Pastor's Page - Archive

Table of Contents

Introduction

Two Destructive Errors in Christian Thinking

Three Sisters

Separating the Sheep From the Goats

The Spirit of Religion

Three Aspects of Christ In Us

Two Aspects of Eternal Life

Immortality

Called; Chosen; and Faithful

The First Resurrection

The Final Resurrection

Being Born Again and the Kingdom

The Lake of Fire

Looking Ahead

Seeing the Face of God

But For the Grace of God

The Robe of Righteousness

A Little Boy

Building a New Person

Remaining In Christ

Expanding the Word of God

The Paths of Righteousness

The Battle for the Mind

Walking With God

Have We Been Deceived?

Justified and Then Saved

The Difference Between Religion and Eternal Life

Who Will Be Caught Up?

The Closing Days of the Church Age

The Rock of Israel

The Transition from a Living Soul to a Life-giving Spirit

The Transition from a Living Soul to a Life-giving Spirit: Part Two

Three Areas of Worship That Nullify the Christian Witness

The Emphasis on Righteous Behavior

As in Heaven, Also on the Earth

Moral Character, and the Rod of Iron

Rewards and Punishments

Why Are Christians Saved?

How Should Christians Cope with an Evil Environment?

Four Worlds

What Is Man?

Using Our Talents

The Handwriting Is On The Wall!

Things I've Learned During My Discipleship

The Nature of Resurrection

"I Delight to Do Your Will"

Shattering the Power of the Saints

The Deity

Choosing to Overcome

Washing Our Robe

Things to Think About

Misunderstanding the Apostle Paul

Did Jesus Do It All?

The Goal of Redemption

The Year of Jubilee


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.


Two Destructive Errors in Christian Thinking

2013-01-06

I suppose it is because of the erroneous teaching of "grace" that there are two major misunderstandings of the Christian salvation. One is that a person once having "accepted Christ" can never be lost to God's purposes. The other is that everyone who is "saved" receives the same reward.

These two doctrines, that "once saved always saved," and the idea that there are no rewards in the Kingdom of God because we all are equal being "saved by grace," are as destructive concepts as could possibly be developed by God's enemies.

Obviously, if we cannot be lost to God's purposes once we "accept Christ", then a Christian who is tempted severely is likely to yield to Satan, being under the impression that no matter what he or she does the safety net is there.

Why this is not obvious to sincere preachers of the Gospel is beyond me.

As for the Scripture references, there are too many for me to list here. But I will present a few that ought to be enough to persuade any person who honestly is seeking the truth.

However, I am not sure of that, because the truth in this case is so threatening that people may just shut their eyes and minds. Also, in some cases, there may be ego involvement if one has a record of preaching "once saved always saved." In addition, I think there may be pastors who will not preach the truth because their members may leave to go to a more "loving" pastor.

But let's look for a moment at these warnings:

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 2:21,22)

The response of those who refuse to recognize that the New Testament teaches the role of righteous behavior in the Christian salvation, often is, "such people never were truly saved."

But consider: they had known "the way of righteousness." Those who had known the way of righteousness certainly were farther along in Christ than the Christian church members of our day who have "accepted" Christ but never have known the way of righteousness.

So the people being addressed by the Apostle Peter had known the "way of righteousness", and then had turned their backs on God and went back to their "vomit."

"But," the protesters will claim, "they still were saved and on their way to Heaven." This is the sort of nonsense we are faced with today.

By the way, you may wonder why I almost always put "accept Christ" in quotation marks. First, "accept Christ" is not a scriptural expression. Second, it usually refers to people who have obeyed a religious procedure, not to someone who has received the Master with the intention of being a cross-carrying disciple.

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)

Is this verse written to Christian people?

It must be, because it is assuming the readers have the Spirit of God.

Second, what will happen to a Christian who lives according to his or her sinful nature?

He or she will die.

Does this mean the individual will be saved anyway and go to Heaven to live in a mansion?

Not likely.

According to the immediate context (Romans 8:11), it signifies that the person's mortal body will not be clothed with eternal life when his or her flesh and bones come forth from the grave. The person will be found spiritually naked. Doesn't sound like Heaven or a mansion to me? How about you.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Is the above verse written to Christians? I would say it is, because Paul says if you (Christians) live like this you will not inherit the Kingdom of God, the alternative being if you don'/t do these thing you will inherit the Kingdom.

So Paul is telling us that if Christians do these things they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

I suppose some will state that they will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but they will go to Heaven by grace and live in a mansion. So there they are. They are reclining in their mansion in Heaven but not permitted in the Kingdom of God.

I could cite many other passages, such as those mentioning that if we do not bear the fruit of righteous behavior we will be cut out of the Vine, that is out of Christ. Or if we sow to our sinful nature we will reap corruption; or if we bear thorns and briars we will be thrown into the fire. None of this matters just as long as we are in our mansion in Heaven.

Now I will give you one last passage to see what you think.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

These cannot be brought back to repentance!

There are two main reasons offered why this passage does not mean what it says: one, the Book of Hebrews was written only to Jewish Christians; two, these people never had been saved in the first place. This second reason I think is the most popular among the gainsayers.

The first reason I will not discuss. The Book of Hebrews is part of the Received Text, so the preponderance of Bible scholars accept it as speaking to all Christians.

Second, as to these people never having actually been saved:

They had been enlightened.

They had tasted the heavenly gift.

They had shared in the Holy Spirit.

They had tasted the goodness of the word of God.

They had tasted the power of the coming age.

You as a Christian may not be as spiritually advanced as these Jewish Christians were. If you backslide, this does not mean you have committed the unpardonable sin. You probably can repent and get back with the Lord—but maybe not. You had better look to your business. Christ does not enjoy foolishness.

But concerning people as advanced as these, the Bible has spoken clearly enough.

Now, any Bible scholar who would read about the background of these Christians, and say, "They never were saved in the first place," is leading God's people astray, deliberately or not. He is a false shepherd, and this is the best that can be said about him. He wilfully is ignorant.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)

When I think about all the verses that warn the Christian not to neglect his salvation, and realize the extent of the "grace" teaching and the damage that has been wrought, I realize it is time for God to open the eyes of His ministers. Unwittingly they are doing Satan's work!

Having discussed the error of the "once saved always saved" doctrine, let's think about the idea that because we all are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done, there are no rewards to be gained.

All are saved by grace. All go to a mansion in Heaven. There really is no benefit to seeking Christ fervently, as did the Apostle Paul.

The damage done by the "once saved always saved" doctrine is that most Christians will sin if they are tempted severely enough, as long as they are persuaded in their heart they can never lose out with God.

The damage done by the "no rewards" teaching is that the scriptural motivation for pressing into the life of victory in Christ is removed. All receive the same reward, so why not lay aside all else and "enjoy the good life" in America. We can't be lost, and efforts to press into Christ are the "filthy rags" of self-righteousness, so why not relax and enjoy ourselves?

The rewards to the overcomer are listed in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, as well as in the seventh verse of the twenty-third chapter.

Also, in the fourteenth chapter of Revelation, God's Firstfruits are set forth. The implication is that their lives were fervently dedicated to the Lord.

In the twentieth chapter of Revelation we notice those who participate in the first resurrection.

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.(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

The passage above is worth considering, in terms of whether all are saved by grace and thus have the same reward.

Some were seated on thrones and had authority to judge. (This doesn't sound like a mansion to me!)

Some were beheaded because of their testimony, and because of the Word of God.

They did not worship the beast or his image.

They had not received the mark of the beast in their foreheads or in their hand.

These are actions that were taken, not a passive belief in doctrine.

Their reward was to be raised from the dead and to rule with Christ in advance of the rest of the Christians.

These statements do not fit the idea of being carried to Heaven on the basis of a confession of faith in Christ, with all receiving the same reward.

Such people are blessed and holy.

The second death, the Lake of Fire, has no power over them, meaning they have gained victory over all the sins over which the Lake of Fire has authority.

Their reward is to be priests of God and of Christ and to govern the earth with Him for a thousand years.

These are the victorious saints, and they will be raised when Christ comes and be caught up to meet Him in the air. Then they will descend with Him and help in the task of installing the will of God on the earth.

How in the world could anyone read this passage and still preach that once we "accept Christ" we will be "raptured" at any moment and go to Heaven to live in a mansion?

The truth is, the Gospel of the Kingdom has been replaced by several fables that have a destructive effect on Christian maturity.

Speaking of those who attain to the first resurrection:

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

Notice that the Bride is clothed in her own righteous acts.

The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews informs us that Moses, having renounced the pleasures of Egypt, was looking forward to his reward.

The Apostle Paul was laying aside everything that he might attain to the resurrection that is our from among the dead.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would sit on thrones, judging the tribes of Israel.

The servant who put his talents to good use was rewarded with an additional talent.

The servant who did not put his talent to good use was deprived of his talent and sent into the outer darkness, because he was a wicked, lazy servant.

Those who press through to victory in Jesus will inherit all the things that God is making new, according to the Bible.

Those Christians who do not choose to live a life of victory over sin will not receive the rewards promised to the victorious saints, and stand in clear danger of being regarded as wicked, lazy servants.

In the light of these obviously scriptural facts, any teacher of the Bible, or pastor, or evangelist, who continues to tell people that once they "accept Christ" they have a free pass to Heaven; can never be lost no matter what they do; and should not attempt to live righteously because these are filthy rags of self-righteousness, will receive his due reward.

Ezekiel tells us that if we do not warn the sinner of his ways, and this certainly, according to the Scriptures, applies to the sinning Christian, will be condemned. The Christian will die in his or her sins; and the teacher, or pastor, or evangelist who did not warn him or her, will be accountable for the blood of that person.

I do not know what God is going to have to do to open the eyes and consciences of the ministers of the Gospel in America, but I feel certain He will do something. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.

Yes, it is possible to reap destruction after having known the way of righteousness.

Yes, there is a reward for pressing forward in the Lord Jesus.

Anyone who teaches differently from this will be held accountable for the lack of spiritual growth of his or her students.

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Three Sisters

2013-01-13

The members of the Body of Christ compose the Royal Priesthood. Each one has a measure of Christ in him or her. The term "Christ" refers to the "Anointed One," that is, the One anointed with the Spirit of God to serve God as a priest. As such, every human being who has a portion of Christ living in him or her is no longer of the world, just as the Lord Jesus no longer is of the world.

The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is the home of the Royal Priesthood.

There is a great wall separating the Royal Priesthood from the nations of saved people of the earth. The saved people, the "sheep," mentioned in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, have been brought forward to life on the new earth. They can enter the new Jerusalem and receive eternal life and healing, but they are not of the priesthood. The priesthood is by Divine calling, and no one can take this honor to himself.

I do not believe there is any limit on spiritual growth that may be achieved by a member of the nations of saved people. They may enter through the gates into the new Jerusalem, but they must keep the laws of God.

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)

The people who are not of the priesthood may wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb by repenting of any sin in their life, and then they may have access to the Tree of Life on the banks of the River of Life.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)

But the members of the Royal Priesthood have been chosen from the beginning of the world. That is why the Apostle Paul does not refer to the believers as Christians, but as "saints" (holy ones).

However, even they must life a victorious life, or they will be removed from the priesthood.

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. (Revelation 3:4)

To walk in white with the Lord Jesus means to be a priest of God.

As I said, every member of the Royal Priesthood has a portion of Christ in him or her. Considered as one whole, they are the Body of Christ, the Body of Him who is the High Priest of God. The members are priests because they are part of the High Priest. Each priest is anointed with the Holy Spirit in order to perform the work of the priesthood.

The following passage reveals that the priests are at three levels of maturity.

We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9)

The most mature of the priests is described as follows:

I am a wall, and my breasts are like towers. Thus I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment. (Song of Solomon 8:10)

Such are the hundredfold Christians. They are God's Firstfruits. They are a wall against the works of Satan.

Their breasts are like towers, meaning they have brought forth and can nourish sons of God who will wage war victoriously against the enemy.

They bring contentment to the Lord Jesus. He finds rest in them because they live by His Life, always doing His will with delight.

Then there are the sixtyfold. She also is a wall. Her reward for resisting Satan is that the fully mature sister will build towers of silver on her.

The "towers" are fortifications, signifying victory over the enemy. The "silver" refers to God's program of redemption. She will move forward in God's plan until she has been delivered fully from the person and works of Satan and has been filled with the Fullness of the Godhead. This is her reward for fighting the good fight of faith.

In addition, there are the thirtyfold Christians. They are of the Royal Priesthood, but they are doors. It seems they forever are falling into the snares of Satan.

The fully mature sister will pray for her until she is enclosed with panels of cedar. Thus she will be preserved until she has a chance to grow in Christ.

The inside of the Temple of Solomon was made of cedar. By enclosing the immature sister in cedar we are stating that she, although immature to begin with, still is of the Body of Christ, the eternal Tabernacle of God.

The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen. (I Kings 6:18)

There are weak, immature members of the Body of Christ. I am not speaking of those who turn back to the world, but believers who just can't seem to resist sin. They love God, but they are "doors" through which Satan can enter almost at his will.

The question is, how should we regard them? On occasion the strong members of the Body of Christ despise the weaker, thinking, I suppose, that they will have a smaller mansion in Heaven.

But we have been commanded to do otherwise:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: "The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me." (Romans 15:1-3)

All the Israelites were a holy nation:

You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites. (Exodus 19:6)

There were the people of Israel, then the Levites, then the priests. These also were in three divisions. The difference with the Royal Priesthood is that the less mature members can be ministered to until they attain to the fullness of maturity; whereas the people, Levites, and priest of Israel were frozen in their position according to the calling of God.

It is my understanding that the purpose for the thousand years of the Kingdom Age (Millennium) is to give God's Firstfruits an opportunity to minister to the "walls" and the "doors" who are residing in the heavenly Zion while they are gaining in maturity.

When the entire Royal Priesthood has been brought to the fullness of maturity, then it will descend as the beautifully dressed Bride of the Lamb to be located forever on the new earth as the Tabernacle of God.

Meanwhile the fully mature members of the Body of Christ, God's Firstfruits, will be governing the nations of the earth for the thousand year Kingdom Age. They will be busy at the task of working alongside Christ in establishing the will of God on the earth. This is the initial fulfillment of the prophecy of John, Jesus, and the Apostles, of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Some, or perhaps all, of these kings will go up to the heavenly Zion from time to time to impart eternal life, wisdom, and courage to the "walls" and "doors" in the heavenly Jerusalem until they are towers of silver on the outside and furnished with cedar on the inside.

Here is fulfilled the Scripture that the members of the Body are to build up each other in love.

So if we are a "wall" or a "door," if we do not cease to keep our faith strong in the Lord Jesus, even though we may stumble a time or two, we have hope that eventually Jesus will see to it that we are brought to spiritual maturity.

I must enter a word of caution here. In my writings I often refer to the opportunities we shall have in the spirit world after we die.

We indeed shall have such opportunities, but only on the condition that we are doing our best now. If at any time we knowingly turn away from Jesus and do not obey Him in the small challenges He places before us, we place ourselves in great spiritual danger.

We may imagine we can repent at any time. But let me remind you that repentance is a gift from God. There are people who have ignored their salvation who found, later in life, that they no longer were able to repent. Like Esau, they sought repentance in tears, but repentance was not possible.

I do not write this to frighten anyone, but to warn the believers that if they displease Christ during this present life they will be horrified when they die and enter the spirit world. Neither "accepting Christ" nor grace will help them in that hour! Remember the servant who buried his talent!

Christ in the next world will minister to the weakest believer until he or she becomes strong in the Lord. He will not crush the bruised reed or extinguish the smoking flax.

But the Christian who continues to sin wilfully has made himself or herself the enemy of God. The end of that individual is fiery judgment that will consume the adversaries, even if he or she has "accepted Christ."

So there is a bright future awaiting the person who has done his or her best to please Jesus. There will be help and redemption in the next world.

But of all the terrifying experiences possible for a human being, the very worst is to die and pass into the spirit world, having known the will of God and yet refused to do it.

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Separating the Sheep From the Goats

2013-01-20

Chapter 25 of the Book of Matthew tells us about the coming of the Lord, and separating the sheep from the goats. Jesus and His brothers are there. It is possible the "brothers," like their Lord, also are on thrones. God's angels are present. All the nations living on the earth at that time are gathered before Christ and His brothers.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matthew 25:31-33)

This event could take place at the next coming of the Lord, when Christ descends to the earth with His saints, The armies of Antichrist are destroyed. Antichrist and the False Prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire. One angel puts Satan in chains and hurls him into the Bottomless Pit.

Or, it could take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the time of the final judgment of men and angels.

I believe the setting is the next appearing of Christ, after the destruction of evil I just have mentioned. The reason I believe the setting is the next appearing of Christ is based on the following passage:

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:6-10)

Think about the passage above.

Christ comes in blazing fire with His angels. Those who do not know God or obey the Gospel will be punished with everlasting destruction. He is glorified in His holy people (his "brothers," as we see later in Chapter 25).

This fits Matthew; but it does not appear to fit the judgment that follows the Kingdom Age (Millennium).

As Matthew tells us: Christ is seated on the Throne of His glory. The peoples of the earth stand before Him. These would include the members of the Christian churches who are not part of the Royal Priesthood when He appears.

Let me explain; because the fact that many members of Christian churches are not part of the Royal Priesthood is not commonly understood. In our unscriptural haste to make certain everyone on earth becomes a Christian, we have not taken the time to consider what it means to be a member of the Royal Priesthood.

Let me give you an example:

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. (Revelation 3:4,5)

To be dressed in white is to be qualified to follow Christ when He descends to install His Kingdom on the earth as a member of the Royal Priesthood who will rule on the earth.

And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9,10)

Now I do not say lightly that there will be professing Christians, church members, who will be among the nations who are gathered before Christ and His brothers when He appears. If the truth be known, there are far more members of Christian churches in the world than there are Christians.

A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ. A Christian denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows the Lord, his Master, at all times—every moment of every day. There is no other person who is a "Christian," a "little Christ."

How many true Christians do you know?

We should understand from the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation that the rewards that we associate with all who profess to be "saved" are actually limited to the overcomers. It is the overcomers, the Christians living in victory over the world, over sin, and over self-will, who are God's priests, "little Christs," who will be raised to life when Jesus returns and caught up to meet Him in preparation for the Battle of Armageddon.

I am aware of the consequences of what I am saying. Of all the church members of all the Christian denominations in the world, only a handful are genuine Christians; who are not of the world just as Jesus is not of the world.

The word "Christ" means "anointed." When an individual is anointed with the Holy Spirit, he or she becomes a member of the priesthood. No one who is not anointed with the Holy Spirit is a member of the priesthood.

So every true Christian, someone who actually has come to the Lord and not just gone through a religious "accepting of Christ," starts off as a member of the Royal Priesthood. The Spirit, the mark of the priesthood, is in him.

But that crown of anointing can be stolen; and it often is:

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)

There are many passages of the New Testament that tell us we can lose what we were given at the first. The parable of the talents is one. I am not going to list them now because we might get off the subject of separating the sheep from the goats.

How Christ must be displeased with the multitude of pastors, evangelists, orthodox priests, Bible teachers, and other religious leaders who simply will not follow the Bible. They have their own ideas of what the Christian salvation should be like.

How many times have you heard a preacher say we must be careful lest we lose our salvation? Yet, the New Testament says that in several different ways.

How many times have you heard a preacher state that we should lay aside all else that we may attain to the resurrection from the dead? Yet, the Apostle Paul cited that as his ultimate goal.

How many times have you heard a preacher state that if we continue to walk in our sinful nature we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God? Yet, that is what Paul taught.

In a large Christian church you might find one or two genuine disciples of Jesus. The rest may be fine people, but they are of this world and will be gathered with the nations when the Lord appears.

I know that many people who attend Christian churches are good, decent people. But this does not make them disciples. The mark of the Royal Priesthood may not be in them. The same is true of the proponents of other religions; and also of people of the world.

If I accomplish nothing else in this article I would hope that each Christian who reads my words would turn to Jesus and find out if you are of Him or of the world. Don't be too sure of yourself. Pray until you really get hold of Jesus, until you pray through to peace and victory. We in America are heading toward Divine Judgment; and if the prophets truly are hearing the Lord, a lot of Americans are going to be killed.

I do not care if you and all your ancestors were raised in a Christian church. You need to pray earnestly until you know Jesus for yourself and can help others to stand during the moral and physical chaos that are rapidly approaching.

I have just spent several paragraphs to explain what I meant when I said there will be Christian church member gathered with the nations when the Lord Jesus comes. Only the true disciples, the true members of the Royal Priesthood, those who live by His body and blood, will be with Him when He comes. A part of Christ is in them, and this is what makes them members of the governing priesthood.

Let us now continue with Matthew:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matthew 25:31-33)

You may be under the impression that the "sheep" are the Christians. They are not. The "sheep" are not the brothers of Christ. They are people from the nations for whom the Kingdom of God is being created. The members of the Royal Priesthood are the rulers of the Kingdom of God, and they will govern the "sheep" whom God has chosen to save into His Kingdom—the Kingdom that was made for the "sheep."

All that is necessary to be saved, at the time I am writing, is to believe in Christ and be baptized. But that may not make a person a member of the priesthood. We can see that the Apostle Paul after a great deal of ministry was still striving to attain to the mark set before him. That does not sound like "believe and be baptized," does it?

There are numerous people from the nations of the earth who choose to believe in the Lord Jesus and be baptized, according to His commandment. From among these people, God chooses some to be members of the priesthood. Those who are chosen are not content to be casual church members. The Divine fire is in them to give them a desire to press into Christ. They endure many hardships as they press into the Kingdom of God.

They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. (Acts 14:21,22)

Those who believe and are baptized may or may not experience the urge to know Christ that is true of the priesthood.

To be "saved" means to survive throughout the Kingdom Age (Millennium)and then be brought over to citizenship on the new earth. The new Jerusalem, the Tabernacle of God, is the Wife of the Lamb. This is, the Royal Priesthood that will govern the people saved from the nations. Their rulership shall continue for eternity.

Although we do not often hear it preached, there are two classes of "saved" people. The are the members of the Royal Priesthood, and then there are the "sheep" from the nations.

Later we shall discover there is a basis on which God saves people into His Kingdom that is not a matter of "accepting Christ," as we do today.

The "sheep" from the nations will be put on His right; and the goats from the nations will be put on Christ's left.

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)

Notice how God has planned all things from "the creation of the world." This is why we are exhorted to enter God's rest. It is because all things, including our personal life, have already been finished in God's mind. Our task is to cease from our own works and enter that finished work.

Notice that the Kingdom of God was not prepared for the Royal Priesthood but for the "sheep." Isn't that remarkable? The Kingdom is the inheritance of the sheep! That ought to keep us from getting puffed up. We were created for the benefit of other people!

As soon as Christ has finalized His judgments, the "sheep" will be disbursed to various countries of the world, and kings will be assigned to them. Such is the thousand-year Kingdom Age that will occur prior to the coming down through the glorious new sky of the gigantic new earth.

On what basis did the "sheep" qualify to enter the Kingdom at this time?

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:35,36)

Many Christian people may be disturbed that the "sheep" did not "take the four steps of salvation." May I say that Christ, having died to make an atonement for the sins of the world, can include in His Kingdom any person He desires. These people inherited the Kingdom because they "gave a cup of cold water to a prophet," so to speak.

There are people living today on the earth who are not believers in Christ but whom God will impress to assist Christians who are in need. I was in a village in India, on one occasion, and the villagers told me that their thatched meeting place had burned down, and the Hindu villagers helped them build a new one.

On another occasion, Bob Marley and I were going through an inspection required before we entered India. The burly Indian inspector opened one of our suitcases. Piled on top of the clothes was a Bible. The inspector said, "Oh, holy men of God." And he waved us through.

God sees things like that! Someone who assists a Christian, knowing he or she is a Christian, does not lose his reward. But woe unto those who offend a Christian. God sees that also, and it will be mentioned when the offender stands before Christ in the judgment!

Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' (Matthew 25:37-39)

Notice that the "sheep" did not realize they were ministering to Christ, although they may have understood the individuals they assisted were disciples of the Lord.

The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matthew 25:40)

When Jesus said, "you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine," it must be true that the brothers were visible to the "sheep." If they were not, the expression "these brothers of mine" would not make sense. Christ obviously was indicating people who were present and could be seen.

I think this idea of the brothers being present fits the following:

On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10)

Christ will be glorified in "his holy people," in His brothers, who possibly may be seated on thrones around Him as far as the eye can see.

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." (Matthew 25:41-43)

This event no doubt follows the Battle of Armageddon, so the Antichrist and the False Prophet already will be in the "eternal fire." Satan will be in the Bottomless Pit, because he is to be released later as a final testing of the people of the earth.

They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' (Matthew 25:44)

As also in the case of the "sheep," the "goats" did not realize when they were not helping the Lord's disciples they were ignoring the needs of Christ.

He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' (Matthew 25:45)

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:46)

To be a member of the Royal Priesthood, of the Body of God's High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, is a very high honor indeed. Paul refers to the believers as holy ones (saints), not as Christians.

If we are wise we will make certain that the development of Christ in us is given the highest priority in our life. It is easy, in the present antichrist world system, to become distracted and spend our valuable time and energy on the temporary things and issues of the current life.

Let's you and me put the Lord Jesus Christ in first place in our life.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

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The Spirit of Religion

2013-01-27

I believe that "Babylon," as used in the Book of Revelation, is another word for the spirit of religion. Since I am a pastor of a church, the reader might wonder what I have against religion. The answer is, nothing, and everything.

The following essay may sound as though I do not recognize that throughout the millennia of earth's history there have been men and women of integrity and self-sacrifice who have served in religious institutions. I am aware there have been truly noble Christian missionaries who have been sent forth by Christian denominations.

So in reviewing what I have to say, I trust the reader will understand that I am not attacking the multitudes of selfless people who have given their lives in order to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom. Rather, my hope is to point out a spirit that, in one way or another, will murder Christ wherever Christ appears.

Babylon, "confusion," is the New Testament term for the spirit of religion.

Then they said, "Come, LET US BUILD ourselves a city, with a tower that REACHES TO THE HEAVENS, so that we may MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said, "IF AS ONE PEOPLE SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE THEY HAVE BEGUN TO DO THIS, THEN NOTHING THEY PLAN TO DO WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM. COME, LET US GO DOWN AND CONFUSE THEIR LANGUAGE SO THEY WILL NOT UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER." So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:4-9)

I guess many of the characteristics of a religious organization can be found in the passage above.

"Let us build." This reminds me of Peter wanting to build shelters for Jesus and Elijah. The Lord ignored that request. So did God who spoke from the cloud. Imagine looking at Christ in His Glory, and Elijah who had been dead for hundreds of years, and thinking how we should structure this experience.

One time I saw a picture of two missionary leaders. They were getting off an airplane, no doubt in a country in which they planned to spread the Gospel. They had blueprints in their hands.

But such is the spirit of religion. When Christ reveals Himself in power, our first thought is to capitalize on it in some manner. We just don't seem to be content to worship God and let Him interpret His own actions!

Instead of appreciating what he was seeing, Peter wanted to consolidate, or systematize, or preserve it in some way.

Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:4,5)

"That reaches to the heavens." Religion proceeds from the desire of people to reach Heaven by their own wisdom and strength.

"Make a name for ourselves." The name of a Christian denomination is an effort to reveal and preserve its identity and uniqueness. We want to show that we are different from other Christians.

This really is an abominable practice, isn't it? When people die and enter the spirit world they most likely expect to see the familiar practices and institutions of their religion. The Lutherans would be listening for their introits and graduals. The Catholics would be looking for priests, and possibly the Virgin Mary. The Pentecostals would be waiting to hear someone speak in tongues.

"Surely there would be on the horizon the kind of building I am accustomed to," they might wonder.

You may notice that the Apostle John did not see a temple in the new Jerusalem. God and the Lamb are the Temple of it. This is what we will encounter when we die and enter the spirit world. There are no church buildings! There are no special groups of Christians! Think of it.

When you die, are you going to be looking for your denomination?

You know what? God is not interested in our religious group or even our doctrine. God wants to know what kind of person we are. God is not a theologian. He is a Father, a Burden bearer, a Savior, a Creator, and our best Friend. But He is not a theologian!

What will it be like in the last days when all true Christians are one in Christ, and the world believes that it is God who has sent Christ? How wonderful will be the answer to that prayer of Jesus'.

I have nothing against religion if it brings people to the Lord. I have everything against religion if it calls attention to itself instead of to the Lord Jesus. And this is what it often does, I believe.

When I was worshiping with other Marines, during World War Two, we used to sing: "I don't care what church you belong to. Just as long as for Calvary you stand. But if your heart is washed as is my heart. You're my brother, so give me your hand?"

I think most of us Christians feel this way. What is it, then, that keeps us locked up in these divisions? It is the spirit of religion. It is not God or Jesus.

"If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."

You might wonder, "I thought you just implied that unity is a good thing. And now we find that God prevented it!"

Here is an important consideration. If all the Christians in the world gathered together into one giant denomination, which may take place before the Lord Jesus returns, it would be the greatest enemy of Christ of all time.

Why is this. Because religious organizations always exalt men to positions of leadership. In too many instances, these are not the men God has chosen to build up the Body of Christ, but people who love preeminence and are artful in church politics.

God uses apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, and a number of other ministries and gifts. These are the ministries that build up the Body of Christ. The apostles ordinarily will choose the elders who will keep the local congregation in scriptural order; or the congregation may appoint elders and deacons to perform practical tasks.

If all the Christians in the world united "for the cause of Christ" it would form a pyramidal hierarchy governed by a chief executive officer and his or her staff, who would seek to control what goes on in the local assemblies, and to whom the local assemblies must report and serve.

You can believe that if Christ raised up a prophet or apostle in such a mammoth organization, he would not be heard, if what the Lord gave Him in any manner threatened the rule of the chief executive officer.

So unity by itself is not the answer. The unity must be that of the believers in Christ in the Father. The Church, and there is only one Church, exists where there are believers who are one in Christ in God, and who move in concert with God and Christ, just as Christ always moves in concert with the Father.

So, as the Lord told His disciples when they were trying to decide who was the greatest, "You need to be converted." In the Kingdom, he who is greatest is servant of all.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries." (Revelation 17:1,2)

There are not many topics in the Bible that have two consecutive chapters devoted to it. But the subject of religion is important and has practical consequences for most of us.

Religion is termed, in the passage above, a "prostitute" and an adulteress. This is because it seeks spiritual relationships with people. The only true husband of a human being is the Lord Jesus Christ. Oneness with Him brings us righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Oneness with a religion does not have the power or authority of God to bring anyone righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Religion is a usurper, competing for the attention of someone who is seeking God and His Kingdom.

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. (Revelation 17:3)

Some teachers of the Bible are convinced that the Roman Catholic Church is the "woman" mentioned here. It is true that the Catholic Church, especially in its regalia when convening during holy days, is uttering blasphemies, when one considers that the Lord Jesus has nothing to do with such ceremonies. All such pomp is man's idea of building a tower that reaches to Heaven.

However, the Protestant churches are the daughters of the Catholic Church. The lowliest of storefront Pentecostal or Baptist churches may show in themselves the spirit of religion, the desire to worship Christ according to their own ideas, instead of listening to the Master.

The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: mystery babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. (Revelation 17:4,5)

The verses above may seem like too harsh an indictment on our neighborhood church. But remember that "Babylon" represents the spirit of all religions, worldwide. Every practitioner of religion from the witch doctor of Haiti to the leaders of the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and all other spiritual leaders and advisers, are included in the scriptural condemnation of religion.

In the Book of Hebrews, written to experienced Jewish Christians and applicable to all true members of the Body of Christ, we are exhorted to enter the rest of God. We are in the rest of God when we cease from our own striving and seek to enter that place in Christ where we think in concert with Christ; speak in concert with Christ; and act in concert with Christ. This is what it means to be a true Christian.

The rest of God is not at all compatible with religion. Religion is man's attempt to glorify and serve God. The rest of God is God's attempt to bring us into union with Himself so we will reveal Him in all we say and do.

Religion is man's plan's and efforts. The rest of God is God's plans and efforts, plans and efforts that have been operating from the beginning of the world.

Can you see from what I have just written the difference between religion and the Divine program? Can you see that they are incompatible, except for such instances when religion glorifies Christ and brings us into the rest of God.?

Relation tends to exalt itself. The rest of God always exalts the Lord Jesus.

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. (Revelation 17:6)

If we knew every instance in which a true disciple of Jesus has been put to death by religious people, thinking they were doing God's will, we would be astonished. The Lord Jesus Himself was put to death by religious people.

Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come." (Revelation 17:7,8)

As far as I can tell, the beast is Antichrist. Antichrist is especially prominent in the Book of Revelation. That the spirit of religion rides Antichrist is not surprising. The spirit of antichrist is the world spirit. This is the spirit that convinces people to order their lives according to their own desires without seeking to know that God wants.

This spirit is strong in the world today. In America, I never have heard our President on any occasion give glory to God. Maybe he has and I just never heard it. This is unusual for America. The presidents of our country always have acknowledged God and exhorted us to pray so God would keep our country safe and prosperous.

The church people, by and large, participate in democracy and enjoy the benefits of capitalism. They "ride" on the antichrist world system. They are somewhat upset about abortion-on-demand and perverse sexual practices and gender confusion.

But the attitude of Americans, perhaps the majority of whom associate themselves with Christianity, take a relatively complacent attitude about some of the horribly immoral activities in America, and the President does not speak out against them.

I notice that the Muslims in Indonesia resist the immoral entertainment artists who are accepted in America and England. Perhaps the tolerance of moral filth in supposedly Christian America and England is an illustration of the spirit of religion riding on the antichrist world spirit.

It is obvious to me that there are two primary forces in the world today. One is that of religion. The other is that of the antichrist world spirit, whose god is money.

It is interesting to note there are inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the Book of Life from the creation of the world. I cannot say I understand that, other than to mention that I believe it is entirely possible to have our name erased from the Book of Life, even though it was there to begin with.

This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction. (Revelation 17:9-11)

Some have mentioned that Rome has seven hills. That being as it may, I believe Babylon represents vastly more than the Roman Catholic Church. I would venture that the seven hills represent seven governments and seven kings. Who they are I will leave to scholars who study that sort of thing.

But we see that Antichrist is an eighth king who is part of the political leadership of the earth. There is no doubt in my mind that Antichrist will be a real person, a real king, in addition to there being an antichrist spirit—a spirit much in evidence in America today, as money and selfish ambition are so predominant in our nation. The Book of Daniel has quite a bit to say about Antichrist the king.

The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast. They have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:12-14)

The ten kings have one purpose, the same purpose as the beast. It is to make war against the Lamb.

I never thought I would see in America the hostility against Christ that is exhibited today. I believe it is going to get worse until we Christians are a persecuted minority.

No matter how grim the future becomes, we know that eventually the Lamb will overcome Antichrist and the kings of the earth cooperating with him. But I want you to notice carefully the saints who will be with Christ when He appears. They certainly will be a minority of the believers.

First, they have been "called." There is the population of the world. Then there is the people who have been called out of the world to serve God.

Second, they have been chosen. Not everyone who has been called is "chosen." To be chosen we have to prove ourselves worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Third, they have been proven faithful. Any person who is among the chosen will tell you of the grueling experiences they have endured as Christ has tested their faithfulness. God, our Father, is absolutely faithful. He wants us to be absolutely faithful no matter how low we have been brought and for how long.

They who will return with Christ and destroy the works of Satan are called, chosen, and faithful. These qualifications eliminate most of the believers of today, it appears.

Then the angel said to me, "The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages. The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire." (Revelation 17:15,16)

The passage above tells me that the shared authority of the beast and Babylon over the peoples of the earth will come to an end. This is not surprising. These are wicked people, and they will not want to share their power with anyone.

So the beast and the nations finally will strip Babylon naked, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. "Eating her flesh" may mean the secular governments will seize control of those who had been part of Babylon.

This marks the end of the power of religious organizations in the earth.

For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God's words are fulfilled. (Revelation 17:17)

Did you notice how God controlled these ten kings, as wicked as they will be? This is one reason why we are not to fret ourselves when we see evil filling the earth. God always remains in control.

The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth. (Revelation 17:18)

There certainly was a time when the Catholic Church had power over the kings on the earth. But there is something else to consider. Note the following:

Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! He said, "This is wickedness," and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth. Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.

"Where are they taking the basket?" I asked the angel who was speaking to me. He replied, "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place." (Zechariah 5:7-11)

I have believed for some years that the interpretation of the passage above is that all the religions of the world will get together. The city of Rome in Italy will not serve as a headquarters for the world religion. Rather the wickedness of religion will be brought to Babylonia, to the ancient site of the tower that was supposed to reach to Heaven. From that place, all the religious activities of the earth will be governed.

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird." (Revelation 18:1,2)

So it is with religion. Because Satan and his demons no longer have access to the Glory of God in Heaven, they infiltrate religion. This is easy to do because people are still self-willed. Only the people who are living in the rest of God instead of in their own plans and works are free from the demons and evil spirits.

For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. (Revelation 18:3)

Many of us today do not know of the relationships between the political rulers and the clergy. The young martyrs of Scotland come to mind. They chose death rather than accept the King of England as the head of the Church.

Even today we notice in Iran the power of the Muslim leaders, and then the political leadership. I am not certain which is going to prevail.

Who could estimate the value to the merchants of the practices of religion. In America the merchants count on Christmas sales to balance their accounts. Think of what the building of cathedrals has meant in terms of money; or the purchase of paintings; or the hiring of musicians!

"Excessive luxuries." The local assembling of the early Christian centuries met in houses. Compare these unpretentious meeting places with the cathedrals of Europe. There is no need for such display of wealth. A massive cathedral does not glorify God, it only glorifies religion.

Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;" (Revelation 18:4)

Every once in a while some sincere Christians, noting the irrelevance of numerous religious activities, cry out, "Leave the churches and meet in homes." And assuredly there are home groups that are admirable.

However, the spirit of religion can be equally strong in a home group as in a large church. Sometimes when believers leave the large babylon and gather together in a home, it is a little babylon. Human beings are still in control.

So the answer is not to go to the big church or the little home group, the answer is to enter the rest of God where we are thinking, speaking, and acting in concert with the Lord Jesus.

I myself am an ordained pastor in a denomination. This is where God has placed me. Being pastor of the church the denomination has assigned to me has enabled me to write what I think God is showing me. God wants me to write, not to travel around. God has sent to our church people skilled in computers and software. Without their help I would be floundering.

Religion or the rest of God is a matter of the state of the heart, not of the environment.

For her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. (Revelation 18:5)

Sometimes we feel like sallying forth in our own strength and wisdom and exercising vengeance on some of the wickedness taking place in our country. We are not to take matters into our own hands. God has perfect recall. Vengeance belongs to Him. Judgment will be brought about in God's way and in God's time.

Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Mix her a double portion from her own cup. (Revelation 18:6)

I do not believe God is instructing us to attack the religious systems at this time. But there shall come a day in God's will when the wickedness done in the earth shall be judged.

Let the saints rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds. May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. (Psalms 149:5-8)

I believe the expression "on their beds" is significant. It tells us that we are to rest in God, when it is time for vengeance on the wickedness in the earth, and let Him do the work. We do the judging, and the angels carry out the sentences.

Give her as much torture and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, "I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn." (Psalms 18:7)

This reminds us of the following passage:

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:6.7)

"I sit as a queen." Notice the arrogance, which is characteristic of the spirit of religion.

I might mention that the Wife of the Lamb is not a queen. Her Husband is King of all kings; but she is not a queen.

Why is that? It is because she is an integral part of Him and can do nothing apart from Him. The queens of the secular nations are independent of their husbands, the kings. They have their own ambitions and following. They can rebel against the king, if they desire to do so.

The Bride of the Lamb is not independent of Jesus nor does she have her own following. She lives by His Life.

But this is not true of the spirit of religion. In too many cases the leaders of the Christian movements do not live by the Life of Jesus. They are independent of Jesus and many follow them who do not know the Lord at all.

Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. (Revelation 18:8)

This is not, of course, referring to some small group of people who are worshiping Christ, but to the huge religious institution that worked together with Antichrist and the other kings to keep the populations of the earth in subjection.

When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry: "Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!" (Revelation 18:9,10)

We do not customarily think of religion in such lofty terms. But consider how the world would change if all organized religion were removed!

The passages that follow points out the economic aspects of religion. It is surprising, I think, that so many verses are dedicated to this one issue. Perhaps money is more important to the spirit of religion than we understand.

Or, it may be that in the days in which we are living, as the will of man is made preeminent in the governments of the world, the massive religious organization that is on the horizon, that will embrace all the religions of the world, with its headquarters in ancient Babylon, will become exceedingly rich in material wealth.

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men. (Revelation 18:11-13)

Notice that last statement—"souls of men." That is the problem with the spirit of religion. While it uses the name of Christ, or whatever name other religions may use, religion draws people to itself. Sometimes there will emerge from religious activities an individual, man or woman, boy or girl, who knows the Lord Jesus and worships Him.

But in so many cases, all the people know is their religion. We see this portrayed in the Muslim religion, if there is the slightest hint that the Koran or Allah has been insulted. The reaction is vehement and deadly. This suggests that the believers worship the Koran and their religion, not God.

God is not bothered by the fumbling of human beings as they insult Him or any book that claims to be His words. He understands how confused we are most of the time.

To continue with the effect on the world and on merchants when organized religion is removed from the world:

They will say, "The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered." The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn and cry out: "Woe! Woe, O great city, dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!"

Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, "Was there ever a city like this great city?" They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out: "Woe! Woe, O great city, where all who had ships on the sea became rich through her wealth! In one hour she has been brought to ruin!" (Revelation 18:14-19)

I have mentioned previously that the larger retail chains in America count on Christmas sales to keep them solvent. Added to this dependence on religion for sales would be the money spent on all the religious activities in the rest of the nations of the world.

Rejoice over her, O heaven! Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets! God has judged her for the way she treated you. (Revelation 18:20)

How has the spirit of religion treated Heaven, the saints, the apostles, the prophets? With rejection. With scorn. With burning at the stake, With imprisonment. With hatred. The Lord Jesus asked the Jews, "Which of the prophets did your fathers not kill?"

Then the crowning abomination of the spirit of religion: it killed the innocent Lamb of God, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord of the Christian people, the very Son of God.

Is it any wonder God sends such wrath upon organized religion?

Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. (Revelation 18:21)

The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. (Revelation 18:22)

Music has played a large role in the spirit of religion. But never again.

Trades people have been employed by the spirit of religion, such as in the building of cathedrals, mosques, and other houses of worship. But never again.

"Millstones," being used in producing flour, may represent agriculture or even all kinds of manufacture. Never again will they be used for religious purposes.

The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:23)

The "light of a lamp" may represent scholarly pursuits. Religion has been accompanied by a considerable amount of scholarship. But never again.

"The voice of the bridegroom and bride" may refer to the working of religions in the home and social lives of people. Never again will this be true.

I like to think of "the voice of the bridegroom and bride" as representing the members of the true Body of Christ. Never again will any true Christian be found in organized religion.

The "merchants" of religion could be counted among famous people.

Religion, with its mystical charm, can lead nations away from what ordinarily would be practical and true. How many wars have been caused by religious beliefs! Yet, none of these was of God, even the Crusades, and shall never take place again.

In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth. (Revelation 18:24)

This does not appear to be true at first glance. It would seem that the pursuit of money has accounted for many deaths. But the meaning may be that religion, by its rejection of man's personal and normal relationship with God, has allowed the spirits of war and murder to occupy so much of history.

Well, I have pointed to the evil that occurs when people, through organized religions, attempt to build their own staircase fo Heaven.

What is the true staircase to Heaven, so to speak.

The true path of eternal life is set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. It is the "rest of God."

God worked for six days, and then He rested. Everything was completed in that period of effort through to the new sky and new earth of the future.

Every occurrence of history; every person's life; was set forth at that time.

This being the case, and there is plenty of Bible support for the concept of God's foreknowledge and predestination, the primary task of every individual is to enter that finished work. This we do by abiding in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each person has a choice. He or she can plan his or her own life, or he or she can look daily to Christ to see what God has planned for the day. Little by little the believer is able to enter the rest of God in which his thoughts are the thoughts of Christ at that time; his words are the words of Christ at that time; and his actions are the actions of Christ at that time.

This does not mean the individual becomes an "empty vessel," waiting to be possessed by Christ. That is a false rest and leads to passivity and deception.

Living in the true rest of God means we are going through our day, continually looking to Jesus; listening to Him; obeying Him; praying for guidance; asking for help with problems; giving thanks for the solution of problems; abiding in Him at all times, day and night.

To the new Christian this manner of living may seem impossible. Actually it is no more difficult than attempting to live by our own wisdom and strength.

In addition we practice the normal Christian life of setting aside time each day for prayer and Bible reading. If a fellowship of Christians is available we should gather together with them on a regular basis, using our gifts and ministries to build up our fellow members of the Body of Christ; giving of our means; serving in whatever way we can.

I always counsel people to find an assembling of believers they can gather with and worship and serve Christ. It is very dangerous in our day of demonic pressure to attempt to serve Christ without fellow believers.

However, the people who contact me through E-mail are having difficulty finding a church that does not hammer on grace, grace, grace, rapture, rapture, rapture. God's people do not grow on a diet of lawless grace and the immediate "rapture" to Heaven of all who profess faith in Christ.

It appears to me that the current Christian preaching, being based as it is on the non-scriptural goal of going to Heaven to live forever in a mansion, is emphasizing ideas that are not found in the New Testament.

One of the main problems is the overemphasis on evangelism to the virtual neglect of feeding God's sheep anything beyond the most rudimentary aspects of salvation. "Tell me the old, old, story," but don't go any deeper than that!

When we compare the spirit of religion, or organized religion if you will, with the rest of God, we see how stark the difference is. The first focuses our mind on the activities of the church. The second focuses our mind on Jesus.

We have just seen in the Book of Revelation that organized religion finally will produce a mammoth institution at the site of ancient Babylon, that will have its tentacles throughout the world. It will continue its efforts, however unknowingly, to turn our attention away from Christ and toward itself and its activities.

Babylon will govern the world along with Antichrist and the other kings.

But as they say, you never find two dragons in one locality because one dragon eats the other. So it is that the secular rulers will share power with Babylon for a period of time. But eventually the secular will prove to be the stronger dragon, and will administer the Divine judgment to Babylon.

Now will the true members of the Body of Christ shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of Their Father. Never, never, never again will the spirit of religion seek to take the place of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then, when the world sees the believers in a state of oneness with the Son and the Father, the people will forget about religion and will recognize that indeed it is the one true God who has sent His Son to be the Savior and King of mankind.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 18:22-27)

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Three Aspects of Christ In Us

2013-02-03

There are three aspects of the expression, "Christ In Us." The first is that of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The second aspect is that of Christ being born in us in the born-again experience. The third aspect is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell in Christ who has been formed in us.

If we stop to think about it, eternal life has three dimensions. The first is Divine energy. Divine energy comes from eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ.

The second dimension of eternal life is that of delighting to do God's will. It is the discipline of righteous character and behavior according to God's moral law, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the personification.

The third dimension of eternal life is the Presence of God and Christ in our life.

There are three kinds of energy that enable us to live, move, and have our being.

The first is, as I have said, the resurrection Life of Christ in His body and blood.

Then there is the universal energy that comes from God. This is the energy by which all the dead are raised; by which the bodies of outer space were created and are kept in control; and probably by which the angels live.

A person who has lived in victory in Christ will be raised from the dead by this universal power, and then clothed upon with a body fashioned from the Holy Spirit.

A person who has not obeyed Christ will be raised from the dead by this universal power, but will not be clothed upon with the Holy Spirit. He or she will reveal in himself or herself the actions of the sinful nature to which he or she has yielded. As Paul said, this individual will reap corruption.

Then there is the energy that comes from the food we eat.

Eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ gives us bodily immortality; resurrection life, Divine energy. This Divine Life is imperishable. However, if we do not serve Christ, it can be taken from us and given to another. Then we are spiritually dead and may be placed in the Land of Darkness when we die physically.

It is interesting to note that eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood are not associated with seeing and entering the Kingdom of God; with Christ being formed in us, or with the Divine Seed, or with the mystery of the Gospel. Each of these has to do with being born again.

I understand this is sort of tricky and detailed, but I believe it will help us understand what is going on in our personality.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life. Whoever partakes of Him is partaking of His flesh and blood. The flesh and blood of Christ are eternal resurrection life.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:54)

If Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life instead of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would have gained immortality. They would have been living to the present day.

Speaking of the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2)

When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:7)

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalms 1:2,3)

Putting these three passages together, one could draw the following conclusion: Within the walls of the new Jerusalem, the Spirit of God flows as a river. The Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, is planted on one of the banks of the River of Life. From His roots a number of other Trees of Life have come up on both banks of the River.

There are twelve kinds of fruit, all of which come from the original Tree. It is my opinion that each of the other trees bears only one kind of fruit.

The "sheep," the people saved from the nations who are not members of the governing priesthood, will have personalities that differ. There will be one kind of fruit that best brings Divine Life to that personality, just as there are various personalities among those who minister the Gospel today. One personality-type can reach specific kinds of people.

Perhaps that is the meaning of "On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month."

"The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Today there are many kinds of ministers of the Gospel who have the gifts of healing. They can bring healing to any type of person.

As we continue to live by the body and blood of Christ today, we are gaining bodily immortality. This will be manifest when Jesus appears from Heaven.

When we choose to do what is pleasing to Christ, and resist the temptation to yield to our sinful nature, we are given to eat of the Tree of Life. We are fed with the body and blood of Christ in the spirit realm. This will be true for eternity.

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)

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

We do not gain bodily immortality by grace or mercy or faith, except as faith causes to persist in doing good. How different this is from the current mythologic teaching that is presented as the Gospel of the Kingdom of God!

The second aspect of the expression "Christ In Us" is the born-again experience.

Of all the several dimensions of the Christian redemption, one of the least understood, it seems to me, is that of what it means to be born again.

At the present time it is widely taught that if we will make a profession of belief in Christ we at that time are "born again." This is not true necessarily. What has taken place is, we have professed belief in the theologic facts concerning Christ. However, it may be true that we actually have received Christ at that point and have been born again.

But from what I have seen, I think most people in our day who "accept Christ" have succeeded in satisfying the requirements of our evangelistic techniques but never may have actually met the Man.

Being born again is a spiritual—almost emotional in some instances—experience. It is not merely a rite of religious orthodoxy.

What does it mean to be "born again." It means that a part of God has been sown in our personality. It is infinitely more than an idea. It is a piece of the Divine Nature. It is of God. It is Divine.

Children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:13)

Actually born of God!

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)

This is a literal fact. If the Seed that has been put in us is nurtured properly, it will grow over a lengthy period until it is like God who planted it.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)

Since the Seed from God is Divine and therefore imperishable, one might wonder, "Can the Seed that has been sown in us ever finally wither and die if it is not nourished properly?"

The answer is, yes it can. Think about the parable of the sower, which is the foundation of all parables of the Kingdom. The Seed can die from not having enough root; and it can die by being choked out by the cares of the world. In either case, there is no permanent fruit.

The current doctrine of "once saved always saved" is one of the most unscriptural, destructive teachings ever to appear on the Christian scene. The New Testament is against this doctrine in no uncertain terms!

Sometimes it is argued that if a child is born it cannot be unborn. This is true. But in the case of Christ in us, what has been given to us may be taken from us and given to another. We then may be placed in the Land of Darkness, as in the parable of the sower.

It is no small matter to have Christ formed in us and then brought to full term:

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

She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. (Revelation 12:5)

Here is a thought to consider. No one comes to Jesus to be born again except by the direct determination of the Father.

He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." (John 6:65)

Why is this? It is because having Christ born in us signifies we have been appointed as a member of the Royal Priesthood.

Anyone who chooses to believe in Christ can be baptized according to His commandment. He or she shall saved from wrath, just as a Jew was spared when the Divine judgment fell on Egypt if he put the blood of the Passover lamb on his doorpost.

In the case of Israel we see that the priests and Levites were set apart. No member of Israel could by devout behavior become a Levite or a priest. So it is true that those people who have been saved from the nations can, if their behavior warrants it, enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem and eat of the Tree of Life. This would give them Divine Life, but would not make them members of the Royal Priesthood.

The purpose of the Christian Era is to get foreordained people on the path to becoming a member of the priesthood. The purpose of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium) is to permit the stronger members of the priesthood, of the Body of Christ, to build up the less mature until each one is ready to descend from Heaven to the new earth as part of the new Jerusalem.

Today, during the Christian Era, whosoever chooses to do so may believe in Christ and be baptized, thus receiving forgiveness of sin and protection from the judgment that comes on the world. From among this group of people God selects His priests. They pass from the called, to the chosen, to the faithful. It is a rugged curriculum!

They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:15)

As for the more mature in Christ helping the less mature to come to maturity, this I believe is the meaning of the following passage in the Song of Solomon:

We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build towers of silver on her. If she is a door, we will enclose her with panels of cedar. (Song of Solomon 8:8,9)

Above you have the thirtyfold and sixtyfold members of the Royal Priesthood. The sixtyfold are not mature, but at least are a wall again sin. The thirtyfold are "doors," that is, Satan takes advantage of them at his will.

The less mature sisters of the Bride must be nurtured by the hundredfold believers until they are ready to descend to new earth as the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

For those of us who may be members of the Royal Priesthood we see the great opportunity and the great danger that confront us at this time. If we are willing to give ourselves wholly to the Lord Jesus Christ, to live by His Life, then we will be raised from the dead; be caught up to meet the Lord in the air; and will descend with Him to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

However, if we are content to live as a typical American churchgoer, placing numerous activities, relationships, and hobbies, in a higher priority than learning to live by the Life of Christ, we very well may lose whatever part of the Divine Nature that is in us and will end up bearing no lasting fruit.

I would not recommend this latter kind of Christian life. The individual will face at physical death an angry Lord Jesus. He or she may lose what inheritance he or she had, and be placed in the Land of Darkness.

As I said before, being born again is associated with seeing and entering the Kingdom of God, with Christ being formed in us, with the Seed that comes from God, and with the mystery of the Gospel.

The forming of Christ in us, being born again, is not to impart power to us. Rather, it is to bring us under the discipline of the Word of God. The eternal moral law of God is written in our mind and on our heart.

As we grow toward maturity, we find ourselves exclaiming, "I delight to do your will, O God. Yes, Your law is in my heart."

It is this inner compulsion to do God's will that is the distinguishing mark of the Royal Priesthood; and this is why these priests of God govern the behavior of the people saved from the nations.

To be a member of the governing priesthood is the highest honor and privilege that can be given to a human being. Every individual who truly is born again has the opportunity to press forward until Christ, the Anointed High Priest of God, has come to maturity in him or her.

But remember that dire warning in the Book of Revelation: "Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown."

If we are not totally diligent, some person may be successful in pulling us down from our high place in God and we lose our crown of anointing, the crown of the governing priests. We see this happening in our day as distinguished ministers of the Gospel who at one time were in Christ at the right hand of God, torn down to earth by sexual lust.

We have spoken of the first aspect of Christ in us, which is that of partaking of the body and blood of the Lord.

We have spoken of the second aspect of Christ in us, which is the birth of the Nature of Christ in us.

The third aspect is that of becoming a room in the Father's House. The Father's House is the Lord Jesus Himself.

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)

Please note that God and Christ will not dwell in the adamic nature, only in that personality in which the Divine Nature has been formed.

Here is the goal of redemption, that God might have a house, a dwelling place. Jesus Christ is the House of God and the Chief Cornerstone of this eternal Temple. He went to the cross, and then into the sanctuary in Heaven with His atoning blood, to make a room for us in Himself.

Thus, Christ and His Body are the Royal Priesthood, the dwelling of God among people, the new Jerusalem, who will govern the nations of saved people for eternity, bringing God's Life and blessing to them. The new Jerusalem is the government of the Kingdom of God. The nations of people on the new earth are the citizens of the Kingdom of God.

Such is the plan of God wrought in the first six days of creation. Then God rested, having prepared for Himself an eternal resting place. We are called to enter that finished work by ceasing our own works and finding out each day what God desires for us on that day.

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. (Isaiah 66:1,2)

In our time, God is watching over His Word to perform it!

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Two Aspects of Eternal Life

2013-02-10

There are two aspects of eternal life. One is the birth and forming of Christ in us. The second is the body and blood of Christ, the hidden manna that is given to the victorious saint. The forming of Christ in us provides the righteous character that delights to do God's will. The body and blood of Christ are the eternal resurrection life that enable us to live in the righteous behavior demanded by our new character.

Associated with the birth and forming of Christ in us are our receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior; the Divine Seed that comes from God; seeing the Kingdom of God; entering the Kingdom of God; and the new covenant.

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:3-5)

Associated with the body and blood of Christ are eternal life; resurrection unto life; immortality; abiding in Christ, and living by Christ as He lives by the Father.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, 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 him up at the last day.

For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6:53-59)

Both the birth and forming of Christ in us, and eating Christ's flesh and drinking Christ's blood, are aspects of eternal life. However the first has to do with God's Seed and the developing of righteous character in us. The second is the Divine energy that enables us to actually behave righteously. The Divine Character and Divine power—both are essential parts of eternal Divine Life.

I have been in the "Pentecostal" movement for many years. I have noticed that on occasion the spiritual-emotional experiences of Pentecost have outshone the necessity for godly character and decisions. Both are equally necessary. The Pentecostal power without the righteous character can be unholy. The character without the Pentecostal power can be dead.

Notice in the following passage how eternal life flows from godly behavior:

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

Can you see from the above that eternal life is the result of holiness; and holiness results from slavery (total obedience) to God?

I will tell you the truth as I see it. The modern emphasis of Gospel preaching places far too much emphasis on belief. Thus the Gospel has become a philosophy instead of an eating of Christ's flesh and the drinking of Christ's blood. The belief that is being preached today often is little more than mental assent to theologic facts. It does not lead to obedience; to the keeping of the commands of Christ and His Apostles.

Thus, it is nothing more than dead religion.

The forming of Christ, the Word, in us is the new covenant. It is substantial. It is the Seed and Nature of God. It is vastly more than an idea; it is the transforming of our personality with the Divine Nature such that we become a life-giving spirit.

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 above is the only Christian covenant. It is made with the "house of Israel" because all who truly are part of Christ are of the house of Israel.

The "four steps of salvation" that we use today are not the Christian covenant. The Christian covenant has to do with the birth and forming of Christ, the Word of God, in us. This is the mark of the Royal Priesthood.

Notice Paul's travail:

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, (Galatians 4:10)

The forming of Christ in us is not to be confused with the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, which is the coming of the Father and the Son to dwell 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)

The first is what we have become in character as the Character of Christ has been formed in us through the birth of the Divine Seed and the impartation of the Divine Nature.

The second is the coming of the Father and the Son through the Spirit to dwell for eternity in what which has been formed in us.

The birth and forming of Christ in us is the Kingdom of God; it actually is that which is revealed in the last two chapter of the Book of Revelation as the holy city, the new Jerusalem. This is the Royal Priesthood that will govern the creation of God, including those people who are saved from the nations. The "sheep," of the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew.

We notice in Revelation the River and the Tree of Life:

Down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

The great importance of the River of Life and the Tree of Life is portrayed by the fact they are in the middle of the street.

Whoever of the nations who are willing to "wash their robes," that is, renounce all sin and live in righteousness and holiness, may enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem and drink of the Water of the Holy Spirit and eat of the Tree of Life, of Christ and of those lesser trees of life who are an integral part of Him—the life-giving spirits.

The Tree (or trees) of Life are the Substance of Christ that will place, in the personalities of those who eat of the fruit, the desire to do the will of God. The River of Life speaks of the Divine Life that results in immortality.

The new Jerusalem is the government of the Kingdom of God. The nations that enter its gates in order to obtain righteous character, healing, and immortality, are the citizens of the Kingdom of God. Actually, the Kingdom of God is the inheritance of the "sheep," the nations of saved people.

The body and blood of Christ are the "manna" that we must have in order to live in resurrection life. Whenever we are tempted to do evil, and we renounce the evil and choose to obey Christ, we are fed in the spirit world with the "hidden manna," the body and blood of Christ.

Each time we choose to overcome sin we are given of the Life of Christ, His body and blood, which then give us additional wisdom and power to overcome sin in the future. Thus we are entering a cycle that leads onward and upward to the fullness of righteous and holy being and behavior.

The issue of our day, in Christianity, is behavior, isn't it? Because the doctrine of lawless grace, in which grace becomes a substitute for moral behavior, righteous behavior loses its prime importance.

"So we don't overcome sin. Who cares? We are going to Heaven by grace, aren't we?"

If this is not the most destructive error to enter Christian thinking, I do not know what would be. The result is multitudes of professing Christians who have "accepted" Christ but never have received Christ. They are spiritual infants, who do not grow because they are not learning to distinguish between righteous behavior and wicked behavior.

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)

If we are not confessing and renouncing sin as the need arises, we are not eating the flesh of the Son of Man and drinking His blood, we are dead spiritually. I do not care how orthodox our Christian beliefs are, we are dead spiritually. There is no resurrection life in us that will bring us to Jesus when He next appears.

The important issue is that we are living by Christ as He lives by the Father. Living by the Life of Jesus has become a major theme of my writing and preaching these days. partly because we are facing chaos in the United States. Divine judgment because of our sins is on the way.

Numerous professing Christians in America simply do not know Jesus. They may have "accepted" our belief system, but they never have come to know Jesus and to follow Him each day in cross-carrying obedience.

Such "Christians" attend church, but church is just one part of their busy day. Even while they are sitting in church their thoughts may be on politics, or some football game that is in the headlines, or their pursuit of wealth, or their sexual ambitions. They do not realize it, but Christ is not being formed in them. They are not abiding in Christ. They are not living by His Life.

During the week they do not talk to Him, discussing their blessings or problems, seeking wisdom and strength for the day. They are not aware of His Presence most of the time.

If they, or someone in their family, gets cancer, they may become much more serious. They may begin to call on the Lord. But if there is no family emergency, they probably will drift along with attending church being one part of the busy American culture.

But the Spirit is speaking that God is ready to exercise Divine judgment on America. Abortion-on-demand is enough to bring down the wrath of God on us; also, the widespread occasions of sexual lust and perversions of all kind, including the confusion concerning gender. Sexual perversions were enough to wipe out the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Then too there are the entertainers as well as the producers of pornographic material who continually are providing a bath of moral filthiness for anyone who is interested.

I think it was Billy Graham who said, years ago, that if God does not punish America He is going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Sodom and Gomorrah did not have the Bible we have, or the account of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have both of these and still, many times even while professing Christ, are wallowing in the pigpen of moral filth.

The central goal of the Divine salvation is not residence in Heaven, it is the resurrection unto immortality in the body. The famous John 3:16 is speaking about immortality in the body.

But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Timothy 1:10)

The Lord Jesus announced that all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth. Those who have done good will rise to live; and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." (John 5:28,29)

Jesus said His body and blood are resurrection life and He will raise us up at the last day.

But notice that our being raised to eternal life depends upon our doing good, which is a result of Christ being formed in us.

This is where the two aspects of eternal life come together. It is the body and blood of Christ that are our eternal life and will raise us to meet Him when He appears. But it is doing good that results in our being raised to immortality.

Today, at least in America, is a period of preparation. God is moving through our land and observing who is sincerely seeking Christ, and who is making a profession of faith but whose heart is elsewhere.

The Spirit is warning us clearly to prepare for the shedding of blood. Whether this will be because of an attack by Muslims, or by another country, or whether it will be by civil war as those who wish to preserve our former way of life fight against the worldly interests that appear to be entering our government, I am not prepared to say.

One thing I believe the Spirit has made clear to me is that America no longer will be a world leader. She has forfeited this position by her sinning. The world leadership will pass to the East. I do not know what country or countries.

If we are to stand, and help others to stand, we will have to be living under the shelter of the Most High God. This does not mean to be a Christian in name only. It means to be a cross-carrying disciple of Jesus, obeying Him moment by moment throughout each day and night. Nothing else will suffice to save us, our loved ones, and those who hear us, throughout the disasters that are on the horizon.

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Immortality

2013-02-17

According to the New Testament, the Gospel of the Kingdom has to do with attaining to immortality in the body, not with going to live in Heaven. How did we get so far off?

We are in need of a restoration of Christian thinking. For example, the goal of most Christians is to escape Hell and go to Heaven when they die. According to the New Testament, the goal of the Gospel of the Kingdom is bodily immortality. Which of these two goals we have in mind makes a significant difference in the way we think about our salvation.

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. (Proverbs 12:28)

The verse above sets forth the issue. The issue is that of righteous behavior. It is the importance of righteous behavior in our salvation that has been lost, largely through the unscriptural doctrine of lawless grace.

Another name for salvation is "redemption." Redemption means restoring to the original owner that which was lost to him, for one reason or another. It was immortality in the body that was lost in the garden in Eden, and it is immortality in the body in Paradise on the earth that Christ came to restore.

Adam and Eve were alive physically. There was no sinful nature in them. If they had obeyed God, and had eaten of the Tree of Life, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, they would have been living in their bodies to the present day. Paradise would still be on the earth. We would have no sin nature. Think of it!

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is not the Tree of Sin, as some are teaching. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God told them not to eat from, is what it is named: "The Knowledge of Good and Evil." The tree did not cause them to sin. Rather, the tree made them aware that they were naked, a shameful condition.

We Christians spend our lives learning the difference between good and evil. Understanding the difference, and embracing the good and renouncing the evil, is growth in 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)

If Adam and Eve had eaten of the Tree of Life, they would have received immortality. If they had obeyed God further, they would have learned they were shamefully naked, and would have been able through Christ to choose to wear clothes.

That is how it is with us today. We are alive in Christ. The Spirit of God points out where we are "naked," so to speak. Then we "clothe ourselves" by confessing and renouncing the sin. In this way we press toward immortality in the body, which we shall receive when Jesus returns.

Let's think about what the New Testament has to say about immortality:

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

Today's gospel tells us if we will believe in Christ we will go to escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die. How absurd. There is no New Testament basis for this notion. Where did we get this idea?

In fact, we have substituted the "four steps of salvation" for the actual new covenant, found in the eighth and tenth chapters of the Book of Hebrews. We are way off the track!

Look at what the Apostle said in the Book of Romans:

By persistence. "What? We don't just 'accept' Christ and wait to die to go to Heaven?"

By persistence in what? In doing good. "That can't be right. I have always been told that if I try to do good I am adding my filthy works of doing good to the salvation which was purchased on the cross. So I believe the Apostle Paul should not have said that. I have been taught that I certainly do not have to persist in doing good!"

Seek glory, honor, and immortality. "I am not seeking glory, honor, and immortality. I am waiting to die and go to my mansion in Heaven, just like all good Christians."

He will give eternal life. "Eternal life means to live in a mansion in Heaven for eternity. It has nothing to do with my body. I am going to be caught up to Heaven in a rapture. I doubt that my body will go along with me."

I think my little dialogue is not too far off the mark. What do you think?

Let's take the famous verse in the Gospel of John:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Now, here is how it is preached today:

For God so love the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not go to Hell but to Heaven to live forever.

Am I correct? Is this how John 3:16 is preached today?

Where does it mention Hell?

Where does the verse mention Heaven?

But shall not perish means not to go to Hell. Does it?

Eternal life means to go to Heaven. Does it?

First of all, our inward nature is imperishable, as far as I know. So the verse is saying the body will not perish.

Notice the terms perishable and imperishable in the following passage:

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 15:52-54)

Perhaps the passage above is what John 3:16 is telling us.

Eternal life has nothing to do with Heaven. It is a state of being. We can be in Heaven and have eternal life, or be on the earth and have eternal life.

Eternal life does not come through professing belief in Christ but through persistence in doing good, according to the Apostle Paul.

But what exactly is eternal life? Eternal life is the Divine energy that comes from eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood, according to the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John.

Eternal life is the righteous character that is developed in us as Christ is formed in us. Eternal life is the result of holiness of character which in turn results from righteous behavior.

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

It looks to me like eternal life is the result of godly behavior, not just "accepting Christ." Would you agree with me in this?

Eternal life also is live lived in the Presence of God and Christ.

Thus when Adam and Eve were prevented from eating of the Tree of Life they were cut off from the body and blood of Christ (these are an essential aspect of immortality but were not available as yet); they were cut off from the Divine Nature of Christ, which is an essential aspect of immortality; and they were cut off from the Presence of God and Christ, which also is an essential aspect of immortality.

Adam and Eve chose to be made aware of their nakedness but were not prepared to deal with it successfully. So several hundred years later the two bodies perished.

In short, John 3:16 is speaking of bodily immortality. It has nothing whatever with going to Heaven to live in a mansion.

It is not necessary to have a physical body in Heaven, although there may an advantage to having a body in Heaven that I do not know about. We indeed will have a spiritual form; but not a body until the Day of Resurrection.

When we are resurrected in the last day, our physical body will come forth from its place of interment. It then will be clothed upon with a body made by the Holy Spirit; or, not being found worthy of being clothed upon with a body made from the Holy Spirit, the body will perish in some manner.

The Apostle Paul speaks of our reaping either destruction or eternal life. My thought is that Paul is speaking of our body. Either we, because of what we have sown in this present life, will reap immortality in our body; or the destruction of our body.

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)

There is a verse in the Book of Isaiah that may be relevant here:

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24)

The "dead bodies."

It may be true that the passage above is what John 3:16 means by "perish," and what the Apostle Paul means by "destruction."

The Apostle Paul was looking forward to the resurrection of his body, not to going to Heaven. Where did we get this idea?

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain 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 as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23)

Where the inward nature will be at this time I am not certain, but I seriously doubt it will be reclining in a mansion in Heaven.

You know, I am a believer in the words of the Bible. And when I think of how God's people are being taught that all they have to do is make a profession of belief in Christ and they then are to carried up to Heaven in a rapture, having never persisted in doing good, I am troubled. I feel like Ezra when he found out the Jews were marrying the aliens.

Well, let us go on from here. Our objective is not eternal residence in Heaven. It is immortality in the body, so when Jesus comes we may descend with Him and install the Kingdom of God on the earth. Also, we will need a material body to serve God on the new earth that will be created after the final judgment.

Our example is the Lord Jesus. He rose from the dead in His body:

Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have. (Luke 24:39)

We have to have a material body if we are to live again on the present earth during the Kingdom Age; and on the new earth when it is created.

The restoration to life of the physical body in the Day of Resurrection is the destruction of the last enemy. It is the goal of the Divine redemption, and here we are talking about going to a spiritual Heaven to live forever in a mansion. How totally unscriptural!

Everything is focused on the bringing back the body to life. This is the goal.

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

The Lord Jesus Christ came from Heaven to bring spiritual life and bodily immortality to everyone who would believe in Him, and demonstrate that belief by obeying Him.

An abstract faith not accompanied by the works of obedience that have been commanded by Christ and His Apostles is absolutely worthless to God's plan of salvation.

But it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Corinthians 1:10)

Would it make any difference in the way you pursue your discipleship if you realized your body is going to be raised from the dead; and if you follow Jesus each day in cross-carrying obedience, your body would be made immortal? Then you could continue with your life!

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Called; Chosen; and Faithful

2013-02-24

Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find? (Proverbs 20:6)

There are three levels of consecration to the Lord Jesus. First, we are called. If we show ourselves worthy of the Kingdom, we are chosen. Then, if we endure all the trials that are applied to the chosen, we will be regarded as faithful. If we are among the called, chosen, and faithful, our reward is to be always with the Lord Jesus.

They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)

We see from the above that to be caught up to be forever with the Lord Jesus when He appears requires much, much more than making an initial profession of belief in Christ.

We must be "called" by the Lord.

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:6)

First of all, we are called to belong to the Lord Jesus. Not everyone who lives on the earth is called. This is an invitation to partake of the Divine redemption and to become part of the Royal Priesthood.

Because we think in terms of fairness, and have been indoctrinated with the principles of democracy, it is quite difficult for us to accept the fact that not everyone is called to belong to the Lord. Our evangelistic efforts do not always take into consideration the biblical principle of "calling."

One part of this question has to do with the purpose of our being called out of the world. It is so we can start on the path that leads toward becoming part of the Royal Priesthood. This is a different matter from being "saved."

We spend out energy, time, and money, on getting people "saved." To be saved is to be preserved from Divine judgment so we will be permitted to be a part of the new earth, and not be confined in Hell or the Lake of Fire.

To be "called," on the other hand, is to be invited to become part of the priesthood. We are called to be saints, holy ones, not called to be saved. God is willing that all will receive Christ as Lord and be saved from wrath. But not everyone is called to be part of the Royal Priesthood.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. (I Corinthians 1:26)

Jesus said whoever believes in Him and is baptized shall be saved, so the Apostles were charged to preach the Gospel to every person. We will have to leave it up to God as to who is called and who is not. The written Word cannot be changed in any manner.

We just have to accept that the Church consists of people who have been called out from the world; and just let God figure out who is called and who is not called. Being called to the priesthood, and being saved from wrath, are two different situations.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7)

Each true Christian is called to be a saint, a holy one. The Christian Church is called out from the world to be a holy priesthood. When we have been prepared sufficiently, our role in the creation will be to represent God to the people He has created, and to represent the people whom He has created to God.

Christians may be occupied with the need to be saved from wrath. God is occupied with His need to have representatives who will enable Him to govern, bless, and enjoy His children.

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. (Romans 8:28)

The purpose of God was established at the beginning of the world. Those who are called to be part of the Royal Priesthood were distinguished in God's mind from the remainder of mankind. This may be difficult for some to accept.

I think it is important that people who have received Christ understand what a high honor it is to be selected by the Lord to be holy and to serve Him as a priest. This is why we are to be holy in character and in behavior, always keeping in mind that we belong to God in a way that is not true of all the people in the world.

They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)

We have just thought about being "called," which is the beginning of our journey toward becoming a priest of God.

Now we will turn to the idea of being "chosen."

"For many are invited, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14)

Many people are called to the Divine priesthood, but only a few are "chosen" to be a priest of God.

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. (Revelation 3:4)

The question is, once we have been called to the priesthood, how do we pass into the ranks of the chosen few? The answer is, we must show that we are worthy of this high honor.

Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37,38)

We do not hear much preaching about the need for us to be worthy of Christ and His Kingdom. Why is this, do you suppose? I think it is because we are so afraid of saying something that frightens people we don't present the full Word of God. People will be turned away, we suppose, and not get "saved."

The result of this fear of preaching the truth, Christians—at least in America—do not understand how strict the demands of Christ actually are. Consequently the churchgoers may not be as mature as Christ could wish.

No doubt the Divine judgment that is on the horizon for America will cause many immature believers to follow Christ as they have not done previously. By so doing they will pass into those who have been chosen.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)

It is true that Jesus Christ is worthy to be praised. It must be true also that we live a life worthy of our calling as priests of God. In this manner we pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel. (Philippians 1:27)

We have been called. Now we must be worthy to be chosen.

Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (I Thessalonians 2:12)

We understand therefore that there is more to being a Christian than just "accepting Christ" on one occasion, and then going back to our former manner of living. Being found worthy of Christ and His Kingdom requires a life of total consecration to the Lord. We must come out of the world and cleanse ourselves from all that is morally unclean. With the guidance of the Spirit of God we must keep on washing our robe in the blood of the Lamb.

It is fashionable in America to suddenly become conscious of the need to repent. Then a great meeting is held in a football stadium attended by thousands of Christians. Everyone repents on this occasion and calls on God to heal our land.

That is better than nothing, I suppose, but that is not how the Christian is found worthy of the Kingdom. We continually must walk in confession of sin and repentance. This is what it means to wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb. It is not by attending some citywide celebration of repentance, in which people shed tears over the moral state of our nation, and then go home to live as they always have.

Another related problem is that because of the preaching of lawless grace, people are not certain they have any real need to repent. If we are perfect in Christ; if God is seeing us through Christ, what need is there to repent.

The truth is, we are not perfect in Christ in that sense, and God does not see our sins through Christ. God sees our sins as they are. We are on the way toward perfection in Christ, if we continually, as the Spirit points them our, confess and turn away from our sins. Otherwise, be sure that God sees all that we Christians are doing, whether our actions are good or evil. Any teaching contrary to this is not of Christ.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

We never will pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen until we show by our actions that we are worthy of Christ and His Kingdom.

They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)

When Christ appears, the promise to those who are found in Him is that they forever will be with the Lord. This is an honor superior to all others.

However, as we consider Revelation 17:14 (above) we realize that to be forever with the Lord requires that we be not only called and chosen, but also faithful.

To accept our calling, our invitation, to belong to Christ, ordinarily is not remarkably difficult. It may require a little humbling of ourselves, but in most situations is relatively a simple act.

I am aware that in some instances, such as in a country dominated by the Muslim religion, even this first step toward Christ may cause persecution, torture, or death to the convert and even to his or her family.

To pass from the state of being called to that of being chosen requires that we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Christ every moment of every day and night. It is my opinion that such stern consecration is not the case with numerous churchgoers in the United States. Therefore they are among the many who have been called but not chosen.

Those who have been called and chosen are now facing the challenge of being proven faithful. This is a difficult step and requires every bit of determination and patience possessed by the candidate.

Those who are between the states of being chosen and being proven faithful understand well what I mean when I say it is a difficult step, requiring much patience, determination, and courage.

"We must to through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God," the Apostles warned. This certainly was the case with the Apostle Paul. Paul lived with the sentence of death in himself such that he did not trust himself but God who raises the dead.

After we have been chosen, we have so much to learn! In our mind we hear voices. Sometimes it is almost impossible to tell whether the voice is from God or from Satan. We have feelings and emotions. Is this God or not? We may lapse into passivity and indecisiveness, trying to be an "empty vessel."

All kinds of deceptions, traps, enticements, lies to the mind, false feelings of all kinds. As many as are led by the Spirit, they are the sons of God, the Bible states. But learning to be led by the Spirit can require a long period of time, as we stagger through the false impressions thrust upon us by the demons.

We may be afflicted seriously with some disease. We pray, and we are not healed. Then we assume that the Lord is using the sickness to keep us weak and humble, when such is not the case. We should not assume this, unless Christ tells us this is what happening, just as He did to Paul. It well may be that if we will keep praising God for His goodness and requesting healing that we will be healed.

By the way, we do not try to heal ourselves with some technique we read in a book that purports to tell the relationship between what we are suffering and our attitude or behavior. When we have trouble we are to call on the Lord, not attempt to apply faith or some other metaphysical principle.

Call on the Lord when you are in trouble. You do not know anything at all. Place yourself in the nail-scarred hands.

We have so much to learn. God gives us some kind of vision or idea of what He has in mind for us. It is in the years between the vision and its fulfillment that the saints are formed.

"God is His own Interpreter," as the poet said (William Cowper). If He tells you, you are going to dance with Him among the stars, you should not assume He means Hollywood stars. It may be the stars in the heavens. Or it could be among grade-school children who get stars when they do well in their lessons. Let God be His own interpreter.

We have to follow one step at a time without knowing the destination. Sometimes we feel like the heavenly Archer is drawing His bow and lifting it toward the target, but the bullseye is not in sight for several years.

Decades can go by, and we do not know what God is doing with us. We may make a lot of false moves, only to discover we have gone off the true path, or have moved too quickly.

Until you have gone through the curriculum that leads to your being proven faithful, my words may not mean much. But when you look back you will realize they came from the same kinds of trials that you are having.

God is totally faithful. If we are to be in His image we must be totally faithful. There is to be no compromise. If we are a lover of pleasure, it is difficult to endure the dance with the Fire of Israel. There must be enough iron in our soul that we do not quit no matter how long we are in prison; no matter who long our most intense desires are deferred.

If we want to be with the Lord Jesus forever, being with Him wherever He goes, there must be no lie in us. We must have no idols. He has given up His privacy so we always can be with Him. We must give up our privacy so He always can be with us.

Iron righteousness; fiery holiness; stern obedience to the Father. This is the way. We must walk in it. There is no other way that leads to the fullness of the relationship with Christ that we so desire.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

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The First Resurrection

2013-03-03

I have spoken quite a bit concerning the first resurrection of the dead. I do not believe it is preached very much. Yet I believe it is an important topic to consider. Perhaps it will come more to the front in Christian thinking as the Day of the Lord draws near.

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. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)

This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)

It is my belief that when the Apostle Paul told us attaining to the resurrection was his foremost goal, and that he was laying all else aside in order to attain to this goal, he was speaking of the first resurrection of the dead.

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

The Lord Jesus said that all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)

So if Paul was striving to attain to the resurrection from the dead, it must be a different resurrection from the final resurrection; because the bodies of all who have lived on the earth shall come forth at that time. Thus there is no need to attain to the final resurrection.

Revelation 20:4-6 indicates that the first resurrection indeed is different from the final resurrection. Paul told us that it can be attained to. If Revelation 20:4-6 is so important, perhaps we had better take a look at it.

The first thing that strikes us is that no books were opened, as in the case of the final resurrection:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)

The above is the final resurrection.

Now, look again at the first resurrection:

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)

Can you see that in the final resurrection, the general resurrection of mankind, the dead will be judged from what was written in the books?

But in the first resurrection (above), no books are opened. This tells us that those who are found worthy to participate in the first resurrection, that which will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears. are being judged today. They are appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Their sins are being pointed out to them by the Spirit of God and they are confessing and turning away from them.

This is the doctrine of eternal judgment.

Instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:2)

It appears it is possible to get all or most of our judgment accomplished while we yet are in this world. Being judged in advance of our death is possible if we truly have been crucified with Christ; for it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.

The remainder of our judgment will take place in the next world. Christians, whether alive in the present world or in the spirit world, must be judged in advance if they are to participate in the first resurrection.

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:5,6)

To continue with Revelation 20:4:

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.

According to the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, it is those who live a victorious life in Christ who are chosen to sit on thrones and exercise judgment. Rulership is not assigned to those who merely have "accepted Christ" and have not pressed forward to the ranks of the chosen and the faithful.

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)

We can understand from this that it is only the victorious saints who will participate in the first resurrection.

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.

It is taught commonly that everyone who "accepts Christ" will be in the first resurrection; and everyone in the final resurrection will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The Scripture does not support either of these concepts.

If the Bible meant that everyone who professes belief in Christ will participate in the first resurrection, it certainly would say so. Instead it points toward being beheaded because of their testimony and because of the Word of God. This very well could be referring to physical beheading. My personal opinion that it is referring to those who have chosen to live by the Life of Jesus rather than by their own mind.

Also, those have not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark. I do not believe everyone who only has made a profession of belief in Christ, and has not pressed forward to victory over sin and self-will, will fulfill these requirements. The "beast" is Antichrist. His spirit fills the civilized world today, especially the United States. The spirit of Antichrist is characterized especially by the pursuit of money. The pursuit of money is the worship of the god of money, of Antichrist.

The self-will and self-fulfillment that is taught in America today is the spirit of Antichrist. The willingness to accept humanistic values, such as the "rights of people," is of the spirit of Antichrist. The emphasis on sexual perversions and gender confusion is of the spirit of Antichrist.

Now tell me, how many professing Christians of our day in America are free from the worship of money; from the emphasis on self-fulfillment; from the insistence on pleasure, entertainment, and luxury; from placing the rights of people above the rights of God; from pornography, sexual perversions, and gender confusion?

It is not at all true that everyone who professes faith in Christ is free from the current abominations, and therefore they will not participate in the first resurrection.

Nor is it true that everyone who is raised in the final resurrection is thrown into the Lake of Fire; only those who names are not written in the Book of Life.

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Notice especially the expression "they came to life." Perhaps because of the influence of the religion of Gnosticism, Christian preaching and teaching has gotten away from the New Testament emphasis on the resurrection of the body. It is thought today that our salvation is pointed toward the inner man, and what happens to the body is not important.

This is not at all true. The Divine redemption climaxes with the making alive of our mortal body, and this accounts for the desire of the Apostle Paul to attain to the resurrection.

They came to life means they experienced resurrection when Jesus returned, prior to their being caught up to be ever with Him.

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 expression "the dead in Christ will rise first" means that those saints who came from the spirit world with Christ will rise from the dead. They will be resurrected at that time, and then, along with the living saints, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The living saints will be transformed into immortality without having experienced physical death.

So important is the resurrection of our body that before we are resurrected we are not considered to be alive. Obviously those who "came to life" had been alive spiritually, in that they had overcome the Antichrist spirit. But the Bible does not count people fully alive until their body has been raised from the dead.

These saints overcame the spirit of Antichrist and then were made alive in their body at the coming of the Lord. After that they were caught up to meet the Lord and along with Him governed the nations of the earth throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.

"The rest of the dead did not come to life" means their body had not been resurrected. They remained in the spirit world. They may, at the final resurrection, be brought over to citizenship on the new earth and participate in the new world of righteousness. Or, if their name was not found in the Book of Life, be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Two of the great advantages of being found worthy to participate in the first resurrection are that one; you will be with Christ throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age; and two, once you are raised from the dead you no longer will need to fear the final judgment. You already have been sentenced to be with Jesus forever.

It is no wonder Paul was regarding everything as garbage that he might attain to the first resurrection. Hopefully each of us will have the same attitude.

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

I do not believe we would be amiss in stating that the terms "blessed and holy" imply that those who participate in the first resurrection are distinguished by being unusually blessed and holy.

If one is acquainted with many Christian churchgoers, it may be noted that some beat their wives; some are addicted to pornography; some are addicted to cigarettes, or alcohol, or drugs. Some are violent, some cause division in the assembly, some are bitter and unforgiving.

These hardly are blessed and holy.

Perhaps it may be claimed that they are blessed and holy by imputation; that God sees them through Christ. The current idea that once an individual makes a profession of faith in Christ, he or she is blameless in the eyes of God, is founded on an incorrect understanding of how the plan of redemption operates.

When a person receives Christ as his or her Lord and Savior, that individual is righteous in the sight of God. All former lawlessness and sin is immediately forgiven.

But the New Testament is filled with warnings about how we are to conduct our life after that. We must, after having received Christ, prove ourselves 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. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you (II Thessalonians 1:4-6)

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:5-8)

The behaviors listed in the above two passages are common in today's Christian churches, as they were in Paul's day. Why didn't the Apostle Paul tell us that such behavior does not matter because God sees us through Christ? Why did Paul say the sinning member of the church in Ephesus had no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God?

The Christian teaching of today, at least in America, is unscriptural and destructive. We have churches filled with spiritual babies as a result; and this spiritual uncleanness pervades our government and culture because our churches are being taught an unscriptural lawless grace.

No, such church-attenders are neither blessed nor holy. They absolutely shall not be raised from the dead or transformed when Christ appears, or be carried up to Heaven in an unscriptural "rapture."

The second death has no power (lit. authority) over them.

How can it be that the second death no longer has authority over them? God has given the Lake of Fire authority over eight specific behaviors.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

The answer is simple: through the help of Jesus and the Spirit of God they have completely overcome these behaviors. Since numerous people who profess in Christ are sexually immoral, cowards, and liars, we understand that not every individual who professes to believe in Christ will take part in the first resurrection.

There are those who say if an individual professes faith in Christ, and yet commits some of the sins mentioned in the New Testament, that person never was a genuine Christian. If this were true, there would be few Christians in the world. Many of us did those things, but we since have gotten victory over them. Is that true of you?

So many preachers of our day are misinformed. They have been taught error and they are teaching error. They are watchman on the wall; but they are not warning the sinners in Zion that they are spiritually dead. Therefore the sinners will die in their sin, but their blood will be required at the hands of those of today are teaching that Divine grace is a substitute for godly behavior; for living the life of victory in Jesus.

They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Such are the members of the Royal Priesthood.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

I have become aware these days that every true Christian is a priest of God, with the Lord Jesus being the great High Priest. I have not thought much about this previously, and have not heard it preached often.

But we are! Our eternal role is to bring the presence of God to people and the presence of people to God. We are mediators between God and His creatures. This is why we are going through such rigorous training.

The best part of all is that we will be with Christ throughout the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Other Christians, as well as the people of the nations of the earth, will have to wait until the final resurrection to see what their destiny will be.

But those who are qualified to take part in the first resurrection will have a wonderful time of fellowship when the Lord Jesus appears from Heaven with the saints of days gone by.

The trumpet of God will sound and we will be raised from the dead and clothed in immortal bodies. There will be hundreds of thousands of us, if not more, standing on the earth. No doubt there will be a period of time before we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, just as there were forty days after Jesus rose from the dead before He was caught up to Heaven.

Can you imagine what a time of fellowship that will be? Any person you are interested in seeing and being with, whether someone you knew while living on the earth, or a hero of faith you read about in the Bible, will be with you as soon as you think about them. Time and distance will not control us once we are raised from the dead.

There will be singing and shouting in those days. We will realize that the Divine judgment has been exercised upon us and we have been sentenced to be alive in Christ, to be with Him for eternity. There is nothing left to fear.

It is no wonder the Apostle Paul throughout his Christian life was groaning for the adoption, the redemption of his body.

I think it is time now for us Christians to begin to think more about attaining to the first resurrection. The idea of going to Heaven to live in a mansion for eternity may have sufficed for time past. Now that the coming of Christ is near, we are being made aware of the true goal—that of attaining to the first resurrection, the resurrection to the life and glory of the Royal Priesthood.

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The Final Resurrection

2013-03-10

I have written quite a bit about the first resurrection, the resurrection of the Royal Priesthood. I have not said as much about the final resurrection. These are the only two resurrections I know about.

Every individual who does not have a part in the first resurrection will be in the final resurrection. The first resurrection will take place when Jesus next appears. The final resurrection will take place after the thousand-year Kingdom Age; after the present earth and sky flee from the Presence of Christ.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15)

We know this it not the resurrection the Apostle Paul was seeking to attain to, because there is no need to attain to it. As the Lord Jesus said, "All who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth, some to life and some to condemnation."

I think there are two misapprehensions concerning the first and the final resurrections. One misapprehension is that everyone who "accepts Christ" will be in the first resurrection, that it is the resurrection of basic salvation. Revelation 20:4-6 does not bear this out.

The other misapprehension is that everyone who has a part in the final resurrection will go into the Lake of Fire. This is not true. I believe this notion is based on the idea that since the judgment that takes place at the final resurrection has to do with what the person had done, and since our behavior has nothing to do with our salvation, all that appear here are lost.

It is this sort of religious syllogism that brings the utter confusion Christian theology is in today.

Jesus said those who do good will rise to life. This means it is our behavior that governs the kind of resurrection we will have. If we are a true Christian, our behavior will be satisfactory.

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)

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

Those who have done good.

Persistence in doing good.

I think it is about time that this idea of salvation having nothing to do with our behavior is thrown out with the garbage!

If your "faith" in the Lord Jesus Christ is not making you a better person, you are not being saved!

God is not much interested in our religious beliefs but He is vitally interested in what kind of person we are.

Now, lets see what the Scripture says about the final resurrection:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne.

Sometimes this throne is referred to as "the Great White Throne," as though it were different from the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is not different from the Judgment Seat of Christ; it is the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Not only is the Lord Jesus Christ on this throne, but every member of the Royal Priesthood is seated there with Him, if my understanding is correct.

Books were opened. The deeds of every person while living on the earth are recorded in these books. It is worthy of note that no books are opened at the first resurrection, because the victorious saints already had been judged and sentenced to eternal life and to be with the Lord forever. This sentence is handed down before the Lord Jesus returns with His victorious saints.

Another book was opened, which is the book of life.

The opening of the Book of Life shows that not everyone is condemned to the Lake of Fire at the final judgment. Those whose names are in the Book of Life have been judged worthy of the Kingdom. If Christ has been presented to them at some point, they have accepted His Lordship. Also, their behavior has been acceptable to God. We cannot receive Christ and then live a wicked life, and expect to have our name remain in the Book of Life!

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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:5,6)

Those who teach that our name can never be blotted from the Book of Life are teaching lies. They are changing the Book of Revelation.

The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

If we do not attain to the first resurrection, and are required to take part in the final resurrection and judgment, our behavior shall be judged. This is one reason why it is advisable to seek to attain to the first resurrection. If we are willing to confess our sins today, and turn away from them, and serve Christ in total obedience, we may attain to the first resurrection.

The sea gave up the dead that were in it,

This may refer to the oceans of the world. My opinion is, however, that it is speaking of the multitudes of people from the nations. As in Revelation 21:1, when the statement is made that there was no longer any sea.

Having been raised closed to the Atlantic Ocean, a new earth without any oceans or seas would seem to be a pretty poor place. I choose to believe the reference to the sea is to the mass of mankind who are moved by demagogues, as we observe today. Antichrist rises out of the "sea"—this sort of thing.

Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them,

Apparently Death and Hades are two separate places. Perhaps "death" refers to people who died and were waiting in the spirit world; while "Hades" may refer to a place of punishment.

Each person was judged according to what he had done.

To turn this around by saying it does not matter what we do is an abomination!

As I ponder the significance of this statement in the Book of Revelation I am made aware of the fact that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is being preached incorrectly in our country.

We have made belief in the Lord Jesus Christ to be a ticket to Heaven. Belief in Christ neither is a ticket to Heaven nor is it a pass out of Hell.

God gave us a new covenant because the Jews did not obey the statutes of the Law of Moses. The new covenant is not "four steps of salvation." The "four steps of salvation" are a man-made covenant.

The new covenant is the writing of God's eternal moral laws in our mind and heart. This means it is a covenant of moral transformation.

In other words, we are not saved from earth, or Hell, to Heaven, but from wicked behavior to righteous behavior. We are becoming a new creation of righteous behavior as we follow and obey Christ at all times.

The bottom line is, the true Gospel, for the most part, is not being preached in America nor is it being brought to the nations of the earth.

We are not preaching the New Testament. We are preaching a man-made religion that is keeping the believers in an eternal babyhood. This is why our government and our culture are sliding down toward a moral abyss.

The Kingdom of God is one of sowing and reaping. The Apostle Paul taught that clearly. If we sow to the Spirit of God we will reap eternal life. If we sow to our sinful nature we will reap corruption in our body in the Day of Resurrection.

Grace does not affect the law of sowing and reaping. Rather, grace forgives our sins of the past and leads us to sow righteous seed.

If a professing Christian keeps on yielding to his or her sinful nature, the end result will be the destruction of his or her body in the Day of Resurrection, and the possibility of eternal death in the Lake of Fire.

Our shepherds of today are like the religious leaders of Israel, when the Prophets, such as Ezekiel, denounced them for being false representatives of God. This is the condition today in America in many instances, I believe.

The simple fact is that the Gospel of the Kingdom has been altered into the gospel of Heaven; and the way to Heaven is by doing nothing but believe the facts about Jesus Christ.

What is it going to take to turn this situation around so that the men and women of God are preaching what the New Testament declares, instead of lawless grace and the unscriptural "rapture."

I hope, if it is the Lord's will, to live to see the day when the preachers of America hear from the Lord and preach the Bible.

Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire

It does not say that the people in death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire, but Death and Hades themselves. This could mean that these are personages. I would not be surprised if this is true.

The Lake of Fire is the second death. Perhaps the first death is that state of being in which an individual does not have the eternal Life of Christ in his or her personality.

If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

I do not have the ability to describe the horror of the second death, the death of the Lake of Fire. Those who find their eternal residence there will never be able to feel the Presence of God again; never see a child's smile again; never again hear anyone say, "I love you."

God goes to every length to persuade a person to accept the rule of Jesus Christ. He is reluctant to admit that there is no hope. The individual has doomed himself or herself by insisting on governing his or her own life.

With great sorrow, God decides that the gift of repentance never again will be given to that person. All that is left for the individual is suffering with no hope of relief.

Perhaps the worst consequence of being assigned to the Lake of Fire is that the sufferer is being made part of Satan, the master of self-will. Just as the person who is with Christ constantly is made part of Christ, so the individual who has chosen self-will is made part of Satan.

There no longer is hope. There no longer is joy. There no longer is peace. There no longer is love. There no longer is righteousness. These blessings are denied to everyone who chooses his or her own way and will not consent to be governed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Those whose names are in the Book of Life will be brought over to the new world of righteousness; to citizenship on the new earth. They will experience righteousness, love, joy, and peace for eternity.

There are no "days" on the new earth, because there is no sun.

But if there were days, I would say that for those whose names are found in the Book of Life at the final resurrection, each day will be vastly more glorious than the previous.

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Being Born Again and the Kingdom

2013-03-17

I do not believe there is a greater promise in God's Word than that of being born again. It is not used much in the New Testament, and never used by the Apostles in the Book of Acts. It is used today to indicate conversion to Christianity. It is infinitely more than that!

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." "How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:3-5)

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:23)

And what does it have to do with the Kingdom of God?

Being born again is everything, as far as the Royal Priesthood is concerned. It may be true that only the members of the Royal Priesthood are born again; and the people of the nations who are saved to the new world of righteousness, the "sheep," of Matthew 25, are saved by being washed in the blood of the Lamb but are not born again.

I do not like novelties and I don't preach them. This means I think there is something practical and leads toward righteous behavior on the part of God's people, or I would not suggest the being born again is restricted to the Royal Priesthood and distinguishes them from the remainder of the saved people (who are the majority, by the way).

Think about the new world of righteousness, for example. We have the Throne of God and of the Lamb in the new Jerusalem. Then we have the nations of saved people being governed by, and walking in the light of, the new Jerusalem.

Clear enough? If it is not, please reread Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22.

The is a great wall separating the new Jerusalem from the nations who are governed by it and who walk in its light. It is obvious that the new Jerusalem is the glorified Christian Church, and the nations who walk in its light are the inheritance of the royal priests, who compose the new Jerusalem.

Then, let us put two and two together. The new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb, according to the Scripture, and the wall of the new Jerusalem separates the Wife of the Lamb from the remainder of saved mankind.

Okay so far?

Now what is true of the Wife of the Lamb? She is One with Jesus Christ. She is His body. She is an integral part of Him, according to John 17.

So the wall of the new Jerusalem is separating that which is an integral part of the Lord Jesus Christ from saved mankind, saved mankind being the inheritance of the Lord Jesus and His co-heirs.

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my Son today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery." (Psalms 2:7-9)

The Scripture declares that we of the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, are co-heirs with Christ. This means that we inherit, along with Him, the nations.

I have said that I do not deal in novelties. Everything I teach must lead God's people toward a closer walk with Jesus, toward righteous behavior. Since most of God's people do not realize what it means for them to be priests of God and heirs along with Jesus, I think this knowledge will lead them toward righteous behavior and a greater Presence of Christ in their lives.

Notice that the Apostle Paul never addressed His epistles to Christians. He wrote to the "saints," that is, the "holy ones."

Now, think about it. What does it mean to be born again? It means that Christ has been born in us. This is the distinguishing mark of the priesthood. Why is this? It is because the Lord Jesus Christ is the great High Priest of God. When He is born in us, the great High Priest of God is born in us.

"Christ" means "anointed with the Holy Spirit to do the work of the Servant of the Lord." If we have Christ in us we have been anointed with the Spirit of God to do the work of the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 42). The work of the Servant of the Lord is to bring justice to the nations; not to the nations of the lost, but the nations of the saved.

I realize I am presenting several concepts at once that may be new to you—not ordinarily a good idea but needed for the present essay: "Being Born Again and the Kingdom of God."

I honestly believe that most Christian people do not realize what an awesome experience is implied in the phrase, "born again." This is not referring to a conversion to the Christian religion but to an astounding transformation of the individual.

By being born again we become a brother of Christ; a son of God; a member of the Bride of the Lamb; a part of the Royal Priesthood. You can see at once this is far more than being saved from wrath through the blood atonement.

Nicodemus understood this. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!" When the phrase "being born again" is used in Christian circles, it ordinarily means the individual has "accepted Christ." We would not react, like Nicodemus, to the idea of actually being born again.

When we begin to think of what it means to be born again we see that it means our entire past life is over. We no longer merely were born of our mother and father. We were born of the Seed of God.

If after we are called by the Spirit of God we prove ourselves worthy by living as a disciple of Jesus should, and continue with the Lord Jesus until we are judged to be faithful, then that which has been conceived in us has become a significant part of our personality, If we keep on following Jesus, the day will come when the following statement is true:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (II Corinthians 5:17,18)

The above total transformation does not take place in us the moment we accept Christ as our Savior. It requires quite a period of time, and numerous tribulations, before we can say: "The old has gone. The new has come. All this is from God."

Can you say this yet? I can somewhat but still have a ways to go. How about you?

The "old has gone." The old is our first personality.

The "new has come." The "new" is not the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The actual Person of Christ from Heaven does not enter us until the "new person," the new creation, is formed in us. The new creation is neither us nor Christ but actually a "new person," an individual who comes into being as Christ is formed in us. It is the new person in whom Jesus Christ comes to dwell, not our original personality. The indwelling of the Person of Christ through the Spirit is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.

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

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 the new creation, once it is indwelt by the Father and the Son, that is the Kingdom of God. It is the Royal Priesthood. This is why it is written: "and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." The role of the Royal Priesthood is to reconcile people to God.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 1:9)

The passage above is written to the Church. It is the Christian Church that is the royal priesthood, the holy nation, a people belonging to God. Our role is to declare the praises of God.

Notice how the new Jerusalem, the Royal Priesthood, blesses the people of the nations of the saved:

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27)

The passage above portrays clearly the relationship of the Church, of those who are "born again," to the nations of saved people who will be brought over to live on the new earth.

The terms "saved," and "lost," refer to the Lake of Fire. To be "saved" is to be brought over to life on the new earth which, together with the new Jerusalem, composes the new world of righteousness.

To be "lost" is to not be permitted to be a citizen of the new earth. This means God has exhausted every effort to persuade the individual to accept the rulership of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has decided against ever granting to that person the gift of repentance.

Perhaps many Christian people who do not understand the extraordinary consequences of following the "born again" experience from conception all the way through to its fullness, which is the removal of our former personality such that we are crucified with Christ and now it is Christ who is living in us.

No wonder the Apostle Paul exhorts us to forget the past and press forward until we attain to the resurrection of our inner man, and finally the resurrection of our outer man!

Not nearly enough attention is paid today to attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Flesh and blood cannot attain to the resurrection. It is the new creation who will be made alive in a transformed body when Jesus comes. Having learned to live by the body and blood of Christ, the believer is ready for the final act of redemption, which is the transformation of the body from corruption to incorruption; from perishability to imperishability; from death to life.

The key to seeing and entering the Kingdom of God is the born-again experience. The flesh profits nothing, Jesus told us. It is His Word that brings eternal life. As His Word is formed in us, under the new covenant, we gain the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom begins as a seed in us. Of four kinds of ground in which the Divine Seed, the Word of God, is sown, only one kind—the honest and good heart—bears any lasting fruit. That fruit is Christ. It is the Kingdom of God.

Some reap the Kingdom to a thirtyfold extent. Some sixtyfold. Some an hundredfold.

Why the difference? I believe it has to do with the diligence with which the believer applies himself or herself to being crucified and made alive in Christ.

I believe also that the thirtyfold and sixtyfold members of the priesthood will be brought to full maturity during the thousand-year Kingdom Age. Then the entire Royal Priesthood, having no blemish whatever, can descend to the new earth as the glorious new Jerusalem.

Perhaps it is the hundredfold who will help the less mature grow to full maturity in Christ.

Again, let me point out that the born-again experience has the potential to bring forth fully mature priests in the very image of Christ, who will serve to bring the Presence of God to every one of His creatures.

The purpose of the teaching in this present essay to encourage each person who names the name of Christ to apply himself or herself to diligently seeking to be worthy of the Kingdom of God, thus passing to the ranks of those who always will be with the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, (Colossians 1:10)

They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)

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The Lake of Fire

2013-03-24

The Lake of Fire is the final home of everyone who refuses to obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes teachers of the Bible claim that this is a temporary residence while people repent. Even Satan, they say, will repent and have a place in the new world of righteousness.

I have not found such to be the case. I understand that in the Hebrew language, and possibly the Greek, such words as "eternal" do not have the same force that they do in English. I am not basing my conclusions entirely on the non-technical nature of the Hebrew language. I am basing it on more than sixty-years experience of life, and of the same period of time of Bible study.

It is mainly what I have learned from my continual experience as a disciple of the Lord Jesus. God will exhaust every means of persuasion before He considers that an individual is not going to bow the knee to Jesus. Certainly Satan is not going to bow the knee and call Jesus "Lord." Also, those in the Lake of Fire with Satan are not going to call Jesus "Lord," no matter how intense and prolonged the suffering is.

If they were not willing to surrender after God punishes them severely in the present world, the torment of the Lake of Fire will cause them to curse God and His Christ, not repent.

The protesters then will claim, God is too loving to permit people to suffer forever in a Lake of Fire. The truth is, it is God's love that prevents people who will not serve Christ from entering the new world of righteousness. Such individuals cause heartbreak, pain, confusion, destruction wherever they go. Sometimes rebellious people can be corrected. If there is a possibility of correcting one person, God's love will move Heaven and earth, so to speak, to bring that individual to repentance.

But for God to release people, after they have lived in the Lake of Fire with Satan, and permit them to enter the new world of righteousness, would be to bring God's curse on the new earth. None of us wants that to happen!

When Christ next comes to earth, Satan will be bound and thrown into the Bottomless Pit. He will be there for the thousand-years of the Kingdom Age, during which time the people living on the earth will be governed by Christ and His saints.

When the thousand year period (whether a literal or figurative thousand years) has been completed, Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit. Immediately he will go forth to deceive the nations living on the earth. Apparently the thousand years spent in incarceration did not change him.

It is astonishing also that the people who had been under the rule of Christ and His saints were ready to follow him. This portrays clearly that Satan is not going to change. It reveals also that human nature remains the same, even under the rule of the rod of iron of Christ and His saints.

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9)

Does this sound to you like Satan finally is going to repent and submit to the rule of Jesus Christ? I don't think so. The same is true of those who, after all of God's dealings with them, refuse to obey the Lord Jesus.

Let's take a look at the Lake of Fire, which is the second death:

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

The eight types of people who are characterized in the above manner will not obey the Lord Jesus. They will do what it is their nature to do. Only obedience to the Lord Jesus can change their nature. They cannot correct themselves, for these are manifestations of the evil that dwells in them, particularly in their flesh, according to the Apostle Paul.

The cowardly.

The unbelieving.

The vile.

The murderers.

The sexually immoral.

Those who practice magic arts.

The idolaters.

All liars.

The eight behaviors listed above are the image of Satan. God has given the Lake of Fire authority over these behaviors. God can forgive us for practicing any of these. But they must not continue to be true of us. They never shall be permitted to enter the new world of righteousness.

Notice the verse that precedes Revelation 21:8:

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)

These eight behaviors are those which are under the authority of the Lake of Fire. Each of them must be totally overcome if we are to inherit the new world of righteousness, which consists of everything that is worthy made new in Christ. No one can continue in any of these eight and have fellowship with God—not by grace, mercy, or any other device. They simply are not permitted in the Kingdom of God.

I may be mistaken but I think each of these characteristics proceeds from our self will, from our desire to conduct our own life apart from looking to the Lord Jesus for all we think, say, and do.

The cowardly. To us, cowardice does not seem like such a terrible sin, like murder for example. But our thoughts are not always God's thoughts. Remember that the Israelites provoked God by their cowardice until He sent them back into the wilderness to wander for an additional thirty-eight years.

Pressing forward to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the blessed and holy Royal Priesthood, requires courage. Satan will do everything in his power to frighten us. But God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.

I personally make it a practice every morning and evening to ask God to remove from me all fear and dread. I am attacked with these quite often. God has been saying to me lately that He will go before me and subdue the enemy. Then the path is made safe and I can continue on my way without harm.

Fear causes us to be double-minded so that God cannot answer our prayers. We must make the effort to cast off fear and confusion and keep our will strong and sharp. Sometimes, if we are in a state of passivity to the point we cannot make a decision, it may help us to get back on the path by making a decision, after we pray, and then sticking to it ever though we have disquieting thoughts about it.

Joshua was fearful. We know this because the Lord exhorted him to be strong and of a good courage. At the same time the Lord commanded Joshua to adhere strictly to the Law of Moses.

So it is with us. We can be confident and decisive if we will keep practicing the Presence of Christ and obeying Him at all times.

There will be no cowardly, fearful individuals in the new world of righteousness. If you are afflicted by fearfulness, ask the Lord Jesus to replace your cowardice with His courage. You are going to need it in the days to come.

The unbelieving. There are people, like doubting Thomas, who just cannot believe the good things of God. They have a hard heart. For some reason they cling to their pessimistic life style and refuse to believe that God has anything pleasant for them.

You may know people like that. "I won't believe it until I see it," they exclaim. And after they "see it" they still won't believe. They think they are being tricked.

We cannot afford to permit this attitude to continue in our life. We absolutely must come immediately to the Lord Jesus and ask Him to remove the unbelief from us. We may not believe He actually will do it, but He told us He will do what we ask in His name. "Lord, help me overcome my unbelief," the man cried. And Jesus healed his deaf and dumb boy.

This man wanted to believe. If we are bound with unbelief, we are going to want to overcome our unbelief if Jesus is to heal us. Unbelief is a spirit that binds some people. It can be removed through prayer. Perhaps we can believe that much!

We may not consider fear or unbelief to be major sins. But you may notice that they are the first two behaviors listed. We cannot live in and enjoy the new world of righteousness, if we are fearful and unbelieving. We would be afraid to obey Christ, not believing that He is good and desires to help us.

Fear and unbelief are spiritual monsters. They have the power to keep us our of the Kingdom of God.

The vile. I have lived in the United States all my life. I never would have thought that I would see the crimes being committed that are becoming increasingly common. Children are murdering their parents and teachers. People are murdering other people and eating parts of their bodies.

Men who move in with divorced mothers scald the babies with boiling water. Husbands blind their wives with knives or by throwing acid in their faces. Wives pay killers to murder their husbands so they can marry someone else, or so they can collect the husband's life insurance. Thieves shoot older people in their wheel chairs and then cut off the finger that has a wedding ring.

Such actions are clear manifestations of Satan. Our society is not prepared to believe that Satan is involved, and the social scientists will ponder the causes; but they are not aware of what is causing little children to have to be handcuffed by the police because of the havoc they are causing. This is the work of unclean spirits. To not deal with these spirits, and only attempt to modify the behavior by psychologic means, may not be as effective as one could wish.

If I am hearing the Spirit correctly, such incidents are going to increase in the United States, as we move further and further away from God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Man cannot conquer evil spirits. It requires God to do that, and we in our country are leaving God behind in our quest for personal fulfillment.

The murderers. I think there are many forms of murder. Anything we say or do that harms someone else is a form of murder.

Perhaps the most common form of murder in our churches is gossip. Gossip is so common in the churches that we don't always hear the pastor mention it. But the first chapter of the Book of Romans lists gossip along with homosexual activity as being worthy of death. We murder people with our tongue.

Literal physical murder is becoming fairly common in the United States. Sometimes the motive is money. Sometimes it is to get someone out of the way who is hindering our desires. Sometimes murder proceeds from sheer rage, as hatred rises up in us because of something an individual has done what we imagine was a purposeful act against us.

In the case of abortion, the murder of the unborn, unless I am mistaken the motive often is to get rid of an inconvenience. Since we have the ability to not indulge in sexual intercourse, to do so, and to conceive a child, and then kill the developing child because it is an inconvenience, is nothing short of murder. The individual will be guilty of murder before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

I have counseled our congregation to not permit themselves to become angry at someone else, to the best of their ability. The problem is, the spiritual environment is becoming infested with evil spirits of all sorts. Prominent among these is the spirit of murder.

Two friends will have a minor disagreement. As they argue back and forth, the minor disagreement becomes a major quarrel. The demons watch this carefully, hoping that one of the two will fly into a rage and injure or murder the other. We can prevent this from happening to us by not getting into an argument with anyone.

In the case of marriage, the one who walks away from an argument is the priest of the home. The peacemakers are blessed by the Lord.

Murder was the first crime, wasn't it, as Cain killed his brother.

The sexually immoral. The United States, as well as much of the rest of the world, is experiencing an inflaming of the normal sexual urge. Numerous teachers have thrown away their careers by having affairs with their students. Famous politicians and leaders in other pursuits have done the same. After all their work to become successful in their chosen profession, they have thrown it all away for the pleasures of sex.

How many families have been destroyed because the husband or wife yielded to sexual passion. It seems to me that the inflamed sexual urge will become so intense that many Christians will not be able to overcome it.

The rise of the militant homosexuals in our nation is astounding, given that they are relatively few in number. It seems that people in authority are afraid to resist homosexual activism for fear they will lose their positions.

Homosexual behavior is being help up as a progressive move of society. It is anything but that. It is entirely regressive, as the Bible points out. Since the purpose of sexual intercourse is to perpetuate the race, and is of God, homosexual activity becomes nothing more than nasty behavior. And we are supposed to be proud of that?

All the works of gender confusion are of Satan. His purpose, in addition to his hatred of God and all that God honors, is to prevent the birth of children. As our Lord said, many who are last shall be first. I believe this means that many who are last in time will be first in the Kingdom of God.

You may have noticed the precocious children in our day who excel in intelligence, or in some art form. There are some you did not notice because they were murdered before they came to term.

There are many thrones of the Kingdom still available for those who meet God's requirements concerning the Royal Priesthood. Mighty men and women of faith are destined to be born in our day. For this reason, Satan is emphasizing homosexual behavior and abortion in the hope of killing these future rulers and priests of God. It reminds us of Herod killing the children because of his fear that Jesus would take his throne.

We can say what we want to about human rights. But homosexual behavior and abortion are sin in the sight of God. Unless the individual afflicted with such behavior is able to be delivered from these spiritual chains. his or her destiny will be residence in the Lake of Fire with Satan, his angels, and the most wicked of the personages of history.

Those who practice magic arts. Any time we attempt to modify our physical environment by spiritual means, other than by calling on the Lord Jesus, we are practicing a magic art.

During the past several years, many Christian people have dabbled in magic arts without realizing it. "Speaking the creative word," was one such practice. "Name it and claim it" was another. All such mental practices lead the person away from the simplicity of following the Lord Jesus.

Of course, astrology, reading tea leaves, phrenology, any attempt to predict the future apart from the Spirit of God comes under the heading of "magic arts."

There are efforts to connect physical ailments with our attitudes and practices. For example, "Unforgiveness and bitterness cause arthritis." I do not view these efforts as magic arts. However, they are not wise. When we are afflicted, the only proper procedure is to call on Jesus for healing and help.

I do not mean by this that there is no place for doctors and other health specialists. When I have a physical problem, I ask the Lord if I should go to the doctor or if He is going to heal me. If Jesus says "Go to the doctor," then I do so. Then on the way to the doctor I pray that Christ will put the correct procedures into the hearts of the doctors and nurses.

Correct nutrition and exercise have their place. But in all cases, we should be looking to the Lord for guidance and help.

But to pronounce "I am healed," when we still are afflicted and the Lord has not told us we are healed, is nothing more than a metaphysical practice or presumption. It is not realistic; but many Pentecostal people do these sorts of things.

We are never to enter any kind of spiritual practice in which we are not looking continually to the Lord Jesus. whether it is to get money, healing, a better job, a wife, or anything else. God is not at all pleased with this effort to circumvent His will in our life.

The idolaters. If you want to know if you are worshiping an idol, search your heart and mind to see if there is any relationship, thing, or situation that you would not willingly give to the Lord if He asked for him, or her, or it.

Many Americans worship money. Their entire life revolves around amassing money. It is an idol.

Many Americans worship their children. If God were to take one of their children they would be at a loss to know how to continue living.

Many Americans worship their wife or husband. It is never right adore an individual except the Lord. Our love for our wife or husband should go through the Lord first. We will have a stronger relationship if we do this.

Many Americans worship sexual activity. They will betray those who trust them, or even break the law, in order to satisfy their lusts. Their "sex life" is of supreme importance.

We are wise if we place all of our treasures in Heaven. We Christians use the expression, "Put it on the altar." Then we lose all fear. In the days of chaos that are ahead of us, we will not be afraid of our death or the death of our loved ones.

One of the things I have learned in my short life is not to grasp anything. If you are holding onto anything, it will cause a bondage. You always will be afraid of losing it. Place it in Heaven. The Lord has promised to keep it safe for you. This includes people, as difficult as this may be for you. Ask God to help you to put that person on the altar. He will answer your prayer.

All liars. I think we all were born liars. Perhaps I am judging other people by myself. It requires a lot of hot fires before we are able to tell the truth and only the truth.

God does not lie. We are being made in His image.

What is truth? The Lord Jesus Christ is Truth. We may learn many facts about this or that. We may recount an experience to the best of our knowledge. But truth goes deeper than that.

Truth is an accumulation of knowledge, isn't it. But wisdom tells us what to do with our knowledge. Jesus knows many things about us that we would like to know. But Jesus knows that some of this knowledge concerning us would be harmful to us.

Sometimes people pride themselves about being candid, about telling people things that distress them. This is nothing to be proud of. Love would always have us tell people that which will encourage and build them up.

The lie that makes us a resident of the Lake of Fire is that which we tell in order to arrange circumstances that will benefit us, even though it may harm someone else. Such lies are the domain of Satan, whom Jesus termed the "father of lies."

To arrive at the place where we always say that which benefits others requires that we hear from the Lord Jesus. He is Truth itself. He knows the reason for all things. When we keep telling the truth as we know it, without priding ourselves on being candid, without hurting people unnecessarily, Jesus will help us to say the right things at the right time.

But as I said, many of us are born liars, and it takes a lot of suffering to get the lie burned out of us.

All liars shall find their home with Satan. He is the father of lies.

It is possible to gain victory over sin until the Lake of Fire no longer has authority over us:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation 2:11)

The verse above seems to give the idea that we could be exposed to the Lake of Fire and not be harmed by it. This may be akin to dwelling with the consuming fire, that Isaiah speaks of.

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" (Isaiah 33:14)

Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

Residence in the Lake of Fire is a destiny so horrible as to be far beyond our ability to describe. It is the home and final resting place of every person who will not serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps the worst part of being confined in the Lake of Fire is that we become a part of Satan himself; just as those who are with Jesus Christ for a period of time become part of Jesus Himself.

Imagine never again seeing a baby smile or hear a child laugh. Never again having someone say, "I love you." Never again having something pleasant to look forward to. Never again feeling the Presence of God and Christ.

Imagine having only Satan, self-seeking people, and demons for company. The worst villains of history will be there to torment you, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Satan will laugh at you if you complain about anything.

It apparently is a lake of burning sulfur. Have you ever smelled burning sulfur? And how will the fire affect us? Will we always feel like we are being burned alive?

The Lake of Fire is terrifying indeed! If we refuse to receive Christ when He is presented to us, and insist on living a wicked, self-seeking life, we are in a clear danger of being thrown into the Lake of Fire.

God will do everything in His power to keep us from such a dreadful fate. But we do have the power to frustrate God's good intentions toward us.

The preachers of today seem to me to be downplaying the wrath of God. Such an expression as "unconditional love" gives us a false impression of God, I believe. Think of Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt. Then compare that with the idea of unconditional love. It just doesn't fit, does it?

I do not want to end up in the Lake of Fire, and I don't want you to end up there either. So let us do as much good as we can; obey Christ in all that He commands us, and we will rejoice together for eternity in the new world of righteousness.

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Looking Ahead

2013-03-31

I have had some spiritual impressions over the last several years, and I will share them with you.

First, concerning the United States. I think the Spirit is saying that Divine judgment is beginning to take effect in America. We are spiraling downward on our way to becoming a third-class nation.

The leadership of the world will move toward an Eastern nation. I do not know what nation, and I don't want to add to what I think God has shown me or speculate on it.

I think the Spirit is saying there will be much bloodshed. This is why I have written Godwill Castle; Heaven—God's Wonderful World; and John and Mary visit Heaven. It is to comfort those who are facing death or the death of their children. Death is not to be feared, unless we have refused Christ when He came to us or have lived a wicked life. Then we really need to fear death; or else receive Christ and live a decent life.

Death, for those whose heart is right with God, is like the summer vacation when school is out. It is a time of release from the burdens and pains of life on the earth. Life in the spirit world, and then in the new world of righteousness that will come after the thousand-year Kingdom Age, is infinitely preferable to life in this "valley of the shadow of death" in which we now are attempting to survive.

  America is entering a period of sin and rejection of Christ that is unprecedented in our history. Our current President seldom or never refers to God in his public addresses. It is as though we are to trust in him instead of God. God will use him to accomplish God's purposes, and then he will be discarded, just as has happened to political leaders of the past who have ignored Christ. 

  We already are in a precarious position financially. Our schools rank beneath other countries in academic prowess. Also, in our schools in America the most abominable curricula imaginable is being presented to young people, along the line of sexual abnormalities, as though they were normal or even desirable. 

Gender confusion is increasing. Homosexual behavior, an ancient perversion, is being presented as something progressive and wholesome.

Actually it is regressive, being an ancient practice, according to the Bible.

In the universities, evolution is taught as a proven fact. Not only is evolution an unproven hypothesis, what we see all around us is undeniable proof of an intelligent Creator. Also, our mind rejects the notion that all we can observe proceeds from a mindless confluence of physical elements. And then, where did these physical elements originate?

The American people at the present time are divided between old American values and new, untested political and financial paths. The two sets of people are drawing further apart each day. Hostility is increasing.

Perhaps this is the reason the President has mentioned the idea of internment camps. He may perceive that we are not far from civil war—the atmosphere is that intense!

There are two major gods in America today. Which is the more important depends on the individual, I suppose. One is money. The other is sexual satisfaction. I don't think there is a single issue of a newspaper that does not comment on both of these idols.

We cannot even imagine a culture in which God and His worship are of supreme importance. Yet, there may be some cultures in our world in which God frequently is mentioned. Perhaps this was true of the American Indians before they became involved in casinos.

I think it generally is felt that if a person had enough money, all his problems would be over. The truth is, people with a great deal of money are little better off than people who are having a problem paying the rent. The rich person worries about his possessions. The poor person can call on God and get help. God loves the poor.

  As far as our inflamed sexual appetites are concerned, these lead to crime, disgrace, remorse, disease, loss of employment, loss of respect, the breaking up of our family, and poverty. What people will sell for a moment of passion! 

The Lord has been telling me for years that there is going to be a spiritual awakening in America, but that it will be in the midst of great trouble.

I think the awakening will flow into the ministry of the two witnesses of Chapter Eleven of the Book of Revelation. The two witnesses are composed of Christ dwelling in those believers who have been purified of self-will and sin by the chaos in America as we experience Divine judgment.

When we picture an "awakening" we may think of signs and wonders being performed and people flooding into buildings to get "saved." I don't believe our awakening will be like that. I think rather it will be a case of individual Christians recognizing that the Holy Spirit is pointing out sin in their life, and they are confessing and turning away from the sin.

Another aspect of the awakening might be that some pastors will become aware of the fact that the Gospel of the Kingdom is not being preached correctly. What is heard today is about how sovereign our salvation is. Once we "accept" Christ we have a permanent pass to Heaven. God does not see our sin, only the righteousness of Christ. Christ suffered so we do not have to suffer. Christ was poor that we might be rich. All of our judgment was accomplished on the cross so we never can be guilty of sin.

This is what is preached. It is dreadfully unscriptural, according to the New Testament.

America might be brought back to the previous blessing of God, if there were nation-wide repentance. But there cannot be nation-wide repentance unless the ministers preach God's Word. People will not repent if we tell them that their salvation is a sovereign work of God and there is nothing they need to do about it except wait to die and go to Heaven.

If God sees you through Christ, and there is nothing to do but believe that this is true, how can you repent? Of what are you to repent. That God sees you through Christ? This is ridiculous!

So today's Christian preaching has removed the possibility of genuine repentance. Repentance is difficult. It means that we must change our behavior. We are not going to go through the embarrassing steps of confessing our sins and turning away from them if we believe we already have been permanently justified in Christ.

I am declaring that the present moral decline, and consequent physical decline, of the United States is due to the unscriptural preaching and teaching that is taking place in the majority of the Christian churches of our day.

I have prayed much about the destruction of our country, as you probably have also, and I am not hearing from the Lord that the hand of judgment is going to lift from us. We have driven all references to God and Jesus from many of our institutions. "We do not want to offend anyone." The truth is, we are ashamed of the Lord Jesus and are denying Him. The punishment for this action is to have our name removed from the Presence of God.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has commenced. I believe it will continue until the final resurrection, after the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

The Day of Atonement really is another name for the Judgment Seat of Christ. If we hope to rise from the dead and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He returns, we have to be judged in advance. That resurrection and that catching up is the sentence that has been handed down from the Judgment Seat. It is an eternal judgment and an eternal sentence.

How do we go about experiencing the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which is the same as the Judgment Seat of Christ?

The first step, after you have received Christ and been baptized in water, is to ask God in Jesus' name to bring you through the judgment that must precede His next coming to the world, that is, if you are to be raised and caught up.

God always will hear that prayer. It will not be long before some sin that you have been practicing, perhaps without being aware of it, will be brought to your attention.

You may fly into a rage against one of your family members. You know that is not the image of God and is not pleasing to God. So what do you do?

You get alone with God as soon as possible and confess your rage. Then you ask Him to remove this spirit from you and help you never to do this again.

After this comes restitution on some occasions, depending on the circumstances. The Lord might give you the grace to go to the offended family member and tell her or him you are sorry and it will not happen again.

No matter how the individual responds, you have obeyed the Lord. The next time you are tempted to be angry, look up to Jesus and remind Him that you have confessed this and you need help. You might be surprised at the answer. Today is the time to pass before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Suppose someone insults you or offends you in some manner. Do not fight back. Get alone with God as soon as you can.

Perhaps you have become filled with anger against this individual. Ask Jesus why you reacted so strongly. How did the individual get this power over you? The Bible claims that great peace have they who love God's law and nothing shall offend them.

When Christ reveals that place in your personality that is offended so easily, confess it as unclean and ask the Lord to remove it from you.

This program of confessing and turning away from our sins may last for a long period of time. If we die before all the sins of our personality have been dealt with, perhaps the program will be continued in the spirit world after we die.

For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:6)

It may be true that when Jesus comes, if we have been faithful in confessing and turning away from our sins, He might remove all the rest of our sinful compulsions instantly. This could happen. However, that individual probably will not have the strength of the one who had to accomplish the entire program on earth.

The Lord Jesus does in fact have the power to remove all sinful compulsions from any person at any time. The reason He requires us to go through the program of confessing and renouncing is that we might learn spiritual warfare. If we are to rule with Him we must be skilled in the way of righteousness.

In any case, there can be no sin or self-seeking in those who are raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord in the air when He comes.

I believe the following passage has begun:

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)

You can see how a revival of this kind would flow into the ministry of the two witnesses.

The voice of the seven thunders, of the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, has been silenced. This is because God's preachers have been guilty of self-will and sin.

There must come a time of cleansing, as noted here:

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." (Revelation 11:1)

The "altar" is the Altar of Incense. "The worshipers there" are those who have cried out, "Not my will but yours be done." It is from this group that Christ will choose those who will bear witness with Him in the closing days of the Church Age.

Because these chosen witnesses do not follow their own will but are living by the Life of Christ, the power of the seven thunders will be issued to them.

The troubles in America and the remainder of the world will provide the "measuring" that is necessary; the experience that will insure His chosen witnesses are thinking, speaking, and acting according to God's will. No individual will be glorified in that day! These people are clothed in the sackcloth of humility.

We now are in days of preparation. Let us prepare for the chaos of the coming days in America by determining to think along with Jesus; speak as Jesus is speaking; work as Jesus is working. We must learn to live by the Life of Jesus if we are to stand throughout the Divine judgment and help others to stand.

Also, if we succeed in learning to live by the Life of Jesus, we might be one of those whom Jesus chooses to work with Him during the closing days of the Church Age, in bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

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Seeing the Face of God

2013-04-07

The Bible says, in the Book of Revelation, that the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the new Jerusalem, and His servants will serve Him. We see that grammatically God and the Lamb are considered to be the same Individual, in that it says "His servants will serve Him." It goes on to say, "They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads."

No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. (Revelation 22:2)

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4)

I am well aware that the Father and the Son are two different Persons, although they are One in a way that is not possible in our world of three dimensions. So we are left with the question: "Whose face will be seen by God's servant—the Father's or the Son's?"

My thought is that it is the Father's face. Jesus' face is described in the first chapter of Revelation:

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. (Revelation 1:14)

It is evident that the Apostle John saw the face of the Lord. But nowhere in the entire Bible, to my knowledge, is there any attempt to describe the face of the Father.

Perhaps it is true that when the Lord Jesus appears, everyone will see His face.

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

Seeing the face of Christ is wonderful beyond all doubt. But it may be true that seeing "His face," as in the Book of Revelation, may be referring to the Father. Can you imagine such a privilege?

I remember the story of a Christian professor of the Bible who was dying of a heart attack. As I recall, his family was surrounding him. He awakened momentarily and told his family members not to try to hold him back. He said, "I have seen the face of God." The he closed his eyes and was gone. I have never forgotten that story.

How I would love to see the face of God. Wouldn't you? Only one thing I would desire more, and that is to hear God say to me, "You have finished the work I gave you to perform, and you have fulfilled my expectations." To hear that would mean more to me than anything else I can think of.

"No man can see God and live," the Bible announces. Why is this? It is because we adults do not have the heart of a child. We are filled with deceit, hypocrisy, cunning, personal ambition, and a willingness to hurt other people if it would be of advantage to us.

God is pure of heart. He is not willing that self-centered people should see His face. We would try to put our sight of God's face into some kind of project that would bring gain to us.

The Lord Jesus told us that the pure in heart are blessed because they shall see God. Purity can gaze on Purity. But fallen man is not pure enough to look at God's face.

The angels of little children can see God. It is because they are innocent of the guile and the self-seeking of adults.

Who would not want to see God! I know I would like to. But I am not pure enough to look at the Holy Fire. I am certain there are many people besides myself who would want to see God if there was a way to do so.

When you think of it, even Moses was not permitted to see God's face. He wanted to, according to the Bible. But God hid him in the cleft of a rock so Moses could not look on God as God came toward him. Only after God was leaving was Moses permitted to see God's back; but never God's face.

Yet Moses spoke to God every day in the Tabernacle, until the face of Moses was transfigured to such an extent that Moses had to wear a veil when he came out of the Tabernacle.

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24:9-11)

"The God of Israel" perhaps was not the Father but the Lord Jesus. It is doubtful that the elders saw the Father. This may have been true also of God who spoke with Moses in the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

If this were the case, we can understand more clearly what it cost the Lord Jesus when the Father commanded Him to leave His Glory and come to earth to live among us.

If Moses and Abraham, the personal friends of God, were not permitted to see God's face, what chance do such miserable creatures as you and I have to see His face. Yet, what father would not want his children to see his face. Of course God wants us to be able to see His face.

We can see God's Personality in the Lord Jesus, but that is not the same as seeing God's actual face.

Well, it says in Revelation that we shall see His face. How do we get from here to there?

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

So the question is, how do we become pure in heart?

If I am hearing correctly from the Spirit of God, the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has begun. Experiencing the Day of Atonement, or Day of Reconciliation, is the same as being manifest at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

If we are willing to follow Jesus closely, counting ourselves crucified with Him and living with Him, the Spirit of God will begin to point out the impurity in our personality: anger, murder, lust, covetousness, pride, unforgiveness, seeking preeminence, bitterness, haughtiness, personal ambition, lying, treachery, unfaithfulness, covenant-breaking, arguing, violence, causing people to take sides in a cause, boasting, taking God's name in vain, smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol.

All of the above and many more are found in the human personality, varying in intensity from person to person. It is no wonder we can't see the face of God.

When the Spirit calls one of these to our attention we are to get alone with God; tell Him exactly what we have been doing; ask Him for forgiveness; and ask Him to remove this spirit from us, telling God that by His help we never will behave in this manner even one more time.

We may have tried to be delivered from sinful behavior, and it did not work. We may have given up in the attempt to have a pure heart. We are in a different day now. If you will do what I have just written, you may be pleasantly surprised. But you are going to have to be in dead earnest. Deliverance from demons, and that is what it is, is nothing to play around with.

If you are a young Christian you might seek assistance from an older Christian, of the same gender as yourself, until you are comfortable doing this on your own. It takes quite a bit of time, removing these spirits from our personality. If we are faithful in doing what we can, the Lord Jesus will help us. He wants a spotless bride.

There may be gainsayers who will tell you that you already are perfect in Christ; or that God sees you through Christ so your behavior does not count; or some other of the deceptions that have destroyed the moral strength of the Christian people. They do not know the way of righteousness, only their dead religious slogans.

If you were perfect in Christ you would not do any of the unclean behaviors I have mentioned above. To say that God does not see what you are doing is totally unscriptural and unrealistic.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

When you die and pass into the spirit world, the unclean behaviors you faithfully have dealt with will not be brought up again. It is an eternal judgment.

But you are not as pure yet as Christ intends for you to be. This is the reason why there is a thousand years between Christ's next coming, and the coming down to earth of the new Jerusalem and the new earth. I refer to the new world as the new world of righteousness. It is at that time that we will be pure enough to see the face of God.

What takes place during the thousand years before the new world of righteousness? The members of the Royal Priesthood, who are the ones who will see the face of God, will either be ruling with Christ over the nations of the earth, or living in the heavenly Jerusalem until it is time for them to come down to the earth as the new Jerusalem.

Both groups, the rulers over the earth during the thousand years, or those of the priesthood who still are immature during that time, will be ministered to until the old personality is gone completely and the purity of the new, Christ-filled personality, has come to maturity.

In both instances, the power that will cause the perfecting of the purity of Christ in the priest will be that of the Presence of Christ. Being near Him, whether while ruling on the earth or waiting in the heavenly Jerusalem, will cause the old to pass away and the new to come forth.

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

Just as the face of Moses was transformed by being exposed to the Person of God (perhaps Christ) in the Tabernacle, so shall we be transformed by being with the Lord for the thousand years, and is the purpose for the thousand years.

This change in us is wonderful to think of. However, we must be very careful to remember that we cannot be a casual Christian in the present hour and expect to be made like Jesus after we die. This is not going to happen.

Remember the lazy servant who did not use his talent? When the Lord Jesus came to him, Jesus did not make the lazy servant industrious and wise. Rather, Jesus rebuked the servant sharply, took away his one talent and gave it to someone who was more diligent, and sent the lazy servant into the Land of Darkness.

As I said previously, we must be careful to listen to the Holy Spirit as He leads us in the program of deliverance from unclean spirits. Also, we must faithfully perform all the other duties of a disciple, such as denying ourselves; taking up our cross and following Jesus at all times day and night; reading our Bible each day; praying continually; assembling with fervent believers; giving of our means; asking for and using gifts and ministries of the Spirit to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This is the genuine Christian discipleship. Today's preaching of "accept Christ and you will have your permanent pass to Heaven" will never, never, never prepare anyone to see the face of God, neither in the present world nor in the next. You can count on that!

Let's you and I be diligent servants, using the grace given to us each day to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, until that Day of all days when we are pure enough to see the face of our beloved Father.

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But For the Grace of God

2013-04-14

"There, but for the grace of God, go I" customarily is attributed to John Bradford, as from his place of confinement in the Tower of London he watched some prisoners being led away to execution.

If we ponder this statement, it can be seen that the term "grace," as used here, is not only referring to forgiveness. Reverend Bradford eventually was burned at the stake.

I think there is a deeper meaning, having to do with Divine destiny. Why would God favor John Bradford with the success he had had throughout his life, coming from a "financially stable" home. The prisoners he was observing probably came from among poor people and were caught in a crime.

Why are some Americans troubled with overweight while millions of people in other countries are starving?

Why does God give some people the faith to believe in Christ, but not to others?

Why are some people born with severe handicaps, but not others.

Why are some people very intelligent while others have limited abilities?

Why are some people so gifted in art and music, while others are not?

And here is an even more difficult question to answer:

Why, as the Apostle Paul taught, choose some to be people of honor while others are not as honorable?

There is a theory that people are formed by their environment. Another theory holds that people are born to behave in a certain manner, and their environment does not affect them as much as their inherited traits.

In a democracy we like to think that all people are equal; that all should have an equal chance to improve themselves.

However, the Bible implies that God is largely responsible for our destiny. A prime example is Israel, a nation which God has chosen to be especially close to Himself. On what basis did God choose Israel? Why not one of the other nations? Why not Egypt, for example?

This is a difficult question to resolve, because of our idea of "fairness." It may be true that the concepts of equality and the rights of people are just a few hundred years old. Prior to this time, people may have been more accepting of the idea of the "Divine right of kings," so to speak, than we are today.

No doubt many people of today, even Christians, will charge God with being unfair, if something takes place of which they do not approve. We in America are a sassy generation, supposing that God has to answer to us for the decisions He makes. We really have lost the fear of God in our country.

One of our favorite Bible passages says, "You are saved by grace, through faith, and this not from yourselves."

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

I believe that in our day the meaning of the above passage is not understood. We are apt to fasten on the thought that we do not need to behave righteously. God has given to us the gift of salvation independently of how we behave, we believe.

Actually the passage is referring to the members of the Royal Priesthood. God chose each member at the beginning of the world. God has certain "good works" that He has chosen us to do.

There is no boasting involved. God gave to His elect faith so they can believe in Christ and receive Him. As Paul told us in Romans, each member of the Royal Priesthood has been predestined to be changed into the image of Christ and to be a brother of Christ.

Even though the elect have been predestined to be in the image of Christ and to serve God as His priest, we can lose our crown of rulership by neglecting our salvation or by walking in the sins of the flesh. We can have our name blotted from the Book of Life by not choosing to live a victorious life in Christ.

Many are called to be members of the Royal Priesthood. Those who press forward in Christ pass from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen. Then there are those who, after having been called and chosen, fight on until they are designated as "faithful."

Called, chosen, and faithful. These are God's hundredfold. They shall inherit all things.

Now, here is the question. Why are some called? Why do some have that inner faith that drives them forward until they are chosen? Why do some have that burning desire to do the will of God that they surmount every difficulty in Christ until they are counted among the faithful.

Your opinion may be that some were more diligent than others in serving Christ. I believe this is true. But why were they more diligent? That is the real question, isn't it; and perhaps it is unanswerable at this time.

My personal opinion is that salvation is of the Lord to the extent that in the end we will discover that it is God who distributed faith according to His will. I know this sounds unfair. Nevertheless, I believe it to be the case.

Let's see how the Apostle Paul handled this problem:

In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. (Romans 9:8)

It is obvious that there were children who belonged to God, and children who did not belong to God. But on what basis? Could the children of promise say concerning the natural children: "There but for the grace of God go I"?

Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." (Romans 9:10-13)

How do we justify the preferential treatment given to Jacob?

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." (Romans 9:14,15)

How can God claim to be just, in this instance? On the basis that it is His will to act in this manner.

It is right at this point that we show our faith in God. If our heart is right, we say amen. If however our heart is not right with God, we will charge Him with being unjust. Either we honor God or else we dishonor ourselves.

It may be true that numerous American people, even some Christians, would have an idea how God should act that is not in accordance with how He does act. I think we have painted a picture of God as a kindly, affectionate, tolerant, benevolent grandfather, who observes the sins of the Christian people, smiles, and says, "Boys will be boys!"

We simply have no true concept of the Consuming Fire of Israel. God is a Spirit, not a human being. It is only because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary that God will have anything at all to do with us. We are in no condition to tell God what He can do and what He cannot do; what is fair and what is not fair; what is just and what is not just; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

On the whole we are a proud, hardhearted nation, and God is not pleased with our behavior at this time.

It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:16-18)

If we read Ephesians 2:8,9 in the light of the passage above, I believe we will come closer to a true understanding of the meaning of the two verses. The faith to believe God that we have received was not because of our desire or our effort. This is a lot different from the current notion that our having fellowship with God is independent of our behavior.

God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy. God hardens whom He wants to harden. Are we, puny creatures of the dust, going to shake our fist at God and say "You cannot act this way?" For my part, I am thankful to let God be God. When I see people who just cannot bring themselves to love, fear, and obey God, I truthfully can say, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:21)

That is the answer, isn't it? God is the Potter. That is evident. Well, a potter can make anything he chooses out of the same lump of clay. It is the potter's prerogative. He is the potter. The clay has no say in the matter.

At this point Satan steps in: "God does not have the right to treat you this way. Your will is not to be disregarded like this. You have just as much right to do whatever you want as God does."

This is the spirit that fills America at this time—the spirit of "self-will."

Satan has been consumed with self-will and his insides are filled with ashes.

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory---even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:22-24)

That is a thought, isn't it—that God has prepared some people for destruction in order to make known to the object of His mercy, the riches of His glory.

That idea may be repugnant to us—that God has prepared some people for destruction as an object lesson for those He has prepared for glory.

First of all, the person who wrote this, the Apostle Paul, is the main teacher of the New Testament. Either Paul was hearing from God, or else He wasn't.

We know that God was with Paul in an outstanding manner, and we treat Paul's words as the Word of God. Therefore it is God who said that He has prepared some people for glory and some for destruction.

Now who are we to say that God cannot do what He desires to do? We know that Satan continually is accusing God of unrighteousness. Do we want to be a partner of Satan and accuse God of unrighteousness? Maybe you do, but I want nothing whatever to do with Satan.

Being along in years, I have settled the issue to my own satisfaction. Let God be God. Whatever He has for me, that is what I desire. I delight to do my Father's will. Whatever God chooses to do with someone else, that is God's prerogative. He will do as He will do, and I give glory to Him because of His utter faithfulness.

Let us all let God be God.

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The Robe of Righteousness

2013-04-21

Among the trees of Eden was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Notice it was not the tree of good and evil, but the knowledge of good and evil.

God Himself has the knowledge of good and evil, as Satan said: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)

It is my belief that when Christ created the angelic creatures in the beginning they were not given an understanding of the way of righteousness, that is, of the knowledge of good and evil. Perhaps that is why Satan emphasized that God knows good and evil, the implication being that only God knows good and evil.

It may be a fact that angels and people had no authoritative code of righteous behavior prior to the writing of the Ten Commandments.

It is our conscience that distinguishes good from evil, although our conscience before Christ matures in us is largely unformed. It may be true that angels do not have a conscience. They may have a sense of duty and loyalty to God (at least some of them do), but they do not have the ability to judge moral issues.

Perhaps this is why there are two armies that do the will of God. There is the army of warrior angels; and then there is the army of saints who make moral judgments and give their decisions to the warrior angels to carry out the sentences that have been handed down.

Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:3)

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. (John 20:23)

The problem with Adam and Eve was not that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a bad tree and caused them to sin. As is true of the Tree of Life, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is Christ Himself. He is the Truth, and that Truth includes the knowledge of what is good and what is evil.

The problem with Adam and Eve was that by eating of the tree they became aware that they were living in a shameful state by being naked. In actuality, although it indeed is a shame to be naked, God had created them in that condition. And so legally they were in a shameful state. But actually they were not guilty of unrighteousness because they did not know they were living in a shameful state.

If they first had eaten of the Tree of Life they could have grown in Christ until they would have understood they were in a shameful state, and God would have shown them what to do about it.

In other words, God desired that they continue as they were until they were ready to have moral understanding, and then God would have shown them what to do about their nakedness.

You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing." But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17-19)

The "white clothes" we are to wear come first from Christ, and then from the way of righteousness in which we are to walk.

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. (II Peter 2:21)

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

Notice that the "fine linen, bright and clean" is not the clothing of imputed righteousness. It is "the righteous acts of the saints."

There is no question in my mind but that the current teaching of imputed righteousness is the greatest misunderstanding ever to enter Christian thinking. Believers are being counseled not to worry about acting righteously, because by attempting to practice righteousness (to walk in the way of righteousness) is as "filthy rags" (an expression from the Book of Isaiah taken out of context).

Please let me explain:

You come to the help of those who gladly do right, who remember your ways. But when we continued to sin against them, you were angry. How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins. (Isaiah 64:5-7)

To gain an understanding of what the Spirit of God meant by "all our righteous acts are like filthy rags," one should read the entire 64th chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

It is not referring to Christians who are endeavoring to please God by their conduct; who are confessing their sins and turning away from them. It is speaking to the people of Israel at a certain period in their history who were practicing sin, and apparently substituting ceremonial aspects of the Law of Moses to cover their sins. God was not accepting their sacrifices because they were not seeking Him!

This reminds us today of the "Christians" who walk in their sinful nature and then say they are righteous because they "believe in Christ." In this instance, it is the profession of believing in Christ that is the "filthy rags."

I have come to the conclusion that the members of all religions are bound with the sinful compulsions of the flesh, and take refuge in their religious practices. This is as true of Christianity as it is of any other religion.

There are people in the world, some members of a religion and others who are not, who have honest and good hearts. They are truthful and faithful to their commitments. They are people of integrity. God respects their character.

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." (Acts 10:34,35)

Now, if Christ comes to one such person of integrity, and the person rejects Christ, then he cannot enter the Kingdom of God no matter how fine an individual he or she is. My guess is that there are many such instances, because people of integrity often have a strong will.

The horrible error of current Christian teaching is that God does not care how we behave because we are "saved" (whatever that means) by a sovereign act of God when we "accept Christ." Any professor of sociology would predict that such teaching would result in moral chaos—and so it has.

We have substituted belief about Christ in place of obeying His commands and those of His Apostles. We are not taught to look to Christ for His help in overcoming our sins and self-will. Thus we are attempting to clothe ourselves in rags. And these rags are spotted with sin.

If we do not keep washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb by confessing and turning away from our sins when they are pointed out to us, our robe soon becomes dirty. If we continue like this and do not repent, in the Day of Resurrection we shall be clothed with corruption. We have sown corruption and we shall reap corruption in our resurrection body.

Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. (II Corinthians 5:23)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

I believe the two passages above are related. If we have washed our spiritual robes and they are sparkling white, then in the Day of Resurrection we shall be clothed upon with the white robe from Heaven. If we have not confessed and turned away from our sins, then in the Day of Resurrection we will not be clothed in white raiment but with our own corruption.

Linen was used in the construction of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and was worn by those who ministered before the Lord.

If Adam and Eve had waited for God to cover their nakedness, they would be living to the present hour, clothed in the splendor of Christ. But God knew in advance that they would listen to the serpent, and is using their experience as an allegory from which we can profit to the present hour.

Let's think about how this works with us.

Most of us begin spiritually naked, that is, we without realizing it are continually behaving in a manner opposite to the image of God.

Then, when Christ is presented to us, and we receive Him as our Lord and Savior, He clothes us with His own robe of righteousness—by righteousness I mean strict obedience to the Father at all times.

Now we are beginning our journey, wearing the white robe of Christ's righteousness. At some point the Holy Spirit will indicate that we are going against the commands of Christ and His Apostles. Then we are to confess to God precisely what we are doing, and ask His help in turning away from the sinful practice.

Our robe is sparkling white once more; and so we continue until we against are convicted of sin.

If, however, we ignore the signals that we are disobeying Christ, our robe remains spotted. This uncleanness remains until we confess and renounce the sin we are practicing. If we do not repent, we now are guilty of willful sin and are in danger of being counted an enemy of God.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)

To say we can continue in the works of the flesh without cleaning our robe in the blood of the Lamb, and go to Heaven by grace, is the folly of the present era.

Can you see from this how far from the Gospel we have drifted? Instead of telling people how they can keep themselves clean in Christ, we have substituted the filthy rags of whatever Christian denominational teaching or that of any other religion we are practicing.

It is one matter to be religious. It is quite another matter to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus so our thoughts are His thoughts; our words are His words; and our actions are what He is doing.

We sorely are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking.

If we keep in mind that God is righteous, and that He has fellowship with people who walk in the way of righteousness when they understand what it is they are to do, we will be just fine now, and after we die.

The knowledge of what is good and what is evil is the mark of a mature Christian.

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)

It is my firm conviction that if all the Christian people in the United States would turn away from the folly of lawless grace and escape-by-rapture teachings that are presented so widely in our country, and begin to confess their sins and turn away from them with the help of Jesus, our country would be spared the Divine judgment that is on the horizon.

But if we do not, the worldly people will continue with their abortion-on demand, their sexual lust and perversions, their worship of money, sports, and entertainment. God will not put up with this. And the worldly people will not change until they see integrity in those who name the name of Christ.

The Lord Jesus told us to let our light shine, so when the people of the world see our good works they will glorify God.

It is recorded that in one city, the manager of the motel where Christian people were staying during a convention, said their stock of X-rated movies was depleted. This kind of a testimony from people who profess Christ will not persuade the people of the world that they are doing anything wrong.

The people of the world will continue in their spiritual nakedness while the Christians, for the most part, continue in their spiritual nakedness along with their leaders. God will decide when enough is enough. That will be the end of America as the leader of the world.

England and the remainder of the formerly Christian nations also will be punished severely.

Since I am not certain the preachers in America will change from their teaching of lawless grace and the escape-by-rapture, I am urging everyone who will listen to me to press as close to the Lord Jesus as you can get, so during the coming days of trouble in America, as well as in the rest of the nations of the earth, you will know exactly what to do and when to do it so you and your loved ones will be spared the anguish of the future.

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A Little Boy

2013-04-21

I suppose most of us saw on television the little boy who was killed on Boylston Street in Boston, at the end of the marathon.

He is the sort of child you would like to reach out and hug. He must have wonderful parents to bring up such a lovable youngster.

But where do we go from here? Is Martin history? In a black hole somewhere? Gone from us forever? Is a memory all we are to have?

About six years ago the spirit world (Heaven) became more real to me than previously. I have been a follower of Jesus for 67 years. The Lord always has been real to me since I became a Christian. But now it is different. I have a sense of angels, Heaven, and so forth. I do not see them clearly. It is like when you go into a dark room. You can't see an individual, and yet you know someone is there.

I looked to the Lord to see if He would tell me the reason for the change in my perception. He said to the effect that there is going to be much blood spilled in America in the days ahead. He wants me, and no doubt many others, to make clear to people that there is no reason for a decent person to fear death or the death of his loved ones. By a decent person He means someone who lives according to a healthy moral conscience.

I have no doubt whatever that Martin is with thousands of boys and girls, playing, enjoying the little animals that are there, having a glorious time.

I remember one time when I was principal of an elementary school in California. There was construction going on near a third-grade classroom. (These were eight-year-olds, like Martin.)

I left my office and went to the classroom and suggested to the teacher that we move the class to the multipurpose room, away from the noise of the construction.

I was in the lead, followed by the teacher. Then came the little darlings, carrying their books and pencils.

Suddenly the love of God for these little ones enveloped me. As far as I know, many of these children had never been taught about Jesus. God's love for these girls and boys caused me to do some thinking "out of the box," as they say.

The New Testament tells us about children coming to Jesus. He did not say to His disciples, "Take these kids away until they learn the Torah." Jesus just received them gladly and loved them.

The Lord said to His disciples, "Boys, you are looking at the Kingdom of Heaven. If you plan on being part of the Kingdom you will have to have the same attitude as these little ones."

Martin would have been right at home with these children, wouldn't he!

His parents will be reunited with him some day in the land that always is like Christmas morning. What a happy time that will be for them.

This brings to mind the two young ladies and the young man that committed suicide in the last couple of weeks. Can you imagine the mental anguish that caused them to do this?

The two girls hung themselves, as I remember, and the boy shot himself.

Christians often proclaim that if an individual commits suicide, he or she can never go to Heaven. That is not in the Bible, so they must have read it in the Book of Hezekiah.

When the three entered the spirit world, I imagine the Lord Jesus said something like this: "Well, people, I know by experience how cruel the world can be. Why don't we do this. Let's give this another try. I will place you in a school where you will learn the ways of Heaven. Then we will take it from there. Is it a deal?"

This scenario would not be the case for deeply wicked people, or for someone who killed himself to get even with a loved one, or for some other unacceptable reason. That individual will enter the spirit world without the protection of the Lord Jesus, the most horrifying experience possible for a human being.

When we learn the reasons for the mental turmoil of the three young people, their action is understandable to us—and no one is more understanding than our Lord!

As to the reality of the spirit world, a few years ago my grandson, Troy, was thrown from his motorcycle when he was riding over bumpy terrain.

When the news came to his mother that Troy was dead, she went into hysterics. Troy spoke to her from the spirit world: "Mom, stop it. I'm okay."

During the memorial service, Catherine was able to speak calmly to the thousand-or-so young people who were present. Troy was a strong Christian and a leader.

So we will see Martin again, and the three young people also, now stalwart servants of Christ.

What a marvelous change dying is, from the days of our probation on earth! I always looked forward to the summer vacation, when a boy could go out and forget about school—just go swimming or run through the woods. Death is like that.

Let's all of us do what we know to be right. Then we can look forward to a smiling Lord and enter the true, eternal world, not like the valley of the shadow of death, which is our present environment. Think about our reunion with loved ones who, although invisible to us at this time, are waiting for us with arms outstretched for a long hug.

So it is not "Goodbye, my son or daughter"; but "We will be together again soon."

Being 87 years of age, I am looking forward with the greatest joy to the next figure in the dance, as C. S. Lewis would say.

See you there!

Amen.

This content is not copyrighted.

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Building a New Person

2013-04-28

I would like us for a moment to think about the people who will inhabit the new earth. There are two classes of people who will live on the new earth, which I call "the new world of righteousness."

First let me mention that although human activity will continue in the same pattern it always has, there will be no flesh and blood people in the new world of righteousness. The adamic creation was finished on the cross of Calvary. It has served its purpose while God is preparing the people who will inhabit His new world.

But, as I said, life will continue as usual in the new world:

Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. (Isaiah 65:17)

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65)

There will be two classes of people living on the new earth. First, there are the governing priests. They compose the new Jerusalem.

Second, there will be a much larger population—the "sheep" who have been saved from the nations. They are the inheritance of God's priests, of whom the Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest, one might say.

I believe those saved from the nations will have access to the River of Life and the Tree of Life so they may be renewed from time to time in eternal life. But they will not have been born again. Christ will not be formed in them. Being born again and having Christ formed in us and dwelling in us is the mark of the Royal Priesthood.

The royal priests who will govern the nations of saved people, and all else of God's creation, will be the source of the River of Life and will be outgrowths of the Tree of Life, because the Throne of God will be in them. They are the eternal dwelling place of God, with the Lord Jesus Christ being the chief Cornerstone of the Father's House. The governing priests will be rooms in that House.

The Kingdom of God is the inheritance of the sheep, the saved of the nations.

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)

The saved of the nations are citizens, we might say, of the Kingdom. The Kingdom proper is the Royal Priesthood, the new Jerusalem.

Now I will describe the members of the Christian Church, the Royal Priesthood. They are charged with the oversight, blessing, judging, teaching, and governing of the people who have been saved from the nations. They will insure that righteousness, love, peace, and joy prevail for eternity throughout God's creation. The Lord Jesus Christ is their Head.

The title of this essay is "Building a New Person." I am referring to the transition that must take place in each member of the Church, the Body of Christ, before he or she is a member of the governing priesthood.

First, the candidate must be born again. This means their original personality must begin to diminish while the Divine Nature of Jesus Christ that has been sown in them must begin to increase.

When the new person is complete, the old person will be seen no longer. There is a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (II Corinthians 5:17)

I think most of us would agree that when we first receive Christ, it is true that in God's mind the old has gone and the new has come. But it does require a period of time before the new person actually comes forth and can be seen.

Assuming what I have written so far is true, we can see that our Christian life consists of putting off the old man and putting on the new man.

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10)

Notice that it is our responsibility to take off the old man and put on the new man. God does not do it all for us; but we do have to have the help of Christ if we are to do our part effectively.

Notice also the expression which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. God created man in His image, in the timeless vision of God. Our old man does not always show the Character of God in his behavior. The new man always portrays the Character of God in his behavior.

We see then that part of the program of building a new person consists of us confessing and turning away from our sin, as Jesus helps us. No person who does not submit to the cleansing work of the Spirit of God is a candidate for membership in the royal priesthood. He or she will not enter the Kingdom, as Paul taught us.

Don't you think the need for Christians to repent and turn from their sins should be preached more widely than it is? I do!

However it is not just a matter of repenting and turning from our sins, as basic that is for membership in the priesthood. The transition from the old person to the new person is more profound than that. The transition consists of the crucifixion of the old person and the coming forth of the Nature of Christ in us; and then the coming of the Father and Christ to make our transformed inner nature their eternal dwelling.

We must build a new person. The former person simply cannot enter the Kingdom of God!

Each time the Spirit of God points out something in our behavior that is not of the image of God, we are to confess it immediately and tell the Lord that by His help we never, never will practice that unclean behavior again—no, not for eternity. It is an eternal judgment.

We thus have passed the Judgment Seat of Christ concerning this particular sin. We have washed our robe in the blood of the Lamb by confessing and renouncing our sin.

More than this. As we have washed our robe, we are given in the spirit realm to eat of the flesh of Christ and to drink His blood. This is the hidden manna. This is our resurrection life. By taking this action every time a sin is pointed out to us, we are learning to live by the Life of Jesus Christ.

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)

Also, there is a legal aspect involved in building the new person.

The Apostle Paul got into an argument with the leaders of the new Christian Church. These men had been with Jesus, and Paul had not. This put Paul at a disadvantage; but Paul had an answer for them that they may not have understood at the time.

The issue was that of keeping circumcision as part of the Christian salvation. In fact, numerous Christians of our day are still obligating themselves to keep at least part of the Law of Moses. They do not understand that the Law of Moses governs the old person, and the old person is to be counted as dead, if we are seeking to build the new person.

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. (Galatians 2:11,12)

We who are Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners" know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! (Galatians 2:15-17)

Paul is saying that he is considered righteous because of his faith in Jesus Christ. But that does not mean he is free to sin.

We of today often teach that because we are righteous by means of believing in Christ we are free to sin. But that is not the correct conclusion.

Paul gives the true resolution as follows:

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)

The above passage explains how it can be that we no longer are under the authority of any part of the Law of Moses, and yet are not free to sin as we please.

Our old person has been crucified with Christ. We through Christ are to turn away from the sinful nature of the old man.

Our new person lives by the Life of Christ, just as Christ lives by the Life of the Father. The new person thinks what Christ is thinking. The new person says what Christ is saying. The new person does what Christ is doing. The new person lives by the Life of Christ, and our new life does not sin.

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (I John 3:9)

The transition from the old person to the new person is to be the guiding goal and motivation of every aspect of our life. This is how we become a new person in Christ. This is how we become a part of the new Jerusalem.

We live by faith in the Son of God. We discard thoughts of unbelief, with the Lord's help. We speak words of faith, in Jesus' name. Everything we do, we do in faith in Christ. In short, the new person lives by faith.

I suppose our main problem in the transition from the old person to the new person is the crucifixion of the old person. We must take the attitude that the first person, with his sinful, self-seeking ways is be done away with. When this is our attitude, God sends various crosses and prisons to help us get rid of the old person.

Our most intense desires are deferred, perhaps for our entire life. This doesn't matter, or shouldn't matter, because we have placed all of our treasures in Heaven. Jesus will keep them safe for us, so when we die we will have them again—that is, if they will bring us righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Sometimes we have to remain in unpleasant circumstances for a season. We cannot escape without breaking God's laws.

In some instances, God gives us a vision of what He has in store for us. We may think we understand the vision, but we probably do not. In any case, it may be a long while before the vision is fulfilled. It is in the period of time between the giving of the vision and its fulfillment that the saints are made.

If we are to successfully make the transition from the old person to the new person we must fix our eyes on the goal, on the reward for this travail. In the Book of Second Corinthians the Apostle Paul tells us of the numerous afflictions that he suffered. In fact, he went about with the sentence of death in himself, that he should not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead.

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:9)

We must learn to focus our eyes on the time when Jesus returns, raises us from the dead, and catches us up to Himself. Contrary to the current understanding, not everyone who makes a profession of faith in Christ will be raised in this first resurrection. It is for the priests who are to return with Christ and govern the nations of the earth. Those who will be forever with Jesus are called, chosen, and faithful.

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)

So we see that the Law of Moses is as a slave who brings us to the school of Christ. We do not look to the Law to see if we are doing something that is not in accordance with God's image, we look directly to the Lord Jesus.

When the new person is convicted of sin, he confesses his sin to Christ and asks for wisdom and strength to never sin again. Then he presses forward joyfully in Christ, knowing he has been forgiven and will receive strength to resist if he is tempted again along the lines of that which he has confessed and renounced.

Concerning the transition from Moses to the new covenant, I might add that every one of the Ten Commandments is expressed in a higher manner as we serve God under the new covenant. Not committing adultery is expanded to not looking on a woman to lust after her. Not bowing down to idols or worshiping them is expressed in a higher manner, as we are commanded to put all relationships, things, and circumstances, all of our treasures, in Heaven, grasping none of them.

The commandment to set aside our work routine on Saturday and pay attention to God on that day is expressed in a much higher form as we set aside our entire life all day and night every day of the week. We seek to think Christ's thoughts; speak as Christ is speaking; and do as Christ is doing at all times. We continually are to present our body as a living sacrifice.

We must make every effort to set our heart and mind on things above. The Lord Jesus will help us with this.

Also, we do well to pray every day to be filled to the measure of all the Fullness of God, to be His dwelling place.

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)

Let the prophets judge.

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Remaining In Christ

2013-04-28

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 dead in Christ."

It sounds to me if you are not "in Christ" you are not going to be resurrected when the Lord Jesus returns.

Have you ever wondered what the expression "in Christ" means? I sure have.

I believe it has to do with abiding, or remaining.

Unfortunately we have reduced the Gospel of salvation to a one-time action on our part. "Accept Christ" and no matter how you behave after that does not really matter. You now are "saved"!

In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John we are told that the work of God is to believe in Christ. But then the Lord proceeds to inform us that if we are to have resurrection life we must eat His flesh and drink His blood.

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." (John 6:29)

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." (John 6:53)

Well, believing in Christ may be nothing more than a mental effort on our part. But eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood is not a mental effort. Is it?

When speaking of eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood, I am not referring to the Communion service. The Communion service is a portrayal of something that can actually happen only in the spirit world and is invisible to us.

When partaking of the elements in the Communion we must focus our minds on the events of the Last Supper, when Christ was with His disciples just prior to His crucifixion.

Do we eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood just once in our lifetime (as the infamous and unscriptural "accept Christ" suggests)? Or do we live by feeding continually on His flesh and blood?

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)

How do you feel about the verse above? Does "feeds on me" sound like we live by "accepting Christ" at one time? Or does it give the impression that we are to live by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood constantly?

But how do we do this? How do we live by continually eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood?

His body and blood are "hidden manna."They are given to us as we are making our way through the wilderness of this present life. Every time we resist temptation and choose to obey Christ, we are fed with His body and blood. When we are fed we are strengthened so we can do God's will on another occasion. Thus it is a cycle leading to the moral image of Christ.

The flesh and blood of Christ are hidden from us until such times as we choose to resist sin and determine to do God's will.

Christ invited us to abide in Him. Abiding in Christ is not a one-time action on our part, is it? We are to live in Him at all times.

How do we live in Christ? We live in Christ by continually, all through the day and night, opening the door to Him and receiving His Life. He always is knocking, you know, and we are to always be opening the door.

We are to be thinking as Christ is thinking, just as Christ is thinking as the Father is thinking. We are to be speaking as Christ is speaking, just as Christ is speaking as the Father is speaking. We are to be acting as Christ is acting, just as Christ is acting as the Father is acting.

This is what it means to be "in Christ." This is what it means to live by Christ as Christ lives by the Father.

The expression "in Christ" appears many times in the New Testament.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—(Romans 9:1)

So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:5)

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. (Romans 16:3)

Do the passages above give us the feeling that being "in Christ" is not referring to a religious statement we made some years ago, but is a state of being in which we are living?

Paul tells us God predestined His elect to be changed into the image of Christ:

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29)

Now, think about that. We all have frailties and parts of our personality that simply are not in the image of Christ. Is that true?

Then would you agree with me that changing us from our adamic state to the image of Christ in which we are a life-giving spirit like Him is going to require a period of time?

Below are five steps to being changed into Christ's image:

  • Replacing Our Life With Christ's Life.
  • Overcoming the Enemies of Christ.
  • The Forming of Christ in Us.
  • Daily Fellowship With Christ.
  • Clothed With Christ's Outer Image.

Now, think about this for a minute. Can these changes be made just by saying "I accept Christ as my Savior," or do we have to keep on pressing forward each day, as did the Apostle Paul, until we have been changed into Christ's image?

Personally, considering my own sad state, I figure it will require a thousand-or-more years before I am completely in Christ's image, as God would have me to be.

I have been thinking about the two young Muslim men who set off bombs at the conclusion of the Boston Marathon.

They had been in America for some time, but they apparently did not see anything in our sinful culture that they desired to emulate. All it took was for a Muslim radical teacher to fill them with a desire to strike out against what they believed to be wickedness.

The older young man stated he was training to represent the United States as a boxer, in the next Olympics. The younger hoped to be a brain surgeon, he said, and already had received a scholarship, if I read the account correctly.

Whether these two expressed hopes were a smokescreen to hide a carefully developed plan to infiltrate and terrorize our country, or whether they really had hoped to accomplish these goals, I do not know.

Whether they would have changed their minds about destroying America if they had come under the influence of Christian young people who were being changed into the image of Christ, instead of waiting to die to go to Heaven and live in a mansion, doing nothing of significance for eternity, I am not able to say.

Why was it easy for a radical Muslim teacher to fill their minds with murder?

I will tell you why. What they were seeing, in a country that used to fear God, is sex lust, gender confusion, nakedness, the wild pursuit of material wealth, the adoration of violence, political chicanery.

We are a confused, materialistic culture. We have turned away from the old American values. We have a government that is teaching us to trust our own resolve instead of looking to God to help us. Christ and the Bible are being set aside in favor of Humanistic values.

Am I correct? Are we looking to the government to help us or to God to help us?

There are millions of people in the world who are of the Muslim religion. Among them are a few people who are insane in their desire to force everyone to have the same beliefs as they do. They are giving a bad name to the rest of the Muslims, who, as far as I can see, are ordinary people who just want to worship God according to their customs and go about their business.

I wonder if we Americans realize that if we were setting an example to the rest of the world of how a true disciple of Jesus lives, we would not have the current hostility directed toward us!

If I am hearing from God accurately, the future for us Americans will be grim indeed. Why? Because we are driving Christ from our land. Yet, our nation was founded by hard-working, God-fearing people. I would not be at all surprised if our nation is visited with Divine judgment to the point that we become a small country with little influence in the world.

Perhaps then a remnant of sincere Christians will rebuild our country. Or perhaps Christ will return by then.

So we have an immoral citizenry. Why is this? It is because the Christian churches, which are the only true moral light of the world regardless of what people may think, have been deceived by the false doctrines of "accepting Christ," unscriptural grace that invites unrighteous behavior, and an escape from the problems of the world by means of an unscriptural "rapture."

The world cannot see the light from an imputed righteousness and glorify God, because no light shines from an imputed righteousness, only from actual righteous behavior.

The tragedy of the two Muslim young people may lie at the door of the false teaching in the Christian churches. We are not preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom but the gospel of going to Heaven by grace. The two might still be with us along with the people they killed and injured, if the pure Light of the Lord Jesus Christ was shining from us instead of the works of the flesh, proceeding from our ignorance of God's plan of redemption.

So what are we going to do? Keep on with our foolish, unscriptural preaching and teaching and rail at those "murderous Muslims"? Or are we, from the leaders of our government on down, going to confess our national disgrace to God? Are we going to repent of the millions of children who are murdered in the name of the rights of mothers?

Are we going to cry out to God about the displays of nakedness by the "beautiful people"? Are we going to emphasize righteous, merciful behavior in place of the buying and selling of the Antichrist world spirit in which we are immersed?

We point to this one or that one and say he may be the Antichrist. How blind we are! The Antichrist spirit of buying and selling already has invaded our culture, and is one of the reasons the Muslim people despise America.

This present essay is about what it means to be "in Christ." If each of us would press into Christ each day, learning to live by Him, letting our old adamic nature die along the way, we will gradually be changed into the image of God. When the people of the world saw our righteous, compassionate, generous behavior, they would glorify God.

At least, that is what our Lord said would happen.

I am disappointed that young people from another country can live in America for years and not desire to be assimilated into our culture. However, their actions are not surprising if their religion emphasizes moral rectitude.

If anything, I am upset that we Americans have drifted so far from the Gospel of the Kingdom.

If we can apply the lessons taught by the history of the nation of Israel, we might conclude that, as in the case of Israel, when a nation turns away from God and seeks only to gratify its flesh, then God will raise up enemies who will punish those people.

As commentators have pointed out, it is just about impossible to close the door against determined terrorists. We pride ourselves on being an "open" society, and we don't want to lose our freedom of speech and action.

But if we do not, as a nation, espouse the righteous principles of God's moral laws, demonstrating to the remainder of mankind that we fear God and want to please Him, God may raise up enemies against us as He did against Israel, His chosen people.

We have a choice, don't we? We can turn to God, or else we can curse the terrorists, hoping that somehow that will improve the situation.

Let me speak a moment to God's elect, His called-out ones.

Today God is moving forward in His plan of redemption. The holiness teachers who went before us stressed "the death route," that is, crucifying our sinful nature.

If I am not mistaken, I believe today the Spirit is emphasizing what we might call "the life route." Paul referred to this new way of living as "the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ."

If we are willing to leave our old personality and become part of the Life of the Lord Jesus, we will be kept safe under the protective wings of the Almighty God when Divine judgment falls on our nation. We can save ourselves and our loved ones by abiding "in Christ."

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

(Psalms 91:1-8)

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is "the shelter of the Most High." The promises listed above are limited to those who are living "in Him."

My brothers and sisters in Christ, let us make every effort to remain in Him at all times.

If you say, "The Lord is my refuge," and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. (Psalms 91:9,10)

Is Christ your dwelling place? He is mine!

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Expanding the Word of God

2013-05-05

From the beginning God has had a great plan in mind. It is possible that this plan originated in God's mind before the Word of God, whom we know as Christ, came forth from God. That plan is to create a continually expanding Kingdom in which righteousness, love, joy, and peace prevail throughout.

This ever expanding Kingdom reminds me of our present universe, which astronomers inform us is rapidly expanding. As regards our universe, it is so unimaginably huge, and the distances between the heavenly bodies are so great, and such speed is demonstrated, I wonder if God is not "showing off" His unlimited power (although this may not be a proper manner in which to describe God's motive in displaying such splendor).

In any case, our expanding universe gives us a sort of picture of how the Kingdom God has planned will increase for eternity.

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)

If I am correct, God's first step was to bring forth Christ from His own Being. Christ is the Word of God in the sense that He represents all that God is. Then through Christ, God created the spirit and physical worlds.

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)

The Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Lord, originally was regarded as the Word. Then the Word was made flesh by being born of Mary.

The world God has created always will be under God's rule. This shall continue to be true when mankind is on the new earth. There never is a time when the angels and mankind are not under God's supervision.

The Ten Commandments may have been the first time God's moral law was presented in written form. Before that time, I can't see how the angels would be able to distinguish between righteousness and unrighteousness.

To the present time angels do not have an innate sense of right and wrong I gather, in that it never is given to angels to make moral judgments as far as I can see in the Bible. But they apparently do know the difference between loyalty and disloyalty, in that God cast out of Heaven the presumptuous, self-willed Satan and those who followed him.

I do not believe angels have a conscience. But apparently conscience was the law that governed human beings until God gave Moses ordinances to teach Israel.

Noah was deemed righteous, probably because he obeyed his conscience and was a decent person. His neighbors did not do this and were characterized by wickedness and violence; wickedness as judged by their conscience, I suppose.

(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) (Romans 2:14,15)

Abraham believed God when God told him that he would have many children. God regarded Abraham's blind belief in God's promise as righteousness. God later added to Abraham's faith the rite of circumcision.

Then came Moses and Aaron, and through them God expanded the knowledge of what God expected of people.

There not only were the Ten Commandments, a moral law that applies to all mankind, but a number of ordinances that governed the conduct of daily life, such as the distinction between clean and unclean foods. So we see God's law expanded from the conscience of people to the scroll of the Law.

Notice that every one of the Ten Commandments deals with our relationships with God and with other people. Almost all of the other ordinances were not moral guidelines, such as the regulations concerning the Tabernacle and the priesthood; that which was ceremonially unclean; the treatment of thieves; the laws concerning leprosy; and so forth.

Please keep in mind that during these hundreds of years, God was laying the foundation for the eternal Kingdom of God, the new world of righteousness.

The next expansion of the law of God occurred with the giving of the new covenant. The new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in the human personality. This is an enlargement and refining of our conscience.

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. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:10,11)

Notice how God through the centuries has kept increasing His rule.

The laws that are written in our mind and heart are the eternal moral laws of God. No aspect of the ceremonial law is written into our personality.

What is important to God is that we love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. All of the moral law is included in these two commandments. This is what is written in our personality. This is the new covenant.

God cannot have the ever expanding kingdom of righteousness, love, peace, and joy He desires until all people submit to these two commandments; and also obey the Lord Jesus Christ absolutely and at all times.

The full implementation of God's moral imperatives in the new world of righteousness requires three elements: the undisputed rule of the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself is the Word of God; a governing priesthood; and people who live on the new earth but are not of the priesthood.

The first consideration is the undisputed rule of Jesus Christ. God has given to Him all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. The one sure behavior on our part that will guarantee eternal residence in the Lake of Fire is disobedience to Jesus.

The Lord Jesus is the great High Priest of God. Serving under Him as the representatives of God to the people who live on the new earth are the members of the Royal Priesthood. God, Christ, and the members of the Royal Priesthood compose the new Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of God.

The ruling priests, who are the Christian Church, the elect called from the ranks of mankind, will govern the new world of righteousness.

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 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 22:4,5)

Such are the members of the Royal Priesthood.

The third element in the expanded government of God consists of the people from the nations whom God has saved but who are not members of the priesthood. They are the inheritance of the priesthood. They do not have Christ born and formed in them as do the royal priests.

They will live in communities and will go about their daily business just as people do today, participating in agriculture, the arts and sciences, and all the other endeavors that will bring righteousness, love, joy, and peace to everyone.

This is the Kingdom that God visualized before any part of it came into being. First God brought forth the supreme Ruler, the Word. Then through the Word, God created all things, including the spirit world and all its inhabitants.

One step at a time, God imposed on mankind His moral nature until finally the new creation was able to love God above all; to love one another as themselves; and to obey the Lord Jesus Christ in every detail.

We now are in the time when God is preparing the members of the priesthood, the brothers of Christ. Each one must become an extension of the Word, who is Christ. The Word must be formed in each of the priests until His Divine Nature is apparent in them.

Such transition from our human nature to the Divine Nature requires that our old nature must be supplanted by the new nature being formed in us. We must learn to live by the Life of Christ in every aspect of our nature. We must think, speak, and act as an integral part of the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This may seem impossible to the reader. It is not. Such a life is readily available to you.

Be sure to confess and turn away from your sins when they are pointed out to you. Ask Christ to help you with this.

Then, in everything you do during the day and night, keep asking Christ for wisdom and strength. Let Him take over your life, a step at a time. This will take a while to master, but Jesus will help you if you ask Him.

There are two prayers that are helpful that we can pray each day: the first is that we may keep our heart and mind on things above; the second is that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

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)

This is your goal and my goal until Jesus returns.

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The Paths of Righteousness

2013-05-12

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. (Psalms 23:3)

Last night the expression "the paths of righteousness" stood out in my mind. I began to think about it, and what it had to do with God's name's sake.

It came to me that we are not interpreting the term "righteousness" correctly. We have been taught so much about "justification" that we are confusing the two terms. If I understand the true definitions, "justification" has to do with God's approval of us. It is not something one can see.

David would not say, "He guides me in paths of justification for His name's sake." Why not? Because "righteousness" is a description of behavior that God approves. Justification is not a description of behavior.

The normal use of the word "righteous," as it would be employed by a person of the world, describes behavior. "He is a righteous man" as used by the average person would mean the individual is a person of integrity. He is honest, faithful, kind, truthful, and so forth.

However, we Christians many times use the word "righteous" to mean imputed righteousness. We do not behave righteously, but God says we are righteous because we "accept Christ."

Jesus said, "Let your light shine among men that they may see your good works and glorify God." This can mean only righteousness of behavior, because imputed righteousness cannot be seen.

It seems to me that "He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake" is referring to the fact that when people see our good works they will glorify God. This is why God leads us in paths of righteousness—it is for His name's sake, that is, so people will glorify God.

Imputed righteousness is not something people can see, and so they do not glorify God because of our imputed righteousness.

How we got so far from the Gospel of the Kingdom I do not know. Endless sermons are preached about imputed righteousness. But how many times do we hear ministers of the Gospel speak of the paths of righteousness? Not often enough, I believe.

As if this were not bad enough, too many ministers do not live righteously themselves, especially in the area of money.

If a preacher does venture to admonish his congregation to live righteously, he may follow it by saying, "Even if we don't practice righteous behavior, we still are going to go to Heaven by 'grace.'" The result is, when a member of the congregation is beset by the demons of lust, he may fall into sin. He figures in his heart, "I really should not do this, but I am going to go to Heaven anyway by grace; so why should I deny myself something I desire so intensely?"

The paragraph above is very significant, I believe. When ministers of the Gospel proclaim that salvation is a sovereign work of God and our behavior does not matter, they remove the fear of God from people. When a believer is facing a severe temptation, he will reason, "I know I should not do this, but I will go to Heaven in any case because I have 'accepted Christ.'"

So he will sin because of the attractive temptation, and he will bear the physical and spiritual consequences.

If he had been told that his behavior at this point very well may determine his reception into the spirit world when he dies, and what will happen to him when he is raised from the dead, he very well might have made the effort to turn to Christ for help, instead of succumbing to the temptation.

Thus we see that the current teaching of lawless-grace and escape-by-rapture are destroying the moral strength of believer.

In the present time God is looking for strong, holy people whom He can use as members of the Royal Priesthood. The present teaching is making many believers unqualified for the Royal Priesthood; unqualified to be a member of the Wife of the Lamb; unqualified to be a member of the Body of Christ.

Here is the issue as plain as I can make it: does God expect His people to live righteous lives; or has God given us a new covenant in which righteousness of behavior has been replaced by the ceremony of "accepting Christ"?

The Bible used to be called the "Good Book" because it taught us how to behave. Has this been changed? Does the Bible now present "accepting Christ" as the way to go to Heaven apart from righteous behavior? Is this change, which has been accepted today by numerous people who say they believe in Christ, really of God?

I do not believe it is. I believe it has come from Satan who does not fear our going to Heaven. What Satan fear is people who live righteously. When we resist the devil he flees from us.

How do you feel about this? Is God ready to have fellowship with unrighteous people on the basis of their "accepting Christ"? Has God joined the ranks of sinners? Is there no more need for iron righteousness of behavior, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father?

This probably is the greatest question facing Christian people today. Those who choose to confess their sins and to turn away from them, by Christ's help, will save themselves and their loved ones during the days of Divine judgment which America is approaching.

Those who choose to trust in lawless grace will, when they die, find they have been deceived. Then they will receive the results of their behavior. They may turn with fury on those who deceived them, if such are present. But I feel certain that their worldly teachers will only laugh at them and tell them they should have known that God will not receive people who have continued to yield to their sinful nature after having made a profession in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

We of today do not mind receiving Jesus as our Savior as long as he does not try to be our Lord and interfere with our sinful, self-willed behavior.

Did you know righteousness is a way of living? Grace is not a way of living. Grace is a ticket to Heaven that we receive when we "accept Christ," supposedly.

Grace does not glorify God. The way of righteousness, meaning righteous behavior, glorifies God when people see a believer behaving righteously.

Is there an actual "way of righteousness"? Are there paths of righteousness?

The righteousness of the blameless makes a straight way for them, but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness. (Proverbs 11:5)

In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality. (Proverbs 12:28)

For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him. (Matthew 21:32)

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. (II Peter 2:21)

The way of righteousness. What does that mean? It means the way God's people of time past have endeavored to live, such as those described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

The wretched theology of dispensationalism, which numerous Evangelical preachers have been taught, tells us that such verses do not apply to Christian believers. We are saved by "grace," and so the way of righteousness, or the paths of righteousness, can safely be ignored.

I tell you, words fail me when I think of the damage the theology of dispensationalism of caused. I was reading today in the newspaper of a prominent Christian couple who have been caught in lawlessness. They are ministering to millions of Christian believers, but they themselves are not walking in the paths of righteousness.

The Christian people are mocked in America and, I think, are facing severe persecution. The worldly people know instinctively that they have been let down by the Christian churches, and they are going to seek revenge.

Our government includes many liars and self-seeking people who are the despair of ordinary Americans. I believe the doctrines of lawless grace and escape-by-rapture have played a prominent part in the moral destruction of America.

Have you ever heard "paths of righteousness" preached? Probably what you have heard is how God overlooks our sins because we believe in Christ; and the escape-by-rapture. People from many parts of America are telling me that they cannot find a Church that preaches the righteous behavior that is part of the Kingdom of God. Only rapture, rapture, rapture.

Our true goal is not eternal residence in Heaven. It is to grow spiritually until we attain to the measure of the stature of Christ. It is to accomplish this goal that the Holy Spirit has given the gifts and ministries of the spirit of God.

We must attain to holy living. Why? Because we are members of the Royal Priesthood. We are members of the Bride of the Lamb. We are members of the very Body of Christ. It is to these roles that we have been chosen. Therefore the demands on our behavior are severe. We are to be holy as the Lord is holy; not by imputation, but by purifying ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

For the most part, the Christian preaching of today is wrong—dead wrong. It is not preparing people for the days of Divine Judgment that are on the horizon for America, and for the rest of the world.

The other nations, some of them, may be beaten with few lashes. They do not know of the demands of Christ. But the erstwhile Christian nations, including the United States, are going to be beaten with many stripes because they know the Bible is God's Word and yet have been willing to be led astray.

We have been taught that God does not see our sinning but views our behavior through Christ. This is a monstrous lie. Of course God sees our behavior. God knows every thought we think; every word we say; every decision we make; every action we take.

If you think He doesn't, ask Him right now if He knows who you are and everything you think, say, and do. You may be surprised, whether or not you are a Christian.

We may think that we do not have to use for His Kingdom the resources He has so lovingly given to us. We are saved by grace and God sees only Christ when He sees us.

Go ahead and do not use the resources you have been given in order to build up the Kingdom. When Christ returns He will call you a wicked, lazy, servant. He will not gush over you with tender words, as your local pastor may be prone to do.

Christ will take your resources from you and give all of them, including the crown that belongs to the members of the Royal Priesthood, and all the rest of your inheritance including the people you were to govern and bless, and give it all to someone who has been diligent with the things of Christ. But you will be led away into the Land of Darkness.

Are you going to wait to see if I know what I am talking about; or are you going to draw as close to Jesus as you can, take up your cross of deferred gratification, and follow and obey Christ every day and every night for the rest of your life?

Do not listen to those ministers who are telling you how God loves you unconditionally and no matter how you live He is going to take you to His bosom when you die. They are lying to you. They are seeking their own glory, not the things of Christ.

For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:4)

A license for immorality! That is the case in America!

Jude described clearly many of today's Christian preachers and teachers. They have changed the grace of God into a license for immorality. They talk about the Lord Jesus but they deny His Lordship. They do not obey His commands or those of His Apostles.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (II Timothy 4:3)

This is the condition we are in today. The pastor who will tell the people any effort they make to live righteously is as filthy rags because they are saved by a sovereign grace, and they are about to go to Heaven in a rapture so they may decline on their sofa in their mansion. may soon have a large congregation.

The pastor who tells the people that they must take up their cross of deferred desires and plod along after Jesus if they are to please God, and to put on the whole armor of God that they may stand in the evil day that is coming, probably will not serve in a mega church.

The American people want to hear how God loves them and will not permit any harm to come to them, even though they are living a casual Christian life, placing many other aspects of their life in a place of higher importance.

The Lord knows who are His, and He will guard them carefully in the coming period of judgment. But the careless, lukewarm church-attenders of our day are facing a dreadful future!

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The Battle for the Mind

2013-05-19

I wonder if there always, throughout history, has been as intense a battle for our minds as is true today. Perhaps the battle began in earnest with the printing press. Of course, there always have been distractions of one kind or another.

But never before have there been televisions, computers, the internet, radios, electronic tablets, and cell phones. No doubt these are having more of an impact on people than we realize. Young people are fascinated with electronic games. The content of many of these is unacceptable to Christian people, which can cause a problem within the home.

The Lord Jesus through His Apostle Paul has given us a commandment:

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. (Colossians 3:1,2)

Have you, as an American, ever tried keeping your mind on Christ throughout the day and night? If you have, you have found it is not easy. Perhaps it is more difficult for me than it is for you. My mind flits from one thing to another, usually from one worry to another. Is it like that for you?

Sometimes when my mind is not occupied, I force myself to think of one thing. Then I pray about that one thing, or give thanks for it depending on the circumstances. This is a pretty good device but you really have to work at it.

At the present time, America is in a political turmoil. There are the so-called conservatives and the so-called liberals. It is so easy to become inflamed on one side or the other. It may sound unpatriotic on my part, but I do not believe God wants us to be entangled in such wrangling. If there is some good we can do, that is fine. But I think God desires that we keep our minds in the heavenlies with the Lord Jesus.

They used to say about a believer, "He is so heavenly minded he is no earthly good." It is my observation that most believers are so earthly minded they are no heavenly good!

Involvement in politics can really bring our mind down from the heavenly and into the earthly. I do not believe God is pleased with this.

Then there is the situation in the world. Sin is widespread throughout the world. So are false religions. Three of the main issues are money, power, and sexual lust. These seem to dominate world thinking at this time.

Plan after plan is advanced to bring peace. But there cannot be peace and prosperity apart from righteous behavior.

In the United States, at the present time (June 27, 2012), wildfires are consuming parts of the State of Colorado. Florida has changed from drought to torrential rainfall. But I have heard no one on the television or the internet suggest that we might ask God for help.

I have never heard the President call on God for help.

I guess people do not like to hear about God or Jesus. They are attempting to solve the current problems with their own wisdom and strength—more so, I think, than in time past. People are so foolish when they do not call on God for help!

Various cities in our country are bankrupt or on the verge of bankruptcy. I never once have read in the newspaper or heard on the television the politicians urging that we pray. Sometimes one will hear a prominent athlete give glory to God for his or her accomplishments, but this does not happen very often.

I think the Spirit of God is telling us to prepare for the Divine judgment that is to befall America because of our sins. I wonder at that time will people ignore God, curse God, or pray for assistance.

We are so blind! Our country is siding with the Arab populations who are rebelling against their dictators. Don't we realize we are helping the rebels who are overthrowing their government, who then will turn and persecute Christians?

In fact, if it comes to a decision between democracy and Christianity, numerous Americans will choose democracy. They do not realize there is a great gulf between democracy, which is people-centered, and the Kingdom of God, which is God-centered.

So, as every politician understands, the battle for the mind is of supreme importance.

The various media and entertainment institutions continually emphasize sexual lust, violence, and the amassing of money. The American people in many instances seem to be unaware that these values are changing the behavior of people, particularly of young people who act as though the world owes it to them to have endless fun.

As you listen to the television and read the newspaper, notice the number of incidents in which sexual lust, including the molestation of children, violence, and stealing money, are involved. Yet the media keep on filling our minds with lust, violence, and stealing money. Then we look around like fools and say what is presented to us and our children on television and the internet has nothing to do with our behavior.

You see, the democratic principle of freedom of speech, unless it is accompanied by a number of cautions, can be a veritable monster of iniquity.

We need to obey God's commandment issued through the Apostle Paul:

Finally, brothers, 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)

A major portion of that which comes to us through the American media is neither true, nor noble, nor right, nor pure, nor lovely, nor admirable, nor excellent, nor praiseworthy. Yet our young people are bathed continually in these presentations; and we wonder why they rebel and murder people and have children out of wedlock.

One of God's major emphases in the Old Testament is the training up of children. God desires that they be saturated with the Bible. God should often be mentioned in the home. The children should be trained in a Christian environment, as much as possible, because the public school with its indoctrination in current secular values will make them socially dysfunctional.

Children do not learn righteous behavior by being exposed to the bad but by being exposed to the good.

I realize there are adults who are religious tyrants and try to force the children and young people to behave according to the religious understanding of the parents. Unless children are treated with loving understanding, they only will be driven away from Christ. This has happened to many people, and they hate church to this day.

There will come a time when men's hearts are failing them for fear. Faith and fear cannot dwell in our mind and heart at the same time. Has God spoken to us concerning relief from fear?

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord (Psalms 112:7)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, (Psalms 91:5)

I believe I am correct in saying that there are dreadful times facing us in the United States. The only thing that could save us would be nation-wide repentance and turning away from our sins. Do you believe this actually will take place?

The sin of abortion-on-demand alone is enough to bring down the wrath of God upon us.

Sexual lust and sexual perversions brought down the wrath of God upon Sodom!

We Americans are given over to entertainment that is disgraceful. It would not have been tolerated in the early days of America.

Our President and some of our other governmental leaders do not call on God, at least not publicly, and give God the Glory due His name. It is as though by our own wisdom and strength we are going to solve the financial problems; the military problems; the immigration problems. We do not call on the Lord Jesus for help. He can fix all these problems easily and quickly; but we refuse to ask His assistance.

Our nation prides itself on religious tolerance. But we are having major forces that are seeking to establish the worship of other gods. We who have served God for many years and are used to having fellowship with Him know how true it is that there is only one God, and Jesus is His Son and has full authority over God's creation.

We may believe that it is fine and democratic that we are tolerant of other religions. But God is not democratically inclined.

If you will look at the nations of the world you will notice that those countries that have been greatly influenced by Protestant Christianity have been the most prosperous.

But we are casting aside our Christian heritage, not realizing that it is not democracy that has made America great but the worship of the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Our President has been reported as saying, in an address to a foreign country, that America is not a Christian country. Although I may be mistaken, I believe he is seeking to curry favor with countries of other religions.

I believe He is mistaken. I believe the influence of people who are of the same mindset as the President seems to be, is opening the door to demons; and thus we see the gruesome crimes and the destroying of the character of people by sexual lust.

There is much proud boasting at governmental levels instead of a humble crying out to God. And we all are going to suffer for it.

We absolutely must resist the efforts of the media to influence us with the values of the antichrist world spirit. We must do what we can to train up our children in Christian values, without alienating them with our religious fervor so that as soon as they are of age they flee into the arms of the world. Children can be conquered and guided successfully only by love. I know this from teaching elementary school.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5)

Vanity Fair is becoming the new name of America.

I am not certain that any of us can make appreciable changes in America at this time. America appears to be bent on destroying all that was created by the wearying toils of former generations.

What we can do within our own family, as much as possible, is to drive out from our thinking every thought that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and is not obedient to Christ. No matter what America and the rest of world do, we may be able to save ourselves and our loved ones.

So let's make every effort to bring the Lord Jesus Christ into every aspect of our lives, and teach our children to do this.

We at Mount Zion Fellowship have just had our best youth camp ever. The theme was "Tabernacling With God." Time was spent on waiting to hear from God; on getting right with God; on becoming one body in Christ with as little interpersonal friction as possible.

"Impossible," one might exclaim. Well, it happened, the result of seed sown for 35 years. It can happen for you; but I am afraid we are fighting against a vicious enemy—the American culture---at the present time.

Yet through the Lord Jesus Christ we can be more than overcomers in spite of everything Satan can bring against us.

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Walking With God

2013-05-26

After more than 65 years as a disciple of Jesus, I have learned a few things. I would like to share them with you.

Of primary importance, I believe, is that of dedication to God's will. So much of what we hear today in Christian circles sounds to me like people trying to get something from God, or trying to persuade God to do one thing or another. It seems they are trying to use God for their own purposes. Did it ever strike you that way?

Perhaps an older person is dying, or a younger person has a fatal disease. What is the first thing we do. We storm Heaven asking that the individual be healed. While we may know mentally that the spirit world is a far better world than the valley of the shadow of death in which we are seeking to survive, yet emotionally we regard death as the worst of all catastrophes that can afflict mankind.

The truth is, for the decent person, providing he or she has not rejected Christ when He was presented to him or her, dying and passing into the spirit world is like the summer holidays after school is out and (for some people) after the spring piano recital is past.

For myself, the summer holiday was a time of swimming, walking through the woods, flying a model airplane, doing whatever I felt like. I realize it is not that way with all children in our cursed world.

I look forward to death that way--like Christmas morning with the presents around the tree.

Clamoring for God to spare someone from death is certainly not a good idea until we hear from God what His intentions are. Why don't we go to God first and find out what He wants. If God wants prayer that He might save someone's life, then we get busy and pray. Do we want God's will for the sick individual, or our own will?

The greatest prayer of all is, "Your will be done." When we can't pray that, we have an idol. We cannot walk with God with that attitude!

I remember one time my son David had turned over in his car and injured his back. The hospital had x-rayed his spinal column and it appeared to be uninjured. Yet he kept complaining of pain in his back. The nurses wanted to dismiss him, so they told him to be brave and the pain would go away.

I went down the elevator and into the parking lot of the Kaiser hospital. I prayed (and it was not an easy prayer), "God, if you want to take David home to You, then I am willing."

I took the elevator back up to David's room. Dr. McCarberg, our family doctor, had left his office in the Escondido Kaiser branch and had driven down to the main Kaiser hospital in San Diego.

Dr. McCarberg walked into David's room, reviewed the situation, looked at the x-ray, and said, "Take another x-ray with a side view instead of a front view."

The front view looked straight. The side view was crooked.

When I saw David on the next visit he was face down in bed. A weight was attached to his head and hanging down to pull his spine straight. Then, when his spine was straight, they inserted a metal rod in his back to maintain the position of the spine.

David is over fifty years old at this time, twenty or more years after the accident. His back is straight and does not hurt. The metal rod has never been removed. He has been very active ever since the operation.

My point is, we have to be willing to let God have His way. I thought at the time, while walking in the parking lot, that God might see that David would have turned to wickedness had he lived.

I am not suggesting that we do not pray fiercely that God will answer our desires. We must, or else lapse into passivity or double-mindedness, which get nowhere with God. The point is, not matter how intensely we pray, we always tell God we want His will above all.

Until we can say that, we cannot walk with God.

Jesus taught us to persist in prayer. This is what we must do if we expect to get our prayers answered. So learning how to pray vigorously, and at the same time yield to God's will, is an art; and like all arts, mastery requires much practice.

I am a pastor. For the past few years I have been emphasizing over and over to the congregation that we must learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus. We are to think as Jesus is thinking. We are to speak as Jesus is speaking. We are to act as Jesus is acting. You can see how this ties into doing God's will at all times.

This may seem impossible to you, to dance with Jesus this way. It is not impossible. It is a way of living that is readily available to you. But, as I said concerning the balance between persistent prayer and saying "Your will be done," living by the Life of Jesus is an art. Learning to live by the Life of Jesus is an art that must be practiced every day and every night. As we practice this, we grow toward mastery of the art—although "mastery" is not exactly the right term; because just when we think we have arrived at mastery, the Lord opens another vista of His will.

It really is simple and pleasant to live by the Life of Jesus. You may notice that all through each day and part of each night you are faced with a decision, or some kind of worry, or fear, or lustful thought. You just keep asking Jesus to give you His thoughts on the matter. You do not have to stop what you are doing, it is a matter of disciplining your mind; of bringing every thought into subjection to the Lord Jesus.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (II Corinthians 10:5)

Now, you are not going to perfect living by the Life of Jesus the first time you try it. Neither are you going to press a 300-pound barbell over your head the first time you try it. Start with twenty-five pounds and see how that goes. Try taking one of your problems and ask Jesus His thoughts on it.

You can handle twenty-five pounds, most likely. It is true also that you can bring one problem, one decision, one worry before Jesus while you are doing something else.

Try it. Do it. The next day try "thirty pounds." The next day try two problems and concerns. I do not say you ever will get to where you can press 300 pounds over your head. But if you keep on giving to Jesus some of what you are thinking; some of what you are saying; and some of what you are doing; the day will come when you find that you are living by His Life.

It may be that your current Christian experience has sufficed to bring you this far. But I say in Jesus' name, the day is not far off when men's hearts will be failing them for fear. In that day of Divine judgment, the believer of average Christian experience in America will not stand spiritually, nor will he or she be able to help others to stand.

But if you and I will start today living by the Life of Jesus, we will stand, and help others to stand, throughout the days of Divine judgment that are on the horizon for America as well as for the other countries of the world.

Each one of us needs to begin walking with God, as did Enoch of old.

The battle today is for the mind. The development of electronic media is accelerating. From every direction we are being bombarded with information, values, ideas, lies, moral filth. The Apostle Paul commanded us to bring every thought into subjection to Christ. This is difficult, but possible.

One major problem is that of fretting. Because we continually are confronted with the decisions and actions of wicked people, it requires constant vigilance if we are to cease from fretting, worrying, cursing the darkness.

We absolutely must keep our mind free of fretting. The newspapers and the television are going to keep bringing to our attention the sinful, self-seeking ways of the political leaders of the world. We must make every effort to avoid these thoughts and keep our minds stayed on Christ at the right hand of God. If we do not, we are going to be torn down from our high place in God and wallow in the mud with the rest of the world.

As King David said, this world is the valley of the shadow of death. Anyone who is content with the drift toward moral uncleanness, especially in the United States where we ought to know better, is no friend of God.

But we never are to fret. The Lord Jesus Christ exercises absolute control over the people of the world; and when we fret and complain we may be fretting and complaining because of what God is doing. This is why the prayer "Your will be done" is so essential.

There are righteous Americans who are infuriated over the direction our government is taking. Most of us can do little besides fret. But what about asking God what His judgment is? Does God care who is President? Is it God who decides who is President? If the people do the deciding, do we really know which man or woman will guide our country in the path God desires?

Unless we hear from God, we may be acting against His will. Think about the fact that America is supporting the rebels who are seeking to overthrow the tyrants in the Middle East. Yet it is these tyrants who, by and large, have protected the Christian populations, according to what I have read.

I am not suggesting we should not aid the people rebelling against the tyrants, or that we should help them. What I am saying is that in all the decisions we make we should ask God's wisdom; for there may be unintended consequences.

If the tyrants are replaced by Muslim leaders, albeit through a democratic process, the Christian populations may be killed or driven from the country. This is a good example of being inflamed by information from the media.

Also it is possible our leaders who are making these geopolitical decisions are not going to God to hear His side of the controversy.

It could be true that the leaders of our government are not asking God for His wisdom, whether or not we should be meddling in the political affairs of the Middle East. What if it is true that by helping one side or the other we are laying the groundwork for Muslim unity and a massive jihad against Christians everywhere, or against our nation?

Sometimes the political leaders appear to be arrogant. This attitude is unacceptable, seeing that so many problems are getting worse instead of better. We all need to call on God!

Which brings to mind another matter, and that is the difference between democracy and the Kingdom of God. Actually, the best form of government would be a monarchy in which the king is truly righteous and fears God.

From the way they talk one could wonder if many of the democratic leaders of today do fear God. A leader, whether emperor or democratic, who does not fear God, may be the greatest curse that could fall on a nation.

Some of the founders of America left England because of religious persecution by the established churches. They wanted to be left alone to worship God according to their own beliefs.

This is understandable. But another force entered America. This was a secular revolution against the English policy of taxing the colonists when the colonists had no representatives in the English Parliament.

You can see how confusion entered. The Gospel of the Kingdom of God became entangled in the minds of the American people with the secular concept of democratic government and the rights of man.

Thus when President Obama, as it is reported, stated that America is not a Christian country, there was not the uproar there would have been a hundred years ago. The President did not say America is not a democratic country; he said, it is reported, that it is not a Christian country.

I am certain there are numerous Christian people in America who deeply resent that statement by the President. But there is not enough civil discontent to make the statement the basis for wholesale rebellion.

Some of the polls have reported that a large population of America is not certain what religion the President believes in, although he claims to be a Christian.

So little by little it is becoming apparent that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and democracy are not at all the same philosophy. It seems to me that those who are stalwart in resisting the current government are outraged over financial considerations. On the other hand, true Christians are outraged over abortion and sexual perversions.

Right at this point you can see the divergence between the Kingdom of God and democratic government.

If President Obama had said publicly that America was not a democratic nation, there certainly would have been an uproar. He could not have gotten away with that statement. But there was no uproar of which I am aware when he stated America is not a Christian nation. Right here we see the difference between the two belief systems.

I for one believe the President spoke truly. When you consider the moral filth that flows from Hollywood, California, like a huge sewer line of garbage, one hardly could call America a Christian country.

Or one could review the teachings and practices of Christian churches that are preaching unscriptural doctrines, such as lawless grace and escape-by-rapture. Perhaps this is why so many Christians, including pastors, do not have simple integrity of character.

In actual fact, our casual church-attenders who flock to worldly ministers to have their ears tickled are not genuine Christians, no matter what profession they may make. They do not appear to be walking with God!

This reminds me of the parable of the unjust steward. So many ministers are telling the people, "Change your debt from one thousand dollars to one dollar." In other words, Christ's demands on you are much less than you might imagine.

Jesus said the unjust steward was wise to make friends with the debtors, because when he dies the debtors will receive him into the everlasting homes. So it is true that when the ear-tickling minister dies, those he lied to will receive him into their everlasting homes. He probably will not be happy living in the homes with the debtors; but it is better than wandering in the spirit world with nowhere to go!

Democracy teaches that we must have freedom of speech. The New Testament teaches that we should speak as an oracle of God.

Democracy teaches that we should welcome all religions to our shores. The Bible teaches that there only is one true God, and the Lord Jesus Christ is His Son.

Right now in America we see a willingness to hide the name of Jesus so the members of other religions will not be offended. I will tell you how that reads in Heaven: "You are guilty of denying our Lord." The penalty for denying Jesus is to have our name denied before the Throne of Heaven.

Again we see how Christianity and democracy are not at all compatible. Yet Christianity will continue to flourish even if every country in the world becomes democratic, which I think will happen. Christianity was born and spread in the Roman Empire, and will survive and flourish in any form of government.

Which brings me to the topic of multiculturalism. This social concept is hostile to Christianity. At one time I was principal of a public elementary school. Multiculturalism was coming into vogue. The first effect was a directive to rename the Christmas holidays the "winter holidays." There was to be no evidence of Christmas in the classrooms.

I used to roar around asking, "What happened to the 'melting pot' idea. Isn't America supposed to be a melting pot?"

The removal of all evidence of the Christian religion is increasing in America at this time. We boast of religious tolerance. But the effect is the removal of the name of Christ from our stores and institutions. We are so blind we cannot see what is taking place in front of us.

I have never heard the President of our country mention the name of God publicly. Perhaps he has at some event. I will tell you one thing: God likes to have His name proclaimed at all times.

Nebuchadnezzar's dream explains why a multicultural society will not last.

Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. (Daniel 2:41-43)

It may be true that when the Lord Jesus returns, and sends out His kings from Jerusalem to govern the world, He will break up America into several smaller countries, with a king over each country. When a country becomes as large as America, it is impossible to enforce righteous laws. No matter what law is passed, there will be people who will resist it.

Also, when America no longer is the wealthy Vanity Fair it was at one time, some of the people who have immigrated to America may return to be with those of their own race and culture.

We in America are not one race. Therefore the idea of patriotism is greatly weakened. How can one be proud of America when there is an influx of foreigners who are determined to tear down our cultural heritage and impose a culture which is new to us and which many of us abominate?

The issue finally must be decided by force because of the strength of the opinions on either side. The result will be a third-class nation, no longer a significant voice in world politics.

All of this because of the prevalence of sin and the moral weakness of the Christian churches.

I notice that even today, given the unprecedented wildfire in Colorado, and the flood in northern Florida, the leaders do not suggest that we should ask God for help. Their advice is if we all work together we will be fine. I wonder how the thousands of people in Colorado whose homes have been burned to the ground feel about this advice!

The idea is that the human spirit will prevail. I don't believe so. It is the Spirit of God who will prevail. Why cannot we understand that simple, observable fact?

If we in America are going to save ourselves and our families we are going to have to be careful of the prevalence of sexual sins. Sexual lust is a large part of the offering of the media. There is a drive toward public nakedness. I believe this emphasis will increase because there is not enough moral strength to resist it.

The problem with democracy is that rule is from the bottom up. Our politicians are constantly polling the people to see what they want. The primary desire of the politicians is to remain in office. The people do not desire laws that will cause them to forego their pleasures. Consequently the government will be sure to furnish the "bread and circus." This, of course, is what we are seeing today.

A government ruled by the governed will never impose God's righteous laws on the populace. Since the purpose of government is to promote God's moral laws, the government that does not do this cannot endure.

The true Christian life is a way of righteousness. King David said that God guides us in paths of righteousness for His own name's sake.

The Christian message being preached today often does not present a path of righteousness but a path of belief in certain theologic facts, such as the Divinity of Jesus Christ and the blood of atonement. Consequently the Christian people do not understand what righteousness is. Righteousness is righteous behavior, as God judges it.

One time while I was on an airplane I was writing on my portable computer. A stewardess said to me, "I am a Christian too. What subject are you writing on?"

I replied, "Righteousness."

She replied immediately, "I hate that word!"

Now, of all the topics of the Bible, I imagine that righteous behavior is among the most discussed. God loves righteous behavior and wants it practiced everywhere.

Whenever I write the word "righteous" I add "behavior."

That should not be necessary. But it is necessary because Christians will read what I am writing, and if I say "righteous," without adding "behavior," they will say to themselves, "I am righteous by faith in Jesus Christ."

Now think about this. If you say someone is righteous, what do you mean, ordinarily? You mean the person has integrity, is honest, tells the truth, is loyal to his wife. Is that correct? Is that what you would mean?

Or would you mean that person is righteous because of his or her faith in Christ?

George Washington was a righteous president, by all accounts. Does this mean he had accepted Christ, or does it mean he was loyal, truthful, and faithful to his duties?

There is a legend that when Washington was a boy he confessed to his mother that he had chopped down a cherry tree. Parents and teachers used to tell this story to children because they wanted the children to be righteous.

Today many of the secular people would scorn such a tale and seek to prove it never happened.

Today many church people and their leaders would tell us that it does not matter whether the story is or is not true, because we are saved by grace through faith, not by behaving righteously.

What a moral mess our country is in!

You can see what a tremendous issue this is! Christians, in their man-made covenant, "the four steps of salvation," state that no individual who has ever lived, except Christ, has been righteous. Yet there are numerous persons whom the Bible terms righteous, beginning with Noah.

This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. (Genesis 6:9)

This reminds me of a statement by Geronimo, a famous Apache warrior. Late in his life Geronimo converted to Christianity. He told his followers that he had chosen Christianity instead of one of the Indian religions. "I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to be the best religion in enabling one to live right."

The Bible used to be called "The Good Book" because it teaches people to live right. Not any longer, we think. The Bible tells us what to believe, not how to behave, we claim. This is a gross error of understanding. It has wrecked the moral strength of the Christian churches. This makes Christianity just another of the many religions of the world that also make belief more important than character and behavior.

The Christian mentality is split. On the one hand we deplore the moral filth into which our country is sliding. While on the other hand we reject the concept that if we are to walk with God we have to be actually righteous in behavior. Our religion so often teaches what we must believe instead of how we must act.

When the Lord Jesus told us to let our light shine so people would glorify God, He was referring to our behavior, not to our belief system.

I wonder how long it will be before some famous Christian leader grasps what is wrong with our present understanding of the Kingdom of God, and announces that we have been wrong all this time. This is what it will take, you know, for true revival to begin. The Christian people absolutely must repent of their personal sins and turn away from them. This is what Jesus wants, so He will help us with this.

The actual new covenant, not the "four steps of salvation," points us toward a new person—an individual who has the eternal moral law carved in his or her mind and heart. Thus the new individual, the "life-giving spirit," can come into existence only as we are willing to put our first nature to death through the Spirit of God.

As we trudge along after the Lord Jesus, obeying Him strictly, we come to the conclusion that salvation is of the Lord. People can only do what God puts into their heart and mind to do.

Are you spiritually stronger than most Christians you know? Do not boast. God has put in your heart the desire to follow Christ fervently. Is someone else sort of fluttering around, not being able to make up his mind about the Lord? Do not criticize. There but for the grace of God go you, whether or not you realize it. Pray for that double-minded person. Jesus will hear your prayer.

You must pray for the weak members of the Body if you are to walk with God.

Our hope one day is to see the face of the Father, as it says in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Revelation. If that isn't a wonderful goal, I do not know what is!

This brings me to another important concept. There will be two distinctly different groups of people who will constitute the new world of righteousness. There will be the Church, the Royal Priesthood, whom God has called from the beginning of the world.

Then there will be the saved people who are the inheritance of the priesthood. If you will read the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Revelation you will see the Church, which is the new Jerusalem, and then the nations of saved people who walk in the light of the Church.

You will see these two groups in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew. There is Christ and His brothers, who are the Church, the Royal Priesthood; and then there are the "sheep." The Kingdom of God is the inheritance of the sheep. The sheep are people chosen from the nations on the basis that they were kind to Christ's brothers.

Christ and His brothers are the Kingdom of God, the Royal Priesthood. They rule and guide the sheep. The sheep walk in their light, thus fulfilling the words of Christ, "You are the light of the world."

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24)

When people say they are "saved," and do not care to press forward in Christ, it reminds me of the story by Sholem Aleichem in which the beggar, who died, went to Abraham's bosom, and was offered whatever he desired in Heaven. The beggar asked for a hot roll with butter.

So it is when Christians who have been called to the Royal Priesthood want just to avoid Hell and go to Heaven. That is enough for them—a hot roll and butter. God has so much more for us than escaping Hell and entering Heaven, as we picture it.

After our forgiveness through the blood atonement, perhaps the next most significant act of redemption is our resurrection from the dead, that is, the redemption of our mortal body from the hand of Satan.

There are two major resurrections. The first will occur when the Lord returns. The second will take place at the time of the final judgment, at the conclusion of the thousand-year Kingdom Age (Millennium).

I suppose the general opinion is that Christ will come, bring up to Heaven all the professing Christians, and then at some later time gather the Christians who have been reclining in their mansions, teach them to ride the war stallions, and then tell them they are going to have to return to earth to wage war against Satan.

Won't they be delighted?

If they behave then like they do today, they will tell the Lord, "no thanks!"

If I am not mistaken, when the Lord comes He will bring the heroes of faith of the preceding centuries, and raise their bodies from the dead. Then He will transform the bodies of the called, chosen, and faithful saints who are alive on the earth when the Lord appears.

Then, after a period of time to give the risen saints a chance to get used to their new bodies, He will gather both groups and lift them to where He is in the air, and mount them on the white war stallions. Then Christ at the head of His two armies, the saints and the warrior angels, will descend and destroy the armies of Antichrist.

Such is the first resurrection. It is the resurrection of the members of the Royal Priesthood who will, alongside Jesus Christ, govern the nations of the earth.

The second resurrection is the bringing to life the bodies of every person born on the earth who was not brought to life in the first resurrection. This is a much larger group. Then the Lord Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will be placed as citizens on the new earth when it is created. The goats will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

This is the scenario as I understand it at the present time.

The first resurrection must be attained to. It is worth every effort we can make to be counted among the called, chosen, and faithful. The Apostle Paul made the first resurrection the goal of his discipleship.

The worst part of the Lake of Fire is that the longer the individual is there, the more he or she will become part of Satan. The best part of being forever with the Lord Jesus is that we will become part of Him.

We often hear that our goal as Christians is to escape Hell and go to Heaven when we die. Heaven is our home, it is proclaimed. But there is no scriptural basis whatever for this venerable tradition.

The Lord Jesus is our Redeemer. This means He is restoring to us what was lost in the beginning. What was lost in the beginning was Paradise plus the opportunity to become immortal by eating of the Tree of Life.

Christ came to restore immortality to mankind ("should not perish but have eternal life"). But before we can enjoy immortality we must confess and turn away from our sinful, self-willed personality and put on the new man. When we have attained to immortality, Paradise will be restored to us; although now it will be governed by the Kingdom of God, the members of the Royal Priesthood.

Thus we see that going to Heaven is not our goal, it is the attaining to immortality through Christ that is our goal. He is redeeming us from the hand of the enemy, not from the earth.

"In My Father's house are many mansions." First of all, the Father's house is not Heaven, it is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The "mansions" are rooms in Christ in which we are to dwell. Christ is the chief Corner Stone. The entire building, Christ and us, is the dwelling place, or Tabernacle, of God, mentioned in the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The whole effort of the Divine redemption is to build a resting place for God.

Every Christian at some point must experience God's anger. When we come to this period in our life, we may be dismayed. But God is displaying His anger toward our original personality.

There is no need to worry. After God has torn us apart He will put us together according to the design He has in mind for us. I'll assure you that after God has torn us to pieces and then has bound us up, we will be an infinitely better person. We will have a better understanding of God, just as was true of Job after his experience with God.

"No man can see God and live." We never will be able to see God until we are a new creation in Christ and have a pure heart. Actually, we must become as a child. We must "grow down" until we are like God.

Did you ever see people play volley ball. Back and forth goes the ball over the net. When we are immature in Christ we play volley ball with God. We pray, and then God answers. But if we follow Christ diligently the hour will arrive when we are on the same side of the net with God. Then we learn what God is doing and we do the same thing, without expecting any sort of reward.

God Himself has become our Salvation.

One of the most destructive ideas that Christians have is that Christ "did it all." Perhaps they get this idea from Jesus who said, "It is finished." What was finished on the cross actually was the entire first creation.

If people would read the New Testament they would discover that there is much we have to do if we would make progress in the program of redemption. We have to keep on pressing forward in Christ. We have to put off our old sinful nature and put on the new man. We have to present our body as a living sacrifice. We have to pray without ceasing. We have to confess our sins and turn away from them.

No, Jesus did not "do it all." It is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. If Gideon does not do his part, there will be no victory.

If we are to make a success of the life of victory in Christ, Christ has to do His part and we have to do our part. If we try to fight the battle in our own strength we will become frustrated and defeated. If we wait for Christ to do it all, nothing will happen. This is such a simple truth and so clear in the New Testament. Yet we still have preachers saying there is nothing whatever we are to do. Christ did it all on the cross. How utterly ridiculous, in the light of the teaching of the New Testament.

I might mention another bit of unclear thinking. When we say Jesus takes away our sin, we are interpreting this to mean Jesus takes away the guilt of our sins. Taking away guilt, and taking away sins, are two distinctly different operations of redemption and have distinctly different consequences.

Taking away the guilt of our sins means that God has forgiven us and now will help us to walk in the paths of righteousness. Taking away our sins means the compulsion to sin has been removed from us and we will not behave in that manner any longer.

Be careful when you are reading the New Testament to notice if the passage is speaking of taking away guilt or taking away the sin itself. People cannot always see the results when our guilt has been taken away. But they always can see the results when our sinning has ceased. This is our light that we are supposed to allow to shine so people will glorify God.

The relationship of Christians to the Ten Commandments is not always made clear. The Christian is not under any aspect of the Law of Moses. The Law governs our first nature. When our first nature is "dead," the Law no longer has authority over us.

The Ten Commandments are the eternal moral law of God. They are being written in our mind and heart if we are following Christ. However, they are in a greatly expanded form.

The commandment that may trouble Christians most is that concerning the Sabbath Day. The stipulation that the person stop working on one day of the week and pay attention to God, seeking His pleasure, governs our first personality, which we are counting as dead.

The Sabbath Law finds its perfect fulfillment in the new nature of the Christian, as he seeks the pleasure of God every day of the week, continually growing in his desire to please God and do His will.

He does not stop on one day each week to look to God. Every day is holier than the preceding as the believer presses toward the first resurrection.

The coming of the Kingdom of God was preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of Christ. We pray in the Lord's Prayer for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Somehow the Gospel of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth has been changed into the going of the Church to Heaven. I do not know how this change occurred, but it is the opposite of God's intention.

In the beginning there was a man and a woman in a garden. They were told to multiply and to govern the earth. God was with them.

It is something like this that God intends to restore. The difference will be that the people will be trained in righteousness and there will be a government, the Kingdom of God, to make certain that people love God with all their heart, and their neighbor as themselves.

Also, Satan no longer will have access to the restored Garden, the new world of righteousness.

The idea of mansions in Heaven is fanciful. It is man's idea of what he would like. But it does not compare with the righteousness, love, peace, and joy that will fill the second Garden.

However, the best part of the new world will be the Presence of God and Christ. God and Christ will be living in the members of the Royal Priesthood and will readily be available to all citizens of the new earth, the "sheep nations."

The River of Life will flow from the Bride of the Lamb, the new Jerusalem, and the members of the Bride will be growing on the banks of the River of Life and will be a source of healing for the nations on the earth.

God will have expanded Himself. He then will be dwelling in Christ and in the members of the Body of Christ. Thus there will be one Presence of God in the new world: the Father and all those in whom He is dwelling.

It is the same Oneness that is present today in the Father and the Son. It is for this role that the saints are being prepared today; and to attain to our role of being One in the Father and the Son is worthy of our best efforts.

We might say that in the future, Heaven is coming to the earth.

In the beginning of the program of redemption we learn of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Next we learn of the Spirit of God. In the day in which we are living, we are to learn of the Father. The Lord Jesus came to earth to tell us about the Father. Christ is the Way to the Father, not the way to Heaven as is maintained so frequently. Going to Heaven is not the same as going to the Father!

The expression "born again" is not fully understood today, I believe. We are using "born again" when we mean conversion to Christianity. Being born again is not a mental acceptance of the Gospel of Christ. Rather, it is the planting of the Divine Seed in us.

When the Seed has come to maturity, we will be a son of God in the image of the Lord Jesus. It is our responsibility to nurture the Seed that has been planted in us by living as a fervent, diligent disciple of Jesus, reading our Bible, praying each day, and obeying Christ completely.

Every son of God, beginning with the Lord Jesus, is tempted in three ways. He or she is tempted to place insuring his survival as the first priority of his life. He is tempted to worship pleasure. He is tempted to live by his own will instead of the will of God.

In the beginning God said to Cain, " If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7)

It is our responsibility when we are tempted to go to Jesus and ask Him to help us to master the sin. To believe that "Jesus did it all," and there is nothing we are to do, may well be the most destructive doctrine ever to be introduced into Christian thinking.

There are two years in the Jewish calendar. The religious year begins with Passover. The business year begins in the seventh month of the religious year with the Blowing of Trumpets. We have come today to the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. The King, Jesus, is declaring war on His enemies, beginning with the members of His Church.

It is because we are in the days of the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets that renewed emphasis is being placed on the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The Blowing of Trumpets heralds the coming of the solemn Day of Atonement, a week or so later.

Two goats were offered on the Jewish Day of Atonement. One goat was slain and its blood was sprinkled upon and before the Mercy Seat in the Most Holy Place. This was a goat of atonement for the people of Israel to forgive their sins.

There was a second goat, also referred to as an atonement. This goat was not slain.

But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16:10)

To make atonement, that is reconciliation to God, by sending the scapegoat into the wilderness.

When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Leviticus 16:20-22)

It may be true that of all the understanding I think God has given me, and I have written down for the Body of Christ, one of the most important surely is that of the two goats of the Day of Atonement.

The first goat was slain and represents the forgiveness we have through the Lord Jesus Christ. For two thousand years the Christian churches have proclaimed faithfully the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary.

It is my impression that the second goat is not preached as widely as the first, but its spiritual fulfillment probably is the more important half of the Divine redemption.

In the first goat we have forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Christ.

In the second goat we have the symbol of the removal of our sins. This is based on the blood of the first goat, but is a separate and distinct act of atonement.

The second goat, so to speak, has begun today. God is requiring each of us Christians, as we become aware of our sins, to confess them and renounce them as fit only for the Lake of Fire. When we do this, our sins are removed from us, just as the scapegoat was sent away from the camp of Israel.

Without the removal of sin, the forgiveness of our guilt does not at all accomplish God's purpose in the atonement. What good is it to God if our sins are forgiven? It is the removal of our sins that makes it possible for us to inherit God's Kingdom.

We rejoice in forgiveness. God rejoices in forgiveness and then in deliverance---the removal of the sin from our personality.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Do you want to be purified from the compulsions of sin? Of course you do. So do I.

Let's you and I be faithful to the advice of the Apostle John.

In conclusion let me say that if we press forward to grasp that for which we have been grasped, which is to be filled with all the fullness of God as a member of the royal priesthood; if that is true, when the Lord Jesus returns to earth He will raise us from the dead, or change us into immortality if we are to be living on the earth at that time.

When we have been raised from the dead we will experience never ending strength; never ending energy; never ending intelligence and awareness of who we are and our surroundings; and never ending memory; although the troubling memories will be removed.

These enablements have been added to us because we have been faithful in obeying the Spirit of God.

But what about people who have not known Christ, or who have not been diligent in their Christian life?

When such die, it is my opinion that they will be conscious and have a will and some sort of recognizable form. If they have displeased Christ they will be led into the Land of Darkness.

If they have not displeased Christ by their decisions and their behavior, they will enter a training institution in which they will be taught the ways of Heaven—in particular strict obedience to the Lord Jesus; love for God with all their heart; and love for their neighbor as themselves.

Then they will be released into communities where they will live a normal life and be taught still further. Their final destiny will be determined when the books are opened at the last judgment. Either they will be granted citizenship on the new earth or they will be cast into the Lake of Fire.

This is my understanding at the present hour, as I continue to do my best to walk with God.

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Have We Been Deceived?

2013-06-02

I believe we American Christians have been deceived by the lawless-grace, escape-by-rapture teachings.

It is clear that our nation is being torn apart by conflicting philosophies of government and religion. Since the opposing parties are so hostile, it seems that America will be weakened to the point of becoming a third-rate nation. The differences in time past have, in America, been settled amicably and we have continued on our way—perhaps better for the conflict.

But the hostility in the present hour is so fierce and determined that there may not be a settlement of differences, only conflict of some sort.

In addition to our internal problems, when we are weakened sufficiently we may be attacked by more disciplined countries. I think the Spirit is saying there is going to be much bloodshed in the future.

We are facing all of these problems because Divine judgment is beginning to affect America. By and large, the Christian people are soft spiritually because of false teaching. We have been lulled to sleep. We are not using the present hour, which has been allotted to us to prepare for what is coming, to put on the whole armor of God so we may stand in the evil day.

And why aren't we preparing ourselves to stand in the day of trouble that is on the horizon? Because we have been taught we will not be here when the trouble comes. We will be in Heaven in air-conditioned comfort, looking down at unsaved people and the Jews enduring the Great Tribulation.

The "rapture" teaching has no basis in the New Testament. If you will look carefully at the passages that are used to support the escape-by-rapture doctrine you will see that they do not say anything about being taken to Heaven to escape the Great Tribulation, or trouble of any sort.

The fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians, for example, is speaking of the historic day of the Lord, the parousia, which Jesus set forth in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew.

Paul's purpose in writing these words was to comfort living Christians concerning their loved ones who had died. To use the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians to teach a special, pre-advent, appearing of Christ to whisk away to Heaven the casual believers of our day defies every principal of Biblical interpretation.

Rather, the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians is referring to the great and terrible Day of the Lord, the beginning of the attack of the battle of Armageddon.

Also the following passage—if you read the entire chapter you will see that the exhortation is for us to flee from sin so we may stand spiritually before our Lord, not go to Heaven to escape the Great Tribulation.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)

What does history say about Christian people? Did Jesus carry them to Heaven when they were in trouble? How about the Christians in the Coliseum in Rome when families were being eaten by lions? If there was a time when Jesus should have "raptured" believers, it was at those events.

Do we imagine that those dedicated martyrs were loved any less by the Lord than are the casual church-attenders of our day? Are we so foolish and self-centered?

What about the Christian families in Africa who today are being driven from their homes or raped and murdered by Muslim fanatics? Are they less worthy than we?

"Oh, but that isn't the Great Tribulation!" If you were driven from your home and your family was raped and murdered, would you be conscious of the difference between what happened to you and the Great Tribulation? I think not.

To cling to a doctrine which does not lie clearly in the Scriptures, and to ignore the history of Christian people, must be explained by the working of deception.

Well then, how does deception work? Remember, Satan has no actual power, except in specific instances when Christ sees it will further the work of Christ. He must work by deception, as he is doing today with the lawless-grace and escape-by rapture teachings.

Satan uses our fervent desires to defeat us, similar to Judo techniques. Satan helps us defeat ourselves.

Our Lord Jesus told us to put all of our treasures in Heaven, where we will meet them again with no rust and not moth-eaten. Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desires, and follow Him each day.

How many times have you heard a popular preacher on the television or elsewhere tell us we must put our treasure in Heaven, take up our cross of deferred desires, and follow Jesus at all times? Probably not many times, and that is why Christian people are in love with themselves and their possessions.

We are in deception. Such preachers could not convince us except for the fact that this is what we in America wish to hear. It is our fervent desires that open the door for deception to enter and guide us.

Children and young people are acting in bizarre ways, reacting violently at home and in school where they have to be handcuffed. Some young people are murdering their parents.

How are we reacting to these social tragedies, which many of us Christians view as signaling the displeasure of God? We are reacting by teaching grade-school children that sexual perversions are a normal part of life, and in some instances, a preferable way of life.

The entertainers are becoming increasingly lewd in their behavior, yet the secular world and part of the Christian world do not seem to care. We read in the Bible how God punished Israel when the people abandoned God's moral laws and became dissolute. But we have lost the fear of God in our land because of the false teaching that prevails.

We want to go to church and have some popular preacher prophesy over us how all our problems will be solved and Christ is going to heal all of our diseases and make us happy. But this "prophet" would never tell us that Christ is telling us to confess our sins and turn away from them.

When we desire something fervently we are a candidate for satanic deception. When we do not put everyone and everything on the altar, do not give everything to Christ to do with as He will, do not place all of our treasures in Heaven, we are opening ourselves to deception. We are insuring that we are going to suffer agony as God reproves America for abandoning Him, when He has given us so many things to enjoy.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it shall be in the closing days of the Church Age. People will be buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage. Then destruction will come upon us.

What are we to do? We are to step into the Ark. Christ is our Ark. We are to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus. We are to abide in Him, which is to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. We are to do that today, not wait until everyone is panicked and running around trying to find help.

There are several passages in the Bible that promise us protection in the time of danger. The ninety-first Psalm is one of the better known. But there are others:

He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord (Psalms 112:7)

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, (Psalms 91:5)

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:4-7)

Take the time now, in these days of relative quiet for most of us, to memorize these verses. You can cling to them as chaos approaches. But remember: they are effective only as long as you fear and trust the Lord. They do not work if all you do is say "I accept Christ," and then live your own life as before.

Bring the Presence of Christ into everything you think, say, and do. Christianity is infinitely more than a religion. It is Jesus Christ Himself. He is the Tree of Life. The Throne of God is in Him. Out from Him flows the water of life.

We in America may pride ourselves on being tolerant of other religions. That certainly is better than being hateful and belligerent toward those of other persuasions.

But I will assure you, there only is one true God. Jesus Christ is His Son. Through Christ, God created all things and personages, spiritual and physical.

The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shed on the cross of Calvary is the only atonement for the sins of people. There is no other atonement.

God has given to Jesus all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth. God has not given this authority and power to anyone else.

Many people in the world are zealous for their religion, and some will kill people who do not agree with them. This makes absolutely no difference. If their god is not the true God of Heaven, and if they do not receive and obey His Son, the Lord Jesus, they are in error. If they kill someone because of his or her religious beliefs, they are guilty of murder, and will be judged accordingly. God is not nearly as interested in our religious beliefs as He is in our behavior.

It is not fashionable in America at this time to be as dogmatic as I am. I don't care. I have followed the Lord Jesus for more than 65 years. He is my best Friend. He has delivered me from more problems than I can remember.

I promised God when I was nineteen years of age that I would receive Christ and follow the Bible. I told God, in the vanity of youth, that if the Bible proved to be true I would say so. If the Bible proved to be just another philosophy, I would say that.

You see, I was not raised in a Christian home and had no Christian background. So there was no pressure on me to decide one way or another.

I will declare to you after more than 65 years as a disciple of the Lord Jesus that He most certainly is alive and has come from God. I know when I die I will go to Him. I will not be left alone to wander around in the spirit world—which indeed is a terrifying fate. That is why Jesus told us that if we are dishonest, to make friends of worldly people so someone would receive us when we die.

Christ is very real to me as I approach death. I have served Christ all my adult life, so I look forward to death, like Christmas morning with the presents around the tree.

I encourage all who read these words to prepare yourselves for the weakening of America. It does not matter what religion you belong to, ask the Lord Jesus to help you live as a decent human being.

You and those who will listen to you can run into the Ark, into Christ, and the flood waters of judgment will buoy you up and you will be safe as long as you do not get out of the Ark.

When the disaster is over, you will still be safe in the arms of Jesus.

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Justified and Then Saved

2013-06-09

I think most of us understand 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 of 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 Christians, 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)

Only a few more steps and you will be home.


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The Difference Between Religion and Eternal Life

2013-06-16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Our goal as Christians is not Heaven but eternal life. Eternal life in the inward man is Christ. He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life.

Eternal life in the outward man is immortality. This also is Christ. We will not gain immortality until the Lord comes. Then we must be qualified and competent to receive immortality in our outward form by being resurrected in our inward nature.

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)

Religion is constructed by human beings, not by Christ. In fact, religion tends to divide the one Body of Christ into warring factions.

All those who are filled with the Life of Christ are one with the Oneness of God.

The Lord told us that when we are one in Him and the Father, the world will understand that it is the Father who has sent Christ into the world, and that the Father loves the members of the Body of Christ just as He loves the Head.

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 17:23)

I believe that before Jesus returns there will be one church on the earth without spot or wrinkle. When the people of the world see this perfect church, made one in the Father and Christ, they will believe in Christ and in His saints.

When we consider the state of the Church today, the competing factions, the idea of the Church being one holy Body of Christ appears to be fantasy. Yet, Christ prayed for it and so it shall come to pass.

We must ask ourselves why the one Church is divided as it is. The answer is, the spirit of religion, of Babylon.

What is the spirit of Babylon? It is that of religious people attempting to do the work of God according to their own understanding and desires.

Are such people wicked? Not ordinarily; although we can see wickedness operating when the Catholic Church murdered those who would not follow its dictates. Chapters 17 and 18 of the Book of Revelation portray the wickedness of the organized church during the Middle Ages; and also, I believe, in the future.

It is my belief that in the future the religions of the world will come together into one massive organization located on the site of ancient Babylon. Then the description in Revelation once again will be timely.

The spirit of religion, of man attempting to build the Kingdom of God according to his own ideas, by no means is limited to the Roman Catholic Church. It can be found in the most magnificent cathedral and the smallest wooden building serving the needs of an impoverished community.

At the time of the removal of the true Christians from the religious organizations, the believers will have been made ready for their revelation as the beloved saints of God. How many there will be who will be part of the Bride of the Lamb I cannot say. I rather suspect that the group will be relatively few in number. The Bible is a record of a few outstanding saints, if you think about it.

Our fascination with large groups of people, especially in America, in no way changes the fact that God does His work with a few faithful people. Am I correct in this?

What, then, is the nature of this dreaded "spirit of religion"?

It is the attempt of human beings to please God according to their own ideas.

The old covenant included Moses, and the Law of God carved in tables of stone. How did one find righteousness under the Law of Moses? He or she was taught by rabbis who studied the Law on scrolls. Later, on paper.

The Law of Moses did not provide deliverance from the compulsions of sin. It did, however, make provision for the guilt of sin by means of animal sacrifice.

The Law of Moses could not satisfy the demands of God for righteous behavior; neither could it appease the conscience of a devout person. The fact that the Day of Atonement was an annual observance reminded the worshiper that he had sinned in time past and would continue to sin.

I am not prepared to say how many Israelites managed to fully observe the Law. I am satisfied many of them did their best to please God. But since the Law did not deal with the sin nature of the human being, the atoning sacrifices went on and on.

The revelation that came to Moses from God and was given to the Israelites was formalized eventually into a religion, as we see the various branches of Judaism today.

In like manner, what is now the Christian religion began by the revelation of the Spirit to a handful of disciples. Think about the state it is in now!

The new covenant does not operate in the same manner as the Law of Moses.

First, we have an eternal atonement for our sins in the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. The fact that the one and only atonement is sufficient for all the sins of the people of the world changes the program of redemption radically.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)

In other words, it is not contemplated that a Christian will sin again and again, thus needing a new offering.

Once we accept forgiveness through the blood atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven for eternity. There no longer is another sacrifice if we continue to sin.

In order to grasp how the new plan of redemption operates we have to understand a concept that was true under the old covenant and under the new covenant as well.

Under the covenant of Moses, a person was not obliged to make atonement for his sin until he became aware that he had sinned. He was guilty in the sight of God, and consequences would follow. But God did not hold him accountable until his sin was made known to him.

There was not under the old covenant or the new an atonement for willful sinning, an act of defiance against God. The person who sinned defiantly was to be cut off from his people.

Under the new covenant, when a believer sins, sin being the transgression of God's eternal moral law, he or she is guilty in the sight of God, and consequences will follow, just as under the Law of Moses.

The atoning blood of Christ holds the believer as righteous in God's sight, even though he or she is guilty of a transgression and consequences may follow. For example, a believer might not realize that smoking cigarettes is a sin against his body. When it is brought to his attention, and he stops smoking, he will increase in eternal life. But he may die of lung cancer.

Under the new covenant, as under the old, we are not held accountable until the sin comes to our attention. Then we are to take action. Since the eternal atonement has been made, we do not offer an animal for our sin. Also, we do not attempt to add to the atonement made by Jesus by doing penance.

Rather, we confess the sin clearly to the Lord, although our confession may need to be made also to one or more people, depending on the circumstances. We have to get the mind of the Lord about this, on each occasion.

Then we are to denounce the particular sinful behavior, declaring that it does not belong in the Kingdom of God. Remember, the unclean spirit that was causing our sinful behavior is listening and it wants to know how serious we are about never behaving in this manner again.

Then we are to renounce the behavior with all the firmness we can summon. We call on Jesus to help us never to do that again—no, not for eternity. It is an eternal judgment on the spirit that attempts to compel us to sin.

All of the above must be performed with every bit of resolve we can muster.

If we do confess, denounce, and renounce the sinful behavior, the spirit will leave. The Lord Jesus shall command it to leave. It will depart from our personality.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Confession alone does not accomplish redemption. Unless it is accompanied by the most heartfelt denouncing and renouncing, nothing of eternal value will result.

We see, then, that the blood of Christ continues to keep us free from condemnation, but only as long as we are following the Holy Spirit in the work of confessing, denouncing, and renouncing.

While we are being saved, that is, being delivered from sin, the Holy Spirit continually is guiding us in putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:13,14)

Such is the continuing work of redemption from the bondages of the enemy. The "you will die," mentioned here, refers back to verse 11 of the same chapter. It is the loss of the Spirit of God from the physical body so that it is not raised in life in the Day of Resurrection.

The words above are the heart of the Law of Moses and of the new covenant. Everything that has been added is of the spirit of religion.

If I am not mistaken, many Christian people of today are attempting to live under the new covenant as though it were the old covenant. They believe they are supposed to follow the letter of the New Testament as though it were carved in granite by the Lord God.

In fact, it commonly is believed in spite of Paul's emphasis in the Book of Galatians concerning circumcision, that if we obey the Ten Commandments of the Law of Moses and keep Sunday as the Sabbath of rest, we will be righteous in God's sight. In any case, the blood of Jesus is a covering over us so that no matter how we behave, we will go to Heaven by "grace."

Perhaps the time for such ignorance is coming to a close. Let us hope so. This is confusion of the first order. Such is the contemporary Christian religion, and there are many fine people who continue in this ignorance at the present time.

In actual fact, the true salvation and eternal life is the "rest of God," mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Also, at that time, He set in motion a program that would culminate finally in the new Jerusalem, the new sky, and the new earth. And possibly continue in every creature and occurrence of the unnumbered ages after that.

Then God rested. This was not because He was tired. It signifies only that He ceased working.

The sole responsibility of every human being, particularly of the members of the Royal Priesthood, is to enter God's rest.

How do we do that? By looking to Jesus throughout the day and night that we might be in fellowship with Him, doing His will as we understand it.

The rest of God is fellowship with our Lord and older Brother. It is a dance with Him.

There are numerous obstacles set before us continually. Only by praying without ceasing are we able to surmount these and continue in our perfect obedience to what God planned for us from the beginning. We have perfect peace when we keep our eyes focused on the Lord Jesus.

Such is the true Christian life. It is a life of absolute victory. We do not gain perfect peace at once. But if we follow Jesus faithfully, year after year, we approach that stage of union in which God rests in us and we in Him.

This is the true salvation and eternal life. You can see how basically different it is from the customary Christian church life.

Religion is significantly different from eternal life. Religion sets before us certain rules and practices. We are to obey them. We do not have to ask Jesus whether we should obey them. If we are to be righteous before God we obey the rules of our religion. Thus we have fellowship with those of our religion, but not necessarily fellowship with the Lord Jesus.

When I first became a Christian an effort was made by some to bring me into the Seventh Day Adventist denomination. These are fine people. But I soon found that on Saturday I was not looking to the Lord for direction because my new religion told me to rest that day. This is religion, not the rest of God.

But what about the rules in the New Testament? Are we supposed to ignore these? No, we are not to ignore the rules of the New Testament. But unless we want to make a religion out of our salvation, we must always ask the Lord for His interpretation of the rule and how to interpret it in just the right manner.

Paul commanded that women be silent in the church. I guess most of us do not conform to this edict. Under the Law of Moses we would have to. But under the new covenant we look to Jesus to see when and how this is to be enforced. The Holy Spirit interprets the writing of the Apostles to us so we can remain in God's rest and not in a religion.

I was thinking about Mary Slessor, the Scottish missionary to Nigeria. Can you imagine when she died the Lord Jesus saying to her: "Mary, you went against the elders of Calabar when they were murdering twins because of their superstition. You vaunted yourself over the men. You went against My Word in the New Testament. Your punishment is to be denied a place in the Royal Priesthood!"

I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. (I Timothy 2:12)

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament condemn homosexual activity. It is forbidden. When we ask Jesus about this He tells us that along with abortion, homosexual activity is Satan's way of preventing the birth of the rulers of the Kingdom who are destined to be born in the closing days of the Church Age.

This act of Satan reminds us of King Herod seeking to kill the Lord of Glory when He was a child.

But suppose a son or daughter chooses to be a homosexual. What do we do then if we are to abide in the rest of God, in eternal life?

We go to Jesus and ask for His wisdom. In the rest of God we ask Jesus about every aspect of our being and behavior.

Can you imagine?—the elders of Israel were looking at the Word of God made flesh. But they turned their eyes back to the scroll of the Law, arguing about points of interpretation.

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)

I have heard this verse quoted: "Search the Scriptures, for in them you have eternal life." This shows the desire of the believer to worship the Bible rather than Christ.

The above misinterpretation reveals the mindset of current Evangelicals. There is not much emphasis today on walking with Jesus. The stress is on taking a few verses out of context and using them to persuade people to "take the four steps of salvation."

We have only to consider the number of true Christian believers murdered by the Catholic Church, plus the comments of the Spirit of God concerning "Babylon the Great," plus the reception of Jesus of Nazareth by the elders of Israel, to realize what a destructive force religion actually is.

When I refer to a "religious person" I recognize there are religious people who know the Lord. But eventually the religion must fall away, in death if not before, and the person will know what it is to walk with Jesus and have fellowship with Him.

If Jesus were to attend a church service, would the priest ring the bells, light the candles, and burn the incense? One wonders!

Is Jesus a real Person or an abstract idea in the mind of a religious individual?

They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." (John 20:13)

If Mary were an extremely religious person, she might have said, "They have taken my Bible away and I don't know where they put it."

I am being facetious, of course, but it points out the difference between religion and eternal life.

The religious individual enjoys placing his faith in the Bible because he can keep control of his life. Following the Spirit of God in the "rest of God" does not give the worshiper that sort of control. He cannot boast about or place his confidence in his knowledge of the Scripture. He is helpless in the hands of Christ, always having to "lean on his beloved."

Our fallen adamic nature does not enjoy this sort of dependence on the invisible and the unpredictable. But the true saints rejoice in the greatest of all adventures.

Sometimes Christ will send tribulation on a strong religious individual until he is willing to recognize his helplessness and has to cast himself wholly on the Lord. He then discovers that his weakness allows the Lord's strength to be manifest.

When a religious person dies he may look about for his church, for like-minded people. But there are no churches in the spirit world. Jesus Himself may be visible, but the individual may look for His Bible. He may have been taught that supernatural experiences are not valid.

He has fellowship with the Bible, not with the Lord: "When the Bible speaks, I speak; when the Bible is silent, I am silent." It reminds me of pictures I have seen of Jewish men carrying the scroll of the Law on their shoulders. You can do this and murder Jesus, you know.

In her was found the blood of prophets and of God's holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth. (Revelation 18:24)

My tirade against religion and the worship of the Bible instead of Christ, may cause some some to come to the conclusion that I am overlooking the good that has been accomplished in the world by religious people, and the fact that religious workers have brought untold multitudes to Christ. I am aware of these missionary endeavors.

Also, as regards the Bible, it is my conviction that every word in the Bible is inspired by the God of Heaven. I have been studying the Scriptures for many years and still conduct my personal daily devotions.

If what I have just written about myself is true, and it most assuredly is true, what am I then saying? I am saying that the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is a guide for our behavior until Christ, the living Word of God, is formed in us.

Along the way, as we are pursuing the goal of the full formation of Christ in us, we must learn to ask the Lord about every aspect of our life, including our obedience to the rules found in the New Testament. We are not to slavishly follow them as though they were from the Old Testament. We are to bring our obedience to the rules of the New Testament before the Lord until we know how He wants us to obey them and gives us the strength to do so.

For example, the Apostle Paul wrote: "Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said."

I have heard it taught that there must not be more than three prophecies during an assembling of the saints. If Elijah came down from Heaven into the service, he must not prophesy if there already have been three prophecies.

Let us say there have been three prophecies, and you suddenly know, from your experience, that you have a word from the Lord. What should you do?

You should look up to Jesus to see if He wants you to break the rule and give a fourth prophecy.

In any case, the Apostle was impressing on us that there should be order in the service and not bedlam, as there would be if everyone jumped up and began to prophesy.

On special occasions there might be eight prophecies in a single service, and yet all would be orderly.

Our life with the Lord Jesus should be a dance, not a rigid obedience to a set of rules.

Well then, should we throw away the Bible and go by our feelings, as some have accused me of teaching?

Anyone who knows my devotion to God's Word would never accuse me of that or perceive this to be what I am teaching.

When we are young in the Lord, the New Testament serves as a guide for us. If we have questions about a particular passage we should go to an elder and he will give an explanation.

As we mature in the Lord, and learn to be led by the Spirit, we can ask Jesus directly for guidance in obeying a passage. Let me say that being led by the Spirit is an art that must be mastered, and we may make many mistakes along the way. If we would make a success in being led by the Spirit we absolutely must remain humble.

When we are shown to be in error we must accept the correction and not become arrogant. Just about everyone, saint and sinner alike, can tell when we get away from the Holy Spirit. We need to prayerfully consider their rebukes!

How many believers in Christ have made a shipwreck of their lives because they would not accept correction!

The following is a passage well worth considering:

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)

Since there was no New Testament at this time, the Apostle Peter is referring to the words of the Prophets in the Old Testament. Peter says their words are more certain than the voice of God from Heaven during the Transfiguration.

We do well to pay attention to the entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, cutting a straight course in the Word of Truth.

Now notice the word "until." This does not mean we judge that we have become perfect and cease studying the Bible. It is my personal opinion that some of us will be reading and teaching the Bible to people in the spirit world after we die. Multitudes of people born during the history of mankind know little or nothing of the Bible.

What, then, does "until" mean? It means that as we obey the Scriptures, Christ, the Morning Star, rises in our heart. This is the new covenant. It is the writing of God's eternal moral law in our personality so that we love and obey God by nature. We delight to do His will, because the Divine Nature of Christ is being formed in us.

We keep on obeying the commands of Christ and His Apostles until the Father and the Son make Their eternal abode in us. Even then we never go against the eternal moral laws of God, because those laws have been written in our mind and heart. The testimony of the Lord Jesus and His Apostles written in the New Testament bring us to this place.

This is what my "tirade" is all about, when I am inveighing against making our knowledge of the Bible our goal. Our goal is to be made in the image of God. The Bible is a means to that end; the Bible itself and religion itself, are not the goal. They are the means to bring us to the fullness of Christ and to living fellowship with the Father and the Son.

When people stop along the way, and do not press forward to the fullness of Christ, they may become doctrinaire. They become bitter if anyone questions their statement of faith.

How many believers have nearly come to blows concerning whether the unscriptural "rapture" will occur at the beginning, the middle, or the end of the Great Tribulation. What an exercise in futility this is!

The truth is, the New Testament does not teach that the Church will be carried to Heaven to escape Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. But try to tell a believer that, and notice the anger that may erupt!

Honestly, God cares little about religious beliefs or practices. He is concerned about the character of the believer.

Audrey and I knew a Greek lady that told us there were times during the worship service in a Greek Orthodox church that the presence of God was so strong the priest could not minister. This in the midst of the bells, candles, and incense.

A leading personage in our denomination was driving one day past a Catholic church. He was reviewing in his mind the problems he perceived in the Catholic practices.

Then God spoke to him and rebuked him. God said, "The name of my Son, Jesus, is mentioned in that church every Sunday morning."

Yet the Catholic church is built on Petrus, the "boulder." The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not built on Petrus, but on Petra, the "massive rock formation." "On Christ the solid rock we stand," not on Peter (Petrus).

Mary is blessed among women, but she is not to be worshiped along with Christ. The Israelites worshiped the serpent, which at one time had brought healing, and later became an object of worship. So it is that religion distorts the true revelation of God.

We have a lot to learn, don't we!

Well, this present essay is about the difference between religion and eternal life. I hope I have erased any doubts about my trust in the written Word of God. Also, I understand that God, for two thousand years, has used religion to accomplish His goals.

Ours is a new day. Yesterday's manna no longer is nourishing. We must hear what the Spirit is saying today, and not proudly close our mind to what the Holy Spirit is telling us in the present hour.

We are to take heed to the Scriptures and press forward in Christ every day until the Lord comes. I know you will agree with that.

I may appear to be overly hard on the issue of religion;. But I think when Christ begins to draw His Body together, the satanic spirit that is in the Christian churches will be revealed. We will see the face of Satan.

I do not have to remind us of the satanic spirit in the Muslim religion. We can perceive that spirit, as in different parts of the earth the imposition of Shariah Law is accompanied by the murder of the innocent. It is not only the Christian religion that is culpable.

We do not get even a glimpse of the God-fearing Arab going about his or her business in a quiet, honorable manner. Instead all that is brought to us is the violent destruction wrought by the religious activist.

All religions, groups of people attempting to systematize their religious principles, may punish those who disagree with them.

The true salvation and eternal life is a simple walk with a Man, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. All the bells, incense, candles, special vestments, special architecture, religious symbols worn on the body, may be harmless. But they have nothing to do with Christ. He wants heartfelt obedience and adoration from the individual, and will deal with the man or woman in a unique manner, appropriate for him or her alone.

The religious person, probably without realizing it, is attempting to create his or her own Heaven and earth. It reminds us of the Tower of Babel, of confusion. So it is that all religious organizing ends up in confusion. It is Babylon. That is why we have so many denominations.

Are we to flee from the denominational structures at this time? I don't think so. In our effort to please God we will succeed only in building another Babylon.

When God's time comes we will know what to do. There will be no confusion. The true saints, those who live by the body and blood of Christ, will flow together. The Babylonish structures will be left high and dry, becoming cages of demons. The voice of the Bridegroom and the Bride will no longer be heard within the walls of organized religion.

The sixtieth chapter of the Book of Isaiah portrays the Glory of God falling on the true Bride, carrying her out of herself. She will be overwhelmed with His Presence. It reminds us of the Glory of God coming down on the Temple of Solomon to the extent that the priests were not able to minister. So it shall be when Jesus calls His Church together.

And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple. (I Kings 8:11)

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

The passage above is describing the time when the true people of the Lord will leave the religious bondages and appear as one Body of Christ. This is the one true Church. There is no other!

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 17:23)

It undoubtedly is true that these will include the believers who are changed and then joined together with the saints who have returned with Christ and been resurrected. Then the entire Royal Priesthood will be caught up to meet Christ in the air.

God wants us to prepare ourselves for the final revelation of His Church. We prepare ourselves by learning to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, which is the "rest of God." Please keep in mind that God's Royal Priesthood is found today in every religious organization, from the Roman Catholic Church to the smallest Baptist and Pentecostal assemblies.

We do not have to compromise. We are not obliged to venerate the Virgin Mary, or to ring bells or burn incense or light candles. The leaders are not obligated to wear special vestments, because there is no hierarchy in the one Body of Christ.

God has given us speaking in tongues in order to bring us into the rest of God. When we are speaking in tongues in prayer we are exercising that inner spiritual life which is true eternal life. The Spirit, knowing the mind of the Father, is bringing us forward to that place of rest in God's will.

Remember, rest in God's will does not mean we do nothing and drift about in a state of apathy. We may find ourselves working harder than ever before. The rest is not that of not working, it is the rest of following Christ; having fellowship with Him continually; obeying Christ diligently.

We will not find union with fellow saints by believing the same doctrines. We find union as they are filled with Christ and we are filled with Christ, and we all are moving in the same Spirit.

Any attempt to obtain the union toward which we are moving by agreeing on doctrine is doomed to failure. It is our mind that is our biggest problem. The union is of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, not of our mental grasp of any religion.

Keep on praying. Keep on praying. Keep on looking to Jesus. Do not allow any person or circumstance to remove your eyes from the Lord Jesus.

Be alert to the promptings of the Spirit and denounce and renounce vigorously every sin in your life. Do not let your vigilance lag for one moment, even when you are recuperating.

You can make it. You can be a member of God's Firstfruits. It is a long, difficult struggle but it shall end in victory for you, and fellowship with the Father and the Son.

If you want to be able to receive Christ when He next appears to the earth, then the way I have just laid out for you is the path.

We now are entering the conflict of the ages. What we have attained to in time past no longer is adequate to keep us standing before Christ. New challenges. New victories. New insights. New fellowship with Christ. All of this is yours if you will keep pressing forward in Christ.

We are in the closing days of the Church Age. The seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet. The unprecedented revival of the final witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God is at hand, and God is preparing us to participate in the witness by teaching us to live by the Life of Jesus instead of our own life.

All this can be yours. You will ever be with the Lord. You will inherit all that the Father is making new in Christ. You will be a son of almighty God.

Don't quit. With Christ's help you can do it.

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)

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Who Will Be Caught Up?

2013-06-23

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)

The passage above is describing the parousia, the same Greek term used in Matthew, Chapter 24. It is not a "secret coming," it is the appearing of Christ in the historic Day of the Lord.

The doctrine of the "rapture" is based on I Thessalonians 4:17. The rapture doctrine is harmful. The Bible admonishes us to prepare ourselves to stand in the evil day. The rapture doctrine tells us there will be no evil day. As a result, God's people are unprepared for the moral and physical chaos of the closing days of the Church Age.

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)

There indeed is coming a "day of evil." The rain of Divine judgment is going to fall on the world. The only safety will be in the Ark, Christ. So we need to press into Him fervently without delay.

I am certain that Noah and his three sons, and his wife and their wives if they helped, did not build this massive vessel in a week or two. In like manner, as we are learning to press into Christ, our entrance into the "ark" will be occurring throughout our lifetime.

When you think back about Noah, Daniel, Peter in jail, the three Hebrew young men in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, we can see that God can deliver us in the most unlikely circumstances. However, as in the case of the Christians in the Arena in Rome, we may be delivered from danger by dying.

In no instance that I can think of did God deliver people from trouble by lifting them bodily to Heaven to escape problems on the earth.

But we are not going to prepare ourselves to stand our ground if we believe we will be taken out of the world before the days are evil, before it "rains," we might say.

All of the familiar expressions, such as "the Lord will carry His waiting Bride to Heaven," are nothing more than unscriptural traditions.

The idea that I Thessalonians 4:17 (above) means that Christ will remove us from the earth in order to avoid the Great Tribulation and Antichrist is totally false. Read the passage and its context and see if you notice anything about escaping Antichrist, or the Great Tribulation, or going to Heaven.

If you cannot find any references to these three ideas, then perhaps the Christian churches are teaching a delusion.

If such is the case, what is the passage speaking of?

It is speaking of the coming of Christ in the historic Day of the Lord.

This is why we find a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. These expressions hardly fit a secret rapture of the believers!

The passage in question is describing the first resurrection. The second resurrection will not occur until the thousand years of the Kingdom Age have transpired.

But is I Thessalonians, Chapter Four speaking of a resurrection?

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 dead in Christ will rise first." "Will rise."

The verb "will rise" does not mean rise into the air. It means to be resurrected---like Christ rose from the dead. The saints who come with Christ, while Christ is stationed in the air, will come down to earth and pick up their assembled flesh and bones, just as Christ was raised from the dead. Then their bodies shall be made alive by the Holy Spirit, not by blood.

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)

They also shall receive the crown of righteousness.

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)

At that time the blood in the bodies of those qualified to be caught up to meet Christ in the air will be replaced by the Holy Spirit, and then glorified. I am referring now to people who are alive on the earth at the time of the appearing of Christ.

Then these newly changed persons will join together with the saints who have returned with Christ, and the entire company will be caught up to meet Christ in the air.

As I have written in previous essays, can you imagine the time of fellowship while the glorified saints were on the earth waiting to be caught up to meet Christ in the air?

Here is the point of all of this. They are not caught up to meet Christ in the air (not in Heaven) in order to escape Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. They already have been resurrected, or changed, and then glorified. Neither Antichrist nor the Great Tribulation could harm them in any manner. So they are not caught up to escape the Great Tribulation.

The widely spread doctrine that the Christian people are about to be caught up to Heaven to be with the Lord is without any foundation in the Scriptures. To keep on believing this will prevent the Christian from preparing himself or herself for the chaos that is near at hand.

There is another dimension of the vision of Christ's appearing that is in need of modification. And that is, "Exactly who will be resurrected and go to meet Christ in the air when He appears?"

Please keep in mind that when Paul was writing he was thinking of the small groups of Christians who met in homes, sometimes in danger of violent persecution. There were no church buildings in Paul's day. No doubt their standards of discipleship were much higher than we would find in a large church or cathedral of our time.

In order to answer the question of who will be resurrected and caught up when Jesus appears, we have to know why people will be caught up to meet the Lord. Then we will be able to understand the qualifications and competence required of those so honored.

Before we go further, we must rid our mind of the false idea that the catching up will include all professing Christians. The truth is, rather, it will be a relatively small number of believers.

Stop and think. Is the Bible a record of large numbers of people serving God, or of a few outstanding saints?

One of the greatest of the events of earth's history is the episode on the Mount of Transfiguration. We have Christ, Moses, and Elijah, if you can imagine, standing on the earth. How many of earth's millions witnessed this extraordinary event? Three! Three people. Not even all of the disciples!

This may help free us from the idea that a great number of Christians, much less all the Christian people, will go to meet Christ when He appears.

What, then, is taking place here? The Lord Jesus is appearing in order to prepare His army to descend to the earth, drive out all the works of Satan, and establish His Kingdom.

If you are acquainted with Christian church-members you will realize how far from reality is the idea of these good people wanting to return to the earth with the Lord Jesus and fight against Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

Most Christian people are not living the overcoming life of victory in Christ. They are counting on "grace" to bring them to Heaven when they die. They are not hoping to return with Christ, after they die, and face Satan and his demons.

Victorious saints are just not that plentiful. Yet, they are the only believers who are qualified and competent to ride with Christ in the greatest of all cavalry charges.

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. I will also give that one the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)

How many believers do you know who are walking with Christ and living in victory? We have been taught we are saved by grace and do not have to do the will of Christ. Do you see now what I mean when I say those who will go to meet Christ when He appears will be a relatively small number?

The "morning star" is the Divine Nature of Christ that is given to those who carefully and diligently obey His commands and those of His Apostles.

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)

No individual who is not living by the Life of Jesus is either qualified or competent to govern the nations alongside of Jesus Christ.

Can you see how far from reality is the current teaching of the "rapture to escape tribulation"? It is a false doctrine, devised and set forth to prevent God's people from growing to the maturity where they are a threat to Satan's kingdom.

I have stated that the passages we are studying are telling us about the first resurrection. The second resurrection will occur at the termination of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. At the second resurrection, everyone will be raised, some to life and some to condemnation, who was not qualified or competent to be raised in the first resurrection.

Immediately we begin to understand that the first resurrection is of a firstfruits of salvation. It reminds us of David's mighty men. It is not a general resurrection of "all Israel," we might say.

Let us now examine what God's Word says about the first resurrection, the resurrection and catching up that will occur when Jesus next appears:

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)

"I saw thrones." This tells us the whole story, doesn't it?

The first resurrection, that which will take place when the Lord Jesus appears, is not a resurrection to life in a mansion in Heaven but to rulership. These are God's kings, a firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood.

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)

I know it is difficult for us Americans to understand that God chooses people for ranks in His Kingdom; for specific roles to play. But that is just the way it is. We would prefer that everyone be equal.

If we are wise we will follow Christ carefully so that we may grasp that for which we personally have been grasped, and not seek to go beyond that. Christ's rulers, although exalted to an unimaginable height of spiritual glory and splendor, have the heart of a child, just like their Father, God. They have chosen to be servants of all.

There is to be no jealousy in the Kingdom of God!

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge." One of the lessons we must learn is to not judge people according to our own understanding. For one thing, our standards of behavior are not always God's standards.

We absolutely must cease from criticizing other people and always look to Jesus for truth. As the Lord said, "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me." This is what we must do if we hope to go to Christ when He appears.

Paul spoke of the authority to judge given to the saints:

Or do you not know that the Lord's people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:2,3)

Judging and criticizing our fellow believers is a widespread practice in the Christian churches. Can you imagine such people being given the authority to judge the world, and angels as well?

They would judge out of their personal irritations and standards, not waiting to hear God's decisions. Therefore they are neither qualified nor competent to go to meet Jesus when He appears.

No, I do not believe the average church-goer in America today is capable of judging the world and angels. I think the angels would laugh him out of court. I do believe, however, that those who attain to the first resurrection will sit with Christ on the Throne at the second resurrection and judge the newly resurrected persons.

So we see that the tasks and roles appointed to those who would participate in the first resurrection eliminate all but the most faithful candidates.

"And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God."

This may include physical decapitation.

However, one of the most important qualifications of Christ's witnesses of the closing days of the Church Age is they have set aside their own life, their own planning and thinking, in favor of living by Christ's planning and thinking. Maybe this is what is meant by "beheaded."

The idea of living by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ instead of our own adamic life is so utterly important that I scarcely could overemphasize it.

"They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands."

We who live in America today are worshiping Antichrist to a certain extent, in that the chief goal of many of us is to acquire money. Money is the power of Antichrist, just as the Spirit of God is the power of Christ.

Christ commanded us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. To place acquiring money as our chief concern is to have the mark of Antichrist on our forehead or right hand.

"They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

This is the first resurrection, the resurrection of the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood. They are not the average lukewarm believer. They are filled with the iron righteousness by which they govern; with fiery holiness; and with stern obedience to God.

"(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)"

The purpose of the thousand year Kingdom Age, as I understand it, is to provide time for the majority of God's elect to grow to spiritual maturity. I believe they will be assisted by the stronger saints who attained to the first resurrection, in keeping with the Bible injunction that the stronger should assist the weaker.

This may mean that in addition to their duties as kings over the earth, some of the victorious saints might be assigned to God's elect who are waiting in the spiritual Mount Zion, to prepare them for their role as members of the Royal Priesthood when the heavenly Jerusalem descends to the new earth.

"This is the first resurrection."

As I stated previously, the second resurrection will occur at the termination of the thousand year Kingdom Age. At that time, everyone will be resurrected who was not qualified to be resurrected in the first resurrection.

"Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection."

Have you noticed that no books were opened? This is because the participants in the first resurrection were judged beforehand. Participating in the first resurrection is their sentence.

Perhaps the Spirit of God is pointing out the sins you are committing as a Christian. If this is happening to you, you are appearing at the Judgment Seat of Christ. You are to confess the sin pointed out to you and to turn away from it with all the strength you have, and the strength the Lord Jesus gives to you.

Those who are ready to be caught up to Christ in the first resurrection will have successfully turned away from their sins before the Lord appears. This is why no books are opened. Their judgment has been completed.

"The second death has no power over them."

The Father has given the Lake of Fire authority over eight kinds of behavior:

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

The Lake of Fire maintains authority over these eight behaviors whether or not we profess to believe in Christ. The only way we can escape from the power of the Lake of Fire is by gaining, through Christ, victory over these practices. Once we gain victory over each of them, the Lake of Fire cannot harm us.

Can you see from this the quality of the people who are qualified to be raised in the first resurrection?

"But they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."

So we understand that it will be the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood who will participate in the resurrection and catching up when Jesus appears, not the casual believer who is comfortable in the Antichrist system of buying and selling.

I say "firstfruits" of the Royal Priesthood, because the majority of those whom God has called to the Priesthood the Christian Church, are not prepared, I believe, to participate in the first resurrection. They will have to wait in the heavenly Zion in the spirit world until they are ready to fulfill their roles in the new world of righteousness; until they are ready to be part of the new Jerusalem when it descends to the earth.

If you are not resurrected and caught up to meet Christ in the air when He appears, you will remain on the earth to be with Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet. These will not be driven from the earth until Christ appears with His army of saints and angels.

The question arises, "What will those who are caught up be doing between the catching up and the time they return with Christ?" Remember, they are not caught up to Heaven but to the air where Christ and the army of angels are waiting.

As soon as the victorious saints are caught up to the staging area in the air, they will have to be organized into an army. The place of each saint in the army will have to be established. They will have to be given a white war-stallion and mounted on it. They will have to know who their officers are.

Throughout their lives they have been sternly obedient to Christ, so they will need only a short reminder of the importance of obeying their officers promptly.

The saints will be introduced to the army of angels so they will be aware of their situation relative to the angelic army.

I have heard that events on the earth move more slowly than those in the spirit world. So what may seem to those caught up to be a brief orientation period may be a longer time on the earth.

However, since the vials of wrath are being poured out during this period, it probably will be a relatively short time, lest there be no people left for Christ and His saints to govern.

The vials of Divine wrath will be poured on the earth as soon as the saints are caught up to Christ, to prepare the world for His coming with His saints and angels. So each of us will do well to learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus in order that we may be ready to be with Him when He next appears.

When we think of the multitude of Christian people who are hoping for a rapture that will place them in a mansion in Heaven, we realize the importance of warning God's people that they are entertaining a false hope.

If we desire to attain to the first resurrection we need to prepare ourselves by living a righteous, holy life.

Many American people, including Christians, are living in the Antichrist world system without realizing it. Mom and Dad are happily reviewing their retirement plans. The children are engrossed in their electronic games and the television, diligently absorbing the values of Satan.

"Time to go to bed, kids," while mom and dad watch the late-night shows in which the comedians make fun of Christ and our moral values. All this while we may be danger of attack from more disciplined nations!

Such is the American culture in the present hour. Because of this, severe pain is to come upon our nation. This is not because God does not love us, it is because He does love us and does not desire that we continue in the bondages of Satan.

We are worshiping material wealth and comforts. We are spreading this god to the rest of the world through our television programs.

And we are looking for a "rapture" that will bring such self-centered, pleasure-loving people to mansions in Heaven because they have "accepted Christ"!

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:35)

"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.) (Revelation 19:7,8)

"His bride has made herself ready." This again is referring to the first resurrection.

Perhaps some of God's elect will say to themselves, "I will wait in the heavenly Jerusalem until I am prepared to descend to the new earth. I do not have to prepare myself to join in the first resurrection."

This is to play games with God, and God always wins. He will see the deceit in your heart, and you will lose your crown. You will be treated as a heathen and stand in your place at the second resurrection, where you will be judged according to your works.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12,13)

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The Closing Days of the Church Age

2013-06-30

The mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord's people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26,27)

I do not intend to be dogmatic about my interpretation of the Book of Revelation. I will say this, though: I believe the various "pictures" are not in chronological order. Rather they are different aspects of the events of the closing days of the Church Age.

Notice, as we go through these chapters of the Book of Revelation, that in the end both the religious and secular governments will be cast down and the Lamb of God will be exalted as King of kings and Lord of lords.

It seems to me that Chapter Six is a general portrayal of the events of history from the beginning of the Church Age until the Day of Wrath.

For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it? (Revelation 6:17)

Chapter Seven begins with the sealing of the Jews who are servants of God.

Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:4)

It may be true that the sealing means they will not be harmed by the Great Tribulation. This show us that God does not deliver His servants from tribulation by carrying them to Heaven but by sealing them.

They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. (Revelation 9:4)

The tribe of Dan and the clan of Ephraim are not listed. It may be true that by the time of the Apostle John, the lineages of Dan and Ephraim had been obscured or reduced in importance in some manner. Not being acquainted with Jewish history, I cannot give a good explanation for the omission of Dan and Ephraim.

However I am certain that the Apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation was being instructed by the Lord Jesus.

As we continue in Chapter Seven we come to the multitude who came out of the Great Tribulation. It may be noted that these are not a militant army but ordinary people whom God has seen fit to bring into His Presence after their death.

I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:14)

I would venture that Chapters Eight and Nine are describing the Great Tribulation. We noticed in the preceding chapter the people who had been saved out of the Great Tribulation.

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up. (Revelation 8:7)

And out of the smoke locusts came down on the earth and were given power like that of scorpions of the earth. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. (Revelation 9:3)

Such is the tribulation that is coming. Perhaps it is the Great Tribulation.

The Day of Wrath is described in a future chapter, I believe. Wrath and tribulation are not at all the same condition. Wrath is not redemptive. Tribulation may be thought of as chastening, in many instances, and as such can be redemptive.

The chaos in the world of today makes me believe that the current catastrophic events are leading up to the Great Tribulation. However, first must come the worldwide witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

Today it appears that the earth is vomiting out its inhabitants because of the prevalence of sin, particularly that of abortion on demand. I believe the closing days of the Church Age are going to be filled with every sort of trouble and confusion. We do well if we draw close to the Lord Jesus and seek to live by His Life.

Chapters Ten and Eleven could be considered as one chapter. They speak of the events leading up to the great worldwide witness of the Kingdom of God.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

I believe we can see the beginning of these events in our day.

Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven. He was robed in a cloud, with a rainbow above his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs were like fiery pillars. (Revelation 10:1)

I am writing this essay in May of 2013. I have been a Christian for more than 65 years. It seems to me that the spiritual atmosphere is changing.

The powerful angel has a rainbow, the sign of God's Throne, above his head. His face like the sun speaks of righteousness. His fiery legs portray Divine judgment.

In 1948 the Lord told me that He was moving past the Pentecostal experience to the final three feasts of Israel. He impressed on me that He was ready to judge His Church. I still am testifying of what God has shown me since those days in Bible school.

I can feel the power of the mighty angel, can you? I am pleased at the increasing emphasis in our day on the Father. This is long overdue. After all, Christ came to bring us to the Father, not to Heaven as such!

There is in our day an emphasis on actual righteousness of behavior, not merely imputed righteousness but actual righteousness. Naturally this emphasis is accompanied by Divine judgment on our behavior.

The fullness of God's power, the seven thunders, cannot be revealed as yet. The reason is, the believers at Pentecost are attempting to establish the Kingdom of God while preserving their own life. The fullness of power will not be unleashed until there are those who are living, as did the Apostle Paul, by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

"There will be no more delay," meaning that the mystery of the Gospel, which is Christ in us, will be brought to the forefront in Gospel preaching. The importance of Christ being in us now and seeking to express Himself, is not always presented. Rather we have various programs by which we hope to save the world.

We are told of the prophecy that must be given to every nation to prepare the world for the coming of Christ in His Kingdom.

Then I was told, "You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings." (Revelation 10:11)

I refer to this as the "again prophecy." We are being prepared for this end-time prophecy now by learning how to subjugate our self-will and live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

So much for Chapter Ten. Chapter Eleven continues with the discussion of the last great testimony:

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." (Revelation 11:2)

Measuring the temple of God refers to judging the saints who will bear the "again prophecy." Before the saints can give the Divine testimony, they first must be judged. All sin and self-seeking must be removed from them.

"And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:3)

Notice that the two witnesses did not come from somewhere, they were "appointed." They already were present on the earth but needed to be ordained for the ministry of witnessing.

The two witnesses are Christ and His Body. Christ will not be visible; only the saints bearing the witness can be seen by people. But it actually will be Christ who is bearing witness of His Kingdom. This is why the saints who bear this responsibility must learn to live by the Life of Christ and not by their own thinking, planning, speaking, and acting.

The olive trees tell us of the double portion of the anointing of the Spirit that will rest on Christ and the members of His Body. The two lampstands refer to Christ and the victorious saints of the churches.

The witnesses perform destructive works because they are bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to enforce God's will on the nations of the earth. This heavenly attack will cause great destruction to the institutions of the world.

In the middle of the week God will permit Antichrist to overcome the witness. As I understand it, the last half of the week, the time Antichrist is permitted to vaunt his power, will be the period of the Great Tribulation.

The witness is overcome by Sodom, the lusts of the flesh; Egypt, the love of the world; and Jerusalem, the pride of self-will; religious pride.

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. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. (Revelation 11:7-9)

It appears that some of the above passage is symbolic. However, it probably means that the Christian testimony will be brought into disrepute during the last half of the week, the time of the rule of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.

After the week has been completed the witnesses will be revived and be caught up to Heaven in a cloud. Whether the actual bodies of the witnesses will be brought back to life, or the witnesses gathered from where they have been scattered, and then caught up to Heaven, I do not know.

In the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians, the saints are resurrected and then caught up in the clouds to meet Christ in the air along with those saints who have returned with Christ.

There are two Greek terms that must be considered. There is the term that can mean the spiritual Heaven, or the sky.

There is another term that means the air.

In Revelation 11, the witnesses are caught up to the spiritual "Heaven," or to the "sky". Same term in the Greek text.

In I Thessalonians we are caught up to meet Christ in the "air."

So it may mean that the witnesses are caught up into the sky, or into the air, where people can see them. This would account for the "terror" of the people of the world.

But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they went up to heaven (or to the heaven or to the sky) in a cloud, while their enemies looked on. (Revelation 11:11,12)

The next verse tells us about the great earthquake that killed seven thousand people. This agrees with the Scripture that states when Lot went out of Sodom, destruction followed.

At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:13)

I never did figure out what the "third woe" is, unless it is referring to the Day of Wrath. "The third woe is coming soon." (Revelation 11:14)

The preparation of the two witnesses, and the ministry of the two witnesses, will occur during the period when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet. Now that the final witness has been removed from the earth, it is time for the seventh trumpet to be blown.

The seventh trumpet announces the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. God has taken to Himself His great power and commences His reign over the earth. This is the answer to the familiar "Lord's Prayer."

The Day of Divine Wrath is now at hand.

Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a severe hailstorm. (Revelation 11:19)

Chapter Twelve of the Book of Revelation is filled with events of the highest significance.

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Revelation 12:1)

First we see the travail of the Church to bring forth Christ. There shall be no more delay, as the Scripture states. This will take place concurrently with the events of the preceding two chapters, according to my understanding.

Both the Church and Satan are seen in Heaven, or perhaps in the sky. Satan's tail "drew the third of the stars of the heaven and flung them to the earth."

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. (Daniel 8:10)

We see this taking place in our own day, don't we? Many Christians who had been secure in Mount Zion have fallen through sexual lust and have become as those with no spiritual life.

One of the greatest lies ever told in Christian circles is that of "once saved always saved." Can you grasp the destruction this has caused? The warning in Revelation about the danger of someone taking our crown is often disregarded. "Let him who stands take heed lest he fall"!

If we are sensitive to the Lord we can tell there is a travail among church people. We are being admonished to lay aside our own plans and ambitions that the Life of the Lord Jesus might come to maturity in us. When He does, He is caught up spiritually to God and to His Throne. The Christ being formed in us is destined to govern the nations of the earth.

First we bear witness of the coming of the Kingdom. Then we are the Kingdom that appears with Christ.

The Church who bore the male Son apparently will have to go into hiding for a season. God will take care of her there.

There will be war in Heaven. Michael shall cast the devil and his angels to the earth. Michael was able to do this because of the "brothers" who had overcome Satan in the sight of God.

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb; by their testimony of the truth of God's Word; and by loving not their own life to the death. I believe this process is taking place in our day.

The period of time between the catching up of the witnesses and the return of Christ with His army of saints and angels will be a dreadful time for those living on the earth. Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet will be here on the earth along with the wicked people of the nations. Also, the vials of Divine wrath will be poured out at this time, if I am correct.

There will be numerous people remaining on the earth after the Royal Priesthood goes to meet the Lord in the air, it must be true that the vials of wrath are poured out quickly—perhaps simultaneously. Otherwise there would be no one left on the earth for the Christ and His saints to govern.

The casting of Satan to the earth resulted in great exultation in Heaven, and the coming of the Kingdom of God.

The Church had to flee to a prepared place. The Church was helped during the last half of the week, the period when Antichrist was governing.

Satan then proceeded to wage war against the victorious saints, perhaps those who had been bearing witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, including those in whom Christ had been born.

Chapter Thirteen gives us a closer look at Antichrist. Antichrist comes out of the "sea," that is out of the mass of people of the world. Antichrist sponsors what we Christians refer to as "worldliness."

Notice that God gives Antichrist power to overcome the saints. This seems strange to us, but it is part of the way God works.

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. (Revelation 13:7)

The saints will have to employ great patience and faithfulness if they are to stand in the midst of such evil. In fact, the Bible tells us, the love of many will grow cold at this time because of the wickedness.

Then another beast appears. This is the False Prophet. He does not come from the mass of mankind but "out of the earth," that is, out of the soul of people.

The False Prophet is the spirit of religious delusion. He is increasing greatly in our day. Since the advent of the Pentecostal experience, numerous believers have fallen through deception, mistaking that which is soulish for that which is spiritual. It may be that we are more open to spirits than has been true of past movements.

Whenever we try to make this world heavenly, not being willing to bear our cross patiently, we fall into deception. The recent "prosperity" and "name it and claim it" doctrines are examples of the work of the False Prophet.

There is so much silliness in the Charismatic movement, people barking like dogs and other foolishness, that one wonders at the blindness of those who name the name of Christ. If I am not mistaken, more deception is yet to follow.

It is the spirit of religious deception that supports Antichrist by miraculous signs. It is this spirit of deception that ordered people to set up an image in honor of Antichrist.

The False Prophet has two horns of the Lamb (the double portion of supposed Christian power) but it speaks with the voice of the dragon. Do you know what that voice is? "I will. I will. I will. I will."

It is the voice of Satan. It is the voice of human beings as they attempt to build the Kingdom of God by their own wisdom and strength; as they seek to control the spirit world by mental effort—directing angels, working miracles, and so forth.

Such human-controlled phenomena is well known to Eastern practitioners of their religion.

The False Prophet will perform mighty miracles in support of Antichrist.

It is the False Prophet who will force all people to receive the mark of Antichrist on their right hands or their foreheads.

Let's stand back for a moment and look at what we are stating.

The spirit of Antichrist is that of man being his own god; choosing his own way. His power is money—buying and selling. This spirit already has entered the Charismatic movement, and perhaps other religious persuasions also.

I am saying that in the closing days of the Church Age, Christian people will support the world spirit of buying and selling, believing that wealth is godliness. We have seen the beginning of this as Christians perceive Capitalism to be associated with godliness. In my opinion, this attempt to gain riches will mount in the churches until they will work alongside the world in the area of finance.

When we see the Christian churches supporting the world governments in economic ventures, crying economic peace and safety, we had better draw close to Christ!

Chapter Fourteen of the Book of Revelation tells us about God's Firstfruits. It is a marvel to me that God's pastors and teachers do not place a greater emphasis on this portion of the Scriptures. I believe if they would, many believers would aspire to be a part of the Firstfruits. I know it is one of my goals!

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)

Notice that the Lamb is standing on Mount Zion, Mount Zion being the Christian Church, as I noted previously. Up to this point the Lamb has been sitting at God's right hand.

The Lamb is ready to go to war against His enemies. This means that the Holy Spirit will be pointing out to us the sin in our personality. Sin absolutely must be confessed and turned away from. Up to this point the emphasis has been upon Jesus forgiving us and taking us to Heaven. This emphasis now is changing. Jesus is seen as the Deliverer who is preparing us for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

The sound of rushing water and of thunder is telling us that God is preparing to issue the power of the seven thunders, as soon as He can find people who will turn from their own planning and thinking and invite the Lord Jesus into every aspect of their life.

They do not permit anyone or any thing to come between them and the Lord Jesus. They are "virgins," in this sense.

They follow the Lamb wherever He goes. As it says in First Thessalonians, the fourth chapter, "so shall we ever be with the Lord."

When I think of the awesome maturity and power of these who will return with the Lord Jesus and establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth, I realize that these Firstfruits may be the only ones who will be raised from the dead, or changed, and then caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

When we consider the multitude of believers who are not disciples, who do not deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Jesus, we perceive how far short they are of returning with Christ and crushing the will of the nations of the earth.

Whether or not these Firstfruits are the only ones who will be ready when Jesus appears, I think each of us should press forward into Christ to a far, far greater extent than is true of the average professing Christian in the United States. It certainly is a possibility that the Christians mentioned here in Chapter Fourteen are the ones who will be ready for the Lord.

The angel flying in midair proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom to all those on the earth. The Gospel of the Kingdom has been lost, it appears, for two thousand years. It is being restored in our day. For a long time it has been the "gospel of Heaven."

The announcement is made that Babylon is fallen. Babylon refers to the Christian organizations, and possibly other religious groups, that are driven by human thinking and energy.

This is followed, in Chapter Fourteen, by an extremely severe warning to those who accept the Antichrist world system; who make money their god.

The severe warning is followed by our means of survival and salvation:

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)

From our day on forward, the only manner by which we are going to survive, and help our loved ones to survive, is by "dying in the Lord." We absolutely must turn from our own thinking, planning, speaking, and working, and look to the Lord Jesus to live His Life in us. There is no other way in which to survive in the days of judgment that are ahead of us.

We are approaching the time when Christ will reap the fruit of the earth. Perhaps these are the ones who come out of the Great Tribulation.

Then there was a reaping of the wicked. They were thrown into the winepress of God's wrath.

Moving ahead to Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen of the Book of Revelation:

We have come now to a clearer description of the Day of Wrath.

As I said, the Great Tribulation, as I understand it, occurs during the last half of the prophetic week, during the rule of Antichrist.

The Day of Wrath, on the other hand, will take place as soon as the victorious saints have been caught up to meet the Lord.

During World War Two, when the Japanese islands were being invaded, the guns of the battleships would first "soften up" the Japanese positions. Then the Marines would go to the beaches in their landing crafts.

It may be like that before the Lord comes. The Day of Wrath may soften up the positions of the enemy. Then Christ and His army of saints and army of angels will descend and attack the enemy at Har Magedon. After that the invasion by Joel's army will judge the inhabitants of the earth. This is my understanding at the present time.

You can understand from these terrible events in the future—maybe the near future—how utterly important it is that we practice today living by the Life of Jesus. Human efforts in the coming days will have no wisdom, power, or spiritual authority.

First we see the "sea of glass." Perhaps this is the same sea of glass that John saw earlier.

Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. (Revelation 4:6)

But now the sea of glass is "glowing with fire." This is because God finally is judging Satan and all his works.

Standing by the burning sea are those who have emerged victoriously from the Antichrist world spirit and have kept themselves pure before Christ.

They sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb. Thus we see that the Church of Christ includes all the saints of the Old and New Testaments. There is only one song, and it is sung by all true saints. You and I can sing it today if we will keep focused on Christ!

And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)

Now seven angels appear, holding the vials of God's wrath.

There are golden sashes around their chests, reminding us of Christ in the first chapter of Revelation. Perhaps these seven are saints. The term "angel" (messenger) may refer to a spirit or a human being. It is given to the saints to exercise judgment.

May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them— this is the glory of all his faithful people. (Psalms 149:6-9)

Chapter Sixteen:

The description of the bowls of wrath indeed is terrible to consider; but then, God has withheld His wrath for centuries as Satan and his angels have striven to destroy the image of God in mankind.

"Ugly and festering sores" on those who had participated in the Antichrist spirit of the world.

All the bodies of water on the earth, from the sea to the springs of water, are turned to blood.

"The sun is allowed to scorch people with fire."

Antichrist's kingdom is "plunged into darkness."

We know we are part of the kingdom of Antichrist when we place money ahead of principle.

The sixth angel (messenger) dried up the Euphrates River. This is necessary because the kings from the East, that is, the Lord Jesus and His army of saints and angels, are on horses and need a staging area. The bed of the Euphrates curves to the north. This permits the army of Christ to launch a frontal attack and also to cut off Antichrist on the north.

Demon spirits came out of the mouth of Satan, out of the mouth of Antichrist, and out of the mouth of the False Prophet. The task of these demon spirits is to gather an army of soldiers from the nations.

The Lord Jesus warns everyone to stay awake spiritually because the conflict of the ages is at hand:

"Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15)

The armies of the earth took up their position at the site of Har Magedon, north of Jerusalem.

Then they gathered the kings together to the mound (Tell—a layered hill with ruins of ancient cities) that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. (Revelation 16:16)

As I said previously, the time of God's wrath must be short. Otherwise there would be no one left on the earth for Christ and His saints to govern.

The time of wrath will occur, as I understand it, between the time the Royal Priesthood has been caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and the return of the Lord with His saints and holy angels.

When the seventh angel pours out his bowl, the wrath of God has reached its climax. The earth was devastated with an earthquake of unprecedented magnitude; the cities of the nations collapsed; hundred-pound hailstones fell from the sky.

The response of the people on the earth will be to curse God, so great is the wickedness of human beings.

From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. (Revelation 16:21)

When the Lord returns, the wrath will have been accomplished. The plagues will be lifted. Then, according to my understanding, Christ and His saints and angels will destroy the power of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

As soon as the victory at Har Magedon has been fully accomplished, Christ and His future rulers will go through the earth to cleanse it of demons and wicked people . This invasion is described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel.

Now Christ will sit on His Throne in Jerusalem. He will establish new national boundaries, creating nations small enough to be governed successfully, and then send out His victorious saints to govern these new nations.

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)

Chapters Seventeen and Eighteen deal mainly with Babylon. Babylon represents organized religion.

There are some who believe that "Babylon" represents the Roman Catholic Church. If we were living when the Catholic Church was at the heights of its power, the description given in Chapters 17 and 18 might reinforce this belief.

It is my own point of view that Babylon represents all attempts to organize the salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. I am not suggesting that we all should rush out of the denominations. I myself am an ordained minister in a Pentecostal denomination.

Nevertheless, I see the problem. God is moving forward today past, but including, the Pentecostal experience; and it may be true that the Pentecostal organizations are not aware of what God is doing. This is understandable given the large investment that an organization has in the present order.

Of course, all Christian individuals, whether or not he or she is deeply entrenched in an organization, is more than welcome to march on with the Spirit of God.

People desire to organize, systematize, to make situations predictable–in short, the natural man aspires to be in control. The idea that we should just keep looking to Jesus is not what our adamic nature wants.

I am aware of the need for the management of money, for the appropriate conduct of business with the government, and the involvement of the church with the local city or town management concerning church property.

I am speaking primarily of the relationship of the believer with the Lord Jesus, of the interaction between the two persons.

This goes back to the original Tower of Babel, doesn't it. "Let us make a name for ourselves lest we be scattered."

But God did not approve of their plans.

Rather than emphasizing the operation of an organizational structure, perhaps we as individual believers should set aside our own plans and thoughts, wisdom, strength and talents, and look to Jesus moment by moment, whether or not we are part of a Christian organization.

This is difficult for the natural man. However, the difference in the approach to Christian discipleship is the difference between Babylon and genuine Christ-filled salvation.

The Spirit of God is calling to us to obey Him and move past the Pentecostal experience in the spiritual fulfillment of the final three festivals of the seven Levitical observances. There are treasures of understanding available to anyone who will listen to the Spirit.

There are so many thoroughly scriptural doctrines that often are not emphasized in Christian teaching and preaching, for example: the rest of God; the translation of imputed righteousness into actual righteousness of conduct; the need to attain to the first resurrection; the need to confess and turn away from our sins; eternal judgment; the effect of our daily decisions on the kind of resurrection we will have; and many, many more that seldom are mentioned.

Because we do not know what comes after the Pentecostal experience, weird excessively emotional experiences are being practiced as well as pseudo revivals. Stanley Frodsham warned us about these saying there would come "revivals" that were eighty percent biblical but contained that which is false. How accurate has been his prediction!

Several years ago, Audrey and were prayed over by a distinguished presbytery. Prophetic utterance occurred. I remember one statement: people will come to you saying look at this, look at that; but it will be "empty crackers" (an unusual phrase). But it has proven to be true. The several "excitements" that have occurred over the last forty years indeed have been "empty crackers."

Sad to say, the religious people who have the spirit of Babylon will always persecute, despise, and murder those who simply want to trust in Jesus and follow Him at all times.

I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God's holy people, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus. (Revelation 17:6)

They will say they are trusting Jesus, and they will pray mightily that Jesus' will be done. But in back of this fervor is a human being who is seeking to do that which is in accordance with his own will.

Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet will help the self-directed religious person carry out his desires. (How many fervent believers have been killed because they did not submit to the discipline of the Roman Catholic prelates?)

He will hate anyone who really is dancing with Jesus in the dance of Mahanaim.

He wants to be in control of his own life, and Jesus wants to be in control of his life. One or the other must prevail.

Antichrist is man making himself God, depending on money to enforce his will.

Whether the most ornate cathedral, or a humble church of impoverished believers, either Babylon will prevail or Jesus will prevail.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."

Such is the spirit of organized religion, of all organized religion whether or not it is Christian. My personal opinion is that in the future all major religions will unite and establish their headquarters at the site of ancient Babylon in Iraq.

"Where are they taking the basket?" I asked the angel who was speaking to me. He replied, "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place." (Zechariah 5:10,11)

There will come a time in the future when the massive religious organization will share the rulership of the world with the Antichrist government. However, as could be predicted, the Antichrist government finally will turn on the religious organization and destroy it.

The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. (Revelation 17:16)

Chapter Eighteen:

All man-directed religion will come to an end before Jesus returns.

After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!' She has become a dwelling for demons and a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal." (Revelation 18:1,2)

The evil dwelling in religion that has been organized by human beings will be revealed in the closing days of the Church Age. The hidden nature of that which on the surface appears so beautiful and pure will be shown for what it truly is.

I believe I read somewhere that the large American businesses depend upon Christmas sales in order to remain solvent. The celebration of Christmas in America often is thoroughly materialistic, not honoring Christ at all.

"For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries." (Revelation 18:3)

Before the Lord returns, Christian people will forsake the organizations that have kept them apart and will portray their Divine origin. Then the world will recognize that indeed it is the God of Heaven who has sent Christ into the world.

Then I heard another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people," so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4)

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 17:23)

I realize there are believers today who are urging us to "come out of Babylon." For myself, I am not certain the time has come as yet. If we come out of the current churches and call ourselves the "come-outers," or whatever, we will just have built another Babylon.

Nevertheless the time will come in the future, when the religions have joined together, that we will have to leave the great religious organization of the closing days of the Church Age.

It is the Glory of God that will bring forth the true Body of Christ. The following passage portrays the time when Christ brings His Body together. We will not have to make a decision about becoming one with all true Christians, the Spirit of God will do it for us, to a certain extent anyway.

The tremendous Glory of God will overwhelm us so we are carried out of ourselves, just as the priests could not minister at the inauguration of the Temple of Solomon because of the tremendous Presence of the Lord.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

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 17:22,23)

As far as I know, these are the people who will be changed, when the Lord appears, and join with those who have returned with the Lord and have been resurrected. Then together with them they will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

Now back to the spirit of religion:

Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, "I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn." (Revelation 18:7)

"I sit enthroned as a queen." That statement is significant.

The Bride of the Lamb is not referred to, in the New Testament, as a "queen." She is the "body" of Christ. She is not separate from Him in any manner. As Eve was constructed from Adam, so the Bride of the Lamb is constructed from the body and blood of the Lamb.

"Queens" are independent people. They have their own will. The Christian organizations often are like that. They refer continually to the progress they are making in expanding their organization. But in the process they do not always glorify Christ.

I mentioned previously that it will be the False Prophet, which is composed of religious people who are self-directed, who will sponsor the Antichrist spirit of buying and selling. So it is that the secular world benefits greatly from the Christian churches.

What then will be true when the secular governments destroy the great religious conglomerate?

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves. (Revelation 18:11-13)

Notice that God will no longer permit the voice of the Lamb and His Bride to be heard in an organized religious setting. This is why there are no churches in Heaven and will not be on the new earth.

The new Jerusalem itself will be the eternal dwelling place of God placed among saved mankind. It is composed of God, the Lamb, and the Royal Priesthood. There will be no hierarchal structure within the Royal Priesthood. All will be equal. All will have the heart of a servant. The Lamb will be the Head.

The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's important people. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray. (Revelation 18:23)

Such is the end of that to which we have been accustomed; to the Christian churches, which always appeared to be seeking the good of people.

We understand that there have been numerous pastors and missionaries who have spent their lives improving the circumstances of other people.

Nevertheless, the splendor of the Roman Catholic Church and her Protestant daughters have sometimes revealed in themselves the reason that two chapters of the Book of Revelation are devoted to her abominations and her final destruction.

It may be true, as I have mentioned previously, that in the last days the evils of secular and religious governments will evolve until it is clear that any structure that is not built by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ is unclean at its core. This is equally true of Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and all other religious organizations.

While there are some fine people in all of these groups, in the end it will be shown clearly that the adamic nature is corrupt and only the Life and Person of Jesus Christ will survive the Divine judgment of Satan and his works.

The spirit that motivates Christian organizations will be revealed when the true saints come out of the religious systems. Then the murderous heart of religion will be seen clearly.

Chapter Nineteen commences with great jubilation because of the destruction of the religious systems. It seems like all of Heaven will rejoice over this event.

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God." (Revelation 19:1)

All of this jubilation because of the end of the rulership of the religious system of the last days!

This is because of the oppression brought about by religious rule. I don't think this is true of the Christian churches of our day to any significant extent. But we are being told here that the religious systems had grown to the place where they, as was true of the Pharisees of old, were putting burdens on people that were found to be grievous.

Something else is true. It happens sometimes that the Christian religious organizations tend to obscure the fellowship we can have with Jesus, pointing to their own ecclesiastical accomplishments instead.

Now we come to the second and last to the first part of the marriage of the Lamb. This will occur at the next appearing of Christ. Then the thousand-year Kingdom Age will take place. At the end of the Kingdom Age, the second part of the marriage of the Lamb will come to pass as the Bride, the new Jerusalem, descends to the new earth.

The first part of the marriage, when the Lord Jesus appears, is set forth below:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.) ( Revelation 19:7,8)

We are reminded that not everyone will be invited to the marriage when Jesus appears, by the fact that the successful candidates are those who are clothed in the righteous behavior that proceeds from Christ. This idea is reinforced in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The bride has to make herself ready.

Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19:9)

There will be a period of time while the vials of wrath are poured out. After this the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood, along with the army of angels, will descend to the earth in order to install the Kingdom of God. Then the greatest cavalry charge of all history shall occur.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. (Revelation 19:11)

The awesome power of the Father will enable Christ and His two armies, the saints and the angels, to smash totally the principal forces of evil. Antichrist and the False Prophet were "thrown alive" into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The armies of wicked people were slain.

Revelation, Chapter Twenty sets forth the closing of the Church Age, including the first and second resurrections.

We see that Satan is not thrown into the Lake of Fire to be with Antichrist and the False Prophet, because he yet has a task to perform. He is confined temporarily in the Abyss.

I don't believe I ever have heard a sermon about the first resurrection. But it certainly is scriptural.

I preach quite a bit about the first resurrection. It is the resurrection that will take place when Jesus appears. It has to be attained to by diligent discipleship. I think this is the resurrection the Apostle Paul was striving to attain to.

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 20:6)

The passage above tells us about those who will go with Christ when He next appears. It is not a description of most Christians in the world today. Nevertheless, only these shall go to meet Christ!

The trumpet needs to be sounded in the Christian churches. We are teaching that all professing Christians are going to be resurrected (or changed) and caught up to meet Christ in the air.

I do not believe this is true at all. The ones who will be able to receive the Lord when He appears are a firstfruits to God and the Lamb. They are qualified and competent to govern the nations with the Lord. This assuredly is not true of the rank and file of the members of the Christian churches in America.

The second death, the Lake of Fire, has no power over the Firstfruits. This is because through Christ they have overcome the behaviors over which the Father has given the Lake of Fire authority. They are victorious saints, every one of them. They are not the lukewarm believers of the Christian churches.

I am sounding the trumpet in Zion, because I do not believe numerous Christian believers are ready to be caught up to the Lord when He appears, and then to descend with Him in the power of the Father to establish the rule of Christ over the nations of the earth. As far as I can determine, those believers who, because of serving Antichrist and the False prophet, will be on the earth when the vials of God's wrath are poured out.

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, they, too, will drink the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. (Revelation 14:9-12)

The passage above well may be one of the most fearful warnings in the entire Scriptures. Those who will experience the Divine fury are ordinary people who are living comfortably in the Antichrist world spirit, looking to acquiring money as the purpose of life. They are not seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.

Right here we can see where the current teaching of "grace" has wrought its destruction of Christian thinking.

The proponents of grace will read Revelation 149:9-12, and conclude that they need not worry because they are "saved by grace." They will not be able to perceive the admonition: "This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus."

They will rejoice in their belief that "grace" keeps them safe from all such scriptural warnings. Can you see from this why I have spent much of my adult life attempting to warn God's people of the dangers of the "grace" teaching?

To worship the beast and its image means merely to live comfortably in the Antichrist world system, in which money plays a predominant role. Is this true of numerous professing Christians of today who are waiting to be saved from Antichrist by an unscriptural "rapture"?

Only saints who are pursuing the life of victory in the Lord Jesus will be resurrected and caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The rest of the believers will be here with Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet. The vials of wrath will be poured out before Christ and His saints and angels descend through the sky and attack the evil lords of darkness.

The purpose of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, which will follow the next coming of Christ, is to give the members of the Bride of the Lamb, who were not prepared to receive Christ at His appearing, an opportunity to grow to maturity so they will be competent to descend as the Royal Priesthood, whose home is the new Jerusalem.

I am speaking now of the weak, ignorant members of God's elect. Christ and the firstfruits of the Royal Priesthood will help the "bruised reeds." During the thousand-year Kingdom Age they will be ministered to by more mature saints.

But there is no "second chance" for the lazy, careless believers who have wasted their Kingdom gifts. They never will be part of the Glory to which they have been called. The crown of anointing they had been given will be entrusted to another more diligent believer, and they themselves will be led away into the outer darkness.

At the end of the Kingdom Age, Satan will be released from the Abyss and go forth to turn the hearts of the nations of the earth against God, Christ, and the saints. Fire will come down from God and destroy the rebels. It is amazing that after the Great Tribulation, the Day of Wrath, and a thousand-years of the rulership of Christ and His saints, numerous peoples of the earth will be willing to rebel against Christ and those who are governing with Him!

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9)

As far as I can tell, this marks the end of flesh and blood humanity. The new humanity, the saved people who will inherit the new earth, will be alive by the Spirit of God rather than by blood.

Now it is time for Satan, whom God has used to accomplish God's purpose in bringing forth the Royal Priesthood, to join Antichrist and the False Prophet in the Lake of Fire. Satan's evil works in the earth have served to give the leaders of the future ages an opportunity to recognize evil, and through Christ to overcome the evil. Satan's usefulness then will be finished.

Next we come to the second and last resurrection. Everyone who did not participate in the first resurrection will be here, as far as I know.

No books were opened at the first resurrection because the believers had gone through the Judgment Seat of Christ during their lifetime. They had confessed and turned away from their sins when they were pointed out.

I think this must be true also of those in the spirit world who did not have a chance to confess and turn away from their sins while living on the earth, for any number of reasons.

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)

It may be difficult for us to picture in our mind how someone deceased and in the spirit world could have sin in his or her personality that must be confessed and renounced. But if you think about it, dying physically does not deliver us from our sins. Sin is spiritually based, so it must accompany us until it is dealt with.

We know Abraham is in the Kingdom of God. Yet an individual cannot be in the Kingdom until he is born again, and it was not possible to be born again until Christ was raised from the dead. So we conclude that a long time after he was deceased, and after Christ was raised from the dead, Abraham had an opportunity to receive Christ and be born again.

I am not implying that we can reject Christ now and then receive Him after we die. To the best of my knowledge, that is not true. Christ comes to a person at that person's appointed time, whether on earth or in the spirit world. If the individual at that time rejects the Lordship of Christ, he will never have another chance after he dies and is in the spirit world.

If a person never has heard the Gospel, or when he did hear received Christ and then died a week later, as happens sometimes, there must be some provision so he could have an opportunity to be in God's Firstfruits. At least, I hope that the individual will have that opportunity.

It probably is true that most works of redemption occur after people die. But if they had an opportunity to receive Christ while living on the earth, and refused to do so, I seriously doubt the person will have an opportunity in the spirit world. But then, God reserves to Himself the decisions concerning each individual.

Those whose names were not found in the Book of Life were thrown into the Lake of Fire, to be with Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet, along with whatever other wicked personages are there.

The Bible does not say what happens to those whose names were found in the Book of Life. Perhaps we can assume they will be brought over to citizenship on the new earth.

Chapters Twenty-one and Twenty-two show us what God has had in mind all along. God finished the history of mankind, including the new sky and earth, at the very beginning. Then He rested from His work. His Word is working at all times, bringing to pass what God envisioned from the first.

We are called to enter that rest and not attempt to create our own Heaven and earth!

This present world is not "life," as God intends life to be. Rather it is the valley of the shadow of death. Its primary purpose is to prepare a royal priesthood who will govern the works of God's hands throughout the eternal ages that will begin with the coming to earth of the new Jerusalem.

Unlike the first part of the Bride, that we noticed in Chapter 19, the entire Bride of the Lamb now is prepared to assume her role as the Royal Priesthood. She has been prepared by stronger saints who had participated in the first resurrection, as I understand it.

There are no churches on the new earth. The Bride herself is the Tabernacle of God now present on the earth and available to all saved people. The Presence and Throne of God are on the earth, living in the personalities of the priesthood.

There is no more "sea" of people who do not know God and who can be swayed by demagogues.

We may wish to note that God is not making all new things but all things new. This means that life as we know it, including our environment, will be more familiar than strange. The difference will be that all will reflect the Lord Jesus Christ. He will become the Center of all persons and things.

The water of the Life of the Spirit of God will be available to all who desire it. It will proceed from the Throne of God then be located in the saints. The saints will bring forth God's life with the greatest joy.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)

The believers who have found victory through Christ will inherit all that God is making new, and will be counted as God's sons.

Unfortunately there will be some who did not take advantage of the Divine redemption. The fiery lake of burning sulfur will claim them for its own.

Considerable emphasis is placed on the wall. The huge wall surrounding the new Jerusalem reminds us that as long as angels and people have a will they can exercise, sin and rebellion always are a possibility. The wall of the new Jerusalem will keep spiritual darkness away from the presence of God and His saints.

One concept not always presented by the Christian churches is the fact that saved people are in two groups. There is the Church, that is called out from the world. Then there are the saved people from the nations of the earth.

The Royal Priesthood, the Church, has been fashioned by God to serve the saved people of the nations. Through the Church the Presence, rule, and blessing of God are brought to people.

We can observe in the following passage the difference between the new Jerusalem, which is the Royal Priesthood, and the nations of saved people.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:24-26)

The following verse could be interpreted to mean that some inhabitants of the new earth might fall into sin on occasion. If this is true, it means they could not enter through the gates of the new Jerusalem and drink of the Water of Life or eat from the Tree of Life.

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Revelation 21:27)

It is my opinion that Christ always will have an army of saints and angels who will deal with any person who chooses to sin. The Kingdom of Christ is to expand forever, meaning that somehow people will continue to be born and grow into adulthood. If this is true, there always will be a need for officials who will be qualified to deal with those who choose to sin.

Chapter Twenty-two:

The Tree of Life is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and the members of the Royal Priesthood who live by His Life. They always will be available to people on the new earth who are in need of refreshing and healing. This is why it is so important for those people to remain qualified to enter through the gates into the city, and thus avail themselves of the Spirit of God and the body and blood of the Lamb.

As I said, the Throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, dwelling in the members of the Royal Priesthood. They shall see the Face of God, and His name shall be in their foreheads. Even Moses could not see the Face of God. We can understand from this the spiritual heights to which God intends to bring His faithful sons.

The sons of God will govern the works of God's hands forever, as the brothers of Jesus Christ.

There shall come a time when repentance no longer is possible. The wrongdoer shall continue in his or her sin and the vile person shall remain vile. The right shall keep on doing right and the holy shall remain holy.

This is the making straight of the way of the Lord, mentioned by Isaiah. Also, it is the fulfillment of the Lord's desire that people be either cold or hot.

This is a warning to all of us not to trifle with the things of Christ but to make every effort throughout our lifetime on the earth to please God.

Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy. (Revelation 22:11)

A solemn warning indeed!

The next verse needs to be proclaimed in America at this time.

Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. (Revelation 22:12)

"I will give to each person according to what they have done."

My question is, does grace trump this? Is it true that this statement does not apply to those who are "saved by grace"?

We of today have an incorrect understanding of what grace does and does not do. To say that Revelation 22:12 is not true as it stands is to make the Word of God of no importance. It either is true as it stands or it is not true as it stands. What is your answer?

I say it is true as it stands, and our current preaching of grace is in error and is leading people to destruction. "Grace,"as it is being preached, is institutionalized rebellion!

Can a person turn from his sins and stand refreshed and righteous before God?

Most certainly!

The problem with today's preaching is the notion that Christ is forgiving us while we are sinning; so in essence we remain righteous independently of how we are behaving. No person could read the New Testament and come up with that conclusion!

I have a problem also with the Catholic Confessional. If the priest hears the confession with the idea that the person with Christ's help is going to stop sinning, then that is in accordance with Kingdom principles.

But if the idea is that the individual can make an atonement for his sin by performing a penance, with the understanding he is going to do the same thing again, then that is error and the person never will become a new creation of moral behavior.

If the guiding premise is that as long as we are in this world we are condemned to sin, that is not scriptural and error in faith and practice inevitably will proceed. That means Christ is able to forgive our sins but not deliver us. This is not at all true!

We can wash our robes by confessing our sin and, with the Lord's help, ceasing to practice it. This provision is contained in the new covenant.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)

For the washing to be effective we must be heartfelt in thoroughly confessing, denouncing, and turning away from our sins when they are pointed out to us by the Spirit of God. We are not left with the impression that we will continue in this same sinful behavior.

Confession alone will not deliver us from the bondages of sin. We must be determined, with Christ's help, to cease from committing sin!

Both the Spirit and the Bride invite all who will to partake of the Spirit of Life. Whoever will choose to do so, may drink of the Life of Christ.

It really is up to us, isn't it?

In summary, considering all that has been described in this essay, we might say that in the year 2013 we are beginning a new era in the history of mankind.

As never before we are entering the conflict of the ages. Titans in the spirit world are striving for control of the creation. It is good against evil. God against Satan. Christ against Antichrist. The Holy Spirit against the False Prophet.

God has determined to make an end of all sin and rebellion.

The struggle is not one of power against power, as though Satan could overcome the Father. Rather the struggle is truth against the lie.

If He had wished, the Father could have destroyed Satan and his works long ago. But the Father will work only in righteousness. People have to choose to obey and love God, and this is why the roundabout way of establishing the Kingdom.

Each human being is but a mote, a grain of dust, when compared with the lords of the spirit world. We simply are unable to overcome them; to outwit them, or to escape from their deceptions. This is why we must abandon our own thinking and acting and look to the Lord Jesus for every aspect of our being and doing.

Christ is the Rock upon whom we can stand. Otherwise we are as debris whirling about in a hurricane.

As I have written many times, moral and physical chaos is approaching the United States. We simply cannot stand in our own religious strength. We must become part of the Life of the Lord Jesus if we are to help ourselves and our loved ones.

I have warned also that not all who profess faith in Christ are qualified or competent to be resurrected, or changed if they are alive at the time, and then caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air. If I am not mistaken, only a relative few will go to meet the Lord.

The interval of time between the catching up of the victorious saints and the return of Christ on the white war stallions with His two armies will be fearful indeed! Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet will be on the earth. Perhaps there will be a time when Satan himself is visible to us. What a horror beyond all horrors that would be!

Also, I believe the Day of Wrath will occur during this period.

I am urging myself and all who will hear me to press further into Christ each day. Regardless of one's view of what I have written, every genuine Christian who is observing what is taking place in our world and our nation in the present hour, will agree with me that it is time to seek Christ as never before.

I extend the invitation to find refuge in the Rock of Ages to members of every other religion, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religious persuasion. Christ will receive you with open arms, just as quickly as He will a professing Christian.

The time is short. Terrifying times are ahead. In that day, when all seems lost to you, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. He is willing and able to help you in the most difficult of times. The Father has given Him all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth.

Call on Him and see for yourself!

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)

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The Rock of Israel

2013-07-07

And you will sing as on the night you celebrate a holy festival; your hearts will rejoice as when people playing pipes go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. (Isaiah 30:29)

I have a sense of being filled with the Rock. Do you?

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:1,2)

"My God is my Rock"!

As I grow older, I am relying more each day on the strength of Christ.

There is something else, though. I believe the Spirit is saying that the future in America will be chaotic, both morally, and as a result, physically.

I realize that none of us will be able to stand in our own strength.

This may come across to you as a truism, something you have heard in church all your life. But to me it is very real at this time.

I suppose many of us are trusting in money to keep us secure in our old age. Perhaps we have a retirement plan. But what good will that do us if we have kidney failure, or become blind, or develop terminal cancer?

What good will our money do us if our only child murders someone, or our daughter goes to live with her lesbian friend?

What if our wife, or husband, or child is run over by a car and dies?

No, money cannot save us from numerous disasters, even though in our Antichrist society we are taught that it can.

We need the strength of the Rock of Israel if we are to stand and serve Christ in the coming days in America, and perhaps assist others. Neither money nor the government will be able to help us when all we are trusting in is swept away.

We have had many severe natural disasters in America in recent years. The possessions of people have been burnt up, or swept away in a flood, or blown away by a tornado. When they are elderly, it means they have to start all over again when they have just enough strength to get around, much less start over.

Sometimes money can help. Sometimes it is useless, depending on the kind of calamity that has befallen us.

But there is something better than insurance. It is the companionship of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has the power to help us through every kind of problem and trouble, and give us perfect peace in the meanwhile.

The following passage is one of my favorites. It is helpful in the time of trouble to meditate on it.

The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?" Those who walk righteously and speak what is right, who reject gain from extortion and keep their hands from accepting bribes, who stop their ears against plots of murder and shut their eyes against contemplating evil—they are the ones who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. Their bread will be supplied, and water will not fail them. Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar. (Isaiah 33:14-17)

The passage is speaking of fellowship with God, of dwelling with the consuming Fire; of living in fellowship with everlasting Burning.

The day of Divine judgment that is approaching America because of the sins of the people will define clearly to us what is meant by "consuming fire and everlasting burning." Our God is a consuming Fire, and He is coming to judge the conduct of us Americans.

In that hour, terror will "grip the godless." Who then can stand? Those who "walk righteously." Not those who are trusting in "grace" to cover their ungodly conduct.

But those who have made Christ their Life will stand. They will be given food and drink, even in the time of famine. This is what God has said.

Best of all, they will "see" Christ. He will be close to them in the darkest of situations. They will have their hopes and their interests in Heaven.

Such are those who are founded on the Rock of Israel.

But how do we establish ourselves on the solid, eternal Rock?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)

We build our life on the Rock of Israel by doing what Christ and His Apostles have commanded.

The current teaching of "grace," that Divine grace is an alternative to keeping the commands of Christ and His Apostles, surely is the most destructive of the errors that have entered Christian thinking.

Grace, as it is preached today, is God's admission that He cannot deliver us from sin. So He has chosen to have fellowship with us in our moral filth.

Could there possibly be a more destructive doctrine than this?

As I stated previously, the fires of Divine judgment are to fall on the United States in the near future. Those who are keeping Christ's commandments and those of His Apostles, will survive and be able to help others to stand.

But those who are living ungodly, worldly lives, and are trusting in "grace" to carry them to Heaven, will be swept away in the flood.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. (Psalms 91:7,8)

Yesterday, Sunday, June 9th, 2013, I advised the congregation to keep an account of the time they spend each day on Facebook, Twitter, and the television. Then spend that much time waiting on the Lord. They have given several hours to Antichrist, so give that amount of time to God.

I am very serious about this, because the only manner in which we can find God's will for ourselves is by the transformation of our mind. And we choose to have our mind transformed by Antichrist, or by the Lord, by the time we spend with each person.

Do not conform 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 12:2)

There are not three wills of God, as some have stated. His one will is good, pleasing, and perfect. Notice that it is not perfect wills but "perfect will."

Christ, while addressing the Apostle Peter (petrus–a boulder), said He would build His Church on the mountain of Rock (petra). It was God the Father speaking in Christ, declaring that God's Church would be established on the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John 14:10)

On Christ the solid Rock we stand (certainly not on Peter!).

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:15-18)

If we are in Christ, living by His Life, absolutely nothing can harm us. If we are killed we will go to a far better place. While we are on the earth, God's angels shall have been given charge concerning us to keep us from all evil.

I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalms 91:2)

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalms 91:11,12)

God will hide us in the cleft of the Rock.

Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by." (Exodus 33:21,22)

For in the day of trouble He will keep me safe in his dwelling; He will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. (Psalms 27:5)

If I am not mistaken, in the future there will be many demonstrations of Satan and his demons. I believe there will be times when we actually will be able to see the legions of darkness.

Naturally we will be frightened. We may never have seen the face of Satan or of the demons before. We have seen only their works in people. If we are not walking with Jesus we will be terrified when Satan is visible to us. But if we are having fellowship with the Lord Jesus during the time of darkness we will remain confident in the Lord.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. (Psalms 91:13)

I would suggest to every American Christian that he or she become familiar with the Bible verses that promise safety in the time of trouble. When the spiritual darkness does engulf us, we need to be able to put up the shield of faith against the enemy—and faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

The next passage is one such promise that will stand us in good stead during the period of moral and physical chaos. But we need to familiarize ourselves with such verses now, and not wait until we are terrified and cannot think clearly.

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation." (Psalms 91:14-16)

The Lord has delivered me from many disasters throughout my lifetime, and multitudes of those who have placed their trust in Christ can say the same thing. Jesus is a very present help in time of trouble. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us—and He never will.

Our part is to put on the whole armor of God so that we will be able to stand in the evil day. There shall not be a rapture to save us in the dark hours. That is a false, unscriptural hope. The wise believer will memorize what the Scriptures do actually promise. Then he can help himself and others when the spiritual darkness descends on us.

Christ will not fail us. He is the solid rock. Gibraltar may fall into the Mediterranean Sea some day. If that happens, Christ still will be standing triumphantly, and those who are part of Him will be singing and dancing in the heights of Zion throughout earth's darkest hours.

But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel. (Genesis 49:24)

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)

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The Transition from a Living Soul to a Life-giving Spirit

2013-07-14

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

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)

Man, the image of God, is made in two stages. The first stage is the living soul. In this stage, man is an intelligent animal with a spirit that can communicate with God. Man's spirit is not, however, a life-giving spirit.

As he is, he cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. He must be born again, born of God.

The second stage is that of the life-giving spirit. A son of God is, like his Father, a life-giving spirit.

When God spoke in the beginning of man being in the image of God, the fullness of that declaration refers to a life-giving spirit. The first Man who fulfills the initial edict is the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we can see at a glance that the whole concept of man being saved to go to Heaven to recline in a mansion is nothing more than mythology.

In eons past the angels rebelled against God. Ever since that time God has been working to bring forth a kingdom that will for eternity put an end to all sin and rebellion. Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of that Kingdom.

In the present hour we are about halfway through the program of redemption, the wresting from Satan that which belongs only to the Lord Jesus Christ. The perfect atonement was made on the cross of Calvary. The Holy Spirit has been poured on the elect, on those who are the firstfruits of the new world of righteousness.

Now the atonement is beginning. By atonement I mean the reconciliation to God of mankind. Those who have received Christ have been reconciled to God legally through the blood of the cross, we might say. Now it is time for God's elect, those who have received the atonement, to follow the Spirit of God as He shows them their personal sins and invites them to confess and turn away from them.

This is how we are reconciled to God in actuality, not only legally.

The atonement has been made for the whole world. It is on the table. All are invited to partake. Some will partake, choosing to be obedient to Christ, the King whom God has chosen. Some will not partake, refusing to be obedient to Christ. Their proper home is the Lake of Fire.

The main problem with mankind is not the sins of the flesh. The main problem is self-will. The only legitimate will in the universe is the will of the Father. Christ Himself is subject to the will of the Father.

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. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (I Corinthians 15:27,28)

The living soul, the adamic creation is a marvelous product. When we consider the realms of art, of science, of technology, of literature, of philosophy, we must agree that this first stage of mankind is an unprecedented wonder.

But this only is the first stage. There is death in the pot. The children of Adam are self-willed. They are not ready to forsake their own thinking and planning and become part of the Life of the Lord Jesus.

They have been born with a sinful, rebellious nature.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. (Psalms 51:5)

God's solution to this problem is the cross of suffering and self-denial. Salvation for our old nature is not that of bringing us to Heaven. It is deliverance from sin and self-will.

We are not delivered from sin and self-will so we can go to Heaven. We are delivered from sin and self-will so we can have fellowship with God; so we can bring eternal life to those of mankind who are willing to obey God's King, the Lord Jesus Christ; and so we can work with God in driving all evil and all evildoers from the creation.

When God is finished creating us, our behavior will be pleasing to Him. Then He can establish His Throne in us. The water of eternal life will flow from that Throne into the "dead sea" of mankind. It will continue to be available to people throughout the new-sky-and-earth Kingdom of our Lord.

Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows. There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live. (Ezekiel 47:9)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1,2)

If we are to make the transition from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, we must accept the suffering that God sends to us. It is suffering that cleanses us from sin and self-will.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

Notice how the Apostle Paul regarded the fellowship of Christ's sufferings as being necessary if we are to attain to the first resurrection from the dead. We have to attain to that priestly resurrection inwardly. Otherwise we will not be resurrected and caught up when Christ next appears.

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)

There are all sorts of sufferings that we must endure if we are to pass from the adamic state to the son-of-God state.

Christ's sufferings in Gethsemane were worse than the physical sufferings on the cross. Satan was pointing out to Christ that the agony Christ already was suffering, the departure of the sense of the Father's Presence, would be true for eternity. Christ never again would know what it was to live in the Bosom of the Father.

This agony, which Saint John of the Cross set forth in his poem, "The Dark Night of the Soul," has been experienced by those Christians who seek to move from the common experiences of the Christian religion to union with God.

We are going along in our familiar way of serving Christ. Then God sees that He might have someone who will press past the flesh and soul and enter union with God.

I suppose the means God uses with each individual is different from the others. I remember my own travail. It makes one realize that we never could endure what Christ endured in Gethsemane. We simply are not strong enough.

When I began to pastor Mount Zion Fellowship, in Poway, I was just coming out of a dark period. I had been accustomed to telling myself that I was not in a grave but in a tunnel. There would be light at the end. And so there was. Actually the experience made me kind of reckless. "I did not care whether school kept or not," to use an old expression.

But God has restored His Presence to me in a truly wonderful way. I am never alone any more, even when Audrey goes to visit her sister in Phoenix, because the Lord Jesus is so real to me.

In fact, He has become my Life. I know I have not attained to the level of resurrection that Paul had when he said, "It is no longer I who am living but Christ." But I am pressing forward in that direction.

The cross is the key to the transition. One aspect of the cross is to be denied our most fervent desires. Another aspect is to be required to remain in a prison of some sort, where we are miserable. We must not grasp what God has not given us, and we must not break out of our prison, if we expect to be awarded the crown of life and righteousness when Jesus appears.

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)

After the test of Gethsemane there was the actual physical suffering of the Roman crucifixion. This might have been bearable (it was a common form of punishment in those days), except for the fact that tremendous spiritual darkness was on Christ throughout the crucifixion.

Hence the cry, "My God, why have You forsaken me?"

I know that no human being would be strong enough to suffer both the removal of the Father's Presence and then the physical pain of the crucifixion. Of course, the Father never actually left Christ. He turned away His Face so that Christ could not pray through the darkness.

We could not bear to suffer like that. But we will have our own portion if we are to be transformed from a soul to a life-giving spirit.

"Must Jesus bear the cross alone," the old hymn asks. No! Everyone who would press past the adamic soul will be required to patiently bear his or her cross of loneliness, misunderstanding, rejection by loved ones.

God has given us the story of Job in the Old Testament so we might realize that the righteous are called upon to suffer; and also take hope that there shall come light at the end of the tunnel.

Job was a righteous, religious man. But he did not know or understand God to the extent God desired. So God removed all of Job's pleasures, all that he trusted in—even his children.

When God was finished with Job, Job knew God. That was the big gain and the reason for the extreme suffering. Then God restored Job's physical blessings.

How many have received life from reading about Job?

We may remember that God gave Abraham a son after years of waiting. Then God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Abraham's obedient response to this awful test resulted in his becoming a life-giving spirit.

Jeremiah had a difficult time.

Woe to me because of my injury! My wound is incurable! Yet I said to myself, "This is my sickness, and I must endure it." (Jeremiah 10:19)

That is a good thing to say to ourselves during our dark night of the soul. Have you received life from Jeremiah's writings? I know I have!

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated. (Hebrews 11:35-37)

Tradition says Isaiah was sawn in two.

The Bible states that it was through suffering that Christ learned obedience to the Father.

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

There is so much in our adamic soul that must be burned out of us. The spirit of romance, for example, is not of the Spirit of God. If we are a romantic individual we may experience many hot flames before we realize that the romantic spirit can bring to us torment, jealousy, anger, hatred, murder, and every other evil work. God does not want His children bound by such distresses.

There is romance in Christ, as we see from the Song of Solomon. But it is free from the moral filth of the adamic nature. The love that comes from Christ is an example of God making all things new. God is filling all things, including love, with Christ, transforming all we have been accustomed to into something marvelous beyond belief.

The Divine love is far more wonderful and glorious than anything the adamic nature could possibly contrive.

Personal ambition drives the adamic soul. Our goal should be to enter the rest of God, that state in which we follow the Spirit of God as He leads us to grasp that for which we were grasped in the beginning of the creation. Since we do not really know what God wants us to experience, we have to surrender our ambitions and plans and follow the invisible Christ every moment of every day and night.

We have to place our treasures in Heaven, don't we? Isn't this what the life of faith actually is about? Instead of being driven by our own desires, we live a life of waiting on the Lord. This means that we trust God knows every detail of our life, including all of our thoughts, that He loves us, and is bringing us to eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

I found during my own night of the soul that trust and faith are two different attitudes. By faith we live in victory, being more than a conqueror. But trust comes forth when we have to look up to see the bottom; when faith, joy, love, confidence, have departed.

Still we hang on. We do not understand what is taking place in our life, but we trust in the goodness and faithfulness of God. This is easy to say, isn't it? But it can be difficult at times.

When the darkness came upon me, I thought it was graduate anxiety. I was studying for a doctorate in education at the University of Rochester, in Rochester, New York.

But because the experience of spiritual darkness made God so real to me I believe now it was, at least in part, the dark night of the soul. Perhaps it was a combination of graduate anxiety and the dark night of the soul.

During this period I could remember mentally the happy times in the Lord, the joyous choruses of the Youth for Christ meetings. I had been a Christian for about twenty years. I knew the happy times had taken place, but I could not relate to them emotionally.

I had the same result as Job, when I came out of the darkness. I knew God. Before I had known about God. But now I actually knew God. I was kind of defiant in a way because I had suffered so much. But like Job, I realized I was nothing in myself.

As I said previously, I had never heard of the dark night of the soul and did not understand what was taking place in me. All I knew was I had to keep trusting God.

I remember being pressed down on the floor in our bedroom from the weight of the spiritual oppression, and trying to pull myself up by clutching at the bedclothes. Gethsemane was real to me at that time.

I could not eat properly. Audrey had to feed me with a spoon.

Sleep was a real problem. One night, when I was having difficulty going to sleep, and being full of fear, a spirit came to me. It said, "I love to fight." So I began to fight instead of cowering in fear. I soon was asleep.

One day I was on my prayer walk. I was criticizing other people in my mind for not standing and fighting. Then the Lord took the fighting spirit from me for a brief season, and then restored it. I gave thanks to the Lord for showing me that the ability to fight spiritually is a gift from God.

It may be true that there are not too many believers who care enough about God to press past the ordinary Christian church-life. But there are some.

It is my belief that moral and physical chaos are approaching the United States. The Spirit is speaking of "blood." Whether this means a civil war, or an attack from an external enemy, I am not certain.

I believe the Spirit is saying that the United States, because of abortion and other sins, will soon have a much lower status in the world than it does today.

When the old American way to which we are accustomed is removed, and much of our culture is changed, it may be true that numerous believers who otherwise would have remained in the customary complacent manner, will seek the Lord fervently. If they do, He will be found of them. But I think this may prove to be an individual matter rather than nation-wide repentance.

However, we can be confident that those who place their trust in the Lord Jesus will not want any good thing. But we may go through a dark night of the soul until we emerge in the morning of the Day of the Lord.

Such is the transition from a soul to a life-giving Spirit.

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)

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The Transition from a Living Soul to a Life-giving Spirit: Part Two

2013-07-21

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

Can you notice in the above that there are two different forms of humanity? There is the first man, Adam (a soul; nephesh). Then there is the second man, a life-giving spirit.

It is of interest that the Hebrew term nephesh is applied also to the animals.

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature (nephesh), that was its name.

Before we are born again, we are "Adam," one might say, a living soul. We are flesh and blood. But flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Therefore we must be born once more. That which is born of us the second time can see and enter the Kingdom of God, and is the Kingdom of God. It is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Man has been created to be in the image of God. But he begins as a soul, an intelligent animal with a spirit that can communicate with God. But an animal no matter how intelligent is not the image of God.

We have been predestined to be made into the image of Christ. Thus our first creation, the adamic creation, is not what God means by man in His image.

To attain to the new man, the life-giving spirit, we must cross the Jordan, to speak in a figure.

In order to make this crossing and entrance into Canaan, we must understand what the River Jordan and the land of Canaan represent.

The River Jordan represents death to our first man, the adamic nature.

The Land of Canaan speaks of the rest of God. The rest of God is that state of being in which Christ lives in us; in which we are ceasing from our own works so that God might find His rest in us and we might find our rest in God.

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)

Paul is a living example of the second stage of man, that of the life-giving spirit. Have the writings of Paul brought eternal life to people throughout the centuries of the Christian Era? I believe you will agree with me that they have.

Notice how the writer of the Book of Hebrews shows us that our land of promise, our Canaan, our goal, is the rest of God:

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:8-12)

In the year 2013 we, the members of the Christian Church, have arrived at the east bank of the River Jordan, to speak figuratively. By members of the Christian Church I am not referring to any earthly church. Rather I am referring to the true Christians, the true disciples of the Lord Jesus, who may be found in any denomination, from the greatest of the Catholic cathedrals to the least pretentious of Pentecostal meeting places.

These are the true Church, the Body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood that one day will govern the works of God's hands under the greatest of all kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

There shall come a day in the future when the true Christians leave the babylonish structures, and the Glory of God shall rest upon them. Then the world will know that God has sent Christ and loves the members of the Royal Priesthood as He loves Jesus Christ.

Every individual, young and old, must at this time look continually to the Lord Jesus and obey Him implicitly. He is ready to lead us across Jordan, so to speak, and into the rest of God, our inheritance, that which is perfect.

We now are positioned on the East bank of the Jordan, ready to cross the river and begin to fight for our inheritance.

The Jordan River symbolizes death to self.

Canaan symbolizes the rest of God, that which the Apostle Paul was striving to enter fully.

"Death to self" is not a "nice church saying." It is an experience as real as being born again, or speaking in tongues.

Let us now consider what God's saints have remarked about death to self:

Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails. (Jeremiah 15:18)

Have you been there yet? If not, know that it is a fiery trial designed to move you from a self-centered religionist to a life-giving spirit, as Jeremiah became eventually. Its purpose is to save you from yourself. It is difficult therefore for the righteous to be saved.

Therefore this is what the Lord says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 15:19,20)

The way events are occurring in the United States, I would venture that it will not be long before there is severe persecution of the Christian people. In that day it will not be enough to trust in the blood atonement and be baptized with the Spirit of God. We are going to have to go through the Divine fires that cleanse us from the adamic, soulish nature and prepare us for the rest of God in which Christ becomes our life. Then we, along with the Spirit of God, will be a source of the water of eternal life for all those who are thirsty.

Job was a righteous man to begin with. He knew about God but he did not know God.

After you have your "Job" experience, this is what you will say: "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5,6)

Peter and the other disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest. This was Jesus' response to Peter about this matter:

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back (been converted), strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31,32)

What did Peter need to turn back from? The desire to be preeminent. No person who desires to be preeminent can cross over the Jordan River.

Paul's participation in the sufferings of Christ were bringing him to resurrection life in his inward nature, which is the same as the rest of God. It is the life-giving spirit.

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)

The Prophet Isaiah experienced the anger of God, as God addressed Himself to the vaunting of self-will still present in Isaiah. When God was through converting him, Isaiah became a life-giving spirit. He had crossed Jordan and began to exalt the Lord alone.

I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)

There does come a time when God is through chastening us.

"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)

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness. (Malachi 3:2,3—NIV)

Of course, I could have added many more passages. But the above may suffice to give you the idea that after we become a Christian, and have grown strong enough, God will wage war against our sin and self-will.

We cannot possibly cross the Jordan River and prepare ourselves to attack the enemies who currently are occupying our promised inheritance, the rest of God.

Though there may be months or years of dryness, of spiritual darkness, keep in mind that you are in a tunnel, not a grave. There indeed shall come a day when your joy and confidence return to you, and you will discover that the Lord Jesus has been with you all the time.

Such chastening is experienced by all who would be God's sons. It makes us partakers of His holiness. It moves us from our original, animal state to a true son of the Highest. Chastening absolutely is necessary if we are to play our predestined role in the Kingdom of God.

Do not give up. Do not quit. Every true saint has been there or soon shall be. The overcomers shall inherit all that God is making new in Christ. By your faithfulness and patience, show that you are worthy of the Kingdom of God.

Keeping in mind that the invasion of Canaan by the Israelites is a symbol of our pressing into the rest of God, some of the accounts in the Book of Joshua might be helpful.

So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. (Joshua 3:14)

Perhaps the verse above is telling us that those who are leaders in the Christian churches must be the first to enter death to self-will, to the adamic nature. This is the meaning of the Jordan River.

The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground. (Joshua 3:17)

As far back as I can remember, God's people have talked about death to self; about being an "empty vessel"; and so forth. But very few of us really accomplished this, although we were willing.

Perhaps Joshua 3:17 is informing us that today the Ark of God's will and Presence is holding back the enemy, even though Jordan is at flood level (the power of Satan is strong in our day!).

Now it is time for God's people to go through the processes of death to self. It is God's way to give us a desire for some aspect of redemption, and then accomplish it beyond our highest desires.

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, "Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight." (Joshua 4:1-4)

Now, why would God require this? It is so Israel at a later time would call to mind how God had enabled them by a miracle to move over to the land of Canaan.

So it is with us. In the future, when we are enjoying our position as God's sons, we are to remember when God reached down and enabled us to leave our adamic nature. God made it possible for us to fight our way into the second stage of our development as the image of God. This is the stage of the life-giving spirit.

To serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, "What do these stones mean?" tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever. (Joshua 4:6,7)

From this point forward the Israelites were in the land of Canaan.

There was a problem. The men of Israel had not been circumcised. The unbelieving warriors, who had been circumcised, were now dead.

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again." So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth. (Joshua 5:2,3)

How true this is today. The Lord's people have forgotten that they are supposed to be holy. If you will listen to the old hymns you can tell that the Christians were well aware of the need to put away the sins of the flesh. Today the emphasis is on getting as many people into the building as possible, and to engage in wild exhibitions of emotional flesh.

What happened to "The Old Rugged Cross"?

Is it time for God's leaders to abandon the current sensationalism and return to simple cross-carrying obedience? I think it is time. Apart from the circumcision of our personality, there is no way in which we are going to fight our way into the Life of Christ.

In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ. (Colossians 2:11)

It is true that it is time to move forward in Christ. But we must follow the Spirit in gaining victory over the actions of our fleshly, sinful nature.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the place has been called Gilgal to this day. (Joshua 5:9)

Such was the benefit of circumcision.

The anchor of our Christian experience is the Passover. This is where we turned away from the world, seeking to come under the protection of the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We see that the Israelites had to celebrate the Passover before they attempted to engage the Canaanites in battle.

This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." But you said, "We will not walk in it." (Jeremiah 6:16)

If the Christian churches in their long history were ever at the crossroads, it is today. Instead of more holiness we want more money. Instead of boasting in the Lord we are boasting about our organization. Instead of testing the spirits we invite any sort of emotional, disgusting exhibition of the flesh.

Instead of examining the "apostles" we throw money at their feet, hoping to have it multiplied tenfold. Instead of teaching patient, cross-carrying obedience we are informing the people that they are to command the Holy Spirit and the angels. We are to speak into existence whatever we desire.

Today we must ask for the ancient paths. We must pattern ourselves after the godly teachers of old who emphasized the need of prayer, obedience to Christ, and righteous behavior. If we do not begin to walk in the old ways of the saints we can forget about becoming a life-giving spirit!

So the Israelites had to celebrate the Passover before they began the battle. They had to call to mind how God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt. They had to go back to the beginning. We do too. We need to call to mind our humble beginning in the Lord Jesus, so God can call us to the splendors He has in mind for us without our being exalted in our own opinion.

On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. (Joshua 5:10)

The Lord only is to be exalted; and this is why we must die to our first personality.

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." (Isaiah 12:4)

Up to this point the Israelites had been eating manna. The day after the Passover they ate both manna and the food of Canaan. The following day the manna stopped, and there was only the food of Canaan to eat.

The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate the produce of Canaan. (Joshua 5:11,12)

There was one day in which they had manna as well as the unleavened bread and roasted grain. They must have purchased it from the tribes in the area.

So with us. While we are making the transition from our former life to our new life in Christ, there will be a time when God still is nourishing us with the daily Divine grace we have been accustomed to.

But something else is taking place inside of us. We are receiving the strength of Christ in our inner nature. The Lord Himself is becoming our strength and our song. We really are moving past the gifts to the Giver. We had been playing volley ball with God. Now we move to the same side of the net. Now we are on God's side. This is an important part of our new life in God's rest.

The first man, Adam, was the beginning of making man in God's image. Now we come to what God has had in mind all along. A new creation in the inner moral image of Christ, and ultimately in the outer likeness of Christ.

Make no mistake, it will be a battle for each one of us. We see this in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians where Paul was laying aside everything that he might press into the fullness of everlasting life.

I don't believe everyone who goes by the name of "Christian" will be willing to count his old nature crucified with Christ. Some will cling to their first personality because of fear, or unbelief, or some other unworthy motive.

But God has a treasure in the field. The treasure is faithful people who have honest and good hearts, who will follow the Spirit of God until they can say with the Apostle Paul: "I am not living any longer. It is Christ who is living in me."

You and I can, through Christ, gain victory after victory until we receive the crown. Then we will be counted as one of the sons of God and shall inherit all that God is making new in Christ.

In closing this essay, let me point out the very specific directions God gave for the battle against Jericho. After the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River, the circumcision, and the celebration of the Passover, God did not just turn the Israelite army loose to attack the walled city of Jericho.

Rather God told them exactly what to do, beginning with the marching around the wall and blowing the trumpets.

I am persuaded the greatest mistake the Christian churches of our day make is that of planning what they wish to do, and then proceeding without going to the Lord Jesus to find out what He desires.

I am a loss to know why this is the case, but it certainly is. How often do you hear of religious organizations seeking Christ to find out what His will is? They will pray, certainly, but it is to invoke the Lord's blessings, not to find out what they should be doing.

A review of the Bible will show that it is not an account of people deciding how they wished to construct the plan of redemption or to build the Kingdom of God. It is, as the writer of the Book of Hebrews said, a case of God speaking to the fathers.

Now that God has brought us to the point that we are to enter our land of promise, the rest of God, we are not to proceed without hearing from the Lord Jesus. It simply is not enough to have good plans, even if we can support them with passages of Scripture. We have to stop launching out in "faith" if we never do anything or accomplish anything throughout our whole life.

God is not seeking talented, ambitious, capable people to lead the way. Rather the Lord is looking for those who are ready to wait, or ready to act, but in every instance to wait until they know what Christ is seeking.

Will you be such a person? Will I? Someone has got to hear from God in these days! The world is in turmoil, as are the Christian churches. Political leaders are not going to bring peace to the world, and Christian leaders who are doing what they think is right are not going to bring God's people into the promised land.

Let's you and I wait until we hear from Jesus. What do you say?

Then the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days." (Joshua 6:2,3)

Some way to attack a walled city, isn't it?

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Three Areas of Worship That Nullify the Christian Witness

2013-07-28

There are three areas of worship that nullify the Christian witness: the worship of our physical body; the worship of the things of the world; the worship of the ability to control ourselves, other people, and our circumstances.

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)

Let us think about the first area of worship, that of our physical body.

The worship of our body may take the form of excessive interest in our health, or our appearance. There is nothing wrong with moderate interest, and we should dress as appropriately as we can and take care of our health.

But the adoration of our health or our appearance can go to extremes.

Then there is the question of sexual lust. Sexual lust is a major destructive force in America at this time. There is the molestation of children, which is widespread. There is rape. Outstanding leaders in the military, in education, in politics, sometimes fall in disgrace because they cannot control their lusts.

Teacher-student improper moral relationships in the elementary and secondary schools lead to disgrace and prison terms.

In America, overeating is common. Obesity is a national concern.

All forms of alcohol, drugs, smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, and the chewing of tobacco, defile the temple of God—the human body.

In our country there is an epidemic of sexually-transmitted diseases. AIDS is responsible for numerous disabilities and deaths.

A major topic in America in the present hour is homosexual behavior and marriage. People who reverence the Bible as being the very Word of God will never accept homosexual behavior and marriage no matter how widely such conduct is approved by the secular community.

There are weird sexual practices that result in disease. It is not unlikely that in the future the pathogens that cause sexually-transmitted diseases will develop resistance to the medical treatments that currently are effective.

In any case, the various areas of the worship of our body will nullify our testimony of Christ and God. No one is going to believe the witness of someone on drugs, or who is drunk, or who is bound with inappropriate or illegal sexual practices. All such behavior nullifies the Christian witness.

The second area of worship that nullifies our Christian testimony is a love for and trust in the things of the world.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. (I John 2:15,16)

In the passage above we have the three areas of worship: the worship of our physical body; the worship of the things of the world; and the worship of the desire to control ourselves, other people, and our circumstances.

On one occasion I heard a Christian lady say to the effect, "I have to have nice things." I thought she would not do well in some of the villages of Africa where cattle urine is used to make the dirt floor smooth.

There is in America a worship of material wealth. This worship has nullified our Christian testimony as far as the Muslim world is concerned.

We in America do not realize it, but we already are worshiping the antichrist world spirit of buying and selling. We are looking to the world for pleasure, for entertainment, for security, for survival. We may say we trust in God, but our actions, even the actions of supposedly Christian people, show that our trust is in the world, not in God.

The murderous actions of some of the Muslim extremists convince me that they are not worshiping the true God, the God of Heaven. Yet they despise the American people because of the immodesty of our women and our fascination with riches and luxury. Our worldliness has nullified any Christian influence the American Christians might otherwise have had on the Muslim population.

Money is one of the major American gods, along with sexual lust. Money is, as the Apostle Paul said, the root of all evil. We can see that in the newspaper where so many crimes have the desire for money as their basis.

We yet may come to a financial crisis in America. You can imagine the social chaos if people do not have enough money to meet their needs and desires. Some will commit suicide. Others will resort to robbery. There may be a rash of murders. We can say what we will, we look to money instead of to God for our survival, safety, and security.

From what impressions I have had of the spirit world, money does not exist. How goods and services are transferred I do not know, but money is not involved. You can see immediately that if our life revolves around acquiring money instead of looking to the Lord Jesus for all things, we are not preparing ourselves for the day in which we pass into the world of Christ.

The evangelists on the radio and television constantly beg for money. This emphasis has nullified their Christian witness. Numerous American people have become cynical concerning the Gospel message because of the incessant begging for money on the part of the Christian ministry.

It appears that the world is heading toward some sort of international crisis. There are revolutions on every hand. As communication devices proliferate, the underprivileged people in the poorer nations can see what life is like in the richer countries.

I personally are far from being a Socialist, but I believe that we of the United States could have done much more for poorer countries. Of course, when we try, the schemers in those countries end up with the money that was meant to better the condition of people with starving children.

I realize that graft and corruption make the sharing of wealth difficult. But it could be done if a strong enough effort was made.

God sees the worship of money in the United States, as well as the aborting of children, sexual excesses and gender confusion, and He is withdrawing His protection from our country. Anyone with eyes can see that nature itself is protesting our presence, with the tornadoes, fires, and other disasters. Also, God is raising up enemies against us, just as He did during the history of Israel.

If God punished Israel as severely as He has, I think we can expect a Gentile holocaust because of our worship of the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Remember, the Israelites are the only people God has chosen. We Americans are gentiles. It is true that God has added to His chosen nation the Americans who really are genuine, cross-bearing disciples of the Lord Jesus. However, even they must draw closer to Jesus than they are now if they are to survive the Divine judgment approaching our country.

If we are a genuine Christian, we are citizens of another country—Heaven. We also are citizens of the United States, and we must honor that citizenship. America has been a great nation because of the number of true Christians among its citizenry.

But abominations are taking place among us. People are knowingly worshiping Satan. Gods new to our shores are being introduced. Life in our country is becoming, to a certain extent, an orgy of sexual activity, drunkenness, and the selfish hoarding of wealth.

The unbelievers may scorn such a viewpoint, but the day will come when they face Jesus Christ. They will not be so scornful then!

Now we come to the third area of worship, that of desiring to control ourselves, other people, and our circumstances.

I have been writing for many years, as issues have resolved themselves in my mind. I always have been aware of the problem with self-will. Self-will in many instances is more destructive even than the worship of the physical body and involvement in the antichrist world system.

The original human sin occurred when neither Eve nor Adam asked God concerning the counsel of the serpent. God was walking in the garden, immediately available to them. Yet they elected to rely on their own wisdom.

I think we must have inherited from Adam and Eve that decision to rely on our own wisdom . The ensuing 6000 years of the history of mankind reveal that very, very few people—even religious leaders—look to God for His solution to the problems facing them.

I have been a Christian for many years. I don't know as I ever have known of Christian leaders or their followers actually looking to the Lord Jesus for the solution to the problems with which we all are faced every day, or for direction in their decisions concerning their life as a Christian.

I realize that Christian people do pray often. They ask for help in times of sickness and trouble. They ask God to bless their decisions. But Christ desires more than this of His elect. He wants us to turn over our life to Him so that we continually are seeking His thinking, words, and actions in every aspect, both great and small, of our life.

If we Christians do not seek Christ for guidance each day, and our leaders do not wait on Jesus to hear what He has to say before they launch out in new programs, we hardly can expect the people of the world or the political leader to wait before God until they knew what God wants them to do.

Perhaps it is true that neither Christians nor the leaders and people of the world believe that God actually will give them wisdom if they ask. Maybe that is the reason they choose to seek to control themselves, other people, and their circumstances according to their own wisdom and experiences rather than asking God for His thoughts.

But the Bible says we should ask God for wisdom! The Old Testament contains many episodes in which God told people what to do.

Think of the accounts of Noah, of Moses, of Joshua, of the Prophets. The Book of Acts tells how God directed the Apostles.

Years ago I was driving home from Lemon Grove after preaching at a night service. I was traveling across a bridge over Mission Valley.

I had read where a meteorologist had said that if a certain dam broke, the backed-up water would rush through Mission Valley on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

Mission Valley is a shopping center and there are numerous structures there.

I was pondering this problem. I could picture the important papers of people swirling around in the water.

I think the Lord spoke to me as follows: "If those who built the dam and the developers in Mission Valley had sought My wisdom, I would have shown them how to prevent this potential catastrophe."

As far as the world political leaders are concerned, some of them may earnestly pray for peace; but not one has declared that he or she is asking God what the solution is to the present unrest.

I believe I am hearing from the Lord that we now are passing into the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is the will of God's Spirit that each Christian person listen to what the Spirit is saying about the things in his or her personality that are sinful or self-seeking. Then he is to confess these areas of spiritual uncleanness to the Lord and renounce them vehemently.

The Bible promises that Christ will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The Bible is never wrong, I can testify after following it for over sixty years.

But what do we hear from the religious leaders? More emphasis on world evangelism. This when the churches are filled with every conceivable work of the sinful nature.

Bringing more babies into the churches is nice. We all like babies. But God is telling us we need to find out what our sins are and turn away from them. After all, God's goal is mature believers who are in the image of Christ. They can bring the Kingdom of God, God's will, into the earth. Spiritual babies are no threat to the rule of Satan!

Such washing of our robes in the blood of the Lamb is going to prove to be absolutely necessary if we are to stand and help others to stand during the exercise of Divine judgment on America.

We of today are following the path of Sodom, Rome, and Pompeii. We are going to experience God's attitude toward our behavior just as they did.

The issue is one of control, isn't it? Are we going to choose to control our life, other people, and our circumstances, or are we going to look to God to control our life, other people, and our circumstances.

One young lady in our church testified two Sundays ago that God was teaching her to let go of people she was clinging to. They were not living as she thought they should, and she was seeking to conform them to what she believed to be God's will for them.

How often do we resist the idea of a loved one dying instead of looking to God that His will be done?

How often do we decide what should be true of people, or ourselves? My wife, Audrey, heard the Lord say to her: "Your standards are not My standards." This proved to be a milestone in Audrey's thinking.

We all have decisions to make each day, some of them minor and a few major. Do we immediately begin to scheme and plan, or do we simply ask Jesus what His will is? Of course, in order for this approach to life be effective we must be willing to obey Christ implicitly in every aspect of our existence.

We have to have faith if we are to live by every Word from God that is directed to us. Perhaps this is what the Bible means when it claims that the righteous shall live by faith. What do you think?

Here in San Diego there is a beautiful natural environment. The weather is of the best. "Every prospect pleases," as the poet said.

But, as one might expect, sin abounds with the resulting tragedies.

I often have thought, what would it be like here if every person was dedicated to finding God's will and performing it? It would be a paradise, wouldn't it?

What would it be like if every person on earth was dedicated to finding the will of Jesus Christ, and doing it? Paradise would be here!

The solution to the problems of the world are easy to understand. We are attempting to live apart from God's will. That's it. Just as simple as that.

When the Kingdom comes, and it shall come, God's will shall be done on earth as it is in Heaven. God's will is the only valid will in the universe, and Jesus Christ, God's Son, always does God's will and requires that His disciples do also.

I have written that there are three areas of worship that nullify our Christian witness: the worship of our physical body; the worship of the antichrist spirit of the world; and the worship of our control over ourselves, other people, and our circumstances.

As long as we worship these three areas, we destroy our witness of God, His will, His way, and His eternal purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ.

You and I have the option to choose to do in our own life something about these three problems.

We can pray until God saves us from the lusts of our flesh and spirit.

We can pray until God saves us from our trust in the antichrist world spirit.

We can tell God that we desire to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ rather than our own adamic life.

If we are willing to choose to seek God in these three areas of worship, and worship only God and His Christ, we will be able to bear a true witness of God throughout the Gentile holocaust.

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)

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)

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The Emphasis on Righteous Behavior

2013-08-04

It appears to me that one area of confusion today in Christian thinking is the difference between imputed righteousness and righteous behavior. Imputed righteousness is right standing in God's sight when we place our faith in Christ's salvation.

Righteous behavior is behavior which ordinarily is judged to be so by most people of the world. This would include honesty, truthfulness, kindliness, fairness, compassion, generosity, faithfulness, peaceableness gentleness with the weak and helpless.

Because it seems to be a tendency for Christians today to stress that no one is righteous, all are wicked and must "accept Christ" in order to be viewed as righteous by the Lord, the idea of righteous behavior seldom is mentioned by Christian people. The only time the Christians become excited about righteous behavior is when the people of the world are doing something that irritates the Christians, such as homosexual behavior or abortion.

Even at that there are people who have "accepted Christ" and also abort inconvenient babies and practice homosexual behavior.

So whenever I use the term "righteous" in any of my writings I usually add the word "behavior," because Christian people will think I am speaking of "accepting Christ" and imputed righteousness.

When the Old and New Testaments use the term "righteous," or "righteousness," they almost never are referring to imputed righteousness. When Abraham believed God, righteousness was imputed to him because he believed the impossible. He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief. His belief in the spoken Word of God was an act of righteous behavior.

This is a far cry from saying I have accepted Christ, therefore God regards me as a righteous person even though I continue being dishonest and immoral.

Later in His life, God spoke to Abraham about righteous behavior:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless." (Genesis 17:1)

How many believers and their leaders have ever read this verse? God did not say to Abraham, "Now you have been made righteous by faith so it does not matter how you live because you already have purchased your mansion."

"Walk before Me and be blameless"! How many Christians have been taught that because they have "accepted Christ" there is no need to walk before God and be blameless?

What a doctrinal mess we are in today!

How can there be nation-wide repentance when the believer have been taught they already are perfect in Christ? Of what are they to repent—of what the worldly people are doing? Dogs bark because they are dogs. Unsaved people sin because they are unsaved.

God did not say if the unsaved people would repent He would heal our land. He said if My people repent I will heal their land.

God wants His people to confess and turn away from their sins. Judgment begins in the household of God, not in the world!

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)

I understand it is taught erroneously that our judgment was completed on the cross and we cannot be judged for our sins. Why did the Apostle Peter not understand this?

How come the Apostle Paul did not understand this?

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

People, we have been lied to. That is all there is to that.

In their desperation to prove that no Christian has anything to fear from Divine judgment, numerous Christian teachers of our day will gainsay any passages of the New Testament I quote.

I have covered this territory thoroughly in previous writings, so I will not repeat myself now.

Chaos is coming to America because of the practice of unrighteous behavior. Being elderly, I may not see the final degradation of our country. But you who read my words at that time, please note that you were not "raptured out of trouble." And when you die, and your behavior is brought before you, remember my teachings.

Do not harden your heart. God may take into consideration that you have been lied to by your teachers. If you repent with a sincere heart, a place may be made for you in His Kingdom. But do not say you have not been warned that you will experience the results of all your sinning that you have not confessed and turned away from.

I am telling you plainly that what we Christians sow we will reap, whether eternal life or corruption and destruction. Paul did not write the following to the unsaved people of Galatia but to the saints.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

I am upset this morning, July 16, 2012. So would you be if so many ordinarily intelligent people were shouting that two plus two equals seven.

God's people are not going to confess and turn away from their sins when their leaders are telling them they are perfect in Christ. When the people of the world see that the Christians are not serious about righteous behavior, they are going to become increasingly immoral and rebellious.

If we live a victorious Christian life, overcoming the temptations and traps that are set before us, we will, with Christ, govern the nations of the earth when the Lord returns.

To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—"He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery"—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26,27)

Notice that if we are to govern with Christ we must do His will to the end. This condition is not stressed enough in our day, I think.

An iron scepter. The scepter is the power of righteous behavior. It is formed in our personality as we bear our cross of deferred desire after Christ.

No one will govern with Christ who does not have the iron scepter of righteous behavior formed in him or her. This means that there have been many years of patient cross-carrying obedience to Christ; many years of deferred hopes and desires. It is these which form the iron scepter of righteous behavior.

This means also that if the iron scepter has not been formed in the personality, the believer will not be resurrected when the Lord Jesus next appears and will not be caught up to meet Him in the air. There would be no purpose in his being caught up at this time, for it is the beginning of the onslaught of Armageddon. The person who does not have iron righteousness of behavior formed in his or her personality would be helpless in the swirl of conflicting spirits in that hour.

You can see how far off we are today in our teaching of lawless grace, and of a "rapture" that will catch up all who call themselves "Christians" and mount them on the white war stallions.

They do not obey Christ today. The only righteousness they understand is that which is given to them when they "accept Christ." Even then they are misled, because they did not accept the Man, Jesus Christ, but the Christian religion. They never were taught to walk with God, as did Abraham and the other patriarchs and prophets.

What would such spiritual babies do when confronted with the armies of Christ; with Satan; with the False Prophet? They would be a huge liability. God will not permit this.

What I am saying is that those who know only imputed righteousness will not be resurrected and caught up to meet the Commander in Chief in the air when He appears.

If you have a concordance, or a computer with a search program, and search the word "righteous," you may be amazed. It is one of the most important topics in the entire Bible.

You immediately will notice two things:

First, it almost exclusively refers to righteous behavior not imputed righteousness.

Second, any number of people, beginning with Noah, were termed "righteous." There always have been righteous people in the world; and there always have been wicked people in the world.

God has regard for people, saved or unsaved, who behave righteously.

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." (Acts 10:34,35)

God accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.

What do you think of that? I guess Peter had never heard a preacher say that there is no one in the world who is righteous in behavior.

I am not implying that we can reject Christ when He is presented to us and try to please God by behaving righteously. To reject Christ when He knocks at our door is the most serious of all unrighteous deeds. The iron law of the Kingdom of God is strict obedience to Christ.

What I am discussing is the confusion in the minds of Christians about the need for righteous behavior. The confusion is so great that if we speak to a Christian about the need for Christians to behave righteously, he or she very well may answer that we are trying to add works to the perfect salvation.

Anyone can see that if righteous behavior is a main topic of the whole Bible, and we Christians have been taught that it is impossible for anyone to please God by his behavior, and there is no need for us to behave righteously because we have "accepted Christ," the believers will remain spiritual infants and God will be displeased.

The Bible index of growth in Christ is the ability to understand the difference between righteous behavior and wicked behavior, and the determination to embrace righteous behavior and to forcefully reject wicked behavior.

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)

"The teaching about righteousness." This obviously is not speaking primarily about imputed righteousness, because it mentions being trained to distinguish good from evil. This is the mark of maturity and the ability of the believer to understand what the writer of Hebrews has to say to us, for he or she is profound indeed!

"By constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Does that sound like imputed righteousness to you? "Constant use."

Are our leaders determined that we remain infants that they do not teach us to distinguish good from evil?

God leads us in paths of righteousness, according to King David. Does that sound like imputed righteousness? Does God lead people today in paths of righteousness for His name's sake? Or is He content that they make a profession of belief in Christ, no matter whether they embrace righteous behavior or wicked behavior?

Is there a "way of righteousness," a term used by the Apostle Peter?

Jesus told us to let the light of our righteous behavior shine. Can we do that if we are behaving wickedly?

The very heart of today's Christian teaching is that if say we believe in Christ we shall go to Heaven when we die. Thus the goal of God, which is not Heaven but a Kingdom in which righteous behavior prevails, is thwarted by today's teaching.

What can we do about it? Not much, as far as I know. I am doing my part by writing what the Scripture seems to say, and a few people read what I write.

It is my sad opinion that there will be no significant change in the attitude of Christian leaders and their followers until many thousands of gallons of blood have been spilled in America, and America has been downgraded to a minor role in world politics.

How will America be destroyed? By the destruction of its financial strength. Possibly by civil war, given the intensity of feelings on both sides of American opinion. By unprecedented upheavals of nature. By internal or external attacks by more disciplined cultures.

I do not know and I am not going to guess.

God showed His attitude toward sin in the flood of Noah and the destruction of Sodom. God has not changed. He will not tolerate rampant sin, as is true in America at this time, on the part of any nation.

It is the responsibility of the Christian people to be the light of the world; to demonstrate in themselves the righteous behavior that God loves. But they are being led astray by ministers who are currying favor with the people by telling them that God loves them so much He would "rapture" them to Heaven before He would permit them to suffer.

I have followed Christ long enough to know that every action people take is stored in His gigantic memory. Christ has absolutely perfect recall. Our behavior while living on the earth is recorded carefully, and on this basis we are assigned our position in the Kingdom of God or the Land of Darkness.

Terrible times are ahead for us in America. The present hour is a period of preparation during which the internal kingdom is to be built in us so we will be prepared for the external kingdom when Christ appears with His saints and holy angels.

We can save ourselves and our loved ones by seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. I do not believe this is referring to imputed righteousness but the righteous behavior that we demonstrate as we patiently obey Christ each day, following along after Him, bearing the cross He has assigned to us.

The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. it is not imputed righteousness, peace, or joy. It is actual righteousness of behavior; peace of heart and mind in the day of calamity; and joy that we experience in His Presence.

There is no time left to speculate on points of theology. Righteousness is righteousness and wickedness is wickedness. America, sad to say, at the present time, is being filled with wickedness of every sort. The iron scepter of righteous behavior is not always seen.

Well, God says to let the righteous be righteous and the vile be vile. At the end of the age many who are now in the Kingdom, even some in Christ at the right hand of God, will be torn down to the earth by the tail of the dragon.

I realize many will not believe my last statement, but it shall happen regardless.

The only protection we have for the evil that is increasing is to draw closer to Christ and to practice His Presence each moment that we are alive on the earth. The final war between good and evil has begun. The Lamb no longer is seated but is standing on Mount Zion with those who are called, chosen, and faithful.

Antichrist, Satan, and the False Prophet shall be utterly destroyed in the days ahead. Those who obey Christ will be purged of all sin and self-seeking and shall shine as the sun in their Father's Kingdom.

It is the age-old war that began when Satan, the guardian cherub, decided to take the place of the Father. The spirit of rebellion has continued from that day until the present.

It is time now to put it to an end. Prepare the way of the Lord!

Decide right now. Choose this day whom you will serve.

As for me and those who will join with me, we shall serve the Lord. Why don't you come along with us!

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As in Heaven, Also on the Earth

2013-08-11

Thy reign come: Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth. (Matthew 6:10—YLT)

I may be mistaken, but I think at the present time we are going to have to revise our opinion of what Heaven is like.

Perhaps the spirit world is not as tranquil and as orderly as we may have thought. In fact, the Bible states that God charges His angels with error.

If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, (Job 4:18)

I am wondering if Heaven has been in spiritual chaos ever since the rebellion of Satan and his angels.

Perhaps God created man to do something about the chaos. Not that man can do anything of himself, but he can pray. Man invited Satan, the instigator of the confusion, into the earth. I think that God is leaving it up to man, through Jesus Christ, to drive Satan out of the heavens and out of the earth.

If so, it will begin with the prayers of man driving Satan out of Heaven. Finally, the armies of the Lord, Christ, the saints, and the warrior angels, will drive Satan out of the earth. God, at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, will burn up the wicked and throw Satan into the Lake of Fire.

It will take that long to finally drive evil from the creation of God—hopefully for eternity.

We know that the final conflict between good and evil has begun, because Christ has risen from where He has been seated at the right hand of God and now is standing on Mount Zion with His called, chosen, and faithful saints.

Notice how man is instrumental is driving Satan from his place in the heavens:

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.

Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short." (Revelation 12:10-12)

Can you see in the above passage that it was the saints who caused Satan and his angels to be removed from the heavens? Can you see also that the saints caused the Father to give Michael the strength to overcome Satan; and that the removal of Satan from the heavens caused the heavens to rejoice?

Now think once more about the following verse:

Thy reign come: Thy will come to pass, as in heaven also on the earth. (Matthew 6:10—YLT)

Can you see that the victory must be won first in the heavens, and after that it finally will be won in the earth? As in Heaven, also on the earth.

Such is the basis for the prayers of the saints. When Satan has bound someone on the earth with sin or illness, it is a spiritual problem. It reflects the determination of Satan to corrupt the work of God in the earth.

When we pray through and touch God, God brings victory in the spirit world. This then is reflected in a healing on the earth. Isn't it so?

As in Heaven, also on the earth.

Whatever we bind on earth is bound in Heaven. Then the victory is reflected on the earth.

God is leaving the United States because Satan has overcome with sin the Christian people, who are supposed to be the lights of the world. If enough people prayed that God would break the bondages of sin that are widespread in America, Satan would be defeated; there would be righteous behavior in the earth; and our nation would prosper under the hand of Christ once again.

The spirit world is a battleground, and this is reflected in the earth. Notice the following:

But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. (Daniel 10:13)

So he said, "Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come." (Daniel 10:20)

I think it is safe to say that there is a prince of America; a prince of England; a prince of Iran; a prince of Saudi Arabia; and so forth. What we see on the earth may be a struggle among these princes. Perhaps this is why when Jesus addresses the seven churches of Asia, He speaks to the angel of that church.

My point is, the heavens are not the nice, quiet, righteous place we might imagine. It is an area of warfare; and the inhabitants rejoice when the saints prove strong enough to overcome Satan and cause him to be removed from the heavens.

If my perception of the spirit world is true, there is a Heaven which is part of the spirit world. It is a walled city, just as it will be when it descends to the new earth, after the final judgment. The entire spirit world is an unimaginably vast area, and the city we refer to as "Heaven," and its inhabitants, is just one small part.

The city of God, the new Jerusalem that is destined to come to the earth after the final judgment, is the home of the Church, the Royal Priesthood. God's priests, who will govern under the great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, are being prepared for their future role as the eternal representatives of God to the nations of people who are saved. This is made clear in the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.

As to the city in the heavens:

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)

We have left Mount Sinai, the Law of Moses and have come to the heavenly Jerusalem—that part of the spirit world we term "Heaven."

It is the city of God. There are multiplied thousands of holy angels there.

This is "the Church of the Firstborn," because many more sons of God are in training there.

It is our "Heaven," that we so often refer to. We are there already and our names are written there.

We have come to the Judge of all men, Christians and everyone else.

The spirits of the righteous are there. This is not speaking of those who have been given imputed righteousness so they can leave the Law of Moses and turn to Jesus Christ; but those who are righteous in their spirit. They are spirits of integrity, honesty, truthfulness, kindliness, being brought to perfection in the city. They are being made perfect in iron righteousness; fiery holiness; and stern obedience to the Father. This is taking place today.

There are concentric circles of holiness that grow smaller in diameter as we approach the Throne of God. We can move closer to the Throne today, to one of the smaller circles with less people in it, by casting off, through Christ, all filthiness of our flesh and spirit.

One of the most destructive doctrines ever to be presented to Christians is that of "once saved, always saved." I do not care what analogies are employed, this doctrine is not scriptural.

The truth is, we can be in Christ at the very right hand of God, and then be cast down to the earth. That has happened to some prominent Christian ministers during the last twenty years.

Let me be plain. We can lose our place in the holy city, in Heaven we might say, by continuing to yield to our sinful nature. Paul teaches this clearly in more than one passage. We have to labor to make our calling and election certain.

Our problems have their source in the spirit world, coming from wicked spirit dignitaries:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) (II Corinthians 10:4)

The "strong holds" are wicked princes in the spirit world against whom we wrestle.

Our weapons are those of prayer; stern obedience to Christ; faithfulness; truth; moral cleanliness; and so forth. These are our weapons and they will tear down the principalities and powers in the heavenlies.

At the present time we in America are seeking to recover our national strength by politics. This method will not be successful. Before America can be saved, the spiritual enemies must be overcome.

The virtue most prized by God is that of obedience to Christ. Obedience will be tested in the last days. There are some, who at present are dwelling in Christ at the right hand of God, who will be tested in obedience. Some will fall to the earth when they are tested by Antichrist.

Remember, Heaven is all around us. It is in another dimension, not thousands of miles away from us. "We have come to Mount Zion." It is not out in outer space somewhere. When I speak of falling to the earth I mean those who have not been perfected in obedience leave their position in the Presence of God and become filled with earthly lusts and covetousness.

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 Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low.

Because of rebellion, the host of the saints 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)

I believe I am correct in saying that the "horn" set forth above is Antichrist. It grew in power and set its sights on Israel.

It kept growing in power until it reached the army of saints in Heaven. It was able to tear them down from their place in God and trample on them.

I would imagine the "Prince of the host" would be Jesus, since the daily sacrifice was taken from Him. I believe that at this time it will be impossible for those on the earth to receive Christ and be saved, unless they join victorious saints who are hidden away somewhere.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:32)

Antichrist will be given that much power and authority over God's people until, as Daniel says, they are "shattered."

What "the place of his sanctuary is" I have no idea; but I get the impression that somehow the work of Christ will suffer.

Because of rebellion, the host of the saints and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. This is why God permitted Antichrist to have such authority and power. It is because of "rebellion."

From the time of Adam and Eve, mankind, including the Christians, have not been obedient to God. We may be prominent in religious activities, but we "save our life." We help God from our own position.

This is why in the last days everything will be shaken until all that has not been in subjection to Christ shall be shaken and removed from God's Presence.

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)

We sing "Only what's done for Christ will last." The truth is, "Only what's done by Christ will last."

God's plan from the beginning has been to build a kingdom of righteous people that will endure throughout eternity. But whenever He takes a step toward His goal, people put their hands on the Ark, so to speak, and attempt to improve what God has begun.

Peter, on the Mount of Transfiguration, attempted to begin the Christian religion by building a house for Jesus, a house for Moses, and a house for Elijah.

As nearly as I can tell, most Christian work from the beginning has been conducted largely through the endeavors of people. The people prayed, but they did not wait long enough to hear from Christ. So it is today.

You may notice, in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, that the brothers overcame the Accuser by loving not their own lives to the death.

I wonder how many of us of today are willing to give up our religious ambitions and do nothing except what we hear from Jesus. How many denominations would survive such a determination?

Because of rebellion! Because we cannot "let go and let God have His wonderful way" we build "babylon." Our intentions are the best, in many instances. But we are trying to help Christ out, and He does not need our help. He needs our stern obedience to His every desire.

Doing nothing but waiting for Christ can invite us to lapse into error. I am aware of that. Walking with our hand in the hand of God is an art that must be practiced every day. We are sure to make many mistakes, as our idols are uncovered and rejected.

As the shaking occurs in the final days of the Church Era, it may be true that most Christian activities will be demolished. Certainly all cathedrals will, because they never were built in obedience to Christ.

Everything in our own life that was not conducted in obedience to Christ will be removed. Only what's done by Christ will last.

How about you? Are you willing to seek Christ continually so you are aware of what He wants of you? This is my desire also. Why don't we walk with God, as Enoch did, and see what God wants of us each day.

Let us die to our self-will, live a righteous life, and pray fervently, until every spirit that disobeys Christ is destroyed and God can once more entrust Paradise to us on the earth.

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Moral Character, and the Rod of Iron

2013-08-18

The moral nature of the Christian is expressed as the fruit of the Spirit, and is the fruit of the Spirit and not that of our adamic nature no matter how great the effort of the believer. Various elements of our moral nature are listed as follows:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23)

Of course there are many other qualities, such as courage, truthfulness, and perseverance. It is worthy of note that these virtues proceed from the Spirit of God. They can be imitated by sincere people, and prayed for. But their eternal form always comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. As He is formed in us, these characteristics become evident.

The parable of the sower tells us that in an honest and good heart, the believer can bring forth the fruit of Christ's moral Nature in his or her life. We can think of the thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold as being the extent to which Christ has been formed in us.

It is not that the thirtyfold believer has a seventyfold adamic nature. No individual in the new world of righteousness has any part of the adamic nature in his personality. The Tree of Life is available in the new Jerusalem. That Tree is Christ and the saints who live by the Life of Christ.

The weak believer, if he has truly washed his robes in the blood of the Lamb, and has experienced the crucifixion of his old nature, can enter through the gates of Jerusalem and eat from the Tree of Life. In this manner the body and blood of Christ will build up the Nature of Christ in him. This can be true today!

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:14)

"May go through the gates into the city." It is God's will that every member of the new world of righteousness finally grow to the full stature of Christ.

Spiritual maturity is measured by the extent to which the believer can discern between good and evil, and thoroughly embrace the good and just as thoroughly renounce and reject that which is evil.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)

There is a Firstfruits of the mature saints who are close to the Heart of God and Christ. Closeness to God and Christ are what holiness is. I think when Jesus next comes it will be to make alive His Firstfruits and carry them up to Himself in the air.

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)

Mount Zion is the Christian Church. The fact that the Lamb is standing signifies that the time has come for God to put the enemies of the Lamb under the feet of the Lamb, and under the feet of those who are close to the Lamb.

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. (Hebrews 12:22,23)

The name of the Lamb and of the Father written on the foreheads of the Firstfruits means that they do the will of God at all times. In contrast to this is the name of Antichrist in the right hand or forehead of those–even Christians--who are part of the antichrist world system of buying and selling.

And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. (Revelation 14:2)

Can you imagine this? God and the Lamb are so pleased with these believers that many of the harpists of Heaven played together until it sounds like rushing waters and a peal of thunder. Ever since I read about the Firstfruits I have hoped to be in this company. How about you?

And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (Revelation 14:3)

You know, this is incredible. Drawn from the believers in Christ there will be those who have been the first to press through to the hundredfold experience. This ought to be an inspiration to every true Christian.

Now, why cannot others learn that song? The answer has to do with holiness. Holiness is closeness to God. The aborted fetuses dwell in indescribable holiness. So do babies and small children.

The Heart of God is so childlike, so utterly pure, so devoid of evil, that we have to be very diligent in putting away all the uncleanness of the world if we are to draw close to Him.

Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:17)

When God calls us out of the world we are "holy" because of His choice. But then we must take steps to bring into our behavior that which actually is holy and not just imputed to us, if we desire to hear the "new song."

The "grace" teaching presents a sort of equality. The idea is we are saved by grace, and so there really are no significant differences in rewards among those who "accept Christ." This idea, that there are no differences in the rewards assigned to those who "accept Christ," is nothing short of a universal disaster.

The truth is, it is the hope of a place near to God that drives those who leave the muddling around of the majority of Christian church members and press through to increased glory.

Why would the Lord Jesus tell us that if we overcome the problems in the churches we will gain a place of service and honor with Him, if there is not a reward for doing so?

He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (Hebrews 11:26)

"Looking ahead to his reward."

The idea of a uniform salvation through "grace" regardless of the fervor and diligence of the believer not only is totally unscriptural but serves to maintain the present state of spiritual lethargy that exists among the believers.

There is a reward for serving the Lord!

How the concept could exist of everyone being given the same reward in the face of: "No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth," is beyond me. It certainly proves that what is being preached today is unscriptural.

The churches emphasize that we should go forth and bring more baby Christians into our assemblies. Once the babies are enrolled safely in our congregations, they are told that they have been "saved" that they might save other babies.

What is the result of this emphasis? It is churches full of baby Christians who trust they are going to go to Heaven by grace and live in a mansion.

Look at this program from Satan's point of view. It is exactly what he desires. Satan knows and desires that few Christians mature to the point that they present any appreciable threat to his rulership over the earth.

Satan indeed would approve of a "rapture" that carries all the believers to Heaven. Then he and his demons could enjoy themselves in the earth more fully.

Did you notice that "grace" is not mentioned in Revelation 14:1-5. But moral character is!

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

Since the Book of Hebrews states that marriage is honorable and the bed undefiled, and the Scripture never contradicts itself, I do not believe that the verse above is referring to marriage relationships. All of us who are Christians know how easy it is to become excessively involved with a talent, or job, or money, or our children, or even a member of the opposite sex. We defile ourselves by worshiping such idols.

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4)

If there is anything in our life that is so precious to us that if Christ demanded it from us, like Isaac from Abraham, we would feel that life no longer is worth living, then that is what it means to be "defiled." It is to have an idol.

Speaking concerning the Firstfruits, such believers "follow the Lamb wherever He goes." It is this statement that makes me believe these are the people who will be made alive and caught up to meet Christ in the air.

Notice:

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)

"And so we will be with the Lord forever." "They follow the Lamb wherever He goes."

The "rapturists" of today, according to what they say, are concerned only with escaping the problems of the world by going to Heaven. They are not of the attitude of the Firstfruits, whose only desire is to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

"They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb." Here is a remarkable statement. I seem to perceive the sovereignty of God in this. It is as though God reached down and said, "These are mine"!

We American believers need to be careful here. We are so imbued with our Declaration of Independence and the "Bill of Rights" that we may find ourselves resenting that God may treat some people in a special way.

However, the entire Bible is a record of God selecting certain people to bear witness of Himself, to build His Kingdom, and to govern His Kingdom. God chooses who will sit on the right and left hand of Christ in His Kingdom.

The best any of us can do is to seek to lay hold on that for which we have been grasped by the Lord, and to be thankful that we are not a vessel of dishonor.

God is not fair, by our standards, but He always is righteous. We do well to let God be God and praise Him for whatever He chooses to do.

God will be God no matter how we Americans feel about it.

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)

To be blameless is to have no "lie in our mouth."

We all were born with a lie in our mouth. We always are dissembling in one manner or another. Much if not most of our talking is for the purpose of proving one thing or another, according to our agenda. We fearfully hide behind our mask.

It requires a great deal of the Lord's fire to burn the lie out of us. But it is so necessary! The Firstfruits, whom we are discussing, are forerunners of the new world of righteousness. They have learned to tell the truth, like their Father in Heaven.

It may seem impossible that the earth could bring forth such a company, but it has happened in time past and it is happening today. As it is written, "Many who are last shall be first." It is today that the Spirit of God is going through the church, looking for those who are following the Lamb wherever He goes.

The character of the Firstfruits to God is: iron righteousness of behavior; fiery holiness in the realm of moral choices; and stern, uncompromising obedience to Christ. Let us pray that God will accomplish this in us. These are the hundredfold.

Being a hundredfold Christian is available to anyone who holds this as his or her fervent desire. After all, it is not something we ourselves accomplish, except to work with the Spirit of God as He crucifies our inward adamic nature and fills us with the Nature of Christ.

Godly character and the iron scepter are both Christ.

As Christ increases in us we become more in the image of God, and are better able to rule ourselves and others in righteousness and justice.

We cannot grow in moral transformation or in our ability to rule in righteousness by merely giving instructions to our adamic nature. While such instructions may be necessary on occasion, the actual improvement in our nature, to embrace the good and reject the evil, and our ability to rule, are accomplished only as Christ is formed within us.

We have been discussing the transformation of the moral nature of the Christian believer. As we have stated, maturity in Christ is the ability to discern between good and evil, and to embrace the good and reject the evil. The concept of a sovereign "grace" obviously works against our coming to such maturity.

Now we come to another aspect of the development of the Kingdom of God in the believers. I am speaking of the creation of the rod of iron, the means by which Christ and His saints will govern the world.

The rod of iron is righteousness of character. The strength and power of righteousness always is greater than the efforts of the ungodly. Spiritual uncleanness always is weak, although it may present a brave face. Sexual immorality in particular weakens our character.

There are those in America who see the debacle approaching, who are attempting to utilize a political approach to solve the problem. But since the source of the problem is spiritual, they will not gain their objective. The only power that will overcome the enemy is the iron of righteous behavior.

The prevalence of abortion alone will greatly weaken any attempt to save our nation. When the righteous are not righteous enough they will fall before the forces of Satan.

The rod of iron smashes everything and everyone that resists the will of the Father and Christ. The rod of iron is formed in those who persist in obeying Christ while living in the world.

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. I will also give that one the morning star. (Revelation 2:26-28)

The scepter of iron is formed in us as we keep resisting the devil, and pray until we can do what we believe to be what God wants. It is a matter of doing the will of Christ to the end of our life.

If we thus overcome the forces of evil that come against us, Christ will give us the authority over the nations of the earth that the Father has given to Him.

I do not believe I ever have heard a preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom speak of authority over the nations of the earth. Yet the Book of Isaiah has much to say about how Christ, Head and Body, will bring justice to the nations.

He will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:4)

When the Lord anoints the ministry of the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter Eleven, they will bear witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. As part of their witness they will perform acts of destruction, for that is the nature of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

For myself, I am becoming upset over the injustices occurring around the world. It is my understanding that some members of the European Union force parents who wish to home school their children to send their boys and girls to a state school. The state is afraid the Christian parents will create a "parallel social system."

The Christian parents do not want their children to look favorably on homosexual practices, because such practices are forbidden by the Bible. Such home-schoolers may create a parallel social system. But to remove children from their parents when the children are not being abused in any manner is extremely unjust and wicked!

Two countries that have gained notoriety in this regard are Sweden and Germany.

I am beginning to pray about this matter, and about some of the social injustices occurring in the United States, such as the use of mob violence to influence the decisions of the courts.

While I am writing, a mob is seeking to force a decision in a court in Florida. If the judge and jury yield and issue a verdict they know to be unjust, because of the threat of a social uproar, they will set a precedent that will yield disastrous outcomes for America in the days ahead.

Mobs will be running the courts. Justice no longer will be blind. We will have lost an important pillar of American government–-a trial in which the defendant is viewed as innocent until proven guilty by an impartial, unbiased jury.

I am concerned also about legislating behavior that is contrary to the moral values set forth in the Bible.

In California, where I live, the state government is legislating concerning the curricula of the public schools in the area of sexual conduct. My understanding is that this is a K-12 effort.

Having spent twenty-five years in public school work, I realize how totally unsuitable such instruction is in the lower grades. In fact, it is utterly ridiculous. It is an effort to make homosexual behavior normal and acceptable.

Will the parents in California who home school, eventually have to surrender their children to the state so they may be instructed in a "proper" sexual and gender viewpoint? It certainly could happen!

Considering the way unfamiliar governmental policies are springing up in America, there may come a day in which people take to the streets, as is true in other countries today.

I find myself praying that God will do something about these abominations. Do you suppose there are people along with me who are beginning to seek the power of the two witnesses so we can commence the process of establishing justice on the earth? I hope that such is the case, and it very well may be! The earth is the Lord's and all who live thereon. Such moral chaos must not be allowed to continue.

The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalms 24:1)

One of the travesties of justice is occurring in countries that do not provide for the education of children, particularly girls. This attitude toward female children indeed is reprehensible, particularly when the little girls are willing to expose themselves to hardship and even danger that they might learn about the outside world.

I do not believe God created women to be broodmares to satisfy the physical desires of men! I do not find such a concept in the Bible. Rather, women are to be a broadening of their husbands so that the husband more fully portrays the image of God.

But violence and bloodshed will not solve the current problems, nor will political maneuvering, because the problems are coming from the dens of Satan and his demons, the source of the abortion of babies.

The nations of the earth are our inheritance! There is no inheritance that can equal in desirability the inheriting of people. People and the earth are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ and of those who are coheirs with Him.

Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery. (Psalms 2:8,9)

Dashing people to pieces with our iron scepter does not sound like an inheritance of love. But the resistance of people to God's will must be broken completely (smashed) before they are lovable.

Think about today. While I am writing there is rebellion in Egypt, Syria, and other countries. In our own United States it appears that we may be involved in a civil war before long.

The problem with the world in which we live is simply expressed and easy to understand. God wants to rule people. People want to rule themselves. It is as simple as that.

Throughout the history of the world, people have sought to govern themselves; to make their own plans; to carry out their plans by their own wisdom and strength.

God calls in vain to people to allow Him to guide them and carry their burdens. This to me is the height of stupidity. It is the reason behind every sort of corruption, confusion, and chaos.

"Come unto Me," Jesus invites us.

Our response is, "We might go to church; but we will live our own life, thank you!"

As I said before, to not permit Christ to govern every aspect of our life is utterly stupid and catastrophic.

The true victorious saint is characterized by a fierce determination to do God's will in every area of his or her life.

The will of the people of the nations, and of numerous believers in Christ, must be smashed utterly if eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace, are to prevail among us.

If we do persist in doing God's will in every aspect of our life, Christ will give us the Morning Star. We cannot govern righteously apart from the Morning Star.

The Morning Star is Christ Himself. It is the purpose of the New Testament to guide our decisions and behavior until Christ is formed in us. Then we hear the Voice from inside us: "This is the way. Walk ye in it."

To learn to be led by the Spirit of God is an art. There are many pitfalls. The only manner in which we safely can be guided by the Spirit is to present our body a living sacrifice. We cannot trust what we think we are hearing from the Spirit unless our body is a living sacrifice to God.

There may not be many believers today who will present their body as an offering to God, and proceed to pray and obey until they conquer all the works of Satan and their sinful nature. But only those who do this are scripturally eligible to receive the making alive of their mortal body in the Day of the Lord.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

So there we have it. Through the Lord Jesus Christ we will become a new creation of moral behavior. Also, through the Lord Jesus Christ, we will inherit the earth and the nations thereof.

As I have said so many times, we Americans are heading toward moral and physical chaos, due to abortion, sexual aberrations, and the insane pursuit of material wealth.

The only manner in which we can prepare ourselves is by learning today to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, just as the Apostle Paul did. If we will do that, we shall be able to stand throughout the darkest hours, and help others to stand.

Tell me. How do you feel about the injustices and immorality in the world? When I read in the paper about some of the current abominations, I am inclined to ask God for the anointing of the two witnesses so, at least in prayer, I can put an end to such practices.

The Father asked Jesus to pray that He might receive the nations and the earth for His inheritance. Well, are we not coheirs with Him? If we are, how about asking the Lord Jesus to share some of that inheritance with us?

Why can't we ask for the Kingdom to come now in some of these areas of social injustice and immorality? I believe if we will direct our prayers toward these problems, as they are pointed out to us, that God will hear us and move by His power. Do we have the scepter of iron, or do we not?

Please understand me. I am not praying for people to become converted or the world to become Christian. I am praying that justice and righteousness will become the portion of the nations of the earth, from the greatest to the smallest.

Would you be pleased to join your prayers with mine? Who knows what our God might do!

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:12-14)

Many years ago I was teaching the fifth grade in the Walter Hays elementary school, in Palo Alto, California.

It was my custom to get up early each morning, write down some of the things the Lord was showing me, and then go for a walk in the neighborhood, and pray.

One morning I thought to myself, "Jesus said we can ask for anything in His name and He would do it."

Okay, I will take the Lord up on that. So I prayed as follows: "Dear Lord, grant to me that I may preach the Gospel of the Kingdom wherever people breathe the air."

Mind you, this was before the invention of the personal computer, or the Internet. There was no visible manner in which my prayer could be answered, other than by radio or television; and I was not a minister at that point in my life.

Some time after that Audrey and I felt we should accept the invitation by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel to take responsibility for a small church in Poway, California, that had just been closed due to lack of attendance.

Soon after this I was invited by Morris Cerullo to teach five sessions of his school of ministry, which was conducted in San Diego. He had heard about me through a friend.

Since the pupils at the school were outstanding people from the third-world countries, maybe five hundred of them, this was the beginning of the answer to my prayer.

Then came the personal computer, and finally the Internet. The way to reach everyone who breathes the air with the Gospel of the Kingdom of God was now open. What a miracle!

Recently I have been able to put all of my writings into the Kindle Library, where they are available to everyone with an electronic tablet.

Can you see what a staggering miracle occurred perhaps, at least in part, as the result of one fifth-grade teacher walking and praying early one morning on the streets of Palo Alto?

Now I believe God may have put it in my heart to begin the work of the end-time witnesses by asking God to intervene everywhere there is an injustice or the legislating of immorality.

What do you think might happen if a number of us do this?

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

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Rewards and Punishments

2013-08-25

It is natural for people to be inspired by the hope of a substantial reward. They will exert themselves with this hope in mind.

It also is true that people will react to the threat of punishment. Some years ago my wife and I crossed the state line into Connecticut. We noticed how much slower the traffic moved, compared with New York.

We found out later that a strict law had been passed concerning speeding in Connecticut. I forget what the penalty was, but it was unusually severe for one violation.

I understand that some psychologists maintain that strict punishment will not prevent unlawful actions. I believe they are mistaken.

The New Testament sets forth the most fantastic rewards for living a victorious life in Christ.

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)

Can you think of a greater reward than that?

The New Testament sets forth the most horrible of all destinies for the individual whose name is not written in the Book of Life.

If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Can you think of a more dreadful destiny than this?

It would seem to me that any intelligent person would examine the promises to the righteous and desire to please God, understanding that there is a reward for serving the Lord.

Also, any intelligent person would consider the Lake of Fire, and do whatever is necessary to avoid spending eternity there.

The problem with the Lake of Fire is that all that is righteous, all that is loving, all that is joyous, all that is peaceful, is absent. Instead there are Satan and his angels, and the worst people of history, for one's associates.

As it is true that to be with Christ results in one being transformed into Christ's likeness, so it is true that being with Satan results in one being transformed into Satan's likeness.

There are people who speculate that people, and perhaps Satan himself, will one day be released from the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is not true. The reason is, the Lake of Fire is not redemptive. While tribulation, if accepted in the right manner, produces holiness in the believer, Divine wrath is not redemptive. It does not change people for the better but for the worse.

It may be noticed that Satan, immediately upon being released from the Bottomless Pit, went forth to deceive the people on the earth. His punishment was not corrective. How much more would this be true of incarceration in the Lake of Fire?

Satan, angels, demons, and people confined in the Lake of Fire do not improve. It is not a purifying fire. It is a tormenting fire that causes the inhabitants to curse God without ceasing.

Since the rich man in Hell wanted a message sent to his five brothers so they would avoid Hell, we speculate that Hell possibly could be redemptive for some. But not so with the Lake of Fire. It is the termination of all love, peace, and joy forever. Worst of all, the person incarcerated there will never again experience the love of his or her Creator.

Right here is the problem with the "grace" message. The grace message teaches that all receive the same reward. Thus there is no incentive to press forward in Christ each day.

The grace message in some instances is declaring that once a person "accepts" Christ he can never be lost. Thus the believer becomes careless in his discipleship. And why not? Even though he lives an ungodly life, continually yielding to his sinful nature, he will go to Heaven to live in a mansion when he dies. So why make the effort to be a victorious Christian.

Any psychologist who was not a Christian would tell us that if you assure a person that if he once accepts Christ he never can be lost, and that there is no reward for exerting one's self to be a victorious Christian, he is going to drift along, pursuing his own goals, conducting his life as he sees fit.

If a saint, like the Apostle Paul, who was spending his Christian life pressing forward in Christ with all his might, and then died as a martyr, will receive the same reward as the casual church-attender who "accepts Christ," then the average person probably will never be more than a casual Christian church member.

The teaching of salvation by grace has resulted in millions of baby Christians who do not grow spiritually because they have been taught there is no reward for righteous living. All Christians are saved by God's grace independently of any effort they might make to attain to the image of Christ, they believe.

Can you imagine how many passages of the New Testament this teaching violates?

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (Matthew 16:27)

And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. (Revelation 22:12)

And then the other side of the coin---the punishments for not obeying Christ ans His Apostles.

The current teaching of "grace" often insists that once a person "accepts Christ" he will go to Heaven when he dies. He cannot possibly suffer any loss from sinful living, because he is "saved by grace."

By "grace" the Apostle Paul meant that the believer no longer is obligated to obey the Law of Moses, so he can serve Christ without the Mosaic statutes hanging over his head.

To suggest that Paul meant there is no need for a person to live a godly live because he has observed a religious formula (accepting Christ); and that there is no penalty for continually yielding to the sinful nature because we are "saved by grace," is to misunderstand the Apostle.

Paul always emphasized keeping ourselves, through Christ, from sinful behavior.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Romans 6:1,2)

It appears to me that Paul's teaching of grace has been transformed into an excuse for sin. I marvel that today's Christian leaders, who obviously are intelligent, devout people, can misunderstand the New Testament so completely!

I will list two or three passages to prove that Paul's teaching is quite different from what is presented today, in terms of the consequences for a Christian if he or she lives a sinful life:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 5:6,7)

Please remember that Paul is exhorting and warning the Christian people, not the unsaved citizens of Galatia and Ephesus.

I could have included many other passages; but if these are not plain enough, I do not suppose adding fifteen or twenty more would help.

Notice the severity of the penalties for not living so as to please the Spirit of God: not inheriting the Kingdom of God; reaping destruction.

This brings up another current misunderstanding. Our goal is not to go to Heaven to live forever. Our goal is to inherit the Kingdom of God.

Heaven is a place where God, Christ, the saints, and the holy angels reside. The Kingdom of God is not a place. It operates equally well in Heaven and on the earth.

The Kingdom of God is the rule of God within us. In its finest sense it is Christ Himself. Christ is the Word made flesh. We are the flesh being made the Word. That is the new covenant.

The Word of God is the law of God, the rule of God. When Christ is conceived in us and then formed in us, the rule of God, the eternal moral law of God, the Kingdom of God is conceived and formed in us.

God was not pleased with the way the Israelites responded to the Law of Moses, so God, under the new covenant, is writing His law in our mind and heart.

Therefore to make a profession of faith in Christ, and then live our usual life, not becoming a new creation of righteous and holy living, is entirely unscriptural and inappropriate. It is to completely misunderstand the Apostle Paul. Such a person will not inherit the Kingdom of God; the development of the rule of God in his or her personality.

If Paul were alive on the earth in the present hour he would not understand current Christian preaching, in numerous instances.

There are the most marvelous rewards for living a victorious life in Christ, overcoming through Him our love of the world, our sinful nature, and our self-will.

The greatest reward of all is to hear His "well done," and to know that the Father is pleased with us and that we have given God pleasure in the manner in which we have responded to His call on our life.

Another great reward for being called, chosen, and faithful is to be raised from the dead and caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the air; then to descend with Him and work alongside Him at the task of establishing the will of God on the earth.

I get all excited just thinking about being always with the Lord. Does it affect you that way?

The supreme punishment is loss of the Kingdom of God and eternal residence in the Lake of Fire.

One time when I was preaching in Iceland and holding forth on the terrors of the Lake of Fire, Einar Gislason, the Pastor, a burly ex-fisherman, began to cry. I asked him what the problem was. He said, "I was thinking about being put into the Lake of Fire."

There simply are no words in any language spoken on the earth that could begin to picture one-tenth of the unimaginable horror, the terror, the agony, the hopelessness, of being incarcerated with Satan and the wicked people of the earth. It is a nightmare beyond all nightmares.

So God's rewards to those who serve Christ faithfully exceed by far any other rewards we can imagine.

God's punishments for disobeying Christ exceed by far any other punishments we can imagine.

Since every Christian can observe that I have followed the New Testament, closely, not exaggerating the splendor of the rewards or the terror of the punishments, all of us who are wise will redouble our efforts to please the Lord by our daily life.

I believe you will agree with me in this.

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Why Are Christians Saved?

2013-09-01

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1)

Justice to the nations! Justice! God has commissioned the Servant of the Lord to bring "justice" to the nations?

I thought the whole idea of being saved is so we can go to Heaven and rest forever in Paradise. What is this about justice to the nations? What nations? Where? Nations on the earth?

The Servant of the Lord is Christ–Head and Body.

It is possible we are going to have to revise our concept about the purpose of the Christian salvation.

But, someone will protest, this passage in Isaiah is referring to Jewish people, to Israel.

It may be true that one of the greatest needs we believers have is to understand that the Old Testament is written to Christ and those who are part of Him, not to national Israel after the flesh.

Properly, the name "Israel" does not refer to the land and people of the Jews but to the one Seed of Abraham. That one Seed is Christ and those who are part of Him, whether Jews or Gentiles by physical birth.

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

Can you see from the verse above that the promises of the Old Testament were made to Christ?

And now notice:

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

Jacob was descended from Abraham. But that did not make Jacob to be of Christ, of the Seed of Abraham. It was the prophecy that applied to Jacob that changed him from the "heel snatcher" to "Israel" (the one who struggles with God).

There above it stood the Lord, and he said (to Jacob): "I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring." (Genesis 28:13,14)

The above is the promise to Abraham. Thus Jacob became the Seed of Abraham by the promise of the Spirit. Every person who is of Christ has been called by the Lord. It is this calling, this prophetic utterance if you will, that defines the one Seed of Abraham.

The individual who is born of Jewish parents but who is not part of Christ is not a member of true, eternal Israel; of the Body of Messiah; of the Royal Priesthood; of the Israel spoken of by the Prophets.

To be a part of the Kingdom of God we must be born again. Natural, physical birth cannot make any person, Jew or Gentile, a member of God's Kingdom of priests.

The necessity for being born again was spoken first to the Jew, Nicodemus.

The reason I am stressing this point is that it is time for the Christian people who are Gentile by birth to realize they are being referred to whenever the Prophets referred to the Kingdom of God.

There are, however, parts of the writings of the Prophets that refer to national Israel, people who are Jews but not part of Messiah. Sometimes there are double meanings, such as in the second chapter of the Book of Joel. On the surface this chapter is speaking of a plague of locusts on physical Israel. There also is a prophetic meaning, in the second chapter of the Book of Joel, referring to the time when Christ and His saints go through the earth, after the Battle of Har Magedon, and cleanse the earth of evil in preparation for the thousand-year rule of Christ.

Our future as the one Seed of Abraham is written in the Prophets of Israel. Because we do not realize this, we have created all sorts of myths about mansions, golden slippers, harps, backyards filled with diamonds, a "rapture" to carry people up to Heaven to deliver them from Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, and so forth.

We have created a heaven that is sort of like a Disney World in outer space.

Isaiah has quite a bit to say about the future of true Israel, the one Seed of Abraham. It is not eternal residence in Heaven! We Christians can learn about our future by studying the Hebrew Prophets.

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)

God's purpose in Christ, Head and Body, is to bring the justice of the Kingdom of God into the whole earth; to make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

Isn't this what we pray for when we cry out: "Your Kingdom come; Your will be done in earth as in Heaven"?

Well, isn't it?

Such a blessing never can come to the earth through the physical land and people of Israel, only through the Israel of God, which is the Christian Church.

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:15,16)

When was the last time you heard a preacher say that the purpose of bringing the Christian Church, the Body of Christ, to maturity is that it might bring righteousness and praise to the nations? Well, that is what our salvation is all about. God has put His Spirit upon us that we might bring righteousness, God's will, to the nations of the earth.

Perhaps our greatest concern in America of today ought to be the killing of babies so the mother can practice her "right to choose." We must pray until this murderous practice ceases.

"If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." I believe that the prayer above, concerning abortion, is one Christ will be pleased to answer.

There is much injustice and pain in the world: some Muslim husbands beat their wives with a stick; the circumcision of girls; some children are starving to death while the people of the Western nations have heart attacks because of overeating; there are the excessively wealthy who will not share their wealth with the impoverished.

There are young children who have to work to eat who instead ought to have the opportunity to go to school; there is cruelty to animals; there is the killing of animals for sport or to cut off a part of their body to sell, while the pups wander about in confusion.

There are political leaders who occupy their office for their own wealth, power, and aggrandizement; there is a desire to keep girls without education so they can serve as brood mares or to satisfy the lusts of men.

All such injustices exist because people plan and live their own lives without looking to the Lord Jesus for guidance and strength.

The Christian Church does not exist so people can make Heaven their home. The Christian Church is to be the light of the world so justice will prevail among all peoples everywhere.

The only manner in which injustices can be corrected is by the prayers of people who through Jesus Christ have overcome the enticements of the antichrist world system; their own sinful nature; and the willingness to live their own life apart from Christ.

The two witnesses of Revelation Chapter Eleven are Christ and His victorious saints bearing witness of the soon coming of the will of God into the earth. When the Kingdom comes from Heaven, all forms of injustice shall be rectified. This witness is beginning today wherever Christian people are willing to live by the Life of Christ and pray for specific injustices.

There may be instances in which a Christian can, in addition to prayer, actually do something to correct injustice. However, we must steadfastly keep in mind that the injustices are coming from Satan and his workers and cannot be corrected by purely physical means. Christ must be with us. There must be two witnesses—Christ and the Christian.

A person might be moved to go and work among the poor children of the world and help make it possible for them to attend school during their growing years.

Or a person might be prompted to enter the political arena and sponsor legislation designed to correct injustices.

In addition, God may use us to bring people to Christ, as part of the work of bringing justice to the nations. For example, when the members of the Taliban are converted to Christ and filled with the Spirit of God, they then will permit their little girls to attend school.

In every instance, we must be hearing from Christ all along the way. It would be easy to forget Christ as we struggle against those who are being moved by Satan or by their own sinful nature.

The point is not to create churches or members of a denomination. It is to correct the injustices under which multitudes suffer during their lifetime on the earth. God will bless every person who seeks to obey Christ and prays, as Christ directs, that the injustices will be corrected.

Please keep in mind that those who are obeying Christ have within them the iron scepter of righteousness. Though the unrighteous mobs make great boasts, they will fall before the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember, Jesus said that if we ask anything in His name, He will do it.

Anything!

If we keep living in Christ, when we read about the current abominations, including those which have become law, such as the teaching of sexual preferences to elementary children, if we will ask Jesus, He will overturn these wicked laws. "If you shall ask anything in My name . . ." In this manner we are serving as part of the two witnesses of the coming Kingdom of God, as set forth in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

We may find ourselves praying that God will destroy those who are destroying the earth. We must have the iron scepter of righteousness formed in us. This scepter is formed as we consistently embrace righteous behavior and firmly reject and renounce all wickedness. Only then will we have the strength to serve as the light of the world in accordance with what God desires.

Christ's scepter is that of righteous behavior. There is sufficient strength in Christ's scepter to overcome all the injustice in the world—every work of self-seeking man and demons.

When Christ appears, then we shall appear with Him. For what purpose? That we might be the light of the world, bringing God's will into every corner of human experience.

As far as holiness is concerned, every unclean thing in us shall be consumed by fire as we draw near to Him who is the consuming Fire of Israel.

As far as righteousness is concerned, the world shall be filled with faithfulness and truth by Him who is Faithful and True.

Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." (Acts 10:34,35)

The iron scepter of righteousness is stronger than any work of unrighteousness. To effectively employ the iron scepter in prayer, we absolutely must bring our lives to the point of death as we keep pressing into Christ.

It is my point of view that there are Christians today who are trusting in the blood of the Lamb; who are bringing their behavior into conformity to God's Word; and who are loving not their own life to the point of death that they might live by the life of Jesus.

Because this is true of some Christians in our own day, Satan is being cast down into the earth. Do not be surprised to see demons interacting with humans. At that time, if we are trusting in the blood of the Lamb, conforming our lives to the Word of God, and loving not our life to the point of death, we shall be absolutely safe and be able to stand and help others to stand.

But if all we have is the ordinary complacent religious experience of the average American Christian, we will be conquered by the prevalence of evil instead of conquering the evil through Jesus Christ.

We cannot live half in the Law of Moses, and half in Christ, and be a victorious saint. The Law of Moses is not intended to bring us to the Law itself but to Christ Himself.

Some Christians are attempting to bring parts of the Law of Moses into their Christian experience. Doing this will detract from the strength they need to bear a powerful witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God and God's righteousness to the earth.

If you are attempting to observe the Jewish Sabbath, there will be periods in which your attention is removed from the Holy Spirit. You no longer are being led by the Spirit but by the Law.

As the Sabbath of Moses is central to the Law of Moses, so it is true that the rest of God of the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, in which we always are finding Christ's perfect will and rejoicing in it, is central to the new covenant.

And as the Jews rejoice over and marry the Sabbath, so should we rejoice over and marry Christ Himself, who is the new covenant.

One of the most wicked practices of America today is that of abortion. God's Presence is being removed from our country because of abortion on demand without a sound medical reason.

The truth is, once a human sperm fertilizes an egg, a potential house for a soul, and the Spirit of God, is in the process of being formed. It must never be destroyed intentionally, except in a medical emergency or in the case of rape, without a murder having been committed.

Has the mother no maternal instinct that she is willing to have the helpless infant murdered?

When we think about the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, we notice that the bodies of God's dead witnesses, who have been overcome by lust, the world, and pride (Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem), will remain on the earth for everyone to see and rejoice over. They represent Christian institutions remaining on the earth but now void of the Presence of the Spirit of God.

This is what will take place in the future as some of Christ's witnesses are overcome by Satan. This is why we of today must put aside all that hinders us from grasping fully that for which God has grasped us.

Can Antichrist overcome Christ? Never! But you may note, in Chapter Twenty-five of the Book of Matthew, that when one of Christ's brothers was sick or in prison, Christ was sick or in prison. Thus when one of the saints falls into sin, his or her witness and the witness of Christ is overcome.

The saints of the end-time witness are anointed with a double portion of God's Spirit, with the power of Elijah and Elisha, we might say. Thus they stand before the God of the whole earth. The double portion of God's Spirit continually is providing "oil" to the two Lampstands, who are Christ and the victorious saints in whom Christ is dwelling.

Then I asked the angel, "What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?" Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?" He replied, "Do you not know what these are?" "No, my lord," I said. So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth." (Zechariah 4:11-14)

Perhaps it will encourage us if we call to mind that the earth is the Lord's and all the people who live thereon. Why should God's earth or His people be given over to Satan and his demons?

We must begin to pray today for that double portion of the Holy Spirit so we can bear a true witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God. We can do this by overcoming injustice through prayer proceeding from a godly life.

Why have we been saved? Why has God called us out of darkness into His marvelous Light?

Could it be so we can be instrumental in bringing His will to pass in the earth?

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, "children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation." Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky (Philippians 2:14,15)

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How Should Christians Cope with an Evil Environment?

2013-09-08

I do not need to list the sinful behaviors taking place in our day. We all know them. Being 88 years of age, born and raised in New England, I scarce can recognize our country.

But one can read in the Old Testament of how immoral Israel would become at times, until God punished them severely and then sent a judge to conquer the enemies and bring peace to the land. The enemies were raised up by the Lord to chasten the Israelites because of their departure from God.

The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord; they forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. The anger of the Lord burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. (Judges 3:7,8)

It was the Lord who "sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim."

We have had outstanding revivals in our country. At one time there was a strong Christian flavor throughout America. Jesus Christ and the Bible were honored.

But no more. We have the government we deserve. Moral abominations abound. Some are legislated into laws, such as the curriculum in California that brings sexual topics into the grade schools. The downhill slide into the pit of immorality is easy to observe.

It is going to get worse, until God moves. We may think that there is no God, or that God is not interested in what goes on in His earth. We are mistaken in this. Wherever sodomy is practiced, God's judgment is certain to follow.

I believe the Spirit of God has informed me that after much bloodshed, America will become a third-rate nation, and the leadership of the world will pass to an Eastern nation. He did not say which nation.

The scoffers may scoff. They always do until the water goes over their head.

Although not raised as a Christian, I have been following the Lord Jesus for many years. I know from personal experience that there is a God and the Lord Jesus Christ is His Son.

We all have read about the sin in our country, and I expect there are some Christians who are aware that the turmoil within our borders is due to God removing His hand of protection from us. So I will proceed with how Christians should cope with an evil environment and the perversity of wicked, self-seeking people.

Any member of our church will tell you how often I have preached from the thirty-seventh Psalm, warning the congregation about the damage that occurs as we fret against evil. Well, here I go again, and the evil is much worse now than it was a few years ago.

Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong. (Psalms 37:1)

To fret is to be agitated or irritated.

When we observe what is taking place in our government or our country we easily can become agitated or irritated.

The Scripture commands us: "Do not fret." Are we going to obey God or not?

Paul, who had as much reason to fret as anyone, being in jail at the time after having suffered many hardships, commanded the following:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

Sometimes it is easy to rejoice. On other occasions it is quite difficult. But Paul commands, "Always." We can rejoice in the midst of the perversities, if we put our mind to it. But we might have to call on the Lord for help. In any case, we are not to let grumbling and complaining fill our mind.

Picture yourself at the right hand of God in Christ. Can you see that by being agitated and irritated you are tearing yourself down from the heavenly position in which God has placed you as a saint?

Make yourself think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable. Do it! Do not give in to fretting and complaining. If God indeed is permitting evil men to prosper and vaunt themselves because His people are not serving Him as they should, then when we fret and complain about the conditions in our land we are warring against what God Himself is doing.

Abortion is a terrible, terrible crime. God will avenge each one of the aborted fetuses. We do not help matters when we become upset as God sends Divine judgment on the wicked. Our place is to pray about the injustices—not to fret, but to pray.

We are to pray about the wicked instruction in the public schools, not fret about it.

We are to pray about the rise of homosexual behavior, not fret about it.

We are to pray about the scorning of God and His Christ, not fret about it.

Jesus told us that if we will ask anything in His name, He will do it. But He will not hear our prayers when we are fretting in our unbelief.

I believe, if the government keeps on going against our traditional American values, it will not be too long before there is an armed revolt. This is understandable. You cannot go against the traditional culture of a people without a reaction.

But what does God say: "Let your gentleness be evident to all."

How can we remain gentle when what we value is being trampled under the feet of the ungodly? Our Lord was gentle. He is our Example. He remained meek and lowly in the face of extreme perversity. Pilate judged Christ unrighteously, but Christ did not argue with Pilate.

I believe there is a topic here that is of great importance for us to consider.

It could happen that in the near future there will be black, Muslim, and possibly homosexual mobs in the streets, destroying property and, in some cases, injuring or killing innocent people. It is obvious that throughout the world of today there is rebellion and a willingness to destroy the social order.

Now, what is a Christian to do? Is he to carry a gun to protect himself and his family? For myself, I asked the Lord if I should carry a gun. He said, "No."

But I do not believe this injunction applies to everyone. Each Christian must hear for himself. He might tell you to buy an AK-47 assault rifle because He sees that in the future your neighborhood is going to band together to mount a defense team because of a breakdown of law in the nearby city.

What did Jesus do about this? There appears to be a certain amount of inconsistency, varying from one circumstance to another. In one place Jesus told a disciple to put the sword back in the scabbard, because "all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. (Luke 22:49-51)

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matthew 26:50-54)

But in another place:

He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That's enough!" he replied. (Luke 22:36-38)

So what is the answer? It is that on one occasion we are not to take up the sword. On another occasion we are to take up the sword. The lesson is that we seek the Lord and know what to do in each instance.

Let us say there was a book keeper whose name was Roger Smith. He had a wife, Louise, and two daughters named Nancy and Jill. They lived in Escondido, California.

One evening, about 6:30, they decided to go to a restaurant to eat dinner. Nancy and Jill shouted "Yeah," and began to plan their own menu, which was largely cheeseburgers and hot dogs.

The family decided on Coco's restaurant. The Smiths lived in North Escondido. They went around the back way to Coco's because every evening there was mob violence on Centre City Parkway and also on Broadway.

Sometimes the mob was composed of black teenagers who were proclaiming their cause of the day.

Sometimes the mob was composed of Muslims who were upset because their women were forbidden to wear burkas. The courts were opposed to burkas because it made it impossible to positively identify persons who were in court for one reason or another.

Sometimes the mob was composed of homosexuals who were complaining that some Christian churches would not perform the marriage ceremony for them.

No one went to downtown Escondido in the evening without good reason. They were liable to be killed!

The Smiths entered Coco's parking lot. They got out of their car and were proceeding toward the entrance to Coco's. The little girls were all excited.

Suddenly Roger saw on his right a burly black young man running toward them from Valley Parkway. He was yelling and waving his arms in what appeared to be a hostile manner.

Roger was terrified not knowing whether his wife and daughters were going to be raped, or killed, or what.

Roger was five feet, eight inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds. The young man running toward them towered over six feet tall and looked to be about 250 pounds in weight.

Roger, who was panicked, thought to himself, "Pastor Thompson told us to pray about everything, but I have another kind of prayer in my pocket." With this he pulled out the 9mm automatic that he routinely carried because his job sometimes involved transporting money. His gun was loaded with hollow-point bullets.

By this time the young man whom he thought was going to harm him and his family was about thirty yards from him. Roger still could not understand what he was saying. Roger fired three shots into the young man's chest.

The young black man staggered forward until he was close to Roger's face. The face of the young black was contorted with pain, but there was a smile of understanding and forgiveness. He looked carefully at Roger, and then collapsed to the ground.

Roger was frozen for a moment, and then told Louise to get in the car with the two girls and lock the car doors.

Then Roger pulled out his cellphone and dialed 911, telling the operator where he was and that he had shot a man to death.

A pool of blood was forming around the dead man.

Then Roger heard sirens in the distance. He supposed it was the answer to his call.

But at that moment, thirty to forty young people came running down Valley Parkway, being chased by the police. They appeared to be heading toward Auto Park Way. They did not notice Roger Smith or the dead man lying on the parking lot.

Finally the police arrived and then the paramedics. The information was written down and the body was placed in the ambulance and driven away.

Two months later, Roger Smith was seated in court with Louise, Nancy, Jill, and his attorney.

The prosecutor arose and greeted the jury. He said, "This trial is about the cold-blooded murder of Samuel Johnson. Samuel was a fine young man. He was an outstanding athlete, an offensive tackle in high school. He had a football scholarship at the University of California at San Diego.

"His goal was to become an elementary-school teacher in a poor area, hoping to give disadvantaged children a purpose in life.

"He was an ardent Christian and church member. Sam made it a practice, when he found out a mob was on the move, to run ahead of them and warn the people in their path to take cover. This was why he was running toward Roger Smith and waving his arms. He wanted to warn him that a mob was coming down Valley Parkway."

Roger did not hear any more of the court proceedings after this, he was so shaken. "I have killed a fellow believer, and for this I probably will get twenty years in prison. Why didn't I pray before shooting Mr. Johnson!"

Surprisingly, Roger Smith was acquitted. The jury members realized that with the current rapings and murders, if they had been in possession of a pistol they probably would have done the same thing. A tragic incident, but with no one to blame but the mobs.

Of course there were threatening emails after this. But because of the extensive mob activity in which many people, some innocent and some activists, were killed or seriously injured, the shooting of Samuel Johnson soon was forgotten.

The social order had broken down, and who could foretell the future in America?

Roger Smith had learned a hard, hard lesson that stood him in good stead as America was overrun with competing ideologies and much blood was shed.

But Roger had some incidents to remind him about rushing to judgment.

For the rest of Roger's life, about once or twice a year, Samuel Johnson's face would appear before him.

There was no hate in his face, only understanding.

Samuel would say, "Bro, the next time you are faced with danger, ask Jesus what you should do before you pull the trigger."

Then, while the smile remained, the face of Jesus would take the place of Mr. Johnson's. The face was still black, but it was that of Jesus. On Jesus' head was a crown of long black thorns.

Slowly the face disappeared, until only the compassionate, understanding smile remained. Then the smile vanished.

This dream, if that is what it was, remained in the consciousness of Roger Smith for the remainder of his life. It served him well as the United States disintegrated into competing mobs, until finally the chairman of the armed forces declared himself President with absolute authority. He quickly restored order to the country, now greatly diminished as a world power.

Three years later, after all rebellion was put down, a presidential election was held and a new president came into office.

Let all of us ask Jesus what we should do, before we pull the trigger!

For like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. (Psalms 37:2)

I can remember when Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were threatening to rule the world. Where are they now? Such will be the case of those who today are making great boasts.

But look what our God promises in the midst of today's corruption:

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)

You are not required to fret and complain about the spiritual darkness around you.

Put your trust in the Lord Jesus and keep on doing good. To fret is to do evil!

Be content in your present circumstances. Do what good you can. Your bread and water will be sure. God will see to that.

And here is an important directive: "Take delight in the Lord." There are believers who grudgingly read the Bible and try to be religious. Jesus Christ is a king, and He takes no pleasure in people who think a Christian is supposed to be miserable.

Set yourself to think about something good in your life. Then choose to delight yourself in the Lord. Tell Him how much you appreciate the good things He has given you to enjoy.

Sometimes it is difficult to find anything to rejoice about. Make the effort. Majesty is revealed when a saint looks up from the fiery trial and blesses the Lord.

Choose to delight yourself in the Lord, and He has promised to give you the desires of your heart. Ask Jesus to show you what it is you really want. Then delight yourself in the Lord as much as possible. That you shall receive what it is you truly want is as certain as God's Character!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

And now notice this:

The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Moral and physical chaos is approaching our nation, as I have said so many times. If we are to survive and have peace, and help others to find peace, we must be anxious about nothing. Rather we are to pray about all injustice, all wrong, all that is sinful, as these circumstances come to our attention. We are to keep bringing these situations to God's attention.

We are not to rage and fume about the spiritual darkness, understanding clearly that there will be a time when God has finished His judgment; those who destroy the earth have themselves and their evil works been removed from God's earth; and peace has been restored.

Sinful, self-seeking people are confident that God, if there is a God, will not judge iniquity. They are mistaken. Every idle word is being carefully recorded and shall be dealt with. How much more the actions of those who have no regard for Christ or the Bible and shamelessly vaunt their perversities!

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this (give you the desires of your heart): He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalms 37:5.6)

To commit our way to the Lord is to bring all of our thoughts, plans, and decisions to Him—all that we think, say, and do—until we can say with the Apostle Paul, "Christ lives in me."

"Trust" is somewhat different from faith. "Faith" is the courageous confidence by which the saint moves forward in Christ obeying Christ, overcoming all obstacles.

"Trust," on the other hand, is our grip upon the faithfulness of God when our circumstances could bring us to despair if we allowed them to.

"He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun." It has been true throughout history, and is just as true today, that those who love the Lord are dismayed at the sin around them. It was this way with the patriarch, Lot, according to the Bible.

But their end shall come.

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:6,7)

The ungodly sneer at the faith of the righteous. I notice today that in America many people are afraid to proclaim Christ. They may have forgotten what our Lord said about those who deny Him. They are more afraid of the opinions of people than they are of the Lord.

The Gospel of the Kingdom is not a plan to make people happy and prosperous in the present world. Rather it is a hope that if we faithfully serve God, living a godly life, letting the light of good works shine from us, the time is coming when we shall rejoice exceedingly, singing and dancing on the high places of Zion.

Our hope in Christ shall be vindicated totally. Those who are at home in the antichrist world system of buying and selling may scorn us now. But the future will reveal that the humble saints are correct and the world is blind to the truth.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. (Psalms 37:7)

Many American Christians are hoping they can improve our government through the political process. They sincerely want to do what is right. But wicked people are manipulating the polling operation. The wicked shall prevail until we Christians look to God, letting Him know our desires, and waiting patiently for Him. Meanwhile we choose to think about the good things of the Lord rather than to be bitter and irritated.

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)

Refraining from anger and turning from wrath is going to be quite difficult in the days to come, as we witness our cherished American values being scorned as worthless. Nevertheless, we have been commanded by the Lord to not become angry.

Notice that if we fret we will be led into evil, and that the evil shall be destroyed!

If we place our hope in the Lord, continuing to do good as we have opportunity, we shall inherit the land. This is what our Lord has promised. The meek shall inherit the earth. In spite of all their boasting, the wicked never shall possess the inheritance of Christ and His saints.

I will proclaim the Lord's decree: He said to me, "You are my son; today I have become your father. Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession." (Psalms 2:8,9)

Today the wicked act as though they will inherit America. They parade about displaying their wicked personalities, certain they are sure to gain their desires. But they shall not! In the end they shall be revealed as the servants of Satan, and they shall spend eternity with Satan in the Lake of Fire.

If you would stand in victory, and help others to stand in victory:

Always practice iron, uncompromising righteousness.

Always practice holy thoughts, attitudes, and speech.

Always practice stern unswerving obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

We Christians are not to attempt to fight fire with fire, to fight evil with evil. Satan is the master of fire, of evil.

We are not to fret and complain, becoming angry at the antics of the wicked.

We are to think about what is lovely and honorable.

We are to rejoice in the Lord always.

We are not to attempt to overcome evil by force and fighting.

We are to patiently wait for God to avenge those who have been harmed by the ungodly.

We are to laugh with God as the dust of the earth attempts to outwit Him.

We are to think continually about the rewards that shall be given to those who patiently obey Christ at this time.

We are to rest in the fact that Christ is in control of all people, circumstances and things.

We are to have total confidence that Christ is with us and never shall leave us or forsake us.

When we see injustice or any other form of wickedness we are to look to the Lord to correct the situation, and wait patiently for Him.

We always are to be gentle, never allowing wicked, violent people to cause us to lower ourselves to act like them.

We always are to remember that God has raised us with Christ to His right hand. Therefore we are not to give way to bitterness and unbelief.

We are to give thanks always, letting God know our requests.

I think the Spirit is saying that much blood will be shed in America in the days to come. In that hour we are not to fear our own death or the death of our loved ones, understanding that if we have been a decent person, and have received Christ when He has been presented to us by the Father, for us or our loved ones to die will be the most joyful of all possible experiences.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

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Four Worlds

2013-09-15

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (II Peter 3:13)

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." (Revelation 21:5)

There are four worlds to consider:

There is the mind, the conscious existence.

There is the world of flesh and blood.

There is the world of Christ.

There is the world of Satan.

Each of the four worlds contains creatures, authority, forces, and environment.

The world of conscious existence is present in the other three worlds. It is a noncorporeal world—there are no bodies in it. It is inhabited by all the dead since the beginning of time. The Authority is God who made all worlds. There are spiritual forces in it, the foremost of which is the Father of our Lord Jesus.

We know little of the environment of the world of conscious existence, since it is only alluded to in the Bible. I believe this is because God does not want a "place" to be our goal. In spite of this, we have made a place to be our goal. We call it "Heaven." But Jesus Christ is to be our goal, not Heaven!

The world of conscious existence is exceedingly vast. According to my understanding it is divided into the Land of Light and the Land of Darkness.

The people who inhabit the Land of Light are the decent people from the beginning of world history.

Whenever the Father presents Christ to an individual, that person must acknowledge Christ as Lord if he or she is to remain in the Land of Light.

Within the Land of Light is a much smaller area. This is the heavenly Jerusalem, the home of the Royal Priesthood. It is Mount Zion. It is what we picture when we think about "Heaven."

But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. (Hebrews 22,23)

When we first receive Christ we are lifted to the right hand of God in Christ. We now are in the heavenly Jerusalem. But in order to stay there we must keep on washing our robes in the blood of the Lamb. This is to say, our personality that still is on the earth, must keep being purified as the Spirit of God points out our sins and self-will.

If we do not keep on purifying ourselves, and continue in sin, we will be removed from our place in the heavenly Mount Zion. Our crown of life will be given to another. But if we keep ourselves in the Presence of Christ, the Glory that is Christ will keep transforming our spirit until it is perfect in God's sight.

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)

In addition to confessing and turning away from our sins, we must keep inviting Christ into every aspect of our life.

We might think of the "talents," of the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, as being a portion of God that He has given to us. From the moment we first receive God we are to be receiving Christ into our life. This is how we pass from thirtyfold to a hundredfold.

The "interest" God is hoping for is, first of all, our personal growth into someone who can reveal the Person of God and also work with Christ in the establishing of God's will in the earth.

The second part of the interest is the growth into God's image of the people who hear us and are influenced by us.

This double benefit is illustrated in Brother Lawrence, who sought to bring Christ into every aspect of his life. His personal growth in Christ has brought the blessing of God to uncounted numbers of Christian people.

If, however, after once having received Christ, we do not keep receiving Christ into our life, the Divine refreshing leaves and our personality becomes stagnant and repulsive, like yesterday's manna. We have seen this happen in longtime church members who become critical, self-centered, and quarrelsome. What once was of God is desirable no longer.

At one time they had been joyous Christians giving off the fragrance of Christ. But in its place, after many years of not receiving Christ, there only is an unpleasant odor.

You know what the decision of Christ is, don't you. "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

This worthless servant of Christ at one time had been a resident of the heavenly Jerusalem, being a member of the elect. Now he or she was cast out of the heavenly Jerusalem and assigned to the Land of Darkness.

The heavenly Jerusalem contains only a small part of the inhabitants of the Land of Light.

There was in the first century a Christian congregation which apparently was quite large. This was the church of Sardis.

Yet, in spite of its reputation for being alive, most of the people of the church of Sardis were not righteous and holy enough to be members of the Royal Priesthood.

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)

This means that of all those people in Sardis who professed faith in Christ, only a few would remain as part of Mount Zion, of the heavenly Jerusalem. There are numerous people who claim to be Christians, but it is only the few who have not defiled themselves with sinful conduct who shall govern for eternity the works of God's hands.

It is with this understanding in mind that we see the pernicious influence of the so-called "grace" message. The grace message leaves the believers with the idea that even though they have not received Christ to the point of overcoming their sinful behavior; even though they have neglected to grow in and use the Divine Life that has been given to them; they still will rule as a member of the Royal Priesthood.

Paul gave us the key to understanding the Royal Priesthood, the people who make up the holy city in the Land of Light:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28,29)

Exactly who are these who are called according to God's purpose; who are predestined to be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Every person born on the earth? I don't believe so! Every individual who makes a profession of belief in the Lord Jesus? I don't believe so.

Is every one who "accepts Christ" predestined to be the brother of the Lord? I kind of doubt it.

Do you know what the image of Christ is like?

And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (Revelation 1:13-15)

The heavenly Jerusalem is the Tabernacle of God, the eternal Temple of God. There is no temple in the heavenly Mount Zion because the entire city is the Temple of God.

These are the righteous people made perfect. Such is the Royal Priesthood.

There were many Christians in the Church of Sardis. But only a few were found worthy to walk with Christ in white. Only a few are members of the Royal Priesthood.

We are to forget the things that are behind and keep pressing toward the fullness of resurrection life, until we can say, "I am living no more. Christ is living in me."

The Apostle Paul said we should place our attention in Heaven where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. The Book of Hebrews reminds us we already have come to Mount Zion, which actually is what we mean by 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. (Hebrews 12:22)

As I stated previously, the spirits of righteous people in the heavenly Jerusalem are made perfect because the Glory of Christ continually is transforming them.

According to people who have had near-death experiences, the world of conscious existence is paradisiacal, with flowers, children, perfect climate, and so forth.

The world of conscious existence is filled with spirits of all sorts, including angels and demons. I refer to these "spirits" as "forces," because they move people in the world of flesh and blood to act in certain manners.

To repeat, God does not want a place to be our goal. The goal God has given us is Christ. It is useless for people to go to Paradise when the people themselves are not changed.

The second world I have mentioned is the world of flesh and blood. It is the world we know and can see with our eyes. It is filled with people. There are individuals in authority over us. There are the forces provided by flesh and blood, by machines, and by righteous and unclean spirits that move us according to their will.

Our earthly environment was created by the Lord. It indeed is wonderful, but it is being destroyed by people who are motivated by destructive spirits and by their own self-will.

The third of the four worlds is Christ Himself. We may not think of Him as a world, but He is. He invites us to abide in Him.

As a human being we are hindered by the rebellion that dwells in our physical personality; and helped by the Spirit of God, if we are seeking to make Christ our world.

The third world is inhabited by people who are dwelling in Christ and Christ in them. Christ is the highest Authority of the third world. The power of the Spirit of God is the force in this world, along with God's angels. The environment of the third world is Paradise.

The final two chapters of the Book of Revelation might be thought of as portraying the environment of the third world. It does not. While the elements set forth, such as the great wall and the Tabernacle of God, are part of the environment of the third world, they are expressed in symbolic form in the Book of Revelation.

The great wall is speaking of the resistance to sin that has been formed in the new world of righteousness.

The Trees of Life refer to Christ and those who are part of Him, out from whom flows the water of eternal life. The new sky and earth and the inhabitants are as recorded in the Book of Revelation, although much of the portrayal is in symbolic form.

The third world may properly be termed Christ, or the new world of righteousness, or the resurrection.

Then there is the fourth world. The fourth world is Satan himself. The fourth world is inhabited by every sort of unclean spirit; and influences all people until they are able to move into Christ.

The authority and power of the fourth world is Satan himself, and his demons and angels. But he always is under the control of Christ. The environment of the fourth world is Hell and eventually the Lake of Fire.

When Jesus Christ cried out, "It is finished," I believe He meant more than the atonement had been completed. He may have been stating that the adamic world of flesh and blood is no more. Of course the world of flesh and blood exists at the present time. But God has a way of speaking of future events as though they are present.

For example, when the Lord Jesus was still on the earth, He said, "I am no longer in this world." This act of binding the future is available today for any of us who care to spend enough time with God to work with Him in the planning of our own destiny.

If we are learning today to live by the Life of Jesus, looking to Him at all times for His will and attitude concerning our decisions and circumstances, we already are entering the new world of righteousness; the world in which God's will always is done perfectly; the world which is Christ Himself, the world of the resurrection.

Our goal in life ought always to be leaving the world of Satan and entering the world that is Christ.

In connection with our leaving the world of Satan and entering the new world of righteousness that is Christ, there is a continuity of thought in the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Second Corinthians that concerns the transition from the world of Satan to the world of Christ.

First, the Apostle Paul tells us how he continually is being brought down to death and continually is being raised up by the power of Christ.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)

Paul goes on to inform us that his death and life are creating great glory for him.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17)

Continuing into the next chapter, Paul tells us what the "eternal glory" is. It is the robe that will clothe his resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of Resurrection.

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)

As a side comment I would say that much more attention should be given today to the fact that our decisions during our discipleship directly affect the body that will clothe our resurrected flesh and bones in the Day of Resurrection.

But to return to the continuity of thought in Chapters Four and Five in the Book of Second Corinthians. We find that at the Judgment Seat of Christ we shall receive how we have behaved during our discipleship, which is to say, the robe that clothes our resurrection frame will contain within itself our decisions during our life---the things we have done.

God does not have in mind to punish us because we have a sinful nature. Having been born with a sinful nature was not our choice. But what we do about it, the decisions we make as God leads us along, will have their consequences in the Day of Resurrection. We shall receive what we have done!

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

I do not believe the above translation accurately describes what will take place in the Day of Resurrection. It is not that we will receive what is due us, as though it were a reward. Rather we shall receive the things themselves.

The faithful Christian will receive faithfulness in his or her new body. The liar will receive lying in his or her new body. The morally pure person will receive moral purity in his or her new body. The morally filthy individual will receive moral filth in the resurrection body. And so forth.

Here is the Scripture fulfilled: "Let the righteous and holy remain righteous and holy. Let the unrighteous and filthy remain unrighteous and filthy."

This is perfect justice, and God's love and grace do not at this point affect one iota of the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.

But the continuity does not cease with Second Corinthians 5:10.

Paul goes on to tell us that there is a new creation in Christ. Paul says he does not know the Christ of the first world. Christ is the Firstborn of the new world of righteousness. He is the World whom Paul was seeking with all of his strength.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (II Corinthians 5:16,17)

The "new creation" is the new world of righteousness, the world that is Christ Himself, that itself is the resurrection and the life, the third of the four worlds we are presenting.

When we are baptized in water we are portraying that we have entered Christ's death on the cross. We also have entered His new resurrection Life. Thus we too are born into the new world of righteousness.

Paul would have nothing to do with the first world. He strove to forget all that was behind him and press into the new world of righteousness.

Part of the adamic nature is the affliction we term "nostalgia." The old man, after his wife dies, sings, "I wandered today to the hill, Maggie." Then he bathes himself in tears.

This is all such a maudlin waste. It does not help Maggie one whit.

The thing to do is to look forward to the day when we see Maggie again, and that for eternity.

There is a bright new world ahead of us to look forward to. Our loved ones will all be there in their prime, never to grow old again. This shall be true if they have been a decent person, and have received Christ when the Father has presented Christ to him or her.

When we die we enter the world of conscious existence. If we have received Christ we may be placed in the heavenly Zion.

Once we are in the world of conscious existence we may make some progress in entering the world that is Christ. While we are alive in the present world of flesh and blood we can begin the program of entering Christ. Then, after we die, we can continue to receive Christ and grow in Him.

Personally, I believe that in many instances, most of our progress in entering Christ will occur after we die and leave the physical world of flesh and blood.

For many of us, the past has been one headache, and maybe heartache, after another. I wouldn't go back one day, would you? I am pressing forward toward Christ Himself, toward the new world of righteousness. I believe you are also.

The great hope of our Christian salvation is that when we die we will enter the Land of Light. If we are a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus, having entered His death and resurrection, we will be placed in the heavenly Jerusalem.

To be reunited with our loved ones, and to make new friends, is far more important to most of us than walking on a golden street.

God loves the world and all its people. He knows what it will mean for us to be restored to our loved ones.

I believe we will have the opportunity, after we die, to keep on pressing forward in Christ.

While we are alive in the present world, each Christian has two worlds in himself or herself. We can choose to nourish the old, adamic world, and live like any other sinner, even though we name the name of Christ.

Or we can choose to nourish the new world of righteousness, praying constantly, attending services with fervent believers, serving, giving of our means, and doing all else to demonstrate that this present world is not our home.

When the Spirit of God points out some area of sin or self-will in our life, we are to confess it clearly to Christ. Then we are to ask His help in turning from it resolutely. We have to be very firm in this if we expect to be delivered. Walking in open confession and repentance is key to the victorious life in Christ.

Our life must become one of continuing prayer because of the decisions that keep confronting us. The world in which we live is the valley of the shadow of death. It is an arena of wickedness. The truth is, it is one great lie.

But what does the Scripture state about those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes?

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)

Today it appears that only the hardiest of Christians make progress toward the new world of righteousness. So many who profess the name of Christ remain unchanged year after year, hoping to die and go to their mansion in Heaven! That they remain unchanged means they are not being saved; because to be saved means to be changed from the old world of the lie to the new world of righteousness and truthfulness.

It may be true that the hardy Christians who make substantial progress into the new world of righteousness will be the ones who will be raised to life and caught up to Christ when He appears. It does not seem at all reasonable or scriptural that the complacent "believers" of our day will be snatched out of the world so they are not troubled by the Great Tribulation or by Antichrist.

I do not teach people that they will be delivered by a rapture. Rather I teach them how to stand in Christ and help others during the coming trouble. Does that sound like the Lord to you?

Be ready for change. Several years ago, during a pastors' conference, the Lord spoke to me. He said, "Forget the old ways of doing things. I have new and surprising ways of working in your day."

I believe that it was the Lord who spoke to me. We know that where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. Well, the sins of today keep increasing. I am looking for Jesus to do something spectacular and unprecedented.

I am not referring just to people being "saved," as we use the term. I mean new works of power, double the first Pentecost, that will cause the believers to come out of the world and start serving the Lord.

It is time that miracles are restored to the Christian churches—miracles greater than at any other time of earth's history. The brazen arrogance of today's political leaders must be confronted with the power of our God. Maybe that is what the Lord meant at the pastors' meeting.

We are to devote ourselves to nourishing the new world of righteousness that is in us. We can enter today the new world of righteousness as our old adamic nature gives way before the Divine life of Christ being formed in us.

Our first personality finds its life in the world, its joy in the flesh, and follows its own mind instead of the Spirit of God.

The new personality finds its life in Christ, its joy in Christ and follows the Spirit of God rather than its own mind and will.

The reason we have so much trouble overcoming sin is that we pay too much attention to the first world in us and not enough attention to the new world of Christ. The Apostle John tells us that what is born of God does not sin and cannot sin because it is of God. This tells us that as Christ increases in us we will begin to get total victory over sin.

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God. (I John 3:9)

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What Is Man?

2013-09-22

But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?" (Hebrews 2:6)

By "man" I mean men and women, boys and girls.

Man has been created to have fellowship with God.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)

Man has been created also:

To be in the image of God.

Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." (Genesis 1:26)

To govern all the works of God's hands.

What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet. (Psalms 8:4-6)

To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:9)

To be part of the eternal Temple of God.

And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

To be a member of the Body of Christ.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

To be a son of God.

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:7—NASB)

To be the light of the world.

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14)

To be a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. 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 60:1,2)

To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations.

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

To be a member of the Royal Priesthood.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

To be a witness of God.

"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)

To be salt.

You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. (Matthew 5:13)

To be an overcomer of the accuser.

They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:11)

To be a governor of the nations.

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)

To be a soldier in the army of the Lord.

The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)

To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God.

The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)

To be the revelation of God in Christ.

The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

We probably can see that being "saved" involves more than lying on our sofa in our mansion in Paradise. We of the Church have been entrusted with the work of the Kingdom of God. That is our calling as saints (holy ones).

To be in the image of God. It takes a long time for the Lord to dig an individual out of the pit and then carve him or her into the image of God! It is God's will that each Christian be in the image of Christ, both inwardly and outwardly. This is possible only as we keep on receiving Christ at all times, seven days a week.

To govern all the works of God's hands. God has created man to be His Throne. Christ has been given all authority and power in heaven and upon the earth. This authority and power extends to the members of the Body of Christ, as the Head directs.

To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb. We become married to the Lamb as we live by His body and blood. We are given to eat and drink of this hidden manna every time we refuse the demands of our sinful nature and choose to do the will of Christ.

To be part of the eternal Temple of God. We must keep ourselves morally pure, because our body is the eternal house of the Spirit of God.

To be a member of the Body of Christ. To be a member of the Body of Christ is to bear the anointing of the Spirit of God. One of our principal tasks as a member of the Servant of the Lord is to bring justice to the nations of the earth.

To be a son of God. We begin as a child of God. If through Christ we manage to live in victory, we finally will be deemed a son of God. Then we will be adopted as a son of God by means of the redemption of our body.

To be the light of the world. Christ is the Light of the world, the Light that shines forth from the new Jerusalem, the Lampstand of God. As members of the Body of Christ we are an integral part of the Divine Lampstand.

To be a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival. The current age in which we live might be termed the "Church Age." The purpose of the Church Age is to call out God's elect from the people of the world. When we have matured sufficiently the Glory of God will come upon us, we will be one in the Father and the Son, and the people of the nations will perceive that it is the true God of Heaven who has sent the Lord Jesus Christ into the world.

To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations. The Throne of God is being created in us. It is God's will that the Spirit of God flow from that inner Throne and bring eternal life to the dead sea of mankind.

To be a member of the Royal Priesthood. This is the highest calling of man. The home of the Royal Priesthood is the new Jerusalem. These holy ones will govern the works of God's hands for eternity.

To be a witness of God. God creates His witnesses. When He has wrought His refining work in us we reveal the Person, will, way, and eternal purpose of God in the Lord Jesus Christ.

To be salt. Those who love God and Christ and serve them diligently make the nations of the earth palatable to Them.

To be an overcomer of the accuser. The work of overcoming the accuser has begun, I believe. Consequently we see signs of Satan and his wicked hordes being cast down to the earth. They are influencing people, as we can observe from the unprecedented works of evil that are occurring.

To be a governor of the nations. It is God's will that Christ and His victorious saints govern the peoples of the earth. We govern with the rod of iron righteousness that is being formed in us as through Christ we overcome the works of Satan that continue to press against us.

To be a soldier in the army of the Lord. There is the army of saints, and then the army of angels—two armies. If we would be a soldier in the Lord's army of saints we must practice the strictest obedience to the Lord Jesus at all times. The army of angels do the fighting. The army of saints communicate the Divine judgments.

To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God. Such is the huge, beautiful wall of Jasper that prevents evil from entering the Lord and His priesthood. There was no wall around the garden in Eden. There never again will be an unwalled Paradise. That wall is being created in us as we embrace righteousness and reject and renounce all wickedness.

To be the revelation of God in Christ. God is incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now God is increasing the incarnation of Himself in the Body of Christ, the victorious saints.

Because these roles and tasks of the Kingdom can be performed only by those who are being made in the image of Christ, and are dwelling in untroubled rest in the center of the Father's will, it is my point of view that such are the only believers who are both competent and qualified to be raised to life and caught up to meet the Lord Jesus in the air when He appears.

We need to be concerned about this, because the Christian churches of our day are complacent, casual about their discipleship. Yet they are being taught that any moment now they will be caught up to Heaven to live in a mansion and do nothing of significance for eternity.

I do not believe the Bible supports their hope. If I am correct, it must be true that we are looking forward to a reformation of Christian thinking. God is too kind and loving to leave so many people in a state of delusion.

We must keep in mind that the purpose of raising people to life and catching them up to meet Jesus in the air, where He is waiting with the army of angels and the war stallions, is that He and they may descend and install the Kingdom of God, the will of God, on the earth.

It is for this dramatic intervention in the affairs of the earth that we pray: "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven."

The Tabernacle of the Congregation, set forth in the Book of Exodus portrays the person of the new world of righteousness, the individual who is competent and qualified to be raised and caught up to meet the Lord in the air and assist with the task of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

He is established upon the blood of atonement, represented by the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering, which is the first furnishing encountered when entering the Courtyard.

God meets man only at the cross.

The second furnishing in the Courtyard is the bronze Laver. The Laver portrays the washing of water by the Word of God. It was constructed from the looking glasses of the women of the congregation. As we read the Bible we can see where we are dirty and need to be cleansed.

Now we enter the Tent of Meeting, the Tabernacle proper.

On our right is the Table of Showbread. The Table speaks of the body of Christ, which we must eat if we are to have the new world of righteousness formed in us.

Twice each day a lamb was sacrificed at the Altar of Burnt Offering. Its blood was poured out in the Holy Place, next to the Table of Showbread (often referred to as the Bread of the Presence).

The body and blood of Christ are fed to us throughout each day as we continue to resist sin and do what Christ desires. We overcome the accuser by the blood of the Lamb.

To our left is the solid-gold Lampstand. The Lampstand speaks of the witness of God, His Person, will, way, and eternal purpose in Christ. We cannot bear a witness of Christ that has an eternal impact, except as we are filled with the Spirit of God.

The two lampstands, of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation, refer to Christ Himself, the one Lampstand, and the victorious saints of the churches, the second lampstand. Christ is working today with His victorious saints who will bear the final witness of the closing days of the Church Age. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant by "new and surprising things"!

Directly ahead of us, in the Holy Place, this side of the holy Veil, is the Altar of Incense. This is the next step after the Pentecostal experience of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

At the Altar of Incense we surrender our will to God and worship Him continually. The power of the seven thunders will never be manifest on the earth until God has saints who choose to die to their self-will.

Such is the challenge of the hour. How many of us will set aside our own life, even our ministerial life, and choose to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus?

Like the Apostle Paul we must be able to say, "It is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me."

This is a decision we must make clearly and firmly. We must ask God to make it true of us that we are living by the Life of Christ and not by our own life.

When we pray this prayer in utmost sincerity, God may permit Satan to place us in some kind of prison. "I am shut up and cannot come forth," the Psalmist cried.

Have you experienced such confinement? You may, if you ask God that you might live by the Life of Jesus. But the resurrection life we need today to overcome the unbelievable wickedness and perversity can come only as some of us are willing to forego our own plans and desires so that the Lord Jesus may live in us. Are you one such person? Am I?

Such is the Altar of Incense. We cannot proceed further toward the new world of righteousness until we learn to worship Christ and not ourselves.

Now we stand before the holy, ornate Veil. What does the Veil signify? The Veil, as also is true of the Jordan River, represents total death to the first world, our former adamic nature.

Are we ready to leave the old adamic world, casting aside all nostalgia, forgetting what is behind, pressing forward to what is ahead? If we are not willing to do this, we will have to settle for a lesser place in the Kingdom of God. We are trying to be another god in the universe.

So we make our choice and move past the Veil. The light of the Lampstand does not shine here. It is the Most Holy Place. It is lighted by the Glory of God!

Do you want to live here? Are you certain?

We are confronted with the Ark of the Covenant, crowned with the solid-gold Lid of Reconciliation.

The Ark of the Covenant, unlike the Lampstand and the lid of Reconciliation, is not solid gold. It is constructed of acacia wood, overlaid and covered within with pure gold.

The wood represents man. The gold represents Divinity.

Such is the Kingdom of God. It is God and man living and working together, we might say.

To attain to such character we must vacate the throne of our life so that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit may sit on our throne. But when God is satisfied with our obedience, we will be permitted to sit with Them on the throne of our life. So it always is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon. Both must be active if we are to fulfill God's purposes for us.

Within the personality of the new man has been established for eternity his willingness to live by every Word coming from God's mouth. This is revealed by the presence of the memorial jar of manna, which is inside the Ark.

Within our personality has been established forever that we have died to our own plans and ambitions and are alive in our ministry by the resurrection life of Christ. This is revealed in Aaron's Rod that budded.

Within our personality has been established forever the righteousness and holiness of the Lord God, as evidenced by the presence within the Ark of the eternal moral Law of God, represented by the Tables of Stone.

Such is the person of the new world of righteousness.

When such character has been formed, as Christ has come to maturity in us, the Glory of the Living God always rests upon us in the form of the Lid of Reconciliation.

The entire plan of God from the time of the rebellion of Satan has been to reconcile God's creatures to Himself. This is the work of the spiritual counterpart of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It has begun now and will continue throughout eternity, as people keep drinking of the Spirit of God, eating of the Tree of Life, and turning away from all that is not of the image of God.

Does this mean every creature eventually will be reconciled to God?

Sadly, no. There are angels and people who will not obey Christ. The Lake of Fire will not make them holy. It only will confirm their worship of themselves and of their father, Satan.

One such angel or person would destroy the eternal righteousness, love, peace, and joy of the ever-expanding Kingdom of God.

The primary law of the Kingdom of God is strict obedience to God's King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we see there is a first world, the world of Adam and Eve, the world of flesh and blood. This world is the valley of the shadow of death--which is more evident each day as the corruption and lies increase.

Then there is the second world, the new world of righteousness. Both worlds are in the Christian person when he or she is born again.

Now the battle rages. Will we permit Jesus Christ to totally drive out the old, or will we cling to it because of our unbelief.

I trust that you and I will make the right decision, because eternity is a long time!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness 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 9:6,7)

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Using Our Talents

2013-09-29

For whoever has will be given more (talents), and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. (Matthew 25:29)

I do not know if I ever heard anyone explain what the talents of gold represent, that are mentioned in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew.

If we think about it, the parable of the talents is referring to the Lord's servants. In fact, all of the Bible is about the Lord's servants. The Bible is not written to the world, except possibly Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which appear to apply as much to the world as they do to God's people. Certainly the New Testament is directed toward God's family.

The term "talent" is applied by people of the world to music, art, athletics, and so forth. I do not believe these definitions are what is meant here. I think Christ is referring to the portion of Himself that is given to a member of His elect, His Body. "Talents" refer to gold; and "gold" in the Scriptures typifies Divinity.

It also could represent special ministries, gifts, or abilities given to the believer by the Spirit of God. In this case, he or she must be absolutely conscientious and diligent in the employment of them.

There is a parallel, I believe, in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew. I am referring to the thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold. I used to think these were three different sets of people. I am leaning now to the understanding that these are three stages in the pursuit of the fullness of victory in Christ.

When we look about us in Christendom we can see that some people have been given a greater portion of Christ than is true of others. I am thinking now of Lawrence of the Resurrection, commonly known as "Brother Lawrence." He was moved to invite Christ into every aspect of his life.

"The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees."

I think of the practice of bringing Christ into every aspect of life as "living by the Life of Christ." Jesus always is knocking at the door of our personality, seeking entrance. He desires to dine on our worship and obedience and we on His body and blood.

The Apostle Paul said the same thing: "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live. Yet it is not I but Christ who is living in me."

I am certain it was Paul's intention that Christ be living in him at all times in every situation, just as this is to be our intention.

So it is not a case of running here or going there. Rather we are to open the door and invite Christ into all we are doing. How often are we to do this? As often as we think of it during the day and night.

It appears to me that Brother Lawrence was given "ten talents" to begin with. He had such a zeal for Christ!

But not everyone is given such a passion for Jesus. Perhaps David Brainerd was.

But Christ is determined to profit from the individual who is given even the smallest portion of Himself.

Whether we are given ten talents or one talent, we are to apply what we have been given to pursuing more of Christ. The thirtyfold is to advance to the sixtyfold. The sixtyfold is to advance to the hundredfold.

Now here is the issue: If we have been given a portion of Christ, and do not multiply it, we will suffer for it when we appear before Christ. And every one of us will appear before Christ some day!

So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:28-30)

I have an impression of the spirit world. It is an exceedingly vast area. It is divided into the Land of Light and the Land of Darkness. The Land of Darkness is in several parts, the lowest region being Hell.

In one corner of the Land of Light there is an elevated area, a high hill with a plateau on top. On this plateau there is a great city, the heavenly Jerusalem.

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. (Hebrews 12:22,23)

This city is what we mean by "Heaven." It is the home of God's elect, the members of the Royal Priesthood.

When an individual truly receives Christ, he or she is raised spiritually to the right hand of God in Christ. His or her home is in the heavenly Zion---for this is where God and Christ are.

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)

Notice carefully the tense of the verbs.

You have come to Mount Zion.

You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels.

You have come to God.

You have been raised with Christ.

Your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

These facts are true currently of every person who is "in Christ."

Now you can see how important it is that we keep on seeking to live by the Life of Christ. As we do, the portion of Christ that was given to us keeps on being increased. We pass from the thirtyfold to the sixtyfold, so to speak.

As Christ increases in us, and we become more proficient in inviting Christ into our daily life, His Presence around us increases noticeably. The result is, those who are close to us and those who hear us will themselves become more conscious of their need for Christ. Such is the "interest" the Master is looking for.

But what instead of seeking more of Christ each day we "bury our talent"? What if we make an initial profession of Christ and then go about our daily business without making a sincere attempt to invite Christ into our life, or to find our gifts and use them? In this case, the Divine life in us is like yesterday's manna. There is no fresh Divine "water" flowing into it and keeping it fresh.

When we stand before Christ, instead of bringing with us an increased measure of Himself, and other people who have received Christ, there will be nothing but a bad odor coming from us.

Now we will be removed from the heavenly Jerusalem, from all else of the Land of Light, and assigned to one of the stations of the Land of Darkness. We have incurred the wrath of Christ.

Also, the Divine Life we had been given previously swill be given to another.

Here is the saying fulfilled: "That which has been given to us is removed and given to another who has been more diligent." Now we have nothing of God, and the diligent individual has more than ever.

Our rulership in the Kingdom of God has been removed. The faithful person has more authority and power than ever.

In the Land of Light there are multitudes of people who are not in the heavenly Zion. They are not of God's elect, of the Royal Priesthood. But they are the decent people of the nations who obey Christ when He is presented to them.

Now notice: when a member of the elect does not use his or her talents so as to bring profit to Christ, the individual does not go from the heavenly Zion to the Land of Light but to the Land of Darkness.

Why is this? It is because to whom much is given, of him or her shall much be required. The Lord's priests who disobey God are treated more harshly than are other people. Notice what happened to Eli and his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

If we are a sincere Christian, we will be judged more carefully than is true of people who are not of God's elect. Consider the afflictions of Job!

You know, we have been given poisoned water. We have been told that if we "accept Christ" on some occasion, our worries are over. No matter how we live after that, our crown cannot be taken from us. When we die we will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant," and be taken to our mansion in Paradise where we will have no responsibilities for eternity.

Such is the disastrous teaching so widespread in America today.

There was a large church in Sardis. It had a reputation for being alive, which means it was growing in numbers.

But look what Jesus said about that congregation:

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)

"Have not defiled their garments" means they have confessed their sins to the Lord and with His assistance have turned away from them.

The heavenly Jerusalem is the home of the Royal Priesthood. When Jesus said only a few of the large congregation in Sardis would walk with Him in white, He means only a few would remain in the Royal Priesthood, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

This reminds us of what Jesus said about attaining to His resurrection Life. The Lord said, "Narrow is the way that leads to Life and few find it."

The problem here is, we have been taught that if we "accept Christ" we have found Life. Often this is true. But "accept Christ" is not a scriptural expression. It is an unscriptural religious formality.

Rather, we are to "receive Christ." We are to receive Him every day. Otherwise the water of eternal Life becomes stagnant, "breeds worms" like yesterday's manna, and stinks.

There are many "believers" who "accepted Christ" years ago, and now are not refreshing to be near.

Then too, consider the Lord's servant who buried the Divine gold he had been given. He was removed from the heavenly Jerusalem and cast into one of the stations of the Land of Darkness.

Paul teaches us in the Book of Romans that if we live according to our sinful nature, we will die spiritually. This means our mortal body will not be filled with the Spirit of God in the Day of Resurrection.

Also, please consider the following admonition:

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. (Revelation 3:11)

Is it possible to once have the crown of righteousness and life and then have someone take it from us? It certainly sounds like it, doesn't it?

The present teaching is that we are to "accept" Christ, and then we never can lose our place in Christ.

But the exhortation to Sardis about keeping our conduct free from sin; and the warning concerning not using the Divine gold that has been given to us; finally the caution about guarding our crown; should suffice for the intellectually honest person to conclude that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling if we don't want to lose it!

"Accepting Christ" usually is just a dead religious gesture, although it can represent a true receiving of Christ and be followed by a faithful life.

We are to receive Christ. Not just once, but often throughout every day and night. He continually is knocking, asking for increased entrance into our daily behavior and decisions. We continually are to be opening and learning to live by His Life. His Life is His body and blood that are given to us whenever we choose to obey God rather than to yield to the promptings of our sinful nature.

Let's now decide to emulate Brother Lawrence and the Apostle Paul, setting aside our own plans and ambitions, and look to the Lord Jesus for all we think, say, and do. Let us "practice the Presence of God" at all times.

Living by the Life of Jesus is going to make the difference between survival and destruction in the days of chaos that are ahead of us in America.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:7)

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The Handwriting Is On The Wall!

2013-10-06

Within the past five or so years there have been a considerable number of worthwhile political efforts to combat what we Christians consider to be un-American activities in our country. Numerous pastors have made valiant political efforts to combat the slide into economic programs that are contrary to our capitalism, and also into what we consider immoral behavior and programs.

I have only good to say about these faithful men and women who are endeavoring to maintain the American way of life.

Right at this time, at least in California, the focus of attention seems to have turned from the same-sex marriage issue to the bizarre "Bathroom Bill." The "Bathroom Bill," if I have read the reports correctly, mandates that public-school children must have access to bathrooms designated for boys or girls regardless of their own physical gender.

This is a K-12 bill, meaning it goes from Kindergarten up to seniors in high school. How do they expect children and young people to learn modesty; or is modesty a thing of the past?

To the best of my knowledge, this bill is ready to be signed by the Governor.

Any parent in California who sends a child to a public school, while the "Bathroom Bill" is in force, has only himself or herself to blame for the mischief that will follow.

Our political leaders must have their heads in the clouds. Their decisions no doubt reflect some sort of "progressive" reasoning. But putting boys and girls in the same bathroom, given the sexual pressures in our country at this time, is not close to being sensible.

Male-female bathrooms would not bear good fruit even for adults!

Being 88 years of age, and a rock-ribbed New Englander, Yankee, and patriot (I enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 17), I cannot imagine the speed at which our nation is abandoning its original values and way of life.

I was born in Maine and raised in Connecticut. My wife, Audrey, was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York. So we are about as American as one can get.

As various issues have arisen in America over the past several years, I have been tempted to participate somewhat in political activity. Being a pastor, and having a web site on which I express my thoughts, I could make my voice heard.

However, I have learned, being a fervent Christian from the age of eighteen, to ask God about everything. As nearly as I can tell, the Lord advised me to continue to preach the Kingdom of God rather than becoming involved in politics. This I have done.

I am not suggesting every Christian should adopt this attitude. Those who believe Christ wants them to be politically active should take whatever actions that are before them, and do so fervently.

I think the Prophet Jeremiah was in somewhat of a similar situation. God told Jeremiah that Israel already was defeated and to tell the captives to live their lives in Babylon, because the captivity was of Him.

I said a somewhat similar situation! There are two great differences. First, our enemy is not composed of human beings. Our enemy is Satan. Also, we are not to surrender to him, as Jeremiah advised the king of Israel, but to press closer to the Lord Jesus.

I would say about five years ago, as I could see the moral rot operating in the United States, I felt God tell me that we of America had crossed the line and He is about to send judgment on us. Imagine that! We do not like to think that God has turned away from America. But He has told me that His judgment is on the way and it can no longer be stopped.

You may not like this thought. I do not like it either. But I have to tell the truth and be a true "prophet," if you will. The Lord knows we have enough false prophets in America with their "lawless grace" and "Jesus did it all" teachings.

Because I am convinced that we have crossed the line, just as Israel had done in the days of Jeremiah, we need to hear from the Lord what we are to do.

What I have done over the past five years is to try to prepare people for the moral and physical chaos that is on the horizon.

This is what I have been preaching: get as close to the Lord Jesus as you can. Learn to live by His Life. Ask Him about everything during the day and night. Take nothing for granted. Talk to Him all the time, whether or not He speaks clearly to you. Some people hear the voice of Jesus; others do not. But in every case, if we will commit our way to the Lord He shall direct our paths.

If we wish to stand and help others to stand in the days to come we must learn to live by the Life of Jesus. Every time we gain victory over sin we are fed in the spirit realm with His body and blood. In this way Christ is formed in us and we become increasingly able to gain victory over sin.

The reason God is going to pour out His judgment on America is not the fault of some politician, or political party, or anyone else. It is because of the sin that is rampant throughout our country. There is no use our fighting the Democrats or the Republicans. Our adversary is Satan.

Abortion-on-demand may be the primary reason God has turned away from us. In God's sight, killing a youngster without good and sufficient reason, just to prove the mother has the "right" to do this, must be from God's point of view a heinous crime.

Unscriptural sexual behavior is another important reason. A third is the pursuit of money. Money is god for many Americans.

Something else is true. We Americans are leaving Christ. It is getting so people are afraid to mention the name of Jesus publicly because of the negative consequences. Can you imagine this in the United States? We are afraid to stand up for our Lord who has redeemed us by His blood from the hand of Satan.

Perhaps we are afraid of offending Muslims. The Muslims are not afraid of offending Christians, they murder them!

Here is a recent occurrence. We have had several disasters in America, including hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and massive flooding.

I have listened carefully to the news. Can you believe this? I never once have heard an official, from the President on down, refer to God or ask for prayer, except in some offhand manner. There has been no call to prayer, as there used to be in America, by our governmental leaders.

The idea seems to be that if we all join together we can rebuild.

Why do the leading politicians refuse to acknowledge that God is behind these disasters; and if we pray earnestly He will help us? Do they honestly believe they can run the world without the help of the Lord?

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? (Amos 3:6)

It appears our leaders think they are wiser than He who sits between the Cherubim of Glory, to whom the nations are but a drop in the bucket.

They boast themselves against the God of Heaven; but their hopes and plans shall crumble like sand.

Such unseemly arrogance!

God forgive our stiffnecked pride!

We do not enjoy having a flood destroy our home. But the proper response is to go to the Lord and humbly ask His help, not to stiffen our neck and declare we are going to build again.

One time when in Jerusalem I walked all around the Old City. God spoke to me. He said to me, "I have not forgotten My people, Israel."

Americans are not all God's people, in this sense. But the devout Christians, who are a minority in America, indeed are God's people and He has not forgotten us.

Honestly, I think people are afraid to mention God publicly. And this in the United States! The Lord Jesus said if we deny Him, He will deny us before the Father. We certainly do not wish for this to happen.

I guess it would not do our political leaders any good to give glory to God as long as they are supporting abortion-on-demand.

These thoughts have been stirring in my mind for some time now. But recent events are bringing them to a boil.

Yesterday, Saturday, September 28, 2013, a brother came over to our house and helped me with some electrical work. As we were talking, he told me something I did not know.

He said that in some major retirement accounts, the money of the workers is not held in their name but in the name of the brokers who are holding their money. The workers may believe their money is safe; but what they actually have is a sort of promissory note.

I did not realize this.

The brokers use this money, which is not rightfully theirs, to invest.

Not being well versed in economics, I cannot know for certain that what John told me about brokers is true. But he is a very intelligent and knowledgeable individual, so I suppose what he told me is accurate.

Now, if the brokers go bankrupt, the money may be lost to the retiree. The first claimants on the money salvaged by the bankruptcy court are those to whom the brokers owe money, not the retirees.

My friend said to me: "Can you imagine the riots that will occur if hard-working people discover suddenly that they have no retirement funds!"

Given the way things are going, it is not impossible, according to those who are knowledgeable about such things, for our economy to collapse. Then there will be rioting in the streets.

I have wondered why our government is stockpiling assault weapons and hundreds of thousands of hollow-point bullets. Could this possibly be the reason? Nothing else seems to make sense.

Anyway, Saturday night as I was trying to go to sleep, the terrible danger facing our country depressed my mind. We may be in more serious trouble than I thought.

The next day, Sunday, September 29, our Assistant Pastor, Stanley Josephsen, got up in church and said: "God is impressing me on me the seriousness of the hour."

I had not spoken to him about my concern.

I followed Stan up by saying to the congregation, "Stan is hearing from the Lord. God last night impressed on me how serious matters have become."

I said, "But we are going to rejoice and praise the Lord. We are not to look to our government for help but to Jesus. Our government may fail us, but Jesus is faithful and true."

We have another King and another Kingdom!

So you know what we did? A lady has come from Israel and is teaching us some Jewish dances. There simply is nothing as joyful as Jewish dances.

She taught us the Horah. So we did "Awake, O Israel" and "Hine Ma Tov." You can see on YouTube, Israelis dancing the Horah.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXLl_LEDGtU

We also did, "O House of Israel, Bless the Lord." I could not find on Google the music that goes with it. I played it by ear on the piano. I think it was composed by a brother in the Bay Area of San Francisco. But maybe Bill put it on our site.

So we danced away our depression.

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 31:12—NIV)

The joy of the Lord is our strength, by which we will surmount the pits into which our leaders are bringing us.

The enemy increasingly is having his way in America. But as surely as Christ is faithful and true, the time shall come when the true Christians, Jews and Gentiles alike, shall sing and dance on the heights of Zion. Then will our enemies be ashamed, because they will see with their own eyes that God indeed is with us and loves us.

The congregation knows well my emphasis on learning to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus, in order to prepare for the horrors that are on the horizon for our beloved country.

God may permit Satan to wreck our country. But he cannot in any manner wreck the individual who is filled with Christ and has his or her eyes on Christ. In this manner we can save ourselves and our loved ones throughout whatever the Divine judgment brings upon us.

Well, as I said, I had a time of depression after my friend told me about the possibility of economic collapse, and the chaos that certainly will follow.

Then, as I mentioned, Stan, the next morning, said that God had impressed him about the seriousness of the days in which we are living.

If that was not enough, unknown to us the lady from Israel, days before, had had a prophecy in which God told her America had crossed the line and great judgment is about to fall on us.

This is why I am sitting at the computer when I am supposed to be resting after the service. Three witnesses! What more do we need! I know now we have crossed the line and judgment is on the way, and it cannot be averted any more than it could in the days of Josiah.

Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched. (II Kings 22:16,17)

Over the previous three years, every time I asked the Lord about the future, I saw blood. I have been wondering if we are going to be attacked by some foreign country, or have a civil war.

But when my friend told me about the danger of people losing their pensions, for which they had worked many years, I understood how readily America could be filled with bloodshed.

I think the Lord told me that America is going to become a third-rate nation after God is through purging the wickedness from our midst, and the leadership of the world will pass from the Western nations to the Eastern nations.

So what are we to do? We are to live close to Jesus. Nothing can harm us when we are in Jesus. We have the 91st Psalm; the 34th Psalm; and the 37th Psalm to support us.

We always have trusted the government to assure us that we and our children will have enough to eat. Perhaps in the future we will have to look to the Lord for our food.

Remember the manna in the wilderness. Remember the loaves and fish.

Remember the tax money in the mouth of the fish.

I heard an account one time in which Pentecostal Russian people traveled all across Russia at the time of the Communist revolution. They were directed by speaking in tongues and interpretations. As they were waiting to cross safely into China, the Lord created food in their stomachs. I heard a young man who was a son of one of the people involved in the flight, give this testimony.

And you probably have heard other accounts of the Lord providing food for people.

So we are not to get all excited and fearful in the days to come. We may not be able to stem the tide of moral filth and governmental foolishness that certainly will increase daily. Public nudity will become a major issue, I fear. We will do the best we can. But, as God told Jeremiah and Josiah, the problems of Israel were coming from Him because of the sins of God's people.

One thing we can do. We can search the Scriptures for promises that will help us realize that our Lord Jesus Christ has all authority and power in Heaven and upon the earth. He will preserve everyone who looks to Him and trusts in Him.

America has been weighed on the scales and found wanting. There are at least five major reasons why this is so:

Abortion on demand.

Unscriptural sexual practices.

The worship of money.

The rejection of God and His Christ from public life.

The defiling of the minds of children in the public schools.

We have behaved treacherously toward the Lord who has blessed us with so many good things.

If you are not aware that America is found wanting in God's eyes, dare to ask Him for yourself!

Christ alone is Faithful and True.

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. (Proverbs 14:34)

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Things I've Learned During My Discipleship

2013-10-13

The Importance of Choosing

Avoiding Passivity; Being Decisive

Calling on Jesus Instead of Using a Formula

Praying Through

Being Led by the Spirit

Watch and See If What You Think God Is Telling You Is Confirmed

Do Not "Step out in Faith" Unless God Is Directing You

Do Not Fret over the Evil and Perversity in the World

Bringing Christ into Every Aspect of Life

The Bible and Religion Are Not Ends in Themselves

We Are To Drag this Body Around Until God Says "Enough"

Accepting One's Cross Patiently and Cheerfully

Praying Against Dread and Fear

Dealing Directly with Symptoms Rather than Analyzing Causes

Christ Is in Control of Everything and Everybody

The Interval Between the Giving of the Vision and its Fulfillment

To Maintain Our Trust in God When All Seems Lost

We Are Not to Criticize People

In the Resurrection What We Have Become Shall Be Revealed

We Assuredly Shall Reap What We Have Sown

The Rod of Iron by Which We Shall Rule Is Being Created in Us

It Is in the Present Hour That Man Is Being Created in the Image of God

There Will Be No "Rapture" To Deliver Us From Trouble

Preparing To Be Revealed With Jesus

The Importance of Choosing

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)

The Israelites knew of the old gods and the gods of the Amorites. They also had seen the works of the Lord and had heard His Words. It was up to them to choose which of the divinities they would serve.

So it is with us. We can decide we wish to serve the gods that manifest themselves all around us, the gods of physical lust, or of money, or of importance, or of some kind of pleasure that appeals to us. Or we can serve the Lord Jesus.

I think it is too often maintained that "Jesus did it all." Our part primarily is to believe that Jesus did it all. This belief, it is said, will bring us to Heaven.

An appealing thought. We do not have to do anything but accept mentally what is taught and God will do the rest. But this is not even close to what the Bible teaches.

When we review the lives of the heroes of faith, of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, we see that genuine faith is daily obedience to God; not belief, unless that belief is expressed in obedience. How many times each day are we presented with an opportunity to choose to believe the Lord!

I remember a girl in a Christian highschool. She was lame. A healing evangelist came by the school and prayed for her and others. She was healed instantly.

But the physical sensation when she walked was so different from what she was used to that she asked Jesus to restore her lameness. He did. This actually happened!

In my own case, I had arthritis in my right knee. I was not prayed for. In fact I went to the doctor. He injected some medicine into my knee and told me that I would be back, and probably would need crutches.

Two or three days later I felt the Lord's touch on my knee. I knew I was healed. I went around the house hopping on my right leg. To this day, over thirty years later, whenever I feel pain in that knee I hop up and down on my right leg. I choose to keep that healing!

There is something to be said for positive thinking. We can choose to believe that God is going to do good for us, or we can think negative thoughts of unbelief.

Let me be clear, however, that I am not speaking of the present rash of metaphysical devices: "name it and claim it"; "speak the creative word"; "the word of faith"; and so forth. There is no Bible for this. It is not of the Christian religion. It is not the faith of obedience. It is another religion.

Jesus is not glorified in this.

There is a fine line between choosing to think positively, and "the power of positive thinking." The first is the choice of believing God's Word. The second is a metaphysical device that proceeds from the soul of man and does not bring glory to Christ.

The so-called "faith message" is not of God and is to be avoided by the sincere disciple.

Avoiding Passivity; Being Decisive

"Passivity" is a classic Christian affliction. It runs deeper than just being lazy or disinterested in life. It is a crippling condition in which the believer is unable to make a decision.

He decides on a path he wants to take. After having begun, he decides this is not God's will. So he starts on another course. Soon the same doubt assails him and he is not certain this is the decision he should have made.

On and on it goes until he is totally confused.

The way out of this deception is to pray carefully, and to take a small step in the desired direction. Then examine the fruit. If all seems well, take another small step and look to see what the consequences are.

But do not change your mind. Keep going along the path unless it is obvious that God is not blessing and you do not have peace. Sometimes it is helpful to ask counsel from an elder.

Keep your will razor sharp. A double-minded man will receive nothing from the Lord.

Train yourself to be decisive. Make clear decisions and hold to them. If you are a person of prayer, and desire to please God, He sooner or later will correct your course if it is not what He desires for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Calling on Jesus Instead of Using a Formula

It is fashionable in our day of books and tapes to find formulas that will solve mental or physical illnesses. We have a cold, so we have not been praising the Lord. Our child in school is falling behind, so he or she has not been praying enough.

If we go to the pastor for help, he may advise us to put more money in the offering. We have arthritis, so there is someone we have not forgiven.

You can buy a book that will relate all your infirmities to how you are behaving.

When King David was in deep trouble, he called on the Lord.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. (Psalms 18:6)

I think the words of this prayer were, "Help, Lord!"

This may be the best prayer of all, and anyone can pray it.

Sometimes you may be in such distress that you can't think of anything else to say except, "Help, Lord!"

This simple prayer is worth tons of formulas. God knows about your affliction already and what is causing it. You do not have to go to great lengths to describe the problem to the Lord.

Praying Through

And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (I John 5:15)

Fine, but how do we know that He hears us?

You have to pray until you can't pray about the problem any longer. All you can do is praise the Lord.

Maybe you never have prayed long enough to "pray through." Well, set aside a period of time so you can pray until you know God has heard you.

Do you remember Brother Jacob? He prayed until God heard Him; but Jacob had to do some wrestling until he got his answer. God changed Jacob's name to "Israel" because he struggled with God.

Maybe if you struggle with God long enough He will change your name.

Perhaps you mention all the items on your prayer list and then walk away. You don't know whether or not God has heard you.

Prayer is supposed to be a two-way street. You talk to God, and God talks to you.

God speaks clearly to some people. Others develop ways that tell them when God has heard and answered. Maybe you will have new experiences in prayer that you have not known previously because you never before really got down to business with God.

Once you learn two-way praying, praying will be the best time of the day for you. It may take a while to get there, but it is well worth the effort.

Once you know God has heard you, you can't wrestle any longer. All you can do is praise and thank God. The answer is on the way.

Being Led by the Spirit

The sons of God are those believers who are led by the Spirit of God. Now, being successfully led by the Spirit is an art. There are many traps and confusions, but this is not an excuse for not mastering this art.

God speaks to people and leads people in a number of different ways. In many cases God speaks into the mind. In other instances, there are mental impressions, or dreams. Remember how God spoke to Gideon. Gideon was very careful and forced God to activate a fleece. Looking for fleeces is not generally a good idea!

You can be tricked if you do this. If you really want to know God's will, present your body a living sacrifice.

God spoke to the Prophets of Israel. In one instance, Jeremiah waited several days until he was certain it was the Lord who had spoken to him.

Mary believed Gabriel, which pleased God.

The father of John the Baptist doubted, which did not please God.

On the other hand, God does not want us to be led about by spirits that speak to us. In my own case, I have had years of trial and error before I could distinguish what is of God and what is not of God.

Religion and the Bible are not ends in themselves. Their purpose is to lead us to the living Jesus, until Christ rises as the Morning Star in our heart.

I have noticed that Pentecostal people (of which I am one) sometimes lean on emotion instead of on the written Word. This makes for an unstable discipleship.

On the other hand, I have seen that Baptist people sometimes will reject out of hand any idea of being led by the Lord. "We depend on the Word," they thunder. This does make for stable disciples.

But sometimes they are unable to move forward with the Lord This is true today, as the Lord seeks to bring His people past the Pentecostal experience into the final three feasts of the Lord. There is not the sensitivity to what Christ is saying right now that we could wish.

I think this lack of awareness of the living Christ, of what Christ is saying right this minute, is true generally of the Christian denominations. They keep on pressing forward in their familiar patterns when Christ has new and surprising experiences for them.

So the history of denominations is a series of landmarks revealing the way Christ has moved through the centuries. And those people who are hearing what Christ is saying now are rewarded with misunderstanding and a lack of fellowship. I think it ever will be thus until the Lord returns.

God always is speaking to each individual. The person is to live by this Word, and not just by material food and drink. But in order to hear what God is saying to us requires months or years of practicing times when we are being still before the Lord.

The hurly burly of our culture seeks to involve us to the point we cannot hear God. There are ceaseless demands on our attention; also fears and dreads of one sort or another. "Be still and know that I am God." It is not easy, is it?

But it is state of being well worth pursuing!

Watch and See If What You Think God Is Telling You Is Confirmed

When you are learning to be led by the Spirit, watch carefully to determine if your circumstances line up with the Word of God. Listen to the advice of older, godly people.

I know right now of a Christian man of several years experience who has left his wife and several children. He is thoroughly convinced he is doing what God wants. There is another woman involved, which usually is the case.

He is making a shipwreck of his discipleship. He is not listening to godly people. He is not even using common sense. How could it be God who was directing a man to leave his wife and children?

This man has much promise. But Satan has entered him. How could this happen? Any time we attempt to make a heaven of the present world we become deceived. I think God eventually will bring him to his senses; but he will emerge a much humbler person.

"But God wants me to be happy," people whine. Did Jesus state that no one can be His disciple until he denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows Jesus?

Does this sound like "heaven" to you?

Our discipleship is rugged at best. Our cross bites into our shoulder for many years, although it may become lighter toward the end. But it never will become lighter until we have experienced "the dark night of the soul," and have shown the Lord that we will trust Him if He slays us.

This is how the iron scepter with which the saints shall govern the rebellious nations of the earth is formed in us.

It is this willingness to bear our cross patiently, as cheerfully as we can, throughout the days of our discipleship that is the only protection against being deceived.

Satan plants fantasies in our mind, assuring us that God has made an exception for us so we can behave outside of the written Word, the Bible. We either give in to the promised pleasures, or we take up our cross of deferred desire and march on after the Master.

There have been times when the saints have left bloody footprints in the snow!

Do Not "Step out in Faith" Unless God Is Directing You

How often it is said today that we should "step out in faith." Make out a check for ten thousand dollars, although you do not have the money in the bank. This is nothing but an invitation to presumption. God will not honor it.

The only time we are to "step out in faith" is when God clearly is leading us to take such a step.

The "faith" chapter of the Bible is the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. You will not find one instance there of someone "stepping out in faith," unless it was in obedience to God. It was not an adventure fabricated in the mind of an ambitious believer.

Faith is not a magic principle by which we can get what we want out of God. Rather, faith is our reliance on God's faithfulness and truth as He guides us through the present world, which is the valley of the shadow of death.

The foundation under out faith is our trust in God, that no matter how perilous our situation may become, God will take care of us.

So we plod along through the night and through the day with our hand in the hand of God. We do not concoct some sort of accomplishment and then proclaim that we have faith God will send us the money.

When I hear ministers of the Gospel pleading for money, I wonder if they really have been led of God to do that they are doing. Does God or does He not pay for what He orders?

Perhaps it is time for some of us to back off until we can hear God once again; to return to our first altar, so to speak.

Do Not Fret over the Evil and Perversity in the World

Although it may seem impossible, the evil and perversity in the world is going to become worse—much worse! I believe this is what the Spirit of God is saying in the present hour.

In America, the Bible and the name of the Lord Jesus are coming into disrepute, if you can believe it.

Also, abortion on demand, and sexual excesses, are on the increase. It appears the various state governments and the federal government are not being operated by people who fear God and give glory to Him.

What then are we to do?

First of all, we must not permit ourselves to fret. To fret is to worry; to be agitated; to be irritated.

When we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we are raised In Christ to the right hand of God. We are placed in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Fretting tears us down from our high place in God. Instead of setting our affections on things above we become involved in politics, or we begin to curse the darkness because of the evil and perversity we see in our own nation and in the world.

Christ has been given authority over all people. He alone controls what goes on in the world. So when we are fretting we are acting in unbelief and complaining about God's lack of wisdom and righteousness in controlling the world. We do whatever good we can and leave the rest with God.

If Satan cannot destroy us by tempting us to sin, he can accomplish the same result by provoking us to fret and complain.

It is difficult I know to keep our minds and hearts in the heavenlies in Christ. It is a continuing battle as the spiritual darkness increases. But it is the only way in which we can overcome the world and Satan.

Bringing Christ into Every Aspect of Life

Perhaps you have read about Lawrence of the Resurrection, commonly known as Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence brought the Presence of Christ into all of his tasks in the monastery, from the smallest to the greatest.

For the last few years I have been preaching concerning learning to live by the Life of Christ. Actually, it is the same idea that Brother Lawrence had, although I did not realize this until recently.

All through the day, and when we are awake during the night, we are to keep talking to Jesus; asking His opinion about things; expressing our desires, giving thanks for the help He gives us; asking for His wisdom in decisions that are confronting us.

When I awake I ask Jesus for wisdom and strength for the day. By communicating constantly with the Lord in this manner His Presence and His angels are with me at all times. I cannot see the angels, but I am aware of their assistance. I never speak to the angels, only to Jesus.

It is my firm impression that perilous times are ahead for those of us who live in the United States. It seems to me at this time that the only people who will survive, and be able to help others survive the moral and physical chaos, will be those who are living by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

To a young Christian it may seem impossible to live this close to Jesus. It is not, but we have to work at it ceaselessly until it becomes second nature.

The Bible and Religion Are Not Ends in Themselves

It appears that sometimes Christian people make their religion and the Bible ends in themselves. They are faithful in all the practices of their religion and swear by the literal inspiration of the Bible.

Sometimes such people have to be encouraged to look up from the Scriptures and behold the Man who wrote the Scriptures, the living Jesus.

The Bible and religion are not ends in themselves. Their purpose is to bring us to Jesus until the Morning Star rises in our heart.

Think about the following passage:

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" 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 14:22,23)

What do you think the above passage means? Is it saying that if we obey the teachings of Christ the Lord will show Himself to us?

Yes, that is exactly what it is saying.

This does not mean we forsake the Bible. The Bible is our guide to Jesus that we might have fellowship with Him. As by His assistance we obey His teaching, He Himself will become increasingly real to us.

Jesus rebuked the Jewish elders because they would not look up from the scroll and believe in Him. I think in some cases it is like this today. We have been taught that we should go by the Bible. And let me say that I have proven to myself over the years I have been a disciple. that the written Word of God is absolutely infallible in every detail.

Yet if we are not careful we can make the Bible a substitute for the living Lord. In fact, I heard it said once that the Bible is the same as Jesus. When we read the Bible it is Jesus speaking to us. We then really do not need to know Jesus Himself. We have the Bible!

This is not true. The Bible is not the Bride of the Lamb nor is it the Firstborn from the dead.

What is the Bible? It is God's written Word to us that brings us to Jesus. We are to meditate in it daily until Christ is formed in us. Even after that, we are to spend time in the Word each day, because Satan always is attempting to deceive us.

It is my personal opinion that we shall be studying the Bible and teaching the Bible to others for eternity. It never shall pass away, as Jesus informed us. It always can be depended on, whereas sometimes we can be led astray as we seek to serve the Lord.

Being led accurately by the Spirit is an art and it is not mastered in a short period of time. The Bible keeps our feet on the narrow path that leads to Life, that is, to Christ Himself.

Our fellowship is with Jesus, not with the Bible. Jesus is our older Brother. The Bible is not our older brother.

Therefore let us meditate in the Bible continually, and enjoy fellowship with our actual Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We Are To Drag this Body Around Until God Says "Enough"

Being 88 years of age, I am ready for a new body. I look forward to leaving the present world and going to be with the Lord. I do not enjoy being so tired all the time. Also, I have other afflictions. So death to me is like the summer vacations when I was a boy—something to happily look forward to.

I suppose when I pass on there will be a few people who will grieve, such as the members of my immediate family. But there really is no need to grieve. I will not be grieving but thanking God I am free from the prison of the flesh.

You know, your mind and your brain are two different mechanisms. When you die your brain stays with your body, but your mind continues to make you aware of your present circumstances.

On one occasion in Bible school when the Spirit of God was unusually present, I was sitting waiting for the Greek class to commence. Suddenly I drifted up to the ceiling. I was aware of the class, the students, the teacher, who I was, and that I was up at the ceiling.

But I could not remember the Greek I had studied. It remained in my body sitting on a classroom chair.

I had prepared for the lesson, so I realized I had to get back in my body, which I did. Then I could think of the Greek.

If I am not mistaken, we always will have a conscious mind somewhere, whether on earth, in Heaven, or in Hell.

So we are to faithfully drag this old worn out body around until God lets us know that our work is finished. We do not want to go to Jesus before that time. Nor do we want ourselves or our loved ones holding on so we do not die. When the right moment comes, we are to pass peacefully into a world that is far, far better than the present.

I reject nostalgia totally. Life for me, and for you, has been one painful trial after another. Would you want to go back? Neither would I. So nostalgia is a part of the old adamic nature, and I refuse to give in to it! It is a liar. I am looking forward to freedom from my tired body. How about you?

Accepting One's Cross Patiently and Cheerfully

Every genuine disciple of Jesus has a cross to bear. Either our most intense desires are deferred for a season; or else we are compelled to remain in a distressing situation.

One of the keys to a successful discipleship is that of being willing to stay steady with God while our desires are deferred or we are in a miserable situation.

The are people who would like to be considered a Christian. But when there is a choice between remaining in a painful situation, or following the path of enjoyment, they choose the latter. Such never can be a genuine disciple.

It is during the period of time between being given a vision and the fulfilling of the vision that the saints are made.

If we cannot keep serving Christ when we are not getting what we desire, we never will be "saved" in the sense of attaining to the destiny of the faithful. It is he who endures to the end who is saved.

Satan always is looking for those "believers" who have burning desires that are not being fulfilled. He can deceive such easily, no matter how much they pray and read the Bible.

If you have a burning desire, or are miserable in your present circumstances, go to the Lord. Ask Him to remove the burning desire. Ask Him to make your circumstances tolerable. He will give you your desires when your character has been formed in accordance with His plans for you.

Do not focus on your cross, on what you do not have. If you do, you probably will fail. Rather, pray for strength and wisdom and focus on the blessings you do have. Every fruit-bearing Christian who has gone before you has had the same temptations and struggles. Such temptations are common to people, and God always will make it possible for you to bear them.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Behold the land that is very far off and learn to live one step at a time. Oftentimes our problem is that we are worrying about the future. That which may seem impossible to you may be resolved if you concentrate on one small step at a time, meanwhile praying about each step.

The One who brought the universe into being has enough wisdom and power to solve your problems. You should not flee from your circumstances, but you always should pray that God will deliver you. And He will at the time that is best for you.

But if you break out of your prison, you will be captured and put in a worse prison; unless God gives up on you. And you do not want that to happen!

Praying Against Dread and Fear

I personally am attacked often with dread and fear. When this happens, I ask Jesus to remove the dread and the fear.

Our inheritance as a Christian is peace. Christ will keep the individual who trusts in Him in perfect peace. This is our inheritance. This is what the infallible Bible states, and it is true.

So when I ask Jesus to remove the dread and the fear, and give me His peace, He does. This is part of the normal Christian warfare.

Dealing Directly with Symptoms Rather than Analyzing Causes

There are Christians who know so much about medicine they should be doctors.

Any ache or pain you may have, they go to their textbook and tell you what is causing your distress.

If you have a stomach ache or headache, it is due to cancer.

If you have a pain in your arm or leg you are coming down with arthritis.

If you have a dizzy spell it is a heart condition.

Because of my great age I often have a pain here or there. I have found the best solution is to go to Jesus. Pray that He will remove the symptom. Lord, my stomach hurts. You don't have to look on the Internet or read a medical text. Ask Jesus to remove the pain and forget about the cause for now.

We Pentecostal people sometimes are reluctant to go to the doctor. We may view this as a lack of faith.

I'll tell you what I do. If the symptom does not go away when I address it directly, I ask Jesus if I should go to the doctor. If He says, "Yes," then I go; and while I am on the way I ask Jesus to direct the doctor and the nurses. I do this with an untroubled mind about whether or not I have faith.

If Jesus says "No, it will pass," then I go about my business, knowing from experience it will pass.

Perhaps Jesus does not speak to you like this. But you probably have some way of communicating with the Lord. I suppose it would not hurt for you to ask Christ to speak to you plainly.

But as I have stated previously, as you take steps toward the Lord, watch your circumstances carefully. If the circumstances do not agree with what you think Jesus is telling you, then go back to the Lord and ask for an explanation.

I could be mistaken about this, but I think Jesus will be a lot more real to His people if they will make an attempt to hear from Him and communicate with Him. He has promised to reveal Himself to us if we will keep His commands!

Christ Is in Control of Everything and Everybody

For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. (John 14:2)

According to the Bible, Christ has authority over all people.

Another passage I like is the following:

The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalms 24:1)

As we read the paper today we notice the increasing evil and perversity, not only in our own country but throughout the world at large. This wickedness may cause us to fret, to worry, or to become angry.

This precisely what Satan would like us to do.

We need to remember that the Bible says the earth and all its resources and people belong to the Lord.

So the question becomes: does God care what is happening; and if so, is He able to do anything about it?

God loves the world enough to give His Son to die for us. And as to power—have you ever considered the power demonstrated in the sky above us? It is so great that we cannot wrap our mind around the mass that is present or the distances between the heavenly bodies.

Yes, God certainly cares about us, and has sufficient wisdom and power to solve all the problems of the world in a short space of time.

Sometimes people venture that God must not be good because He permits people to suffer. This attitude is understandable, particularly if an individual has just lost a child through cancer, or has suffered some other harrowing experience.

But we must keep in mind that when someone dies their troubles and pain are over, if they have been a decent person and did not reject Christ if the Father presented Christ to him or her.

There is something else that must be factored in, when we debate in our mind why God allows so much suffering. It is that God has a plan for mankind that requires a certain amount of human suffering.

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 image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28,29)

To understand why God works the way He does, one must consider that the history of the world is a reaction against a prior rebellion on the part of God's angels.

God is building a kingdom that will insure there never will be another rebellion.

The history of the world describes how God is calling out people and training them to be future rulers of the Kingdom of God. All of the events of history have been designed to bring these called-out people to perfect obedience to Christ, and into His internal and external image.

The perfecting of these "Royal Priests" has required that there be evil in the world. The evil results from the working of Satan. History is portraying to angels and humans the result of obeying Satan. Even in the present hour there are people who declare openly that they are worshipers of Satan.

You might ask, "How could my child's illness or death contribute to the perfecting of the members of the Royal Priesthood?"

First of all, if your child dies, he or she is in a far, far better place.

Second, the sin in the world results in Divine judgment. This judgment comes upon all who live in the world. We all die physically because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

The suffering we experience comes from Satan, not God. Sometimes God uses Satan to cause us to suffer. But this is because suffering helps us overcome sin and moves us close to Jesus, if we take it in the right way.

All of the events of the world are designed to perfect the Royal Priesthood. Once their perfection has been accomplished, they will return with the Lord Jesus and fill the earth with the Glory of God.

Then the little child can have lions and tigers for pets with no problem.

If there were no suffering, the whole earth would be an arena for the most ugly sexual displays—one vast sexual orgy.

So there is a new world of righteousness on the horizon. But its accomplishment and maintenance has required a period of suffering until the priesthood is ready to govern.

As long as human beings who are not trained by the Lord are in positions of power, as we see today, there shall be one disaster after another because of the self-seeking of people.

The Interval Between the Giving of the Vision and its Fulfillment

The coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth is a vision of the future. In that day, God's will shall be done here just as it is in Heaven.

How we behave ourselves while we are waiting to enter the new world of righteousness determines how happy or unhappy we will be when God's ruling priests appear with the Lord and enforce God's will with a scepter of iron righteousness.

If we behave righteously, and receive Christ when the Father presents Him to us, we will be filled with eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace, when the Lord appears. But if we are a rebellious individual, loving the things of sin and wickedness, we will suffer untold misery in that Day.

The sufferings of the present hour are designed to form us in righteous behavior, if we will make that choice. But there are numerous opportunities to pursue a destructive life style. Then the saying will be fulfilled: "Let the righteous remain righteous and the wicked remain wicked."

Perhaps God has put a desire in our heart, it may be for a relationship, or a position of some sort. But after a month or so has passed we become impatient. So we force the situation, the people, the circumstances, to get what it is we so fervently desire.

The door is locked. We kick down the "door," so to speak. But the room is empty.

There was another door that was slightly ajar, but we did not notice it in our frantic effort to gain our desire.

This is so true of life in the world!

The Bible tells us that the saints endure patiently until they are granted their desire. Patience is very important in the Kingdom of God.

Some of the recent Christian teachings tell us how we can get what we want now. That is not God. The way of the Lord is to wait patiently until God grants our desire. Then the blessing of the Lord makes us rich and He adds no sorrow with it.

Have faith in God. He knows your desires better than you do. He will grant your desires when He sees the moment is just right for you. Learn to trust His love!

To Maintain Our Trust in God When All Seems Lost

There do come to the faithful saints what some have termed the "Dark night of the Soul." At one time we had been a merry Christian, singing the happy choruses of the youth meetings. But what has happened now?

Nothing seems to make sense. We wonder why God has forsaken us? We may suffer oppression, or anxiety, or a physical affliction, or financial problems. It appears that God is not answering our prayers.

Did we offend the Lord in some way? But Heaven does not answer.

Faith does not seem to work at this time. But trust does!

What is the difference between faith and trust?

Faith is victorious. We are saved as we in faith persevere in doing the will of the invisible God. We by faith live as an overcoming Christian.

Trust, on the other hand, is a clinging to God in hope that He has not deserted us; that He will never leave us or forsake us; even when there is no evidence He is hearing our prayers.

We cling to our former beliefs, and do not turn back into unbelief or sin.

This spiritual oppression may continue for years.

But if we do not quit, do not turn away from our trust in God's promises, a day comes when we emerge into the light. Then we know God as never before.

A good example of the "dark night" is the patriarch Job. He tried to cling to his former perceptions; yet he could not understand what was happening to him.

But the day came when the Lord revealed Himself to Job. Then Job repented of his anger at God and declared himself a worm. After this, God instructed Job to pray for his friends.

In the years that followed, God blessed Job with many material riches.

So it will be with us. We needn't expect people to understand us. They probably won't. But we will come forth from this experience with a far greater knowledge of God. And that is worth everything!

We Are Not to Criticize People

We had better not criticize people unless we want God to criticize us.

It is helpful to remember that Jesus said a person can receive nothing unless it is given to him or her from Heaven.

God creates people with specific abilities and desires. They cannot be or do what God has not given to them to be or do. We need to keep this in mind when we are thinking of being critical of them.

Does a person have the ability to change; to do differently?

Yes, within limits. In fact, at the Judgment Seat of Christ we will be judged according to our decisions.

How, then, do we put this together? If God has determined what an individual will be like and what he or she can do, how can He judge him?

This is a very difficult question. Even the Apostle Paul answered it by saying, "God is the potter and He makes one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor. God has mercy on one person and hardens another."

We humans simply cannot see the fairness of this. It is because we are so proud we are not willing to let the Potter be the Potter. He must treat us fairly or we will accuse Him of unrighteousness.

"Fairly" by our standards. But we do not know all the elements involved. So we do well when we let God be God and give glory to Him.

As I stated previously, God is creating a Royal Priesthood. He is managing all the events of the world. Out from the chaos of human existence will emerge sons of God shining in the righteousness Christ has created in (not imputed to) them.

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:43)

Please note that imputed righteousness cannot "shine like the sun."

Diamonds have to be cut and polished with extreme care if they are to be valuable and to shine as they should. So it is with God's "diamonds." They are cut and polished with the greatest of care, and the process can be painful. It is not possible to cut and polish a diamond with Kleenex.

This is the reason there are all kinds of people in the world, the righteous and the wicked. In the last days the wicked will be removed from the Kingdom of God, and then the righteous will shine.

Because God knows what He is doing with each individual, and that person's role in the furthering of God's plan, and we know none of this, we really have no basis on which to criticize another person.

"But he or she did wrong!" No doubt he did. But perhaps he did not have the wherewithal to change.

I am not saying people are not responsible for their actions. They are, and God will judge them on the basis of God's knowledge of them. I know for a fact that every person will be brought to account and one day will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and explain his of her actions.

One day the saints shall judge the world, and angels as well. But until that time, we do well to refrain from criticizing other people.

In the Resurrection What We Have Become Shall Be Revealed

Every day we are being formed according to the choices we make. We are being confirmed in our faithfulness and righteousness, our integrity, or we are being confirmed in our treachery and self-seeking.

As we make our choices, our spiritual nature that is in the heavenlies, and our new form that is there also, are being formed according to our choices during our present life.

We would not want people to know the secrets of our heart, in many instances. We probably wish to appear as a basically good, honest, trustworthy person. But that may not be what we are behind closed doors.

We are able to conceal what we are, to wear a mask, as people say. The man who is gentle and kindly when among people may be a beast at home, beating his wife and children.

However, in the Day of Resurrection, what we have become will be revealed clearly for everyone to see.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

Can you imagine being regarded with shame and contempt when you are raised from the dead?

"But I have accepted Christ!" That does not matter. If your personality when it is exposed causes people to react with shame and contempt, your religious status does not matter. You are a shameful person, worthy of contempt by other people.

Christianity has followed other religions in advancing the doctrines of Heaven and Hell. If you practice our religion you will go to Heaven and not Hell.

This is not the case. There are different areas in the Land of Darkness and different areas in the Land of Light. Heaven itself, a part of the Land of Light, is the domain of the Royal Priesthood, the rulers of the new world of righteousness.

In the Land of Light there are people of various spiritual conditions who have to go to school to learn the ways of Heaven.

In the Land of Darkness there are several areas that grow increasingly painful, with Hell being the lowest stage. There are many lashes and few lashes, Jesus taught us.

The point is this: When the Day of Resurrection reveals what kind of personality you have, you will be placed in a suitable environment where there are other people like yourself. My understanding of the spirit world does not go beyond this, such as can a person move from a less painful area of the Land of Darkness into the Land of Light. I do not know.

We Assuredly Shall Reap What We Have Sown

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)

What we sow we are going to reap, the Apostle Paul tells the Christians in Galatia. If we choose to yield to our sinful nature, we will reap destruction from that nature. If we choose to obey the Spirit of God we will reap Life from the Spirit.

Since the Bible is so clear on this, we can see that a great deal of today's Christian teaching is in error. In the Day of Resurrection we are going to look like what we are in actuality. Grace, mercy, and Divine love do not change this fact. We shall be placed where we belong.

God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they surely would die.

Then Satan told them it was not certain they would die. Satan produced doubt in their minds.

So it is today. The New Testament tells us in several places that we are going to be rewarded according to our works. Yet the preachers of today are saying this is not so. They are speaking today as Satan spoke 6,000 years ago: "You shall not surely die"!

What should we do, jump up and down and say some preachers are liars; palace prophets?

That would be neither polite nor effective.

But what do we do to turn around today's preaching?

Paul wrote that if a believer sows to please his flesh he will reap corruption. This means that in the Day of Resurrection he will appear as a shrunken creature clothed in torn dirty rags.

Every Christian preacher worth his salt believes in the plenary verbal inspiration of the accepted Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.

How then can he or she claim that if a person "accepts Christ" he will be raised to glory in the Day of Christ, although he sowed to please his flesh during his lifetime on the earth.

On what basis can he or she claim that grace, or mercy, or unconditional love make Paul's words, the words of the New Testament, invalid?

Are we in America so intellectually dishonest that we will claim to believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and then deliberately teach that the Apostle Paul is mistaken?

Are our seminaries and Bible colleges and universities so blind they cannot see that they are invalidating the written Word of God?

I think the philosophy of Humanism has overtaken us to the point that any statement of the Bible that is not declaring God loves us so much He couldn't possibly make us suffer, is not permitted to be spoken.

Is it any wonder our country is in such a mess, being split apart internally by conflicting ideologies?

Isn't there some Christian leader who can stand up and declare that we are preaching "another gospel"?

Some are saying we need a reformation of Christian theology. This is a fact. I hope to live to see such a reformation takes place, regardless of what happens in our government.

The Rod of Iron by Which We Shall Rule Is Being Created in Us

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)

Exactly what is the iron scepter by which we are to govern? It is the iron righteousness that is formed in us as we choose to do God's will in spite of the numerous pressures that seek to compel us to be disobedient.

I seem to notice in today's political and business leaders there is a lack of iron will. There is a tendency to cave in to people's opinions, whether what the people desire is righteous or even sensible.

I accept the fact that political and business leaders may need to be pragmatic if they are to keep their position. But in the meanwhile, the standards of what is right and what is wrong are obscured.

The commands of God and Christ are not pragmatic. They cause upheavals in our life. They split families. They cause us to be unpopular---sometimes viciously persecuted.

Our country is a republic in name, a democracy in practice thanks to the multitude of communication devices. This means that the leaders must listen to the wishes of the populace. But most of the populace will choose that which pleases the flesh. If a politician is to remain in office he may have to sacrifice his principles, if he has any to begin with.

It appears to me that good moral men do not dare voice their genuine beliefs for fear they will not be elected. The result is, the party that stands for the popular desires will be elected even though such desires lead to the destruction of the nation.

God's truth is found in the Bible. It simply does not matter whether we approve of what it does or does not say. We obey, and we do so wholeheartedly and accurately. If our obedience means prison, torture, or death, as it has in the past to many genuine Christians, that is not an issue. The only issue is iron righteousness; fiery holiness; and stern obedience to the Father.

I wonder how many leaders of today would say and do what is according to the Bible, even though it meant they would never succeed in having their program adopted?

And then we come to the Christian churches. Are some of the pastors soft-pedaling the demands of discipleship in order to have a large church? If so, they are "unjust stewards." They had better make friends with their congregations so they will have someone to receive them when they die.

No Christian who does not have iron righteousness created in him or her can forget about being resurrected when the Lord returns. Why? Because the first resurrection is for those who will appear with Christ and enforce righteousness on the nations of the earth.

Such believers are God's "untouchables." They cannot be bribed or frightened into not forcing God's will on the rebellious nations. In the present world God sees their character. These are the rulers of the new world of righteousness. These are the members of the Royal Priesthood.

They will smash the resistance of the saved people of the nations with the iron scepter of righteousness that has been created in them.

It Is in the Present Hour That Man Is Being Created in the Image of God

All Christians understand that God created man to be in His image and likeness, in His internal image and external likeness.

Adam and Eve did not fit the Divine fiat except in a very elementary manner.

We know of the thousands of years since then; of the creating of called-out people when Abraham and Sarah were called out of Ur.

We know of the revealing of the moral law of God through Moses and Aaron.

We know of the appearing of the Son of God, and then of the Apostles. Through them the structure of the Godhead was revealed, as was eternal life.

Then the Christian church came into being, and the idea of being spared from Hell and eternal residence in Heaven. This fundamental concept of salvation exists to the present day.

But being spared from Hell and living forever in Heaven was not the original declaration. It was that man would be in God's image, not that people would leave the earth and live forever in Heaven. How ridiculous!

The blood atonement made on Calvary and the outpouring of God's Spirit was the first step in forming man. This is where we are in the present hour. We have been forgiven through the atonement and can receive the Spirit of God if we ask. But these are means to an end, not the end.

We now are in the twenty-first century, and God is ready to make us in His image.

Three steps are necessary if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, which is equivalent to being made in God's image.

First, we must be delivered from our sinful nature.

Second, we must be filled with the fullness of God.

Third, we must be raised from the dead and clothed with a body from Heaven.

Our sinful nature also is in three parts: the love of the world; the sinful nature that dwells in our flesh and spirit; and our self-will. God is ready now to deal with all three, and we must cooperate with the Spirit of God if we are to be made in God's image.

God uses many disappointments and pains to deliver us from our trust in the world. We do our part by being baptized in water, declaring that we have left the world and now are entering the Kingdom of God.

Deliverance from the lusts of our flesh and spirit requires that we live in cooperation with the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God will point out our sins one at a time. When we become aware of a sin we are practicing, we must confess it clearly as sin, to the Lord Jesus. Then we are to ask His help in vigorously turning away from this behavior.

Deliverance from self-will is the most difficult issue facing the believer who would be in the image of God. We must absolutely, resolutely, declare to God that we are going to do His will in every matter from now on.

The Jordan River and the Veil of the Tabernacle are symbols of death to our self-will. God will give us a cross of deferred desire to help destroy our self will; or He may place us in some sort of prison of undesirable circumstances. We will be baptized with suffering.

We cannot cross over into the land of promise until we learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus and always do His will in the smallest and greatest aspects of our being and behavior.

The Book of Ephesians speaks of being filled with all the fullness of God. The Lord Jesus told us, in the Gospel of John, that if we would obey His commands, the Father would love us and Jesus would come to us. They would make Their eternal home in us.

So much for the internal image of God: deliverance from the world and from sin.

Now for the external image.

As we keep pressing into Christ, we receive more of the Life of Christ in us. This filling with resurrection Life has its counterpart in the heavenly Jerusalem where we are located.

Our house reserved in Heaven, and our spiritual personality, keep being enlarged as we count ourselves dead and risen with Christ.

In the Day of the Lord, Christ will return with the victorious believers of history and raise them and us from the dead. As soon as our flesh and bones are raised by the power of God, they will clothe a greatly expanded inner nature with the heavenly body that has been fashioned by our conduct on the earth.

Now we are in the very image of Christ, internally and externally.

It may be many thousands of years until we look like the Jesus of the first chapter of the Book of Revelation or the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel. But such is the destiny of the sons of God.

There Will Be No "Rapture" To Deliver Us From Trouble

One common teaching among Christians is that we need not worry about the trouble we see approaching, because "we won't be here!"

There simply is no scriptural basis whatever for a "rapture" to Heaven of God's people to deliver them from Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.

Perhaps the most familiar of the passages that are used to support the doctrine of the "rapture" is the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians.

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. (I Thessalonians 4:16,17)

Please notice that the "dead in Christ will rise first." This is not speaking of their being caught up to meet the Lord, but of rising from the dead—of being resurrected, just as the Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. After Jesus rose from the dead on the third day He no longer could be harmed by any kind of trouble.

After they are resurrected they cannot be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation. Therefore to teach we are caught up to Heaven to avoid Antichrist and the Great Tribulation does not make sense, in that we already are invulnerable since we have been resurrected.

Now, examine the above passage carefully. Also read its context in your Bible, all the verses of the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians.

Can you find any mention that the Lord is going to return to Heaven; or does it sound like we are going to meet Him as we would someone flying in on an airplane?

Is there any mention of going to Heaven, or are we going to meet Him in the air?

Is there any suggestion that our being caught up is so we might not be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation?

Is there any indication in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians that our current belief is supported here?

Or was the passage written because people were grieving over their deceased loved ones, and Paul was comforting them with the idea that they would be joined together with them in the Day of the Lord?

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

The "rapture" teaching is nothing more than wishful thinking.

The passage is speaking about the appearing of Christ and His faithful saints of history. This same appearing is described in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew. It is the Day of the Lord.

As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, (parousias) and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3)

Now notice First Thessalonians, Chapter Four:

According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming (parousian) of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. (I Thessalonians 4:15)

The word for "coming," in both First and Second Thessalonians, is the Greek term parousia. To then say that First Thessalonians is referring to a special event prior to Matthew Twenty-four appears to me to be sloppy scholarship, since the same Greek term is used in both situations.

Another passage on which the "rapture" is founded is as follows:

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

This protection is not offered to everyone who "accepts Christ" but to those who endure patiently while sin abounds on every side.

I doubt that the hour of trial is the Great Tribulation. I think rather it is a time of so much sin that the love of the majority of Christians will grow cold. However, that is not which I wish to stress here.

Rather it is the verb "keep." It means to "protect." "If you guard and protect my command to endure patiently, I will also guard and protect you from the hour of trial."

Nothing is said about catching us up to Heaven.

Notice how the same Greek verb is used by the same author in another place:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. (John 17:15)

More sloppy scholarship.

And then there is the passage in Luke:

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.

The key to understanding the verse above is what it means to "stand before the Son of Man."

Those who teach the catching up of the Church to Heaven imply that this means to go to Heaven—that we stand before Christ in Heaven.

But if we look at what the Bible says about "standing," we see that it does not mean necessarily standing in Heaven.

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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place. (Ephesians 6:13,14)

It is the same Greek term as the passage in Luke.

As I stated previously, I have been teaching our congregation that we must learn to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus if we are to stand and help others to stand during the Gentile holocaust that is at hand.

Two of my favorite Bible characters are Elijah and Elisha. Are they your favorites also?

Do you know that they had in common? While they were on the earth they were standing in the Presence of the Lord.

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—KJV)

And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee. (II Kings 3:14—KJV)

There may be other passages used to support the idea of a catching up to Heaven to avoid Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, but I do not know of them. But in any case, the three I have mentioned have nothing to do with a "rapture."

The effect of the "rapture" teaching is to persuade Christian people to not prepare themselves for the approaching evil day, by saying that there will be no evil day for believing Christians.

But is this what the Bible teaches?

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)

Over the past few years I have been teaching our congregation how to stand in the days of moral and physical horrors rapidly approaching us in the United States. Would I be more in line with God's will if I told them not to worry because they will be taken to Heaven before there is any danger of them being harmed?

The result of the "rapture" teaching is the complacent, careless believers we so often see today. I wonder what the effect would be on the Church at large if the preachers reported they had been incorrect all these years, and the people needed to prepare themselves to stand in the evil day.

What is your opinion of this.

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer. (I Timothy 1:3)

Preparing To Be Revealed With Jesus

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1,2)

The Servant of the Lord is Christ—Head and Body. God upholds His Servant. The Servant has been chosen and God delights in Him. God has put His Spirit on Him.

And then the purpose—that He might bring justice to the nations of the earth. This will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. (Revelation 19:11)

Bringing justice to the nations begins with the battle we often call "Armageddon." It is Christ and His army, and the army of angels, attacking Antichrist and his army, Satan, the False Prophet, and a great company of demons. This battle will take place at Har Magedon, a short distance north of Jerusalem.

A day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come. (Joel 2:2)

The verse above is telling of what will take place after the victory at Har Magedon. Christ will lead His army and the army of angels throughout the earth, destroying the Antichrist institutions.

Many people will be slain and their spirits driven into the Land of Darkness. Others will be spared and be part of the nations that the Lord and His saints will govern.

The trappings of civilization, such as electricity, automobiles, highways, radios, televisions, will be destroyed because they take away that which God desires—time to love and serve God. The emphasis will be upon loving relationships in the family.

Electricity will be restored when God is satisfied that people are putting God and their families in the place of first importance..

The purpose of this destruction is that Christ and His saints may be able to bring the nations of the earth into stern obedience to God.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:18-21)

The sons of God will bring the Spirit of God to the whole earth. All people will be set free from bondage. This is what shall take place when Christ next appears. Romans tells us how the creation will be set free as the water of eternal Life flows from the Throne of God that has been created in the members of the Servant of the Lord.

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

Isaiah describes the result of the filling of the earth with the knowledge of the Lord. The "holy mountain" is Jerusalem from which Christ and His Body are ruling. The little children, may, if they wish, have lions and wolves for pet. The vicious nature will be removed from the fiercest of beasts. This is the Kingdom of God on the earth for the thousand years after Christ next appears and prior to the final resurrection.

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

Colossians informs us that we shall appear with Jesus. And this is the point of the present essay.

We noted, in Joel, that after the onslaught of Har Magedon, there was a cleansing of the earth in preparation for the rule of Christ and His saints from Jerusalem. This was done by a large and mighty army. While it is true that Christ will bring with Him when He appears all the victorious saints of past history, some of us may be still living on the earth when He comes.

"When Christ who is our life appears, then we also shall appear with Him."

Are we prepared to be part of such an army? That is the question I am raising in this brief article.

Are the churchgoers in America prepared to descend from where they met Christ in the air and confront all the forces of Hell? Are they then prepared to go through the earth and exercise Divine judgment on all the people and vaporize the Antichrist institutions that have made a warm, loving family life just about impossible.

Before we are ready for such a tremendous experience we must be manifested before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

For all of us it behoveth to be manifested before the tribunal of the Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] through the body, in reference to the things that he did, whether good or evil; (II Corinthians 5:10—YLT)

We receive the things themselves, just as Young says.

If we are a liar, our lying nature will be apparent in our resurrection form.

If we are covetous, the covetousness will be obvious in our new form.

We receive the things we did in the body. It is the law of sowing and reaping. We reap what we have sown, not a reward for what we have sown.

If we have gained victory through Christ over the deeds of our sinful nature, that righteousness and holiness will radiate from our resurrection form.

Let us look once more at our key verse, and the verse that follows.

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:4,5)

"Put to death, therefore . . ." Why "therefore"? Because if we are to appear with Him we must be free from the works of our sinful nature.

Those who are resurrected and then caught up to meet the Lord in the air will be in His internal and external image. I do not say they all will be perfect at this time. But they will be much more mature than the churchgoer of today who has "accepted" Christ and now lives like any other worldly person.

So many are trusting in "grace" to catch them up in a "rapture" any moment now. But grace will not be operative in that hour. Rather, each member of the Body of Christ will have to have been delivered from the works of the flesh; and also will have had the iron of righteous behavior formed in him or her.

We are going to govern the nations by the iron scepter of righteousness that has been formed in us as we have chosen to confess and turn away from our sins. This is what the Holy Spirit is inviting us to do at the present time.

If we are to be a great and powerful army we have to have been delivered from the works of our sinful nature..

If we are to stand in the time of chaos that is approaching our country we have to have been delivered from the works of our sinful nature.

If we are to be resurrected and caught up to meet Jesus when He appears, and then appear with Him, we have to have been delivered from the works of our sinful nature.

In addition to be delivered from the works of our sinful nature, we must be totally obedient to Christ, resting in the center of God's perfect Person and will. There is to be nothing whatever in our life concerning which we do not say "Your will be done."

Also, we must be filled with all the fullness of God. There are two dimensions of being filled with all the fullness of God. One dimension is the forming of the Divine Nature of Christ in us. The other dimension is the dwelling of the Father in Christ in our personality such that it is not we who are living but They who are living in us.

The forming of the Divine Nature in us occurs as we keep eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood. We are given of this "hidden manna" every time we say no to the desires of our sinful nature, and choose to do the will of Christ. In this manner Christ is formed in us.

As far a God and Christ Themselves dwelling in our personality, this requires our removing ourselves from the throne of our personality that God might have His unhindered way in us. The crucifixion of our self-will must take place. God will accomplish such crucifixion in us if we will stay faithful to God, trusting Him through every cross and every prison.

If we remain utterly faithful, the time will come when we are permitted to resume our position on the throne of our own life, but we will be sharing it with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It always is the sword of the Lord and of Gideon when we are mature. God does nothing in our life without our cooperation, and we cannot do anything in our life apart from God.

The filling of our mortal body with the Spirit of God will complete our change into the image of God.

In all of this, we never lose our uniqueness as an individual. The difference, is we have become an integral part of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace will not help us when Christ appears. What will matter is what kind of person we have become in Christ. Are we fit to cleanse and govern the earth along with the Lord Jesus?

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 20:6)

The Servant of the Lord is Christ—Head and Body. God upholds His Servant. The Servant is chosen and God delights in Him. God has put His Spirit on Him.

And then the purpose—that He might bring justice to the nations of the earth. This will take place when the Lord Jesus next appears.

Are you, as a member of the Body of Christ, prepared to bring eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace to the nations of the earth? If not, then the coming of the Lord will be the worst thing that ever happened to you.

You can prepare yourself today, but you have to understand that the current level of discipleship is far below the Bible standard. You must ask Jesus to help you prepare yourself for His appearing. This includes confessing and turning away from all the sins the Spirit of God points out to you.

Jesus is more than glad to assist you, but you must be utterly sincere and determined to deny yourself and to take up your cross of deferred desire.

Please keep in mind that the Lord Jesus is more desirous than you are that you might attain to the best that God has for you. He stands ready at every moment to aid you. He never will leave you or forsake you.

There are many today on the earth who will heed the call of the Spirit and prepare themselves to appear with Christ.

Will you?

The above are some of the major things I have learned during my discipleship. I hope they will inspire you to press forward until you attain to the measure of the fullness 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 3:19)

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)

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The Nature of Resurrection

2013-10-20

Resurrection is the transition from Adam to Christ; from flesh and blood to the Spirit and Word of God.

Next to the blood atonement, resurrection may be the most important aspect of the Divine redemption.

From my point of view, resurrection is not emphasized nearly enough. Some of the reasons may be that the unscriptural "rapture" has taken the place of resurrection in Christian thinking.

The "rapture" is not a scriptural doctrine. But resurrection is central to the plan of redemption.

Perhaps the best known passage, at least to Evangelicals, is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I may be mistaken, but I think most Christian people have a kind of vague idea that this verse somehow and in some manner means we are going to live forever in Heaven; whereas if we do not receive Christ when He is presented to us we will go to Hell.

Since the verse does not mention Heaven or Hell, perhaps we should look more closely at what it is saying.

"Shall not perish but have eternal life." What does that really mean?

What does "shall not perish" mean? What is "eternal life"?

To my knowledge, spirits do not perish but are conscious forever somewhere in the universe.

Could "perish" have to do with our body? In that case, John 3:16 may be referring to immortality as well as to spiritual life in the Presence of Christ.

The Greek term for "perish" is "apoletai." The root meaning is "destruction."

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy (apolesai) both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

As to "eternal life," the Bible defines eternal life for us:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

The destruction of our body and soul is contrasted with knowing God and Jesus Christ. This is interesting isn't it? But such is the true meaning of John 3:16. If we choose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, our body and soul will not perish; instead we will know God and the Lord Jesus.

What would immortality in the body have to do with knowing the Father and Jesus?

For one thing, the Apostle Paul always was seeking to know Christ; not to know about Him, but to know Him in the sense of being an integral part of Him.

To know Christ as being part of His Body could very well bring immortality to our physical body, since the Lord Jesus Himself is the Resurrection and Eternal Life.

If we choose to believe in Christ in the sense of cleaving to Him, our body will not be destroyed but be filled with the Spirit of God and be in the closest of fellowship with God and Jesus. I think this is the meaning of John 3:16.

To really believe in Christ means we are learning to live by His Life, always inviting Him into all we think, say, and do.

Notice the following passage:

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)

"Rise to live; rise to be condemned."

I believe this verse is referring to the bringing back to life of our physical body such that it comes forth from the grave when it hears the voice of Christ. So it is apparent that every person who has ever lived in the earth will at one point come out from the place of burial and stand before Christ.

There are those who have done what is good. They shall rise to live. I would say this is referring to immortality as well as to life in the Presence of Christ.

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

I think it would be fair to say that our belief in Jesus Christ must cause us to do good if we are to rise to live. Could you agree with that? According to the Apostle Paul, we must persist in doing good if we wish to be immortal and eternally enjoy the Presence of God.

Then there are those who have done evil. I believe this would mean whether or not they have claimed to be Christians. They are resurrected from their place of burial to be condemned.

Now, what would that mean? It would mean that when they come forth from their place of burial it is to face an angry Christ who rebukes them because of their behavior.

You know, I believe we place altogether too much importance on doctrine. Correct doctrine might lead us to Christ for salvation, but the correctness of the doctrine itself is not nearly as important to God as is behavior that reflects His image.

Sometimes, as in the case of the Pharisees, the doctrine of a believer may be perfectly correct, while he himself is a wicked, grasping, murderous individual. Some of that sort of behavior was evident in the Catholic churches of hundreds of years ago. I don't think those wicked people have fellowship with God and Christ because they were of the Catholic persuasion. Do you?

My favorite Catholic is Saint Lawrence of the Resurrection, who in every situation practiced the Presence of God; although Cardinal Newman runs a close second because of his hymn, "Lead Kindly Light." Cardinal Newman must have been a truly good man to compose such a hymn.

Truly good people have fellowship with God, whether or not their doctrine conforms to our group.

The title of this briefest of essays is "The Nature of Resurrection." What is resurrection anyway? It certainly is more than reviving our dead body, whether unto life or condemnation!

I was thinking about the time that God sought to kill Moses. Moses' wife referred to him as a "bloody husband." Let me say that every true man of God is a "bloody husband" because God always is seeking to slay him.

Why is this? It is because flesh and blood is an animal creation. It cannot have genuine, lasting fellowship with God. God wants to transform us into a life-giving spirit, which He Himself is. So much of our Christian life is occupied with coping with the deaths into which the Spirit leads us.

Our old adamic nature is a demon. He must be controlled. He cannot be converted. He must be replaced by the Lord Jesus Christ.

As the Lord Jesus stated:

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63)

The Apostle Paul set attaining to the resurrection as his goal in life.

And so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:11)

Since Jesus said that everyone at one time or another shall be resurrected from the dead, it certainly is doubtful that Paul meant he was seeking to attain to that which already has been promised.

There is no question but that Paul was endeavoring to attain to the resurrection that is unto life.

Since the resurrection from the dead is divided into a first and a second resurrection, I believe it is probable that the Apostle was seeking to attain to the first resurrection, the resurrection of the Royal Priesthood. The second resurrection will include all other people, and will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

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 20:6)

Now I don't think Paul meant he would become immortal at the moment he was praying, prior to the appearing of Christ.

In fact he said as much:

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)

If Paul was not seeking to attain to the resurrection, since the Bible promises every person will be resurrected, and it was a hope that Paul was looking forward to at the appearing of Christ, then exactly what was Paul trying to attain to?

And so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

I would venture that there is an inner resurrection that prepares us for the resurrection of our body in the Day of Christ.

What then would be the nature of this inner resurrection that Paul had set as his goal?

The answer has to do with what resurrection actually is; what eternal life actually is.

The Lord Jesus defined eternal life as the intimate knowledge of God and Himself. This is eternal life---that people might know God.

Could we say then that Paul was endeavoring to be free from his adamic nature so that increasingly he might be filled with the Father and Christ?

As we read of Paul's tribulations, in the Book of Second Corinthians, Paul indeed was a "bloody husband." God continually was "killing" Paul.

For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11).

And what was the result of this continuing death?

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)

The verse above is the true meaning of "resurrection."

Could we say then that "resurrection" is our release from the adamic creation and the bringing of us into the Life of God, the Life that Christ is?

Perhaps we could venture that there will be a resurrection of the body in the sense of its release from mortality into immortality.

There also is a preceding and perhaps prerequisite resurrection that takes place as the daily crucifixion of our inner nature is followed by the replacing of it with Divine Life. We have to be resurrected internally before we are resurrected externally. Make sense?

If we stop to think about it, God would not be wise in placing a corrupt adamic nature in an immortal body. In fact, He drove Adam and Eve from the garden to prevent this from happening.

The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead. He lived for thirty-three years in an adamic form, and then came forth from the tomb as the beginning of the new creation, the Kingdom of God. Nothing of the adamic remained.

The old body was not left in the cave of Joseph of Arimathea. But the body that came forth was an indestructible resurrection body filled with Divine Life. This is what God means by making all things new.

The Kingdom of God is not all new things but the things to which we are accustomed made new in Christ. We think we may want a Heaven in which there are all things that are new to us. This is not what we want. What we truly desire is that to which we have been accustomed, particularly relationships, set free from sickness and death.

The Ark of the Covenant, which represents Christ and His Body, was fashioned from acacia wood covered within and without with pure gold. Wood represents humanity and gold represents Divinity. This tells us that Christ always shall continue to be Son of Man and Son of God—both wood and gold.

This is true of us also. It is important to note that Christ never lost His unique identity. Neither shall we lose our unique identity. However, we shall have lost our ability to be independent of Christ and God, just as They never shall be independent of us. Christ never shall be independent of the Father or of us!

I do not believe it is commonly understood among Christians that we are called to be a part of Christ, which is to be a part of God. We recoil at this idea, supposing that it is blasphemous. But we had better get used to it.

The Kingdom of God begins with flesh and blood. But then it is replaced with the Divine Nature. We really are the offspring of God. The lineage of Adam no longer can restrain us.

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (II Peter 1:4)

Who are we that we should be raised to God's right hand in Christ? We are sons of the Highest and genuine brothers of our Lord Jesus.

Such is the nature of "resurrection." It is our emergence from the lineage of our ancestor, Adam, into the family of our Father. The heart of resurrection is not the bringing back to life of our adamic bodies. Rather it is the redeeming of our mortal bodies by filling them with the Spirit of God. This is our adoption as sons of God.

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)

"Our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23)

As I stated in the beginning, resurrection is second in importance only to the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. Therefore we ought not to ignore it in favor of an unscriptural "rapture," in which believers who still are living in the adamic, flesh and blood nature, are carried to Paradise to recline in their corrupt condition for eternity.

As for the bodies that are raised to condemnation and destruction:

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8)

"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the Lord, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the Lord. "And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:22-24)

We may not think of ourselves as being in rebellion against God. But if we cannot say in every situation, "Not my will but Yours be done," we are in rebellion against God. The whole world is in rebellion against God, as we can see by looking around us, and considering our own heart.

Also, please note that at the last judgment, all the dead of history stand before God, except those who have attained to the first resurrection.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)

I believe it is fair to say that each person was raised in his or her body, in that this is the second and final resurrection of the dead. They are standing before the Throne in their body.

Then we see that those whose name was not written in the Book of Life were thrown into the Lake of Fire in their body.

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

Each human being in his or her body was thrown into the Lake of Fire, to be with Satan, death, Hades, and the False Prophet and Antichrist who were thrown in their body into the Lake of Fire at the time of the Battle of Har Magedon.

Here we see the fulfillment of the Words of the Lord Jesus when He spoke of God destroying our soul and body in Hell.

We were born physically as a rebel against God. It is by looking to the Lord Jesus for all we think, say and do that we become free from the label of being a rebel.

The only solution to our problem is to replace our fallen nature with the Lord Jesus Christ. Adam never can be converted to Christ. He rebelled against God in the garden and he continues to rebel today.

We might think of being resurrected as being brought into the Kingdom of God. What role does sin play in keeping us out of the Kingdom of God; in preventing our resurrection?

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)

Those who continue in known sin are not children of the Father. Therefore they do not inherit the Father's Kingdom.

Now, exactly how does sexual immorality prevent us from inheriting the Kingdom of God? How do fits of rage prevent our resurrection?

To be resurrected is to be changed from flesh and blood to the Spirit and Word of God. It is the Spirit of God who makes this change in our personality.

But God will not give His Spirit where there is disobedience to God. The Spirit will be withdrawn, keeping us from inheriting the Kingdom of God; preventing our change from flesh and blood to the Spirit and Word of God.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:13)

If we continue to disobey the Father, the Spirit of God is withdrawn from us.

We see, then, that wherever the deeds of our sinful nature are being practiced, the Kingdom of God is absent and there is no transition from flesh and blood to the Spirit and Word of God. This is a law of the Kingdom of God, and grace, mercy, and our perception of God's unconditional love, have no effect upon it. It is a case of sowing and reaping.

When we continue in known sin, the Spirit of God, the Kingdom, and the resurrection unto life are removed from us and we face the destruction of our personality along with all those who disobey God.

When we come forth from our place of burial in the Day of Resurrection, we will reveal how much of the resurrection we have attained to; how much of the Kingdom of God we have attained to; how much of Christ we have attained to; how much eternal life we have attained to. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the Resurrection and the Life.

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)

We commence in a perishable state, but by continuing to press into Christ we become imperishable. Such is the true nature of resurrection and eternal life.

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"I Delight to Do Your Will"

2013-10-27

I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8—NASB)

I was not raised in a Christian home and knew little or nothing of the Lord Jesus Christ or His plan of salvation. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps at the age of seventeen. I became a Christian and was called to preach while in the Corps.

It was a custom for us Marines to hold a Bible study each night in a Quonset hut, and later, after the end of the war, in an abandoned Japanese barracks.

There I was taught, by dedicated Christian Marines, the basics of Evangelical doctrine, including grace and the "rapture."

The idea was, no one can really do God's will, and that is why we have "grace." I imagine when the Apostle Paul saw from Heaven that we were using his doctrine to get people to Heaven apart from doing God's will, he must have been ready to come back to earth and explain himself.

The purpose of Divine grace is not that of bringing people to Heaven because man cannot do God's will, although I guess that this incorrect idea is still taught in some Christian churches.

Rather it is true that "grace" is a means of releasing us from the Law of Moses so we can gain righteousness of behavior by following the Spirit of God instead of by the "works" of the Law of Moses.

The Apostle Paul always taught the Gospel from the standpoint of a Jew who was brought up to believe that people can gain righteousness only through obeying the works of the Law of Moses.

Paul, in a complete departure from his upbringing as a devout Jew, revealed to us that the "grace" of the new covenant is a way of gaining righteousness apart from the "works" of the Law of Moses, by believing in the atonement made by Jesus and obeying the Holy Spirit as He leads us to victory over sin.

"By grace we are saved through faith, not by works of righteousness we have done"; that is, not by performing the works of the Law of Moses.

Since we now have come to the place in the plan of redemption where God is ready to create us in His image and likeness, which always has been His goal, we can understand that a "grace" that does not result in actual righteousness of behavior is not fulfilling God's purpose of creating us in His moral image.

Our goal as Christian believers is not eternal residence in Heaven. Our goal is God's original goal of being in God's moral image and outer likeness.

This is so clear to us today; but it apparently has not been as clear in time past.

This Sunday morning (August 18, 2013). I pointed out to our congregation that when God does great things it is not always perceived by everyone. A good example is the bringing of the baby Jesus into the Temple. Of the numerous people there at the time, only Anna and Simeon perceived that God was doing something unprecedented and with worldwide significance.

So it is in our day. We have the blood atonement. We know of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We can pray and receive the Holy Spirit.

Now we have come to something farther along in the plan of redemption: we are to follow the Spirit of God into the creating of us in God's moral image.

Such change requires, as we might imagine, the conquering of our sinful nature; the filling of us with Christ; and, in the Day of Christ, our resurrection from the dead.

We recently may have become aware that the Holy Spirit is revealing to us the sins we are practicing. We are to confess these, as they are shown to us, and turn away from them with the help of the Lord Jesus.

As we gain victory over the sins of our behavior, we are being fed in the Spirit the body and blood of Christ. This is the "hidden manna" that is forming Christ in us, along with the operation of the gifts and ministries in ourselves and in others.

As Christ is formed in us, and we are keeping the commandments of Christ, the Father and the Son come and take up Their residence in us.

The acts of the Divine redemption are creating the moral image of God in us, in accordance with God's original declaration at the beginning of the creation.

The final act of redemption (although we will have eternity to become more completely in God's image) will be the raising of our flesh and bones from their place of interment and the filling of them with the Spirit of God.

I was not taught about these mighty works of the Spirit when I first received Christ. I was taught that "grace" took their place.

Upon leaving the Marine Corps, when the Second World War was concluded, I attended Bible school.

There I was taught the same definition of grace that I had learned while I was in the service. But I was taught something even more destructive. I was instructed that no one is able to do God's will perfectly. Some person some day might be able to do God's will perfectly, and then marvelous things would come to pass.

My father was living in a hotel in Los Angeles. My mother was in a hospital in San Bernardo. I have no brothers or sisters or relatives who were close by the Bible school in San Diego. I was not married. I was as free as the air, in that respect.

So one day at the Berean Bible School, during recess, I said to the Lord: "If you will help me, I will do your perfect will." I don't remember if at the time I wanted to do great things for God. It just seemed right to me. I could not understand what was so difficult about doing God's will.

When recess was over, I returned to the classroom. Someone at the rear of the class, I do not know who, prophesied. He or she said: "If you mean what you say, it will be a blessing to many people." I meant it then. I mean it today, 68 years later.

Have I made mistakes along the way? You bet I have. Have I ever been deceived as I attempted to follow the Spirit? Yes. But when I realized I was in error, I confessed my mistake; made restitution when it was necessary; and continued to press forward.

Anyone can do that!

In addition to being created in the moral image of Christ, we must learn to do God's will. And not just doing God's will, but delighting in God's will. The primary law of the Kingdom of God today, and for eternity, is stern obedience to God's King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the greatest pleasure of all to the mature believer..

In the Book of Hebrews we are told about the importance of entering the "rest" of God. The "rest" of God is compared to Canaan, to the land of promise.

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11)

We enter the rest of God when every enemy that would seek to prevent us from doing God's will has been overcome through Christ.

Some of the enemies that strive against us are: our bodily appetites and lusts; our sinful nature; Satan; the demons and fallen angels; the world; and our self-will.

We can see from this that our discipleship is one long warfare against every enemy that is opposed to our doing God's will. Christ will help us come to the position where we are in untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will. Such is our goal, along with being created in Christ's internal moral image and external bodily image.

We do not strive toward these two goals, change into Christ's image and rest in the Father's will, so we can go to Heaven. Heaven is where rebellion against God began! Rather, we press toward these two goals so we may have fellowship with God and so we may assist in establishing and maintaining the Kingdom of God throughout the creation.

How did the Christian churches ever get so far away from God's Word that they decided no one could do God's will and must be brought to Heaven by forgiveness independently of any moral change?

I think this persuasion comes directly from Satan, who understands that immature Christians who are brought to Heaven by "grace" and do not undergo moral transformation are no threat to him or his kingdom.

Does the Bible say it is impossible to do God's will and we must be saved by "grace"?

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome. (I John 5:2,3)

Would you deduce from the verses above that we show our love for God by doing His will? What if we do not keep His commandments?

"If you love me, keep my commands." (John 14:15)

What if we do not keep the commands of Jesus? What is your conclusion?

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)

Could we gather from the passage above that we demonstrate our belief in Christ by obeying Him?

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. (Romans 11:32)

I can understand how a theologian might interpret Romans 11:32 as meaning that God has made us disobedient so He could bring us all to Heaven by mercy (grace).

Please keep in mind that God's actual objective is not to bring us to Heaven but to make us in His image. The unscriptural tradition that eternal residence in Heaven is the goal of salvation produces confusion when one is seeking to determine God's will for us.

Notice in the following passage that Paul's conclusion from his preceding comments in Chapter Eleven is not that we surrender to the bondage of unbelief but that we seek God's perfect will for our life.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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)

"Therefore (that is, because of what I just said in Chapter Eleven), offer your bodies as a living sacrifice." That is not the usual conclusion of many theologians. What they suggest is that we merely assent to the fact that God is merciful and trust in His mercy to carry us off to Heaven no matter how we behave. What else can we do, since He has bound us all over to unbelief?

What is the purpose of offering our body as a living sacrifice to God? It is because our body, with its lusts and appetites is an enemy of God. Our mind, in particular, is hostile to God.

Paul sought to keep control of the desires of his body:

No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

(I Corinthians 9:27)

If we do not, through Christ, gain control of the lusts of our body, we cannot possibly attain to untroubled rest in the center of God's Person and will.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Because of the multitude of communication devices in our day constantly bombarding our mind with information of one sort or another, plus the attractiveness of the American culture, it is exceedingly difficult to keep from being conformed to the pattern of this world.

That doesn't sound much like being saved by "grace," does it? It is a daily fight to keep our mind in the heavenlies, and not surrender to the various lusts and fears that abound in our culture. It hardly is a passive assent to the fact that we are destined to be disobedient and so we are to drift along until we are "raptured" to Heaven because of God's mercy.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Is it important that we find out God's will, which is good, pleasing and perfect? Apparently so.

I have heard it said that there are three wills of God, the good, the pleasing, and the perfect. This is sheer nonsense. If it is God's will for us to do a certain thing, then we either do it or else do not do it. We cannot "kind of" do God's will. There is no gray area here. We either do God's will or we do not do God's will. Satan is in the gray areas.

But we have to work at it in order to know for sure what God's will is. First of all, we have to present our body a living sacrifice. We cannot possibly discover God's will if we do not get victory over the lusts and pleasures that call to us. We have to pray until we know what is right, and then do it whether or not we like it.

People who would be Christians sometimes fail because they cannot walk the straight and narrow way. When the siren call of pleasure sounds in their ears, off they go to their destruction. It takes rugged determination to make a success of one's discipleship!

Anyone who does not do God's perfect will at all times is a rebel against Christ. Notice what Isaiah says about the fate of rebels:

And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind. (Isaiah 66:24)

I expect when American Christians read the above verse they think to themselves, "This never could happen to me!"

I understand that American and European Christians may believe I am being extreme. This is because they are comfortable and complacent, many of them. They have been taught that God loves us so much He would never let us suffer in the manner Isaiah describes.

It appears to me the philosophy of Humanism has affected Christian preaching until we are not willing to believe God really will severely punish disobedient people.

We do not really believe in the full verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. Rather we believe Satan when he says, "You shall not surely die."

We may read of the atrocities in Africa, but cannot comprehend them. We may notice that a worshiper may have his arms cut off and sewn on backwards, or was just left without arms. Can you picture the difficulty of trying to live without arms?

I think the Africans who have seen their loved ones raped, maimed, tortured, or slain, would not have as much trouble believing that the dead bodies of people who do not do God's will would actually be left so people could go on field trips and see the worms eternally feeding on them or fire eternally burning them.

We need to wake up!

Put yourself in God's place. Supposing you, in joy and happiness, created people to be your sons and daughters, as brothers and sisters for your beloved Son.

But they would not obey you. They chose to conduct their own life and pay minimal or no attention to you, the great Spirit who brought them all into existence.

Would you be so much in love with the works of your hands that you would receive them anyway. Would you dare to punish them severely, knowing that they then would criticize you and call you mean and unrighteous?

Sometimes American parents withhold some desired thing or circumstance from their child. They try to tell him that he must not spend all of his time on his electronic games.

His response probably will be: "I hate you!"

Then mommy and daddy will surrender and smother their little monster with kisses and let him do whatever he wants. So it often is in America.

Actually the parents do not love their child, only themselves.

Do we truly believe the God of Heaven is like that? Do we truly believe that He is upset because we do not think He is righteous? The truth is, God laughs when we seek to escape from His rulership. We are like ants on the ground, waving our feelers at God.

God will never try to make peace with humans, hoping to gain their love. If we think He will, we have very little understanding of God!

God gave His Son. That is the greatest gift He can give. The rest is up to us, to live in obedience to His Spirit.

God's will is a delight, once we gain victory over our worldliness, fleshly lusts, and self-will. There is no greater joy than to realize we are doing exactly what God desires of us. When this is true, we look forward to physical death with the anticipation of happiness, knowing we will be ushered into the Presence of a smiling Jesus.

But such will not be the case with numerous Americans who think of themselves as Christians. They will stand with their pastors and evangelists before an angry Christ. They never were changed throughout their life as a Christian. They remain the same shrunken spirits with filthy garments. They and their leaders will be sent to live with people like themselves until the final judgment.

What I have written in this essay does not correspond with contemporary Christian teaching and thinking. I realize that. This leads me to believe that God may send one last revival to America in order that many Christians might repent of their sins and humbly seek the Lord Jesus for His help in leading a godly life.

After that period of repentance, Divine judgment surely will fall on America. Many will be slain. Our country will be diminished until it is a third of its present size. It no longer will be a leader in the world, the leadership having passed to the Eastern nations.

Such is my present understanding of the future.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people. (Proverbs 14:34)

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Shattering the Power of the Saints

2013-11-03

I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed. (Daniel 12:7—NASB)

The rule of Antichrist will produce tremendous desolation and destruction in the earth, as the rule of man apart from God always does. The true saints will be required, through Christ, to gain personal victory over the abundance of sensuous pleasure available in the closing days of the present age.

Then they will be hounded from the centers of civilization, being forced to live with their children in wilderness areas of the earth. There the disciples will dwell, with the elect Jews, under the Lord's protection until He appears in the clouds of the heaven and calls them up to their reward.

The "power of the holy people" is the Holy Spirit. This is the Power who restrains the revealing of the man of sin. In order for Satan to elevate Antichrist in the earth he first must scatter the power of the saints. He must dissipate their ability to pray and act in the power of the Spirit of God.

It is written that the power of the holy people will be shattered in the last days. Let us watch and pray that we may survive all that comes to pass until we stand in triumph before the Lord Jesus Christ.

***

According to my understanding, the "time, times, and half a time" of Daniel (introductory verse above) refers to the second half of the week of years (seven years) that is set forth in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.

The first half of the week is as follows:

And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth [three and one-half years–time, times, and a half]. (Revelation 11:3)

The "two witnesses" prophesy during the first half of the week (three and one-half years) and the man of sin, the Antichrist, is revealed during the second half of the week (three and one-half years). The second half of the week will be a time of great tribulation for all the peoples of the earth, including the true people of God—the elect Jews and Gentiles (Matthew 24:16; Zechariah 13:8,9). In spite of the ruin on every hand, the inhabitants of the earth, including the deceived Christians, will cry, "Peace and safety!"

The "holy people" of Daniel 12:7 are God's saints, His testimony in the earth. They have just preached the Gospel of the Kingdom for a witness to all nations, as symbolized by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11. That most powerful of all testimonies will be produced by the "latter rain" outpouring of God's Spirit prophesied by Joel:

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. (Joel 2:28)

Again, speaking of the outpouring of glory that will make straight the way of the Lord:

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 40:5)

The above prophecies never have come to pass in their fullness on the earth. But they shall come to pass, as we note from their contexts, in the days immediately preceding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.

The second lampstand of Revelation, Chapter Eleven (Christ being the first Lampstand) has been hammered into shape throughout the centuries of the Christian Era. It consists of the victorious saints, in whom Christ is dwelling.

The part of the second lampstand that is on the earth during the closing days of the Church Age will be filled with a double (Elisha) portion of God's Spirit (symbolized by the two olive trees).

The latter-rain revival, an unprecedented downpour of God's Spirit, the greatest revival of all history, is beginning now. It will increase in power and revelation until the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached for a witness to every nation of people on the earth (Matthew 24:14).

When God's witnesses, His saints, have "finished their testimony" (Revelation 11:7), the power of the extraordinary last-day anointing will be lifted. This marks the end of the Christian witness of the Church Age.

Then God will give Antichrist authority over all the nations of the earth. The numerous Christian believers on the earth, having been converted during the revival, and also the saints who have borne the end-time witness but who now do not have the gift of power from on high to inspire and protect them, will be required to stand by faith in the written Word.

The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will remain resident in them, but they will not be anointed for ministry as had been true during the first half of the "week." The spiritual oppression during that season will be greater than at any other time of earth's history.

The remaining three and one-half years, the second half of the prophetic "week," is the period of the apostasy. This will be the "hour of temptation" of which Christ spoke (Revelation 3:10) and of very great tribulation for God's true people (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:14). Antichrist will rule during this time.

During the second half of the week the love of the majority of Christians will grow cold. They will retain a form of godliness but possess little power of the Spirit. Some of the stronger saints will be deceived and fall. The true Church, the Wife of the Lamb, will be driven into hiding. The elect Jews have been warned by Christ to flee from Judea in that day (Matthew 24:16).

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)

During the Great Tribulation a multitude of people will wash their robes until they are pure white, by confessing and renouncing their sins. They will appear before God and serve Him in His Temple, whether or not they still are in their body on the earth, or have been slain, I do not know.

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. (Revelation 7:14,15)

We believe that during this time the Christian saints will receive the elect Jews and introduce them to Christ, fulfilling the type of Joseph and his brothers. Jacob was forced into the arms of Joseph by the famine in Canaan, and Jacob again will be forced into the arms of the heavenly "Joseph" by the tribulation that will result from the reign of Antichrist.

And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. (Revelation 12:14)

The saints in hiding, including the elect Jews who now have received Christ, make up the godly remnant, the purified Church—the army that will be resurrected at the return of Christ to the earth (Ezekiel 37:10).

The people living on the earth at that time will not be able to pray through to God. Antichrist will block their prayers. But there shall be deliverance and safety in the godly remnant who are in hiding.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:32)

The power of the Spirit, which today restrains the revealing of the man of sin, will have been scattered as to its worldwide witness; but the Spirit will remain as a "covert from storm and from rain" for the true Israel of God (Isaiah 4:6).

What means will Antichrist use to overcome the saints? How will he make war against them and overcome them?

And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (Revelation 13:7)

Antichrist will employ three means to overcome the saints: Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem.

And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)

Satan already has used these three means to scatter the spiritual power of the believers. The saints of the wealthy nations of today already have been conquered by deception and sin. This is why we Christians no longer are able to effect changes in our government and environment and are anxious to escape by fleeing to Paradise in an unscriptural "rapture."

Sodom is the lack of control of bodily appetites: fornication, adultery, perversion, drunkenness, reveling, gluttony. Antichrist is providing the Christians in large segments of the world's population with access to the pleasures of fleshly and often immoral satisfactions.

The former name of homosexual behavior is "sodomy."

Egypt is the desire for the world. It symbolizes the lust of the eyes. Antichrist is overcoming the saints by worldly prosperity and success. Antichrist is so competent in the art of deception that a number of Christian churches are preaching that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God is the good news that Christian believers are to be wealthy in material gain.

The "Spirit-filled" people are preaching the message of the False Prophet. They have been deceived. Antichrist has overcome the saints with the love of money even though the Scriptures contain several examples of people who have been destroyed by the love of money. Also, we have the explicit warning of the Apostle Paul (I Timothy 6:5-11).

There is an increasing emphasis on what is not obviously sinful but results, nevertheless, in our neglecting our salvation: buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, eating and drinking, and other ordinary pursuits that are not wrong in themselves but easily can destroy the fervor necessary for the conduct of the life of victory in Christ.

The ability of the Christians in wealthy areas to pray with spiritual power has been largely destroyed. In some countries the believers are more occupied with football or soccer than they are with prayer and the Word of God.

In certain instances the "worshipers" sit in the church services with earplugs from transistor radios in their ears so they will not miss some important sports event. The leaders of the assemblies are afraid to rebuke them out of fear they will lose their congregation. The leaders and the congregations have been conquered by Antichrist. They pose little threat to the kingdom of Satan.

Jerusalem is the pride of life. It is the desire of people for preeminence, particularly spiritual preeminence. The Pharisees murdered the Lord's Christ from envy, because of their desire to be foremost in status among the Lord's flock.

Jesus fled from those who would have made Him the king of Jerusalem (John 6:15).

Antichrist will invite some of God's prophets to accept positions of high rank in his government. These believers will accept, believing they can help correct the evils they see in the world. They do not understand that our Kingdom is not of this world. They surely shall lose their anointing because, as we see in the example of Samson, the saint's strength is based on his separation to God.

True prophets walk with God, not with the rulers of the present world system.

In addition to the destruction of the witness produced by the prevalence of temptation, Antichrist, with the cooperation of the babylonish manmade, man-centered, man-directed church organizations, will persecute the true saints, driving them from the cities of the earth.

And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days. (Daniel 11:33)

The False Prophet, whom we believe to be Christians who are working miracles but living in the wisdom and power of their own souls rather than in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, will encourage the Antichrist government to do away with all Christians who are not willing to join in the worldwide effort to bring peace and safety to mankind.

Antichrist, ruling in terms of libertarian democracy, would far rather persuade the believers to work together with him to promote the new age of prosperity that he envisions, than he would destroy them. But the true saints, and the Jews as well, always will be a thorn in his side.

Then his true nature will be revealed for all to see. The mask of loving kindness and concern for people will be removed and the burning fires of Hell will flare from his countenance, just as today the benevolent attitude of the American government disappears when Christian people attempt to resist the national drift toward immorality.

It is written that the power of the holy people will be shattered in the last days. Let us watch and pray that we may escape being harmed spiritually by the things that come to pass and are able to stand in victory before the Son of Man when He appears.

As I stated previously, Antichrist overcomes the holy people with Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem. Today we see the behavior of "Sodom" (homosexuality) spreading throughout the world, in addition to additional moral filth of every description.

We have been overcome by "Egypt" when we find our security and pleasure in the things of the world. The electronic communication devices are bombarding people, particularly young people, with the values of the world.

It is "Jerusalem" that is the greatest problem. Jerusalem