Pastor's Page - Archive

Table of Contents

Introduction

Living by the Life of Christ

Putting on the New Man

The Unscriptural Doctrine of the Rapture

The Dishonest Manager

Flowing With the Will of God

A Change of Goal

Canaan, and the Rest of God

Driving Sin Out of Us

They Are Not the Same Person!

God Is Reproducing Himself

The Firstfruits

The Secret Place

Godly Character Versus Traditional Grace

What Does It Mean to be “Saved by Grace”?

Which Law Are We Under? Not Both!

What Is the “New Creation”?

Mysteries To Be Revealed in the Last Days

The High Calling of God in Christ Jesus

The Forming and Birth of Christ in Us

A Warning To The Churches

The Rebuilding of Our Life

A Mystery

Grace, Belief, and Obedience

Galatians 2:20

The Life-Giving Spirits

A Season of Preparation

Three Sources of Sin

The Crown of Anointing

The Third Day

Pursuing the Resurrection

The Priesthood and the People

The Coming of the Royal Priesthood

Three Institutions

The Wife of the Lamb

Characteristics of the “Third Day”

The Third Day of Redemption

The Third Day Has Begun

The War Against Evil

Because of Rebellion

Why Resurrection Is Our Goal

The Image of God

Becoming One With Christ

Gaining Christ

The Rule of Self and the Rule of God

Canaan, and the Rest of God

Election

The Next Major Move of Redemption, from The Coming Day of Redemption

Working Out Our Salvation

Election


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.


Living by the Life of Christ

2015-01-04

Salvation changes our physical personality by creating a new, Divine personality. It does this by continual death and resurrection, leaving parts of the old personality behind and transforming the remainder in Christ.

The ultimate goal of the believer is to live by the life of Christ. We are to look to Jesus for every decision we make throughout the day and night. Then we are to be perfectly obedient in all He shows us to do. Our unrelenting obedience finally expands into a complete blending of His Life and our Life. This is the rest of God.

LIVING BY THE LIFE OF CHRIST

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

It seems to me that there are only two ways in which human beings can live. We can live according to our own wisdom and strength, sometimes prompted by unclean spirits; or we can live in the Spirit of God, being obedient to God. All people who are saved to the new world of righteousness will obey God perfectly. There shall be no sin or disobedience whatever.

The members of the royal priesthood are holier than the remainder of saved mankind. This does not mean they are better people or more worthy than the rest of the human race. Rather it indicates that God has called them closer to Himself that they might govern the nations of saved people and act as representatives of God to them.

The members of the royal priesthood were chosen by the Lord from the beginning of the world to serve God and mankind in this manner.

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

As I stated, all inhabitants of the new world of righteousness will have a portion of the Holy Spirit and will be obedient to God. But God's elect, His family, true Israel, are called to a closer relationship with God.

We are called to live by the Life of Christ, just as the Apostle Paul did, as He said: "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

I know all Christians assent to this as the way we should live. But how is such oneness with Christ accomplished?

First, there are the dealings of God. Each saint, each believer, should be aware God is dealing with him or her continually. Perhaps many believers do not realize this, supposing while they are waiting to go to Heaven, Satan is harassing them needlessly.

For example: someone may treat us unjustly. It may be a member of our assembly or an unsaved person. We now have a choice. We can become bitter and vengeful, in which case we will continue in our sinful nature. Or we can go to the Lord until He gives us of His Virtue so we have the strength to forgive.

If we choose this response to injustice, a part of our old personality will perish and we will receive the Life of Christ.

We read in the newspaper about what is taking place in the world. We can see the lying, the injustice, the malice, the self-seeking that are causing wars and other forms of destruction. In fact, the newspapers lie so much we don't know if what we are reading is even the truth.

We can choose to fret about the evil in the world. If we do, our sinful nature will remain intact. If however we go to the Lord until we have peace, a part of our old nature dies and the Life of Christ takes its place.

You know, as I think about it, the evil in the world is caused by the fact that people exercise their own will rather than God's will. What would the world be like if every person on earth did God's will rather than his or her own will? We might think the world could never be like this. But God has said it shall be, and to pray that His will be done in the earth. In the new world of righteousness that is coming, every human being will do God's will. No other will shall be permitted.

The trouble in the world and in the Christian churches is caused by people pursuing their own will instead of God's will.

So one aspect of learning to live by the Life of Christ is to respond correctly to the evil in the world, as God guides us and deals with us.

A second aspect has to do with having no other god beside the Lord. A good part of our Christian life consists of God putting our idols under our feet. We Americans have numerous idols, such as money, violence, a talent we have, professional sports, entertainment, romance, our children, our job, our house and location. We have persons, circumstances, and things that we love more than we do God.

Sometimes God has to remove them from us in order to get our eyes back on Him. Or He may show us an idol and leave it to us to pray that God will release us from this bondage.

The reason God insists we worship only Him is that every other recipient of our worship enslaves us. Only the true God brings us to freedom and joy. It is for our own good that the Lord removes our idols from us.

The first commandment of Moses is that we have no other gods. The second commandment is that we do not make an image and worship it. Christians often worship their church building. They enter an ornate church building and worship it without realizing it.

We can take anything, whether it is a person, or our bank account, or a talent we have, and make it an idol.

If you think you have an idol, ask God to remove the bondage of idolatry. If it is not an idol, nothing will happen. If you panic at the thought of God removing it and are afraid, it probably is an idol. God wants to set you free from slavery.

So far we have mentioned two parts of being able to live by the Life of Christ. One part is to respond correctly to God's dealings with us. The second part is to permit God to remove the bondages of idolatry from us. We cannot possibly live by the Life of Christ while we are worshiping some person, thing, or circumstance.

A third aspect of learning to live by the Life of Christ is that of obeying God sternly and perfectly. I believe many believers have never learned to obey God.

I am not speaking at this point of obeying the commands of Jesus and His Apostles as found in the New Testament; but of obeying Christ's personal directions to us.

Sometimes it is preached that no one can obey God and do His will perfectly. If a greater lie has come from Satan I do not know of it.

If you remember, in the beginning Satan implied to Eve that God is mean. He didn't want Adam and Eve to be like Himself, knowing good and evil.

Satan has convinced mankind that God is mean, and that if we do His will we will be unhappy and suffer loss.

Satan has convinced the Christians that no one can do God's will perfectly; that God has to save us by grace because His will is utterly impossible for anyone to perform. In other words, Satan attempts to keep everyone away from this dreadful person in the heavens.

But the inerrant Word of God states that God's commandments are not grievous.

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (I John 5:3)

If there is anything God desires we come to understand it is that He never makes unreasonable requests of anyone; and if He does, it is like the case of Abraham and Isaac where God is about to perform some marvelous deed.

God never puts a hurdle in front of us unless He also provides a way of escape that we may be able to bear it.

It is true that God disciplines us, telling us to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ. But stop and think! Life is hard in any case. The way of the transgressor is hard. The believers are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Everyone is crucified in one manner or another.

When Satan tells us God is harsh and unreasonable, he is speaking of himself. God is loving and kind, and leads us to joy.

It always is possible for the believer to do God's will perfectly. It is expected that the believer will do God's will perfectly. To not be doing God's will perfectly is to be in rebellion against God.

I think most believers already are doing God's will. They just are afraid to go to God to find out how well they are doing. It is stupid to not go to God to find out how well you are doing. What if you are out of God's will for your life? Do you know that not to do God's will is to bring trouble and pain upon yourself?

God expects you to do His will and will help you do it. Do not be afraid to approach God. He loves you. Satan will keep you afraid of God if you allow him to do so.

Tell God right now that you love Him and will do whatever He says, knowing that He will never command you to do something that He will not make possible. It is a wonderful feeling to know you are right in the center of God's perfect will. You can have this joy and confidence if you will go to God for a report card.

And if He tells you to change something, do it! He will help you make the change. Why should you live in guilt before God? It is not necessary, you know. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

I am writing concerning how one learns to live by the Life of Christ.

First I mentioned responding correctly to the dealings of God. Whenever there is a problem, go to the Lord immediately. Receive His peace and assurance. Then you can meet successfully every situation that is hindering your peaceful rest in Christ.

A second important aspect is that of getting rid of your idols. When God is endeavoring to remove something from you, let it go. It will only cause you grief if you cling to it.

Sometimes God wants to take a loved one. You know, an elderly Christian will be in much pain, wanting to go home, and the relatives will cry to God not to take them. Can you see any sense to this? If we know the person will go to be with Jesus and will be free from pain and sickness, why are we insisting that they remain here with us? It seems to be nothing more than self-centered selfishness.

God is good. God loving. God is kind. God knows the details of our life. God desires to bring us to joy and has the power to do so. When we do not obey God implicitly we are harming only ourselves.

First, responding constructively to God's dealings. Second, being willing for God to remove our idols. Third, obeying God's personal directives to us promptly and thoroughly.

A fourth aspect of learning to live by the Life of Christ I should not have to mention because it is so obvious. It is that of obeying the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles–the numerous exhortations found in the New Testament.

Since Christ and His Apostles have told us what to do, you would think we would have sense enough to do what we have been told, and to do it conscientiously and consistently. But no, the theologians have a better idea. We do not have to do what we have been instructed to do because we have been "saved by grace." What an abomination!

I'll have to admit it. Our adversary is exceedingly cunning. He knows that it is only by obeying the commandments of Christ and His Apostles that we can press through to the Life of Christ. Once we press through to the Life of Christ, Satan's kingdom is in trouble, and he understands this.

Satan must have access to the minds of theologians. How else would intelligent, devout scholars have come to the conclusion, in spite of clear passages to the contrary, that we do not have to obey the commandments of the New Testament in order to be saved?

On top of this, many intelligent teachers and pastors have subscribed to the totally unscriptural doctrine of the pre-tribulation "rapture." This destructive error has brought confusion into Christian thinking and has prevented the believers from preparing themselves and their families for the age of physical and moral horrors that is approaching the United States.

So we have a multitude of believers who are not keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles, and who are expecting at any moment, mythical escape from the problems of the world. What a formula for spiritual disaster! What doctrinal chaos we are immersed in!

Notice in the following verse the cause and effect relationship between keeping Christ's commandments and being filled with the Life of God.

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)

Can you understand from the above why the enemy would develop a doctrine that does away with the necessity for keeping the commandments of Christ?

What happens if we obey the teaching of Christ? The Father and the Son will come to us and make Their home with us.

What happens if we do not obey the teaching of Christ but trust that God is saving us "by grace"? The Father and the Son will not come to us and make Their home with us.

There is no possible way that we can press into the state of being where we are living by the Life of Christ if we do not keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Forget about it! It is not going to happen! We are being fed poisoned food today.

If we are to live by the Life of Christ we must:

Respond appropriately to the dealings of God.

Permit the Lord to remove all of our idols.

Obey God implicitly in every aspect of our life.

Obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles found in the New Testament.

These four actions bring us into the Life of Christ. He must become our Life. Notice, in the following passage, that it is those whose life Christ is who will appear with Him when He returns.

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

Actually, living by the Life of Christ is the product of the four actions mentioned above. But it is more than responding to the dealings of God. It is more than the loss of our idols. It is more than obeying God. It is more than obeying the written commandments. It is the product of these, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

When we have been filled with all the fullness of God, in response to the prayer of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians, our thoughts, our words, and our actions flow from Christ. It really is full spiritual maturity, and I believe it is to this state Paul was pressing. Paul was seeking to attain to the resurrection. When we press into the state of living by the Life of Christ our inward nature has already been resurrected. All that is lacking is the transformation of our body, which will take place when the Lord returns.

Paul stated that it is no longer he who is living but Christ who is living in him. (I like to speak of Paul, and all deceased believers, in the present tense.)

There are passages in the Bible, such as the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, that leave the impression Christ is going to come in the Spirit to His Church prior to His coming to the world in the clouds of glory. Of course, it always has been true that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is there in the midst.

If I am not mistaken, His Presence is especially strong today. I think He has come to bring us to be with Him where He is. Where He is, is in the center of the Person and will of the Father. I believe He wants us to press into that same place in the Father so we can be with Jesus where He is.

I believe the time is here, or very near, when God is ready to make Christ's enemies His footstool. If this is the case, we can expect Christ to come to His Church as the Lord strong and mighty in battle. For without doubt, the first enemies that will be put under the feet of Christ are those in His Church.

Also, we of the royal priesthood need to be reconciled to God. We already have been reconciled legally through the blood of the cross. Now we have to be reconciled in actuality.

We have to be more separate from the world than we are.

We need to have greater victory over the lusts of our flesh.

We absolutely must cooperate with the Spirit of God as He burns the self-will and personal ambition out of us.

These three areas of darkness found in most Christians today must be removed from us before we are reconciled to God in actuality.

Speaking to Christians:

"Therefore come out from them and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 6:17-7:1)

If we will be absolutely faithful to the Lord by pursuing reconciliation in each of these three areas, and take the four actions I have described above, we will be able to find rest in the Presence and will of God.

What I have been writing about is termed "the rest of God." It is the place of abiding in Christ. The Book of Hebrews urges us to press on past our familiar doctrines and enter the rest of God prepared for us from the beginning of the world.

God is seeking a place of rest, a house in which He can dwell for eternity, and through which He can govern and bless all of His creatures. God has called each member of the royal priesthood from the beginning of the world that he or she might be a home in which God can find rest. In the Father's great house there are many rooms. Each of us is to be a room in that eternal house.

This is the challenge facing each Christian today. Are we willing to abandon our own life that we might live by the Life of Christ? It is an eternal decision. We cannot set out with the intention of making Christ our Life, and then change our mind and try to go back into our former adamic life. No person having put his or her hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God.

God has set an open door before us today. We can choose to abandon our first personality and become a new creation in Christ. Or we can choose to retain our first personality. What the end of choosing to retain our first personality would be, I am not certain.

I do know the only way we can bear the eternal fruit of the Kingdom is by laying down our old life so Christ may live in us.

Or, we can retain our self-will and self-love and attempt to do "Christian work" by means of our own wisdom and strength. But all we will bring forth is Babylon–confusion.

The personal cross of the believer is the only path to the Life of Christ. To live by the Life of Christ is infinitely desirable. Our animal life is but a blade of grass that soon withers and dies. The Life of Christ is the greatest of the powers of the universe, for God has given all things to Christ.

The door is open now. Who knows for how long. Once the mighty thrones in the air have been occupied, one of the greatest chapters in all of eternity will have come to an end.

Many who are last in time shall be first in the Kingdom. An honorable place at Christ's table is available to anyone who cares enough to set everything else aside and press into 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)

Who among us will do that? Will you?

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Putting on the New Man

2015-01-11

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self [man] 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)

I do not hear it preached as much as I would like to, but the Christian salvation is not the saving of people. Rather, it is the transforming of them by the power of God, that the New Testament refers to as "grace."

The Apostle Paul wrote that if any person be in Christ he or she is a new creation. A new creation! Not an individual who has reformed himself or herself by endeavoring to follow Christian principles, but a "new creation."

An individual who is a new creation must be new in mind; new in the life by which he lives; new in speech; new in behavior. Finally, in the Day of Resurrection, new in body.

Paul spoke to us about being new in mind:

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)

In the time in which we live, people are being bombarded as never before by worldly media. The individual who desires to become a new man must discipline himself so that he is exposed to a limited amount of the enticements of the media.

Paul commanded us to set our minds on things above, not on things on the earth. The new man will make a practice of thinking about the things of God and Heaven. Doing so requires a real effort that only the most sincere Christian is going to make.

The Bible says that as a person thinks in his heart, so he is. It is ridiculous to claim we are a new person in Christ when our mind is filled with the attractions of the world.

Then I said, the new man is new in the life by which he lives.

We need to press forward in the Lord Jesus until we are living by His Life. The Life of Christ is in His body and blood. We are given to eat and drink of His body and blood as we overcome sin and press forward in Christ.

The expression "growing in Christ" means increasing in the Life of His body and blood. As we open our personality to Christ continually we dine on His body and blood. The body and blood of Christ are the Life of the new man. They are the resurrection that will carry us up to meet the slain Lamb in the air.

To not grow in Christ is to continue in defeat, living by the life of Adam, hoping God will catch us up in our adamic nature so we can lie on our couch in Paradise.

This will not take place. The spirit world is nothing like we imagine. It is filled with all sorts of people, many of whom we will not care to be with, I believe.

It is the Life of Christ in us that is the new covenant, the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart.

The new man is new in speech. He does not blurt out whatever fanciful thought invades his mind. He thinks carefully and prayerfully about what he says, seeking, when it is appropriate, to build up the listener in Christ.

The tongue is a world of iniquity. The mark of the new man is that his or her tongue is a source of life to the hearer, just as is true of the tongue of our Lord Jesus Christ, our example in all matters.

The new man is new in behavior. He is not bound by sin or self-will.

Is there a difference between sin and self-will? Yes there is. Sin is behavior that is alien in us. It proceeds from an unclean spirit that dwells in our flesh, as Paul said.

Sin can be dealt with rather easily, in many instances. When the Spirit of God points out to us some behavior we are practicing that is not in the image of God, we are to denounce it as not being acceptable in the Kingdom of God.

Then we are to renounce it with all our might, declaring that by the help of the Lord Jesus we will not practice it again for eternity.

If we are sincere and resolute in our denouncing and renouncing, this spirit will lose its fire and life. It is an eternal judgment on the spirit.

When Christ transforms our body in the Day of Resurrection, the evil spirit will be removed from us completely.

If we do not go through the confessing, denouncing, and renouncing I have mentioned, after we die physically that spirit, still powerful, may accompany us into the spirit world. Sin began in the spirit world. As God said to Cain, "Sin lies at the door and you must overcome it."

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 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 rule over it." (Genesis 4:6,7)

I think Christians must believe that when they die, sin no longer is an issue. Yet they have no passage of Scripture I know of to support their belief. This would be to make death our redeemer.

It is true, as Paul pointed out, that when we count ourselves as crucified with Christ, sin has no power over us. By this Paul meant that the Law of Moses no longer has power over us.

But after we leave Moses and press forward in Christ, we are judged by the Spirit of Life in Christ. If we then continue sinning, as judged by the Spirit, we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Our end in that case is corruption in the Day of Resurrection.

As I said, if we are faithful in confessing, denouncing, and renouncing, looking to Christ in the meanwhile, and when we face temptation again using our new strength to overcome it, sin readily can be deprived of its fire and life. We are free from it.

What I have just described is the manner in which the Lord's victorious saints pass through the Judgment Seat of Christ today.

But there is another and far more serious issue. That is, self-will.

The only acceptable will in the Kingdom of God is the will of Christ, which is the will of God. "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done in earth as it is in Heaven."

Self-will cannot be removed as readily as sin can. Self-will is what we are. Many of us are in love with ourselves, and do not willingly give up our self-love, self-centeredness, and self-will.

Most of us Christians, before we are successful in overcoming our self-will, are certain that God can save us and bring us to Heaven while we still are "me."

While we still are "me" we cannot have enduring fellowship with God. We cannot serve as the brother or sister of Christ, or as a son of God. Sons of God are not adamic in nature, they are partakers of the Divine Nature. They are new creations in Christ.

We never shall lose our uniqueness as a person. But we absolutely must lose our adamic, animal nature. When Jesus cried out, "It is finished," He meant not only that the atonement had been completed. He was signifying that the original, adamic creation was finished and God was ready to make all things new in Himself.

Are you ready for this? Are you willing to say in every instance, "Not my will, but Yours be done"? Will you place your fondest treasure in Heaven, realizing your pleasure may be deferred until you die physically?

If not, you are in rebellion against God. If you hope to live in the new world of righteousness, in the Kingdom, of God, all that you desire must be placed in the hands of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as all that He desired had to be placed in the hands of the Father.

Such is the "new man."

Consider Abraham: Isaac did not represent a sinful bondage. Isaac was Abraham's heart, His self, the dearest of all possessions to him and Sarah.

God said to Abraham, "Offer your boy as a burn offering. Death. Death. Death to Abraham.

Sometimes I have wondered what the old man thought as they went on their Journey to Mount Moriah. How am I going to explain this to my Sarah?

Only the obedience of the Lord Jesus on His way to the cross came anywhere near what the gray-haired old man experienced at that time.

I read somewhere that later the Temple was built on the spot where Abraham bound his son and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. I am not certain this is true, but it would be fitting. Our greatest legacy will come from the time we died in the Lord.

Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you." (Genesis 22:2)

When we read the Book of Second Corinthians we can get some small idea of Paul's sufferings. But did you ever stop to think of the degree of fruit that has been borne in the world from the writings of this Jew?

What is true of the "new man"? He is new in mind, in the life by which he lives, in his behavior, in his freedom from the bondages of sin, in his steadfast obedience to God in any and all situations.

It may be true that the prevailing assumption among Christian people is that any day now there will be a "rapture" in which all who profess faith in Christ will be caught up from the earth and brought to Heaven where they may recline on their mansion and do nothing of significance for eternity.

This is a mammoth lie. The purpose of this lie is to keep God's people from pressing forward into the new man. They may understand that vicious persecution may be facing Christian people in the near future, but why worry! We all will be in Heaven before long.

We ought to bury the term "rapture." It is not found in the Bible. The proper word is "catching up." It is the catching up of the saints, not the "rapture" of the saints.

The next appearing of Christ to the world will be the first resurrection, the resurrection of the Royal Priesthood. Before they are caught up, they will be transformed in body. Then they will be lifted to the staging area in the air, in preparation for their descent with Christ on the white war stallions.

This is the answer to their prayer, "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is done Heaven."

Here is the point. The only people who will be transformed (resurrected) when Jesus appears are the blessed and holy members of the Royal Priesthood.

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)

Do you remember that in the days of Gideon, God reduced the number of warriors from 32,000 to 300? This is telling us that the number of saints who ride with Christ in the Day of the Lord will be only a fraction of the total number of believers.

Consider: only those who have become "new men," so to speak, will be transformed and caught up in that hour.

What about the great majority of believers? I do not know. However, the Bible states that when Lot went out of Sodom, fire came down.

It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. (Luke 17:28-30)

Those "virgins" who go into the marriage will be new creations in mind, in the life by which they live, in speech, in behavior. Finally, in the hour of Christ's appearing, new in body.

Now consider honestly—how many Christian people of your acquaintance actually have become new creations in Christ?

But they are new creations "by grace"!

That is our hope, isn't it. We think Christ will have an army that consists of new creations by "grace."

Satan would laugh at them.

The False Prophet would laugh at them.

Antichrist would laugh at them.

The armies of Antichrist would laugh at them.

The demons would laugh at them.

The wicked people of the earth would laugh at them.

"Look at them! They will not follow Christ. They are all over the place, each one doing what he or she desires to do!"

Is that the way the "army of Christ" is today? Are the believers disciplined? Are they ready to endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ?

Or do they push and shove each other at Christmas time so they can get the last toy for their child?

Are they truly new creations in Christ?

I am sounding the alarm in the United States. Incredible chaos, both moral and consequently physical, is on the horizon. We have leaders who support abortion and gender confusion. Christ and the Bible are being driven from our land.

It is time now for us to put on the new man who is created in true righteousness and holiness by the grace of the God of Heaven.

There are some Christians who will remain true and faithful before Christ. They will stand in the gap and make up the hedge before the Lord for themselves and their loved ones.

Such will save themselves and their families during the approaching calamities.

Some of the faithful ones will be killed. No matter. They will be rejoicing as they come into the Presence of the Lord Jesus.

I suppose, regretfully, that numerous "believers" will be caught off guard and perish in the confusion.

Out of this destruction will arise a chastened America, no longer a world leader, now a third-rate nation. Whether Christ will be worshiped I do not know. Perhaps America will be a Muslim state by then; or a mixture of religions adhered to by people who have to labor to have shelter, clothes on their back, and food to eat.

Such is true of many cultures today. Most of us Americans are not accustomed to economic hardship, because Christ was worshiped and provided bountifully for us..

But once Christ and the Bible are driven from our land, who knows what deprivations will follow?

Sin we can get rid of easily, if we are determined to do so. The removal of self-will requires years of cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus, the deferring of our most intense desires. Some will come through successfully. They will be a minority.

Remember Gideon's three hundred.

You can be one of the godly remnant who survive the appearing of Christ, and then who reign with Christ during the thousand years of the Kingdom Age.

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)

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The Unscriptural Doctrine of the Rapture

2015-01-18

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 armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. (Revelation 19:19)

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)

For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. (Luke 17:24)

The five verses above tell us about the appearing of Christ and His armies in the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. There will not be a secret "rapture, in addition to the one coming of the Son of Man.

There is no scriptural basis for a special secret coming of Christ to bring His saints to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. We ought to know better than this!

The catching up of the saints, set forth in the Book of First Thessalonians, describes the army of saints, now in incorruptible bodies, rising to meet the Commander in Chief at the staging area in the air. There they will be mounted on white stallions.

Together with the army of angels they will descend with Christ to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.

This is the next appearing of the Lord Jesus to the world, the return of the Son of Man.

The teaching of an unscriptural secret "rapture" to Heaven of God's people, whether before or after the one coming of the Son of Man, is fanciful, unscriptural, and destructive of the spiritual maturing of the members of the Body of Christ. It is a myth, and should be abandoned by every Christian who is waiting for the coming of the Lord.

"With a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God."

Does that sound like a secret rapture to you?

We can understand the desire of Christians to be removed from the mess the world is in, but that is not an excuse to depart from the Scriptures and preach fables.

Since the fourth chapter of the Book of First Thessalonians is an important passage concerning the doctrine of the "rapture," let's see what it says.

First, why did Paul write this passage.

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)

Do you see any indication whatever that Paul was writing to inform the believers in Thessalonica that they need not worry about Antichrist or the Great Tribulation, because they will be carried up to Heaven before such events occur?

Or was Paul seeking to comfort Christians who had lost loved ones through death, by telling them that they would see their friends and relatives again—this time with the Lord Jesus in the Kingdom of God?

It helps to interpret the Bible accurately if the reader can gain a sense of what the writer wished to convey.

So our passage in Thessalonians is not directed toward Christians who are exposed to Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, being "raptured" to Heaven as a means of protecting them. As soon as those who are prepared to meet the Lord are changed into immortality, which will take place when Christ appears, there is no way in which Antichrist or the Great Tribulation could harm them. So a flight to Heaven for safety is not necessary.

To continue to preach this fable in a day when the Christian people need to prepare themselves to stand during the Divine judgment that is approaching our country is not pleasing to God. It signifies that the watchman is not alerting the people to the danger they are facing.

To proceed to tell the people that they have nothing to worry about is nothing short of criminal. Moral and physical chaos are approaching the United States; and there is no Bible basis whatever that we are going to be carried up to Heaven in order to avoid pain and trouble in the day of evil that is ahead of us.

Jesus is coming with a multitude of His saints, some of them having been in Heaven for thousands of years. They will shine with Kingdom Glory like the Lord on the Mount of transfiguration.

The Lord will remain in the air. The saints then will descend to the earth, pick up their bodies, and transform them with the Life of the Spirit of God.

They probably will remain on the earth in their glorified state for forty days, just as Jesus did, in a great time of fellowship. At that time the believers who had grieved over them will see them once again, just as Paul has promised.

At some point, the believers living on the earth who are qualified and competent will also be changed into incorruption.

Then the saints who had come with Jesus, and those of the earth who newly had been changed into immortal life, will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air—not in Heaven but in the air.

Since there is no scriptural basis for believing they then went to Heaven with Jesus, why are we teaching this?

We are giving people a false hope, and they are not preparing themselves for the difficult days that are ahead for our country!

Throughout history, the throne of Satan has been in the air. Therefore the new Governor, the Lord Jesus, will establish His authority and power in the air.

One of the preparations for Jesus' appearing will be the casting down to the earth of Satan and his angels. We see that happening in the following passage:

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9)

When we arrive where Jesus is in the air, we will mount our white war stallion. Then we will join together with the army of angels to prepare for the attack of Armageddon.

"With a shout, the voice of the Archangel, and the Trumpet of God." This is the great and terrible Day of the Lord.

Some say there will be a "rapture" before the catching up of the saints into the army of the Lord. Can you see what nonsense this is? Not only is there not one Scripture to support such a ridiculous notion, it is entirely illogical. The only reason it is preached is to make people feel good so they will attend church.

There will be no catching up of the saints until after the Great Tribulation. The Scripture is clear that the days of the Tribulation will be shortened because of the suffering of the elect.

If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)

To claim that this is a Jewish elect is rendered incompetent in that it is the elect who are gathered to Jesus in that Day.

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

Notice that the Great Tribulation takes place before the appearing of the Son of Man.

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)

The heavenly signs announcing the soon coming of the Son of Man will take place "immediately after the Great Tribulation." I can think of no reason that Bible teachers would speak of a "rapture" taking place before the Great Tribulation other than seeking to alleviate the fears of the believers.

To compromise God's Word in order to please people always will have a destructive effect on the Divine plan of redemption.

At this time in our essay we are describing the Day of the Lord. There is only one Day of the Lord, and this is it.

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (I Thessalonians 5:1,2)

Inasmuch as the above two verses immediately follow the announcements in the preceding chapter, we understand that the passage in question (in First Thessalonians) is referring to the one Day of the Lord, not to a special mystical disappearance of the believers.

Notice further, in Chapter Five, and referring obviously to the passage in question in Chapter Four:

But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5:8,9)

We have to keep in mind that when Paul says "let us be sober," he is referring to believers who had presented their bodies to God as a living sacrifice that they might prove Gods will. They were far more consecrated than is true of the general population of church-attenders of our day.

If we are not prepared to be resurrected and caught up into the air to be with the Lord, we will be on the earth when the bowls of wrath are poured out.

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth." (Revelation 16:1)

It absolutely is true and scriptural that God has not appointed us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation. But in order to be qualified and competent to participate in the first resurrection, when Jesus appears, we have to be living a victorious life in Christ. This is a far higher standard than is true of so many professing Christians of our day.

One may note that the promises of authority and eternal life are assigned, in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, only to the victorious saints.

This is a very important consideration. Only the firstfruits of the Church are eligible to go to meet the Lord in the air. The resurrection and catching up is not for everyone, only for a remnant of the Christian people.

The army of the Lord will be of great size, consisting of saints and angels. Still, those who are prepared to fight alongside Christ in the conflict of the ages will include only the most mature of the people of God throughout the ages.

Do you remember how Gideon started with 32,000 soldiers, and ended up with 300? This is a type of the Day of Christ.

To be eligible and competent to be resurrected when Jesus appears we have to be a new creation in Christ. We have to be new in mind, new in the Life by which Christ lives and we live, new in speech, new in behavior. Finally, when Christ comes, new, in body if we have met the other qualifications.

The idea today seems to be that every person who attends a Christian church will soon now be caught up to Heaven to do we know not what. Sing and shout and dance about, I suppose.

Do we have no idea of the purpose of the coming of the Lord? Have we never read how the Servant of the Lord (who is Christ—Head and Body) will bring justice and righteousness to the nations of the earth?

There is no scriptural basis for a "rapture" prior to the historic coming of the Son of Man; or a "rapture" after the qualified saints are caught up into the air to be with the King. Such an event is illogical; unthinkable; ridiculous!

Or do we imagine that the casual church attenders in America are ready to mount the white war stallions and descend with the army of angels to attack Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, the rebellious angels, the demons, and the armies of Antichrist?

We American Christians in many instances are soft, undisciplined, careless, casual in our Christian service.

The Archangel will speak in thunderous tones; the trumpet of God will sound the attack; the two armies will shout for the battle; and the carnal church-goers of America will descend to face Satan?

Do we know any other fairy tales?

The fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes the Lord's firstfruits, standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb.

It seems to me that this company of firstfruits is qualified and competent to ride in the army of Christ. Otherwise, why did the Spirit of God put the description of them in the Bible?

Certainly this is not a group who are not part of the gathering of the elect when the Son of Man appears!

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.

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.

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.

It is significant that the Lamb and the 144,000 are standing with Him. Before this, the Lamb was seated at the right hand of the Father, waiting until His enemies have been made His footstool.

The writing of the name of the Lamb on the foreheads of the 144,000 indicates that they belong to the Lamb in a special way.

The writing of the Father's name on their forehead reveals that they are totally obedient to God.

It is right at this point that we can see how different these saints are from the casual believers of our day. They belong to Christ as His unique possession. They always do the Father's will.

In my opinion, numerous church-attenders follow their own will instead of God's will. I am not certain they even realize that it is possible with God's help to do His will promptly, accurately, and completely in every circumstance.

It is my contention that being qualified to be a member of the gathering to Christ when He appears requires that we belong to Him in a unique way and always do God's will.

Would someone who follows his or her own will instead of God's will be qualified and competent to attack Satan and his forces? What is your answer to this question?

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.

There must have been ten thousand harps playing at once to make such a sound, revealing that the standing of the Lamb and His saints on Mount Zion is an event of epochal importance.

Is it because they are about to install the Kingdom of God on the earth bringing justice and righteousness to the nations?

And as to Mount Zion:

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 Lamb is standing on Mount Zion, on the Christian Church, with wholly consecrated believers. This is true today. We already have come to Mount Zion, to Mount Zion in the spirit world.

We of today now are standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion, provided we are living by the Life of the Lamb and are obeying Christ in every detail, at all times, and in every circumstance.

The spiritual nature of the casual church believers are in Christ at the right hand of the Father if they have been born of the Spirit of God. But by no means are they standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. They simply are unprepared for war.

It may be difficult for us to believe that someone can be born again and yet not be prepared to fight alongside of the Lamb in the conflict against evil. It is a question of maturity.

We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on 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)

There are the thirty-fold, the sixty-fold, and the hundredfold.

According to my understanding there are four areas of the spirit world. There is the Land of Darkness, which includes Hell and the Lake of Fire; there also is the Land of Light.

In the Land of Light there are institutions of learning, where newly arrived people are taught the ways of Heaven.

There also are communities of people who go about their business. These people also are taught the Bible on a regular basis.

Then there is Mount Zion.

Mount Zion is the Christian Church. It is located in the Land of Light. The home of every genuine Christian is Mount Zion, that is to say, his or her born-again spiritual nature is there in Christ at God's right hand.

When Christians speak of "Heaven, They are referring to Mount Zion in the spirit world. The spirits of righteous people are being made perfect in Mount Zion in the spirit world. Mount Zion will descend to the earth after the final resurrection of the dead.

Mount Zion is the Royal Priesthood. Mount Zion will descend to earth as the new Jerusalem. At the time of the coming down of the new Jerusalem, every member of the priesthood will have been made perfect in Divine righteousness.

However, some of the members will have reaped Christ to a hundredfold extent, and some to a sixtyfold extent.

It may be true that those who are standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion in the spirit world, have reaped Christ a hundredfold while living on the earth. They will ride with Christ when He descends to establish His Kingdom on the earth.

They, with Christ, will govern the nations of the earth for one thousand years.

It is my opinion, based on the eighth chapter of the Song of Solomon, that some of these rulers will return to the heavenly Zion on occasion and teach and minister to those members of the Royal Priesthood who are growing in maturity.

Every member of the Royal Priesthood must be prepared to descend to earth and govern and minister to the nations who have been admitted as citizens on the new earth.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)

Referring to those standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion in the spirit world:

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.

We in America live in a democratic society. We may find it difficult that God would select from society a special group of people and give them a song that no one else could learn.

Yet, this is exactly what has happened or yet shall happen.

Such saints will be tested more rigorously than is true of other Christians, because of the responsibilities flowing from their high place in the Kingdom.

They have been chosen for such a position; but they must lay hold on, as Paul said, that for which they have been grasped.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins.

I don't believe the defilement with women is speaking particularly of physical women. The "women" can be a career, a talent, money, a ministry, or anything else that a believer in Christ, male or female, seeks and grasps.

When we are living by our own will, instead of by the will of Christ, we may fasten on some person, or object, or situation, and make an idol of it or him. "Oh if I only had her, or him, or it, or that profession, I would be happy."

This is idolatry, and it is defiling. Christ wants the heart of His follower. He does not want love for Him mixed with love for someone or something else.

The Apostle Paul advises us to set our heart on things above, not on things on the earth. The believers who have the hope of being resurrected and caught up to meet the Commander-in Chief in the air must be free from all emotional attachments. They must be "virgins" in this sense.

They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

This condition is found also in First Thessalonians:

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)

We will be with the Lord forever.

They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.

Search your heart right now. Do you truly want to follow the Lamb wherever He goes? Or do you have a separate, competing interest?

They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

"They were purchased." Sounds as though God picked them out, doesn't it?

This is true, although we do not always realize the sovereignty of the Lord as He builds His Kingdom.

Think of the Apostle Paul. No other person wrote as much of the New Testament as did the Jew, Saul of Tarsus.

When we read the narrative of Paul's life, from the moment he was blinded on the way to Damascus, it is obvious that God selected Paul for this unparalleled work.

Yet as we read Paul's testimony of his sufferings, of his counting all things loss that he might gain Christ, of his endeavoring to grasp that for which he had been grasped, we can see that God does the selecting but man must respond with total obedience.

Thus it is true that some people are purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. But their response must be unblemished.

Think about Abraham and Isaac!

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.

Lying is a besetting sin of human beings. We lie in order to accomplish or obtain what we desire.

If we were to ask a Christian if it is possible for a Christian to be blameless, it is probable that the answer would be, "No. God saves us by grace. There is nothing we are to do or can do."

They say this because they do not realize that God's grace not only forgives us but also can make us blameless if we cooperate with God and obey Him as He directs us.

The Bible speaks of people being worthy and also of being blameless.

I firmly believe the "grace" doctrine, while it is biblical, has been misapplied. It is used as an excuse for obeying Christ.

"I realize that I am sinning, but God loves me and saves me by grace."

It must grieve Paul if he can see from Heaven how his doctrine of imputed righteousness is used as an excuse for sinning and disobeying Christ.

If Heaven is filled with people whose only righteousness comes from grace and is imputed, maybe we would be better off in Hell. Every work of the flesh, the behavior that Paul said would keep us from inheriting the Kingdom of God, would be present.

Perhaps if we thought of grace and imputed righteousness as being God's Presence in Christ to help us grow in God's image, we would be more in line with the thinking of the Apostle Paul.

Do you believe that might be true?

Grace is being used today, as Jude warned, as an excuse for immoral behavior.

Those who stand with the Lamb in the Christian Church are blameless, not by "grace," not by imputed righteousness. They actually are blameless in the sight of God and Lamb. God finds no fault in them.

Is that possible? The Bible says so. Ten thousand harps say so. "The spirits of righteous men and women made perfect." These shall follow the Lamb wherever He goes. This is true today. It shall be true when He next appears.

Remember Gideon and his three hundred. Why did the Spirit of God put the description of them in the Bible?

Why are we told of the Royal Priests who cannot be injured by the second death?

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)

Why were there only three disciples with the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration?

We must agree that God has emphasized that He chooses to work with a limited number of people.

One shall be taken and the other left.

When Lot and his family left Sodom, fire came down and destroyed Sodom and the other cities of the plain.

It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:28,29)

The cities of the plains probably were much like Sodom. They were continuing in the ordinary pursuits of people, including much sinful behavior. It reminds me of America today.

One of our big problems of Bible interpretation is that we do not understand the severity of God. We speak about His great love, but we do not always recognize how He spares only Jeremiah, Ebed-Melek, and Baruch in the midst of a conflagration.

The philosophy of Humanism has entered Christian thinking in America until we believe we are going to tell God what He can and cannot do. We are greatly deceived in this.

If I am correct, when Jesus appears there will be a relatively small remnant of believers who truly will be new creations in Christ and thus eligible to meet Him in the air.

The Bible speaks of the fire that will burn up those who do not abide in Christ, those who do not bring good fruit to maturity.

There are two other passages that often are used to illustrate a "rapture."

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)

Notice the words "kept" and "keep."

These are the same Greek term. They mean "guard."

Since you have guarded My command, I will also guard you.

There is nothing in the verse that suggests a catching up to Heaven.

Notice how the same Greek word is used by the same author in another passage:

I do not ask that Thou mayest take them out of the world, but that Thou mayest keep them out of the evil. (John 17:15–YLT)

The company of guarded people are not those who have "accepted Christ," but those who patiently have endured the tests and trials of life on the earth, guarding the Word of God carefully.

It reminds us of the Ninety-first Psalm.

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. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (Psalms 91:9-11)

Think of Daniel in the lions' den; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. It is God's way to save people in the midst of danger, not to take them to Heaven to escape danger.

It is true also that we do not know what it will be like when we get to Heaven. We have many myths that inform us what it will be like after we die. But we may find out that we are placed with people whose personality is similar to ours. We may not be pleased with this!

The wicked servant who told his master's servants to change the amount of their indebtedness found them willing to do this, for they were as wicked and dishonest as the unjust steward.

His reward for his treachery is to be placed together with them in eternal habitations.

So it is with us when we die and pass into the spirit world. We will be welcomed by people like ourselves. If we do not enjoy this thought, we better start behaving like the people we want to be with!

Speaking of living in Heaven, the element that makes an environment loving, peaceful, and joyous is the type of people who are present. Is that what you and I are?

Sinful, self-willed Christians hope to go to Heaven by grace. One such person entering Heaven would soon turn Heaven into the beginning of Hell.

Since we are speaking, in Revelation 3:10, of the "hour of trial," we may not be referring to physical danger but to the temptation to sin. It reminds us of "Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one," of the Lord's Prayer.

There is a day coming when the hearts of people will grow cold because of the abundance of sin.

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

It may be true that Revelation 3:10 is not speaking of physical tribulation but of the temptation to sin. Those who have endured their tests and temptations will be kept from sinning by the power of Christ.

In any case, to interpret Revelation 3:10 as a catching up of believers to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation is not worthy of a conscientious scholar who views himself as a meticulous expositor of the accepted Old and New Testament texts.

The "rapture" is an emotional issue, not the fruit of a scholarly exegesis of First Thessalonians.

A second passage that has to do with the temptation to sin is found in the Book of Luke. This also is being presented as proof of a "rapture" of the believers to escape trouble.

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 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 21:34-36)

I think the expression "stand before the Son of Man" is viewed as meaning stand in Heaven so one will not be harmed by the dangers of the closing days of the Church Age; while "escape" suggests being caught up to Heaven.

In a previous passage we found this expression: "the one who stands firm to the end. Obviously this expression does not mean go to Heaven and stand there. Elijah and Elisha while they were on the earth spoke of standing before God.

The expression in Luke "you may be able to stand before the Son of Man" probably is not speaking of being caught up to Heaven. The context of the expression is: "Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life."

So the above passage from Luke may not mean we will be caught up to Heaven and stand before Christ there, but that we will endure to the end of the carousing and drunkenness and continue to live a righteous, holy life before Christ. Such faithful believers, the Bible tells us, shall be saved.

It is interesting, isn't it, that the believers are quick to seize on a doctrine that appears to assure the continuance of their adamic life without danger or harm.

The true meaning of the two passages we have discussed may mean instead that those who remain faithful to Christ will we kept from falling into sin.

I think we are supported by the Bible when we state that there will be no "rapture" to take the believers in Christ, many of whom are far from being new creatures of righteous, holy, obedient behavior, up to Heaven so they will not be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.

If such a thing took place, it would bring sin and self-will into the Presence of God. This shall not happen!

The true vision is glorious for those saints who patiently are bearing their cross as Jesus leads the way. They shall be transformed and caught up to be with the Lord forever.

The true vision informs the believers who are not abiding in Christ that their future is grim indeed. They will suffer when the victorious saints are caught up to Christ and the vials of wrath are poured out on the earth.

When they die they will be placed in the spirit world with those of similar personalities. In the final Day of Judgment they will stand before Christ, His victorious saints, and perhaps people whom they have harmed.

A friend, Bob Taylor, before he died had a vision of the final resurrection. He saw the faces of people. They were full of joy. As time went on the joy turned to terror.

Knowing Bob, I knew this was a true vision. It tells me that when people die who have not been faithful to Christ and other people, they may not know of their final placement until the Day of Judgment.

They may be placed in the spirit world with people like themselves, there to await the final judgment. It is at the final judgment that they shall receive the good or the evil they have done.

The Lord's victorious saints are going through the Judgment Seat of Christ now while they are living on the earth. They turn away from their sins when they are pointed out to them. Their self-will is burned away as they faithfully endure the difficult situations they are called on to endure, the deferral of their most fervent desires.

When Jesus appears, they are eligible and competent to be resurrected, caught up to Him, and then descend to bring the Kingdom of God to the earth. As I stated previously, they shall be with the Lord forever.

If there is to be no "rapture," what, then, is our hope for survival during the coming days of moral and physical chaos in our country, should the Day of Christ be delayed?

The same hope that has been the comfort of all of God's people from the beginning:

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Joshua 1:5)

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. (Psalms 34:7)

And similar promises—and they are numerous!

But we must do our part by abiding continually in Christ, remaining under the shelter of the Most High.

Would you like to read a description of the "rapture," the appearing of the Son of Man and the gathering of the elect?

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

"Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:19-21)

Such is the great and terrible Day of the Lord.

There is no other coming of the Son of Man; no other Day of Christ; no secret gathering of God's elect before or after the Day of Christ.

How could there be?

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The Dishonest Manager

2015-01-25

Jesus told his disciples: There was a rich man whose manager was accused of wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.

The manager said to himself, What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I'm not strong enough to dig, and I'm ashamed to beg—I know what I'll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.

So he called in each one of his masters debtors. He asked the first, How much do you owe my master? Nine hundred gallons of olive oil, he replied. The manager told him, Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred and fifty.

Then he asked the second, And how much do you owe? A thousand bushels of wheat, he replied. He told him, Take your bill and make it eight hundred.

The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone [when ye may fail–YLT], you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. (Luke 16:1-9)

I have suggested "when ye may fail" (Young's Literal Translation) in place of "when it is gone," since "eternal dwellings" implies that after the dishonest manager dies he will be received in habitations in the spirit world.

The manager is termed "dishonest" because he had been accused of wasting the rich man's possessions. So the rich man fired him.

The manager had been a person of importance and he was too proud to beg. He had had a sedentary position and was not physically capable of strenuous work.

But he was crafty and dishonest. So he thought of a solution. He told the rich man's debtors to diminish the amount they owed the rich man.

The rich man found out about the scheme, and so changing the debts did nothing but get the manager and his new dishonest friends in trouble.

However, the rich man commended his manager for his craftiness.

Jesus went on to speak about being trustworthy, and then about not making a god out of money.

These admonitions we understand. But the idea of being welcomed into eternal dwellings is not as familiar to us.

In order to gain some clarity about being welcomed into eternal dwellings, we have to look at the spirit world in an unconventional manner.

Customarily we think of the spirit world as being divided into Heaven and Hell. There certainly is a Heaven and a Hell.

But the spirit world is far larger than we imagine, in that all the dead from the beginning of the creation are there. It probably is true that most of those people had never heard of Jesus or the Bible before they died.

I think it is a fact that unless they sincerely repent, truly wicked people are in Hell, whether or not they have "accepted Christ." Receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior means we now can start on the path of discipleship, deny ourselves, place our treasures in Heaven, take up our cross and follow the Master. In so doing we gain in holiness and righteousness of personality and behavior.

But it may be true that such change is not true of all who "accept Christ." Because of the false teachings of lawless grace and the "rapture," many believers do not grow in Christ. After fifty years as a disciple they still are selfish, self-centered gossipers. Sometimes they are dishonest or immoral. Yet they attend a Christian church and have done so for years.

Some may even be wicked enough to be assigned to Hell when they die. But there may be many unchanged believers whom God is not ready to assign to the Lake of Fire or Hell.

Since what I have just said may well be the case, we have untold multitudes who are not fit to enter the "Heaven" part of the spirit world, which is Mount Zion, the home of the Royal Priesthood, and yet they are not wicked enough to be sent to Hell.

Since God does not like mixtures, it is not unreasonable to imagine that such people undergo seasons of schooling in which they are taught the Bible, and also live in communities with people like themselves.

Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. (Deuteronomy 22:9-11)

It may be true that Christian people believe that by "accepting Christ they have become a new creation, models of righteous and holy being and behavior.

If they follow the Lamb conscientiously they indeed will finally become models of righteous and holy behavior.

But there is an error in much of today's Christian teaching. It ignores the exhortations of the Apostles to put off the old man with his deeds and to put on the new man.

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 also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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 3:5-10)

Have you ever heard the above passage preached from the pulpit? Perhaps not. What you may have heard is that Christ has taken all this on Himself and all we are to do is believe.

But look at the commandments!

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature. Did Christ do this for us, or do we do it?

You must also rid yourselves of all such things as these. Did Christ do this for us, or do we do it?

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. Who is it that is to take off the old self and put on the new self? Does Christ do this for us?

How horrible it would be to die and pass into the spirit world, and then have no one to welcome us into their home! Perhaps we were not wicked enough to be assigned to Hell. Perhaps we had "accepted Christ" but had not followed the Master conscientiously.

We had supposed we would be welcomed into the fellowship of the members of the Royal Priesthood, but we had made little or no progress in becoming a new creation.

We had not put our treasures in Heaven. We had lived the ordinary casual life of the American Christian, supposing that Jesus has "done it all" for us.

Now we find ourselves standing alone in the spirit world with no one to greet us or welcome us. Thankfully, demons do not appear to escort us to Hell.

We do not belong with the fervent saints. We would be in an agony of conviction as we saw the brilliant white light coming from the saints, while we ourselves had not washed our robe by confessing and turning from our sins.

Finally we saw three people approaching us. Their robes were clean in some spots but dirty in others.

We recognized them as being members of our church. They could be counted on to find fault with other members, making it difficult to keep the assembling in the bond of unity and love.

They were not the people we would want to spend eternity with.

One of them said, "Welcome, brother. We heard you were coming. We have huts that we live in, and you are welcome to come with us and share a bowl of soup.

How are you going to feel if when you die that the only people who will welcome you in the spirit world are people like yourself?

The dishonest manager had no problem convincing the debtors to change the amounts they owed. They were as dishonest as he was. They now were his associates for eternity.

The parable of the unjust manager applies to numerous American churches in our day. The pastors and evangelists desire to have large churches, so they change the amounts the people of the congregation owe to God.

"The Christian life is easy. Christ himself has done all the hard work. He became poor that you might be rich. He suffered so you would not have to. Just believe that He has done these things, and all Heaven is yours.

"There will be a rapture, maybe as soon as this afternoon. Then you will not have to worry about the conditions in the world. You will be reclining comfortably on your sofa in your mansion, while the angels will be standing around with the most delicious food you can imagine.

"In the meanwhile, Jewish evangelists will be preaching the Gospel during the terrible Tribulation period. Antichrist will seize many of them. But you are not to worry about them because you are safe and comfortable in Heaven."

There are some today who require that we preach pleasant things. Such may gain a large congregation of people like themselves.

If Christ had wanted a large following He would not have commanded people to eat His flesh and drink His blood.

What good does it do to build a congregation of ten thousand people who have "accepted Christ" but who are not following on to know the Lord? Who are not confessing and renouncing their sins and exchanging their own will for Christ's will? Who are not becoming new creations of righteous, holy behavior?

We may protest that if we can get these people to Heaven, then we have accomplished God's will. But it is not so. God's will is that we be in His image, not in Heaven. If the members of the congregation choose not to be changed, then nothing of eternal value has been done.

Sinful, self-centered people are not going to remain in Mount Zion, which is what we mean by "Heaven." If they refuse to cooperate as the Spirit of God attempts to change them into righteous, holy creations, they shall not be permitted to remain in the Presence of God.

I think the popular assumption is that once we get to Heaven we somehow will be changed automatically into the image of God. We no longer will sin or seek to live according to our own will.

But sin and self-will began in Heaven, when a covering cherub guarding the Throne of God chose to follow his own will.

If sin and self-will began in Heaven, how then could entrance into Heaven make us new creations of righteous, holy behavior who seek always to live according to the will of Christ? If the atmosphere of Heaven did not keep Satan free from self-will, why would it keep people from attempting to supplant the glory and authority of Christ by living according to their own will?

Christ will make us a new creature if we follow Him obediently and obey Him implicitly. But living in Heaven will not in and of itself make us in the image of God, a new creation of righteous, holy being and behavior.

A preacher of the Gospel of the Kingdom who trims his or her message to please the pleasure-loving American people will stand, at his death, before the King.

The Lord Jesus will ask that preacher if he has preached the whole truth. Then there will appear pictures of the preacher preparing his sermon, making sure there would be nothing in his sermon that possibly could offend anyone.

Then Jesus will say, "I am going to send you to live with the members of your congregation who lived happily under your ministry, knowing that Christ would never demand of them that they be unhappy."

You would turn away sorrowfully, because you realized those people might be very angry with you when they realized they would not be permitted to enter Mount Zion and pursue righteousness. They understood it was because of you and your watered-down gospel that they were clothed in dirty robes.

Is this the group you want to spend eternity with?

If not, go to Christ right now and tell Him you want to receive a report card; and, if you are failing the course, to help you repent and become a true disciple.

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

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Flowing With the Will of God

2015-02-01

The greatest difference in the world well may be that which exists between the person who is doing God's will and the individual who is living in his or her self-will.

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. (I John 2:17)

I have an intense desire to do God's will in every area of life. I do not know where it came from, but I recognize that it is a gift and not of my own doing.

One day in Bible school, about seventy years ago, I told the Lord that if He would give me the ability, I would always do His will. I have kept that promise to the present day.

I take great joy in doing God's will, It is the rejoicing of my heart to do so.

I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalms 40:8–KJV)

I have not heard many people say they delight in doing God's will. Yet, I truly believe there are many people who do God's will. But it is my desire that everyone in the world would do God's perfect will at all times. Can you imagine what kind of world that would be?

I think people imagine that doing God's will at all times would be impossible; that it surely would lead to the most miserable life that anyone could experience.

Where did this concept come from, I would like to know? Who said God wants us to have a miserable life? Who taught that God's commandments are so difficult we cannot possibly obey them; and there is no need to try because we go to Heaven by grace?

In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, (I John 5:3)

Paul's doctrine of grace has come to mean that if we express belief in Christ we need not worry about pleasing God by our behavior. There is no need to press toward God's moral image. It all has been accomplished on the cross, and we receive the fullness of image and find ourselves at rest in God's will by "believing" in Christ.

If this were the case, considering the behavior of numerous Christians, we might just as well be in Hell as to be in Heaven.

We have been terribly deceived by the master deceiver, Satan.

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 also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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 3:5-10)

Paul says we are to put to death sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. Are we really to do that?

Paul commands us to rid ourselves of anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language. Are we really to do that?

Paul directs us not to lie to each other.

Paul urges us to take off the old self with its practices and to put on the new self which is being renewed knowledge in the image of its Creator.

How are we to put to death our sinful urges?

When I am teaching, I use I John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Recently a man told me that he had confessed his sins and repented, but he kept falling into them again.

The Bible says God is faithful and righteous to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I suppose that means from the unrighteousness of the sin that has just been confessed and repented of.

Now, God does not lie. His Word shall stand as a rock forever. When God says He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness, then that is what He means; and that is what will happen when we confess and repent of a sin.

Where is the problem? As you might expect, the problem is with us. We imagine that by some sovereign act, God will reach down and pluck out of our personality whatever is causing the sin. Then we never will be tempted again.

That is not how it works. When we confess and sincerely repent, God takes fire and life out of the sin so we can overcome it. This is how we put it to death.

God shall remove the sinful urge when our body is changed from corruption to incorruption in the Day of Resurrection.

Meanwhile the spirit that causes us to sin is still present somewhere in our personality, although greatly weakened. It is at that point we have to be believing, courageous, and forceful. We stand on the Word of God. God said He will cleanse us. So we declare what God has said and stand on it.

I personally have been confessing and repenting of my sins for many years. I do not practice them any longer. God said they are dead, and so I regard them as dead. I simply will not practice them any longer, by the help of Jesus Christ. I choose to walk in victory in the Lord Jesus.

Any believer who is following Christ in cross-carrying obedience can do the same thing. When you are bound with a sin, confess to God the doing of it. Then declare that with the help of Christ you never will practice it again for eternity.

In the case of a bondage that will not leave (for it is a battle), go to some of the elders of the church. Have them pray with you.

If you do not have a will to fight, pray for that will. It is in the fight against evil that the conquering spirit, that all of God's rulers must have, is formed. Make certain it is formed in you!

If you are determined, that spirit shall leave!

What are some factors that hinder us from doing God's perfect will?

First of all, our belief that doing God's will is impossible. The truth is, obeying God is entirely possible and expected. Anything else is rebellion. Living according to our own will is rebellion against our maker.

The barrage of materialistic impressions in America.

Fear of what it might mean to do God's will.

Ignorance of how to find God's will for ourselves.

The various sinful impulses that live in our flesh and spirit.

Pride in our own abilities.

Marrying the wrong person.

An ambition to do "great things," to be someone important.

A passion for adventure, for novelty, for change.

A desire to accumulate more money than is necessary for our survival.

The raw demands on us to acquire the basic elements of physical survival. When we are so impoverished we can think of little else than surviving the next few minutes, we still should be seeking God's will and assistance. This is true even when we are facing danger of some sort.

Our self-will, self-love, self-centeredness may be the greatest hindrance to doing God's will. How do we overcome these powerful forces that are such an important part of our personality?

The overcomer of the Church in Smyrna must endure the prison in which he or she is placed. We understand that such confinement is under the strict control of the Lord Jesus, in that He said, "You will suffer persecution for ten days."

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)

When Christ permits us to be placed in some kind of prison, the purpose is to destroy our self-life. We can choose to escape from our prison, to come down from the cross, or to be faithful to the point of death.

The main problem with the world and with the churches is self-will, self-love, self-centeredness. We simply cannot flow with the will of God when we are attempting to follow our self-will. We cannot have fellowship with the Father and the Son when we are being directed by our self-will.

We pray continually, as Paul advised. All through the day, and when we are awake at night, we keep looking to the Lord Jesus for the wisdom and strength to accomplish whatever is at hand.

For every little action and decision, from the time we get up in the morning until we go to sleep at night, we look up to the Lord Jesus for the wisdom and strength to do the best possible job. If you will do this faithfully you will find that it brings the Presence of Christ into your life.

We may think that Jesus is not interested in how we drive our car, how we take care of our baby, how we teach our college class the basics of quantum mechanics, or what we buy when we go to the store; but He certainly is! Christ is vitally interested in everything we are and do.

We must be coming to some kind of change in the spiritual atmosphere. I never heard anyone teach that we must flow with God's will to this extent; but it is as clear to me as the atonement made on Calvary.

I have found the following passage to be helpful:

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)

Our problem of obeying God usually involves the needs, desires, and fears of our physical body. We must decide once and for all to offer our body as a living sacrifice.

But if we will permit our body to do so, it will direct just about every aspect of our life. We have to make our decisions in Christ whether or not our body is pleased with this.

If we are eager to rest in Christ we may be tempted fo believe we should do nothing but wait until Christ speaks to us. This is a false rest. It will lead to passivity, a condition in which we lose our ability to make clear-cut decisions. If we are seeking to do God's will, and find ourselves continually reversing the decisions we have made, that is a danger signal. It signals that we are bound by passivity.

In order to deliver yourself from passivity, pray and make a decision. Then do not change your mind, unless the result of your actions reveals clearly that you have made a wrong decision. Do not trust in omens, fleeces, or signs.

Do nothing that is against the clear teaching of the New Testament. Be practical and objective, and the Lord will help you find the right path and give you peace and joy.

Notice how Paul follows his admonition to test and approve what God's will is for us.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; (Romans 12:6,7)

How do we know when we are to prophesy, to serve, to teach?

We have to live close to Jesus, merging our life with His Life. The point is, we do not sit around waiting for the Lord to "move us". We always are actively looking to Christ to learn when we are to employ our ministry or gift.

It is my point of view that most believers do not know what their ministry or gift is. They have not earnestly and continually prayed that Christ would enable them to minister as part of His Church, His Body. They are living according to their self-will, as are the people of the world.

I have come to the conclusion that the problems in the churches and in the world arise from the fact that few people are devoted to finding God's will and doing it. This is so disastrous! Whether we are a Christian or not, we should be seeking the will of God at all times. Otherwise we are as a rat in a revolving cage, working furiously at nothing of true importance, certainly not anything of eternal significance.

Perhaps change is upon us. There are verses in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John that imply there shall come a time when the Lord draws closer to us. Maybe that is happening, because now it is clear that the will of Christ is to be done, and it is entirely possible for us to do it!

The Bible came to us by the revelations given to a few Jewish men. God does speak to people, even today. I realize there are some who disagree with this, but I know from personal experience that the Lord will speak to us if we keep looking to Him.

Peter advises us to study the Scriptures and obey them until the Day Star, who is Christ, arises in our heart. This does not mean we then cease meditating in the Scriptures. Rather the meaning is that now we receive continual directions both from the Scriptures and also from Christ who is guiding us and writing His eternal moral laws in our mind and heart.

We are to be filled with the Divine Nature.

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)

It may be true that we never, for eternity, will abandon the Bible. Meanwhile the Day Star shall increase in us until we are filled with all the Fullness of God.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews admonishes the seasoned Christians to whom he was writing to strive to enter the rest of God. What is the rest of God if it is not a life lived according to God's present will for us?

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 4:10,11)

God finished all His works, including our individual destinies, at the beginning of the world. Then God rested. God requires of you and me that we cease from our own works and enter what God has planned for us.

Many obstacles seek to prevent our resting with God; but we never will find righteousness, love, joy, and peace until we learn to enter God's rest and rest with Him, flowing in His perfect and complete will.

Sometimes we are exhorted to live by Bible principles. We study the Bible and try to find rules by which we are to live. This is a good and wholesome way to approach life. But we must add to this endeavor the conscious directions of the Lord Jesus. Otherwise, as someone said, we are trying to follow Christian principles without Christ.

It is not unusual for Christian people to beseech God for what they want or need. This is a good practice. God knows what we want and need, but He requires that we ask. "We have not because we ask not."

But there is another kind of prayer. It is to find out what God wants and needs. Have you ever asked God what He wants and needs from you?

It is a good idea to ask God for a report card, to find out how well we are doing. You and I were not placed on this earth to survive and please ourselves. We have been subjected to this rigorous experience that we might learn about the Nature of God!

There exists in America today an excellent opportunity to learn to pray and act according to God's will. If we have been born and raised in America we have profited from the blessings that God has given us because of godly, praying people who went before us.

Now we see that our nation is abandoning Christ and the Bible. As a result, there are problems in every aspect of our culture, such as in the financial, educational, and moral areas. Also, at the present time there are natural disasters in America. It reminds me of Amos declaring that there would be water in one area and a drought in another.

I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. (Amos 4:7)

When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? (Amos 3:6)

What are we to do? Are we to pray that God will restore to America our financial, educational, and moral strength? Or are we to ask God what He desires?

God is very displeased with the practice of abortion, for example. As long as the murder of little developing boys and girls continues, our nation will become increasingly weak.

How then should we pray? Should we ask that God bless our nation while the abortion, public nakedness, homosexual practices, and other immoralities abound?

I have gone to the Lord about this. His response has been: "Tell the congregation that they must press much closer to Jesus than they have been doing, so they can stand and help others to stand during the Divine judgment that is approaching America."

Our purpose in life is to do God's will. We are to learn how to find God's will. Then we are to perform it faithfully every day and night.

We are simply and quietly to do God's will.

We are to do the will of God conscientiously and consistently, meanwhile, through Christ, throwing off our sins and self will.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

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The Fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles

"I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty. 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 3:1-3)

I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:11)

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

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

You know, I began to think. What if the passages listed above are taking place now? Perhaps this is why the necessity for doing the will of the Father is so clear to me. When the Father and Christ are living in us, doing God's will is both possible and necessary.

At the beginning of the Christian Era, God spoke of His desire for a house, a resting place.

Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things? (Acts 7:49,50)

God desires a home, a place where He can rest, and a place for His Throne. When God has these, He will be content.

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

Throughout the centuries of the Christian Era, eternal residence in Heaven has been viewed as the goal of our redemption. Now God is pointing out to us that His goal is a home, a place of rest, and a place for His Throne. When God and we have settled down to rest forever, the result will be Paradise.

Paradise is a byproduct of righteous people. The spirit world in and of itself does not make people righteous, nor does Paradise. Actually, the spirit world is an area of war, of conflict. It is Christ and Spirit-filled people who make the spirit world, Paradise.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." (Revelation 12:10)

It is impossible to have Paradise until the occupants are totally free from sin and self-seeking. One sinful, self-seeking person would ruin Paradise. The only manner in which a human being can be totally free from sin and self-seeking is by being filled with all the Fullness of God.

If the God of Heaven and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, actually are going to come and live in us, then we will have to be resolute in our determination to set aside our own life, as it were, and constantly seek the will of the Lord Jesus in every aspect of the day and night.

Perhaps the entire Christian community, except for a few "scouts" throughout history who have been "scouting out ahead of the wagon train" so to speak, have not been aware there would come a day when the God of Heaven actually would inhabit His people to this extent.

If this is true, and such a Divine dispensation is upon us, then all of us who have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus need to press closer to Jesus so we might experience the fullness of God.

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)

Examine the passages above and see what you think.

It is true also that we are going to need more of Christ than we have experienced if we are to stand and help others to stand throughout the Divine judgments that soon are to fall on America because of our sinning.

The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel. (Joel 3:16)

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Repentance

As we can see in the passage from Malachi above, as Jesus comes to us there is going to be a need for repentance.

To repent is to change our direction.

We can repent on behalf of other people in the sense that we can pray that God will forgive them. This really is intercession. We can pray that they will change their direction. We can pray they will express sorrow for things they have done, and ask God, and sometimes other people, for forgiveness.

If they have aborted their baby, or committed some other crime of this sort, we can pray that they will go to God and seek His forgiveness, being aware that what they have done has grieved the Lord seriously.

Nehemiah took upon himself the sins of Israel.

We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses. (Nehemiah 1:7)

Then there is repentance which is a renewing of our mind, in that we choose to go in a different direction.

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)

The following practices may direct us to go in a different direction:

Meditating in the Bible every day.

Attending church and listening carefully to the sermon.

Reading wholesome literature.

Keeping our exposure to worldly media to a minimum.

Repenting by changing our mind when we perceive that what we are doing is not in line with God's will for us.

Finally there is repentance which is deliverance from bondage.

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)

Sometimes when we confess our sins and seek to cease practicing them, they keep recurring and we keep falling.

How we respond to a situation of this sort makes the difference between being an overcomer and not being an overcomer.

Some of our acts of sin and self-will are caused by evil that dwells in us. The evil will not leave us without a struggle, a fight. We may persist for a while, but still that bondage is present.

What are we to do?

First of all, we must recognize that there is to be no compromise. It is not a case of ceasing to pray and resisting the temptation, it absolutely must be conquered!

The promises of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation, and Revelation 21:7, inform us that all the gifts of eternal life and glory are reserved for those who overcome.

Also, the letter to the angel of the Church of Sardis implies that if we do not overcome, we stand in danger of being erased from the Book of Life—a fearful prospect indeed!

So overcoming every sin is absolutely necessary if we are to govern with Christ.

What then can we do if there is some behavior we just cannot overcome?

First, we do not leave for Christ to do, something we can do. On the other hand, we are not to try to do what only Christ can do.

If we do what we can to gain the victory, Christ will do the rest.

Overcoming evil requires two swords. If we are to gain victory over the enemy, both the sword of the Lord and the sword of Gideon are necessary, so to speak.

We take our stand on the following two passages:

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 confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

We name the sin we are committing clearly to the Lord, resolving never to practice it again for eternity.

God will take fire and life from it so we can tread on all the power of Satan.

You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. (Psalms 91:13)

It will be removed from our personality in the Day of Resurrection, when our corruptible body puts on incorruption.

Be prepared to fight if need be. Pray for a fighting spirit.

Get others to pray with you.

Never, never, never give up!

To not overcome even one sin is to be denied the rewards to the overcomer.

To not overcome even one sin is to risk incarceration in the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire has authority over us until we are free from sin.

We find in the Book of Judges that Israel was not always faithful in fighting forward to total victory over the enemy in the land God had promised them. This displeased the Lord greatly.

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

We too will discover that there will be some sinful urges in our personality that will not leave even after prolonged attempts at resistance on our part. Our personality is familiar to them and they are determined to remain in it.

The one who is to rule with Christ will not cease praying, confessing, getting others to help in prayer, until the last Canaanite has been removed from him. Total victory!

If God sees we are to have a high place in His Kingdom He may let us fight for awhile. The result of the fighting is the development in us of a character that can work with Christ in the removal of all the disobedience to God that currently exists in the creation.

These are the rulers!

It reminds us of the three among the mighty men; and the three among the disciples who were with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.

"God forbid that I should do this!" he said. "Should I drink the blood of these men who went at the risk of their lives?" Because they risked their lives to bring it back, David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors. ( Chronicles 11:19)

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. (Matthew 17:1)

Then there are those who do not attain to a hundredfold level of rulership. They are not among the highest in the Kingdom but they sit at Christ's table in the Kingdom.

Christ will have infinite patience with any person who is struggling to conquer sin and self will.

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope. (Isaiah 42:3,4)

Christ has no patience whatever with a believer who is content with his sinful state and is trusting in God's mercy and grace to bring him to Paradise with spotted garments.

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)

We are to be made perfect as a home, a resting place, and a place for God's Throne. The Divine work on us keeps on after we die. This is why the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews notifies us that those believers in the spirit world cannot be made perfect apart from those of us on the earth.

Believers in the spirit world already are in Heaven, we might say, but residing in Heaven does not fashion us in the form God desires. These people are in "heaven," but they have not been made perfect as yet.

God in the past has allowed us to view eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation, but residence in Heaven never was the Bible goal. Now God's actual goal has been revealed to us—that we be changed into Christ's image and dwell at rest in the center of God's Person and will..

Heaven apart from the perfecting of the occupants would not be a desirable environment for people or the Lord.

What we hope for in Paradise is, as I stated previously, the result of the inhabitants being filled with the Fullness of God. Paradise cannot be paradise until we become the dwelling place of God and our sins and self seeking have been removed from us.

Eventually the environment we are in will conform to the work God has done in us.

Never give up seeking the fullness of God. Never give up striving to grasp that for which you have been grasped.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39,40)

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A Change of Goal

2015-02-08

The Schedule of Events

Some Important Concepts

The Roles and Tasks of the Kingdom of God

A Change of Goal

A Transition

The goal of our salvation is not a change in our location. Rather, it is a change in our personality.

THE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

Satan rebelled against God.

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. (Isaiah 14:14—NIV)

Eve and Adam rebelled against God, introducing self-will into mankind.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6—NIV)

Christ on the cross made an atonement for mankind.

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—NIV)

Christ rose from the dead, making it possible for us to be born again of Him.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:18—NIV)

The Holy Spirit was poured out on those who accepted the atonement.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:4—NIV)

Wars have taken place throughout the centuries.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. (Matthew 24:6—NIV)

Today, Christ is appearing to those who keep His commandments. He is showing His followers their sin and self-will, and directing them to turn away from their sin and self-will. Thus they are being presented at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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—NIV)

God will pour out His Spirit in unprecedented power, which is the latter, or spring rain.

Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:3—NIV)

Christ and His saints will preach the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God in every nation. These are the two witnesses.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14—NIV)

The anointing will be lifted from the two witnesses.

Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. (Revelation 11:7—NIV)

Antichrist will come into power, resulting in the Great Tribulation.

So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15,16—NIV)

He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple [possibly on a wing] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)

The Lord Jesus Christ was placed on the highest point of the Temple and challenged to leap off. This is the test of presumption. It is possible that Antichrist placed a statue of a man in the same place, claiming that now man can do anything that comes into his mind. This then would be the "abomination that causes desolation." It is the self-will of man that is the abomination that causes desolation.

Christ will appear at the "midnight hour," bringing with Him His saints from all eras of history.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14—NIV)

A staging area will be established in the air, the area of Satan's former kingdom. Located in the staging area will be Christ, the saints, the angel army, and the white war stallions.

In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2—NIV)

The saints who have come with Christ will descend to the earth, and their bodies will be brought forth from the dead. Then their bodies will be changed from flesh-and-blood life to life operating by the Spirit of God.

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—NIV)

The believers on the earth who have set aside their own life and are living by the Life of Christ in them will be summoned to the place where those who came with Christ, now transformed, are located. Then the believers on the earth will be transformed.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. I Corinthians 15:53—NIV)

There now shall be a great time of fellowship as loved ones are reunited. They all are in transformed, resurrected bodies.

The "great time of fellowship" above is an assumption of mine, based on the fact that Christ was on the earth forty days before His ascension; and that in First Thessalonians.

Paul was writing to those Christians who were grieving because their loved ones had died. Naturally a grand time of fellowship was in order!

Both groups of resurrected saints will be brought together as one whole and then be caught up to meet Christ in the air.

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—NIV)

At this time the vials of wrath will be poured out on the people on the earth.

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth. (Revelation 16:1—NIV)

After the pouring out of the bowls of wrath, Christ and His armies of saints and angels will descend---a great cavalry charge. When they arrive at the earth, they will be formed, probably in the dried-up bed of the Euphrates River. These are the "kings from the East."

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East. (Revelation 16:12—NIV)

The two armies, saints and angels, will attack the armies of Antichrist. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Satan will be bound and thrown into the Bottomless Pit.

The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14—NIV)

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:2—NIV)

The two armies, with Christ at the head, will then go through the earth, making a decision about each person, and destroying the Antichrist institutions, the Antichrist civilization with its cultural artifacts. This is Joel's army.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3—NIV)

Christ will establish His headquarters in Jerusalem. He will call together His saints, assigning to each of them an area of the earth to govern. The people who have been selected to live in the Kingdom of God, as Joel's army passes through, will be assigned to a territory governed by a saint.

To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— (Revelation 2:26—NIV)

Since the power of evil has been destroyed by Christ working through His saints, the people who have been selected to live in the thousand-year Kingdom Age will respond to the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven). This is the Law that goes forth from Zion.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10—NIV)

The teaching of the nations of saved people (the Sheep) will continue for one thousand years, whether literally or symbolically.

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—NIV)

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3—NIV)

Meanwhile, during the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the members of the elect, who were not chosen to return with Christ and govern with Him, but whose home always is Mount Zion in the spirit world, will be growing to maturity. They will be taught by more mature saints. This is the reason for the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister on 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—NIV)

At the end of the Kingdom Era, Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit. He will go forth and gain a following consisting of those who refused to surrender to Christ their self-will.

When the thousand years are over,Satan will be released from his prison. (Revelation 20:7—NIV)

They shall attack the camp of the saints. Fire will come down from God and destroy them all.

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 20:9—NIV)

Now all the dead of history, with the exception of those raised in the first resurrection when Christ appeared, will stand before the White Throne. The White Throne will be occupied with those who attained to the First Resurrection. Each of the dead will be sent to stand before one of the judges seated on the White Throne.

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—NIV)

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? (I Corinthians 6:2—NIV)

The books will be opened that describe the behavior of each individual while living on the earth. The dead will be judged from this record. It may be true that many of these people will have one last chance to state that they will obey Christ from now on and not follow their self-will. I cannot say this for certain because there is no scriptural basis for this last-minute confession of obedience. However, we must make some provision for those throughout the history of the earth who never have heard of Christ or the Bible.

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 20:13—NIV)

Those whose names are not found in the Book of Life will be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15—NIV)

Now a new sky and earth will appears. The people of the nations who have been written in the Book of Life will be directed to an area of the new earth, where rulers God has appointed will show them where they are to live and what they are to do.

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. (Revelation 21:1)

On a high mountain of the new earth will be the new Jerusalem, the dwelling place of God, the Lamb, and the members of the Royal Priesthood. These saints who compose the new Jerusalem will serve the saved people from the nations, making available to them the waters of the Spirit of God, and the Tree of Life, as they have need.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. (Revelation 21:10—NIV)

Thus the rebellion of Satan and his angels has been overthrown completely. God now has saints who gained victory over sin and self-will during their training period on the earth. They will be quick, for the eternity of eternities, to put down any sign of rebellion against the Father's will.

The Lamb will have His Wife. Christ will have a body, the Church, who represent Him throughout the creation of God. Christ will have brothers who share with Him the Divine inheritance. God will have sons who love and obey Him.

The Kingdom of God will expand forever. The children who are born during the eternal ages will be taught, by the members of the Royal Priesthood, to love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves.

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 9:7—NIV)

SOME IMPORTANT CONCEPTS

Born of God

The Bride of the Lamb

Brothers of Christ

Christ, Head and Body

The Coming of the Lord

The Continuity of the Covenants

The Day of Atonement

The Day of the Lord

The Disciple

Eagles' Wings

The End-time

Eternal Life

Faith

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Feasts of the Lord

The First Resurrection

The Firstfruits of the Bride

The Four Aspects of the Divine Decree

The Four Great Types

The Goal of Redemption

Grace and Faith Versus the Law of Moses

The Great Tribulation

Image and Union

Israel

The Judges of Men and Angels

The Judgment Seat of Christ

The Kingdom of God

The Love of Money

The Manifestation of the Sons of God

The Nations of the Saved

The New Covenant

The Overcomer

Responding to the Vision of God

The Rest of God

Restoration

The Resurrection

The Royal Priesthood

The Second Death

Shattering the Power of the Saints

Suffering and Glory

Survival and Security, Worship, and Achievement

The Temple of God

The Thousand-year Kingdom Age

The Three Stages of Redemption

The Throne of God

The Two Beginnings

Two Kinds of Righteousness

The Two Witnesses

The Wall

War

The Witness of God

Working Out Our Salvation

Following are some of the concepts that have emerged as the burden of "Christ in you" and the removal of sin through the process of judgment began to unfold in my heart and mind. Each of these concepts is elaborated in the books and booklets I have written.

Perhaps the main theme of our message is, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The vision of the eternal Temple of God, the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles, has always been at the forefront of our thinking.

Born of God. The first concept we will present is that of being born of God. The necessity for being born of God is one of the major areas of our doctrine. If we have been born of God we truly are sons of God and brothers of Christ. The new life that has been born in us is from God and over the untold eons of eternity will bring forth the likeness of the Parent from whom it came.

The parables of the Kingdom that the Lord Jesus taught us, such as the parable of the sower, have to do with planting the Divine Seed in human beings. It is Christ who has been born in us who is the Kingdom of God.

One of the central misunderstandings of the Christian faith is the idea that salvation is the bringing of the adamic man to Heaven. We want to be "saved" as we are and brought up to Paradise. However, the destiny of the adamic nature is the cross, not Paradise.

It is our new inner nature that is saved and is the Kingdom of God. The new man who has been born in us finds his way at once to the right hand of the Father in Christ.

The concept that the old nature is not saved but assigned to the cross of Christ, while it is the new nature, Christ formed in us, that itself is salvation, that itself is the Kingdom of God, is one of the bases of all of our writings.

For in Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. (Galatians 6:15)

The Bride of the Lamb. The Bride of the Lamb is the eternal complement of Christ, being made one with Him by eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and living by Him as He lives by the Father. There is no more important event in the mind of God than the joining of the Bride to His Divine Son.

The Bride must be as the Lord Jesus is: born of Divinity and born of humanity. Like must be united with like in the Kingdom of God.

The concept that there are two brides, a Gentile bride in Heaven and a Jewish bride on earth, is part of the set of Evangelical mythical errors.

The concept that the Bride of the Lamb is a wife but not a "queen" must become clear to the victorious saint as he or she climbs the "secret place of the stairs." The Bride of the Lamb is fashioned from the Lamb but is never equal in authority to the Lamb. She is not a "queen" but an addition to His Personality.

For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (Ephesians 5:29)

Brothers of Christ. The elect are destined to be brothers of Christ. We truly are brothers in that we have been born of the same Father. There are several such promises that have to do with the impartation of Divinity and glory to God's family. We are not to stagger at these but to recognize fully, and certainly without any sense of grasping or self-glorifying, that the Lord Jesus—the Lord of Glory—is the Firstborn among many brothers, many sons of God.

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 8:29)

Christ, Head and Body. Christ is the Servant of the Lord whose task it is to bring justice to the nations of the earth.

Most Jewish and Christian scholars understand that Christ is to come to the world. What is not as commonly realized is that Christ consists of the great Head, the Lord Jesus, and also a Body composed of the saints.

The Church, the Bride of the Lamb, the sons of God, are terms that speak of the several relationships that exist between God and His saints, His elect, His Israel.

The eternal Servant of the Lord, described in the Book of Isaiah, is Christ—Head and Body. To the Apostle Paul was given the revelation that Christ, the Anointed One of God, consists of the exalted Head, the Lord Jesus, and also of a Body made up of those who are called, chosen, and proven faithful. Christ is the perfect Deliverer who is being fashioned by the ministries given by the ascended Lord.

The churches are the raw material from which the members of the Body of Christ are drawn. Christian organizations often assign leaders to the churches who have been trained by the denomination and voted in by a majority of people. However, because of the Divine Nature and purposes of the Body of Christ, only the Holy Spirit of God can correctly assign and direct the gifts and ministries needed to build the Body to the perfection required if it is to serve the Head adequately.

For this reason the churches of today must begin to emphasize ministry by the Spirit of God rather than by organizational assignment. The Christian organizations must become very much more sensitive to the mind of the Spirit.

Bible schools and seminaries cannot create apostles, prophets, or gifts of healing. They can inform the mind and create an environment that is holy and set apart from the world. But the leaders of the churches must look to the Holy Spirit to establish the ministries of the Body. When they do they will discover the riches latent in the local assemblies.

Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, {in whom} my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (Isaiah 42:1)

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also {is} Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

The Coming of the Lord. The concept that there will be a secret pre-tribulation coming of the Lord to "catch away a Gentile bride" is an error. There is no "Gentile bride," only the one new Man, who consists of all Jews and Gentiles who are part of Christ. There will be no Jewish kingdom on earth. There is but one second coming.

Great confusion exists concerning the Lord's coming. Satan has impressed the Church that the Lord's coming means our going to Paradise to reside forever in a golden mansion. Satan may desire that we leave to go to Heaven, but such will not take place. The Lord's coming is just that—His coming. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming with His saints as King of all kings and Lord of all lords. The kingdoms of this world are to become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ—Head and Body.

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30)

The Continuity of the Covenants. God's work from the beginning of time has been one progressive movement toward the new world of righteousness that is to come. The present heavens and earth are temporary.

Dispensational teaching, the concept that God keeps changing His method of dealing with man, including the teachings that accompany Dispensationalism such as the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church and the division between the Jewish elect and the Gentile elect, has made logical, clear, straightforward Bible interpretation impossible.

It is difficult to imagine a model of interpretation more destructive to the Kingdom of God than Dispensationalism. It has succeeded in destroying the moral strength of the believers and preventing the Christian people from understanding God's purposes in the physical land and people of Israel.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;(Ephesians 2:19,20)

The Day of Atonement. The Levitical Day of Atonement (Leviticus, Chapter 16) portrays both forgiveness of sin and deliverance from sin. We are forgiven our sin through the blood of atonement shed on the cross of Calvary. We are delivered from sin as God judges the works of the enemy found in our personality.

The Church of the twentieth century has come as far as Pentecost. Before the Church can attain the rest of God it must pass through the work of reconciliation portrayed by the Day of Atonement.

The trumpet of the Jubilee was blown on the Day of Atonement revealing the relationship between restoration, and forgiveness and deliverance from sin.

The coming thousand-year Kingdom Age will be the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us {our} sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

The Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord will be characterized by war: God against Satan; the Holy Spirit against the False Prophet; Christ against Antichrist. The wisdom and power of human beings is as nothing compared with these gigantic spiritual forces.

The Day of the Lord will dawn in fire. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. The heavens and the earth will be shaken. Here is God's answer to the great rebellion that took place before the world was created.

Only that which is established in Christ will stand the shaking of the Day of the Lord. Numerous so-called "believers" in the Lord Jesus will be terrified, being tossed about as straw in a hurricane. All their works and most of their personality will be burned away, if the Lord judges them worthy of salvation.

The churches are hoping for a "rapture" that will carry them into the Presence of the Lord in their worldliness, sin, and self-seeking. To be brought into the Presence of God in their condition would result in unbearable torment.

The Day of the Lord is characterized by a large, powerful army of holy people—the saints of all ages. The judgment of God will be administered through them, resulting in the cleansing of the heavens and the earth and the filling of the whole earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:7,8)

The Disciple. There is a difference in kind between the average church attender of today and a true disciple. Multitudes of believers attend church. Of these believers only a handful, it appears, are disciples. A disciple is someone who has laid down his life, taken up his cross, and is following the Lord Jesus each day. Only the disciple is a true Christian.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26,27)

Eagles' Wings. God carries us until we learn to walk uprightly. Much is given to us when we are spiritual babies. As we mature in the Lord, Christ is able to assign more difficult tasks to us. The Lord does all the fighting when we come out of Egypt, but we must participate in the battle when we enter the land of promise.

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and {how} I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. (Exodus 19:4)

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able {to bear it}, neither yet now are ye able. (I Corinthians 3:2)

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, {even} those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

The End-time. Babylon, Laodicea, the False Prophet, and Antichrist are four areas of deception of which the saint of the last days must be aware.

Babylon is the great Christian organization and may finally be located on the bank of the Euphrates River at the site of ancient Babylon. There are some who believe the Christian and the Muslim religions will become one.

Laodicea speaks of Christians who have been overcome by a government that speaks comfortably to them and supports them but is not itself governed by the Lord Jesus. The Laodicean believers are occupied with their "rights."

The False Prophet is the attempt of believers to use the power of Christ before they have been crucified with Him. I think that Dominionism and the New Apostolic Reformation are examples of the False Prophet.

Antichrist is the striving of man to be his own God. He represents the worship of money and political power.

The False Prophet is man-centeredness in the spirit realm. Antichrist is man-centeredness in the political realm. Babylon is man-centeredness in the organizational realm. Laodicea is man-centeredness in the church realm.

Power will be given to Antichrist to overcome the saints in the last days and he then will be free to bring forth the fullness of lawlessness in the earth.

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)

Eternal Life. Eternal life is a kind of life. Biologic life is the life of the animal. Eternal life is the Life of God. Until a human being is given a portion of eternal life from the Lord he or she is little more than an intelligent animal. All flesh is as grass, destined to perish with time.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have {it} more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Faith. Scriptural faith is that which depends on God for all things. "The just shall live by faith" has little to do with the acknowledgment of theological facts concerning Christ. The just shall live by faith means righteous people live by depending on God rather than on their own resources.

True faith is neither belief in doctrine nor the effort of the soul to manage the spiritual realm by believing what the Scriptures declare.

There is, however, a true militant faith that includes the bold declaration of that which God has stated. However, this is not an attempt to work miracles by attempting to believe. It is a call to the Lord for help. There is a total difference between attempting to use the Scriptures to work magic, and calling upon the Lord Jesus in faith. One is of the False Prophet. The other is the faith of the prophets and apostles.

But without faith {it is} impossible to please {him}: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and {that} he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)

The Feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles is the last and greatest of the seven feasts of the Lord. During one week of each year the people of Israel are to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles by living in a booth constructed outside of their house or apartment.

The spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles is the climax of the work of redemption. After all of the graces and provisions of God have operated in our life, the Father and the Son will come through the Holy Spirit and make Their eternal abode in us. This is the Kingdom of God and the goal of all our efforts in Christ.

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month {shall be} the feast of tabernacles {for} seven days unto the Lord. (Leviticus 23:34)

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. (John 14:23)

The Feasts of the Lord. The seven feasts of Israel, found in Leviticus, Chapter 23, are an excellent set of types which a believer can study and thereby gain some concept of the beginning, the program, and the goal of salvation. Many Christians think of salvation as something that took place in their life years ago, which they remember, and on the basis of which they hope to be taken to Paradise when they die. That the Divine redemption is a process that must be taking place every day of the disciple's life has never been made clear to them.

With the exception of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the seven feasts of the Lord well may be the most important scriptural picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the growth of the Christian from birth to maturity, the development of the Church into the Bride of the Lamb, and the creation of the Kingdom of God.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, {Concerning} the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim {to be} holy convocations, {even} these {are} my feasts. (Leviticus 23:2)

The First Resurrection. Although the expression, "the first resurrection," is found in the Scriptures its implications have not always been pursued. The expression indicates there is no resurrection of believers prior to the one described in Revelation 20:4-6.

It appears there are to be two main resurrections, one at the beginning of the thousand-year period and one at the end. The first resurrection must be attained to by the believer (Philippians 3:11) and is reserved for the blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood. The second resurrection is the general resurrection of the dead in which all persons will participate, with the exception of those were called up by the Lord at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This {is} the first resurrection. Blessed and holy {is} he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5,6)

The Firstfruits of the Bride. The Bride of the Lamb includes all of God's elect—the whole family of God from the time of Abel. There is a firstfruits of the Bride, a specially dedicated, warlike remnant of people who will, as we understand it, be raised when the Lord appears. We think that the balance of the Bride will not appear until the end of the thousand-year period.

There are major scriptural types that portray the firstfruits of the Bride meeting the Lord when He appears. One type is Gideon's three hundred. Another major portrayal is the separation of the Ark of the Covenant from the remainder of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. A third major portrayal of the firstfruits is the rule of David over Judah prior to His rulership over all Israel.

Our understanding is that the entire Church will not be united until the holy city descends from Heaven and is established upon the new earth.

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:2,3)

The Four Aspects of the Divine Decree. God always understands the full significance and aspects of all He does. In the beginning God gave four decrees concerning man: man is to be in the image of God; man is to be male and female; man is to be fruitful; and man is to exercise dominion. These decrees shall never be altered. They constitute what man is.

Adam and Eve were a prototype, a preview of what man is destined to be. The fullness that God has in mind concerning man is as follows:

The Lord Jesus and those who are like Him and part of Him are true "man."

The Lord Jesus and His Bride are what God means by male and female.

The spreading of the Divine Vine, the Olive Tree, the Seed of Abraham throughout the universe fulfills the edict concerning fruitfulness.

The Lord Jesus and His victorious saints, the sons of God, shall be seated forever upon the Throne of almighty God, governing all the works of God's hands. Man was created to be the throne of God.

Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and {that} your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)

To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)

The Four Great Types. There are four great types in the Old Testament:

The Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The Feasts of the Lord.

The journey of Israel from Egypt to Canaan.

The days of creation.

Each of the four types is divided into seven segments that correspond to the seven segments of the other three types.

The four major types reveal seven aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ, and also seven aspects of the growth to maturity of the individual believer, the Church, and the Kingdom of God.

Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (I Corinthians 10:11)

The Goal of Redemption. The goal of salvation is to bring human beings into the image of God and into complete, untroubled union with God through Christ.

Following this list of concepts we have listed sixteen roles and tasks for which salvation prepares us. There are several Divinely assigned roles for which man is being prepared.

The fulness of the Divinely ordained roles and functions are possible only to those who are in the moral image of Christ and who are in a state of complete, total oneness with the Father and the Son to the degree that they have become an essential, integral, eternally incorruptible part of the revelation of the Father to His creation.

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 8:29)

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17:21)

Grace and Faith Versus the Law of Moses, not Versus Righteous Behavior. When the Apostle Paul contrasted faith and works he was not speaking of a profession of doctrinal belief versus godly behavior. Yet this interpretation of Paul has persisted mightily since the Reformation.

First of all, by "faith" Paul means a life lived in dependence on God, not a doctrinal position. The righteous shall live by faith means by humble dependence on God rather than by independence of thought and action (the American ideal).

By "works" Paul means the works of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision. He is not referring to honesty, faithfulness, and truthfulness.

We are justified by placing our faith in Christ and living in Him rather than by obeying the statutes of the Law of Moses.

This misunderstanding of Paul has destroyed the moral strength of the Christian churches.

A careful study of Romans and Galatians will reveal clearly that Paul is not seeking to turn people away from righteous behavior but from the works of the Law of Moses.

In other passages Paul insists that if we do not live righteously we will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (Romans 3:21)

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28)

Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)

The Great Tribulation. The Bride of the Lamb must be without blemish. It is obvious that in the present hour the Bride is filled with division and blemishes of every sort.

During the closing days of the present age the Lord Jesus will give of His Glory to His Bride and also purify her in the fires of the great tribulation. The great tribulation will separate the Bride from the Christian organizations and purge her from sin and self-will until she comes up from the wilderness leaning on her Beloved.

In the Valley of Achor, the place of judgment, the Lord will minister to His Bride until she knows Him as her Husband.

When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. (Isaiah 4:4)

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: (I Peter 4:12)

Image and Union. None of the Divinely ordained roles can be assigned fully to a believer until he or she has been conformed to the image of the Lord and has been brought into untroubled union with the Lord. Oneness with the Son in the Father is the highest attainment possible for the human being.

We have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. However, image apart from union is not desirable. To be like Christ but not married to Christ could lead to the pride of Satan, who seeks to be like God but not part of God.

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 8:29)

I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)

Israel. God's Israel Is One. The Church is one, beginning with Abraham and Sarah. The olive tree is one.

The new covenant is not a change of the religion of Judaism to a new religion of Christianity. Both the old covenant and the new covenant are made with Israel. To participate in the new covenant a Gentile must become part of the Israel of God.

The Divine redemption is given as one progressive revelation of God to Man. Christianity is the giving of eternal, Divine Substance and Life to the Altar, the Lampstand, and the Booth of Judaism.

There is no Gentile church and no Jewish church. There is only the one new Man.

The Christian Church and the physical people and land of Israel are on a converging course. The form of Israel is on the earth. The spiritual nature of Israel is in Zion in Heaven, in righteous people made perfect. When Christ appears the spiritual nature of Zion will come to earthly Zion.

God in the last days will turn once more to physical Israel. All that the Prophets have declared will come to pass in fullness. Jerusalem will become the center of government of the world. All nations on the earth will come to Jerusalem to receive instruction from the Lord, who will be dwelling there. The eternal moral law of God will be enforced throughout the creation by the rod of iron, the strength of the Spirit of God.

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

And if ye {be} Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:29)

Joel's Army. After Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan have been defeated by the armies of saints and angels at Megiddo, led by the Lord Jesus Christ, the world still will be filled with the institutions established by Antichrist. Some of the people will be wicked. Others will be like Lot, attempting to behave righteously in the midst of wickedness. This is true even today.

Before Christ can establish His rule over the world, these institutions and the people who practice wickedness must be removed from the earth. For this reason, after the lords and demons of spiritual darkness are overthrown at the Battle of Armageddon, the Lord Jesus and His armies of saints and angels will go through the earth. They will assign the wicked to the Land of Darkness, and destroy the buildings and other works of civilization.

When the two armies have completed their mission, the nations will be ready for Christ and His saints to set up the numerous governments that will govern the people for one thousand years. The people will be taught the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, Chapters Five through Seven). Every person who will not obey the Lord Jesus Christ will be assigned to a place of punishment.

The Sermon on the Mount is the Word that even today is going forth from "Jerusalem," from the Lord Jesus Christ. Such is the Law from Zion.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. (Joel 2:3)

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)

The Judges of Men and Angels. The first creation, beginning with the angels, has risen in rebellion against the Lord God. God made man for the purpose of judging the rebels, both angelic and human. After the judgment has been completed it will be man's responsibility to govern the universe, both spiritual and physical, that God has created.

Man was created to be the throne of the Judge of Heaven.

Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? (I Corinthians 6:2,3)

The Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat (beema) of Christ is not an awards ceremony, it is a court where accused criminals are brought to trial. Each Christian, along with everyone else, will be revealed before the Judgment Seat and rewarded according to his works. Divine grace does not change what we reap but what we sow.

It is God's way to bring us into situations where the hidden elements of our personality cause us to act. Then God judges our actions.

It is of the utmost importance that God's people understand clearly that they will be rewarded according to what they have done while living in the world. They will receive eternal life if they have practiced good and lashes if they have practiced evil.

We are to confess of our sins now and repent of each of them. As we do, God forgives our sins and cleanses us from them. In that case they will not be held against us in the Day of the Lord.

Let no person—Christian or otherwise—think that he or she will not face the Judge. Each of us indeed will face the Judge one day, and it is a cause for trembling.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is taking place today, to prepare God's elect for the coming of the Lord. As our sins and self-will are pointed out to us, we must confess them as sin and turn away from them with the help of Christ.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is in force today, as it has been from the time of the Apostle Peter.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:17)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things {done} in {his} body, according to that he hath done, whether {it be} good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10)

The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is coming to the earth. Heaven is coming to the earth. The Divine Throne is coming to the earth. The Day shall come when Jerusalem will be referred to as the Throne of the Lord.

In that Day people will pray to God in Jerusalem, for Jerusalem then will be all we associate with Heaven.

There is an inner Kingdom and an outer Kingdom. The outer Kingdom cannot appear to the world until first the inner Kingdom has been created in the hearts of God's elect. The inner Kingdom is established in us when the only lawful King, Christ, is firmly seated upon the throne of our personality.

The Lord alone shall be exalted in that Day!

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17)

And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (Revelation 22:3)

The Love of Money. Covetousness is idolatry. Of all the gods in the world, the love of money is the greatest source of evil. Men hoard money in order to protect themselves in case God should prove to be unfaithful and undependable. From Balaam to Judas, from Gehazi to Ananias and Sapphira, the Scriptures teach us to trust in God rather than in money.

Where an individual's treasures are, there his heart will be also. What we truly love is what we truly worship. The firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb are free from marriage to other relationships, things, and circumstances. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5:5)

These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, {being} the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. (Revelation 14:4)

The Manifestation of the Sons of God. It is God's plan and delight to give the works of His hands to His sons as an inheritance. The first and greatest Son to receive the inheritance is the Lord Jesus.

When the Lord Jesus appears, those who live by His Life will be revealed together with Him. They will go throughout the creation (which they will inherit along with the Lord) judging, delivering, teaching, and blessing the peoples of the saved nations.

The nations will continue in the bondage of corruption until the Son and the sons are revealed from Heaven.

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)

The Nations of the Saved. It appears that the nations of the saved constitute an unknown group of people as far as modern theology is concerned. Yet it is utterly impossible to understand the Kingdom of God until one realizes that there are two groups of saved people—the members of the Church; and the nations of saved people for whom the royal priesthood of God serves as Christ's representative.

The concept of Israel, of God's elect, is not that the chosen people are destined to go to Heaven while the remainder of mankind is assigned to eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. Rather, the elect of God, the Seed of Abraham, are those people whom God has chosen out of the world, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, to represent Himself to the nations of the earth.

No doubt many people will be cast into the Lake of Fire because of the wickedness of their deeds. However, the majority of people who have been born on the earth will be raised from the dead and then brought into the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus Christ. These saved individuals will live on the earth and be ruled, guided, and blessed by God's elect, by the Lamb's Wife, by the members of the new Jerusalem. If this were not true, Christ and His saints would have no inheritance.

But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: {men} shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. (Isaiah 61:6)

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:24)

The New Covenant. The purpose of the new covenant is change—the change of the believer from a lawless individual into one in whom the eternal moral law of God has been eternally engraved.

Forgiveness is included in the new covenant. But the purpose of the Divine forgiveness is to make possible the new creature who serves God by nature, not to perpetuate lawlessness and immorality.

The new covenant made with man by the God of Israel is probably the most misunderstood contract ever made.

The new covenant is never made with a Gentile. A Gentile must become part of Israel through marriage to Christ if he or she is to participate in the new covenant.

The mainspring of the new covenant is death and resurrection. Our adamic nature must be assigned to the cross with Jesus and our new born-again spiritual nature must be assigned to the right hand of God in and with Christ. Any other approach or emphasis will lead only to the unproductive programs and activities of manmade religion.

The Divine grace of the new covenant is not God's apology for the sins of man. Neither is Divine grace a new dispensation in which God, being discouraged with attempting to make man in His image, has decided to accept him in his sin and rebellion.

Divine grace is the Presence of God made available through the Lord Jesus Christ so that every need and true desire that man has may be met perfectly and completely. However, the program of redemption is first of all for God's benefit and only secondarily for man's benefit Man is transformed so he may worship and serve God.

Divine grace, if it is not to be aborted, must result in actual righteousness and holiness of personality and behavior. It is the righteousness and holiness created in us by Divine grace that result in eternal life. This is in contrast to the Evangelical lawless-grace-rapture doctrine.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:22)

Eternal life is both the source and the result of holiness of personality and behavior.

The concept that salvation is unconditional, that we cannot lose our salvation by willfully continuing in sin, is clearly unscriptural and has hindered the establishing of the Kingdom of God in the believers.

The eternal moral law of God can never be altered in any manner. The purpose of the new covenant is to change what we sow, not what we reap. The Kingdom law of sowing and reaping shall never be made of no effect.

The adamic race died on the cross. God is not saving our first personality. The Kingdom of God is the new personality that is born within us.

Salvation always is a season of opportunity, always conditional, always based on our response.

It appears that some of the Protestant reformers emphasized belief in doctrine at the expense of the moral transformation that is salvation under the new covenant. The moral and doctrinal chaos of the Christian churches of our day is the fruit of the incorrect emphases and myths of Catholic and Protestant theology. Faith without works is dead!

For this {is} the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: (Hebrews 8:10)

The Overcomer. All the promises of God are to the victorious saint, the one who is living in Jesus each day. There are no promises to the defeated believer except very stern warnings concerning lashes and outer darkness.

Satan always is conquered as we trust in the blood of the Lamb; as we stoutly, defiantly, consistently, diligently declare God's Presence, Word, will, and eternal purpose in Christ; and as we cease grasping the things of this world and follow Jesus into death to our self-centeredness and self-love.

If we do not trust in the blood of the Lamb, or if we declare something other than that which the Word declares, or if we grasp relationships or things or circumstances and do not place all our treasures on the altar of God, then it is impossible for us to live in victory. We will go down in defeat and are no longer eligible for the rewards assigned to the overcomer.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, {which is} new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and {I will write upon him} my new name. (Revelation 3:12)

Responding to the Vision of God. God's way is to declare a thing to be done. For example, He already sees the saints glorified—perfect in Christ. The problem is, how are we to respond to the timeless vision?

How are we to address ourselves to that which God has declared to be true but we do not see to be true? The correct response to the prophetic vision insures the successful attainment of all God has stated. An incorrect response leads only to confusion and emptiness.

The sixth chapter of Romans advises us to count ourselves as dead to sin. Does this mean we are unable to sin? Not at all! Does this mean it does not matter whether or not we sin because God does not view our sinful conduct as being sinful? Not at all!

How, then, are we to respond to the fact that God has declared us to be dead with Christ and risen with Christ?

God has said we are a new creation in Christ, that we are crucified and Christ is living in us. Does this mean we are a new creation even though the people around us see the same old personality?

The Scriptures state we were healed by the wounds of Christ. What if we still are sick? How are we to regard ourselves—sick or healed?

The right response leads to glory. The wrong response leads to frustration and deception.

The only correct way to work with the timeless Divine vision is to grasp the vision by faith, declare it is so because God has said it is so, recognize clearly it is not a fact when it is not yet a fact, understand that we have enemies in the spirit world that are determined we never will possess the victory, and then start out after God every day, following His every guidance, enduring in patience until that which has been promised is possessed in solid reality.

Cry out, "Give me this mountain!" If you do not quit, the mountain someday will be yours. With God, all things are possible.

Remain sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Follow God's timing. Let God modify your desire as He sees fit. Do not clutch anything (remember, you do not understand even your own desires). If you do these things you will receive the Divine treasures. They shall be given to you. Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when the desire comes it is a tree of life. Never, never, never quit!

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)

The Rest of God. God created all things in six days and then God rested. "All things" include the eternal destiny of each of us through to our role in the new heaven and earth reign of the Lord Jesus. Our task in life is to strive to enter the rest of God, turning away from our own attempts to create heaven and earth according to our opinion of what is righteous and profitable.

As we seek the Lord Jesus, cooperating with Him as He strikes down our adamic nature and guides us in paths of righteousness and peace, we are increasingly able to find joy in the will of God. The individual whose supreme joy is to do God's will has obtained the greatest good possible to a human being. He rests with Christ in God as God brings into view the wonderful world of righteousness He has envisioned from the beginning.

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left {us} of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

Restoration. The story of the prodigal son is the basic story of human life.

The story of the prodigal son is the story of God's Israel, the story of Samson, of the Christian Church, of man himself. We are given a fabulous inheritance, we lose it because of lack of appreciation and experience, and we gain it back to an even more glorious extent by hard work.

God has promised that all the locust has eaten will be restored. The glory of the latter house will be greater than the former. The latter rain, the greatest revival to date, is on the horizon. The glorifying of the Church that will take place at the Lord's return is greater still. The new heaven and earth reign of the Lord will be many times more marvelous yet.

God gave man Paradise on earth. Man forfeited his right to the tree of life, to immortality. Now we have to gain back the Presence of God by centuries of agony and patience. But God will return in far greater glory than was true of Eden. God has kept the good wine until now.

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:21)

The Resurrection. The resurrection into the new world of righteousness, the central hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, has been so twisted and obscured by the unscriptural, destructive stress on the catching up of the saints (termed the "rapture") that not one believer in a thousand has a clear understanding of the resurrection to eternal life—this most important act of redemption.

The Scriptures do not emphasize the ascension of the saints. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament speak of the resurrection. It is the resurrection that is the goal of redemption, the overcoming of the last enemy.

As Paul declared, the first resurrection, the resurrection of the royal priesthood, must be attained to. The first resurrection, the resurrection that will take place at the Lord's return, can be attained only as we press through to life lived in the power of Christ's resurrection.

The first resurrection, the resurrection out from among the dead, will occur at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the historical Year of Jubilee.

Every human being who has ever lived will be raised from his or her place of decease at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, with the exception of the blessed and holy members of the royal priesthood. Those who have practiced righteousness will be brought forward to the new world of righteousness. Those who have practiced wickedness will be cast into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, where the wicked will be confined for eternity.

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28,29)

The Royal Priesthood. The Church, the Bride of the Lamb, is a royal priesthood destined to govern the saved people of the nations of the earth. It can be seen today that self-seeking government has caused the moral and sometimes physical destruction of the inhabitants of the earth. Many people are plagued with overweight while multitudes of others are starving to death. There is no greater need than that of righteous kings and priests who through Christ will bring the Person, Word, will, compassion, wisdom, justice, and eternal purpose of God to the nations.

The physical nation of Israel was set apart by the Lord to be a holy priesthood—His representatives to the other nations of the world. It appears that the nation of Israel often has rejected this role, striving instead to make peace with other nations and dwell among them in the customary pursuits of life. Because many Jews have not obeyed the Lord's will they have suffered throughout the centuries.

Meanwhile, God has gone to the Gentiles and purchased a people for His name. A few of them are willing to serve God as a separate, holy people whose chief purpose in life is to worship and serve God, while the majority merely are church-attenders.

In the last days the true saints will turn to the physical people and land of Israel and bring the Presence and blessing of the Lord to them.

But ye {are} a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; (I Peter 2:9)

The Second Death. The Lake of Fire is referred to as the "second death." It appears that the second death is eternal separation from God in an area of torment.

Revelation 21:8 describes the kinds of people that will have their part in the second death—people who refused to be separated from the behaviors over which the Lake of Fire has authority.

He who overcomes the world, Satan, and his own lusts and self-will shall not be injured by the second death. As long as we practice the behaviors over which the second death has jurisdiction, the second death retains authority over that part of our personality. This is true whether or not we believe in Christ.

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)

Shattering the Power of the Saints. The books of Daniel and Revelation inform us that the end will not come until first the witnessing power of the saints has been overcome by Antichrist. Antichrist will wage war against the Spirit-filled witnesses of the last day. God will permit Antichrist to prevail until the Christian testimony has been destroyed from the cities of the earth.

Then, when people are speaking of peace and safety, the Lord will appear and the glory of His appearing will destroy Antichrist and all the wicked of the earth.

We notice today in the United States of America that the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ has been destroyed by the viewing of the new covenant as an unconditional forgiveness of the sins of the believers, with a minimum emphasis placed on righteous, holy behavior. Thus the power of the saints already is being shattered by the skillful deceptions of the adversary.

And I heard the man clothed in linen, which {was} upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that {it shall be} for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these {things} shall be finished. (Daniel 12:7)

Suffering and Glory. Because of the rise of the humanistic spirit, the "rights of people," it has become fashionable to ignore the large role suffering plays in the redemption of God's people. The emphasis today is on "positive" preaching, on preaching and teaching that appeal to the self-love of the listeners. Ours is the age of the ear-ticklers.

However, it remains true that God's people have been and will continue to be "sheep for the slaughter" until the Lord comes and establishes His Kingdom on the earth.

Suffering in the flesh produces the strength of holiness in us, if it is accepted in faith and trust in the Lord and not in unbelief and bitterness. It is especially important that the chosen rulers suffer with Christ because suffering is the tool God uses to remove self-will and rebellion from us.

If we suffer, we shall also reign with {him}: if we deny {him}, he also will deny us: (II Timothy 2:12)

Survival and Security, Worship, and Achievement. These are the three pursuits of mankind on the earth. They are the three areas in which every son of God is tested.

Physical life includes eating, playing, working, sleeping, and reproducing. We can seek to obtain survival and security for our physical life by trusting in the world spirit, or by looking to the Lord for all things.

We do not as yet understand all the wonderful aspects of spiritual life that will be true of the world that is to come.

Worship is that to which we cleave in order to find joy. We can seek to obtain joy by obeying the lusts and passions of our flesh, or we can look to the Lord for joy.

Man was made to be fruitful and to have dominion. The healthy human being seeks to expand himself and to govern his circumstances. This is the realm of achievement. We can seek to be fruitful and have dominion, to achieve something of significance, by trusting in our own understanding and strength; or we can trust in the Lord that our life is worthwhile.

We are in the rest of God when our total life, our total worship, and our total desire for fruitfulness and dominion are found only in Christ.

And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. (Luke 4:3)

And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. (Luke 4:6)

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: (Luke 4:9)

The Temple of God. God is building a living house for Himself. The Christian Church is the eternal habitation of God. This is the reason for the existence of the Church. Through the Church the God of Heaven will be able to minister to the needs of all His creatures.

The holy blood of the cross gives us the authority to be children of God. The Holy Spirit of God gives us the power to overcome unclean spirits and also to bear witness of God.

The authority of the blood and the power of the Spirit have been given to us that we may become the living temple of the Lord. It is as the Lord Jesus Christ comes with the Father and takes His place on the throne of our personality that our destiny is fulfilled.

The Father and the Son dwelling in the fullness of the Spirit in the saint constitute the Kingdom of God. This is the spiritual fulfillment of the Old Testament feast of Tabernacles—the omega of salvation.

There are two aspects to our becoming the eternal temple of God. The first aspect is that of Christ being conceived and then brought to maturity in us. Christ formed in us is the eternal temple of God.

The second aspect is that of the Father and the Son coming to make their abode in the temple that has been formed in us, making it Their eternal dwelling place.

In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)

The Thousand-year Kingdom Age. The thousand-year Kingdom Age is for the purpose of perfecting God's Israel. During the Kingdom Age the saved nations will be governed in righteousness. But the main purpose for the age, as we understand it, is to serve as an opportunity for growth from the present stage of development of the Church to the incredibly glorious state of the Church during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ.

The immature saints of the heavenly Jerusalem will be brought to the fullness God has for them, so they will be able to serve as members of the Royal Priesthood when the holy city descends to be installed on the new earth. This is the principal purpose for the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

We believers are far too crude, in the present hour, to experience the Divine Glory that will fill the new Jerusalem. The thousand-year period of fellowship with the Lord Jesus will help prepare us for the Glory that will be given to the elect of God.

Blessed and holy {is} he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

The Three Stages of Redemption. Three deaths and three resurrections are included in the Divine salvation: death to the world and resurrection to citizenship in God's Kingdom; death to sin and resurrection to eternal life; death to self and resurrection to fruitfulness and dominion.

Salvation takes place in three broad stages. The first stage, the blood of atonement for sin, gives us authority to participate in the Divine salvation. The second stage, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, gives us the power to participate in the plan of salvation.

It is the third stage, the entrance of the Father and the Son into the believer. This is the purpose of salvation. It will result in the rest and Kingdom of God.

Self-will is the most virulent poison in the human personality. God uses suffering to slay our self-will and to establish Christ on the throne of our personality. Religious pride and envy, the desire for prominence and exaltation, always is at the door of God's Church.

Some people whom God has not chosen, observe carefully God's elect with the intention of usurping, if they can, the glory and honor assigned to the saints. For this reason the elect must be on their guard constantly or they stand in danger of having their crowns of authority stolen from them.

If each of us will remain on his guard, looking to Jesus at all times, the Lord will protect us from Korah, Absalom, and their fellow conspirators.

The third death, death to self-seeking and to the lust for preeminence, is the only route to the throne. But death to self-seeking is gained through the prolonged deferral of our most intense desires and prolonged immersion in distasteful circumstances.

Patience, and the Kingdom of God!

Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty: (Deuteronomy 16:16)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:7)

{This} I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The Throne of God. What is "man" that God is concerned about him and visits him?

Man has been created to be the eternal throne of God Almighty.

Some of the lords of the spirit realm rebelled against the Father. The creation of man is the Father's response to the rebellion. Through man, God will govern all the works of His hands. Through man, God will prevent all further rebellion against His will.

The victorious saints will rise to meet the Lord in the air when He returns in the clouds of glory. The reason the resurrected saints rise into the air is that they may replace the fallen lords on the thrones that govern the creation.

The wicked rulers of the spirit world will be overcome by the saints who trust in the blood of the cross, who maintain a true testimony of the Person and Word of God, and who love not their own lives, take up their cross, and follow the Lord Jesus.

It is the placing of the victorious saints on the thrones in the air that will cause the chains of futility and corruption of the earth to be broken and the Spirit of God, of righteousness, of peace, of joy to cover the earth in waves of Divine Glory.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and {I saw} the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received {his} mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)

The Two Beginnings. The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn, the Beginning of two creations of God. God through the Logos created all of the first creation. The first creation included the angels, the heavens, and the earth—all the spiritual creation and all the physical creation.

The first creation rose in rebellion. The Lord Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary brought to an end the first creation when He said, "It is finished."

When Christ rose from the dead He began a second creation. The second creation is what God has had in mind since before the first creation came into existence. God knows in advance all that will take place—God is that great!

The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead, the Beginning of the second creation. Every angel and every human who would be saved into the second creation, the eternal righteous creation, must have the Lord Jesus as his Center and Circumference. The Father has been pleased to make Christ the Center and Circumference of the new world.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone and Capstone of the Kingdom of God and of every person who is part of the Kingdom of God.

Our response is to assign the first creation, that is, our first personality, to the cross with the Lord Jesus. Then we are free to be raised with the Lord into the new creation. To be "saved" is to be brought into eternal life in the second, eternal creation, the new world of righteousness.

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether {they be} thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Colossians 1:15,16)

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all {things} he might have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:18)

Two Kinds of Righteousness. Two types of righteousness are set forth in the New Testament. The first kind, actual righteousness of behavior, such as honesty, truthfulness, kindness, patience, mercy, is the subject of both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

The second type of righteousness, imputed (assigned) righteousness, has to do with the manner in which the Lord regards us. Imputed righteousness was assigned to Abraham when he believed God's promise. Imputed righteousness is assigned to us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus instead of in our observance of the Law of Moses.

There is no greater misunderstanding in Evangelical thinking than that concerning the proper roles of actual righteousness of behavior and imputed righteousness. Imputed righteousness is given to us because we trust in the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Sin-offering. But imputed righteousness must lead us to actual righteousness of behavior. If it does not it has not served its purpose. If we continue to sin after we have received the Lord Jesus, the Divine righteousness no longer will be imputed to us.

Today's continual—almost exclusive—emphasis on imputed righteousness has destroyed the moral strength, the testimony of the Christian churches.

And account {that} the longsuffering of our Lord {is} salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all {his} epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as {they do} also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (II Peter 3:15,16)

The Two Witnesses. Just before the Lord returns, the greatest witness of all time will be borne to the nations. The two witnesses, Christ and the Body of Christ, will announce the coming of the Kingdom of God. They will be anointed with the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, as portrayed by the two lampstands of Revelation, Chapter Eleven.

The present-day ministry of the Spirit of God, including the judgment and deliverance that is cleansing the saints from the works of the flesh and from self-will, is preparing those who will be used of God to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation under Heaven. No doubt the children of today will play a special role in the end-time revival.

Every era of history has had its two witnesses that have spoken in advance of the purpose of the era, and in whom has been demonstrated the purpose of the era and what was to take place during the era. Beginning with Adam and Eve, each of the seven "days" (eras) has contributed and keeps on contributing to the coming world of righteousness, and each day is eternal.

We now are approaching the sixth day, the day of the Kingdom of God. The two witnesses of the day of the Kingdom are Christ and His Body. They will bear witness under an unlimited anointing of the Holy Spirit, as portrayed in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation. Christ and His Body reveal in themselves the righteousness and power of the coming sixth day.

The fourth chapter of the Book of Zechariah announces the symbolism of the golden lampstands: "Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, the Lord says." The eternal temple of God will not be completed by the resources of the flesh of man but by the Spirit of God.

And I will give {power} unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred {and} threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. (Revelation 11:3)

The Wall. If the Paradise of God is to survive it must be protected by a wall against sin and rebellion. Man was unable to keep possession of the garden of God because it was unwalled. The serpent had access to the beauty and wonder of God.

The wall of defense and the rod of iron are being created in the victorious saints in the present hour. The wall is the impenetrable, eternal wall of the new Jerusalem, the overcomer's resistance to sin. The rod of iron is the stern discipline of those who obey God in every circumstance, under every adverse condition, throughout every pain and frustration.

Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we {are} in, how Jerusalem {lieth} waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. (Nehemiah 2:17).

A wall of resistance to sin, and a rod of iron that enforces righteous behavior, must be created in each believer who hopes to be received by the Lord Jesus Christ when He comes to gather to Himself those who along with Him will install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

And had a wall great and high, {and} had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are {the names} of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: (Revelation 21:12)

War. The Kingdom of God will be established on the earth by violence, by war. To a world weary with wars and rumors of wars this does not come as good news. However, wars will continue on the earth because there is war in the spirit realm.

The first creation of angels and men has risen in rebellion against the Father. The sin must be judged. The wicked must be removed from the creation. The righteous must be delivered and made invincible in righteousness so the will of God may be performed and the peace and harmony of the universe maintained.

The sin was judged, the atonement was made, the justice and wrath of God were appeased, on the cross of Calvary. But Satan and his followers are unwilling to acknowledge this. They are unwilling to surrender the creation to Christ even though He has paid for it with His blood. This is why war is necessary.

There will continue to be wars until the Prince of Peace comes with His armies and removes sin and sinners from the heavens and the earth.

A description of the righteous army that will invade the earth is given several times in the Scriptures. The only manner in which Christ and His saints can gain their inheritance, the land of promise, is by unrelenting war.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him {was} called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11)

They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:5)

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. (Habakkuk 3:16)

The Witness of God. There is a difference between ministering and bearing witness. To minister is to bring forgiveness and deliverance to people and to build them up in Christ. To bear witness is to faithfully reveal the Person, Word, will, and eternal purpose of God.

It requires many years of patient suffering to produce an eternal witness of God. Gifts and ministries can be assigned to an immature believer in a moment of time, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit do bear a true witness of God. However, gifts and ministries often are temporary and operate only during the lifetime of the individual. The witness borne by the personality and testimony of the individual who does God's will is eternal, as in the case of the writings of the Apostle Paul.

A faithful witness of God always is eternal. Noah, Job, and Abraham are bearing witness to us today, not only because of their gifts but especially because of God's dealing with them and their response.

There is much Christian ministry throughout the world today, for which we thank God. But the testimony in many instances has been destroyed because of the sinful, self-seeking behavior of God's messengers.

The true testimony of God always is in supernatural power and always is clothed in righteousness, holiness, and stern obedience to God.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

Working Out Our Salvation. One of the major misunderstandings of Evangelical theology is that the Christian salvation is a sovereign work of God; that the believer has little to do but believe. "The just shall live by faith," the cry of the Reformers, has come to mean that the righteous go to Heaven because of their belief in theological facts concerning the atonement, the resurrection, and the lordship of Christ.

However, the Scripture does not support this one-sided position. Such statements as "in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (I Timothy 4:16); and "if the righteous scarcely [with difficulty] be saved" (I Peter 4:18); reveal clearly that the current program of salvation by mere mental assent is not at all what the New Testament teaches.

Let us turn away from the frivolous Christianity of our day and by faithfully serving the Lord save ourselves and those who hear us.

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (I Timothy 4:12-16)

THE ROLES AND TASKS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD

To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb (Revelation 21:9)

To be part of the Temple of God (Ephesians 2:22)

To be a member of the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:12)

To be a son of God (Revelation 21:7)

To be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)

To be a part of the vehicle for the end-time revival (Isaiah 60:1,2)

To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations (I Corinthians 15:45)

To be a member of the royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9)

To be a witness of God (Isaiah 43:10)

To be salt (Matthew 5:13)

To be an overcomer of the Accuser (Revelation 12:11)

To be a governor of the nations (Revelation 2:26,27)

To be a judge of people and angels (I Corinthians 6:2)

To be a soldier in the army of the Lord (Joel 2:11)

To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God (Revelation 21:14)

To be the revelation of God in Christ (Revelation 3:12)

A CHANGE OF GOAL

Here is the true and eternal goal of salvation:

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—NIV)

The reason the other apostles could not condemn Paul in the matter of the statutes of the Law of Moses was that Paul was "dead," crucified with Christ. The Law has no authority over a deceased individual.

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? (Romans 7:1—NIV)

By counting himself "dead," Paul was free to follow the Lord without the distractions of the Law.

. . . and calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17)

When we come up out of the water of baptism we count that we are dead and now are free to walk in the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus. Neither the Ten Commandments nor any other aspect of the Law of Moses has authority over us, except in their greatly expanded form presented by the writers of the New Testament.

The Sabbath commandment, for example, is fulfilled as we enter the "rest of God," in which we live, move and have our being in obedience to the living Jesus.

Although it is not always presented as such, the rest of God is the third great work of redemption, following the blood atonement and the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

***

The Traditional Goal of Salvation

The traditional goal is to arrive at and remain for eternity in a mansion in Heaven. What we will do once we are in Heaven will be arranged by the Lord.

The main purpose is to obtain everlasting love, peace, and joy. "We'll sing and shout and dance about." (The Homecoming Week; Dr. Raymond Browning)

We arrive at our goal by mercy and grace, as we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God views us as righteous because of our faith in Christ.

Belief in Christ, which may or may not be a genuine faith in the living Christ, is the most important aspect of our salvation.

The Scriptural Goal of Salvation

The scriptural goal is to attain to eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace in an incorruptible body. Our location will be wherever God places us. The mansion Christ spoke of is a room, a place of abiding for the Father and the Son in us.

Our main purpose is to provide a home, a place of rest, and a location for the Throne of the Father and the Son.

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

Upon placing our faith in Christ, our righteousness initially is imputed to us apart from observing the tenets of the Law of Moses. After that we must obey the commands of Christ Jesus in order to maintain our righteousness in the sight of God.

The monstrous error of today's Evangelical teaching is that "grace" is a permanent alternative to growth in godly behavior.

We must live always in the rest of God; abiding in Christ. This means that we look continually to Christ for all we think, say, and do. All of our personality and behavior that is not of Christ is loss for God, for us, and for humanity.

We will work with Christ, in whatever role is assigned to us, at the task of bringing justice and stern obedience to God throughout the creation of God.

To maintain our position in the rest of God we must faithfully obey the Spirit of God by confessing our sins and self-will as they are pointed out to us; and, with the assistance of the Lord Jesus, turning away from them.

If it is true, that the goal of our salvation is to conform us to the image of God and to find untroubled rest in His will, and if it is true that we are not saved to live eternally in Heaven but so God can have a home, a rest, and a place in which to install His Throne, can you see how radically this change of goal would affect Christian teaching?

For example, the concept that grace forgives our sinful behavior and brings us safely to Heaven without any effort on our part, no longer is valid. Grace can be seen for what it is---a Divinely ordained instrument which releases us from the authority of the tenets of the Law of Moses, freeing us so we can follow Christ without distraction.

Our hymnology would change. We no longer would be singing about how merry we would be in Heaven, dancing around in a state of bliss.

In actuality when Christ has come to the fullness in us, God will change our environment to conform to our new spiritual state. We always will be in Heaven and will bring Heaven wherever we are.

We may wonder, "How about the Christians who have died? They have not had a chance to come to such perfection?"

I believe the Scripture indicates that they will proceed past the basic salvation experience, or the Pentecostal experience, after they die and are in the spirit world. It may be true that our place in Heaven will be what we make it!

Let me hasten to state that I am not teaching "second chance." We will not be able to proceed toward perfection after death unless we already have been leading the life of victory in Christ while alive on the earth.

Of course, there are people on the earth who for one reason or another during their lifetime never heard of Christ or the Bible. God will deal with them according to His righteousness. But the Christians who wasted their time while living on the earth will not then be invited to press forward to perfection after they die.

The parable of the talents reveals what will happen to the lazy, wicked believer after he or she dies.

Let us proceed now to speak about our assertion that diligent Christians who never were taught about maturity in Christ will be brought further along after they die and are in the spirit world.

I am basing my belief on the fact that there is only one elect, one Wife of the Lamb, one Body of Christ, whether the members be on earth or in the spirit world. We all will come to perfection together.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39.40—NIV)

Please consider carefully that the heroes of faith mentioned in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews are in Heaven. But they had not received what had been promised. Can you see from this that Heaven is not the land of promise?

These deceased members of God's elect have not been made perfect as yet. But they are being made perfect along with us.

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 human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit. (I Peter 4:5,6—NIV)

Christ is ready to judge the living and the dead. This judgment is the fulfillment of the Jewish "Blowing of Trumpets" and "Day of Atonement" that lead to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles.

This judgment is taking place today on the earth. The Holy Spirit is bringing us past the Judgment Seat of Christ by showing us our sins and self-will and enabling us to put them to death by turning away from them. We are assisted in doing this as we call upon our Lord Jesus for wisdom and strength.

This identical judgment is being experienced by the diligent Christians in the spirit world. They are being judged and directed and strengthened so they are able to turn away from their sins and self-will and receive the Fullness of Christ in exchange.

This judgment is taking place now.

In 1948, while I was in Bible school, Jesus spoke to me. He said that the Jewish Day of Atonement portrays judgment on His Church. Now I understand what the Lord was referring to.

We do not realize how our life in Christ continues after we die. We really have a mythological view of the next world, of our life after death.

If you will consult the Scriptures you may notice that very little is said about what happens to us when we die, other than that we will be "gathered to our people."

One deadly misunderstanding is that when we die, God will see us as perfect. There no longer will be a need to be concerned with sin and self-will. There is no scriptural basis for this belief.

In fact, the parable of the talents, in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, does not speak of our being delivered from laziness, if we have "buried our talent," but of our talent being removed from us. Then we are sent into the outer darkness.

It is my point of view that all decent people will be sent to a place of instruction in the spirit world, when they die, and taught the righteous, holy ways of Heaven. This is not true if they have been presented with Christ and have rejected Him. The first rule of the Kingdom of God is obedience to the Lord Jesus.

But it may be different for the members of God's elect, His royal priesthood. They are being prepared to represent God to the other people of the creation. They have to be brought through the rigorous demands that begin with faith in the blood atonement and conclude with the coming of the Father and the Son to make Their eternal abode in them.

The last step prior to the Royal Priesthood being filled with the Fullness of God is that of appearing at the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment is taking place today for those who are being qualified and made competent to participate in the first resurrection—that which will occur when Jesus comes to change their bodies and catch them up to the staging area in the air where Jesus is waiting with the army of angels.

The change in the body and catching up to meet the Lord in the air will take place simultaneously with the saints who have come with Christ and those who are alive on the earth at the time of His appearing.

Here is the meaning of: "only together with us would they be made perfect."

Not all people have the same destiny in the Kingdom of God. Each one of us, as did the Apostle Paul, must be diligent in laying hold on that for which God has grasped us, or we will be regarded as a lazy, wicked servant.

Unlike "Heaven teaching," in which there are no ranks, there will be thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold according to the fullness of Christ in us. It will be a case of having heaven formed in us.

Those who are greatest in the Kingdom will be servants of all.

This is a great deal better than just going to Heaven to "sing and shout and dance about" for ten thousand years, isn't it?

Both sin and self-will must be removed from us if we are to abide happily in Christ. Spirits of disobedience, great and small, have no place in the Kingdom of God and shall be removed totally with no mercy shown to them.

To abide in Christ is to live in the will of God, the rest of God. It is the spiritual fulfillments of the Jewish Day of Atonement and the feast of Tabernacles eternally forged together in the believer.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement occurs as the Spirit of God points out to us our sins and self-will, and we confess and turn away from them, as Christ helps us.

The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles occurs as we keep the commands of Jesus Christ; and the Father and the Son make Their eternal home, resting place, and throne in us.

Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (John 14:23—NIV)

I think it is easy to see that the coming of the Father and Christ to make Their resting place in us depends on our ceasing to obey our sinful urges and our self-will. This is why I say the Day of Atonement and the feast of Tabernacles are forged together in the believer. As they are, we are prepared for an eternal life of service to God.

The reason people of the Christian churches are not more diligent in driving out the sin in their behavior is that they are picturing residence in Heaven as their goal rather than the rest of God as their goal.

If you, as a Christian, are committing some sin that you know of, you are not in the rest of God; you are not in the perfect will of God. Get busy and ask Christ how to gain victory over it.

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. (I John 3:8—NIV)

The Lord Jesus Christ did not come from Heaven to earth merely to forgive our sins but to destroy the devil's work in us.

Grace does not cover known sin. If you do not get busy and gain victory over it through Christ, you may lose part or all of your inheritance.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NIV)

To enter and remain in the rest of God we continually must seek to know the Lord's will, praying constantly, listening, presenting our body a living sacrifice. We must do God's will. Then we can rest in God and God can rest in us.

We will be His home, His rest, and a place in which He can install His throne.

This is His reason for creating man.

God cannot find a home, a resting place, or install His throne in us until we set aside our own will and do His will cheerfully, completely, and promptly at all times.

I have covered the same material in other writings. But the simplicity of my thesis can be hidden under a multitude of words.

Therefore in this essay I will strive for clarity.

For two thousand years eternal residence in Heaven has been the goal of salvation. We are "saved" so we may go to Heaven when we die.

However, the Old and New Testaments do not present eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of our salvation.

The goal of our salvation is entrance into God's rest, as the Book of Hebrews states. This is expressed by the Apostle Paul as being crucified with Christ and living now in His resurrection Life.

Am I claiming there is no Heaven? Of course not. Our Lord Jesus Christ came to us from Heaven. We are to place our treasures in Heaven.

But eternal residence in Heaven is not the goal of the Christian salvation.

As I said, for two thousand years Heaven has been presented as the goal of the Christian salvation. How did this concept begin, when it is not found in the Scriptures?

My guess is it was introduced into Christian thinking during the early years of the forming of the Christian religion; just as the practice of building special buildings for Christian worship was commenced some three hundred years after the birth of the Church--- or so I have been led to believe.

We have created a religion, using the name of the Lord Jesus, that is not scriptural in some instances. Our Lord did not teach us to build a religion but to change our ways so they correspond to the moral image of God. Isn't that so?

It may be true that a simple group of disciples meeting and observing the Lord's supper, without setting up a religious organization, no longer is possible, given human nature. But that pattern of worship may be restored to us as we see, even in America, the rejection of Christ and His Bible.

In any case, one of the major innovations that has been introduced into Christian thinking is the idea that we are saved in order to live in Heaven forever. Yet the New Testament teaches clearly that the Kingdom of God will be established on the present earth when Jesus returns---not today, as some are erroneously teaching. At the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, the Kingdom will be established on the new earth.

These facts being indisputable, at what point would we be living in Heaven, other than during periods of transition?

You know, we have no idea what Heaven is like. We may assume it will be some sort of Paradise, such as was true of the Garden in Eden.

The Lord promised that He would bring the thief to Paradise along with Himself.

The Apostle Paul visited Paradise and heard "unspeakable words."

But our born-again spiritual nature already is in Heaven, isn't it?

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:3,4—NIV)

It seems from the above that when the Lord Jesus next appears, we also will appear from Heaven with Him.

And what about the following?

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—NIV)

If we are a true Christian we already have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. Notice the tense of the verb: we have come. Not we will come, but we have come to the heavenly Jerusalem.

"Heaven" is not the entire spirit world; it is a city in Heaven where the Lord Jesus and His Church reside. And we are there already, according to the Book of Hebrews.

Perhaps Paradise is a part of the city in Heaven, the new Jerusalem. Or maybe the term refers to the entire city. "Paradise" often refers to a garden or park, and sometimes is associated with the Garden of Eden.

So we have to think again about the tradition of going to Heaven when we die to live there for eternity, since we are there already in our reborn spiritual nature.

Let us return now to the statement in Hebrews:

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NIV)

Entering God's rest.

It appears from what I have written thus far that while our spiritual nature can be in Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem, we have to address ourselves today to the problem of entering and remaining in God's rest. These apparently are two different concerns.

Now, let us think for a moment about the Christian people to whom the Book of Hebrews was written.

It appears they were Jewish. But according to the Apostle Paul, himself a Jew, once we are part of Christ there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. So we can apply the exhortations of the Book of Hebrews to ourselves, whether we are Jewish or Gentile by physical birth.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, (Ephesians 2:14—NIV)

Jews and Gentiles are one in Christ, and this is how we will regard them in this essay.

Those believers being addressed in the Book of Hebrews were mature saints—more advanced in Christ than many of us today may be.

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 (Hebrews 6:4,5—NIV)

What do most of us know about the "powers of the coming age?

In addition they had been persecuted and their material goods confiscated..

You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. (Hebrews 10:34—NIV)

If these Jewish Christians were mature by the standard we employ today, then what is the meaning of the following exhortation:

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NIV)

Exactly what is the rest of God that the experienced, mature Jewish Christians needed to be concerned about? Is it a condition that we of today need to be concerned about?

Notice that "going to Heaven is not at issue here. These believers were not being instructed that even though they were not attaining to God's rest it did not really matter, because they were going to enter Heaven, at their death, by grace.

The rest of God is based on the following statement:

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. (Hebrews 4:3—NIV)

God's works have been finished since the creation of the world.

Since this is true, you and I have a choice. We can plan our lives the way we want them, or we can spend our time on the earth seeking every day to discover what God's will for us is for that day.

I have to insert a caution at this point.

The fact that God's will concerning us, our destiny, has been decided upon since the creation of the world does not mean that no matter what we do, our life will follow the pattern that God has determined in advance.

If that were the case, if we were to do nothing, or if we decided to pursue our self-will with all our might even though we are not behaving according to God's plan for us, the destiny God has planned for us would come into being regardless.

If such were the case, the writer of the Book of Hebrews would not be exhorting us fervently to be careful that we enter God's rest. Evidently to enter God's rest we must cease from our own works and press at all times into the will of God for us.

We do not end up doing what God has chosen for us apart from some effort on our part.

Notice the example the Apostle Paul set for us:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14—NIV)

It sounds at first glance as though Paul was endeavoring to enter Heaven, doesn't it?

The rest of God comes to us from Heaven, but it is not Heaven itself, unless we view Christ as "Heaven"—and that is not far from the truth! Every good thing that we associate with Heaven is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Paul protested that he had not already arrived at his goal, we know He is not speaking of residence in Heaven, since he was on the earth when he was writing these words. He was not speaking foolishly.

Also, the preceding verses in Philippians reveal that Paul was seeking the resurrection life which is in Christ, and the knowledge of Christ. Paul was not striving to return to Paradise and hear "unspeakable words"!

The rest of God, which is our goal, occurs when we are joyously doing God's will in every aspect of our being and behavior. This is our objective.

The land of Canaan is a type of the rest of God. The Israelites were not determined enough to fully possess their land, their rest.

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

And so forth.

The Israelites were so thankful to be out of the desert and into good farmland, they settled for partial conquest of their inheritance.

Perhaps it is that way with us. We receive forgiveness through the blood atonement, are born again, and baptized with the Spirit of God. Maybe we are content to remain with the spiritual gains we already have made.

For some reason we do not continue to press forward until everything in our life that disobeys God, that is not in His image, is overcome.

Perhaps the reason we do not press into full victory is that we have perverted Paul's teaching of "grace" to mean that even though we do not gain victory over our sinful behavior, God overlooks our lack of determination and receives us into Heaven by "grace."

Once we who are products of "lawless grace" are in Heaven we can fight with one another about the area we choose in which to "sing and shout and dance about" for ten thousand years.

God warned the Israelites about their lack of perseverance, didn't He?

The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.' Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? And I have also said, 'I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.'" (Judges 2:1-3—NIV)

This precisely is the condition of many of the Christian churches in America. We have received a part of God's plan of redemption, and have concocted an excuse for not pressing through to total victory.

As a result, our leaders of government have no clear moral example to follow. Therefore God has raised up enemies against America, as He always does when a nation practices immorality.

When I pray concerning the disasters coming upon our country, God says, "Tell the congregation to press into the Lord Jesus. He will be your safety in the coming days of Divine judgment.

God does not tell me to pray for America—perhaps because America has gone over the line with its abortions, gender confusion, public nakedness, and worship of money.

I think one of our main problems is the belief that after we receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit we have gone as far as God intends to bring us in this life. Jesus Savior, Healer, Baptizer, Soon-coming King; and after that, eternity in Heaven.

But there is a work of redemption between "Baptizer" and "Soon-coming King. And after the coming of the King there is the Kingdom, not eternity in Heaven.

The truth is, the baptism with the Spirit of God is the means, along with the blood of the cross, of enabling us to press on to the fullness. Speaking in tongues is the God-given means to enter the rest of God!

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11,12—NIV)

Speaking in tongues indeed is a wonderful rest as we allow the Spirit of God to express the present burden!

After the experience of Pentecost there remains the rest of God, the state of being in which we are living in God's perfect will, having fellowship with the Father and the Son.

There are enemies in our promised land, just as there were in the promised land of the Israelites. If we would dwell in the rest of God we must drive out the enemies in our land. Our enemies are the sins and self-will that are part of our personality.

In his epistles, the Apostle Paul presented several lists that describe our "old man." As the works of our old nature are pointed out to us we are to confess them to the Lord Jesus, and then go to Him for the wisdom and strength necessary to gain total victory over each of these dark forces that are not in the image of 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—NIV)

The following verses tell us of the coming of the Fullness of God to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit is as a Steward who facilitates this personal coming to us. The goal toward which we are to be pressing is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them."

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 14:18-23—NIV)

The Holy Spirit prepares the way, and the Father and the Son come to us and make Their home with us. One of the actions of the Spirit when preparing the way for the Father and the Son to find Their rest in us is by pointing out to us our sins and self-will, and helping us put them to death.

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—NIV)

The next verse in the Book of Romans informs us that the Holy Spirit always is leading the sons of God to deal with the misdeeds of the body, so they may be suitable as dwelling places for the Father and the Son.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children [lit. sons] of God. (Romans 8:14—NIV)

We are led by the Spirit of God to put our sins to death. This is an experience, just as the baptism with the Holy Spirit is an experience.

Am I teaching that there is more of redemption for us after we have received the Spirit of God? Yes, that is precisely what I am teaching. There is a specific "more." The Bible terms the "more" the "rest of God, and it is into this "more" that the Hebrews believers were urged to enter.

If we have been around Christian people very much, we know from their behavior that they have not attained to the fullness that God has promised. I have read that the patriarchs of orthodox churches in Jerusalem have fought over their assigned rooms in the Old City. The Catholic and Protestant Christians in Ireland have had their "troubles," although they both revere the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many if not most Christians have not pressed forward to full victory over sin. In fact, they do not believe full victory over sin is even possible!

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—NIV)

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6—NIV)

There has to be a further work of redemption, and I believe the further work has begun in our time.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah is the testimony of a believer who has moved past the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Pentecost to the spiritual fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. This is why the twelfth chapter was sung by the Jews during the feast of Tabernacles:

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2,3—NIV)

The God of Heaven has given us salvation and strength and has defended us against the enemy. Now an increase in redemption has occurred. He Himself has entered us and has become our salvation, our strength, our defense.

Prior to the "Tabernacles" experience we have played "volleyball" with God. Now we are on the same side of the net.

We see, therefore, we have arrived at a change of goal. Our goal no longer is to attain to eternal residence in Heaven. Our goal is to cease from our own works, our own plans and ambitions, and enter the rest of God. Such rest can be accomplished only as we pursue the life of victory in Christ until sin and self-will have been overcome in our behavior.

We must be absolutely determined to fight through to total victory, and not be like the unfaithful Israelites who did not do this. As a result, the nations of Canaan finally overcame the Israelites, as God warned they would.

Going to a better place will not satisfy our desires, although we think it would. It is the coming of the Father and the Son to make us Their home, Their resting place, the location of Their Throne, that is God's eternal plan for us.

It is fellowship with the Father and the Son that we crave, not a novel environment.

And it is God's will that we have such fellowship. It is His rest that we enter. It also is our rest. Heaven is a place of warfare, as the evil struggles against the good. It is in God and Christ that we find the righteousness, love, peace, and joy that are our goal.

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:27-30—NIV)

The "rest" we are seeking is the knowledge of the Father.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you. (Isaiah 12:6)

***

The Enemy in Our Land of Promise

When the nation of Israel made its exodus from Egypt, God did the fighting. When the next generation sought to take possession of the land of promise, the Israelites had to do the fighting, with God's help.

The passages below are the kind of enemies we must fight in order to enter our land of promise:

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.

Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:17-32—NIV)

It is my point of view that the "Day of Redemption" has begun. It is for this "Day" that we have been sealed by the Spirit of God.

Self-will

There is another enemy that confronts us. It is our self-will, self-love, self-centeredness. We are under the impression that God has been created to meet all our needs and desires. The truth is, we were created for God's pleasure, to meet His needs and desires.

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11)

God is seeking a home, a resting place, and people in whom He can install His Throne. God and we rest together because His work was finished from the beginning of the world.

This is why self-will is the ruination of the people of the world, and also of the Christians. We are attempting to create our own Heaven and earth. God did all this thousands of years ago, and now He and we are to rest in God's finished work.

The overcomer of the Church in Smyrna must endure the prison in which he or she is placed. We understand that such confinement is under the strict control of the Lord Jesus, in that He said, "You will suffer persecution for ten days."

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—NIV)

When Christ permits us to be placed in some kind of prison, the purpose is to destroy our self-life. We can choose to escape from our prison, to come down from the cross, or to be faithful to the point of death.

We cannot have fellowship with the Father and the Son when we are being directed by our self-will.

When the new generation was getting ready to invade Canaan, they had to be circumcised. This circumcision typifies the crucifixion of the old nature and the putting on of the new man of the Lord.

And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed. (Joshua 5:8—NIV)

Our old nature may have many good features. But until those good features are born again in Christ they are not of eternal quality.

We understand, therefore, that Heaven is not our land of promise. Our land of promise is our own personality made new in Christ and housed in an incorruptible body.

Satan and his demons are persuaded that they have a right to our personality, even though Christ removed that right on the cross of Calvary.

Because of the Lord Jesus Christ we have legal standing to invade and conquer the enemy in our personality, just as Israel had a God-given right to Canaan.

This is a real change for us, because we thought God would do all the fighting for us and bring us into Paradise if we would just "accept Christ."

But that is not the case. From this point forward we have to call on Christ day and night to help us overcome the enemies in our land. There are great rewards for those who drive out their enemies and find rest in the center of God's Person and will.

I do not know from the Bible what will prove to be true concerning those who wait for God to save them and bring them to Heaven by "grace."

One episode that comes to mind is the Lord's rebuke directed at the servant who had buried his talent.

Well, there it is. The Spirit of God is looking for those who will set aside their own plans and desires and enter wholeheartedly into the present phase of redemption.

I hope to be one of these. How about you?

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—NIV)

Do not get drawn into an anxious struggling against sin. Confess your sin clearly and ask the Lord Jesus to remove it from you. Do this every time you think of it, and mingle your supplication with praise.

Do whatever you can to avoid temptation. The force of the sin will leave relatively easily if you are determined that it go.

Some bondages are determined to remain in your personality. If you do not surrender to temptation, eventually you will gain total victory over every force of sin and self-will.

Overcoming sin is not a question of power. Christ spoke the universe into being with the Word of His power. He certainly can deliver a creature of dust from spiritual bondage.

It is your patient determination to be in the image of God and to do God's will at all times that eventually will gain complete victory over sin and self-will.

Do not be troubled about anything. When a worry comes to mind, ask Jesus to solve it. He will. Then go on your way rejoicing.

***

I have learned during my lifetime about some of the traits of God's Personality. God is strict, loving, faithful, playful, honest, upright, loyal, creative, knowledgeable, wise, righteous, holy, gentle, slow to anger, helpful, honorable, courageous, fatherly, friendly, patient, upright, fair, charitable, peaceful, joyous, good, meek, self-controlled, plain and simple, kind, courteous, gentlemanly, has a sense of humor, keeps His promises, is practical, cheerful, diligent, and compassionate.

Everything that Christ says is established eternally according to the intent to which it was spoken.

We may begin to reveal some of these traits in our own personality as Christ is formed in us.

Satan is the opposite of most of these traits.

It certainly is a good thing for us that God has the greater power!

God's also has other traits, such as all-power and authority, the avenger of all injustice, a judge of the behavior of people, jealous over His role and possessions, harsh and destructive when the need arises. These traits possibly may be true of us in the distant future, but not as yet.

A TRANSITION

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

The verse above, Galatians 2:20, came to my attention when I first became a Christian, about 70 years ago.

I realized that this had something to do with my being a Christian. Yet, in all my years I do not recall hearing anyone preach that this verse applies to us. I am sure, however, that many faithful pastors and evangelists have preached Galatians 2:20 so the believers would understand where Christ was taking them.

I know that Paul urged us to follow him as he follows Christ. Also Paul said, "Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded," referring to his single-minded effort to know Christ.

Before I venture into the little bit I know about our transition from our first, adamic personality to living by the Life of Christ, I must present some warnings:

First, we are not to take the attitude that we will do nothing until Jesus speaks to us. This is to fall into the error of passivity. We will become the prey of demons, and be indecisive in all that we do. If you find yourself in this traps, ask Jesus to help you jump out of it.

You have to continue being your old, mean self and allow Christ to modify your behavior.

You never lose your first personality. You always will be "you." The Apostle Paul always will be Paul. Rather, Christ helps you remove the parts of your personality , such as lying or self-will, that are destructive; and puts to death your good features, such as generosity, and then raises them as part of Himself.

Christ has been begotten of God, is the Word of God, and is an integral part of God. You and I have been begotten of God, are being made the Word of God as Christ is written in our mind and heart, and are becoming an integral part of our Lord Jesus Christ as we eat and drink His body and blood. We are being made "faithful and true."

But you always will be "you"; and while you never will be as exalted in the Kingdom of God as is the Lord Jesus, you will be a glorified "you"—changed into the image of the Lord.

It is going to be a while before you hear the Lord's voice accurately. There are numerous voices in the spirit world. There is only one voice of the Lord.

Learning to be led by the Spirit of God is drawn from a difficult curriculum. Notice how Jeremiah was not certain of the validity of what he had been told until the word was verified by circumstances.

So Hanameel mine uncle's son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. (Jeremiah 32:8)

Sometimes what we hear is not the Lord. We discover this, when what was told us does not bear out in the circumstances.

If we will adopt an attitude of meekness and learn from our mistake, this incident will lead to an increased knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus.

But if we are arrogant and say our word was true but people just did not have enough faith to make it happen, then we will learn nothing from our error.

When it is God who has spoken, miracles take place!

What Jesus tells you to do will never be absurd, like going to the beach and jumping into the water with all your clothes on.

It will never contradict the Scriptures. Sometimes the Lord will direct Christians to go against the government, as the Christians did when they hid Jews from the Nazis. This sort of thing requires the prayers of mature Christians.

The midwives defied the government in the matter of keeping the Israeli boys alive. God blessed them for this deceit.

Some evangelists have smuggled Bible into countries where the Bible is forbidden.

But, as Peter said, we must obey God rather than men.

However, this sort of thing is rare. When a voice tells you that you are free to go against the Bible, that voice almost certainly is not that of the Lord.

When you are certain God has spoken to you, but the ensuing circumstances do not agree with what you have been told, do not panic. Pray carefully and ask the Lord Jesus how you should proceed. Do not attempt to force the issue. If you stay calm and keep looking toward the Lord, He will guide you along the path of common sense.

With these disclaimers it may be safe to proceed.

The Apostle Paul claimed to be crucified with Christ. This means the original Saul of Tarsus no longer thought, spoke, or acted out from his original personality—that is, this was his goal.

God did many things to Saul to make Saul's goal a reality:

For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: (II Corinthians 1:8,9)

There are many statements in the Book of Second Corinthians that record the afflictions of Paul.

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. (II Corinthians 11:24-27)

If these experiences were not enough to kill Saul of Tarsus, God used Satan to injure Paul's eyes. Paul prayed three times that God would lift this affliction. But Christ assured Paul the purpose of the affliction was to keep Paul looking to Christ for the strength to live.

"I am crucified with Christ."

Paul was unable to keep on thinking, speaking, and acting in his original strength because he continually was being "killed."

The important step in the transition from our old personality to our new personality is the "killing" of the first personality.

Are you and I prepared for this "death"?

"Nevertheless I live. Yet, not I, but Christ lives in me."

This means that my thinking, speaking, and acting are proceeding from the Life of Christ and not from my human life.

I realize that Paul was not fully in Christ at the time of the writing of the Book of Galatians, but he was pressing toward this goal.

Our familiar goal of going to Heaven to live eternally in a mansion is not presented in the Scriptures as the goal of salvation.

The goal of our salvation is to know Christ; to be filled with all the fullness of God; to live by the Life of Christ.

It makes a practical difference in our Christian discipleship whether our goal is eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven, or, as in the case of Paul, to know Christ to the uttermost.

It would make a big difference in your Christian life, and mine, wouldn't it?

Going to Heaven to live forever is not a scriptural goal. Living by the Life of Christ as He lives by the Life of the Father is a scriptural goal. We need a change of goal if we are to grow in Christ and stand in the moral chaos that is approaching America!

Our goal is to make the transition from the life of Adam to the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The life of Adam consists of eating, drinking, working, playing, and reproducing.

The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ consists of thinking, speaking, and acting as the Father thinks, speaks, and acts.

It is the prayer of the Lord Jesus that each one of us become one with Him in God just as He is One with God.

This means that we must think, speak, act as we "see" the Lord Jesus thinking, speaking, and acting. Then we are related to Him, and to the Father through Him, just as He is related to the Father.

Now, exactly how do we learn to life by the Life of the Lord Jesus, to think, speak, and act as Jesus is thinking, speaking, and acting.

It is a matter of continual prayer and obedience, and of repeated deaths and resurrections.

Each day and night we make numerous decisions, most of them minor, occasionally a major decision. How we make each decision determines whether we are nurturing our adamic life, or the Life of Christ in us.

Let us say we are deciding what to eat for breakfast. (I realize that multitudes of people in the world have only one choice, or maybe no choice since they have no food. But this is a simple example that many people in the world would recognize).

Should I eat eggs or oatmeal?

We can decide from our appetite, or our diet, or what we are accustomed to. But here is an excellent opportunity to look to the Lord for His choice. If you become accustomed to asking Jesus about minor decisions, you probably will look to Him for major decision.

You might be considering moving to another state or country. You may wish to investigate many facts about where to move, and you should do this. But in addition, you should look to the Lord Jesus and ask His opinion.

Perhaps a nuclear warhead has landed near to your neighborhood. You do not know if you should panic and join the people fleeing from your city. But if you hold steady in prayer, God will guide you.

Learning to live by the Life of Jesus is an art. It is a good idea to begin with one area of your life, like when to set aside a time to pray and read your Bible. Then what to do during your spare time, if you have any.

Once you make the attempt to pray continually, as Paul advised, you will discover many opportunities to look to Jesus for direction and strength.

There are several forces that hinder our entering the rest of God, in which we continually are looking to Christ for wisdom and strength.

One force is the sin that lives in our flesh. When the Holy Spirit shows us a sin, we are to confess it and ask Jesus to help us resist the sin.

If the passions of sin are burning in us, it is nearly impossible to keep looking to Jesus for help with the decisions we are making.

Personal ambition is another such distraction.

Self-will is the greatest of all the forces that keep mankind, including Christians, from serving the Lord. We absolutely must take up our cross of deferred desire and follow the Master at all times.

Most of us have many idols, sometimes people; sometimes things; sometimes situations. We must give each of these up to Jesus as He calls for them. We must place our treasures in Heaven. They will be kept safe for us and given to us in the Day of Resurrection, if not before.

No one gives up any person or thing to the King, the Lord Jesus, without receiving it back many times over.

The answer to the problem of the transition from our old life to a new life in Christ is faith—faith that God is loving; that He is kind; that He knows and understands the desires of our heart; that He is fair; that He is patient; that His desire is that we attain to eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

So it is true that the righteous live by faith.

We understand therefore that if we abide in Christ the time will arrive when we are a totally new creation, old things will have passed away, all has become new and is of God.

All that God has spoken concerning us has come to pass.

Then we can assist with the task of reconciling to God the peoples whom He has created.

I believe that if Christ is forming eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace in us, Heaven will be a better place because we are there.

Heaven is a desirable place because of its inhabitants. Will we add to or subtract from its desirability should we arrive there?

Heaven is what it is because of Christ. The more of Christ that is formed in us, the more of Heaven we bring wherever we are.

Righteousness, love, joy, and peace are found in Heaven only to the extent Christ is there. Are you and I adding these virtues wherever we are?

Will we add righteousness, love, joy, and peace to Heaven should we arrive there; or will we add hatred to Hell should we arrive there?

What would Heaven be like if Christ were not there? Would Heaven be different if you and I never were there? Would it be lacking something of value, a presence that brings righteousness, love, joy, and peace?

Every person who is willing to set aside his or her own life that Christ might live, strengthens Christ's hand in the war again Satan. A Christian believer who never has abandoned his own will and plans may be strong in prayer and righteous in behavior. But the overcoming of the evil in the creation can be accomplished only by Christ Himself. This is why the death of our old nature is so necessary.

The Christian Church is to travail in birth in our day that Christ may be formed in us. He is the Ruler whom God has chosen. All of our Christian activities are of eternal value only as they contribute to the forming of Christ in us.

We make it possible for God to destroy Satan as we deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desire, and follow and obey the Master with the greatest possible diligence.

The believers residing in the spirit world will mill about, having fellowship and worshiping God, perhaps occupied with some sort of project, until those predestined to be changed into the image of Christ have satisfied the Father that righteousness has come to the fullness. Then God shall give an angel the power and authority to imprison Satan in the Bottomless Pit.

The imprisonment of Satan shall take place after the victory of Armageddon.

And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven,having the keyto the Abyssand holding in his hand a great chain.He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan,and bound him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:1,2)

When Christ has been formed in His brothers, righteousness has come to the fullness, and Satan has been hurled down from his position in the heavenlies, those in Heaven shall rejoice!

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. (Revelation 12:10,11---NIV)

It can be maintained, therefore, that the true Christian goal is to be transformed into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then we will be about our Father's business, whether we are on the earth or in Heaven.

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Canaan, and the Rest of God

2015-02-15

The Rest of God

Entering God's Rest

Canaan, and the Rest of God

The rest of God is the state of being in which we always know what God's will is, and have the desire, wisdom, and strength to perform it.

We have to fight to enter the rest of God, which is our land of promise. The sins in our flesh and spirit, our adamic nature, and Satan will resist us at every turn.

The Rest of God

Sometimes people are tempted to create their own Heaven and earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth the way He wants them. The design was completed, all the way through to the coming down of the new earth from the new sky. The life of each one of his elect was written on the pages of a book. Then God rested. All He asks of us is to enter his rest.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:15,16)

It is not true that every individual lives according to what is written in the book of his or her life. Some are disobedient, preferring their own way to God's way. In this case, God makes an adjustment so his eternal plan will be fulfilled. But when this happens, and it may happen more often than we could wish, there is loss for God, for the individual, and for mankind.

The subject of the Book of Hebrews is the "rest of God." The fourth chapter of Hebrews exhorts us to "make every effort to enter that rest," to cease from our own works. We can perceive that by the phrase "make every effort" we are not speaking of relaxing into a state of passivity but of fighting forward against every obstacle that would attempt to keep us from doing God's perfect will for our life.

As far as God's elect are concerned, those chosen to be conformed to the image of Christ that they may become his brothers, their destiny and role in the Kingdom of God was planned from the beginning of the world. Then God rested. Now the Spirit of God shall bring all this to pass.

Each member of the elect, of the Royal Priesthood, is to endeavor to cooperate with the Spirit of God until he is living every moment in that perfect will of God, the will that is leading him to his foreordained destiny. This is to live by every Word that comes from the mouth of God.

The paragraph above may appear to the reader impossible of fulfillment in his or her life. It is not. It is the only acceptable Christian position. If we make up out mind that we want to live by every Word that comes from the mouth of God, and tell Jesus about it, then that eventually will be true of us.

Is He who created the galaxies of stars unable to fulfill this in you, who are merely a collection of dust?

The work of conforming us to the image of Christ and bringing us into the role in the Kingdom we are to perform for eternity is already established in God's mind. But God has given us a will of our own whereby we can choose to live our own life apart from the Spirit of God, following our own desires and ambitions and the numerous ideas and suggestions that seek to entice us away from abiding in Christ.

Or we can employ our time and strength in striving to find and press into the Spirit of God each moment of each day and night.

It is of the utmost importance that we strive always to do God's will, to seek in this manner to enter God's rest. All things in the creation are working for good for God's elect. When the firstfruits of the elect have been brought to maturity they will be revealed with Christ to the created world. It will be their task, as Christ guides and empowers them, to set the creation free from the bondage of corruption.

During six days, God created all things through to the coming down from the new sky of the heavenly Jerusalem. The destiny and role in the Kingdom of God of each member of the elect was finished during the six days. Then God rested, having completed his work.

The eternal decree was pronounced in the beginning:

Man is to be a son of God.

Man is to be in the image and likeness of God.

Man is to be male and female. It requires male and female to complete the image of God.

Man is to be fruitful and multiply.

Man is to have dominion over all the works of God's hands.

Each part of the eternal decree has an animal fulfillment. Each part of the eternal decree shall have an enormously superior fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Our task in life is to enter that rest, that finished work of God, that we might attain fully to the destiny and role in God's Kingdom that at the time of the creation has been spoken concerning us as an individual.

In fact, if we are to be able to stand throughout the age of moral horrors that is approaching the United States of America, and to help others to stand, we will have to be dead-living saints. In the dark hour that is ahead, only Christ can work; and He will work through us.

We must be able to testify as the Apostle Paul did, "I am crucified with Christ. I am living, but actually it is Christ who is living in me." This must be our testimony if we are to be among the Lord's firstfruits who will appear with Him and install the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

Entering God's Rest

God worked for six days. Then He rested. During those six days He created not only the physical creation but also the Kingdom of God, all the way through to the coming down of the new Jerusalem to rest upon the new earth—and beyond. At that time the names of his elect were written in His book. Since this is true, our task in life is to press into that to which we have been predestined. As Paul said, we are to grasp that for which we have been grasped.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalms 139:15,16—NIV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30—NIV)

It seems to me that the passage above implies that mankind is divided into those who have a special calling, an election assigned to them, and those who do not.

There have been many arguments in time past about the possibility of an elect who are predestined to be saved. These arguments are vain, for the following reasons:

First, the elect are not called to be saved but to be brothers of Christ, being conformed to his image. Anyone who chooses to do so can believe in Christ, be baptized in water, and thus be saved.

Second, the Scriptures teach with utmost clarity that there is the Church, the new Jerusalem, the elect, and then nations of saved people who walk in the light of the new Jerusalem. Whoever chooses to do so may receive Jesus Christ as the Lord of his or her life, and be saved.

Third, being predestined and called does not mean we are going to attain to our high calling no matter how we live. It is entirely possible for us to lose our crown of life and righteousness. The Scriptures teach this fact also with utmost clarity.

Since any believer can validate the above three facts by searching the Scriptures, I would like to pass on to the present burden: entering the rest of God.

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

The rest of God is the state of being in which we always know what God's will is, and have the desire, wisdom, and strength to perform it.

It is surprising that the writer of the Book of Hebrews should scold the believers as though they were baby Christians. The fact is, they were advanced in doctrine and in experience further than most of us.

Look what they considered to be the elementary aspects of salvation:

Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1,2)

What do most of us know about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment? In place of the doctrine of the resurrection we have a silly, unscriptural "rapture."

And as to experience:

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.

In the light of the above two passages, think again about this exhortation:

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

Think about it! We might not be too surprised if the writer exhorted them to make sure they do not lose their place in Heaven. But the writer is not speaking about Heaven as their goal, is he? The context of the statements in Chapters Three and Four do not appear to refer to moving to Heaven, do they? The rest of God is a state of being that mature saints are to labor to enter during their discipleship in the earth.

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)

Why do we have to "make every effort" to enter God's rest? It is because there are enemies in our personality that do not want God to find rest in us, or we to find rest in God.

The two enemies are the unclean spirits that dwell in our personality; and our old nature, or "old man."

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; (Ephesians 4:22—KJV)

Most of our unclean spirits can be dismissed relatively easily, by confessing them as wicked, and asking the assistance of the Lord Jesus in turning away from them. This is an "eternal judgment" on Satan if we steadfastly refuse to yield to them.

Our old nature, or "old man," is a different matter. Our old nature is the personality we were born with, so to speak. It is "who we are."

It may be true that most believers are glad to get rid of the unclean spirits that affect their behavior. But submitting to the crucifixion of our personality may be more than we care to experience.

We cannot cast out our adamic nature. It must be killed. How do we do that?

It is a matter of permitting God, Christ, and the Spirit of God to sit on the throne of our will, to take the place of "King Self-will. It is our "will" that defines who we really are.

This is what the Apostle Paul meant by, "I am crucified with Christ, it now is Christ who is living in me."

Let me stop right now and ask you a question: "Are you actually ready to abandon your self-will so that Christ can take over the management of your life, your thinking, speaking, and behaving?"

If not, you cannot possibly grow spiritually past the Pentecostal experience. The rest of God, the state of being in which we always know what God's will is, and have the desire, wisdom, and strength to perform it, is impossible to attain to until we get off the throne of our life and permit God to direct all we think, say, and do.

I have realized for over sixty years that this is the fundamental decision facing the Charismatic believers.

I notice that there is a movement today in which Pentecostal people are supposed to enter a great anointing and finally to gain positions of authority in their various countries. One of the names of this movement is The New Apostolic Reformation.

Regardless what may be said in support of this attempt to restore spiritual fervor to the Charismatic-Pentecostal people, it will become the False Prophet of the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. It does not emphasize our need to die to self-will so that our Lord Jesus Christ is exalted. It is people-centered rather than Christ-centered, from the little bit of it I have seen.

We simply must come to understand that what truly is taking place in the spirit world today is portrayed in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation. God's true saints are in a travail to bring forth Christ. Christ Himself is the only true Ruler of God's works.

The world of today, including the Church world, is in an unbelievable mess because of the self-will of man. Neither the secular world nor the Christian world will be straightened out by the efforts of well-meaning Christians. It is only as we get our hands off the Ark, to speak in a figure, and submit to personal crucifixion, that God's true King, the Lord Jesus Christ, will come forth and bring to us the eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace that we long for.

The False Prophet, self-willed Christian believers, will end up supporting Antichrist, just as Chapter Thirteen of Revelation informs us.

Entering the rest of God is the subject of the Book of Hebrews, although not all of the topics in Hebrews appear to be directly related to this primary thesis. It is evident, however, that Hebrews has largely to do with pressing on past the initial works of redemption.

As far as the elect are concerned, the goal of their life is to enter the rest of God. This means we must believe that God has called us to be a member of the Royal Priesthood. Therefore we are not to scheme how we may arrive at some other goal of our own choosing. Our task in life is to seek Christ constantly, to lay aside all else, as did the Apostle Paul, and grasp that for which we have been grasped.

God did the fighting when Israel left Egypt. But the next generation, those who were permitted to enter the land of promise, had to fight, as God strengthened and guided them.

There are enemies in our land of promise, As I have been saying, just as there were enemies in Canaan as the Israelites sought to enter.

To enter our assigned role in the Kingdom of God necessitates our patiently enduring numerous tribulations. Our most intense desires remain unfulfilled while we wait as cheerfully as we can in God's prison. As the Prophet mentioned, "We are shut up and cannot come forth."

Every sinful behavior must be resisted determinedly. Some of our sins have a spiritual basis. These must be confessed and cast out. The Lord Jesus will assist us with this if we ask Him.

Every one of those who are called to be the brothers of Christ must experience the sufferings of Christ, the sufferings of the cross. Our personal cross is not a delight. It is painful at times. If we fasten on it, it will grind us to powder. We must continue to think of our blessings, what we do have and can do, and not what we do not have and cannot do.

There are those who have been called to the Royal Priesthood, the governing body of the Kingdom of God, who come quite a ways toward their goal. Then the stress becomes too much for them and they fall back into the ways of the flesh. How disappointing this is to the Lord who had such high hopes for them.

We can come out from the bondage of the world spirit and put to death the sins of our flesh as the Spirit points them out to us. But it is that third area at which some believers draw the line. They are not willing to give up their personal desires and obey Christ as He leads them toward the goal God has set before them.

What often happens is that the believer is placed in a situation in which he is miserable. His desires are being deferred while he is obligated to continue in a detested situation. He cannot get out of this bondage without breaking God's laws.

When we find ourselves becoming angry with people, that often is a sign God is using them to perfect us. Why should we be angry with the tools God uses? That does not make sense. Let us rather look to Jesus to see what He wants us to do. Anger prevents us from hearing clearly the gentle voice of the Spirit.

We must accept the fact that we are not going to be treated fairly in this present world. The Lord Jesus was not treated fairly. Pilate handed Christ over to be crucified when Pilate could find no reason for doing this. Christ was entirely innocent and Pilate knew it.

This sort of injustice may cause us to fret until we, like Christ, give ourselves over to the will of God. Only then will we be able to hear that still, small voice of the Spirit and know what the next step on our journey is to be. We may have to permit ourselves to be defrauded for a period of time.

We always are to pray, and keep on praying, that God will give us the desires of our heart. And He will in his time. But we must not give in to our fleshly impulses and take matters into our own hands, as Satan counseled Eve to do. The minute we do this we no longer can hear what Christ is saying to us through the Spirit.

I do not doubt there have been many ministers of the Gospel who have explained clearly the rest of God and how we are to press into it. However, I have not heard this subject preached. This suggests to me that it is in our day that the Lord Jesus is explaining to his disciples this all-important subject.

Well then, what exactly is our goal, our rest and God's rest in us.

Perhaps the strongest of the Old Testament types, concerning the goal of the Christian discipleship, is Canaan, the land of promise. The Israelites were saved out of Egypt in order to have their own home in Canaan, the land of milk and honey.

But what does Canaan stand for? I would say it stands for the rest of God, that is, the condition in which our life is focused on doing Christ's will at every moment. It stands for pressing past our natural life and entering the resurrection Life of our Lord. It is God's intention that we find perfect righteousness, love, joy, and peace in the very center of his Person and will.

Many Israelites never attained to their goal and died in the wilderness. The writer of Hebrews warns us about this and urges us not to stop moving forward until we have entered God's rest.

Beyond all doubt, one of the greatest hindrances to a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God is the traditional belief that the spirit Heaven is the land of promise, the fulfillment of the symbolism of Canaan. It assuredly is not! While there certainly is a spirit Heaven, where Christ, his saints, and the holy angels may be found, residence in Heaven is not the rest of God, the goal of the Christian redemption.

First of all, there is no passage of Scripture that points toward residence in the spirit world as the goal of redemption. Second, we would have to wait until we die in order to enter God's rest.

When we die, we are not faced with walls of Jericho, so to speak. The land is not divided up among us. We do not have to drive out the enemy. The entrance of Israel into Canaan is nowhere near being a type of the rest spoken of in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

To go to Heaven is a change of place. To enter God's rest is a change of personality, a change of what we are, how we conduct ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, dying and going to Heaven does not change what we are. The only way we can be changed is by interacting with Jesus on a daily basis.

The following passage could be interpreted to mean that residence in Heaven is our goal.

Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16)

However, later, in the Book of Hebrews, we find that Paul is referring to a city that is coming, not one to which we go and reside forever.

Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:13)

"The city that is to come."

The Kingdom of God is coming to the earth and His will shall be done here. This is the answer to the "Lord's prayer," isn't it?

Again:

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6,7)

The passage above could be used to show that our destiny is Heaven. However, that is to miss the point.

Our destiny is Christ. We always shall be with Christ, Paul promises in First Thessalonians, Chapter Four.

Christ always shall be positioned at the right hand of the Father, and we with Him. However, He is going to set up His Kingdom on the earth, and govern the nations. We with Him shall be governing the nations of people who are saved for one thousand years.

After this, the heavenly Zion shall be installed on the new earth.

So it is Christ who is our destiny and permanent place of abode, not Paradise in the spirit world.

This is important to understand; because in the thinking of Christians today, our goal is to go to Paradise in the spirit world after we die and spend out time praising God. But when we think of Heaven as our goal we do not work with the Lord in the transformation of our personality such that we are suitable as a house, resting place, and throne of God.

I don't believe the term "Heaven" is found in the writings of Paul, in the sense that Heaven is our destination. Paul expressed his goal. Paul's goal is to attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead, the first resurrection. This is the resurrection of the members of the Royal Priesthood. They will be raised when the Lord next appears.

It absolutely is true that our inheritance does come from Heaven and all the grace and glory of it. It is the Kingdom that comes to us from Heaven, the Kingdom of God.

This first resurrection must be attained to, as Paul pointed out so clearly in the third chapter of the Book of Philippians. To maintain that Paul was laying aside all else so he would be qualified to go to Heaven when he died is so unrealistic as to be not worthy of discussion.

Truly, the venerable tradition that our goal is to go to Heaven and live there forever prevents any logical thinking concerning the salvation we are to work out with fear and trembling.

There is a multitude of Christian people who look to the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. There is a smaller number who have learned to walk in the Spirit of God to a lesser or greater extent.

Now Jesus is looking to see how many will press forward until they find rest in God's Person and will. Doing so requires that we abandon our own plans for our life in favor of resting in that plan written in God's book during the original creation. The plan is to make man in God's image. The number of those who have enough faith to trust God to this extent may be quite small.

But to him who is willing to turn from his old life so he may enter God's Person and will, shall be given all things of the new creation. God will be his God and he will be God's son.

Let each of us then pray that for eternity we will be found abiding in the very center of God's Person and will. There we always shall have righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NASB)

Canaan, and the Rest of God

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

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

I have walked with the Lord Jesus for more than seventy years. During the last four or five years, I have become more aware of the spirit world. The spirit world is much like our own world, which is not surprising since our world was made from the spirit world. In fact, if the curse were lifted, and the Spirit of God filled the earth, and God removed Satan and all his works (and that actually is going to happen), I think we would be pleased to stay right here after we died.

Something to think about, isn't it?

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

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

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

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him." (John 14:23—NASB)

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

Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. (Psalms 2:8)

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

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

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

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:8)

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

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

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

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

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

The subject of this briefest of essays may be found in the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Hebrews.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notice how unbelief results in disobedience.

The "believers" of today often do not seek to lay hold on that for which God has grasped them! They do not believe there is a work of redemption that will bring them further into Christ than they have as yet experienced.

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

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

You shall consume all the peoples whom the LORD your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you. (Deuteronomy 7:16—NASB)

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

Moreover, the LORD your God will send the hornet against them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you perish. (Deuteronomy 7:20—NASB)

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

If some of these efforts are not possible, you might ask God to make them possible. You have to be diligent if you are to be successful in driving the enemy from your "land." It certainly helps to be part of a company of saints who are pressing forward in Christ.

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

But the sons of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem; so the Jebusites have lived with the sons of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day. (Judges 1:21—NASB)

But Manasseh did not take possession of Beth-shean and its villages, or Taanach and its villages, or the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, or the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, or the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; so the Canaanites persisted in living in that land. (Judges 1:27—NASB)

It came about when Israel became strong, that they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but they did not drive them out completely. (Judges 1:28—NASB)

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

God in His Word has given his Church numerous promises, including total victory over the enemy—more than conquerors. "Nothing shall by any means harm you," the Lord Jesus promised. But we have chosen instead to flee to Heaven. We also have created a doctrine of "grace" that permits the enemy to live with us in peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third, we must remain in the prison in which Christ permits Satan to place us. We cannot have what we intensely desire. We are forced to remain in situations that are unpleasant. This crucifixion may persist for many years. Therefore we have to place our treasures in Heaven. We will receive them back some day if we remain faithful.

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

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

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

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

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9—NASB)

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Driving Sin Out of Us

2015-02-22

The Spirit of God is directing the true Christian people to prepare themselves to enter their land of promise---their own personalities.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)

To make an end of sins!

What sins?

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 also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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 3:5-10)

I have been a disciple of the Lord Jesus for about seventy years. Like most other Christians, I have assumed that sin always will be a problem for us Christians.

Following are the assumptions I have made as I have participated in Christian assemblies and activities:

Divine grace prevents God from seeing our behavior.

We are saved by belief in Christ without any change in our behavior.

As long as we are in the world the we have to sin; but when Christ comes we will not sin any longer.

When we go to Heaven we won't sin, even though sin began in Heaven. There is no scriptural basis for this belief.

People always will sin. That is their nature and the way things are supposed to be. God intends to forgive our sin but not remove the impulse to sin.

The world never has seen a man who does God's will perfectly. It is too difficult.

If we try to do something about our sin we are practicing the filthy works of self-righteousness.

We will be sinners throughout eternity, and God will have fellowship with us by means of His grace and mercy.

This last item is interesting in view of the following passage:

Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:17)

I began to think about the creation of man. Was he created with a sinful personality? What did God say about his new creation?

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)

God said nothing about man dying and going to Heaven to live in a mansion. God said nothing about man having a sinful personality.

"Let us make mankind in our image."

The image of God is not a sinful personality!

And consider the following, spoken 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 rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)

The Lord (probably the Lord Jesus) said this to Cain and is saying the same thing to you and me today.

We must rule over Satan and all his works. Sin (the demons) desires to find its satisfaction in us. We must use the authority of Christ and govern what the demons do.

I have thought long and hard about the demons, especially as they are multiplying in America in our day. I do not believe they are spirits that Satan has created. I notice there were a multitude of unclean spirits in the region of the Gerasenes, and their representative spoke intelligently to the Lord Jesus.

Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (Luke 8:30,31)

As I have thought about this I have wondered if demons are former people who died with unconfessed sin and whom Jesus has sentenced to walk the earth looking for some person or some animal whom they can enter and find some relief for their burning desires.

In Dr. Ritchie's book (Return From Tomorrow) he tells of deceased sailors standing at a bar attempting to get a drink of alcohol. They were unable to do so since they were bodiless spirits.

One physically alive sailor fell to the floor in a drunken stupor. Immediately the spirit of a deceased sailor entered him.

Dr. Ritchie's account supports what I have felt for a number of years. It does not violate any passage of Scripture. However, there is no clear basis for my belief in the Bible.

We might think there would not be room in an individual for several other individuals. I do not know about that. The spirit dwelling in the man from the region of the Gerasenes claimed there were a legion of spirits dwelling in the home he had chosen.

How many people does Christ have dwelling in Him?

"But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."

Perhaps God is using some of those who have died in sin to enable us to gain experience in ruling. They seek continually to lead us astray. We have been commanded to rule over them; otherwise they will take possession of us.

Satan somehow has convinced God's people that we are to learn to live with sin, to accommodate it rather than conquer it. We can never rule over it, Satan declares., Satan has convinced us he has permission to govern our behavior as long as we are alive on the earth. Some day, we hope, God will do something about this unscriptural state of affairs.

However, it is not true that we are obligated to sin because we are living on the earth.

Think about what Paul said.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)

Just because we live in a flesh and blood body does not mean we are obligated to obey the appetites, passions, and lusts of our body. Today it is commonly taught that as long as we are alive we can be compelled to sin. But this is not what the Bible teaches.

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 choose to satisfy the appetites of our flesh we will die. What does this mean?

It is referring back to verse 11.

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

If we do not through Christ gain the upper hand over the appetites of our flesh, our mortal body will not be made alive when Jesus returns to earth.

If we choose to live in the Spirit of God rather than in the appetites of the flesh, our body will be transformed when the Lord returns.

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

To not be changed into bodily immortality when Jesus returns is a terrible consequence. The change of the body is the final, climactic victory of the Divine salvation!

We may think of being saved as going to live in a mansion in the spirit Paradise. It is not. Being saved is to be delivered from each and every work of Satan. The last enemy to be destroyed is physical death.

This is what is meant by "you shall live," in verse 13 of Romans, Eight.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

The Spirit of God always is leading us to drive out the works of darkness. This is how we work out our salvation.

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 7:1)

The time for the purification of God's people is now. God will do His part if we will confess our sins and choose, with Christ's help, to turn away from them.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)

God has purposed to make and end of sins, and He is in the process of doing just that!

But as I said, we have to do our part.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (I John 3:2,3)

Today is the day to call on Jesus to help us cleanse ourselves from all unclean works of the flesh and spirit; and to be patient as God sends His holy fire to burn our self will out of us so we can always do His perfect will.

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:5,6)

What a statement the above is! It is contrary to much if not most of the Evangelical preaching of our day, isn't it?

He appeared so that he might take away our sins.

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.

No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

Compare this declaration with the preaching of our day.

Divine grace prevents God from seeing our behavior.

We are saved by belief in Christ without any change in our behavior.

As long as we are in world the we have to sin; but when Christ comes we will not sin any longer.

When we go to Heaven we won't sin, even though sin began in Heaven.

People always will sin. That is their nature and the way things are supposed to be. God intends to forgive our sin but not remove the impulse to sin.

The world never has seen a man who does God's will perfectly. It is too difficult.

If we try to do something about our sin we are practicing the filthy works of self-righteousness.

We will be sinners throughout eternity, and God will have fellowship with us by means of His grace and mercy.

The Lord said to Cain that he must rule over sin or it would control him.

Is that true of you and me?

I previously have alluded to the fact that the present day is to be devoted especially to the work of removing sin and self-will from God's people. Let me point out why this is so.

There were seven feasts of Israel:

Passover—the cross of Christ

Unleavened Bread—water baptism of repentance

Firstfruits—the born-again experience

Pentecost—the baptism with the Holy Spirit

This is as far as we have gotten. Notice that each of these four Jewish observances has a spiritual fulfillment in the Christian life.

There are three more feasts that are beginning to take place now. If the first four celebrations had a spiritual counterpart in the Christian redemption, it stands to reason that the remaining three feasts also will have a spiritual counterpart in the Christian salvation.

The Blowing of Trumpets—this is the coming of the King, Jesus, to declare war against His enemies. It is the beginning of the installing of the Kingdom of God on the earth. It is the Jewish New Year. It is taking place now.

The Day of Atonement—this ceremony speaks of the removing of sin from the creation of God. It will last until the final judgment, and perhaps beyond as new people are born. It is beginning now.

The Feast of Tabernacles—this marks the entering of the Father and the Son into those who have kept Christ's commandments and in whom Christ has been formed.

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

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

The Book of Hebrews speaks of our need to enter the rest of God. The rest of God is that state of being where we always are conscious of God's will, and have the desire, wisdom, and strength to perform it.

Every Christian who expects to be transformed into immortality when the Lord Jesus appears must be living in the rest of God. Sin and self-will shall not be tolerated in the Kingdom of God.

Christ will assist us in the program of entering God's rest if we ask Him to do so. We do not have to attempt to enter God's rest in our own wisdom and strength.

Now, if we are to always able to know God's will and to perform it, it is clear we must have gained victory over sin and self-will.

By the way, sin is not the Goliath that Satan has presented to our mind. Sin usually is nothing more than a collection of nasty little satanic bondages that like to pretend they are invincible. It is composed of unclean spirits who are seeking to find fulfillment and rest through us. The problem is, we and not they suffer the consequences of their actions.

They are not invincible or necessary. We can turn away from most of them just by making up our mind that we are not going to serve them any longer.

There usually are a few "kings" of evil in each human personality, some of them inherited; some of them acquired. We may have to fight them all our life. If we do not give up, they finally will flee.

As for the destruction out of us of self-will, all that is required is a bit of patience while we are enduring tribulation. We must never break out of the prison God puts us in or cast aside the cross we are required to bear. Our suffering is God's means of destroying our self-will.

The Book of Hebrews presents the land of Canaan as a picture of the rest of God into which we are to press. The Israelites became tired of fighting and made slaves of those whom they were to destroy.

It is customary for us Christians to do that. We may get as far as the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and decide the next stop is Heaven.

It is not. The next stop is the rest of God, meaning complete victory over sin and self-will.

Would we bring our sin and self-will into Heaven?

The Spirit of God is the one who points out the enemy who is in us. As we confess our sin, the Holy Spirit will give us the strength to overcome it. This is an eternal judgment on Satan. We are to continue to confess and turn away from the sins the Spirit points out to us until we are free to hear God's will for us and to do it.

It just is not that difficult. Now is the time to go through the spiritual reality of the Jewish Day of Atonement. Try it and see for yourself!

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They Are Not the Same Person!

2015-03-01

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)

When we declare that the Lord Jesus Christ always has been the Word of God, I have no problem with that.

When we say that Christ has been born of God and is of the same Nature as God, I have no problem with that.

It is when we maintain that there are three equal gods, or that there is one God in three manifestations---I do have a problem with that!

Perhaps it is a question of wording that bothers me, because it is true that in Christ dwells the Fullness of God and that Christ is the exact representation of the Father. This is what the Bible teaches.

But when we say that Christ is the Father, or is the Father in another form, that does not ring with me. I do not see this in the New Testament. I believe it is human reasoning and is not coming from someone who knows the Father and the Son.

And how could we as a human being be a coheir with Christ of the Father if Christ is the Father?

I do not understand this!

You know, a man may have a son. The son is a human being, of the same substance as his father. He may be the very image of his father in appearance and behavior, such that he rightfully can say, "He who has seen me has seen my father."

Isn't that so? It probably happens somewhere in the world.

But would he be his father?

He is of his father's substance and may have the same nature.

But he is not his father.

Is this problem I have in believing that Jesus Christ is not one of three equal gods, or a way in which the Father has chosen to appear so He may be understandable to His creatures—is it worthy of thought? Does it really make any difference.

As we are coming into the third great work of God, that the Book of Hebrews terms "the rest of God," the Father is becoming more real to us. Somehow we are having fellowship with two People—the Father and the Son. We know it. We sense it in prayer. They are real to us.

Christ is demonstrating that He is the Way to the Father.

I guess one has to experience it. The doctrine of the Trinity, it seems to me, is the effort of scholars to maintain the Divinity of Christ, and are doing it in a manner that is at least somewhat understandable to them.

But when we are pressing into the rest of God, Christ is real to us as God's beloved Son, but not as the Father Himself.

It is so people can enjoy a daily fellowship with a Person like themselves that I am attempting to portray a Man, Christ Jesus, who although very Man of very Man and very God of very God, is still a Person like ourselves and who worships the same God.

"Our Father" . . .

This is an important perspective because as sons of God we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ and to be His brothers. It seems to me that this is easier to grasp, than if we view Christ as a projection that God is employing in order to help us, and not really a Person like ourselves.

The relation of Jesus Christ to God is that of Son and Father. It is not a horribly complex relationship that never can be truly grasped and must be explained by objects, such as the Father is the filament of a light bulb; the Son is the glass; the light is the Holy Spirit.

That does not really help, does it, when we are going through the dark night of the soul.

We want a Savior who loves us, whom we love, and who comes with us before the Father as the great high Priest so we can gain the wisdom, help, and comfort we need so desperately at times.

My personal belief is that the man-made doctrine of the Trinity has served its purpose, and now must give way before genuine fellowship with the Father and the Son.

After all, Jesus prayed that we might be one in Him and the Father as they are One. "That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

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)

It seems to me that any unbiased individual would gather from the verse above that the Father and the Son are not the same Person.

Otherwise, it should read, "Our fellowship is with the Father who includes the Son," or something like that.

When I first received Christ, the theology I was presented with included the venerable doctrine of the Trinity. I readily accepted this, although I could not understand if this meant there were three Gods in one Person, or three Persons in one God. I was occupied with the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation. I think that some believe there are three Gods, three Persons, all equal.

Since that time, it appears I am supposed to be a "deeper-life" teacher. For the past seventy years I have pored over the Scriptures. One of the first tree to fall was the doctrine of the "rapture," which I came to perceive as a sort of emotional hope with no basis whatever in the New Testament.

Also, I began to view with suspicion the doctrine of the Trinity, that the Lord Jesus was not a Person in His own right but somehow, in an explicable manner, was the Father.

My wife, Audrey, says I just like to be different. This is not true! There is a price to pay for being different from the brethren.

In any case, as I became increasingly familiar with the New Testament, I kept coming across passages that do not seem to fit the doctrine of the Trinity.

Here is a passage that stands out to me:

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:17)

Now, let's be fair. Let's be common people, not theologians. Would your average individual read the verse above and conclude that Jesus and the Father were the same Person.

If the God to whom Jesus was ascending is another God of whom Jesus is the equal, why does Jesus say, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God"?

If He is the God and Father of Jesus, and also our God and Father, how then can Jesus be equal to His God and Father? Equal in what way?

The same is true if Jesus is a Manifestation of one God. Are we also a manifestation of the one God? Perhaps we are, in that we were created in God's image.

Was Jesus ascending to Himself or to another Person? What would the man on the street conclude?

You know, the Bible was not written for priests or theologians but for you and me. When Jesus says "I am going to my Father, I am going to my God," I think of two different People, Jesus and His God and Father. How about you?

If Jesus and the Father are two manifestations of the same Person, then we are not speaking of plain English but of mysticism.

Even more telling is the scene in Gethsemane:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39)

"I will"; "You will."

I believe I am correct in saying that a person's "will" is the most unique part of his or her personality. Other aspects of his personality may be true of different people. But an individual's will is most uniquely what he or she was, is, and always will be.

Now, when the Lord Jesus cried out, "Not as I will," He, Jesus, was speaking, as I see it. The Father did not say this. Jesus said it.

"But as You will" shows clearly that two different wills are being set forth in this instance. The will of Jesus was one will. The will of the Father was another will.

How, then, can it be maintained that Jesus is another Form of the Father?

Also, please note the following:

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:7,8)

To whom did the Lord Jesus learn obedience? To Himself?

On one occasion a minister of the Gospel was questioning me concerning the Trinity.

He asked, "What is your understanding of the relationship of Jesus to the Father?"

I answered, "Jesus is God's Son."

He laughed, and changed the subject.

When and why was the doctrine of the Trinity formulated?

I do not know. But I suspect it has been established for many centuries, with the goal of insuring a proper regard for the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Associated with the doctrine of the Trinity is the expression, "Very God of very God and very Man of very Man.

Thus Christ's Divinity and Humanity are established.

I am entirely in agreement with this position.

It is clear to me from the New Testament that Jesus Christ is King of all other kings; Lord of all other lords. Through Him God created all things.

He died as a human Being to make an atonement for the sins of the world. He rose from the dead as the Firstborn and the beginning of the new creation of God.

God has given to Jesus all authority in Heaven and upon the earth. All the creatures of God shall bow the knee to the Lord Jesus.

Having been a disciple of the Lord for several decades, I have been assured of all of these facts.

So my problem is not with the supremacy of the Lord Jesus; it is the viewing of Him as not being a Person in His own right but a revelation of the Father.

Christ indeed is the supreme Revelation of the Father, but He Himself is not the Father. He is the express image of the Father; but He is not the Father. He is One with the Father in the sense of being in complete union with the Father, but He is not the Father.

If the Lord Jesus Christ is the Father, then numerous passages of the New Testament do not admit to a straightforward interpretation. One has to employ theologic acrobatics to make these passages support the idea that Christ and the Father are the same Person.

You heard me say, "I am going away and I am coming back to you." If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

Does the Lord Jesus mean that He is going to someone who is greater than He is, or does He mean something else? What is your point of view?

There is a passage that can be used to support the idea that Christ and the Father are two Forms of the same Person.

Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?" (John 14:9)

The above sounds like Jesus is the Father, doesn't it? A while back a preacher stated that when Christ was on the earth, God's Throne in Heaven was empty.

If such were the case, when Jesus lifted up His eyes to Heaven and prayed, which He apparently often did, He was praying to an empty throne.

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." (John 17:1)

Does that sound like the Throne in Heaven was empty? Was the Lord praying to Himself?

The Lord Jesus prayed to His Father in Heaven. How could this be if They were the same Person? Perhaps theologians have an explanation for this; but honestly . . .

Enough of such nonsense!

Actually, the Lord explained what He meant when He claimed, "Anyone who sees me has seen the Father."

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. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. (John 14:10,11)

Saying "the Father is living in me" is a lot different from claiming, "I am the Father."

Christ is living in many Christians. If, as was true of the Apostle Paul, Christ was thinking, speaking, and behaving in them, they could say, "He who as seen me has seen Christ, which likely would be true to a limited sense. This is altogether different from saying, "I am Christ."

I think you will agree with that.

"Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." (John 14:21)

It is difficult, in the light of the verse above. to understand that Christ and the Father are the same Person.

It is true that Christ is the perfect image of the Father, but that does not make Him the Father. A son can be the image of his father, but that does not make him his father.

The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:3)

If it is true that the Son is the exact Representation of God's Being, then the Son is not God Himself, except by some contorted theologic reasoning.

I would not take the time to discuss the Trinity if there were not a practical application. I try to avoid all discussions that do not lead to righteous behavior.

Please notice carefully and think about the following passage. It is a favorite of mine.

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)

Fellowship! The Lord Jesus has been my very best Friend for many years. Now that I am approaching ninety years of age, Jesus is closer than ever. I talk to Him throughout the day and night.

Do you know something? Christ is leading me to the Father. Christ is the Way to the Father, isn't He? He is the Way to Someone other than Himself. The Father has never before been as real to me as I would have liked. Possibly because of the confusing doctrine of the Trinity.

At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:25-27)

When our Lord promises we will find rest for our souls, He is speaking of our knowing the Father.

You know, I have been preaching a lot recently about the rest of God. It is found in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

The idea is, God finished all His works in six days, and then rested. We are to press into that rest by driving all sin and self-will from our personality, as Jesus helps us.

When we are free from sin and self-will, God finds rest in us and we find rest for our souls. It is as simple and straightforward as that.

It is my point of view that today we are entering a new phase in the plan of redemption. The prior phase was the baptism with the Spirit of God, accompanied by speaking in tongues.

We now are to move forward in the plan of redemption.

What is the next step? It is the rest of God. The purpose of speaking in tongues is to guide us into looking to God for everything we think, say, and do.

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"— but they would not listen. (Isaiah 28:11,12)

If we will seek the Lord we will discover He is dealing with us concerning our sins and self-seeking. We actually are passing through the Judgment Seat of Christ in preparation for the Lord's coming. This is the next step toward the fullness of salvation, which is the fullness of God dwelling in us.

As we move ahead with the Spirit of God, we may find that the Father is becoming more real to us. Soon we are having fellowship with the Father and with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I do not wish to make a big point of this, because the problems we talk over with the Lord Jesus come also under the jurisdiction of the Father. Sometimes I pray to Jesus, and sometimes to the Father, in Jesus' name. I am sure you do the same.

Yet, there are times when I feel a special love for the Father and it just seems right to speak with Him. I know it is Jesus leading me to the Father. The Father is Jesus' Father, and our Father as well. The Father is Jesus' God and our God as well.

Although Jesus is vastly superior to us in so many ways, still I get the feeling that He is pleased to have fellowship with brothers who have been born of the same Father, and who are growing into His (Jesus') image.

Speaking of "image," it may be of interest to the reader to consider that God did not make man to go to Heaven and live forever. God made man to be in God's image, just as the Lord Jesus is in God's image.

It may be millennia before we are completely in the image of Christ, which is the image of God. But this is the plan. If we do not quit but keep following the Spirit of God, the day will come when we can say: "He who has seen me has seen Christ"; just as Jesus can say: "He who has seen Me has seen the Father."

There is another consideration here, and that is union.

We need to give careful consideration to the prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of John:

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity [into one]. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)

Have you ever heard anyone preach from this passage? I haven't!

Do you realize Jesus is praying that those who believe in Him will be brought into the Oneness that He and the Father share? That we are to receive the Glory that the Father has given Christ? That the Father has sent Christ and loves us as He loves Christ?

I believe all of this totally. I realize it means that God is enlarging the revelation of Himself. Also, He is bringing many sons to glory so that His Firstborn may have brothers.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. (Hebrews 2:10,11)

None of this subtracts one bit from the Glory and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. But it does gives us Christians some understanding of our high calling in Christ.

This is why I am belaboring the point that Christ and the Father are not the same Person. If Christ is the Father in another Form, where do we come in? Are we being made the Father in another form? If not, how then can we be truly the brother of Christ?

Is the Bride of the Lamb also the Bride of the Father? I don't think so. It does not seem right to me.

If we are to have genuine fellowship with the Father, and with His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, I believe we are going to have to abandon the complicated doctrine of the Trinity and just accept what the New Testament teaches us plainly:

The Father has given all things to the Son.

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." (Matthew 11:27)The Son prays to the Father continually, and does what He hears from the Father.

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." (John 8:28,29)

In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me." (John:17,18)

The Father is greater than the Son.

You heard me say, "I am going away and I am coming back to you." If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

The Son obeys the Father.

During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:7,8)

The Father is the God of the Son.

Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." (John 20:17)

We are being made one with the Son just as the Son is One with the Father.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity [into one]. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:21-23)

The Father offered the Son as a blood sacrifice to reconcile the world to Himself. The blood of atonement is made for the purpose of satisfying the Father's sense of righteousness and judgment.

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)

The Son prays to and worships the Father.

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: "Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you." (John 17:1)

There are facts only the Father knows, such as the day and the hours of the passing away of the heavens and the earth.

"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32)

The Father appoints who will sit on the right and left hand of Christ in Christ's Kingdom.

Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father." (Matthew 20:23)

The Father gave to Christ who in turn gave to John the Book of Revelation. Obviously the contents of the Book of Revelation were given to Christ by One who is different from and greater than Christ.

The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John. (Revelation 21:2)

The Father through Christ brought into existence the things of the natural creation.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1,2)

It was the Father who proclaimed Christ as God and Lord.

Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. (Psalms 45:6)

It was the Father who commanded Christ to sit on His right hand until He (the Father) made Christ's enemies His (Christ's) footstool.

The Lord says to my lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." (Psalms 110:1)

Notice in the above what the Father said to Christ, who is David's Lord.

It was the Father who made Christ a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Psalms 110:4)

It was the Father who said to Christ, and to all who are coheirs with Christ: "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)

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is One."

So it is true that there is but one God, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of the one true God.

It does not subtract from the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ to say He is not the Father.

What it does do, I believe, is to help us relate to Christ as His younger brothers, realizing that Christ is far greater than we are, yet worships and serves the same God.

The Father may have brothers somewhere. Who knows? We do not even know where God came from, if He actually came from somewhere.

This is why our Lord, the Word of God from eternity, came to earth and told us about the Father.

I do not think He particularly wanted to come. I believe He came in obedience to the Father.

I think Jesus may have been surprised at the love He felt for His faithful followers, and understood for the first time the value of the nations as His inheritance.

It is so with us, isn't it? God commands us to do something we do not particularly look forward to.

When we are obedient, then we realize that God has brought us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Isn't it so?

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God Is Reproducing Himself

2015-03-08

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 2:10,11)

God is bringing many sons to glory. I suppose that "bringing many sons to glory" would cause some to view this as meaning God is intent on bringing many sons to Heaven.

Hardly this!

I do not know how the "Heaven" thing got started. Today, as the Spirit of God is opening the Scriptures to us, we can understand that if God wanted man to live in Heaven (people cannot sin in Heaven, according to the popular understanding), God would have created man in Heaven—which He could have done easily.

But God's purposes would not have been served by creating mankind in Heaven. God is creating people who can work with the Lord Jesus in removing evil from the creation and establishing and maintaining eternal righteousness throughout God's creation.

"Bringing many sons to glory" means God is reproducing Himself by forming brothers of the Lord Jesus, brothers who will serve in the many roles and tasks in the Kingdom of God. These brothers will reveal the Nature of God in their personalities. They will be the image and glory of God. Whoever sees them will be seeing the Word of God, Christ, and thus the Personality of God.

This is what is going on now. The immediate goal is to bring God's sons into the "rest of God." The rest of God is the state of being in which we always know God's will for us, and have the desire, wisdom, and strength to perform God's will accurately, completely, promptly, and cheerfully.

It may seem, during the present hour of bondage to the sins of the flesh, and self-will, that God cannot bring us into His rest. But He can, and He is in the present hour bringing many sons and daughters into such glory.

But why? Why is God intent on reproducing Himself in this manner. Why is God creating a Kingdom where righteousness and holiness prevail?

It has to do with the rebellion of Satan and the angels. God originally through the Lord Jesus Christ brought forth the angels. It was a non-physical civilization and culture.

Satan tried to usurp God's position, as God knew He would.

God envisions a vastly superior civilization and culture than that which existed originally, a kingdom in which iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God exist throughout..

In order for such a civilization and culture to exist, sons and daughters in the image of God are necessary. Thus the Word of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, became the first of the Sons who will bring into being and operate the kind of world God desires. Christ will be king and Lord of all.

It is just as simple and straightforward as that.

As I said, the immediate step is to bring those who will cooperate with the Spirit of God into the rest of God. This requires the driving out of our sins and self-will. The cleansing of ourselves will be accomplished as Christ comes to maturity in us.

As Christ is formed in us, our sins are revealed. Then our part is to confess these sins as not being in the image of God, and, with the assistance of the Lord, drive them out of our personality. It is not very difficult, because the spirits of sin that make their home in us are cowardly. They will flee when we are certain we want to be rid of them.

Our self-will shall be burned out of us by the tribulations that are at hand in the world.

Before the Lord Jesus can return, the remnant of Christians who choose to do so must follow the Spirit of God into full sanctification of mind, speech, and behavior. Then our Lord will return and clothe us with an incorruptible body. We will be life-giving spirits, free from sin and self-will.

Isn't that a wonderful prospect.

Now the remnant will be with Jesus forever, and the work of cleansing the earth from Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet shall commence.

An initial form of the Kingdom will be installed on the present earth. Then, after the final judgment, the perfected Royal Priesthood will descend from Heaven, and the Kingdom of God will begin to be developed on the new earth. The process of development of the Kingdom of God will continue for eternity.

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:7)

There are numerous offices, roles, and tasks needed for the Kingdom of God to accomplish the kind of world God has in mind. Following are a few of the responsibilities that will be required. I have mentioned them in previous writings.

My wife, Audrey, suggested that God may be lonely. He may want company. I think writers of the past have suggested this need. I cannot think of a passage of Scripture that would support this assertion, but it seems reasonable to me.

The roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God:

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)

It may be true that not many believers in our day lead a victorious Christ life. It is not surprising, in view of the emphasis on a "grace" that supposedly causes God to overlook their behavior.

Perhaps there only is a remnant of the believers in Christ who take seriously the exhortation to overcoming sin and self-will. Yet, the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation insist that the rewards we associate normally with being a Christian are to be given only to those who lead a life of victory over sin and self-will.

And in the passage above, it is those who do gain victory over sin and self-will who shall inherit all the things that God will make new.

Also, and of tremendous significance: only those who live a victorious life in Christ will be regarded as God's son. Only those will have the honor of God being their Father.

Now, right here is a point that we must consider. Is it true that only the victorious Christians are eligible for the positions of life and responsibility mentioned in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation?

Is it true that only they shall inherit all that God is going to make new? Is it true that only they shall be regarded as God's sons and can regard the Father as their God?

What about the great majority of those who view themselves as Christians but who have never entered the rest of God; who have never lived in the awareness of the will of God for them or in strict obedience to Christ?

We are speaking now of most of the Christian people.

What is at issue here is whether Revelation 21:7 is as true as John 3:16.

I have been a disciple of the Lord Jesus for more than seventy years. This means I have denied myself, taken up my cross, and followed the Lord for that period of time.

I have learned a few things during my discipleship. One of them is that every word of the Bible is eternally true. Another is that God is stricter than He often is presented in the Christian churches in America. Another is that the Divine calling on us Christians is a lot higher than going to Heaven to rest in a mansion for eternity.

So I am going to maintain that only a relatively few of the people who regard themselves as Christians are going to receive the fullness of the inheritance of the Kingdom of God.

What about the remainder?

One problem in our thinking is that we picture the highest Heaven or the deepest Hell. Unless I am mistaken, there are many places of eternal abode in between the highest Heaven and the deepest Hell.

If that is true, perhaps those Christian believers who never gained victory over their flesh and self-will, will not be thrown into the deepest Hell or incarcerated for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

I will say one thing, though. Any person, young or old, who knowingly and consistently disobeys the Lord Jesus Christ, will find his or her home in the Lake of Fire with Satan and the wickedest of mankind.

God is compassionate toward human beings. He is not going to place a decent human being in Hell unless that person has been confronted with Christ and has said, "No thank you." That individual is in about as great trouble as is possible for a human being.

However, as I said, God is strict and means exactly what He says. So when He states that it is the victorious Christians who shall inherit His Glory, He means just that. We need to understand that, because American Christians have become soft morally, or so it appears.

God is not like the mother who tells her child that if he or she does such and such a thing, he or she will have no birthday present. The mother knows she cannot make good on that threat, and so does the child.

But our God, the Consuming Fire of Israel who demonstrated His attitude toward homosexuality by His fire on Sodom and the other cities of the plain, is not like a foolish mother who makes threats she cannot enforce.

To be a member of the Bride of the Lamb.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." (Revelation 21:9)

The new Jerusalem is the Wife of the Lamb. This means that the Christian people who compose the Wife of the Lamb are joined together in Christ in a union made by the Father.

My opinion is that we are made one with the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. No more complete union is possible.

Most of us probably never have considered what an awesome state of being this is. My personal opinion is that the Lamb is more excited about having a counterpart, a suitable helper, than we are to be a part of such a work of God.

I think the concept of a "Lamb" is more pleasing to God the Father than any other description of the Lord Jesus. The mighty Christ is a warrior. But the Lamb reveals the meekness of the Nature of Christ, and God the Father is ever a lover of meekness.

My opinion, and I never have read of another teacher saying this, is that the thousand-year Kingdom Age, often referred to as the "Millennium," is for the purpose of refining the personalities of the Royal Priesthood, who compose the heavenly Zion. They will govern the works of God's hands, perhaps for eternity, bringing God to the saved people from the nations, and the people from the nations to God.

During the time that the Royal Priesthood is being perfected, a firstfruits of the Church will be governing the nations on our present earth.

It is no small honor to be a member of the Church, the Royal Priesthood, and those who love sin and their self-will have no place here.

Remember the parable of the Lord that told of the many people who were invited to the wedding. A man was found at the party who was not wearing a wedding garment. The king threw him outside into the darkness. This parable warns us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. "Many are invited to be a member of the Bride of the Lamb, but few are chosen."

To be part of the Temple of God.

in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:22)

There apparently was a temple of God in Heaven, although the Bible does not tell much about it, as far as I can tell.

In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried to my God for help; He heard my voice out of His temple, And my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psalms 18:6)

Why would God desire to reproduce Himself in a company of sons, making them into a house, resting place, and throne for Himself?

It seems God desires a living house. He is reproducing Himself in a number of sons and daughters. He wants to be among them, closer to them than He is in His temple in Heaven.

God desires a resting place. His creation, due to the rebellion of the angels, is chaotic. The earth is the valley of the shadow of death. God cannot enjoy rest in the current state of affairs!

God loves His creatures and wishes to be among them so He can enjoy their love, counsel them, heal all their diseases, and meet all their other needs.

Since we are being made a house and resting place for the Lord God, it is important that we cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Our physical body is the temple of the Spirit of God, and we need to keep that in mind.

It is difficult to always remember that we will be the house and place of rest for God for eternity, isn't it? It is for this reason that we must seek iron righteousness of behavior, fiery holiness of person and actions, and stern obedience to God. God will never receive us until we are absolutely obedient to Him, particularly to His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

The various aspects of God's dealings with us are a reaction to the rebellion of Satan and his angels. It is God's Throne that is at issue here. Satan wants to mount that throne and control the creation.

Therefore God is placing His Throne in Christ, and also in those who are living in the rest of God.

He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)

We understand, therefore, that God's sons are being brought to the highest possible glory of authority and responsibility, not just to Heaven to lie down in a mansion. Because of this highest of callings, we must be willing and faithful as we pass through many fires, remaining obedient and believing steadfastly that God loves us and is bringing us to eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

When God is finished creating us in the image of Christ we will be able to bring the Presence and will of God wherever we go. When people see us they will be able to perceive Christ, and God in Him.

To be a member of the Body of Christ.

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. (I Corinthians 12:12)

The term "Christ" means the Divine Deliverer upon whom the anointing of the Spirit of God rests. It is not a proper name, like "Jesus." This title is taken from the sixty-first chapter of the Book of Isaiah.

We are informed that "Christ" has a body with many members. The whole "Christ," Head and Body, is the Servant of the Lord to do all God's will, particularly the bringing of justice to the nations of the earth.

This is why our focus on going to Heaven to live forever in a mansion misses the goal of our calling as members of the Royal Priesthood. There are grievous needs in the earth today!

"Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations." (Isaiah 42:1)

As I stated previously, God's Servant is Christ—Head and Body. The verses that follow Isaiah, 42:1 tell of the responsibilities of the Servant of the Lord.

When the Lord Jesus returns to earth, His purpose is to descend to the earth, drive out the evil, and govern the nations of people who have remained alive through all the turmoil of those days.

But Jesus will not do this alone. He is going to set up a staging area in the air, the former place of Satan's throne. Then those saints who have come with Him are going to descend to the earth and take up their bodies, now clothed in incorruptible life.

At the same times, Christ will summon those Christians on the earth who are living in the rest of God, in that state of being in which they always are aware of God's will for them and always have the desire, wisdom, and strength to do God's revealed will.

Then both groups, those who came with the Lord, and the remnant from the earth, will be caught up together to the staging area in the air where Jesus, the army of angels, and the white war-stallions are waiting.

After this the entire army of saints and angels, led by the Lord Jesus Christ, will descend, destroy the wicked forces of evil, and set up His Kingdom on the earth.

The remnant who reign with Christ are a firstfruits of His Body. The majority of His Body, the Church, will remain in the heavenly Zion until they are mature enough in Christ to serve the nations as members of the Royal Priesthood.

The entire Christ, Head and Body, is the new Jerusalem.

Today we have hundreds of competing Christian denominations, the largest of which is the Roman Catholic Church. Obviously these millions of believers are not one in Christ and the Father such that the world will believe that God has sent the Lord Jesus.

Therefore, it appears likely that a great work of glory and tribulation will be necessary if the remnant of believers are to be prepared to go to Christ when He appears and have their bodies transformed into incorruption.

Perhaps that is the meaning of the following passage:

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

There only is one Body of Christ. All of the Christian organizations that are not of the Body of Christ are set forth in the Book of Revelation as "Babylon the Great." They are the works of the human mind, talents, and energy. They are doomed to be destroyed in the last days.

To be the light of the world.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matthew 5:14)

The Lord Jesus said people would see our good works and glorify God. We often speak of testifying of Christ. But the greatest testimony is the good works Christ enables us to do.

Some of the promises found in the New Testament depend upon our obeying Christ's commands. Yet, the current teaching of "salvation by grace" nullifies the importance of keeping Christ's commands.

I do not know how the teaching of "grace" as an alternative to righteous behavior became so prevalent. Both the Lord Jesus and His Apostles stressed righteous behavior, not "grace."

It was the Apostle Paul who introduced the idea of grace. But Paul did not present "grace" as an alternative to righteous behavior. Paul was making the transition from the Law of Moses to faith in Christ and obedience to the Spirit of God. Paul spoke of "the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus."

It was natural that the Jewish listener would wonder what had happened to the Law of Moses he had been taught from infancy. "What are you preaching, Rabbi Paul?"

So Paul stressed that we are not saved by works (of the Law) but by a Divine provision that exempts us from the Law of Moses, when we count our old nature as dead and are pressing forward into the Resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus.

We cannot be the light of the world by talking about our theologic beliefs. It is only the goodness and holiness of God demonstrated in our speaking and behaving that is the light that leads people to God.

Today, at least in America, we are told that we are not saved by works of righteousness. We usually are not advised that by "works," the Law of Moses is meant. We Gentiles take this to mean it doesn't really matter how we behave because we are "saved by grace."

If there has been a more morally destructive teaching in the history of the world, I am not acquainted with it.

Following are three excerpts from the teaching of the Apostle Paul:

"Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:21)

"For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (Ephesians 5:5)

"Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—" (Colossians 3:9,10)

The Apostle Paul wrote many additional passages along the same line.

The teaching of "grace" in America today is a destructive misunderstanding that is preventing the moral growth of those who refer to themselves as "Christians."

Just as is true of Revelation 21:7, the above three passages must be accepted as the eternal Word of God.

What we conclude is that we are deceiving ourselves, and not serving as the light of the world. It is no wonder the Lord is raising up enemies without and within the United States! We are not teaching, preaching, or living what the Bible teaches clearly.

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 has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

The rain cycle of the land of Israel suggests that at the end of the age there will be a powerful, unprecedented outpouring of the Spirit of God. Then the final judgment will come.

When we think of revival we think of a commotion, multitudes of people accepting Christ and being healed, backsliders renewing their vows. In actuality, the heart of revival is one person confessing and turning away from a sin or from his or her self-will, by the power of Christ. This is life from the dead.

There is a different kind of revival that takes place. It is an increase in our understanding of the Scriptures. We need only to think back to the Pentecostal renewal that gave us insight into speaking in tongues and also into the other gifts of the Spirit.

There is an unveiling of the Scriptures taking place in our day. In my personal experience it has come as an understanding of the spiritual fulfillment of the seven feasts of Israel.

This "enlightenment" began in Bible school, in 1948.

A Bible teacher came to the Bible school. He taught us about the feasts of Israel, which I never had heard of previously.

The sixth of the celebrations is the Day of Atonement. I had been a Christian for only five years and knew nothing about the Jewish Day of Atonement.

While I was in prayer, the Lord spoke to me. He said, "The Day of Atonement signifies that I am going to judge My Church in the coming days."

I immediately told the Bible teacher, Brother Ellenwood, what the Lord had spoken to me.

Brother Ellenwood listened without comment, neither agreeing nor disagreeing with me.

I have been a Christian for more than seventy years. Much of that time has been as a Bible teacher or pastor. I now have seen what the Lord meant by the Day of Atonement being judgment on His people.

The previous century, the Twentieth, might be named the Pentecostal century because of the worldwide spread of the Pentecostal message, including speaking in tongues. Pentecost is the fourth feast of the Lord.

Each of the four feast has had a spiritual fulfillment in the Christian Church.

Three feasts remain: the Blowing of Trumpets; the Day of Atonement; and the feast of Tabernacles. In the Jewish calendar, these three observances are celebrated in the same month. The Blowing of Trumpets is the first day of that month, and could be thought of as New Year's Day.

The Blowing of Trumpets is being fulfilled as the Lord Jesus is coming to us in the Spirit to prepare us for the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Jesus is declaring war against His enemies that dwell in the personalities of His People.

The Blowing of Trumpets brings us to the celebration that follows, the solemn Day of Atonement. The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement is the reconciling of us to God. Such reconciliation has two main dimensions: the removal of all that is not of the image of God from us; the forming of Christ in us.

If the reader will ask Jesus to bring him or her into the Day of Atonement, he or she will find their various sins of the flesh and their self-will are being pointed out by the Spirit of God.

The correct response, one that will increase the forming of Christ in us, is for us to confess these areas of spiritual darkness and ask the Spirit to put them to death in us. Then we are to draw near to Jesus that we may enjoy increased fellowship.

It is true that the latter, or spring, rain is to come in unprecedented power. It has begun in a quiet manner as Christian people are confessing and turning away from their sins and self-will.

As we pass through the period of confession and repentance, we actually are coming before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

When Jesus next appears, the only believers who will be qualified and competent to experience the change of their body into incorruptible eternal life, and who will be joined together with the saints who have come with the Lord and participate in the ascension to the staging area in the air, are those who have been living in the rest of God. This means they have appeared before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

When these two groups have arrived in the Presence of the Lord Jesus, they will be joined by the army of angels. All will be mounted on the white war-stallions.

Then the Lord Jesus, at the head of this supremely powerful cavalry, will give the signal. The attack will commence that will drive from the earth all the sources of spiritual uncleanness.

At some point the Glory of God will come upon each member of the remnant on the earth and also upon the saints that have come with the Lord. They all shall be one in Christ.

The people of the nations will behold this unity and Divine Glory. They then will realize that it is God who has sent the Lord Jesus to the earth, and has loved Jesus' followers as He loves the Lord Jesus.

So we understand from this that the future will bring unprecedented tribulation and also unprecedented Divine Glory.

To be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations.

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

In order to understand how the Royal Priesthood, the Christian Church, will be a source of eternal life and healing for the nations, we first must realize that there are two classes of saved people. There are the members of the Church. Then there are the people who have been saved from the nations but who are not of the elect, the Church.

I realize that these two classes are not always explained in today's preaching and teaching; but without this understanding, many of the important passages of the Bible will remain incomprehensible.

Notice the following:

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

"The nations" are the saved people who are the inheritance of the Church. "It" is the new Jerusalem.

The new Jerusalem is the Bride, the Wife of the Lamb; the Royal Priesthood; the elect whom God has chosen; the Body of Christ. Their role in God's Kingdom is to bring God to the saved people of the nations, and the saved from the nations to God.

God has placed His Spirit in the new Jerusalem, and also the Tree of Life. God's Spirit will bring the knowledge and Presence of God to the saved people from the nations, just as it does to us today.

The fruit of the Tree of Life will give eternal life and healing to those same people.

This is the role of the members of the Royal Priesthood, of Christ—Head and Body..

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

"The river of the water of life" is coming forth from the members of the Body of Christ.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, "From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:38)

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

And as for the "tree of life on either side of the river":

Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other. (Ezekiel 47:47)

These "trees" grow out from the one Tree, the Lord Jesus. They have passed through the waters of judgment until the water is over their head. This means they have entered the rest of God.

The eternal Life of Christ that is in them will make alive the dead sea of mankind, the source of Antichrist.

Then he said to me, "These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. (Ezekiel 47:8)

To be a member of the Royal Priesthood.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Peter 2:9)

It may be true that Christian people should be reminded every once in a while that they are not the same as everyone else in the world. They are God's elect, His holy ones who have been called out from the world to be especially close to God.

This is the same calling that rested on Israel of old, and on those of the present Israel who are called to be priests of the Lord.

The Apostle Paul did not address the Christian people as Christians, but as "saints," that is, holy ones. We are holy because of God calling on us. Then we have to purge ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit until we are pure in the sight of God.

Jesus said, "You are not of the world as I am not of the world."

The above is an awesome saying. We are not of the world as Christ is not of the world.

I think the Christian churches generally are regarded as social institutions. They are not. They are the Lampstand of God and the calling on them is Divine. They are not part of the local community, from God's point of view.

Today in America a large number of communicants is the mark of a successful church. As a result there is constant pressure to bring in more and more people by any means we can think of.

As one might expect, there are numerous people in the churches who regard themselves as being Christians. They have "accepted Christ" (an expression not found in the Bible.)

However, they never have received the Man as their personal savior and Lord. They are members of a religion, and that is as far as it goes, in many instances.

Jesus said, "No person can be My disciple unless he or she denies himself, takes up his cross of deferred desires, and follows me patiently."

What would happen if the pastor of a large Christian assembly told the members of the congregation that until they denied themselves and set themselves to be obedient to Christ in every area of their life, they were not Christians?

I know there are many true Christians in the churches. But I think they are in the minority.

There is a problem here. Most of them have been taught that there will soon be a "rapture" that will remove them from the troubles of the earth and place them in a mansion in Heaven.

But they are not eligible for such an experience!

It is my opinion that there is trouble ahead for the citizens of the United States. Unless I am mistaken, this trouble will included severe persecution of Christians people. Sin abounds in America. One of the worst is the abortion of infants who are not wanted. What a terrible, terrible situation this is!

We all can see the gradual acceptance of perverted sexual practices. l say "perverted" because they are condemned in the Scriptures. There also is nakedness on the part of the entertainers, problems with drugs, alcohol, and the rejection of Christ and His Bible.

Perhaps the result will be a pruning of the Christian churches so only a godly remnant will remain. There may be no public meetings in churches.

Those "believers" who are not of the godly remnant will join the public and the government in persecuting the remnant, which will serve only to purify the remnant and prepare them for the coming of their Lord Jesus.

It is no small honor to be part of the Church, the Royal Priesthood. But, as historically has been the case. there will be fiery trials designed to prepare the true priesthood to inherit and meet the needs of the saved of the nations.

Christ will bring us safely through every trial, but we are going to have to stay very close to Jesus at all times! The wise thing to do, as a member of the Royal Priesthood, is to press as close to Jesus as you can, learning to think His thoughts; speak His words; and do what He is doing.

Change is here. The old days of the casual Christian life are over. It is a new day, and Christ is ready and prepared to assist every person, young or old, who wants to attain to his or her high calling.

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 there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. (Isaiah 43:10)

Christians often speak of "witnessing for Jesus." It is my opinion they often do not know what it means to bear witness of the Lord.

Somewhere Oswald Chambers said, when a Christian sets out to "save" somebody you can smell the gun smoke. That is true. people can feel or sense what the young evangelist is up to.

Notice carefully the passage above. It says nothing about going out and telling others about Jesus:

"So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He."

When young people go forth to "witness,." they actually are preaching the Gospel. They are telling others about their faith. Nothing wrong with this.

However, to bear witness of the Lord, we must tell about something we have seen or heard with the Lord. God fashions His witnesses the way He wants them, and it may be that they all are different for that reason.

I have been a Christian for many years, part of that time as a Bible teacher and pastor. I do not teach or preach from something I have studied. Before I go in front of people, I pray until I sense the burden of the Lord.

Even that is not witnessing! But while I am teaching or preaching, I may recall something the Lord has told me or has done in my life. Then that is being a witness of something I have experienced.

I have done a great deal of writing, books, booklets, and essays. When I was in public-school work, I wrote a book about programmed instruction, that was published. So I know how to write a book.

But the Christian writing I have done comes as a burden. This is hard to explain unless you have experienced it. A sort of pressure or awareness comes into my mind on a certain topic.

When it does, I sit down at the computer and write a sentence. Before I get up there are at least ten pages, all given to me by the Spirit of God. This is not as fanciful as it sounds. When I preach or write from a burden that I have, there are visible results of some sort.

For thirty years I preached without notes, except for Scripture references, at the church I presently am pastoring: Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Tuesday evening. I seldom used a hired evangelist because I have this feeling that I am bringing to the Body of Christ something that is new—information that needs to be brought to the attention of the Christian people.

I have an Internet site. The last time I inquired, several months ago, there were nearly half a million hits on the site. So what I am teaching is meaningful to some people.

So in my own way I am bearing witness of God. I have been blessed with many supernatural experiences during my discipleship, and Jesus is closer to me than ever before.

I am making a real attempt to live by the Life of Jesus, and am encouraging the members of our congregations to press into the Lord at all times, night and day.

There it is. Being a witness of God means to tell what you have seen and have experienced with the Lord, not preaching from sermons you have heard.

To be salt.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13)

I have heard it preached that "salt" is a preservative. I think that it is. But when Jesus spoke of "tasteless" He was not referring to the preserving qualities of salt but to its flavor.

There is something about the ways of Heaven that are right; that feel good; that want you to stay around; that are clean and orderly; that "smell good; that make you think of "home"

When Christians are really living in the Life of the Lord Jesus they can make an ordinary situation feel like home. There is an air of joy, of peace, of love wherever they are.

But when the Christian is not walking with God and loses the fragrance of Christ, his religious talk, no matter how doctrinally correct, is dead and creates death.

I was walking past a sacred Christian building in a certain city. I realized that at one time it was filled with people who loved and worshiped God. It was a testimony of God to whoever entered.

Now there was no life coming from the building. It was dead. It wasn't even an office building with busy people working hard to advance themselves in the business world.

It is not enough for us to call ourselves Christians. A true Christian is not an ordinary person with a label. The genuine Christians spend much time in praying, listening to, and obeying the Lord. As a result there is the savor of the Life of Christ about them.

They are not preaching all the time, telling everyone how to get saved. They are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It is what they are that "tastes good."

I have been in the hospital several times in my life. Invariably I end up talking about the Lord to the medical staff or patients. But I don't plan on doing this. It just comes naturally.

One time in a cardiac ward I just wandered around, stopping at one of the rooms when I felt to do so, and talked to whoever was in there. Usually the talk would get around to the Lord, but not always. They all were older men like myself.

Some people from the church came and tied a couple of balloons on my bed. There was one patient who had no visitors. While he was in the bathroom I tied on of the balloons on his bed. I left before he came out, so he may never have known who decorated his bed.

Does it matter that he know? I don't think so. I think God will speak to his heart that there are people who care about him.

There are ways of salting what may be situations that are not so pleasant. If we are living in the Life of Jesus, opportunities may come to make people know that God cares for them.

To be an overcomer of the Accuser.

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. (Revelation 12:11)

"They overcame him." The battle is against Satan, isn't it? We do not just overcome our problems, we overcome "Him"!

What a horror evil is! The first evil was an attempt by Satan to usurp God's position as the King of the universe. All other sins have flowed from Satan's effort to take the place of the Father.

Since that evil hour there has been a war between good and evil. This conflict affects all the inhabitants of the earth, and the spirit world as well.

Notice how the inhabitants of the spirit world rejoiced when Satan was overcome.

For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time. (Revelation 12:12)

Because God is going to use some of the sons and daughters He is bringing forth to establish and maintain the righteous, holy Kingdom He is creating, He offers rewards to those believers who will pursue Christ until they have driven sin and self-will out of their personalities.

Revelation, Chapters Two and Three are devoted to these rewards. Revelation 21:7 sums up these rewards:

He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. (Revelation 21:7)

"These things" are all that God is making new. Thus the believers who gain victory over the spiritual darkness will be given everything. These are the co-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the first to overcome the accuser.

And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." (Revelation 21:5)

So, the believer who overcomes Satan and his works will inherit all that God is making new, which includes ourselves. All is being made new—filled with the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus.

Notice God is not making all new things, but all things new. Thus the new world of righteousness will contain all that we have enjoyed in the old world, only now it is filled with the Lord Jesus. All that is of Satan has been removed.

The area in which we live would be beautiful and desirable if it were not for the influence of Satan on the people.

We see that the saints who have attained to victory over Satan inherit everything that is desirable.

But the preaching of today does not produce victorious saints in so many instances. There is a continual accommodation of sin and self-will, as the pastor and evangelist seek for larger numbers of people—as though larger numbers are equivalent to a "better" church.

How often have you heard an emphasis on overcoming? Perhaps never. Why? Because the ministers are afraid it will alienate the people.

One time a minister berated me when I taught in his church. He said I was giving meat for the babies in the nursery to eat.

I think he should have berated the babies, not me.

In any case, Michael was not authorized to throw Satan and Satan's angels down to the earth until a company of believer had gained the victory over him. Then God moved.

This tells us something, doesn't it? What we bind on the earth is bound in the heavens. Thus we are affecting the condition in the heavens by what we do on the earth.

Right here is the core of the issue. God always retains the power to remove Satan and the demons from the earth. But God knows the problem of disobedience will arise again and again.

Therefore God is bringing forth sons and daughters, born again from His Divine Nature, who once and for all will keep all evil personalities confined in suitable prisons.

Also these warriors, having been made skillful in spiritual warfare, will insure against rebellions in the future.

So the contemporary overemphasis on God's love, mercy, and grace is hindering the development of tough soldiers of the cross who will install and maintain iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to God.

It is the warrior angels who do the actual fighting. But they only can do what they are directed to do by the saints; and the saints get their guidance from the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is why the third temptation, jumping from the pinnacle of the Temple, is so important. It is the test of presumption. Will we "step out in faith" without hearing from God, as we so often are exhorted?

No, we will not do anything until we hear from the Lord. Christian believers who attempt presumptuously to "do great things from God" are a deadly problem when the warrior angels are waiting for their directions.

We now are entering the spiritual fulfillments of the final three feasts of Israel, as I have mentioned previously. Things are changing. The opportunities are greater than ever before. The dangers are greater than ever before.

Many that come in at the last moment shall be first in the Kingdom of God. Many who have suffered the warfare from the beginning will be last in the Kingdom of God.

This is what Christ proclaimed, and it shows us that all events are controlled by the sovereign will of the Father. We cannot earn a high honor by spiritual ambition. But we can please God by being promptly, meticulously obedient to every word of Christ spoken to us.

If God wants us to be highly placed in the Kingdom, then that is what we desire. If God wants us to occupy a lowly place in the Kingdom, then that is what we desire. The important thing is to be precisely where God wants us.

To whom much is given, from him much is required. So it is not wise to be ambitious for an exalted place in the Kingdom.

To be a governor of the nations.

He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father, (Revelation 2:26,27)

Perhaps this governorship includes the thousand-year Kingdom age as well as the rule of the saints over the saved people from the nations who are living on the new earth. However I am inclined to think it is referring especially to the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

One of the greatest problems in America, it appears to me from reading the paper, is the self-seeking of the civic officials, from the mayor of the smallest town to the president of the United States.

One newspaper commented recently that people expect politicians to lie. We in America may pride ourselves on our democracy. Right at this time it appears that one of the highest of the leaders of government is doing whatever he wants, and it appears that the American citizens and the Congress cannot stop him.

Our Constitution was crafted with the idea the politicians would be people of integrity, and for the most part, in agreement with the moral teachings of the Bible.

This no longer is true in America. Christ and His Bible are being scorned in many quarters. Some members of the government never refer to God or Christ. When I was younger, it often was the case that presidents and other leading figures spoke of the Bible and encouraged times of prayer.

Several years ago, the Lord told me that America would be reduced to being a third-class nation and the leadership of the world will move to "an Eastern nation." He did not say what nation, and I am not going to guess.

I did not realize God would use leaders who are not familiar with our deepest moral and cultural traditions, having been trained from childhood by teachers of other religious persuasions. to destroy our nation from within.

And so I am upset every day to see what obviously are destructive practices, leading to the weakening of our country. When I go to the Lord, He says, "I told you so." Divine judgment is upon us because of abortion, perverse sexual behavior, drugs, and other problems.

I do Christ's will even above the welfare of my country, and so I cannot complain. Instead I try to draw closer to the Lord Jesus, and encourage all the members of our congregation to do the same.

Living in America at this time, I can appreciate the desirability of having the Lord Jesus and His victorious saints governing the nations of the earth. We no longer will have to worry about national bankruptcy or wars, only about obeying the precepts of the Sermon on the Mount, which I believe the various national governments will enforce.

And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

The Law already has gone forth from Zion. The Word of the Lord has gone forth from Jerusalem. It is the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Won't it be a wonderful day when "many people" go up to Jerusalem to be taught the Word of Christ by God's sons and daughters!

Our leaders of today might scoff at such an event. But after seventy years of serving the Lord Jesus, I assure you it shall take place exactly as written.

No Word of God through His Prophets shall ever fall to the ground. All shall be fulfilled in its time!

To be a judge of people and angels.

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? (I Corinthians 6:2,3)

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. They will go from ordinary people following the Rabbi Jesus to one of the most exalted positions in their nation.

Paul says the saints will judge the world, and also angels. God prefers that we stay humble in this life. If we will walk humbly with God, the day will come when the resurrected people of the nations come before us, as we are seated on the great White Throne.

Angels also will appear before us.

If we have made ourselves of no special importance in the present world, regarding our state as a son of God, when God makes all things new in Christ we will have the authority to determine the destinies of people. This is an awesome responsibility.

We can understand from this how important it is that we continue to live in the rest of God—even after we die. All sin must be removed from us. It is of special importance that all self-will is removed from us. We always must be in a state of strict obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

It appears that sometimes judges on the earth are influenced by factors that have little to do with fair decisions. It may be money, or politics, or fear, or from some other personal desire or motivation.

It shall not be so with God's judges, who are His own offspring.

One of the principal roles and tasks of Christ, Head and Body, is to bring justice to the nations. The meek of the earth who are decent people will be established in security and well being.

Those who have stepped on others as they have clawed their way to wealth and power will be brought low. If they do not bow their knee to the Lord Jesus, or if they have not been kind to the Lord's disciples, the eternal fire will be their home.

The world of today is filled with injustice of every sort. It appears that sometimes even the courts are persuaded by political or public pressures. One of the most honored principles in the minds of Americans is "the rights of people." However, to give one person his or her rights may mean that someone else's rights are ignored.

"Lawlessness" is the mark of Antichrist, and we see that spirit manifesting itself in our day.

God's judges will be trained until there is a rod of iron righteousness in them. They will exercise judgment without partiality. They will not be moved by any factor except what they are hearing from the Lord Jesus. Thus their judgment always will be just.

If there is a greater need in the world of today, I do not know what it is.

To be a soldier in the army of the Lord.

They do not crowd each other, They march everyone in his path; When they burst through the defenses, They do not break ranks. (Joel 2:11)

I realize that many scholars regard the second chapter of the Book of Joel as referring to locusts. However, if one will consider carefully verses 1-11, he or she may come to the same conclusion as I have, that, as is true of other passages of the Prophets, there is a double meaning here.

Kingdom truth is couched in physical circumstances understandable to the Israelites of the time. If I am not mistaken, Joel 2:1-11, is referring to the Day of the Lord and the armies of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is my point of view that this attack on civilization is not the same as the attack of Armageddon, described in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. It is, I think, a description of the cleansing of the earth in preparation for the thousand-year Kingdom Age.

I believe it will occur after the armies of saints and angels have destroyed the armies of Antichrist, and have removed Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet from the earth.

Joel's army is a "great and mighty people." This hardly is a description of the undisciplined congregations of most American churches. We see from this further proof that it will be only a godly remnant who will experience the change in the body and the ascension when Jesus appears.

"The land is like the garden of Eden before them," signifying that the Antichrist civilization will be filled with peace and prosperity. Joel's army shall slay all the wicked people of the earth and demolish the Antichrist institutions.

"They run like mighty men. They climb the wall like soldiers; and they march every one in line." This simply is not a description of today's believers, for the most part. Perhaps this is why scholars say the passage is referring only to locusts.

But does the earth quake and the heavens tremble when there is a plague of locusts?

"The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome." Since when is a plague of locusts referred to as the Day of the Lord?

Perhaps more consideration should be given to what the passage actually states.

If I am not mistaken, the forming of Israel into an army occurred after the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai.

And the sons of Israel set out on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai. Then the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran. So they moved out for the first time according to the commandment of the Lord through Moses. (Numbers 10:12,13)

God did all the fighting when Israel left Egypt. But after the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, Israel was approaching their goal, the land of Canaan. Now God will not do all the fighting. It required the efforts of both God and the Israelites to conquer the land of promise.

I believe this is true today. Christ did the fighting in Gethsemane and on the cross to secure our deliverance from the power of Satan. But to enter our goal, the rest of God, we are going to be required to do the fighting, with the help of Christ.

We Christians of today are charged with the responsibility of driving all sin and self-will out of our personality. It is a personality filled with Christ, free from sin and self-will, and clothed in an incorruptible body, that is our goal, our land of promise.

As soon as this is true of us, we will, along with the Lord Jesus, inherit the saved people of the nations of the earth.

I am not certain the believers of today are going to be happy with the task they are facing. It may be true that only a godly remnant will follow the Lord Jesus Christ into the rest of God. This accounts for the following passage:

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18,19)

It may be true that the approaching moral and physical chaos that rapidly is approaching our country will cause some of the casual Christians to press closer to the Lord Jesus so they may enter the rest of God. Then they will be qualified and competent to follow Jesus into battle.

To be a wall of defense around the Glory of God.

And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Revelation 21:14)

Of all of the people and activities we would enjoy seeing in the new Jerusalem, we are confronted with a high, thick wall having a heavily ornamented foundation. Kind of disappointing, isn't it?

But the wall of the new Jerusalem has been constructed as the Divine response to the original rebellion of the angels.

Much of the description of the new earth is symbolic.

The names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are in the twelve foundation stones of the wall. This tells us that the wall against sin and self-will has been founded on the ministry of Christ's Apostles.

The various colors of the wall all are symbolic of phases of the Divine redemption.

I have mentioned previously the symbolism of the River of Life and of the Tree of Life.

So we do not see the people or activities inside the wall. The wall forever keeps sin and rebellion from the Presence of God and the Lamb. This is what is of supreme importance to God. He is forming an army today that will insure that sin and self-will are never again permitted to occur in the Paradise of God.

The promises of God are to the victorious saints. They are the wall against sin and rebellion.

We must drive out of us all sin and selfish ambition.

We notice in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation that the Lamb is standing on Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem that is to descend to earth in the future, with His godly remnant.

The fact that the Lamb is standing is of the utmost significance.

The Father spoke to the Son and commanded Him to sit at His right hand until the Father puts His enemies under His feet.

The Lamb is standing today with the Firstfruits of His Church, both in the spirit world and on the earth. He will help them drive all sin and self-will from their personalities.

In the past there have been various programs advanced to deal with sin. No doubt there have been many stalwart believers who have gained victories over sin and self-will. They have been as scouts who were in advance of the wagon train.

Now a larger part of the Church has come to the place where the Lamb is ready to make His enemies His enemies a footstool for His feet, as the Father has commanded Him.

Therefore, when we begin to drive out of our personality all that is not of the image of the Father, we notice that the Spirit of God has given us new wisdom and strength to put our enemies to death.

But the Lord your God will deliver them before you, and will throw them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will deliver their kings into your hand so that you will make their name perish from under heaven; no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them. (Deuteronomy 7:23,24)

To be the revelation of God in Christ.

He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. (Revelation 3:12)

Again we see that the promise is to the believer who is living in victory over sin and self-will. Wherever he goes in the creation, it will be as the Presence of God.

It may be true that the idea of the Trinity, the concept that Jesus and the Father are the same Person, will serve as a hindrance to the further work of redemption that is occurring today.

All of the roles and tasks of the Kingdom of God shall be accomplished as God reproduces Himself in sons and daughters.

I understand completely that the Word of God was with the Father in the beginning, and through Him the Father created all members and parts of the creation.

The Word was with the Father. The preposition "with" means "accompanying." It never, to my knowledge means "the same as."

If the Word was the same as the Father, the text should read: "In the beginning was the Word. The Word was God. By Him were all things created."

It never should say, "The Word was with God."

No, the Word was not and is not the same Person as the Father.

Notice the following passage:

"I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.'" (Psalms 2:7,8)

Are two Persons mentioned in the passage above, the Lord, and the Lord's Son? Yes, or no?

If the answer is "no, They are the same person," then how can we understand the Bible if it does not mean what it states plainly?

We are co-heirs with Christ, the Bible says. Are we co-heirs with the Lord or with the Son?

Are we the brothers of the Lord or of the Son?

I believe it is time the Bible scholars explained in simple, clear English how the Lord and the Son are the same person, and not in some contorted, mystical manner.

There came a day when the Word was made flesh. Then the Word became God's Son; became flesh and blood. This surely is a mystery. Was the Word still Divine? Most certainly. More importantly, perhaps, was the Son still the same Person as the Word?

I think so. Notice the following"

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

Now think. Who dwelt among us? Whose glory did we see?

Was it the Glory of the Word or of a different Person?

"The only begotten from the Father." Did the Word beget Himself, or is there another Person referred to as the "Father"?

It was the Word Himself who became flesh.

The Father did not become flesh; the Word became flesh.

Is the Word the Father? Not if the Word was "with" the Father.

Is the Son the Word? Yes, because it was the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. The Person through whom the Father created all things dwelt among us.

We know Him as Jesus, our Brother, our Savior, our Lord.

Is He still the Word? Absolutely. He is the Word made flesh.

Our fellowship is with the Father and with the Word.

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3)

They are not the same Person.

The Bride of the Lamb is not the Bride of the Father. You and I are not the brothers of the Father.

But Jesus is filled with all the Fullness of God. Is Jesus therefore the same Person as the Father?

Does being filled with all the Fullness of God make Jesus the Father?

Notice the following:

And to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)

Does our being filled up to all the Fullness of God make us either Christ or the Father?

We know that it does not.

Now here is the point of my thesis.

It is evident from the New Testament that we are to be conformed to the image of Christ, and also destined to be the house, rest, and Throne of God. We have been born of the same Father as the Lord Jesus, and therefore He is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.

Because it sounds as though we are trying to be God, I think many believers draw back, believing there is an uncrossable gulf between God and us.

Yet, the Apostle Peter claims we have the Divine Nature.

John 17:21-23 should convince any serious student that we have been called to be One with the Son as He is One with the Father. This fact alone means we are called to be part of Divinity.

Any false humility will only cloud our thinking. We have been born of God. Therefore we are of the same Nature as He, although not as exalted in authority and power.

We are the sons and daughters of God. God is our Father and God, and the Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" (John 20:17)

Thus the incarnation is continuing. God, in order to build the kind of Kingdom He desires is reproducing Himself in human beings. The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn of those who are of man and of God.

To be a part of God's Kingdom, which is marvelous and wonderful utterly beyond the meaning of those adjectives, we must be born again.

Why must we be born again?

So that like our elder Brother, the Lord Jesus, we will be both of man and of God. Of such is the Kingdom.

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The Firstfruits

2015-03-15

Chapter Fourteen of the Book of Revelation, verses one through five, is of great importance today.

First of all, the Lamb is standing. Originally the Father had instructed the Lamb to sit at His right hand until the Father made the enemies of the Lamb His footstool.

Now the Lamb is standing. This means that it is time for God to begin to put the enemies of the Lamb under His feet.

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, which is located on the earth and also in the heavenlies.

There are 144,000 saints standing with Him. This number most likely is symbolic, being a multiple of "twelve."

They have His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads. This signifies that they belong to the Lamb and the Father in a special way. Also, they always do the will of the Lamb and the Father.

This is in contrast to the people of the world who have the name of Antichrist in their forehead.

We can see right away that these are not ordinary members of the Christian churches.

First, they are standing with the Lamb, ready for the warfare as the Father moves to make the Lamb's enemies a footstool for the Lamb's feet.

The Lamb's enemies are established firmly in the Christian people. But judgment begins in the household of God. Therefore it is time for us to set ourselves to call upon Jesus to help us drive all sin and self-will from our personality.

We are to arise from our comfortable bed of casual church-membership and look to the Lamb to help us bring His enemies under our feet, which is equivalent to making them His footstool.

We have thought that the next move of God is a mythical "rapture." It is not. The next move of God is a cleansing of those who will cooperate with His Spirit so they can stand with the Lamb at His coming.

It is clear that only a Firstfruits of the churches will respond to the heavenly calling. This is unfortunate, because the rich blessings of life and authority will be given to them, according to the New Testament.

The move of redemption that follows the baptism with the Spirit of God is referred to as "the rest of God." Both God and His sons and daughters are at rest because the sin and self-will have been driven into the darkness.

When Jesus returns He will bring with Him the deceased saints of all ages. He will stop at a staging area in the air. The deceased saints will descend to the earth, call up their bodies from wherever they have been interred, no matter how mutilated, and clothe them with a body of incorruptible eternal life.

This transformation of the body is the resurrection.

Those believers on the earth who are living in the rest of God, that is, in the place where they always know the will of Christ and through His wisdom and power have obeyed completely that will, will be called to stand with the newly resurrected saints who came with Christ. They too will experience the resurrection, the change of their body into incorruption.

The new body of each of these warriors, that will clothe their former one, has been formed as a direct result of the victories they have gained as they followed and obeyed the Lamb during their discipleship on the earth.

Then the victorious saints will rejoice in a time of fellowship with their loved ones. (This was the reunion promised to the grieving saints of Thessalonica.)

Then, with a tremendous shout of war, the voice of Michael---the commander of the warrior angels, and an earth-shaking trumpet blast, the whole host of the newly resurrected warriors will ascend to the staging area in the air, ready to descend with the Lamb and the army of warrior angels in the cavalry charge of the Battle of Armageddon.

These militant saints are a Firstfruits of the entire company of God's people. They will be a minority of the believers because of the lack of diligence in serving Christ of the majority of members of the Christian churches; and also a lack of faithfulness on the part of God's chosen people of the past.

At this point, numerous so-called Christians will charge God with cruelty, just as they do today. But to no avail, because the Word of God will stand as a mountain of rock throughout the days to come, just as it always has.

So we are speaking now about a warlike Firstfruits of God's family.

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. (Verse Two)

Notice the combination of power and beauty. It is always this way with God. We need to remember this at the present time, when it appears that Satan is prevailing in the earth.

Satan always manages to do God's will, just as he did when he had Christ crucified. This is why He who sits in the heavens laughs. He laughs uproariously, because all of the satanic incidences of our day will serve to perfect those who are designated to govern the works of God's hands throughout the eternal ages to come.

After having done God's will, in spite of his determination to unseat God, Satan will have his eternal home in the Lake of Fire.

Evildoers always shall perish in the end. The righteous always will triumph in the end. This always shall be true.

So we have the thunderous power of God's oceans and seas combined with the beautiful sound of the harps. Such is a demonstration of the power and beauty of God and His Christ. Let all the righteous rejoice at what the future eventually shall bring to them.

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. (Verse Three)

It is so like God to give a new song to the righteous. They sing it in the presence of the four Divine creatures and the worshiping elders, who continually are falling down and laying their crown before the Throne of God and the Lamb. There is no holier concert hall!

Think of the army of saints singing a song of adoration and victory in the very throne room of Almighty God and the Lamb. You and I hope to be one of those singers, don't we? Think about what we have to look forward to, after the sordid scenes of earth. Indeed, God has called many sons and daughters to Glory beyond imagination!

No one else can learn that song.

We Christians are not accustomed to God exalting part of the Church to a state not available to most believers. We are going to have to get used to this.

There are numerous ranks and positions of authority and glory in the Kingdom of God. Three were invited to the Mount of Transfiguration. One shall sit on the right hand of Christ in His Kingdom, and one on the left. To one man, Paul, was given the ability to describe the transition from the Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ.

And many who are first in time shall be last in the Kingdom, and the last shall be first.

God the Father does as He pleases, and Jesus does as the Father commands. If we are going to be sons and daughters of God, we are going to have to be obedient, as the Lord Jesus always is, and give praise to God no matter what He does.

No other attitude is acceptable in the Kingdom of God. We need to ask the Lord Jesus to give us such an attitude!

Those who strive to be great in the Kingdom are not wise. It is best to accept the position in which we have been placed, and serve Christ faithfully in that role. If Christ chooses to exalt us, He will; and no one can prevent Him from doing so.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. (Verse Four)

Since the Book of Hebrews tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled, I do not believe Verse Four (above) is speaking of ordinary human relationships.

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)

The Spirit of God would not say "marriage should be honored by all," and then turn around as say marriage is a defilement. But certainly adultery and sexual immorality are defiling.

If any believer has committed sexual immorality, and now has repented and is seeking the Lord Jesus with all his heart, he should take the matter up with the Lord if he or she is desirous of being a member of the Lord's Firstfruits.

Sexual immorality is a grievous sin and Christ means exactly what He says when He declares, through the Apostle Paul, that they who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But I am not here to say what Christ will do with someone who genuinely repents.

The expression, "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes," reminds us of Chapter Four of First Thessalonians: "So shall we ever be with the Lord."

It is my point of view that the passage we are reviewing is speaking of those who will be resurrected and ascend to the staging area in the air when Jesus appears. Whereas today it is understood generally that the entire group of Christian believers will be "raptured" to Paradise when the Lord is revealed.

The majority of Christians of today are not successfully appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ and entering the rest of God, free from all sin and self-will, which is required for those who would be resurrected in this first resurrection.

It is being taught that no Christian can live on the earth and not sin.

But look what the Apostle John claims:

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6)

What is being taught today that we have to sin while we are in the world is not scriptural. If we will look to the Lord Jesus, now that He is standing with His Firstfruits, He will help us drive every particle of sin and self-fill from our personality.

Otherwise, First John, 3:6 should not be in the inerrant Word of God.

If we are not living in the rest of God, free from the bondages of sin and self-will, we are not eligible to participate in the first resurrection—that which will occur when the Lord Jesus appears.

I believe the coming moral and physical chaos in the United States will press many casual Christians closer to the Lord Jesus so they will choose to live as true disciples, and will follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

"They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb."

What a sublimely powerful statement the above is! It scarcely seems real that a part of mankind would be offered as a Firstfruits to God.

A Firstfruits of what? Certainly of mankind.

But I think also that they are a Firstfruits of the Christian churches.

There a major types in the Bible that tell us the Christian Church, the Bride of the Lamb, will be divided temporarily into a warlike company and then the rest of the elect.

One example of the numerous symbols is Gideon's army. Another is the partial rule of David before all Israel came under his scepter.

It is my personal belief that the thousand-year Kingdom Age, while the victorious saints govern with the Lord Jesus, is for the purpose of giving the majority of the saints in the heavenly Zion to come to maturity in Christ.

Not all Christians live a victorious life in Christ. But the promises of life and authority are given to them, according to the Scriptures.

No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Verse Five)

The Firstfruits to God and the Lamb are not blameless because they are "saved by grace." They are blameless because "no lie was found in their mouths."

The teaching of "grace," as it currently is presented, has just about destroyed any hope of spiritual maturity in the majority of God's elect, the Christian believers.

"Grace" is thought of as the means we have of pleasing God, and going to Heaven, without being a follower of the Lord Jesus. There is no need for us to purify ourselves, to cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit because the Lord Jesus did it all for us on the cross.

We will be welcome in Paradise even though we are self-centered babies, because of "grace." Such a "grace" would be the enemy of God and His Lamb.

There is a lie in our mouth. The lie is that we can say "I accept Christ."

After having done that, we safely can ignore all the Apostles had to say about godly living and growth in Christ. We are saved by "grace."

That this is a lie is an understatement. It may be true it is the greatest, most destructive error in human thinking in all of history.

"They are blameless." Are they blameless by "grace"?

How ridiculous, but that is what is taught as being the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

It is true rather that they have become new creations of righteous, holy behavior as they, with the assistance of the Lord Jesus, have driven all sin and self-will from their personality.

Is this possible?

Try it and see.

Did you ever hear anyone preach about God's Firstfruits? Neither did I!

Why is this passage ignored? Probably because we do not know what it means. Or we do not want to be guilty of elitism. Or because it has nothing to say about the "rapture." Or perhaps it is talking about Jews or somebody somewhere we do not know about.

Some pastors say we should not read the Book of Revelation because no one can understand it; and it confuses the saints; and we might get into error. Imagine that! An entire book of the Bible that we are not supposed to read. But Revelation itself says we are blessed if we read it.

This does not sit well with me. I would rather ask God to help me understand it. Perhaps it has something to say to us that is important as we enter the closing days of the Church Age.

"They follow the Lamb wherever he goes." "They were purchased from among men and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb." If the Book of Revelation really is from God, I would like to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. I would like to be part of the Firstfruits to God and the Lamb. How about you?

First, is there anywhere in the Bible to support the idea that God's people are found in differing ranks? Yes, in many places in both Testaments.

We are going to have to get used to this idea. It is not that God loves some of His children more than He does others. It is that God is building a kingdom, and in any kingdom there are ranks.

Salvation is of the Lord. It is not our choice what rank we are in, in the Kingdom or how God uses us. Our effort is to be, as the Apostle Paul mentioned: to grasp that for which we have been grasped. A lack of diligence can cause us to lose our crown.

It is true that the members of the Royal Priesthood have been chosen from the beginning of the world. But those people must be careful to make their calling and election certain by applying themselves diligently to the tasks set before them.

Some examples of differing roles in God's Kingdom are as follows:

The priests, Levites, and common people during the time of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

The configuration of the Tabernacle itself, the Holy and Most Holy places.

David's rule from Hebron and then over all Israel.

The calling of Abraham, Moses and Aaron, and the Prophets, including John the Baptist.

The calling of the twelve Apostles.

The bringing of Peter, James, and John to be with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The marriage of part of the Bride, in the nineteenth chapter of Revelation.

The overcomers, of the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation.

The fact that God chose Israel from the nations of the earth.

Salvation is of the Lord. He chooses whom He will to be close to Him. This is a difficult concept for us Americans to accept because we have been taught that all people have the same opportunity to excel. From observing what actually is true among us, we ought to know better than this. But we persist in this delusion.

God chooses whom He will. Each one of us is to accept the role and tasks that are ours, and do our job to the best of our ability. If we prove ourselves faithful in the small things, God may choose to increase our talents.

My point in saying all this is to demonstrate that there is biblical support for the concept of a Firstfruits. I am not sure if everyone is called to be a member of the Firstfruits. But I would say to anyone who desires to be part of God's Firstfruits, that desire most likely comes from God and it is up to you to put it before you as a goal. I can't imagine God saying to anyone "you can't come up to this level!"

I know this is a role I want. If God says to me, "I have something else for you," then I realize that being a member of the Firstfruits would not bring me the eternal righteousness, love, peace, and joy that I desire.

So let's you and me assume that God wants us to be a member of the Firstfruits company, and think about what is characteristic of such believers.

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb. He is the Lamb, not the Lion, in this instance, because the Firstfruits are part of the Bride. The Bride is not the Bride of Christ, or the Bride of the Lion, but the Bride of the Lamb. This is because she is married to the Lamb by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

This wonderful vision was given to the Apostle John, not because he earned it but because God chose to give it to him. John then did what God expects of every believer to whom God has given the riches of His Kingdom: John wrote the vision so his fellow Christians could share in what had been given to him. He put his talent to use, just as you and I must do.

Standing on Mount Zion. Christ has been seated at God's right hand, waiting for God to make His enemies His footstool. Today we are entering the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Blowing of Trumpets. It is the beginning of the final war between good and evil. Therefore Christ is standing today, ready for the conflict, beginning with the enemies in His people.

Mount Zion is the place of deliverance and of the rule of the Kingdom of God.

Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD's. (Obadiah 1:21)

And with him 144,000. Those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. Notice that not every believer is with Him. 144,000 is a multiple of twelve, so the number may be symbolic. The point is, now that it is time to enter the war that is to conclude successfully with the overthrow of Satan, not all believers are qualified to be with Christ.

In First Thessalonians we find the expression, "And so we will be with the Lord forever." I think most believers of today have been led to believe that when Jesus returns they will be raised from the dead and be caught up to meet Him in the air.

I do not believe such is the case. Those who participate in the resurrection and ascension mentioned in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians are God's Firstfruits. They will fight alongside Christ when He comes, and then will govern the nations of the earth along with Him.

The idea that the casual church-attenders of our day are competent to fight alongside Christ and then govern the nations of the earth with Him seems unreal to me. Most of them are not fervent, cross-carrying disciples. They do not appear to have the iron scepter created in them. They have a problem acting like a Christian during the simplest of trials. They are not victorious saints, and therefore are not qualified according to the Bible to govern the nations with Christ.

The Bible says "the dead in Christ shall rise." Being "in Christ" may mean a lot more than saying "I accept Christ," and then living to please ourselves in our customary manner. Abiding in Christ requires a lifelong pursuit of Jesus.

Those who teach that all professing believers are about to be caught up to Heaven to escape the Great Tribulation will probably keep on believing this, though such an idea does not lie clearly in the words of the Apostles. It is a delusion and it is preventing people from preparing themselves to stand in the evil day that is on the horizon.

In fact, the number 144,000 suggest an elite, doesn't it? It certainly is not the entire Church, the entire Body of Christ.

Who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. I think the name of Christ and the Father written on the forehead of each member of the Firstfruits tells us two things: first of all, these people belong especially to God, which makes them unusually holy; and second, they do God's will, since it is written on their forehead. They delight to do God's will.

The idea of doing God's will is of special importance to me.

When I was in Bible school, 1946-48, I was taught that no one ever has done God's will perfectly. It is impossible to do God's will. The world is waiting for someone to do God's will. Such nonsense! It is as though God has the personality of a satan.

I was not raised in a Christian home, and had been a Christian for about three years when I entered Bible school. This was the first time I had been exposed to the idea that no one can do God's will perfectly. I soon found that the general teaching in the churches I was exposed to was that while we are in this world we have to sin.

I do not know why I reacted so strongly against this idea that no one can do God's perfect will. My wife, Audrey, says it is because I am a maverick. But honestly—I can't live like this, always feeling guilty that I am not doing God's will.

So during one recess, I told God if He would give me the grace to do so, I would do His perfect will. While I am living on the earth He cannot say there is no one to stand in the gap and make up the hedge before Him.

Can you imagine such effrontery?

When we went back into class, one of the students, knowing nothing of my pronouncement to God, began to prophesy. He said: "If you mean what you said, it will be a blessing to many people."

Well, I meant exactly what I said. Now, 65 years later, I still mean it.

You know what? Perhaps because of my statement to God, God has given me a passion for His will. I do not have a passion for souls, as some do. I do not have a passion for prolonged intercessory prayer, as some do (although I pray without ceasing in that I talk to Jesus constantly).

But I have an absolute passion to do the Father's will.

I am not boasting about this passion. I realize it is a gift from God. All aspects of salvation are a gift from the Lord. I love to do God's will. I rejoice in it. I have found there always is grace to do what God wants.

It is true that sometimes His will is hard to find, and we have to watch and pray very carefully that we do not go off into error. It is true that sometimes we have to surrender idols. But God's will always leads us to righteous behavior, love, joy, and peace. Who does not want these.

I pray fervently every day that Christ will give me truth and deliver me from the deceptions of Satan. Do you do this? It is needful is the present hour.

I would imagine serving Satan can be difficult, and that he never is pleased with his servants. But God is not difficult to serve, once we make up our mind that we want to do His will at all times. His commandments are not grievous, as the Apostle says.

The more Christ is formed in us, the more we delight to do God's will. This is because Christ delights to do God's will.

The strongest of all prayers is, "Your will be done." We must live with this determination always before us.

I believe God is calling forth His firstfruits today. One thing is certain: if we wish to be in this company, we must always do God's will as we understand it.

It appears that ever since man has been created he has determined to find his own way in life. If everyone, including the Christian people, would announce to God that they were going to cease from their own ways and look to Christ for every decision they make, could you imagine what kind of world this would be?

There would be no more wars, for one thing. We have wars because the political leaders are choosing their own way instead of seeking God's will. It is just as simple as that. I have never heard our own President mention the name of God, let alone Christ, even one time. I believe this is unprecedented in America. But there it is. Maybe he has, and I wasn't present to hear it.

I have no faith whatever in a president who does not seek God's will for our country but relies on his own abilities.

I am passionate about doing God's will and everyone else doing God's will. If I have enough authority after I die and pass into the spirit world, I will insist that everyone do God's will.

No more of this saying it is too hard; that everyone must sin once in a while. God told Cain that sin was crouching at the door and he must master it. God did not say it was impossible to master it. With the help of Christ we can master sin. I won't hear of anything else. How about you?

And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. This is the sound of power, of the "seven thunders" mentioned in the tenth chapter of the Book of Revelation. The voice of the thunders was silenced because the people of God are self-willed, seeking their own aggrandizement.

When there are enough believers who are willing to forsake their own way and look to Jesus for everything, the seven thunders of power will speak. Then we will see the two witness of Revelation, Chapter Eleven. They are victorious saints in whom Christ is dwelling. God will thunder through them as they do His will in the earth, bearing witness of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God.

The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. In addition to the voice of power there was the sound of singing. So it is true that the power of God is delightful. It is a time of dancing, of worshiping, of tambourines and violins and trumpets, of the loud cymbals declaring the Glory of God, not our own glory.

Today we often hear ministers of the Gospel pray for power. But they are not dancing with Christ. There is no music, only striving. They are seeking their own glory, in numerous instances. Enough of this! We need to sing and dance with the Lamb. The Father will issue all the power needed to do His will, not our self-seeking will! Let the harps play so we can sing and dance in the heights of Zion.

And they sang a new song. The old hymns helped us on our way. "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." There is a new song today. It has to do with our oneness with Jesus, our forsaking of our own life that we might live by His Life.

The new song speaks of total victory over sin, Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and our own sinful nature and self-will. The new song tells us to not fret about the conditions in the world but to keep our eyes fixed on Christ as He prepares to destroy the enemies of God.

The new song speaks of the Kingdom that is being fashioned in Heaven and that is coming to the earth to install the new world of righteousness. The new song portrays the Kingdom of never ending righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

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)

Can you hear that song? Tell the Lord you want to hear it. You want to obey God perfectly no matter what the world and the churches do.

Before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. They do not sing for the benefit of other people. They sing before the Throne of God; before the four Cherubim of Glory; and before the twenty-four elders. How often do we sing to be heard by other people? Imagine singing so God can hear us!

(No one could learn the song except the 144,000) who had been redeemed from the earth. It does not sound like the Lord, does it, to single out specific people for such glory and honor.

But that is the way of the Kingdom. I have no doubt that some of the most dedicated saints of history, or even of our own day, are unknown to us. Why is this? It is because they are precious jewels of the Lord and He does not want other people to see them. They are reserved for Him alone.

Would God do such a thing? Absolutely. But they are known in Heaven, and we will know them when we die if our lives are acceptable to the Lord.

These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure. It is my opinion that this is not speaking of human women necessarily. The Bible says that marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. It is obvious in our own day that because of the demons of lust in the spiritual atmosphere, a Christian denomination that does not permit its ministers to marry results in the clergy engaging in criminal sexual activities with children.

No, I believe the defilement has to do with anything that defiles the believer, such as money, or education, or entertainment, or material wealth. It can include immoral relationships with women, but I do not believe it is speaking of ordinary marriage.

Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. (I Timothy 4:3)

The Apostle Paul refers to such ordinances as doctrines of devils. And so they are, as we can tell from the fruit they bear.

They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. This is the highest calling possible for a human being. We can embark on this adventure today by telling the Lord Jesus that we want to be with Him wherever He goes.

This does not mean necessarily that He wants us to go with Him to China, although it could mean that. How about the little journeys around our house or job. If we keep looking to the Lord Jesus, throughout the day and night, and keep telling Him that we want to go with Him wherever He goes, I think He will answer that prayer for us.

When it comes to pass that you are with Him wherever He goes, then a person cannot have you without having Jesus and can't have Jesus without having you. It is true also that no one can have God without having Jesus, and no one can have Jesus without having God. How utterly marvelous!

Do you have a powerful desire to always be that close to the Lord? I do!

They were purchased from among men. Again you can see that all men are not "purchased." I have been sounding this note from the beginning, that salvation is of the Lord. He chooses people and does with them as He will. This always is true of the Kingdom of God.

Today the emphasis is on the rights of people---how wonderful everyone is and must have their "rights." Mankind is in love with itself. We might think such an attitude is godly, but it is not. It is an illusion, for one thing. All people are not nice. Some molest children. They are not nice. Some people live by stealing from other people. They are not nice.

The truth is, people are not nice, ordinarily. We all were born in sin. Even the "nicest" people will hurt you if they feel it is necessary for them to keep from losing anything. Most of us are self-seeking scoundrels, if the truth be known.

But the Spirit of God moves among the multitudes of the earth, and He does what He will with people. Some were purchased from among men. That is what the Bible teaches. And it is up to those who have been purchased to seek Christ to find out for what role and tasks they have been grasped for.

If God has chosen us to be members of His Firstfruits company, then nothing will satisfy God except our turning over our life completely to Christ that He may conform us to His image and teach us to find rest in the perfect center of God's Person and will.

And offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. Where produce is grown, that which is reaped first is the best; the tenderest; the tastiest. The Old Testament has much to say about firstfruits.

Mankind is God's planting. He is a Farmer. He wants good fruit from what He has planted. There is a Firstfruits purchased by the blood of the Lamb. God watches over His Firstfruits. They are being made in the image of His Son, that Jesus may have true brothers in His own image.

I believe you and I can be firstfruits to God and the Lamb. But we will have to cease comparing ourselves with other Christian people and follow the teachings of the Apostles of Christ. We absolutely must present our body as a living sacrifice that we may prove God will for ourselves. Never mind what other Christians think or do, just follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

We must learn to live by the Life of Jesus in all we think, say, and do. Nothing short of this will enable us to stand, and help others to stand, throughout the Divine judgment that is facing the United States of America.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, nor any amount of money can protect us from what is coming our way. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can save us, as we fear and trust in Him.

No lie was found in their mouths. All of us are natural-born liars. We begin to lie at our earliest age. We survive in this valley of the shadow of death by evading the truth. There may be someone of whom this is not true, but Diogenes never found him.

God does not lie. If we are to cease lying we must ask God to help us. He will do that. He will burn the lie out of us. It may take a while. But if we do our best, and keep asking God, He will purify us from the spirit of lying.

They are blameless. The man or woman, boy or girl, who never lies might be said to be blameless. In any case, a truthful individual is well on his or her way of being found blameless in his or her behavior.

When all is said and done, there is a Firstfruits company. They will stand with the Lord on Mount Zion, the place of deliverance from Edom, from the works of the flesh.

Today is the time when the Spirit of God is looking for such blameless people. He has a great purpose for them in His everlasting Kingdom, in His new world of righteousness.

I see no reason why you and I cannot aspire for God's highest and best.

Let's do it!

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The Secret Place

2015-03-22

You would think we Americans would understand that God is removing His hand from us—the various plagues and pestilences, which we have not seen the end of yet; ISIS; the troubles in the public schools; the destruction of our system of immigration; the squabbling at the highest levels of government; the tornadoes and freezing temperatures.

We can't seem to understand that God is displeased with our country because of sin and the rejection of Christ and the Bible. Being an older person I can remember when our nation was more intact.

If I am hearing the Lord correctly, matters are going to become much worse.

This morning, Sunday the 16th of November, 2014, there was a spirit of rejoicing in the church. I looked up to the Lord to see what His opinion was. Much to my surprise, the Lord Jesus said, "Death and destruction."

(Interestingly enough, when Audrey and I were watching in the evening the news on the television, what do you think we saw? Death and destruction due to the freezing weather in the United States.)

I was standing at the back of the congregation. I looked straight ahead at the front wall of the auditorium, which is of stone. This is my custom when I want to be sure I have the mind of the Lord for the morning service.

You know what I saw? and I have never seen it before. There was the Grim Reaper, scythe and all. Also, there was what looked Jesus pouring something out of a bowl.

The 91st Psalm tells us that we need not fear plagues and pestilences. So thinking about what I had received this morning, just before preaching, I concluded the Lord was telling us that there would be plagues and pestilences, such as Ebola and Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever, or Influenza, but that He is able to keep us free from these, or to heal us if we contract them.

There was such a happy mood on the congregation that I felt uncomfortable, to say the least, to tell them what I was seeing. But a pastor has to tell the people the good and the bad. So I told them what I had seen. Surprisingly, we continued in a happy mood. That is just like the Lord, isn't it. When we are obedient, He takes care of the details.

But when we are depending on the promises of the 91st Psalm, we have to remember the conditions, if we are to be protected.

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalms 1:1)

The critical term here is, "dwells."

I personally have an issue with our practice of "accepting Christ."

First of all, "accepting Christ" is not a scriptural phrase.

What we mean is, we are accepting the fact that He is our Savior and Lord.

That's it! We have "accepted Christ." Then we go on our way rejoicing.

But the 91st Psalm does not speak of our accepting Christ but of our "dwelling in the shelter of the Most High." The fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John speaks of "abiding" in Christ. From my point of view, abiding in Christ is the same state as dwelling in the shelter of the Most High.

Both expressions refer to a state in which we choose to live day and night, rather than an action we took at one time in a church or somewhere else.

The promise of protection from Ebola, Hemorrhagic Dengue Fever, and Influenza, as well as other plagues and pestilences, is good only as we dwell in the shelter of the Most High, that is, in Christ.

Nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. (Psalms 91:6)

As I understand it, the shelter or secret place of the Most High is the same state of being as the "rest of God."

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)

After we have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and before the Lord returns, there is an experience referred to as "the rest of God." The rest of God is that state of being in which we always are aware of the will of God for us, and we always have the strength, wisdom, and desire to do God's will.

Those of us who have received the Pentecostal blessing must now press forward into the rest of God, which is our land of promise.

The protections of the 91st Psalm apply only to those who are dwelling in the rest of God. Only those who are living in the rest of God will be transformed when Jesus returns, and then, along with the saints who have returned with the Lord Jesus, ascend to meet Him at His staging area in the air. From there, He along with the army of saints and angels will descend and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

It may be important to present at this time a thought that may not have as yet been brought to the attention of the reader.

To be saved, an individual must believe in Christ, His Lordship, His atoning blood, His victorious resurrection from the dead, and His return to earth in the future. He also must be baptized in water, into the death and resurrection of the Lord.

To be saved is to be eligible for citizenship on the new earth as a member of one of the nations of saved people. These are the "sheep" who ministered to the needs of Christ's disciples while they were pursuing their discipleship on the earth.

"Believe and be baptized, and you shall be saved." This message is for the "sheep.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

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 kingdom prepared for you." The "kingdom" is the Church, the believers called out from the world to serve God as a Royal Priesthood.

This means that the people of the Church have been called out of the Antichrist world system, and are being urged to enter the rest of God so in the future they can minister to the needs of the people of the nations, the "sheep," who have chosen to believe in Christ and be baptized in water.

The people of the Christian churches simply cannot minister effectively to the sheep until the ministers themselves have been set free by the Lord Jesus from sin and self-will.

The sheep have ministered to the needs of the saints, the Lord's brothers, and have believed in Christ and been baptized in water. These same "brothers" will in turn bring the Presence and blessing of God to the sheep, when the new sky and earth appear. They are the Kingdom, the members of the Royal Priesthood.

Now we come to people who are saved but who are not of the "sheep." These are the members of the Royal Priesthood, that is the Christian Church, the "brothers" of the Lord Jesus, the "kingdom" prepared for the sheep.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:14)

The "nations" are composed of the "sheep" who ministered to the disciples of the Lord Jesus during their rigorous training on the earth.

"Its light" refers to the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church, the Kingdom of God. The "sheep" are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus and His co-heirs.

As I said previously, "Believe and be baptized" is addressed to the sheep.

A different admonition is given to the members of the elect, the Church, the "Royal Priesthood."

It is, "You must be born again if you would see or enter the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the new Jerusalem, the glorified Christian Church.

We may use the term "born again" to refer to "accepting Christ." This is not a correct use of the term. An individual must accept Christ. At that time a portion of the Spirit of God and the Seed of God is given to him or her. The extent to which the individual is "born again" depends on the attention they give to nourishing and otherwise taking care of the Seed.

The fruit of the Seed can be brought forth to a thirtyfold, sixtyfold, or hundredfold extent.

From that time, his or her appointed destiny begins to operate. If his appointed destiny is to be a member of the elect, the Church, he or she will be drawn to seek Christ. He now is in the pursuit of eternal life---more eternal life, more of Christ than was given to him when he first received Christ.

If the individual faithfully seeks Christ, obeying Him each day, he will pass to the ranks of the chosen.

It can be seen readily that there are ranks in the Kingdom, and this is why we must run in order to attain to the prize.

If he or she then pursues Christ in spite of the many obstacles placed before them, they will pass to the ranks of the faithful. Called, chosen, and faithful. Remember, we are not speaking now of the sheep drawn from the nations, but of those destined to be closer to Christ.

The drawing to be closer to Christ, to bring forth a hundredfold of what was sown, depends partly on the Father's will for us, and partly on us---whether or not we are faithful.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over 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)

Here is something we might wish to consider. We may be tempted to think, "Oh well, if I do not run the race all the way to the hundredfold, although the call is on me for God's highest and best, I will just slip back to a lesser destiny.

We need to consider Judas Iscariot, who was one of the Twelve. He was called and chosen, But he was not faithful. Consider his end, if you believe you can neglect the calling that is on you and still have a successful life.

All Christians must come to understand that if we do not grasp that for which God has called us, there may be very serious consequences. Think about what happened to the servant who buried his talent!

Remember our Lord said, "Many that are last shall be first, and the first last."

The day in which we are living is last in time. Now the revelation of the Word is rich. There are thrones of glory, just waiting for someone to pursue God with sufficient constancy and ardor to mount one of those thrones. The thrones were not as visible in time past, and the Word was not as clear as it is now.

We need to think seriously about pressing into the rest of God, into that state in which we always are aware of God's will for us and have been given the strength, wisdom, and desire to do that will.

The following is a way of entering God's rest:

Every time you think of it, during the day and night, ask the Lord Jesus two things. Ask Him if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing. Ask Him also if you are where you are supposed to be.

If Christ says "No" to either question, then ask Him repeatedly to have you do what is assigned and to be where He wants you to be.

If you will pray faithfully, and do what He tells you to do, you soon will be getting a "Yes" to both questions.

Now you are in the rest of God. Do not leave. Remain in the shelter, the secret place, of the Most High.

The Christian discipleship is more than a confession of faith. It is a race that we are to run.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24)

There are numerous hurdles that must be surmounted. There are enemies, constant demonic harassment. There is opposition from well meaning people.

There is destructive doctrine from sincere but misled teachers of the Gospel. There is the pressure of friends. Sometimes there are financial problems or some form of health disability.

It is up to you and me to be faithful to God, and persevere as He assists us. God is absolutely faithful and will help us every time we go to Him with a problem.

There is a reward for every victory we attain to. We press on, and on, and on, with the fullness of God in sight. There is no telling what glory will be ours if we keep on pressing forward in Christ.

However, we do not seek glory for ourselves. Our motivation is to please God who has called us to live at His right hand in Christ.

Also, the more of God we gain, the more we have to give to other people who may not be as strong as we are.

Very difficult days are approaching the United States because of our sinful ways. God is removing His covering from us. It is His covering that has made the United States the envy of many nations, not our system of democracy. We soon will find this to be the case, I believe.

There seems to be little we can do to guide the governmental agencies into making wise decisions. They appear to be following their own self-interests instead of the interests of the nation.

For this reason I am exhorting all who will hear me to strive to enter the narrow gate and to run on the narrow path that leads to eternal life. Few there be who find it. Many are called but few are chosen. Our casual church attendance is going to lead not to glory but to remorse.

Keep asking Jesus if you are doing what He wants; if you are where He wants you to be. If the answer consistently is "Yes," you are in the shelter of the Most High.

Then no evil shall befall you no matter how morally and physically chaotic our nation becomes.

Do not be concerned about your death or the death of a loved one. What is death if it is not release from the valley of the shadow of death and entrance into the righteousness, love, joy, and peace of the Presence of Jesus in the spirit world?

But if we take our ease in America at the present time, not running after the Lord at all times with all the fervor we possess, our future will be grim indeed.

This morning before I went to the pulpit, the Lord told me death and destruction are at hand, although we were a happy group in the assembling.

I looked at the front wall of the church and I saw the Grim Reaper.

I also saw the Lord pouring out a solution that I believe will heal us from all plagues and pestilences.

I do not know what it all means. But I do know that the promises of the 91st Psalm will hold as a mighty rock for those who live in that state of being known as the rest of God.

When we live in the rest of God, we are fulfilling the fiat: "Man shall not live by food alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God."

As such, we have become the firstfruits to God of mankind.

This is how our Lord Jesus lives!

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Godly Character Versus Traditional Grace

2015-03-29

In this essay, I am employing the term, "grace" in the traditional sense, that it is God's solution for those of us who do not live as righteously as we should. We go to Heaven by grace, we say, although nowhere in the Scriptures is it stated that we go to Heaven by grace.

Paul used the term, "grace" to tell us about how God's program operates apart from our religious efforts. There is a terrible difference between these two definitions of grace.

Contemporary Christian teaching presents "grace" as an alternative to the development of godly character and righteous behavior. This ought not to be!

If the rewards will be given to the victorious saints, and if grace is an alternative to character development, it seems that grace will interfere with the program of developing victorious saints.

According to the Bible, the members of the Royal Priesthood will have awesome responsibilities in the future, such as in the renewal of the creation. How can this be true if they do not have a godly character and behave righteously? Will grace create a godly character?

If we are to be made in God's image, we certainly should have a character like His. Where does grace enter this picture?

The Bible used to be called "The Good Book" because it taught people how to be good. Now it is "The Grace Book" because it teaches people how to please God without being good.

There are sins that proceed from our character, from what we are as a person.

Then there are sins that are spirits that dwell in our flesh. These are alien to our personality. They are not what we are as a person. Most of them can be cast out fairly easily.

Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:20)

Paul's character judged the sin living in him as evil. He did not accept it. The fact that the sin was "living" in him shows that the sin is not a chemical force but a personality having life.

An example of a sin of character is that of the disciples striving as to who would be the greatest.

But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. (Mark 9:34)

They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." (Mark 10:37)

That kind of spiritual ambition, the desire to rule over others, has no place in the Kingdom of God!

When God tested Abraham in the matter of offering Isaac as a burnt sacrifice, this was a test of character, that is, of Abraham's obedience to God.

One reason God permits unclean spirits to dwell in our flesh is to test our character; to see if we will obey the moral laws of God.

When we die, we are not troubled with the sins in our flesh, because our flesh is in the ground and the spirits have fled. Whether these spirits of sin can then attack our spirit in the spirit world, I do not know.

The real issue is that of character. And the issue of character is obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, which is equivalent to obedience to God.

Adam and Eve had no spirits of sin dwelling in their flesh. Neither had they suffered any experiences that would shape their character.

Sin was present, just waiting to inhabit them. God warned Cain of this.

"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 rule over it." (Genesis 4:7)

But you must rule over it!

It is in the act of ruling over the sin that dwells in them that the saints prepare themselves to govern in the Kingdom of God. This is another reason God permits unclean spirits to dwell in us, although we did not ask to have sinful spirits occupying our flesh.

Eve, in her innocence, as well as Adam, disobeyed God in the matter of eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil. This gave sin an opportunity to enter their flesh, and disobedience a chance to form their character.

Where these spirits of sin come from, I do not know. I suppose they are the same as demons, although people do not like to think of demons dwelling their flesh.

I never have heard anyone explain where demons come from. It is certain that God did not create them. I do not have the sense that they are fallen angels.

It is possible that they originally were people who permitted sin to dominate them to the point that their character personified some aspect of sin. Then when they died, God, instead of placing them in Hell, sent them back to earth to test the characters of the saints and to give His elect an opportunity to learn spiritual warfare.

In the battle to overcome evil, ruling strength is developed in our character. The purpose of redemption is to develop godly character and righteous behavior in God's elect, His Church. Learning to overcome sin and self-will is necessary if we are to inherit the Kingdom, and the sin that dwells in our flesh plays an important role in this process of character formation.

Or, the demons may be some kind of extension of Satan. However, I question whether Satan is able to create intelligent beings, as the demons appear to be.

The demons came from somewhere, but the Bible does not tell us where they originated. God said to Cain, "Sin crouches at the door," as though sin consists of personalities of some sort. We notice that the unclean spirits recognized Jesus as being God's Son and spoke intelligently to Him.

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (Matthew 8:28,29)

The demons recognized Jesus as God's Son and spoke to Him concerning the coming Day of Judgment. It is obvious to me that the demons are not inanimate principles of sin or chemical substances,.

God's first concern is man's obedience. God requires absolute obedience. We pray for that, don't we. "Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven."

I believe when leading someone to Christ we ought to emphasize that Jesus is our Lord as well as Savior. People often are glad to have their sins forgiven. But the prospect of doing the will of Christ may not be as pleasant to them.

The problem with the people of the world is that they build and operate their lives according to their self-will instead of according to God's will. This is why the world is in the present turmoil.

The same is true of most Christians. They build and operate their lives according to their self-will instead of according to God's will. This is why it is difficult for them to overcome the sins dwelling in their flesh.

I think most Christians are of the opinion that when they die, or are caught up into Heaven in an unscriptural "rapture," and their spirit enters the spirit world, their problem with sin is over.

While the sin that was resident in their now-dead flesh no longer is a problem (I guess), there still is the question of their character.

It appears that numerous Christians in America are casual in their service to Christ. It could not be said of them that they are presenting their body to God as a living sacrifice. And this is not because of the unclean spirits in their flesh but because of the kind of character they have. They basically are disobedient to God. They have not chosen to serve the Lord Jesus.

It could not be said of them that they are being transformed by the renewing of their mind, in view of the abundance of time they spend on the worldly media.

It could not be said of them that they deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow the Lord Jesus in humble obedience. It may be true that they do not even know what the will of Christ is for them.

It could not be said of them that they faithfully are operating a gift of the Spirit in order to build up the members of the Body of Christ.

It could not be said of them that they have placed their treasures in Heaven.

It could not be said of them that they strive each day to put off the old adamic nature and are putting on the new Nature of Christ.

Now, think about this.

Christians believe that when they enter the spirit world they will have no problem with a sinful nature. On what passage of the Bible do they base this hope?

The truth is, the act of dying does not change our character. How could it? If we are a lazy, disobedient servant, as in the case of the man who buried his talent, will Christ change our character so it is like His?

If we have followed Christ far off in the present world, is it likely that when we die we will become a fervent disciple, waiting patiently to hear and obey Christ's every utterance? Will we be placed with Isaiah, Moses, Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul, and the martyr, Stephen?

Does this seem likely to you?

Remember, Satan created sin, one might say, when he was in the spirit realm, serving as a guardian cherub whose wings overshadowed the very Throne of God Almighty!

In the light of this fact, why would a half-hearted American "Christian" be so favored as to receive a transformed character by virtue of appearing before Him whose eyes are as fire?

Does entering the spirit world change the character of a person?

There is going to be weeping and wailing when many members of the present generation of Christians stand before the judges at the final resurrection. They thought "grace" would save them. But grace never excuses anyone who is disobedient to the Word of God and does not repent.

The sins of the flesh are symptoms of a deeper and far more serious problem. That problem is self-will—serving our own desires instead of obeying God. And our self-will proceeds from our character.

The third and fourth chapters of the Book of Hebrews admonish us concerning our entering the "rest of God."

The picture is drawn of the Israelites disobeying God in the matter of pressing forward to the occupation of the land of Canaan. The land of Canaan is viewed as "God's rest."

"That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'" (Hebrews 3:10,11)

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)

Notice how disobedience proceeds from unbelief.

Then the writer of the Book of Hebrews urges these experienced believers to press on past what they had experienced in Christ and enter the rest of God.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

As I said, the "rest" offered to the Israelites was the land of Canaan. The question now is, what is the "rest" offered to us Christians?

Our rest is this: a state of being in which we always know God's will, and always are given the strength, wisdom, and desire to do that will.

This is what God wants of every one of us.

This is what it means to abide in Christ.

This is what it means to dwell in the shelter of the Most High.

This is the image of Christ, to which we are being conformed.

This is what it means to live by every Word of God.

As we enter and continue to dwell in the rest of God, our character is formed in obedience to Christ. As a result we gain the faith to drive out from our personality the sins of the flesh.

Here is a simple way of determining if you are dwelling in the rest of God; under the shelter of God; if you truly are abiding in Christ:

Right now ask Jesus if you are doing what He wants you to do ; if you are where He wants you to be. If He answers "Yes" to both questions, you are living in the rest of God.

If His answer is "No" to either question, then pray until you hear "Yes" to both questions. Otherwise, recognize that you are not in the Lord's will for you. You cannot claim the promises of the 91st Psalm, and they are of extreme importance in the day in which we are living in America.

Godly character and righteous behavior are formed in us as Christ is formed in us. Godly character always, always, always obeys God, no matter how severe the temptation to do otherwise. Abraham is the father of this sort of person.

My personal desire is to be always at the right hand of God, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.

Following is a verse that became meaningful to me over sixty years ago:

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)

Such people will represent God throughout His creation. Can you see now why grace is not an effective means of serving God? How could God make a "Christian" who continually is behaving in a sinful manner, His representative throughout the creation?

How could Christ write the name of the Father, the name of the new Jerusalem, and His own new name on a self-centered, disobedient, arrogant individual, who hopes to receive the Divine rewards by "grace"?

How did the Christian churches ever become entangled in such a travesty of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?

God always requires upright character of His servants. The new covenant has delivered us from the Law of Moses, but not from integrity of character!

This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. (Genesis 6:9)

Do you really believe that God, since the days of Noah, has changed His mind about righteous behavior? Neither do I!

Notice the following:

God "will repay each person according to what they have done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:6,7)

God "will repay each person according to what they have done."

Yes, or no?

Two conditions must be observed concerning the passage above.

If the Father sends Christ to someone in order to make that person a member of the elect, and the individual rejects Christ, then no matter how honorable and righteous the person may be, he or she is under condemnation.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:18)

The first law of the Kingdom of God is belief in and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The second condition is that the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ must live a godly life in order to inherit eternal life. Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia.

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 6:6,7)

It appears to be the way of religion, including the Christian religion, to stress its belief system and obedience to its liturgical practices. These are held to be more important than godly character and righteous behavior.

We see this principle magnified in the behavior of the Pharisees at the time of Christ.

I do believe that many Christian preachers and evangelists have forgotten what godly character is. They preach "grace" and not godly character. Sometimes they lack integrity, or behave in an immoral fashion, or lie, or steal, or engage in denominational politics, or falsify their income tax return. This lack of godly preaching and character is an error of enormous magnitude.

How can they represent the Lord Jesus when they do not have integrity of character or preach righteous behavior? I know the Lord Jesus is deeply grieved over this lack of character in His representatives!

God is not impressed with the teaching of "grace." God is impressed with godly character and righteous behavior.

Grace is a device God uses to enable us to leave the Law of Moses and pursue the Lord Jesus without distraction.

In the case of a weak individual who loves God and longs to do His will, grace can be as a cable that supports the window-washer of a 100-story building. God loves His weak children.

But today the "gospel of grace" is preached to people who could be strong, mature Christians of godly character and righteous behavior, if the preacher and evangelist would announce the true Gospel of the Kingdom.

God is concerned about what kind of person we are, about honesty, integrity, truthfulness, faithfulness. What does "grace" have to do with these?

There has been no change from the Old Testament standard of godly character, except that now the Lord Jesus Christ will enable us to live a life far more righteous than was true under the Law of Moses, and to have a character resembling His own.

The moral infancy of so many people who claim to be Christians is evident to people of the world, and they are not impressed.

They see the "diaper crowd," waiting to be carried up to their unscriptural mansion in an unscriptural "rapture," trusting that God will change their diapers without any effort on their part.

God loves His babies I am sure. However, they neither are qualified nor competent to be co-heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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What Does It Mean to be “Saved by Grace”?

2015-04-05

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

While I was in the United States Marine Corps, stationed in Honolulu, some 70 years ago, I was led to accept Christ by some fellow Marines.

I was given the famous Ephesians 2:7,8 as an introductory verse. I believed what I was told. We are unable to keep God's commandments. So God, in order to bring us to Heaven, has issued grace. Grace means that God overlooks our sins, seeing us through Christ.

I suppose this means that when we lie, God sees the truthfulness of Christ.

I believed this for a few years. Then, I think, God gave me a gift of understanding the Bible. As this gift developed in my mind and spirit, I realized that there were inconsistencies in what I was being taught.

A significant part of the New Testament is devoted to urging us to put away the old nature with its deceitful lusts, and to put on the new mature which is created in godliness of character and behavior.

Why is there such an emphasis on righteous living if God sees us through Christ?

Then the answer came to me. Christian teaching and preaching has an incorrect goal.

While I was in public education I became interested in the new emphasis on goal-centered instruction. It makes so much sense, but it is a threat to the teachers who believe that just their presence in the classroom accomplishes what the public believes the public schools are supposed to do.

The idea of clearly defined goals and ways of testing progress toward those goals is not always welcomed.

I discovered in Christian preaching and teaching a somewhat similar similar situation. Goal confusion!

The venerable goal of Christian (and other religious institutions) preaching and teaching is to attain to residence in Heaven, and not in Hell, when we die. While residence in some sort of paradise may be the goal of other religions, such as the "Happy hunting grounds" of the American Indians, and the dancing girls of the Muslim religions, residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation is not found in the Christian Bible.

Paul, Peter, James, John, and the writer of the Book of Hebrews, spoke quite a bit about our change in God's image, but they never once presented eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation.

Can you grasp what a radical statement I just made?

If you think about it, the great cloud of witnesses, of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, already are in Heaven. But they are waiting for us so we can be made perfect together. Evidently they are marching along with us in the Divine plan of redemption.

If this is true, merely being in Heaven is not the goal of salvation.

If attainment to eternal residence in the spirit Heaven is not the goal of our salvation, then what extensive changes would have to be made in our preaching, teaching, and hymnology?

If I am not mistaken, it is time now for a reformation of Christian theology!

What, then, is the goal of the salvation brought to us by the Lord Jesus Christ?

The goal is to be created in the image and likeness of the Father of our Lord Jesus, which are the same as the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Himself.

Our goal has not changed from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. God has set out to create a new race of creatures, creatures who will form a Kingdom; creatures who will provide for Himself a house, a resting place, and a location for His Throne.

These creatures, male and female, are to be in His moral image; and in due time, when their moral image approaches perfection, in His likeness. That likeness may be seen in the first chapter of the Book of Ezekiel and the Book of Revelation.

There may some modifications, but those likenesses are the general idea of what is meant when God says His sons and daughters shall be in His likeness.

Such a goal is far, far superior to that of going to Heaven to live in an unscriptural mansion, praising God for ten thousand years, and doing nothing else of significance or value for eternity. Most of us would not care for this sort of destiny, as much as we may bleat about it in church..

According to the Book of Isaiah, it will be the responsibility of Christ, Head and Body, to bring righteousness to the nations of the earth. This is not possible for us to accomplish until we have made some progress in becoming the image of God.

Can you see now why I maintain that we are in need of a reformation of Christian thinking and teaching?

Viewing residence in Heaven as our goal, and viewing conformation to the image and likeness of God as our goal, are as different in their demands and outworking as possibly can be envisioned.

In the Heaven goal, after we have "accepted" Christ as our Lord and Savior, there is little else crucial to our redemption, that we are obliged to do. We are waiting to die and go to Heaven. As Ephesians states, "our salvation is not by works lest any man should boast."

In the "image-of-God goal," every moment of every day is to be dedicated to pressing into the rest of God, into that state of being in which we are conscious of the will of God for us, and have the strength, wisdom, and desire to do that will.

We are to keep asking the Lord Jesus if we are where He wants us, and doing what He wants us to do. If at any time we hear "No" as an answer to either or both of these questions, we must go to the Lord in prayer until He works our circumstances so that we hear a Yes."

Otherwise we are considered to be a rebel against God and are neither qualified nor competent to be resurrected and ascend with all the other of Christ's warrior to the staging area in the air, at the appearing of the Lord Jesus.

In this essay, I am contrasting the traditional definition of "grace," that it is God's solution for those of us who do not live as righteously as we should, with the manner in which the Apostle Paul used the term.

We go to Heaven by grace, we say, although nowhere in the Scriptures is it stated that we go to Heaven by grace.

Paul used the term, "grace" to tell us about how God's program operates apart from our religious efforts. There is a terrible difference between these two definitions of grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.

"Grace,", as I stated, is God's program of salvation apart from our religious efforts. This is a key to moving the Jew from the Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

"Grace is a manifestation of favor--favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity" (Dictionary.com).

This means that while you are in the program of confessing and turning away from your sin, the atoning blood is covering those actions of yours that as yet have not been dealt with.

Please notice carefully that grace is not a permanent way of having fellowship with God. Rather it is a temporary provision until God has dealt with all the sin and self-will in our personality.

Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:17)

"Salvation" is deliverance from wrath, and also is qualification for entrance into the new world of righteousness.

"Faith" is our conviction that God is good, and He faithfully is bringing us to eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace. There is no faith for yesterday, only for now!

Putting these three definitions together we have:

God's program of salvation apart from our religious efforts delivers us from wrath and qualifies us to be brought forward to the new world of righteousness. God's program operates as we hold fast to our conviction that God is good, that He faithfully is bringing us to righteousness, love, joy, and peace this very moment.

And this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

God's program of salvation is not our idea, it is God's gift to us. Even the faith necessary to enter this marvelous salvation is a gift to us.

I can remember when I was about nineteen years of age, the way of salvation through Christ was pointed out to me. I did not have enough faith to receive it.

So one night I prayed for faith. The next morning I had the necessary faith; so I believed what I had been told and entered eternal life.

I am assured from the New Testament that any person who wants to be saved from God's wrath and, after the final resurrection and Day of Judgment, be admitted to citizenship on the new earth, is welcome to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized in water on the basis of his or her new faith. Such shall be "saved," the Bible states.

The opportunity to thus gain eternal life is as a tree of life, which the members of the Church become when they attain to "waters to swim in." It is their responsibility to bring eternal life to those people who are not called to be part of the Church.

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)

However, there is a sovereign working of God in the case of the members of the Church, the Royal Priesthood.

I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:6-9)

The term "church" itself means "called out." So we understand that God brings to the Lord Jesus Christ those whom He desires to have as His own family, we might say. It is their responsibility to be a witness of God to the remainder of mankind. They shall be kings and priests in the future, so that Paradise may be restored and maintained.

The fact that God has called His priests out of the world with the intention of raising them to glory does not mean there is nothing they are to do. They must follow the Lord Jesus Christ at all times, obeying Him in every situation. If they are not careful, it is possible for someone to take their crown.

So we see that in the case of the members of the Church, it is especially true that their salvation is altogether of the Lord, in that He has called them to glory from the beginning of the world. They belong to God in a special way.

I am stressing in this essay that we do not save ourselves by any type of religious striving. Our religious striving can move us away from the true salvation of the Lord. Consider the Pharisees of old!

At this point I wish to discuss the dreadful error that permeates Christian teaching.

Because the Apostle Paul stressed that our salvation is not produced by our religious striving but is the gift of God, modern evangelical teaching leaves the distinct impression that we no longer need be concerned about whether or not we sin; whether or not we deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred desires, and follow the Lamb of God wherever He leads.

When we read through the Epistles, we discover that this is not the case at all!

Writing to the Christian people in Rome:

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)

Writing to the Christian people in Galatia:

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)

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)

Writing to the Christian people in Ephesus:

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

Writing to the Christian people in Colossi:

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

I have never heard a minister of the Gospel preach from one of these five texts. Have you? I think it is because the modern definition of Divine grace does not agree with such passages. Could this be true? Is today's Christian teaching shot through with an incorrect understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God?

Is it a fact that eternal life, which we are taking for granted, depends on our driving from our personality the sins of the flesh?

Is it true that few find the gate and the way to eternal life?

Have we been greatly deceived with the teaching of "free grace"?

It appears so, doesn't it?

The Bible no longer is the "Good Book," telling us how to do good. It now is the "Grace Book," telling us how to sin and still please God.

If there is a greater travesty in the history of the world, I am not acquainted with it.

Paul goes on to say:

For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

You may have heard someone preach Ephesians 2:8,9. But it is likely that they never added the next verse. This tells us something, doesn't it? There is an agenda operating here!

God has given us a program of salvation that operates as we place our faith in the Lord Jesus and follow Him. Its purpose is to create us in Christ Jesus to do good works.

What is the meaning of, "which God prepared in advance for us to do?

The answer to this is found in the new covenant (which is the only Christian covenant although it is addressed to Israel and Judah).

"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31,32)

Why has God given us a new covenant?

Because we broke His covenant with our sin. We were wicked and sinful.

Here is the important question: If God gave us a new covenant because we were wicked and sinful under the old covenant, what should be true of the new covenant?

Today's answer is: God has decided that we are unable to keep His commandments, so He has given us grace so we might be able to enter Heaven without putting off the old nature and putting on the new nature that is created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Am I correct?

We are preaching the new covenant as follows: "Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and I will overlook your sins and rebellion, because My commandments are impossible for you to keep."

That is our idea of a "better" covenant. But is it God's idea?

"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:33,34)

The "law" which is written in our mind and heart is not the Law of Moses, but the eternal moral law of God's Character, His image, of which the Law of Moses is an abridged, somewhat ceremonial, version.

Under the new covenant there is an eternal forgiveness of our wickedness. However, the eternal forgiveness of our wickedness depends upon our diligence in abiding in Christ and bringing forth the fruit of righteous behavior.

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 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (Hebrews 6:4-8)

Some, who are desperate to support the "free grace" doctrine have maintained that these Christian Jews were not actually Christians.

Once been enlightened.

Tasted the heavenly gift.

Shared in the Holy Spirit.

Tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age.

In addition they had survived persecution.

And these were not genuine Christians?

I would say that not all Christian preachers and evangelists have integrity. Some are following their own desires rather than the Lord Jesus.

And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (II Corinthians 11:14,15)

In the above we are attempting to answer the question: What is the meaning of, "created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do"?

The "good works" proceed from the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart.

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." (Hebrews 10:16)

The new covenant is a better covenant because it causes us to grow into the image of God. Such moral change in us could never be produced by any religious efforts of our own.

This is God's idea of salvation. It comes from Heaven but has nothing to do with our going to Heaven. Its purpose is to prepare brothers of the Lord Jesus who can work with Him in installing and preserving the will of God throughout the creation of God.

When we are tempted to sin, we call on Christ for assistance. When by His help we overcome the temptation, a portion of the eternal moral law of God, the body and blood of the Lamb of God, is written in our mind, so we understand it; and in our heart, so we delight in obeying Christ.

When we yield to the temptation, we then are to confess our sin and ask the help of Jesus se we never behave that way again—for eternity! Then, after we go through a few fires, if we now have overcome that particular temptation, God will write His eternal moral law in our mind and heart with the body and blood of the Lord Jesus.

We can understand from this system of moral transformation how threadbare is the preaching that God is overlooking our sinful, self-willed behavior so He can bring us to Heaven. That plan of salvation would result only in bringing sin and self-will into Heaven.

It really is a dreadful misunderstanding!

"Saved by grace" means we are not forgiven and created to do good works through means of our religious striving. It is God who gives us faith to believe that he will save us from wrath and cause us to do good works.

The meaning of grace is different from forgiveness. Grace means that God has decided to lift us up to himself and to cause us to do righteous works apart from our religious efforts.

It does not mean we can cease pressing forward into Christ until we attain to what God has chosen for us, and God will forgive us anyway because of his love and mercy.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! (Romans 5:9)

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)

You may have noticed that there are two laws that have as their purpose, leading us to righteousness. There is the Law of Moses, in which we read the statute and do it. This obedience used to result in life.

Now there is another law, the law of the Spirit who gives life.

Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

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

The Spirit of God operates the new covenant, just as the written statues of Moses operated the old covenant.

The Law of Moses deals with many factors of our life as a human being. The law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus focuses on the actions of our personality that are not in the image of God.

Thus, as many as are led by the Spirit of God are occupied with putting to death the sins of their flesh, leading to the image of God. I do not see this same emphasis in the statutes of Moses, although there assuredly is an emphasis on righteous behavior.

I would guess that the Law of Moses was a necessary forerunner of the covenant that God had in mind all the time.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)

The difference between the covenant of the letter and the covenant of the Spirit is remarkable.

Can you imagine the Pharisees overlooking the joy of the man with the withered hand when Jesus healed him on the Sabbath! The Pharisees could not take pleasure over this act of mercy because they were bound with the Sabbath commandment.

Even more dramatic is the Pharisees' insistence that the three men who were crucified were to be removed from the cross because of the Sabbath. Yet one of those three was the Word of God from eternity. Such blindness!

Here we see the superiority of a covenant that works by the Spirit and not by the will of man.

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:25)

Under the new covenant, God has forgiven us for eternity.

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:15)

It is an eternal redemption.

God has forgiven us for eternity, provided we are continuing in the program of putting to death the deeds of our flesh.

"Their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." The atoning blood of the Lamb of God is covering us while we are working through the process of redemption. We are without sin at this point.

What a superior covenant this is? Indeed, the old covenant is passing away. The new covenant is busily creating men and women, boys and girls, in the image of God.

One day in the future this transformation will include our change into Christ's likeness. But our moral transformation into the image of Christ's moral Character must come first, and is of greater importance than our change into Christ's likeness.

Any behavior that is not in the image of God's moral Character is sinful!

The goal of the Christian salvation is to be created in the image and likeness of God; and it applies equally to boys and girls, men and women.

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Which Law Are We Under? Not Both!

2015-04-12

There is confusion today about the role of the Law of Moses in the Christian salvation.

Some Christians are keeping the Sabbath. Some, the seven feast days. Some are circumcising their children. Some do not eat pork.

What shall we say about these Christians? As long as they feel they are obeying God they should continue keeping those parts of the Law, although such observances are not required. Whatever is not of faith is sin!

Paul must turn over in his grave at Christians trying to keep parts of the Law of Moses. Paul had some strong things to say about the Judaizers who were trying to bring the Christian under the Law of Moses.

We can tell from Paul's writings that he was thoroughly disgusted if not angry with those who were emphasizing to the Christian believers parts of the Law of Moses.

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. (Galatians 6:15)

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Galatians 5:12)

We who do not observe any part of the Law of Moses should not condemn those who do; nor should those who do keep the Sabbath or some other part of the Law, condemn us who do not keep any part of the Law.

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. (Galatians 3:23-25)

Now, does the passage above state that we no longer are under the Law of Moses?

I think the average reader would say that according to the Apostle Paul, we no longer are under the Law of Moses. Would you agree with that?But can't we keep the Sabbath so we will have at least something to boast of?

I don't think so! Not according to the Apostle James.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)

I have been told that the term "guardian" above refers to a Greek slave who accompanied a boy to school so the boy would not be harmed or get into some kind of mischief.

According to Paul, we already have come to the school of Christ, so there no longer is need for a guardian.

I do not know what could be more clear.

To trust in any part of the Law of Moses for our salvation is to give us something to boast about.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8.9)

Whenever the Apostle Paul uses the term "works," he is referring to the works of the Law of Moses.

Because Paul is clear in his writings that we no longer are under any part of the Law of Moses, Christian scholars have come to the conclusion that we are bound by no law except the "law of love," which in its practical outworking is no law at all.

As long as we assent mentally to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we need not be concerned about our behavior. There is no Divine law that governs us, we claim.

This indeed is a calamitous conclusion and has produced moral chaos in the Christian churches.

There is a law that supersedes the Law of Moses. That Law is the Spirit of God Himself.

"According to Jewish tradition, Pentecost commemorates God giving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai fifty days after the Exodus." (Wikipedia)

The Jewish feast of Pentecost signifies the giving of the Law. It is easy to see from this that the outpouring of the Spirit on the early Church, on the day of the feast of Pentecost, is announcing the giving to us Christians a new law-- the Law of the Holy Spirit.

Isn't that marvelous?

And may I add that to mix any part of the Law of Moses to the Law of the Spirit serves only to distract us from looking to the Lord Jesus for the decisions we must make during our lifetime.

You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Corinthians 3:3)

The new covenant is the writing of the eternal moral law of God on our mind and heart. The Spirit of God uses the body and blood of Christ to write the true Law on our personality.

The Ten Commandments are an abridged form of the true and eternal Law. That true and eternal Law is what God is, in moral Character. That true and eternal Law is Christ Himself. It is Christ who is being formed in us, as the Spirit of God, using the body and blood of Christ, renews our mind and heart.

We go from Glory to Glory as we follow the Spirit in overcoming our sin and self-will; and these victories are recorded in our personality. Such is the new covenant.

One can perceive immediately how superior the new covenant is to the Law of Moses, in that the Law of Moses depends on the obedience of the flesh to the statutes written in granite and then on scrolls.

Notice how this works out in daily living:

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18)

"You are not to do whatever you want." Why not? Because we are under the Law of the Spirit.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. If you still are confused about the Sabbath, ask the Lord Jesus to have the Spirit lead you to observe the Sabbath.

There might be some special circumstance in which it is an act of Christian kindness toward someone for you to not work on Saturday. But the Spirit of God will never lead you to keep the Sabbath as a requirement established by the Lord Jesus.

Ask the Lord about this.

But what does the Spirit lead us to do? He leads us to confess and turn away from the sins of the flesh.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 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 8:12-14)

The Spirit of God guides and empowers us as we confess out sins and self-will and turn away from them. When we are obedient to the Spirit, He records our victories, writing them in our mind and heart.

This is what it means to "grow in Christ." We can perceive that the new covenant is Christ in us, formed as we obediently follow the Spirit of God.

If we attempt to add some part of the Law of Moses to the operation of the new covenant, we only bring confusion to the Divine program of redemption.

The goal of the Christian salvation is fellowship with the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Such fellowship can be accomplished only by following the Spirit of God. He is that Eliezer of Damascus, so to speak, who is bringing Rebekah to Isaac. Our efforts to do any religious work of our own succeeds only in misdirecting the camel.

But what does the Apostle say to his Jewish audience?

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Paul is telling the Jews that God is giving them a new covenant. Naturally the question in their mind is, "Can I leave the Law of Moses and still be saved?"

But notice that it is not just a case of leaving Moses:

Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

If there is a verse of Scripture more needed to be emphasized in the Christian churches, I do not know what it is.

We may blather about a "law of love." A law of love means we are free to do whatever we love to do. Galatians, Five (above) tells us we are not free to do what we want to do.

But what law are we under?

The Law of the Spirit who gives life.

The Law of the Spirit guides and enables us to confess and turn aside from our sins and self-will. By so doing we become qualified and competent to receive eternal, incorruptible life in our body when Jesus returns.

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)

Dear friend, rid yourself of the unscriptural teaching of the "rapture." The church people are not going to be caught up to Heaven any moment now.

When Jesus appears He will bring with Him the victorious saints of all ages so they may call up their bodies from the place of burial and give them eternal life.

The "Gideon's army" who are left on the earth after the Great Tribulation will also receive eternal life in their bodies. Then both groups, those who came with Jesus and those living on the earth at that time who are qualified and competent to receive life in their bodies, will be caught up to the staging area in the air.

There they will be mounted on white war stallions, and together with the army of angels, led by the Commander in Chief, will descend through the air and install the Kingdom of God on the earth.

Because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)

What is the law of sin and death? It is the Law of Moses interacting with our sinful flesh. Our flesh cannot obey the Law of Moses, so we, being disobedient, die spiritually.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. (Romans 7:11)

Exactly how does the Spirit who gives life set us free from the law of sin and death?

First of all, the Spirit requires that we count ourselves as dead, so the Law of Moses no longer has jurisdiction over us.

So, my brothers and sisters, 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 for God. (Romans 7:4)

Until we understand that God is willing to view us as crucified with Christ, we still are bound by the Law of Moses. We cannot escape Moses until we are "dead" with Christ.

Once we accept the fact that in water baptism we entered the crucifixion of Christ, we can enter the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus. When we are living in His Life, we are not to go back to the Mosaic statutes that govern the living. We who are "dead" are to look only to Jesus.

As we keep looking to the Lord Jesus, the Spirit of God shows us aspects of our personality that are not in the image of God. Then we, under the guidance of the Spirit, are to confess and turn away from these by the power of Christ.

This is how the new covenant operates. This is how the Spirit of Life sets us free from the law of sin and death.

The blood of Christ continually is making an atonement for those parts of our personality that have not been renewed in Christ as yet. So we remain without condemnation.

By one sacrifice Christ has set us free from sin forever, provided we continue to walk according to the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

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

The righteous requirement of the Law of Moses is fulfilled completely in us as long as are living in and obeying the Spirit of God.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (Romans 8:5)

It helps us to cooperate with the Spirit If we keep in our mind what our goal is. It is customary for Christian people to view eternal residence in Heaven after they die, as being their goal; their reason for receiving the Lord Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.

But this is not the goal of salvation presented in either the Old or New Testament.

The true goal of our salvation is presented in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. It is to be in the image and likeness of God, which is the same as the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unless we are becoming in Christ a new creation of righteous behavior, we cannot have fellowship with the Father and the Son.

Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." (II Corinthians 6:17)

In the image of God we think along with Christ; we speak along with Christ; we act along with Christ. Just as Christ live by the Father, so we learn to live by Christ.

We understand readily that observing the commands of Moses cannot possibly bring us into the kind of relationship that our Lord Jesus has with the Father. Only the Law of the Spirit of Life can do that.

On one or two occasions I was in the presence of some Christian people who sought to convince me that I should obey the Sabbath commandment. I found their spirit to be not that of the Lord. It was harsh and doctrinaire, not at all like the kind, joyful, peaceful attitude of Jesus.

I can understand how the Apostle Paul became so upset.

We cannot keep our mind on the Presence of Christ and on the numerous statutes of Moses at the same time. We have to be looking constantly toward one or the other throughout the day and night.

I have found the following practice to be helpful in keeping my mind on the Lord Jesus. Several times throughout the day I ask the Lord Jesus two questions: "Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing"; "Am I where I am supposed to be?"

If the answer to either or both of these two questions is "No," I turn to Christ immediately and ask Him to "fix it."

Until the answer to both questions is "Yes," I am not living in the rest of God and am not prepared for the coming of the Lord.

Try this exercise and see if it brings the Presence of Christ into your life in a greater way.

What law do you choose to live under, the Law of Moses, or the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus?

I have made my choice. It has brought to me righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

What has your choice brought to you?

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What Is the “New Creation”?

2015-04-19

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

Exactly what does the passage above mean? It is used today to signify that the individual believer has made a profession of faith in Christ?

But look at what it says:

"The new creation has come. The old has gone. The new is here. All this is from God."

Of how many believers is this true?

There is another passage that might be saying much the same thing.

Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again (John 3:3)

It certainly is true that when a person has been born again the new creation has come. But when a person is first born again in Christ, it cannot be said that the old is gone, the new is here. Rather, there is a potential that one day the old truly will be gone and the new truly will be here.

Could you agree with that?

But where is this going? What will the finished product be like?

I believe that the statement in I Corinthians, the fifteenth chapter, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom, gives us a key to the new creation.

"Flesh and blood," as it is being used in this context, means the same as a descendant of Adam and Eve. A descendant of Adam and Eve cannot possibly inherit the Kingdom of God.

Why not? Because every descendant of Adam and Eve is an animal creation. He or she is a mammalian vertebrate, more intelligent than other animals. Also, they have a spirit that can converse with God, which is not true of any other class of animals.

In Heaven the deceased people are spirits, having a human form. But they are not flesh and blood. Flesh and blood creatures live on the earth, nowhere else to the best of my knowledge.

Because of the way we behave, we humans have taken what has been revealed to us of the things of Christ and have attempted to build houses for God, just as Peter did. We have created religions. Christianity is a religion. The true salvation that the Lord Jesus brought to us is not a religions, it is a transformation from a flesh and blood creature to a new creation in the image of God.

Needless to say, God is not a flesh and blood creature. Yet we are to be made in His image. All of the old is to pass away. There is to be a new creation that can enter the Kingdom of God.

The Apostle said, to those who were criticizing him for not obeying the customs of the statutes of Moses, "I have been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I am living. However, it is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me."

The old has been done away. Adam has been done away.

The new creation has come. The new creation is the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus filling every aspect of our personality. When this is true, we can say in truth that the old has passed away and the new has come.

I employ a simple technique to cause the new creation to permeate every element of my personality. Throughout the day and night I ask the Lord if I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, and if I am where I am supposed to be.

If the answer to either question is "No," I ask the Lord to fix it until I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing.

I understand that people say they cannot hear the Lord. Perhaps if they continue to do faithfully what I am suggesting, God will let them know when they are missing His mark for them.

I realize that people say, "Once I am in God's will I can continue to do what seems to be God's will and the best things to do.

I have not found this to be a good idea. Sometimes as we are going along the path we think is God's will, and look to the Lord, we discover that God was pointing out a new direction and we were not seeing it.

We know that Jesus often prayed when His disciples were sleeping. Jesus said, "I can do nothing of Myself, only what I see the Father doing."

Again, "The words I speak to you are not My own words. The Father who is living in Me is speaking the words you are hearing.

We understand, if we are a Christian, that Christ is living in us. Perhaps if we spent less time on other duties and pleasures, and gave attention to what God is saying to us, we would learn to think as Christ is thinking; to speak as Christ is speaking; to act as Christ is acting.

Perhaps there are not many people who are willing to abandon their own desires and plans so that Christ may live in them. To me it is a delight. What a relief it has been to turn away from my own thinking and planning and keep seeking and doing the will of Christ.

Flesh and blood can never enter the Kingdom of God. Only Christ can enter the Kingdom and is the Kingdom.

Only the new creation, which is Christ in us, can enter the Kingdom. He is the hope of future Glory.

If we are to attain to the promises to the overcomers we will have to lean to walk in the Spirit of God. We learn to do this by looking constantly to the Lord Jesus.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18)

Each of us must consider ourselves crucified with Christ, and then seek to live in His resurrection Life. When we do, the requirement of the Law of Moses is fulfilled in us.

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

One important aspect of bringing forth the new creation, the new personality, is that of driving the sin and self-will from our adamic personality. The Holy will lead us to do this, and provide the wisdom and power so we make a success of this endeavor.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 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 8:12-14)

If we hope to be clothed with an incorruptible body when Jesus appears, which is part of the new creation, we must be seeking today to live by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus.

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)

The new covenant is not a covenant of the letter but of the Spirit of God. In fact, the Spirit of God is the Law of the new covenant, replacing the Law of Moses.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (II Corinthians 3:6)

The Book of Revelation provides some guidelines concerning the growth of the new creation in us.

The Lord Jesus promises the Church at Ephesus that if they will overcome the problems they were experiencing He would give them the right to eat from the Tree of Life. Eating continually from the Tree of Life, from the body and blood of Jesus, builds up the new creation in us.

But we must, through Christ, overcome the obstacles set before us if we are thus to grow in the new creation.

Jesus promises the Church at Smyrna that if they faithfully endured their tribulations to the point of death they would receive the crown of Divine Life. Again, building up the new creation.

These two rewards are given to us now if we lead a victorious life in Christ.

The Lord speaks sternly to the believers at Pergamum, warning them about sexual immorality. If they live in victory over this sin, they will be given some of the hidden manna (the body and blood of Christ). Also they will receive the white stone signifying they have passed from the ranks of the called to the ranks of the chosen.

This is a major step toward the new creation, and the manna and the white stone will be given to us now as we press forward in Christ.

Christ promises the Church at Thyatira that if they live in victory over sexual immorality and idolatry, in the future they will reign with Christ over the nations of the earth.

No flesh and blood human being will govern the nations with the Lord Jesus. The individual must be filled with the Divine Nature.

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 2:4)

The Lord Jesus tells the believers in Sardis that they are spiritually dead. They must wake up and live in victory in Christ.

The warning to these believers concerns membership in the Royal Priesthood. If they will serve Christ in victory, they will be clothed with the white robe of God's priests.

Christ speaks to the believers in Philadelphia to endure patiently, and warns them to guard their crown.

The promises to the victorious saints is that they will be pillars in the Temple of God. That the name of the Father will be written on them. That the name of the new Jerusalem will be written on them. Also that Jesus' new name will be written on them.

By and large, the believers in Laodicea are rebuked sternly by the Lord Jesus. But the promise to them is greater than any other it appears.

They are promised that if they open the door to the Lord, He will enter them and dine with them.

Then there is a reward so fantastic that one can scarcely grasp it. It is to sit with Christ and the Father on the great White Throne from which the nations and the angels are judged.

Finally, in Revelation 21:7, those who live in victory are designated as heirs of all God will make new in Christ. Also, and most marvelous of all other promises, they will be regarded as God's sons, He being their Father.

We have seen from the Book of Revelation some steps toward the new creation. These are available to all whom God has called to be part of His Church, His called-out people.

In our day the Thrones of Glory are waiting for occupants. Many who are last in time shall be of first rank in the Kingdom.

We must now waste our time on the media. A little bit of the affairs of the world are sufficient. We must give our attention to the development of the new creation in our personality.

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Mysteries To Be Revealed in the Last Days

2015-04-26

I am not going to be dogmatic in this brief essay, because there is a relationship between our position in Christ at the right hand of God and our conscious presence on the earth, between our spirit and our soul, that I do not understand. But I will set forth some thoughts that might be worth considering now that may be revised at a later time.

It appears clear to me that when we truly have received Christ, our born-again spiritual nature is at the right hand of God in Christ.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

There is nothing vague about the statements above.

We have been raised with Christ—past tense.

We have died, and our life now is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ appears, we (our life) will appear in glory.

Is this actually true? Is our spirit hidden with Christ in God right now? Are we at the right hand of God right now?

How high is that?

And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:19-23)

Have we been raised that high?

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:8,9)

The passage above sounds to me like we always will be spiritually at the right hand of God, as is true of the Lord Jesus. We will have the power of multiple presence, like the Lord Jesus, so wherever we go, our spirit remains at God's right hand in Christ.

Compare:

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)

In the present hour, we have a conscious presence on the earth. Yet our born-again spiritual nature is in Heaven at the right hand of God.

When we die, our conscious presence will be in the spirit world. Will we be joined to our spiritual nature at the right hand of God in Christ, or will we still be a separate entity?

The Apostle Paul wrote that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

Since we, if we truly are a disciple of the Lord Jesus and not just a casual church member, we are a member of the Body of Christ. Therefore my assumption is that when we die, our conscious presence will be in the heavenly Jerusalem along with Christ, since we are part of His body.

Then there comes the matter of our soul. Our soul is our "heart," we might say. It is where our decisions, our judgments, are made.

At the present time, our soul is in our body on the earth. When we die, where will our soul go? Probably it will go to the heavenly Jerusalem and be a conscious presence there, our spirit remaining hidden in Christ in the Throne Room of the heavenly Jerusalem.

On the other hand, the New Testament tells us that we were a soul and now we are a life-giving spirit.

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

So it may be true that the soul belongs to the flesh-and-blood creation, and the new creation in Christ is all spirit. This would mean that when we die and leave our flesh and blood in the place of interment, we never again will be a soul.

Perhaps our soul is "saved" by becoming a spirit!

In this case, our "life" will be viewed as part of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our decisions and judgments, will proceed from Him, and in turn will come from the Father. Our new life-giving spirit will assume the role formerly played by our soul.

This agrees with the passage above that states, "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

You know, the thought just came to me. As long as we are in a flesh-and-blood body we are spiritually dead. But the Spirit of Christ who is in us is spiritually alive because of His righteousness.

If we make progress in becoming the "new creation," Christ will see fit to clothe us in an incorruptible body. Then we will be alive as He is alive.

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming. (I Corinthians 15:22,23)

When Jesus returns, then those who are qualified and competent will be made alive by replacing their flesh and blood with a body of incorruptible life.

The Bible states that when that which is complete, or perfect, has come, that which is in part will be done away. Paul was referring to spiritual abilities. He was indicating that spiritual gifts are really for children; but when we grow up we are motivated by love.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (I Corinthians 13:8-10)

There is another passage that stresses a fullness of love.

May have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18,19)

Notice it says, "when completeness comes." That reminds us of the witnesses of the Book of Hebrews who are to be made perfect together with us. There is a Day Star, a presence of Christ, that is to come to those of the last days who are awaiting His appearance.

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

The thought is that the salvation we have today is a promise of a Day of Redemption that is to come in the future.

If I am not mistaken, there are verses in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John that point to a coming of Christ and the Father toward the end of the Church Era.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:18)

Just prior to the above statement, Jesus had promised that the Spirit of Truth would be in us forever. There may be some who would view the following verses as also referring to the coming of the Spirit of Truth to us, but this does not seem right to me.

I believe it is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, who makes the following promises possible. Perhaps the Spirit is as Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, bringing Rebekah to Isaac.

Jesus said He would come to us. The context suggests that this is not the second coming of Christ at which time every eye shall see Him. Rather, it is a spiritual coming to His disciples to prepare them for the actual second coming.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

It is my point of view that not one in a hundred of today's Christian church-goers is living by the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why not? Because they have been taught that eternal residence in Heaven in a mansion is our goal; they are candidates for entrance into Heaven by lawless grace; and any moment now the entire immature company will be caught up to Heaven in order to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation.

With this kind of preaching, I do not believe you will find too many people who are willing to forsake their own thinking, speaking, and behaving in order that they might think, speak, and behave by the Life of the Lord Jesus.

Am I correct in saying this?

Jesus said that if we are to be His disciple we must deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred gratification, and follow Him wherever He goes.

Is this what is being preached today?

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

Is this the experience of Christian people today?

I tell our congregation, "Always ask Jesus if you are where you are supposed to be, and doing what you are supposed to be doing. Ask Him this several times a day.

If you feel He is saying 'No', then ask Him to put you where you belong and help you do what it is He wants you to do."

This attitude of obeying Christ all the time in every circumstance is absolutely necessary if you hope to "see" Him today. Just going to church, although important, is not nearly enough to please Christ.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:20)

When you see Jesus; when you are living by His Life; on that Day you will know beyond all doubt that Christ is in His Father, you are in Christ, and Christ is in you.

What a marvelous experience this is! I believe for most of us it has been reserved for these last days.

What is this about the Father!

You know, I think it is because of the mischievous doctrine of the Trinity that we do not realize that Christ came to bring us to the Father. Maybe we do not even realize that there is a Father who is not the same as Christ. How unfortunate!

Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God."

The Father is the Father and God of the Lord Jesus. He also is our Father and our God.

In these closing days of the Church Era, the Father will become more widely known. Jesus came to earth to bring us to the Father. No person comes to the Father except through the Lord Jesus.

When we get saved we become acquainted with the Savior.

In "Pentecost" we become acquainted with the Spirit of God.

Now, during the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles, we are becoming acquainted with the Father.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

Honestly, I do not believe many of us realize that we are in Christ and He is in us.

We celebrate Christmas and Easter. Many believe that Christ is with us and helps us when we pray. But how many realize that Christ has been born in us and is being formed in us. To how many Christians is this a real experience?

As far as realizing that Christ is in His Father, the doctrine of the Trinity hastens to explain to us that this is just Christ's way of talking. He actually is the Father, not just in the Father.

Such doctrinal confusion. And so unnecessary.

Jesus will reveal the Father to you if you ask Him. Why don't you do that right this minute!

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21)

Now I ask you, if we had not been brainwashed by well meaning, theologians, would we not think from the above that the Father and Jesus are two Persons?

There is another thought here.

The doctrine of lawless grace informs us that we do not have to keep the commands of Christ, and that is fine because we are "saved by grace," meaning that no matter how we behave, we will have an eternal mansion in Heaven.

People, we ought to know better than this. The Bible used to be called the "Good Book" because it taught people how to please God by being good.

Now the Bible is called the "Grace Book," because it teaches people how to please God without being good.

Anyone with a brain or two would predict that if you teach people they can go to Heaven by grace, apart from righteous behavior, they will continue to behave unrighteously.

The truth is, to continue in unrighteous behavior is to not be saved, because being saved means that Christ is helping us change from a sinful person to a righteous person. That is what salvation is. We are saved from sinful behavior!

I don't believe people understand that today.

The Lord Jesus said if we keep His commands He would show Himself to us. I think we ought to take Him up on this.

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

Again we note that we prove our love to Christ by obeying His teaching. To say we love Christ, and do not do what He says, is ridiculous.

Also we see that Christ and the Father are two different People.

I think that the passage above is one of the greatest in the entire Bible. The Spirit of God already is in us. Now Christ and the Father are dwelling in us. But we have to get off the throne of our personality, because They are not going to share the throne with us, until maybe later when we can be trusted to obey Christ completely.

I am persuaded, that while a few intense Christian people in time past might have pressed forward to the Fullness of God, it is just now that the Spirit is pressing us to take advantage of this promise.

The coming of God to us now to prepare us for the coming of Christ in the clouds with His saints and angels, probably is the greatest mystery of our day.

And then there is the "rest" of God, set forth in the Book of Hebrews as our goal, our land of promise.

The rest of God is that state of being in which we always are aware of the will of God for us, and have received the strength, wisdom, and the desire to do God's will at all times, completely and cheerfully.

Perhaps the rest of God could not be considered a mystery, but I have never heard it preached. It probably has been preached and taught in many places.

In any case, we have to be living in the rest of God, having pressed through to the "new creation," if we expect to be made alive when the Lord Jesus returns.

We are in the beginning of the Day of Redemption.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14)

Who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

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The High Calling of God in Christ Jesus

2015-05-03

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Notice that the Apostle Paul, who certainly had been saved and born again, as we use the term, had a goal. What goal?

Paul was seeking a prize. What prize?

Obviously the goal, the prize, was not eternal residence in Heaven. If Paul was not qualified to go to Heaven by this time in his life, where does that leave us?

Any system that does not know what its goal is, is in confusion.

The Christian churches do not know what the goal of God's salvation is. They are in confusion, some emphasizing one doctrinal point, and some emphasizing another.

Paul states that his goal is "heavenward," meaning it is not of the earth. But the goal is not residence in Heaven, rather the goal is heavenly in nature.

How would you respond if I said our goal, our heavenly prize, is to be at rest in God as a member of the Body of Christ, a member of the Royal Priesthood?

To be at rest in God means we always know His will and have received the strength, wisdom, and desire to cast out of our personality all sin and self-will, putting all of the enemies of God under our feet.

You might think such a state of rest is impossible while we are alive on the earth. It not only is possible, it is required if we are to experience a change in our body and be caught up to the Lord on the Day of His appearing.

We are in a new day. Jesus said, "Many who are last shall be first." We are nearing the end of the Church Era. We are among the "last".

I am not speaking now of the salvation of the members of the nations who will be saved—the "sheep," we might say, but of the members of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Royal Priesthood.

We, in whom Christ has been conceived and is being formed, should not be thinking of our goal, our "Heaven," Rather, our goal is to respond to the position in which we were placed when we first received the Lord Jesus Christ. Our spiritual nature was caught up with Christ to the right hand of God, to the highest possible position in the spirit world.

And his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Ephesians 1:19-23)

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6,7)

Upon receiving Christ, the members of the Church, God's elect, were raised to the highest level possible.

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

I believe the verse above refers to the brothers and sisters of Christ. I think the woman is the Church. Jesus Christ Himself is not born of the Church. But He is born in the members of the Church.

It seems to me that the Church is in travail today that Christ may come to maturity in those believers who keep His commandments.

Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)

They, along with the Lord Jesus Christ, shall never leave God's right hand. In future ages, when they go somewhere to serve God, the center of their spiritual being (for they then will be life-giving spirits) will never leave their position in the Throne but their conscious presence shall travel about by the power of multiple presence, just as is true of the Lord Jesus.

The question may arise, "Can a believer in Christ who has been caught up with the Lord Jesus, ever lose his or her crown of life."

Yes. Satan at one time was a guardian cherub who wings covered the Throne of God in Heaven. But when iniquity was found in him, he was cast out of God's Presence.

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

To whom much is given, of them shall much be required!

There is a relationship between our spiritual presence in Christ at the right hand of God, and our flesh and soul on the earth. What we do on earth can affect our life that is hidden in Christ. After all, our presence at the right hand of God was determined by receiving Christ while we were living on the earth.

The Apostle Paul urges us to set our hearts on the right hand of God. This is difficult in America because of the abundance of material riches. There is one problem after another as we seek survive. But we must make the effort continually, day and night, to stop thinking and fretting about the troubles we are experiencing.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Colossians 3:1)

It is so easy to let our minds be occupied with the things of the present world, and to keep our minds on our position that is in the Presence of Christ and God.

We need to keep asking the Lord to open our spiritual eyes so we can observe the majesty and beauty of God, the Lamb, the twenty-four elders, the four cherubim, and that great emerald Throne from which the rays of power that control the universe are emanating.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:2)

Given the present confused state the world it is going to be dreadfully important to keep our mind in Heaven with the Lord Jesus. Otherwise we are going to be fretting continually and not growing in Christ.

We must keep telling ourselves that when we were baptized in water we died with Christ, and now we are alive and living in His resurrection Life. This is true right now; but shall we worked out in far greater reality when Christ returns and makes alive our mortal body.

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

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3)

The spiritual Life of Christ we are enjoying today shall be enhanced greatly when Christ appears.

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

Let's stop for a moment and think about what the verse above is stating.

When Christ, who is your life. How many of today's Christian people can say truthfully that Christ is their life?

The Apostle Paul could.

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 (or by the faith of) the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20).

Do you know what? I do not believe Galatians 2:20 receives nearly enough attention in today's preaching and teaching. I think it ought to be the goals of every one of us.

I have been crucified with Christ, not just crucified but crucified with Christ.

I no longer live. This really is the critical point, isn't it?

Christ lives in me. We have set aside our own thinking, speaking, and behaving that Christ might be the Life that guides and empowers our flesh.

The life I now live in the body. I imagine the imprisoned Paul was only to glad to keep his mind and imagination focused on the Throne of God.

I live by faith in, or by the faith of, the Son of God. The Greek text appears to be somewhat ambiguous. I think "I live by the faith of the Son of God" is stronger than "I live by faith in the Son of God."

To tell you the truth, I do no have much faith in my own faith, and that is why I favor "I live by the faith of the Son of God."

However, it seems that the NIV translators do not agree with me.

In any case, the desirable condition is that it is no I who am living. Christ now is my Life. That is our supreme goal, isn't it?

When Christ appears, we shall appear with Him. I know Thessalonians states that Christ shall bring with Him from the spirit world the people of whom it may be said that they died while abiding in Christ.

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)

The idea that they died while abiding in Christ was meant to comfort the Thessalonian believers who were longing for their deceased relatives, I am sure..

But this would not include Abraham and the Prophets; so it is my personal belief that all of the righteous, from the time of Abel, will be included in the company that surrounds Christ when He appears.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

Put to death, therefore. Wherefore the therefore?

Because you are going to appear with Christ, revealing His Life to the world, put to death today whatever belongs to your earthly nature.

Here is a relationship I do not profess to understand. How could our behavior today affect our state when we are dwelling at the right hand of God in Christ? Why would our being delivered from sin and self-will have a bearing on our appearing with Christ?

I do not know; but notice:

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)

And envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)

There are several such passages in the New Testament addressed to Christian believers.

So we see, but do not completely understand, how our actions on the earth (and possibly in the spirit world as well) can affect our position in Christ at the right hand of God. Satan's actions in the spirit world affected his office as guardian cherub.

God is the God of the now. If a righteous person turns and practices unrighteousness, their years of righteous behavior are not mentioned. They are an unrighteous person. We cannot at any time turn and practice lawlessness, believing that our past history of righteous behavior will save us.

I do know of one reason why we must put away sin and self-will today if we expect to appear to the world with Christ. It is as follows:

When we appear with Christ, He will remain at His staging area in the world with His army of angels and the white war-stallions.

We who have appeared with Him will then descend to the earth from the staging area, the former domain of Satan's authority.

We shall call up the remains of our body from its place of interment.

Then at the Word of Christ we shall clothe our body with eternal, incorruptible Life, the Life of Christ that already has been formed in our personality.

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)

Here is the point. If the sin and self-will have not been driven from our personality, we are not eligible to be clothed with a body of eternal life. There is death in us, and we cannot receive a body of eternal death.

Notice how the following passage interacts with Romans 8:11 (above).

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)

To put is succinctly, if you do not cooperate with the Spirit of God in the work of driving sin and self-will from your behavior, you will slay your own resurrection.

Grace and mercy do not operate at this point. It is a case of sowing and reaping.

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 also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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 3:6-10)

It is being preached today that Jesus took care of all these behaviors that are not in the image of God. But it is no so. We must rid ourselves of these things. We must take off our old self and put in the new self. The Lord Jesus Christ will help us to purge ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

Christ came to earth, not only to make an atonement for our sins, but to actually remove the sin from our personality—to destroy it forever.

Sin and self-will are not permitted to dwell in the Body of Christ at the right hand of God in Heaven. That is easy to understand, isn't it?

So we have come to a great step forward in the plan of redemption. The Lord Jesus has come to those who are keeping His commandments to prepare us for His worldwide coming. We are entering the Day of Redemption, to which we have been sealed.

The believers of today who are not seeking the Lord intensely, not learning to live by His Life, are certainly not going to be carried up to Heaven so they can live ate their ease in a mansion!

The world is in turmoil. The Book of Isaiah tells us how the Servant of the Lord, who is Christ—Head and Body, will come and bring justice to the nations. The Servant of the Lord will govern the nations of saved people for one thousand years, according to the Bible.

You and I can be among those who perform the needed Kingdom tasks. We can sit on the thrones, presently unoccupied, from which the world and the angels shall be judged.

There is a great deal of work to be done between the time Christ appears and the final resurrection and judgment of the dead of mankind.

The world of Adam, the flesh and blood creation, was finished on the cross. An atonement was made for the sins of the world. All mankind, except for those in whom Christ is being formed, are spiritually dead.

Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. Those who come to Him and obey Him will receive eternal Life, the Life of Him who is the Resurrection and the Life.

The role of the Servant of the Lord, including the Body of Christ, is to serve as trees of life so dead mankind can eat and live. These people from the nations are the inheritance of Christ and of His co-heirs.

Our high calling is to always be positioned at the right hand of God in Christ so that God can pour through us His Spirit into the dead sea of mankind. Whoever of mankind will be obedient to God shall find themselves one day as citizens on the new earth.

The new Jerusalem, the holy city, is the glorified Church. It is composed of the members of the Royal Priesthood. Their joyous task for eternity is to bring the Presence and Life to the saved from the nations, and to the people who shall be born thereafter.

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 9:7)

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The Forming and Birth of Christ in Us

2015-05-10

She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation describes a woman in travail. The woman is the Church. The child cannot be the Lord Jesus Himself, because He was not born from the Church. So the child may represent the Body of Christ---Christ born in the victorious believers.

Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son. (Isaiah 66:7)

Before the Church travailed, the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary.

After the Church travailed, Christ was conceived and formed in the victorious believers.

Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children. (Isaiah 66:8)

Christ, Head and Body, the Royal Priesthood, indeed will govern all the nations of the earth with an iron scepter.

All of this is taking place in Heaven, although the results are felt among us on the earth.

The Church is in Heaven. By "Church" I mean the Christians, not all the people who fill the Christian churches.

The Dragon also is in the heavenlies.

The Dragon "swept a third of the Christians out of Heaven and flung them to the earth." That is because while they professed Christ, they had never died to their self-will. As long as we are alive in our own will, instead of the will and Life of Jesus Christ, Satan has a handle on us.

Out of one of them came another horn, which started small but grew in power to the south and to the east and toward the Beautiful Land. It grew until it reached the host of the heavens, and it threw some of the starry host down to the earth and trampled on them. It set itself up to be as great as the commander of the army of the Lord; it took away the daily sacrifice from the Lord, and his sanctuary was thrown down. Because of rebellion, the Lord's people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground. (Daniel 8:9-12)

The Dragon watched the woman carefully, because he understood that Christ was being formed in her. Satan cares little about what church people can do, but he is terrified of Christ.

The Christian churches of today are busy with this and that. However, all that is significant in terms of the Kingdom of God is the fact that there are Christians who are bringing to maturity Christ in their personalities.

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)

Notice what took place as soon as the "male Son" was born:

She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:5)

Some of the Christian people are in such a travail today. If they persist, they will notice that there comes a time when they are "prayed through." They can sense that something has been born in them.

What has taken place is that the male son who has been growing in them has taken his place in Christ at the right hand of God, on the highest throne of the universe.

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

How high is that?

Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:21)

I am persuaded that there are many Christian believers who are in just such a travail, and are ready to bring forth the Body of Christ. As Jesus said, many who are last shall be first. I think this means many people who are serving Christ in the closing days of the Church Age will be placed on the highest thrones of the Kingdom of God.

Such people may be few in number. They have a passion to serve the Lord Jesus that is not true of all who profess faith in Christ. They sense in their spirit that great things are afoot in the Kingdom, and they want to be with Jesus while these are taking place.

The remaining Christian believers either are asleep in the lap of the world, or they are being led astray by the seductions of the False Prophet, who is promising them that any day now they will be anointed as apostles and prophets and perform mighty miracles. And indeed they may, in the coming days.

But the genuine members of the Royal Priesthood, the Body of Christ, are not taken in by these satanic promises of glory and wealth. Rather they are intent on learning to live by the Life of Christ, such that they think, speak, and act along with the Lord Jesus Christ.

The believers who brought forth in their personalities the Body of Christ will be "taken care of" by the Lord for a specified period of time.

Now that the Body of Christ has been established in Christ at the right hand of God in Heaven, war will break out in Heaven between Michael and his angels and the Satan and his angels.

Satan and his angels were torn down from Heaven and hurled to the earth. Why has this not happened before.

The reason is, there were not enough Christians with sufficient faith in the blood, bearing a testimony of righteousness, and setting aside their own life unto death, to give Michael the strength to be victorious.

Whatever we bind on the earth is bound in Heaven. When we are not pressing the battle with sufficient intensity, wickedness is not bound in Heaven. The righteous in Heaven are not loosed so they can prevail.

The removing of Satan and his angels from their position in the heavenlies caused rejoicing in the heavens. The heavenly citizens perceived that salvation, the power and Kingdom of God, and the authority of the Messiah had prevailed over the lords of darkness.

Notice that after matters had been settled in the heavens, Satan expressed his rage in the earth. He made war against Christians on the earth "who keep God's commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus."

The Christian preaching and teaching has deteriorated to the point that it is being maintained that these must be Jews because they keep God's commands. Christians do not keep God's commands, it is maintained.

The truth is, every true Christian keeps God's commands; not the commands of the Law of Moses, but the commands of Christ as we follow Him each day.

The reason God created the earth and mankind has to do with the original rebellion of the angels. God is building a kingdom in which there will be rulers who will compel the doing of God's will in the earth. God is selecting such rulers from the ranks of mankind and training them, beginning with the Lord Jesus, in stern obedience.

Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:8,9)

Stern obedience to God is the primary principle in the Kingdom of God. That is why it is so ridiculous to maintain that Christians do not keep God's commands.

We are placed at the right hand of God in Christ when we first receive Christ. After that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross of deferred gratification, and follow Jesus in strict obedience.

If we do not do this, we are in rebellion against Christ and God. I daresay that not one in a hundred Christian churchgoers in America has obeyed Christ concerning what it means to be a disciple.

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (I Corinthians 12:20,21)

The above was true among the Christian people of Corinth. The same is true of the Christian people of America, in so many instances.

This is why Antichrist can reach into Heaven and tear down from their place at God's right hand a third of the Christian people.

Today the Lord Jesus is warning us that fierce judgment is about to be poured out on the United States because of abortion and sexual sins. Many are mocking this prophetic word, but it indeed shall come to pass.

Because of fleshly teaching and traditions, numerous, maybe the majority, of Christian church members will not be able to stand when the Divine judgment comes, and will not bear a helpful witness to weaker Christians and the unsaved.

Therefore Christ is telling us to press into Christ as we never have before. If we are not living as a disciple, taking up our cross and following Jesus, then God is not bound by His word to protect us.

Many Christians in the Middle East are experiencing terrible atrocities at the hands of the servants of Allah. We Americans are not more precious in God's sight than is true of the Iraqui Christians.

How would we feel if the heads of our little boys and girls were to be cut off if we did not swear allegiance to Allah. We are not prepared for this kind of decision.

America is turning away from Christ and the Bible and, to a great extent, practicing the sins of the flesh. We are going to pay bitterly for this.

Notice how Paul warns us, who believe we are ready to appear with Christ in the Day of the Lord:

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)

The above is a description of the way of life of so many Christians in America. Paul is telling us we better put these behavior to death if we expect to appear with Christ. Remember, Paul is writing to Christians whom he had just said are in Christ at the right hand of God.

By no means will Divine grace and mercy excuse us so we can continue in our sinful ways and appear with Christ, installing the Kingdom of God, the will of God, on the earth.

Instead, before Christ appears, we will be seduced by Satan until we lose our crown, our place in Christ at the right hand of God. I believe it will be in our day that the heavens will be shaken and all that is not found in Christ will be removed from God's Presence.

We may think it cannot happen to us. But when we see an Iraqui father holding in his arms the headless body of his ten year old daughter, we may begin to understand that the world is not the Disneyland we imagine it is.

We are told that the children are being decapitated because they will not deny Christ.

I have been told that other nations regard Americans as dissolute and morally soft. I can agree with this assessment. So I am encouraging the members of our congregation to abandon their worldly ways and press into Jesus night and day with all their determination.

May God grant that many will heed my advice.

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A Warning To The Churches

2015-05-17

The Book of Jude is directed toward the sins in the Christian churches. The comments it makes about some of the people in the churches are harsh. Yet the Holy Spirit found it necessary to employ such strong language.

Although Jude was written two thousand years ago, its message is very much needed in our day.

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged. (II Corinthians 12:20,21)

The Book of Jude is directed toward the sins in the Christian churches. The comments it makes about some of the people in the churches are harsh. Yet the Holy Spirit found it necessary to employ such strong language.

Although Jude was written two thousand years ago, its message is very much needed in our day.

We who have been Christians for a number of years know that sometimes Christian churches become cages of unclean spirits. The hatred, division, lust, jealousy, greed, selfishness, pride exhibited by so-called born-again Christians make us understand there can be a vast difference between people who are walking with Jesus Christ, and membership in a Christian church.

The Holy Spirit is blowing the trumpet in Zion today. We need to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches, for the fire of Divine judgment is in the land.

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. (Jude 1:1,2)

The Lord Jesus had four brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas, and some sisters as well. The names of the Lord's sisters are not given.

Like Hannah, once the special child was born, Mary had several other children.

James, the Lord's brother, was the author of the Book of James and the pastor of the large Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem.

Judas, or Jude, the author of the epistle we are discussing, also was a brother of the Lord.

Every true Christian has been called out of the world by the Spirit of God. He is in the world but no longer of the world. He or she has been called to be a saint, a holy one. Once we are called to be a holy one we have no other calling in life. Though we may work at a trade or profession to support ourselves and our family, our calling, and only calling, is to be a saint.

God loves His saints with the same love with which He loves Jesus.

The Lord Jesus Christ is keeping us and praying for us at all times. If we do not live a victorious Christian life, that is our choice. All we need to overcome every hindrance has already been provided. We either receive the grace of God and by it overcome the world, or else we permit ourselves to be distracted and thus neglect our great salvation.

Mercy, peace, and love have been given to us in abundance.

God in His mercy toward us overlooks many frailties and mistakes as long as we are confessing our sins and following the Spirit rather than yielding to our sinful nature.

We have the peace of Jesus Christ and are without condemnation when we are seeking the Lord each day and doing His will. This Divine peace will hold us steady during the coming tumultuous years in America.

The love of God in Christ, which has been given to us, is so intense, so powerful, so enduring, that the evil in the world is forced to give way before it. Truly, human love is but the faintest flickering shadow of God's love.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Verse 3)

Jude had a desire to write to the believers about their salvation; but there was a pressing need to discuss the wicked people who had begun to infiltrate the assemblies.

Too often in our day salvation is regarded as a ticket to Heaven. We take the "four steps of salvation" and that is all there is to it. We now are on our way to Heaven, some teaching it is impossible to lose our ticket.

The truth is, we have to contend vigorously for the faith. We have to fight the good fight of faith because carnal believers enter our churches and spread their poison.

I have a young friend who has a revival on his hands. People, including young people, are coming to his house to hear the Word of God. Although he is in another state he is under the spiritual covering of our church.

Wouldn't you know it? Here come the "birds" who can smell the sacrifices being made—the people repenting of their sins, being baptized in water, and rejoicing in the Lord.

Here comes one man who tells the little group they must be baptized all over again because they were not baptized in Jesus name. He states also that sin is merely lack of faith in God. But my friend, having been taught better than that, pointed out the passage in First John that states sin is the breaking of the commandments of God.

Then another: "You must call Jesus, Yahweh. If you do not you are sinning."

Yet another: "You should not be meeting in a home. You must meet in my church."

Still another: "You must preach Dispensationalism."

My counsel to my young friend continues to be: "Do not come down from the wall. The Sanballats and Tobiahs will do everything in their power to discourage you, to call you down from what you are doing so they may reason with you. (How the demons love to reason!) Ignore them and keep on preaching the Word. The Holy Spirit will bring in those whom the Lord is calling to Himself."

A fine young man called me recently and advised me that when the Lord Jesus spoke of the wheat being gathered into the barn He was referring to the outer darkness. He believes we ought to do all we can to bring these from the "barn" into a victorious walk in Christ.

It is obvious to me that by "gather the wheat and bring it into my barn" the Lord Jesus is referring to His Kingdom.

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn." (Matthew 13:30)

I responded to him that indeed we ought to encourage every believer to live a godly life in Christ, but if he keeps pressing the issue that the barn is the outer darkness, most mainline Christians will reject this thought and not be moved to practice righteousness.

I mentioned further that the unity of the faith to which we have been called is not a unity of the head but of the heart. We can love Jesus without agreeing to every point of doctrine that someone else holds dear. Do you believe this? I do!

Arguing about doctrine is not contending for the faith. Rather it is debate, and the spirit of debate is definitely of the sinful nature.

Contending for the faith is holding fast to faith in Jesus, not faith in doctrine. Jesus is a Person. The all-important issue is that we are abiding in Him at all times, not that we have memorized a commentary. Satan uses doctrine to get our eyes off Jesus.

When I was first saved I was in the Marine Corps. Within a couple of weeks, here came an elder from the Seventh Day Adventist church in downtown Honolulu. He spoke to me about not carrying my rifle on Saturday. Do you think this brought me closer to Jesus? It certainly did not! It caused tremendous confusion in the mind of a new Christian—me.

A mature Christian Marine prayed for me and I was able to see this was not God, at least for me, and I was delivered from that bondage.

Yet I have to this day a high opinion of the Adventists although I do not make a special effort to abide in Christ on Saturday more than any other day.

Oh well . . .

Truly, the Christian churches are in absolute chaos. Everyone does whatever he feels "led" to do.

Even in our own assembly there have been individuals who accost people in the parking lot or meet in homes and tell whoever will listen what they think is wrong with me or with the church. I leave such people alone until God shows me what to do. Sometimes the Lord brings them to repentance and they begin to show forth the Life of Christ.

It is the good fight of faith. We meet opposition all the time, but Jesus is with us when we look to Him and refuse to come down from the cross, from the wall where God has placed us.

Nehemiah is a good book to read when we are being harassed as we contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

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. (Verse 4)

Two problems with these ungodly men: they change the grace of God into a license for immorality; they deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Today most of the Christian churches in America have changed the grace of God into a license for immorality. They have not done this deliberately, it is because they do not understand Paul's writings.

The Apostle Paul presented Divine grace as a means of turning away from the Law of Moses and placing our trust in Jesus Christ. Then, as part of the grace of God, we have the born-again experience, the body and blood of Christ, and the daily leading of the Holy Spirit to enable us to understand the will of Christ and to perform it. Day by day we are transformed into Christ's moral image. We become a new, righteous creation—that which the Law of Moses is unable to accomplish.

But what have we done? We have interpreted Paul to mean God has given us Divine grace as a substitute for, an alternative to, righteous behavior. We could not have missed the mark more completely.

A believer wrote to me recently who is panicking because he has turned away from a wonderful salvation. Now he is terrified that he is lost forever.

He went to his pastor. The pastor's response was, "You cannot 'outsin' grace." In other words, no matter how you sin, willfully or ignorantly, grace will forgive you. "You shall not surely die!"

The man knew in his heart this was not going to help his agony.

Following is my response to him:

I believe the desire you have to get right with God comes from the Holy Spirit.

You are going to have to fight to enter the Kingdom of God.

By fight I mean read your Bible some each day, spend some time in prayer each day, ask God how you can minister to other members of the Body of Christ.

You are going to have to do this while all the time you do not feel anything and are plagued with negative thoughts.

You are going to experience suffering.

Above all you must deny yourself, take up your cross of deferred desire, and follow Christ at all times, obeying Him implicitly on every occasion.

I think if you are willing to do these things you most likely will regain what you have thrown away.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

In the case of a lady who wrote to me that she was concerned about her sinning: she went to her pastor. His advice was to the effect: "Sin a great deal. Then you will die and go to Heaven where sin will not be a problem."

So today, just as Jude, commented, the grace of God is being used far and wide as an excuse for sinful behavior.

It will be a wonder if we ever escape from this error before the Lord returns. If we do not, numerous American Christians will not gain the crown of life.

Not only are we using God's grace as an excuse for our sinning, we are denying Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. We are willing to receive Christ as our personal Savior but not as our personal Sovereign and Lord.

How many American Christians obey Christ in every detail of their lives? How many have truly surrendered to God's will? How many have denied themselves, taken up their personal cross, and are following the Master?

These are the only true Christians. These are the disciples of the Lord. The remainder are merely members of the Christian religion. There is no salvation, no eternal life, in being merely a member of the Christian religion.

How can we tell that American Christians are not disciples, have not received Christ as Lord, are changing God's grace into an excuse for immorality? By the things they say and do.

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord {Some early manuscripts Jesus} delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. (Verse 5)

There has been much talk in Christian circles about "once saved always saved." Since it is commonly acknowledged that coming out of Egypt is a type of salvation, and since Jude reminds us that the Lord having saved His people out of Egypt later destroyed those who did not believe, how can we persist in this eternal security error? Don't we understand the Holy Spirit would realize we would gain from this passage in Jude that it is possible to be saved and then lost?

Actually, the concept of "once saved always saved" reflects a profound error in our concept of salvation. "Eternal security" is based on the notion that our salvation is a Divine intervention having nothing to do with our response. This is not at all true. Every aspect of our salvation is an opportunity. God moves and we are to respond by faith and obedience. When we do not do our part, God's intervention in our life is rendered null and void. The contract is broken. We broke it, God did not.

We have the power to make the Word of God of no effect in our life.

Here is one of the fundamental errors in Christian theology. If the teachers and preachers would preach expository sermons, taking a portion of the Scriptures and expounding on it verse by verse, not warping it into a preconceived mold, they rapidly would find that God's intervention in the lives of people is effective only as they believe and obey God.

Salvation is not a ticket to Heaven that we cannot possibly lose. Salvation is the Presence of God in Jesus Christ that enables us to move from the person of Satan to the Person of God. Christ always is present to help us and will see us through. But we must keep His commandments or else the process is brought to a halt.

If we do not keep His commandments we do not love Him; we will not bear the fruit of His image; and we will be cut out of Vine, out of Christ. This is what the Bible says.

The Christian churches in America are on dangerous spiritual ground. If we do not have nation-wide repentance, a turning to God in sincerity, a change in our doctrine to conform to the Scriptures. our nation is lost and we are going to face an angry Christ.

We have no one to blame but ourselves if we do not go back to the New Testament, particularly but not only the Epistles, and see whether they press a sovereign intervention of God that ignores our behavior, or if they teach that if we continue to walk in our sinful nature we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God, we shall reap destruction.

What will God have to do in America to make this change in doctrine and practice? If I am hearing the Lord correctly, America is to become a third-rate nation. This is because of our widespread sinning. We are worshiping money, and sexual activity. The result shall be moral and physical chaos, far worse than we can imagine at this time.

We used to bear the name of Christ, we Americans, and for this reason Christ may keep us from being completely destroyed. But we must remember that in the present hour, instead of the Gospel of the Kingdom coming forth from our supposedly Christian nation, the waters of moral filth are pouring out in the motion pictures, the television, and the Internet.

God wants America to preach righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God. He wants us to live it and preach it. If we will do this, we will continue as a nation. If not, our end is in sight.

Our government is in tremendous moral confusion today with each politician seeking his or her own interests, it appears. It is the lawless-grace preaching in the Christian churches that has produced this immorality in the government. God wants our preaching to be Bible-based, not based on our unscriptural traditions.

I am not crying "Ain't it awful!" I am stating I believe God is telling me that He is going to punish America severely. The Kingdom of God is at hand, and neither the churches nor the nations of the world are prepared. He is not only the Savior of the world but also the Lord of the world.

And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. (Verse 6)

We know we are wrestling with fallen angels in the heavenlies, as Ephesians tells us. It must be that many of the angels were cast down into the darkness while God permitted some to remain in the air above us in order that we might learn how to fight against wickedness.

This verse is a reminder to us that the original sin was self-will, an unwillingness to remain where God has placed us.

One of the hardest tests we Christian experience is that of remaining in the prison where God permits us to be placed. We are prevented from doing what we desire, getting what we want. We cry out in our prison, but none hears.

Then we have a choice. We can break out of our circumstances, or we can remain and submit to God, waiting for Him to release us.

In order to break out we have to break God's laws. If we do, and God still intends to save us into His Kingdom, He will capture us again and then our prison will be much worse.

The original sin of Satan and his angels was that of not remaining where God had placed them. This was the mother of all the sins that now afflict mankind.

No Christian will be glorified with Christ and ride on the war stallions until he or she has been proven faithful, and has been willing to stay on the cross until the Lord is satisfied concerning his obedience.

When Christ appears we shall appear with Him, but only if He has become our life. Christ does not become our life until our former adamic life has been crucified. Our prison, our personal cross, is the engine of destruction that God has tailored to our unique personality. It is not an obstacle we are to attempt to get around. It is the means of destroying our self-will, our unwillingness to submit meekly to Christ no matter how much we dislike our circumstances.

Remember, the only path to the crown of glory is through the boring, sometimes painful prison we are called upon to endure. To not be willing to abide in the situation where Christ has placed us is to forfeit our crown of glory; and, in fact, may place our very salvation in danger.

If anyone tells you Christians are not to suffer, ask him for chapter and verse.

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Verse 7)

The United States of America is given over to sexual immorality and perversion. Those who promote moral filth are often wealthy and politically powerful. Instead of denouncing such ungodly people, our political leaders bow to the pressure.

There is, however, a God in Heaven. He did not punish Sodom and Gomorrah with the lava from erupting volcanoes, as some assume. The Bible says these two prosperous farming areas suffered the punishment of eternal fire. Eternal fire comes down from Heaven. It is a destructive force, an example of the fiery energy that created the galaxies of stars.

God loves people dearly. There is none other who loves as God does. But God cannot accept sexual perversion. The fire that left Sodom and Gomorrah smoking ruins, the downpour of salt on the plain that covered Lot's wife, reveal the awful wrath of a loving God.

You can imagine how God views America, considering the widespread acceptance of sexual perversion and the murdering of babies when they come to term.

We are going to experience much suffering in America. If you want to save yourself and your household, pray much, and ask God to lead you in iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.

Do not put your trust in a "rapture" to save you. The millions of Christians who have suffered throughout the Church Era were not delivered by a rapture, and neither shall we be. Rather, prepare yourself for the dark days that lie ahead.

We are no different from Sodom and Gomorrha. Why should God spare us Americans? Are we His pets?

In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them. (Verses 8-10)

We are "too big for our britches" these days. We are going around rebuking demons, sometimes Satan himself. We do not know what we are doing.

Find one verse in the Epistles that advises Christians to rebuke the devil.

The Bible tells us to submit to God and resist the devil. But we Christians would rather engage in our little sins, our flirtations, and then come to church and rebuke the devil.

We should not be rebuking the devil unless we are hearing from Christ that this is what we should do in a particular circumstance.

The Book of Jude does not advise us to bring slanderous accusations against celestial beings.

I used to hear the children in Sunday School sing "If the devil's in the way we'll run right over him." I cringed when I heard this.

It certainly is a good thing God is patient with us.

In the years to come we are going to see manifestations of Satan we never thought would be present on the earth. We are not to be afraid of Satan or any fallen angel. Christ is greater than all. But neither are we to be continually challenging Satan to a fight. He loves this kind of attention and soon outwits us.

We have not been called to attack Satan. We are to put on the whole armor of God and stand our ground. We can pray that God will bind the powers of darkness, this certainly is scriptural. But remember: Only Jesus has the authority and power to confront Satan and his followers.

We should look to Christ humbly before we take it on ourselves to go about rebuking and confronting the dignitaries that fell because they were doing many of the things present-day Christians are doing.

Well, you do what you will. But I think this is what Jude is warning us about.

Audrey and I went to another country on one occasion. I had a distinct impression that the spiritual power in that place did not like our coming there. But we were in the Lord's will and minding our own business. If this had not been the case I think we would have experienced trouble of some kind.

We really should avoid being presumptuous!

The "mixed multitude" in the Christians churches are ready to attack the fallen lords of darkness, formerly angels of the highest rank in Heaven. Such men do not understand against whom they are speaking abusively.

While they are challenging the angelic lords, they are displeasing Christ with their adultery and fornication. These are the behaviors that destroy them.

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion. (Verse 11)

The way of Cain is that of jealousy because God is blessing someone besides you. This kind of jealousy results in a murderous slander and gossip. It is very common in Christian churches.

Cain was arrogant. If he had asked God how he could improve his offering, God would have been more than happy to show him what to do. Instead Cain reacted in an arrogant rage. He fumed about this "injustice" until he finally was driven to murder.

The way of Balaam is that of the love of money. It is common in the churches. The idea is to use your gift to make money.

Riches are deceitful. Balaam heard clearly from God the first time. But the prospect of riches deceived Balaam into going back to God a second time. Of course, God, who expects to be obeyed the first time He speaks, told Balaam to go ahead and get his gold.

Because the spirit of prophecy in Balaam would not permit him to curse Israel, Balaam counseled Balak to send out the dancing girls where the Israelite warriors could see them. God then sent a plague on Israel because of the resulting fornication.

Thus Balaam was deceived by the desire for money and brought the curse of God on himself. Even today we have preaching in Charismatic churches that we should use Christ to gain material wealth. This type of person will be judged severely when the Lord returns with His saints.

Balaam finally was killed by Israelite warriors—a fitting end for a man with a tremendous spiritual gift who tried to use it to make money.

In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination. (Joshua 13:22)

The way of Korah is that of rebellion against God-given authority. Often God places people in authority over us, in the church or elsewhere, that we despise. We can see all their faults. We cannot understand why they should be telling us what to do.

Korah was of the family of Kohath, the descendant of Levi, as was true also of Miriam, Moses, and Aaron. Korah could not understand why Moses and Aaron should be telling him what he could and could not do.

The Bible tells us authority comes from God.

No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. (Psalms 75:6,7)

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1,2)

We in America are accustomed to calling our most highly placed leaders by their first name or their nickname. In this manner we hope to bring them down to our level.

This is an abomination to God. God is ever a lover of government. We do not please God by rebelling against secular or ecclesiastical government.

If God has called us to pioneer truth, or to do something else outside of the accepted order, we had better make certain we are hearing from God.

When members of a church do not agree with the doctrine of their church, they can meekly bring their point of view to the elders of the church. Having done that, if they cannot bring the elders to their point of view they should go elsewhere. The church will not grow in a wholesome manner while there are people who are attempting to undermine the authority of the church.

Sometimes a believer feels he or she has been called of God to bring about division in a body of Christians. I have never, in more than sixty years as a Christian, seen anyone prosper in God who had set himself to rebel against the authority of a church.

God honors government, whether secular or religious, until that government commands us to disobey God. This does not happen very often. What is more commonplace is a Christian with the spirit of Korah who is seeking to control the church.

These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. (Verses 12,13)

Can you imagine Christians having love feasts and such people being in their midst! It was true then and it is true today—in our Christian churches!

They are shepherds but they feed only themselves. They are completely self-centered, working so every benefit accrues to themselves regardless of how other people fare.

They are clouds without rain. They give the appearance of being a source of blessing, but there is no blessing in them. They leave us hungry and thirsty after they have preached.

They are blown along by the wind. They espouse every new doctrine just as long as it makes them popular and rich.

They are autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted. They are as trees in the late fall in northern climates. They have no fruit or leaves but are as bare skeletons against the sky. They may appear to be fountains of blessing to their followers, but the Lord sees them as they truly are. You will get no nourishment from them.

They have no roots in God.

They are twice dead. They were born in sin, as is true of all of us. But now they have died again by their behavior, turning the grace of God into an excuse for immorality.

They are wild, not having a peaceful spirit. They reject the quiet waters of Shiloah in favor of the tumult they produce by their own selfish ambitions.

The things they say and do are shameful, yet their followers are blind to their words and actions. There are so many of these today!

They are wandering stars because they have not become part of the one Morning Star. They are self-willed religionists, causing confusion wherever they go.

Although they have been very active in the Christian religion, sometimes leading thousands of believers, Christ does not know them. They walk in the light of the sparks they have kindled by their self-seeking, their personal ambition.

Their end is eternal darkness although they profess to be ministers and servants of Jesus Christ.

The above is true of many Christian leaders and people of our day.

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Verses 14,15)

The coming of the Lord will be against all wickedness in the earth, both spiritual and human. Christ will appear with an army of saints to whom have been given the authority and power of judgment.

Judgment will begin with these sinners in the churches. This is why we are blowing the trumpet in Zion today. We Christians are not nearly ready for the appearing of Christ and His saints and holy angels.

These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Verse 16)

There is so much grumbling and faultfinding in the churches of our day, so much gossiping and slander, so much criticizing, that we have come to accept this sort of behavior as normal.

It is not normal even though it is commonplace in our churches. It is not acceptable. Those who do such things are worthy of death. It was because of grumbling and faultfinding that Israel was turned back into the wilderness until the grumblers had died.

We Christians become exercised about drunkenness, rape, and murder. We indeed should be outraged about the immorality and abuse of infants and children that is occurring in the United States.

But the root of the problem is in the Christian churches. We are supposed to be the moral light of the world. Instead we show by our behavior that we are not different from the world. The same malice, self-seeking, lying, and stealing that occur in the world occur in the churches.

We are too occupied with the unscriptural "rapture" and not occupied enough with the light of good works which is supposed to be shining from us.

We follow our own evil desires instead of presenting our body a living sacrifice to God.

We boast about how great our church is. We bring people to see how wonderful we are and show them the parking lot and the fellowship hall. But when the people attend they hear backbiting and criticism. Then they know God is not on our parking lot or eating pie in our fellowship hall.

We boast about ourselves in order to persuade people how marvelous it is to be a Christian. We tell the world who wonderful we are now that we have been "born again.". But when the people of the world look they see malice, self-seeking, avarice, pride, smugness—a total focus on self.

We pass out tracts and encourage people to take the four steps of salvation. This is a good thing to do. But when the convert comes into the assembly what does he or she find? Self-centered religious people who criticize each other constantly.

The world understands the television evangelist when he pleads for money. The world is accustomed to greed. The world understands also that this has nothing to do with God.

The American public is cynical concerning the Christian religion. Have we given the nation cause to be cynical? The Muslims call America the great Satan. Have we behaved in such a way that the Muslims see Satan instead of Jesus Christ?

And then we criticize the Muslims for not receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior!

Having the spirit of Absalom we flatter people hoping to gain political advantage. Instead of speaking the unvarnished truth, as Jesus did, we stress that which is "positive" so the surfeited American believers will not be offended.

But just as Absalom ended up hanging between the sky and the ground, so shall we, because of our insincerity and treachery, find a welcome neither among the saints nor among the unbelievers.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. "These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit." (Verses 17-19)

We are in the last days. There are scoffers in the churches who follow their own ungodly desires. We ourselves have been scoffed at because we preach righteousness, holiness, stern obedience to God, and the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.

While others laugh and joke and play about, we are proclaiming the need for repentance. While others are hopping up and down next to their pew in preparation for the unscriptural "rapture," we are urging people to read the New Testament and pray for wisdom and strength to keep the commandments of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, being especially careful to forgive all against whom they may be holding anger and unforgiveness.

Then we are accused of preaching "works"!

Did Christ ever accuse anyone of preaching works when they taught His commandments to other people? Isn't this the Great Commission?

"And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Is the Great Commission to go out and "get souls saved" and build churches or is it to make disciples and teach people to obey the commandments of Christ and His Apostles? Are these the same commission? In actual practice they are not. We are getting souls "saved," building churches, and telling people they do not have to keep Christ's commandments because they are "saved by grace."

What a mess!

Why is this? It is because people are following their own ungodly desires. They cause division. In some instances, if you go to the Bible school of one Pentecostal denomination you are not permitted to preach in the churches of another Pentecostal denomination. This attitude is coming from Jesus Christ?

Those who walk in the soul, according to their self-will, shall bring confusion and division wherever they go.

Such ministers may talk in tongues but they do not have the Spirit of God. They follow their own soulish instincts. We do not see in them the fruit of Christ's image. Sooner or later they shall be cut from the Vine even though they have wrought miracles in the name of Christ.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. (Verse 20)

Praying in the Holy Spirit may include speaking in tongues, but this is not the key issue. The issue is living and praying in the Spirit such that we are flowing with the Spirit of God. It is a way of life. As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God, and they are regarded by the Lord as having the righteousness of Him who kept the Law of Moses perfectly.

Of all the needs in the American Christian churches, the greatest (after changing our doctrine to conform to the New Testament) may be for the believers to spend time each day praying in the Spirit. In fact, if we do spend time each day praying in the Spirit, our doctrine may change if it is not in line with what the Spirit is saying.

We talk about the merits of prayer. We all nod agreeably when the prayer closet is mentioned.

However, the American culture is so rich in monetary, educational, and scientific opportunities that the days are not long enough to take advantage of all that is being offered.

The result is that we talk about the importance of prayer but do not pray.

We do not build up ourselves in the most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.

We work or study until we are exhausted, and then come home and flop in front of the television and let Satan do our thinking for us.

It is absolutely impossible to stand before God in these days in America unless we are praying in the Spirit each day. Praying in the Spirit means we stay in prayer until our prayer begins to merge with the prayer of Christ. We can tell when this happens, usually.

At the very least, one-half hour is to be spent each day in a place set aside for prayer. I do not mean thinking good thoughts, I mean getting down and praying. The best time is when we first wake up (although I understand this is not always possible). This means we have to go to bed earlier so we can get up in the morning.

Prayer is a delight. We rob ourselves when we become too busy to pray.

There is this about it: if you do not have time to pray one-half hour a day (at the very least) you do not have time to watch television.

We must turn aside each day from the demon-inspired. culture of the United States and pray until we come into the Presence of God. If not, the newspaper and television will conform us to the world, whether or not we claim to be a Christian. We will grow old until we are confined in a nursing home, never having found the will of God for our life.

If you don't have time to pray, ask God for time to pray.

Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Verse 21)

We keep ourselves in God's love by keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles.

We think of eternal life as something we have now. To a certain extent this is true. But there are passages of Scripture, such as the above, reminding us that eternal life is a goal we are to pursue each day of our discipleship. It is entirely possible to be given an initial portion of life and then to allow the distractions of life to remove that beginning life from us.

Jesus Christ Himself is eternal Life and is the path to that Life. We have to lay aside everything, as the Apostle Paul did, in order to gain Christ, to gain eternal life.

If we sow each day to the Spirit of God we shall reap eternal life in the Day of the Lord. But if we as a Christian sow instead to our flesh and soul, we shall reap destruction in the Day of the Lord.

The expression "eternal life" is not referring to eternal existence. It is a kind of life, a quality of life. It is the Life of God given to us through Christ. We choose each day to pursue the Life of God, or we choose each day to pursue our fleshly, soulish desires. If we choose the latter we are facing destruction in the Day of the Lord.

We must keep ourselves in God's love by praying in the Spirit and making the seeking of the Kingdom of God and His righteousness the highest priority of every day of our pilgrimage.

Be merciful to those who doubt; (Verse 22)

Many believers are weak in faith. We are to receive them and not argue with them. The Bible says the Lord will not break a bruised reed or snuff out a smoldering wick. This means He will deal gently with those who are beset with doubts and fears.

We need to make a difference between those who are arrogant, who defy God's laws of righteousness, and those who are weak in faith toward God. The former have no place in the Kingdom of God. The Lord holds them at a distance from Himself. He is not impressed with their religious boasting. But God will work with the weak until they are strong enough to stand.

We are especially kind to our handicapped children. So is God. But the proud and self-assured will be sent away empty.

Snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Verse 23)

The above verse tells us we must have the mind of the Lord when we are dealing with weak Christians, for some are to be treated differently from others. It reveals also that the current teaching of a sovereignly instituted grace that ignores our behavior has no place in the Bible. The Bible deals with the conduct of people, with their growth in righteousness.

Some are snatched from the burning when we warn them of the consequences of their behavior.

Others are to be treated more gently. Yet we must be cautious, for the immorality and idolatry that are binding them have permeated even their clothing and are contagious.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Verses 24,25)

It unquestionably is true that Christ is able to keep us from falling and to present us before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy.

The only problem is our unbelief and disobedience. Such verses as the above have been used to prove that once we "accept" Christ we cannot fall away. If this were the case, then what Jude said earlier in his epistle about leaving Egypt and then dying in the wilderness would be meaningless.

Of course Christ has the power to keep us from falling. Of course Christ is willing and desires to keep us from falling.

But we are warned, warned, and warned in the New Testament about not inheriting the Kingdom, about losing our crown, about being ushered into the outer darkness because we did not use our talent, about reaping destruction.

These warnings are not often preached today. Instead, the verses such as the above that are "positive" are employed over and over again to comfort lukewarm American believers who have no intention of taking up their cross and following Jesus.

It surely is time for a reformation of Christian thinking, especially in America; for God wants a pure Word of the Kingdom to be coming forth from our country instead of the immorality and violence produced in Hollywood.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord we ascribe to God Almighty, glory, majesty, power, and authority. Such incomprehensible glory was true of God before time existed, is true now, and shall be true forever.

We need to understand fully that when we are serving Christ as we should there is no power in Heaven above, on the earth beneath, or in the dark regions below the earth's surface, that can possibly harm us.

During the coming age of moral horrors, Satan and his demons shall become increasingly manifest in the earth. The Christians will be tempted to spend their time and energy "rebuking Satan." We are not to do this.

We will stand even in the darkness if we will press into Jesus each day and follow the Holy Spirit in righteous, holy, sternly obedient behavior. If the Spirit leads us to pray and bind evil spirits, then we should do this. But ordinarily we shall conquer, not by confronting Satan but by learning the difference between good and evil, and rejecting the evil and embracing the good.

The power of Jesus Christ is so massive, so total, that the spiritual struggle is not one of power against power but of truth against error; righteousness against wickedness. If we will keep our eyes on Jesus, doing His will each day, Satan will flee from us. He has no power whatever over those who are part of Christ and do Christ's will.

Remember, all glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to God Almighty and He has entrusted the fullness of His Glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. As long as we follow the Lord, practicing righteousness, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God, Satan has no power to harm us.

Christ may permit Satan to pierce us with a thorn in the flesh, or to place us in prison. Such afflictions will serve to press us more fully into the Life and power of Christ.

In the Day of Resurrection all that is of eternal worth shall be restored to us. Let us put all of our treasures in Heaven and serve the Lord with gladness.

We understand, therefore, that the Book of Jude is very current. It describes the situation in the Christian churches in America as we endeavor to obey God in the twenty-first century.

Our churches are not pure. They are filled with the works of the flesh of every sort. Also, in our midst are prominent "shepherds" who are not men of God at all. They do not know the Lord. They "serve" only to their own advantage. Yet we have not been careful to "try the apostles."

We of the Pentecostal persuasion are the most vulnerable to these wolves in sheep's clothing because we are not Bible oriented but experience oriented. If this were not the case we would not for one moment have accepted those who are telling us we ought to be rich in this world—in clear defiance of the writings of the Apostle Paul.

Jude tells us of the arrogance that was present in his day and remains to the present. There is a willingness on the part of many to run about rebuking the devil and attempting to bind the angels who govern nations. It is true that we cannot enter the strong man's house until we bind the strong man. But we must make sure we are obeying Christ and He is directing us, that we are not acting in our own spiritual pride and self-assurance.

Perhaps the message that is the most significant for us concerns the return of the Lord. We are putting forth a false vision today, picturing the return of Christ as a giant celebration in which all who have made a profession of Christ will be caught up to the great Sunday-school picnic in the sky, even though we have never denied ourselves, have never taken up our cross and set out after Jesus.

Jude tells us that the Lord Jesus will return with His holy ones to judge the sinners in the churches—quite a different vision!

The Christian churches are sick unto death, and the Book of Jude is the cure if we will read it and apply the text to our lives.

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The Rebuilding of Our Life

2015-05-24

When teachers of the deeper Christian life mention that we must die to self, they do not always explain how to do this, what is involved, or what results from such a step of faith on our part. We must come to understand that this invitation is not directed toward the abolishing of our life but to the rebuilding of our life so that it is eternal.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6)

Deeper-life teachers often speak of dying to self, or entering the crucified life, or something of this sort. It is true that such death is prescribed in the New Testament, but it is not mentioned frequently, at least not directly. I would venture the major topic of the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, is that of directions for entering eternal life in the Kingdom of God, with death to self being an important aspect of these directions.

A few days ago, Colossians 3:1-4 came into my consciousness.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Now, I have preached this text numerous times. We understand that if we are abiding in Christ a firstfruits of our new born-again life already has been raised with Christ, being seated in Him at the right hand of God. No problem here. This is a fact we portray when we are baptized in water.

We are to set our heart and mind on Christ and God. This is difficult in America because of the emphasis on material wealth. Nevertheless, our mind and heart are not to be occupied only or even primarily with the things of earth. To maintain the scriptural attitude requires constant prayer, daily Bible reading, consistent fellowship with fervent believers (if we can find any). But the phrase that entered my thinking is, "For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

Although I have preached this many times, I had not given sufficient thought to precisely what this expression means. How did we die? What part of our life is hidden with Christ in God?

I asked the Lord to give me the meaning of Paul's words.

I thought about the sixth chapter of Romans, another of my favorite passages. There we find that our old life has been crucified so that the body of sin might be done away. Self is to be crucified. The desire to sin is to be done away. Obviously self and sin are two different factors, however intertwined.

I realize that when we are baptized in water we are to count that we have been crucified with Christ and now have risen with Him. We accept these two states as a fact, and then God makes them practical and true in our daily life.

So I suppose the main problem with my understanding is, precisely what is "life"? What is it about us that is to be crucified? How does God crucify it? And—importantly—specifically what results from our old life being crucified? Is our life being taken from us or restructured in some manner?

I then made a list of items that constitute our life. I am sure this list is not complete, and the reader may want to add some elements of personality to this list.

Our life is our:

Will.

Relationships.

Desires.

Memory.

Plans.

Hopes.

Dreams.

Treasures.

Ambitions.

Justice and judgment.

Pride.

Values.

Knowledge.

Wisdom.

Energy.

Awareness.

Perception.

Money.

Power.

Emotions.

Trust in the World.

Pleasure.

Decision-making.

Growth.

Movement.

The Drives of Sin That Dwell in Us.

Everything Else That Motivates Us.

Do the above pretty well define our life? I am sure there are factors I have not thought of.

When deeper-life teachers mean we must die to self, they mean we are to die to our will, our relationships, our desires, our memory, our plans, our hopes, our dreams, and so forth. The thought of dying to our life does not make the believers happy, particularly the young people. They may assent to the need to die to self, and promptly proceed to some other idea. Who can blame them? What mentally healthy individual wants to lose his or her life?

The problem here may be twofold. First, we do not know exactly how to die to our will, our relationships, our desires, our memory, and so forth. Second, we do not know exactly what will result from our doing this. From my point of view, our inability to understand these two areas prevents the majority of believers from making dying to self of first priority in their Christian life. Would you agree to this?

Let us consider how we die to these several areas of personality. How do we die to our will, our relationships, our desires?

One aspect of this process must be kept in mind: we are not to attempt to crucify ourselves. Self-crucifixion, practiced on occasion by zealous believers, results only in self-righteousness and a strengthened self-will. God will do the crucifying, if we tell Him this is the direction we wish to take.

Let us examine the most important factor—our self-will. We simply cannot move past the Pentecostal experience into the spiritual fulfillment of the remaining three feasts of the Lord until we cry out, "Not my will but Yours be done." Here is the linchpin of spiritual progress beyond the elements of redemption.

But how does God put to death our self-will? He puts us in one kind of prison or another. We are denied our most fervent desires over a period of time. We are required to perform unpleasant service. Suffering is necessary if we are to die to our self-will. We learn stern obedience to the Father through suffering.

How many believers in America are willing to yield their will to the Lord Jesus, when doing so deprives them of their most intense desires? Yet, spiritual maturity is not possible when we cling to our pleasures. We can claim grace, mercy, God's love, all we wish. The fact remains: spiritual maturity is not possible when we cling to our pleasures; when we cannot bear to have our intense desires unfulfilled.

I have believed for years that the Charismatic movement is at this very place, being symbolized by the Altar of Incense of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. We are familiar with Pentecost and the gifts of the Spirit of God. But in order to press forward toward the Veil and the Ark of the Covenant, to speak figuratively, we have to be willing to permit God to crucify our will. To seek the power of the Lamb without submitting to the crucifixion of our will leads to the False Prophet.

The same is true of relationships, desires, memory, plans hopes, dreams, treasures, and all the other factors of our life I have included in my list. When God calls for them they must be given to Him. There is to be no holding back, no hesitation. We are not speaking of sinful behavior, we are speaking of giving to the Lord Jesus that which is our legitimate life, our "Isaac."

There are three means by which we overcome the accuser of the brothers.

We conquer by means of the blood of the Lamb, which justifies us in God's sight.

We conquer by maintaining our testimony in accordance with the written Word of God.

But the most important means of conquest is by loving not our life to the death. Until we are ready to give all of our life to Christ, we cannot conquer the accuser.

The rich young ruler had kept the commandments of the Law. But money was an important part of his life. When Christ asked him to give away his money, the man went away sorrowful. What a loss! Wherever the Gospel of the Kingdom has been preached, this individual is a dramatic portrayal of the utter folly of clinging to some part of our life when God calls for it. Where are he and his possessions now!

If we cling to any part of our life we will lose it.

Now we come to the second aspect of being "dead"—"For you are dead and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

It is this second part that is the central point of my thesis. Sometimes we are informed that we must be crucified with Christ, or we must take the "death route." But we are not always told what will result from our doing this.

The result is, we gain back our life in a vastly superior eternal form. Our life is restructured, not abolished. Better yet, it forever is hidden with Christ in God, just as Christ, no matter where He may be at any given time, always is in the very center of the Father's Person. So we are forever in Christ, as the various elements of our life die, and then are raised in Christ to the right hand of God.

Our will becomes razor sharp. But our will now is one with God's will. The only true, lasting freedom any human can experience occurs when God's will and his will are identical.

Our relationships are eternal. We now are one with all who are an integral part of Christ in the same oneness that exists in the Godhead.

Our desires are from God and fulfilled totally. We have fullness of joy. We have pleasures forever. After having been denied our most intense desires for so long a period, we now have received every desire of our heart. Otherwise, fullness of joy is not possible.

Every element of our memory brings joy and peace.

We do not ask God to bless our plans. Our plans now are God's plans, and God blesses His own plans.

Our hopes come from God and always are realized.

Our dreams our fulfilled. There is a magic kingdom. There is a fairyland. There is every bright and joyous vision ever conceived. Eden is restored many, many times over. Those who experience Job's death experience Job's restoration.

The treasures we have laid away in Heaven are given to us. Sometimes God takes a loved one from us. What a deep, agonizing wound! But if we have been serving Him, God does this so we never again are at home in this present world. Our home now is in Heaven, and we never will have perfect joy until we have been reunited with our loved one who has gone on before.

We may have had to turn aside from our personal ambitions. But in Christ we are possessors of all the works of God's hands.

Perhaps we have been treated unjustly. Now we sit with Christ on the white throne, judging mankind.

We may have been brought very low, as was Christ. Now we are a royal priest, recognized as such by the members of the saved nations of the earth. For our shame we have received a double portion of glory.

We may have seen our values trampled underfoot by society. Now our values are Kingdom principles, enforced throughout the earth by mighty angels.

Perhaps we had our heart set on increasing our education. Now in Christ we have all the knowledge we need.

Our wisdom may have been spurned by the people of the world. Now our wisdom is established in Christ and shines as the light of the new world of righteousness.

As we grow older we grow increasingly tired. If the Lord asks us to use our remaining energy in His work, we will be given the boundless energy that holds the stars in their courses.

It is difficult in America to maintain an awareness of Christ and of the world of the Spirit. If the Lord requires that we walk in spiritual blindness for a season, as He does sometimes with true believers, in that Day we will know as we are known.

There are occasions when the Lord permits our perception to fail us. We cry for truth, and then fall into deception as Christ deals with a "king of darkness" in our personality. If we remain faithful, repenting, and making restitution if necessary, true perception is granted us.

The Lord may ask for our money, as He did the rich young ruler. If we know the Lord we quickly will give Him what He asks for, knowing well that He will not permit us to go without what we need.

If we have a strong desire for power, as often is true of those in political life, the Lord may bring us down to weakness. If we remain faithful, in the future we shall receive power and authority such as no earthly monarch ever has imagined.

Some believers are quite emotional, and Christ may bring them down to a place of ashes. Their romantic dreams are crushed. If we are willing to give this side of our personality to the Lord, we will discover in the future that all of the romantic dreams of poets are but a faint shadow of the marvelous realities of the heavenly kingdom.

The spirit of Antichrist invites us continually to look to the world for survival, for success, for pleasure, for security. This is a deception. For those who turn their back on the siren song of the world, the true, eternal survival, success, pleasure, and security will be found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and only in Him.

It may be true that the most difficult decision American believers make is to choose the way of righteousness when it means turning aside from what is pleasurable. We are so accustomed to material ease, comforts of every sort. But the saints of old have left bloody footprints in the snow. Until we are willing to follow them, we are not worthy of the Kingdom of God.

I have found personally that one of the best methods of practicing the Presence of Christ is to look to Him for each decision I make during the day. We may not always realize it, but we make numerous decisions each day, depending on our material circumstances.

For example, an American may commence the day by deciding what clothes to wear. He can use his own judgment, or ask the Lord. I prefer to ask the Lord.

He can decide what to eat for breakfast. He can go by his feelings, or ask the Lord.

A believer may think that Christ does not care what he eats for breakfast. He is mistaken. Christ does care, and will guide the person if he asks for guidance. Obesity and other aspects of our diet are issues in America at this time.

We can go through the day relying on our abilities, judgment, and experience. But we just as easily can keep looking to the Lord, in all our ways acknowledging Him. I prefer this method of decision-making, and recommend it.

There are all sorts of growth we experience in life: physical growth, mental growth; emotional growth, spiritual growth, social growth, and so forth. We prosper when we dedicate each of these areas to Christ so His will and pleasure are accomplished.

The more money we have the freer we are to travel from place to place, it seems. People often desire to move to another locality, believing they will be happier there. They may not find the satisfaction they are looking for, because the lessons God is teaching them will follow them into the new environment. Best not to move unless we really are hearing from the Lord.

There are drives of sin that motivate us. In order to get at these and remove them, God must crucify our adamic nature. There is no sin in the Kingdom of God. Those who would enter the Kingdom must follow the Holy Spirit as He guides us into putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature.

We must not hold back any aspect of our life, when the Lord calls for it. To do so is to prevent our attaining to the spiritual maturity God desires. All the factors of our first life are temporary. Each of them, no matter how noble, how praiseworthy, eventually will become corrupt and poisonous. It is only as each factor of our personality dies and is raised in Christ is the corruption and poison removed.

Now we understand how God crucifies our old life. We understand also that it is not a question of being deprived of anything of value. Rather, we are trading our threadbare garments for the robes of the royal priesthood. Our life is being rebuilt.

The elements of our new nature, rather than being temporary as is true of our first personality, are our possession for eternity.

What does it profit an individual if he gains the whole world, and in the Day of Resurrection is found to have nothing in his personality of eternal worth? Will he then lose his soul and become merely a spirit, no longer having the ability to make moral judgments; no longer being able to enter union with Christ and other people; no longer being in the image of God?

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A Mystery

2015-05-31

There is a passage in the New Testament that I have never heard anyone explain, and I am not certain I can explain it either. It goes against our ordinary view of access to salvation.

When I find a passage in the Bible I do not understand, my attitude is "Amen!" Sooner or later God clears it up for me. There simply are no mistakes in the Bible.

Someone explained the issue in this manner: When we are at the base of a mountain we can see a certain amount of territory. As we ascend the mountain we can see more territory. When we are on the peak of the mountain we can see all around us.

Perhaps if more of us accepted this explanation there would be less arguing about doctrine among Christians.

The passage is as follows:

He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him."

This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:

'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'" (Matthew 13:11-15)

The same idea is repeated in Mark and Luke, although Mark adds "might turn and be forgiven."

When we begin to pick at some of these mysterious passages it is surprising what emerges.

The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. What are we saying here? Why are the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven given to some and not to others?

In Mark the Apostles were commanded to preach the Gospel to every creature. Are these two passages inconsistent?

I don't think so. Christ's evangelists are to preach the Gospel to every person. But not everyone has the same rank and role in the Kingdom of God. The Apostles, to whom Jesus was explaining the basic parable of the Kingdom, the parable of the sower, were especially chosen. They are to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Such a rank and role is not given to everyone who is saved into the Kingdom.

To add to the mystery, we have the following:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44)

Let us say a doctor developed a pill that instantly would cure all forms of cancer with no side effects, a medicine equally effective for all ages. Let us say further that he made no charge for the pill.

But there was a provision. The patient could not come and receive the pill except by the doctor's invitation.

What would we conclude, since it is obvious that billions of people would die of cancer before the doctor was able to invite them?

We might guess that the doctor had a purpose that went beyond healing people, mightn't we?

Maybe it will be during the present century that we quit trying to help God out and begin listening to Jesus!

If we conclude that God knows what He is doing with each person, then we can agree that God can determine that some people, such as the Apostles of Christ, are to have special insight into the Kingdom of God because of their role in the coming Kingdom.

This does not mean, however, that other people will never understand the mysteries of the Kingdom. Perhaps it is the role of teachers in the Body of Christ to explain the teachings of Christ.

I have felt for many years that we treat the Gospel of the Kingdom as a come-all; that everyone is on the same footing. Perhaps the fact that some are called to be members of the Church, while others believe in Christ and are baptized but are destined to be members of the "sheep" nations who are the inheritance of the Church and over whom the Church shall rule, is not in accord with the value we place on democratic principles.

For this reason, the fact that God would give to some and not to others the understanding of the Kingdom of God is abhorrent to us. We just are going to have to come to the conclusion that the Kingdom is a kingdom, and God is God and does whatever He wants with whomever He wants, and no one can call Him to account.

God is the eternal Potter. He can do as He wishes with the clay. It is nothing more than the pride and arrogance of human beings that insists that God work in ways we understand and according to our concept of "fairness."

Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This statement certainly goes against our concept of "fairness." But it follows the idea of the parable of the talents.

The person who had earned the most money from the talent he had been given was entrusted further with the one talent that was taken from the wicked, lazy servant.

We Americans have a saying that if you want to get something done, ask a busy person. The individual who has much is given more because he or she will use it to advantage. The person who has little loses what he does have because he did not take care of it in one way or another.

Those who use their Kingdom knowledge well by growing personally and helping others, will be given more. Those who do not use their Kingdom knowledge well, not growing themselves and not helping others to grow, will discover that they cannot remember what they had been taught.

It is sinful to be lazy and careless in this present world.

This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand." I was taught in Bible School that Jesus spoke in parables so people would remember His teaching.

This is not what it says, is it? Jesus said He spoke to the multitudes in parables so the listeners would not see, hear, or understand. In this manner, the people who had little would end up having nothing.

Somewhat different from my Bible teacher, a godly, good-hearted lady.

I suspect there is a universal truth here. We are approaching the preaching of the Gospel with the hope that people will see, hear, and understand. Perhaps this is why so many preachers in America today are preaching in a manner that will please the multitudes. The stern teaching of the Lord about denying ourselves and taking up our cross is not always presented.

We want people to understand us and be pleased with us. American people by and large are not going to understand or be pleased with someone who tells them that they have to deny themselves and accept the irritating factors in their life in order to please Christ.

Jesus did not speak in parables so people would understand Him but so only those who were specially appointed would be enlightened. This hardly is democratic.

Do you suppose there will come a day when the great historic Christian denominations will accept the fact that God actually has a plan for each person? This does not mean that God removes our will. This is the last thing God would do. Rather He knows what He can expect from each one of us, and He arranges our life accordingly.

Somewhere it says that God makes all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

It is my opinion that in the beginning God put His Kingdom together in the way He wants it, assigning each person a role and rank. Then in six days He issued His Word that would work until the Kingdom was exactly the way God foresaw it.

This does not prevent an individual from falling below or rising above his or her assigned role. I think there are people who surprise God by their diligence in seeking His will, and others who disappoint Him by being lazy and careless.

As each individual lives out his or her life, however brief or lengthy, the person is "tagged," one might say. Then, when God puts together His vast Kingdom, each person will be fitted in the place prepared for him or her.

Thus God is sovereign, but no person's right to choose is removed from him or her.

If we believe what I have described in the previous few paragraphs is reasonably close to the truth, then I think our approach to ministry should reflect God's plan. Instead of our Christian work making the assumption that there is no plan, no heavenly design, such that we can arrange our structure however we see fit, or seems possible, perhaps we should spend more time seeking Christ to find out where He is doing and work alongside Him.

Jesus told His disciples that He would build His Church. I think He meant by that, that He would build His Church.

For two thousand years, for the most part, people have been planning and building what they believe to be the church of Christ. What has been the result? A multitude of competing groups, each one secure in the knowledge that it is building the true Church of Christ.

The Lord prophesied that when His people were one in Him and in the Father, the world would believe. That is not true today, is it? It may be true that the world is more cynical concerning the Christian churches than ever before in history.

Do you know the reason for the cynicism? People do not see God in the works of Christianity. They see the hand of man. It is not that there are not good people giving their lives for the cause of Christ. There certainly are. But in too many cases they are proceeding as though it is up to them to build the Church and not up to Christ.

Recently there have been accounts of Christian elders from different denominations fighting over land and buildings. Also there are accounts of immorality in the Christian churches.

People are not perfect, we understand that. But in the current Christian operations there is too much of the human showing and not enough of the miracle working power of God.

I have been saying for the last couple of years that a period of moral and physical chaos is approaching our country. Divine judgment is upon America because of the abundance of sin, not only among the unsaved population but also on the part of believers.

We can cite the several problems America is experiencing and assign blame. But the problem is immorality, among other sins. The Spirit of God is telling Christian people to confess their sins, as they are pointed out to them, and to turn away from them with the help of Christ. I am not certain this will prevent the Divine judgment on our nation, but it will enable the individual and those who hear him or her to stand spiritually.

The actions and exhibitions of many of the entertainment "stars" is beyond obscene. I have no doubt God is going to put an end to the current displays of moral filth. Young people growing up in America are engaging in sexual activity at an alarming rate. Homosexual behavior is being winked at, in many instances.

It is time for God to act. I do believe that there is to be a powerful move of the Spirit of God, and have been preaching this for thirty years. But it will be during a time of great trouble.

Draw as close to Jesus as you can each day. Pray continually. Be totally obedient to Christ. If you know what God wants you to do, do it promptly. If you wait until tomorrow it may be too late.

One time I told Jesus that when He appears, I would be glad to share my oil with those whose lamp had gone out.

He responded, "You will have just enough for yourself."

When the Bridegroom comes, you will not be able to get yourself ready. You will have to be instantly ready. When you go to meet Him the door will be closed, and the lazy, careless believers will be screaming in their rage and fear, realizing they have been left behind to experience the wrath of God.

Do not wait another day. There is a sense of urgency. When God moves, He moves like a flash of lightning.

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)

The door was shut!

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Grace, Belief, and Obedience

2015-06-07

Divine grace helps and encourages us as we seek to serve the Lord. But Divine grace never is to be an alternative to obeying God's will!

Grace is not a softening of the demands of God. It is not "unmerited favor" in the sense of accepting disobedience to God's will. Grace is, rather, the removal of the demands of the works of the Law of Moses so we are free to follow the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

Grace also is our help in serving God.

Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16.)

As for the demands of God:

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)

Since the above actions do not reflect God's moral Nature, and are of the nature of unclean spirits, it shall remain true for eternity that "those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God."

If such is the case, where do mercy and grace fit in.

Mercy and grace also are of the Nature of God and are revealed in His great patience toward us and His willingness to assist every individual who calls on Him for help.

But God never finally receives to Himself that which is spiritually unclean or rebellious.

The terrible misunderstanding of our day is that the God of the Old Testament has changed and now receives unclean spirits into His Presence.

Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." And, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (II Corinthians 6:17-7:1)

The Spirit of God is our Law. Not obedience to the Law of Moses, but obedience to the Spirit of God. These are not the same at all!

The grace of God frees us from obedience to the works of the Law of Moses that we may be obedient to the directions of the Spirit of God.

It no longer is obedience to the Law of Moses that brings righteousness to us, but obedience to the Spirit of God. Genuine belief always leads us to obedience to God. If it does not, it is not genuine belief but mental assent.

It is not a coincidence that the Law of Moses that came from Sinai occurred on the day of the Feast of Pentecost. This illustrates that the Law of Moses was the Law of the Old Covenant, while the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus (Pentecost) is the Law of the New Covenant.

It was not disobedience to the Law of Moses but disobedience to the revealed will of God that prevented Israel from entering the land of promise.

Just think of the many times that Israel was led by God's revealed will, including the parting of the Red Sea, the daily manna, and the cloud by day and the fire by night.

And these Israelites were not born-again. How much more should we who have received all the blessings of the New Covenant look to the Lord Jesus for His revealed will?

What role, then, does the Bible play? The Bible presents the infallible will of God in a general manner. But in our day to day life we need specific details if we are to make fruitful decisions.

The grace of God is misunderstood in our day, isn't it?

Let us turn now to the seeming contradiction between Paul's statements in the early part of the Book of Romans that appear to show we are saved by faith alone and our behavior is relatively insignificant. Then there are the many passages in his Epistles that insist we put away our old nature and put on the new nature that is renewed in Christ.

I say "seeming contradiction," because there simply are no true contradictions in the entire Bible.

It is not what we do that is so important to Christ, it is why we do it that determines whether or not we are in the rest of God. Christ wants to conduct every part of our life.

If my understanding is correct, there are two primary teachings that have destroyed the moral strength of the Christian churches in America.

The first teaching is that Divine grace is a substitute for growth in godly behavior.

The second teaching is that our salvation is complete if we believe in the facts concerning Jesus Christ, and that our behavior is not related to our salvation in a significant manner.

Both of these widespread teachings can easily be shown to be errors when we turn to the New Testament.

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)

Notice carefully the two words, "disobeyed," and "unbelief."

In your opinion, was God displeased with their disobedience in not pressing forward into Canaan? Or was God displeased with their unbelief?

Obviously, obedience and belief are inseparable.

It was not enough for the Israelites to enter Canaan and subdue the inhabitants. If they were to please God, they had to follow His leading.

What if the Israelites decided to enter Canaan using their own military plans without listening to God, taking the people captive without putting them to death? Would God have been pleased?

What if the Israelites remained where they were and just believed that God would bring them into the land of promise apart from any effort on their part? Would God have been pleased?

Perhaps we realize intuitively that God wanted them to listen to Him, to believe what He told them, and then to act on it.

In the early part of the Book of Romans, Paul emphasized that we are not saved by works but by faith. In today's preaching, Paul often is perceived as saying that we are to do nothing but believe in Christ if we want to be saved.

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:4,5)

For instance, I saw a picture of a Christian sitting on the edge of his bed and looking about contentedly. He was illustrating that there is nothing we do to be saved and go to Heaven.

Another example comes to mind:

Some years ago, a documentary was shown in our church. It portrayed a godly missionary couple who went to live among a native tribe.

They did not present the Gospel until they had gained the trust of the natives.

When they believed the time was ripe, they presented the Gospel and baptized the people.

After this, the leaders asked them what the natives were to do now.

The missionaries replied, "Nothing."

Nothing? There is nothing to do after we are baptized in water? Only a New Testament filled with exhortations to spiritual growth.

Such is the fruit of understanding the Apostle Paul to mean we are saved by grace through "faith alone."

But this is not what Paul meant, according to His Epistles.

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)

Paul goes on, in Chapter Twelve of the Book of Romans, to give directions for Christian service.

The missionaries could have pointed to this passage, couldn't they?

All of the writers of the New Testament emphasized the effort we are to make to live a godly life. According to these writers, the penalty for not cleansing ourselves from ungodly behavior is to not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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)

And Pastor James:

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17)

I think some are of the opinion that Paul is correct in saying we only have to believe in Christ, and James is not as much of God because he preached works.

Do you know of any Christians who are of the opinion that Paul's Epistles are more of God than the Book of James?

But this cannot be. "Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead" is just as much the Word of Christ as is "For by grace are you saved through faith, and not by works lest any man should boast."

"Brother Thompson, you can't be serious. Everyone knows we are saved by faith alone."

I do know one thing: the "faith alone" doctrine is as destructive as any other error that has entered Christian thinking!

When Paul spoke of "grace" he was referring to freedom from the statutes of Moses, not freedom from godly behavior.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

When Paul spoke of works which God "prepared in advance for us to do," I believe he was referring to the prophecy concerning the New Covenant.

"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33)

When Paul spoke of belief in Jesus Christ he meant not only believing "about" Christ but believing that Christ is our Lord as well as our Savior and must be obeyed diligently, promptly, and cheerfully.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. (Romans 6:11-13)

When reading the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans, one can come to the conclusion that Paul was reacting to those in his day who were teaching "let us do evil that grace may abound."

The passage above is another one that the missionaries could have given to the natives, when asked what to do after being baptized in water.

To say we believe in Christ and then do not obey His commands or the commands of His Apostles is ridiculous, to say the least! It reveals that we really do not believe Jesus is our Lord.

Having been a disciple of our Lord for seventy years, I have pondered the issues of grace, and "faith alone," when it is obvious the New Testament is filled with teaching on how to live a godly life.

Today, as I arose from a nap, the answer hit me: the key to the mystery is "obedience."

The issue is not whether we are doing works or refraining from doing works but whether we are obeying God!

There are times when to obey God we must work hard. There are other occasions when God indicates He wants us to rest and wait on Him.

The Law of Moses simply is not that sensitive to our day by day needs.

The Lord Jesus directed Audrey and me to leave the Bay Area of California and move to the city of Poway in Southern California. That was forty years ago. As part of the motivation for making this move, I actually saw a large angel pointing south.

When we arrived in the City of Poway, the Foursquare Denomination handed a church to us that had just been closed because of lack of membership. They had heard from a mutual friend that we were coming into the area.

I was a Bible teacher, not a pastor, so this role was new to me.

Audrey and I were resolved to do nothing except that which we felt Christ was prompting us to do.

Although the church, Mount Zion Fellowship, is not large, during this year (2014) we have had more than five and one-half million hits on our Internet site. Many thousands of pages have been read, according to Google Analytics. Five hundred four thousand pages to be exact, as of December 15.

All of my writings are recorded in the Kindle Library. Several electronic tablets can receive the Kindle format. I do not know how many hundreds of tapes have been made that can be listened to on the Audio page of our site (www.wor.org).

There is a free E-mail page that goes out every day to those who subscribe. In addition, many hundreds of books and booklets have been sent free of charge to third-world countries.

And we still are resolved to do nothing except as Christ directs us!

You might say we have produced "works." But all of this was performed in obedience to Jesus Christ. The texts I have written come close to being dictated by the Spirit of the Lord. They are not intellectual efforts. Freely I have received, and freely I give as well as I can.

Can you see what I mean by the difference between the "works" Paul and the Book of Hebrews refer to, and the "works" that every Christian is to perform as the Lord leads, according to the individual's "talents"?

The fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews speaks of the rest of God, of ceasing from our works just as God did from His.

For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:10)

Yet, the Lord Jesus told us we cannot be His disciple unless we deny ourselves, turn away from our old life and relationships, suffer the denial of our most intense desires, take up our cross of affliction, set our treasures in Heaven, and follow Him at all times.

Well, which is it? Do we stop doing anything and just believe, or do we put off the old nature and start building a new life in Christ?

The key is "obedience" as the source of our motivations. If we just decide to do something, even if it is religious or Christian in some manner, it is not acceptable. It could be missionary work, or feeding and clothing the poor. It still is not what God is after.

God wants all of our thinking, speaking, and acting to come from Him, not from our own ideas. Whether or not a thought we think, a word we say, or a deed we do is coming from God or our own ideas marks the difference between that which is of the rest of God and that which is the "works," of which Paul speaks and concerning which we can boast.

Think about our Lord. How did He think, speak, and act? Everything Christ did came as He prayed and sought the Father's will. He literally lived by the Father. As He said, "I can do nothing of Myself, only what I see the Father do. The Words I speak are not mine but the Father's who sent me."

Can you believe this? Christ wants us to live by Him as He lives by the Father.

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:56,57)

"The one who feeds on Me will live because of Me."

How do we learn to live by Christ as He lives by the Father?

Each day and night we are faced with numerous decisions, most of them trivial, some important. What we eat, how we dress, who we talk to, what we say, where we go, how we spend our money, and so forth.

We can answer each of these demands based on our experience, ability, and what we desire. Or, we can pause for a moment and ask the Lord Jesus to guide us.

It is just as easy to keep asking the Lord what we should think, say, and do, as it is to go by our own desires. Try it and see if I am correct.

Of course, this way of living has to be learned. So just go at it a little bit at a time. Pretty soon it will be natural to you and you will wonder how you had lived previously.

Can you see that the issue is obedience to Christ?

For example, we might get up in the morning and decide we are going out to "witness for Christ." In the old days we would just go out do what we planned.

Now, in our new way of living, we stop and ask Jesus if this is what we should do.

I know people say "our work is God's work," and so forth. That will not do any longer. We must be praying about everything we think, say, and do.

Have you ever blurted out something and then wished you had not spoken? Most of us have done that. Well, in this new way of living you will not do that. You will pray before you say something. This is a really good idea, isn't it.

Do you know, if Christian leaders prayed and talked to the Lord, and listened to Him, before they did something, we would not have a thousand competing denominations.

Just because there may not be much missionary work in some part of the world is not our call to go there. We must learn to curb our enthusiasm and assumptions and wait until we hear from the Lord.

It requires discipline to wait on the Lord rather than to go forth to do some good work. To rush about in our desire to please God is not wise. Remember how the distinguished leaders of Israel murdered the living Word of God when He worked among them? He was hearing from His Father. They were hearing from their own religious zeal.

What a world this would be if everyone did God's will. Well, that day is coming. It will be installed and maintained by people whom God is training today. It is called, "The Kingdom of God." God's will is of primary importance in His Kingdom.

If I am correct, God's will is not done in most Christian circles. I think this is because we are filled with our own ideas and want to accomplish them.

How do we find out what God's will is?

First, we have to present our body in prayer to God as a living sacrifice. Then we have to ask the Lord's help in cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

We must spend some time each day waiting on the Lord. We also must read the Bible each day. The Spirit of God will speak to us from the Bible. I cannot overemphasize the importance of reading the Bible daily.

We must look for a group of fervent Christians and assemble with them. If no such group is available, perhaps Jesus will lead us to start one. This is not at all impossible.

We must obey the commands of Christ and His Apostles. But some of Christ's commands in the New Testament are difficult to obey, and we must ask Christ to show us what to do about them; how to apply them to our own lives.

We always must seek Christ's help in applying the Scriptures to our own life. To attempt to obey the Bible without looking constantly to Christ for help is to attempt to follow Christian principles without Christ. The product of this approach often is a harsh, unloving, doctrinaire, individual who knows the Word but not the Author.

Such were the Pharisees of old.

Many Christians hear Christ speak in their minds frequently. This is a great help when we are seeking to live in the rest of God. Others do not hear nearly as often. When we acknowledge Christ in all our ways, the result is the same as if we heard Him speak. We end up doing His will. He is faithful to confirm His Word.

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)

I do not know if it always has been this way, but I think Jesus may be drawing closer to us at this time to prepare us for the days of moral and physical chaos that are near to us in America. We have been so blessed of the Lord, but we have turned to the ways of the flesh. Divine judgment is on the way, because we have been given so much and now are ignoring the Lord.

The Bible is becoming clearer. We now can understand that the goal of salvation is not eternal residence in Heaven but fellowship with the Father and the Son no matter where we are.

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)

In order to have fellowship with God we must come out from the uncleanness of the world and live a righteous, holy life before God. Jesus will help us do this if we ask 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)

The Bible is filled with examples both of obedience and disobedience. God tells us that obedience is better than sacrifice, and to listen to God is better than the fat of rams.

Obedience!

I have heard numerous exhortations to believe in Christ; to go out and bear witness for Jesus; to give as much money as we can; to come to church as often as the doors are open.

I have not heard an equal amount of emphasis on listening to Jesus and obeying the Lord.

I think this is because we do not know how to find what God's will is, or else we do not believe that God will give us specific directions for our life.

I know of a lady who claims that at the beginning of each year God speaks to her and tells her what the new year will be like.

This is not nearly sufficient for my needs or desires. I want to know what Christ wants every moment of every day of every week.

I frequently look up to the Lord Jesus and I ask, "Am I doing exactly what You want? Am I exactly where you want me to be?"

I do not hear "No" to either question very often. But when I do, I make every effort to find out what the problem is. I ask the Lord Jesus to "fix it."

As you that anxious to maintain the Presence of Christ in your life?

Remember, the issue is obedience. It is not works or lack of works, it is the motivation for the works that is critical.

Perhaps in time past all we needed was a general idea of where we were supposed to be and what we were supposed to be doing. Well, that time is no more. Because we are nearing the climax of the battle between good and evil, the "conflict of the ages" as one saint put it, it no longer is sufficient to have a general idea of what we are supposed to be doing or where we are supposed to be.

When the nuclear bombs fall on America, or when there is a civil war, are we going to go about wondering what to do? Or are we accustomed to listening to Jesus so we know right then how to take care of ourselves and our families.

Now is the time to prepare for the Divine judgment that is approaching America. We must press close to the Lord Jesus, looking for His will and Presence every moment of every day, as I stated previously.

All that is truly important in life is to know the will of God and to do it. In the day of judgment, people who do not know what God's will for them is will be as so much chaff blowing about in every direction. They will not be able to help themselves or anyone else.

If we or our loved ones are killed in the coming days, it is only to go to a land of peace and safety, that is, if we have been a decent person and have not rejected Christ if He has been presented to us.

Children especially will be brought by God's angels into a land of delight where other children are playing in the Presence of Jesus.

The all-important issue in our life is to do God's will. Do we know what it is? Are we being strictly obedient to it? That is all that really matter.

Our goal in prayer is not to be a combatant, seeking to move God according to our will. Rather our purpose is to find what God wants and pray that way.

Is it better to seek God's will and way and move in that direction; or is it better to persuade God to do our will and go our own way?

If you are not seeking God's will each day, why don't you begin right now. Ask our Lord Jesus to help you find out what His will is. If you will make the effort to live always in His will, then righteousness, love, peace, and joy will be your portion—even in the coming days of chaos in America.

God grant you to find your place of safety and peace under those overshadowing wings, so you can sing and dance in Zion when the world is in flames.

There is nothing better in life than to obey the Lord Jesus Christ.

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. (Hebrews 12:26,27)

When God has finished shaking the earth and the heavens, all that will remain is that which has been born of His Nature.

***

Where did the Christian churches ever get the idea that believing about Christ is more important than obeying Christ?

Satan has two primary objectives. The first is to convince people that it is not necessary to obey Christ. The second is that it is not necessary to behave righteously in order to please God.

Satan has advanced three doctrines in order to promote his agenda.

First, the goal of salvation is eternal residence in Heaven, rather than conformation to Christ's moral image and rest in God's will.

Second, any moment now, all Christian church-goers will be removed from the pains and problems of earth, which is God's training ground for His future rulers, and whisked away to Paradise where they may sing and dance all the day.

Third, Divine grace is God's alternative to growth in righteous behavior.

Whenever you hear a minister emphasizing one or more of these errors, you know he or she is being influenced by Satan rather than by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace as an alternative to growth in righteous behavior has been preached so emphatically that numerous people who profess belief in Christ would be hard put to describe what righteous behavior is.

This is a tragedy of unimaginable proportions since the Christian salvation is supposed to create righteous behavior in a believer. The good works of Christians are the light of the world, the testimony of the Person, will, and way of almighty God, and the coming of His new world of righteousness.

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Galatians 2:20

2015-06-14

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)

Somehow this verse was brought to my attention when I first became a Christian, some seventy years ago. It has grown in my thinking until it certainly is one of my "favorite" passages in the Bible.

Every evening I pray that for the remainder of the night and throughout the following day it will be Christ who is thinking, speaking, and behaving in my body.

He will be living in my place. Meanwhile, I will be seated and resting in Christ at the right hand of God, having fellowship with my Father.

This is how I choose to live the remainder of my days on the earth.

I have been crucified with Christ.

Every day I choose not to fulfill my own desires but to permit Christ to give me what He wants me to have. In fact, I ask the Lord to give me His desires for me and to fulfill them as He will.

If you are of the opinion this is not a crucifixion, not a death of the old man, you have not tried it.

It is a crucifixion "with Christ," not some sort of self-mortification. Christ is involved in every element of my crucifixion.

When we truly receive Christ as our Lord and Savior, our new born-again nature is lifted in Christ to the right hand of God.

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

Am I claiming that Christ is living in my body on the earth and my spiritual nature is at the right hand of God? That exactly is what I am saying. My spiritual nature is in Christ in God, and I endeavor each day to focus on that fact, refusing to be involved in the present confusion in the world.

I love to be at rest at God's right hand, having wonderful fellowship with Him.

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)

At each moment I choose to look to Christ so that my thinking, speaking, and behaving are what He is doing. This is how Christ lives with His Father, and this is how I choose to live with 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)

Every time I think of it I ask Jesus if I am where I am supposed to be and doing what I am supposed to be doing. If His answer to either question is "No," then I get busy and find out where the problem is.

You know, Christ told us in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of John that He would come to us. I do not know to what extent this was true in years gone by, but it certainly is true today.

We can walk in conscious fellowship with Christ and God today, but we have to keep praying that this will be true of us.

I have been encouraging this relationship for myself for many years. I can say truthfully that it is stronger today that at any time in the past.

It is one aspect of being led by the Spirit.

I have been deceived on some occasions, and have had to humble myself and confess that I was wrong, and make amends whenever Christ showed me what to do. Being led by the Spirit is an art, and like any other art, it has to be practiced constantly.

If we keep on pressing into Christ, pretty soon we are enjoying the Presence of the Lord.

In America, with its numerous material attractions, it is difficult to keep our mind in the heavens with God; but it is well worth the effort.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

Over the past forty years I have written many books, booklets, and essays. Each of them has come to me as a burden, much like prophesy. I do not claim they are infallible, but some believers may find what has been written to be helpful during their discipleship. They really were not an intellectual effort, the result of a critical analysis of the Scriptures. They have been, I think, the burden of the Word of the Lord.

But you can judge.

And I no longer live.

This idea about setting aside our own life that Christ may live means our thinking, speaking, and behaving no longer are proceeding only from our own judgment and desires.

The Bible is the infallible Word of God. But it is a general guide to our conduct. It ordinarily does not tell us how we should react in a particular situation. For personal guidance we must hear from the Lord as a supplement to the teaching of the Bible.

Let's say there is mob violence approaching our house. Should we flee with our children or should we remain in our house? The Bible tells us to pray for wisdom. Our actual guidance must come from the Lord Jesus through the Spirit of God. Isn't that true.

The Israelites had a way of obtaining specific guidance that the Torah did not give. They went to the priest who consulted the Urim and the Thummin. By using this device the Israelite could gain personal guidance.

Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord. (Exodus 28:30)

There are ministers who teach that we cannot hear from the Lord today. They are mistaken.

The United States is approaching moral and physical chaos because of our many sins, including abortion. When there is the threat of nuclear war or mob violence, the Bible will not tell us what particular action to take. Fortunately for us, the Lord will guide us in times of danger, sometimes by speaking to us.

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)

In the time of danger, do not panic. Quiet yourself and ask Jesus to guide you. He may or may not speak to you, but He will guide you one way or another.

The Lord Jesus desires to be closer to us today than has true before, I believe. Perhaps it is because of increasing danger.

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21)

The time to learn to live by the Life of Jesus is now. As I said previously, keep asking Jesus if you are where you are supposed to be, and doing what you are supposed to be doing. Whether or not He speaks to you, He will honor your desire to live by His Life.

If you do not make a practice now of learning to live in the Presence and will of Christ, you will be panic stricken when danger comes and will run about in indecision. You will be of no help to yourself or anyone else.

But Christ lives in me.

Christ desires to live in you and me. This is not some sort of religious saying but a genuine experience. But we have to want it, and keep telling the Lord that this is how we desire to live.

The truth is, Heaven is God's Throne. But God desires to have a house of His own in which He can live among the people whom He has created and whom He loves.

That House is Christ—Head and Body. You and I are rooms in that eternal Tabernacle in which the Father can find rest, and from which He can govern His creation.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

Pardon me for saying so, but it is stupid to continue on in our flesh and blood life when Christ offers to live His life in us, especially when chaos is approaching us.

To live by the Life of and in the Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ requires daily prayer and obedience. It is, as I said, an art that must be practiced continually. When we make a mistake we do not give up. We learn from our error and press forward in Christ. Such training is absolutely necessary if we have a hope of being changed into immortality when the Lord appears in Glory.

The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.

It is difficult to decide whether this means by faith in the Son of God, or by the faith of the Son of God; that is, by His faith.

It probably means that we have such faith in the Son of God that we are willing to give up our own desires and planning, trusting that if we let Jesus live our life for us, we will receive eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

I have found by experience that if I go the way I feel Christ wants me to go, I have better results than if I trust my own understanding.

Of course, Jesus' own faith also is involved, since it is His faith in God that gives Him the wisdom and strength to guide us.

Who loved me and gave himself for me.

Christ loves each of God's elect with a love far exceeding anything we can imagine. He set aside His own Life, choosing instead to live by the Life of the Father, and went to the cross that we might be forgiven. It seems to me only fitting that I should set aside my own life that Christ might have a body through which we can work God's works among people in the earth.

How do you feel about that?

I would like to tell you about a thought I have been reviewing in my mind.

Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish man, having been brought up with excellent teaching of the Jewish laws and traditions. How was God able to teach this human being how to live by the Life of Christ, when it appears to not be known to numerous Christians of our day–two thousand years later?

In Galatians 2:20, Paul is was ahead of most of today's Christians, it seems to me.

There is another thought that I probably should express at this time. What was the background, the context of Galatians 2:20?

It appears that the Apostle Paul did not observe all of the traditions of the Jews. This reminds us of the Lord Jesus and the continual harassment He experienced because of the things He and His disciples did on the Sabbath.

James, Peter (Cephas) and the other Apostles were observing some of the Jewish traditions. Paul did not, and so appeared to be sinning.

Paul, although he had not seen Jesus as they had, rebuked them sternly. He defended himself against the charge of being a sinner.

"But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn't that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker." (Galatians 2:17,18)

And then:

"For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for 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. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Galatians 2:19-21)

How did Paul, the Jew, come up with such wisdom? It had to be Christ living in him who made this explanation.

What did Paul mean by saying, "For through the law I died to the law."

So, my brothers and sisters, 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 for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:4-6)

"We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."

It sounds to me that Paul is maintaining that the sinful passions that lived in his flesh condemned him to die on the cross with the Lord Jesus. It was the Law of Moses that condemned him.

Since Paul died in and because of the Law, he is free to follow the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ. He no longer is bound by the Law of Moses. The Law has no authority over the dead (Romans 7:1).

I doubt that James, Peter, or any of the other Apostles understood Paul. This wisdom was God's gift to Paul, the person God had chosen to explain the transition from Moses to Christ.

I do not think this transition is understood to the present day. There still are people, not only the Jews, but Christians also, who tell us we must observe the Sabbath day (Saturday). In fact, there are Christians who think they go to church on Sunday because they view Sunday, instead of Saturday, as the Sabbath.

It indeed is remarkable that Paul is not understood to the present hour by so many Christians.

How are we free from the Sabbath and other commandments?

By being crucified with Christ. We have set aside our old adamic nature over which the Law has authority and now are living along with the Lord Jesus in His resurrection life.

It is as simple as that!

But how do we dare consider ourselves to be free from the Law of Moses, even though we count ourselves as crucified with Christ?

This is the purpose of the grace of God and the meaning of grace.

Contrary to the belief of many Christian institutions and churches, grace is not a softening of the demands of Christ. Rather it is God's way of freeing us from Moses so we can serve Christ. We did not just decide to be free from Moses.

God issued grace, telling us that if we are willing to be crucified with Christ, denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following the Lord Jesus at all times, for His part He would provide a dispensation of grace that would hold us guiltless even though we inherited from Adam the passions of sin.

I am not referring to the philosophy of Dispensationalism, which I believe to be an error of considerable magnitude.

I think today's Christian teachers have some idea that God has set us free from Moses, but many appear to be ignorant that once we are free from Moses we come under an infinitely stricter law—the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

However, that new law does not work by our reading the commandment and then endeavoring to keep it.

Rather, the new law works as we pray and the Spirit of Christ gives us of His body and blood, writing His eternal moral law in our mind and heart. We now have the willingness and the power to overcome specific sins as the Spirit points them out to us.

What do we do? We turn from this world, its attractions and its bondages. We deny ourselves. We take up our cross of deferred desires. We place our treasures in Heaven. We look to Jesus at all times, in every situation, to guide our thinking, speaking, and behaving.

It is a life of cheerful, prompt obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Such is death to our old nature. But it is the ground from which the resurrection life of the Lord begins to germinate and then to grow into the Kingdom of God.

So Galatians 2:20, which I first was taught while a member of the United States Marine Corps, so long ago, proves to be the guiding principle of my life in the present day.

How marvelous and eternal are all the works of 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.

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The Life-Giving Spirits

2015-06-21

Every member of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is by calling 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. (1 Peter 2:9)

Every member of the Royal Priesthood is called to be a life-giving spirit.

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

Every Christian who does not cooperate with the Spirit of God in becoming a life-giving spirit may be as though he or she has buried their talent. They clearly are in danger of the outer darkness and of having their God-given gifts taken from them.

The calling today on each Christian is to pursue the current aspects of the program of redemption until they become a life-giving spirit. Christ will make this possible. Our task is to follow Christ closely and obey Him completely.

The people from the nations who are saved to citizenship on the new earth, but who are not called to be members of the Priesthood, will pursue their vocations in a glorious environment. They are the inheritance of the Priesthood and will receive eternal life from the Priesthood and be governed and blessed by the Priesthood.

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)

The promise above is to the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are co-heirs with Him.

The following passage shows the two different groups, the Priesthood and their inheritance:

Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:5,6)

The "priests of the Lord" are the Christians, the life-giving spirits.

The "strangers" who will shepherd your flocks are the saved people from the "nations," the inheritance of the life-giving spirits.

We see the same pattern in the Book of Revelation:

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

"It" is the new Jerusalem, which is the glorified Christian Church, the assemblage of life-giving spirits. The "nations" are the saved people from the nations of the earth. Here is the fulfillment of the Word of Christ, "You are the light of the world."

Such is the relationship of the Israel of God to the nations of the earth. Such is the Kingdom of God that has been proclaimed and soon is coming to the earth.

Before we advance to the life-giving spirit, we first have to deal with sin. Sin is behavior that is not acceptable to God.

There are three aspects of sin: the guilt of sin; the cravings of sin; and the practice of sin. When we say, "He nailed my sins to the cross," we usually mean "the guilt of our sins," in that the cravings still are in our personality and, even against our will, we fulfill the cravings.

When we read "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," we usually think of the first aspect—the guilt of sin. This probably is because at the beginning of the Christian Era, forgiveness was emphasized.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)

However, the writers of the New Testament pointed toward a Day of Redemption, at which time we will be delivered from not only the guilt of sin, but also the cravings and practice of sin.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:40,41)

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. (Romans 13:11)

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13,14)

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

Who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)

Below is an interesting prophecy:

After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. (Hosea 6:2)

He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'" (Luke 13:32)

I believe the two days speak of the two thousand years of the Church Era, in which God is identifying and training the members of the Royal Priesthood. During the third day, God will release us from sin and self-will and fill us with the Fullness of the Holy Spirit.

You know, the procedure for putting to death the cravings of sin and the practice of sin has always been in the New Testament. But as has been the case also with speaking in tongues, the Spirit of God had to bring it to our attention before we began to believe for it and then practice it.

One of the procedures for removing the cravings and practice of sin is as follows. It always has been in the Bible. Why didn't we see it? Maybe its place in the unfolding of the plan of redemption had not arrived until recently:

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)

I think by "misdeeds" the translator means "sins."

Name some sin you are practicing, a craving you cannot seem to control. Then ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you and put the craving to death. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Again:

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)

It appears obvious that the two passages above are speaking of deliverance from the cravings and practice of sin, and not just forgiveness.

May I be so bold as to suggest that the Day of Redemption has begun?

It is a time to wash our robe and make it white in the blood of the Lamb.

We mentioned previously the three aspects of sin: forgiveness, cravings, and practice.

Now let us think about the three sources of the sin that binds us.

The first source of sin is our love 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)

I must confess that during my preaching over the past fifty or more years I have not paid enough attention to the problem of worldliness. I have been focusing on the sins that dwell in our flesh, and the problem with self-will.

The other day as I was writing about sin and the coming Day of Redemption, the issue of Christian worldliness came into my mind. I began to do a computer search of the New Testament exhortations concerning involvement in the world-antichrist spirit. I realized that the spirit of the world also is a source of sin.

I realized also that while self-will, rebellion against God's will, may be the primary cause of the difficulty we have in serving God, the people in the Lake of Fire have (perhaps because of their self-will) yielded to one or more of the sins of the flesh until they personify that sin.

I expect when they die and pass into the spirit world they will be the very embodiment of the sin.

Let me explain further:

The sins that dwell in our flesh are described in several passages of the New Testament. The list of sins I frequently employ is as follows:

Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Compare the above with the following:

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)

Do you notice any difference between the two lists of sinful behavior?

The first list is of various works of the flesh. The second list is of people.

It is not the sins that are thrown into the Lake of Fire. It is people!

How can one account for this?

Notice that one of the sins of the flesh is fornication. One of the kinds of people who make their home in the Lake of Fire are the sexually immoral.

I believe this means that if an individual keeps yielding to fornication, impurity, and licentiousness, they will be characterized when they stand before the Lord Jesus as an immoral personality. Their home for eternity will be the Lake of Fire.

"But," one may protest, "what if that individual has 'accepted Christ"'?

The Books of Galatians and Revelation were written to God's people and apply to God's people. They were not written to the world.

So after considering the sources of sin I have come to the conclusion that there is the world; then there are the alien spirits that dwell in our flesh; and then there are the sins of our personality: many of which have been inherited; and many of which have been formed as in our self-will we have continued to yield to the spirits of sin that dwell in our flesh.

We American Christians have a deadly enemy. It is the antichrist spirit of the world; the idolizing of money, sexual lust, entertainment, and luxury.

Our children grow up nourished by Satan's personality as they gaze for many hours at Satan's values of lust and violence on the electronic communication and gaming devices. Some of these devices were not even in existence fifty years ago, so it may be too early to evaluate their impact on people.

However, any Christian who has read the Bible knows, or should know, that the daily immersion in the television, Facebook, Internet, and the handheld devices, is not approved of by the Lord Jesus. The parents of the children will see the day when this kind of sowing produces an undesirable harvest. Only continual prayer can break the bondage of the worldly media.

There is no doubt that being a consecrated, godly believer is quite difficult in America. We are running counter to the tide of worldliness. This is especially difficult for children and young people from Christian homes. They often do not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, and it appears to them that their parents are being hateful and mean by not letting them wallow in the various electronic games "like the other kid's parents do."

So the first enemy of those who have their sights set on becoming one of Christ's life-giving spirits is the antichrist-world spirit. To be successful in this warfare requires a closeness to the Master that we may not have known in the previous years of our Christian discipleship.

The second source of the sins that war against our becoming a life-giving spirit is the sins that dwell in our flesh—that probably are spirits. There are at least three main lists of the sins of the flesh: in Galatians, in Ephesians, and in Colossians. Also there are references to the sins of the flesh in several other of the Epistles.

One of the three main lists is found in the Book of Colossians:

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 also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 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. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. (Colossians 3:5-11)

Many of these sins may be spirits that we inherited or acquired during our lifetime. They can be put to death and their power over us broken by the instructions in the two passages set forth above (Romans 8:13 and I John 1:9).

Try it and see? This is a powerful work of redemption that is being emphasized today by the Spirit of God.

(the following passages are adopted from: The Third Day Has Begun)

From my point of view, the New International Version does us a great disservice in its translation of Romans 7:18:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

"In my sinful nature" should be "in my flesh."

Since I am not a Greek scholar, there may be some linguistic reason why "in my flesh" can properly be translated "in my sinful nature." If so, I stand corrected.

However, since in this essay I am making an important distinction between the sins that proceed from cravings, "spirits" (perhaps), dwelling in our flesh, and then the sins that proceed from our personality, from what we are and not from alien spirits dwelling in our body, to change sarki (Greek: the flesh) into sinful nature is an unfortunate substitution.

Notice also:

But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:23—NIV)

But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23—NASB)

And I behold another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of the sin that [is] in my members. (Romans 7:23—YLT)

I think it really is scandalous to change "in the members of my body" to "in me," as the NIV has done.

The whole point is that the sin is alive in the members of my body, my flesh, rather than in my inward personality. At least, that is the way it appears to me! What can you say about that?

How is one to conduct an exposition of the Scriptures when the translators change words as they will?

The reason the change from "my sinful nature" to "the sin dwelling in my flesh is so significant is that it attacks the nature and purpose of the resurrection from the dead.

The resurrection from the dead is the changing of our body from sinful corruption to sinless incorruption. The resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. It is a change in our personality.

Therefore the change from "my sinful nature" to the "law of sin which is in my members" removes the thrust of Paul's goal, which was the resurrection from the dead body ("the body of this death"); the redemption of Paul's body.

I do believe the goal of the Christian redemption is the change from a sinful body to a body without sin. The inner salvation, which is the change from a self-willed soul to a life-giving spirit, is of little or no use until the body in which it is contained is delivered completely from the sins that at present continually urge it to sin.

Perhaps this is the meaning of, "Should not perish but have eternal life," that is to say, immortality in the body.

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 15:54)

(end of adopted paragraphs)

In the eighth chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul groans for the redemption of his body, with the idea, I believe, that his sinful flesh will not continue when his carnal body is changed into an incorruptible body. This supports the term "flesh," I think, as more fitting than "sinful nature."

There is another source of sin (other than worldliness and spirits dwelling in our flesh). Perhaps a suitable term would be "original" sin, or "soulish" sin. The cravings of this third source of sin is our own personality, our heart, our soul, or whatever one wishes to call it. It should be kept separated in our minds from the cravings that live in our flesh, because God deals with it differently.

The sin that lives in our flesh can be put to death by the Spirit of God, and shall not continue to affect us when we are clothed with our incorruptible resurrection body; and may leave us when we die and pass into the spirit world.

The sin that proceeds from our soul, if we yield continually to our inherited fallen nature and to the urges in our flesh, probably will not leave us when we die and pass into the spirit world, and may prevent us from being clothed with an incorruptible body.

The sin that proceeds from our soul, our personality, cannot be put to death by the Spirit. God's way of dealing with the promptings of our soul is to crucify it. This accounts for our numerous afflictions as a Christian.

The sins that proceed from our soul, our fallen nature, are those of self-love, self-will, self-guidance, self-aggrandizement, plus cowardice, immorality, lying, and so forth. This sort of sin is observable in the world, as the prominent leaders seek power and glory.

It is prominent also in the churches, and is responsible for divisions in the churches; and in some instances may be the cause of competing denominations. We think of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Also of Absalom.

We may just now be discovering that Christ wants us to be holy and righteous, and has made provision for our deliverance from unrighteous, unholy behavior. It appears it has been our practice to the present hour to claim we are "saved by grace," apart from a change in our behavior, not understanding perhaps that God has made provision for deliverance as well as for forgiveness.

In the case of self-will and self-aggrandizement, and the sins of our flesh that we yield to continually, Christ will guide us into the transformation of our fallen nature. Christ wants us to be totally obedient to Him in every part of our life. He will send trouble upon us until we are glad to obey Him completely.

How do we do this? By continually looking to Jesus for every decision we make during the day and night.

The Bible tells us to lean not to our own understanding but to acknowledge God in all our affairs. It commands us to present our body a living sacrifice. It advises us that to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus we must deny ourselves, bearing our cross of deferred desires as we follow the Master at all times and in every circumstance.

One simple device I use is to look to Jesus several times each day, and during the night when I am awake, and ask Him two things: Am I where I am supposed to be?; Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?

Every thought, word, and action is to be held before the Lord Jesus to make certain His will is being done completely and in detail.

The practices I have mentioned previously, confessing our sin and asking Christ's help, are our part in delivering us from self-will, self-love, pride, sexual immorality, lying, selfish ambition, self-direction, desire to be "in charge,"and so forth. But what is God's part?

God tells us to assign our first nature, our adamic soul, to the cross with Jesus Christ. Then He sends a multitude of afflictions upon us until, like the Apostle Paul, we judge that we have been sentenced to death.

But if we keep our eyes on Jesus, trusting in Him, we continually are raised up by the resurrection Life of the Lord.

So our discipleship is death and life; death and life; death and life; until our original soulish, adamic nature is rendered helpless and God Himself becomes our soul, as it were, and we are converted into a life-giving spirit.

Our soul is the place from which our decisions proceed and are manifest in our spirit. When our soul is put to death by various pressures, God becomes the Source of our decisions and we then become a life-giving spirit.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (II Corinthians 4:8-10)

Unlike the sins of the flesh, the sins of our self-determination cannot be cast out of our flesh. Rather, our self-will must be "crucified out of us," we might say.

If we are to become a life-giving spirit, like our Lord Jesus, we have to "hate" our life in the present world. The term "hate" is not the same as our hatred toward cruelty to animals, for example. It means rather to reject in favor of something else.

In order to please and obey Christ we sometimes have to turn away from a relationship, activity, or thing concerning which we see no harm. But if we are to be one with Christ and the Father, we must reject the object in question that we may lay hold on the promise of God. This is the sort of "hatred" the Lord Jesus refers to.

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. (John 12:24-26)

One difficulty in our thinking may be that we recognize that the sins dwelling in our flesh are alien to us, whereas the sins of pride and self-will are what we are. In a democratic government, self-will and the "rights of people" are honored as though they somehow are godly.

But the Kingdom of God is not a democracy. It is a kingdom, governed by the Lord Jesus.

The only way in which lasting peace on the earth could be possible would be under the rulership of a righteous king who humbly walked with God and obeyed God completely. Such a king would possess total authority and power over all peoples.

There would be lesser kings who were subject to the supreme monarch. But the supreme monarch would be king over all other kings and lord over all other lords.

All of the kings and lords, being members of the Royal Priesthood, would be life-giving spirits who were governed by the power of an endless life.

The increase of the kingdom and of peace would extend throughout eternity.

Such is the Kingdom of God. May it come to the earth soon!

When the Kingdom of God has been established on the earth, thoughtful people would understand immediately that any person who trusted in his own judgment to direct his life, of anyone else's life, would be a source of confusion if not disaster. Everyone must be compelled to do God's will if there is to be peace on the earth.

Sin (Satan) always shall be "crouching at the door" until God through the Lord Jesus Christ and His brothers and sisters put and end to sin; and that means an end to the self-will of people as well as an end to the sins of immorality.

"Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."

You can just imagine the American people agreeing to give up their "freedoms" and their "rights"! This is the reason for the rule of the rod of iron.

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 rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)

The Greek term adelphois, as employed in Romans 8:29 and other passages, is translated "brothers and sisters," by several translators.

The Apostle Paul told us there are no nationalities or gender in Christ Jesus. But Paul was speaking of what even now is true in the new creation in Christ, not just of what will be true in the future. Today there are no preferred races in the Kingdom of God, and no male or female, although the husband is still the head of the home because of the curse.

If there is a Jewish man and a German man, and each has Christ in his heart, then they are one in Christ although of different nationalities. The same is true of male and female.

So I lean toward the translation of adelphois as "brothers and sisters." When man was created he was "male and female." This is true now, and, from my point of view, it will be true for eternity.

It would be a boring world now and would be in the future if there were no male and female and all the children were "its." How do you feel about that?

I understand that our Lord said that in the resurrection there would be no marriage and we would be as angels. But keep in mind that Adam and Eve did not experience a marriage ceremony.

Also, in what way are we married to the Lamb?

We will have to wait and see how all this will work out in practical living. I have no idea. But I do know one thing. God always moves from the less wonderful to the more wonderful. He has kept the best wine until now. This always is true in the Lord!

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

God planted a garden in Eden. There were many trees in the Garden of Eden. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Adam was free to eat of every tree except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warned that "when you eat from it you will certainly die."

What is "life"? Life is power. Eternal life is the power that flows from having a close relationship with God and Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ, and those who are part of Him, also are trees of life, although His brothers and sisters are not mature as yet. But such is their destiny.

Eternal death is the opposite of eternal life. It is not related to God in any manner. When eternal life is not present, the person defaults to eternal death, because sin ( Satan; death) always is crouching at the door.

Eternal life gives us the power to overcome sin.

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)

The Spirit of God is eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life, because He has the Spirit of God without measure. "Resurrection" is the giving of eternal life, the Life of Christ, to that which is spiritually dead. Resurrection and ascension are not the same thing.

The Apostle Paul was seeking to attain to the resurrection, not to the ascension. Those who are looking for a "rapture" may not realize that our goal is resurrection, not ascension. Our Lord is the Resurrection, not the ascension. One can be resurrected apart from ascending into the air or into Heaven.

I have quoted Romans 8:13 (above). It is referring to Romans 8:11:

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

It is the term "raised" (above) that leads to the idea that resurrection means ascension. However,"raised" means merely that Jesus came back to life.

Although it is not always mentioned in today's preaching, Romans 8:13 is saying that if we live according to our flesh, and do not put to death the sinful deeds of our physical body, we will die. This means our body will not be given life (resurrected) in the Day of Christ.

If we are conscientious in putting to death the sins of our flesh, as the Spirit guides and helps us, we will live. This means our physical body will receive eternal life in the Day of Christ.

It is well to keep in mind that the Lord Jesus did not come from Heaven to bring us to Heaven but to fill us with His Life, eternal Life. This is a massive error in today's Christian thinking. God did not give His Son that we might go to Heaven but that we might have eternal life; and that includes, if it is not directed primarily at, the Life of God in our body.

Killing our hope of resurrection by continuing in the sins of the flesh indeed is a fearful consequence. In fact, the very goal of our salvation appears to be that of providing us with an incorruptible body filled with eternal life.

In the day of our resurrection, when the Lord returns, some will receive a thirtyfold body so to speak, some a sixtyfold, some a hundredfold. The body we receive will have been produced by the diligence with which we have followed our Redeemer.

Just as today people are born with bodies that when mature will have different capabilities, so it will be in the Day of Christ. Our new body will vary from person to person according to our faithfulness to Christ during our discipleship.

Also, our role in the Kingdom of God that God has assigned to us will affect our new body.

Some will receive a corrupt body, reflecting their pursuit of the sins of the flesh.

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)

Let's take a look at a passage that reveals the relationship between our discipleship and the body with which we are clothed in the Day of Resurrection.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (II Corinthians 4:7)

The reason God placed us in our frail bodies of dust is that we might come to understand that all we are, have, and can do come from Him. After a long discipleship I have come to the conclusion that the greatest problem of mankind, and of the Christian churches, is self-will; self-glorification.

Even in the churches we do not pray and then listen to find out what it is Christ desires. We figure, I suppose, if we do a good work of some kind we are doing the will of Christ. The truth is, we may not be listening to Christ to find out what He wants. We may be assuming that we know.

Some fervent believer may have decided to go to a foreign country to preach the Gospel, and then he was slain by unbelievers. We may consider him to be a martyr. The truth may be that he was not obeying Christ by going. Christ had something else for him. This sort of thing may happen more often than we realize.

As far as the world is concerned, people want to do what they want to do. I do not understand why people are not more concerned about what God wants, seeing as how God gave them all they are, have, and can do.

If we are this way now, what would we be like if we had an all-powerful spiritual body instead of a "jar of clay"? In fact, it is our inclination toward self-rule that is the reason God does not give us, in the present hour, possession of an all powerful spiritual body!

God has promised us a marvelous, incorruptible body, if we obey Him during our present life. He keeps bringing us down to death so He may raise us to life and thus be glorified in us.

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. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (II Corinthians 4:11,12)

What is God seeking by treating a person in this manner? God is breaking down our self-will, self-glorification, lying, fornication, and so forth so that we might live by His Life. God's strength comes forth through our weakness..

But I said we would consider a passage that reveals the relationship between our discipleship and the body with which we are clothed in the Day of Resurrection.

What does the death/life pattern of our discipleship have to do with our resurrected body?

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (II Corinthians 4:17)

Our troubles are achieving some sort of eternal glory.

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. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:4,5)

Jesus said He was going (to the cross) to prepare a mansion for us. Now we see that God is fashioning us for the mansion with which we shall be clothed, as well as fashioning the "mansion" according to the manner in which He is fashioning us.

We see that our daily crucifixions and resurrections are achieving an eternal glory in the form of a body of incorruptible life. Our "mansion," that we thought would be waiting for us in Heaven, actually is a body that will swallow up our mortal body. What we have become in Christ will be seen when people observe our new body.

I like this better than an ornate house in Heaven. How about you? We take our "mansion" with us wherever we go.

Notice in the passage above that our mortal body is swallowed up by "life." That Life is the Life of Jesus Christ. It supplants our self-seeking, sinful soul. This is resurrection. It is not necessarily followed by ascension.

The "catching up" of the resurrected believers into the air, in the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, is so they may join the army of saints who have come with Christ, and the army of angels, and then follow the Lord Jesus Christ as He descends to install the will of God, the Kingdom of God, on the earth.

This is the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon; and that is why there is the shout, the voice of Michael, and the trumpet of God.

In the Bible, battles are announced by a trumpet.

When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. (Numbers 10:9)

When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in. (Joshua 6:5)

This is a secret rapture? Rather, this is the attack of Armageddon!

As I stated previously, there were two trees in the middle of the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The Tree of Life was the Lord Jesus Christ. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil also was the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the eternal Word of God. The Word of God reveals to us what is good and what is evil, doesn't it?

Is there any other "tree" that tells us what is good and what is evil? Or does God want us to be ignorant of what is good and what is evil? What is your opinion on this?

The problem with Adam and Eve was that they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil before they ate from the Tree of Life.

Why they did not eat from the Tree of Life and gain immortality I do not know. But we human beings are perverse, aren't we?

Both good and evil existed at that time, evil being born from Satan. Satan always was crouching at the door, hoping to gain accomplices for his wicked schemes.

If Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of Life, from the Lord Jesus Christ, they would have been clothed, just as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ when we receive Him as our Savior.

But they were naked and had no way to cope with this fact except to run from God, which was exactly what Satan desired they do.

The knowledge of what is good and what is evil is necessary if we are to become mature 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)

We are to receive Christ, the Tree of Life, first. Then the Spirit of God will teach us what is good and what is evil, a little bit at a time. We are to turn away from what is evil, and ask Jesus to strengthen us so we always will embrace the good and vigorously reject the evil.

Those who follow the Law of Moses may find that the commandment brings death rather than eternal life. This is because of our fallen nature and also because of the sinful lusts that live in our flesh.

I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (Romans 7:10)

The eternal Life of Christ, which is in His body and blood, strengthens us so we can gain victory over stealing, for example. As we vigorously reject the spirit of stealing by the power of eternal life, confessing our sin and turning away from it, we gain a bit of eternal life in our mind and heart (the new covenant).

Then the Spirit is ready for a new deliverance. We can see from this process that no part of the Law of Moses has any place here. Once we are willing to count ourselves crucified with Christ, the Law of Moses is replaced by the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

This is the manner in which we are prepared for the donning of the incorruptible house from Heaven.

The greater problem, as I have mentioned, is self-will---trusting in ourselves rather than in the Lord Jesus to conduct our life. This is the reason for the repeated deaths and resurrections. It is to kill our tendency to trust in ourselves rather than in the Lord Jesus.

Please keep in mind that our goal is a better resurrection.

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)

Notice the attitude of the Apostle Paul toward the resurrection.

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)

Why is it that we seldom hear a minister of the Gospel express his goal in life as being that of attaining to the resurrection from the dead? Do we suppose that attaining to the resurrection occurs automatically when we "accept Christ"?

If that were the case, why was Paul having such a time with this? I think we can assume he had "accepted Christ," wouldn't you say?

Why was the Apostle Paul setting aside everything in this present world in order that he might attain to the resurrection? He says nothing about going to Heaven. Should attaining to the resurrection, to the filling of our physical body with incorruptible, resurrection life, be our goal?

Perhaps Paul was referring to the first resurrection, the one that will take place when Jesus comes.

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)

This is the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns. Do the people who are qualified and competent to be resurrected at this time seem to be the average professing Christians (blessed and holy, over whom the second death has no authority)?

Am I suggesting that not all who claim to be Christians will go with Jesus when He appears? That is exactly what I am saying!

Notice that "coming to life" at the time of the first resurrection is not spoken of in connection with an ascension. In fact, it will be accompanied by the "catching up." But the catching up is not mentioned here because the resurrection is much greater in importance and significance than is true of the ascension.

I am of the opinion that not all church members are qualified and competent to be in the first resurrection. Perhaps it will be only a few warriors, as in the case with Gideon's army.

If Paul was referring to the first resurrection, in Philippians 3:11, which is not unlikely, then we are not speaking of the rank and file of those who profess to be Christians participating in the first resurrection. The level of Paul's consecration is not true of numerous church-attenders in our day.

I think God's goal is to perfect brothers of the Anointed One, brothers and sisters of the Tree of Life, Christ Jesus. As such we are going to experience a rigorous curriculum indeed!

You know, the issue in Eden was nakedness. Notice what God says about the Christians in Laodicea.

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 3:17,18)

We make our robes white by washing them in the blood of the Lamb.

We confess our sin to Christ, and by His help turn away from it and never practice it again. Jesus helps us. In this manner we maintain a clean robe.

God was ready to clothe Adam and Eve, but they disobeyed before they were clothed.

The soul that sins shall die. This mean it shall be cut off from the Presence of God and Christ; cut off from eternal life.

Lo, all the souls are Mine, As the soul of the father, So also the soul of the son -- they are Mine, The soul that is sinning -- it doth die. (Ezekiel 18:4—YLT)

Eve had no way of covering herself. She had knowledge, but no power to help herself in her nakedness. It is Life, the Spirit of God, who enables us to deal with our nakedness.

We always should put to death the sins of our flesh by the Spirit of God; the Spirit of eternal Life. The power of eternal life enables us to live in the Presence of God and to serve Him.

According to the Lord Jesus, we can receive more of the Spirit of God by petitioning God forcefully. But the surest way of receiving the Spirit is by obeying God and serving Him faithfully.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32)

Melchizedek served God by the power of an endless life.

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews15-17)

It is my point of view that all the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus, the members of the Royal Priesthood, as is true of their great Head, will serve God by the power of an indestructible life.

Eternal life gives us the power to gain victory over sin, to actually do what we choose to do. Sin no longer can control us because we have chosen to practice righteousness.

Eternal life gives us the power to actually do that which is of God's Nature, that which brings to us righteousness, love, joy, and peace.

Eternal death is the absence of eternal life, the absence of the power to do that which is pleasing to God. Eternal death brings to us unrighteousness, hatred, misery, and unrest and trouble—all that is of Satan.

Sin was crouching at the door. Adam and Eve, by not partaking of the Tree of Life, did not have the power to resist sin and death.

If we know what is good and what is evil, but do not have Christ, we do not have the power to choose that which is good and vigorously reject that which is evil.

***

We have discussed the resolution of the problem of sin. Now we will think about the life-giving spirits, which are so important in the installation and maintenance of the new world of righteousness.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being [soul]"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.

As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. (I Corinthians 15:45-49)

If there is a more amazing statement in the Scriptures, I do not know what it would be.

From dust to Heaven.

From a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

In Christ we are becoming a new creation, a new kind of humanity.

Adam died on the cross. When Christ was resurrected, a new kind of Life was revealed. We are to count ourselves dead on the cross with Christ so we might begin to live in resurrection life.

This is a total transformation of what we are, and all things of us then will be of God.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (II Corinthians 5:17)

I wonder how long it will be (if ever) before the Christian ministers begin to preach that our goal is not to bring our soul to Heaven but to change from a living soul to a life-giving spirit.

When we daydream about Heaven, I suppose we think of golden streets and large, ornate mansions. All the people are loving, and friends get together often to have fellowship and talk. I do not know what we will talk about, unless it is to reminisce about what we did on the earth.

No one ever is sick or tired. We will meet friends and relatives we have not seen for many years. Also, there are people we can talk to who were important on the earth, presidents, and all sorts of dignitaries. In Heaven they are not more important than anyone else, we suppose.

There are boys and girls running around and playing hide and seek. Some of the girls are playing hopscotch---if there are boys and girls. It would seem strange if all the children were of neuter gender, wouldn't it.

One of the little "boys" is standing off by himself. He scowls and says, "This isn't any fun playing hide and seek because we can catch anyone we want just by thinking about them."

Jesus comes around once in a while holding a Bible. He greets us warmly. He asks us how we enjoy being in Heaven. We respond politely that it is wonderful.

There are many business-like angels who fly around, doing God's work.

After a while we get bored because there is nothing to do, so we go back into our mansion and lay on our couch. Maybe we dream about the earth when life was more interesting. We need to get accustomed to this sort of life, because we will be living like this for eternity.

How many Christian people daydream about being transformed into a life-giving spirit, and going about bringing eternal life to the spiritually dead people of the nations? But that is a true picture, while the one we have just presented is the mythology that has grown up about what it means to be "saved."

Please keep in mind that my writing is addressed to the members of the Royal Priesthood. They certainly would find the scene above to be boring. God has put it in their heart to work with the Lord Jesus at the task of installing the Kingdom of God on the earth.

But it is a different story for people of the nations who are saved to the new heavens and earth reign of Christ.

The following passage is referring to life on the new earth:

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. (Isaiah 65:21)

It appears that those who are saved but who are not members of the governing priesthood will pursue their normal occupations. However, it will be a much better life than the present because of the absence of death and other sorrows.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

For our soul to be saved means to be changed from its adamic inheritance to a life-giving spirit. I am not certain this is true of those who are not members of the Royal Priesthood. Perhaps they will remain as body, soul, and spirit.

Our life-giving spirit will be clothed with an incorruptible body. As soon as we are filled with the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of God, we have experienced the totality of salvation, including the destruction of the last enemy, physical death.

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

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53)

It can be seen easily that if it is true and scriptural that our salvation will be a change from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, and not the bringing of our soul, our adamic personality, to a mansion in Paradise, a change in the conventional Christian preaching is called for.

Notice the following two passages:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

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)

In order to proceed with the change from our old personality to the new, we must consider ourselves to be dead with Christ on the cross.

The following procedure must be accomplished by the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God.

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)

To live "according to the flesh" is to practice the life of the average American person. Our gods then would be money, sexual indulgence, and entertainment. We would restrict ourselves to eating, sleeping, working, playing, and reproducing. This is the life of a trained animal, such as a horse.

This is the way of spiritual death. The idea that such a church-goer would be raptured to Paradise and live in a mansion is pure fantasy. The law of the Kingdom of God is that we reap what we sow. If we thus sow to our fleshly nature we will reap a corrupt body in the Day of Resurrection.

Divine grace and mercy never interfere with the Kingdom law of sowing and reaping. They will, however, forgive us and help us turn from our wickedness and begin to sow righteous behavior so we will reap eternal life in our body and not corruption.

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)

The Lord advised us that if we choose to be a disciple of His, a Christian, we must turn away from the ways of the world, deny ourselves, carry our cross of deferred gratification, place our treasures in Heaven, and follow and obey Him at all times in every circumstance.

You might think that no one is actually living in this manner. If that were so, which it is not, then no one would be ready to go with the Lord Jesus when He appears.

If we are praying and reading our Bible each day, gathering together on a regular basis with fervent believers, looking to Jesus continually to see if we are where we should be, and if we are doing what we should be doing, the Spirit of God will point out to us any behavior of ours that is not in the image of God.

We then are to confess to the Lord that specific behavior and ask Jesus to help us never to do that again—not for eternity.

Those who live in this manner, confessing and forsaking their sins, are putting off the old adamic self and putting on the new self which continually is being renewed in the image of God.

Such is the only true Christian life, the only life that leads to the change in the body when the Lord appears, and to being carried up with all prepared believers to the staging area in the air. We then will be with Jesus as He descends to install His Kingdom, the doing of God's will, on the earth.

We become a life-giving spirit by putting off the old personality with its unclean practices and putting on the new personality that is being created in the image of God. Included in our transformation is that of looking to the Lord Jesus for every decision we make in thinking, speaking, and acting.

The new personality will be filled with the Spirit of God until it is a life-giving spirit, just as is true of the Lord Jesus Christ, although not as great in authority and power as He.

We may not realize it, but most of the people of history and on the earth at the present time are spiritually dead because of the disobedience of Adam and Eve.

When a young man asked the Lord Jesus if he could return to his city and bury his father, Jesus responded by saying, "Let the dead bury their dead."

This may sound cruel, but the truth is, the young man's relatives actually were spiritually dead. However, if the young man continued to follow the Lord Jesus, he eventually would become a life-giving spirit and could then, in this present world or possibly in the world to come, assist his father and his relatives.

God sent the Lord Jesus, the Tree of Life, into the world so He could bring eternal life to the dead of mankind. Now we are to be made branches of the Tree of Life so we can bring eternal life all who will receive us. This is why we were called to be members of the Body of Christ, of the eternal Tabernacle of God.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place [His Tabernacle] is now among the people [of the nations], and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)

God's Throne is to be created in us, and the living Water of the Spirit of God always flows from that Throne. Such is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Tabernacles.

The Jewish people quoted from the twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah during the feast of Tabernacles.

On the last and greatest day of the festival [of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." (John 7:37,38)

This reminds us of what the Lord said to the Samaritan woman:

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13)

In order to become filled with the Spirit of God to the extent that we can serve mankind as a life-giving spirit, we must pass through three judgments.

The first judgment is to the ankles. This is separation from the ways of the world.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. (Ezekiel 47:3)

The second judgment is to the knees. This refers to removing from us all the sins of the flesh. Notice that the water of the Spirit keeps affecting more of our personality.

He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. (Ezekiel 47:4)

Water to the knees symbolizes our walk in the world.

The third judgment is to the waist. This is death to our self-will, our personality, our personal strength.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (II Corinthians 1:8,9)

He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. (Ezekiel 47:4)

Now we are filled with the Spirit and are able to serve as a life-giving spirit.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:5)

We return now to our starting point. We have not received this Divine blessing so we might be more spiritual than other people but so we can bring eternal Life, the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ, to those in need.

The "great number of trees" are portraying the faithful believers who have passed through judgment and now are trees of life growing out from the one Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus.

He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river. (Ezekiel 47:6,7)

The members of the Body of Christ now are ready to minister Life to the dead sea of mankind.

He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. (Ezekiel 47:8)

This same illustration of the life-giving spirits ministering to the saved people of the nations, can be seen in the Book of Revelation.

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)

I am not certain that it always is made clear to us of the Christian churches that we are being prepared to bring eternal life to a dead mankind. I am not speaking now of preaching the Gospel to people, as important as that is.

Rather there is something more than this. God wants to make us life-giving spirits so we actually can give eternal life to people, as the Spirit of God leads us.

What is eternal life? It certainly is more than eternal existence. The people who have been sent to the Lake of Fire will be there for eternity, according to the Scriptures.

Eternal life is the very Life of God that issues through the Lord Jesus and will issue through us when we have been made a new creation in the image of God.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. (John 5:21)

Eternal life results in eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace. Everything any mentally healthy person would desire is brought to us in eternal life. And it will heal those who are mentally or physically ill.

It is the Life that raised the Lord Jesus from the dead and will raise us up from the deadness of our original nature.

The twelfth chapter of the Book of Isaiah was chanted during the Jewish feast of Tabernacles. This chapter is the testimony of a person who has been filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He or she has become a life-giving spirit.

Isaiah, Chapter Twelve

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.

"That day" is the time when the Lord alone is exalted in our life. We will praise the Lord even though He was angry with us for a season while sin and self-will were being removed from us.

We have stayed faithful to God during our time of suffering, and now He is comforting us.

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense [song]; he has become my salvation."

There is a time when God is saving us from various afflictions. If we remain faithful during our tribulations, we discover that something has changed in our experience. From this time forward, God Himself has become our salvation.

I liken it to God coming over to our side of the net, to use a figure from the game of volley ball.

We are attacked viciously by Satan and the other forces of darkness. We are pushed down past the limits of our faith. Now we rely on trust. We just trust that what we have believed is true, even though we may not be living in joyful victory at this point.

Because we trust God and His Word we do not permit ourselves to be occupied by fear.

Our goal is to move to the place where the Lord Himself is our Strength. It is not that He merely gives us strength, He Himself becomes our Strength. But this change will take place only as we make Christ our Life by giving to Him for His approval every decision we make.

We must set aside our own life that Christ may be our Life. Then the Lord is our strength because the "our" now includes the Lord Jesus.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

"For me to live is Christ," the Apostle Paul stated.

Such is our goal if we are wise!

"Defense" and "song" are alternate readings of the text. Both are true. When Christ has become our Life, then we are safe from all the attacks of Satan and his warriors. When they attack us they are attacking God!

I favor "song" as the reading of Verse Two. There is something about it that suggests to me the joy we have as we trust confidently in the Lord Jesus.

We are not panicked when the demons come to terrify us at night. We sing, because we know Jesus Christ is vastly more powerful than any of the dark forces. Christ is not moved by their threats. Christ knows and trusts the power of the Father. So may we, when Christ is our life.

God is our Salvation. God does more than save us in every circumstance. He Himself has chosen to be our Salvation. He Himself is our Salvation. How much more authoritative and powerful is this fact.

For God to save us is understandable. For God Himself to be our Salvation is so marvelous, so extraordinarily wonderful, that one scarce can comprehend the scope of it all!

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Can you picture what it will be like when God leads us to men and women, boys and girls, and charges us to issue eternal life to them? As we draw out from our inmost being that incredible righteousness, love, joy, and peace, and see them begin to radiate the Divine Life of Christ, we will experience a joy that cannot be equaled in any other circumstance.

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.

That day, as I stated previously, occurs when we grow in Christ to the point that we always are exalting the Lord.

It can be a temptation to give praise to a religious organization, or to some system of faith that we have found helpful. We need to listen to our speech and see if we are glorifying something or someone other than the Lord.

God becomes jealous when we become infatuated with something or someone other than himself, and He will take steps to free us from bondage and turn our attention back to Himself.

Today, more than ever, the nations of the earth are oblivious to the greatness of God and His love toward people. Nations compete with one another for money and power. But it all means nothing and less than nothing.

I hope that in our time God will restore the working of miracles in Jesus' name, restoring sight to the blind and raising the dead, and moving mountains, until the nations tremble at the name of Jesus Christ.

I believe such supernatural events are going to take place in our day. The problem will be that people who are seeking glory for themselves will attempt to pervert the work of God for their own benefit. We will have to be careful that we are not involved in any activity, unless we are positive that Christ is directing us.

It is not enough to do a mighty work in the name of Christ. We must be certain that Christ Himself is doing this work.

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what's done by Christ will last."

"On this rock I will build My church." "I will build My church!

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

It certainly is true that spiritual darkness is increasing in the world. The temptation will be to spend our time fretting and cursing the darkness.

The Apostle Paul counseled us to keep our mind fixed on that which is lovely. The events of our day are anything but lovely. They are wicked and ugly beyond anything we can imagine. It is the work of demons!

What are we to do? We are to remember that if we truly have received Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies at the right hand of the Father, having fellowship with the Father and the Son no matter what takes place on the earth.

The Muslim soldiers are cutting the heads off children if the little boys and girls will not renounce Christ. What the soldiers do not know is that the moment they kill the child, the little one is playing with other children in the Presence of Jesus.

When the true Christian dies, he or she goes to a place of peace and joy with our Lord.

When a Muslim or a Christian soldier or anyone else dies, who has cut off the head of an innocent child, he or she is judged as a murderer and is taken to be with other murderers that he may suffer the same sentence of Divine judgment.

"Oh, but he murdered the child in the name of Allah." This makes no difference. He or she is a murderer, and that is that! A crime is a crime no matter whose name it is committed in.

As Jesus said, it would be better for anyone who harms a child that trusts in Him to have a millstone chained to his neck and be thrown into the sea.

If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

All of us, Muslims and Christians alike, ought to understand this.

But religion has a way of perverting common sense.

So we sing in the midst of the demons because God has become our Salvation. We eat from the table prepared for us in the midst of our enemies. We sing and dance on Mount Zion when the world is in flames, when the people who have rejected Christ are screaming in their fear and agony.

We keep our mind on that which is lovely.

Why should we fret about the wicked? Our God will see to it that the wicked are punished and the righteous are exalted to inherit the land. The abortionists, the sodomites, and the rest of the evildoers, will come to their end, and no one can prevent it.

Let us continually remind the world that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.

God has done and will continue to do glorious things!

Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

I will tell you when we will shout aloud and sing for joy. It is when the Father, the Son, and the Spirit of God take up Their eternal residence in us.

As we wait for this experience to happen to us, we must be careful to keep all the commandments given by the Lord Jesus and His Apostles. If we will do this, the Light of Israel will dwell in us forever. We then will live in righteousness, love, peace, and joy, and assist all who hear us to do the same.

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

I would like to add one thought, if I may.

I see the rise of the False Prophet among the Charismatics in America. The False Prophet is composed of Pentecostal people who are led astray by "prophets" who are telling them that they are supposed to be anointed with power, and find places of great authority in the cultural centers of the world. They are self-centered and not Christ-centered. This is revealed in what they say and do.

They do not wear the "sackcloth" of humility of the two witnesses!

The new covenant is in the mind as well as the heart. When it is only in the heart, the believers give themselves to unscriptural, unprofitable, convulsions. This is the behavior of the False Prophet.

Such people are moved by their feelings; not by what the Lord Jesus is speaking to their mind, or what the Scripture says, or what is decent and in order, or what will profit the unlearned. They feel good and that is all that seems to matter!

The true saints of the last days will recognize that the shakings, convulsions, falling on the floor, and other unscriptural, unprofitable manifestations are not coming from the Holy Spirit of God.

Can you imagine the Lord Jesus, or the early Apostles, giving themselves over to such emotional demonstrations of the flesh, if not of unclean spirits?

Jesus and His Apostles spoke the word of power and the sick were healed. They did not accompany the word of power with unfruitful, repulsive gyrations.

In the present essay I have spoken of the removal by crucifixion of the desires of our soul, that we might be subject only to God. God Himself becomes our Soul, so to speak, the Source of our motivations and guidance. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. Then we move in a power unknown to the members of the False Prophet.

We then do not seek positions of prominence in the present world system. The world leaders of today will not accept true men and women of God because they will realize their own positions of leadership are being threatened by the coming of the only true King of kings and Lord of Lords.

Remember, the true new covenant enters the heart, that we might desire to do God's will; and also the mind, that we might understand God's will. We must keep our emotions and spiritual pride in check and always listen to the Lord Jesus for our guidance in all matters.

"This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." (Hebrews 10:16)

If you will allow the Lord Jesus to govern your life, you will change, a little bit at a time, into a life-giving spirit.

***

THE FRAMEWORK OF UNDERSTANDING FROM WHICH

"THE LIFE-GIVING

SPIRITS" WAS TAKEN

Oaks of Righteousness

The Sins of the Flesh

The Sins of the Soul

Forgiveness Preached at the Beginning

The Day of Redemption

Oaks of Righteousness

I realize I will be repeating many of the ideas I set forth in the essay above. However the concept of complete deliverance from the world, from sin and from self-will, and of the maturing of the life-giving spirits, is essential to Christian understanding of what is taking place in the Divine redemption. In addition, we must know how to prepare ourselves for the ever-increasing danger in the world. Therefore I am repeating much of what I said in the essay so there can be clarity in our thinking.

Every Christian is by their calling a member of the Royal Priesthood that shall inherit, judge, bless, and give eternal life to, those individuals of the nations whom God deems worthy of citizenship in the new world of righteousness.

Since our Christian traditions lump all saved people, the royal priests as well as those from the nations who are not called to the Royal Priesthood, in one bag, it may take a while before we understand that we, along with our Lord Jesus, shall inherit multitudes of the peoples of the earth.

Our inheritance is not ornate mansions, it is people. We may not realize it at this time, but people, young and old, are a vastly more valuable inheritance than is true of buildings and treasures of gold and silver.

It may be that the truth of this has to come to us by revelation. I know it has come to me that way.

Notice the pattern in Isaiah 61:1-3. These verses tell how the Lord Jesus will build up the members of His Body.

For example:

And provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

"Those who grieve in Zion," that is, in the Church. Christ began His work with the Jewish people and has added Gentile believers to His Church, His "called out" people, of whom the Jews were the first.

Christ's goal is to produce "oaks of righteousness," that is, believers who will show forth honesty, truthfulness, purity, faithfulness, and all other forms of integrity, in their conduct.

We have wickedly defeated Christ's work by perverting Paul's teaching to mean that God has issued "grace" as an alternative to growth in godly behavior. But God is giving us understanding today so we realize that as we look to the Spirit of God, He will deliver us from the world, from the sins of the flesh and from the sins that proceed from our warped soul.

Notice that as soon as we have become oaks of righteous behavior we are faced with the task of rebuilding the institutions of Antichrist that were destroyed after the victory at Armageddon. In those days the saved people from the nations will assist us.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. (Isaiah 61:4,5)

The sixtieth chapter of Isaiah has fascinated me for years; but I find it difficult to place it in a time frame. I have come to the conclusion that the setting for this outpouring of Glory is the next return of our Lord Jesus from Heaven. I believe also that the separating of the goats from the sheep will take place at the time of the final resurrection of the dead.

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.

In world history, there never has been a revival like this one.

But when will it take place?

I know the Lord Jesus said that when we are one in Him and the Father that the world will know that He has come from the Father.

This could be it, I suppose.

Just think about it. Heavy spiritual (perhaps physical) darkness covers the earth and the nations.

At the same time, the Glory of God can be seen resting on Christ and His Body, the Royal Priesthood.

When Jesus returns it will be at the head of the army of saints and angels. They will confront and destroy the armies of Antichrist. Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. Satan will be confined in the Bottomless Pit.

Then the Lord and His warriors will go throughout the earth, as described in the Book of Joel, destroying all the institutions of Antichrist.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3)

It reminds us of, "When they shall cry 'peace and safety,' then sudden destruction."

Will the wicked be slain at this time? It does not say so, but it seems reasonable they will be.

My opinion is that this act of devastation is to prepare the nations of the earth for the thousand-year reign of Christ and His saints.

Perhaps it is at the conclusion of this period of devastation, while spiritual and physical darkness are covering the earth and its peoples, that the Glory of God will cover His saints.

Then the people who have been spared during the onslaught of Joel's army will come to that light. Christ, from His place of authority in the city of Jerusalem, will organize the populations of the earth into manageable states (not like the huge, unmanageable countries we have today), and place over them His saints as kings and other governing officials.

I am offering this as a suggestion to explain Isaiah 60:1-3. How do you feel about this?

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:1-4)

As I have written in other places, the Law and the Word of the Lord already have gone out from Zion and from Jerusalem. They are the Sermon on the Mount, found in the Book of Matthew, Chapters 5-7.

The Sins of the Flesh

I have mentioned previously the importance of walking closely with the Lord Jesus in the present hour. Included in the current phase of redemption is complete release from the bondages of sin, and the growth of Christ in us until we are life-giving spirits.

I think the Spirit is saying that days of great danger are coming, along with severe persecution of Christian people. If we are to stand in Christ and help other people in their time of need, we will have to be closer to the Lord than most of us are in the present hour.

We truly are in a time of great opportunities in the Kingdom, and also great danger—the danger of being deceived, for one thing. God has given us a period of time to prepare ourselves spiritually. If we do not, our future will be grim indeed!

I have been writing for some forty years, examining some traditional teachings to see if they really are based in the Scriptures.

One doctrine that I believe has been quite destructive, and certainly unscriptural, is the interpretation of Paul's statements about grace and faith to mean that while it is necessary that we "believe in Christ," whatever that means, it is not critically necessary that we obey Him or His Apostles.

How ridiculous! It must be evident to any intelligent person that obeying Christ is more important than "believing in Him."

We are "saved by grace," it is said, meaning that while we ought to obey God, His commandments are such that it is impossible for us to put them into practice. As a result, we do not hear much preaching about confessing and turning away from sinful practices.

Fortunately, the Bible does not agree with that point of view.

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 also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:5-8)

Now, I believe that you can read as well as I can. Tell me, what are we to do with sexual immorality, according to the Apostle Paul?

Are we to excuse it on the basis of grace?

Are we to put it to death?

How do we put it to death? By confessing it as sin and asking Christ to remove it from us, according to Romans 8:13 and I John 1:9.

Sin has three phases: guilt, cravings, and practice. When we say Christ removed our sins, nailing them to His cross, do we mean we are never tempted to sin? We know that is not the case.

What then has been nailed to the cross? Our guilt.

Is Colossians 3:5 (above) referring to guilt or of the practice of sin? Since we know Christ has forgiven the guilt by His death on the cross, the Apostle Paul, in Colossians 3:5, must have been speaking about the practice of adultery and fornication. Would you agree with that?

Did Christ come to the earth to forgive or to destroy the works of the devil?

He came to do both, didn't He.

All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. (Acts 10:43)

The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work.

Have you ever heard a minister of the Gospel say that Christ came to destroy the devil's work; or did he say not to worry because you are saved by grace?

I cannot believe that most of the preachers in America are wilfully deceiving us. Rather, I think it is true that the Spirit of God is beginning to emphasize that which always has been in the Bible but we just could not see it.

We could go through the behaviors set forth in Colossians 3:5-8, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:1-14, and other passages of the New Testament and point out that grace is not an alternative to deliverance from sinful practices.

When a person bound with sin for many years comes to Christ for the first time, bowed down with guilt, he or she must be told that Christ has forgiven their sins in their entirety, no matter how depraved. This is true, and the true meaning of grace.

The question is, what then? Do we continue in our sins, or do we cooperate with the Spirit of God by confessing and, with Christ's help, turning away from our sinful behavior?

The Apostle Paul taught grace as an alternative to the Law of Moses, not as an alternative to growth in godly behavior. What a tremendous error this is, and it has destroyed the moral strength of the churches in the United States just at the time we need to stand against the sin that is multiplying in our land.

Paul, who was entrusted with the transition from Moses to Christ told us that if we continued in the sinful actions of the flesh we would not inherit the Kingdom of God; we would not experience the entrance of the resurrection Life into our body in the Day of Resurrection. This would mark the end of our hope to become a life-giving Spirit.

Also, because we had buried our talent, as one called to be to be a member of the Priesthood, when we stand before Christ our sentence would be to have our crown of anointing removed from us and given to another. Our residence after that would be the outer darkness.

We would have reaped corruption! Such penalties are not the portion of the people of the world, only of those called to be saints. To whom much is given shall much be required.

Paul spoke about the power of sin in his flesh:

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:19,20)

"Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it." Today if a believer told that to his pastor, the pastor would respond, "It's not to worry. The grace of God covers your sin. Christ nailed your sin to the cross. You are without condemnation."

Was this Paul's conclusion? That grace covered his sin so that God saw Christ when Paul sinned? That is what is taught, you know.

Paul was speaking here, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Romans, as a man under the Law of Moses.

What then did Paul conclude, concerning the fact that sin living in him caused him to disobey the commands given by Moses?

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. (Romans 7:25)

At this point Paul does not give a solution. But notice that Paul does not enlist faith or grace to save him. We have to go to Chapter Eight to see how Paul resolves his problem.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1,2)

There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Why? Because the law of the Spirit has set us free from the law of sin and death.

The modern preacher will say there is no condemnation because you are saved by grace. Or, Christ suffered your judgment on the cross. Or, you cannot be condemned because God sees you through Christ.

Yet, there is nothing here about grace or faith saving us from condemnation.

We are dealing with two factors. First, Paul does not say those who "accepted Christ" but those who are "in Christ." Being "in Christ" takes us to the fifteenth chapter of the Book of John, which tells us if we are in Christ we are bearing the fruit of moral transformation.

There are numerous people in America who attend Christian churches and have "accepted Christ" but have no understanding of what it means to be "in Christ.

Second, the "law of the Spirit." The Law of the Spirit takes the place of the Law of Moses. Christ was criticized because He healed people on the Sabbath. This was a high crime among the Pharisees. But Christ was not breaking the Sabbath commandment, because it is lawful to do what is necessary and godly on the Sabbath.

After many years as a Christian I have come to understand that most Christian people do not understand that we no longer are under the Law of Moses but under the Law of the Spirit.

They have been told they no longer are under law except the law of love, which is no law but all.

The true Christian is under a law far stricter, far more comprehensive, than the Law of Moses. It is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

"As many as are led by the Spirit are the sons of God."

What does the Spirit lead us to do? The Spirit leads us to put to death the sins that live in our flesh.

For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds [deeds] 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)

How do we do that? By confessing them to Christ, asking His forgiveness and asking Him to help us never to do such things again. The next time we are tempted, we call on the Lord for strength. Eventually that spirit will die in us and we will be free for eternity, unless we go back to it.

Now let us return to the beginning of Chapter Eight.

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:3,4)

Christ kept the Law of Moses perfectly, and then was crucified to pay the penalty as though He had broken the Law.

If, and only if, we choose to follow the Spirit of God in the path in which He leads us, particularly in putting to death the cravings of our flesh, Christ takes the righteousness of the Law which He earned by His conduct and applies it to us. Thus the righteous requirements of the Law are fully met in us who are living according to the Spirit of God.

We can see how totally different this is from telling people that Christ set you free from the Law of Moses, and now the only law you need obey is the "law of love."

I have just been discussing the sin that comes from the cravings in our flesh. Because the Scripture refers to the sin living in our flesh, I think these actually may be spirits. We have inherited or acquired them.

I don't believe they can follow our spiritual personality when we die physically. At the time of the resurrection of our physical body, our body will be clothed with a covering of spiritual Life. When this redemption occurs, there will be no sinful spirits dwelling in our flesh.

This may be why Paul, who groaned that he might be set free from the sin dwelling in his flesh, spoke later of the redemption of his body. It appears that when our body is redeemed by the Spirit of God, we will be free from the spirits that live in our flesh.

However, it may be true that the sins that come from our soul, from our own personality, and are not alien spirits, may possibly follow us into the spirit world when we die.

The Sins of the Soul

We have just finished considering the cravings to sin that live in our flesh. They can be put to death, their life and fire extinguished by the Spirit of God, as we confess them and then, with the assistance of the Lord, refuse to yield to them. Then, in the day when eternal life is given to our body, they will be removed from us.

There will be no cravings of sin present in the flesh of the life-giving spirits. That is hard to realize, since we are so accustomed to the presence of sin in our body. But remember, God did not create man in the beginning with a sinful body. That began with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, who opened themselves to Satan by their disobedience.

Now we come to another source of sin, the sin that proceeds from our soul, from what we are in personality. We recognize unclean characteristics in people when we say an individual is proud, or is filled with sexual lust, or lies constantly, or steals, or is violent, or is egotistical.

It is not that they are egotistical or angry on an occasion, they always are egotistical; easily are given to murderous fits of rage.

These displays of temperament may not be due to spirits that dwell in their flesh. The believers themselves are the spirits, we might say.

I wonder sometimes if the demons present in the spiritual atmosphere of today are former people who, when they died, were condemned to return to earth with cravings that cannot be satisfied because they no longer are visible people. They must enter some living person and seek to fulfill their cravings in him or her.

If this is true it accounts for the increase today of sexual crimes. Perhaps people who have died with these cravings as part of their personality are being sent back to earth to test us.

Don't forget, many of God's future leaders are being formed today. They must show their determination to overcome every force that comes against them.

They must demonstrate clearly that they will not yield to any spirit that is not of Christ, if they are to govern the nations with Him.

They shall govern with the rod of iron righteousness that is created in them as they have resisted cravings during their sojourn on the earth.

I have said that the cravings in our flesh can be put to death by the Holy Spirit.

God often deals with the self-seeking of our personality by means of suffering. I have spoken about this in the above essay.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Corinthians 12:9,10)

The Apostle Paul endured numerous sufferings. He had the sentence of death in himself. God kept crucifying Paul and then raising him up. The life that raised Paul up also raised up those around him. In this manner Paul became a life-giving spirit.

It is for this reason that the Epistles of Paul have borne so much fruit.

As Paul approached death he said this:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:7,8)

Every one of Paul's temptations and afflictions that he overcame resulted in an improvement in his new body, reserved in Heaven for him. In the Day of Resurrection, when Paul's mortal frame is covered with his heavenly body, Paul will appears as a great pillar of righteousness and glory, shining as a star to eternity.

All that Paul had been as a faulty human being had been transformed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus. He joined the company of those who had been faithful to Christ as they were subjected to all sorts of temptations and suffering.

We see, then, that there are three sources of sin, that are dealt with in three different ways.

There is participation in the antichrist world-spirit. This is very strong in America because of the communication devices. It is our responsibility to turn away from them, taking part in them only as it become necessary to our daily life.

Then there are the cravings that are resident in our flesh. Where these have come from I do not know. We must follow the Spirit of God in identifying them, confessing them, and looking to the Lord Jesus to take the fire and life out of them so we can overcome them.

Finally there are the rebellions and behaviors that are not in the image of God that we have inherited or have not overcome when they sought for expression in us. All of these sinful attitudes and urges are transformed as we suffer the death of the cross, and then experience the resurrection life that follows.

Let each one of us remain faithful to the point of death. By so doing we shall be formed in the image of our elder Brother. At the same time, the accuser of the brothers shall be cast out of the heavens because of our willingness to obey Christ though it means death to our first personality.

Forgiveness Preached at the Beginning

At the beginning of the Gospel Era, as I have stated previously, the emphasis was on the fact that Christ has forgiven our sins. To the present hour, when we quote that the Lamb of God shall take away the sins of the world, we mean that He shall remove the guilt of our sin, leaving us blameless in the sight of our Father in Heaven.

Yet, we know somehow that there is no sin in Heaven. We suppose that by some means or other, sin will just magically disappear.

Several theories have been advanced. One theory is that when we die, sin is removed from all those who go to Heaven.

But sin began in Heaven with Satan and the rebellious angels. So passing into the spirit world will not of itself remove the self-will, lust, pride, and other aspects of our personality that are not of the image of God.

Another prominent theory is that when the Lord comes, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, He will remove all in our personality that is not in God's image. But that passage of First Corinthians, Fifteen is referring only to the giving of life to our body. Nothing is said in that chapter about our sinful personality being transformed in the twinkling of an eye.

A third theory that has some adherents is that "grace" will always hide our behavior from God's eyes, even in Heaven. God always will see Christ when He sees us. If that were true, Heaven would be like the earth is today, and we certainly do not want that!

So forgiveness was stressed at the beginning.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28)

Can you believe that to the present hour, the prevailing belief is that Christ died on the cross to forgive the guilt of our sins, and that as long as we are in the present world we have to sin? I was taught this in Bible school. Such a defeated teaching, and totally contrary to the Scriptures!

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)

Honestly now. Does the above passage state that as long as we are in the world we have to sin?

So we have bought the devil's lie, haven't we.

The Day of Redemption

As I mentioned in my essay, there is coming a Day of Redemption in which God will save us by removing our sin and self-will. I listed several passages, of which the following is an example:

Who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (I Peter 1:5)

I think the Day of Redemption, of Salvation, has begun. I believe this is why the Spirit of God is impressing on us the need to confess and turn away from the sins of the flesh.

I believe this is why we are experiencing the temptations and afflictions that we are, and are being instructed by the Spirit to prepare ourselves for the dangers and suffering that are ahead for God's people.

The Lamb shall have a bride without spot or wrinkle. The atoning blood will remove the spots from our robe, as we confess our sins and ask Christ's help in overcoming them.

The hot iron of suffering will remove the wrinkles as we bear affliction and remain faithful under the hand of God.

In that day you will say: "I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. (Isaiah 12:1)

As God approaches us He sees those aspects of our personality that are not in His image. He attacks them in one way or another. Our part is to remain patient and humble until God is satisfied that our wrinkles have been smoothed out. Then He will comfort us.

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. (Hosea 6:1,2)

The above is a prophecy, declaring that after the two thousand years of the Christian Era, God will restore us and we shall live in His Presence.

I have listed above some of the unscriptural ideas that have been presented concerning how people finally will be rid of sin. If people never are delivered from the cravings and practice of sin, what kind of a place will Heaven be?

The Bible declares plainly that our Lord will have a Bride without spot or wrinkle. When and how can this happen if none of the suggestions that have been made are unscriptural?

In my essay I have set forth the scriptural procedure for putting to death the alien sins that live in our flesh. Also, the role that suffering plays in driving from us the sin that is part of our personality.

I believe one can say safely that the majority of Christian believers do not make much progress in these two areas before they die. Where, then, is the Bride without spot or wrinkle?

Realizing how what I am about to state may be misused, I will say that if there is to be a bride without spot or wrinkle, the work of instruction and redemption must continue in the spirit world after we die.

We know, of course, that our growth in Christ will continue for ages upon ages. But I am speaking specifically of the work of redemption, that is, the destroying of the work of Satan from our personality.

Let us take, for example, the longing to "be in charge." As we know, there are Christian people who have a tendency to want to be the head of every enterprise. Being just one of the members does not appeal to them.

That is one of the three temptations of Christ, isn't it. "Worship me," Satan said, "and I will give you the kingdoms of the world."

I wonder sometimes if some of the prominent people of our day have agreed to this deal and have been given occult power.

The response of Christ was to make Himself of no reputation.

Will such a drive remain in our personality after we die? Why shouldn't it? This would mean we never could be a part of the Bride of the Lamb unless it is corrected. The Body of Christ would not be much of a place of rest for God if there are members who are anxious to be preeminent.

Many of God's elect, His Church, who have lived on the earth have never known how to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb. Neither have they had the same experience as the Apostle Paul—that of being crucified again and again and being raised again in Christ that others may profit from that resurrection life.

Will most of God's Church never have a chance to be delivered from the works of Satan; to grow to the fullness of Christ? Or will they have a chance to progress in the program of redemption after they die?

Now I must present an important disclaimer. I am not saying one can be careless and not follow Christ in the program of redemption, and then make up for it in the next world. People who try to outsmart God are themselves outsmarted!

The answer to the question of "second chance" is the parable of the sower. If we do not put to Kingdom use that with which we have been entrusted, when we die we will face a frowning Christ. We will hear the words, "Depart from Me, you wicked, lazy servant!

The Kingdom riches we have been given, even our very salvation perhaps, will be removed from us and given to another. The individual to whom our talents are given shall be blessed indeed; but we shall be sent into the outer darkness.

No, there is no second chance. Our instruction and redemption will proceed after we die, I believe, until we are without spot or wrinkle, only if we have been conscientious and faithful with what we have been given in this world.

There are numerous witnesses of God who have died and are in the spirit world, who will be made perfect together with us when the fullness of redemption has come from Christ. (Hebrews 11:39,40)

To whom much has been given shall much be required. Those who have been faithful to use what they have been given shall receive more. Those who have been careless and lazy with their Kingdom riches, even that which they have been given shall be removed and they shall be sent into the darkness.

So I assuredly am not teaching "second chance," which I think is sometimes in the minds of numerous believers. "I am not following Christ now, but after I die and go to Paradise by 'grace' I will be diligent with the things of the Gospel," as some believe.

This shall not happen!

No matter what you may think of my idea that our redemption may continue after we die, be diligent now. Pray every day and seek Jesus so you know His will for you.

Ask the Lord several times a day: "Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I where I am supposed to be?"

Then when you pass into His Presence, you will hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter the joy of your Lord."

Do not give up no matter what happens to you. God is faithful. He knows your tears. He is bringing you to a large place of unimaginable righteousness, love, peace, and joy.

Be patient under His mighty hand. It will be worth it all when the treasures we have placed in Heaven have all been restored to us by a faithful Christ.

God has a place prepared for you. Now He is preparing you for that place of glory.

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A Season of Preparation

2015-06-28

But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:29)

Remember Lot's wife. (Luke 17:32)

A Season of Preparation

The Coming of Christ to Separate the Wise From the Foolish

The Coming of Christ to Take Away Our Sins

The Coming of Christ to Teach His People To Live by His Life

The Coming of Christ to Examine What We Have Done With His Treasures

The Coming of Christ To Catch Up His Prepared People to Himself

The Coming of Christ at the End of the World to the People of the Nations.

A Season of Preparation

The present season of preparation will include four comings of Christ. These comings will not be visible to the world, only to those believers who are obeying the commands of Christ.

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. (John 14:19)

The coming of Christ to separate the wise from the foolish; to take away our sins; to teach His people to live by His Life; and to examine what we have done with His treasures; have as their purpose to prepare and qualify us for His coming to catch up His prepared people to Himself.

There may be two facts presented here that may arrest the attention of most Christian believers.

First, that preparation is needed if we are to be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. It probably is true that the general idea today is that if we once accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, no further preparation is needed.

This idea is based on the idea that the purpose of the catching up is to bring us to Heaven so we will not be harmed by Antichrist or the Great Tribulation.

The purpose of the catching up is not to bring us to Heaven. This is not accurate. Rather, the shout, the voice of the Archangel, and the trumpet of God, will announce the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon.

Those Christian believers who have taken full advantage of the present season of preparation, will be caught up so they can become part of the great army of saints and angels that is ready to descend and install the Kingdom of God, the doing of God's will, on the earth.

This is not a "secret rapture." Hardly that! I is the beginning of the Day of the Lord.

When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in. (Joshua 6:5)

This is a secret rapture? This is the attack of Armageddon!

One can see that if the catching up of the believers is so they can join the army of saints and army of angels and proceed to attack the forces of wickedness in the earth, they will need to participate in the Divine interventions that are taking place in the present hour and will continue until the Lord Jesus is satisfied that each participant is fully prepared for their role in this great invasion.

The purpose of Christ's six comings is to create a Kingdom that will prevent another rebellion of His creatures. Everything that has occurred throughout the history of the world has been a reaction to the original rebellion of Satan and his angels, and Eve and Adam.

There have been numerous sub-purposes, such as the creation of an unblemished Bride for the Lamb, brothers for God's Son, and sons in God's image. I have listed these sub-purposes in other writings.

The first coming is sort of a screening. Its purpose is to separate the wise from the foolish. Since Christ is coming to set up His Kingdom is at hand, and He will bring His army of believers with Him, this is no place for lazy, foolish, Christian people.

The Coming of Christ to Separate the Wise From the Foolish

This separation is pointed out in the parable of the virgins. Five of whom were wise. The remaining five were foolish. Their foolishness was revealed in their lack of foresight in storing oil for their lamp.

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out." "No," they replied, "there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves."

But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. "Lord, Lord," they said, "open the door for us!" But he replied, "Truly I tell you, I don't know you." (Matthew 25:7-12)

So much for the unscriptural doctrine of "once saved, always saved."

It is one matter for us to say we know the Lord. It is a different matter for the Lord Jesus to know us. The parable of the virgins reveals that everyone who has "accepted Christ" may not actually have come to Christ but merely believed in a religious formula.

Christ will receive everyone who comes to Him, if they actually come to Him with the intention of setting aside their own life that they might obey Him.

Much of today's Christian teaching is preventing the believers from making preparation for the soon coming of Jesus. They are not storing up the prayer and Bible reading that will keep their light shining in the dark hours that are ahead of us in America.

One of the worst offenders is the doctrine of the "rapture." Christians are being taught that there is no need for them to be concerned about the future because they will be in Heaven. This is a lie.

Noah and his family went through the flood safely because they had spent many years obeying the Lord by building an ark. If they had been careless, as so many believers are today, they all would have drowned along with the animals.

Another doctrine that contributes to the carelessness of today's believers is the concept that grace is preventing God from seeing their behavior. We ought to know better than to believe God would make it possible for us to please Him and at the same time to be committing sin.

The "grace" teaching of today is a destructive lie.

Another lie that contributes to the foolishness of today's Christian people is the concept that once we have made a profession of faith in Christ we cannot be lost. But the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Galatia that if they continued in the sins of the flesh they would not inherit the Kingdom of God.

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 5:190-21)

Did you ever hear the above passage emphasized by a preacher?

Probably not.

Would you agree from reading Paul's warning to the Galatians that Paul did not subscribe to the doctrine of "once saved always saved."

Of the ten virgins, five were foolish. When they wanted to go in to the wedding, the door was shut in their face.

The fact that they were "virgins" indicates that they were believers in Christ. At one time they had the light of eternal life. But they lived carelessly from day to day, giving no thought to the fact that the time might come when they would run out of oil.

Did Christ love and forgive them, have mercy on them while they were screaming in their terror? No, He did not. And He will do the same to you and me if we behave foolishly.

Today is a season of preparation before violent Christian persecution arrives. Do you and I have enough "oil" of the Holy Spirit to stand in the darkness that is approaching America?

Little boys and girls in Iraq are being decapitated because they will not deny Christ. What will you and I do if this takes place in America?

Jesus may call to us in a time of tremendous spiritual darkness. If we have not prepared ourselves beforehand, carrying our cross of deferred desires patiently behind Christ, the door may be shut before we can gain enough spiritual strength to obey Christ.

Do not think this cannot happen. It certainly can, if we do not get busy right away and look to Jesus to see what His will is for us as an individual.

I sincerely believe this period of preparation is taking place today.

The Coming of Christ to Take Away Our Sins

In the Jewish Day of Atonement, a goat is slain and its blood sprinkled upon and in front of the Ark of the Covenant. This action portrays our sins being forgiven by the atonement made by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

However, the forgiving of our sins is only one-half of the atonement. The other half is the removing of the cravings and practices of sin. Can you see the sense of this? If our sins are forgiven, but we then keep on sinning, what has been accomplished? The goal is to make us in God's image, and God does not sin!

The second half of the atonement was portrayed as a live goat was presented before the Lord, the High Priest laid both hands on the head of the living goat and confessed the sins of the people, and then the goat was led away into the wilderness. One can see in this dramatization not the forgiving of the sins but the taking away of the sins.

I am not certain to what extent the taking away of the cravings and practices of our sins has been preached, but it is certain that the forgiveness of our sins has been preached to a much greater extent.

All aspects of the program of redemption are announced and emphasized in God's time. In previous centuries the forgiveness of the cross has been announced and emphasized. Now the taking away of our sins is being announced and emphasized.

We are to be praying and looking to Jesus throughout the day and night, as we continue with our responsibilities. As we do, the Spirit of God points out to us the sins dwelling in our flesh that cause us to act in an ungodly manner.

We are to confess to Christ each sin pointed out to us, just as the High Priest of Israel confessed the sins of the people and placed them on the head of the scapegoat.

Christ then will forgive the sin and lessen its power over us. Then, as He leads us and gives us strength, we are to turn away from that behavior and never practice it again. This is an eternal judgment. Unless we choose to return to that sin, it is gone from us forever.

Try it and see? We cannot receive resurrection life when Jesus next appears if we are walking in the sins of the flesh.

As far as our sins of behavior are concerned, that are not sins dwelling in our flesh but are part of our personality, such as pride, or arrogance, or sullenness, or stubbornness, God will send afflictions upon us until they are driven from our personality. During this season of chastisement, we must keep trusting in Christ and not blame people or God for our suffering.

If we hold steady during our suffering, we will become a new creation.

The Coming of Christ to Teach His People To Live by His Life

If you will examine the following passage carefully, you will see that it is telling us we are to live by the Life of Christ:

Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. (John 14:19,20)

The above is what it means to be "in Christ." So much depends on our being "in Christ." The dead "in Christ" shall rise, the Bible says.

Perhaps we believe that once we have gone through the religious exercise and have "accepted Christ," from now on we are "in Christ." This may or may not be the case!

There is a simple practice of mine that will reveal to us whether or not we are living in Christ and He in us.

Frequently throughout the day and night I ask Jesus two questions: "Right now am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?"; and "Right now am I where I am supposed to be?

Christ may or may not say yes or no. But you can sure that God will see your sincere determination to do His will. If you are not doing what Christ desires, or you are not where you should be, God will guide you into His perfect, complete will if you keep praying.

I believe we Americans all realize that fearful times are coming to our nation. We are saturated with abortion, drunkenness, weird sexual practices, the love of entertainment, and the worship of money. No nation of the past has lived in this manner and survived.

God is seeking a house, a place of rest, and a place where He can establish His Throne. We have been created to satisfy these three needs. Christ, and the members of His Body, are God's house, place of rest, and the location of His Throne.

The four Divine interventions I am emphasizing are occurring during the present dreadful hour of spiritual darkness. No power can prevent the four preparations coming to pass in us except our unbelief and occupation with the distractions of the American culture.

At the height of the coming spiritual darkness, no Christian will be able to stand and assist others who have needs unless that believer can say in truth, "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I am living. Yet it is not I who am living but Christ who is living in me."

That should be our goal these days. We should be pressing into it every moment, asking the Lord Jesus to be our life.

The Coming of Christ to Examine What We Have Done With His Treasures

Christ has given us so much: forgiveness, deliverance, and His own life lived in us. In addition there may be natural talents, such as music, and spiritual talents, such as a gift of wisdom or knowledge.

What have we done with the gifts and abilities we have? Have we used them to build the Kingdom of God, or have we gone about our business in whatever manner pleases us?

It is incumbent on every sincere Christian to seek the Lord until they know what their treasures are—especially which ministry or gift they are to be emphasizing or utilizing.

Some Christians have many gifts. Some have only one. And it is the person with only one gift who is apt to ignore what they have and occupy themselves solely with the task of making a living.

We would think that not seeking and using what Christ has given us would not be a grievous sin, like adultery or murder. But look how Christ addressed the person who had buried their one gift!

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 25:29,30)

How would you like that to happen to you?

Tell me. Do you know what Kingdom treasures have been given to you? Why not? Have you gone to Jesus about this? Are you earnestly asking Christ for the best gifts? Are you faithfully putting to use what He has given you? If not, you may be a good person in other respects, but you are in danger of being thrown into the Land of Darkness.

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)

Then Paul goes on to talk about several areas of responsibility that are to be fulfilled faithfully and consistently if we are to hear the "well done" of Jesus Christ when we stand before Him.

We American people are overstimulated by the things of our materialistic culture. There are numerous Christian believers who expect to be praised by the Lord when they appear before Him, or to be caught up to a mansion any moment now in an unscriptural "rapture." Yet, it hardly could be said of them that they are patiently bearing their cross of deferred desires behind the Master!

They are living in deception. They have not been taught what the Bible says about using our talents, about seeking earnestly the best gifts that we may help with the task of building each member of the Body of Christ to the full stature of Christ.

Honestly, the spiritual blindness of our American believers is astounding. I believe this blindness is largely true also of some of the other Western nations, the so-called Christian nations.

Thankfully, the Lord has given us a period of time in which to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ to catch up the prepared believers to His staging area in the air above us.

The Coming of Christ To Catch Up His Prepared People to Himself

The purpose of Christ's next appearing is to give resurrection life to prepared believers and to catch them up to His staging area in the air, from which He will descend and establish His Kingdom on the earth.

The popular teaching of the "rapture," in which all who have "accepted Christ" are caught up to Heaven to escape the Great Tribulation, is not scriptural. It has succeeded in disarming God's people so they do not pay anywhere near enough attention to the several passages of the New Testament that warn them if they continue in the sins of the flesh they shall not inherit the Kingdom; they shall destroy their own resurrection.

There shall be a shout, the voice of the Archangel, and the trumpet of God. This is not a secret "rapture." It is the beginning of the Battle of Armageddon, in which the forces of Satan shall be destroyed. Antichrist and the False Prophet shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Satan Himself shall be confined in the Bottomless Pit for a thousand years.

Then Christ shall lead His two armies of saints and angels throughout the earth, destroying all the institutions of Antichrist.

What a marvelous scene indeed!

But we can see at once that the believers who are caught up to the staging area in the air, in preparation for their descent with Christ, will have to be wise; will have to be free from the sins of the flesh and from self-will; will have to be living by the Life of Christ; will have to be faithful with His treasures given to them.

They will not be the, casual church-goers of our day who treat the church as some sort of social institution to which they belong and give some of their money.

They, and the warrior angels with them, form a great and mighty army. They will strike terror into all the forces of Satan. They will prepare the "sheep" of the earth for the government of Christ and His saints; for the rule of the rod of iron.

We of today have been given a period of time to prepare ourselves, should we be lacking in any of the areas I have mentioned. Let us not be like the foolish virgins who were looking forward to attendance at a festive affair, only to have the door slammed shut in their face.

How about you and me? If we were in the middle of our business in the office, or school, or down town shopping, and there was a terrific trumpet blast, what would we do? We would know it was the Lord calling us to join Him in the attack of Armageddon.

What if it was at the crucial moment of some sports event on television? Would we wait to see the outcome?

If we were away from home, would we join the panic-stricken people as they ran to their cars and then jammed the highways, as we were shaking with fear as to the fate of our children?

Think about this scene. Think seriously about it. And then call to mind that Jesus warned us to "Remember Lot's wife."

Remember Lot's wife! (Luke 17:32)

A little reflection will point out that out of the millions of church-goers of our day, there may not be five thousand who are living in such close fellowship with the Lord Jesus that they would drop everything and look to see where they were supposed to go as the trumpet blasts continued.

Would they be selfish if they did not stop and try to bring someone with them? Would they really? Did the wise virgins assist the foolish at the critical moment? Lot's beautiful wife was turned into a pillar of salt because of her concern for her neighbors. A pillar of salt!

I asked the Lord if I could give of my "oil" to someone when the great announcement came. He replied, "You will have just enough for yourself!"

Perhaps some mother reading these words would say to herself, "I could never leave my toddlers at home with a babysitter if I were downtown and heard the trumpet blast announcing the coming of Christ.

If a mother is living close to Jesus, He will speak to her about the time of His coming so she will keep her children close to her. Then, when the trumpet sounds, she and her children will go to where the Lord Jesus is gathering His people.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (I Thessalonians 5:4)

We are not allowed to look back, and so the Lord will tell us when He is coming. We then can journey straightforwardly to the place nearest to us as the trumpets direct.

So the people of the world, and most of the professing Christians, will remain behind while the prepared believers go to wherever Christ directs them. Then the prepared believers will be filled with incorruptible resurrection life, "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." This is the first resurrection.

Now, all those who have received incorruptible bodies, the saints who have come with the Lord Jesus plus the newly transformed people living on the earth at the time, will enjoy the greatest and most joyous fellowship of all time.

God will set a table full of good things in the very presence of our enemies.

When Jesus deems it to be time, to the sound of glorious, heavenly music, the prepared believers of the earth and those who came from Heaven with the Lord Jesus will slowly begin to arise from the earth—and this in the sight of those remaining on the earth.

They all will be caught up to meet Christ at His staging area in the air.

There they will be helped to mount a white war stallion and directed to their place in the army of saints. They will look about in amazement at the army of mighty warrior angels, holding their spears in readiness for the charge.

There is nothing those left behind can do other than rage and fume in their anger.

As soon as the Lord's prepared saints leave the earth to go to be with the Lord, terrible judgments will fall on those who remain.

But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:29)

These are the bowls of wrath, spoken of in the Book of Revelation.

Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the earth." (Revelation 16:1)

The bowls of wrath are to prepare the world for the coming of Christ and His two armies. Believe it or not, it will require this much Divine fury to deal with the sinful behavior and self-centeredness that characterize so many people of today; to prepare them for the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ and His saints.

As soon as the bowls have been emptied on the earth, the Lord Jesus will appear at the head of the saints and angels.

I wonder if most of us really understand the severity of God. God is exceedingly distressed because of homosexual behavior, a behavior that prevents the reproduction of God's image as portrayed in man from the beginning of time. The Bible states that homosexuals shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Down through the clouds will hurtle the invincible saints in their incorruptible bodies, along with the army of warrior angels led by Michael the Archangel.

At the head of the charge will be He whom evil, jealous men crucified, now on His great white war-stallion.

The armies of Antichrist will be destroyed, Antichrist and the False Prophet will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. One angel will wrap Satan in chains and throw him into the Bottomless Pit.

After this the Lord Jesus and His armies will go through every city, town, and village on the earth and destroy all the works of Antichrist.

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. Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:2,3)

The wicked will be slain. Those whom God has chosen to save will be kept safe in their homes until it is time for them to go to Jerusalem to be directed to the area assigned to them.

After the Lord Jesus has told them where to go, they then will be sent out from Jerusalem to various areas of the earth. Accompanying them will be their king and other officers, and holy angels, whom the Lord Jesus Christ has selected for them.

This is somewhat different from reclining on a couch in Paradise. But these Christians are more excited about bringing God's will into the earth, and their inheritance of people, than they are at the thought of dawdling about in Heaven, doing nothing of significance for eternity.

How about you and me? What sort of future would we prefer? God will look to see what it is and will cause it to happen. He will give us the desire of our heart.

The Coming of Christ at the End of the World to the People of the Nations

The purpose of Christ's appearing to the people of the nations is to separate the people who have shown a positive attitude toward Christ's disciples, His brothers, from those who have scorned the disciples and refused to assist them in any manner.

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)

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." (Matthew 25:41)

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)

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)

It is interesting, isn't it, that the Kingdom of God, from the creation of the world, was prepared for the "sheep" of the nations.

It may be true that numerous Christians believe that God's plan of redemption is for their benefit, so they can go to Paradise and enjoy their mansion.

This is why the doctrine of the "rapture" appeals to them. "We can forget about the people of the world. Let them kill each other in their ignorance."

But the Kingdom of God, from the creation of the world, was prepared for the people of the nations, who are not members of the Royal Priesthood.

"God so loved the world"!

The Royal Priesthood, the brothers and sisters of Christ, have been in the world to prepare them to receive the saved people of the world. The Royal Priesthood is the Kingdom that is being prepared for the "sheep" of the nations.

The inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ is the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth. We are co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is not a mansion in the spirit Paradise. It is people and the earth. In the future it will be a new earth, but still the earth, not Heaven.

So we see the things that happen to us are getting us ready to bring the blessings of God to the saved people of the nations. God is so great, I believe it is true that God already knows what people will be assigned to you and to me.

I have spent a large portion of my adult life working with children in a public-school setting. I still hold three life credentials in the State of California: Elementary, Secondary, and General Administration. However my age disqualifies me from further work in the public schools.

I never was so happy as I was at that time. I hated to see the summer vacation come around, because I had no children to love and teach.

But the God of Heaven gave me those children to love, and I did, and enjoyed teaching them.

I enjoy also being a pastor and Bible teacher. I genuinely care for the people and appreciate their love for me. I am hoping that many of them will be able to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom after I am gone. I feel certain that they will. They have made it possible for me to spread the revelation that God gave me in 1948. They have encouraged and supported me.

So who knows what is ahead. Perhaps some work with children. Perhaps some opportunities to help believers in the spirit world come to a closer walk with Jesus, who has been my closest friend for seventy years.

So the great separation shall come at the end. The sheep shall be separated from the goats. The goats will go to be with Satan, whom they have served. The sheep will enter the Kingdom of God and a new earth, and be blessed by the New Jerusalem, that is to say, by the members of the Royal Priesthood.

Since you to whom I am writing are members of the Royal Priesthood, use this time of preparation wisely. Jesus has great things for you if you will endure to the end.

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Three Sources of Sin

2015-07-05

The World, the Sins of the Flesh, and the Sins of the Personality.

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

Can you picture living in the new world of righteousness in which there is no sin?

Did you know that it is in God's mind to put an end to sin? In fact, the purpose of creating the Kingdom of God is to put an end to sin and to bring in everlasting righteousness.

What is sin? Sin is rebellion against God's will. It is behavior that does not agree with God's moral image.

There are three aspects of sin: the guilt of sin; the desire to sin; the practice of sin. Please do not confuse the three aspects of sin with the three sources of sin, which is a different subject.

It appears to me that Christian teaching is occupied primarily with the guilt of sin. "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" is interpreted as meaning "takes away the guilt of the sin of the world."

This is not surprising in that the Gospel is presented in the New Testament as being for the purpose of removing the guilt of our sin. There are passages that deal with the craving and practice of sin, particularly with the coming Day of Redemption. Still, the emphasis from the first century to the present day is on removing the guilt of our sin.

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)

Actually, the reason God gives us His Spirit is so we can gain victory over sin.

It may be noted that the Spirit of God is beginning to speak today about the removing of the bondages of sin.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:41)

It is understandable that forgiveness is a popular concept, in that the average person would like to please God if that is possible without too much inconvenience.

When God said, in Daniel 9:24, that He is going to put an end to sin, do you think God means that He is going to forgive all sin, or He is going to put an end to the desire and practice of sin? What is your answer to this question?

Put yourself in God's place. Which would be of greater benefit to God: to forgive all sin, or to remove the practice of sin?

Which would be of greater benefit to our fellow Christians: for God to forgive our sin, or to remove our sinning? How about when we are in Heaven?

Which would be of greater benefit to us: to forgive our sins, or to remove our desire to sin and our practice of sin?

Let's think for a moment about the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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 pretend to be a great expert on the subject of sin and am not dogmatic. I just wish to stir up our minds on the subject!)

The Apostle Paul made a major point about the sinful cravings that dwelled in his body.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:15-18)

Can you see that there are two wills working here? There is "I." And then there is "sin."

There is a "will" to sin dwelling within Paul. Where is this will located? Paul says it is dwelling in his flesh.

If it is a "will," then it is not an element or a chemical compound. After a long consideration of this subject, I have concluded that it is an intelligent spirit.

Paul was troubled with covetousness. There must have been an intelligent spirit of covetousness dwelling in Paul's flesh.

It was not coming from Paul's own spirit but from an alien spirit that somehow had found its way into Paul's flesh; unless by "flesh," Paul merely meant his body.

Where did this alien spirit come from? From Satan? Possibly. I have theorized that such sinful spirits may have come from deceased people who have been condemned by the Lord to wander in the earth, seeking always to satisfy their cravings.

Since I have no support in Scripture for my theory, I must default to Satan. I have a hard time with this default, however, because I am not certain Satan can share his personality with human beings; although he assuredly can inhabit people. And I do not believe these alien wills are angels.

When Jesus spoke to the possessed man of the Gerasenes, Jesus did not address Satan as such.

For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you impure spirit!" Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." (Mark 5:8,9)

That answer doesn't sound as though it is coming from Satan. It seems to me reasonable that if the spirits in the man were parts of Satan, then the name "Satan" would have been included in the conversation.

In any case, we all have these enemies dwelling in our flesh, and our body is spiritually dead because of them. (Romans 8:10)

Now, we did not request these visitors. So at the Judgment Seat of Christ, I do not see how Christ can condemn us for being inhabited and acting out from spirits that live in us and drive us against our will.

These spirits ought to be judged, and not us, I theorize!

And we can judge them. We have a conscience, and our conscience and our Bible tell us what is wrong and what is right. Also, as we grow spiritually to where we can know the will of Christ for us, Christ Himself will show us what is pleasing to Him and what is not.

Christ Himself is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and He will tell us when a practice either is righteous or unrighteous.

But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

We cannot trust the moral codes of other religions because they were not given by Him who is the Truth and the only Truth.

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)

When we are made aware that we have been acting sinfully we are to confess the sinful spirit as worthy only of the Lake of Fire. We condemn it utterly. We pronounce an eternal judgment upon it.

When we do this, Christ takes the fire and life out of the spirit, and with His help we always can overcome that which previously had been part of our behavior.

What then is judged as good or evil at the Judgment Seat of Christ?

I have come to the conclusion it is our reaction to what we know to be sinful. If, as Paul, we abhor the evil in our flesh, resist it, pray against it, do everything we can to keep from yielding to it until Christ helps us overcome it completely, then we are not held guilty. We did as well as we could in a difficult situation.

Also, in this case I believe, the sinning that we do because of indwelling spirits, but are unconscious of, will be forgiven.

But when we know something we are doing is evil, and we yield to it without seeking help from Christ, then that is classified as willful sin. In this case our behavior is judged as evil.

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)

I understand that numerous ministers in America tell us that once we "accept Christ" we cannot be condemned. But the truth is not in them. They are teaching rebellion against the Word of God.

An interesting point has been raised in our discussion. What about this "I" that Paul says abhors any infraction of God's Word. The "I" is our soul, the source of our judgments and motivations.

There is some good in most everyone's soul, I believe. There is the mother who will give her life for her child; the father who will do everything in his power to provide for his family.

But these virtues are remnants of the fallen Eve and Adam. They are not of eternal strength of righteousness and holiness. They will fail us if the pressure on us is great enough.

So God condemns our soul to death. He brings us into numerous afflictions, until like Paul, we know that the sentence of death has been passed on us.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— (Romans 6:6)

Indeed, we felt we had received 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)

It is an interesting thought that our original soul was crucified with Christ in order that our sinful body might be destroyed, freeing us from the bondages of sin.

What is the connection? Why is it necessary that our soul be crucified if our body is to be freed from the bondages of sin?

Our body receives its directions from our soul. As long as our soul is alive, our sinful body can flourish. But when we count our soul as crucified, then we can conceive of ourselves as free from any obligation to obey the sinful impulses in our body. We are free to condemn the sinful deeds of our body as soon as they are revealed.

Our dead soul has no ability to interfere with the program of putting to death the sinful deeds of our flesh. We simply are not obligated to sin.

Our old soul, our old self, finds death in God's commandments.

If we considered that our soul were alive, and our first personality were to remain intact, we might view stealing, for example, to be a profitable venture, and our soul would encourage us claiming that we were entitled to this gain. But God is against stealing. (Hosea 4:2)

If we hold that our soul is still alive, and our original personality has a right to seeks its own comfort and security, we will get nowhere in the program of holiness. Our soul will keep defending its right to prosper in the world.

In fact, there is a significant number of Christians in America who believe that the purpose of the Gospel is that we might prosper in the present world, monetary success being a sign of God's blessing.

To associate worldly riches or the miraculous sprinkling of gold dust in the hair of the worshipers with the blessing of God, is a deception. God loves the poor and gives the Kingdom to them. That is a fundamental aspect of the Gospel of the Kingdom. (James 2:5)

When we are brought down to "death" by afflictions, God raises us by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus. We die with Him and we Live with Him. Death, and life. Death, and life. Little by little our soul is whittled away and in its place rises the life-giving spirit.

Thus the treachery and rebellion in our soul, which are not alien spirits that have invaded our flesh but are our own spirit, we might say, are overcome by death and resurrection; and the faithfulness and other virtues that are in our natural soul are transformed by the Substance of Christ, by His body and blood, until they are of eternal quality.

We can see that there is a rudimentary righteousness in our former self, because the Apostle Paul detested that which was contrary to the Law of Moses.The forming of righteousness and holiness in our soul are the new covenant---the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart.

We understand that there appear to be three primary sources of sinful behavior.

Ezekiel's river is an illustration of the three sources of sin.

As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:3-5)

In the first level, the Spirit of God is present to a minimal degree. The judgment (the measurement) is upon our participating in the antichrist world spirit.

In the second level, there is more evidence of the Spirit of God. The judgment is against the unclean spirits that reside in our flesh.

In the third level, the judgment is against people who have followed their self-will, not being careful to put to death the deeds of their sinful flesh. We have yielded to the alien spirits until the sins they promote have become part of our personality. They no longer are alien spirits. They are what we are!

Also, there are sins of personality we have inherited from our parents, such as lust, or hatred, or covetousness, or pride.

If we are to attain to the water to swim in, the Fullness of God, the realm of the life-giving spirits, we must abandon our self-will and obey Christ until we can state: "I am crucified with Christ. It is Christ who lives in me."

The life-giving spirits will be planted along the banks of the River of Life, as in the Book of Revelation:

He asked me, "Son of man, do you see this?" Then he led me back to the bank of the river. When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river.(Ezekiel 47:6,7)

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)

The "very many trees" are, of course, outgrowths of the one Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then from these life-giving spirits, who constitute the Royal Priesthood, with Christ at the head, the Spirit of God will make alive those people of the nations who will accept the ministry of Christ—Head and Body.

Notice the description of the true worldwide evangelism:

He said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, where it enters the Dead Sea. When it empties into the sea, the salty water there becomes fresh. 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 47:8,9)

Can you see from the Book of Acts that the work of the ministry during the Christian Era is to call out from the world those whom God has ordained to be members of the Royal Priesthood, the trees of eternal life?

It is not that people are ordained to be saved. Whosoever will may come to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved! Rather, it is the members of the Christian Church, the Royal Priesthood, is ordained of God.

When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. (Acts 13:48)

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)

Do the two passages above sound like God is calling out specially ordained people, or does it say that we are to ignore the guidance of the Spirit and try to get everyone into the church buildings as soon as possible?

If it is true that the calling of God in the present hour is to people whom He has chosen for the purpose of bringing eternal life to the world at a later time, then you can imagine the waste of time, money, and energy that occurs as we charge in one direction or another to build the Kingdom of God according to our own ideas.

If our concept is true, then we should continue preaching the Gospel to every person, as Christ has commanded, and the Spirit of God will select those who are members of the Royal Priesthood. But much, much more attention than is true at the present time should be given to bring the believers to maturity in Christ.

The River refers to the Holy Spirit of God. Every person, action, and thing of the plan of redemption and the building of the Kingdom of God depends on the Presence of the Spirit of God—to a far greater extent than is emphasized in our day.

There is a great deal of Christian activity, but there is little dependence on the Spirit of God for wisdom, guidance, and power. It is as though it is up to the talents and efforts of people to do the work of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

The result, or so it seems, is that the world is more sinful and more bereft of Christ than ever before.

Perhaps the main reason for the prevailing ineptness is that the Christian institutions do not seem to understand that the Christian Era is for the purpose of calling out from the world a people ordained of God to become royal priests. God plans on establishing His Kingdom on the earth, and His Kingdom will be installed and maintained by the Royal Priesthood.

There is no point in setting up the Kingdom before the royal priests have been selected and trained. That is the purpose of the Christian Era.

Today there is a movement of believers who believe they can set up the Kingdom before the Lord Jesus returns. If God does not deliver them from their error, they will evolve into the False Prophet of Revelation, Chapter Thirteen.

The worldwide revival we are hoping for, that is, the making alive in Christ of the majority of those of the nations who will accept eternal life, cannot take place until the members of the Royal Priesthood, the life-giving spirits, have been prepared for their ministry.

The Lord Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats, of the nations. The sheep are those who were kind to the members of the Royal Priesthood, to the brothers of the Lord Jesus. The Royal Priests have been prepared for them and shall inherit them.

The goats are those who were not supportive of the Royal Priesthood. The Lake of Fire is their eternal home.

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)

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." (Matthew 25:41)

The first source of sin, then, is love 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)

There have been in time past accents on holiness of appearance and behavior. Examples of an accent on holiness could be found in the Methodist and Pentecostal movements.

Then there was a reaction against the teaching that Christians ought not to be worldly in appearance or behavior. Christian people felt free to attend the movies. The women adorned themselves with makeup, ear rings, and clothing that was in line with worldly fashions.

Perhaps in the present hour there is somewhat of a return of the idea that Christian people should not take part in the things of the world, social drinking, smoking cigarettes, and so forth.

But there may be a far more dangerous manifestation of the antichrist spirit that has come on the scene. I am speaking of the electronic communication devices, such as the television, the Internet, and hand-held devices. Also various sorts of electronic games.

Without realizing it we may be being saturated with the values of the world.

In addition, the television is bringing the nations of the world together, so that if there is a major car pileup in Norway, we in America know about it right away. The decisions of the United Nations concerning the bringing up of children, arguments between nations, and the so-called "global warming" require that individual countries pay attention to these decisions.

As the Bible told us centuries ago, there will be a one-world government. It is easy to see that taking place. And the values of that government will not be Christian values.

The European Union of 28 member states is a harbinger of what we can expect in the future. The European Union has expressed its dislike of parallel cultures. Germany, for example, regards Christian home-schooling as a parallel culture, and therefore a criminal enterprise.

We can observe in the United States in the present hour the beginning of a hostile attitude toward the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ.

This change of attitude toward Christian beliefs on the part of the world should serve as a warning to us Christians. We are going to have to become part of the world system, which is an antichrist system, or we are going to suffer for our unwillingness to accept the values of the world.

We may not realize it, but the antichrist world system, with its worship of money, is a large part of the culture of America. The rise of Antichrist in America has been slow but has been increasing steadily.

How many Christian parents in America are able to keep their children from the electronic games? Yet these game glorify values that are not Christian.

We Christians, to a great extent, simply do not realize that we are not part of the world. In the beginning, America included numerous fervent Christian people. This is not true today. There are some fervent believers, but the trend is toward a lukewarm, casual form of church-going. The world does not hate us unless we attempt to interfere with its practices of abortion and perverted sexual activities.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18,19)

We Christians are not part of the world, we do not belong to the antichrist world system, and I think most of us do not understand this to any great extent.

The current president years ago announced that America is not a Christian nation. I wonder if we grasp that he is not well disposed toward the Christian faith. We continue with our lives as though we were in the "good ol' days."

I wonder to what extent the average church-goer in the United States understands that the 2,000 years of the Christian era have been for the purpose of calling our from the ranks of mankind a Royal Priesthood that is being prepared to govern the nations under Christ.

The Christian institutions have created a religion that saves people from eternal damnation by adopting one of several theologic formulas. I suppose that this perversion of intention, substituting religious practices for growth in Christ, cannot be helped until severe Divine judgment falls on our nation. But its effect has been to prevent the Christian people from understanding they are not part of the world.

"I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours." (John 17:6 and 9)

In spite of the present confusion, we shall see the day when the true disciples of the Lord Jesus are one with the Oneness that exists in the Lord Jesus and the Father. In that day the world will recognize that Jesus is the King of a Kingdom that is not of this present world.

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)

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place." (John 18:36)

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)

The second source of sin is that which the Apostle Paul spoke about--- the sinful cravings that dwell in our flesh.

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)

The third source of sin is the kind of personality we have. Eight types of sinful personalities are set forth in Revelation 21:8.

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)

You may notice that the first list (above) is of kinds of behavior.

The second list is of kinds of people.

This distinction may be observed in the following:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. (Matthew 13:41)

I realize there may be overlap between the sins of the flesh and the sins of our personality, as in the case of "sexual immorality," for example. However, I think there is enough distinction between these two sources of sin that we should give some thought to the matter.

It indeed is true that if a believer yields continually to an alien spirit, such as sexual lust, that spirit will become part of their personality. Then, when they appear in the resurrection after death, they will be seen as "sexual lust." They have practiced "evil" while in their body and shall be judged accordingly. Their home is the Lake of Fire.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2)

Do the sources of sin follow us after death. Also, does God deal with them differently?

These are important, practical issues, aren't they?

It may be a fact that the evil in our personality, unless God has granted us deliverance, shall follow us after death. We then will be sent into Hell or some other room in the Land of Darkness; or possibly our spirit will be returned to earth and wander about in dry places, seeking an unprotected body to invade in which we can satisfy our cravings.

We noted above the eight personalities who make their home in the Lake of Fire.

I do not understand how we can maintain that once a church-goer dies, sin no longer is a problem? What about the man who buried his talent? What about the people who are placed in the Lake of Fire?

I do not say there will not be an opportunity for a sinful personality to be instructed and transformed after death. But this would be true only for a person who, for one reason or another, never had been confronted with their sinful personality or shown what to do about it.

Paul goes into some detail concerning the second source of sin, the sins of the flesh:

I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (Romans 7:15)

If my understanding is correct, there are two forces operating in the passage above. There is "I," whom I would judge to be Paul's mind and heart, his soul. Although Paul's mind and heart no doubt are of his old sinful nature, yet there is dwelling in Paul's flesh cravings he does not recognize or approve of. We can understand from this that some good remains in the midst of the adamic rebellion.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (7:18)

(the following passages are adopted from: The Third Day Has Begun)

From my point of view, the New International Version does us a great disservice in its translation of Romans 7:18:

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

"In my sinful nature" should be "in my flesh."

Since I am not a Greek scholar, there may be some linguistic reason why "in my flesh" can properly be translated "in my sinful nature." If so, I stand corrected.

However, since in this essay I am making an important distinction between the sins that proceed from cravings, "spirits" (perhaps), dwelling in our flesh, and then the sins that proceed from our personality, from what we are and not from alien spirits dwelling in our body, to change sarki (Greek: the flesh) into sinful nature is an unfortunate substitution.

Notice also:

But I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (Romans 7:23—NIV)

But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (Romans 7:23—NASB)

And I behold another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of the sin that [is] in my members. (Romans 7:23—YLT)

I think it really is scandalous to change "in the members of my body" to "in me," as the NIV has done.

The whole point is that the sin is alive in the members of my body, my flesh, rather than in my inward personality. At least, that is the way it appears to me! What can you say about that?

How is one to conduct an exposition of the Scriptures when the translators change words as they will?

The reason the change from "my sinful nature" to "the sin dwelling in my flesh" is so significant is that it attacks the nature and purpose of the resurrection from the dead.

The resurrection from the dead is the changing of our body from sinful corruption to sinless incorruption. The resurrection has nothing whatever to do with going to Heaven. It is a change in our personality.

Therefore the change from "my sinful nature" to the "law of sin which is in my members" removes the thrust of Paul's goal, which was the resurrection from the dead body ("the body of this death"); the redemption of Paul's body.

I do believe the goal of the Christian redemption is the change from a sinful body to a body without sin. The inner salvation, which is the change from a self-willed soul to a life-giving spirit, is of little or no use until the body in which it is contained is delivered completely from the sins that at present continually urge it to sin.

Perhaps this is the meaning of, "Should not perish but have eternal life," that is to say, immortality in the body.

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 15:54)

(end of adopted paragraphs)

Paul had the desire to do what is good. I believe that is worthy of note. It says something about his adamic personality, doesn't it?

I think this is the reason why Paul wrote:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:24)

Paul was not speaking of being free from the cravings in his body by dying, but of the time when his body is made alive by the introduction of the resurrection Life of Christ.

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)

From my point of view, the Apostle Paul was not a covetous man. I would assume that Paul was not known among his acquaintances as being a covetous person. His personality likely was not covetous. He carried on his journeys money collected for the poor saints. Yet there is no record Paul ever stole any of it or used it for his own ends.

But when Paul read in the Law of Moses about covetousness, the craving of covetousness that was in his flesh became prominent and emphasized such that Paul became wretched.

Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. (Romans 7:9)

The sinful cravings of covetousness were residing in Paul's flesh. The Law did not cause coveting, the coveting already was present.

Covetousness is a craving that dwells in the flesh of numerous people, Christian or not. It is an example of the sins of the flesh. Perhaps this is why the unscriptural "prosperity" teaching is accepted so readily or the "gold dust" that sometimes appears in certain assemblings.

It may be noticed that Paul's personality, his mind and heart, were scandalized to discover that there were cravings in him that were against the moral law of God.

For this reason, I see a difference between our personality, and the cravings resident in our flesh. Our personality may be law-abiding, but our sin-ridden body is a "ball and chain" we wrestle against constantly. And this probably is why God permits it to plague us, so we, perhaps being destined to be a ruler in the future ages, may develop the strength to govern in righteousness.

The fact that we hate such cravings shows that there is a "we," an "I" in us that is in the image of God, and there are many noble qualities in our fallen soul. There also are what I term "sins of personality" in our soul that vary from person to person, and characterize us as an individual.

"Faithlessness" might be one such unclean characteristic of an individual. while another person might be known by their faithfulness. As I see it, these two characteristics are what the people are, rather than attitudes and practices that proceed from alien spirits dwelling in the body.

However, even the righteous dimensions of our mind and heart are of Adam, and must be transformed by the life-giving Spirit of our Lord Jesus. More about this later.

Since the Scripture speaks of the unclean cravings as dwelling in our flesh, we might possibly think of them as spirits. If they were minerals or chemical compounds, the Bible might not use the term "dwelling." Where they come from I do not know.

Concerning the man from the community of the Gerasenes, if that which was dwelling in him was a mineral or chemical compound, the head spirit would not have answered Jesus as it did. Also, when Jesus commanded them to go into the pigs, an inert ingredient would not have obeyed.

Dr. Ritchie, in his book, Return From Tomorrow, tells how when he was dead temporarily, the Lord Jesus took him on a journey. One stop they made was at a tavern. Inside there were a number of service people drinking at the bar.

There was a marked difference among the persons at the bar. Some apparently were living human beings. But also among them were people who were deceased.

The living were different from the deceased in that the living were protected by some sort of spiritual covering, as I recall. The deceased did not have this protection. The deceased were grabbing at the glasses of liquor, but were unable to grasp them.

A man at the bar apparently had too much to drink and fell backward on the floor. When this happened, there was a tear in his protective covering. Instantly a man who obviously was deceased entered through the tear until he was inside the drunken person.

I hold this account to be a true incident, and it tells us how some of these cravings enter us.

Numerous believers of our day are living in the sins of the flesh. They are being taught that they are without condemnation, and soon will be "raptured" to their mansion in Heaven. "All this and Heaven too!"

It may be true that one of the punishments that the Lord administers to a person who lives in the sins of the flesh and then dies, is to return to earth minus a physical body. Then they cannot satisfy whatever cravings are left with them, and go about hoping to find an individual who for one reason or another has a tear in their protective covering. Then they enter that person and satisfy their appetites through him or her.

This might answer the question of how God deals with a person who dies while living in the sins of the flesh.

The man of the region of the Gerasenes had a legion of personalities dwelling in him. Well, one might think, how would a large group of people fit in one human being?

It is because the spirit world is not bound by physical dimensions, like size, for instance. One human being can be a home for thousands of spirits. The Lord Jesus Christ holds all the true Christians in Himself. These spirits are not bodies that enter us, but spirits. So they take up little or no space!

Today the spiritual atmosphere of the earth is filled with unclean spirits, particularly those of sexual lust. Perhaps at one time they were human beings. In any case, if we do not keep looking to Jesus constantly we may pick up a visitor or two.

We may not realize it when an unclean spirit enters us. But under the proper circumstances it may come raging out of its hiding place in our body and we will commit a crime of one sort or another.

It happens every day to average people who are not living under the protection of Christ.

In the present hour we are entering the Day of Redemption. To this point our sins have been forgiven when we placed our trust in the Lord Jesus. Now it is time for the atonement to be completed, meaning we will be set free from the cravings of unclean spirits.

If you will look to the Lord Jesus continually, the Spirit of God will point out to you the sins that are in your flesh. Lying, stealing, lust, and so forth. You suddenly will realize that urges dormant in your body must be dealt with.

Brother Elmer Fullerton, a godly minister of many years ago, told how he opened his front door and discovered a neighbor's dog had torn up his newly planted lawn, even though it was marked off by string.

Brother Fullerton said he felt like murdering the owner of the dog.

Then he regained control of himself and prayed. He said, "Thank you Lord for showing me the spirit of hate and murder that is dwelling in me."

This is what we absolutely must do today if we plan on being resurrected and going to Jesus when He appears. When we discover that there is an unclean spirit dwelling in us, such as gossip or meanness, we must confess it to Jesus. Then we must ask the Lord to help us so we never again, not for eternity, give way to that spirit again.

If we take this action firmly, Jesus will take the fire and life out of the spirit. The next time we are tempted with that behavior, we will find that through Christ we are able to overcome it.

Now you are eligible for the receiving of resurrection Life when Jesus appears in the clouds.

Do not be careless. Remember the foolish virgins! The Lord Jesus takes no pleasure in the typical casual Christians of our day. They think they are secure because at one point in their life they "accepted Christ."

They do not understand that the Day of Salvation always is today. You might have been serving Christ yesterday, but today is another battle. Your adversary, Satan is watching you carefully to see if there is a weak place in your armor.

We are safe only as long as we are abiding in Christ, looking to Him and obeying Him at every moment. All it takes is one moment of foolishness or prayerlessness, and we will say or do something that will cause us five years of grief and agony of heart and mind.

I have been getting emails lately from Christians who have been drifting away and now are terrified that they have insulted Christ to a point of no return.

You do not want to slip into that position!

I believe I have explained as well as I can how to deal with the various lusts and temptations that the Spirit points out you. Such are the sins of the flesh.

Now let's turn to the sins of personality.

Some of the sinful aspects of our personality are inherited. Others took hold of us as we continually yielded to the sinful spirits dwelling in our flesh.

The sins of personality are those characteristics that distinguish us as an individual. They may be sullenness, or a romantic spirit, or always seeking to be preeminent, to take the place of the current leadership.

When we think of Absalom, we see a man consumed with the desire to replace King David. Absalom might have had any number of cravings dwelling in his flesh, but Absalom was characterized by an unclean ambition.

It took a while before the compulsion to replace David finally brought Absalom to the place of actually warring against David.

That is the way the sins of personality operate. They may begin as a small desire in our personality. God may warn us about them. But we ignore the warning and permit the desire to grow. It seems delicious every time we think about it.

It reminds us of the baby alligators people bring back as souvenirs from Florida. Baby alligators grow until you have to keep them in the bathtub. Pretty soon you cannot enter your bathroom or swimming pool.

So it is with the sins of personality.

When you discover that you are selfish, or cowardly, or double-minded, or excessively ambitious, you must ask God vigorously and diligently to make you a better person.

God then will begin the process.

As in the case of the Apostle Paul, who apparently was a headstrong personality, God had to keep bringing him down to death. Paul exclaimed that he was under the "sentence of death" that he should not trust in himself but in God who raises the dead.

You can read about Paul's afflictions in the Book of Second Corinthians.

Paul discovered that God's strength came forth in Paul's weakness.

But there is more to it than this.

If God's hand is on us, we will die daily. There will be some occurrence that brings us down to weakness and helplessness; to confusion and the edge of despair.

This is the ordinary life of the truly dedicated Christian.

But each day the resurrection Life of Jesus raises us. When it does, a part of our soul, the adamic person, dies. In its place is the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus. This is how we become a life-giving spirit, in that other people share in the life that raises us. (II Corinthians 4:12)

Line upon line. Line upon line. Precept upon precept. Precept upon precept. The heavenly Sculptor chisels away a portion of the old man. When He does, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus fill that gap. The new creation thus comes into being. It will be unveiled at the revealing of the sons of God.

This is the new covenant. It is the writing of the eternal moral law of God in our mind and heart. We no longer are body, soul, and spirit. We are a new creation. We are becoming a life-giving spirit, in an incorruptible body pervaded by the Spirit of God.

The nations of the earth include multitudes of people who are not brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed. They are decent people. But they do not have the Life of Christ in them. Thus they are restricted to being intelligent animals.

But they are more important and desirable as an inheritance than any mansion, no matter how ornate. They are the inheritance of the Lord Jesus Christ and His co-heirs.

But how will these darlings ever receive the eternal life of God?

The answer is reading these words—you!

You are to set aside your own life and look to Jesus every moment of every day, even when occupied with other necessary matters, until you can say with Paul: "I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I am living. But it is Christ who is living in me."

When that is true of you, you will be a life-giving Spirit. Not just a living spirit, but a life-giving Spirit.

To whom will you give the Life of Christ? To His inheritance, and yours!

God so loved the world. He will put that love in you.

When He does, you will see that the current hope of Heaven and mansions is little more than a desire for Disneyland in the sky.

It is the nations of people, and the farthest reaches of the earth, that are the heart's desire of the man and woman of God.

Do not quit. I know the way is rugged. But the reward is God and people, and there is no other reward that compares with them.

Christ does not want you or me to sin against God. He has the power to keep us from sinning.

One of Satan's supreme lies is that we have to sin against God.

How do we get delivered from participation in the world spirit? We must set a time aside for waiting on God, for listening to the Lord Jesus. We must ask continually to be delivered from influences of the world. Movies, the Internet, and other electronic communication devices, must be rigorously controlled so they do not pervade our thinking.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people." Therefore, "Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." And, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." (II Corinthians 6:16-18)

How do we get delivered from the sins of the flesh? Follow the Holy Spirit carefully. He will point out the spirits that are dwelling in your flesh. Then with the assistance of the Spirit, denounce these spiritual influences, one at a time when they are revealed to you, and ask the help of the Lord Jesus Christ in turning away from these influences for eternity. You will be able to overcome these temptations in the future if you do what I have just said.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 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 8:12,13)

How do we get delivered from the sins of our personality, mainly self-will. God will help with this deliverance if we pray. He will send many crucifixions upon us until, like the Apostle Paul we will be certain that the sentence of death has been passed upon us.

This "dark night of the soul" may last for several years. We must abide faithfully in our "prison" until the Lord releases us. We always are to pray for release; but we never are to take matters in our own hands and free ourselves from our onerous circumstances until we hear from Christ. It is in the denial of our most fervent desires that the chains of self-will are demolished.

You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. (Psalms 88:8,9)

The satanic lie that while we are in the world we have to sin, that "no one is perfect," and so forth, seems to be believed by Christian people of all persuasions.

Let me be among the first to herald what always has been true. "It is not only possible but absolutely necessary for us to cease sinning."

No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. (I John 3:6)

Is the verse above found in the inerrant Word of God?

Was it written by the same man who also wrote, "God so loved the world He gave His only Son?"

Should we believe the one statement but not the other?

Is it to be discarded because our tradition is against it?

We had better get busy, don't you think?

We are not speaking about sinless perfection, or instant sanctification, or positive thinking, or any other useless fantasy. We are referring to gaining victory over every sin by the wisdom and power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us realize first that Adam and Eve were not created with a sinful personality or sinful body. So there actually were two human beings who at one time lived on the earth who were without sin, until Satan appeared.

By definition, redemption would mean that we are restored to this sin-free state. Anything less than this would be an incomplete redemption; and I do not believe the Lord Jesus gave His Life to accomplish an incomplete redemption. Do you?

Let us realize also that our sinful disposition is not composed of an infinite number of sins.

Our sins, finite in number, can be overcome through the Lord Jesus Christ, one at a time. This includes our worldliness, the sinful spirits living in our flesh, and the sinful personality we inherited or acquired.

The Lord Jesus Christ is more powerful than each and every one of these sinful urges and practices.

Now, tell me this is not so.

If the Lord Jesus Christ has more power than all of these urges combined, and it is His demand that we cease practicing them, and He is willing to help us lay them aside, than what is our problem?

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. (Romans 8:12)

We have a choice now, don't we? Either we will believe and obey God and press forward to become a life-giving spirit; or else we will shrink back and continue in bondage to Satan.

Remember, this game is a "winner-take-all." The rewards to the victorious saints are marvelous beyond all marvels—to sit with Christ on the highest throne of the universe. The rewards to the fearful and disobedient are to reap corruption and to be sent to the outer darkness.

He who has shall be given more.

He who has not, even that which he has shall be taken from him.

I have made my decision.

What will your decision be?

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

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The Crown of Anointing

2015-07-12

My apologies to Oliver Lee Ellenwood, from whom I heard, many years ago, the expression, "The Crown of Anointing."

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. (Isaiah 61:1)

It is my understanding that Jesus of Nazareth is named "Christ" (anointed with the Spirit) because He has the Spirit of God without measure. His disciples are called "Christians," perhaps meaning "little Christ."

For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:34—KJV)

If we are to understand how Jesus did the things He did and spoke the Words He did, we must recognize it was because God has given Him the Fullness of God's Spirit.

It may be true that the Christian churches do not make more of an impact on the world than they do because they often operate in terms of human abilities rather than by the Spirit of God.

Why is this, do you suppose? I think it is the natural tendency of human beings to trust in themselves rather than in God. The local church is faced with the problem of the salvation of souls; the spread of the Gospel; paying for the building; sending out missionaries; and various other responsibilities.

How are we to do all this? Since our reputation is at stake, we endeavor to gain as many members as we can—if for no other reason than to pay the bills. If we are not careful, the desire for a large church can persuade us to use human means to attract people.

Also, we may be reluctant to tell people on Sunday morning that they must deny themselves, take up their cross of deferred desires, and follow the Master diligently, obeying Him in all He requires. We may be under the impression that if we tell the congregation of the exact demands of Christ, we might not add worshipers as rapidly as we may wish.

Thus the very force, that eventually may attract people, the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, is removed from the assembling and we join the ranks of the powerless churches of believers who often become little more than a social group in the community.

All of us in America, every assembling of Christians, should pray that God will send His Spirit upon us. In addition, each Christian family, if it is to survive the coming persecution in America, must draw closer each day to the Lord Jesus until we can hear His voice and know what we are to do.

The following verse tells us how to gain more of the Spirit 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)

To those who obey Him.

I am of the opinion that the problem with many of us today is that we are trying to do the work of Christ without Christ. It may be true that we do not believe Jesus actually will lead us step by step each day. We may claim, "Our work is God's work" and proceed to do that we think is a good idea.

How many people, including ministers, are waiting and listening to Jesus to find out what He really wants us to do. I think it may be common for ministers to tell us that the Bible informs us of all we need to know. Our task is to just do what it says.

If that sort of thing were true, the Jews, having the Scriptures, would have had no need of Prophets. Would they?

I may be incorrect here, but I believe the Bible is not so much a record of people reading the Scripture and doing what it says, as it is a record of God leading individuals to do what He desires at any given moment.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways. (Hebrews 1:1)

Is God in our day actually speaking to the American religious leaders, or are they just imagining what God is thinking and saying?

I know when I pray for God ro revive America, He says that I had better pray for myself and my loved ones that we will draw closer to Jesus, if we hope to stand and assist those in need in the coming days of Divine judgment upon the United States. The implication is that our nation has crossed the line in regards to sin!

Is this true?

We need the crown of anointing of the Spirit of God. We will have this only as we obey God strictly at all times in every circumstance.

Also, Jesus told us in the Bible, we should pray without ceasing for the Spirit.

I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. (Luke 11:8)

The Lord is telling us (above) we should persist in praying for the Holy Spirit, and if we do we will receive the answer.

In any case, we need to persist in prayer at all times until we are certain that we are where we are supposed to be, and doing what we are supposed to be doing. If we are to receive more of God's Spirit we must hear from Christ!

The Apostle Paul made an interesting statement:

But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)

When speaking in tongues first came to be part of our worship, the idea was voiced at times that if someone did not speak in tongues they did not have the Spirit of God. The old-time "Pentecosters" used to insist that people did not have the Holy Spirit until they were baptized by the Spirit and spoke in tongues. You probably are too young to remembers those days.

I personally have been "in Pentecost" since the late 1940's. I am here to say that some believers who spoke in tongues years ago do not have the Spirit of Christ today. I know this because they do not show the fruit of the Spirit in their behavior. They are filled with hate, misery, and worry instead of love, joy, and peace.

As far as people having the Spirit of Christ who do not speak in tongues, I am sure there are many. However, I believe if they will conduct a regular prayer session with the Lord every day, they may find themselves speaking in tongues during one of their times of prayer, whether they like it or not.

It is just not that difficult. If you are prayed up, obeying Christ in everything that you know, and feel a little urge to speak in tongues, then launch out. God will not give you something of Satan if you are asking for more of His Spirit!

After all, to the early believers, as recorded in the Bible, speaking tongues was the evidence that the believer had received the Spirit of God.

For instance:

When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. (Acts 19:6)

I pray in tongues often, and it is a tremendous blessing to me. I first spoke in tongues in a bus station in San Bernardino, late one Sunday evening, trying to get back to Bible School. I am such a cerebral person, God had to get me completely distracted before He could start me speaking in tongues. That was about 70 years ago.

However, "tongues" are not something to be argued about. If the thought of "tongues" is not a blessing to you, then forget about it. But make sure you are walking close to the Lord Jesus and obeying Him scrupulously at all times!

"Prophecy" is to be preferred over "tongues" in the assembling of Christians, except when unbelievers are present. But I must say, I never heard anyone prophesy in the assembling if they did not speak much in tongues in their private devotions.

From my point of view, I believe it is helpful to speak miraculously in a foreign language when people to whom that language is native are present. This is what took place at the birth of the Christian Church.

A second purpose for speaking in tongues is as a witness that the speaker has been filled with God's Spirit. As I said previously, old-time Pentecostal preachers insisted that an individual did not have the Spirit of God until they spoke in tongues.

An example of tongues as a witness of the Spirit is as follows:

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.. (Acts 10:44-46)

"Then I remembered what the Lord had said: 'John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God's way?" (Acts 11:16,17)

A third purpose for speaking in tongues is to build up the believer. I think of this as a gift of the Spirit for personal prayer.

Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. (I Corinthians 14:4)

When we pray often in tongues as we go about our business, or during our prayer time, we strengthen ourselves in Christ.

It is possible that in the distribution of the gift of tongues, the Holy Spirit will emphasize known languages to one believer; a sign of actually being filled with the Spirit, as in the house of Cornelius, in a second instance; and spiritual strengthening in a third believer.

I know this distribution of tasks is true in the gift of healing. One believer will have a ministry to an injured spine. Another might have a gift to heal the blind. And a third might have an unusual ability to heal cancer.

So it is not impossible that the Holy Spirit when assigning tongues stresses one or another area of blessing.

I would like to make an additional comment about the third area—the gifts of tongues in the building up of the individual.

Please examine carefully the following passage:

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, "This is the resting place, let the weary rest"; and, "This is the place of repose"—but they would not listen.

So then, the word of the Lord to them will become: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there—so that as they go they will fall backward; they will be injured and snared and captured. (Isaiah 28:11-13)

That this portion of Isaiah indeed is referencing speaking supernaturally in the other tongues that are part of the new covenant, is set forth in the following passage:

In the Law it is written: "With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord." Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. (I Corinthians 14:21,22)

As I see it, Isaiah is telling us that speaking in tongues is at least one of our ways into the "rest of God." The rest of God is treated in the third and fourth chapters of the Book of Hebrews.

The rest of God is parallel in meaning, I believe, to the "waters to swim in," of Chapter Forty-seven of the Book of Ezekiel. It is the place where we have passed through the judgments of the Spirit and now are living wholly in the Life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. (Ezekiel 47:5)

Life in the Fullness of the Spirit is attained to by rule upon rule, rule upon rule, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little. Little by little the Spirit of Christ captures us until we fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

I do not believe falling backward, being broken, and snared, and taken, makes too much sense to the readers until they begin to experience the life lived in the Spirit. It is to be filled with all the Fullness of God as our physical energy and strength begin to be diminished, due to an affliction or some other reason! Older people know exactly what I mean.

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)

Setting aside the topic of "tongues," for a moment, there is no such thing as a genuine Christian who does not have the Spirit of God. Why is this? Because Christ and the members of His Body constitute the Royal Priesthood of God. Every member of the Royal Priesthood has the crown of anointing of the Spirit of God. One cannot function as a priest of God apart from the Spirit of God.

Are there members of Christian churches who do not have the Spirit of God? Yes, there certainly are.

They are not bad people, Nor are they attempting to deceive anyone. They like belonging to a Christian church. The enjoy the things the church does. Some of them are the most diligent workers of the church. Even their close relatives do not realize they have never met the Master.

In fact, I am not certain such people realize there is a great gulf between them, and those members who have the anointing in themselves. They imitate what they see in others, even to attempting to give utterance in "prophecy." They remind me of the "palace prophets" who were in the employ of the kings of Israel. They prophesied mightily, but God was not with them.

So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, "Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?"

"Go," they answered, "for the Lord will give it into the king's hand." (I Kings 22:6)

But Ahab was killed in the battle.

The Christian imitators pray vigorously for the needs of other people, but their prayers are not anointed. They may live a more righteous life than those who have the Spirit of Christ. Only a veteran of the cross can detect that the Holy Spirit is not present in their personality.

God told Moses that every item of furniture in the Tabernacle of the Congregation had to be anointed with oil. In other words, only that which is anointed by the Spirit of God has eternal value in a Christian church service.

Take the anointing oil and anoint the tabernacle and everything in it; consecrate it and all its furnishings, and it will be holy. (Exodus 40:9)

I suppose that the problems of the future in America, when it may cost our life or the life of our children to be known as a Christian, will separate the imitators from the true priesthood. Or, it may happen that many of them will actually become Christians and share in the Spirit of Christ, by asking the Lord Jesus to make the anointing of the Spirit true in their lives.

When the Spirit of God is dwelling us, the moral image of God can be seen in our behavior. "Grace" is being offered today as a substitute for growth in righteous behavior. However, no amount of religious service will compensate for the lack of holy, righteous behavior.

Eternal love, joy, and peace are not the fruit of any Christian. They are the fruit always borne by the Spirit of God alone.

It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (Psalms 133:2,3)

The Body of Christ is the Body of the Anointed One. The Anointing flows down from the Head, just as the priestly anointing of Aaron, the High Priest, ran down on the collar of his robes. Each member of the Body is anointed by the Holy Spirit and is to minister by the wisdom and power of the Spirit of God, just as the Head does.

If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.. (John 14:15-17)

The Holy Spirit of God resides in every true Christian, and will lead them into all truth if they will follow Christ patiently.

I think people receive the Holy Spirit when they are born again. The indwelling of Christ and the Father are mentioned a few verses later, in John 14:23. I do not believe the two indwellings (John 14:15-17and John 14:23) are the same experience.

I said "when they are born again." We receive the Holy Spirit when we truly are born again, I believe.

Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit." (John 3:5)

What we of today refer to as being "born again" is actually conversion to the Christian faith. We confess our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, His blood atonement and His resurrection. It is a change in our beliefs.

We call that religious confession, "being born again."

You know, we ought to think more about what we are declaring. We ought to know that a change in our religious philosophy is not birth, except in some figurative sense.

I know when and where I was born again. It took place after I had made a profession of faith in Christ. I was in Hawaii. I walked out of the Quonset hut. The whole world looked different. The stars looked different.

I wrote to my mother in California to tell her about this experience. She wrote me at the same time. Our letters crossed in the mail.

She had just started to get up in the morning. A "man" in white stood at the foot of her bed. She could see him only from the waist up.

He said, " I have been reborn and renewed." Then he disappeared.

My point is, being born again is a supernatural experience. It is not a theologic statement of faith in Christ. The statement of faith is absolutely necessary. But it should be accompanied by some kind of experience.

If, as I stated, the Spirit of God is given to us at that time, if we actually are born of the Spirit, then we should realize in some manner in keeping with our own personality and circumstances, that we have been reborn and renewed. Do you agree with that?

From this point forward we should live differently. We have just been born. In fact, I would say we have just been conceived, looking at it that way. It will be some time before Christ comes forth in us in a significant manner.

But in order for Christ to come forth, we must obey the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Not the Law of Moses, but the Law of the Spirit of Christ. This means that we must follow and obey Christ diligently at all times and in every circumstance!

There is a travail, as Paul mentioned (Galatians 4:19). Finally Christ comes forth in us and is caught up to the right hand of the Father, awaiting the time for the revealing of the sons of God.

So in every true Christian, not every person active in a Christian church, there is a crown of anointing. We cannot always see it, but it is there. If it is not, the individual is not of Christ, no matter how active they may be in "Christian" activities.

It is the crown of anointing that identifies us as a member of God's 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)

God has called the Lord Jesus as a Priest in "the likeness of Melchizedek." Since we are members of the Body of the High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, we also, by the power of the Spirit of God, are a priest after the order of Melxhizedek, by the "power of an indestructible life."

Just think of that! We may be a brand new Christian at the present moment. But if we follow the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully, obeying His commands at all times, we will be serving God and man as a priest for eternity.

So it is written!

And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 7:15-17)

It is interesting to note that the Spirit of God came upon the Lord Jesus as a Dove, but on the disciples as tongues of fire.

Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him." (John 1:32)

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. (Acts 2:3)

I think this was because the Spirit of Jesus is pure and there is nothing the Spirit of God could judge and condemn. But such was not the case with the disciples at that time.

There is a baptism of blessing with the Spirit. There also is a baptism with fire, and each true Christian must experience that judging and cleansing sooner or later.

I mentioned "speaking in tongues" previously. On the Day of Pentecost the tongues were known languages. I myself speak in tongues as a prayer language, and it is very helpful.

Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. (I Corinthians 14:4)

I speak in tongues in prayer about every day. I do not prophesy very often, although I have on occasion. There are others in the assembling who do, and so the job gets done.

Even though I realize what a marvelous help speaking in tongues in our private devotions is, I do not emphasize it often when preaching, just once in a while. The main burden of the Spirit at this time seems to be that of confessing and turning away from our sinful practices, as the Spirit guides and empowers us.

If an individual will be faithful to set aside a time for prayer each day, and ask the Lord politely for the ability to pray in tongues, I think it will not be long before this helpful ability is granted.

The fruit of the Spirit is the end product of a diligent Christian