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VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT

GEORGE H. WARNOCK YEAR 2007 "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And, the Lord answered me, and said, 'Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith." (Hab. 2:1-4)

VISION THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007 ~ BOOK


TIMING, VISION

CHAPTERS TITLE
1 THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH SOME EXAMPLES OF GODS APPOINTMENT

SUBTITLE
Standing on My Watch Though the vision tarry, wait for it! Abraham, the Father of All who Believe Abraham a Foreigner in His own Land Looking for a City Does God Change His Mind? The Children of Abraham Embrace his Vision Abraham, a Far-sighted Visionary Better Things for the Sons of the Promise A Living Hope for this Generation Moses, the Deliverer Joseph, the Dreamer John the Baptist, the Forerunner Simeon, the Man who Lived to See the Messiah Mary of Bethany, the Waster Our Lord Jesus - the Bondslave The Church, the Body of Christ One Body ... and Members in Particular The New Covenant, a Covenant of Glory God's Appointments are in His Time Abraham, the Father of All who Believe Two Adams and Two Adamic Races God is Preparing a Resting Place for Himself A New Sabbath for God's New Man Labouring to Enter into His Rest Zion, the City of God's Habitation Ye are come . . . unto an Innumerable Company of Angels Let us Beware of Fallen Angels Why Does God need Angels? Ye are come . . . to the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn which are written in Heaven Ye are Come . . . to God the Judge of All Ye are Come . . . to the spirits of Just Men made Perfect Ye are Come . . . to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant Ye are come . . . to the Blood of Sprinkling, that speaketh Better Things than that of Abeling

CATEGORIES
FAITH RIGHTEOUSNESS in CHRIST WAIT upon the LORD WATCHMAN BIBLE CHARACTER-Abraham, Moses, Joseph, John the Baptist, Simeon, Mary of Bethany BODY of CHRIST BOND SERVANT CHANGE CITY of GOD NEW COVENANT SONS of GOD

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A NEW MAN ~ A NEW CREATION

OUR HERITAGE IN MT. ZION

2 ADAMS and 2 ADAMIC RACES MEDIATOR NEW CREATION NEW MAN vs. OLD MAN PREPARED PLACE REST of GOD SABBATH TEMPLE of GOD ANGELS ASSEMBLE TOGETHER BLOOD of CHRIST CITY of GOD FALLEN ANGELS FLESH vs. SPIRIT LED HERITAGE JUDGMENT LIGHT and DARKNESS MEDIATOR NEW COVENANT OVERCOMERS TEMPLE of GOD WATER and BLOOD ZION

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VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007

PURSING THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY

GODS ENCOUNTER WITH MEN

Blood and Water and Spirit The Lord calls us Back to First Love The Virtues of the Love of God Apprehending the Same Love that was in Jesus For we Know in Part, and Prophesy in Part I am the Vine . . . Ye are the Branches From Faith, and Hope, to Love Knowing, as We are Known The Ultimate Intention of Gift and Ministry Gift and Ministry Swallowed up in Love The Manifestation of the Sons of God From Faith Seven Steps Upward to Love The Love of Christ which Passeth Knowledge The Gospel According to Paul The Victory of the Cross The Hidden Wisdom . . . Revealed in the New Covenant A Clear Voice in Times of Apostasy The Church, God's Standard of Righteousness

7 STEPS to LOVE-Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness, Love FAITH FIRST LOVE GIFTS of GOD-SPIRIT GOSPEL MESSAGE HOPE KNOWLEDGE of GOD LOVE and-or LOVE of GOD MINISTRY NEW COVENANT PROPHESY SONS of GOD VICTORY of the CROSS VINE and BRANCHES WISDOM

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THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION

Earth-quakes and Heaven-quakes The Triumph of Job's Faith Job's Appointment with a Whirlwind

APOSTATE CHURCH DAY of the LORD JUDGMENT LIGHT and DARKNESS RIGHTEOUNESS in CHRIST TEMPLE of GOD TIMING FAITH FULFILLMENT FURNACE of AFFLICTION GLORY of GOD GOLD DIVINE NATURE KINGDOM of GOD SHAKING-EARTH and HEAVEN TRIALS and TRIBULATION

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CHAPTER 1 - THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH


Standing on My Watch "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith." (Hab. 2:1-4) Let us just look at the setting of this statement. Habakkuk was a true prophet, who carried a burden for His people. God had laid this burden upon him, so clearly that he could 'see' it: "The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see." (Hab. 1:1) But he carried the burden with a lot of distress because nothing was happening in the land, to relieve that burden. Israel's enemies were treacherous, and yet God was silent. The prophet grew bolder. He had to know why God had not come on the scene and changed things. So he went to his watchtower, and waited for an answer from God. And God made this clear to him: the Vision is true, and it will come to pass, but only in God's appointed time. In the meantime, while the Vision seems to tarry, your responsibility is this: "though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come but the just shall live by his faith." Though the Vision Tarry, Wait for it! God's appointments for us are generally not as we anticipated, because we just know that God is overextending His time! He is always too late. What are You waiting for? You must know that Your people are in great distress now, and still You wait! If You would just come now, You could change things. This has been the cry of God's people in all generations.
VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007 2

But God does not spend time reasoning with us, because He knows we are not capable of understanding what He is doing. Generally He does not answer the questions we ask, but He answers the questions we should have asked. And this is the answer He has given to all generations of time, who have come to Him and unloaded their many concerns as to His ways. "The just shall live by his faith." I recall many years ago in my studies, that these words were quoted by the apostle Paul in three of his epistles. As I meditated on the passage in its three different settings, it became evident that in each of these epistles, the apostle was using this clear statement of faith, and setting it forth in a threefold dimension. So in these 3 epistles we have a beautiful trilogy in this one statement: The Just Shall Live By Faith. To the Romans: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith." (Rom. 1:17) The emphasis is: How to become righteous before God. And so in Romans the apostle declares that we are accounted to be righteous before God, not by any works of righteousness of our own, but our faith alone is counted unto us for righteousness. When God declared to Abraham that his seed would become as the sand on the seashore, and as the stars of heaven, we are told that Abraham "believed in the LORD and He counted it to him for righteousness." (Gen. 15:6) That is the simple meaning of "justification." It is a judicial word: the Judge declares to the man who stands before him: "I declare you righteous," or "I declare you guilty." Abraham had yet to be tried and tested a lot more, but because he believed in the LORD's promise, right there God declared him to be righteous, only because of his faith in what God said. This shows us how greatly God honours those who believe what He has said. Abraham's faith was counted to him as righteousness, simply because He believed God's promise to him. To the Galatians: "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (Gal. 3:11) Paul had preached the same gospel to the Galatians as he had to the Romans, but somehow there came into the Galatian Church some teachings of Judaism that were 'bewitching' the people (see Gal 3:1). They had to admit, O yes, we are justified by faith, but we must also keep the Law, obey the ordinances as required by the Law, if we are to remain righteous in the sight of God. So the emphasis Paul makes here to the Galatians is simply this: The rule by which we are justified, is the same rule by which we are to live before God. We are justified by faith, and so we shall live by faith. Those old rituals of the Law are not for us. We do not need to "observe days, and months, and seasons and years," as many were teaching in that day. Daily we are to walk in the Spirit, and live in the Spirit, by faith. One day in seven is not enough; it must be every day. This is God's rule for His people. A rule? The very word sounds like another law. And indeed it is another law, if we understand the difference between laws that pertain to human behaviour, and "the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:2). Why do we not consider the Law of the Spirit of Life to be higher, much higher, much more glorious than the Law of Moses? It can only be because the Church of Jesus Christ who profess to be a people who are born of the Spirit, are not manifesting in their lives the beauty of the "fruit of the Spirit." May God shut our mouths when we boast and argue about "justification by faith" if in this socalled state of faith we are manifesting the "works of the flesh" instead of the "fruit of the Spirit." This is Paul's emphasis to the Galatians: you are to live by the same rule by which you were justified. If we have truly found new life by the Spirit, then he says, "let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25). This is the rule, and the only rule that can replace the Law of Moses. A "new creation" in Christ Jesus is the only rule we need, and the only rule that will produce a life that is pleasing to God. And so the apostle adds, in his closing remarks to the Galatians: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature (or, a new creation). And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16). It is the Rule of New Creation, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, by which we are to live. To the Hebrews: "Now the just shall live by faith" (Heb. 10:38). In writing to the Hebrews, the apostle must emphasize the quality and character of true faith. We are justified by faith, and we live by faith. But true Bible faith is also an enduring faith - it is not just a mental assent to the truth. Dare I say that in many cases, this kind of faith may be less than the faith of devils? For often there is no fear of God, while "the devils also believe, and tremble. (Jas. 2:19).
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On the Day of Pentecost, after Peter preached to the crowds assembled for that great festival, great conviction gripped the people, and they cried out: "Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:37-38). Then on one of Paul's missionary trips he had come to Miletus, which was close to Ephesus where he had spent much time in the past; and he sent for the elders of the Church to come and meet with him before he went on his way. He reminded these elders of what he had taught them, "testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). Bible faith is 'the faith of God,' the faith that He imparts when that man or woman or boy or girl is convicted of their sin and rebellion, and confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus, and believes in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead (see Rom 10:9,10). And then if we truly believe from the heart, God imparts the witness of the Spirit, the assurance that God has received us into His family (see 1 John 5-6). If we are truly born of God, the Father is faithful to correct us along the way. He will not spare the rod. He loves us too much to let us go our own way. The 'mother churches' are inclined to excuse their children. But Father God is jealous over His sons and daughters, for they are born of royal blood. When they err in their ways, He is faithful to take notice and chastise them, yet with much love and mercy. His desire and purpose is to bring forth in their lives the character of the Son of God, who is known as "the Firstborn among many brethren." "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons" (Heb. 12:6-8). Mother Church may insist, These are my sons and daughters. But Father God may say, I am not their Father. But we have this confidence, the Lord knoweth them that are His. The clear message to the Hebrews is that faith is a pure faith from God, and that it is an enduring faith..."For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee" (Heb. 6:13,14). He sware by Himself, because there was none greater to swear by. He spoke "two immutable things." He gave His Word - and confirmed it with an Oath. Very certain, is it not? Now let us hear the next verse: "And so, after he (Abraham) had patiently endured, he obtained the promise" (vs 15). The promise was as sure and certain as God's Word and His Oath. But God subjected Abraham to much trial and testing, and his faith was strengthened by the trial, causing him to endure to the very end.

CHAPTER 2 - SOME EXAMPLES OF GOD'S APPOINTMENTS


Abraham, the Father of All who Believe "we introduced Abraham as a man who had enduring faith. But we must go back to his early experiences with God, to demonstrate how great his faith was in the sight of God. When God told him to leave the country of his birth, and Go, there is no indication that he questioned God, or even asked Him where he was to go. He heard what God said, and obeyed "and he went out, not knowing whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). God was preparing a vessel who would become known as 'the father of all those who believe' (see Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:29). And so Abraham's faith must have been great in the sight of God. But the greatness of his faith was not determined by the mighty works he would perform, nor by great miracles that would cause men to stand in awe of what he had done. Rather, in God's sight his faith was determined by his obedience to do what God said, without asking the reason why. If people asked, Where are you going, Abraham? It appears you are going on a journey? ~ all he could say was, I don't know! Doesn't make sense, does it? But a walk of faith is not intended of the Lord to make sense. It takes faith to walk in obedience before the Lord. If you can show a miracle to confirm your faith, you will probably be held in high esteem by the people. But if there is no miracle to confirm what you are doing, you could be subject to a lot of criticism for doing something that does not make sense.
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However, we have to be cautious in this matter of faith. We must emphasize that Abraham was walking in obedience to the word of God. Many will say, I'm just going to step out by faith, and do it! There is nothing you and I can do to generate faith, except to know His Word and walk in obedience to His will. Certainly this implies that we hear from God. Peter would not think of stepping out of the boat by faith, and going to meet Jesus - not until he heard that clear word from Jesus Come! There can be no faith, unless we are assured that we are walking in obedience to His will. Because "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). There is a vast amount of teaching around this matter of claiming the promises. If God said it, is that not enough? It was more important to Abraham to obey God, than to claim the promises. When God told him to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering he didn't argue with God: "God you promised me that through Isaac all nations would be blessed." He obeyed God; he knew that if God said it, He would bring it to pass. I know God's promises are available to faith, but let us be sure we are asking for things in His Name. Just saying in your prayer, "I ask this in Jesus' Name" this alone is not enough. Asking in Jesus' Name can only be effective as we walk in obedience to His will. Then we know we have His sanction and approval in what we are doing. I know Jesus said, "If ye shall ask anything in My Name, I will do it" (John 14:14). If I go to someone with a message from the Prime Minister of Canada, and I say, I come to you with a message in the name of the Prime Minister - I had better be very sure that the message is consistent with what the Prime Minister would say, if he went there himself. When Abraham sent his trusted servant to go to Haran and find a bride for Isaac, his servant went there in fear, and sought the Lord earnestly for guidance, that he might find the bride for Isaac that God had ordained. He went in the fear of God, and in the fear of his master Abraham. And so our Lord defines the prayer of faith clearly when He says: "If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7). I am not complicating the process of faith, to make it more difficult; I am clarifying it, to make it more real and meaningful. Many of God's people have been devastated when they stepped out on faith (or so they thought) and then started to sink! God would spare us the devastation that people have gone through when they latch onto a certain promise, and then attempt to make it work "by faith." It is likely that someone taught them to step out on God's promises, when God may have wanted them to stay in the boat, until they heard that clear call from the Master: "Come!" When Peter heard that clear word, that was sufficient: he stepped out of the boat, and walked on the water by faith. And the water was firm as the dry land, as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. Faith cometh by the Word of God, we are told. That is part of the process, yes. But first there must be a hearing ear. The complete scripture is this: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). Jesus proclaimed to each of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches." He didn't just say, Obey the Scriptures. Rather, He would reprove those who would read the scriptures, and not hear what God was saying. I used to ponder this two-fold faculty we must have: not just an ear - we must have "an ear to hear." This hardness of hearing is an ongoing process in the hearts of men, as they persistently turn a deaf ear to God. He is faithful to shine forth His light to "every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). No matter how dim that Light might seem to be, as one comes to the Light, there will be a working of God within him, to increase his perception to hear, and to see. And to such, the Word becomes a clear admonition from the heart of God: "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (Heb. 3:7-8). When any man or woman or child may hear a sound from the heart of God, this is their door of opportunity to say, like the boy Samuel of old: "Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth." Then faith springs up, and little by little God prepares our hearts, and begins to teach us His way. As we walk in His way, God always reserves a 'Day of Appointment' for the Vision to speak. We are truly blessed when our hearts have been prepared, to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Abraham a Foreigner in His own Land
VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007 5

"By faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange (foreign) country." Do we understand this statement? Abraham went about in this land, and understood that it was the Land of Promise that God had given him; but in all of his travels throughout the Land he considered himself to be but a sojourner, a resident alien. He was a foreigner, rather than a citizen of the land. Other nomadic people were dwelling in the same land, but he would make no claim to the land for himself. Nor would he remind the other tribes that God had given all that land to him and to his seed. He dwelt there in the Land of Promise for about a hundred years, but always as a foreigner. He and his son, and grandson, would dwell "in tabernacles (in tents)." And why did He choose this way of life? "for he looked for a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God" (Heb. 11:9,10). Looking for a City Abraham had no interest in settling down and establishing a little city of his own, like many other people did, as their families increased and multiplied. Cain built himself a city. Nimrod became the founder of four cities. And a man called Asshur from the same background, built two cities. Sad to say, some men in the Church have felt to build a city at various times in Church history. But the man Abraham, and those of his faith and vision, have continued to look for the true and enduring City, of which God is both Architect and Builder. In His wisdom He designs His City of Habitation; and by His wisdom He builds it according to His plan. The name of God's City is Zion, the Heavenly Jerusalem (see Heb. 12:22), concerning which we will have more to say in this writing. Abraham would be the pilgrim and stranger to the very end. Even in his old age, when he needed a sepulcher in which to bury Sarah, he insisted in his negotiations with the sons of Heth: "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight" (Gen. 23:4). The sons of Heth were very cooperative, and told Abraham to take his pick of whatever sepulcher he wanted, at no cost. Thou art a mighty prince among us, they said, Take your choice - it will not cost you anything. But Abraham insisted, I want the cave of Machpelah in Hebron - but set your price, I will not take it without cost. They made the deal, in the presence of the sons of Heth; and with all these witnesses, Abraham became the owner of a graveyard, where he buried Sarah. And later when he died, they buried him in the same plot of ground. I used to wonder why Abraham was so insistent on dwelling in tents as a foreigner; and yet wanted to purchase a burial place in the land. Then I realized he was making a statement while dwelling in the Land of Promise, for his heirs and progeny yet to be born. He was making a statement for their instruction in the days and centuries to come: 'I desire no inheritance in this Land; I want to be known as a foreigner in the land, and I want the sons of Heth to bear witness that this burial ground in Canaan is all that I possess. He wanted it to be known by his grandsons and granddaughters of succeeding generations, that all he wanted was a cemetery in Canaan. Now the reason for this was revealed to the apostle Paul. It was because Abraham caught a glimpse of something greater, far greater than the Land of Canaan. He had a better inheritance in mind - he was "looking for a City which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." I think if Isaac had written his father's epitaph, it could have read something like this: Here lies Father Abraham in a graveyard of Hebron, His life was plain, and he lived in tents, With Isaac and Jacob the heirs of the Promise. He lived as a Pilgrim that all might learn His grandsons and daughters yet to be born To fix their hopes on a Better Land. He desired for them what he chose for himself: A gravestone in Canaan is all he desired, As he looked for a City with foundations strong, Whose Builder and Maker is God.

VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007

Let us remember this, the Vision of God does not have to be fulfilled in our life-time, to make it valid. As we walk in the Life that is Eternal, we must also be aware that the Vision of God may be fulfilled in one of God's eternal days. God had promised the Land to Abraham and his seed after him; and God was faithful to fulfill His promise. The story of the conquest of Canaan is told in the Book of Joshua. And when Joshua's victory was complete, God's promise to Abraham was amply fulfilled. This is what Joshua said to the people before he passed away: "Not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof." (Josh. 23:14) But he also reminded them that they must never presume that God would continue to be with them unconditionally, if they turned away from Him. If they adopted the practices of the heathen that they were commanded to subdue they would suffer for it: "They shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you." (Josh. 23:13) Let us always remember this principle in God's dealings with us. He gives us precious promises, and He is faithful to fulfill them. But He has greater things in mind which are far beyond the promises, and which we are not capable of understanding as yet. How much greater?: "Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us." (Eph. 3:20) God wants us to put to one side all these teachings of "How to Succeed" in business or in ministry, or in ordinary daily living - and embrace the Vision of God. He wants us to know that these "exceeding great and precious promises" are intended to bring us out of the old nature, and into "the divine nature." (2 Pet. 1:4) He wants us to know that in spite of the wonderful gifts He has given to the Church, there are yet greater things in store for those who pursue the "high calling of God in Christ Jesus." "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:9-10) Then let us look for more grace to see more clearly, and to hear more clearly the revelation of the Spirit concerning these hidden treasures in God. Surely we defeat God's purpose for our lives if we affirm that God hath revealed these mysteries unto us by His Spirit, and fail to give the Spirit of God His full dominion in our lives, that we might hear and see clearly "what the Spirit is saying to the churches." Does God Change His Mind? Let there be no presumption here by the people of Israel, or by those living in our great democratic nations. He tells us clearly in many places of the Word, that He will be with us, as long as we are with Him. If there is obedience to God, His Word shall stand. But when there is disobedience and rebellion, His covenant is abrogated for that nation, or that people. "If it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." (Jer. 18:10) Our so-called Christian nations had better understand these principles in God. I know God said He is a God that will not repent, because He changes not. "I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it." (see Jer. 4:28) There are many other such scriptures as to God's Sovereign and unchanging purposes. But the same Sovereign God who declares He will not repent, has told us that if there is repentance by the people whom He has appointed for judgment, then He will repent of the punishment that He declared upon them. If we change our wicked ways, the Sovereign Lord will, by His very nature of love and mercy and compassion, cancel the judgments that He said would come.

VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007

Moses understood that principle of God's justice. So did Jonah, and the other prophets. So did the king of Nineveh, who feared God greatly when Jonah had declared the city would perish in forty days. As His people walk in obedience, He will bless them. If they turn away from Him he will judge them. God threatened to destroy the nation of Israel that Moses had brought forth out of bondage, saying to Moses: "Let Me alone, that My wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them, and I will make of thee a great nation." But Moses refused to "let God alone!" What a great opportunity for Moses to get rid of these rebellious people, and come to a place of glory for himself! But Moses was a true intercessor and mediator, and he called on God to Repent! I almost shudder every time I read that statement - a mortal man telling God to repent!! He reminded God that He might get a lot of reproach from Egypt, if they heard that He had destroyed the people who came out of the bondage of Egypt. Are You going to give occasion to the Egyptians to destroy the reputation of Your great Name? The Egyptians were greatly amazed to see Your awesome works, and had great respect for our God. Are You going to give them occasion to say - Israel's God is not as wonderful as we thought He was. He brought them out of Egypt, but was not able to bring them into the Land of Promise, so He destroyed them all in the mountains? Are You prepared to allow our enemies to bring reproach to Your great Name? All through scripture we learn that this is consistent with the nature and the integrity and justice of our Mighty Sovereign God, who does not change His mind. He will forgive His people when they repent; and He will judge them, if they turn away from Him. Our Yahweh God declares: "For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Now let us hear what this great mediator said to God: " Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent! " And what happened? "And the LORD repented of the evil which He thought to do unto His people." (see Ex 32:12-14) The Children of Abraham Embrace his Vision The apostle writing to the Hebrews reminds them that in succeeding generations after Abraham's time God had fulfilled the promises He had given to him: "Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable" (Heb. 11:12). In other words, the far-reaching promise that God had given Abraham back in Gen. 15:5-6 had been fulfilled. And yet, in view of God's greater intention that He had in mind, the apostle was inspired to write: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Heb. 11:13) These descendants of Abraham "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth," just as their father Abraham had done. That indescribable vision that Abraham had, took hold of his seed - so they too confessed that they were "strangers and pilgrims in the earth." Even David, the beloved Shepherd King of Israel, living in the land of Israel as King of both Israel and Judah, declared: "I am a stranger with Thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were." (Psa. 39:12) Why would they say such things? The apostle tells us why: "For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country." (Heb. 11:14) And it is for the same reason that we say such things. We have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, and blessed with the Holy Spirit in our lives. God has revealed to us great things about His plan, His purpose - in conforming us to the image of His Son. We have sought to embrace His promises, and walk with Him. Even so, we cannot say we are completely satisfied. Now we know why that inner longing and desire to apprehend more of God, lingers with us. God is not satisfied that we have come into that state of union with Him, that Jesus walked in, and that is why we are not satisfied. We are aware that our Great High Priest is interceding for us in the heavens, and we cannot be satisfied until God is satisfied. We cannot find our Rest in God, until God has found His Rest in us. And that is why we say such things, and write such things. Abraham, a Far-sighted Visionary
VISION AND THE APPOINTMENT [George H. Warnock] Year 2007 8

Jesus and the apostles would speak of the seed of Abraham in a two-fold manner: as those whose ancestry traced back to Abraham; but more specifically as those who had a vital connection with Abraham, by faith. So also we speak of the Church, as a people who profess to believe in the Lord Jesus; yet knowing that there are many in the Church who know not the Lord Jesus. Let me illustrate this briefly: Jesus said to "those Jews that believed on Him, If ye continue in My word then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Some of them resented the implication that they were in bondage, and said to Jesus: "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage..." Then Jesus said "I know that ye are Abraham's seed;" and after more confrontation with them He said: "Ye are of your father the Devil." So this is clear enough, though at first sight it may appear somewhat contradictory. They might trace their lineage to Abraham, and Jesus did not deny that; but His judgment was this: "Ye are of your father the Devil." (see John 8:30-44) Likewise the apostle Paul would speak of Israel this way: "My prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." He knew that they were lost without Christ, and he had a great burden for them. Then he said, "Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." Then he goes on to explain that in the time of Israel's extreme apostasy, God always retained for Himself a true people who walked in God's ways. Elijah thought he was alone, until God said: "I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal." God calls them by the name "Israel." Jesus recognized them all as "the seed of Abraham." He does not give Elijah, or any of his prophets, a clear definition of those who are truly His, and those who are not. If He did, men would be inclined to pluck the tares away from the wheat, but God says: Do not do that, because you might pull up some of the good wheat when you pull up the tares. And so we speak of a Church, which is yet to be glorious and triumphant. But we know, and God knows, that many "Church people" know not our Lord Jesus Christ. We recognize that there is a true Israel in the midst of the nation of Israel. And we know there is a true Church in the midst of the Church universal. "The LORD sent a word unto Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel." (Isa. 9:8) The Word goes forth to all, and they that have an ear will "hear what the Spirit is saying." It is enough if we pay heed to what Paul said to Timothy, with assurance, as well as with admonition: With assurance, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." And with this admonition, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (2 Tim. 2:19) "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace" (Rom. 11:5) Better Things for the Sons of the Promise God always goes beyond His promises in the hour when He fulfills them, and God is pleased with those who have faith to believe over and beyond the written promises of God. For how could our God find words in our language that would adequately portray what He has in mind for His people? Within the written promises He gave us, there are "unsearchable riches" that no scribe could describe (see Eph. 3:8). Nevertheless God gives us His Spirit to search out the length and breadth, the height and depth of His infinite love and grace, that no man can understand, even when he experiences the reality of it.
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Why do I not differentiate more between the Church, and Israel? Certainly there is a great difference if we are speaking in terms of the flesh. But when we speak after the Spirit, God has torn down that wall between us so that in New Creation Life we are all one in Christ Jesus. This is God's Vision for us, and it ought to be God's Vision for Israel. Certainly that day of God's revelation to Israel will be much "better" than what Israel had under David - or even under Solomon. And much better than what they are hoping for today. God has said: "I will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD" (Ezek. 36:11). How much better? In many, many ways. We will just briefly mention some of these better things from the book of Hebrews: The Son is a better administrator than Moses, or the angels. Our Priest "after the order of Melchizedek" is a better High Priest than the priesthood of Aaron. The Levitical order is interrupted with the death of the high priest, but our Priest after the order of Melchizedek liveth forever. His ministration brings us into a better hope. He is made a surety of a better covenant; Which is established upon better promises. His ministry involves better sacrifices than those of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant presents to His people "a better, and an enduring substance." The sons of Abraham "desire a better country." And those who suffer with Him, look forward to a "better resurrection." If we truly love Israel, let us present to them a Better Hope, and a Living Messiah who now reigns on the Throne of David, with "all power in Heaven and in Earth" (see Acts 2:29-33). He will yet subdue all His enemies under His feet, in the Day of His Power. (see Psa. 110) A Living Hope for this Generation We are not to become disturbed as we see this planet 'waxing old' like a worn-out garment. Certainly it is evident that we are there right now. In my early school days we were told that Planet Earth would probably burn out - maybe in a million years. Now in my lifetime there is fear for the survival of life on this planet. We hear reports of the depletion of fish in our oceans, of the diminishing sources of clean water, of the pollution of our atmosphere, and the deterioration in the quality of our food. Those in high places of our governments and our societies are rightly fearful of the ravages of a world in the process of decay. I mean, right now. And even as I write these words, there is much fear that yet another nation, perhaps two - will be added to the list of nations who have Nuclear Capability. Let me assure you that our Lord Jesus is in total control. "But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever" And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the Heavens are the works of Thy hands: they shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment. And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the Same, and thy years shall not fail." (see Heb 1:8-12) Now there is no suggestion here that God will put a patch on Planet Earth so it will last another thousand years, to fit in with Millennial Theology. The Son, when He walked this earth, had no good thing to say about
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putting a patch on an old garment. He even tells us that the new patch will make the old garment worse than it was before. (see Mark 2:21) Even many scientists are recognizing that there is no hope for the survival of Planet Earth. Consequently they are very intent on keeping the space program alive and well always fearful that if they have too many disasters in space, it might be the end of their programs. Their hope is that one day they will discover a pristine planet something like Planet Earth used to be. I recall the excitement in the voice of an eminent scientist who was asked to comment on the achievement of the USA in landing a man on the Moon. In his discourse he said something like this: Now we can be sure that the human race will survive! He was exuberant and confident that nothing could hinder man from exploring the Universe! Believing, no doubt as many scientists do, that man would one day discover another planet for men to inhabit! As if God would give man a new planet to begin a new civilization, when he has hopelessly failed to manage this beautiful earth that He created for the first man, and gave him authority to rule over it all! God has declared through one of his prophets: "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD." (Obadiah 4) The old garment of Planet Earth is getting pretty thin these days. And man in his great wisdom has enough nuclear warheads at his disposal right now to extinguish all life on Planet Earth - if the Son on the Throne would let him do it. The Son who is Ruler over all may allow man to explode some of these deadly bombs, but we can be sure that He is in control, and He will let rebellious man go so far, and no farther. The people who know their God are not to fear, in this hour, except to have a very deep and loving fear of God. How could we survive such burnings? But if we abide in Christ, and have the faith and the commitment of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we too will come forth out of the fire - without even the smell of smoke on our garments. These men were just mortal men like the rest of us. We need have no fear of the fiery burnings that may come on Planet Earth, as long as the Son of God is there in the furnace, walking with us in the fire, even as He did with these faithful Hebrews! The old garment of earth is to be drastically changed, not by the explosive devices of men, but by God's holy Fire. "The world that then was (before the Flood), being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Pet. 3:6,7) And then for the millennial advocates who believe that somehow God will patch up this old garment to make it last for another thousand years - the apostle gives this word of admonition: "Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." (vs 8) And what was Peter looking for? A patched-up earth that is even now ragged and torn, and badly in need of a brand-new wardrobe? "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for New Heavens and a New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (vs. 13) Abraham looked for it. And so did Peter. And John saw it: "And I John saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a Bride adorned for her Husband." (Rev. 21:2) Upon the gates of this Holy City are inscribed the "names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel" (Rev. 21:12-14). And upon the foundation of this Holy City are written "the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (see Rev. 21:12-14) What a marvellous union in the New Jerusalem, of the twelve tribes of Israel with the Church of Christ, founded by the twelve apostles of the Lamb!
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Moses, the Deliverer God does not necessarily shelter His chosen ones in a safe haven somewhere, so the enemy will not find them. Often He will expose them in open daylight to the eyes of their enemies, who are ignorant of what God has in mind. So it was with Moses. When Pharaoh feared that the people in Goshen were getting too numerous, and could become too powerful he issued a decree that all the male children born to the people of Israel in Goshen, were to be killed, or cast into the river. But God had an Appointment with one of those little babies in the years to come, and no murderous strategy devised by this powerful Pharaoh could defeat what God had in mind. You know the story, how Moses was set afloat in a leak-proof little box made of bulrushes in the quiet backwaters of a river, among the reeds. It looked like a dangerous sort of strategy, but I am sure that mother Jochebed had clear guidance from the Lord. Moses' sister Miriam kept careful watch over the ark, a short distance away from the shore. You can be sure the family were praying that God would protect this very special little baby. Then as Miriam looked on, Pharaoh's daughter came to the bank of the river with her maidens, and saw this strange looking little box, and she sent her maidens to retrieve it. As the baby cried she had compassion on him. Miriam ran up to her, and saw her little brother in the arms of the princess, and offered to go and bring a nurse of the Hebrew women to look after this tiny three-month-old baby. The princess of Egypt then unknowingly gave this little baby into the hands of his mother to look after, and paid her wages for doing so. So little Moses was now under the protecting hand of the dictator of Egypt, and in due course his mother turned the young lad over to Pharaoh's daughter, and he grew up as Pharaoh's grandson and prince. But he was old enough to know that he was a Hebrew, and wise enough to keep it a secret. How many young babies Pharaoh slew to maintain his power over Israel, we do not know. But the one baby that was chosen of God to deliver His people from their slavery, grew up as a beloved prince in Pharaoh's court! No matter how clever and powerful the kings of this earth may be, they will never be able to put our Yahweh God to shame, nor His people who put their trust in Him. Mother Jochebed's prayers prevailed, and in due time God put it in the heart of this young man, to identify himself with the Hebrew people, in their slavery: "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Heb. 11:25). He wanted to deliver his brethren so badly, but he had yet to learn God's ways. Because of a very serious error he made, in slaying a cruel Egyptian, he found himself in disgrace with Pharaoh, and fled for his life, and became a shepherd in the land of Midian. Gone were his dreams of delivering his brethren the Hebrews who dwelt in Goshen, suffering great pain and affliction at the hands of Pharaoh! But this was still very much a part of God's Vision for him. God had reserved in His heart an Appointment with this chosen shepherd many years later, as he tended the sheep of his father-in-law on the plains of Midian. God's appointments may tarry many years, but let us take courage: He must produce patience in His chosen ones, or they will not survive the heat of the battle, nor the adoration of their friends. Then one very ordinary day God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, and equipped him with power and authority to return to Egypt, and deliver the whole nation of Israel. And what were his weapons? He had but a staff in his hand, but by the Word of God who had called him, that stick in his hand became the Rod of God by which He smote Pharaoh and all his hosts, and brought His people out of Egypt, in one single night! Joseph, the Dreamer The dream Joseph had as a boy seemed quite far-out, and in telling his dream he got in wrong with all his brothers. Even his father wondered a little about it, and reproved him for having a dream like that! The Vision of God rarely makes sense, and God intends it to be that way, for His ways are far beyond our ways.
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I have always considered the story of Joseph as one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible. Also one of the most touching. The story illustrates how God brings eternal purposes into being, in the way He leads us, in ways that are usually very ordinary and very insignificant; but also sometimes in ways that are very traumatic, very devastating. If we recognize this we will consider our ways very seriously, in all that we do. Jacob had loaded Joseph down with whatever he could carry, with food to take to his brothers who were looking after the flocks. He just happened to meet a man along the way that told him where his brothers had taken the flocks. When they saw Joseph they started to make plans to kill him. But with some opposition to that, and with the chance of making a little money, they sold him to Ishmaelites that were on their way to Egypt. So that way they got rid of him, and concocted a very wicked plan that would cause their father to believe that Joseph was torn of wild beasts. They produced positive evidence of that. Here is Joseph's beautiful coat that his father had made for him, torn and ragged and soaked in blood. (We wrote about all this in the book The Family of God, so this is enough at this point.) But we must mention Joseph, for whom God had arranged an Appointment with Pharaoh, who was king over all the land of Egypt. We are emphasizing the unfolding of the intricate purposes of God, in one of His servants. From treachery, to prison house, to serious false accusations, to dungeons - Joseph experienced all of it. But the Appointment with Pharaoh was in God's agenda from the beginning, and one morning it happened. He was released from the dungeon, and stood before Pharaoh. And when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams with wisdom and confidence, Pharaoh knew immediately that this man was filled with the wisdom of God, and he made Joseph to be the Chief Justice in the whole land of Egypt. Just here, I would remind God's chosen ones, and especially the younger ones who are zealous for God. Do not try to get some kind of a 'plan' from God for your life, so you can start working on it! If you work on your plan, you will very likely spoil it! Or God may spoil it for you! You need only to know that God has a plan for your life, get to know His voice, do His will today and every day, and commit yourself into the hands of a loving God, and a very capable Predestinator. As you walk in God's will, you cannot miss God's intention for your life. And as you present yourself to Him a 'living sacrifice' - you will learn to walk in His ways, and come to know His voice more clearly (see Rom. 12:1,2). John the Baptist, the Forerunner Like Isaac's mother, and Joseph's mother, and Samuel's mother - and many others in the Old Testament, John's mother was barren. Not only that, but she was far past the age of child-bearing, when an angel appeared to Zacharias, and declared that his wife Elisabeth would have a son. The angel told him that this son would minister in the Spirit and Power of Elijah "to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:17) To God's people who love Him, yet are very much aware of their barren condition, let me say to you, Take courage. I believe this is a day when the prophecy of Isaiah will be fulfilled: "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD." (Isa. 54:1) When youthful zeal fades away, and you are aware that, try as you may, you are not making any vital impact on nations, nor on your neighbour next door, yet you love God and desire to bring glory to His Name - Take courage! God has special love for those who love Him, and do His will, but who feel they cannot produce any real evidence that God is pleased in what they are doing. John the Baptist was born of such parents, and John himself waited long years in the wilderness of Judaea. Waiting for what? For God's timing, for God's Appointment. God had many things to set in place, before God would say to John, Go to My people with this Word! John's real mission was to introduce the Messiah to Israel, in the waters of baptism; and to preach a gospel of Repentance by way of preparing their hearts for the King who was soon to be revealed. But the whole scenario
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for the introduction of his ministry in the earth, had to be carefully overshadowed by the Sovereign God. Luke who wrote about it saw fit to mention the rulership that prevailed in the Roman Empire, as well as in the Temple in Jerusalem, when John came on the scene. Tiberius was the Emperor of Rome, Pontius Pilate was Governor of Judaea, Herod was over Galilee - and so forth. And in the Temple, Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. John was out there in the desert, waiting. Then one day, at the appointed time: "the Word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness, and he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." (Luke 3:2-3) He was the prophet that Malachi said would come in the Spirit of Elijah. But when people asked who he was, he said, "I am the Voice of one crying in the wilderness." (John 1:23) How could John ever fit into the system of Annas and Caiaphas? How could he ever become one of their priests, even though he qualified as one born to Zacharias? No billboards appeared on any synagogue door announcing: Prophet John, the son of Zacharias, will be here all this week holding a Prophetic Seminar! Come! He may have a word from the Lord for you! But somehow the word got around, and the people would find out where he was preaching, and they would come to him. Certainly we are all aware that we need to hear from God. The people no doubt stood before John a little fearful of what he might say, but they were hungry for God; and John's voice was a call to repentance, and very simple: "If you have two coats, one is enough. Give the other to someone who needs it." "If you have more food than you need, share it with someone who is hungry." All Palestine was under Roman occupation, and the Roman soldiers were there to keep the peace. They could be cruel at times, and they would grumble about their low wages. But there was a hunger in many of them, and they came to John for a word. And John would say: "Do violence to no man; neither accuse any falsely, and be content with your wages." Even Pharisees and Sadducees would come for baptism, and to hear what the Prophet might say. But John had a very hard word for them: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Matt. 3:7-9) After a word like that, only the hungry heart would repent, and submit to the waters of baptism. How many of them walked away at this point, we do not know. But the Appointment for John, above all others, was to introduce the One that was to come, in the waters of baptism. He waited for that; because God had given him a sign that would be revealed when he baptized the Son of God. It happened right there, at God's appointed time: "And, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from Heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt 3:16-17) Wouldn't it be a thrilling ministry, to be a prophet? Not if you were one of God's prophets! Many of them were tortured, and slain. And John, the greatest of them all, was no exception. His head became a gift from a wicked Herod on his birthday, to a dancing party-girl! All because John was a preacher of righteousness, and not a smooth talker. He reproved Herod for his adulterous life, and paid for his reproof with his head. The Lord was not accustomed to giving honour to great men. But I think because of the apparent futility of this reed 'shaken in the wind,' the Lord was constrained to say this about John: "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women, there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist." (Luke 7:28) Bible students are taught to classify the prophets as major and minor. It appears they base their decision on how large a book they wrote. Isaiah was a major because he wrote a large book of many pages. Amos wrote a small book, so he was a minor. But Jesus classified John as the greatest of all prophets and he didn't write any books.
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Simeon, the Man who Lived to See the Messiah We must mention a few things about Simeon and his Vision. We do not know how old he may have been, but we assume it was early in life that God said: Simeon, you will not die until you have seen the Messiah! It must have been very thrilling for him to receive a promise like that. I don't think he bragged about it, but I am sure he would tell his friends when the subject of the coming Messiah came up. God showed me, you know, that I am going to see Him in my lifetime. That's all we know about it. No mention of him seeing the Messiah growing into manhood, and ministering to people, or setting up His Messianic rule in the earth. It was a simple mandate: Simeon, you are going to live to see the Messiah in your lifetime! We can assume he carried this Vision for many years, and that he was old when it happened, because when he saw the Babe in His infancy, he asked the Lord to release him and let him depart, because He had seen the Messiah, and his purpose in life had been fulfilled. The Vision of God is intended to strengthen us, give us hope, cause us to be patient, and not to be too consumed with earthly things that will pass away. But we must also know that the Vision will become our trial. We get tired of waiting. Our expectations may be prolonged beyond what we had hoped. But the Light in our pathway keeps us walking in the right way. Surely the Vision we have from God will be strong within us, until it is fulfilled. It need not grow dim with age if we know that "the path of the just is as the shining Light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (Prov. 4:18) Surely He knows that a Vision from His heart to ours, might cause pride to spring up in our hearts. But He knows how to deal with that. The Vision tarries, and His servant who had the Vision is inclined to get weary of waiting. But God's intention is that He might prove, and test, and try in the fire - those who have His Vision. And perhaps keep them waiting so long, that they may feel inclined to forget it all. But God waits because He wants to bring forth patience, longsuffering, and endurance in our lives. It is good fruit that God is after. Simeon may have grown weary of waiting, but nevertheless he stood true to his God: "The same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ." (Luke 2:25-26) We have mentioned these things about Simeon to remind ourselves that if it is God's Vision we cherish, then we must learn to "walk in the Spirit," for we know not when, where, and how the Vision may come to pass. But we can be assured that if we "walk in the Spirit" we will not miss it. Then one day it happened, because this man of God (whose name Simeon, means 'hearing') "came by the Spirit into the Temple." Was he expecting to see Messiah that day? We do not know, and perhaps he did not know. He just knew that he must go up to the Temple, because the Spirit was leading him there on this day. "And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him after the custom of the law" - Simeon saw Him! The One that he had looked for these many years. He saw Him! "Then took he Him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy Word: For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a Light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." (see Luke 2:27-32) Simeon was there in the right place, at the right time, because he was walking in the Spirit; and therefore he could not miss God's Appointment. God would not let him miss it! You and I will not miss any of God's appointments if we walk in righteousness, and are living by faith, and enduring any manner of trial or testing that God may send our way. For He sends the trial and the test not only to prove our faith and confidence in God, but to burn away the dross from the gold and the silver by His refining fire. Mary of Bethany, the Waster We cannot pass by Mary of Bethany's Appointment with Jesus. It was just prior to His death which would happen in another week or so. "Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany - and there they made Him a supper - Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of
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Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment." (see John 12:1-3) God's Appointments are not advertised ahead of time. Only those whose hearts are prepared for His Appointments will understand. To the rest, the incident may become a source of argument, a cause for disapproval or for rejection. The disciples were indignant about this waste! So were all the others who sat at the table. But this was something between Jesus and Mary, and the Lord revealed that Mary had deliberately set aside this ointment for the burial of her Lord. "Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this." (vs 7) It was not a sudden impulse she had, to come to the house where Jesus was, and perform a good and notable deed to her Lord. Having sat at the feet of Jesus so many times, listening intently to what He had to say, she understood that her Lord would suffer and die, but that He would rise again the third day. In her sensitivity to the will of God, she just knew that this was the appointed time to anoint Him for burial. The people at the table were shocked at such waste. But who was the real waster? Mary who was clearly led of the Lord in this act of extravagance? Or the other women who went to the tomb on Resurrection Morning, expecting to anoint the dead body of Jesus, and He wasn't even there? Their preparations for Jesus' dead body were wasted. (The lesson: Don't waste your money to support some worthy cause when Jesus isn't even there.) Mary's act was a proclamation of Jesus' victory over death, that would become a vital part of the Gospel of the Kingdom throughout all the world, and throughout all periods of time. Why was Mary's act so important, I wonder? Because the ways of the Kingdom of God are totally different from the ways of the kingdoms of men. Men will anoint the dead. But Mary would anoint Him who was the Resurrection and the Life, even before He died. In what Mary did that day, she was showing forth the very essence of the Kingdom of God, not particularly to the handful of people gathered in Bethany that day, but to generations yet to come That it is a Kingdom where love rules, and where selfish interests are wasted on the ground. That it is a Kingdom where men and women pour out their very lives in devotion to their Lord, with no expectation of reward in this life. That it is a Kingdom of Giving, rather than a Kingdom of Getting. That it is Giving, even when there is no hope of receiving anything in return. That it is in Giving not only of our substance, our material things, but as one pouring out his very life as a drink offering unto God. It is something like what Paul said to the Philippians: "Yea, and if I be offered (poured out as a drink offering) upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all." (Phil. 2:17) Concerning this waste of costly ointment Jesus made a statement in the presence of all who came to the dinner that day - much to the dismay of the guests who sat at the table. And much to the perplexity of many Christians today who do not understand that a lost world stands in need of the fragrance of the Lord Jesus, and not just a well-prepared sermon. The fragrance of Christ will turn the hearts of men from the bitter ways of sin, to the love and mercy of the Lord Jesus - confirming the word of the Gospel, with the manifest Presence of Jesus. Jesus openly rebuked those who had rebuked Mary - with these words: "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." (Mark 14:9)
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People in the world may not read our literature, or listen to the words of our Gospel; but they cannot avoid breathing the fragrance of the Lord Jesus when alabaster boxes are broken, and the fragrance of a life poured out for Jesus, fills the whole room - or the whole city - or the whole country. Our Lord Jesus - the Bondslave I know that many of God's people are convinced that we present a Vision for His people that is too high. God knows that; and that is why our Lord Jesus came down to our level, and even below our level - when He took upon Himself the form of a bondslave. Our Lord Jesus is our great Example, who came to earth as a Son revealing the glory of the Father. And as a Son of Man, He chose to walk before God in the obedience of a bondslave. He was manifested as the express image of the Father in human form. When the writer to the Hebrews introduced Him, he tells us that the Son was the ultimate expression of God's voice in the earth. In former times God spoke through prophets, and angels, and dreams, and many other ways. But now God "hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Heb. 1:2). The literal Greek words are "in Son." I know this sounds awkward. But the apostle is emphasizing this final and ultimate Word of God, was manifested in Jesus. The Son was Himself that Word, the very Word of the Father, made flesh and dwelling among us. And so in the form of a Son of Man, He chose to take upon Himself the role of a bond-slave. He would not consider Himself as a king or a ruler, doing what He thought best. He would have an ear that was pierced, like the slave in the Old Testament who chose to be his master's slave the rest of his life. (see Exod. 21:5-6) And so Jesus is the One who fulfilled the prophecy of David: "Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire; Mine ears hast Thou opened: Burnt offering and sin offering Hast Thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: In the volume of the book It is written of Me, I delight to do Thy will, O My God" (Psa. 40:6-8) And so we hear this Bond-slave saying words like these: "The Son can do nothing of Himself." (John 5:19) "I can of Mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30) "The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him." (John 8:29) O how different it is these days, when apostles and prophets and pastors can do so many wonderful things, if only they can persuade the people to stay with them, and get under their burden! Our Lord Jesus is truly the Pattern Son - the Son who chose to accept the role of a bondslave. His ear pierced, that He might hear the words of the Father clearly, and His heart motivated by the will of the Father. At the Last Passover He took a basin of water and a towel, and began to wash the disciples' feet, as a lowly servant. He taught them, "He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." (Luke 22:26) This is the role that was assumed by the Son of God as He walked in the earth. He is the Pattern Son, and He taught His disciples how to become 'bond-slaves': "Take My yoke upon you, and learn of (from) Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. 11:29) Surely as we find ourselves in the yoke of Jesus, it ought to be easy to walk as Jesus walked. The father's Appointment for Him was every day, every moment.
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Yet we cannot deny that the supreme Appointment for the Son, was to go to the Cross, in obedience to the Father's will. And this act of obedience was so precious in God's eyes, that Christ was awarded the highest prize that the Father could bestow upon anyone, in Heaven or in Earth. How did He earn this great honour? By becoming the Great Apostle, Prophet, Teacher, Pastor, Evangelist? By none of these, although He was all of these and more! It was because He "took upon Him the form of a servant (bond-servant), and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. Wherefore (for this reason) God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil. 2:7-11) The Church, the Body of Christ O how this Church, that God ordained to be a wonder and glory in the earth, and in the heavens - how weak she has become, by trusting in her strength, in her wisdom, in her riches, in her magnificence! And all of it is supposedly in an attempt to cause the nations to bow at the feet of Christ! But there is a Church in the midst of the Church, whose hearts long after God, and it is with these that He has reserved a day of Appointment. It will be a very individual Appointment with those who are "members of His body," as well as a corporate Appointment for the whole body. God forbid that any one would think that his or her position in the Church, will somehow elevate them in the favour of God. For the body of Christ is composed of many members, and each member of that body is carefully designed by His creative power to function in union with all other members, and to partake equally with them in the Life that God has breathed into that body. For no man or devil or evil principality in the heavens will be able to hinder the mighty work that God continues to perform in the members of His body. His purpose is "that He might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." (Eph 5:26-27) Let us not hope for Heaven to bring this about. The Last Adam, "the Lord from Heaven" came to earth to do this cleansing, healing work in His people, by the blood of His Cross, and "with the washing of water by the Word." It is not by a sudden stroke of perfection when we enter the courts of Heaven. Jesus Himself, chosen to be the Captain of His people as they war against evil, came to earth as a man that God might make the Captain of their Salvation "perfect through sufferings." (Heb. 2:10) It is by testing and trial and affliction while we walk in the midst of a cruel world, that we learn obedience and come to the stature of Christ. David said that he was fearfully and wonderfully made. But he was speaking prophetically as he described the very intricate workings of God in the body of Christ. For this Church is to be an eternal wonder and glory unto God throughout all ages. David went on to say, "My substance was not hid from Thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." (Psa. 139:14-15). Paul identifies this with our Lord Jesus. "When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things)." (Eph. 4:8-10). I believe David was speaking prophetically about this body of Christ that was "made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." I understand very little about that, but we have much teaching concerning His ascension Glory, where He reigns with all power in Heaven and in Earth. And has sent forth His Spirit into our lives, imparting gifts to His people, and enduing them with power and anointing to bring forth this glorious Body of Christ. Then he declares that God's intention in setting these ministries in the body is that we "grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ." (Eph. 4: 15). What marvelous grace, and what a living hope: "that we grow up into Christ!" One Body ... and Members in Particular Often there is a tendency to so exalt the truth of God's people being "one body" that we fail to recognize the very individual life that we are to live as a member of the family of God, or as a sheep in the flock of God.
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Coming into a body relationship must not interfere with that very personal relationship with Christ that He has ordained. A true body relationship among God's people, should enhance and strengthen one's personal walk with God, rather than making it to be subordinate to a corporate body relationship. Just a few scriptures to illustrate this truth: "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." (1 Cor, 12:27) A member in particular, just as my eye, my ear, my hand, my heart, is very distinct, and has a very special function, that benefits the whole body. "Of one body." For this body is only healthy and complete when each individual member receives the care it needs from the rest of the body. The sheep hear His voice: And He calleth His own sheep by name. (see John 10:3-5) This is very individual and personal. The Shepherd knows each sheep by name, and each sheep knows his Shepherd, by name. Very often the sheep do not act as if they know the True Shepherd by name. How many of them have been taught and nurtured by true pastoral ministry, and really know the Shepherd, and walk with Him, and hear His voice when He calls their name? In too many cases this is not even considered necessary. The sheep hear the voice of their pastor, and they thank him for his counsel. But very often they know not the voice of the True Shepherd in their own walk with the Lord. Their pastor, their elder, their prophet, has become their mediator, instead of that One Mediator who reigns at the right hand of the Father. The sheep must individually know their Shepherd by Name, and follow Him! The New Covenant, a Covenant of Glory We have mentioned some of those glorious Appointments that men of old had with their God in Old Testament times; and often New Testament (Covenant) believers are inclined to feel that those visitations of God are not for us in the New Covenant. Is not the New Covenant better than the Old? And if God's people in the Old Covenant knew this very individual relationship with God, how much more should we in the New Covenant? The apostles continually remind us of the "better things" that we have in the New Covenant. And Paul goes so far as to say that the ultimate ministration of the Old Covenant was condemnation and death. "But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious?" (2 Cor. 3:7-8) Then to cap it off, he makes this very conclusive statement concerning the glory that was manifested in the Old Testament: "For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." (vs 10) Surely God has greater things, far greater things, for His New Covenant people, than He did for the Old. I am confident that God will in these last days perform such wondrous things through His people (who seek Him and walk with Him), that they will be known as walking signs of the Mighty God they serve. Paul quotes from the prophet Isaiah: "Behold I and the children which God hath given me." (Heb. 2:13). The full quotation from Isaiah is this: "Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in Mount Zion." (Isa. 8:18) The people whom the Father gives to the Son, are "for signs and wonders." Their very lives, and the works they perform, will make them to become a sign and a wonder in the earth. Let us never entertain the thought: O well, I know God said He was going to have a glorious Church, without spot or blemish - but it can't happen till we get to Heaven. Jesus came from Heaven to earth to bring this about. And the Father has given Him sons and daughters from the earth, born of the same Spirit by which Jesus was born. And they are predestinated "to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8:29) "Many brethren" in the Family of God, but each son and daughter a very distinct member of that Family each son and daughter knowing the Voice of their Elder Brother, and following in His footsteps. God's Appointments are in His Time
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We must not fail to emphasize God's Timings. And we must know that God's timings are always related to eternal purposes. In union with the Father, Jesus not only did the Father's will, but He always moved in the Father's time. It wasn't a case of - I'm the Prophet, so I'm going to prophesy. Or I'm the Teacher, so I'm going to travel far and wide and teach God's people. Jesus only did these things as He moved in the Spirit of the Father, and it was all according to God's eternal purpose and timing. He was always in God's place, doing God's will, in God's time. Therefore He could say to the people gathered in the Synagogue at Nazareth, that on that very day He was fulfilling scripture. "And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And He closed the book, and He gave it again to the minister, and sat down." Then as they waited, perhaps for some word of exposition, "He began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." (Luke 4:17-21) This is God's way of "doing the will of God," doing what God tells us to do, indeed. But also moving in the Spirit of Truth. And if we move in the Spirit, it will always be in God's time. Jesus would not be pressured by others. He would say to His brethren who urged Him to go down to the Feast: "My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready." (John 7:6) It was especially grievous to Mary and Martha, whom He loved - that He refused to go and heal their brother Lazarus when his life was ebbing away. When He got the news, "He abode two days still in the same place where He was." (John 11:6) He could have gone and healed Lazarus, or spoken the Word from a long distance, and healed him by a spoken Word. But He moved in the mind and in the will of the Father; and He must remain where He was till Lazarus was dead. All because God had a purpose in mind, and the Son always walked in the way of God's Appointment for Him. Does it not seem strange how men have been able to turn this all around, and ordain pastors and teachers and apostles and prophets to be in a place of lordship, rather than in a role of servitude? Paul and many others were apostles, but Paul said, writing to the Romans: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ," and the word servant here means bondslave. Many of these great ministries today do not appear to be in the category of bondslaves, but rather as lords over the flock. And God's people do them a great injustice, by exalting them to a place of reverence and esteem in the House of God, rather than as servants ministering truth to the flock of God.

CHAPTER 3 - A NEW MAN A NEW CREATION


Abraham, the Father of All who Believe "How slow we are to comprehend that in God's design and purpose, He would have a people in the earth walking in the same Spirit that our Lord Jesus walked in. Not to make ourselves equal with Jesus. For we are much less, much weaker - yet knowing that God's strength is "made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9) And Jesus Himself as the Son of God, voluntarily took the role of a slave, a bondslave who did all that His Master wanted Him to do. Surely the more we are filled with the Spirit, the more meek and humble do we become, because that is the nature of the Holy Dove that rested upon Jesus. And therefore Jesus told His disciples that when He went away, He would send the Comforter to abide with them in His stead. And through Him they would do the same works that He had done, because they would be baptized with the same Spirit. And even greater works, because He would be exalted to the Throne with all power in Heaven and in Earth, and interceding for them before the Father. We are not talking about the "old Adam" in us attaining the stature that Jesus walked in. We are talking about the old Adam being crucified with Christ, that the Seed of the Last Adam might bring forth a New Man from the Seed that He has implanted in the soil of our hearts.
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Two Adams and Two Adamic Races We are inclined to think this way: Jesus had a great advantage over us, because He had no sin nature, and we do! True, but in God's glorious plan of Redemption, we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus (the Last Adam) by simply believing in the Man Christ Jesus as our Sin-bearer and Substitute. And then by matchless grace, He puts His Spirit in our hearts, who abides there as our Advocate and Intercessor in the earth - to show us the way by which we shall overcome the Old Adam, that the New Adam might reign as King in our lives. It is true that our Lord was born without the sin nature, and what assurance this gives us! How else could He become our Redeemer? But He was still subject to temptation as we are, and He was subject to the trial of obedience, as we are. Even the First Adam was created without a sin nature, and yet he fell - not because of inherent sin, but because of an act of disobedience. The first Adam chose to disobey. "Adam was not deceived" is the clear word of the apostle (1 Tim. 2:14). He wasn't tricked into it, like Eve was. He chose to disobey. It must have been because he knew Eve was the only creature God had made that was compatible with himself. Adam loved her, and she was very close to his heart, for she was made from a rib that God took out from Adam's side as he slept. He deliberately chose to go the way of disobedience, to save his marriage. How could he live without his beloved wife who was now on death-row because of her disobedience to God? He loved her, and chose to share the penalty of death with her. We mention this as a background to what we know about the Last Adam, and how He avoided the pathway of disobedience. It was the Father's plan and purpose to undo the tragedy of the Fall, and Jesus came out from the bosom of the Father, to be another Adam in the earth, born of "the seed of the woman" but conceived by the Holy Spirit. He was therefore without sin, but He too would be subject to trial and testing, for anything or anybody that cannot endure trial and testing, is not worthy to be in God's Kingdom. The test of Adam and Eve was very simple. It would involve no hardship. But the dazzling gem of the fruit on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was too much for Eve to resist. Our Lord (the Last Adam) was subjected to a very severe trial also. Would He be true to the covenant He declared in the prophetic Psalm: "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God!" Or would He fail? The trial was in His pathway all through life. 'Son, You are to become the Lamb for the Burnt Offering, and in so doing You will deliver My people from their captivity to the Law of Sin and Death. But You must learn obedience in order to annul the disobedience of Adam. I have ordained a Bride for You, as I did for Adam. In Your obedience to Me, You must sleep in death, a death brought about by cruel hatred and malice at the hands of a rebellious mob. Only then will this Bride be redeemed and washed and cleansed from all her filthiness. For Your Bride will be chosen from the sons and daughters of Adam, redeemed by the blood of the Cross, upon which You must die.' Our precious Lord and Saviour made a full commitment: I will walk in obedience, for the sake of my Bride that You have promised Me. And so we have the story of our redemption. By one act of disobedience of the First Adam we all fell into sin and disobedience by natural generation. And it was by one act of obedience that the Last Adam prevailed. Not denying of course that He learned obedience through His life, as He walked in union with the Father. Nevertheless His life of obedience culminated in a final act of obedience by which we are redeemed. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous." (Rom. 5:19) Calvary was in no sense a tragedy - something that could have been avoided if, if, if - All these Ifs must be shut out of our minds, when we realize that our Lord Jesus came as a Lamb, ordained of God to be slain for our redemption. In the outworking of God's sovereign purposes, this Lamb knew He was ordained to die for His people, but "for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). The Captain of our salvation must be made "perfect through sufferings." (Heb. 2:10) This sacrificial Lamb anticipated the Day when a glorious Church would come forth, He
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being the Head: "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. 5:27) He anticipated the day when this holy Bride would be revealed, and one of the holy angels was excited when he saw her, and said to John: "Come hither, I will show thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife." (Rev. 21:9) We must emphasize the perfections of this Holy Bride, these overcoming Sons, this Holy Nation, this Royal Priesthood, for they are called by many names. We must be convinced that God's plan for us is to become Holiness to the Lord, "A crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God." (Isa 62:3) And many people draw back, thinking they are too unworthy, too human, too carnal, to ever come to such a state, until they get to Heaven. Do these people really believe that it would be easier for God to take them to Heaven, than to work in their lives the perfections of Christ while they walk here in the earth? God designed that the great redemptive work by which we come forth in God's own image and likeness, would take place right here in the earth; and the Lord from Heaven came to earth, to become the Last Adam, our sinbearer. And now by His mediatorial ministry in the heavens, He will continue to faithfully minister all those virtues and qualities that are in Him, through His Holy Spirit, to His chosen ones in the earth. His mandate is secure. Jesus knows what it is all about. He is the "Mediator of a New Covenant" which is not like the old one, "written and engraven in stones." But a New Covenant where He writes His righteousness, His mercy, His grace, His beauty, His faithfulness, His own nature and character on our hearts, by the Holy Spirit. And He will continue to do so until God has procured for His Son a Holy Bride, made ready by precious blood sprinkled on the heart, and by the renewing grace of His Holy Spirit within us. We are purged from sin and disobedience by the efficacy of Jesus' blood, and our obedience to the Gospel, which the apostle Paul calls "the obedience of faith." The regenerating power of the Holy Spirit transforms us to become heirs of the will of the Last Adam. We hear Him saying in prophetic voice in the Psalms: "Lo I come to do Thy will O God." When this Will of God becomes our Will, by virtue of the new Seed planted within us, growing within us, and coming to fruition within us, and our minds are renewed by the same Spirit - then we are able to overcome even as He overcame. God is Preparing a Resting Place for Himself I recall reading how Augustine said something like this: "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O LORD, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee." I never forgot that gem of truth. But in more recent years I came to understand there is a counterpart to that: "God created Man that He might find His resting place in Man, and God can never find rest, until He finds His habitation in Man." Isaiah declares this state of restlessness in God: "For Zion's sake will I not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, Until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, And the salvation thereof as a Lamp that Burneth." (Isa 62:1) Now God is so eager to see His glory shining forth in His people, that He actually sets watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem, to continually remind Him of His own Vision until it happens! "I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, Which shall never hold their peace Day nor night; Ye that make mention of the LORD, Keep not silence and give Him no rest, Till He establish, and till He make Jerusalem a Praise in the earth." (Isa 62:6-7)
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Certainly, brethren, we are often in a state of restlessness as we consider our circumstances, our failures, our barrenness our helplessness to deal with hopeless conditions that abound in our lives, or in the world about us. If only God would make this deep impression on our hearts, that God will not let us REST, in any degree of fullness, until we cease from our own works, and until God's pleasure in our lives becomes the all-consuming purpose for which we live. For it is not about the Canadian Dream, or the American Dream It's all about Him, and His Glory, and His Resting-place, and His Vision for His people. Never could the Mighty God discover a habitation and resting place for Himself in the vast realms of the heavens, nor in the angelic beings He has created, nor yet in the beautiful unspoiled, untarnished earth that He had created. Only Man created in His image, could become a true resting-place for the Most High God. And so when man sinned and fell away from His Creator, God's Sabbath Rest was broken. Any tent or temple that God ordained in the past, were but for a season, and served only as a faint shadow of the Temple He found in our Lord Jesus Christ when He was here. And now since His ascension, His glorious body of which He is the Head, is designed of God to be His own Temple, His own resting-place. Not another Temple, but a Temple of which He is the "Chief Cornerstone" a glorious Body, of which He is the Head. We can't help but pause here for a moment to emphasize this undeniable fact which should be very obvious to us all. How could the Mighty One "who inhabiteth eternity" ever delight in any kind of structure or temple or palace that man might build for the glory of God? Even Solomon who built a very costly and magnificent temple in Jerusalem, which God ordained for a season - recognized that it was just a place where His Name might be known in Israel, and where men might come from other nations, who would hear about the fame of Yahweh, Israel's mighty God. It was ordained simply to be "an house of prayer for all people." (Isa. 56:7, Luke 19:46) And when in the process of time the people of God went their own way and despised His Name, God raised up prophets to denounce their hypocrisy. "The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? And where is the place of My rest?" (Isa. 66:1) God's real quest in ordaining this magnificent structure built by the wisdom of Solomon, was that a man of penitent heart, and humbled before God, might have an altar upon which he might offer his sacrifice, and a house of prayer. Only then would that man himself become a place where his Creator might find rest. And so He challenges His people, and all men today who would bring sacrifice and worship into a temple they have made: "Where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My Word." (see Isa. 66:1-2) God can only delight and find rest in men who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, and bring glory to His great name, with a humble and a contrite heart. Certainly God will yet choose a remnant of the natural Israel, who are "beloved for the fathers' sakes." But let us never forget that Gentiles, washed in the blood of Jesus, have already been grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel, because of Israel's failure to receive their Messiah. And when those branches of Israel, cut off and dead, are grafted back into their Olive Tree, they become part of the same tree that we as Gentiles were grafted into by His grace. (Rom. 11:19-25) It is in this context that the apostle tells us: "And so all Israel shall be saved." (vs 26) "All Israel" - all who are in this Covenant Tree of Israel: the wild branches from the Gentiles who abide in the Tree, and the dead branches of Israel, whom God will graft back into their Covenant Tree, in the day when God will turn their hearts back to Him. The wall of partition that separated the Jew from the Gentile has been torn down - and together they are one new man in Christ (Eph. 2:15). Some of those dead branches are coming into the Tree now, but only a small remnant. But those who are "beloved for the fathers' sakes" will yet come back into the Tree after "the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." (Rom. 11:25).
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In Ephesians, Paul speaks of a House, in which God tears down the wall of partition, to create one new Man from this union of Jew and Gentile. Whereas in Romans, Paul is speaking of a Tree, where the wild olive branches are brought into the Covenant Tree of Israel, and "grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the Olive Tree." (Rom. 11:17) But whether it be called the House of God, or the Covenant Tree - these two warring factions, who have been constantly at enmity with each other - together they discover total Peace in Christ! And they are "one New Man" because they have been washed in the blood of Jesus! I am amazed how many Christians these days are seeking to become involved with Jewish customs and traditions, in the hope of reaching Israel for Christ. A few years ago there was a tremendous interest by Christian people, in a spotless "red heifer" they discovered, a perfect specimen for Israel's sacrifices. Do God's people not understand that the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross has done away with the sacrifices of the Old Testament? "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:13,14). The Word tells us clearly, that if there is any efficacy or purpose in those former sacrifices, "Would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have no more conscience of sins" (Heb. 10:2). There is no other sacrifice, nor ever can be - because the sacrifice He offered was once for all "when He offered up Himself." (Heb. 7:27) His sacrifice was totally acceptable to God, and totally sufficient. And for those having received the "knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." (Heb. 10:26) I am confident God will yet raise up a true Testimony of Jesus to carry this Gospel of the Kingdom to the land of Israel, as well as to the four corners of the earth. And I do not mean a message only, or a teaching from the Bible only, but a living Word that will go forth: "not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." (1 Cor. 2:4) A New Sabbath for God's New Man We have talked about God's Habitation in Man; and in this context we must talk about God's Sabbath Rest, for these concepts are very much the same. When God had finished the old creation, which culminated in a Man in His image, He ordained the seventh day as a Sabbath. But His rest was not for long. The man He had made in His image sinned, and God's "rest" was disturbed, and once again God went to work. He worked many centuries in the hearts of men, waiting for the time when the woman's Seed would bruise the head of the Serpent. (Gen 3:15) The Seed was none other than our Lord Jesus, who would bruise the Serpent's head, and in Him the Father found true Rest. In this Man, after so long a time, God had once again enjoyed a Sabbath Rest, and this Man was Himself the true Temple of God, as He walked in the earth. When Jesus had driven the money-changers out of the Temple, some of the Jews came to Him and asked for a sign to demonstrate why He had taken that very severe action, and Who gave Him that authority? Jesus said to them, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19. It was a blinding truth, and it became a stumbling block to their rebellious hearts. What a ridiculous thing to say that He would raise up a Temple from the rubble in three days - a temple that took 46 years to build! "But He spake of the Temple of His body" (vs 21). He was the true Temple where God Most High had taken up His habitation. God had found perfect rest in His Son. And as the Father ministered in and through this Man, it was God drawing closer and closer to the offspring of Adam's fallen race: not only to bring them back to God, but to prepare them "for an Habitation of God through the Spirit." (Eph. 2:22). He assures us that we too may become a part of this House, this Habitation, as we come into oneness with the Son. We do not become another Temple, but we become a part of Him - a further enlargement of the Temple that He is. There is no record of men keeping the Sabbath until the giving of the Law at Sinai. Even in Egyptian bondage, the people of Israel continued to worship the gods of the heathen (see Ezek. 20:7-13). Yet God continued to work among them for His Name's sake. Then He gave Israel His holy laws at Sinai, including the Sabbath
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laws. These laws were compulsory, and if broken, there were very severe punishments. But His people never experienced a real Sabbath Rest, because of their consistent rebellion against God. Then Jesus came to earth, to carry on the work of the Father, saying, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." (John 5:17) He would even do the Father's work on the Sabbath day, because to the Lord Jesus, every day was a Sabbath, as He rested in the Father, and the Father rested in Him. Of course He got into real trouble with the Scribes and Pharisees over this, for they did not know that in doing the Father's will He was really walking in Sabbath Rest every day. All through His ministry in the earth Jesus continued working, to bring God and Man into this new Sabbath Rest of the New Creation order. The Bible speaks much of God's Rest. The land of Canaan was spoken of as a Land of Rest where His people would partake of rest and of fruitfulness and of victory over their enemies. (Josh. 1:13-15) But even though they took the Land of Canaan and dwelt in it, they really did not discover the Rest that God had in mind for them. "For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day." (Heb. 4:8) (Note: the context of this passage refers to "Joshua" but the KJV uses "Jesus." The names Jesus and Joshua are virtually the same in the Greek). By a revelation of the Spirit, the apostle Paul discovered this other Day of Rest that David spoke about, and which the children of Israel had not discovered. They had great victories, and took the land God had promised. But Paul reminds us that if Joshua had really brought them into the Rest that God had in mind, then God would not have spoken of still another Day. But He did speak of another day, in the psalms of David. And what Day is that? "Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart." (Psa. 95:7-8) Some may feel that today ought not to be so specific. Tomorrow should be good enough. We often hear the expression, Tomorrow is another day, but God limits our day of opportunity to "TODAY, if ye will hear His voice." Why not Tomorrow? Let me illustrate the fatal decision Israel made when they waited for tomorrow. After their long journey through the wilderness they came to the doorstep of Canaan. Then they sent 12 men to spy out the Land of Canaan that God had promised them. Most of them came back with an evil report. (Num. 14:37) None of the 12 spies could deny it was a good land, but 10 of them said, We can't take it! The inhabitants of the Land are too powerful! But two of them (Caleb and Joshua) tried to persuade them to obey God and go in. Caleb said "Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." (Num. 13:30) All Israel missed their Day of opportunity, because they voted in favour of the majority, the ten spies who came back from Canaan with an evil report. They had heard a clear word from Caleb and Joshua, but they refused to walk in obedience to the Word of God. They did not "mix the word with faith, in them that heard it." (see Heb. 4:2) God would teach us that when a living Word comes forth from the heart of God, faith is available right there, to walk in obedience, and do what God says, if we mix the Word with faith. But the decision of the majority prevailed, and that whole generation failed to enter into the Canaan Sabbath Rest. I think it is fair to say, that in Bible days, the decision of the majority was very often, perhaps usually, wrong. Now all this happened TODAY! But the next day they realized their mistake, formed a make-shift army, and went against the enemy. Moses told them not to go, but they went anyway. The result was total disaster. They were routed and put to flight by the men of Canaan. It was no longer TODAY. TODAY had slipped by in their unbelief; and Tomorrow was too late. God said this band of men went forth and attacked the enemy, not in faith but in presumption! (see Num. 14:44) Note that God calls it presumption when we attempt to do something without having clear direction from the Lord! What is this Rest that Remains for God's people? It is important to recognize that the apostle uses these references to the Sabbath Rest to give us great hope, as well as much caution.
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Great hope, because it is still TODAY. We still read these words and hear the good news of Rest and Delight in God, in this world of chaos. Much caution, because this Word comes to us TODAY, with no assurance that we will be able to hear it TOMORROW. "TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness." Of that generation, God spoke these solemn words: "Unto whom I sware in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest." (see Psa. 95:7-11) "Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again, He limiteth (defines, ordains) a certain day, saying in David, TODAY, after so long a time; as it is said, TODAY if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts." (Heb. 4:6-7) Let us be assured what God means by the Rest that remains for the people of God. He has appointed still another day for His people, because it is a mutual rest! God must find Rest for Himself; and if we do not discover our rest in God, He cannot discover His rest in us! Then how long will Today continue? This, we do not know. And therefore God's Word to all of us is very solemn, and very clear: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb 3:12-13) And how was Israel supposed to keep their Sabbath days unto the Lord? "Not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words" but walking in His ways, doing His pleasure, and speaking His words. (see Isa. 58:13) This verse confirms very well the Sabbath that we are talking about. Whatever the will of God might be in your walk with the Lord Jesus, do it as unto Him at all times, for the true Sabbath is "Today." God calls it "My Sabbath" because He finds true Rest and Delight and Joy in His people, when they cease their endless works, and find their Rest in Him. "There remaineth therefore a rest (Gr 'Sabbatismos') for the people of God." It's something like we would say: I walk in the blessing of baptism (Gr 'Baptismos'), because I was baptized in water, and into Christ. Our baptism into Christ is a once-for-all work of grace, but we abide in that work of grace day by day. And likewise I cease from my own works daily, and find rest (a Sabbatismos) in the finished work of the Cross. Labouring to Enter into His Rest This may sound frustrating. But the labour must be in the Spirit. The word means to be diligent in our walk with God, that we might have intimate communion with Him - hearing His voice, and abiding in Him, and He in us. I know we all fall short of this abiding union with Him. But we must know that He is our Mediator in the heavens, interceding for us that we do not fall short of His desire for us. He will not fail in His advocacy on our behalf, until we find our total Delight in God, and He finds His total Delight in us. When the apostle tells us to give diligence to enter in, he emphasizes that it is through a living Word, activated by His Spirit otherwise the frustration of our own labours will defeat us. When God speaks, that Word is "quick (alive), and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) Instead of saying, the Word is not working that way, and lamenting over it, let us seek the Lord very earnestly for the manifest Presence of Christ in our midst, and then it will happen the way God said! When we have come to perfect Love, He will come and abide in us in Rest and Joy and Delight, and we will hear God singing for joy in our midst, fulfilling the prophecy of Zephaniah: "The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy;
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He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing." (Zeph. 3:17) May we all anticipate the Day when God will have found such Rest in us, that He will rejoice over us with singing! Now in all that we have said about The Sabbath Rest of the Lord being TODAY, we must keep in mind Paul's exhortation to the Romans. We are not to judge any man who, in his walk with God chooses to keep a certain day as special unto the Lord. This is all part of our liberty in the Spirit, to keep all days the same, or to observe one day above another. Nor are they to judge our liberty, if we observe all days the same as we do it unto the Lord, and enjoy God's Sabbath Rest every day. (see Rom. 14:5-6)

CHAPTER 4 - OUR HERITAGE IN MOUNT ZION


"But ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the City of the living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Heb. 12:2224) We must speak a little of each of these areas of our heritage in Zion. Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the City of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem After the defeat of Saul's army at the hands of the Philistines, David inquired of the Lord if he should return to Judah, and the Lord told him to go, and settle at Hebron. Then the men of Judah anointed David as King over Judah. After seven years the elders of Israel anointed him as King over Israel. So all Israel and Judah served under King David; and it was after this that David returned to Jerusalem. The Jebusites were in control of Zion and mocked and challenged David, from their stronghold on the mountain. But his men ascended the hill in a gutter, and caught the enemy by surprise, and took the stronghold. This became David's stronghold, and he called it the City of David. So here we have an illustration of how our Lord Jesus through His death, overcame principalities and powers in high places, triumphing over them in His Cross. And those high places of the enemy became subject to our Lord, who made an open show of them when He suffered and died on the Cross. And now, clothed upon with the whole armour of God, we are assured of victory because of the triumph of the Lord Jesus. Yet the apostle would remind us that "we see not yet all things put under Him." (Heb. 2:8) Then he adds, "But we see Jesus" (vs 9), and that is sufficient for now. Our Lord defeated them by His triumphant death, but the execution of their sentence awaits the timing of God, when the victory of the Cross will be openly manifested in the earth and in the heavens. And so those high places of the Enemy, are subject to Christ and to His people, even in the midst of continuing rebellion by those defeated powers. But as we are clothed with "the whole armour of God" we have the assurance that "in the evil day" we will be conquerors through Him. The apostle goes a step further, that "having done all," or having fought the good fight of faith to the very end, we "stand" - we remain victors on the field of battle. We know this is God's desire for us, as well as His provision. But too often we live in defeat because of "the devices" of the Evil One. All his devices proceed from areas of darkness, such as hate, anger, malice, deceit, lies, treachery - all these negative things from the shades of darkness. If we walk close to God, and keep our armour bright and shining with Light, there is nothing that can defeat us. We are not only able to overcome, but we are "more than conquerors through Him that loved us." (Rom. 8:37)
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Gross darkness has invaded the earth in unspeakable measures, and there is not enough Light in the Church to suppress the darkness. But we have this assurance, "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the Armour of Light." (Rom. 13:12) There is no density of Darkness in the camp of the Enemy that can extinguish the Light of God in His people who "walk in the Light." We wait, O Lord, for the creative voice to come forth in the midst of Your people who dwell so often in the shadows: "Arise, Shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee." (Isa. 60:1) We fail miserably if we try to "shine." We know God said it! But because we read it, and know about it, we can't make it happen. When God said "Let there be Light," it was after the Spirit of God had moved upon the face of the waters. Then God spoke, and Light sprang forth out of the darkness. Once again we anticipate the day when the prophetic voice from the lips of Isaiah will find its fulfillment in a people who "wait for Him," and by His creative Word He will once again bring forth Light out of the darkness. The Word of God is true, and pure, and holy. It is "sharper than any two-edged sword." (Heb. 4:12) But let us be sure we understand, that it is only powerful and sharp when it is spoken forth from the heart of God. Paul said, "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." (1 Thes. 1:5) Mount Zion, the Mount of Light A Light is shining on the Mount It shines from Zion's holy hill; Dark has been the Shades of Night And hearts of men are sick and torn, And sleep has turned to dreams of pain. But now they feel the warmth of Dawn, Arise! and Shine! the Night is gone! The Day Star rises in the East, The Sun of Righteousness appears With healing in His shining wings. Arise! and Shine! and dream no more, For 'tis the breaking of the Dawn! There has been too much expectation of a premature rapture into Heaven, to get away from earth's troubles and problems. God loves the world too much to strip the earth of the righteous ones. He will have a warring righteous people for that hour. He will have a people clothed upon with "the whole armour of God"- for what Day? - for that evil Day. What a selfish hope some have, to fly away from it all, and leave Planet Earth in the hands of the Devil! God has prepared sufficient armour for us to overcome any evil plot that Satan has against God's people. "Wherefore," the apostle tells us, "take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:13) When the overcomers have fought this last great Battle against the forces of evil, they will stand victorious on the field of battle. We have come to Zion, the City of Light "The Mighty God, even the LORD, hath spoken, And called the earth from the rising of the sun Unto the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the Perfection of Beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: A fire shall devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous 'Round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, And to the earth, that He may judge His people. Gather My saints together unto Me; Those that have made a covenant with Me By sacrifice. And the heavens shall declare His righteousness:
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For God is Judge Himself. Selah," (Psalm 50:1-6) A devouring fire! Very tempestuous round about Him! Let us not be confused with this seeming mixture of Light and Darkness, of Judgment and Mercy in the Day of the LORD. For that Day is both wondrous and fearful, both "great and very terrible." (Joel 2:11) It is God's Day! Never is it called God's Night! But it is on this Day that there will be great confrontation between the forces of "good and evil." Our Lord Jesus has "overcome the world," and He has shown us the way whereby we may become "more than conquerors through Him that loved us." Zion, the City of God's Habitation David's first attempt to bring back the Ark of God to Israel, failed in a great tragedy. The Ark was on a cart and when the oxen stumbled one of the men reached out his hand to steady the Ark, and God smote him dead. David was greatly troubled about this. After all, the man was helping to keep the Ark from falling on the ground! David considered the matter very seriously, and stopped the whole process. He must seek God for understanding about this matter. It was clear enough in the records of the Law: the priests of the LORD were ordained to carry the Ark on their shoulders, not to draw it along on a cart that was pulled by oxen. God is very concerned that His people worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. But somehow men have devised their own methods, and it seems to work, so why not? When God's Presence returns to His Church once again, I fear there will be many such tragedies when men arrange the order of Church worship, as seems good to them, and God doesnt seem to be there. He should be there, in every gathering of His people in His Name. That's another Name for Zion! "And the name of the City from that day shall be, the LORD is there." (Ezek 48:35) If the LORD is not there we are not walking in the Light of the City! As David earnestly sought the Lord, God showed him His way. The Ark must be carried on the shoulders of the priests. And it was to be brought to the City of David, and placed in a Tent (the Tent of David) on Mount Zion. David was a King, not a Priest! But he had a priestly heart and God granted him priestly prerogatives many times. And this was one of the most significant of all: the place of David's throne, was to be the place of God's Habitation. David delighted in spending his time before the Ark, in the Tabernacle of David! His songs were prophetic of the Day when God would have a "Royal Priesthood" - a Priesthood of Kings, and a Kingdom of Priests! Such a dwelling-place was mutual between David and his God. God had chosen Zion for His dwelling place - and David longed to dwell with God in Zion: "In Salem also is His tabernacle, And His dwelling place in Zion." (Psa. 76:2) "For the LORD hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest for ever: Here will I dwell; for I have desired. it" (Psa. 132:13-14) O that the LORD would reduce us to one desire, even as it was with David! "One thing have I desired of the LORD, That will I seek after; That I may dwell in the House of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to enquire in His Temple." (Ps 27:4) The old Tabernacle that Moses built was on Mount Gibeon, and it was still functioning along with true priestly ministry. But David was confident that he was to pitch a Tent on Mount Zion for the Ark. It was known as the
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Tent of David, and God's Presence was there. David was not of the priestly tribe; yet he had access into the presence of God, who dwelt there between the cherubim. Be assured, beloved, God Himself desires no other House, no other Temple, than a 'Tent.' And when the true Temple walked the streets of Jerusalem, God dwelt in that Man in all His fulness. When the unbelievers asked for a "sign" from Heaven, Jesus told them clearly: "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." "But He spake of the Temple of His body" (see John 2:19,21). God had found Rest and Delight in a Man, who was (to all outward appearances) just a humble Tent, where sinful restless men might come and find Rest. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). The word "dwelt" in this verse is from a Greek word meaning "Tent," and literally it could read: "And the Word was made flesh and tented in our midst. " It's the same Greek word that is used for God's ultimate home in Man, in Rev 21:3: "Behold, the Tabernacle (tent) of God is with men, And He will dwell (tent) with them, And they shall be His people, And God Himself shall be with them, And be their God" (Rev. 21:3) John saw no "temple" in the Holy City, because "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the Temple of it." (Rev. 21:22) Let us not deceive ourselves in this matter. There are not two, or three, or more - temples. Jesus is that Temple who dwelt among us. In His teaching, followed by the teaching of the apostles, He reveals the great mystery of the Church which, if we understand it correctly, is not another Temple, but the same Temple that was "made flesh and dwelt among us." But now in His glorification He becomes the "Head of the Church," and we are His body. We are not two bodies, but one; not two temples but one. "Know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16) And so the apostle admonishes us, that "speaking the truth in love, (we) may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ." (Eph. 4:15) "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." (Eph. 2:21-22) Ye are come . . . unto an Innumerable Company of Angels We are thankful for this realm of heavenly beings, all of whom are involved greatly in the unfolding of God's eternal purpose. Some people have seen angels. Some have seen their special angel, which we refer to as their "guardian angel" in the course of one's life. In some respects they have certain characteristics and mannerisms like the one they are designated to accompany and assist through life. I mention this because when the saints were praying in Jerusalem for the release of Peter, and couldn't believe what Rhoda said - that Peter was there at the door knocking - they said, It can't be Peter - it must be his angel. (see Act 12:13-16) Why would they say that, unless they understood that one's particular angel had certain features about them, like the one they were assigned to, as helper and protector. I recall the story of a friend, who said he saw an angel on the platform in a certain meeting, and the angel looked like himself. This puzzled him a lot, till I mentioned this incident in the early Church, how the people said: It can't be Peter at the door, it must be his angel.
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Another man I know said something similar. He was a pilot and was flying a small airplane, and suffered a serious crash out on a farm in Saskatchewan. His face and head were badly mangled; but he managed to get out of the plane, and walk a few steps. And then he collapsed. A man happened along, talked to him with words of comfort, and offered to help him. He lifted him up, and the two of them walked together perhaps a quarter mile to a farmhouse. Along the way the man would have him stop for a rest, and perhaps sit on a rock, and converse a little. He said his attitudes and mannerisms reminded him of himself - but thought no more about it. It was springtime, and there was fresh snow on the ground. The two of them walked to the farm house, and one of them knocked on the door - and the man disappeared. A lady in the house came to the door, and was startled to see such a gruesome looking man soaked in blood, and called for help. When her husband came home from work, he followed the footprints back to the plane and examined it. He said there was only one set of footprints in the fresh snow, and that the tracks formed a direct line, until he got close to the plane. Then the footprints were staggered. It was there that my friend stumbled about, and collapsed. When the father went to visit him in the hospital, he told me he couldn't even recognize his son, he was so horribly lacerated from the crash. He eventually recovered, and as far as I know, gradually returned to normal. We should mention the role of angels as they relate to young children. One time some women brought their children to Jesus for a blessing. The disciples felt they did the right thing by sending them away. But Jesus saw what they were doing and said to them in so many words, Don't send them away! the Kingdom of Heaven is comprised of little children such as these. Then He said, "Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. (Luke 18:17) And in another place, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in Heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in Heaven." (Matt 18:10) Many children have come to know the Lord Jesus when they were very young even at 3 years of age. It is not by a lot of knowledge that one is found worthy before God, rather it is by a simple child-like faith and love for the Lord Jesus. God is not pleased to let men see angels too frequently, because we may give them undue adoration. Let us understand that our role in God's plan is for a destiny above that of the angels. Peter reminds us that the angels themselves desire to know more about our great salvation. They are not partakers of our redemption, and as angelic beings their knowledge of God's plan of redemption is limited, and they want to know more. The apostle Peter tells us that they "desire to look into" the things pertaining to the Gospel of Christ. (see 1 Pet. 1:12) Let us Beware of Fallen Angels They, too, may appear to men; and we must keep our focus on the Lord Jesus, lest we be led astray by an Angel of Darkness. They may not appear to be angels of darkness; for the apostle Paul tells us that "Satan himself is transformed into an Angel of Light." (2 Cor. 11:14) God have mercy on us all, in this hour of great deception, and give much grace to His people to follow the Lord Jesus, and make Him to be Lord in their lives. I hear reports of Christians calling upon their angels, and commanding them to send them money, or supply certain things they want; and this has to be a very great form of deception. The apostle warns us about things of that nature: "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." (Col. 2:18) I am confident that those whose hearts are totally given over to the Lord Jesus, will not be deceived. We need to exercise a lot of caution these days, for it is an hour of great deception. I have never seen an angel, but because of what the Word says about them, I firmly believe they have been ordained of God to help us along the way, in the journey of life. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:14) Why Does God need Angels? Or why does He need us? Is He not powerful enough to do what He wants to do, without the help of angels or of men? Certainly He is; but the Almighty God chose to bring forth a creation that would not only bring Him pleasure and delight, but it would also bring glory and praise and honour to His great Name. God is always greatly magnified and glorified in the extension of His Kingdom. He uses us, as well as angels - not because
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He would be helpless without us, but His glory is enhanced by all of His creatures, who abide in their appointed role. And so the Book of Psalms closes with a call to all created beings to give glory to their Creator. "Praise ye Him, all His angels: praise ye Him, all His hosts." (Psa. 148:2) Then he enlists all other created beings to join with the celestial hosts, to fulfill their appointed destiny, which is to bring honour and glory to their Creator. "Praise ye Him, sun and moon: praise Him, all ye stars of light. Praise Him ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens." (Psa. 148:3-4) We may wonder, How can all these created things really praise their Creator, for many of them do not have much knowledge, and many of them are inanimate creations that have no intelligence at all? Then we understand that those creatures who have intelligence can only truly praise God by abiding in that place and in that destiny that God had chosen for them. Most animals have an instinct of divinely imparted wisdom, which we cannot even comprehend, and which they themselves may not understand. Like the ant, they gather their food in summer, and store it away. Or the honey bee - we marvel at the intricate wisdom they have to produce honey for themselves, and for men. And what about those lifeless creations - sun, and moon, and stars which have no intelligence at all. They too, move in the power of His wisdom and knowledge. Whether we be men or angels, we are responsible to walk in obedience to His will and Word. But they, having no inherent wisdom or knowledge or understanding, are nevertheless upheld by the same Word of God that He has made meaningful to us, as intelligent beings. "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: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (or, subsist)." (Col. 1:16-17) It is not true that God made all created things out of nothing. He made all things out from His own inherent power, and glory, and knowledge, and wisdom; and it is "through faith" that we are able to understand these things. (Heb 11:3) "For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they (all mankind) are without excuse." (Rom. 1:20) Ye are come . . . to the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn which are written in Heaven We do not seek to see or make contact with those in the faith who have gone on to the City, but we are aware that we are part of the Church Triumphant of many generations gone by. And we should be encouraged by "so great a cloud of witnesses," as we seek to uphold the Testimony of Jesus in our generation, clothed upon with the whole armour of God, and fighting the good fight of faith. The assemblies of God's people generally have a Register of Members, to keep in contact one with the other. But the Register of Zion is the only register that has eternal significance. Ungodly rulers in the church have frequently blotted out the names from their registers, of those who resisted the apostasy of the leaders. The church may continue on as before, comforting those who hold membership there, with a false hope. Saying in so many words, Our church was founded by Jesus, and if you leave us you are no longer on the true foundation. Ignorance such as this has prevailed all through the centuries, and it is all based on the fallacy that because the Church started out right, you must stay in the church or lose your soul. How easily men can forget that when the holy Dove is grieved with the apostasy of His people, He will withdraw His Presence, and many of God's people will withdraw from the assembly when they know the Spirit of God has departed. God is faithful to give opportunity to the leaders, and the people, to repent, and if this does not happen, the judgments of God will follow.
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May we find much assurance in knowing that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, and that our salvation is totally in Him, and not in any church system. And that no dictator in an apostate church can blot our name out of the Book of Life of the Lamb that was slain for our redemption. (see Rev. 3:5; 17:8) Ye are Come . . . to God the Judge of All The apostle is talking about the glory of Zion, the City of the Living God. It may not appear to many like a City of Love and Grace, if we are standing before God the Judge. But it ought to be the cry of our hearts, that our God whom we love, and whose Son died for our redemption, should be our Judge as well as our Saviour. I know Jesus said: "He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24) He has delivered us from wrath and condemnation; but one day "we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ." (Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:12-15) This is a judgment of our works, "of what sort it is," and we are rewarded for the quality of our works. Quality, the apostle implied, not Quantity - for that Day is a Day of Fire, and our works go through the Fire, rather than being weighed in balances. Would it not be better if God would judge us now in this life for our failures and shortcomings as Christians, rather than have Him judge us on that great Day when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ? Or better still, if we go so far as to ask Him to judge us, as David did. He is not asking for God's wrath, but that God would search him out and try him. "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart." (Psa. 26:2) For if He judges us now by our own consent and desire, is not this much better than waiting for that Day? This is all relevant to the institution of the Lord's Supper, where we are admonished to judge ourselves so as not to partake of the table unworthily. Many Christians have been known to pass by the "communion" service, because they realize they are not worthy. It is true the apostle said if we partake of the communion unworthily, we shall be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." (1 Cor. 11:27) But his admonition to us is not to refrain from the table, but rather to repent of any wrong doing, and take the communion in fellowship with the believers. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (vs 28) This is God's provision, and His commandment. I believe there ought to be healing for spirit, soul, and body - in the communion. But it is only as our hearts are exposed to Him, and we know the cleansing of the blood of Jesus, and the dominion of the Spirit of God in our lives, that the communion becomes to us a partaking of the virtues of the blood of Jesus, and of His broken body. It is only then that we truly "eat of His flesh, and drink of His blood." (see John 6:53) Ye are come to God the Judge of all. And the Father "hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22) If we truly love the Lord Jesus, we welcome God's judgments, for His judgments are ministrations of righteousness. Ye are Come . . . to the spirits of Just Men made Perfect This does not mean, while living in this body of flesh, that we should seek to communicate with those who have gone on. But in the working of God in our lives now we become a part of the blood-washed and spirit-perfected people of God who have gone on. They are now on the other side of the veil, we are on this side. To what extent they may have knowledge concerning their brethren who live in the earth, we do not know. But God sees us as joined unto them. They are overcomers in Zion, and we on earth still must endure sufferings and afflictions, till we have overcome as they overcame: 'by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony, and loving not our lives unto the death' (see Rev. 12:11) I like to think of them as that "great cloud of witnesses" that Paul speaks about (Heb. 12:1). Often I will think of the trials and tribulation of people like Moses, Joshua, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and I know there are many others. But as we consider the great trials that they endured to become citizens of Zion, we are encouraged to press on toward the goal with new hope and strength and faith. In our land we know little about the trials and persecutions our brothers and sisters are enduring in other nations. And when we hear about these people going through tribulation, it ought to give us great courage as we see those dark clouds of trouble on the horizon, ready to pour out God's wrath on our nation, and all nations who have forgotten our God. All judgment is in the hands of the Son, and no judgments can fall on the earth until the Lamb sees fit to open yet another seal.
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I know we do not like to consider troubles of this kind coming our way, but they are inevitable, if the hearts of His people do not turn back to Him. No amount of social and political reform will solve our problems. Only a people walking in the Light of Jesus, and crying out to God for His intervention in our midst, will spare us from the cup of His wrath being poured out on our nation, and all other nations that have forsaken the true and living God the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ye are Come . . . to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant We are part of a "royal priesthood" (see 1 Pet. 2:9). Christ "hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father." (Rev. 1:6) There are different ministries in the Church, designed of God to edify one another. But being a priest is the ministry of all the people. God has not designated certain priests in the Church, who have some kind of priestly preeminence over other believers. Each ministry should be recognized as a priestly ministry, having access into God's presence, and a priestly heart to minister to fellow believers in the body of Christ. But it is not enough to know this truth. We must emphasize that in order to function with power and grace as a priest in the house of God, we must have priestly qualities of grace and mercy to minister healing to those who are weak and oppressed. We must walk with God, and know God's ways, and be one "who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity." (Heb. 5:2) If we are true believers in Christ, we must know that we have but one Mediator before the throne. "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5) No priest or bishop or cardinal or pope can assume this role. No apostle, or prophet, or pastor, or teacher, or elder, or deacon can assume this role. And yet it is very often very evident that some of these ministries have in fact usurped the authority of this One Mediator in the heavens, the Man Christ Jesus. This is our heritage as believers in Christ, that we have access into the very presence of God, through One Mediator. "We have come to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant." (see Heb. 12:24) Our God knew no man of Adam's fallen race could keep any covenant He made with them; and that's why He made a New Covenant for His people. God raised up the apostles to declare this New Covenant, and they explained it all in great detail. Paul tells us: "And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." (Rom. 7:10-11) He goes on to explain that the Law was good, but it was weak, and had no power to restrain sin from its deadly workings - and in fact, even caused sin to "become exceeding sinful." (Rom. 7:13) Paul would emphasize that the New Covenant is so much better, because it was written, not on a stone chiseled out of Mount Sinai; nor with ink on a piece of paper, "but with the Spirit of the living God - in fleshy tables of the heart." (2 Cor. 3:3) We call the second part of our Bible The New Testament because it tells us all about this New Covenant. But God's full intention is to write that New Covenant in our hearts and minds, and if this does not happen, then God's purpose in preserving the scriptures for us, has not been fulfilled in our lives. It is not enough, to have a New Testament written in ink; it must be written "with the Spirit of the Living God" in our hearts and minds, or it will profit nothing. The Law in the Old Covenant could not help us, but in the fulness of time God brought into being a New Covenant, which He would write on our hearts and minds. "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." (Heb. 8:10) How can a Law like that fail? It is said that Newton discovered the Law of Gravity, as he saw an apple fall from the tree. With that scientific mind of his, he wondered: "Why did the apple not go up, instead of down?" That Law was there from the foundation of the world, but Newton defined it, as a Law of Gravity: a larger body (the earth) just automatically draws a lesser body (like an apple) down to the earth. So when God writes a Law in my mind, and in my heart, I am drawn to love Him and serve Him, because of Law, a higher Law, a more powerful Law: "The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:2) Why do men do such degrading,
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despicable things that we read about in our newspapers daily? Because of the Law of Sin that has the ascendancy in their lives, and pulls them into a vortex of corruption, in unspeakable dimensions. Ye are come . . . to the Blood of Sprinkling, that speaketh Better Things than that of Abel God had said to Cain: "What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground." (Gen. 4:10) O the righteous blood that has cried out to God, because of the blood of the innocent that has been shed in the earth! But the apostle reminds us that the "Blood of Jesus" speaks of better things than the blood of Abel. If Abel's blood would cry out to God, and God heard it, surely the Blood of Jesus has better, greater things to speak to us! It speaks! "This is My body, which is broken for you." (1 Cor. 11:24) It speaks! "This cup is the New Testament in My blood." (vs 25) It speaks! "Being now justified by His blood." (Rom. 5:9) It speaks! "We have redemption through His blood." (Eph. 1:7) It speaks! "Peace through the blood of His cross." (Col. 1:20) The apostle mentions how the Old Covenant would sanctify the people by "the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer." Then He points to the Sacrifice of Christ, and cries out: "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb 9:13-14) The blood of Christ in the New Covenant cleanses our conscience from dead works because the Spirit of God was there when Jesus shed His blood, and was overshadowing His sacrifice. And this same Spirit now abides in our hearts to speak into our hearts the cleansing of the blood of that Sacrifice. How wonderful to know that it was "through the eternal Spirit" that Jesus offered up Himself as the Sacrifice. The Spirit of God who saw it all, and arranged that Sacrifice for us now abides within us! He is the Eternal Spirit, and He gives us a clear witness of what happened on that awesome day. When the Roman soldier took his spear and thrust it into the side of Jesus, there flowed forth a stream of "blood and water." (John 19:34) John saw it happen, and wrote about it, and we know his record is true. Blood and Water and Spirit Now this is John's witness: "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3) And Paul's witness: Christ gave Himself for the Church, "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word." (Eph. 5:26) Paul said in another place, "having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. 10:22) The blood is sprinkled on our hearts, by faith; then our baptism in water, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, is our witness to others that we believe in the blood of Jesus. Then the Spirit of God becomes a clear witness within us. "This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth." (1 John 5:6) We are born anew, as a child of God. We are saved by the blood of Jesus, but we bear witness to that as we take His Name in the waters of baptism. From then on we are committed to do whatever He would have us do, in that same Name: "in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." (Col. 3:17) Now we have a High Priest in the heavens, whose ministry is to bring His people into a perfect cleansing of heart, mind, soul, and spirit. And so we are exhorted, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. 10:22) Our conscience needs that holy cleansing, where God "writes" a new and powerful Law of the Spirit in our minds and hearts, and the old conscience is washed away by the blood of Jesus!
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Lord Jesus, Thou great Mediator of the New Covenant, continue to write Thy holy Law upon our hearts and minds with Coals of Fire from off the Altar, that we sin no more, and that we may shine forth in this world of sin and darkness with the very Light of Jesus.

CHAPTER 5 - PURSUING THE MORE EXCELLENT WAY


We are very much aware how helpless we are to present the Truth concerning the Love of God in such clarity and purity that God's people will be challenged to pursue this More Excellent Way. How can we possibly describe the depths of God's Love in words that we learned in school? We are limited to 26 letters of the English Alphabet, and no matter how well we can frame words together, from those 26 letters - we know they are totally inadequate to impart the Truth into the lives of others. Paul knew this sense of inadequacy, and knew that the only way he could communicate the Truth of God to others was not by words of eloquence going forth by the wisdom of man, but by speaking forth "words - which the Holy Ghost teacheth" from the heart of God (1 Cor. 2:13) But we believe, and therefore we must speak, and may God give grace to speak from His own heart. "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery (a divine secret), even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:7-10) There seems to be very little vision in the Church for "the More Excellent Way" that the apostle Paul held out to the Church at Corinth. Is it because we have a measure of the love of God within us, and we rejoice in that and then set it aside for the pursuit of gifts, and blessings, and mighty works of faith and power? We do not recognize that God's desire is to take us further, and higher, and deeper into realms of Love that we know little about as yet. He gives us spiritual gifts, to edify us and build us up in Christ; and these are very important in our walk with God. But He wants us to anticipate the day when we will walk in the More Excellent Way of Perfect Love. The Spirit gave clear guidance to Abraham's trusted servant, and the camels were loaded down with very precious gifts for Isaac's bride. She must have treasured these very highly. But to Rebekah, they were as nothing compared to her hope of being married to Isaac, and becoming one with him. And when she saw him in the field, she left her gifts behind with the servant and the camels, and ran to meet him. She veiled herself in reverence, and then became his bride, and saw him face to face. No doubt she appreciated all those gifts, but we hear no more about them after she had seen her Isaac. In perfect love, we see our Lord "face to face." "Now abideth faith, hope, Love, these three; but the greatest of these is Love." (1 Cor. 13:13) When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he wrote two whole chapters talking about gifts and ministries, and how important these were to the Church. Then sandwiched in between these, he wrote this beautiful chapter about the preeminence of the Love of God above any of the gifts of the Spirit. He gave us this very clear admonition: "And yet show I unto you a more excellent way." (1 Cor. 12:31), followed by this wise counsel: "Follow after charity (love), and desire spiritual gifts." (1 Cor. 14:1) He made it very clear that our ultimate pursuit is to walk in The More Excellent Way, with the help of spiritual gifts. The best Highway you can find, in which to minister the truth of God, is the More Excellent Highway of Love. It is a highway that far excels the pathways of knowledge, and faith, and miracle working power, and prophetic utterances, and so forth. The Lord calls us Back to First Love We had better consider very seriously how important Love really is in the sight of God. The Lord dictated a letter to John for the Church at Ephesus. This Church had many good qualities and a good reputation. They had survived well, for they had received good apostolic teaching and doctrine, under the apostle Paul, and others. "I know thy works, and thy labour" Jesus said. So they must have been diligent in working for God. In
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all of this they exercised patience in times of trial. They would not tolerate any evil workers in their midst. They had keen discernment to recognize the false apostle, who no doubt had visited their fellowship in Ephesus, and ministered to them, but they discerned a wrong spirit, and found them to be liars, and rejected them. Then the Lord emphasized how the saints at Ephesus had carried heavy burdens, and endured it all with patience, and fainted not. We would be inclined to give the Church at Ephesus a 95% mark. But in spite of all their good works, and their stalwart stand for truth, and the wonderful teaching they had received - the Lord was not about to put His stamp of approval on this very active, very energetic, very well-disciplined Church. And why not? Because of this one area in which they had failed, and of which they were not aware: " Thou hast left thy first love." And it was for this very tragic reason that Jesus warned them that if they did not repent, He would "remove their lampstand." He would take away the little light they had, if they refused to repent. The Church at Ephesus would cease to be the Light that it was when it started. This would mean they would no longer be a vital witness in Ephesus, of the living Christ. (see Rev. 2:1-7) We can only wonder how many thousands of churches there are throughout the land, that no longer send forth the Light of Jesus to the people in their community. The Lampstand has been removed and they know it not. The money is still coming in for their many good works. One excellent teacher after another may visit their Church, and teach the people. Prophetic utterances are quite common. The crowds have increased in number, and they are planning to build a bigger tabernacle. But the Light of God is no longer there, and somehow they have become accustomed to the darkness. In view of what Jesus and the apostles said about Love, why do we not give this matter of following after Love our highest priority - in our lives, or in our gatherings, or in our Vision? We can only conclude that the reason is - we do not see the beauty, the glory, the power and the excellence of this virtue as we should. It is because we do not know God well enough, for God is Love. If we knew Him better, we would certainly love Him and His people more than we do. If we do not fear God, and really know Him intimately, how can we honestly, and in any great measure, love His people who were made in His image? Generally we care less about Love prevailing in our hearts, or in our assemblies, as long as we have gifted evangelists, and pastors, and teachers, and apostles and prophets coming our way with powerful messages for the people. I am certainly not criticizing any group of people in the Church, as if I have arrived. I am but one member of the body of Christ, like the others - each of us with a distinct calling. But I do recognize the great need we have for those winds of Heaven to blow upon us, and His holy Presence to come into our midst, and reveal Himself to us in our weakness and helplessness. We cannot have more Love through the exercise of any kind of Law. But certainly we ought to recognize how poverty stricken we really are, to make any real impact on the world about us. We need to be consumed with the Love of Jesus, and earnestly looking to Him for this mighty baptism of Fire, which alone can kindle the Flame of Love in our hearts, for God, and for the world about us. But we have this confidence, that our great Mediator in the heavens, will continue to intercede for us, that the very Love of Jesus may be formed within His people. How bankrupt we really are in spiritual worth! I want to declare bankruptcy for myself, with the hope that the Lord of the Church might come to us, and put that hunger and desire in His people, to seek Him earnestly for the true riches. How can we read First Corinthians Thirteen, and fail to see how needy we really are! Let us go through it once more. The Virtues of the Love of God We may speak with fluency the languages of men or of angels, but without Love - it is but a "tinkling cymbal." We might be prophets of the highest order, displaying great knowledge, and unraveling great mysteries, but without Love, we are nothing. We might come to a place of great faith, faith of such dimensions that we might speak to a mountain and cast it into one of our lakes. But we are nothing, without Love.
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We might have great riches, and give it all to the poor. Surely that would be a sign of great love. But in God's mind He may see it as a selfish thing, as the benefactor looks for popularity with the people, and yet may have no real love. Love is long-suffering, and kind; Does not envy what another person has, or is; Love does not lift himself up in pride, Does not get puffed up with thoughts of greatness, because of his gifts or eloquence, or power. Love does not engage in foolish, unseemly actions. Love is not self-seeking, but cares for others, as for himself. Does not get angry and provoked, when someone challenges him. Love thinks no evil. He is careful not to pass judgment on a situation that he may know little about; or on someone when he hears an evil report, which may be but an idle tale. Love rejoices in words of truth, rather than listening to tale-bearers or jokes, or comedy. Love will carry the load, no matter how heavy it may seem to be, as long as we are assured we are in the yoke of Christ. Then we discover, in union with Christ, that His yoke is easy, and His burden light. Love is not gullible, but has an ear for truth, and believes all things that are spoken forth in truth. Love is full of hope, in times of trial and testing, and waits patiently for the Lord to deliver us out of trouble. Love endures all things, knowing that 'all things work together for good to them that love God;' and knowing that the trial of his faith worketh patience, which is precious in the sight of God. Then the apostle puts Love on the scales, along with faith, and prophecy, and tongues, and miracles - all these wonderful gifts of the Spirit. And how do any of these gifts measure up with Love? They all fall far short, when placed on the scales of Heaven. Love Never Fails. All else may fail, but Love never fails! Prophecies will fail! Tongues will cease! Knowledge will pass away! Healings will fail! Miracles may be rare in the Church! But Love, the Love of God in His people and for His people, and for the world - will outlast them all! And yet men will continue to exalt miracles, works of power, tongues, and prophecy, and put LOVE on the back burner. We hope it's there when we need it, but somehow we survive quite well without too much of it. Apprehending the Same Love that was in Jesus I know we have all read these things many times, for it is there in the Word of God. And 1 Corinthians 13 is the favourite chapter in the Bible for many of us. But it seems that we just read it and let it slip by, because we know we will only scratch the surface of it anyway, as long as we walk on Planet Earth. God wants us to know that Love is the most powerful force on earth or in Heaven, and that it is part of the New Covenant that our Mediator in the heavens is mediating on our behalf. As we read these things and meditate upon them, may we no longer read it as something impossible for attainment, but something God has provided for His people, when gift and ministry and powerful manifestations have accomplished their purpose and fade away. Let us read about the Love of God often, and meditate upon it, until it becomes a clear Vision of what God has designed for His people. And as we do, let us be assured that it is not by any degree of carnal striving that we will come into the realm of God's holy Love. Do we doubt that God really has Perfect Love in mind for His people? Then let us turn to John 17:26, the last verse of this awesome prayer of Jesus, just before His passion, and His glorification: "I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it: that the Love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." The same Love that the Father bestowed upon Jesus, to be bestowed upon us? That's how Jesus prayed! And that's all part of the New Covenant. And our Lord Jesus is the glorified Mediator of that Covenant, having received His mandate from the Father, to minister the glory of the New Covenant to His people in the earth.
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Please let us understand that there is no manner of good intentions we can form, to make the New Covenant work. But the resources of the New Covenant are infused into our lives, as our Mediator presents us before the Father, and prays: 'Father, let the desire of Thy heart for Thy people be declared in the earth with such anointing and grace and power, that they will walk in the same Love that I walked in, when I was with them in the earth.' It was really true when He said to His disciples, "It is expedient for you that I go away." (John 16:7) It was to our advantage that our Lord did not remain here on the earth, as His disciples had hoped. Here on earth His ministry was confined to those areas that He was able to visit, as a Man walking in human form. But now in Glory He is universalized by reason of the fact that He can minister from the heart and mind of the Father, to His people wherever they may be scattered on the face of the earth. For He "ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things." (Eph. 4:10) For we Know in Part, and Prophesy in Part This should disarm any of us who think we know a lot. If we truly recognized that our knowledge is very limited, and falls short of real clarity and mature understanding, we would be less likely to argue about deep mysteries, thinking we have greater knowledge than our brother. Even if we do, it is still just in part, just in small measure. "And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." (1 Cor. 8:2) When we know it all, or perhaps are talking to someone else who knows it all - may we find grace to put our hands over our mouths. Especially when we read a statement like this from the great apostle Paul! We know nothing yet, as we ought to know. "But if any man love God, the same is known of Him." (vs 3) He is not really saying that we need more knowledge. He is saying rather, that what we know falls short of the picture as it really is. We need a greater understanding and clarity of the knowledge we now have. But until we come to the fullness of Love, our knowledge of spiritual things will remain very, very minimal. God has designed it that way, or pride would destroy us. Let's just take a quick look at the wisdom and knowledge of men in this age. They have actually manufactured instruments of destruction so awesome, that they could now obliterate all life on Planet Earth, and perhaps would do so if God would let them! What a tremendous scientific achievement! And now they fear that some rogue nation might ignite the spark that would bring about a nuclear holocaust of this sort, on this planet. But if God lets it happen in measure, we can be assured that there will be a people in the earth, immune to it all, as they abide in the Love of Jesus! But in what way does Love give us knowledge that "we ought to know?" We will only discover that, as we come more and more into those realms of God's abounding Love. The Lord wants us to eat more and more of the Tree of Life, rather than of the Tree of Knowledge. If the man who loves God, is known of Him, it is evident, is it not, that to be known of Him must be a higher attainment, than to come to more knowledge. With our natural mind not yet fully renewed by His Spirit, and with spiritual gifts that only function in part, we must acknowledge that many mysteries will remain beyond our understanding until "that which is perfect is come." And let us not think we must wait for Heaven to come to that. Jesus came down to earth to manifest Perfect Love in this world of sin and pain and misery, for this is where it is needed. And when He went away He made provision by His indwelling Spirit, for His people to walk as He walked when He was here. Perfect Love already fills the courts of Heaven! It's right here in this sin-sick, sin-weary Earth, that God will have for Himself a people, endued with the same Love that was in Jesus. Heaven is full of it now, and doesn't need any more. But Planet Earth is in great need of the same Love that was in Jesus, and that is why Jesus went back to the Father. It was not in God's plan that He would stay here very long. Just long enough to accomplish Redemption for His people, and nurture them in His ways; and then become the Seed that would "fall into the ground and die." And then in His resurrection and ascension glory, and His great mediatorial work in the heavens, to bring forth a people in the earth like Jesus! "I am the Vine . . . Ye are the Branches"
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There is a fullness yet to come, when the beautiful blossoms of Faith and Hope fade away to make way for the fruit of God's Love. Now Jesus is that True Vine, is He not? And we are the branches, are we not? Then does it seem incredible to us, that the very fruit of Jesus would unfold on the Branches of this Good Vine? The Vine that the Good Gardener planted in His Garden? "I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman..." "I am the Vine, ye are the Branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing." (John 15:1,5) Dare we believe that our Father is the Good Gardener? Dare we believe that Jesus is the True Vine? Then, dare we believe that we are the Branches on the True Vine? and that as we abide in Him and He in us, we will bring forth Much fruit, Good Fruit, Perfect Fruit? I must believe it. And it is easier to believe it when we know it will happen because we are abiding in Him and He in us, and that without Him (apart from Him) we can do nothing. Surely, the Fruit must be The same Love that was in Jesus. The same Joy. The same Peace. The same Longsuffering. The same Gentleness. The same Goodness. The same Faith. The same Meekness. The same Temperance (Discipline). The same "Fruit of the Spirit" that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22-23. Let me assure you, beloved, that if we abide in the Vine, and He in us, it would be impossible for us to bring forth any fruit that does not compare in quality to the beautiful life of Jesus. He went to Heaven to become our Mediator and Intercessor, that He might perpetuate in the earth, Good Fruit like Himself. (see John 12:24) Away with the thought that God is going to manifest His sons with dictatorial power, who with sheer power and might will dethrone kings and rule in their stead! God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Love and Truth. And when Pilate demanded of Jesus, "Art Thou a King?" the Lord seemed to hesitate a bit, because He knew what Pilate's concept of a kingdom was all about. But His answer was clear: "Thou sayest that I am a King. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the Truth." (John 18:37) With that clear statement of Jesus, Pilate was convinced that Jesus had no aspirations of taking over the Kingdom of Caesar. From Faith, and Hope, to Love In 1 Corinthians 13, the apostle likens Faith and Hope to the attributes of children. He reminds us that as little children grow older, they "put away childish things." He was not in any way belittling the necessity of those things that are highly esteemed by a child. Rather he was emphasizing that as one grows to maturity, the things that were uppermost in a child's mind, give way to greater things, more important pursuits, as adults. He is clearly telling us that these gifts and ministries that we esteem so highly, are put away when we come to maturity, "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13) Jesus spoke of three phases of growth: "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Mark 4:28) No farmer despises the blade, or the ear. He rejoices to see it, and hopes for the rain and sunshine to bring forth "the full corn in the ear." In the same way Paul speaks of three phases of maturity in God's people: "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (Love)/" (1 Cor. 13:13) A gardener has no problem with that process. Rather he recognizes he will have a crop failure if the corn in the ear does not come to fullness. But when it is you and I pursuing a walk with the Lord, with the hope of coming to full maturity in Christ, most Christians have a real problem. Knowing, as We are Known "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." (1 Cor. 13:12) Evidently this is a "face to face" relationship of Love, which is higher than any degree of knowledge we might attain to. For knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (see 1 Cor. 8:1) A couple of ounces of popcorn may produce a quart when it is puffed up. But it will not weigh any more. So the
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little knowledge we have seems great when it explodes, and the man who displays what he knows might himself become puffed up with pride - and explode. Now what does it really mean, to be known of Him? When God says "I know you" He is speaking of His pleasure and delight and His loving watchcare over you, just as He denies He found anything praiseworthy in the hypocrite on Judgment Day, and says, "I never knew you!" (Matt. 7:23) He said of Abraham, the man He loved, "For I know him"; (Gen. 18:19) And of Israel, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2) It is an attribute in God that brings about a loving relationship with the one He knows. And so to be known of Him is something to be desired - far more than having a lot of knowledge about Him. How then, do we come into such a loving relationship with the God who redeemed us? We love Him more, and He loves us more. It's not just a case of, I feel I love God. Feelings like that can change quite easily. How can I be assured that I really do love God? This is the answer I felt the Lord gave me one time when I was trying to check out how much I loved Him. I found very often that my feelings would deceive me. Then I read these words: "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me. (John 14:21) Let this encourage us all. Just do what He tells you to do. Walk in obedience before Him. We are not talking about the commandments of Moses, but the commandments of Jesus. If we love God, we are known of Him. When He knows us, He searches us out in a way that reveals our sins and failures, and brings us to repentance. God searched out the heart of David, and knew David with an intimacy that was very deep and far reaching. "O LORD, Thou hast searched me, and known me." (Psa. 139:1) I will not quote the rest of it, but I will put the substance of it in my own words: God was there when David sat down to rest and meditate, and when he awakened from sleep, and rose up to go about his work. He was there as David pondered what he would do next. And even before the thought was in David's heart, he knew that God knew all about it. This may have caused some fear in David, but it also gave him a lot of comfort in knowing that God was really concerned about him, and wanted him to walk in the right way. He was there when David would travel about, and would follow David's tracks. He would put a circle around him, as a protective hedge. God would even go before him and lay His hand upon him. Sometimes it was a corrective hand, which David discovered was a loving hand. David knew that God knew more about him, than David knew about himself. No matter what he did, or where he went, God was acquainted with all his ways. Such knowledge of him by the Most High God, caused David to love Him all the more, and he would ask God to search him out still further. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting." (Psa. 139:23-24) David was very much aware of God's searching eyes on his life. Certainly God knows all about us, but we do not know our own hearts, until He searches us out. And He is faithful to do that, as we seek to walk in His ways, and come to know Him better, and love Him more. Only as God searches our hearts do we "know as we are known."
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The deception of choosing our own way and making a name for ourselves in life is revealed to us, because true love for Him brings the hidden things of darkness to light, and we see Him "face to face." O that we might love God, and be known of Him! For this is how our God is preparing us to be a habitation for Himself: "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 Ultimate Intention of Gift and Ministry We know that God has done a great work, even in this past century, in the realm of Gift and Ministry. And we are very much aware of the necessity of these gifts for the edifying of the body of Christ. But as we have sought to point out, it was never God's intention that we should somehow come to the conclusion that these gifts are God's total answer for the ministration of the Gospel of the Kingdom in the earth. God's intention is rather this, that by the functioning of these gifts in the body of Christ, His people will pursue the objective of Perfect Love in the body, even as we teach, or prophesy, or exhort, or lay foundations of truth in the Church. The ultimate desire of God is clearly stated here in Paul's letter to the Ephesians, as it was in his letter to the Corinthians. God gave these ministries to the Church for our edification and strengthening and encouragement Till "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a Perfect Man." Notice, it says "TILL we all come." I digress here for a moment to make a few comments on this word "perfect." Many are quick to point out that the word means coming to a state of maturity in Christ; and this is true. It is a state of full growth in stature, if we speak of humans. Or ripeness, like wheat in the field, or like apples in an orchard - if we speak of a farm, or an orchard. In other words: coming to that place of completion. The seed was planted, and the plant was watered, and after the sunshine and rain and the tender care of the gardener, there is the perfection of the fruit on the vine, or of the grain in the kernel. The gardener looks for the highest standard of maturity in harvest time. If it is wheat, he buys the best seed, because He wants the best harvest. Likewise if it's apples: the orchard keeper has done his best to do the right kind of grafting, and pruning, and fertilizing, and watering, because He wants the very best fruit. So I have no objection when people make the remark: "Perfection simply means, coming to maturity." But I do object, when they assume or teach that maturity means like my godly father, or mother, or some godly minister that we know in the Church. Now in this passage I quoted from Ephesians, it is very clearly defined what the apostle means by a "perfect man," a mature man in Christ. Let me complete the verse I quoted above: "unto a Perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13) We cannot read too far into the Gospels without knowing that the Son of God was holy and undefiled, the One of whom the Father testified on more than one occasion: "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." This is "the measure of the stature" that God has planned for His "many brethren." And why should it be so difficult to believe this, if indeed we believe that He Himself was the "corn of wheat" that was planted in the earth? Why, then, is it difficult to believe that God's intention is that this Man would be "the Firstborn among many brethren:" many brethren after the kind and the nature of the Seed that was planted? He loved His Son so much, that He desired to have many, many other sons like Him. Therefore his predestined plan for Christ's younger brothers was that they would "be conformed to the image of His Son" (see Rom. 8:29)
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God stated His intention as simply as I have quoted. But the cost of God's process in bringing forth these brothers of Christ, was awesome in the sufferings of the Elder Brother that redeemed them. For it was His own "precious blood" that became the price that He paid to redeem us, and to conform us to His own image and likeness. It was blood so holy and pure, that by the "sprinkling of the blood" of Jesus on those sinful brothers and sisters, they become as righteous as He is righteous, as holy as he is holy. That's how pure and holy His blood was, and that's how pure and holy we become, when we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and "with the washing of water by the Word." (Eph. 5:26) We are not boasting we have arrived. Nor will there be any boasting when we have arrived. Boasting is entirely excluded, except as we boast in our Elder Brother that redeemed us. Our boasting is only in the Lord Jesus, who sends His Word and Spirit into our hearts and minds - His Spirit that is mingled with the pure and holy blood of Jesus. Gift and Ministry - Swallowed up in Love May we all be faithful to minister out from the heart of God, with whatever gift or ministry God has given us "TILL" we come to the More Excellent Way. I must emphasize that ministry has adequately fulfilled its purpose, when we have "all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a Perfect Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Eph. 4:13) Now if it is true that Gift and Ministry have an appointed end for their season of ministration, let us not glory in powerful ministries, nor seek such a ministry for ourselves. When the apostle admonishes us to "desire spiritual gifts" it is in this context: "Follow After Love." For the gifts are of a temporary nature, whereas Love is eternal. We desire spiritual gifts for our present need, yet we are to understand that these gifts and ministries will one day be swallowed up in Love, if we truly follow in the path of God's intention. When Moses and Elijah had fulfilled their ministry, not only in their generation, but up there on the Mount of Transfiguration, suddenly they fade out of sight, as they are enveloped by the Cloud of Glory, and the disciples of Christ see them no more. Henceforth the command from Heaven is very clear and sufficient and conclusive: "This is My beloved Son - Hear ye Him." (Matt. 17:5) So it will be with the apostolic and prophetic order. There is still much ministration of Gift and Ministry to take place till the Body of Christ is "fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part." But when the body of Christ comes to this state of completion, this glorious body has life in itself, and will continue to 'edify itself in Love' (see Eph. 4:16). Each member will always be very distinct in itself, yet not in any way deformed as it is now: with one very long ear, or one large eye, or one leg much longer than the other. And all this is because we do not have such a working of Love in the body, that each member has loving care, one for the other. Somewhere in the transition from apostolic and prophetic ministry - to the stature of Christ in His people, there must come a fading away of special ministries in the Cloud of God's Glory, that all God's disciples will see and hear Jesus only! The highest form of a ministry in Love will come out of this. I am not denying there is some of this now in the earth - especially in countries where the Church is subject to much persecution. I read of ministrations of Love today that are equal to anything we read about in the story of the martyrs. But I fear in the Church here in the West, and in many other affluent nations, we see a predominance of powerful and eloquent ministries, with very little expression of true Love in the body of Christ. The Manifestation of the Sons of God The Lord Jesus was revealed in the earth as the Son of God, shining forth the Light of God, out from the heart of the Father. Whenever the Voice spoke from Heaven relative to the Lord Jesus, it was about the Beloved Son. Not about a Messianic Ministry. Not about a very gifted Man of God manifesting the gifts of the Spirit. Not about a powerful and mighty King. It was a ministration of the Love and Mercy of the Son of God, who walked in total union with a compassionate Father, and manifested the glory of the Father.
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God will yet manifest other sons in the earth, as the Mediator of the New Covenant ministers from His throne in the heavens. A groaning creation waits for that! For "the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the Sons of God." (Rom 8:19) Surely this has nothing to do with great and powerful men and women of God, going through the earth with dictatorial powers, to bring all things into subjection to themselves. What will they be like, then? And what will they do? As we read about the Life of Jesus, and His great manifestation in the earth, we have discovered that He had no agenda but one; and that was, "Lo I come to do Thy will O God." The Love of the Father as manifested in Jesus will be the pattern of His "many brethren." Jesus prayed that it would be that way. "I have declared unto them Thy Name, and will declare it: that the Love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26) They will minister like the Lamb, and suffer like the Lamb, and overcome like the Lamb. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Rev. 12:11) From Faith - Seven Steps Upward to Love We must have God's love in every step we climb on the Stairway of Faith. But too often we are inclined to climb a step or two, and think we are at the top. We settle for Iron, when God wants to give us Silver. We settle for Brass, when God wants to give us Gold (Isa. 60:17). But as it is with the teachings of Jesus, and of His servant Paul - so now we turn to Peter for more confirmation. He reminds us of God's "exceeding great and precious promises." Then he is quick to remind us that the very ultimate of His promises is "that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature" (see 2 Pet 1:3-4). Faith is the sure foundation, but God wants us to climb the seven steps upward and higher, to realms of Love. These steps are in ascending order, as he talks about the qualities of grace that God desires to bring forth in His people who are born anew, and built upon the solid rock of faith. "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith " God wants His people to go beyond faith, and come to Perfect Love. But that is on the last and seventh step upward. We need Love on every step we climb, but there is an ultimate quality of Love that God would bring us into. So let us begin climbing. Add to your faith Virtue. True faith will bring a change in lives. The word "virtue" is understandable enough as it is. Virtue follows immediately after faith. One is changed from a degrading lifestyle to thoughts of God, and praiseworthy actions. From worldly things to heavenly. From material things to spiritual. He loves the Lord, and wants to know Him better. He wants to live pleasing to God. He wants to live a virtuous life before God. Knowledge. We need the 'knowledge of God' to give us direction in God's ways. To give us hope, and vision. We learn of God's ways, as we seek to walk with Him. We may learn a lot from godly teachers, but a true teacher, will encourage one who is new in the faith, to read the Word, and get to know Truth for himself, as he allows the Word of Truth to penetrate his heart and mind. A young Muslim boy in Africa, recently converted to Christ, wrote me: "Please write and tell me all you know about God!" I did my best to answer his letter. Certainly the desire to get more knowledge about God is good, and it is all part of the process of coming to maturity in Christ. Gifts may come quickly and easily. But climbing the Ladder of Faith takes time, and diligence. Temperance (or Discipline). Often the word is translated 'self-control.' But surely it must be a working of God in our heart, that causes us to learn obedience to His Word, and work discipline in our lives, as we yield ourselves to Him. We choose to live a disciplined life, as we obey God and do His will. Old habits ought to be laid aside, as we develop new habits and learn with God's help how to discipline our lives as followers of Jesus. Patience. This is another word that we use lightly, as if it is just an unnecessary impediment in our desire to work for God. It's boring! but I guess I must wait it out! It causes me a lot of grief, but hopefully this nasty situation will improve! Scriptural patience does require faithfulness to "wait upon God" but it has a very positive meaning. It's not just waiting it out. We must do His will daily as we wait for a more meaningful expression in
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our lives of the will of God. We must remain at the job we don't like, and do our work faithfully, and stay at it until God gives us the green light to do something else. If we are in a disagreeable situation that we cannot change, let us hope in God, and learn to take suffering as a strengthening and purifying of our faith. Then we will come to the place where we recognize patience as a virtue in God's sight. For God would strengthen the faith we have, as He purges from our life things that are not pleasing in His sight. Godliness. God's faithfulness to you in times of trial, will cause you to become more aware of God in your life. You think of Him, meditate more upon Him, seek to please Him more. You become less conscious about your plans, and more desirous of coming to know Him better, Today. For Today, as we spoke about earlier, is the only day you have, to do His will and to abide in His rest. As he helps us to do that, our thoughts are more heavenly, more Godward, than when we began to walk in this new way. I encourage you not to follow those sayings that give the advice: "Don't get too heavenly minded." For you will never be of any earthly good until your heart and mind are elevated to know God better, and to follow after Him more closely, and become acquainted with the realities of the Kingdom of Heaven. Brotherly Kindness. As you climb this ladder, and become more and more godly and heavenly minded - you have more concern for your brethren in the earth, and you want to help them where you can, and treat them as one of your brothers in the Family of God. There is a kinship with them that you do not find in the world about you - and often may go beyond the kinship you have with natural relatives. You learn to enjoy true and meaningful fellowship with brethren of like heart and mind. And you do what you can to help them in their times of distress or anguish. You learn brotherly kindness even toward brothers who are unkind to you. But be patient Love. But be patient, because there is another realm that is still higher than the "love of the brethren." It is this realm of Love. I call it a realm, for there are vast areas in this old planet where sin abounds, and the hearts of men are full of hate and malice. And God is preparing sons and daughters who will go to them in their hate and malice, and bring to them the Love of Jesus. But you and I will never do it effectually until the same love that is in Jesus, dwells in our hearts. Don't stop anywhere on this ladder! You can climb it, if your eyes are fixed on God, who is at the top of the ladder (as Jacob discovered)! You can come into the Love of Jesus, if your heart longs for that. Because our Lord longs after you, and draws you. So it is not in your own strength but in His, that you will find you can "do all things through Christ which strengtheneth you." (see Phil 4:13) Even now He is in the heavens praying for you and for me, and revealing the glory of the Father to us in such a way "that the Love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them." (John 17:26) Don't you think that God will answer the prayers of our Lord Jesus, who is enthroned at His right hand in the heavens, interceding for us? We will not spend more time at the Faith Ladder, except to mention two things that the apostle Peter emphasized: one very positive, and one very negative. And I quote from his words: (1) "For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2) "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." (see 2 Pet. 1:5-9) So if our thought is: I've got Faith, and that's enough for me. Forget those far-out things the apostle Peter says we are "blind, and cannot see afar off, and have forgotten that we have been purged from our old sins." Blind, or short-sighted, and one is not much better than the other. No wonder our Lord is seen standing at the door of the Church at Laodicea, and telling them He loves them, but wants them to anoint their eyes with eyesalve that they might see. For with all their riches, and pomp, and affluence - our Lord with those Seven Eyes, sees through it all, and declares them to be blind, or short-sighted. But we are not to despair when we realize we are blind. Rather let us come to Him, and buy that healing ointment for our blindness, or for our short-sighted vision. And how do we buy this healing ointment in our extreme poverty? We just bring what we have to Him: our filthy rags, our blindness, our faulty vision, our worthless paper money. And then He will give us in exchange: "Gold
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tried in the fire" that will make us rich with the true riches; and "white raiment" that we might be clothed upon with His righteousness; and "eyesalve" that we might see! (see Rev. 3:18). Jesus said of the Pharisees who insisted they could see: "If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth." (John 9:41) Each step we take up the Faith Ladder brings us closer and closer to Perfect Love. And each step we take will provide added grace for the next step we must take, as we pursue The More Excellent Way. God wants to take us higher, and we are blessed as we stand at the foot of the Mount, and have that urge and desire to scale its upmost heights, and to grow up into the stature of Christ. The higher we climb, so does our Vision become more clear. Nor is this a selfish desire, for the closer we walk with the Lord Jesus, the more will we partake of His image and likeness. Only then do we lose our selfish desires, and experience the mercy and compassion and patience and longsuffering of our Lord Jesus. The Love of Christ which Passeth Knowledge "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the Love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." (Eph. 3:17-19) When we grow into the stature of Christ, we are beyond the realms of knowledge. In the lower realm of gifts and ministries, we know very little, we see very little; "We know nothing yet as we ought to know." But there is another realm God would bring us into "which passeth Knowledge." This is the Love Realm, which is both broader and longer, and deeper and higher. We spoke a little about the ascending aspects of Love. But here in the passage we quoted, Paul takes us much further into the Breadth and Length and Depth and Height of God's Love. Now this is a realm that "passeth knowledge," so how could we possibly explain it? But we can talk about it because we know it is there for us to apprehend, in the highest heights and lowest depths of God. And though we cannot understand it, the apostle tells us that we are able to apprehend it, to lay hold upon it. The word in our version is comprehend, but it has the meaning to apprehend, or to lay hold upon it. It is a state that is beyond description by mortal tongue, yet a realm that God wants us to pursue until we are "filled with all the fullness of God." The best we can do is to relate a few things from the Life of Jesus, that will illustrate how our Lord walked in those vast expanses of the Love of God. We read how Jesus had compassion on the multitudes who had followed Him for three days, without having any food. The Love and compassion of Jesus was sufficient for any situation. A young lad with 5 loaves and 2 fishes surrendered them into His hands. Jesus broke the loaves and fishes in His hands, and blessed them, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples went through the crowds and gave every one in the crowd enough to satisfy their hunger. There were 5,000 men, besides women and children. But His love and compassion had no bounds, and every need was met. And they gathered up 12 baskets of bread and fish that were left over! Nobody could possibly understand such a thing. On another occasion as He crossed over the sea with His disciples, a great storm arose, and the disciples feared they would go under. This Man, full of Love and Truth, slept in peace, while the storm raged around Him. None of the storms in life can disturb the peace of one that knows the breadth and length of God's Love. When the disciples in great fear awakened Him, He simply spoke to the winds and waves, "Peace be still!" And there was a great calm. Another time He stepped out of the boat, as they landed at Gadara. Off in the distance there was a terrorist, that kept the inhabitants of Gadara in a state of constant fear. No chains could bind him. As soon as they thought they had conquered the man and had him bound with chains, he would break the chains and continue terrorizing the Gadarenes.
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But one day Jesus traveled by boat to Gadara, and when He stepped off the boat this oppressed man saw Him, while he was a long distance away. And he ran to Jesus, and fell at His feet, and worshipped Him! A legion of devils had possessed the man, but the Love of God was stronger than them all, and God's Love compelled this terrorist to run toward Jesus and fall at His feet in worship! We hear much of terrorism in this day and hour. But no terrorist, then or now, can continue in their acts of terrorism, when the Love of God comes on the scene, and replaces hate and malice and terror with the love and compassion of Jesus! Another time, toward the end of His ministry, this Man of Love received a very urgent message from the beloved family who lived in Bethany. There was no time to spare. Come quickly, they said, Your good friend Lazarus is at the point of death. But One who is baptized with the Love of God is also full of wisdom and knowledge. He saw no need to panic, not even when death was threatening one of His beloved friends. Nor will one who is baptized in God's Love move away from God's will, to help the one he loves. On this occasion God would demonstrate to the loving sisters, Mary and Martha, the preeminence of the Love of God, even over death. He waited for God's time. And God's time was too late! By the time He got to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and buried four days. His sisters who loved their brother, could not control their grief. Nor did they know that this Man who was the very expression of God's Love, had no fear of the power of death. Nor would God's purposes be defeated because of death. "Jesus wept" as He went to the tomb, for He loved Mary and Martha, and He was touched with their grief, and wept with them. He knew what He was doing, for He was walking in the breadth and length, and in this situation - in the depth and height of God's Love. He just spoke three words, "Lazarus, come forth" and King Death released his prey into the hands of the Prince of Life. O Lord, hasten the day when Thy great intercessory prayers for Thy people will come to pass, that we may live and move and minister in the same Love that was in Jesus! The Gospel According to Paul I am not denying we need to hear the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ. But we must know that the true Gospel is far-out - in breadth and length, in depth and in height. It reaches far into the heavens, and far into the deep. How does Paul describe the Gospel that He preached? His mandate was in a threefold dimension: (1) To preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ. (2) To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God. (3) God's intention being that "now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by (through) the Church the manifold wisdom of God." (see Eph. 3:8-10) Now this is just a brief summary of the simple Gospel of Christ according to the apostle Paul. This "glorious Church" is destined to be a wonderful display of the many-sided aspects of God's wisdom, not to men on the earth only, but to the unseen celestial hosts above. And why does God want the glorious Church to be known in heavenly places? Because the manifold wisdom of God is all intertwined with the wisdom of the Cross, that cruel instrument of torture on which Jesus died, and by which He overcame not only your sin and mine, but "having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." (Col. 2:15) Evil principalities in the heavenlies are terrified when the true Gospel penetrates their realms, because they know it was the Cross on which Jesus died, by which they were defeated. And some think they can go to nations with a simple gospel, polluted with drama and musical entertainment, and turn their hearts to Christ. How blind can blindness get? The apostle Paul shook nations, because he not only preached this glorious Gospel of the Cross, which is the greatest expression of God's Love ever made known to men or to angels - but he lived with it, and died for it! And he testified: "God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14) The Victory of the Cross
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The Cross was, as one hymn portrays it, the emblem of suffering and shame. This is true. But it is also the greatest display of the Love of God that this earth has ever known. Jesus walked in the earth manifesting in all His mighty works, the love and compassion of the God who was manifest in Him. And when He died on the Cross, this display of the Love of God is known as the greatest expression of the Love of God ever revealed to men. This Truth is now being assailed by some teachers, who would tell us that Jesus was defeated on the Cross, but triumphed later in His resurrection. His resurrection was certainly the solid proof to heavenly and earthly powers, that He had conquered over sin and death. But it was there on the Cross that He manifested His victory in a public display to both heavenly and earthly powers: "That through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil." (Heb. 2:14) This was all part of the hidden wisdom of God, "which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Cor. 2:7-8) It was also there that He revealed His judgment against the apostasy of temple worship. For at the same moment that He died, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. And God Most High who had ordained the temple as a place of worship, and the altar as a place of sacrifice for the humble and contrite heart, had now given His Son as the Supreme Sacrifice for sin, putting an end to temple ritual and sacrifice, and offerings of bulls and goats, for ever. Never again would He give honour and respect and blessing to those who would approach Him with sacrifices of goats and lambs and pigeons and bullocks! His was the Supreme Sacrifice, the one that Abraham had mentioned when Isaac questioned him saying, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb?" And Abraham answered, "My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (Gen. 22:7-8) Of course, God did provide a sacrifice for that occasion on Mount Moriah. When God saw the obedience of Abraham, with the knife in his hand, to offer up Isaac, the Angel of the Lord spoke from Heaven: "Lay not thine hand upon the lad - now I know that thou fearest God." (Gen 22:12) Then Abraham looked around, and saw "a ram caught in a thicket by his horns" (vs 13). His horns of power resulted in his death. For God in His foreknowledge had ordained this ram as Abraham's burnt offering in the stead of Isaac his son. We can't help but recognize that our Lord, the Supreme Burnt Offering was also "caught in a thicket," because of His horns of power. The real reason for priests and pharisees to condemn Jesus, was the power He manifested, which they saw as a threat to their priestly and political kingdom, which Jesus condemned. They knew Jesus had this awesome power and authority, and the resurrection of Lazarus was the final straw. There was a growing fear that if they did not do something about it, they would lose it all to the powers of Rome. So they called a council to deal with the situation. "What do we?" they said, "For this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation." (John 11:47-48) And so our Lord was "caught in a thicket by His horns" - in a thicket of religious animosity and hatred. And it was because the Son of God refused to use His power to bolster an apostate priesthood. But God had ordained this thicket for the true Sacrifice, that would annul the Law of Sin and Death. Even Caiaphas the High Priest who agreed to the death penalty for Jesus, did so by God's appointment. God put in the mouth of this apostate high priest a true prophetic word, concerning the death of Christ. "And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the High Priest that same year, said unto them, ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself, but being High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad." (John 11:49-52) God in His infinite wisdom, sovereignly overshadowed the Supreme Sacrifice of the Lamb on Mount Calvary, as surely as He had overshadowed the sacrifice of the Ram on Mount Moriah. What an affront it would be to God Most High who gave His only Son as the Sacrificial Lamb, to even suggest that He may yet in some millennial temple, ordain a repetition of the old sacrifices that could never take away
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sin! When God rent that veil asunder in the old Temple, He was clearly telling the people: The Glory has departed! Look behind the veil that is rent, and see for yourselves - the Glory has departed! But that Glory rested in full measure on another Temple, the one that Jesus spoke of when He said "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19) The Hidden Wisdom . . . Revealed in the New Covenant In this writing our desire is to emphasize God's Vision for Himself, and for His people. Often we are accused of spiritualizing the Old Testament, when we present a picture of something far higher than the letter of the Word seems to say. If God's people would simply receive the New Testament, as equally inspired as the Old, and accept the fact that God raised up apostles and prophets in the New Testament - as equally inspired as the old - they would understand that the Old Testament was written for a people who had a very limited understanding of spiritual things. The prophets spoke many things that could only be understood after Christ came - by the spirit of wisdom and revelation. Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His ascension to the Throne of Glory, He sent forth His Spirit to abide upon His people, and in them. It was "the promise of the Father," that the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to wait for, as they returned to Jerusalem after His ascension. And by His Spirit abiding within, He has revealed through His apostles and prophets the mystery that was kept hidden from former generations. According to Peter, we understand that the prophets themselves were puzzled about the things they wrote, and earnestly sought God as to what period of time their prophecies would come to pass. In answer to their prayers God gave them this very limited revelation of the glorious gospel they wrote about: "Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into." (1 Pet. 1:12). Are we spiritualizing the Word of God? Not at all; the apostles and prophets of the New Testament have already done that for us. The prophets had a very limited understanding of what they were writing about, and now in the New Testament God has imparted the spirit of wisdom and revelation to give clarity and understanding of the many types and shadows of the Old Testament. When we understand this, the Old Testament writings become New Testament truth to those who are taught of God. Even the angels of God try to peer into these things that concern the Gospel of Christ, because their understanding is limited also, and they "desire to look into these things." Surely we must believe that the scribes who wrote the New Testament, were writing from the heart and mind of God. And that many of the mysteries hidden in the Old Testament, were revealed by the apostles and prophets of the New. Paul quotes from what Isaiah said in Chapter 64:4 - unfolding what the prophet said, with a still further revelation of the Spirit: "But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor. 2:9-10) How greatly we need the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him!" (Eph. 1:17-18)

CHAPTER 6 - GOD'S ENCOUNTER WITH MEN


Of all God's Appointments with men, certainly there is a Day, which must be near at hand, which is more than an Appointment it is rather an Encounter of the mighty God, with men of all nations. We speak of the Day of the LORD, which is both Great and Terrible. We speak of the Day when God rises up in confrontation with the forces of Evil, which will also be a Day of Encounter with God's people.
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We speak of a time when God will say "It is Enough," and will rise up to purge His Church from her iniquity, and to consume the tares that are mingled with the wheat, as well as the chaff of the threshing floor. It is a day when He will consume the "man of sin" out of His Temple, the Church, with His holy fire from heaven (see 2 Thes. 2:8) It is described by Isaiah the prophet as "the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. (Isa. 61:2-3) It is perhaps difficult for us to understand how the Day of the LORD could be both a mighty working of God in His people, as well as a time of His awesome judgments. For it is a Day of both Darkness and of Light, "Arise, Shine; for thy Light is come, and the Glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His Glory shall be seen upon thee." (Isa. 60:1-2) I believe that God is preparing a people once again, and causing them to seek His face earnestly, for this great Encounter with the Most High God. Surely He is jealous over His people, and will come to us, and stand before us with those seven eyes, like flames of fire, to search us out, and to consume the chaff in our lives, that we might be a praise and glory unto God in the earth. A Clear Voice in Times of Apostasy We can be assured of this: God is always faithful to raise up a Clear Voice in times of Apostasy. God will send forth a clear warning to His people in times such as these, when darkness has settled in the Church, and the true heart longs for the Light. And those who are humble and contrite before Him, will have the assurance that God has spoken a clear word. I know at this time there is a lot of confusion, and many of God's people are as 'sheep not having a shepherd.' There will be a contest between the true and the false, but God will expose the false in His time, and vindicate the truth. The true sheep will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and will not give heed to the voice of the hireling. The Day of the LORD, as we read about it in the Old Testament and New, emphasizes God's judgments. Peter tells us that God's judgments begin at His House. (see 1 Pet. 4:17) It is time that we recognize that He is Jealous over His people, and will not tolerate the sin, and the idolatry, and the pride that characterizes much of the Church of this hour. He speaks words such as these to His people: "Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: For the LORD hath spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God, Before He cause darkness, And before your feet stumble Upon the dark mountains, And, while ye look for Light, He turn it into the shadow of Death, And make it gross darkness." (Jer. 13:15-16) This is a very awesome warning. It was fulfilled in Jeremiah's time, and I believe it will be fulfilled again in this generation. God is faithful to raise up weeping prophets like Jeremiah, who warn God's people of coming disasters, and who cry out "But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep In secret places for your pride;
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And mine eye shall weep sore, And run down with tears, Because the LORD's flock Is carried away captive." (Jer. 13:17) God is certainly a very good and gracious God. We have known much of His goodness, but we do not care to hear of His severity. Paul wrote these solemn words to the Church at Rome: "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." (Rom. 11:22) The Church has known much of God's blessing, seasons of revival, and times of great repentance before God. And we know there is still a people in the land, as in the days of Elijah, when God reminded the prophet that He had "seven thousand men" who were true to Him, and had not bowed the knee to Baal. But deep and horrible apostasy has invaded many of the churches, and the Spirit of God whom God sent in the stead of Jesus, to lead His people into all truth has been driven away by ambitious leaders in the Church. God is Jealous over His Church, and we expect that there will be a great encounter of God with His people who profess to believe in Him, as He seeks to turn their hearts back to Himself. But it appears it may take a lot of trouble in the land, before this will happen. It does not seem to take long before a once vibrant Church, forsakes their first love, and God removes their Lampstand. Then, if there is no repentance, what was once the House of God becomes a social system, and the Spirit of God has been driven away. No doubt we are all familiar with the story of Jacob, how he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau, and camped out in the darkness of the night under the starry skies. As he slept, he had a vision of angels "ascending and descending" on a great ladder reaching down from Heaven. He saw God at the top of the ladder, and heard him confirm the promise He had made with Abraham. When Jacob arose in the morning he said: "Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not - this is none other but the House of God, and this is the Gate of Heaven." And so he called the place Bethel, which means the House of God. (see Gen. 28:11-19) Jacob set up a stone as a memorial of this great visitation. But in process of time, Bethel became a place of idolatry, and the people of Israel would go to Bethel to worship the golden calves that king Jeroboam had set up, to replace the true God of Israel. This is just one example of the apostasy that sets in, when people forsake the God who revealed His glory at a certain time and place and then, when God is no longer there, they make it to be a place of idolatry. The New Testament equivalent is the Church, for Bethel means the House of God. And now all over Christendom there are places of worship called "the Church," because the true God was once there. The holy Dove of the Spirit of God has long since been grieved, and has flown away. But they still call it "the Church" and people go there to worship they know not what. The Spirit of Truth has been expelled from their gatherings, and replaced with innovative things of one sort or another, to make the place attractive: all kinds of musical instruments, pipe organs, beautiful pulpits and altars, and vestments for the pastor or bishop and the choir, and a short but eloquent sermon. And a true child of God may visit the place, looking for Jesus, and say something like Mary said to the angels at the tomb: "They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him." (John 20:13) The same with Shiloh, where the Tabernacle had remained for many years after they had come out of Egypt. The priesthood had become corrupt, and Eli the high priest seemed helpless to do anything about it. They had ample warnings from God, as to what would happen, but to no avail. And God sent the Philistines to devastate Shiloh, and slay the priests that served their own selfish interests, rather than the people of God. Now where was God in all this apostasy? God had a chosen vessel right there in the Tabernacle a young lad by the name of Samuel. Hanna had asked for him, and she called him Samuel, because God had heard her prayer. And young Samuel grew up there in the Tabernacle, with a clear word from the heart of God. So clear, that God "did let none of his words fall to the ground." (1 Sam. 3:19)
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So it was with God's true prophets all through scripture. They suffered much for the truth, but God was always faithful to bring a clear word to the people, in times of apostasy. One time Jeremiah stood in the gate of the Temple, and cried out against the people who had gathered there to worship God: "Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The Temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD, The Temple of the LORD, are these" - the buildings, and the altars, and the sacrifices, and the vestments, and many other things that God had ordained for Temple worship, but were now given over to idolatry. And the God who ordained the Temple and the ordinances, was nowhere to be seen or heard. (see Jer. 7:1-4) Listen, people of God! You do not have to stay in a place of worship because it was founded by some great man or woman in the Church of former times, or some present day apostle or prophet whom God has used, when the Spirit of God moved freely in their midst - and now it is given over to comedy and drama and musical entertainment and idolatry. And you know that the Spirit of God is grieved, and the Holy Dove no longer rests upon the people, but has flown away in sadness of heart. When His freedom to move in your midst - as a Wind from Heaven, and as a Fire that purges and cleanses His House from all defilement - is no longer there. (However, we would not want to bring any person under condemnation for staying in such a Church if they are assured that God placed them there to be a Witness and a Light in their midst.) The Church, God's Standard of Righteousness Christians are grieved when governments approve immorality, and especially when they pass laws to legalize what the Bible condemns. But where is that powerful Testimony of Jesus in our churches that will cause God's holy fear to take hold of the workers of iniquity and put them to shame, and bring them to repentance? It is the responsibility of the Church to declare God's righteousness in the earth. When Jesus was here, He was God's righteous Voice in the earth. And when He returned to the Father, He made provision for that Voice to continue in the earth, by sending His Spirit to abide in His people. Jesus said: "When He is come He will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment." (John 16:8) The Holy Spirit is faithful to do that; but do we not realize that we are the Temple of His Spirit, in which He lives, and speaks, and performs His righteous judgments in the earth? That's what the body of Christ is all about a people walking in the same Anointing that Jesus walked in, and manifesting the glory and power and righteousness of King Jesus, who now reigns with all power in Heaven and in earth. God will yet have such a people, and they will become a living reproof of the sins of men, and will declare God's righteousness and judgments with power and anointing. In doing so, they too will suffer as Jesus and His apostles suffered, because this world hates the Lord Jesus, and continues to rebel against Him. And if we are on His side, the world will hate us, as it hated Him. "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?" (Jas. 4:4) We must always be aware that our warfare is not against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Eph. 6:12) And we must know that our armour is spiritual armour, and totally sufficient to cause us to overcome any enemy that comes against us (see Eph. 6:10-18). The followers of the Lord Jesus are assured of victory, and they rejoice in the Lamb who is revealed in the Day of the Lord as Conqueror over all the earth. "And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
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Great and marvellous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, And glorify Thy Name? For Thou only art holy, For all nations shall come And worship before Thee; For Thy judgments are made manifest." (Rev. 15:3-4) We hear and read of the suffering Church in many places in the earth, as they war against the Dragon. But the thought seems to be: That's over there, it will not happen to us. Let there be no self-confidence in any of us who know a little about the Word of God, and the evil hearts of men. There will be much persecution even in our land, when the Name of Christ is proclaimed with power and anointing by His faithful servants. CHAPTER 7 - THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION "Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." (Jas. 5:11) "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:7) It seems quite evident that the test and trial that God laid upon His servant Job, is finding a new fulfillment in many of God's people today. Job loved God, knew God very intimately, and was very sensitive to His ways. He was a godly and an upright man. God literally boasted in the righteousness of His servant Job, even before Satan. And it was this that drew Satan into the picture. God knew his boast in Job would do this, but in His own sovereign way, He was going to demonstrate the faithfulness of His servant in the midst of trial, and eventually come to him, and restore his health, and give him much more blessing than he had known before. But over and beyond all that, Job would know his God in a dimension of His power and wisdom such as he had never known before his afflictions. I know very often we bring sickness and disease upon ourselves because of our ignorance, or unbelief, or some kind of failure on our part. But I believe many are suffering the 'afflictions of Job' for no other reason, than that God is refining them, as gold and silver, in a fire that He Himself has kindled. And it is for such people that I would write these final words of encouragement. God is looking for gold in your life and mine, and He will very often allow afflictions for that very purpose. For many centuries this precious metal has retained its reputation as something that men can rely upon at any time at all times. Wars may come and go. The economy of nations might collapse, and their currency might become worthless but the advice has always been: never fail to invest in gold, for it will always survive an economic collapse and bounce back. But what men do not want to believe, is that gold is a perishable commodity. Even though it is considered to be imperishable in the world about us in God's eyes the finest gold that man has ever produced is corruptible and will avail nothing in the fiery trials that will come upon the earth. "Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD." (Ezek. 7:19) But when our God rises up to "shake the heavens and the earth" He will have a people walking close to Him, who are heirs of His Kingdom a "Kingdom which cannot be shaken." They are a people who have been tried by fire, and from whose lives God has burnt away the dross that He might have a people that are truly a praise and glory to His name. Earth-quakes and Heaven-quakes I believe men of God who have understanding of the times are aware that God has already begun a shaking in the earth, which will eventually bring about a collapse of the social and financial systems of the world. Jesus told us that "men's hearts will fail them for fear" as they see what is coming in the world. But we who know Him
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and love Him are admonished very clearly to harbour no fear in our hearts concerning that Day except the "fear of the Lord." Haggai prophesied this word: "Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land." (Hag. 2:6) The apostle Paul expounded on this by saying: "And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain." (Heb. 12:27) What then will remain after the shaking of the heavens and of the earth? Nothing other than the Kingdom of God! And to the heirs of the Kingdom he speaks words of consolation, and of sobriety: "Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom which cannot be moved (or, shaken), let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12:28-29) After all the shakings in the heavens and in the earth the hurricanes, the tsunamis, and the violent storms after the earth-quakes and the heaven-quakes, there remains a Kingdom that is sure and steadfast, and passes not away. And we are now members of that Kingdom, if King Jesus is Lord of our lives. The Psalmist gives us a preview of all this devastation that will take place in the Day of the LORD. Man's day comes quickly to an end. None of the peace plans of men will be effective. For when men reject "the Prince of Peace" there is no other option but war. "Wars" come from the lusts in the hearts of men, as James tells us. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?" (Jas. 4:1) God alone will eradicate wars from the earth. It will not come about by negotiations at the peace table. "Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations He hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; He breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; He burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psa. 46:8-10) We are not to fear those calamities, nor wonder how His people will survive. The Lamb on the Throne has overcome the world, and He will have an overcoming people in the Day of His power. The Israelites who walked across the bottom of the Red Sea in the face of their enemies, and landed on the other side, delivered from the wrath of Pharaoh needed no explanation as to how God might supply their needs in the wilderness that lay before them. They were free from the wrath of Pharaoh, and that was sufficient for that day, and they sang a victory song of deliverance from their enemies. Then the disbelieving ones in their midst woke up the next day with fear in their hearts. What are we doing here? And how can God furnish a table in this wilderness? God was not about to tell them how. All this would unfold in its time. They were taken out of the darkness and the idolatry of the land of Egypt, and delivered from the Pharaoh who had oppressed them; and this was God's assurance to them that He would finish that good work that He had started, and bring them into the Land of Promise. How would they survive without the economy of Egypt? Is it not enough for us to know that when God brings about these desolations in the earth, His people will be arrayed with the Armour of Light, and will be "more than conquerors" through Christ who loves them? For He "hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son." (Col. 1:13) And this Kingdom is a "Kingdom which cannot be shaken." "Be of good cheer," Jesus told the disciples, "I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) Is this not sufficient for us to "war a good warfare" with the whole armour of God that He has given us? It is enough that we simply walk in the Spirit and follow the Cloud of Glory that resides over His Tabernacle by day as a Pillar of Cloud, and by night as a Pillar of Fire. His Presence with us is the only protection we need, as we walk our way through the wilderness journeys of life. The walk of faith is totally contrary to the ways of men, who walk according to "the course of this world." And God is preparing a people of faith, who will hear His voice, and do His will. A people who will walk so close to Him that they fret not about tomorrow. They remember what Jesus said: "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt. 6:31, 33) He will have a people walking so close by His side and who love Him so much, that they are ready to leave tomorrow in His hands. They know their God far more intimately than the sparrow knows its Creator; and they know that if God cares for the sparrow, how much more shall He care for His beloved people whom He has redeemed?
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The Triumph of Job's Faith Of course we desire to be the people that Jesus spoke about. But let us be confident of this: If we profess to believe in our God, He will not hesitate to try our faith to the utmost limit: not to destroy our faith, but to remove every presumptuous thought we might have, that our faith might truly be "the faith of God" in our hearts, by which we live. And the utmost limit is nothing less than what we have heard so often, about the refiner's fire. When the refiner of gold and silver can see his image in the molten metal, he knows the refining process has been completed; and he will remove the precious metal from the fire. And then the gold in us causes us to know that the "fiery trials" of the way were not intended to destroy the gold, but the dross that contaminates the gold. Then we understand a little more of what the apostle said: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet. 1:7) We do not understand how precious "the trial of our faith" is in the sight of God, and we need to meditate on what James calls "the end of the Lord" in Job's trial of faith. James refers to Job as a man who was "an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." (Jas. 5:10-11) Job's patience has become a byword today, and men speak of one who has 'the patience of Job' referring to someone who keeps trying and trying to do something, and can't make it work. But true scriptural patience has nothing to do with that. Patience is a higher quality of 'faith' faith that has been tried in the fire, purged of all selfish and presumptuous thoughts. It is overcoming faith that has been tested and tried, and emerges as pure gold without the dross. Here is the man Job, righteous and godly in all his ways and for no fault of his own he finds himself stripped of family and friends and all the wealth and glory he once enjoyed. He was a great man of God, full of wisdom and charity. But in Job's Triumph of Patience, God revealed Himself to this chosen vessel in a dimension of Himself that Job, in spite of his unblemished life, had not known before. Satan was put to open shame, and Job was humbled and then raised to heights of the revelation of the true God such as he had never known before. And the God whom he loved was vindicated and glorified in and through it all. The men who came to comfort their friend Job with their knowledge and wisdom were likewise put to shame. The comfort they sought to give Job contained a lot of wisdom and knowledge, but it was irrelevant to Job's situation, and therefore they also were subject to God's rebuke, when the Lord "turned the captivity of Job." Many today are taking sides with Job's comforters, by saying that Job brought these troubles on himself through fear. In doing so they are inviting the same kind of rebuke that God poured out on Job's comforters, when He said: "My wrath is kindled against thee for ye have not spoken of Me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath" (Job 42:7). God chastised them for their folly. God's own testimony to Satan is clear: that Job "still holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause." (Job 2:3) It was not Job's sin that prompted Satan to accuse him in the face of God. It was rather his righteousness that Satan didn't like, and he charged Job with opportunism. Why would Job not serve God, Satan said, You have made him very rich, and put a hedge about him, and protected him, so I can't touch him. What consolation this ought to be to us in the journey of life, to know that God has chosen us, taken us out of the kingdom of darkness, and translated us into His Kingdom of Love, and Truth and Righteousness and then hedged us about with goodness and mercy against the wrath of the Evil One! And we may rest assured, that if perchance we find ourselves in situations where we cannot see the hedge of protection about us, and we feel the onslaughts of the Enemy we know that it was God who removed the hedge for a season, to try our faith, and to prove us. Yet all the while He assures us that Satan may cause pain and trouble, but cannot go beyond the limits that God has determined. We may find ourselves walking with Christian the Pilgrim along the narrow way, as he journeys toward the Celestial City. Suddenly we hear the ravenous beasts on either side of us, and roaring at us, and we are startled. Fear grips our hearts! We are about to be overcome and torn in pieces! It is said that the thunderous roar of the lion will freeze the prey for a moment or two, giving the lion a chance to spring on the frightened animal. We must not allow our faith to falter, nor allow any sin in our lives to damage our faith, nor hinder us in our walk along the narrow way. We have learned to keep our eyes focused on the Light of the City of God. And then sometimes it seems that our pathway itself is flooded with the Light, and we press on our way with hope and courage. We love God intensely, and yet fear Him just as intensely. So we do
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not dare to see how close we can come to those angry beasts, without being torn in pieces. Then we discover they are chained, and can only come so far toward our pathway. We know we must stay in the narrow way, always "looking unto Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith." We know we must walk circumspectly. We fear not these Satanic beasts, but with the holy fear of God upon our hearts and lives, we continue on our way, with His Word as "a Lamp unto our feet, and a Light unto our pathway." I think few of God's people have come to the place where they can say with the apostle Paul: "we glory in tribulations also." And the reason may be that we have feared the fiery trial, not knowing that "tribulation worketh patience." (Rom. 5:3) Besides, we live in a comfortable society, and have taken advantage of the situation to live the good life. But I must affirm that when God brings us into this total union with Christ that we long for, we will know what the afflictions of Christ are all about. Right now there is a lot of hatred against God and His Christ in our land, but it is still somewhat subdued. We can be sure that when God raises up a standard of righteousness in His people, there will come about a confrontation with the forces of evil such as we have not known. Satan hates righteousness, and when there is a holy standard raised up against him, persecution will follow. It was because Job walked in righteousness that Satan sought an occasion to afflict him. God's Glory will return to His Church, for many of His people are crying out for it. And the heart of God cries out for it, for His Church is intended to be His own "habitation in the Spirit," and the Light of God "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation (generation)." See Phil. 2:15) The Son of God "loved righteousness and hated iniquity." And when God's people "love righteousness and hate iniquity" as Jesus did, we too will be hated as Jesus was hated. Is God not powerful enough to save His people from persecution? Certainly He is, and sometimes He does. But very often He will allow the wrath of men and of Satan to come against us to purge us and to try us as gold and silver are tried in the fire. God reminds us: "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the Furnace of Affliction." (Isa. 48:10) Joseph knew the furnace of affliction. So did Moses, and David, and the prophets. So did our Lord Jesus. So did the early disciples in the Church. And so does the Church in many nations today, where there is a true Testimony of Jesus shining forth from His people. The Lord will often allow "the Accuser of the Brethren" to stoke the fiery trials of His chosen one, until He has produced the untarnished gold He is looking for. And then Satan is put to shame, as he was put to shame when Jesus was crucified by wicked men. Satan and his evil principalities and powers did not recognize that when they crucified Jesus in the wisdom of God, they themselves were brought to naught. Had they known it, "they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory." (1 Cor. 2:8) O mystery of all mysteries! That no matter how evil men may rage against truth and righteousness, and persecute those who walk in Truth, they are actually doing this to their own shame and destruction! And may God have mercy on them! We may not know too much about the evil devices of the Accuser, but we must give him no honour by thinking he has been given freedom to do as he will in the lives of God's people. God has a hedge about us. Satan knows it, but very often we do not know it. He is actually outside the hedge looking in, and trying to torment us with his roaring threats of hate and anger. It is imperative that we be clothed upon "with the whole armour of God," which Satan cannot penetrate. Paul speaks of having "fought with wild beasts at Ephesus" as he warred against the beastly hate and bitterness of evil men. David confronted many evil beasts in his time of great trial, when he saw himself as a 'worm,' and he was taunted by the evil slander of the workers of iniquity. He saw himself compassed about with "strong bulls of Bashan." He was confronted by the "ravening and a roaring lion." Evil "dogs" compassed him about, and the "power of the dog" threatened him, and "the lion's mouth" opened wide to devour him, and he was caught in "the horns of the unicorns." (see Psa. 22) We know all these attacks on David were prophetic, and were fulfilled in a far greater measure of reality in our Lord Jesus, as He was apprehended by the beasts of religion, and delivered into the hands of a powerful Roman Empire for crucifixion. I recall reading in the journals of George Fox, how in his visions and dreams he would find himself at war with wild beasts full of hate and anger. He was young in the Lord and did not understand that God was preparing him for the day when he would "war a good warfare" against these wild beasts in the hearts of men. But God gave him clear understanding of what weapons he would use against them, and never would he resort to carnal weapons. God had taught him that only as he was clothed upon with "the whole armour of God" would
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he overcome, and he would wield no sword against them, but "the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." God will train us in the art of spiritual warfare, as we take His yoke upon us, and learn of Him. O the trial of faith that the saints of God have gone through, and always they overcame as they walked in obedience before God. Their victory over the Accuser of the Brethren is clearly stated: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Rev. 12:11) They walked in the faith of God enduring the fiery trial to the very end. It is no wonder that the apostle tells us that the "trial of our faith is more precious than of gold that perisheth." The gold that men seek after will perish, as "the fashion of this world passeth away." (1 Cor. 7:31) But Lord give us the grace now, while we have opportunity, to lay up treasures in Heaven, "where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:20-21) Job's Appointment with a Whirlwind When God determined the end to Job's trials, He came on the scene and spoke to Job "out of the whirlwind." He did not accuse His servant; but He asked him about 82 hard questions that left Job totally speechless. O for that glorious Day! When God will speak "yet once more" from Heaven and put an end to the strife among men When God shall speak from Heaven, and bring desolation to all these weapons of war in the world and in the Church When the King on the throne shall have put down all rebellion and opposition to His righteous Government in the heavens, and will have a 'willing people in the Day of His power.' (see Psa. 110:3) Be assured, He has already been exalted as King on the throne of Glory, for God says "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion," and He cries out to all people of all nations, "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little." (see Psa. 2:6,12) "Sit Thou at My right hand" the Father said, "Until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." (Psa. 110:1) The heathen rage against Him, even as they did in the early days of the Church. And they will continue to do so until the appointed time, when He shall encounter His enemies in battle, and kings and rulers and armies of men shall cry out to the mountains and rocks: "Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" (Rev. 6:16-17) God will continue to prepare His people, through much grace as well as much suffering, until He has a holy band of overcomers, who will overcome the Accuser of the brethren: "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Rev. 12:11) The 'hearsay' knowledge that we have as God's people, must give way to words out of "the whirlwind," humbling us to ashes, that out from our burnt-offering unto God, we too might know our God as we never knew Him before. It was from the whirlwind that God spoke to His servant Job who, having been humbled to ashes, was constrained to say: "I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6) Repent of what? Of himself, you might say, of his ignorance of God's ways. He was a righteous man. But he was humbled in the dust and ashes of repentance, when God asked him a host of questions that Job knew he could not answer. Nor did he try. He realized he knew so little of God, and His ways. He saw himself as totally unworthy to defend himself in the Light of the glory of God that was revealed from Heaven. He would leave the fragment of knowledge he had, in dust and ashes, that he might embrace the God that he had always served but now saw Him as he had never seen Him before. As it was with Isaiah, when he saw the glory of God, he cried out: "I am unclean!" As it was with Saul of Tarsus, the Light
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of God blinded this zealous Pharisee for a season. But the Light that blinded his eyes, gave him new vision into heavenly realities a Light that would never be extinguished as he walked among men, nor when he had "finished the course" and gone to be with his Lord. It was the Light that shone out of the darkness in the beginning, and which "hath shined in our hearts, to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 4:6) O Lord, we pray, activate and fulfill in this generation, what your servant Isaiah said concerning the Day of great Darkness: "Arise, shine; for thy Light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee." (Isa. 60:1-2) GEORGE H. WARNOCK

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