rulers of the new world of righteousness, and to test people to see what they would do should they be placed in the new, eternal world.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:10-13—NASB)

There are three worlds to be considered. The present, physical world. The invisible spirit world. The new world of righteousness that will come in the future. The new world of righteousness, the new sky and new earth, will not appear until the first sky and earth have been destroyed by burning. This will take place 1,000 years after the Lord returns from Heaven.

The present world we understand. The invisible spirit world we do not understand clearly because little is said about it in the Scriptures. You would think the Bible was filled with descriptions of mansions, harps, golden slippers, with people reclining at their ease in their mansion. In actual fact, most of what is preached today as being where Christians go when they die neither is scriptural nor true

Often images having to do with the third of the three worlds, such as the street of gold, are confused with where we will go when we die. The truth is, we will not go to the new Jerusalem until after the thousand-year Kingdom Age has taken place.

The third of the three worlds is found in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation. Here we have the new sky, the new earth, the Tabernacle of God, which is the Wife of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, and the River of Life with the Trees of Life. None of this is our environment until after the Day of Resurrection.

I believe it is true that so much blood will be shed in the near future the Lord Jesus is making many of us more aware of the second world. This has happened to me. The world that we will pass into after death is a very practical, familiar world filled with people waiting for the Day of Resurrection. I think the Lord wants us to realize that for most people, to die is to pass from a horrid environment into a far more peaceful and secure world.

It is important for people to understand that our present world Is not God's idea of what a world should be. He is preparing an eternal world that will be better than any "heaven" we ever imagined. The present world is temporary and shall be done away, according to the passage above.

And, You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but You remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But you are the same, and your years will not come to an end. (Hebrews 1:10-12—NASB)

As we see the increasing revelation of Satan's character in our day, we wonder if worse things could happen to people. Murder, rape, torture, betrayal, cheating and so forth are on the increase. There are instances in which children have murdered their parents or their grandparents.

I suppose we are becoming used to some of the grotesque crimes that are perpetrated. How many times have we read of a sheriff saying, "In all my experience I have never seen a person mutilated in this manner."

Sometimes we may question if God knows what He is doing. Why doesn't He put a stop to these horrible crimes? Why doesn't He prevent people from harming others, including children, and even animals, in such horrible ways? Sometimes people say there cannot be a God because of what takes place on the earth.

The answer is, we are not in God's world as yet. Rather we are in a temporary environment in which the righteous rulers of the world to come are being selected, tested over and over again until their obedience to God is beyond doubt, and taught about God and His Christ.

Each of these future rulers must be taught iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father until these three virtues are an integral part of his or her character.

Because of the prevalence of humanistic thinking, the rule of Christ and His saints will have to be with the iron rod of righteousness, smashing totally all resistance to the will of God in Christ. His Kingdom shall come and His will shall be done.

This means that all the victorious saints, those who shall govern with Christ, must endure hardships, continually obeying God whether the way is pleasant or unpleasant, until the rod of iron righteousness is formed in them.

Another reason for the insanity of the present world is that angels and people might learn about Satan and the evil angels. The history of our planet is one great audiovisual lesson so that rebellion against the Father will never take place again—no, not for eternity!

Our present world was made from the invisible spirit world. The two worlds really are one world; but the spirit world, which is much, much larger, is invisible to us. Even though it is invisible, it is real and eternal. It is not formed from the properties of molecules but is substantial, whereas the world we see around is is somewhat of an illusion.

Actually we do not really see anything. Light bounces off the molecules and travels along our optic nerve. Then our brain interprets the signal on our optic nerve.

Most people are afraid of dying. The truth is, if they have been decent, and have received Christ as their lawful King when He is presented to them, they have nothing to worry about. They may have to go through a season of instruction as they are taught the ways of Heaven, but after that they will settle down to life as usual.

There are no mansions; and the street of gold is symbolic of the way of faith. The spirit world is an ordinary world. As I stated, our present world was created by forces in the real spirit world, so as you might expect, the two worlds are similar.

Our residence in the spirit world is temporary while we are waiting for the Day of Resurrection. It is the Day of Resurrection that is so totally important. In that Day our eternal destiny will be decided.

Even though our residence in the spirit world is temporary, we will have to wait a thousand years until the Day of Resurrection in order to find out our position in the Kingdom of God.

The exception to this are those who live a victorious Christian life (not those who just make a profession of belief in Christ). They will be raised from the dead when the Lord appears, and then be caught up to meet Him in the clouds. They then will descend with Him and govern the nations of the earth with the iron rod of righteousness. Our religious background is quite immaterial. What counts in the Kingdom of God is what kind of person we are, not what religious affiliation we may have had.

In the Day of Resurrection, what kind of person we are will be revealed. If we are kind, generous, peaceful, truthful, faithful, self-controlled, and are willing to obey Christ in all matters, we will be brought over to citizenship in the new world of righteousness. We will live on the new earth under a new and glorious sky.

If we are unkind, selfish, hateful, a liar, treacherous, self-seeking, we are in trouble. God will send angels and human teachers to us when we die to see if we can be taught righteous behavior. Also, we must accept the Kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If we are willing to change so that we can bring righteousness, love, joy, and peace to the situations in which we find ourselves, then we are a candidate for life in the new world of righteousness. If, however, we persist in our selfish ways, we will have to suffer in the Land of Darkness.

If, after God has made every effort to change our behavior, we still do not love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as ourselves, we will be removed from the society of decent, God-fearing people—perhaps for eternity! One such individual would ruin Paradise for everyone else. "A little leaven leavens the whole lump."

If the individual has an admirable personality, is well spoken of by everyone, is kind and gentle toward young and old, but will not submit joyfully to the Lord Jesus Christ and obey Him sternly and diligently, that person is doomed to spend eternity in the outer darkness. The Father has made Jesus Lord of all, and that is the end of the matter. There will be no person who is his or her own god in the new world of righteousness.

The new world is the composite of the spirit and physical worlds. The best features of the spirit world are present, and the best features of the physical world are present.

As it is true that man is the structure of the Kingdom of God and woman is the heart, home, and joy of the Kingdom of God, so it is true that the physical elements are the structure of the new world, while the spirit elements are the heart, home, and joy of the new world of righteousness.

The new sky and earth will be glorious far, far beyond our ability to imagine. The new earth will be exceedingly larger than our present earth. Even at that, because people do not die, it soon will be necessary for families of people to migrate to a star of their choice. The stars will not be lighted by nuclear fusion but by the same light that governed the first three days of creation.

"Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end"!

The new sky and earth are the real, eternal world. Out present world has been fabricated so the purposes of God may be accomplished, as I suggested earlier. Our present world is an insane asylum populated to a great extent by liars, murderers, and thieves. It is not at all suitable as an environment for the offspring of God.

You can hasten the abolishing of the present disastrous environment by cooperating with the Spirit of God as He makes you one of those who can be trusted to maintain Paradise once it has been restored. There still are thrones to be filled; and many who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom.

It can be you or me. Let's go for it. He has kept the good wine until now, as He always does.

For we have not here an abiding city, but we seek after the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:14—ASV)

(Taken from "The New World of Righteousness," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Serving the Lord

2011-05-08
The current Christian teaching does not follow the New Testament. I think it has been deeply penetrated by the philosophy of Humanism and the religion of Gnosticism.

The philosophy of Humanism places the welfare of man above all else and denies supernatural influences. The religion of Gnosticism places specialized knowledge above all else and views the physical world as evil.

We see the philosophy of Humanism in the prevailing view of the Apostle Paul's teaching of "grace" as being the Divine covering of the sinful behavior of people. We see the religion of Gnosticism in the idea that confessing Christ and believing God raised Him from the dead removes the need for the new creation of righteous behavior.

Think about these two concepts, the idea that God wants to cover our sinful behavior and is not especially interested that the believer in Christ becomes a new creation of righteous behavior.

Then compare them with the following verse:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1—NASB)

The great cloud of witnesses is described in the preceding chapter of the Book of Hebrews. These all are heroes of faith. They suffered every kind of rejection and privation as they strove to attain to a better resurrection.

Can you imagine a believer of today dying and passing into the spirit world, standing in the heavenly Jerusalem among the saints described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, many of whom were tortured and martyred, and telling them how he escaped all suffering because he was saved by grace?

Our silly doctrines of today that teach us we will be "raptured" into Heaven before we possibly could suffer any inconvenience simply are not from the God of the Christian martyrs. The truth is, we have been deceived.

The way things are shaping up in the world the believers of today well may have opportunity to stand and proclaim Christ in the midst of the flames of persecution, and thus join the ranks of God's witnesses.

What can we do about our feeble spiritual condition?

"Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,"

Does the above verse sound as though God sees us through Christ and so we no longer have to be concerned about our behavior? "Lay aside." That sounds to me like something we are to do.

Lay aside what? "Every encumbrance." An encumbrance is something that weighs us down, attempting to prevent our attaining to our objective. What is our objective? It is to serve the Lord faithfully every day. What encumbrances weigh us down? The attractions of the world, particularly of the American culture.

Do the electronic gadgets of our day weigh us down? They certainly do. We have been commanded to redeem the time; to make the best possible use of the time God has given us during our lifetime on the earth. We are busy at our school and work. We need to set aside time every day to pray and read our Bible.

Our fun with iPhones, iPads, and electronic instruments and games use up time. They do not build us up in the Kingdom. We are going to have to answer for wasting what God has given us. Our inheritance will be given to another and we will be sent into the Land of Darkness when the Lord appears.

Attempting to attain to our high calling in Christ while amusing ourselves with the electronic gadgets is like running a race with iron shoes.

"Lay aside the sin which so easily entangles us." Where does "grace" enter in here? God's grace authorizes us to turn aside from the Law of Moses and seek the Lord Jesus. As we cooperate with the Spirit of God, He points out the sin that is binding us. Then God's grace, His power, enables us to lay aside the sin that has been pointed out to us by the Spirit.

"Run with endurance." Running is hard work. Running spiritually is hard work. Running is painful. Running spiritually is painful at times. We have to endure hardness, the Bible says, as good soldiers. How does this line up with today's doctrine of easy "grace"?

"The race that is set before us." "What race," today's coddled believer may ask, "I thought all I had to do was say I accept Christ and I will go to Heaven when I die and live in a mansion on a golden street!"

The "race" is that of pressing forward against the many encumbrances, the many problems, the many doubts, the many lusts and passions of our flesh and spirit, the many criticisms and mockings, the barrage of garbage bombarding us continually from the media. All of these strive mightily to persuade us to live in the swamp of fleshly thrills.

"A little slumber, a little folding of the hands"—thus we Americans sleep on as the forces that hate America gather their resources and plot our annihilation.

I am not certain we can save our country. But each of us as an individual can flee in our heart from the current preaching that is telling us how much God loves us and will never permit us to be harmed.

How soon disaster and chaos will strike, I am not certain. But when it does, only those who are obeying Hebrews 12:1 will stand victoriously in our Lord Jesus Christ and assist their loved ones and friends.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

(Taken from "Serving the Lord," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Firstfruits

2011-05-15
The idea of a firstfruits occurs many times in the Bible. For example, The Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstfruits of the saints who will be raised from the dead.

Anyone who does farm work understands what "firstfruits" are. They are the first reaping from the vine, for example, and they are the best of the fruit and vegetables. Subsequent reapings are good but not as tasty as the first. Also, as in the case of a grain offering, God expects to receive some of what is reaped before the remainder of the harvest is put to our use.

God always requires the firstfruits of that which we are to offer to Him. Sometimes Christians give God what is left over of their time and money, after they have taken care of their own needs and pleasures.

In the case of the Christian Church, there is a firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. They are the first reaping of the earth. They are the finest, most faithful, most obedient of the believers. God places them ahead of the remainder of those who are saved of earth's people.

I do not believe our democratic ideas welcome the idea of a part of the Christian Church who are closer to God and Christ than is true of other believers. Also, the current teaching of grace militates against the concept of people whose devotion has earned them a special place with God.

It is true nevertheless. There are those whom God regards as a firstfruits of the earth.

Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1—NASB)

The hundred and forty-four thousand are not the entire Church, the entire Body of Christ. They have been chosen to stand with the Lamb on the holy mountain of God's Presence. The Father's name is written on their foreheads, meaning they always do God's will. The Lamb's name written on their foreheads signifies that they belong to the Lamb.

They are the special possession of God and the Lamb.

I don't know about you, but when I found out one could aspire to a special place with God and the Lamb, that became the goal of my life. The idea is not to be some great one, rather it is to be pleasing to God and Christ.

The idea of 144 thousand may be symbolic, since it is a multiple of twelve. Or, it may be a literal number of people. My guess would be that it is symbolic.

Mount Zion is the city of God.

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

The fact that the 144 thousand are standing with the Lamb tells me they are ready to move with Him wherever He leads. How many Christian believers are ready to move instantly with Christ without having to go through numerous complications first? That is, if they are willing to move at all!

It appears to me in the present hour that a good part of the churches in America are sitting on Mount Zion rather than standing with the Lamb. I hope I am not correct in this.

I believe difficult times are coming to America as well as to the rest of the world. If we have had trouble running with the footmen, how are we going to be able to compete with the horses?

And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth. (Revelation 14:2,3—NASB)

Could you imagine a voice sounding like a grand symphony? This is the voice of the 144 thousand. Those on the Throne of God could hear them.

The four Cherubim of Glory could hear them. These cherubim are exalted beings who reveal in themselves the Personality of the Lord God of Heaven.

The 24 elders could hear them. These are God's rulers who always are casting down their crown, saying, "Not my will but Yours be done."

Those on the Throne, the four Cherubim of Glory, and the 24 elders, these all being the highest Personages of Heaven, could not learn the song sung by the 144 thousand who had been redeemed from the earth.

Why is this? It is because each member of the 144 thousand has overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb; has overcome Satan by his testimony of the faithfulness of God; and has overcome Satan by dying to his own will and embracing in its place the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

They are the only one of their mother, the Church. While there have been multitudes of fine Christian people, the 144 thousand have been the "cream of the crop," one might say. The love God and Christ has for these goes far, far beyond any love we could imagine.

Why could no one else learn the great symphonic song? It is because the song comes straight from the Heart of God and of the Lamb. It is not a song that can be learned by listening. It can be learned only by the very sternest and complete obedience and devotion to God.

The whole earth is a field. God found a treasure in the field. The treasure is the 144 thousand who love God above all else. The Lord Jesus Christ purchased these with His blood. No other purchase price was adequate for this greatest of all transactions.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. (Revelation 14:4—NASB)

Since the Scripture tells us that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled, we understand that the above verse is not referring to relations with a human woman. Rather the reference is to those relationships, circumstances, and things we idolize.

We cannot bring a loved one, a friend, a talent, money, or anything else when we come to the Lord. He wants our undistracted attention. Until He gets that, we cannot be of help to our loved ones and friends. We have to keep ourselves pure, in the sense that there is no relationship, circumstance, or thing that we would not give to Christ the moment He asks for it.

We are to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. This means we must be living in His Presence at all times so we always know His will for us. This is not as difficult as some might think who never have lived this way.

It appears that at times the churches take the attitude that they should go forth, and Christ should follow them and bless whatever they are doing. It does not work that way, no matter how worthy our intentions may be. We are to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. He is not bound to follow us wherever we decide to go.

They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5—NASB)

The 144 thousand are the first and best of the crop. They have presented their bodies as a living sacrifice that they might prove God's will in every thought, every word, and every action.

"No lie was found in their mouths." This condition is of utmost importance. The Antichrist world spirit is one huge lie. The media keep presenting to us one lie after another. It requires a long, painful discipleship for most of us before all lies are burnt out of us.

God does not lie. The Lamb does not lie. We are not in God's image when we lie. The first act of Satan in the Garden of Eden was to lie. As Jesus stated, "Satan is a liar and the father of lies."

What a wonderful state we are in when we speak truth from our inner nature. If we find that we tend to exaggerate, or to continually be attempting to sell our point of view, or to gossip about others in order to make ourselves look good, or to cheat in business transactions, or to modify the truth, even a little, in order to get out of a difficult situation, just remember that the Lamb would not do this. His Father would not do this. We cannot lie and at the same time follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

The 144 thousand will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord, and work with Him at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth. The remainder of the Church will not be raised until the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. This is the first resurrection. It is worth every effort we can put into it, every denial of self, every painful struggle, just as was true of the Apostle Paul, to attain to the early resurrection from the dead.

Let us make attaining to the first resurrection our highest priority, our supreme goal, while America and the rest of the world descend into the moral filth and chaotic environment of the Antichrist world government.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:4.5—NIV)

(Taken from "The Firstfruits," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Not by "Faith Alone"

2011-05-22
I do not pretend to be a Church historian. I have gathered from what reading I have done that the concept of "faith alone" was a reaction against Catholic theology, especially against indulgences and penances, including self-abuse. The cry went forth by the Reformers: "We are not saved by religious works but by faith."

Whether or not my conclusion is correct, this watchword currently is being used to mean that we are not to attempt to obey Christ and his Apostles. Salvation, it is maintained, is a sovereignly imposed work of God and we are not to seek in any manner to add to it. We are saved by faith alone.!

(5/22/2011). Perhaps we ought to try to do good, as long as we keep firmly in mind that our behavior has no impact on our salvation, which is by "faith alone." This is what is claimed by so many of today's Christian teachers.

However, trying to do good doesn't go very far in our demon-infested atmosphere!

The faith that is stressed by the "faith alone" proponents is not Bible faith. Bible faith is obedience to the written and personal Word of God, not belief concerning the several facts relating to Christ. Belief in Christ has come to mean belief about Christ, or about theologic facts.

Since Satan and all his helpers are only too aware of the several facts relating to Christ, it is quite obvious that belief about Christ does not bring about salvation from Hell, or eternal life. Satan and his helpers, while well versed in the facts concerning the "holy One of God," are of Hell and have no eternal life.

The last two verses of the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews may reveal that obedience and belief are synonymous:

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19—NASB)

If we believe in Christ we will obey him. How could we say we believe in Christ, and then not do what he and his Apostles have commanded? This assuredly is a delusion.

The third chapter of the Book of Hebrews is using the account of the Israelites attempting to conquer Canaan as an example of our attempting to enter the rest of God. The rest of God is that place where we are resting in the fullness of the inheritance God has promised us, and God is resting in us.

Some of the aspects of the rest of God to which we are to enter, are as follows:

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, although Christ remains the supreme Head and Lord of all.

We have a physical body now, which even the angels do not have. Also, we have the opportunity to attain to the resurrection of our inward nature so we will be qualified and competent to have our body filled with eternal resurrection life in the Day of Christ.

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.

The problem with entering the rest of God, that which has been promised to God's Royal Priesthood from the beginning of the world, is that there are enemies living in our inheritance. We have to fight continually to make our way into the good things of God. Instead, we have created a doctrine of "grace" that permits the enemy to live with us in peace. No deadlier device could be invented by our enemies.

In addition to the current perversion of the intent of the Protestant Reformers, we have misunderstood the Apostle Paul's use of the term "works." We of today are defining "works" as attempts to live righteously, to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

If Paul meant that "works" were our attempts to overcome our sinful behavior, and we are not saved by "works" but by faith, contrasting godly behavior with "faith," he would be contradicting much of what he had written in his epistles, including Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians.

The expression "the righteous shall live by faith," means that we are not to follow our self-will but to walk hand in hand with Christ, looking to him for every aspect of our thinking, speaking, and doing.

When Paul spoke of "works" he was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision, not to our efforts to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles. Such a simple misunderstanding but so profoundly destructive of the moral character of Christian people!

A third force driving the current misunderstanding of salvation by faith is the influence of the religion of Gnosticism. This ancient religion has iinvaded Christian thinking from the days of the Apostles, apparently. Since Gnosticism emphasizes the primary virtue of knowledge and of man's spirit, viewing the flesh and the rest of the physical realm as evil, it does not emphasize righteous conduct.

In actuality, righteous conduct is the scepter of Christ's Kingdom. There is no Kingdom of God apart from righteous conduct.

Gnostics teach that since our flesh is evil, it does not really matter how we behave. The issue of importance is the special knowledge we receive.

There is no question in my mind but that the prevailing Christian understanding that spirit is good and flesh is evil, and that if we profess correct knowledge concerning Jesus Christ we will enter a spirit realm superior to the physical world, is far more Gnostic than it is apostolic. The truth is, once the spirit world becomes one with the physical world, when Christ returns, this new world of righteousness will be far more wonderful than either the present physical world or the spirit world.

The Bible teaches us that when God made the physical world, including people, he pronounced it "very good." The evil came from the spirit world in the form of the serpent. Interestingly, one branch of the Gnostics claims to have received secret knowledge from a serpent.

The philosophy of humanism, which began about 1400 A.D., is powerfully affecting the thinking of people today, including Christian believers. Humanism discards supernatural factors in favor of human reasoning and values. Humanism is the agent behind the current movement to do away with the thought of Hell, the idea being that God is too "good" to put anyone in Hell. All people eventually will be brought to Heaven because of God's "love" for human beings.

Our Lord Jesus stated that if our eye offends us we would do well to tear it out rather than to have our whole body throne into Hell. Yet Christian ministers of our day are playing with the notion that there is no Hell. They are in love with themselves and their congregations. They are not prophets of God or witnesses of God. They do not understand the goodness of God because they do not understand the severity of God!

So we see we have four forces affecting the current teaching of salvation by faith alone.

First, the change from the Reformers' use of the term "works" to refer to Catholic religious practices, to the modern definition of "works" as attempts to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles. Thus we are saved by "grace" rather than by obeying Christ and his Apostles, it is maintained.

Second, the misunderstanding of Paul's use of the term "works." Whereas Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, the term "works" currently is used to mean any effort on our part to obey the commands of Christ and his Apostles.

Third, the Gnostic emphasis on spirit as good and flesh as evil. The Christian redemption is pointed toward the resurrection of our physical body. We will answer to Christ at the Judgment Seat for what we have done in our body, whether good or evil. We will reap corruption rather than a body of eternal life if we continue to live in the desires of our sinful nature. Fourth, the deadly epidemic of humanistic thinking that suggests God loves people too much to assign them to Hell or to the Lake of Fire. The teachers of humanism do not understand that, after making every effort to convince people that the Lord Jesus Christ is their lawful King and must be obeyed diligently, God will incarcerate people in areas of torment.

The people who are admitted to the new world of righteousness will aid in preserving righteousness, love, joy, and peace. If the willfully disobedient, those driven by self-love and self-will were permitted to enter the paradise that soon will come to the earth, they would destroy the righteousness, love, joy, and peace, in short order.

During my career as a public school teacher, I noticed that if unruly children were permitted to disrupt the class, the obedient children were distressed. They wanted to do their studies. They were pleased when the teacher disciplined the trouble makers. For this reason there indeed is a Hell and a Lake of Fire.

One self-willed individual would destroy the righteousness, love, peace, and joy of Paradise, bringing misery to all those whose desire is to serve the Lord Jesus. Therefore God, in his unfathomable love for his creatures, indeed will remove incorrigible people from his new world of righteousness; just as a loving, strong teacher will remove an incorrigible, unruly child from a classroom.

It is apparent that Satan is determined Christian people shall not live in a godly manner. Why do you suppose this is? Why does Satan emphasize that we will go to Heaven regardless of how we behave? Why does Satan emphasize knowledge about Christ (referring to knowledge as "faith"), while minimizing the importance of our obeying the commands of Christ and his Apostles?

Why does Satan point toward eternal residence in the spirit world (Heaven) as the goal of salvation? Why does Satan emphasize a pre-tribulation "rapture" of God's people so they are removed from the earth and confined in the spirit world?

Why are our attempts to obey Christ regarded as an affront to God's plan of salvation?

The answer to these questions is that Satan regards the earth and the bodies of people as his domain. He desires to have unhindered control of the bodies of people. Satan would be pleased if every devout Christian were removed to Heaven so Satan could inherit the earth.

What then is the result of trusting in faith (knowledge; belief) alone to present us faultless before God?

There are at least two primary results of relying on our faith (belief and knowledge about Christ) instead of pressing forward in Christ each day as we endeavor to overcome the aspects of our personality that are not in the image of God.

First, we do not have the rod of iron righteousness created in us that is necessary if we are to govern the nations with the Lord Jesus. The rod of iron is created as we renounce that which is evil and embrace that which is righteous.

Second, we cannot enter the rest of God, which is our goal. The rest of God can be entered only as we overcome through Christ the enemies currently striving to maintain their residence in our inheritance.

Let us deal with the first issue, that of the rod of iron righteousness. As we strive to obey Christ each day, both as to his general will found in the Scriptures and also his specific will to us as it is impressed upon us personally, spiritual iron is formed in us. As we follow the Spirit of God, renouncing evil behavior and embracing righteous behavior, we are fed in the spirit realm with the "hidden manna," that is, with the body and blood of Christ.

The body and blood of Christ are the power of endless resurrection Life. They contain far greater power than any other form of life. If we persevere in obeying Christ, we finally gain the crown of righteousness and life. In the Scriptures, eternal resurrection life follows righteous behavior. We shall govern the works of God's hands throughout the endless ages of eternity by the power of an endless life, by the rod of iron righteousness, by the Life of Christ.

If we are content to receive the righteousness ascribed by initially receiving Christ, and then do not press forward into righteous behavior, the Life of God we were given at the first will leave us. We will be spiritually dead. No rod of iron righteousness will be formed in us. We then will be unable to preserve the righteousness, love, joy, and peace of Paradise when God returns Paradise to the earth..

Righteousness is ascribed to us when we, in obedience to God, first place our confidence in Christ. But if after that we do not obey Christ, we no longer are regarded as righteous. We no longer will be qualified or competent to be clothed with immortality when the Lord returns to earth and thus work with Him in the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

How many millions of "Christians" are looking forward to a pre-tribulation "rapture" into Heaven, or to being changed into immortality when Christ appears? Their hope is in vain, unless they are serving Christ diligently day and night. Their hope does not conform to the Scriptures, only to the traditions of today, which are based on misunderstanding, self-love, and a touch of Gnosticism.

Going to Heaven by "faith alone"? Not if the Bible is the Word of God!

If no rod of iron righteousness has been formed in us, we are not competent to install the Kingdom of God on the earth when the Lord returns. If we have not lived as an overcomer, we are not qualified in terms of the Scripture to receive the promises to the overcomer, which include governing with Christ. Faith (head knowledge; mental assent) alone leaves us incompetent and unqualified to have fellowship with Christ and to rule with him.

Faith apart from a new moral creation is "dead." True faith lives in behavior.

The second deadly result of the "faith alone" error is that we accept the enemy in our personality and surroundings. We compromise with him. He dwells in and with us without being dislodged. He steadfastly enjoys that which God has offered to us.

Spirits do not have a physical form. Satan and his angels do not have gender, as people do. Therefore Satan and his demons use every device they know that will enable them to enter and influence people. In this manner they maintain their position in that which God has given us, especially our physical body.

How many times did God tell the Israelites to totally destroy the Canaanites who were living in the area God had assigned to them! The Lord commanded the Jews to show no mercy. The reason for this destruction was that God knew if Israel permitted the Canaanites to live among them, the Jews soon would be worshiping the idols of Canaan.

And when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them. Deuteronomy 7:2—NASB)

The original land promised to the Jews included a far greater area than is viewed today as "Israel." All of the east bank of the Jordan to the Euphrates, and the land of the Hittites, for example. But the Israelites were not faithful to obey God.

Had they done what the Lord commanded, it is possible they would to the present hour have the full possession of the land promised to Israel. But, as in the case also of us Christians today, they were not diligent to wipe out the enemy. They compromised, using the aliens to serve in various sorts of duties, such as cutting firewood.

The Israelites fell further and further away from the Lord's commandments until they were conquered by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. It is a sad story. They never again were able to regain the glory they had experienced under David and Solomon. To this day the small part of their inheritance that they have held onto is being threatened. What a lesson we can learn from this!

But we have not learned the lesson. We have allowed Satan to frighten us. Our heart in many instances is not set on possessing the marvelous promises that have been made to us, such as being a coheir of Christ; sitting on the Throne of Glory with Christ; being filled with the Fullness of God; attaining to the inward resurrection in preparation for the giving of eternal life to our body in the Day of Christ. All we want to do is to flee to Heaven where we will live in a mansion and do nothing of consequence for eternity.

Yet we know from the Book of Revelation that the marvelous promises found therein are to whoever conquers the enemies that have come against him or her. Still we speak of grace, grace, grace, faith alone, faith alone, faith alone. How ridiculous!

We cannot enter our inheritance in Christ until we are willing to fight the enemy in Jesus' name until he is totally destroyed. There is no question of compromise. The enemy, Satan, is to be crushed under our feet, as the Apostle Paul wrote.

We do not waste our time rebuking Satan. There is no scriptural basis for the believers rebuking Satan. Rather, we resist the devil. We fight by patiently carrying our cross behind Jesus; by practicing righteous behavior; by obeying our Lord diligently every hour of every day and night.

Who among us has a heart to fight, not by rebuking the devil but by resisting the temptation to do what is evil? Who among is ready to discard the unscriptural notion that all we are to do is believe that Christ has done it all for us?

Christ has not done it all for us! It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. If Gideon does not do his part, neither will the Lord. We cannot enter our inheritance in our own strength and wisdom. But Christ will enable us to be more than a conqueror if we put on our armor and hold up the shield of faith. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, by far the most powerful weapon in the universe.

But the Spirit will not wield his sword until we stand resolutely in Christ and obey him every moment of every day and night.

"Faith alone?" By no means. The Apostle James informs us that faith without works is dead. It is only our self-love, spiritual laziness, ignorance of the Scripture, and perhaps cowardice, that cause us to be unwilling to press with all our might toward the fullness of the inheritance. Yet the Apostle Paul exhorted us to maintain the attitude of conquest, using himself as our example.

Spiritual growth is an increase in the ability to recognize evil, and the willingness and strength to totally reject the evil and embrace righteous behavior. This is the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14—NIV)

(Taken from "Not by 'Faith Alone,'" an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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We Can Overcome

2011-05-29

I had the following dream in the early 1950s, when we were living in a trailer on the grounds of the tent in which Pastor J. O. Dowell was holding services. The tent was located on the border of National City, just before you come into San Diego.

I was on a ship. The ship was foundering in the waves. Many of the passengers were jumping over the side.

I also jumped over the side, and was paddling around, keeping my head above water. I had done a lot of swimming while I was growing up and am at home in the water.

I could see the shore in the distance, maybe a hundred yards away. I could make out the sailors standing on the beach. Perhaps they got there in the lifeboats. They had joined hands and appeared to be playing "Ring Around the Rosy," or some other childhood game such as that.

I looked back toward the sinking ship. I could see the passengers in the water. They were thrashing about and drowning in their terror.

I suddenly noticed that my feet kept touching the bottom. So I stopped thrashing and stood up. The water was only waist deep. The passengers were panicking and drowning in waist-deep water!

I looked again at the shore. The sailors still were playing their game.

I turned back toward the passengers to tell them to stop struggling and stand up straight.

Then I awakened.

I wondered what the dream meant. I knew it was from God.

After about three days the interpretation came to me. "Although the churches (the sailors) do not always tell us so, it is entirely possible to overcome sin and live righteously."

God's people remain bound and guilty when it is not necessary to live in such a condition. They have not been taught how the new covenant operates. They do not understand that the same grace that forgives their sin has the power to set them free from sin.

When I got out of the Marine Corps I went to Bible school, because the Lord had called me to preach while I was in the service.

Although I had several Christian friends while still in the Marine Corps, the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego on South Boundary Street was my first immersion in the contemporary Pentecostal culture. I had not been raised in a Christian home.

The teachers and students of the Bible institute were good people and sincere Christians. But I heard the same idea expressed in different ways: "As long as we are in the world we have to sin. We will keep on sinning until we get to Heaven."

Some go so far as to say we keep on needing to be saved by grace (forgiveness) after we are in Heaven.

How's that for preaching victory in Christ? We already are defeated, so why try?

As I think about it, it must have been God who put it into my heart to decide that we do not have to sin. Through Christ we can overcome sinful bondages.

I can't remember what I did or said about this decision, except I repeated the vow to God I had made while in Bible school that I would do his will whatever it proved to be, provided he gave me the grace (wisdom and power) to do it.

When I had the dream about the sinking ship, which occurred a couple of years after Bible school, it came to me that God's people are ignorant of the victory over sin we can have through Christ. We can overcome sin!

So I have been preaching ever since that through Christ we can overcome sin each day. We can be perfect one day at a time. Finally, if we do not stop somewhere along the way, we will be perfected—fully redeemed from sin. Then we have eternity to grow into the image of Christ.

It may be noted that the promises we ordinarily associate with salvation, such as ruling with Christ, are reserved for "him who overcomes."

I have never in my sixty-five years as a disciple of the Lord heard a sermon on what it means to overcome, or a discussion of the rewards to the overcomer.

Someone said recently that every person who makes a profession of belief in Christ is automatically an overcomer.

But stop and think. The second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are addressed to the seven churches of Asia Minor. It can be assumed, I believe, that most of the members of these seven churches professed belief in Christ.

If this is true, then all the members of the seven churches were overcomers by virtue of the fact that they had made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. In this instance, the two chapters do not make any sense at all.

Every day of our Christian experience we have the choice of yielding to sin or not yielding to sin. Every day we choose either to do what is right or to disobey God.

I would like to add two thoughts. First, when Jesus next appears, only the victorious saints will be raised from the dead, receive their new bodies, be caught up to meet him in the air, and descend with him to participate in the work of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Second, there will be a tremendous victory that will occur prior to the return of the Lord Jesus, a victory that will prepare the way for the Lord's appearing and the coming of the Kingdom. The victory I am referring to is the hurling to the earth of Satan and his angels from their vantage point in the heavens.

There will be victorious saints in the last days. Christ will have been formed in them and they will be living by his Life. As a result, God will empower Michael to drive Satan and his angels from the Heavens. This victory shall have been made possible because some of the believers will have overcome Satan by resting in the authority of the blood of the Lamb; by cooperating with the Holy Spirit until their mind, speech, and actions conform to the Scriptures.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, they have chosen to love not their own life to the point of death. Because it is not they who are living but the obedient Christ who has been formed in them and is dwelling in them, the accusations of the Accuser, Satan, no longer are regarded as valid by the Father. Thus the Father feels justified in empowering Michael to drive from the heavens the ancient cherub and his followers.

You can be one of those who is raised when Christ appears. You can be one of those who overcomes the Accuser by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of your testimony, and by loving not your own life to the point of death.

I am here to say that each day you can choose to do what is right, and the grace of God that is given to us through the Lord Jesus Christ will enable you to do so.

You can overcome through Christ

You can live in victory over sin.

Stand up straight and fix your eyes on Christ.

The water is only waist deep.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7—NIV)

(Taken from "We Can Overcome," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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He Who Overcomes

2011-06-05

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—NIV)

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 and lead to righteous behavior, 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 the 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 is a cross-carrying saint, you may be 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.

And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:5—NASB)

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.

It may be true that those 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 not only to 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—NIV)

(Taken from "He Who Overcomes," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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A Change of Theology

2011-06-12

I have concluded that numerous theologians do not know the God of Israel, in that they have deduced a sovereignly imposed salvation not affected by the behavior of the believer.

When we make eternal residence in Heaven the goal of salvation, and add to this the idea that there is absolutely nothing we are to do to get there, God has done it all and asks only that we believe He has done it all, we have a witches brew of poison that prevents spiritual growth.

Such a destructive concept is arrived at by cutting and pasting certain verses removed from their contexts, and then deducing doctrine from the collage. The effect of this widespread doctrine has been a lack of moral strength in so many Christian churches. Our political leaders in America, no longer able to receive moral guidance from the Christian churches, have been reduced to blind, pragmatic decision-making The end result will be the removal of the United States of America as a significant power in the world.

God made America great. The removal of God will leave America a crippled society.

We are not saved from earth to Heaven but from the image of Satan to the image of God.

He who believes and is baptized shall be saved. "Shall be saved"! This means that instead of being destroyed in the Day of Judgment, the believer will be permitted to endure the rigors of redemption. We enter the Kingdom of God through all sorts of tribulations. Patience is required if we are to endure this sometimes painful, dangerous program.

We are being "saved" today if we are accepting the Lordship of Jesus Christ, whether we are in the body or in the spirit world. To be fully saved is to be at rest in God's Person and will. This means we have grasped that for which we have been grasped and are instantly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in every aspect of our being and doing.

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 leave the Law of Moses and 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.

If we are to make a success of our life in Christ, and attain to our destiny, we must honor God in all our ways and always do what pleases Him.

The entire Bible is about righteous behavior. Under the old covenant we are to obey the Law of Moses. Under the new covenant we are to obey the Spirit of God, the Law of the Spirit of Life, in every aspect of our behavior, the New Testament writings serving to keep us from deception.

The purpose of imputed, ascribed righteousness is to get us started on the path of actual righteousness.

God imputes righteousness to the believer under the old covenant when he obeys the Law of Moses. God imputes righteousness to the believer under the new covenant when he seeks Christ and obeys Him. The writings of the Apostles must be obeyed until the believer is able to walk with Christ.

It is not true that there were no righteous people under the old covenant. The Old Testament speaks of those who were righteous before the birth of Jesus Christ.

Why don't we ask the unsaved (and Christians also) if they will accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord? When they do, the "Savior" part will take care of itself. The Lord Jesus Christ already has purchased us with his blood. When we are willing to obey him, He will forgive our sins.

Why does religion emphasize belief in doctrine rather than direct obedience to the living Christ? Perhaps it is because by stressing belief rather than obedience, man can remain in control of his salvation.

Actually, true belief and obedience are the same thing. We see this in Hebrews 3:18,19.

If an individual makes a profession of faith in Christ, and then lives according to his sinful nature, does that individual really believe in Christ? Is that person really saved? The answer given today by numerous evangelical pastors and teachers is, "Absolutely yes!" The scriptural answer is, "Perhaps yes, perhaps no, depending on several factors."

The doctrine that teaches we receive Christ as a ticket to Heaven without any change in our behavior is so unscriptural, so illogical, as to appear silly when placed against the truth of the new moral creation and the consequent fellowship with God.

The concept of a "grace" that allows people to be willful, self-centered creatures and yet walk with God in Paradise is a product of humanistic thinking. It is man's way of attempting to change God until He is conformed to what rebellious, sinful people desire.

We may suppose that it is a loving God's way of sparing people from having to endure the consequences of immoral behavior. It is not. It would be an abandoning of God's knowledge of right and wrong so that people will love Him and not be angry with Him.

Since sinful, rebellious people do not love their neighbors as themselves, God would not be sparing them pain by overlooking their behavior. Rather, because of his lack of character, God would be letting people destroy themselves. Satan would really enjoy a God who issued a grace that releases people from any form of punishment when they disobey God's commandments.

We can see this disaster operating when parents will not discipline their rebellious children because they want their children to "love" them. Such parents betray their children by not correcting them, because life itself sooner or later will reward undisciplined people with the consequences of their actions. This pattern of indulgent parents is fairly common in the United States and produces delinquent young people.

The truth is, no one "gets away" with anything. If the self-willed individual does not reap corruption in the present world, he or she assuredly will in the next world. The current doctrine of "grace" assumes an indulgent God, and the product is sinful, rebellious people.

We speak of people being saved. But what do we mean by "saved"? Does being "saved" mean we go to Heaven when we die, or does it refer to a change in us that is independent of a place, such as Heaven? Does it refer to fellowship with God wherever we are?

It appears to me that we pastors and teachers should begin to emphasize the difference between the current erroneous view of the meaning of the term "grace," and the understanding of what Divine grace actually is under the new covenant.

The only thing grace replaces is the Law of Moses. "The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." Now that the Law of Moses has been replaced, we have to obey Christ through the Spirit of God instead of by learning and obeying the Law of Moses. Divine grace is not an alternative to righteous behavior, to obeying Christ and his Apostles. Rather, grace is the means whereby righteous, obedient behavior is accomplished.

I was not raised in a Christian home. While in the Marine Corps, during World War Two, I was placed in a tent with another Marine, a Baptist boy who had had Bible teaching. This took place at the U. S. Marine Corps Sixth Base Depot (I believe I have the name right). This particular military depot was on the island of Oahu, which is part of the Hawaiian chain.

When we went back to Oahu a few years ago, I could not find this installation.

The Baptist boy (Gene something or other) told me about the plan of salvation in Christ, as he understood it. Gene's explanation included the concept of "grace" as described in the notes of the Scofield Bible. So I became grounded in Dispensational theology, including the "pre-tribulation rapture" of everyone who would make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

After hearing Gene's explanation, I sought God until I had a definite born-again experience. I have further described, in Godwill Castle, my born-again experience on Oahu, and also my subsequent call to the ministry, which occurred in Sasebo, Japan.

My understanding of "grace" as the God-given alternative to righteous behavior was maintained throughout Bible school (1947-1949), although during my time in Bible school the Lord began to give me insight into his Word. Nevertheless I continued in my belief in Dispensational theology for several years after Bible school, until I was teaching the fifth grade in an elementary school in Palo Alto, California, 1967 or thereabouts.

Prior to this, the Lord had intervened in my life, impressing on me some wonderful truths from the Old Testament. This would have taken place, probably around 1950. A Bible teacher by the name of Oliver Ellenwood came to the tent in San Diego where we were worshiping. J. O. Dowell of the Assemblies of God was the pastor of the tent, which was on the border of National City, next to San Diego.

Brother Ellenwood had excellent charts and he taught from them. During one of his lectures, Brother Ellenwood mentioned, in passing, the seven feasts of Israel. I had never before heard of these seven celebrations. But the moment Brother Ellenwood mentioned them I had a strong witness that the seven feasts of the Lord were a topic I should pursue.

And pursue them I have, for several decades. These Jewish celebrations are an excellent series of events for the portrayal of the program of salvation, of redemption. They begin with the Passover, speaking of God's Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. They conclude with the feast of Tabernacles, the forming and dwelling of the Fullness of God, the Throne of God, in the believer.

The sixth of the seven observances is the solemn Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur of the Jews). On this one day only, the High Priest of Israel was permitted to move past the ornate Veil into the Most Holy Place. When he entered he sprinkled the blood of the slain goat upon and before the Mercy Seat, which was placed on the top of the Ark of the Covenant.

The ceremony of the Day of Atonement included the confession of the sins of Israel, laying these sins on the head of a living goat and sending that "scapegoat" into an uninhabited area. This action also was referred to as an "atonement."

Thus, there were two significant Divine actions symbolized by the two goats of the Day of Atonement. The first action was the removal of the guilt of sin. The second action was the removal of the sin itself; in other words, deliverance from the compulsions of sin. Atonement cannot be made apart from the shedding of blood. The removal of sin was based on the blood of the slain goat.

So it is today. The removal of sin that has begun today gains its authority from the blood that was shed on the cross of Calvary two thousand years ago.

I am speaking now of my experience in about 1950. I believe God spoke to me clearly at that time that the Day of Atonement portrays judgment on the sin in God's people, the removal of their sin, as symbolized by the removing of the scapegoat from the camp. They already have been forgiven and now are awaiting the removal, the Day of Redemption.

From then until the present hour (1950-2011) I have grown in my understanding of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement. I am aware now that the fulfillment has begun in our day and will continue until the final resurrection and judgment, which will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Ultimately, the presence of sinful desires, of all rebellion against God, shall have been removed entirely from the creation.

In about 1965 I began writing the concepts that had been developing in my mind since 1948, when I was a student in the Berean Bible Institute in San Diego. I commenced work on a book titled, The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

Please keep in mind that my beginning instruction as a Christian had been in Dispensational theology. In this theology, minimal or no importance is placed on the numerous New Testament exhortations and warnings concerning righteous behavior. I was reading my Bible through the "grace screen," which prevented me from seeing what the Apostles actually had written.

In fact, in some extreme cases, the Bible teachers of today are saying the important thing is that we profess belief in Jesus Christ. Our behavior is almost of no consequence. We are saved by "faith alone." Of course, the "faith" they are referring to actually is "belief" in a certain theologic position, not the genuine faith of the Prophets and Apostles.

I know now that obedience to Christ and his Apostles is more important than "belief" in Christ, unless by belief we mean obedience to Christ.

I started a chapter, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, titled "The Holiness of the Tabernacle." As I thought about the concept of the holiness of the Tabernacle, and the numerous statutes concerning the Tabernacle itself as well as the conduct of the priesthood, I began to wonder what the New Testament said, if anything, about the behavior of the believers in Christ. Can you imagine such blindness! But this is the result of accepting Dispensational theology.

(Pastor Frederick Richards the Third, in my book, Godwill Castle, is the sad fruit of Dispensational teaching.)

When I first became a Christian it was impressed on me by fellow Marines (1944) that the Bible is God's Word, what we might refer to as the plenary verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. I was to meditate in it, memorize it, and obey it. This in spite of the adherence of these friends to Dispensationalism. Like so many today, they had inconsistent compartments in their thinking.

So now, many years later, I resolved to go through the New Testament to determine if there were any admonitions to godly behavior, and if so, were they expressed as being important to our salvation. I proposed to write down all I found and then think about them. I began with the Gospels. After all, God's very Word is more to be relied on than is true of theology.

Many of Jesus' exhortations to godly behavior are by inference, like "blessed are the pure in heart." The Lord Jesus did give us some moral guidelines, and informed us of the consequences of not following them. "If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." I can just hear our scholars of today saying, "This does not apply to those who are saved by grace."

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth." "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Our scholars would exclaim, "But grace supersedes these commands! Anyway, these commandments of Christ are directed toward the Jews," the scholars would respond.

It seems to me inconsistent to say the commands of Christ in the Gospels are superseded by grace, or apply only to those of the Jewish race, and then insist that we must be born again, when this advice was given to the Jew, Nicodemus. I began to think to myself, "There is something not right here!"

I listed the moral guidelines I found in the four Gospels, noting the warnings of not obeying them. I did not have too much of a problem with Jesus' instructions, with reconciling them to the grace teaching I had had; although I noted that He said if we love him we will keep his commands. However, I was not fully persuaded as yet that I had been taught error.

Also, the Book of Acts does not have much to say about righteous behavior, except some remarks about works that signify repentance. However, I did notice in Acts that the Apostles in their preaching stressed repentance and did not once portray salvation as asking Jesus to come into our heart.

I was not completely convinced my theology was incorrect until I came to the Epistles of the Apostle Paul and of the other Apostles of the Lamb. When I began writing down the exhortations to godly behavior found in the Epistles I soon gave up. I did not want to spend this much time—the list would have been far too long. The few admonitions I began with soon convinced me that I indeed had been taught error.

Then I looked to see if Paul's exhortations contained warnings that if we did not live righteously there would be severe consequences. I discovered in Galatians and Ephesians that if we believers in Jesus Christ continue to live in the desires of our sinful nature we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. We shall reap corruption. I would regard that as a serious consequence, wouldn't you?

The sixth and eighth chapters of the Book of Romans warn us we shall die (not attain to the redemption of our body in the Day of Resurrection) if we continue to practice sinful behavior.

I do not know who wrote the Book of Hebrews. But this Book alone proves that the current teaching of unconditional grace is an error of great magnitude; although there are scholars who attempt to prove, by using principles of the Greek language unfamiliar to most of us, that the passages of Hebrews do not mean what they state clearly.

I began to understand that I had been grievously deceived and that the theology of multitudes of fundamentalists is in error!

When we read a command in the Bible, or the Lord speaks to us, are we then to say, "No, I can't do this. I must be saved by the grace of forgiveness"?

Or are we to pray, "Lord, help me to do what you have commanded"?

What is your answer to this question?

You know, my favorite saying, since I discovered I had been taught error, is, "iron righteousness, fiery holiness, stern obedience to the Father." This has been my watchword for many years. I hope it is carved on my tombstone.

Interestingly enough, while I am writing these comments, someone sent me an E-mail warning me that if I taught "stern obedience to the Father" it would cause some believers to lapse into self-righteousness.

This doesn't make sense to me. How could seeking to obey the Father cause self-righteousness? I agree that endeavoring to strictly observe some religious program might cause self-righteousness. But obeying God?

There are some who teach that we have been commanded to obey the words of the New Testament. It is not necessary, they say, to hear from Christ because He already has spoken in his word. "When the Bible speaks, we speak. When the Bible is silent, we are silent." This attitude will certainly produce self-righteousness.

It is true rather that we always must seek Christ concerning every scriptural commandment in order to gain his wisdom and strength that we may apply and obey the commandment properly and promptly.

In his Sermon on the Mount Christ commanded us not to resist anyone who would sue us or borrow from us but to give him what he asks. To obey this commandment without going to Christ for his wisdom is to invite self-righteousness. To obey Paul's commandments about women teaching, without going to Christ for his wisdom, is to invite self-righteousness and perhaps to go against God's will.

The new covenant is a covenant of the Spirit, not of the letter of the Scriptures. To seek to obey the commandments of Christ and His apostles without looking to Christ for wisdom and help will produce a religious, self-righteous spirit that will not bring forth the fruit of righteousness and holiness we desire. It also will create division among the believers, if they hold to the letter of the Scriptures and do not look to the Lord Jesus for wisdom.

The idea that we are not supposed to attempt to obey God, but only to profess belief in Christ, is so pervasive in Christian thinking that the thought of "stern obedience to God" threatens some who "believe in Christ."

My secretary just told me of a bumper sticker she saw recently on a car ahead of her. The sticker read: "Christians are not perfect, they are just forgiven." My secretary knows we have been commanded to be perfect, and we can be perfect for the day—we just haven't been perfected as yet.

The bumper sticker reveals the depth of the misunderstanding of the Gospel that appears in Christian thinking. I was taught in Bible school that no one really is able to obey God, and that the world is waiting for someone to obey God completely because then amazing events will transpire. Can you imagine such foolishness? I actually was taught this.

Where do you suppose the teaching is coming from that insists no one can obey the Father and there is no need to make much of an effort to do so?; obedience to God is not necessary and will lead to self-righteousness? I think I know where it is coming from. Christian teaching today is pitifully, destructively in error! It is coming from the one who counseled: "You shall not surely die if you disobey God."

There may be scholars, who hold the Bible to be inerrant, who will declare that the passages I found in my search, and the stern warnings in the Book of Hebrews, have nothing to do with those who have "accepted Christ." These teachers will direct the warnings toward the Jews, or the unsaved.

Such misdirection, misapplication, of the Apostle's warnings, is not defensible. It is clear evidence of the willingness of Bible scholars to defy sound principles of interpretation, even common sense, in order to prove to God's people that they "shall not surely die" even if they practice the works of the sinful nature. I am not certain whether they are trying to please people or to make room for some sinful practice of their own.

It seems clear to me that the whole crowd of evangelical believers who press the point that the thief on the cross entered Paradise without having lived a godly life are trying to convince themselves that their misbehaviors will not affect their going to Heaven to live in a mansion. They must be motivated either by fear that they cannot gain victory over sin, or else by a desire to not give up their sins. "Lord please forgive us for this which we are about to do"—this sort of thing.

There must be some reason why they have been led astray so easily by the false teaching that is going on.

I think the Spirit is saying that there is going to be much American blood shed in the future. It really behooves us, if we wish to stand in that day, to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord. The current grace-rapture-Heaven teaching is unscriptural and will leave the Christian unprepared for the Divine judgments that will fall upon America.

This reminds me of evolutionists who defy all common sense by teaching that the physical creation came into being by random occurrences. It makes one wonder if they are seeking to convince themselves that there is no God so they will not have to answer for their behavior!

Perhaps ministers of the Gospel, who insist that the exhortations of Christ and his Apostles do not apply to those who have made a profession of belief in Christ, are leaving room for themselves and their hearers to sin. There has to be some explanation why intelligent, devout scholars cannot understand the New Testament.

Recently I gave my secretary, a college-age girl, a statement to read by a well known Bible pastor and teacher describing how Divine grace overlooks our sinning. My secretary has been raised in our church and has never heard the current "grace" doctrine preached. She was amazed. She said (and I thought this was quite perceptive!), "it sounds as though he is inviting people to sin."

This certainly is a man-pleasing spirit, perhaps resulting from the entrance of the philosophy of Humanism into Christian scholarship. When pastors attempt to please people by their preaching they are the blind leading the blind.

"We have been saved by a sovereign grace and our behavior is inconsequential" will be maintained, even though the position of the Bible scholars could be disproved easily by a high-school student who knew his Bible.

I now was convinced that Dispensational theology is nothing less than a sophisticated form of rebellion against Christ and his Kingdom.

In fact, it is by the act of continually controlling the desires of our flesh and blood nature that we gain the character needed by the future rulers of the Kingdom of God. The current doctrine of grace removes the need to continually overcome the desires of our fleshly nature. Thus it prevents our becoming a ruler in the Kingdom of God.

And as far as the pre-tribulation rapture is concerned, a removal of believers in Christ lest they suffer at the hands of Antichrist or during the Great Tribulation, there is no sound scriptural support for this common teaching. The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine disarms the believer with the result he will not prepare himself to stand in the evil day. The verses used in its support are not supported by their contexts.

The pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is just another man-pleasing teaching, not worthy of scholarly investigation.

These two doctrines, sovereign grace that relieves us of the necessity to live righteously, and the pre-tribulation rapture, which is a handmaiden of the "grace" error, have destroyed the moral strength of the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The two doctrines eventually will be viewed as destructive errors in Christian theology.

Let me add that the doctrine of the so-called "rapture," whether pre-tribulation or mid-tribulation or post-tribulation, is not of God. At no time is God going to remove his Church from earth to Heaven in order to protect it from Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.

The basic "rapture" passage in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians is describing the coming of Christ with all the saints of history to call up to Himself the victorious Christians so they may descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth. The description is of the coming of the Lord, not the going of the Church. This can be understood clearly by any person who has an unbiased mind.

In the time to come, the doctrine of the "rapture" will be viewed as an error in Christian thinking.

It is my point of view that the current moral decline in the United States, which assuredly is leading our nation to destruction, is due largely to these two doctrines (Divine grace as an alternative to righteous behavior, and a "rapture" to deliver the believers from suffering); since the Christian Church is the main source of moral principles for our government and our citizenry.

From the time of the writing of the Tabernacle of the Congregation to the present I have written about many topics, including the disaster in Christian thinking termed "Dispensationalism." In actuality, the purpose of the Christian Gospel is to produce people who have been made righteous in behavior through Divine Virtue (grace) so they may participate in the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Dispensational teaching wars against this purpose.

The Bible is rightly termed "the good Book" because it is supposed to make people good. Just as simple as that!

Another product of my newly found willingness to depart from current Christian thinking is the discovery that the Bible, New Testament and Old, does not view permanent residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation.

Rather, our goal, our land of promise, is the possession of the Fullness of God, an inheritance of people, and the farthest reaches of the earth itself. I have described my thoughts on the goal of salvation in a book titled, The Land of Promise.

The current doctrinal errors, such as Divine grace as a substitute for righteous behavior, and the unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture," are based on the concept that the goal of salvation is to bring us to Heaven when we die. If we substitute the scriptural goal, which is change into the image of Christ and untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will, for the current "mansions in Heaven" goal, then the current errors are seen for what they are. I will have more to say about this later.

While I am slaughtering sacred cows, let me mention also that the way the Trinity sometimes is defined can be misleading and cause problems. If the Trinity is defined as three Persons forming one Godhead, all in perfect oneness, all Divine in Substance, then there is no problem.

However, when the Trinity is conceived as three Gods, all equal, then we have two problems. The first problem is that we rightly can be accused of polytheism, a concept the Jews and the Muslims find repugnant.

Please notice, in the following passages, that Christ is not equal in knowledge to his Father, and that He is required to obey his Father. The Father is Christ's God. The Father made the universe through Christ.

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2—NIV)

You heard that I said to you, "I go away, and I will come to you." If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28—NASB)

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:17—NIV)

He said to them, "My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father." (Matthew 20:23—NASB)

Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; (Hebrews 5:7,8—NIV)

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36—NASB)

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, (Revelation 1:1—NASB)

If you think about it, our will is our uniqueness as a person. When our Lord said to the Father, "not my will but yours be done," He was revealing beyond all question that He and the Father are two different Persons, although united in will by the choice of Jesus.

I think numerous Christian theologians would object strongly to the concept that the Father is greater than the Son. They may contrive a tortured explanation as why these straightforward comments do not mean what they state. In this they are found to be at fault. Whenever we have to set forth a complex explanation as to why a passage does not mean what it says to the ordinary reader, we probably are in error.

Scholars do this sometimes by resorting to elements of Greek grammar that most of us are not familiar with, and make statements that are contradicted by clear teaching of the New Testament.

Not only can we not understand the simple statements of the four Gospel accounts, when we insist that the Father and the Son are equal in authority, but we make genuine fellowship with our older Brother impossible.

God the Father has chosen the Word to be Lord of all the creation. It is as though God has removed himself from his creation (of course He hasn't) and has entrusted everything to his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says Christ is subject to God the Father. Why, then, is the position maintained that there are three equal Gods, or that there is one God in three forms?

Each saint is called to be an eternal part of Jesus Christ. Thus he or she becomes a part of the invisible Father, just as the Lord Jesus is.

By saying that Jesus Christ is not equal to his Father, we are not subtracting from his Divinity or Lordship. Rather we are adhering to the New Testament Scriptures. After all, the Father has decreed that all of the creation shall be summed up in Christ. He is Lord of all.

It simply is not scriptural that there are three equal gods, all at the same level of authority. Now we see our great Lord Jesus Christ as He worships the Father, and invites us to worship the Father. We are entering a true, living fellowship with our Lord Jesus as his brothers.

You know, there is a technique used in corporations for getting rid of a lower-level executive who is not functioning profitably but who is too popular to just fire. They refer to this technique as "kicking him upstairs." By this they mean, promoting the non-productive person to what appears to be a higher-level position in the company where he cannot do as much harm.

This is what theologians have done with the Lord Jesus. They have "kicked Him upstairs" to where we cannot have a friendly relationship with Him as our Brother. Maybe they do this so they can build his Church without pausing to see how He wants it built, worshiping Him afar off as they go about their business carrying out their own plans. That is the way it appears sometimes!

The dear Catholic people seem to look to Mary more than they do to Jesus. Have they kicked Jesus upstairs? I really doubt He is pleased with this. I think He wants us to know him. Paul exclaimed, "That I might know Christ," not "that I might know Mary." The idea that we have to go through Mary to get to Christ is so totally unscriptural it is a marvel the Catholic scholars, who obviously are erudite, cannot perceive this.

Of all people, Mary, the mother of Jesus would be the first to reject any notion of her being the way to Jesus. If we asked Mary anything, she would respond, "Whatever He says to you, do it." We have fellowship with Jesus, not with Mary. We are not called to be brothers of Mary, or to be created in Mary's image, but brothers of Christ.

How happy it makes Jesus when we seek to enjoy fellowship with Him as our Brother, as a Son of God as we are although in a vastly higher position of authority. How happy that makes us! Because of Him we have before us an eternity in which to grow and develop until we truly are God's sons and brothers of Jesus Christ in the truest, fullest sense of the Word.

Our Lord Jesus has been born of God and born of man. Such is true of us also when we have been born again. We have been born of man and then born of God. But it may require a long time for us to grow, under Christ, into the fullness of our new personality.

Adam came from the ground and is of the ground. Eve came from Adam and is of Adam, in that sense. Christ came from God and is of God. The members of the Bride of the Lamb came from Christ and are of Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ, as a Man, is the only Begotten of the Father, and then the Firstborn of the resurrection. We also have been born of the Father and will be raised from the dead by the power of the Father, our body being "adopted." Thus it is true that Jesus Christ, although Lord of all, is our Brother, we having the same Father. The Father is our Father and the Father of the Lord Jesus. The Father is our God and the God of the Lord Jesus.

For myself, I care little or nothing about theological niceties. Rather, my purpose in dwelling on this point is not to attempt to be more correct than someone else, it is to invite everyone into the fellowship I have with Jesus.

When Jesus and I talk it is Brother to brother, Friend to friend. We do not use King James English or even a stilted palace language. We converse in common language: "How are you doing," this sort of thing.

I want you to know Jesus as your very best Friend, just as I do.

That which seemed clear to me was not, apparently, clear to other believers. As a result, I often yelled when I preached. I was known by some as "wild man Thompson."

Please understand: I was not yelling at the people or angry with them. My frustration was directed at what appeared to be unnecessary error in Christian thinking, at least in the part of Christendom I was familiar with.

If you wish to hear some of those early sermons, as I sought to combat the unscriptural doctrines emphasized in those days, such as the "faith" and "prosperity" notions, "eternal security," the pre-tribulation rapture, the sovereignty of grace such that righteous behavior is not essential to our salvation, you can order early recordings from Mount Zion Fellowship (P.O. Box 1522, Escondido, California)

Why was I so upset? I think you would be too if you were placed in a culture that insisted two plus two equals five, or that the earth is flat.

Someone said if a lie is repeated often enough it becomes accepted as truth. I suppose this is a fact, if the lie is what people wish to believe. This is Satan's way, isn't it? It appears to me that most people do not seek truth; they seek for that which will make them comfortable and, hopefully, secure.

If people persisted in the idea that the earth is flat and the sun is in an orbit around the earth, in spite of what you showed them to be the truth, how would you feel? How would you react? Would you be a "wild man"?

The people who taught me Dispensational theology when I was a new Christian were sincere, dedicated Christians. While I was with them in the Marine Corps I could see they were living the life of prayer and obedience to God. They were influential in bringing many Marines to Christ prior to the major battles of World War Two, in which some of their converts were killed.

They were true disciples, no doubt about that, and I am very thankful for the part they played in bringing me to Christ. It may be a fact that their innate sense of what is godly and right kept them from the destructive conclusions of Dispensational theology.

So my frustration was not directed at them or toward any group in particular. It was just my immaturity being demonstrated as I mishandled what the Lord Jesus had graciously shown to me.

The people of Mount Zion, our church, have told me I have calmed down a lot. This probably is due to the fact that now there are numerous believers who are aware of the error of the "grace" and "pre-tribulation-rapture" messages. They represent only a small fraction of the ranks of Christendom, it is true. But I notice that here and there the Light flashes in someone's heart.

I have given up attempting to anticipate who will gain understanding of what we refer to as "the Kingdom message" (for want of a better term). It is obvious that it is a waste of time to try to explain to someone what the Spirit of God is saying today, unless the Spirit himself is touching the mind and heart of the individual.

But as I said, there now are many Christian people who understand that the Christian must walk in the way of righteousness, both imputed, and also created in him as Christ is formed in his personality. To seek to use imputed righteousness as a permanent means of maintaining fellowship with God, ignoring the critical need for moral transformation, is to abort God's intention under the new covenant.

Because of these sturdy pilgrims who can explain their faith from the Scriptures, I am able to relax somewhat. I still get excited at times and yell, thinking, I suppose, that the louder I speak the more that truth will be established.

Oh well . . .

There you have it. I have been busily writing the insights I believe the Lord Jesus has given me. In fact, I still am attempting to make what I am seeing just as clear and simple as possible so everyone can understand it. I have sought to share what I believe is truth.

The doctrine of "grace" as a means of God having fellowship with unchanged man, and bringing him to live forever in a mansion in Paradise, is extremely insidious. Once it gets into our thinking it is extremely difficult to dislodge. We always feel if we do not do what Christ commanded we still will be on our way to Heaven. It has taken many years of thought before I have been able to identify what precisely is wrong with Dispensational theology.

You know, the Lord Jesus said He would return and receive us to himself so we would be with Him where He always is. The Lord Jesus wants us to be with himself. This is the voice of love calling to us. He wants us to be with him!

Most of us are oblivious to what Christ desires. We do not care about being "with him." We want to go to Heaven where we can live in a mansion, have fun all the time, and not have any problems. We do not really care about Christ or what He wants. We just want to go to Disneyland in the sky.

We simply are in love with ourselves, not with Christ!

Tell me I am incorrect!

I, along with many others in our day, am endeavoring to build up the highway of holiness so God's redeemed can walk on it and not stumble. It is time to build the wall against sin. Until the wall against sin is constructed in the churches, Satan will be able to enter at his will and destroy whatever we build.

Dreadful sin is being practiced in the United States at the present time, and the indications are our traditional moral standards are going to be removed to an astonishing extent. All the political activism the Christian leaders can undertake will keep being weakened and destroyed until the wall against sin is built.

The believers of the first-century churches were as sinful as we are. The time for deliverance from sin had not come as yet. But it is here now!

It is interesting to observe how God has waited during the hundreds of years of the Christian era before installing the climactic work of redemption, during which time scholars have developed fanciful ideas about going to Heaven to live forever. But no matter. Now we are seeing that Christ will come to the earth and justice will prevail. The meek shall inherit the earth. The proud boasters will occupy a dry land in which there is no water of refreshing.

How often it is true that God allows us to misinterpret the Scriptures, and to not perceive the darkness in our own personality, until the time comes for practical actions and understanding to take place. Our God never wastes anything. He withholds understanding until it is needed for our redemption. He gathers up the fragments after we have been given the right amount of food.

God understands that if people have light they are not able to walk in, it becomes death to them. Everyone who has ears to hear and a heart to understand can now experience the glad message: "The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news."

I trust that the foundation of truth laid during my life will not crumble and vanish after I die. There are faithful people who can carry it on.

You know, God is making man in his image. This means that sin and self-seeking must be removed from him, and he must be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The reason for this is that God desires to embrace man as part of himself. This is not true of angels, who cannot enter union with their Creator.

There are five parts of the legacy I would like to leave with people on the earth, when I enter the true, eternal world. The first is that our goal is not eternal residence in Heaven. Our goal is the full possession of God; change into the moral image of Christ; untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person and will; the people whom God gives us as an inheritance; and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are coheirs with Christ!

The second is the firm understanding that Divine grace is not a substitute for righteous behavior, a new way in which God relates to people. Rather, it is an improvement upon the Law of Moses in that the eternal moral law of God now is written in our heart and mind.

It is time now to build the wall against sin in the lives of God's people.

The third part of the legacy is that all saved people are supposed to walk humbly with Jesus now and forever, listening to Him and obeying Him in every circumstance. We are to work with Him as He builds his Church, not try to work for Him and attempt to build his Church according to our own notions.

The fourth part of the legacy is new to my thinking. I have been somewhat aware of the importance of the resurrection of the physical body. Now I see that the resurrection of the body is a central aspect of the Divine redemption. It is because the physical, material aspect of our salvation has been neglected that the tradition of Heaven being our eternal home has gained the enduring strength that it has. We will not need a physical body when we are in Heaven.

The truth is the opposite. Redemption includes the making alive of the physical body, at the coming of the Lord. The purpose of the redemption, the resurrection, of our mortal body, is that we might resume life on the earth. Man has been created as spirit, soul, and body. Until the body has been redeemed, redemption has not accomplished its intended work.

Ordinarily when the New Testament speaks of eternal life, as in John 3:16, the reference is to immortality, that is, eternal physical life. Up to the present hour, God has been working on the new birth, the transforming of our inward nature, because such transformation is the prerequisite for the making alive of the outward nature. Thus the change of our body from death to life is the crowning act of redemption, the restoration of that which was lost in the Garden of Eden, the destruction of the last enemy.

When we make living in a mansion on a golden street the crowning act of redemption we miss the central message of the Gospel of the Kingdom.

The resurrection of our physical body, our body being a mere seed when compared with the body that shall come forth from the seed if we are willing to die in Christ, will take place when the Lord returns. We are sowing this seed, our physical body, during our lifetime on the earth.

A fifth area I believe I am to communicate has come to me while writing Godwill Castle. This is, the nearness and practicality of the spirit world (Heaven).

I was especially moved this morning (3/24/2010) as I noted in the newspaper the terrible pain and grief of the King family of Poway, California. Their daughter, Chelsea, an outstanding high school senior, was raped and murdered. If they but knew it, their lovely daughter is not now a ghost robed in white with a pumpkin for a head. She still is the same buoyant girl, busily engaged in something of interest to her. Best of all, they can look forward to that day of all days when they die and the same Chelsea they always have known receives them with open arms and glad smile into the real, eternal world.

I believe Chelsea will be dressed in her normal fashion.

I think this terrible tragedy has given the lively community of Poway a reminder of God and of the serious purposes of life on the earth.

Three or four years ago I became unusually aware of the spirit world, after having been a Christian for over sixty years. Instead of being "up there somewhere," the spirit world appears to be all around us. "We have come to Mount Zion," as it were. This new awareness has persisted until the present hour.

I think Jesus intimated to me that so many people will be facing death in the fairly near future He wants us all to realize that dying is nothing to fear. The Book of Revelation speaks of the death of a third of the population of the earth.

But to him who overcomes the desire to preserve his own life so he may enter God's Person and Life, will be given all things of the new creation. God will be his God and he will be God's son.

Let each of us then pray that for eternity we will be found abiding in the very center of God's Person and will. There we always shall have righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

I have been concerned about children who are afraid of dying—and other folks as well. So I have written three books: Heaven—God's Wonderful World; Godwill Castle; and John and Mary Visit Heaven. Every one of us, children and adults alike, should be looking forward to our death as children look forward to school being out for the summer.

The following is from a letter I received yesterday.

"Thanks again for sending me the book (Heaven—God's Wonderful World). It has arrived and I managed to read the first chapter to my daughter last night. She got all excited and said: 'Mum, death is wonderful.'. . . Well, I wish I was like her. . . . We are going to read it every day, so she can make a picture for herself. . . . I think she`s planning to colour pictures as well. . . . Many thanks."

What are deceased people doing in the spirit world? They are happily working at the kind of activities they enjoy. The social climate is wholesome.

If they behave in a manner that interrupts the peaceful atmosphere of the spirit world, such as thievery or violence, they are taken to a place of instruction and an effort is made, by people and angels, to correct the warped personality.

If they are a wicked person, one who consistently has lived to himself and has harmed other people, they are placed at death in one of the areas of the Land of Darkness, there to await the Day of Resurrection. In the Day of Resurrection God will make the decision whether to attempt to redeem them or to throw them into the Lake of Fire.

God will make every effort to save an individual into the new world of righteousness. Some, however, will never accept the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be banished from God's Presence, and from human society, for eternity. Hopefully such wretches will be few in number.

This is my understanding in the present hour.

If we have been a decent person, and have not knowingly rejected the lordship of Christ, dying and passing into the spirit world is like awakening from a nightmare. Our present world is "the valley of the shadow of death," as King David mentioned.

I had not written for about a year. Then, when this increased awareness of the spirit world occurred, four books came into my consciousness and I began writing them. The first and perhaps the most important, is Godwill Castle. This was followed by Heaven—God's Wonderful World. As I stated previously, these two works are designed to allay the fears of children when they are facing their own death or the death of a loved one. I have a great concern for the welfare of children.

Then I wrote John and Mary Visit Heaven.

Finally, I thought I had better describe my theological position, an understanding with which the three books are in harmony; and so the present book came into being.

It is important for believers now and in the future to hold the present world lightly, realizing they will enter their true, eternal life, for which our life now is a preparation, when they die. Thus there is no reason whatever to fear death, unless we are a truly wicked person. Most people are not truly wicked, just confused about the meaning of life and the reality of the eternal world..

Every thought, word, and action of our life is to be worked out in continual interaction with the Lord Jesus. This is the "rest" of God, mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. This is the best possible way for anyone to live.

If you want to live this way, tell the Lord Jesus about it. He really does answer prayer! Tell God you want always to live by the Life of Jesus.

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (II Timothy 2:15—NASB)

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—NIV)

(Taken from "A Change of Theology," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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The Altar-call Mentality

2011-06-19

I am borrowing the term, "the altar-call mentality," from my friend in New Mexico, Steve Yrene. Now what could I possibly mean by that expression! I am not against altar calls. I have them frequently after I preach. So what am I driving at?

I am using the above term to refer to what some call, "the ticket doctrine." That is, we "accept Christ" and view this action as a pass out of Hell and a ticket to eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven.

If you are a believer in the "ticket doctrine" you have been misled. Search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and you will not find the expression "accept Christ." Why are you placing your hope of eternal salvation in a concept that is not scriptural?

If the Bible does not teach "accept Christ," what then does it teach? The Bible teaches us that we are to "abide in Christ" and bear the fruit of His image.

Can you see any difference between accepting Christ and abiding in Christ? I can. Abiding in Christ means accepting Christ every moment of every day and night.

I think the problem is, many of us Christians do not seem to understand that salvation, or redemption, is a program, a process that moves us from Satan to God. It is not a one-time act.

Perhaps you may not view this as a trivial issue. It is far from trivial. It has destroyed the churches in America with the result that our government has been reduced to pragmatic decision-making rather than principled actions. You see, the government no longer can look to the churches for moral guidance.

Oh, we may become exercised over abortion and sexual perversion. And well we may. But the churches themselves (and the world can see this) are filled with pride, arrogance, haughtiness, self-centeredness, jealousy, hatred, unforgiveness, seeking preeminence, greed, sometimes child molestation, unforgiveness, strife, causing division, worshiping people, gossip, suspicion, and every other satanic behavior.

Do you believe the Lamb wants this kind of bride? Oh Brother Thompson, He does not see our sins because we believe in Christ. God sees us through Christ (find that in the Bible!). If we try to live righteously we are insulting God's gift of grace.

All of this corruption because of the idea that salvation is a ticket rather than a program of redemption.

Following are selections from a letter I received yesterday. See if it fits your Christian experience and the thinking of your advisers:

"Dearest Dr. Thompson;

Thus far every church that my wife and I have come across with have been nothing but grace, grace, rapture, and more grace! I had several conversations with different people at churches and even at the college that I attend who believe that even trying to live a righteous life will be an insult to Christ; that His death on the cross then would be worthless.

They ALL believe that Christ completed EVERYTHING, so if we even try to do any good works it is like trying to earn our salvation to heaven.

So I asked them, "shall we live according to what is right to own eyes or follow the Lord's example?" The answers that I get from the pastors are out of this world and outrageous.

One day I asked a pastor of a charismatic church, ' What is the Lord looking for before He returns to earth?' He said, 'to see as many souls saved by receiving the Lord in their hearts. The only way to get to Heaven and avoid Hell we must save as many as we can. The Lord will ask, 'How many souls have you saved from Hell? So then, what are you going to tell Him?'

So then I said to the pastor (I had this conversation with other pastors as well and they all more or less say the same thing) 'Don't you think that what the Lord is looking for is to see Himself totally formed in us?'

I even tried to start my own Bible study here, but thus far due to the fact of grace, rapture,etc., I haven't been successful; but I will continue with the Lord's blessing and guidance to see how things will pan out. Virtually every Christian that I meet here is loaded with tattoos, they smoke and drink, use vulgarity,etc."

The above is typical of letters I get. Maybe you have not noticed it as yet, but numerous Fundamentalists are not fundamental in their beliefs; not scriptural in their doctrines. Can you imagine? If we make the effort to live righteously we are insulting Christ? How blind can we get?

Some years ago in an Eastern state a pastor said, "When the Jews of the Old Testament responded to God's commandments by saying they would obey Him, they said the wrong thing. They should have declared that they could not keep His commandments and must be saved by His grace."

Can you even believe that a Christian leader could be so deceived?

Do you know, in the Book of Acts the Apostles never once asked people to let Jesus into their heart? This is just more of the unscriptural "ticket doctrine." The Apostles preached repentance, for the most part: "Men and brothers, what shall we do? "Repent! Change your behavior!"

We Christians in America are way off the track in our thinking.

There are four great types found in the Old Testament, to which we are to pay attention. The four types show the steps of redemption, the way we move from Satan to God. There are seven such platforms. They do not proceed in a straight line—more like ascending a spiral staircase in Christ. They do not take place all at once, although they all are in Christ.

The four great types of the plan of salvation are: the journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan; the seven days of creation; the seven furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation; the seven feasts of the Lord. I use the feasts of the Lord most often as I teach the plan of salvation:

Passover–our protection from judgment when God judges the works of Satan in the earth.

Unleavened Bread–putting away the leaven of the world, as dramatized by water baptism.

Firstfruits–the giving of righteousness and life to our inner nature; the raising of our inner nature in Christ to the right hand of God; all of this in preparation for the resurrection of our outer nature in the Day of Christ.

Pentecost–the giving of God's Spirit to us to prepare us for the crowning works of redemption that are yet to come. The Holy Spirit is the Divine Law that controls our conduct in place of the Law of Moses.

The Blowing of Trumpets–This is happening now. It is the coming of Christ to His saints in the Spirit to wage war against His enemies who are in them. The resurrection of the mortal bodies of the victorious saints will occur when Jesus next appears from Heaven. The resurrection of the bodies of the remainder of the royal priesthood, and all members of the nations of the earth, will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

The Day of Atonement–This also has begun now. It is the reconciling of God's saved creatures to Himself, beginning with those who are closest to Him of His Church. We must be perfected in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. The Day of Atonement will last from now until the conclusion of the Kingdom Age (the Millennium).

Tabernacles–the coming of the Father and the Son to make us Their eternal dwelling place. Then the Tabernacle of God, His eternal dwelling place, will come down through the new sky to govern for eternity those who have been saved of the nations.

Such is the plan of redemption that God proclaimed in the beginning. Then God rested. Our task is to enter that Divine rest as the Spirit and Word of God move toward the perfecting and completing of the Kingdom of God.

If you are one of the Lord's lambs or sheep, the rod and staff of affliction will be on you throughout your lifetime on the earth. They will comfort you as you realize the Lord is bringing you into the way of righteousness, into green pastures.

A lady on one occasion received a strong electric shock from her washing machine. She said, "Praise God, He is still with me." Evidently she had been getting cold in her faith.

The rod of affliction certainly was on King David, as we see in the eighteenth Psalm. According to the Bible, our Lord Jesus is referred to as the Son of David.

How about King Solomon? He possessed everything a man could desire. There was no rod of affliction on him. But our Lord Jesus would never be referred to as the son of Solomon. Why not? The rod of King Jesus did not keep goading Solomon in the way he should go. Solomon had too easy a life!

When you are afflicted, let it be a comfort to you, knowing that your Lord is pointing you into the way of righteousness.

He has a table spread before you in the presence of your enemies, in the shadow that is cast as Satan endeavors to keep the Light of Christ from you.

Everything you need, healing, deliverance, joy, peace, righteousness, love, is on your table. It remains only for you to partake continually of Christ's grace that is in front of you on your table

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4—NIV)

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The Kingdom Is Coming to the Earth

2011-06-26

We know the Kingdom of God will one day be installed on the earth, in answer to the millions of times the Lord's Prayer has been prayed by godly people. We realize this is true, and yet the realization is not firmly established in our heart and mind.

We have been seduced into believing that the "good news" of salvation is that we will go to Heaven when we die, rather than the "good news" of God's Kingdom and will coming to the earth, and we being resurrected so we once again can enjoy life as we have known it.

The recent hymns and choruses are speaking of the Kingdom and the Glory of God that soon shall fill the earth. "I'll Fly Away, Oh Glory" is changing to hymns about the wonderful prospect of God's Presence and Paradise once again being found on the earth.

In addition we can see taking place in the earth the calamities that the Lord Jesus informed us are the birth pangs, the travail that ultimately will result in the appearing of Christ and His saints and holy angels to drive all sin from the earth and bring justice and eternal life to those whom God chooses to save.

We now are turning from the "mansion" in the sky" to the "mansion" of eternal life and glory that will clothe the resurrected flesh and bones of those who have attained to the inner resurrection; the saints who have walked in victory while living in the valley of the shadow of death.

It appears that in the present hour, not too many Christians are experiencing a change from Heaven theology to that of Kingdom theology. But unless I am mistaken, this change is accelerating every day.

Any intelligent, thoughtful individual can see that life on the earth is moving toward a one-world government; and Christians know that such a government will enforce values and laws that are hostile to our Lord and to His disciples.

It is a relief to us to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ always is in control of every detail of each person living on our sin-cursed planet. Each individual who turns over his or her life to the Lord Jesus is just as safe while living on the earth as he or she would be in Heaven.

The reason the Lord permits wicked people to become ever more prominent is that all their wicked behavior is working for good for each one who has been called from the beginning of the world to accomplish God's purpose, which is to conform His elect to the image of His Son.

One aspect of the Lord's return, that numerous Christians are not familiar with, is the necessity for war and violence if the Kingdom is to be installed on the earth. There are two dimensions of the war, two primary efforts that must be made before God is ready for the new Jerusalem to appear in the new sky and descend to a high mountain of the new earth. This is the "new world of righteousness" that I often refer to.

God's perfect and complete will shall be performed by every creature who has been saved to life in God's new world. If you can think of anything more marvelous, more desirable than that, I can't even imagine what it would be.

The first dimension of the war that will drive evil from the earth is described in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Two armies will invade the earth at that time. The first army consists of the saints of all ages who have served the Lord. They are God's judges bringing God's moral laws into the earth, just as Israel brought the Ten Commandments into the midst of the demon-worshiping tribes of Canaan.

The second army is that of the holy angels who do God's will. They excel in strength, as the Bible says. They carry out the judgments decreed by the saints. Thus there are two armies, the army of saints and the army of angels. This is mahanaim, the double camp that always must be present when God is declaring war.

Antichrist and his armies will seek to prevent Christ and His saints and angels from entering the earth. But they will be overcome. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the eternal fire. Satan will be thrown into the Bottomless Pit, until he is released toward the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium). The carrion-eating birds will make a banquet of the flesh of the soldiers of Antichrist.

The second dimension of the war that will drive evil from the earth will take place after the Battle of Har-magedon, the battle described in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The second dimension is described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel. Again the two armies, the saints and the angels, are present. But this time they are not attacking the armies of Antichrist that had been attempting to keep our Lord from returning to the earth. Rather, they are going through the cities of the earth that had served the world spirit of Antichrist. They are destroying the works of civilization, the institutions and structures of the world.

From the time of Adam and Eve, people have sought to live their lives independently of God. From the moment that Eve decided to rebel against God's commandment, choosing instead to gain what she desired by exerting her own will, to the present hour when the politicians and intellectuals of our world are seeking to bring about peace and safety by their own devices. people from the lowest to the highest are attempting to use their minds to gain their goals rather than by submitting every action of every day to the Lord Jesus.

Even the Christian people! They have been taught that no one really can do God's will, and so they employ what they believe to be "grace" to serve as an alternative to obeying Christ and His Apostles.

But the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will in place of our own will!

I was taught when I first was saved that no one can do God's will satisfactorily, and so I must be "saved by grace." Such confusion as to what Paul meant in the early chapters of the Book of Romans!

We all—every one of us—can do God's will. We absolutely must do God's will at all times and in every circumstance. Are His commandments grievous? Not at all. Each day He is ready to guide our actions into that which is best for us, whether we realize it or not. To not look to God and instead attempt to figure out what is best for us is the most foolish, destructive behavior imaginable!

Well, the long and the short of it is that Satan has deceived God's people. He has told them that He who said, "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" is an ogre whose chief delight is giving people impossible duties to perform and rules to follow.

Will we ever learn!

The fact is, it is Satan who is the ogre whose chief delight lies in deceiving people into destructive, shameful actions. This is not God's way, it is Satan's way.

God way of righteousness is easy, a delight to obey. Of course, there are times when we have to trudge up the mountain with our Isaac. But this is to release us from all idolatry, from that which draws our heart away from God.

Consider the end of the obedient Abraham!

I have learned one thing in my eighty-five years: God is good. He leads us into green pastures, beside quiet waters. When we start making foolish choices, God has a rod and staff. After a while we learn that these disciplines are a comfort to us. They keep us in the way of righteousness.

God always sets a table in front of us. There are enemies all around the table glaring at us and threatening us. On that table is all we need: healing, deliverance, love, righteousness, faith, wisdom, courage, confidence, joy, strength, peace, faith, trust. All we are to do is to ignore our enemies, and eat from the table what we need.

If your desire is the same as mine, you want to dwell in the house of God forever. That House is the Lord Jesus Christ. We indeed have been invited to live forever in God's House. But remember—God expects us to be obedient. He has not given us "grace" as an alternative to obedience, but to furnish our table with every provision we need to live a victorious life in Christ.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalms 23:6)

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Do Not Fret

2011-07-03
During the days in which we are living the behavior of many people is morally depraved. It seems as though all the moral goodness of American society, the result of the influence of the early Christians of our country, is disappearing to a great extent. I think we just took decent behavior for granted.

Does the Bible command us not to fret when we see evil people exalting themselves?

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (Psalms 37:8,9—NIV)

If we want to inherit the land we better do what the Bible says.

I truly believe that one of the great sins that American Christians will commit in the days to come is that of fretting. I guess we do not often regard fretting, grumbling, complaining,as being sins. But they are. They are a sign that we do not believe Christ is in control of the world.

But what about the homosexuals? What about the lying and corruption in our government? What about the entrance of foreign gods into our country under the banner of religious freedom? What about the perversions that are being introduced into the public schools' curricula? What about the all-consuming preoccupation with sexual activity, perversions, and public nudity?

And what about the homosexual brainwashing going on in the military? Reckless spending until our country is approaching bankruptcy? What about the violence young people are devouring in the electronic games?

And then there are the efforts to do away with gender. This is being taken to ridiculous extremes as parents attempt to persuade their children that they can choose to be a boy or girl?

I wonder sometimes if common sense is being banished from our country. America used to be a decent place in which to live; but I am not certain this is true today as some of our leaders proclaim that America no longer is a Christian country.

We can see, in some instances, the signs of an approaching persecution of Christians. Christianity used to be regarded as an honorable religion, held in esteem by most of our citizens. But I notice that little by little Christians and their practices are being scorned as somehow being unworthy of intelligent people. I read somewhere that Hitler also had this view of Christians.

Honestly, soon we will be able to write another Book of Lamentations.

I wish I had better news for you, but you know what! These abominations I have mentioned are going to become much worse, if I am hearing from the Lord correctly.

Some years ago at a pastors' meeting the Lord gave me a word. It was to the effect that the abominations would increase but that for those who would follow the Lord and obey Him diligently, He would perform "new and surprising things" that would be more than adequate to overcome the wickedness—and that we were not to look to the old ways of doing things.

I think He was referring to our customary efforts to promote the Gospel.

Many are saying that the Christian churches are becoming irrelevant. I agree. And the reason is, the Bible is not being preached. I don't know how many people have written to me saying, "All I am hearing in my church is rapture, rapture, rapture, grace, grace, grace, Heaven, Heaven, Heaven."

Since these three doctrines assuredly are not the emphases of the New Testament, the Spirit of God is leaving the churches. What is left are various programs designed to whip up enthusiasm. But enthusiasm is useless if not distracting when it comes to spiritual warfare!

All I have said is true, I believe, and we can look forward to an age of moral horrors in the good old USA.

Our big problem in the coming days will be fretting, complaining, grumbling about the abominations. When we fret, we are revealing that we do not believe Jesus Christ knows what He is doing.

Christ is absolutely in control of every detail of world history, including that of the United States of America. He sits as King of the flood. He has authority over all flesh. The earth is the Lord's, and everyone who lives on it belongs to God.

The preceding statements are from the Scriptures. Either we believe them or we do not. If God shows us something we are to do to remedy the situation, we are to be obedient to God. But barring that, we are to keep our mind on the Lord!

Did the Apostle Paul command us not to fret? I believe so.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.(Philippians 4:8—NIV)

If we are to obey Paul (above) when we see wicked people vaunting themselves, we must pray continually to keep our mind in the heavenlies with the Lord Jesus. We absolutely must live by His Life moment by moment if we are to stand victoriously in Christ while the demon-possessed people are parading around.

There are wonderful promises offered to those who do not fret, and we are going to need these promises in the coming days in America.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (Psalms 37:1,2—NIV)

I can remember when I was a boy how it appeared that Hitler was going to overrun the world. But soon he withered and died away. Such is true of every wicked person.

Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.(Psalms 37:3,4—NIV)

If we trust in Christ and take delight in Him, we will find rest and receive the desires of our heart. Think of it!

Now I will tell you this: No matter how bad things get, if you will seek Christ at all times and live in His Presence, you will stand and rejoice during the darkest hour that is approaching. Not only will you stand, but all those who love and trust you will survive. You will affect a lot of people by your steadfastness in Christ.

However, if you fret yourself about the wickedness in our land, you will depress those around you. They will see that instead of being victorious in Christ you are defeated in your unbelief. This may cause some that you care about to stumble and fall when they could be rejoicing and dancing in the heights of Zion.

All I am saying in this briefest of essays is that you can stand in Christ throughout all the evil that is coming. Christ is not defeated and there is no reason why you should be defeated if you are living in Him.

You have been raised with Christ. Satan hates being ignored and he will do everything in his power to attract your attention and cause you to fret (which really is worshiping the devil instead of God).

Keep yourself and those around you in the heavenlies. Christ will help you. The only true Christian life is that of praying without ceasing. This may seem impossible to you.

Try it. You will like it.

For the LORD will deliver Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they. They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD—the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. (Jeremiah 31:11,12—NIV)

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The Angel of the Lord

2011-07-10

My favorite Psalms are the 34th, 37th, 73rd, and 91st. I am thinking about the 34th this morning. I feel a burden to keep reminding the people in the church that Divine judgment is on the way. As I ask the Lord about this, He tells me to exhort everyone who will listen to me to learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

This means we must pray without ceasing and walk quietly before the Lord at all times so we know what He wants us to do. If we will obey His command we will save ourselves and those who hear us in the days of judgment that are approaching America.

Do you look to Jesus continually for wisdom, strength, survival, and security? If you do not, you are not going to be able to stand during the pressures that are on the way. It is being said that the Christian churches are becoming irrelevant. This is true, I think. "The Spartans are at the door," so to speak, but the play goes on.

If we are wise we will seek the Presence of Jesus as we never have before.

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. (Psalms 34:1)

I wonder what "all times" means? Yesterday was the fourth of July, a traditional American holiday. How many of God's people extolled the Lord Jesus yesterday? How many were constantly praising Him while they were at a barbecue or watching fireworks? I know the Lord could answer that question, while the eastern nations are plotting our destruction.

My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. (Psalms 34:2)

I spoke last Sunday about the weakening influence we have on others when we fret about the condition of our country and of the world. If we are to strengthen those around us we must boast in the Lord. We must reveal by our actions and words that we are confident that Christ is in charge of the world. Then those who are suffering affliction will rejoice rather than be overcome by fear and despair.

Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together. (Psalms 34:3)

When we see the increasing secularism in our country and in the rest of the world, our response must be to glorify the Lord; to exalt His name. The Bible claims the whole earth is filled with God's Glory. We can see His Glory if we will ask God to blind us to the world and open our eyes to His marvelous works in the earth.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. (Psalms 34:4)

Why do we have to seek God so intensely and continually? Truly He hides Himself. Why does He do this? Why doesn't He show Himself plainly to everyone? If He would rain down fiery judgments on the sexual perversions and public nakedness that are filling our country, numerous people would fear and change their ways.

But He does not reveal Himself in this manner. Why not? The answer is found in the reason He has created this valley of the shadow of death. God is looking for those who will serve Him during times of great difficulty. He has reserved for them a new world of righteousness, over which they will be rulers. This is why our discipleship is so challenging.

If we do not give up but keep seeking God, He will answer. He will deliver us from all our fears; not just some of our fears but all of our fears.

During World War Two the President said: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." I believe he may have been quoting Winston Churchill. Like all human sayings this truth has limitiations. Nevertheless, it is a fact that much of our pain and torment arises from our fears. Isn't that true? God says He will deliver us from all our fears if we keep looking to Him.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalms 34:5)

It certainly is not exclusively true, but it often is a fact that a true Christian disciple has a radiant expression. How often in America we can see evil in a person's face and yet we act as though what we see is not reality.

Yesterday I noticed the face of a popular singer. It was like looking at a demon. I thought to myself, "How come other people cannot see they are worshiping a demon spirit? Is it because of my age that I can see this? I do not claim to have a gift of discernment. Yet what people truly are often can be seen in their face. I know this will be true in the spirit world and in the resurrection. We will see people exactly for what they are, just as God sees them and us."

In my role as Pastor I sometimes ask God to give me a true glimpse of the members of the congregation so I will know what to emphasize in my teaching. I may get one word that sums up the personality of the individual, which I might not perceive by looking at him or her.

The faces of guilty people sometimes are "covered with shame." When we are behaving in an upright, straightforward manner we can confidently look everyone in the eye. This is not true when we are hiding something that is unworthy. But when we are walking in the Presence of Christ we are as bold as a lion.

This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalms 34:6)

It is no wonder that King David, in spite of his transgressions, has been honored so greatly by the Lord. Jesus is never referred to as the son of Solomon but as the Son of David. Did you ever notice that?

In spite of his great wealth, authority as king, and success in battle, David regarded himself as "this poor man." Humility is highly esteemed by the Lord Jesus and His Father. How often do we hear Christians described as being smug and arrogant.

The reward for humility is to be saved out of all our troubles. So we are wise when we recognize that we are but dust, sometimes talented dust, but dust notwithstanding. Whatever our accomplishments may be, they have come from the Lord. "A man receives nothing unless it is given to him from Heaven."

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:7)

How can the angel of the Lord be encamped "around" us? He is in front of us, behind us, and on each side of us.

There are angels, and then there are angels who excel in strength and do God's will. But God's very Name is in His angel. There is no evil force that can overcome the angel of the Lord.

The condition is that we fear the Lord. There is a lot of church talk about how we should "reverence" God but not fear Him. This concept probably arises from the wicked philosophy of Humanism, which holds man to be in supreme importance in the world and does not recognize the importance of God in human affairs.

The fear of God is sensible, realistic, and wholesome. It recognizes that God has the power to instantly bring us into unbelievable torment—torment that cannot be avoided by losing consciousness.

Paul warned, "Knowing therefore (that all of us will answer for our conduct while living in the world) the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." "Reverence" just doesn't seem to fit here.

Part of the problem with Humanism is that it does not distinguish between God's love and human love. Human love is frail at best. People are madly in love on one occasion and ready to murder each other a short time later.

God's love is different in kind from human love. It never is sentimental, or nostalgic, or maudlin, or given to soulish outbursts. It is patient, putting up with all sorts of problems. It is not self-centered. Human love often depends on how another person makes us feel.

The idea that God is so loving He will not let us suffer is not realistic. More often than not, our sufferings make us a better person if we let them drive us into the Lord and do not blame God or people for our pain.

The angel of the Lord delivers those who fear God. To fear God is to recognize that going against His will for us will bring us into pain, dismay, shame, and confusion.

The greatest blessing anyone can experience is to receive righteousness, love, joy, and peace, from God. Nothing else can compare with these in value. But they come only to those who fear God, never to those who parade around in a haughty, self-centered manner—even a religious haughty, self-centered manner.

Amen to that, Brother Thompson!

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. (Psalms 34:8)

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After Pentecost

2011-07-17

There is no doubt in my mind that we in America are approaching chaos. I do not know the form such chaos will take, whether war, upheavals of nature, or sexual perversions and nakedness far worse than is true at present.

I believe one thing is certain—the current diet of grace, rapture, Heaven will not provide the spiritual maturity that would enable the believers to stand victoriously when all that has been familiar is at risk. Also, that Christ came to give us a happy life in our adamic nature will be seen as a whitewashed wall when disaster strikes America. Divine judgment hovers over us because of our sins.

All things of the creation are working together for good. This fact cannot be amended in any manner. God knew that spiritual darkness would fill the earth in our days. Therefore He has reserved the final, climactic work of redemption for the time in which we live.

I have spoken and written numerous times about the three great platforms of redemption. The first platform is that of initial salvation, the forgiveness of our sin. The second platform has to do with the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The third platform is the fullness of God, that Paul mentioned.

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)

I know that some will say, "I have Christ and the Holy Spirit so I already am filled with all the fullness of God." Consider your own life. Are you satisfied with the amount of God you now have? If you are, I have no more to say to you.

The plan of redemption, as illustrated by the teachings of the Old Testament, show us that redemption is in three major acts: the blood of forgiveness; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and finally the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. The fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles was announced by the Lord Jesus as follows:

Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." (John 14:23)

Now consider: just a few verses before, in the same chapter, Jesus had told us the Holy Spirit would be with us and in us forever. Now, in the 23rd verse, the Lord says that the Father and Jesus will come to us and make Their home with us. This means that we will be filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—forever.

This is the fullness of God, of which the Apostle Paul spoke. Remember, Paul was praying for Christians who already were saved and filled with the Spirit.

I remember when I first heard someone teach that there was more for us after the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I received this good news with great joy, and I hope you do to. Truly, Jesus has kept the best wine until now!

What can we expect as we begin to move from Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of Tabernacles?

First of all, the Lord Jesus will come to us in the Spirit and declare war against all that is in us that is not of the image of God: our love of the things of the world; the lusts of our flesh; and our desire to live independently of God, to pursue our own plans and ambitions.

Then we will go through a protracted season of dealing with our sins as they are revealed to us. We make a decision to withdraw from unnecessary involvement in the things of the world. We confess the lusts of our flesh and spirit as they are revealed to us, and pray that Christ will help us to resist them in the future.

Our greatest problem is that of surrendering our will to Christ. The Lord helps us do this by placing us in one or more prisons in which we cannot have what we desire so fervently without breaking God's laws. We are in the Lord's prison and cannot come forth, as one of the Prophets exclaimed.

We have to love not our life to the death if we are to attain to the fullness of God.

As I stated earlier, Divine judgment is hovering over America because of our sins. The only way in which we will be able to stand, and help others to stand, is to "die in the Lord." We simply must learn to live by the Life of Jesus, just as He lives by the Life of the Father.

I cannot emphasize this point too strongly: if we are to stand, we must be living by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

If we are to stand in Christ throughout the days to come, we absolutely must live by the Life of Jesus.

If we are to be filled with all the fullness of God, we absolutely must live by the Life of Jesus.

How do we go about learning to live by the Life of Jesus? I don't know about anyone else, but I keep in His Presence and Life by looking to Him all through the day. I keep talking to Him, asking Him about this and that, seeking His wisdom and help in all matters, great and small.

Also, I obey Him in everything. As soon as I know what He desires, then that is what I do. I am not bragging. I am giving to you the benefit of 65 years of mistakes and successes. If I can learn to live this way, you can too.

I am strongly impressed to persuade everyone I can to learn to live by the Life of Jesus. The standard of discipleship of numerous Americans is way below that which will be required in the near future. We have a brief season at this time during which God expects us to learn to live by the Life of Jesus.

When panic sets in, as we see terror and famine approaching, it may be too late for us to gain the quietness of spirit that is necessary if we are to walk in continual communion with Jesus.

I will tell you this as a certainty: if you are a casual Christian you are not going to be able to stand in the days ahead. But if you will give yourself to the Lord Jesus with a whole heart, you will save yourself, your loved ones, and all who will listen to you.

You will know you are experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles when your personal testimony is that of the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.

The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation." With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: "Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." (Isaiah 12:1-6)

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Justified and Then Saved

2011-07-24

I think most of us understand that we are justified by faith. But then we have a difficult time comprehending what Peter meant when he wrote, "It is difficult to be saved."

And, If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? (I Peter 4:18)

And then we have the following:

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)

The Lord Jesus Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly. The reward for keeping the Law of Moses perfectly is righteousness, and life in the Presence of God.

The Lord Jesus earned righteousness and life, but He did not spend it. He put it in the bank to be drawn on at a later time. Then He experienced for a brief season the penalty for breaking the Law of Moses, which is separation from the Presence of God. He became sin for us.

The righteousness and life that Christ earned are still in the Bank of Heaven. Whoever wishes to do so may by faith, in the name of Jesus Christ, draw righteousness and life from that account.

We call this being justified by faith. By faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we can receive perfect righteousness in God's sight, and eternal life.

In order to be free legally from our own obligation to the Law of Moses we have to count ourselves as having died with Christ on the cross. We portray this death when we are baptized in water.

Many believers have been baptized in water. But not all have counted that such baptism signals the end of their first life, their first personality. They continue in the erroneous belief that God is going to save them as they are. God is not going to save anyone as he or she is. God is going to crucify what we are so He can raise us into a new life in Christ.

Until we and God accept the fact that we have been crucified with Christ we are still under the Law of Moses. We are not free to draw righteousness and life from the Bank of Heaven.

Let us say we have been baptized in water into the death of Christ on the cross and have risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Let us say further that by faith we have drawn righteousness and life from the Bank of Heaven. We now have been justified by faith. God regards us as having fulfilled all the requirements of the Law of Moses.

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)

God has justified us through our faith. But for what purpose?

The traditional understanding is God has justified us that He might bring us to Heaven, there to live forever with the angels. A pleasant thought indeed, but not nearly as pleasant as the truth.

When I say that eternal residence in Heaven is not the goal of our justification by faith I am going against a tremendous weight of tradition.

Therefore, if you would be so kind, before you read any further, would you please go through your New Testament and highlight every passage that states Heaven is our eternal home. Would you do that right now, please. Thank you.

Now that you have discovered there are no passages in the New Testament (or the Old) that state Heaven is our eternal home, you may be ready to hear what else I have to say.

There are at least four steps in a prerequisite-and-accomplishment chain that may be of interest to you.

The first step is justification by faith. Justification by faith leads to:

Our marriage to the Lamb. Our marriage to the Lamb leads to:

Our change into the image of Christ and entrance into untroubled rest in the center of the Presence and will of God. Our change into the image of Christ and entrance into untroubled rest in the center of the Presence and will of God lead to:

Our being qualified and competent to serve God in at least fourteen roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God.

You may notice that none of these four steps is a change in where we are, that is, in Heaven rather than on the earth.

The first step is a change in our relationship to God. We are held to be righteous and thus live in His presence. We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

The second step is a change in our relationship to Jesus Christ. We are married to the Lamb.

The third step is a change in what we are and in our obedience to God. We are changed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ in spirit, soul, and—at His return—in our outward appearance.

The fourth step is a change in what we are able to do. We can perform at least fourteen roles and tasks in the Kingdom of God.

There is no question that righteousness and life are in the Bank of Heaven. Whoever is willing to do so may pray and ask God to apply some of this capital to his or her own account. Such righteousness and life, given freely to whoever chooses to ask for it, undergird all further work of salvation.

If we are to understand salvation (deliverance from the hand of the enemy) we must move from the current "ticket" doctrine to the view that salvation is a program. It is not a ticket, a one-time event in which we make a profession of faith in Christ. It is a program, a process made possible by our asking for and receiving the righteousness earned but not spent by the Lord Jesus Christ.

The program of redemption, of deliverance from Satan, includes two main aspects.

The first aspect of salvation is the destruction of the sinful nature from our personality. The second aspect is the forming of Christ in us. The program of salvation depends for its authority on our asking for and receiving the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We cannot come to God on our own. We must approach God, and His program of salvation, through the cross of Christ. God meets man only at the cross. The Christian redemption is not a philosophy. It is a Divine intervention into the race of Adam such that a human being is transformed into a new creation who behaves in a righteous manner. The transformation of the human being looks to the cross for its authority and to the Holy Spirit for its wisdom and power.

Having been justified by faith we now are eligible to be married to the Lamb. We are married to the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The Lamb's flesh and blood are our eternal life and will raise us up at His coming.

The Communion service represents our partaking of the body and blood of the Lamb. But like water baptism, which represents our death and resurrection in Christ, and then is borne out in actual experience, so the partaking of the body and blood of the Lamb are borne out in actual experience.

Each day we have choices to make as we encounter several problems and responsibilities. We can choose to solve our problems and fulfill our responsibilities by relying on our own wisdom, strength, abilities, and experience. Or we can look to the Lord at each moment. If we look to the Lord at each point of action, instead of to our own resources, the Lord nourishes us with His body and blood.

If, when we are tempted, we choose to turn aside from the desires of our sinful nature and behave according to the guidelines found in the New Testament, the Lord nourishes us with His body and blood.

Finally we are living by the Lamb's body and blood as He lives by the Father.

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 6:53)

There is no manner in which we can overdo drawing close to Jesus in each circumstance. He greatly desires this kind of intimacy. We are to abide in Him as closely as a branch abides in the Vine.

The Christian salvation is not really a religion. It is an abiding in Christ.

So we see, then, that justification by faith makes it possible for us to be married to the Lamb. Notice that we are being married to the Lamb now, as we live by His body and blood. The marriage of the Lamb that will be announced at His return is really a revealing of a union that already has occurred.

The new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, is the Wife of the Lamb.

The third step, for which justification by faith and marriage to the Lamb are prerequisites, consists of our change into the image of Christ, and our entrance into untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.

Our change into the image of Christ comes about as the Holy Spirit puts our sinful nature to death, and Christ is formed in us.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)

Our entrance into untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will is accomplished as we experience the Glory which God has given Christ, and also as we abide patiently in the prison in which Christ allows Satan to place us.

The Glory of God brings us into perfect union with one another and with God.

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 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: (John 17:21.22)

Jesus is completely at rest in the center of God's Person and will. The Lord comes to us as an individual to bring us to the place where He always is (in the rest of God).

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 17:4)

We are perfected in God's will as we patiently endure various trials.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

Justification by faith, marriage to the Lamb, change into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, and rest in the center or God's Person and will, qualify us and provide us with the competence to perform at least fourteen roles and tasks in the Kingdom of God:

Being a member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9).

Being part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22).

Being a member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12).

Being a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2).

Being a restorer of Paradise on earth (Romans 8:21).

Being a member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9).

Being a witness of God (Isaiah 43:10).

Being a son of God (Revelation 21:7).

Being a brother of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

Being an overcomer of the accuser (Revelation 12:11).

Being a governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27).

Being a judge of men and angels (I Corinthians 6:2,3).

Being a wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14).

Being a part of the revelation of Himself—God in Christ in the saints (Revelation 3:12).

We do not have to wait until we have been perfected in our relationship to Jesus Christ, or are in His image, or are dwelling in untroubled rest in God's will, in order to serve the Lord in the roles and tasks assigned to us today.

But when the fullness of the Kingdom of God has come to the earth, then the above roles and tasks will be accomplished by saints who have been made perfect through the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is our responsibility today to move the believers past initial justification by faith to marriage to the Lamb; to change into the image of Christ; to stern obedience to the Father until we are at rest in God's will. For the necessary roles and tasks of the Kingdom cannot be performed by believers who are spiritual babies—babies who have been forgiven but who have made little progress toward spiritual maturity.

Spiritual maturity is the ability to judge what is good and what is evil, and the willingness and strength to embrace the good fervently and totally reject and renounce all that is evil.

I am afraid today we are emphasizing building churches when we ought to be building people. Hopefully God will cause this emphasis to change appropriately in the near future.

It is true that God has justified us, but then we have to endure the process of salvation.

The Apostle Peter tells us "it is hard for the righteous to be saved." Since this statement is contrary to most Christian preaching, perhaps we need to examine the context to see if we can discover what Peter means by this unusual warning.

And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (I Peter 4:18)

If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner! (Proverbs 11:31)

Why is it difficult for the righteous to be saved?

In order to understand why this is true we have to define "righteous" and "saved."

The "righteous" are in contrast to the ungodly and the sinner. The righteous person is the one who has put his faith in the blood atonement made by Jesus Christ rather than in the Law of Moses. In addition, he or she is living a godly life. He is not ungodly, or a sinner, but a righteous person. We have overemphasized imputed righteousness to the point that we Christians do not believe there is such a thing as a righteous person, except by imputed (ascribed) righteousness.

This is not true. The division between the righteous and the ungodly, between the wheat and the tares, alluded to so frequently in the Book of Psalms, is not equivalent to the division between the believer in Christ and the unbeliever. There are numerous believers who are wicked, who do ungodly things. There also are people who do not know Christ, for one reason or another, who practice righteousness. God will bring such to Christ in His time, just as He did Cornelius.

The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so he could hear what you have to say." (Acts 10:22)

The righteous person, whether or not he is a Christian, is the one who obeys the laws of conscience, places his faith in Christ when Christ is presented to him, and then obeys the commandments of Christ and His apostles. If an individual places his faith in Christ when Christ is presented to him, and then does not obey the commandments of Christ and His apostles, he is unrighteous even though he has made a profession of faith in Christ.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. (I John 3:7)

It is difficult for the righteous individual to be saved. The righteous person is the one who does what is right, according to the Apostle John.

Having discussed what is meant by "righteous," let us consider what it means to be "saved."

To be saved is to be released from the person and works of Satan, to have Christ formed in us, to be in the moral image of Christ, to have the Father and the Son dwell in our transformed inner nature, and to dwell forever in untroubled rest in the Father's Person and will.

To be saved is to be transformed morally.

To be saved is to be released from the love of the world, from the lusts of our flesh, and from self-will and disobedience to God.

To be saved is to be filled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To be saved is to be abiding for eternity in untroubled rest in the Father's Person and will.

An individual could behave righteously and still not have been transformed morally (saved) to the extent God requires.

An individual could behave righteously and still be bound in his personality with some aspects of worldliness, the lusts and passions of his flesh, and self-will and disobedience to God.

An individual could behave righteously and still not be filled with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

An individual could behave righteously and still not be abiding in untroubled rest in the Father's Person and will.

We see, then, that an individual, no matter how righteous, may still need to be "saved" in some areas of his or her personality.

By "saved" we are making no reference to Heaven but to the transformation of the human personality from Adam to Christ, from a sinful nature to a nature filled with the Life of God, a nature that can have joyous fellowship with God.

This is what salvation is.

In addition, if we are to understand why it is hard to be saved we must recognize that salvation is a process, a program that commences when we first come to Christ for salvation and continues until we are in the image of Christ and dwelling in untroubled rest in the Father.

Salvation is a process of redemption, of transformation. It is not a ticket that insures we will escape Hell and be admitted to Heaven when we die. Although the latter is the common viewpoint, held even by non-Christians, it nevertheless is without foundation in the Scriptures.

So we are saying it is hard for a person who behaves in a righteous manner to be totally transformed morally, indwelt by the fullness of the Godhead, and to find eternal rest in the will of God.

Why is this so difficult?

It is difficult because of the means God uses to effect such transformation. Our sinful nature is reluctant to respond correctly to the sufferings that God employs to change us from Satan's image to God's image.

The fourth chapter of First Peter, the chapter in which the expression "it is hard for the righteous to be saved" is found, informs us that judgment has begun in the house of God, and that this judgment consists of intense suffering, suffering designed to "save" the believer.

We are saved by these fires of Divine judgment, because they burn out of our personality that which is of Satan.

We find this program of salvation by judgment difficult because our sinful nature seeks continually to find its life in the world, in the lusts and passions of our flesh and soul, and in our self-will and personal ambitions.

We find this program of salvation by judgment difficult because we desire to blame people, and even God Himself, rather than to humbly submit ourselves to God and remain in the prison of suffering where He places us.

The first two verses of the fourth chapter set the tone for the remainder of the chapter.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

What is true of the Christian who suffers in his body? He or she is "done with sin." After he has suffered he does not live for evil human desires but for the will of God.

Can you see from this that the suffering "saves" the individual? What does it save him from? It saves him from sin.

Why does he need to be saved from sin? So he can be accepted of God and have fellowship with God; so he can serve God in God's kingdom.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (I Peter 4:12,13)

God saves us by means of painful trials. These trials are not punishment because we are continuing to sin, but are necessary for our purification because God desires to perfect our spirit.

To the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (Hebrews 12:23)

We are not to be amazed when we go through hard places with the Lord. We are to rejoice. We are to share in the sufferings of Christ. If we do, we will rejoice and be glad when the Lord returns to earth in His glory.

The sufferings of Christ take two general forms. First, we are denied what we fervently desire. Second, we are required to continue in a situation which we do not enjoy. These are the two arms of the cross.

Usually, although not always, our sufferings come at the hands of people. People are the instruments God uses to unwrap the graveclothes from us, so to speak.

The correct, profitable way to respond when people cause us pain is to immediately go to the Lord for wisdom and comfort. We need to know how He views our discomfiture.

Our sinful nature is filled with malice, spite, and a desire for vengeance. If we respond to the sufferings God sends our way with malice, spite, and a desire for vengeance, we will not grow spiritually. We will develop a hateful, bitter spirit. God will chasten us because of this.

If instead of finding fault with the instruments God uses to save us from our sinful nature, we go to the Lord and eat at His table with Him, we will grow spiritually. We will become wiser, stronger, and better able to assist weaker people.

What we have just written explains why it is difficult to be saved. Our sinful nature strongly urges us to seek ways of getting what we desire. We do not want to remain in the prison where God places us. We may leave our wife or husband for someone we think will make us happy. Sometimes we have to pray, pray, and pray some more in order to overcome the temptation to act outside of God's will.

Many Christians in America are soft. They have no intention of being denied what they really desire. They have no intention whatever of denying themselves, taking up their personal cross, and following Jesus.

Because they will not obey the Lord by denying themselves and taking up their cross, they cannot possibly be saved, unless God in His mercy sends such fire on them that they finally repent and accept the chastening of the Lord.

I am speaking now of Christians, not of those who do not know the Lord.

Sometimes it is said I am too hard in what I preach and teach. I am seldom accused of being unscriptural, only of being too hard. Let me say at this point that it indeed is hard to remain in the program of redemption.

But the Scriptures maintain it is the way of the transgressor that is hard. This is absolutely true. The way of the transgressor is very hard. He may suffer anguish without respite, even though he jumps from one situation to another in order to escape any sort of pain.

The way of the transgressor is even more difficult than that of the Christian, and this is why there are so many suicides. Nonetheless, it is hard for the most righteous person to be saved because of the demands made on his personality.

There were three, not one, but three crosses on Calvary. God was crucified. The saved was crucified. The unsaved was crucified. It is impossible to go through this life without being crucified in one manner or another.

The person with integrity will never accept happiness at the expense of another person; he will never cause someone to suffer in order that he himself may have joy or peace.

Integrity is compounded from faithfulness, truth, and honesty. Integrity is sorely lacking among many people of the American populace. We are becoming accustomed to political leaders who lie, who make promises they cannot possibly honor. There is cheating in business. There is treachery in marriage. There are numerous homicides every month as people seek to insure their own pleasure at the expense of others.

If we do not have integrity it is hard for us to be saved, because we may not be willing to deny ourselves and take up our cross. In this case, the program of salvation cannot continue in our personality.

If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. (I Peter 4:15)

Sometimes we Christians suffer because of our own sin or foolishness. We experience the results of our own conduct. We steal something so we are put in jail. We murder someone so we are convicted and sentenced to death. Perhaps we meddle in a situation that is none of our business and bring trouble on ourselves.

Such sufferings are not part of the process of redemption, although even in these we can profit from our pain if we will allow them to bring us to repentance.

However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. (I Peter 4:16)

If we patiently bear the suffering that comes upon us because we are a Christian, then we are to praise God. In this case we are being proven worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)

We understand, therefore, that God sends suffering upon us to save us from our wicked nature. Such judgment begins with those who are closest to God, and has been continuing for two thousand years.

For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)

God chastens His own children first. Then He turns to those who are further removed from Him. The closer we are to God, the more we will be punished for our sins. Jesus rebukes and chastens those whom He loves, not those whom He does not love.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

You may be going through very difficult experiences at the present time, while the wicked seem to be flourishing. Be patient with God. The day will come when you will be singing and dancing on the heights of Zion while the wicked will be gnashing their teeth in anger and remorse.

Asaph was troubled because he was going through painful situations while the wicked were having a wonderful time. Then he came before the Lord and he saw the end of the matter.

When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me Till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. (Psalms 73:16,17)

Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies. (Psalms 73;18-20)

The wicked are facing fires so intense, so painful, and so terrible that we need not worry about the justice of God. God is putting us through painful experiences now so He will be free to judge the wicked at a later time. Otherwise Satan would point the finger at God and accuse Him of permitting His elect to practice wickedness without punishment.

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. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months." (Revelation 11:1,2)

The above passage is saying the same thing in symbolic language. It is stating God will judge His Church, particularly those who have progressed spiritually to the point of laying down their lives at the Altar of Incense.

The reference to the outer court indicates that the people outside the Church will not be judged at the present time.

And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (I Peter 4:18)

The righteous are being saved, delivered from sin, by means of fiery trials. We can only imagine how the ungodly and the sinner will suffer when God turns His attention to them.

So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. (I Peter 4:19)

The above verse tells us what to do when we are going through a time of judgment. We are to commit ourselves to God, knowing beyond doubt that He remains faithful. Satan cannot harass us beyond that which God permits for our good.

Meanwhile, we are to continue to do good. This means we patiently submit to the dealings of God. We do not blame people. We do not become angry with God. We do not seek to escape the "prison" we are placed in.

When bearing our personal cross, we do not focus on that which is causing us frustration or pain. If we keep thinking about what it is that is causing us pain we finally will quit and turn away from righteousness. The experienced saint learns to think as little as possible about what it is he cannot have or cannot do, and turns to what he can have and can do. There always is a way of escape made for us so we can bear up under any testing.

A Christian, by definition, is a disciple of Jesus. In order to be a disciple we are required to deny ourselves what we are not permitted to retain, take up our cross of personal frustration or pain, and follow Jesus. We are to do this every day of our pilgrimage.

If I am not mistaken, there are not many believers in the United States who are aware in order to be a Christian they have to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus. This means there are not many genuine Christians in the United States.

We have developed a plan called "the four steps of salvation." This plan has been put together from several verses lifted from their context. They do not insist that we take up our cross and follow Jesus. Therefore they are not a true plan of salvation. Rather they are a doctrinal approach to religious orthodoxy.

When we put together the "four steps of salvation" with lawless grace, the ticket-to-Heaven definition of salvation, and the pre-tribulation "rapture," we have a formula for spiritual disaster. The adherent of such a misunderstanding of the Christian salvation will not grow in the Lord. He will remain a spiritual baby after fifty years of attending church. Most assuredly, when fiery trials fall on him he will be bewildered. He will not perceive this is a Divine judgment that is saving him. He will do everything in his power to be delivered, to escape pain.

Did you ever hear a believer say, "God wants me to be happy and have nice things"? One lady said, "If I thought God would permit me to suffer I would not serve Him." Such may never have considered the saints of past time.

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. (Hebrews 11:35-38)

Suffering is an important part of the Christian discipleship, and all true saints partake of it. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation. We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

We are in doctrinal, and consequently moral, chaos in the Christian churches of America. The unsaved community, including the educational institutions, the courts, the business corporations, and the offices of government, directly reflect this chaos. The idea that personal integrity is of the greatest value has become laughable. Each year the entertainment industry becomes more vile, and each year the moral fiber of the nation deteriorates.

If the Christians in America do not repent, turning back to Christ in sincerity, resolving to keep His commandments and those of His apostles, our nation will suffer terrible judgments. We have been so blessed and have hoarded our blessings, both spiritual and material, to ourselves.

We have a generation of young people coming up who are brilliant, but who have no strong moral foundation.

We also have a generation of young people who are going to serve God as an army of witnesses before the Lord returns. This is why Satan is promoting abortion and homosexuality. He realizes, just as did Pharaoh and King Herod, that deliverers are going to be brought forth in our day. Satan is doing all he can to destroy the generation coming up, because they are going to do very great harm to his kingdom in the earth.

It is going to be of the utmost importance that the churches of our day learn to obey God. If we expect to be part of the army that descends from the sky with Jesus Christ and establishes the Kingdom of God on the earth, we are going to have to be trained in obedience. We learn obedience, as our Lord did, by suffering. Therefore we Christians can expect fiery trials in the days to come.

Ours is a new day. The choruses are changing from that which is pleasing to the ear and musically sensual, to more rugged modes and meters presenting words that speak of the Kingdom of God and of righteousness. The banners are to be waved. There are to be high praises and exuberant worship. There also is to be the two-edged sword of the Word of God. The traditional services and liturgies are far too tame to counteract the moral horrors of the secular society. The wicked indeed shall trample on the "holy city," so to speak.

Let those who presently are suffering under the hand of God, patiently doing His will, take heart. These lashes are for your salvation, that you might be a partaker of God's holy, righteous Nature. You are a son of God, and God does not want you to be condemned when He judges the world.

It will only be a little while. You are not in a grave but in a tunnel. There is light at the end. God is faithful. You will not drown. The fire will not harm you, only your bondages will be burned away.

Christ is Alpha and Omega. What He commenced in your life He will complete in a most glorious fashion. You will come to know His faithfulness, just as did Job, Abraham, Daniel, and others who went through difficulties for a season.

If you are to be part of the great host that will be raised and ascend to meet the Lord at His appearing, you must partake of the cup that all have had to drink. Only those who have suffered with Him will be glorified together with Him. Only those who have suffered with Him will rejoice with Him. Only those who have suffered with Him will rule with Him.

If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (Hebrews 12:8)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

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The Eternal Dialogue

2011-07-31

A while back I heard a prophecy: "The evil is going to increase; but I have new and surprising things that will enable you to stand throughout the darkness that is on the horizon." I have been waiting to learn what the "new and surprising things" are. I believe I am beginning to understand.

You know, the Bible says Enoch walked with God. Also, Micah tells us we are to walk humbly with God.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Have you ever wondered what it means to walk with God? I have.

And then we have the following:

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 that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

As I awakened this morning, the expression "the eternal dialogue" was suddenly in my mind. What does this mean? It means we are not to be living in a monologue in our mind, thinking, planning, wondering, scheming, hoping, guessing what we are to do each moment. Rather, we are to be expressing to Jesus all of these ideas, and listening for His comments.

I believe living closely to Jesus is the "new and surprising thing" the Lord Jesus is referring to. The moral filth that even now is appearing in the entertainment world will draw us into its swamp of moral darkness. It already is in so many instances, as we see in the media. If we are to stand in the Lord Jesus we are going to have to be speaking and listening to Him at every waking moment.

"Praying without ceasing" may seem like a grim, forbidding, impossible way of living. Actually it is quite simply done and much preferred to the monologue in which we ordinarily exist—a mental state often filled with problems, worries, fears, dreads, pessimism or unfounded optimism. This present life is no fun at the best of times.

There are those of us who avoid or attempt to avoid all unpleasant duties, responsibilities, and situations. They leave it to the rest of us to pick up the pieces and sweep up behind them. They remind me of the "Artful Dodger" of Oliver Twist (Dickens) fame. You may know a few of these characters.

But most of us plod along on our weary path, trusting we and those who depend on us will survive somehow. You know exactly what I mean.

It is true that we live in the "valley of the shadow of death." Satan blocks out the Light of Christ so our path is not sunny, as it should be. But it is not God's intention that we be so burdened with fears and concerns. As you might expect, He has a better way. That better way is an eternal dialogue, in which He always is with us, bearing our burdens, and showing us the solution to all our problems.

When you think about it, the eternal dialogue is how the righteous live. It is the way of faith, in which we live by the Life, wisdom, strength, and joy of the Lord rather than by our own life, wisdom, strength, and joy. Every day He carries our burdens if we keep looking to Him.

Of course we will continue to be faced with problems. While we are in the world we shall have tribulations of one sort or another. But how much better to be talking and listening to Jesus than to be worrying all the time, experiencing dread when we go to bed and when we wake up in the morning.

Think about the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Did you notice there is little or no mention of religious doctrine in this chapter? It is the "faith" chapter. Imagine, we are taught "faith" by people of Old Testament time.

"But we thought we are in a new dispensation in which we live by faith and are justified by faith." Well, we were mistaken. From the time of the righteous Abel, every one of God's true people has lived by faith and has been justified by faith. God found fault with the Israelites because like Cain, they did what the Lord commanded but without faith in their heart.

No one ever has pleased God except by obedience that springs from faith. Faith is the eternal dialogue. It is that of walking humbly with God. We mortals have been designed such that we cannot live joyously except as we walk with God, talking to Him, listening to Him, permitting Him to hold our hand.

But how do I enter such a marvelous way of living? It really is simple, although it has to be practiced all the time. Right now, as you are reading these words, look up to the Lord Jesus. Perhaps He is saying something to you right now, but you have been so filled with your own thoughts you have not been hearing what He is saying.

If He doesn't seem to be saying anything right now, tell Him you want to enter the eternal dialogue with God. You want to live by the words always being spoken to you. You do not want to walk in your own way any longer. You want to die to the monologue in which He is not present in your thinking. You want to acknowledge Him in all your ways, not just some of your ways.

Then tell Him every one of your concerns. Ask Him to orchestrate your day, beginning with what you are doing right now. Commit the smallest details, the most insignificant tasks, to Jesus. He is desirous of hearing about every single one.

That fear or dread of something in the future, describe it in detail. Give it to Jesus. "Carry everything to God in prayer." Do not let one single "termite" gnaw at your mind. Tell the Lord about it. This is what it means to "pray without ceasing," and was the manner in which the embattled Paul lived.

As I said, moral filth and chaos are on the horizon. The present hour is to be one of preparation for us. We are to master the art of the eternal dialogue. We are to walk hand in hand with Christ in every situation without exception.

It is time today to learn absolute obedience to God. It is easy to obey God, once we determine to put all of our intense desires on the altar, so to speak. As long as we cling to anything, clutch any relationship, thing, or circumstance, we will find it difficult to walk humbly with God. But when we let go of every relationship, thing, and circumstance, we will begin to have that song in our heart that only the obedient experience.

In the days of Antichrist, which we are entering now, in order to survive we must "die in the Lord." What does that mean? It means to turn from the monologue in which we make all our own decisions and enter the dialogue in which we discuss all we are doing with the Lord Jesus.

If you are to "die in the Lord" you must be persuaded that God is seeking to bring you to righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Furthermore, He has the power to do just that regardless of your situation.

This is how the righteous live by faith.

When the culture you have been accustomed to, and all the familiar landmarks have been removed so to speak, and your world no longer is as it was, then, if you have been walking with God, you will not be dismayed. Your Rock is still there, upholding you. The wicked may prevail for a season. But eventually they will disappear like dust in a whirlwind. They have no enduring substance, no rock on which they can stand securely.

You will sing and dance on the heights of Zion if you will keep your eyes on the Lord Jesus. He will not fail you. You never will be ashamed.

Remember, for those who walk with God, "weeping may continue for a night, but joy will come in the morning." No power can prevent the sun from rising in the morning. No power can keep you from standing happily before your Lord when the tempest has done its worst.

The night is coming when no man can work. But those who die in the Lord will go on to the Light of the perfect day, and their works will follow them and be brought before the Throne of Almighty God as jewels more precious than any found on the earth.

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)

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. Psalms (125:1)

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Becoming One With Christ

2011-08-07

There are two kinds of preaching. One shows the listener how to use Christ in order to have a "better" life. The other focuses on teaching his listeners how to live by the Life of Christ.

Have you ever given thought to the fact that Christ is asking us to surrender our life so that we might live by His Life? Are you willing to do this?

The only eternal life there is, is that which is found in Christ. The only resurrection from the dead there is, is that which is found in Christ.

The only way we can attain eternal life and the resurrection from the dead is by feeding constantly on the body and blood of the Lord Jesus.

Jesus said to them, "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:53,54)

Let's think about the two ways of living our life. We can choose to continue on in our customary fashion, eating, sleeping, working, playing, reproducing. We can rely on our intelligence, abilities, and experience in order to survive and achieve whatever it is we wish to achieve.

We may participate in Christian activities. Our pastor may give us some guidelines that will help us live a happy, contented life. He may tell us that the Lord came that we might have life and that more abundantly, meaning a healthy, secure life in the American culture.

What is the end of our choice. We finally become infirm, our mind may not be clear. We may take refuge in an assisted-living apartment. Eventually we may be hospitalized, or find rest in a hospice.

We may have a made a significant contribution to society. Or, as probably is true of most of us, we worked until we were in our sixties, retired, and spent our remaining years traveling around the country or sitting on a couch watching television.

There are of course outstanding exceptions to this pattern. But by and large, as the Prophet said, we are as grass that flourishes for a season and then withers away.

A voice says, "Call out." Then he answered, "What shall I call out?" All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isaiah 40:6-8)

I suppose I have just described the life of millions of American.

But what is next? Let us say when we die we stand before Christ. Suppose He asks, "What did you do with your life?" How shall we answer God? Then we have to wait until the Day of Resurrection to see if we are going to be saved into the new world of righteousness, or be thrown into the Lake of Fire to be with Satan and other wicked creatures for eternity.

I am not certain what awaits the spiritually lazy Christian when he or she dies. I am aware of the spirit world. It is a better world than the present, as I view it. But for the person who has heard the Gospel and does not give his or her life to serving Jesus, death may not prove to be a pleasant experience. I do not want to experience the destiny of the careless Christian.

To whom much has been given, much shall be required. There are multitudes of people in the world who have not been given the opportunity to follow Christ, as is true of us in America and in other Western nations. "They shall be beaten with few lashes if they have been wicked," as Jesus said.

I am sounding the alarm because I do not wish to have blood of lazy Christians on my hands. How many times has the Lord told me that those Christians who sow sparingly shall reap sparingly.

So much for the flesh and blood life of the average person in the world.

Then there is another way of living. But it means letting go of our own thoughts, words, and actions, and entering the rest of God. I refer to this way as the eternal dialogue, and the previous way as the eternal monologue.

Day by day we look to the Lord Jesus for guidance and strength in all that we do. We keep on consulting with Him about all things. We practice His Presence at every waking moment.

Every time we turn away from some fervently desired relationship or situation, a part of us dies. Then we are given, in the spirit world, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus to feed on. Death, and life. Death, and life. Death, and life. Here a little and there a little. Line upon line. Line upon line. Command upon command.

You mean a person actually can live like this? Yes, and not only that, it is a far more pleasant way to live then to indulge our various lusts and passions and reap the consequences of our undisciplined behavior.

As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever."

This is the way Jesus lives. Jesus always talks to the Father about everything. Jesus lives in the eternal Sabbath, the rest of God. This is the way we are supposed to live with Jesus. (John 6:57,58)

So we have a choice, don't we? We can live as an animal, working, playing, sleeping, eating, and reproducing. Or we can live by the Life of Jesus.

I already have mentioned what may be true when the person dies who has lived in the eternal monologue—that is, lived in his own thoughts, words, and actions in terms of his own desires, fears, motives, agendas, needs, and situations. Really, such an individual is an intelligent animal that has the potential of speaking to God, whether or not he uses it. He will die like an animal, his body returning to the dust to await the Day of Resurrection.

This is not the case with the individual who has lived by the Life of Jesus. When his body gives out, he walks fully alive and conscious into the Presence of a smiling Jesus.

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25,26)

What does it mean "will live even if he dies?"

It means that when his heart stops he will enter into the Presence of Christ with all his faculties unimpaired. He simply will not enter the darkness of death. He will see the beauty of the spirit world. Jesus will be there to meet him, because Jesus is living in him.

As it was with Eve, so with the individual who chooses to live by the life of Jesus instead of by his own life. Just as Eve was Adam in another form, so will the diligent disciple be Jesus in another form. Not as exalted in authority, but of the same Divine Substance.

I do not know about you, but I prefer to live in the eternal Life of Jesus Christ. The other kind of life is little different from that of the animal. It is the manner in which the great majority of humans pass their days on the earth.

Why live like that when we have the opportunity to live in eternal resurrection life. Jesus is knocking at the door your heart right now. If you will open the door, He will enter. He will dine on your obedience and worship. You will dine on His body and blood.

And, Brother, Sister, His body and blood are real food!

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The Tabernacle of God Is With Men

2011-08-14

I have written and spoken much about the Church, and then the nations of saved people. It appears to be impossible for Christian people to believe that there will be two classes of saved people on the new earth. Yet apart from understanding that the Church is a called-out elect who are being prepared to govern the people of the nations whom God saves, it is impossible to understand the Bible or the Kingdom of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

Think for a moment about the verse above. It tells the whole story. God's dwelling place, which is the Church, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the Bride of the Lamb, comes down from Heaven through the new sky, to be located for eternity upon the new earth.

Is this a simple concept? I think so.

The Church is God's Israel. It is made up of called Jews and called Gentiles, the one Olive Tree, the one new Man of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the exalted Head.

I don't know why people have a problem with this idea, of the Church consisting of people whom God has chosen out from the ranks of mankind to be the rulers and priests of a Kingdom of people.

This design is found clearly in the Book of Isaiah:

Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that people may bring you the wealth of the nations—their kings led in triumphal procession. Isaiah 60:11)

"Your" refers to the Church. "People" is speaking of those of the nations whom God has chosen to save.

Perhaps part of the problem has to do with the prevailing concept that Israel is somehow different from the Church. It is so easy to prove from the New Testament that there is only one Body of Christ, only one Olive Tree, that I don't want to go into this now. The expression "one new Man," in the second chapter of the Book of Ephesians, ought to do away with any lingering thought that Israel and the Church are two different groups.

Galatians is clear that there is but one Seed of Abraham. That Seed is the Lord Jesus Christ. Every Jew who is one of God's elect, God's called-out people, God's Church, is part of that one Seed. Every Gentile who is one of God's elect, God's called-out people, God's Church, is part of that one Seed. The Book of Galatians is absolutely clear on this point.

The one Seed of Abraham is true Israel. The elect Jew is true Israel. The elect Gentile is true Israel. True Israel is one fold governed by one Shepherd. Please keep in mind also that the first Christian Church consisted only of Jews—and Orthodox Jews at that!

I think the prevailing pressure to keep the Jews and Gentiles separate is coming from Satan. Satan understands only too well that salvation and the Kingdom is of the Jews. The only manner in which a Gentile can become part of that one Kingdom, that one Seed, that one Bride of the Lamb, that one Body of Christ, is by becoming a part of Jesus Christ.

The believing Jew becomes part of Christ by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The believing Gentile becomes part of Christ by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. If this is true, how then can there be a Jewish Church or a Gentile Church? There is no scriptural support whatever for this terribly destructive notion.

We all, believing Jews and believing Gentiles, have come to Mount Zion, the Church of the Firstborn. There is only one spiritual Zion, and it is Israel.

Notice what Jesus said to His Jewish disciples:

"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word." (John 17:6)

The words above were said to Jews. Are you, dear reader, a Gentile? Are you a Christian? Are you or are you not included in those words?

If you are part of Christ, part of the one Seed of Abraham, then you are included in these words. The Jewish disciples certainly were included. May we deduce from this that you are one with the Jewish disciples?

I am belaboring the obvious because the idea of their being two kingdoms, two brides of the Lamb, two different churches, is so widespread in our country. Perhaps Dispensational theology is based on this idea, I am not certain.

Whenever you hear someone speak of a Gentile kingdom in Heaven and a Jewish kingdom on the earth, you know they are mistaken. They do not understand the Scriptures.

If in fact there were a Gentile Kingdom in Heaven, and a Jewish kingdom on the earth, which kingdom would the Apostles be in?

Is this or is this not nonsense?

If the Jews do not enjoy the thought of being in the same body as Gentiles, and the Gentiles do not enjoy the thought of being in the same body as Jewish believers in Christ, it is because of the influence of religion. The true member of the Jewish elect, and the true member of the Gentile elect, lives by the Life of Jesus Christ. He may be involved in a religion, but he is one with God through Christ and one with all who are one with God through Christ. How could it be otherwise?

I gain the impression that Christian scholars are not sure about the new Jerusalem. Are Christian Gentiles in their eternal mansions in Heaven while the new Jerusalem, the house of God, the Wife of the Lamb, is established upon the new earth? This makes sense? I guess it does to many scholars.

The new Jerusalem, the holy city, is the glorified Church. It is glorified Israel, in that the names of the twelve tribes are on the twelve gates. The names of the Jewish Apostles are in the foundations of the wall.

There is no temple in the new Jerusalem. This means, there is no religion in the holy city. God and the Lamb are the Temple of it. Do you know, this should be true of us today. We should observe the practices of our religion so as not to offend anyone. But our heart should be with God and the Lamb, not with our religious identification.

The most important part of the holy city is the fact that the Throne of God and of the Lamb is in it and are its light. Now tell me, Gentile Christian, do you want to be reclining in your mansion in the spirit world, with the angels for company, or would you prefer being a part of the royal priesthood that will govern the saved people of the nations?

Keep in mind, this is a Jewish city. The names of the tribes on the gates and the names of Jewish Apostles in the foundation of the wall. Are you certain you want to be a pillar in a Jewish temple?

I understand that you may be uncomfortable with this thought, having been taught for so long that Christianity is a Jewish religion.

My secretary, Rebekah Wilson, once wrote to a prominent Gentile evangelist. She asked about the question of the Jews and Gentiles in the Christian Church.

His reply was, "In the beginning, Gentiles were added to the Jewish Church. Today Jews are added to the Gentile Church."

You know, there is no basis, scriptural or otherwise, for such an outlandish statement. Yes this man is one of the most prominent ministers in our country. So great is the error that clouds our thinking and affects our actions.

The Lord Jesus promised us that one day those who belonged to Him would be one in the Father through the Son. He spoke this to His Jewish disciples. He said that when this oneness came into being, the world would believe that it is God who has sent Jesus Christ to us.

That day shall come. Be prepared for it. In that day your religious affilation and your racial background will mean nothing. Every member of that chosen group will live by one Life, the Life of the Lord Jesus. Each will have forsaken his or her individuality (not his or her unique identity) in favor of being one with Christ. Henceforth he or she will be known by the name of Christ (Messiah) which will be engraved for eternity in him or her.

I don't know about you, but this is my crowd.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)

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—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)

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Living in Heaven

2011-08-21

When we accept the call of God and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are seated with Christ in Heaven, far above all other lords and powers. While our soul and body remain on the earth, our spirit is in Heaven. Heaven is all around us, although our tradition places Heaven far beyond the stars. This is why it is difficult for us to picture ourselves at the right hand of God in Christ.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6,7)

So our personality is divided, part of being risen with Christ and seated with Him on the highest of all thrones, and our body and soul being confined to the earth.

I believe this will be true to a certain extent after we die. While our spirit remains in the holiest place with Christ, and our body is in the grave, our soul, our conscious identity, will be placed in an environment , either in a school or community where we fit, or else in the new Jerusalem itself.

No matter where our conscious soul is, our spirit remains with Christ at the right hand of God in Heaven.

That is the way it is now, isn't it? Our conscious soul is aware of its position on the earth, while our spirit has been raised with Christ to the right hand of God in Heaven.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 11:22-24)

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21)

Now comes the big question: Once having been placed on the highest of all thrones, can we ever lose our position? The modern teaching is, never! However, the Scriptures teach otherwise:

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Revelation 3:11)

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:20-22)

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21)

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. (Ephesians 3:3-7)

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men. (I Corinthians 6:9)

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (II Peter 2:20-22)

He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:5—NIV)

Do you not know the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders Nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10)

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; That each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, Not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; And that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. (I Thessalonians 4:3-7)

Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30)

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. "Sir! Sir!" they said. "Open the door for us!" But he replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you." Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:10-13)

The above verses were written to Christians. And there are more! Of course, many Bible teachers state we can ignore them safely because we are "saved by grace." The voice that is saying this said the same thing a while back to Adam and Eve: "You shall not surely die"!

The minister who curries favor with his listeners in order to gain their allegiance will go to be with the debtors when he dies. This is why Jesus said the steward is wise when he changes what is owed. When he dies the debtors will receive him into the eternal habitations. It is a fearful thing to die, enter the spirit world, and have nowhere to go!

How often have you heard the verses above preached? It is probable that you have heard that God loves us so much His salvation is unconditional. No matter what you do, once you "accept Christ" you can never lose your salvation. You do not have to endure to the end to be saved. This last sentence actually is in the footnotes of my Bible!

It is clear that in numerous instances the Gospel preaching of our day is not scriptural. Now I would like to say why I believe we have departed from the Scriptures; and also point out the likely consequences of our departure from the words of the Apostles of the Lamb.

First, why is today's preaching so tremendously out of balance, with God's "love" being emphasized and God's warnings to sinning Christians being largely ignored? The reason is, churches and pastors are judged on the basis of how many people attend the services. As long as this invalid measure of quality and success is employed, ambitious pastors and teachers will not teach the New Testament as it is written.

I think if God's leaders would start preaching cross-carrying obedience to their flocks, and include the warnings given by the Apostles, their followers would go to another church that would curry favor with them. But it might also be true that God would send genuine revival because His Word was being honored!

There is no doubt in my mind that the philosophy of Humanism has heavily infiltrated the Christian churches of today—and not just in America.

The reason the New Testament is not being taught, as I see it, is that churches are judged by the numbers of people in attendance. Any sincere man or woman of God would realize the number of people in a building is not a true measure of the worth of what is being taught. But the farce goes on ....

And now to the consequences. Although the Spirit informed me several years ago that the world leadership would move from the Western nations to the Eastern nations, and much blood would be shed during this period, I still was startled to read in current periodicals of the decline of Europe.

The Prime Minister of England is bewailing the recent flare-up of vandalism, not connecting this, I suppose, with the fact that England, as well as America and other Western nations, are turning away from God. Neither America nor England is associating the current financial problems with God's withdrawal of support.

I don't believe our political leaders will ever associate the financial distress with our leaving the Gospel. In addition, God is raising up enemies against us, a classical biblical sign of God's displeasure with His people. Nor will the Christian leaders realize that it is the perversion of Paul's teaching of grace that is befuddling the political leaders.

More and more the national leaders will look to the United Nations to solve the problems of the world. As I wrote years ago, the Christian church will join with the Antichrist government to attempt to bring peace and safety to all the peoples of the earth. In the end, however, the Antichrist government will turn against the great religious Babylon, the False Prophet, of which Christianity will be a part.

Was it C. S. Lewis who remarked that you never see two dragons occupying the same territory?

It is obvious, to any thoughtful, prayerful person, where the world is heading. I know many will attempt to slow this movement by political means, but they will not be successful. Out of this human travail will emerge the Kingdom of God. God's wisdom and power shall prevail at last.

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Two Witnesses

2011-08-28

Whenever there is to come a major change in God's working with people, God prepares and brings forth two witnesses. We now are approaching the change from the Church Age to the Kingdom Age. Therefore God is preparing the sixth of the total of seven pairs of witnesses. As was the case in all previous sets of witnesses, the nature of the next age is being formed in them at the present time and will be brought forth in them when they have been prepared fully.

I have written often of these sets of witnesses and the new era they heralded. I refer to the eras as "days." Those who are acquainted with my writings will recognize that I often change the names I have assigned to the eras. These differences have to do with the current burden I am emphasizing.

Adam and Eve: The Day of Form.

Abraham and Sarah: The Day of Separation.

Moses and Aaron: The Day of the Law. (John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Day of Law.)

The Father and Christ: The Day of Light. (The Father and the Son working together brought us Light that was not possible under the Law of Moses.).

The Holy Spirit and the Apostles: The Day of Life. "We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him." (Acts 5:32)

Christ and His Victorious Saints: The Day of Reconciliation.

God and His Tabernacle: The Day of Eternity.

In the present hour, God is preparing the sixth pair of two witnesses. They will herald the Day of Reconciliation. The Day of Reconciliation has begun in the witnesses being prepared in our day, and will extend to the two witnesses of the Day of Eternity, that is, until God and His Tabernacle appear from Heaven, coming down through the new sky to be located for eternity upon the new earth.

But how does God prepare a witness?

"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me." (Isaiah 43:10)

Is this what you are experiencing today? God desires that you be His witness and His servant. He has chosen you for these two roles. He is leading you through numerous problems and tests so that you may know and believe Him, and understand that He is who the Bible says He is. You are to be assured that there was no God formed before the God of Heaven, and there will be no God formed after Him.

These virtues must be established securely in you before you can bear witness of the living God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In addition to this transformation of your personality, God will fill you with the new aspect of His dealing with people. The new aspect is that of reconciling man to God and God to man. The sixth era is the Day of Reconciliation.

When we commenced our Christian discipleship we were not reconciled to God. Neither was God reconciled to us because of the worldliness, lusts, and self-will of our personality.

God is not reconciled to His Church or to the remainder of mankind because of worldliness, lust, and self-will.

If you presently are being prepared as a witness, Christ and you being the sixth set of two witnesses, God is dealing with you about worldliness, the passions of your flesh and soul, and your self-will and self-love.

You must disengage yourself from the things and attitudes of the world. Meanwhile you must perform all your duties faithfully. But little by little you will find that Christ is leading you away from trusting in the world for your survival and security.

When the Spirit of God points out to you the deeds of your sinful nature, you must confess them to God, one by one, and resolve that by Christ's help you never again will perform any of these deeds. They are enemies in your land!

Now comes the hardest aspect of entering your land of promise, the "rest" of God. You must surrender your life to Christ, moment by moment, choosing to live by His Life. Every decision, every plan, every problem, every situation, every relationship, must be presented to Him. Your original personality must be put to death as you keep choosing to live by His Life.

Each of these three areas, the security, survival, and pleasure found in the world (Antichrist) spirit; the lusts and passions of the sinful nature; and our original personality and all self-will and self-love; must be reconciled to God. When they are, God will be reconciled to you.

You are acquainted with God and His Son, Jesus Christ. You are reconciled to God in every aspect of what and who you are, and God is reconciled to you. Now you are prepared as a witness, along with Jesus, of the Day of Reconciliation that even now is on the horizon.

When the moment arrives, in the Father's time, you will receive power and authority never before entrusted to a human being. The power of the seven thunders will speak.

Christ and you now are two witnesses, just as the Father and He were two witnesses of the Day of Light. The Law of Moses did not bring the Light that was true of the Father and the Son working together.

The world could see only the Son, but the Father was Present. The world will see only the victorious saints, but Christ will be Present.

Adam and Eve revealed in themselves the eternal Form of mankind.

Abraham and Sarah revealed in themselves the eternal wall that separates God's elect from the remainder of mankind.

Moses and Aaron revealed in themselves the eternal Law, the moral Nature of God.

The Father and Christ revealed in themselves the eternal Composition of the Godhead.

The Holy Spirit and the Apostles revealed in themselves the eternal Life of God.

Christ and His victorious saints will reveal in themselves the eternal reconciliation of man and God.

The Father and His Tabernacle, His Church, the new Jerusalem, will reveal in themselves the righteousness, love, joy, and peace of the eternal era, which thus will begin.

Whoever is wise will listen carefully to the Lord Jesus every waking moment of the day and night, and diligently obey the Lord in all He commands.

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The Most Holy and the Holy

2011-09-04

It goes against the values of Americans to regard some people as elite. This may not be the case in some other countries. Our Declaration of Independence states that "all men are created equal"; that God has given them the right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." However, God did not write this statement; Thomas Jefferson did.

It is obvious that people are not created physically or mentally equal. Of course, the signers of the Declaration of Independence understood this. They were reacting to caste or other social systems which define limits as to which sets of people can have an opportunity to seek to better their situation.

No doubt it is a fact that uncounted multitudes of people have achieved a better environment in countries that adhere to democratic principles. Whether or not they have lived a happier life as a result may be subject to interpretation. For example, the Book of James informs us that God has "chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him."

I would rather have faith than a luxurious environment. How about you? In any case, our values in America may be questionable.

The Kingdom of God is not affected by our Declaration of Independence.God unblushingly decides what place and role in His Kingdom each saved person shall enjoy, even though all people are invited to be saved; and all people are welcome to achieve whatever they wish in the Kingdom.

This last statement must be qualified by adding that the desire to be saved, and the desire to advance in the Kingdom, come from God into the heart of the individual. Also, the additional qualification must be presented that salvation, roles, and ranks are not frozen in the mind of God. Some individuals surprise God with the strength of their determination to serve Him; and there are others who disappoint God by not rising to the opportunities offered to them.

I believe what I have just written is as true as steel. Yet, it remains true that in spite of all this, God knows what finally will become of each individual. You may say this is paradoxical. Indeed it does not appear consistent to us. But the only answer is, as Paul told us, "God is the Potter. He shapes the clay as He chooses." However, the texture of some of the lumps of clay may "surprise" Him.

A human being is far more complex than we have the remotest idea. Even God searches to see what is in the inmost nature of an individual.

I felt it necessary to say all this as a background for someone who might be disturbed by God's seemingly arbitrary practice of assigning roles and ranks in His Kingdom. One such assignment is that of inscribing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel on the gates of the new Jerusalem. A study of the origin and history of Israel does not suggest such an honor. But there it is!

Throughout the Bible we see evidences of privileges assigned to certain people. In fact, the very setting aside of Israel from the remainder of the nations of the earth enabled the Israelites to have access to the true God, that may not have been true of China or India.

The calling out of Abraham, and then his being named the father of all who believe. Was Abraham that special? Remember, he tried on two occasions to sell his wife. Yet, in one of the pinnacles of the history of mankind, Abraham would have offered Isaac as a burnt offering had not God stopped him.

So we are not implying that God plays favorites. Those whom God chooses for a high rank in His Kingdom are tested more severely than the others. Israel always receives double for her sins.

God chose David to be the king of Israel. David was an adulterer and a murderer, and he suffered for it. But Christ is the Root and the Offspring of David.

I expect in our day, as the philosophy of Humanism is prevailing, there will be many attempts to make alterations in the Bible until it conforms to humanistic reasoning. Our Declaration of Independence, although faulty in its premise, finally will prevail throughout the world until the coming of the true King puts a stop to the self-will of mankind.

My writing all this philosophy has a simple, practical purpose. I want all of God's people to recognize that in our day God is looking for those who will govern the new world of righteousness. Many of the highest thrones of the Kingdom are awaiting an occupant.

You yourself may feel within you an intense desire to follow Christ more closely than is true of your associates. As you are being set free from fears, idols, passions, and ambitions you increasingly are able to rest in God, to be aware of the will of Christ, and to obey God completely in every detail of life.

Fan your desire into flame. God may be calling you higher. But you must respond with all diligence, or that opportunity will be given to another.

Think of the way God separates people:

Consider the Prophets of Israel, and the twelve Apostles of the Lamb. They were set aside from everyone else, weren't they?

How about Enoch, always an inspiration to the fervent Christian?

The Aaronic Priesthood. No one, not even the Levites, could look inside the Tabernacle tent. Only Aaron and his descendants had this privilege.

Think about David's mighty men, separate from the remainder of the Israelites on the basis of their prowess in war.

The three who stood with Christ on the mount of transfiguration. The rest of the disciples were not invited, apparently.

The first marriage of the Lamb, described in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The Firstfruits to God and the Lamb, of the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The Holy and the Most Holy Places of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

You may notice in the above list that there is a mixture of Divine sovereignty and human response. This is my point. If God sovereignly invites you to a high place in His Kingdom, you must respond. As the Lord said, "Hold on to what you have so that no one will take your crown"!

"So that no one will take your crown." There is a spirit of inevitably that lives among Christian people. "Whatever is going to happen will happen." "God loves me too much to let me suffer very much." "Whatever place He wants for me, that is what will happen." "I am too young, too old, too tired, too busy, too encumbered with responsibilities, to think of a change in my destiny."

This is how Satan attacks the sons of the Kingdom. A little folding of the hands. 'I am where and what I am supposed to be. I had great hopes of being a witness for Christ, but now I am content to live in my mansion in the sky and do nothing unusual for eternity."

How God must hate this spirit of inevitability. He has told us that all things are possible with Him. Greater works shall you do. Some will reap a hundredfold.

I guess it finally is up to us. Will you really believe that all things are possible with Him? Or will you settle back in the swamp of inevitability, having decided that the Bible makes a lot of statements but they don't actually apply to you.

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The Tail of the Dragon

2011-09-11

It is apparent from the Scriptures that the closing days of the Church Age will reveal those who faithfully are serving God and those who are not. Those who set themselves to serve the Lord Jesus Christ will mature spiritually until they are qualified to govern with Christ when He returns.

The remainder of the believers will suffer at the hands of the ungodly They are trusting in a "rapture" to save them, but this is an unscriptural hope, to say the least.

Notice the following:

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, with its worshipers. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months." (Revelation 11:1,2)

The meaning of the above passage is that those who are worshiping at the Altar of Incense, crying out "Not my will but Yours be done," will be judged and prepared to participate in the great end-time witness. Their preparation consists of the following:

They will learn to look to Jesus instead of to people for their survival and security.

They will confess the deeds of their sinful nature when the Spirit points them out, and turn away from them with the Lord's help.

They will count themselves dead to their self-will and ambitions.

They will live quietly before the Lord. They will not clutch any relationship or thing. They will give up all their idols.

They will practice the Presence of Christ in all they do.

They will obey God promptly and cheerfully when they know His will for them.

People who do not prepare themselves in this manner will not enter the Kingdom when the Lord appears. They wasted the time God has given us now so we can be ready for His appearing. Thus they will be abused by worldly people instead of participating in the end-time witness.

The Scriptures have quite a bit to say about the last days of the Church Age. It is clear that all the believers except for the true cross-carrying disciples of Jesus will fall on hard times, the majority of whom will turn away from God. Lawlessness will abound!

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:12-14)

Notice in the verse above how most of the believers grow cold in their love for the Lord. They did not prepare themselves, wasting their time on the things of the world. But the faithful disciples of Jesus were participating in the glorious witness, the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world. This is the true scenario of the closing days of the Church Age, not a "rapture" in which the frivolous "Christians" of our day are carried up to Paradise so they will not suffer any inconvenience.

Those who today are disarming God's people with the "rapture" error will be seen in the future as false prophets, having caused many to stumble spiritually and remain in an immature, "baby" state.

It is clear that dreadful, as well as glorious days, are ahead for the believers in Christ. Many will fall away from the Presence of the Lord, but a relative handful will count themselves "dead in the Lord" and consequently will perform exploits.

And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. (Daniel 11:32)

If the truth be known, we of today are doing wickedly against the covenant. Our Lord Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. How many believers do you know who are patiently carrying their cross a behind the Lord? They are as scarce as hens' teeth, as far as I can see.

I think many Christian believers are being flattered today. They are told how wonderful they are and that God never would let them suffer. The day is approaching that will reveal if they have been told the truth.

The following are a few quotes to point out the troubles Christian people will encounter in the coming days:

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 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 12:25-27)

Many people who believe they are eternally secure will lose their standing before God, because the spirit of rebellion in them is not acceptable.

Those who are wise will instruct many, though for a time they will fall by the sword or be burned or captured or plundered. When they fall, they will receive a little help, and many who are not sincere will join them. Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time. (Daniel 11:33-35)

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God's holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb's book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world. (Revelation 13:5-8)

He will speak against the Most High and oppress his holy people and try to change the set times and the laws. The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25)

The man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, lifted his right hand and his left hand toward heaven, and I heard him swear by him who lives forever, saying, "It will be for a time, times and half a time. When the power of the holy people has been finally broken, all these things will be completed." (Daniel 12:7)

To those who could claim that the "holy people" are Jews, let us bring to mind that Paul never referred to believers as "Christians" but as "saints"—that is, "holy people." The current teachers who are saying that all of the unpleasant events of the Bible will happen to physical Jews might consider that we believing Gentiles are part of the one new Man, who includes Christ the Head, believing Jews, and believing Gentiles.

You know, we have a lot of unscriptural teaching in our day!

Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7,8)

Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the LORD; it took away the daily sacrifice from the LORD, and his sanctuary was thrown down. Because of rebellion, the LORD's people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:9-12)

Do you see anything about a "rapture" in these verses? Neither do I. Maybe we better go to the Lord and ask for a "report card." What do you think?

I believe we are well advised to prepare ourselves for the events that are ahead of us. We already can see the one-world government taking shape, as people who do not know Jesus are attempting to end all wars and other conditions that are distressing to people.

Their goals may be admirable, but they are not including Christ in their planning. Therefore the sinful nature of people will manage to sabotage all attempts to bring world peace. The resulting moral wasteland would finally bring about the extinction of mankind, were Christ not to appear and take over the reins of government.

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The Eternal Witnesses

2011-09-18

The Bible is clear that God intends to prepare eternal witnesses of His Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose in Christ. It appears to me that the preparation of the eternal witnesses has begun in our day. Of the many adjustments that are part of this preparation, the most important is that we count our original personality as being dead with Christ on the cross, and choose to live each day in the Life of Christ as His Nature is being formed in us.

The two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation describe the testimony that will be given during the closing days of the Church Age. Who are the two witnesses? They are set forth as follows:

And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." They are "the two olive trees" and the two lampstands, and "they stand before the Lord of the earth." (Revelation 11:3,4)

The two witnesses are the two olive tree and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth

The expression "stand before the Lord" was used by Elijah and Elisha.

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. I Kings 17:1)

But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I (Elisha) stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. (II Kings 5:16)

This does not mean Elijah and Elisha are themselves the two witnesses of Revelation. Rather, the symbolism refers to the fact that Elijah represents the first anointing, that of the original Day of Pentecost. Elisha represents the latter-day anointing, the double portion, the greater works that are ahead of us.

Also, the raising of the dead man when he touched the bones of Elisha is symbolic of the raising of the Divine testimony after the reign of Antichrist.

The two olive trees and the two lampstands refer back to the Book of Zechariah:

I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lamps on it, with seven channels to the lamps. Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left." (Zechariah 4:2,3)

Two olive trees (the fullness of the Holy Spirit), but only one lampstand. The lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation was solid gold. The symbolism means that only Divinity is portrayed by a lampstand. We understand Jesus Christ to be the Lampstand of Zechariah. So where did the second lampstand come from?

First of all, let us notice that the seven churches of Revelation are lampstands.

The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)

There is a church within the seven churches. That church is the second lampstand. Only the saints who have gained victory in Christ are the second lampstand. They are the firstfruits to God and the Lamb.

Notice in the following verse that in the large church in Sardis, only a few believers were eligible to be members of the royal priesthood, that is, of the Body of Christ. They are eternal witnesses of God, along with the Lord Jesus Christ—today and forever.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:4,5)

Have you ever thought much about the two verses above? The church in Sardis, probably quite large, had a reputation for being alive. Yet only a few members of that "dead" Christian church, that lampstand, will be dressed in white. Why? Because they had been found "worthy." Please consider how opposite this concept is from a great deal of what is being preached in our day.

When Zechariah asked for the meaning of the lampstand and the olive trees, this is what he was told:

So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty. (Zechariah 4:6)

This used to be the watchword of the Pentecostal churches. I wonder if it still is!

God is telling us that in the closing days of the Church Age His witness will not be accomplished by the plans and striving of religious people. He is going to bear witness of Himself by mighty signs and wonders.

Obviously we must be prepared to take part in such an unprecedented witness. If I am not mistaken, right now is the period of preparation, and there are and will continue to be multitudes of believers in the valley of decision.

What has to be decided? Whether we are going to live our own religious life or submit to weakness and crucifixion as the Lord sets aside our natural life and teaches us to live by His Life.

Such continual, consistent giving ourselves over to the wisdom and strength of Christ is the principal preparation for participation as a member of the second lampstand. It appears to me that most Christian work of our day is carried on by the ideas of well intentioned people. Money is a key ingredient. Plans and programs abound. But there is so much self-seeking! So much striving for preeminence!

Are the Christian organizations and leaders ready to give up their prominence and humbly submit to Christ as He directs us by His Spirit?

We are heading toward the morally darkest hour of earth's history. It is at this time that the Glory of God will rest upon His witnesses. But such Divine Glory will never come upon people who have not prepared themselves today to live by His Spirit, His Life, His body and blood.

The nonsensical "rapture" teaching, plus the teaching that Christ does everything and we are saved by a sovereign act of God, are leaving God's people totally unprepared for the coming of Divine Glory, and for the spiritual darkness that even now is blanketing the nations of the earth.

The Western nation are pitiful, threadbare vestiges of what once was a vibrant Christian testimony. Therefore Divine judgment shall fall upon them. But there will be a remnant of believers who are willing to die in the Lord that they might live by the Lord's Life.

God has spoken glorious things concerning Zion. Righteousness and praise yet shall spring forth before all the nations of the earth. But this splendid testimony cannot be given until there is a "lampstand" of people who have "died in the Lord" and who are anointed by the double portion of the Spirit of God.

Are you and I candidates for a position in the second lampstand? Do we realize we are being prepared to bear witness of God from now throughout eternity?

The new Jerusalem is God's Tabernacle, His eternal witness among saved mankind. The holy city is composed of the members of the royal priesthood. They finally have been purified from every blemish and now are clothed with the glowing white robes of the royal priesthood.

But how about you and me? Christ died that we might live. Are we willing to die that Christ might live and bear witness of His Father's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose?

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Living by the Invisible

2011-09-25

There are only three ways in which a human being can live. He can live by his own wisdom and energy, or by satanic wisdom and energy, or by the wisdom and energy of the Lord Jesus Christ. If he chooses to live by his own wisdom and energy, he will end up living by satanic wisdom and energy, although he probably will not realize it.

The watchword of the Protestant Reformation is, "The just shall live by faith." This expression is found four times in the Bible, once in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament.

The "faith" that is mentioned here has little to do with theology. Rather, the "faith" by which the righteous live is that of choosing to walk with God, as did Enoch and the other patriarchs. It is that of bringing God into every detail of our life, every thought, decision, plan, word, and action.

We see the difference between the two ways of living, in the following verse:

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)

An individual chooses to live in his own pride, or else by continually seeking fellowship with God. He does not rely on his own wisdom and strength but by the wisdom and strength that Christ provides continually.

I have come to believe that the true Christian life is the one in which we always are seeking the Presence of Christ. Our daily life is filled with so many problems and difficulties! We can attempt to survive by striving to overcome all that distresses us; or we can survive by looking to the Lord Jesus in every situation—and I mean every situation.

Our present life in America is filled with material things, helps, pleasures, prospects, that we tend to look to the world for the solution to our pain and problems. We are not accustomed to living by always interacting with Jesus; always practicing the Presence of God.

But we absolutely must learn to do this if we are to survive spiritually and help others to survive during the approaching moral, financial, and political chaos.

Those with prophetic gifts are saying that we in America, and perhaps other nations of the Western world, are heading toward very difficult times. There may be war, persecution, diseases, famine, and other difficulties that most of us Americans have not experienced—although many have.

The average American lukewarm, casual Christian is by no means prepared for such distresses and dangers. We have been lulled to sleep by the current perversion of the Apostle Paul's teaching of "grace," and by the prospect of an "any-moment rapture" which, if the Scriptures are to be relied upon, is assuredly not going to take place.

We have not been prepared "to stand in the evil day."

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)

"The day of evil"! The prophets are telling us that a day of evil is approaching our country. In fact, it already is here for many of our citizens. But I expect it is going to become much worse. We Americans in numerous instances have turned away from God and the Bible and are indulging in every sort of moral depravity.

Under the watchword of tolerance we are endeavoring to become comfortable with sexual perversions that previously have been regarded by decent people as abominations.

Also, there is the problem of foreign gods entering our land. We pride ourselves on religious tolerance. Religious tolerance is a democratic ideal, not a biblical ideal. There is only one God, and that is our Father in Heaven. There is only one Way to the one God, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

We speak of "many roads to God," and that all other gods are just names for the one true God. This is a delusion. The other so-called gods are powerful cherubim and fallen angels who are in rebellion against the one true God. Make no mistake about this. Some of these fallen principalities are warlike, filled with blood-lust. Their murderous hatred and rage are revealed in those who worship them.

Although there always have been sinful people in our country, the majority of the populace have regarded Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and His Father as the one true God. Now this attitude is changing. People are choosing a way of life which does not fear or revere God.

We pride ourselves on being forward-looking, educated beyond the beliefs of the past. We are not forward-looking. We are not progressive in this attitude. We are reverting to the behavior of the nations in the past, such as Rome, who gave themselves over to the lusts of the flesh. And, like Rome, we are facing destruction.

Make no mistake. Because of our turning away from God, our nation shall be punished severely. We already can see financial problems. We are involved in two wars which appear to have no successful conclusion. Unclean spirits have been set free to express themselves, and so we see murder, rape, violence, and other destructive behaviors. The abuse of little children is becoming prevalent, Cannibalism and bestiality are on the horizon.

Still it is business as usual. We are blind. We cannot see the evidence of the departure of God from our land. We are not profiting from the warnings of history!

Those who would survive today and in the future must learn to live by the invisible. We must turn away from the clamor of ever-improved electronic devices and other entertaining inventions and situations and begin to practice the Presence of Jesus Christ.

To the worst of the seven churches of the Book of Revelation, the church of Laodicea, are given two of the greatest promises.

First, that Christ stands knocking at the door of our heart. He desires to enter and become part of all that we think, say, and do. Christ will not open the door. We have to open the door. We have to open it every waking moment. We have to keep on inviting Christ into our life. If we do not do this, we will not have the continual fellowship with Him who alone can save us from every disaster.

Second, that if we are victorious over the pressures that would cause us to disobey Christ, we will sit with Him on His Throne just as He sits with the Father on the Father's Throne. Actually, this second promise is the result of our receiving the first promise.

We are not accustomed to looking to God this fervently. I suppose we have imagined that He loves us so much no evil can befall us. This is a delusion. According to the Bible, we have to "blow the trumpet" of prayer if we expect God to help us with our difficulties. And we always are in difficulties, it seems, if we are striving to behave with integrity.

I will not comment on the life of the rebellious and ungodly. Their lives are one disaster after another. But we who look to Jesus at all times are always raised up in times of trouble. We never, never, never are forsaken. But those who choose to go their own way, follow their own path, will dwell in dry and bitter circumstances.

If you find yourself today in dry and bitter circumstances, are you willing to cease being your own god and begin to look to Christ continually? Jesus is interested in the smallest difficulty you are having, as well as in your times of ease and pleasure. He wants to be part of you far, far more than you want to be part of Him!

Today is a season of preparation for the problems of the future. Begin looking to the Lord continually. Bring every decision, every plan, every thought, every word, every action to Him. You may think this is difficult or impossible. It assuredly is not. It is the best, the most joyous, the most peaceful, the most productive, the most successful way in which to conduct yourself throughout your discipleship.

You have a choice. You can trust in the things of our culture to provide security, survival, comfort, pleasure, and achievement for you. Or you can learn to live by the invisible, always looking to Jesus for all you need and desire.

Right now you and I have the opportunity to choose to live one way or the other. We can live in our pride, or we can live by faith in the invisible God.

Our ability to survive and help others to survive throughout the era of chaos that is approaching depends on the choice we make today. We can seek the continued Presence of Jesus Christ, or we can believe the lying message of grace and the rapture and leave ourselves unprepared for the difficulties rapidly approaching our nation.

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The Greatest of All Errors

2011-10-02

I have written on this subject a number of times. However, it came to me with renewed force and clarity last evening. The greatest of all errors is that the Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven just to forgive our sins and take us to Heaven by a device termed "grace." The truth is, the Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven to announce the creation of the Kingdom of God, a system of government in which God's will is done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Thus the basis of Christian teaching is in need of correction. Not only is the premise of Christian teaching incorrect, that Christ died on the cross so God could relate to us while we continue in sin, but the spirit of Humanism plus the error of Gnosticism have added to the error.

Humanism teaches that the most important aspect of civilization is the welfare of people, with no reliance on God's desires. Gnosticism emphasizes that we go to Heaven by adopting correct knowledge. It is not difficult to see how the accent on people, and the stress on a holding of correct knowledge rather than doing God's will, are prominent in today's Christian teaching.

From the beginning of human history, God honored righteous behavior. We observe that in the way God spoke to Noah and protected Noah and his family from the flood.

But in due time God wrote the moral Law on stone tablets. This may possibly be the first time God made clear to angels and people His attitude toward human conduct. The moral Law teaches us to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves.

But, as the Apostle Paul told us plainly, the purpose of the Law was added because of transgressions until the Seed, Christ, should come. This fact reveals plainly that the Law, as perfect and blameless as it is, can never produce the kind of righteous behavior and holiness of personality that God requires if we are to have fellowship with Him.

So we now have a covenant that is perfect, but imperfect people. The covenant of the Law of Moses is powerless to produce people whose personality and behavior meet God's standard.

For this reason God gave us a new covenant. The purpose of the new covenant, obviously, is to do what the Law of Moses cannot do. Its purpose is to produce people with whom God can have fellowship because their personality and behavior are in God's image. Also, they can fulfill the roles in God's Kingdom that God desires, such as brothers of Jesus Christ; a wife for the Lamb; judges of men and angels; an eternal house and resting place for God, and so forth.

As part of the new covenant, God gave us the Holy Spirit to impart to us the wisdom and virtue we need to become new creations of true righteousness and holiness. The body and blood of Christ which we are to eat and drink are a vital aspect of the Divine virtue given to us by the Spirit of God.

In order to bring into being this new covenant, Christ had to die on the cross to make an atonement for our past sins; otherwise we could not have started in the program of redemption. The blood of the cross makes it possible for God to receive us and hear our prayers.

Our correct approach to the new covenant is to count ourselves as crucified with Christ and risen with Christ. Because we regard ourselves as being dead, we come out from under the authority of the Law of Moses. The Law does not have jurisdiction over those who are dead.

All of the wisdom, virtue, and other enablements that come to us when we count ourselves as crucified with Christ, plus the forgiveness of our past sins, are included in the term, "grace."

A major part of the preaching of the Apostle Paul was to Jewish people. These people had been trained from childhood in the Law of Moses. They desired righteousness, the righteousness that proceeds from obeying the Law that God had given on Sinai.

Such was the mindset that Paul was addressing. This accounts for Paul's teaching in the early chapters of the Book of Romans. Paul repeatedly emphasized that we are saved into God's Kingdom by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done. It is obvious that Paul was referring to the works of righteousness of the Law of Moses.

Now put yourself in the position of a devout Jew listening to the Apostle Paul. "Is it possible I can attain to righteousness apart from the Law of Moses? What a terrible thought to entertain! What a radical departure from all I have been taught from my earliest years!"

Along come we Gentiles. We are not very concerned about righteousness, as is the devout Jew. Our goal is to escape the fires of Hell and to live forever in a mansion in Paradise, having no more pains or problems.

So we read Paul's writings about being saved by grace. We are somewhat oblivious to God's desire to have people in His image. We have been heavily influenced by the philosophy of Humanism in which the highest good is that which makes people happy. We have been influenced also by the teaching of Gnosticism in which correct knowledge results in salvation.

So we have changed the apostolic message into a simple, four-step profession of belief which guarantees eternal bliss after we die. We are saved by our steadfast adherence to a few theological statements; by our subscription to the Statement of Faith of our religious group. We are saved by knowledge rather than an active interaction with the living Lord Jesus.

It seems to me that any intelligent reader of the New Testament would notice the emphasis placed upon our behavior. But alas! Our leaders appear to be blind to what is written.

Take for example the statement of Jesus that he who endures to the end shall be saved. The footnotes of my Bible states that salvation is a sovereign act of God so that enduring to the end is not necessary. Can you believe this? This footnote actually is printed in my Bible—perhaps in yours also.

The current idea seems to be that we are to do nothing about our salvation. It all was accomplished on the cross. If this is so, how do we account for Paul making his body his slave so he would not be disqualified?

If you are of the current belief that Christ has done it all on the cross, and there is nothing we are to do, how do you account for Paul saying that he strove to keep his body under control so he would not be disqualified?

I could present a number of other passages that teach if we obey our sinful nature we will reap corruption; we will not inherit the Kingdom of God; we will die spiritually. Paul said all these things.

Numerous passages of the New Testament reveal that today's Christian teaching, that being saved by grace means God will have fellowship with us as we continue to sin, is absolutely incorrect. Such doctrine has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian people in America, and this is why political, financial, and moral chaos are ahead for us.

The Apostle John put the matter simply:

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6)

I have been writing for over forty years, trying to correct this grievous error that is destroying the Christian testimony.

How about you? Will you help by professing the truth of the New Testament?

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The Guilt and Power of Sin

2011-10-09

"Be of sin the double cure; Cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r."–A. Toplady (1776)

The expression "Jesus saves us, " does that mean Jesus forgives our sin; or does it mean Jesus removes our sinful nature; or does it mean both?

If He does both, what role does Divine "grace" play?

Is grace an alternative to our gaining victory over the actions of our sinful nature? Or is grace the means of our attaining to victory over the actions of our sinful nature?

Your thoughtful, heartfelt answer to the above questions may very well profoundly affect the kind of Christian life you pursue.

The guilt of sin and the power of sin are not at all the same thing. Yet in much of today's preaching and writing the distinction does not seem to be made.

I do not understand why this is so, unless it is because it was not time for God to explain to us the fullness of the redemption that is in Christ.

When we say "the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world," do we mean Christ takes away the power of sin as well as the guilt; or do we mean that Christ takes away only the guilt?

Is it important that we understand the difference? Indeed it is of very great importance that we understand the difference!

I am not enough of a scholar to know how the difference between the guilt and the power of sin was made known throughout the centuries of the Christian Era. But I gain the impression that the general understanding of the Christian redemption was that the Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven to earth only to forgive our sins. If such is the case, it might be well we never were born.

Just give this some thought. We hope for a new world of righteousness. We hope to live in communities where the people behave righteously. They are honest and just. They tell the truth. They are peaceful and kind. They are clean morally. They love God with all their heart and their neighbor as themselves.

Am I correct? Is that our hope? Our do we picture the new world that Jesus is going to bring into being one in which the people are dishonest, unfair, liars, prone to violence, unforgiving, spiteful, harsh, unmerciful, and driven by lust and other demonic impulses?

Now you tell me. What kind of new world do you expect Christ to create?

The same question applies to our life in the spirit world, in Heaven, after we die. However, I am speaking primarily of the new world of righteousness that is to appear after the final Day of Judgment.

The Scriptures do not teach that we are to live in Heaven forever. Heaven is not our home, except temporarily while God is working with the future rulers of the world.

The reason for the resurrection of the dead is that man is destined to live on the earth in a physical body. If this were not the case, there would be no need for a resurrection. We could remain happily (or unhappily) in spirit bodies if our final destination were Heaven.

I believe you and I probably are the same in our thinking. We want to live among righteous people, whether in the spirit world or on the earth, the present earth or the new earth of which the Book of Revelation speaks.

Now, here is the point. Forgiveness does not accomplish our desire. What good does it do to forgive people if they are going to continue in their unrighteous behavior? What good does it do us if we have to live with forgiven but sinful people? What good does it do God, who wants to have fellowship with us? Will God have fellowship with sinners who have been forgiven?

Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:17)

Does the above verse sound to you like God wants to have fellowship with people who have been forgiven but still are sinning?

God has desires, none of which can be satisfied by people who have been forgiven but who still are in the bondages of sin:

God desires sons, a family whom He can enjoy.

God desires brothers for the Lord Jesus Christ.

God desires an unblemished bride for the Lamb.

God desires judges of men and angels.

God desires an eternal temple in which He can settle down and rest.

The above are just a few of God's needs and desires.

Can God gain His desires by forgiving people? Absolutely not! He must work with people until they have been released from all the power of Satan and filled with the righteousness and holiness that are Christ Himself.

I am not speaking of an imputed or ascribed righteous that we gain by being identified with Christ or having faith in Christ. I am referring to righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to God that flows from Him who cries out, "I delight to do Your will, O God; yes, Your law is within my heart."

What if the returning son, in the parable of the prodigal, continued to live a drunkard's life after he came to his father. Would the father be pleased to live with his son's dissolute behavior?

God gave us a new covenant, because the Law of Moses does not produce the change in behavior that God insists upon. God does include forgiveness as part of the new covenant, because God will receive man only at the cross.

But forgiveness is not the prime emphasis of the new covenant. The prime emphasis of the new covenant is the putting of the eternal moral law in our mind and writing it on our heart. God has promised to do this for those who continue to obey Him.

How does God put His eternal moral law in out mind and heart? By forming Christ in us. Christ Himself is the eternal moral law of God. As Christ is formed in us, righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God are formed in us. This is the new covenant. The new covenant is not the so-called "four steps of salvation," which do not prepare people to live in Heaven or upon the earth. People created the "four steps of salvation." God created the new covenant.

I realize that the new covenant is directed toward Israel. But every true Christian, Jewish or Gentile, is Israel. We all are the one Seed of Abraham through the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other covenant of salvation.

The one we have stuck together, the "four steps of salvation," by removing verses from their contexts, is as flimsy as wet paper. The genuine new covenant is a mighty rock which never can be moved, no, not throughout the endless ages upon ages.

"I will put My laws in their minds and write them on their hearts."

The forgiveness of our sins is so God can receive us and begin the work of redemption.

Christ did not come to earth to forgive people. Forgiveness accomplishes nothing that we or God desire. Christ, as well as John the Baptist, preached the coming of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is not a kingdom of forgiveness. The Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will in the earth.

In fact, according to Isaiah, one of the main works of Christ, Head and Body, will be to establish justice on the earth.

The world of today is filled with injustice. The purpose of the return of Christ is to bring justice to the afflicted of the earth. He would have brought justice to the earth two thousand years ago, with the help of God's angels. But Jesus wants to share the inheritance with His brothers.

So we have the two thousand years of the Christian Era, the purpose of which is to create saints who can work with Christ in establishing justice on the earth.

But it is obvious that people who themselves are still bound with sin and self-seeking are not able to bring justice to afflicted people. The people of the suffering nations have been afflicted by people who are driven by sin and self-will. How can they then be delivered by people who them selves are driven by sin and self-will, who are seeking their own glory, as is true of so many church people?

During the two thousand years of the Christian Era it appears we have lost sight of the message of Jesus and John the Baptist. We are preaching going to Heaven instead of the Kingdom of Heaven coming to the earth. Along with this we have in many instances ignored the power of the new covenant to make us new creations of righteous behavior.

It can be said truthfully, I believe, that today's Christian teaching and preaching is quite far off base, being an accumulation of errors and traditions. Obviously, the current emphasis on grace-Heaven-the "rapture" is not a scriptural emphasis. What do these three emphases have to do with the new covenant?

And since when is the scriptural goal of salvation that of going to Heaven in a "rapture"? It appears we are in sore need of a reformation of Christian teaching and preaching.

I would suppose that many Christians believe that God somehow will remove the power of sin from us. They certainly do not expect to find sinning people in Heaven when they die. So some unscriptural solutions to release from the power of sin have been offered.

One unscriptural solution is that when we die we are released from sin. It is true that when we count ourselves as dead with Christ and risen with Christ we are free from the authority of the Law of Moses.

But this is not what people mean. They mean that physical death frees them from the sinful nature. This would make physical death our redeemer instead of the "last enemy."

There is no basis in Scripture for this belief. When the Scripture speaks of being changed "in the twinkling of an eye" it is speaking of the redemption of our body.

The truth is, sin began in the spirit world and came to earth from the spirit world. If a pure environment would deliver us from sin, then Adam and Eve would not have sinned. They were living in Paradise. Yet they were willing to disobey God. People do not change by virtue of living in Paradise!

Another commonly held solution to the bondage of sin is that at the coming of Christ we will be delivered instantly from the sinful nature. But the parable of the talents reveals that this is not sound thinking.

When Christ came to the steward who had buried his talent, Christ did not forgive him and deliver him from his wickedness and laziness. Rather the Lord removed his talent, gave it to another, and sent the wicked, lazy servant into the outer darkness.

Thus there is no scriptural basis whatever for the two prevailing notions that we will be set free from our sinful nature by virtue of physical death, or that Christ suddenly will remove our sinful nature when He appears.

There were seven feasts of the Lord. It is the sixth feast that symbolizes the reconciliation of man to God through the removal of man's sinful nature.

Incidentally, it is my opinion that the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has commenced in the present hour and will continue until the final Day of Judgment. The final Day of Judgment will take place at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, popularly known as the "Millennium."

The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur of the Jews. This observance is the most solemn of the Jewish holy days.

What is particularly meaningful to this present essay is that there were two goats utilized during the observance of the Day of Atonement, or, as I like to term it, the "Day of Reconciliation."

The first goat was slain and its blood sprinkled before the Mercy Seat, the Lid of Reconciliation. Thus atonement was made for Israel.

The second goat also was referred to as an atonement, according to the Scripture, although its blood was not offered. Rather the sins of Israel were laid on its head and this "scapegoat" was led away into the wilderness.

Here we have salvation from both the guilt and the power of sin.

In the first instance, the blood of the innocent goat was offered before the Lord. This removed the guilt of the sins of the people.

In the second instance, the sin itself, not the guilt of the sin, symbolically was removed from God's people.

The plan of salvation is proceeding in steps, beginning with the blood of Jesus Christ, as symbolized by the Jewish feast of Passover. We have been forgiven at the cross. We have been filled with God's Spirit. Now the time has come for all sin to be removed from us, because there can be no new world of righteousness as long as we merely are forgiven but not released from the presence of the sin itself.

But where is the biblical basis for the removal of sin from God's people. Please consider the following passage carefully, for it tells us about the removal of sin from the Kingdom of God:

The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 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 blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like thesun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:37-43)

The good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.

The weeds are the people of the evil one.

The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

So we have the time this will take place—at the end of the age. The term "angels" means messengers, and can be spirits or human preachers.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.

We see that at the end of the age God will remove evil from His Kingdom. We must realize that many people who profess to be of Christ are not truly part of Christ's Kingdom. How can we identify them? By the fact that they enjoy and practice sinful behavior. They claim to be "saved by grace," but their actions tell us they are not actually saved from sin.

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.

First, everything that causes sin, that is, the power of sin. Christ will remove the power of sin from His Kingdom.

Second, all who do evil. As I said, this will not be the work of an instant. The reconciling of man to God and God to man has begun now and will continue until God is satisfied that it is time for the final Day of Judgment.

First, the removal of the power of sin from all those who are willing to cooperate with the Spirit of God as He helps us put to death the actions of our sinful nature.

Second, the removal of those people who refuse to participate in the work of redemption.

They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Those who love and practice sin. There are many such people in the Christian churches who are claiming to be "saved by grace," or that God sees them through Christ, or that salvation is unconditional, or that God's love is unconditional, or that God is too merciful to put people in Hell or in the Lake of Fire, will be thrown into the blazing furnace. Then these suffering people will scream in their agony, realizing that they have been deceived—sometimes by preachers who are seeking their own glory.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

These are not people who are righteous by imputation. They are righteous in their behavior. The world cannot see a testimony of ascribed righteousness based on our belief in Christ. The world wants to see honesty, truthfulness, mercy, kindness, gentleness, generosity, caring, helpfulness. This is the true light of the world.

"Rapturing" God's people into Heaven will not help the world one bit.

So we see that the time has come for God to begin to remove the sinful behavior from us. He has forgiven us totally. But that forgiveness will be removed if we do not continue to obey God.

The present concept that the Father loves us and accepts us even though we are disobedient will not stand the test of Scripture. Actually, we should know better than this.

We have known of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of us are becoming acquainted with the Spirit of God.

Now it is time to come to know the Father. Christ is not the way to Himself but the Way to the Father. We can come to know the Father only by strict obedience to Him.

The Kingdom of God is at hand, the Kingdom that will enforce God's will throughout the earth. Let each of us Christians repent of any area of our life in which we have not obeyed God, and turn now to receive the eternal life which God is offering to us through Jesus Christ.

The work of reconciliation is working throughout the Body of Christ. If we would perceive properly what God is doing, we must recognize that the program of redemption is taking place in the spirit world, where most of the Body of Christ is in the present hour. The members of the Body on earth are relatively few in number.

The New Testament speaks of the Bride of the Lamb being without blemish, and of the gifts and ministries of the Spirit operating until "we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ."

Again: "From him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."

It is obvious that on the basis of our physical death we are not removed from our membership in the universal Body of Christ. It is obvious also that the standard of perfection is not attained to in the present world, with the possible exception of a few fervent souls.

Perhaps we are going to have to revise our concept of what goes on after death. Certainly with dedicated disciples the program of redemption proceeds in full force until the desired perfection is attained to. And why shouldn't it? How else is the Lamb going to have a perfect Bride?

The idea that this perfection is attained to by imputation is unscriptural, unrealistic, and, in fact, ridiculous.

What good to the Lamb is a bride who remains a forgiven, self-willed sinner, as is the case with numerous believers today?

Peter writes concerning the members of the Body in the spirit world:

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)

The concept that redemption occurs in the spirit world may be new to some of us. However, we need to give this idea serious thought. It is possible that in the fairly new future there are going to be many deaths in the United States. We are well advised to take a more scriptural, reasonable view of life in the spirit world, than is true of the "mansion" concept heralded so widely today.

If we are to survive throughout the coming chaos in America, and help others to survive, we will have to learn to be citizens of two worlds—of the present world on the earth, and also of the spirit world, which is a much more real and lasting environment.

If people are to be reconciled to God, a very long period of time will be required, not the relatively few moments of our "shadow" career on the earth

By the way, I am not speaking of ultimate reconciliation in which every person born on the earth is saved to the new world of righteousness. Unfortunately, some people will continue to defy God's will. They shall be incarcerated for eternity, becoming ever more a part of Satan as the ages roll on.

Because life and redemption continue after death, God will shake the heavens and the earth.

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." (Hebrews 12:26)

Daniel also speaks of the host of Heaven being cast down to the earth:

It (probably Antichrist) grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. Daniel 8:10)

The tail of the dragon will pull down many who had thought themselves secure in Heaven:

Its (the dragon's) tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. (Revelation 12:4)

It entirely is possible for someone more diligent than we to take our crown of life and authority. We need to keep this in mind and increase our diligence.

Now, what is it that makes the inhabitants of Heaven vulnerable to the shaking? It is self-will. How many Christian pass into the spirit world whose will never has been crucified? They had been forgiven, possibly filled with the Spirit, may have worked miracles in the name of Jesus, but still retained their will. They may be termed "Christian" but in their heart they are a rebel against God's will.

Notice this fact in the following verse:

Because of rebellion, the LORD's people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:12)

"Because of rebellion"! From the days of Adam and Eve, mankind has chosen to live its own life. The idea that we are to walk humbly with God, always seeking to know His will and to perform it in every aspect of our being and behavior, is not acceptable to most people—even Christian people.

Yet, the only acceptable individual, the person reconciled to God, is the man or woman, boy or girl, who gives over his or her life so that the will of Christ is done in the smallest detail.

Why the crucified-risen life is not preached more often I do not know. But it is a fact that this is the way of the Kingdom of God, and nothing—absolutely nothing—else is acceptable.

And so, as I have said, the program of reconciliation to God will continue until every person whom God is willing to accept as a citizen of the new world of righteousness rejoices at the thought of being totally obedient to Christ, and through Christ to God.

To be forgiven but not delivered from the sinful nature will never satisfy God or us.

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The Importance of Entering the Rest of God

2011-10-16

I have not heard much preaching about the "rest" of God. Have you? And yet there is no question that the Book of Hebrews, with its admonitions about backsliding, is pointing toward the importance of this goal. The goal of the Christian salvation is not eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven. The true and scriptural goal of our salvation is the rest of God.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

Short of precisely what?

In the beginning God created all people, things, and circumstances from that time through to beyond the new heaven and earth reign of Christ and His saints. In the mind of God, all of this creation was finished. Then, His plan having been completed in vision, God rested. Now God watches over His Word to perform it.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews shows that Canaan, the land of promise, was not the rest of God, the fulfillment of God's vision. If Canaan were the promised rest, then God would not have spoken concerning a future day.

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world (Hebrews 4:3)

We see that belief, and the obedience that springs from that belief, are necessary if we are to enter God's rest.

To sum up: God finished all His work in a timeless vision, from the installation of light all the way through to the ages that shall follow the coming down from through the new sky to rest for eternity upon the new earth.

Having finished all this in vision, God is resting. God has held before us, in His Word, the prospect of entering the rest into which God Himself entered on the seventh day.

We are informed that going across the Jordan into Canaan does not mean we are entering God's rest. The fulfillment is yet in the future. There remains a rest for the people of God.

To enter the rest of God is to cease from our own works and seek to become and do what God has spoken concerning us as an individual. We know from Paul's writing that there are those who have been chosen from the beginning of time to be the brothers of Jesus Christ. These are God's elect.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:28,29)

The idea is that we are to cease from our own plans and ambitions and pray continually to know what Jesus is saying to us.

Such is the eternal Sabbath, of which the seventh-day Sabbath was a foreshadow. The Lord Jesus always lives, moves, and has His being in the eternal Sabbath. He thinks nothing, says nothing, does nothing, apart from the Father. Jesus lives by, from, and because of the Father. Absolutely nothing that Jesus is or does is not part of the Father.

This is the rest of God to which we are to aspire.

The Jews whom the writer of the Book of Hebrews was addressing were seasoned Christians. They had experienced persecution. They were beyond where most of us are today, in that the writer viewed the doctrine of eternal judgment as being elementary. Most of us of today have never even heard of the doctrine of eternal judgment. These believers had tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come.

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)

However, having attained to such areas of salvation, they had ceased pressing into the Lord Jesus. They were not like the Apostle Paul, striving to attain to the early resurrection from among the dead.

It may be noted that those who do attain to the first resurrection have been "beheaded." This may signify that they have abandoned their own thinking and planning that they might enter the eternal rest in one which lives by the Life of Jesus.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

Living by the Life of Jesus! This is our goal. This is the promised rest, in which we cease from our own works and do the Lord's will in every aspect of our life.

For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:10,11)

The main issue of living by the Life of Jesus, which is the Life of God Himself, is obedience. We constantly must be listening to Jesus to find out what we are to think, say, and do. This is true of every aspect of our life.

One of the members of our church said to me last Sunday, after I had preached on the hundredfold level of discipleship, "You are asking people to commit suicide."

That is half-true. Yes, we are to die to the old nature. But we also are to live in the resurrection Life of Jesus.

The highway that leads to remorse and destruction is wide and scenic. There is a multitude of people driving on it toward what they suppose is something like Disneyland.

The way of the cross looks forbidding, with its thorns and narrow, twisted paths. But it leads to fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

There is chaos approaching our nation. The only people who will be able to stand and help others are those who have died in the Lord and are living by His Life every day and every night.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write: 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)

I want to be one of those who live by listening to Jesus. How about you?

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The Father

2011-10-23

From what I have read of the history of the Christian Church it appears that in the early centuries there had been considerable discussion about Jesus Christ. Some were holding that Christ was half-man and half-God. Other were maintaining that Christ is totally God. Thus we have the Trinity, which, as I understand it, holds that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal in Divine Essence and may be regarded as one God.

The Wikipedia encyclopedia has this comment concerning the Trinity:

"The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial. Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of One."

However, they cannot be co-eternal. There had to be a point at which Christ came forth from God, which means the Father existed before Christ came forth from Him. When the Bible says, "In the beginning," it cannot possibly be referring to the Father. The Father is without beginning or end. But it could refer to the time that Christ came forth from the Father and the Father created all things through Him.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)

It is rather obvious that God is not the same as "his Son."

Again:

For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. (I Corinthians 15:27)

After being subjected to the doctrine of the Trinity, the ordinary church member, not being a theologian, would conclude that somehow, though no one seems to know exactly how, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three different people and yet one Person. It appears that in spite of the words of the New Testament, and the problem of viewing three People as one Person, the majority of Christian people are content with this paradox.

I do not understand why the doctrine of the Trinity should suddenly be called into question by people such as myself, when for hundreds of years it was held by devout, intelligent church leaders. But it is clear to me that if a believer takes the words of the New Testament as they are written, without resorting to a tortured explanation of why they do not mean what they state plainly, the doctrine of the Trinity is found to be unscriptural.

Let us begin by stating emphatically that when I am teaching that the venerable doctrine of the Trinity does not fit the statements of the New Testament, I am not subtracting from the Divinity, Glory, or Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made Christ God and Lord over all the works of God's hands.

Let me state also that I am not interested in novel interpretations of the Bible that do not lead to righteous behavior. However, there are two very practical reasons for looking into this commonly held belief. First, it makes us virtually unable to have a true sense of our heavenly Father. Also, it makes us virtually unable to have fellowship with Jesus as our Brother.

Having upheld the preeminence of the Lord Jesus in the creation of God, and advanced the reason for our investigation of a cherished belief, let us proceed.

If we would think about the relevant passages of the New Testament we would see at once that Jesus did not come to earth to bring mankind to Himself. It absolutely is true that if Christ is lifted He will draw all people to Himself. But Christ draws people to Himself that He might bring them to the Father. Jesus Christ is the Way of the Father, the Truth of the Father, and the Life of the Father—at one time in flesh and blood and now in glorified flesh and bone.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Way to the Father. We do Him no service, and, in fact, defeat His purpose, when we make Him the Father.

Jesus Christ is not the Father! Such a viewpoint is refuted by many passages of the New Testament. He brings us to the Father. He teaches us about the Father. The Father dwells in Christ in His Fullness.

It is true also that it is the will of the Father that we Christians be filled with all the Fullness of God; that we be one with God as our Lord is. The difference between Christ and us is not that He is both Human and Divine; we also are human and have been born of God and given the Divine Nature. If this were not the case, we could never be genuine brothers of the Lord Jesus.

We ourselves are being made the Word, the testimony of the Father in that we are being conformed to the image of Christ and filled with all the fullness of God.

Some have ventured that when Christ came to earth the Throne of God in Heaven was vacated. It is possible that one who would teach such a thing does not have a full concept of how great the Father is.

The Father fills all things. He did not move from Heaven to the earth. God is everywhere in Heaven and the earth at all times. After Christ demonstrated total obedience in Gethsemane, the Father has given to Christ to be everywhere and in all things at all times just as the Father is.

Christ overcame all the enemies that came against Him and now sits with the Father on the Father's Throne. To the believer who overcomes the pressures that come against him or her, Christ will give the right to sit with Christ on Christ's Throne.

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. (Revelation 3:21)

The differences between us and Jesus Christ are many. He is the Firstborn from the dead. None of us will ever be the firstborn of the dead.

He shed His blood as an atonement for our sins. We will never shed our blood for the atonement of anyone's sin.

It is the will of the Father that the entire creation be summed up Christ. This is not true of you or me.

Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church. This is not true of any of us.

We of the Church are His fullness. He is not our fullness.

We pray to the Father in Jesus' name. No one can pray to the Father in my name or your name.

No doubt there are many more differences, but I can't think of them right now. Perhaps you can. But I think I have mentioned enough to assure you that when I say the Father is not the same Person as Christ, that the Father is greater than Christ, you will not regard me as one who is in any manner diminishing the preeminence of Christ in all things.

Have you ever wondered about John 17:21-23? Have you ever really and truly taken these words of Christ at face value—as meaning precisely what they state?

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.

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. Does this mean what it states? Is it true that you and I may be in the Father and the Son just as the Father is in Christ and He is in the Father?

Here is a verse that 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)

We are to feed on the body and blood of Christ so that we may live by His Life just as He lives by the Father's life.

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. I think it is right at this point that people become confused. The Father is in Christ in His Fullness. We can say that Christ is the Father, in that sense. However, the same is true of you and me. If the Father is in Christ, and Christ is in us and One with us, and I do not believe that anyone who knows the New Testament would dispute that fact, then it is clear that the Godhead is being enlarged.

God is in Christ. Christ is in us. We are in Christ. Christ is in the Father. This is the wheel in the wheel mentioned in Ezekiel, I believe.

What troubles us is the idea that we are thinking of ourselves as God. This is all nonsense. None of us is God in the sense that the Father is God. The Father has made Christ, who came out from Himself, to be God. And so He is. Christ is God because the Father made Him God. Therefore we can pray to God the Father in Jesus' name, or we can pray to Jesus Himself. This is not because Jesus is the Father. It is because the Father has made Christ God.

If the Father is not greater than Christ, then Christ crying to His Father (and our Father) in Gethsemane, saying not My will but Yours be done, is just so much confusion. Where there are two wills there are two separate and distinct Persons, and in Gethsemane the Lesser is being obedient to the Greater.

Jesus loves to bring us to His Father. You can almost sense this in the following words:

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

Is the Father actually Jesus' God, as it says in the verse above? How then do we have three equal Gods?

The conclusion most believers have drawn from the doctrine of the Trinity is that Jesus and the Father actually are the same Person, although they play different roles somehow. Now look at John 20:17 and tell me that Jesus is the same Person as the Father only in a different role. Is this clear thinking? Is this a reasonable conclusion?

Do you remember that I said the doctrine of the Trinity makes it difficult if not impossible for us to relate to Jesus or the Father? However, in John 20:17 our relationship to Them is simple and clear. Jesus is our Brother, although greatly exalted. God is the Father of Jesus, and our Father as well. That makes us genuine brothers. And so we are, and we have eternity to grow into the likeness of our elder Brother.

God is our Father. Jesus is not our Father. The Holy Spirit is not our Father. The Father is not the Bridegroom of the Church, nor did He propitiate His own wrath by dying on the cross for our sins. That was not the Father on the cross. That was the Anointed Jesus who takes away the sin of the world.

The Holy Spirit is not the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The Church is not the Bride of the Holy Spirit. The Father is not our elder brother. The Holy Spirit is not our elder brother.

I am endeavoring to point out that there are three Persons in the Godhead, and they are not interchangeable. They are One just as we are one in Christ and the Father. But they are not the same Person. Each has a unique identity just as each of us has a unique identity. Yet we have lost our privacy, our right to be independent, by becoming one with each other in Christ in God. Can you see that? It is an essential understanding.

The Father is not the Servant of the Lord, of the forty-second chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Christ, Head and Body is the Servant of the Lord. The Lord is the Father, the one God. "Shema yisrael Adonai eloheynu Adonai echad." "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord."

Although I believe the Lord Jesus to be the Lord of the Prophets, He was so by the anointing of the one God. There is only one God; and Christ, the Anointed One, came from Heaven to reconcile us to God, not to Himself.

King David spoke: "The Lord said to my Lord." The first Lord is the Father. The second Lord is the Lord Jesus. Christ pointed this out.

Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory. (I Timothy 3:16)

The above passage obviously is referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Christ, known originally as the Word, who appeared in a body, not the Father. It was Christ who was vindicated by the Spirit and seen by angels. It was Christ who was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, and was taken up to Heaven in glory.

The only true God has no name. The Lord Jesus calls Him "Father," and reveals Him to the faithful. The true difference between Christianity and other religions is not a difference of religion, it is a difference of gods. There are not many roads to God. There is only the one Road. His name is Jesus Christ.

In their zeal to maintain the Divinity and supremacy of Jesus Christ, the theologians have "kicked Him upstairs," so to speak. We find it difficult to think of Him as our Brother. If you have been born of God, and Christ has been born of God, then you and He are true brothers.

If the Lord Jesus Christ is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father, then there are two Gods. One is not the son of the other. By all the standards of nature, a son is not the same person as his father in a different role or manifestation. Christ is His Father's Son and Heir, but He is not His own Father.

No human knows the Father, only Christ knows the Father, and the individual to whom Christ reveals the Father. Coming to know the Father is the "rest" of God, of which the Book of Hebrews speaks.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:27)

If the Father commits all things to Jesus, would that make the Father greater than Jesus? I think so.

If the Son chooses to reveal the Father to someone, does that mean Christ is revealing Himself to that person? I would find that difficult to believe.

The Book of Revelation was given to John by the Lord Jesus, who, in turn, received the vision from the Father. Does this suggest that there are three Gods equally in authority, as the doctrine of the Trinity states?

Jesus told the mother of James and John that He (Jesus) did not have the authority to place her two boys at His right and left hands. These positions are reserved for those chosen by the Father. Does that sound like there are three Gods equal in authority and knowledge?

Jesus Himself stated that the Father is greater than He, and always prayed to the Father in Heaven. Jesus did not pray to the Father within Himself but looked up to Heaven. When Jesus looked up to Heaven and prayed to His Father, I do not believe He was praying to Himself. Do you?

You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. (John 17:1-5)

Was Jesus praying to Himself?

The Apostle Paul described the Christ-filled life. Paul was living by the Life of Jesus, which is our goal. It is the rest of God to which we are to aspire.

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)

You know, Galatians 2:20 reminds me of the way in which Christ is related to the Father. It is true that Paul did not come forth from Christ, as the Word did from the Father. Nevertheless, Paul stated that he no longer was living but Christ was living in him. Christ could very well say that He no longer was living but the Father was thinking, speaking, and acting in Him.

It is right at this point that most people are confused, I think. Jesus said that He and His Father are one. But isn't Paul saying the same thing? Isn't he saying that he and Christ are one? Yet Christ is Christ, and Paul is Paul, and the Father is the Father; even though they are one in thought, word, and deed.

It is true, of course that the union of Christ and the Father is vastly superior to the union of Paul and Christ. Nevertheless, I do not believe that the difference is in kind. The union of Paul and Christ will approach the union of Christ and the Father as the eons of eternity proceed. How do you feel about that? Do you believe we will have a better union with Christ as time goes by, or are we doomed to remain flesh and blood animals?

The title of the present essay is "The Father." We have known Christ to a certain extent. We have known the Holy Spirit to a certain extent. I believe it is time now to come to know the Father.

What an incomparable blessing it is to begin to realize that God is our Father and we have been born of Him, just as He is the Father of our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus.

It is my point of view that theologians, as intelligent and devout as they are, have attempted to understand the Godhead by means of human reasoning. This simply cannot be done. The Father has to be revealed to us, as the Lord Jesus said.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:19-24)

Could anyone read these declarations by the Lord Jesus and not have a strong desire to know God as his or her Father? That is the way the words affect me!

I am going to make a few statements. Check and see if I have been true to the above six verses.

As we mature in the Lord we will begin to see Jesus, to experience His Presence in all that we are and do.

We will live because He lives. This is to say, no matter what Divine judgments fall on our country in the future because of abortion and other sins, we will continue to live because Jesus lives. We will be living by His Life, which is the "rest" of God.

On that Day, the time when all other idols have been removed from our life and the Lord alone is exalted, we will realize that Christ is in His Father, we are in Christ, and Christ is in us.

The believer who truly loves Christ is the one who has Christ's commands and obeys them. It is at this point that current preaching is in error. We are being taught that Divine grace is our alternative to keeping the commandments of Christ, and if we attempt to keep them we are trying to save ourselves by works. Could any doctrine be more destructive of God's will than that which teaches that grace is a substitute for obedience. The truth is, grace with its wisdom and power enables us to obey Christ.

Whoever shows his love for Christ by obeying His commands will be loved by the Father of Christ. Also, Christ will love him and reveal Himself to the obedient believer. Does this sound to you like Christ and the Father are the same Person?

If any person shows his love for Christ by obeying Christ's commands, the Father will love Him. The Father and the Son will come to that believer and make Their home with him.

The words that Christ spoke at this time were not His own, they came from the Father who sent Him.

Have I been true to the Father's words that were given through our Lord Jesus?

You can understand now why I am stating that the doctrine of the Trinity simply is not true to the New Testament.

However, my point is not to argue theology. Rather it is to give us a desire to know God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our elder Brother. We really have just started to know Christ, as the Apostle pointed out. We spend our entire discipleship coming to know Christ.

As we diligently seek Jesus, to know Him, guess what? We begin to realize that there is a Father in Heaven whom Jesus came to portray. Jesus introduces us to His Father, and this is the greatest of all joys to our Lord.

Just think! We have a Father in Heaven. Jesus enabled God to be reconciled to us and us to God by means of His death on the cross. Jesus was willing to spend three miserable years ministering in this cesspool, this valley of the shadow of death in which we strive to live, allowing God to speak and act through Him.

Now it is our turn to die to our own original nature that Christ might live in us and bring others to the knowledge of our heavenly Father.

We always ought to proclaim how wonderful Jesus is. But there is something even more needful than that. It is to do what He says. And what He says to us is to obey His commands in the Word, and also spend time each day listening to what He has to say to us personally. It is more important to Jesus that we obey Him in every aspect of our life than it is to proclaim His Lordship. Both are necessary, but obedience is better even than the sacrifice of praise.

To come to know the Father is a sublime undertaking. The most important aspect of coming to know the Father is obedience. We will love God as we come to know Him. But the supremely important characteristic of the Kingdom of God is the doing of God's will. We absolutely must do God's will in all areas of our life. Any part of our life that is not in obedience to God is an area of rebellion, stubbornness, and idolatry.

Knowing Jesus and His blood atonement is our necessary orientation to the Kingdom of God.

Knowing the Life of the Spirit is necessary if we are to overcome sin and minister our gift to the members of the Body of Christ.

Now it is time to know the Father. When we cry "Abba, Father," we are not speaking to the Lord Jesus but to our heavenly Father.

The purpose of redemption is not to bring us to Heaven. It is to bring us into the rest of God, into that state of being in which we dwell in the center of God's Person, performing His perfect and complete will at all times.

In view of the emotional reaction that often occurs when one questions the "rapture" doctrine or the Trinity, one could wonder if the enemy is entrenched in these two confusing, and sometimes destructive, concepts and does not wished to be dislodged.

I have written all this so you would want to know God in an even greater way than you do now. Please join with me as we make our journey to the heart of the Father. Jesus is the Way and the only Way to the Father. We have to overcome, by His power, so many distractions, pressures, and dangers that would prevent us from coming finally into the full Presence of our God and Father.

But we shall be victorious because our Lord Jesus has opened the way for us. We shall inherit all things of the new creation. Best of all, God will be our God and we shall be His sons and daughters.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

(Taken from "The Father," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson. Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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'Til I See You Again

2011-10-30

No doubt one of the most painful experiences of all is the death of a loved one. I do not know about the hope offered by other religions concerning the separation that occurs when a loved one dies, a child, wife, husband, or close friend. But I do know about the Christian hope, which without doubt is greater than that promised by any other religion.

A Christian reading my words may think, "Of course. When we die and go to Heaven we will see her or him again." However, that is not the hope offered by the New Testament. You may not believe this, but you can search the New Testament and see for yourself.

It is true that the Old Testament in several passages speaks of the Israelites, upon their death, being gathered to their people. Whether this means to their immediate family, or to members of the Jewish race, I do not know. I do read that Samuel told Saul that Saul and his sons would soon be with him (Samuel). Samuel said nothing about Saul going to Heaven to be with his loved ones.

"The LORD will hand over both Israel and you to the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The LORD will also hand over the army of Israel to the Philistines." (I Samuel 28:19)

The above verse certainly is different from our belief that when we die we will go to live in a mansion with a deceased loved one.

The one New Testament passage that deals with the sorrow of Christian people when a loved one dies is found in First Thessalonians. These verses are wrenched from their context and made to apply to a supposed "rapture" of all Christians to Heaven when Christ appears.

Actually, if we will examine the verses closely, we will discover that this is not at all what Paul is teaching. Rather Paul is seeking to comfort living Christians who had suffered the loss of a loved one. You see, the living Christians believed that the Kingdom was to come in their lifetime, and that the deceased relative or friend would not be able to enter the Kingdom.

The Christians in Thessalonica had never been taught about Heaven, or mansions, or going to Heaven to be with deceased relatives and friends. It is impossible to understand what Paul is saying if we do not understand the state of mind of Paul and the Thessalonian Christians.

Let us now take this passage apart and see how Paul is answering the concern of the Thessalonians about those who had surprised them by dying before the Lord returned. It will be noticed immediately that Heaven is not mentioned. Thus using the following passage to mean that Christians will be "raptured" to Heaven has no scriptural basis whatsoever.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

Immediately we see the purpose of these verses. It is to provide information about those loved ones who have died (fallen asleep). It is to give us hope so we do not grieve. Would you agree that this is Paul's purpose in writing these words? If so, you can see how farfetched it is to make this the "good news" of carrying Christians to Heaven so they will not experience pain at the hands of Antichrist or during the Great Tribulation. This teaching is ridiculous, to say the least!

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

Notice how Paul stresses the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul always emphasized the resurrection. He never stressed our going to Heaven as being the goal of redemption. In fact, Paul's goal was to attain to the resurrection from the dead, never to go to Heaven.

Paul did say he desired to be present with the Lord, and to die would be gain for him. But never did Paul emphasize going to Heaven as to a place. In fact, I have not found the expression "go to Heaven" in the Scriptures, although Elijah was caught up to Heaven in a whirlwind, I believe.

Now consider: "We believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." So the relief for the grieving Thessalonians is not that they will go to Heaven to see their loved one but that the loved one will return to earth along with all who have died in Jesus. So the passage is speaking of the coming of the Lord, not of the flight of Christian people to avoid trouble.

Consider also: "those who have fallen asleep in him." To fall asleep "in Jesus" means we have been abiding in Him. It is my personal opinion that most church members do not abide in Christ. To abide in Christ means we have learned to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus. Every thought, every word, and every action of ours is kept in His Presence. We are living by feeding on His body and blood, just as He lives by the Father.

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)

It has been reported that there are millions of Christians in America. I do not believe there are a million who live by the Life of Jesus, who abide in Him. In fact, I seriously doubt there are 100,000 such people. So to fall asleep in Jesus is not the experience of all people who attend Christian churches.

The idea that all who profess to be Christians, or all who at one point in their life have taken the "four steps of salvation," are prepared to be a king, judge, and priest when Jesus appears, and to work with Him in establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth, is fanciful to say the least.

The Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals clearly that there will be a "firstfruits" of the Church, a first resurrection. This was portrayed by David's rule over Judah and finally over all Israel. There are many expressions of the concept of the division of the Church into a Most Holy Place and then a Holy Place. Another evidence is the marriage of the Lamb at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, and then the marriage of the Lamb at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

If one were to study seriously the rank and file of Americans who profess to be Christians it would appear at once that only a small fraction of the whole group are prepared to be resurrected at the appearing of Jesus Christ and to serve with Him as kings, judges, and priests to compel the will of God on the earth.

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:26-29)

The whole Christian Church of Thyatira will not rule with Christ. Only those believers who have lived a victorious Christian life. By the way, can you imagine the nominal Christians of America governing the nations of the earth with an iron scepter? They do not have an iron scepter. The iron scepter is created in our personality as we overcome the numerous pressures that have been sent to harden us.

When Christ appears from Heaven, there will be a vast company of the righteous with Him, including the saints from the time of Abel. This great host, many of whom have been in the spirit world for thousands of years, will descend to the earth to regain their bodies from wherever those bodies, or parts of them, may be found.

Then they will stand on their feet, shining like great lanterns of glory. The Lord Jesus will remain in the air at that time. He has seized control of the thrones in the air from which Satan and his lords formerly governed the earth.

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15)

Now we can see clearly the concern of the believers in Thessalonica. They were worried that the relatively few members of the Body of Christ, who were living on the earth at the time of Christ's appearing, would precede or have some advantage over their deceased loved ones.

"Not so," exclaims Paul. "The living will not have any advantage over those who return with Jesus, in particular, those who have died (fallen asleep)."

It is interesting that Paul keeps mentioning "asleep" rather than dead. Do you remember how Jesus said the little girl was not dead but asleep? The body sleeps in anticipation of the resurrection. The inward nature does not sleep but is conscious in the spirit world, as we notice in the case of Samuel and Saul.

Can you see from the concern of the living Thessalonians that their hope was not that of going to Heaven to see their loved ones but of entering the Kingdom when it comes to the earth?

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. (I Thessalonians 4:16)

The above verse does not suggest a secret "rapture," does it? In fact, as the next chapter of First Thessalonians states, this is the historic Day of the Lord, the time when "every eye shall see him." The New Testament indicates clearly that there is only the one coming of Christ, the appearing of Christ.

The exception is the coming of Jesus in the Spirit to prepare His disciples to be the dwelling place of the Father and Christ. This account is found in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.

The fourteenth chapter of John is not speaking of the parousia, the coming of the Lord set forth in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, and referred to throughout the New Testament. Have you ever noticed that none of the parables of Jesus has to do with Heaven, only with the Kingdom of God?

Parousia, the Presence of the Lord, is used in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew when referring to the coming of the Lord. Parousia is used exclusively in First and Second Thessalonians when speaking of the Day of Christ, the coming of the Lord.

So here it is—the appearing of the King coming down from Heaven. There is a loud command, perhaps to His newly resurrected saints: "Come up here!"

There is the voice of Michael, the archangel: "The Kingdom of God is here! Repent and believe the good news! Make straight the way of the Lord!" Michael will have at his back the legions of heavenly warriors with their flashing spears; angels created for the specific purpose of fighting the wars of the King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

Then the trumpet call of God. This is the last trumpet, announcing that the kingdoms of the world have become the Kingdom of God and of His Christ.

Can you imagine what a spectacle this will be? The sound and fury of it all?Compare this with a secret "rapture" in which the frightened believers sneak away so they won't be hurt by Antichrist. It will be Antichrist himself who will be frightened in that Day.

"And the dead in Christ will rise first." I already have mentioned what it means to die in Christ. We will not die in Christ unless we have been abiding in Him, living by His Life.

Now let's think about one of the most important statements in the passage we are studying: "the dead in Christ will rise first," meaning probably prior to the catching up of the saints, or prior to the transformation of the living saints.

"Will rise." This does not mean ascend to Heaven. The Greek term is "resurrection." There is a very great difference between being resurrected and being caught up to be with the Lord.

The catching up of the saints to meet the Lord in the air has nothing to do with the operation of redemption. It merely is an example of the power of the world to come. The catching up is relatively insignificant, compared with the resurrection. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul saying, "That I might attain to the catching up"?

It is the resurrection that is of supreme importance. The resurrection is the final victory over Satan. We do not often hear preaching today about the need to attain to the resurrection; the fact that during our present life on the earth we are shaping the nature of our resurrection. Although seeking a better resurrection should be the major goal of our Christian experience, it hardly is mentioned except at funerals or on Easter morning. And even then it is referring to Christ's own resurrection.

To be ready for the first resurrection, that which will take place at the appearing of Christ from Heaven, we have to attain to the inner resurrection, the resurrection of our inner personality. We have to have been living by feeding on the body and blood of Christ. We feed on the body and blood of Christ by looking to Him for every thought we think, every word we speak, and every action we take.

To be resurrected, raised, at the appearing of Christ, in preparation for the donning of our house from Heaven, we have to possess a resurrected inner personality. Immortality is granted only to those who do the will of God. They shall live forever.

Immortality is not given to us on the basis of making a profession of faith in Christ but on the basis of doing the will of God.

The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)

We don't just do the will of God once by "accepting Christ." We are to do the will of God, after that initial acceptance, every moment of our life. It appears to me that numerous Christian people and their leaders do not understand this.

When I first became a Christian I was taught that it is impossible to do the will of God and that is why we are given grace. It took me a while before I was able to escape from that delusion.

It is the resurrection, the kind of resurrection we experience personally, that should be our prime concern. It was the Apostle Paul's supreme goal, it appears! When we are resurrected our newly raised flesh and bones will be clothed with a body presently laid up for us in Heaven. That body will reflect in itself the kind of person we have become as we have wrestled against the wickedness in the world.

There is alien sin that resides in our flesh. Then there is native sin that characterizes our spirit. The Spirit of God will point out to us all these areas of darkness as we pursue our discipleship. We are to resist sin with all of our determination and embrace righteousness. As we do, the resurrected inward nature takes shape as a result of the struggle. In this manner the rod of iron by which we will govern the nations is formed in us.

It is my point of view that this same struggle is going on among the saints in Heaven, who had not been taught previously that such is the operation of redemption, of conformation to the image of Jesus Christ. While the deceased saints do not have to wrestle against unclean spirits dwelling in their flesh, they still may have to choose to resist jealousy, hatred, unforgiveness, seeking preeminence, seeking to control other people, arrogance, pride, causing division.

Remember that sin originated in Heaven among the angels of God. Satan was overcome with a desire to take the place of God. Sin did not begin in the garden in Eden but in Heaven. Our going to Heaven does not mean we no longer can be disobedient to Jesus Christ or treat other people unjustly. There are numerous Christians who have died while filled with anger, unbelief, and unforgiveness.

These personality traits, if they are part of our spirit, are not removed when we no longer have a fleshly body. They are part of our personality and must be renounced and overcome at some point. Remember, when Christ confronted the man who had buried his talent, Christ did not attempt to correct his laziness and fear. Rather, Christ removed his talent, gave the talent to a more diligent person, and sent away the wicked servant into the outer darkness.

There is only one Body of Christ. A very small part of it is on the earth at any given time, but it is one body. The whole body is moving forward toward the perfect day. We all shall be made perfect together.

God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:40)

We all shall attain to the first resurrection together and receive that house from Heaven, that great weight of glory that has been fashioned from our personal daily crucifixion and resurrection.

The deceased who return with Jesus Christ will be resurrected before the catching up, as I stated previously.

Although the passage in First Thessalonians does not state this, it is implied that as soon as the returning saints have been resurrected and clothed with the body from Heaven, the saints alive on the earth at that time will be changed, as Paul said, "in the twinkling of an eye."

This does not mean, as some suppose, that the casual, immature Christians will be changed into the moral image of Christ in a moment. Some are hoping from this that there is no need for them to overcome sin and disobedience to Christ during their discipleship on the earth. But their hope is not founded in the Scripture.

Paul's words in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians signify, rather, that at the last trumpet blast, those believers upon the earth who have prepared themselves for the resurrection will be transformed outwardly by receiving their house from Heaven.

Here is something else to think about. Do you remember that Christ was raised on the third day, and then was on the earth for forty days before He was caught up? I am persuaded that the same will be true of us. We will be on the earth for a period of time, maybe forty days, before we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

If I am correct, this will be the greatest time of Christian fellowship ever to take place on the earth. Imagine that you have been in Heaven with the Lord, and now you are standing once more on the earth in a body which Antichrist or the Great Tribulation could never possibly harm.

Exactly how would you feel? What would you want to do? I will tell you what you would want to do. You immediately would want to see her or him who had died before the Lord appeared. You would want to be with your loved ones who also have participated in this most remarkable, most marvelous, experience any human being has ever had.

The separation is over now. The grief is gone forever.

But how about Jesus? Won't you want to see Him? Jesus will be everywhere. He will be with you and your loved ones, enjoying your happiness.

It may be true at that time of rejoicing you will be able to be with anyone you wish, just by thinking about that individual. This will be true of your family members, and of all others, including those you have read about in the Bible. Won't that be wonderful?

You are experiencing perfect victory! Now you have no more worry about the second resurrection. You have attained to the resurrection of the kings, judges, and priests who will govern the earth alongside our Lord Jesus. You now are His brother in a greater sense than ever before.

And you are with those whom you love so fervently—those who like you, by living victoriously in Christ, have attained to the early resurrection from the dead.

Perhaps you will want to visit loved ones, Christian or not, who did not attain to this early resurrection. Something like that happened before, after Jesus was resurrected.

The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. (Matthew 27:52,53)

When will you see your deceased loved ones? I cannot say for certain that you will see them when you die. But I certainly can say for certain that if you are abiding in Christ, and they died in Christ, you will see them on the earth when Christ appears from Heaven. That is your hope and my hope.

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:17)

Where will the Lord be? Not in Heaven but sitting on His rightful throne in the city of Jerusalem. From there He will send out His victorious saints to serve on the earth as kings, judges, and priests.

After we have been resurrected and have done what we desired to do on the earth, visiting with various people, just as was true of Jesus after He was resurrected, then all of us—those who have come with Jesus from Heaven and those who were alive on the earth at His appearing—will be "caught up."

The Greek term for "caught up" suggests force has been applied that lifts us from the earth against resistance. Who or what is doing the resisting I do not know. But in any case, the power of God Almighty is so great at this point that preventing this event is impossible. We simply cannot be held back.

Please notice that we "meet" the Lord, and that the meeting place is in the air, not in Heaven. Have you every met anyone at the airport? It is likely that you did not then get on the plane with them and fly somewhere. They were coming and you met them. Heaven is not mentioned. It is the "air" that is important, because it is from the air that Satan has controlled the events of the world.

In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2)

If change is to be made among earth's peoples, it has to be done from the air, where Satan's rule has been. This is why we meet Christ in the air.

We are caught up. Personally, I do not believe we will be hurried. It no doubt will be a majestic event accompanied by glorious music.

If we look down we will see the wicked who have been left behind, screaming and cursing, shaking their fists at the saints, now shining as great lights, ascending gracefully up into the clouds. But there is nothing whatever that evil spirits or evil people can do. This is the work of God!

Perhaps it would not be a good idea to look down. Remember Lot's wife!

When we arrive at the place where Satan's thrones had been, there we will see the mighty Christ on His great white Stallion. I have named that stallion, "Conqueror." Oh well, I would not argue with anyone about the name of Christ's war stallion.

And there are our horses. Those who have come with the Lord have spent numerous hours practicing for this event, learning to ride their stallions. Those who have newly arrived from the earth will be helped by angels, I believe. Also, these war stallions will be well trained.

All the members of the Body of Christ will mount up. Then terrific trumpet blasts, the shout for battle of Michael and his angels and also of the saints, and down through the clouds will hurtle the saints, who are judges; and the warrior angels, who do the fighting.

The King of all kings has arrived with His faithful warriors to assume control of the earth.

The Thessalonians who had been concerned about their loved ones entering the Kingdom will be riding next to them, shouting the heavenly war cries.

Woe to the wicked in those days, for the kings, judges, and priests have come with Christ. They will bring justice to the oppressed of the earth. As they are assigned their places of rulership, out from them will proceed the lifting of the curse. The natural splendor of nature will blossom forth.

Little children no longer will be abused. Babies no longer will be aborted. Animals will be treated with kindness and respect. Everyone who is willing to obey the saints will be helped to do the will of Christ. But the stubborn and disobedient will find themselves in difficult situations, in dry lands with all the rebels.

Life on the earth during our discipleship has been a probationary period that God might select and train His rulers and teachers. Now angels and people have seen the utter folly of following Satan and disobeying God. The lesson has occurred over 6,000 years. Hopefully it has been learned and never again will have to be repeated.

The light of the perfect day is near at hand. Let us prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord Jesus.

"And so we will be with the Lord forever."

Therefore encourage each other with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:18)

But now what about the reunion of those who do not know Christ, or who have been casual Christian church-attenders? We cannot say for sure. The New Testament appears to be addressed primarily to those who are genuine, cross-carrying disciples, the Lord's servants, His victorious saints.

As to people in the communities in the spirit world in various locations, I do not know what opportunities they have to be reunited with loved ones. The Scriptures have little to say about what happens after we die, especially about the people of the world.

It is clear that those who live and believe in Christ shall never die. Also, there shall be nations of saved people who are the inheritance of God's elect, His priesthood.

Outside of that fact, we can only speculate about the fate of those who are not part of Christ, or who have not addressed themselves to their discipleship as they should have.

It is my personal conviction that those who do not know Christ or who have neglected their salvation shall be judged at the final resurrection according to their works. Those whose names are in the Book of Life shall be brought forward to citizenship on the new earth. Those whose names are not in the Book of Life shall be put into the Lake of Fire.

Those who have behaved themselves in a decent manner have nothing to worry about; unless, of course, they wilfully and knowingly have rejected Christ when He is presented to them. I don't think this has been true of many people. Those who have behaved wickedly certainly do have something to worry about!

Although we cannot say more than this, we can count on two things, however. God is just and compassionate. Also, the Scriptures mean exactly what they say. They never can be changed—no, not one word can be changed in any manner whatever from now throughout eternity.

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The Drums of El Shaddai

2011-11-06

So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:16)

Today I feel like kicking back and reviewing thoughts that have gone through my mind over the last forty years. Did you ever feel like that? When I was recuperating from a broken femur, the Lord said to me, "rest, listen, reflect." I have been doing that ever since—resting, listening, and reflecting.

Having been a Christian for over 65 years, I seem to sense a difference in the nearness of the Lord. Maybe it is just the way I feel personally. But the Lord did say the last shall be first. So it may be a true that some of the great truths of the Kingdom are available to us today, along with the nearness of the Lord Jesus.

As I have been following the Lord, I have noticed so many doctrines and assumptions that simply are not scriptural. Heading up these unscriptural teachings may be the concepts of Dispensationalism. While I have neither the inclination nor the energy to waste time attacking fellow Christians, nor to calling into question their sincerity, the truth is the truth. The notion that the Christian salvation is some sort of parenthesis, different from God's past dealings with His elect, makes futile any attempt to understand the Bible.

Israel is not separate from the Church but is the Church. There is one new Man, consisting of Jews by race and Gentiles by race. All are one olive tree in Christ. What a horrid error it is to separate the Christian Church from Israel!

No doubt the greatest evil of Dispensationalism is that of placing in the hearts and minds of Christian believers that the abundant teaching of righteous behavior in the Old Testament, especially in the Book of Psalms, no longer applies to us. We are righteous by "grace," meaning that God is blind to our conduct.

I will say one thing: God is not blind to our conduct; neither does He overlook it. Dispensationalism does not produce saints (holy ones) except in a schizophrenic sense. We imagine we are righteous because God says we are righteous, not because we actually are righteous. What a horrid, destructive lie this is!

New-covenant grace means we can follow the Holy Spirit into righteous behavior rather than by obeying the Law of Moses. This is so obvious, when one considers the number of New Testament passages which tell us Christians that if we obey our sinful nature we will die spiritually, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

The above is clear, and yet intelligent, devout Bible teachers cannot perceive what is so apparent in the New Testament. One must conclude that the Spirit of God is giving us understanding that has not been true heretofore.

It is easy to understand Satan's purpose is deceiving us concerning the role of righteous behavior in the Christian redemption.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. (I John 3:6-8). Not to forgive the devil's work, I might add.

It is impossible for those believers who are continuing in known sin to have fellowship with God. I was taught when I was in Bible school that it is impossible to do God's will, and that we cannot overcome sin while living in the world. However, that idea is not found in the New Testament.

As far as creating a division between Israel and the Church, Satan understands very well that God's elect are one whole in Heaven and upon the earth, and they are going to remove His Kingdom from the earth when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven. Abraham, Moses, Paul, and Peter will be in that one army. It is the song of Moses and the Lamb.

I could go on and on pointing out the unscriptural traditions that are presented today as being the Christian Gospel. I have just cited two of the main errors. I suppose I have covered most of these other errors n my books, booklets, and single-concept essays. Most of these are presented free of charge in the WOR Book Library on the Internet. All of them are in the Kindle Library and are available to those who have compatible electronic readers.

Another currently preached error is that concerning eternal mansions in the spirit world as our goal. It may be true that the error of "making Heaven our home" has come into Christian thinking as the Catholic Church, in the early centuries, reached out to embrace other religions. I am not at all certain of this, but it is true that other religions present the spirit Paradise as our eternal goal.

In the nineteenth century another error appeared. It is that of the "rapture" of the believers to Heaven. The reason the rapture error is so destructive is that it leaves the believers unprepared for the evil days that are approaching the earth, especially America.

I have pointed out in previous essays, including the essay placed on the Pastor's Page of the WOR site of Sunday, October 30th, 2011, the explanation why I Thessalonians 4:13-18 absolutely has nothing whatever to do with a rapture, as the rapture currently is preached. This latest essay is on the Library Page of our Internet site, and also in the Kindle library. In addition, on the Audio Page of the site, one can hear me yelling at the congregation. I used to yell a lot, not so much any more.

This essay I named, "Til I See You Again."

To apply the passage in First Thessalonians, which was written to comfort grieving saints concerning their deceased loved ones, to a rapture into Heaven of casual Gentile church-attenders, is just too frustrating to me, if you know what I mean. It is like everyone teaching that the earth is flat. It is small wonder this elderly preacher yells!

Not only is the rapture teaching a fantasy concocted by the adamic nature that loves to avoid pain as much as possible, the entire concept of mansions in Heaven—a fantasy embraced by people who are finding life on the earth unpleasant. You will look in vain in the Bible for any description of mansions in Heaven.

But people say, "There will be no more pain, or death, or crying." That passage is in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation and is speaking of the saved people from the nations, not of the new Jerusalem, the glorified Church, the royal priesthood.

There is so much understanding being given in our day it is more than a person can do to embrace it all!

Now, in this essay, we are going to discuss Heaven, and the coming to earth of the Kingdom of God. The coming of the Kingdom and the appearing of the Lord Jesus is so close at hand that some of God's preachers are beginning to mention the Kingdom rather than how happy we will be Heaven doing nothing of interest to a vital person.

Let us first of all dispense with the notion of "mansions" in Heaven. The concept of mansions comes from a misunderstanding of the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, particularly of the Greek term monai in the second verse.

No current translation with which I am familiar translates monai as "mansions." It is the same Greek noun used in John 14:23 as "abode"; and in the next chapter, in verbal form, as "abide."

So even if people with near-death or after-death experiences talk about seeing beautiful houses in Heaven, they have no basis for their vision in the New Testament. I am not saying they did not actually have such a vision. God usually speaks to us according to our experience and understanding.

Speaking of near-death experiences, my favorite is the Visions of Heaven, by Daisy Dryden. Daisy, the daughter of a Methodist minister, lay dying at the age of ten. She is buried in Stockton, California.

You can get the book at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Visions-Heaven-Seen-Daisy-Dryden/dp/B001Z38Y72

Maybe Osterhus Publishing Company in Minneapolis still carries it.

When asked about "mansions," this is what Daisy said: "Mansions; that means houses. I don't see real houses there, but there is what would be places to meet each other in. Allie (her deceased brother with whom she communicated while she was dying) speaks of going to such and such a place, but he says nothing of houses." (page 11).

I do not recommend deriving truth from the testimonies of dying children, but I have great faith in Daisy's vision, after reading the background

I myself, after all these years, am gaining some insight into the spirit world. The angels I "see" do not have wings. I seem to perceive houses in communities in which people live, but they are not mansions.

God's elect live in the new Jerusalem; and while I think there are some kind of apartments there in which people may have a chance to be alone, by far the central aspect of the city is the Throne of God and of the Lamb, and all the elders worshiping round about.

As far as I can tell, the holy city is very large (the Bible says it is a cube 14,000 miles on a side) and there are spacious areas of paradisiacal surroundings in which people walk about in love, joy, and peace. (I have attempted to describe what I think I see, in my book, Godwill Castle.) But I perceive no evidence of the mansions sometimes described by people who have had near-death or after-death experiences.

In a previous essay, "Til I See You Again," I have set forth the idea that when the resurrected and also transformed (if they were alive at that time on the earth) believers are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, they immediately take their place on the white war stallions.

Then the two armies, the saints and the angels, led by the Lord Jesus Christ on His giant war stallion, come thundering down through the clouds to their staging area on the dried-up bed of the Euphrates River. These are the "kings from the east," mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They come from the rising of the sun to install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Hallelujah! Spears glittering in the sun! Swords flashing! The war stallions snorting for the battle, swallowing up the ground in their rage! The shields with the ramping lion! Crush the enemy! Oh, glory!

But what is this about a slain Lamb and about little children overcoming the enemy?

Four nights ago I was reclining comfortably in bed, reading Intra Muros, by Rebecca Ruter Springer, in which Rebecca recounts a protracted visit to Heaven after she died. It is a great testimony, and you would enjoy it. I had just finished Scenes Beyond the Grave, the visions of Marietta Davis; and Visions of Sadhu Sundar Singh of India.

My next book will be Return From Tomorrow, by George G. Ritchie, M.D.I believe all the texts I have mentioned are generally supported by Christian people. You can find them all by searching Google.

If you gathered from what I have just written that I am a devotee of near-death and after-death testimonies, you would be correct.

As I mentioned, four nights ago I was reclining comfortably in bed, prior to a season of resting, listening, and reflecting, reading Intra Muros. This book is fascinating, to say the least. But you know what? It dawned on me that this is quite unlike anything I am perceiving in my very limited awareness of the spirit world.

There is nothing in the testimony of Rebecca Springer about the army of the Lord; the Kingdom of God; the forming of Christ in us; the fire of judgment; overcoming sin; the conflict of the ages; or any of the other topics so dear to me. We all are good happy people rejoicing in our rarely beautiful mansions.

You can tell I love the "drums of El Shaddai."

So I put Intra Muros down and looked up to the Lord. I said, "Okay, what's going on? Am I incorrect in what I perceive? Is my new awareness of the spirit world a delusion?"

If Rebecca's experience actually is what Heaven is like, then most of the Christians in the world are viewing death and Heaven correctly. But if I am correct, with the conflict of the ages and the drums of El Shaddai, then Rebecca was deluded. But I don't believe that. I think the Dispensationlists are deluded, but not Rebecca Ruter Springer.

In my book Godwill Castle I describe the preparation for the invasion of the earth. We had a parade. (All of this in the spirit world.) Christ, with a huge angel on each side, is on His giant war stallion (whom I named "Conqueror").

"I looked to the Lord immediately. Jesus said, 'I want you to help organize the parade. I will ride in front. After me will be my chief nobles and counselors. Then will march the victorious saints, those who overcame Satan during their lifetime on the earth. There will be a brigade added when the Day of the Lord comes. I will tell you about that later. It will march behind the victorious saints.

"Next will come the child drummers, and then all the children on their white stallions, beginning with the smallest boys and girls. Behind them are to ride the officers on their white stallions.

"The six captains will ride behind the officers. These will be followed by trumpeters, then the angel drum corps, and then Michael, then Akim, Michael's marshal and the marshal's angels.'"

I took the above from Godwill Castle. The angels all have swords, including the two giant angels riding next to Jesus at the head of the parade. Jesus is riding His huge white war stallion, Conqueror.

The children and the victorious saints are carrying a Bible. Many banners are on display in the parade glorifying the Lamb and announcing the coming of His Kingdom. You will have to read Godwill Castle to get more details, and also to find out why small children are in this parade.

Well, the trumpet blasts started and the drum rolls began, all perfectly synchronized from the beginning of the parade to the end. And here's the thing that started the wheels rolling in my head, as I reclined with IntraMuros in my lap. With Christ leading the parade, we traveled through all the parts of the spirit world.

The spirit world is far, far larger than we have any idea. All the dead from the beginning of time are there. Almost all of them are living in the Land of Light. We did not go into the Land of Darkness, where Hell, people chained to stakes, people sporting about in the Devil's Playground, and so forth are located. I am glad for that, because I "saw" these areas in my new awareness of the spirit realm and I would just as soon never visit them again.

While our parade was continuing we saw neighborhoods of every different culture and every historical era. There were people living in grass-covered shacks, modern African cities, Scandinavia, South America, every possible culture and period of history. They all are there in their native dress. As far as I can tell, the white robes are only for the members of the royal priesthood in the new Jerusalem.

It is my point of view that when the saved people from the nations begin to populate the new earth they will be dressed pretty much alike, racial distinctions by this time having disappeared. In Daisy Dryden's vision the people were dressed in a shining white garment. Maybe they were of God's elect. I kind of like ordinary clothing myself. Perhaps when we minister we are dressed in white, do you think?

As I just said, something started to click in my mind. Remember, I was puzzled why Intra Muros, without doubt a valid experience, was so different from what I am envisioning or what I even want! Perhaps you would enjoy an old folks home in the sky, but I like the drums of El Shaddai. The conflict of the ages.

This is what came to me, and I think it is the answer to the puzzle why Rebecca Springer and I are so far apart. It is this: most of the people in the spirit world were not in the parade. Only a small minority were being prepared to invade the earth and set up the Kingdom of God.

I had never thought of that. I pictured in Revelation, Chapter Nineteen, where Christ is shown descending to earth at the head of His two armies, the angels who do the fighting and the saints who do the judging, that all the saved people in Heaven will be descending with Christ.

I really know better than that. I have preached for years that the Christian Church will be divided for a period, with a small part being a firstfruits of the earth, as Revelation states, and the great majority having to be prepared during the thousand-year Kingdom Age—this being the purpose for the thousand years.

There are several types and incidents in the Bible reflecting the temporary division of the Church. For example, the partial rule of David over Judah, and finally over all Jerusalem. Notice that Christ took only Peter, James, and John with Him to the Mount of Transfiguration. This is the way the Kingdom is.

In fact, within Israel there were the people, the Levites, and then the descendants of Aaron. Some were closer to God than others, if that is the distinction. In any case, some were more holy than others according to God's determination.

So we have Israel, God's elect, divided into a firstfruits and then the remainder of Israel. Then there are the saved people from the nations of the earth who are the inheritance of the Body of Christ, of the royal priesthood. It sound like thirty, sixty, and a hundred, doesn't it?

Voila! I have my answer. Not everyone wants to hear the drums of El Shaddai. Some want to go to the old folks home in the sky. (I am being sarcastic now.) Actually, Rebecca's Heaven is a marvelous place, at least for a while; and probably is where most people go when they die.

But why don't I care for it? Why am I so gripped with iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father? Rebecca, bless her heart, never mentioned these.

And then a Scripture came to me: "The last shall be first." What do you mean, "first"? Knowing myself I do not believe it means better than everyone else. I think it means first to enter the Kingdom.

I have been preaching the Kingdom since I don't know when, while most others appear to be preaching grace-rapture-Heaven. What ails me that I am not interested in grace-rapture-Heaven? Why can't I join the group and be popular, can you answer me that? How come I can't be "nice"? Why am I yelling at the people all the time about preparing themselves to enter the Kingdom of God?

It wasn't my idea that the last should be first, which has resulted in me being a nuisance rather than an apostle!

Oh well, this is where we are. So what are we picturing now? Only the victorious saints are going to return with Jesus, be resurrected, and rise to meet Him in the air. Only those who through Christ have overcome the pressures that came against them throughout their lifetime are going to mount the white war stallions. Only those who lived in victory, singing, "Though none go with me, yet I will follow," will work alongside Jesus Christ in installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Only those who have a passion to do God's will; who are exceedingly troubled when the slightest cloud seems to come between them and the Lord; who have set aside their own thoughts, words, and actions that they might live by His thoughts, words, and actions; will be resurrected and rise to meet the Lord when He appears. Is this the truth? Is this how Rebecca and I are reconciled in our vision of the spirit world, of Heaven?

The saints who descend with Christ are kings, judges, and priests. Kings, judges, and priests. Now picture the typical casual American Christians. Kings, judges, and priests? These who see themselves as the future kings, judges, and priests, are jumping up and down next to their pews, preparing for the rapture. A better preparation would be to cease gossiping, turn away from their bitterness, and forgive those who have offended them.

Now we have opened up a can of peas, so to speak. Brother Thompson, you mean we are not going to be able to escape the Divine judgment on the horizon for America and the rest of the world, and elude Antichrist by flying up to the great Sunday-school picnic in Heaven?

You said it yourself better than I could. Thou sayest it.

Let's think for just a moment about the Church in Sardis—probably pretty large, since it had a reputation of being alive. Jesus said only a few were worthy to walk with Him in white. By being worthy Jesus meant living the victorious Christian life.

Now I ask you: How about the majority of the believers of the Church in Sardis? They will not descend with Christ in the Battle of Har Megedon,because those who appear with Christ will be robed in white. Even the angels will be robed in fine white linen. White means righteous behavior and a holy personality, not imputed righteousness and imputed holiness.

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)

But most of the members of the great Church in Sardis will not be in that army. Why not? They have not purchased white linen by pressing through to victory in Christ.

How about you and me? Are we dressed in white? Are the members of our church dressed in white? Are we eligible to be raised from the dead and glorified when our Lord appears from Heaven? Are we keeping our robe clean in the blood of the Lamb?

So we see that many who are last in time will be the first to enter the Kingdom of God. How do we know that? Because the message of the Kingdom has been lost since the first century, apparently. Christ did not come primarily to forgive our sins but to destroy the works of the devil, first in us, eventually throughout the world. The message of the Kingdom is being restored.

I may be mistaken, but I think forgiveness apart from deliverance has been the emphasis throughout the Christian Era. I hope I am mistaken in this.

Now, suddenly, we are not looking forward to making our eternal home in a mansion in Heaven; although we may be there temporarily while the Body of Christ, or at least a militant fraction of it, like David's mighty men, are being prepared to descend to the earth with Christ and establish the Kingdom of God, the doing of God's will, in the earth.

I believe I am not mistaken when saying we have been praying for this very thing in the Lord's prayer!

Now we are beginning to have faith for the answer to the prayer the Lord Jesus gave us. Yes, God's will shall be done on the earth as it is in Heaven. But not at the hand of the casual church-attenders who are far more excited about the allurements of the world than they are about entering the Kingdom of God.

I am interested in, and put to use in the Kingdom as well as I can, the developing electronic communication devices. I do not believe I could have written half as much as I have without a computer and a word processor. You may be reading these very words on an e-reader (electronic reader).

But I see what Satan is doing, at least with the young people in America. I think Satan is rejoicing in the proliferating of electronic devices. Their rate of improvement is phenomenal. Many, perhaps most young people, are heavily involved in the social programs, such as Myspace, as well as the use of cell phones, computer games, tablets, the Internet, and so forth. These all are widespread.

They are communication devices without precedent in history. But do you know what? While in some instances they may be profitably utilized in spreading God's Word, for the most part they are conveying worldly values. And worldly values in our day often are centered on sexual lust, although sometimes on money and violence as well.

But the biggest problem may be time and attention. The Bible commands us to buy the truth; to redeem the time; to meditate day and night in God's Word; to keep the Presence of Christ with us at all times, day and night.

Many if not most young people in the sophisticated nations are giving their valuable time and attention to the electronic devices. I have read in the newspaper of young people violently attacking their parents if some kind of controls on the social networking and electronic games and devices were attempted.

The rapid improvement of electronic devices may be the main problem in America concerning the entering of people, particularly young people, into the aspects of the Kingdom of God that are present in our day. Sin is increasing while grace is increasing.

Then there is the television. It probably is true that there are television antennas over the tents of the Bedouin in the Negev. We can't get along without the television, it appears. But I grew up before there was such an apparatus, and the boys and girls played outside.

The moral filth purveyed by television programming is beyond the scope of our comprehension. I remember when Pastor Einar Gislason of Iceland picked up the family television, took it back to the store, and roared, "There'll be no Gunsmoke in this house." Pastor Gislason was referring to an American program that actually was morally pure compared with today's moral garbage.

Einar told me that the Icelandic people used to read their Bibles during the long nights. Now they sit around and watch television.

What is pouring forth now is far, far worse than Gunsmoke. And this garbage is flowing from America out to the developing nations like a vast sewer trunk line polluting and filthifying (there is no such word, I made it up) the minds of children and young people everywhere in the world—the area where we want God's will to be done.

America may believe it is going to escape God's judgment, but our nation does not know the Lord—largely because the Christian people are not militantly righteous.

People, especially young people, who want to serve the Lord Jesus Christ will be well advised to put away their electronic games (and maybe social networking unless it is presenting Christian values) and begin to seek Christ with a fervent heart. There indeed are, sprinkled throughout the world, Christian young people who are valiant for Christ. Compared with them, many other young Christians have not even started on the road to discipleship.

We have to keep in mind, however, that the David Brainerd type of consecration is a calling from the Lord and we cannot force it on people.

To this point I have written more than I usually do in my essays. What do you think of all this? Can you see that so many church-attenders of our day cannot possibly lead the way into the Kingdom of God? They have not been taught to deny themselves, when Christ is asking them to; to take up their personal cross of deferred gratification; and to follow the Master in every thought, every word, and every deed. In scriptural terms, they are not genuine Christians.

I can hear the war drums of El Shaddai! Can you? The Kingdom of God is at hand. We are to repent and believe the Good News. The First Century Gospel is being repeated. The difference is, now the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth is much closer.

Our war cry is iron righteousness of behavior; fiery holiness of personality; and stern obedience to the Father. The cry of our heart is, "Your will be done in the earth as it today is done in Heaven."

What we are seeing on the earth is a rapid descent into Sodom and Gomorrah. Why is it we cannot learn from the fire on Sodom and Gomorrah God's attitude toward homosexual behavior? What has blinded us Christians that we cannot perceive that the grace-rapture-Heaven message will never build mature Christians? It may fill the church building, but it will not build holy warriors.

One mature saint who is living by the Life of Jesus, having set aside his or her own life, is a terror to Hell. Ten thousand casual pleasure-loving, rapture-believing, church-attenders are mildly amusing to Hell and to Satan. Will we ever wake up that we have been deceived with the modern unscriptural traditions?

Our goal is not to live forever in a nice mansion in Heaven, doing nothing of significance, chatting with the neighbors, complaining because there is no weather, wearing golden slippers so the golden street and our backyard full of diamonds do not hurt our feet. Our neighbor is a gossip, being righteous only by imputation. If the truth be told, he is self-seeking and lustful. You cannot trust him around your children.

But I am not supposed to say this because God sees him through Christ—he supposes.

Our true goal is twofold. It is to be in the moral image of Christ, that we may be His brothers; and to dwell in the very Center of God's holy Person and will at all times and in every circumstance. Then we are worthy to be clothed in the white robe of the royal priesthood and to work alongside our Lord in the establishing of God's Kingdom, God's will, on the earth.

Do not be terrified by them, for the LORD your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. Deuteronomy (7:21-24)

Oh, that is music to my ears—the drums of El Shaddai.

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A Place For You

2011-11-13

One of the biblical concepts well known to Christian people is that of "mansions" in Heaven. From this concept is derived a host of related ideas, such as golden streets, backyards full of diamonds, golden slippers, and harps. Such is our view of where we go when we die.

The "golden streets" portrayal is taken from the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation, referring to the new Jerusalem. Where the backyards full of diamonds and the golden slippers originated I am not certain. Most of us are not anxious to play a harp all day. I am a pianist myself. As for a great street of gold, that would be hard on the feet. I would prefer a dirt path. How do you feel about this.

It probably is true that the golden slippers, the street of gold, and a backyard filled with diamonds (I would prefer grass), came from the hope of poor people who were Christians. I notice God favors the poor and has prepared a kingdom for them.

However, poor or rich, material wealth would never satisfy us in Heaven any more than it does on earth. Have you ever noticed how happy rich people are? I heard a man, who himself was well-to-do, speak about how wealthy we will be in Heaven. This makes sense?

Anyway, what would we do with all our gold and diamonds since everything in the spirit world is free?

So our concept of Heaven is not realistic. As the Kingdom of God draws near to us we are beginning to see that the spirit world is much like the present world, inasmuch as the present world was fashioned from the spirit world. The difference is we will not, in the spirit world, be encumbered with a body that loves sin.

We must keep in mind, however, that since God abhors mixtures, we will be placed with people with the same type of personality we have. So if we are not happy with the idea of being placed with people like ourselves, we might give serious thought to becoming the kind of person we would like to be placed with.

The most important characteristic of the Kingdom of God is not gold and diamonds. It is relationships—love for God and love for people around us. We understand deep in ourselves that this is true, don't we. The gold and diamonds (not that they are worth anything in Heaven) will take care of themselves if we love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. Isn't that a fact?

The familiar "mansions" in Heaven are found in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, nowhere else in the entire Bible. The Bible does speak of being clothed with a house from Heaven (II Corinthians 5), but never of going to a mansion in Heaven.

The "house from Heaven" is a body of eternal life that will clothe us in the Day of Resurrection. This body will portray in itself the choices we have made while living on the earth. This is why Paul, in the same chapter, refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ. We will receive what we have practiced; not the result of things we have practiced, but the things themselves, according to the Scripture.

And we will receive them in the body that clothes us!

Quite a different thought from that of going to an ornate mansion in Paradise!

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2—NIV)

I believe the word "there" is not in the Greek Text. I think the New American Standard is more faithful to the original:

In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. ( John 14:2—NASB)

Not "I am going there"!

According to the NIV, Jesus is going to His Father's house, with the implication that the Father's house is Heaven. The Bible does not support the belief that the Father's house is Heaven. It is true that the Father is in Heaven, but so are many creatures that the Father has created.

We of today are in our own country. But that does not mean that the country is our house. God's dwelling place is the Lord Jesus Christ, not the part of the spirit world that we term "Heaven." Heaven is God's Throne, according to the Bible.

The word "there" really is of critical importance and slants the meaning.

The Lord did not say He was going to the Father's house. He said He was going to prepare a place for us, with the idea that we would be a dwelling place in the Father's House, which is Himself.

The idea that Christ is speaking of preparing a place for us in Himself is borne out in the subsequent verses in the fourteenth chapter, whereas the idea that Christ is speaking of our going to a mansion in Heaven is not borne out anywhere in the entire Bible, let alone the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.

In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2,3—NASB)

The word "for" (for I go to prepare a place) is of interest. The Lord is saying, "In Me, who am the Father's House, are many places in which to live. If this was not the case, I would have told you so, for I go to prepare a place for you." In other words, if I am to remain as the only room in the Father's house, I would have told you that. But now you are being invited to be a room in the great, eternal Temple of God, which is, Christ—Head and Body. I have told you this for I am going to prepare a place for you.

I believe as you read down in the fourteenth chapter of John you will find that my paraphrase fits precisely what Jesus told His disciples; whereas the idea of our going to an ornate building in Heaven has no connection with the verses that follow verse two.

Now, if the Lord Jesus is going somewhere to prepare a place for us in Himself, so that God's House is enlarged, exactly where was He going? Where did He go in order to prepare a place for us? First He went to the cross. Without the blood atonement made on the cross it would not be possible for God to dwell in us.

Then Christ ascended to Heaven. From there He sent down the Spirit of God to enable us to become an abiding place in the eternal House of God.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

The dwelling of God in us is made possible as we are born again, and the body and blood of Christ are given to us on a regular basis so that the Substance of Christ is formed in us. God will not dwell in our adamic nature, only in Christ who is formed in us. The Holy Spirit accomplishes all of this.

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)

The verse above is the crucial idea of John 14. Notice, "I will receive you to myself." We are so anxious to get rich that we do not hear the Lord's heart. Christ is desirous to receive us to Himself. I guess we have to walk with Christ for many years before we even begin to understand His love for us; His tremendous desire to have us be with Him and part of Him.

"That where I am." Not that where I will be after I go, but where I am right now. Well, where was Christ at that time? He was in God and God was, and always is, in Him. Where Christ is, always has been, and always shall be, at the right hand of God in Heaven.

The Lord went to the cross and then to Heaven that we might be with Him where He eternally is—at the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

The disciples did not understand what He was talking about. The Spirit of wisdom and revelation was not available to us until Christ sent down the Holy Spirit from Heaven.

I trust you understand the preceding words. Christ wants us to be with Him where He always is—at the right hand of the Father. He wants us to be with Him where He is right this minute.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

The passage above tells us of the only proper orientation to life of the Christian disciple. We have died with Christ on the cross. Now we have been raised with Christ. His prayer has been answered. We eternally are with Him where He is.

Lately I have spoken and written quite a bit about distractions. Satan has filled the United States with distractions. The idea is to set our minds, not on Christ at the right hand of God, but upon the commotions in the world. There are national and international politics. There are electronic communication devices. There are the opportunities for further education; for the perfection of a talent; for sexual lust; for entertainment and luxury.

People old and young have numerous opportunities to fret about or to indulge themselves in the various elements of the American culture. I have not seen many church-attenders who are neither raging about our national politics or international events, nor participating in the material advantages of America.

Satan is employing these distractions to tear our mind down from Christ and focus our attention on the antics of Satan in the earth. He is very successful at this in America because we are soft. We have not suffered enough to free us from the bondages of sin.

Christ's intention is to make a place for us in Himself that we always might be with Him. Our task is to have the sentence of death in ourselves that we might trust in God and not become so involved in the things and events that surround us at every hand that we do not practice the Presence of Christ.

Kings, judges, and priests of the Kingdom of God are being fashioned in our day. It would be a shame if some of us become preoccupied with the American materialistic culture and miss this one chance of entering first into the Kingdom of God. The opportunity is present now. Sin is abounding. Divine grace is much more abounding. It is our responsibility to flee from the things of the world and embrace the grace of God coming to us from Heaven.

If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:3)

I do not believe His coming mentioned here is the same as His visible return to the earth when every eye will see Him. Rather, if we look down in this same fourteenth chapter we see what Christ is referring to.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

The verse above is of great significance. It is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. It is the Omega of redemption, the fullness of salvation, of redemption. It explains John 14:2.

Notice that the Greek term moneen, translated "home" above, is the same word (monai) translated "mansions," in John 14:2. To the best of my knowledge, this noun is not used elsewhere in the Book of John.

So by the Greek term that means "home," or "abiding place," we tie together John 14:2-23.

In more than one place Jesus told us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. The current teaching of "grace," as an alternative to keeping Jesus' commandments, works against our becoming a room in the house of the Father. It works against our being with Christ where He is. Today's teaching of "grace" may be the most destructive heresy ever to enter Christian thinking.

Notice that if we are to experience the Father's love and be His children, we have to obey the commandments of Christ.

We will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Who are "We"? We are the Father and the Son, obviously. So much for the confusing doctrine of the Trinity, which leaves the impression that Christ is another form of the Father, in that there actually is one Person. The truth is, the reason Christ is another form of the Father is that the Father dwells in Him; just as we are another form of Christ when we attain to the full measure of Christ.

Eve was another form of Adam in that she was made from him. God called their name, "Adam."

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (Genesis 5:2—KJV)

Christ is another form of God in that He was made from God, having come out from God. We are another form of Christ in that we are being made from Him by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

The Father and the Son are of the same Image, just as we will be of that same Image when we have grown to maturity in Christ. Christ is in the image of the Father; and man is destined to be in the image of God. This is the goal we are moving toward.

"Our home with him." Our mansion with him. You know, when the Lord told us to pray "Our Father who are in Heaven," I think the "our is referring to Him and us. In another place the resurrected Jesus said, "I ascend to My Father and your Father." If there is anything more wonderful than that I don't know about it.

"You know the way to the place where I am going." (John 14:4—NIV)

Again I am going to have to resort to the New American Standard:

"And you know the way where I am going." (John 14:4—NASB)

The New International Version insists that Jesus is speaking of going to a "place," that is to Heaven. But notice the difference in the NASB. As far as I can see, the NASB is faithfully following the original.

Compare: "you know the way to the place"; with "you know the way."

It appears that the NIV is endeavoring to show that Christ is telling us about mansions in Heaven. But I cannot see this emphasis on "to the place" in the original text.

I believe the following verse give us a better picture of what Christ is speaking of:

Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:5,6)

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." "To the Father"!

One time when teaching a class in India, I pointed out that our destination is not Heaven, but the Father. Heaven is a place. The Father is a Person. Quite a difference, wouldn't you say?

A student spoke up and said, "That is not true. Jesus is the way to Heaven." The young man was almost hostile, as I remember. The thought was, "I don't care what the Bible says, Jesus is the way to Heaven."

This shows us how deeply entrenched the current traditions are.

No, Jesus is not the way to Heaven. Jesus is the Way to the Father. It is the Father who is our Goal, our Destiny. In fact, Jesus did not come to earth to point toward Himself, although if He is lifted up He will draw all men to Himself. Christ draws men to Himself so that in turn He may reveal the Father to them.

It is my personal opinion that in the day in which we live, the Father will become much more real to those who fervently are following Christ.

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:27)

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

The Lord Jesus Himself is the Way. It is not that He tells us the way to the Father, He Himself is the Way. There is no manner in which to come to know the Father except as Christ Himself is formed in us.

"Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." (John 14:19-21)

On the day that we are living by the Life of Jesus, on that Day we will realize that He is in His Father and we are in Christ and Christ is in us. This is how we become acquainted with the Father. It is by becoming filled with Christ and living by His Life. Then the Father will make His home in us. In this manner Jesus is the Way to the Father.

There are religions that are strange to us entering the United States in our day. No matter what the other religions claim, or what god they worship, if you are a Christian be assured that no human being comes to the true God except as Christ is formed in him. There is no other way to God, no other road to God, in spite of what the popular sentiment proclaims.

It seems to me that in the day in which we are living, Christ is coming to those who are looking for Him and making Himself known to them. He is coming to take away our sins and prepare us for His coming with the Father as they make Their home in us. It is a real experience that we are to look forward to.

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27,28)

I do not believe this is the second coming of Christ to the world but, as it say, to "those who are waiting for Him." That certainly is not the world!

Of special importance, I believe, is the expression "to take away the sins." Forgiving the guilt of our sins, and taking away our sins, are two different acts. We know Christ is able to forgive the sins of lying and stealing. But taking away the doing of them is a different matter.

Putting this thought together with what we have stated previously, I think we are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of the Blowing of Trumpets. This observance immediately follows the feast of Pentecost. This tells me that after we have been filled with the Spirit, the next step of redemption we can look forward to is the King coming to proclaim war against His enemies, beginning with His enemies in those who are closest to Him.

After the Blowing of Trumpets is the greatest day of the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement. This indicates that after we are filled with the Spirit of God, Christ will approach us and point out our sins. Then the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, will guide and enable us as we endeavor to confess what is pointed out to us, denouncing and renouncing our sins, and through the Lord's help turning away from them with all the strength we have.

Since the pattern of the last three feasts, the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles, suggests a coming of the Lord to cleanse the Temple of God, making way for God to settle down to rest in us, we need to be aware that the day in which we are living may see steps in the plan of redemption that are new to us.

It was this way at the beginning of the twentieth century when speaking in tongues was introduced to the churches.

A further thought is that Christ was crucified on the Passover; was in the grave during the celebration of Unleavened Bread, and rose from the dead at the time of the festival of Firstfruits. Then the Holy Spirit fell from Heaven on the very day of the observance of Pentecost. These facts suggest that the last three of the seven ceremonies also may point toward definite steps in the plan of salvation.

The following two passages are of interest when we think of a coming of the Lord to those who are looking for Him, not His visible coming to the world.

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. (Psalms 24:7,8)

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. (Revelation 3:20)

I think such an entrance and cleansing has begun and will continue until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, commonly known as the Millennium.

To begin with, the Firstfruits of the Church (Revelation 14) must be totally cleansed, in preparation for the entrance of the Father and the Son into them. Only then are they qualified and prepared to work with Christ in installing the Kingdom of God upon the earth. They stand on Mount Zion, ready to appear with Christ.

Next, the balance of the Church must be totally cleansed in preparation for their descent to the earth as the holy city, the new Jerusalem. This is the Tabernacle of God that will come down from Heaven to dwell for eternity on the gigantic new earth.

Then out from the Church, the Tabernacle of God, will proceed saints whose task it will be to cleanse those of the nations whom God has seen fit to make citizens of the new earth. Those who obey the saints will be permitted to be eternally refreshed and healed by eating from the trees of life that border the River of Life.

Those who refuse will not have that opportunity of refreshing and healing. What their end will be I cannot tell from the Scriptures, except that they will dwell in a dry land; perhaps in the Land of Darkness, which is part of the spirit world.

If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. (Zechariah 14:17)

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)

Here is the fulfillment of the saying, "Many who are last shall be first."

We of today are the last in time. Yet in our day we can be the first to confess and turn away from our sins, in fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement, the Day of Reconciliation we might say. Then the Father and the Son will enter us in fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. Now the Lord Jesus Christ can appear from Heaven with His firstfruits and destroy Antichrist, who causes the rebellious spirit of the world.

Let us make certain we do not miss the day of our visitation by being distracted with the relationships, circumstances, and things of our day that would prevent our giving enough time and attention to move ahead with Christ into the Kingdom of God.

The Lord Jesus stated that He is the Truth of the Father. He Himself is Truth. Truth is a Person, not the accumulation of the findings of science. Science can tell us about weight, color, size, density, malleability, and so forth, as well as cause and effect. But the Lord Jesus, Himself being the Truth, is the only Person who can tell us how and why something came into existence.

By being formed into His image, and dwelling with Him in the Center of the Father's Person and will, we ourselves are becoming the Truth of God, the Word of God, the testimony of God's Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Christ. We are being made the light of the world as we become an integral part of Christ.

The Lord Jesus is the Life of the Father. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. Our task is to learn to live by His Life in our thinking, speaking, and acting. We learn to live by His Life by continually looking to Him for all we think, speak, and do. As we practice the Presence of Christ in this manner, it becomes more and more true of us that we actually are living by His Life.

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)

"Lord, we do not know where you are going. How then can we know the way?" "I am the Way. I Myself am the Way. I Am."

If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. (John 14:7)

It is this kind of statement that forms the basis for the concept of the Trinity. If there were no conflicting passages we would agree that the Father and Jesus Christ are the same Person.

However there are conflicting passages:

You heard me say, I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. (John 14:31)

The idea is that the Father dwells in Christ to such an extent that Christ in truth can say, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

It may be that scholars have a way of reasoning that in spite of such statements as the ones above, Christ really is the Father. It was the Father who was the Baby in Bethlehem. It was the Father who cried out in Gethsemane, "Not My will but Yours be done. Who "yours" would be in this instance is difficult to determine.

No doubt the idea of the Trinity came about as scholars sought to insure that we would understand that Christ is Divine in Substance. And He most certainly is. Furthermore, God has given Him all authority in Heaven and upon the earth.

But to make Christ a Person equal with the Father, co-eternal with the Father, is to go beyond the plain sense of the Scriptures. Whenever people go beyond the plain sense of the Scriptures they have an agenda that is distorting their reasoning.

In their attempt to portray the supremacy of Christ they have done Him a disservice. He came to earth to reveal the Father, not Himself. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Prophet of God, the Priest of God, the Servant of the Lord, of Isaiah 42.

But even more significant than those exalted positions, Christ is the Firstborn of many brothers. These brothers were born of flesh and blood and then were born of the Father. They truly are the brothers of Christ, although in many aspects Christ is unique.

The problem is, we cannot relate to Christ as to our elder Brother when we think of Him in a mystical Oneness with God the Father. The concept of the Trinity makes Christ unapproachable to His brothers, the brothers that His Father has given to Him. If I know anything about our Lord, making Himself unapproachable to His brothers would be unacceptable to Him, to say the least.

Christ is our elder Brother and He delight in this. He ascended to His Father and our Father; to His God and our God. That Christ actually is our elder Brother may not mean a great deal to us in the present hour, but you can be sure that it means a great deal to Him. I think this will be more clear to us as time goes on.

Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:8,9)

Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. Sometimes we hear people say about a man, "He is the image of his father." We don't mean the man is his father, we mean that the man is so much like his father in appearance and actions that seeing him is just like seeing his father.

On one occasion a pastor, who is firmly committed to the idea that Christ and the Father are one person in different forms, or three equal persons, asked me how I would explain the relationship between the Father and Jesus Christ. I said, "Christ is God's Son." The pastor laughed at the simplicity of it all. My remark seemed to stop the conversation.

I don't believe I changed his mind, however.

Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14:10)

It is obvious if Christ is in the Father, and the Father is in Him, and the words Christ speaks are not His own but the words of the Father, then They are two different Persons. Later on, in the seventeenth chapter of John, Christ says we are to be one in Him as He is in the Father.

Now think: if we are to be one in Christ as He is in the Father, does that make us Christ? Are we then the same Person as Christ? Was the Apostle Paul the same person as Christ when he said he wasn't living but Christ was living in him? No indeed! The Father is the Father. Christ is Christ. Paul is Paul. You are you. I am me. This is true even though we have been invited to be one in Christ as He is One in God.

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)

For the life of me, I do not see how it could be more clear. God is in Christ who is in us who are in Christ who is in God. It reminds me of the wheel in the wheel found in the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. It is one Divine whole.

I see no reason to stumble over this. When we are born again we were made a partaker of the Divine Nature. We were not at that time born again only of flesh and blood but also of God. It seems clear to me that God is enlarging Himself. Of course we still are a flesh and blood human. But flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of God. We have to be made of God in our inner nature, and then, in the Day of Resurrection, made of God in our outer body. It is a transcendent humanity.

So if God decides to increase His incarnation, that is His business. Our unbelief or false humility cannot change what God does.

I think we need to understand that the Bible is like a gigantic granite rock. It cannot be changed in any manner. It will stand for eternity as written. No matter how human beings increase in pride, falling in love with themselves. the Word of God shall stand forever. I realize that fact more every day of my life. We are being created an integral part of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the end of the matter.

"It is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work." That is why Jesus claimed that whoever saw Him was seeing the Father. It was not that Jesus is the Father, it was that He had set aside His own Life that God might express Himself to the world. In like manner we are to set aside our own life, that Christ might express Himself to the world.

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

I ran across the above verse while I was in Bible school. I have never done greater works than Christ, nor have I seen anyone else do greater works than Christ. I even researched the Greek term for "greater" to make sure it really meant "greater." It does.

But I have never given up hope of seeing the greater works done in the name of Jesus Christ. A great part of our world contains people who believe in the Muslim religion, or the Hindu religion, or the Buddhist religion. I truly believe if Christ were to do His greater works among them through some faithful servant, these multitudes would believe He is the Son of the one true God.

But talking about the religion of Christianity is not going to do the job. The Kingdom of God is not in word but in power; and other religions will respect that power when they see it.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:13,14)

If I believe the words above to be true, that I can ask Jesus anything in His name He will do it, then why don't I ask for the greater works?

Believe me, I have. But I have been a disciple of Jesus for over 65 years and I know a little bit about how He works. It is one thing for me to ask Jesus if I can get out of the boat and walk on the water to come to Him. It is quite another matter for Him to say, "Come."

And so I wait.

We can make all the plans we want, but we have to wait for Him to say, "Come." If we do not, we are going to drown.

I don't want to drown, do you? But I sure would like to walk on the water. Maybe you and I will do that some day and even perform the greater works.

But we have to wait for our elder Brother to say, "Come."

After we die we are going to go to a place so much better than mansions and backyards full of diamonds that there is no comparison. How would you like to sit in you mansion and praise God for eternity that He saved you by His grace?

I don't know what you imagine, but unless you are totally different from me you would not be happy doing nothing while the endless ages roll on.

I think rather you will find yourself doing what you enjoy, surrounded by people whom you love. You will have forever to do those tasks for which you were created, without having to worry about money. You see, they do not use money in the spirit world.

If you are a composer, you will have forever to bring forth what is in your spirit. If you are a writer, you will have forever to describe what you see around you or what you behold in your imagination. If you are a teacher of children, you will have forever in which to teach children. If you are a violinist, you will have forever to perfect your talent.

You can do forever that for which God made you and which you enjoy. There is a place designed from the beginning of time that is just for you.

But that is not the best part. God will give you people to love and care for. Then, and only then, will you be truly fulfilled and joyful.

"In Your Presence is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

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When We Die

2011-11-18
What our situation will be when we die, and in the day of Resurrection, depends upon what is true of us as a person.

Seven times in the Old Testament it was said of certain men that they were "gathered to their people."

Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. (Genesis 25:8—NASB)

This expression may mean merely that their people were dead and they died also. But I rather suspect that it means they went to be with relatives or people with whom they had lived. This seems reasonable to me.

I would venture further that each of us, when he dies, is "gathered to his people." I mean by this that he goes to relatives, or friends whom he chose to be with while living on the earth; or to no one if he has lived to himself. This is a frightening idea—to enter the vast spirit world and have no one to go to!

When Lazarus died he went to Abraham's bosom. He went to someone who knew him and cared for him.

The Christian concept that each person who at one time makes a profession of belief in Christ automatically goes to a mansion in Heaven when he or she dies, has no support in the Scriptures. We will leave it at that.

I think it is likely that we go to the sort of people with whom we have chosen to live. If we enjoy worldly people, we are not going to be brought suddenly into the Presence of Christ and his holy saints and angels. We are not happy in their company now and we would not be happy then. Neither would they be happy if we were suddenly brought into their presence in our careless, self-seeking, rebellious condition. What lies we have believed!

If I am correct in what I am maintaining, we readily can understand how important is the choice of our companions today.

In any case, the kind of person we are will determine our situation after we die, and then in the Day of Resurrection. How could it be otherwise? We cannot be changed dramatically by dying or by any other sudden event. What we are, we are. Our personality will remain the same, in this world and the next world, until we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our transformation. And what we are will determine our surroundings, our environment.

Even when the removal of sin from the Kingdom takes place, as described in the Book of Matthew, our participation will be required. In fact, I believe this removal has begun today as the Holy Spirit leads us to confess our sins and then strengthens us so we can turn away from them.

There may be no more needed understanding, certainly none of greater importance to Christian people, than the fact that what we are in personality will determine our life in the spirit world when we die; and our life after we are raised from the dead.

Perhaps most of today's Christian people have been taught that if they make a profession of belief in Jesus Christ, say the right words, confess the right beliefs, this is all they need be concerned about. They will inherit all the promises of God to the righteous.

They have lived a careless "Christian" life, neglecting to press forward in Christ each day, not laying hold on what Christ has for them. They have been taught that because of "grace" they will enter the spirit world fit to be the companion of Abraham, Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul, the martyrs Stephen and Antipas, and the heroes of faith of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

Everything one experiences in God's world after he dies depends on the kind of personality he has. If an individual has developed in Christ a godly personality, then rich, fruitful experiences shall occur. If he or she has a mean, selfish, self-centered personality, as is true of numerous believers in Christ, then that individual will not find favor with God or man in the spirit world.

Sometimes an attempt to improve the personality will be made, as described in Godwill Castle. God is not as anxious to lose a individual as some preaching might suggest.

When he is raised from the dead each person will look like what he or she actually is. Today we can hide our thoughts and motives behind the mask we decide upon. But in the Day of Resurrection, exactly what we are in our mind and heart will be seen clearly by everyone.

The fundamental error of religion is that believing in and acting upon the tenets of one's religion obtains for the believer pleasant experiences in the world after one's death. This is not the case. It is the personality of the individual that determines his or her life in God's world.

What then is the purpose of religion? The answer is simple. It is to make us a better person. It never is to be a substitute for moral change; nor is it ever to be a cloak so the wolf can dwell comfortably among the sheep.

But someone may ask, "How about accepting Christ?" An individual absolutely must accept the kingship of Christ when Christ is presented to him. If he or she does not, then regardless of the kind of personality the individual may have, or the good deeds he or she may have done, the person is considered a rebel against God, a satan, an adversary of God. He or she shall not be permitted to participate in the unimagined pleasures of God's world.

There is no possibility of an exception being made for an individual who refuses to obey God's chosen King, the Lord Jesus Christ. He or she is a lost soul and will never enjoy the Presence of God.

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" (Matthew 17:5—NASB)

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18—NASB)

(Taken from "A Final Note," an excerpt from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson.Copyright © 2011, by Robert B. Thompson.)

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Christ—Head and Body

2011-11-20

The term "Christ" signifies "the One who is anointed with oil," that is, with the Spirit of God. The Body of Christ refers to those who have become part of Christ, who is the Head of the Body. Because the Head is anointed with the Spirit of God, every part of the Body is anointed with the same Spirit of God for the purpose of carrying out the commission the Father has given to His Christ.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—life forever. (Psalms 133:1-3—NASB)

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)

When I started thinking about the Spirit of God flowing down from the Head over the Body, the two passages above came to mind. Maybe they are related.

After the Lord Jesus' resurrection, it may be proper to consider the term "Christ" as applying to the whole Unit—Head and Body. Paul implied this, didn't he?

The (human) body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

This reminds us of God referring to Adam and Eve as "Adam."

Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. (Genesis 5:2—KJV)

So we will consider that the exalted Head, the Lord Jesus, and the members of His Body, are one Christ, one Messiah, one anointed Servant of the Lord. With this in mind, let us see what the work of Christ, or Messiah, is to be; for it is the work of every person who has been anointed with the Spirit of God.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, (Isaiah 61:1)

As we read further in this chapter we see that Christ is addressing those who are of Zion, not the people of the world.

As the Spirit of God directs and empowers us, we are to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to the poor among God's elect.

We are to bind up the brokenhearted of God's elect. The Spirit of God has given every one of us a ministry and gift so we can build up the members of the Body.

It appears to me that the large Christian organizations are set on going forth into the world to invite the people of the nations, whether or not they are members of God's elect, to "accept Christ" so they may "go to Heaven when they die. Where in the Bible does it say we are to accept Christ so we may go to Heaven when we die?

In terms of the prophecy of Isaiah, perhaps we should give more thought to building up the members of the Body so when the Head appears they can work with Him at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We are to proclaim freedom to those of God's saints who are in captivity. How many of God's people are bound with hatred, unforgiveness, jealousy, unbelief, malice, arrogance, seeking preeminence, envy? Also many are afflicted with physical infirmities. It is our task to set them free, spiritually and physically, as the Spirit leads and enables us.

We are to proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners. I will say one thing: the current Christian teaching has more traditions in it than it does the truth of the Lord Jesus. One great error is that God has given us "grace" so we do not have to lead a righteous, holy life. Another is the unscriptural "rapture" which has the casual church-attenders caught up to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the great tribulation.

A third tradition is that the goal of our salvation is to reside in a mansion in the spirit world for eternity, doing nothing of significance. This is a far cry from the actual purpose of salvation, which is to free us from the influence of Satan and to bring us into the image of Christ and into untroubled rest in the Center of God's Person and will.

This change from Satan to Christ is necessary if we are to be able to maintain Paradise on the earth when it is restored to us.

God's elect are to be set free from this spiritual blindness and darkness, and it is our responsibility to do this, as the Spirit of God directs us. Such is the task of Messiah.

To proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:2)

Today is the day of salvation. It is our tendency to reserve the great things of God to the past or the future. Actually, it is right now—today—that God is moving us forward in the plan of redemption. Many who are last in time shall be among the first to enter the Kingdom.

You and I, as members of the Body of Messiah, are to proclaim the good news concerning the revelation of God's Person and will to anyone who seeks Him now.

It is at this point that the Lord Jesus ceased reading and rolled up the scroll. The Day of Vengeance had not come. It is here now. The scroll has been unrolled. Jesus is standing at the right hand of God, ready to make His enemies His footstool. Are you ready to stand with Christ in the conflict of the ages?

The Day of Vengeance of our God has begun, and those who are in mourning shall be comforted. This is true for all of God's elect, and also eventually for the people of the nations who will accept Christ as their lawful King.

It is the Day of Reconciliation of mankind to God and God to mankind, made possibly by the atoning blood shed on the cross of calvary so many years ago. It has begun. When it has been completed, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, injustice shall have been removed from the earth.

The righteous shall rejoice in the abundance of peace and justice. The wicked shall be sent to their proper place, which is the Lake of Fire. There they shall become part of Satan, whom they have loved and worshiped.

And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

We are to provide for those who grieve in Zion. Christians with the gift of prophecy are telling us that persecution of the believers is ahead. I believe we can see the beginning of this in America, as our traditional Christian values are being downplayed as being divisive and troublesome, while alien gods are being worshiped in our streets.

I have felt led of the Lord to write three books, the intent of which is to remove from God's people the fear of death. The first book is Godwill Castle. The second is Heaven—God's Wonderful World. The third, actually a small picture book for young children, is John and Mary Visit Heaven.

It is my hope that after children and adults read these three books they will look forward to dying, just as I do. There absolutely is no need to grieve over the death of a child or adult. They have entered the "hols," as C. S. Lewis would say. School is out. Vacation is here. How utterly wonderful and marvelous!

We are to bestow on God's elect, His priesthood, a crown of beauty instead of ashes. Throughout history, and even today in many places, to be a true, fervent disciple of the Lord Jesus is to be subject to scorn. In the United States today the standard of discipleship is so low that we do not often witness such humiliation.

But, if I am not mistaken, the day soon will come when the true Christians, who may be a relatively small minority in America, will be separated from the great majority of professing "Christians" who never have denied themselves and taken up their cross. They are not following Jesus moment by moment every day and night, as a true disciple always does.

"To bestow on God's Church the oil of gladness instead of mourning." It seems like every day I am attacked with fear, dread, gloom, worry. It is my practice each time I feel like that to ask the Lord Jesus to remove from me, from every room of my house, and from every area of my property all that is of Satan and not of God.

Then I ask for happy prospects. God answers this prayer every time. I remain confident that if I am displeasing God in any manner He will show me so I can correct the problem with His assistance. It is His will that we rejoice always in His Presence.

"To bestow on God's people a garment of praise rather than a spirit of despair." When we read in the newspaper of the dreadful occurrences in our country and in the world, we are liable to receive a spirit of despair. This is not pleasing to the Lord. He would have us singing His praises, knowing that the mighty armies of Heaven always are ready to come to the assistance of any of God's sheep who are frightened at what is transpiring on the earth.

The Lord Jesus Christ remains in control of the world. He counts the nations as a drop in the bucket of the universe He created with His Word.

We are to minister to our brothers and sisters until they are oaks of righteousness. I do not know how familiar you are with oak trees, but they are tough. You can bend them when they are seedlings. But a mature oak tree will withstand very great pressure.

Because of the unscriptural teaching of "grace" as an alternative to righteous behavior, numerous professing Christians of our day are not even seedlings when it comes to righteous behavior. They have been taught that if they even attempt to live righteously it is an affront to God's "grace." What a delusion this is!

It is God's will that every member of the royal priesthood be a great oak of righteous behavior, a person who has resisted temptation until a rod of iron with which to govern the nations has been formed in him or her.

Such are a planting of the Lord. They are not righteous by obeying in their own strength the customs of their religion. Rather, they are new creations of righteous behavior. Christ, who loves righteousness, has been formed in them.

The righteous behavior of God's saints results in the display of His splendor. The Lord Jesus told us that when people see our righteous conduct they will glorify God. People cannot see "grace" or imputed righteousness. But they can see honesty, truthfulness, and purity.

How the doctrine of imputed righteousness has been abused! How would you like to live next to a Christian who claims to be saved by imputed righteousness but who was given to rages and profanity? How would you regard his salvation? So it is true that the people of the world see the wickedness of so-called Christian people; and they do not glorify God as a result.

The way the doctrines of grace and imputed righteousness have been taught has resulted in Christian churches that do not come anywhere near displaying God's splendor. As a result, God is punishing the Western nations, including the United States of America.

We can search out every possible financial and political solution. But it will be to no avail. We are heading toward chaos. Many will die. Other will be left homeless. There will be famine and natural catastrophes. We already are experiencing earthquakes and floods. But, at least in America, there is little talk about the relationship between our abandoning Christ and the financial and other problems.

The future is grim indeed because of the ignoring of God and the prevalence of sin. We who love Jesus are going to have to look to God continually that we might be able to save ourselves and those who hear us.

It appears that the leaders of erstwhile Christian nations, including America, are not pointing their countries toward God as being the remedy for the increasing problems. This is a huge mistake on their part, for they will go down to ruin with the countries they are attempting to govern.

We have been speaking, to this point, of building up the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is not built up in the Head for no reason. It is being prepared to work with the Head in installing the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Now we will turn to the verses that describe the task of bringing justice to the nations. It is obvious that if the members of the royal priesthood are to bring restoration and justice to the world, they themselves must first be built up into oaks of righteousness. We have described how the Body of Christ builds up itself in love.

They (the members of the Body of Christ) will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4)

The above is an interesting passage, isn't it? When and how did all this devastation occur?

One possibility is the invasion of the earth by Christ and His army of saints and angels. I am not referring now to the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation when Christ attacks the armies of Antichrist in the Battle of Armageddon. Rather, I am thinking of the second chapter of the Book of Joel.

According to my understanding, the second chapter of Joel is a description of Christ and His armies of saints and angels going through the earth, after the Battle of Armageddon—the battle described in Revelation, chapter nineteen.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3)

As soon as Antichrist and the False Prophet have been confined in the Lake of Fire, and Satan thrown into the Bottomless Pit, there remains the task of cleansing the earth. The wicked people must be removed. Unclean spirits that were not dealt with during the Battle of Armageddon must be driven into the Land of Darkness in the spirit world.

Every Antichrist building in the cities of the world will be razed to the ground. Most of the aspects of the Antichrist civilization such as automobiles will be vaporized, along with the larger highways.

None of these will be needed, as Christ, governing from Jerusalem, sends out His victorious saints to govern the nations, great and small, of the earth. The conduct of life on the earth will be slowed down as people learn to obey God rather than rushing about in their self-will, driving themselves to accomplish goals that are not pleasing to God.

The victorious saints, as will be true also of the Lord Jesus, will be in resurrection bodies, in that they are the sons of the resurrection. The saved people of the nations of the earth will be in human, flesh-and-blood bodies.

I don't believe there has been another time in the history of the world when flesh-and-blood humans have been governed by people who have passed through death and now are immortal.

Since the sons of the resurrection will be assisted by warrior angels, obedience to God will be enforced on the earth. This form of government will persevere until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, at which time Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit and permitted to test the work that has been done during the Kingdom Age.

If my understanding is correct, the purpose of the Kingdom Age, the interval of time between the next appearing of Christ and His saints, and the final judgment and resurrection, is for perfecting the reconciliation to God, both of His resurrected saints and also of the members of the Church who were not in the first resurrection. They will remain in Mount Zion in the spirit world, awaiting the day when they will descend to the new earth as the new Jerusalem.

Since the sons of the resurrection will have such power over mankind, it is of supreme importance that these resurrected rulers are strictly obedient to the Lord Jesus; that they are "dead" to their own desires and ambitions. During the Kingdom Age, and afterward throughout eternity, God will permit only those who love the people assigned to them to continue their rulership.

They will govern with Divine authority. The necessary iron is being formed in them now, as they overcome the forces that come against them that are attempting to move them away from God's perfect, complete will.

It is likely that the larger nations, such as America, China, and India, will be divided into smaller communities. Large countries do not lend themselves to the kind of loving relationships among people that God demands.

Schools and universities will be constructed. It may be true that the major occupation of the Kingdom Age (Millennium) will be instruction, both in the physical and spirit realms. The foremost topic of instruction will be the absolute rule of Jesus Christ.

No individual will be permitted to remain in the new world of righteousness who does not gladly receive Christ as his or her Lord. No exception to the total rule of Christ ever will be permitted—no, not for eternity!

The two great laws of the Kingdom, to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, will be taught and enforced in the physical and spirit realms. As we might expect, given the centuries in which people have governed their own lives, living in selfishness and hate, the instruction will continue into the ages to come.

The new sky and earth will not be formed until the Tabernacle of God, which is the glorified Christian Church, and also the saved people of the nations, have been brought into conformity to the standard of behavior that God requires. Then the present physical world will be done away; those in the Book of Life will be brought forward to citizenship in the new world; and those not in the Book will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

This is not the end of the instruction, however. The victorious saints will continue to govern the saved people of the nations, because continual instruction in righteousness and obedience to Christ will be necessary. Anyone who will not conform to God's standard of behavior, and the absolute rule of Christ and His saints, will not be permitted to partake of the refreshing and healing of the Tree of Life and the Water of Life.

We understand from all this that we just now are being oriented to the Kingdom of God. We who are last in time have the opportunity to be among the first to enter the Kingdom of God, as we confess and turn away from our sins, thus preparing ourselves to be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the King in the air as He prepares to set up His Kingdom on the earth.

Now we see the responsibilities and tasks for which we are being prepared. The ancient ruins, made so by Joel's army perhaps, must be rebuilt. The places long devastated must be restored. It is my impression that the work of rebuilding and restoring will take place under the supervision of the kings whom Christ sets over the various geographical areas of the earth.

The cities that have been devastated for generations will be renewed. There shall be cities on the present earth, during the Kingdom Age. But if my understanding is correct, money will not be used as a means of commerce. Have you ever noticed how much of the evil in the world of today is due to the desire for money?

I can visualize a civilization in which each person has a contribution to make and does so without a thought a charging anyone. Products are supplied freely to everyone who has a need. If my information is correct, this is one of the ideas behind communism. But communism cannot possibly be effective while there is wickedness and self-centeredness in the hearts of people.

Before a perfect civilization can be constructed, people must be cleansed of evil.

I think God's angels will be active, making certain that everyone is doing his or her share of work, and no one is receiving more than he or she needs. There never can be rich or poor in a society over which our Lord rules. Rich people often have more than they need, and poor people do not have the necessities of life. This situation is not acceptable in the Kingdom of God.

All of this may seem impossible. Not only is it possible, it is going to take place as human beings are reconciled to God, and God to them. God will have no world in which there are rich and poor. Everyone will be doing joyously that for which he or she has been created, just as was true in the Garden of Eden.

People who are greedy or too lazy to do that for which they have been created will be brought to places of instruction. Any individual who refuses to be corrected will be punished.

Those who are incorrigible will be removed from society for as long as necessary—in some instances, removed permanently so they cannot ruin the peace and joy that God has planned for His children.

The problems that curse our present world arise as people try to live their lives without Christ. It is as simple as that; and there is no solution other than learning to look to Christ for guidance in how we should live our life.

The great political leaders of the world vaunt themselves as they try to bring about peace by one means or another. They all will be brought down to the dust while the meek inherit the earth.

Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. (Isaiah 61:5)

Here is an expression of a concept that largely is unknown to the Christian people. The concept is that there are two sets of people who will be saved to the new world of righteousness. The first set is God's, elect, His royal priesthood, His called-out people, His Israel, whether born Jewish or Gentile. This is the new Jerusalem, the holy city, the Christian Church.

The second set is much larger in number. It consists of the people of the nations who have been saved, the "sheep" of the nations, we might say. The first set composes the royal priesthood, the holy ones, the saints, whom God has chosen. Their role in the creation is to bring God to people and people to God.

I do not know why our Christian leaders do not teach the people God draws to Christ that they no longer are of the world. They are not of the world just as Jesus Christ is not of the world. This does not mean Christians are going to go to Heaven when they die and the rest of mankind will go to Hell. It means rather that God has chosen them to represent Himself to mankind.

Perhaps our dislike of the idea of an elite group of people hinders us from seeing clearly what the Bible states in many places. But it is certain that there is no possibility of understanding the Kingdom of God until we become aware there are the called-out people referred to as the Church; and then there are the remainder of mankind. Whether or not this is in accordance with the philosophy of democracy, it nevertheless is what the Bible teaches.

Now let me repeat:

Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. (Isaiah 61:5)

The "aliens" are people of the nations of the earth whom God has saved from wrath. "Your" refers to Zion, to the "oaks of righteousness." People who are not of Zion will works the fields of the royal priesthood. This is as plain and as clear as it can be.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6)

Now we readily can see why we need to be made oaks of righteousness. We will be regarded for eternity as the priests of the Lord, the ministers of God. Who will regard us in this manner? The people whom God has saved from the nations.

There have been times in history when the priests of various religions have been corrupt. This shall not be true of God's priests!

The wealth of the nations will be brought to the new Jerusalem.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)

God has called us out of the world to be "saints." Saints means "holy ones." We are holy because we belong to God in a special way, just as was true of the Aaronic priesthood. We are not of the world just as Christ is not of the world.

"Christ" means "Anointed One," as I have mentioned previously. "Christian" is a diminutive of Christ. Christians also are anointed ones. We are holy and anointed ones. We have been chosen by the Lord to serve Him as priests whose role will be to govern the peoples of the world. For this reason our training in the present world is strenuous and prolonged.

It is easy to see why Satan has turned our attention to the idea of going to Heaven to live forever. Satan does not want us serving God as a priest among the peoples of the earth, whom Satan regards as his possession. But God has determined otherwise, and for this reason is creating a kingdom that will govern the works of God's hands for eternity.

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God from within the saints over the nations of the earth.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. (Isaiah 61:7)

We Christians, as was true of our Lord, must always be prepared to suffer shame and humiliation. I do not see this in our country, America. Rather, because of our ability to vote leaders in and out, we may suppose that somehow it is our right to act as rulers and governors.

However, acting in positions of rulership of the peoples of the earth is not our true role in the present hour. Rather, our task is to be a witness of God's Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose in Christ. When our Lord Jesus was presented with the opportunity of being a king, He refused.

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." (John 18:36)

The Lord did not meddle in the politics of the Roman Empire, although I think I read somewhere there were Jews who did. The Apostle Paul was treated as the filth of the world. He was not active in politics, nor were any of the other apostles.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)

You know, I believe some humbling needs to take place in our country, especially with us Christians. We would exalt ourselves and claim that we are deserving of respect and high status because we are God's favorites.

The Apostle Paul told us we should adopt the attitude of Jesus. God did in time exalt Jesus, but not until He first had made Himself of no reputation.

Let us think again about the passage below:

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. (Isaiah 61:7)

First comes the shame. Then come multiple blessings. If we are willing to humble ourselves, accept the imprisonment of our personal cross, follow Jesus meekly, then when the Kingdom of God comes to the earth we will have a double portion and everlasting joy.

But that is not yet. First we must go without the camp, so to speak, bearing our cross of humiliation and abasement. Until we are willing thus to humble ourselves, Christ will not regard us as His brothers or members of His body. It is the way of the cross that leads home. The cross always comes before the crown.

For I, the LORD, love justice, I hate robbery in the burnt offering; and I will faithfully give them their recompense and make an everlasting covenant with them. (Isaiah 61:8—NASB)

The expression "robbery in the burnt offering" reminds me of the following verse:

Who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation. (Luke 20:47)

I think "robbery in the burnt offering" is speaking of religious leaders building cathedrals on the backs of the poor; pleading with poor people to give, give, give, while the bishops and pastors are living in luxury. God hates this sort of religious activity, but it goes on all the time.

I think we Christians in America believe we deserve justice. and some of us may be prepared to sue whomever we think is taking advantage of us. But once we are called out from the world as a holy one of God, we no longer can expect justice. If we are permitted to live without being persecuted we are better off than Christ was, and most believers during the Christian Era.

The Lord Jesus is well aware when we are treated unjustly. He also was treated unjustly. He perceives when we are being robbed and treated unlawfully. We may think He has forgotten us or doesn't care that we are not being treated fairly. But this is not the case.

If we have been true to Jesus, and have suffered as a result, He is ready to reward us. His covenant with us is everlasting. When He is satisfied that we have been faithful to the point of death, He will bring us to fullness of joy, to pleasures forevermore.

So hang in there! Don't quit! Your day will come, as will mine also. We have set aside our own life that Christ may live; so that He may have the spotless Bride He desires. Our Lord Jesus Christ is a King. King's do not forget those who helped them when they had a need.

"Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed." (Isaiah 61:9)

By being faithful to Christ we are laying up treasures for our descendants. The blessing of God will be on our children and their children after them. God never forgets those who have been faithful Him, no, not for a thousand generations.

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)

This is why the Apostle Paul told us to rejoice always. We may have been brought very low during our lifetime. But splendor beyond our imagination awaits us shortly. Every righteous deed we have done, as the Spirit of God has enabled us, is being fashioned into a robe of righteousness that will clothe us in the Day of Christ.

This is what Paul means when He says that when we are brought before the Judgment Seat of Christ we will receive the things done in our body. We are adorned as a member of the royal priesthood, and also as the Wife of the Lamb.

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

Do you remember that the Lord Jesus said that we are being made one in Him in the Father that the world would believe? Can you see this in the verse above? It is the Father's will that the world behold in us righteousness and praise, and thus glorify God.

Right here is exposed the dreadful current teaching of grace and imputed righteousness. The world cannot see imputed righteousness. The world sees our behavior. I understand that Paul spoke of grace and imputed righteousness, to get us started following the Holy Spirit instead of the Law of Moses. But the Apostle Paul in several places warned us that if we Christians follow our sinful nature we will die spiritually; we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Is there a contradiction here? Not at all. When we come to the Lord Jesus, Christ covers us so our past sins are blotted from God's sight. We are given Divine grace so we can leave the Law of Moses.

But such is not a permanent relationship to God. If that were the case, the Kingdom of God would be a house of cards. Rather, the intention of God is that we now follow the Spirit of God as He conforms us to the moral image of Christ and brings us into untroubled rest in the very Center of the Person of God and His will.

The present teaching of grace and imputed righteousness is an unparalleled disaster in Christian thinking. The result is baby Christians who hardly are oaks of righteousness. They are as spoiled children who demand that they have all they desire and never suffer. Their favorite saying is, "Christ suffered so I don't have to suffer."

Well, we are going to pay a bitter price for this unprecedented error. Divine judgment is approaching our nation because of the abundance of sin. There is an abundance of sin because the Christian churches, which are supposed to be models of righteousness and holiness, are filled with every sort of evil spirit: malice, haughtiness, selfishness, sexual lust, gluttony, seeking preeminence, unforgiveness, and jealousy.

Whatever kind of unclean spirit there is can be found in the Christian churches!

All of this because the New Testament is not being taught. In its place Sunday after Sunday is "grace-rapture-Heaven." This is not food for the sheep, and the man behind the pulpit is not feeding the sheep, as the Lord Jesus commanded Peter.

When we consider that the Church has been created by the Lord to represent Himself to the nations of saved people, we can understand that grace (as it currently is taught), imputed righteousness, and the idea that God sees us through Christ so it is immaterial how we behave, are destructive of God's intention.

Every member of the Body of Christ is to be a witness of God's Person and will. How can anyone be a witness of God's Person and will unless he or she behaves as God does?

If you wish to know how a Christian should behave, ask a person of the world. He will give you a lesson in righteous behavior.

As I have mentioned, we are proceeding toward Divine judgment of the formerly Christian nations. Many will die and go to their proper place in the spirit world. The true Christians may have to assemble and worship in hidden places, as is true in some parts of the world today.

It is likely that the majority of those who today profess to be Christians, the nominal church-attenders, will join the ranks of those who are persecuting the fervent disciples. This separation and persecution will serve to purify the holy remnant so when the Lord appear they will be ready to be transformed and caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air.

Today we have a brief space of time in which to prepare ourselves. It is not helping that so many Christian leaders are still acting as though nothing bad is going to take place in "good old America." They are not listening to the Spirit of God, who is warning us to prepare ourselves by walking closely to the Lord Jesus.

We may be blaming the present government officials for the financial problems, and the immoral decisions that are being made concerning abortion and sexual perversions. Some Christian leaders are seeking to promote political actions that will bring more conservative politicians into office.

If they succeed, it might help us for a season. But the basic problem, that of a lack of a strong moral testimony on the part of the Christian people, may persevere. In that case, no amount of conservative leadership will bring our nation back to financial or moral strength.

There is one fact we can count on. The Lord Jesus Christ remains in control. He will insure that those who trust and obey Him, and their loved ones, will be protected by His angels. Should they die they will go to a place of rest until the Lord is ready to appear on the earth.

We must learn not to fret when we see evil increasing in our country and in the rest of the world. The godless may exalt themselves for a season and make their boasts. But in the end, the Bible will prove to be true. The wicked will be brought to nothing and the righteous will prevail. This truth is as a great granite rock that cannot be moved in any manner whatever.

So rest in Christ. Bring Him into your life several times every day. Rejoice in His faithfulness. Sing hymns of praise. It won't be too long before you are singing and dancing in the heights of Zion.

But the wicked will dwell in a dry land, enduring the darkness and pain that they have brought upon themselves by their behavior, whether or not they profess to be Christians.

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The Concept And Operation Of The Body Of Christ

2011-11-27

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (I Corinthians 12:12,13)

I think most of what I will have to say in this essay has already been stated in the twelfth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians.

Our physical body, although made up of many different parts, is one whole. From the head to the feet, it is one body. It is seldom that we emphasize one part, such as a finger, to the exclusion of the remainder of the body.

The term "Body of Christ" is of interest. It portrays the fact that the work of Christ is shared by those who also share in the anointing of the Spirit of God, the "Christians," we might say. Jesus is the exalted Head, the one from the beginning with God. We who have been baptized by the Spirit of God also are of Christ.

It is interesting that God called Adam and Eve, "Adam." This is because Eve came from Adam and was an inseparable part of Adam. In like manner, we can be termed the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him who is to appear to set up the Kingdom of God on the earth.

We do not diminish Jesus in any manner by viewing ourselves as part of Christ, part of Messiah. Rather we enlarge Him, and this is what God intends. Ultimately all of the creation will reflect the One who was totally obedient to the Father in the most difficult of circumstances.

Jesus made Himself of no reputation, regarding His being the very Son of God not something to be grasped. So it is true that we are to regard ourselves of no reputation, counting our oneness with Jesus Christ not a thing to be grasped. If we are willing to humble ourselves today, we will be exalted in due time just as Jesus, after humbling Himself, has been exalted above all other personages.

I say this because we American Christians, having been accustomed to a democratic system in which people vote in and vote out their leaders, are apt to feel we have been called to govern America. That is not our calling. Our calling is to bear witness of a Kingdom that will be installed upon the earth when our Lord returns.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (I Corinthians 12:13)

The name "Christ" is not Jesus' last name. "Christ" is referring to the fact that God anointed Jesus with the Spirit of God. that He might perform the work of the Kingdom of God. We Christ-ians also have been baptized by that same Spirit that we might work with Jesus when He appears to set up the Kingdom.

One cannot but be amazed at the existence of the numerous Christian denominations and sects. They reveal how much of the Christian religion is manmade. The one Body of Christ worldwide, consisting of all races of humans, is divided into various organizations. No matter what explanation is made for these denominations and sects, the fact remains their existence certainly was not God's idea.

The Christian organizations may seek to do God's as well as they understand it, but the concept of the Body of Christ. is hidden to them. The organizations are well intentioned and consist of honorable people. They sometimes employ the term "local body," meaning a local church. There is no such thing.

There are local congregations. But the Body of Christ is universal, and the ministries and gifts of the Spirit, while some of them may be required in a local congregation, such as a gift of knowledge or of wisdom, nonetheless are universal and will operate wherever the gifted believer is.

Once we understand that there is only one Body of Christ, with a minority of its members on earth at any given time and the majority in the spirit world, we can perceive that as God is bringing the Body toward blameless perfection on the earth, the same works of redemption are occurring in the spirit world. It is one Body in Heaven and on the earth.

Does this mean we are to flee from the local congregations and organizations? By no means. By doing so we would do nothing more than create another babylon. Each true Christian, true saint, is to follow the Lord Jesus closely.

When the time arrives for the Body to reveal its oneness, the Lord will show us and direct every detail of the procedures. The time is not yet, to the best of my knowledge!

It is helpful for each of us Christians, I believe, to keep ourselves aware of the oneness of the universal Body of Christ. Then we may have a better rapport with our fellow believers of different persuasions. Also we will not be found fighting another denomination or hindering its work in any manner.

I heard of one instance where the graduates of a Bible school were forbidden to assist a different denomination in its efforts to spread the Gospel. Can you imagine such an unscriptural requirement?

So we are members of the one Body in Heaven and upon the earth. We have been anointed with the Spirit of God that we may do the work of Christ, of Messiah.

The sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah describes the various tasks the Holy Spirit will help us with, guiding us and enabling us to meet the needs at hand. Verses one through three speak of the need for building up the members of the Body.

The members of Christ's body are scattered as so many lost sheep; as so many dry bones. If my understanding is correct, we need to employ our unique gifts so our brothers and sisters may be strengthened in preparation for their work in bringing justice to the nations.

Perhaps the Spirit will help us do a bit of this work now; but according to the Scriptures the major part of bringing justice to the nations will take place when Christ, Head and Body, appears from Heaven.

The ministries and gifts given to each member of the Body are for the purpose of building up the Body itself. Even the ministry of evangelism has as its task the adding of members to the Body. We are in the Christian Era at the present time, and the purpose for these two thousand years is to call out and build up the saints, the holy ones, the members of the Body of Christ, the holy priesthood.

The fact that during the Christian Era the task of the evangelist is to call out those who are to be the members of the Body, can be seen in the following two verses:

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." (Acts 18:9,10)

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)

There will come a time, when the Body has been prepared, to bring in the members of the nations who are to be saved. This massive earth-wide revival is described in the sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. Our immediate task is to make disciples, that is, believers who will deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus diligently.

The work of making disciples, instead of mere church-attenders, depends on each of us finding and operating our unique gifts and ministries. In order to find the will of God concerning our unique service to the Body we have to present our body a living sacrifice. We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind so we can prove and do the will of God.

Perhaps this necessity for renewing our mind accounts for the unprecedented communication devices that are being developed in our day. There are the social networking programs operating by means of the Internet and electronic tablets. It seems not a month goes by without an improved device being offered in the marketplace.

We may view these fascinating programs and devices as being innocent. They are anything but that! They are renewing our minds according to the thinking of Satan. They are a major obstacle to our walking close enough to the Lord Jesus that we can find our unique ministries and gifts and operate them.

The dedicated Christian, young or old, will pray to Christ to break any chains that may bind him or her to the vast trunk lines of moral sewage that spew forth from various sources every moment of every day and night.

Electronic communication devices can be a means of bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God to the farthest reaches of the earth. But no sincere Christians ever should use such devices for entertainment. We have been commanded to redeem the time, and that means to put each flying moment to the best possible use in assisting the Lord Jesus as He directs us in the work of Christ, Head and Body.

I said previously that verses one through three of Isaiah, Chapter Sixty-one tell of the role of Christ, Head and Body, in building up the Body of Christ. Verses four through the end of Chapter Sixty-one of Isaiah described the work of the Head and Body of Christ, once each member has been made an oak of righteousness.

It appears the Christian people of today for the most part are nowhere near ready to be raised from the dead and ascend to meet their Head in the air, and then descend with Him that they may do the work described in Isaiah.

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1)

Christ, Head and Body, is the Servant of the Lord whom God upholds.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:27,28)

The fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians mentions five ministries: the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher. Actually I believe the pastor-teacher composes one ministry, since it is a pastor's responsibility to feed the sheep.

I think four ministries are portrayed in the Old Testament, in that the Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation is the fourth of the holy furnishings. The Lampstand, being lighted by means of oil, symbolizes Christ, the One anointed with oil.

Also, there were four bars that held together the Tabernacle tent. I think the fifth bar, that went all the way around, typifies the Lord Jesus. There is no doubt in my mind in that the number four symbolizes the communication of the Spirit of God. The number five symbolizes the coming of the Kingdom of God, in that the Blowing of Trumpets is the fifth of the seven Levitical observances.

Be all this as it may, I am not one to emphasize the five (or four) ministries of the fourth chapter of the Book of Ephesians. Let me ask you a question: When you have to walk somewhere, which are more necessary, your hands or your feet? So it is with the Body of Christ. The most important gift is the one that is needed right now. Do you agree with that?

Neither the twelfth chapter of First Corinthians nor the fourth chapter of Ephesians, or the twelfth chapter of the Book of Romans mentions all of the gifts and ministries. Rather the endowments that are listed are examples of the enablements that the Spirit of God gives to the members of the Body of Messiah. God is free to provide any kind of resource that He deems appropriate at a given time!

Let me stress that it is of primary importance in our day that each individual who claims to be a Christian begin to seek earnestly for his or her ministry in the universal Body of Christ. Then, upon discovering it, to give it the highest priority of his or her life.

Remember the parable of the talents. It is not often that Jesus refers to His people as wicked, lazy servants. But He does to each believer who does not use the talents given to him or her. Every Christian without exception has been given one or more gifts of the Spirit. There is no "dead wood" in the Body of the Anointed One.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7)

If you do not know what your gifts and ministries are, it is of the greatest imporance at this time that you get busy and ask God what He has given you. Keep asking until He gives you the answer, or else tells you that you are different from all other members of the Body because the Spirit has not given you any gift with which to build up your fellow members of the Body.

Think of your own body. There are many parts that are visible and many parts that are invisible. Some are large and some are extremely small. But let one of the tiny glands cease to function and you are going to find out about it, even if you are six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds.

You may be under the impression that Jesus and God can get along without you. Please do not be mistaken along this line. When you die you are going to facing an angry Christ and called a wicked, lazy servant. Also, Jesus will take away your gifts and ministries and give them to someone who has been faithful.

You may think our loving Jesus does not say such things to nice people like you. But the Bible says He will, so get busy and find out what you are supposed to be doing.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2)

Have you done this yet? If not, why not? Are you ready to face a disappointed Jesus? King Jesus has needs right now, in terms of His Bride and His Kingdom. He is a true King, and He will remember those who assisted Him in His hour of need. Make sure you are one of them.

If you are a young person, avoid as much as possible the social networking sites and the electronic games. That is a sacrifice you can offer, and Jesus will be pleased with it.

Do not be conformed to the world. Right at this moment, in the twenty-first century, God is moving us forward in the plan of redemption. The spiritual fulfillments of the last three of the Levitical observances are available to you now: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles. Today they are available to you, but this will not always the the case. Be sure you do not miss the day of your visitation.

You simply cannot amuse yourself with the electronic toys and at the same time cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He endeavors to move you, and those around you, to a higher place in the plan of redemption.

The choice is yours today. Your eternal destiny depends on the choices you are making right now. Please do not wait to the end of your life to see if I know what I am talking about.

"Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Going to a Christian rock concert is not a spiritual act of worship. Worship occurs when, in order to please God, you deny yourself the fun things the other kids are doing.

Why do I find myself addressing young people? Probably because they will be the ones who will be going through the chaos that is ahead in our country. They must learn now to stand and to help others to stand. They may even be alive when Christ calls His Body out of the organizations, and they want to be prepared for that. Remember Lot's wife!

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world." The social networking sites, such as Facebook, strongly conform us to the pattern of this world. They are not wholesome; they are a waste of your valuable time; it is entirely possible to live without them. Remember, mankind has survived for 6,000 years without Facebook!

The electronic games often emphasize violence and witchcraft. Tell me the truth. Should a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ spend time interacting with violence and witchcraft?

It is up to you. I was on Facebook for two days. When I saw how much was entailed I immediately left that big waste of time. I use the computer each day to contribute to others the insight into His Word God has given me. Yet, for all the years I have been using the computer, I never once have played a game on it—and hopefully never will. I have spent the time using the gift Christ has given me to accomplish His will for me.

"Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Our culture today contains millions of things that renew our mind. It is up to us to make certain our mind is being renewed in the will of God for us.

"Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." It is not easy to find God's will for ourselves. We have to keep seeking; keep praying; keep asking. He wants to know if you really care about God, or are like the remainder of makind.

You have to test to see if you actually are performing God's will, by doing what you believe to be God's will, and then carefully watching the results; and also continually listening for guidance from Christ. It is easy to make mistakes. It is easy to be deceived—even when you are reading your Bible and praying each day.

When you discover you are in error, tell the Lord about it; turn away from the error; and press on in Christ. That is how you learn to live in the Spirit of God.

We have many "kings" of wickedness in our personality. God has ways of drawing them out so they expose themselves. When you see there has been a wicked way in you, confess it to God and ask His help in turning away from it. God is faithful and righteous to enable you to do just that.

God does not have three wills, a good will, a pleasing will, and a perfect will. God has one will for you and me, and it is good, pleasing, and perfect. I have heard people say God has a permissive will. This is absolute nonsense. Either we do what God wants us to do, or else we don't. It is just that simple.

Perhaps people mean that it was God's permissive will for Balaam finally to go to the king of Moab. If that is God's permissive will, may He deliver you and me from it.

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

Because of today's spiritual schizophrenia induced by the teaching of grace and imputed righteousness, Christians often imagine they are stalwart saints following in the bloodstained footprints of the heroes of faith of ancient times.

However, their neighbors know better. It is best that we humble ourselves and count ourselves as nothing. Paul said the apostles were the filth of the world.

God gives to different believers varying amounts of faith. During my Bible-school days I prayed magnificent prayers over people, most of which were not answered. I learned after a while that I do not have the gifts of healing. I had a friend who, although sincere, thought whatever he said and believed would come to pass. I guess the "faith" practice was in vogue for a season.

Faith is not saying "I believe I believe" over and over. Faith is a gift from God. I know what true faith is like because I have had two remarkable healings. I know when I have it and I know when I don't have it. But that takes experience. So we are to think soberly according to the degree of faith God has given us, and not press beyond that into presumption.

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:4,5)

"Each member belongs to all the others." I never noticed that before. That is quite a concept, isn't it? We all, in Heaven and upon the earth, form one Body. Our membership in the Body does not cease when we die.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. (Romans 12:6)

Being a Pentecostal pastor, I am familiar with prophesying in the church. I have heard the real thing, and then I have heard people speak out whatever was on their mind at the time. There are many voices speaking to us in these days, and they are not all of God!

As far as giving personal prophecies in the local congregation, it is best that these be spoken in the presence of one or more elders. They can judge whether or not the prophecy is coming from the Spirit of God. Sometimes people who make a practice of giving prophecies to others prefer no one else be around.

This is not a good idea. The person giving the prophecies is likely to fall into spiritual pride, and the person receiving the prophecies should be presenting his or her body a living sacrifice and finding God's will in that manner.

We do, in our church, bring people up to the front and pray over them. We call up the pastors and Council members. This may be for the healing of the sick, or members who are leaving, or for special ministry. At this time there may be some who feel a stirring and will give a prophecy. This is safe because there are several elders who can step in if something harmful is being presented.

If a congregation is spiritually healthy, a believe may begin to learn to prophecy by speaking a few words. We do not start out like Isaiah. Then too there are some believers who have unusual faith and who are recognized as being unusually accurate. However, all may prophesy. The very testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

"Let him use it in proportion to his faith." We can see from this that while the prophecy is of the Holy Spirit, the believer has to "use it." It does take a while to learn how to use our gifts and ministries, not being behind or going ahead of the Spirit, but walking in step with the Spirit. I have a gift of teaching, we might say, but it took years for me to learn how to stir up my gift; when to speak out and when to hold my peace.

It is easy to do nothing. It is easy also to speak out at the wrong time or to just say what is in our mind at the time. We have to learn how and when to prophesy. In our own congregation, unless a person is recognized as having a gift of prophecy, the individual will ask me or my wife if it is proper to give a prophecy. Sometimes we will ask what it is about.

If an assembly is healthy and love is present, people are glad to respond decently and in order, as Paul says. In those very rare instances when things are getting out of hand, I step in, but I always remember that the feelings of the offending member are exposed. If the presiding minister is too harsh, he never will have to worry about such believers attempting to prophesy again. They won't!

If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:7,8)

If we are serving in some manner, such as watering the plants, or teaching children, or encouraging people, or contributing to the needs of others, or governing in some manner, we probably will not think of this as ministering on a level with the pastor or evangelist.

But again we are brought back to the fact that such gifts and ministries, while they may not be acclaimed publicly, are like the hidden functions in the human body. We do not see them or think about them until they are not fulfilling their role in our strength and energy.

It was the man with only one talent that was condemned for his laziness. So it is true that people with less prominent ministries are the ones who devote their time and attention to succeeding in the world and neglect to find or diligently use the Kingdom resources they have been given. Like the man who did not use his talent, they shall experience the wrath of the Lord.

In America we have any number of attractive things and experiences that distract us and demand our time. For this reason we are in a more dangerous situation than a missionary in a foreign land. We tend to neglect our salvation, and this is as bad as or worse than sins of the flesh that we would regard with horror.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (I Corinthians 12:4-6)

We see from above that it is the Spirit who gives us the gifts; it is the Lord Jesus who administrates the gifts; it is the Father who empowers the gifts.

As the operation of gifts and ministries become more familiar to us, there are ministers who attempt to administrate the gifts. They do not wait on the Lord Jesus for His administrative directions, and so the Presence of God is not with them.

There only is one Administrator of the Kingdom of God, and that is the Lord Jesus; unless He delegates responsibility to someone. We fervently should desire gifts and ministries, and pray for them; but we do not have them until Christ gives them to us. I say this because there are some who advocate "stepping out in faith." This is just another name for presumption, like the Lord being challenged to jump from the roof of the Temple.

It is one matter to talk about faith and attempt to have and use faith. It is quite a different experience for God to actually give us faith for some sort of action. Genuine faith is almost tangible it is so real and solid. We do not have to work it up.

Those of us who pray a lot have learned what it means to "pray through." We pray until we can feel the assurance that God has heard us. After that we can't really pray, only praise the Lord. Sure enough. When the time comes, there is the answer. But "speaking the word of faith," and other current practices, are foreign to me.

When we have a need I do not believe we are to try to speak the answer into existence. Rather we are to call on the Lord until He answers. I notice that the Apostle Paul, when he was afflicted, did not "rebuke the demon." He prayed to the Lord until the Lord answered him.

Rebuking demons is a common practice among Pentecostal people. I do not see this practice in the Scriptures. Rather, we are to "resist the devil." Sometimes I think the demons want the attention and are pleased when we rebuke them.

There are only four persons I know of whom Satan fears: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and the believer who sets aside his own life that Christ might think, speak, and act through him.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines. (I Corinthians 12:7-11)

There are some who teach that any Christian at any time can be used of the Lord to manifest one or more of these enablements. This has not been my experience. I do not say Christ could not administrate the gifts of the Spirit in any manner He desires.

But I tend to believe that one believer is given one gift and another believer another gift, just as the human body operates. Some gymnasts can stand on their hands, but they have been given feet to walk on.

I have prayed sometimes for a gift of healing, or miracles, or something of this sort. God as yet has not answered my prayer. But as I said previously He has given me insight into the Scriptures, and I have sought to be diligent and faithful with this gift. People have reported to me that they have been blessed by my teaching. If this is my ministry, then that is fine with me.

I have been in two of William Branham's healing services. It is evident that he had a true gift of miracles. But I was not impressed with his teaching. Also I saw miracles performed in a Kathryn Kuhlmann meeting, but I thought her preaching was not outstanding.

So to one is given one gift and to one another.

I feel to emphasize in this present essay that it is time now for God's people to desire and pray for a gift and ministry until he or she breaks through. Then the individual is, as I said before, to make the operation of that ability of prime importance, shaping his life around it. If he will do this, the gift will grow in fruitfulness and other abilities will be added.

However if the believer says to himself, "If God wants to give me a gift He will, or the talent I have is not important and I will devote myself to my family and making a living," and does not present his body a living sacrifice, testing and proving what may be a spiritual calling, he surely will suffer in the Day of the Lord, and perhaps in the present day. He may end up, after he dies, as a resident in the Land of Darkness.

I have seen two or three instances of what has happened to people who have neglected to use their gifts as they were supposed to, and it was not a pleasant sight. The Bible means exactly what it states.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:27,28)

The above distribution of supernatural enablements certainly is not common among us. But I think the time has come when we will see a move in this direction. It appears that the persecution of Christians is near at hand in the United States, and we may be forced to go into hiding in order to conduct our worship services.

If this does take place, the casual Christians will be removed from us and those who persevere in the midst of difficulties may find themselves ministering in miraculous ways.

Notice the objective of the various gifts and ministries:

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)

Since few believers appear to reach this high standard, it is evident to me that the work of building up the saints must continue in the spirit world after they die. And why not? Is the Body of Christ disbanded because we die? I do not believe so.

Paul leaves no doubt that the work of building up the saints will continue until the members of the Body of Christ have been brought to perfection. Then, when Christ appears, they also will appear with Him. They will be raised from the dead. They will have a time of fellowship on the earth. Then they together will arise to meet Jesus in the air, and mount the white war stallions.

The trumpets of God will sound; the command to "advance" will be sounded; and the host of angels and saints will descend through the clouds to establish the Kingdom of God, the will of God, on the earth.

Each one of us is responsible to build up this army of judges to the fullness of maturity. The army of judges, the saints, will express the Word of God while Michael and his warrior attack and drive from the earth all the forces of wickedness.

There is quite a work yet to be done, isn't there? But God Almighty has decreed that it shall be done perfectly and completely; and what God decrees always happens! There is no authority or power that can withstand the Father. The works were finished from the beginning of the world.

And as to the building up of the saints:

I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified. (I Corinthians 14:5)

Notice the adjective "greater." This reminds us of Paul's exhortation in Chapter Twelve to "eagerly desire the greater gifts." Apparently prophecy is a "greater gift." There may be others that are even greater; but, as I said before, when you want to walk, your feet are the "greater gift." This is not true when it comes to playing the piano, is it?

Be that as it may, Paul exhorted us to prophesy, unless we interpret the tongues we have uttered.

It has been my experience in Pentecost that there are two kinds of utterances in tongues. One is our prayer language. Every Pentecostal believer knows what it is to express the burden on his soul by speaking in tongues, although there is no one else around to hear him.

Then there is the speaking in known languages that occurred on the original Day of Pentecost, as recorded in the Book of Acts. I have read that in the early days of the latter rain, at the beginning of the twentieth century, missionaries spoke to their listeners in languages the missionary had never learned.

So there is the prayer language of tongues, and then there is what we might term "missionary" speaking in known languages. This sort of thing may reappear in the closing days of the Church Age. I rather believe it will.

It is my point of view that we enter the rest of God by speaking in tongues in our prayer language. Notice this in Isaiah:

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose" (Isaiah 28:11,12)

The "rest of God," which is emphasized in the Book of Hebrews, is that state of being in which we cease from our own works and endeavor to enter that which God spoke concerning us on the seventh day of creation.

I have found, to my own satisfaction, that speaking in tongues builds me up such that I am more able to rest in God so that He is influencing my thinking, my speaking, and my acting.

So then, the word of the LORD to them will become: Do and do, do and do, rule on rule, rule on rule; a little here, a little there—so that they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:13)

If this isn't a perfect picture of a saint entering the rest of God, I do not know what would be. Little by little the Word of God replaces our fleshly life so that we are the flesh becoming the Word. Little by little, rule on rule, a lttle here, a little there, until that which cannot survive the fire of God is burned out of us.

We fall backward. We are injured, like Jacob. We are snared by the Spirit of God. We are captured. We no longer are adamic human beings. We still are human, but transcendentally so. It is a higher form of humanity.

Such is the purpose of speaking often to ourselves in tongues as we go about our daily business.

As to speaking in tongues or prophesying during the assembling of believers, all must be done with the purpose in mind of building up the saints. If any activity is done to access with no purpose other than to call attention to the one who is active, then it is the responsibility of the elders to politely request that he or she cease so that others may contribute.

There are no hard and fast rules here. All that is done must be decent and in order and must build up those in attendance. As I said, it is the responsibility of the elders to insure that such is the case.

In many of our current assemblings in America, there are few or no manifestations of the Spirit. Ordinarily we use music to fill in the gap.

However, it is very seldom that any kind of music, choir or other, although inspiring and pleasing to the ear, builds up Christ in the members of the congregation. It is entertaining, and that is all.

Also, the preaching must be done by someone who is waiting on the Lord and knows the present burden of the Spirit. If we have a minister who is preaching skillfully from his notes, and beautiful music, we are accomplishing little or nothing in the Kingdom of God. It is a social event—nothing more.

So there we have it. The Body of Christ in our day is as a valley of dry bones. There is enough prophecies in the Old Testament to assure us that in the last days the Spirit of God will move in unprecedented power. The saints who are living in victory in Christ will receive a double portion of power so they may bring the Gospel of the Kingdom as a witness to every nation on earth.

I believe that during this latter-rain revival there will be many instances of the saints speaking in known languages to their listeners.

While this testimony is taking place, Christ will be being formed in the believers. Michael and his angels will drive Satan and his forces from Heaven. Many who had been at the right hand of God in Christ shall be shaken and driven from the Presence of God because they never have been delivered from self-will. We have seen this happen already as notable ministers have fallen from their high place in God.

When spiritual darkness covers the earth, then we know the appearing of Christ and His saints is near at hand. The true saints shall be gathered together in hiding. There shall be deliverance in Zion and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

But those who are living in the Antichrist system will not be able to pray. Antichrist shall be given authority to ascend into the heavens and block their prayers. The Holy Spirit will not be available to them with the result they will not be able to repent and receive Christ.

Many who are last in time will be among the first to ascend to the thrones in the air that govern the spiritual environment of the earth.

Great things are at hand. Satan will use every device possible to keep us distracted so that we will miss the day of our visitation. The hardiest among us will press forward in Christ and receive the spiritual fulfillments of the Blowing of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the celebration of Tabernacles.

The holy will remain holy and the filthy will remain filthy so that the way of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be made straight.

Let's you and I press into Christ as never before. If we will listen to Christ and obey Him diligently, we will save ourselves and our loved ones. We now are living at the beginning of the greatest days of all. Sin shall abound but Divine grace shall much more abound. If we fail to stand in the hour of testing it will be because we have chosen to trust in man instead of Christ.

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The House Of God

2011-12-04

The House of God is Christ–Head and Body. When Jesus said, "In my Father's house are many rooms," He was referring to Himself and the members of His Body. Heaven is the Throne of God. But Christ and His Body are the only House of God.

There are seven feasts of the Lord. The seventh and last observance is the feast of Tabernacles. Each of the seven feasts has a spiritual fulfillment under the new covenant. The spiritual fulfillments of the six preceding feasts have as their purpose bringing about the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Levitical feast of Tabernacles was declared by the Lord Jesus:

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Notice how the preceding verse explains John 14:2:

In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)

The only way we become qualified to be a room in the eternal House of God is by obeying the teachings of Christ. The current doctrine of "grace" emphasizes that we do not have to obey the teachings of Christ and His Apostles because we go to Heaven on the basis of a sovereign "grace" apart from such obedience. Not obeying the commands of Christ and His Apostles prevents our participation in the new-covenant feast of Tabernacles.

It has been God's plan from the beginning of the creation, perhaps even prior to the creation, and is the purpose for the creation, has been to create a material house for Himself in which He can be seen, so to speak, and from which He may govern and bless the works of His hands.

I think the earliest indication of this plan may be found in the Book of Exodus:

You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance— the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. (Exodus 15:17)

The mountain is Mount Zion. Mount Zion is another name for the Church, consisting of God's elect, God's Israel, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

So we see that from the beginning God's purpose has been to create a dwelling for Himself.

One might wonder, "What is the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the eternal house or dwelling of God." Christ--Head and Body, are the House of God, the Tabernacle of God that is to descend from Heaven to a high mountain of the new earth.

This House properly is the Kingdom of God, the government of God which will govern those of the nations of the earth whom Christ chooses to save to life on the new earth. The Kingdom, then, is God in Christ in God's elect, ruling and blessings the works of God's hands. The saved of the nations are part of the Kingdom but not part of the government. They are governed by the Kingdom.

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

They who reign are the members of Christ's Body, that is, the Church, the elect of God, God's Israel. They shall reign over all of mankind who are saved to citizenship on the new earth.

It may be true that mankind eventually shall increase until the population of the gigantic new earth must spread to the stars. Christ and His Body shall govern those living on the stars also. Of the increase of Christ's government there shall be no end.

I am speaking now of the stars that will be formed when the new sky is created. They will not shine by nuclear fission but by the Light which is the Life of Christ, just as in the first three days of creation.

Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

We see further in the Book of Exodus that the Tabernacle of the Congregation was a sanctuary, a dwelling place for God.

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

Then we come to the proclamation of Isaiah:

This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." (Isaiah 66:1,2)

It appears from the passage above that the Lord God is seeking a house. Heaven is His Throne. The earth is His footstool. What is still needed is a house.

Notice the need for a "resting place." This reminds us of the "rest of God" mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. The rest of God consists of each person who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Oh that each of us Christians would be humble and contrite in spirit, and tremble at God's Word! To be living in God's rest we must cease from our own works and think only as Christ is thinking; speak only as Christ is speaking; act only as Christ is acting. This is the eternal Sabbath in which Christ and each member of His Body lives. Such is the House of God!

If we are a member of Christ's Body, we were brought into the world to be made a dwelling place for God Almighty. We are a saint, a holy one, in that we have been set aside for this Divine purpose. We may have one or many talents; but our highest priority is to listen to Jesus carefully as He prepares a place for us in Himself and the Father, and a place for the Father and Himself in us.

On the occasion of the birth of the Christian Church, we find that God has not changed His mind:

This is what the LORD says: "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me?' says the Lord. 'Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?'" (Acts 7:48-50)

The first Christian martyr was stoned to death after speaking these words. From this we can imagine how terribly important they are.

Whether our places of worship are elaborate or small and plain, God does not dwell in them as He did in the Tabernacle and the Temple of Solomon. God will dwell only in Christ–Head and Body. This is the resting place of God, and for each of us also. We are to enter His rest.

God never finds His rest, His dwelling place, in the first creation, the adamic man. The saints of old, such as Sampson, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, were filled with the Spirit of God on special occasions. But they never were God's rest, His dwelling place. The Spirit put them on as a glove and worked His works.

Each member of the Body of Christ is the eternal dwelling place of God. This is why the Lord Jesus stated that he who is least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist. John was one of those who was used by the Spirit; but John never was the resting place of God.

As I said, God never finds His resting place in the adamic man. God dwells only in Christ, that is, only in that which is of His own Divine Nature. Thus when we use the expression "Christ in us," we are referring to two distinctly separate facts. First, Christ, the Divine Nature of God, must be formed in us. Second, the Father, Jesus Christ Himself, and the Spirit of God must come and take their places in that which has been formed in us.

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." (John 3:5,6)

First, Christ formed in us.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:19)

Then, the Fullness of God comes to dwell in that which has been formed in us.

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

It is as we, with Christ's help, keep His commands, His Divine Nature is formed in us. Then the Fullness of the Godhead make us Their dwelling place, their eternal Tabernacle.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

First we must be strengthened with Divine power in our inner being. Then we are a candidate to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The following passage is relevant to the building of the House of God:

The mountains of Bashan are majestic mountains; rugged are the mountains of Bashan. Why gaze in envy, O rugged mountains, at the mountain where God chooses to reign, where the LORD himself will dwell forever? The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary. When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious— that you, O LORD God, might dwell there. (Psalms 68:15-18)

Again we see the emphasis on Mount Zion, where God chooses to reign; where God will reign for eternity.

The Lord has come from Sinai, from the Law, into His sanctuary—the Head and Body of Christ. My understanding is that the "chariots of God" is referring to the members of the Body of Christ.

Then we come to a portion that is repeated in the New Testament:

When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious— that you, O LORD God, might dwell there. (Psalms 68:18)

Notice below:

But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." (What does "he ascended" mean except that he als