KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
studies in end-time revelation
THE HEAVENS DECLARE
LIBRA THE SCALES
We continue with our study of the third and final minor constellation, or group of stars, which surrounds and completes the Sign of Libra. This constellation is known as CORONA BOREALIS---the Northern Crown---or simply, the Crown. It is a lovely semicircle of twenty-one stars, most of which are of the white, twinkling kind, so that the crown is fully jewelled.
From the dawn of time the crown has been the symbol of RULE, whether by secular monarch or by sacred priest. There are two different Greek words in the Greek New Testament which are translated "crown" in English. One of them is STEPHANOS, which denotes a "wreath," a "chaplet." The other is DIADEMA, meaning a "diadem." The most common term rendered "crown" is the word STEPHANOS. This crown is usually a laurel wreath woven of fragrant branches. It was granted to winners in the Olympic Games and also as a token of public honor for distinguished service---especially military leaders who had been victorious over their enemies on the battlefield. It was also given at marriage feasts, especially in royal families, to celebrate the joy of the bridegroom in having "won" the maiden as his bride. This crown always denotes a VICTOR'S CROWN--the crown of an OVERCOMER--one who has fought and WON!
Paul reminds us that the athlete trained and ran to obtain a CORRUPTIBLE CROWN. Those green leaves of the laurel wreath would soon dry up, turn to a faded brown and crumble into oblivion. The branches soon became dead and brittle. Have you won trophies in your lifetime? If you have lived a little while and have had a chance to look back on some of them, you have seen them begin to turn and you wonder why in the world they could have seemed so important at the time. I wonder about what Olympic stars, who spend years of grueling training working to win a gold medal, must think thirty years later when they look at that medal. What does it really amount to then ? Athletes will give themselves to incredible amounts of self-sacrifice to win some perishable crown. In contrast to this, oh ye saints of God, OUR STEPHANOI are INCORRUPTIBLE CROWNS which will never fade away in death--for our crown is the Crown of Life--LIFE ITSELF!
The Victor's Crown is granted as a reward for faithfulness---it is the trophy earned by steadfastness, perseverance and carrying the battle onward to victory. There was once a king who had a heavy stone placed in the middle of a busy road. He hid himself and watched to see who would remove the cumbersome obstacle. Men of various walks of life approached it and went around it. As the king watched, some men openly cursed the king for allowing the road to be so cluttered. One by one they dodged the task of removing the heavy stone. At last, a poor peasant, on his way to town, approached the place. His back was laden with a load of vegetables which he was going to sell. He stopped and contemplated the stone. The king watched eagerly. The peasant laid his load on the ground. Taking a deep breath, he buffed and puffed as he rolled the heavy stone off the road. Turning around, he spied a money bag which had been laying beneath the stone. With trembling hands, he opened the bag. It was filled with a fortune in gold pieces. There was a note folded among the pieces of gold. It stated that the person who removed the stone could have the gold. It was signed by the king.
Beneath every task that the Lord puts in the pathway of our spiritual journey, is a hidden blessing. We, like the people in the story, have a choice. We can dodge the obstacle if we wish. But we do it to our own hurt. Our King will reward us if we faithfully OVERCOME in each test. There are crowns He has prepared for the overcomer. We will receive them if we press on to victory! "Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, IF WE FAINT NOT" (Gal. 6:9). Faint (qui0 in your fulfilling of the Lord's will and you will reap no reward. That is the law of sowing and reaping. "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things WHICH WE HAVE WROUGHT, but that we receive a FULL. REWARD" (II Jn. 8). The word translated "wrought" is also translated "gained." Either way, the message is clear: it is possible to lose rewards which you have gained. You must be faithful to the end of the journey, to the completion of the process, to receive a full reward.
"Behold I came quickly: HOLD THAT FAST WHICH THOU HAST, that no man take thy crown" (Rev. 3:11). If, by faithfulness, you hold fast to the ground you have already gained, you will receive your crown. If you do not stay faithful all the way to the end, you win LOSE that crown which you have already gained! However, SOMEBODY is going to receive it! The Greek word for "take", here, is LAMBANO. It is also translated, "receive." It is not that some other person is going to snatch your crown from you . . . but God WILL HAVE A PEOPLE, a firstfruits, to display the fullness of His life to creation. Should we fail to FOLLOW ON to become that people God will raise up another generation, just as He did with the children of Israel who refused to believe Him and enter into the Promised Land. That is the law of the Kingdom.
May God help an who read these lines to realize that if we would be overcomers we cannot be sluggards or quitters. Nothing can defeat us except our own UNBELIEF! I think of a young man whose goal (in the natural world) was to become a member of the legislature. Now that is a high goal for a man to try to reach. He strove manfully and was defeated. So he decided that he should go into business. The result was that he went bankrupt and spent seventeen years paying off the bad debts of his crooked partner. He fell in love with a beautiful woman and death snatched her out of his hands. He then decided to go into politics. He ran for congress and lost. Then he sought an appointment to a government office (the U.S. Land Office) but was rejected. Then he became a candidate for the vice-presidency, and he was defeated. If any man had reason to quit, this man did! He had a young son who was the darling of his life. And the boy died Did he give up? No, though many a lesser man would have. Today in Washington, D.C. you can look up into his face, filled with sorrow and compassion, and yet with a certain determination as he sits there in his great white chair in the Lincoln Monument and looks down upon the Union that he saved and the slaves that he freed. He didn't quit! He became an overcomer! He prevailed! And he being dead, yet speaketh. Ah, beloved, you may feel today that you have failed every test and opportunity that God has set before you on the journey to the Throne--but arise and shake the dust from your feet, be strong and of a good courage---the race has not ended yet!
"Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty and CONTINUE'I~ therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, THIS MAN SHALL BE BLESSED IN HIS DEED" (James 1:25). "This is a faithful saying and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to MAINTAIN good works"(Titus 3:8). "Who then is a FAITHFUL and wise servant . . .? Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh SHALL FIND SO DOING" (Mat7 24:45-46). "My beloved brethren, be ye STEDFAST, unmovable, ALWAYS ABOUNDING ('being superior, excelling) IN THE WORK OF THE LORD!" (I Cor. 15:58). It is dearly evident. The crowns (rule in the Kingdom) will go to those saints who faithfully run the race to the finish. Quitters will not receive crowns. The faithless will be empty-handed. But the overcomers shall receive the CROWN OF LIFE.
THE CROWN OF LIFE
The journey to the Throne carries us through the process clearly revealed in the three Decans of the Sign of Libra: the CROSS, the VICTIM, and the CROWN. The cross is the transition point by which we die to this carnal realm and are made alive unto God--the realm of SPIRIT. The cross always meant DEATH. When a man picked up his cross and headed for Golgotha, he wasn't coming back! This has never changed. The cross still means DEATH. Notice the Lord's choice of words. "If any man will come after Me, let him DENY HIMSELF and take up his cross DAILY and follow Me" (Lk. 9:23). Notice the word, "daily". This cross-bearing business is a DAILY matter. Just as we need DAILY bread (Mat. 6:11), we need DAILY crucifixion. The life of a disciple demands "dying" every day. Seven days a week. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year (366 in leap year), the true disciple takes up his cross, crucifies the outer life, the flesh man, the carnal mind, the consciousness of old Adam --and DIES! Paul said, "I die DAILY' 0 CoL 15:31). "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). If you take up your cross, it is for the purpose of being CRUCIFIED. If you get crucified, you will DIE. If you DIE, if your mortal consciousness with all its affections, lusts, and delusions are SLAIN, your SPIRIT, the inner reality of the Christ in you will LIVE and reign in righteousness, glory and victory! Now let us turn our attention to this CROWN OF LIFE. Jesus said, "Be thou faithful unto death (the completion of the work of the Cross) and I will give thee a CROWN OF LIFE" (Rev.2:10). One does not have to be a doctor of theology to see that only those 'who faithfully take up their crosses daily and follow Jesus into death to the outer life and the outer world of illusion, will receive a VICTOR'S CROWN OF LIFE. Truly, he that loses his life will save it!
With the apostle Paul the life of the footstep followers of our Lord, the overcomers, is compared to a race and like a boxing match. He exhorts the brethren in Corinth to run this spiritual race of life with the purpose of being victor, and with the goal of being rewarded by Christ with the reward appropriate to that victory. The pagans, he says, strive in their carnal, natural, physical races to obtain carnal, natural, and CORRUPTIBLE crowns, but we strive for an INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN. The startling truth is that not every christian shall automatically receive this incorruptible crown, for it is not a free g/.ft but a PRIZE TO BE WON. Paul says, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but ONE RECEIVETH THE PRIZE? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible" CI Cor. 9:24-25).
James writes of this special blessedness of the one who is patient under trial and stands up under the severest testing, "Blessed, happy, to be envied is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when be has stood the test and been approved he will receive the VICTOR'S CROWN OF LIFE which God has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12). "Temptation," here, is not used in the usual sense. It means "tried." The rest of the verse makes it dear. God never tempts a person to sin. In fact, the apostle goes on to make that point dear. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot BE tempted with evil, NEITHER TEMPTETH HE ANY MAN" (James 1:15). God will not tempt you to sin, but He will TEST you in faithfulness and faith. Blessed is the man who endures testing. He will receive the CROWN OF LIFE. It is with you, as with your Lord; first the CROSS... and then the CROWN.
To further confirm the truth of this higher realm and measure of life which is reserved for the overcomer Jesus Himself says, "Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I WILL GIVE THEE A CROWN OF LIFE. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7,10-11).
To help us understand this transcendent realm of life offered to the overcomer, let us examine the two ,terms "mortal" and "immortal". "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this MORTAL must put on
IMMORTALITY. So when this corruptible shah have put on incorruption, and this MORTAL shall have put on IMMORTALITY, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Cor. 15;53-54).
MORTALITY signifies a state or condition of liability to death; not a condition of death, but a condition in which death is a possibility.
IMMORTALITY signifies a state or condition not liable to death;, not merely a condition of freedom from death, but a condition in which death is an impossibility.
Many people think that "mortality" is a state or condition in which death is unavoidable. That is an altogether erroneous understanding. That which is "immortal" cannot die, but that which is "mortal" can die,--that is, in a state or condition where death is a possibility. Even if the person dwelling in mortality were to live on and on and on--endlessly--yet, at all times death would be a possibility. But with the person abiding in immortality death is an UTTER IMPOSSIBILITY. The person who is mortal may not necessarily have to die--but the possibility is always present he can die!
When man was lowered from the realm of pure spirit existence into this gross material realm he was placed by God in the realm of mortality. He entered into the sense-realm with only a consciousness of his outer flesh-life, the inner spirit being veiled. In this consciousness he could not have been immortal, for God said to him, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die" (Gen. 2:17), and it is IMPOSSIBLE for an immortal person to die! But, on the other hand, it was not necessary for Adam to die, for if he would die anyway why would God have pronounced the threat or penalty of death as a result of his disobedience? If Adam would never have eaten of the forbidden tree, it is obvious that he would have continued to live for as long as that condition was met. It could have been forever! And yet he lived within the POSSIBILITY OF DEATH at any time through disobedience, proving that he was NOT IMMORTAL. The thing we want to see is, that although Adam possessed physical life in full and perfect measure, he did not possess INHERENT LIFE. His outer life was a SUSTAINED LIFE, SUSTAINED FROM W-I-T-H-O-U-T HIMSELF by "every tree of the garden."
Many of those who read these lines have pondered the events that transpired in the Garden of Eden in that dim and distant past. Little by little fragments of truth have opened up, but the grand sum and total of it is not yet unfolded before us. In that heaven blest Garden which the Lord God planted there were all manner of trees that were good for food, and Adam and Eve were to freely partake thereof with one exception--the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now we know that eating a piece of fruit in itself was not the sin, but rather that tree represented something, and that fruit signified a SPIRITUAL REALITY.
At the beginning of man's existence on earth we are shown Adam in a relationship with THEE KINDS OF 'FREES. To understand God's plan, we must be completely dear about these three kinds of trees and what they represent. The three types of trees are set forth in Gen. 2:8-9, 16-17. "And the Lord God planted a Garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground (man's consciousness) made the Lord God to grow EVERY TREE that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the TREE OF LIE also in the midst of the Garden, and the TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL." Here are the three classes of trees which could be perceived and experienced by Adam and Eve: (1) all the trees of the Garden (2) the tree of life (3) the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
There is a clear distinction made between a GROVE composed of "every tree of the Garden that is good for food" on the one hand, and the two trees which were in "the midst of the Garden" on the other hand-4he tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Thus, ALL THE TREES OF THE GARDEN (the grove) are distinct from either the tree of life or the tree of knowledge. The tree of life was not of the same nature as "all the trees of the Garden" and the tree of knowledge, likewise, was not the same as those trees. After God formed man of the dust realm He placed him before these three kinds of trees, and man's whole life was pictured as a matter of feasting upon one tree or the other. How man would live and walk depended entirely upon his relationship with these three kinds of trees. God told man plainly, "You may freely eat of ALL THE TREES OF THE GARDEN." He also said, "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." Let all who read these lines know and fully you understand that there was no death in "all the trees of the Garden"--death lay only in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam could have continued to live on and on and on.. . forever . . . being sustained only by the fruit of "all the trees of the Garden." It was not necessary for him to eat of the tree of life in order to continue to live. He had only to keep on eating from "all the trees of the Garden." Yet--though he continued to live and not die he was STILL MORTAL, for the POTENTIAL for death lay with him. His life was a SUSTAINED LIFE, not an immortal life. Yes, in obedience to God he was justified--his life was secure--the sustaining elements would not be denied. Thus seen, Adam had life, and death was entirely avoidable, yet he was in such a condition that death was possible--he was MORTAL. Before long Adam did disobey and lost for himself and for the whole human race the privilege of a sustained life. Adam, and all men in him, fell into death.
The tree of knowledge and the tree of life both were "in the midst" of the Garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the flesh--the carnal mind. "For to be carnally minded IS DEATH" (Rom. 8:6). "For if ye live after the flesh YE SHALL DIE" (Rom. 8:13). The tree of life is the Spirit--the mind of Christ. "To be spiritually minded IS LIFE" (Rom. 8:6). "If ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, YE SHALL LIVE" (Rom. 8:13). The life-giving fruit of this tree was accessible to man but had absolutely nothing to do with the realm of earthiness. In the tree of life God invited man to discover HIM--the indwelling Spirit--as the source and center of life, that in union with Him God would be at once both the indwelling power of life and the environment in which man would live, move, and have his being. By eating of the tree of life man would be full of light, abounding in heavenly wisdom and knowledge, fearful in power and dominion, ethereal as a spirit and shining in the image of God. The fruit of this wonderful tree would make men radiant with the resplendent glory of God as was Jesus, the last Adam, at the transfiguration, whose face shone as the sun and His raiment was as the light. The mighty power of this tree would raise men up beyond any possibility of sin, corruption and death into the incorruptible divine life demonstrated by Jesus when He arose from the dead in a body of glorification. In this tree of life the effulgent perfumes of the heavenly realm would be fragrance and life to man's nostrils. He would taste spiritualties and touch spiritual things. The wisdom and power of God Himself would be wide open to him and he would walk in the presence and glory of celestial realms. The gates of that realm would never be shut by day or night. The heavens would be opened over his head and he would walk in the power and majesty of God Almighty.
It is imperative that every saint of God understands that the first man Adam and the last man Adam are more than mere historical characters. That first man did indeed live and walk upon this earth in the long ago. The second man, Jesus Christ, likewise lived and walked upon the earth two millenniums ago. But great is the mystery of God and great is the mystery of man. The truth is that both men are STILL ALIVE AND WALKING THE EARTH. Both are here alive in their posterity and both continue to reproduce after their kind. You will never understand the mystery of God and the mystery of man until your eyes are opened to see that both men exist right there within that wonderful and complex world which is YOU. The first man was made "a living soul" and your soulish man is the offspring of that soulish man; the second man was made "a QUICKENING SPIRIT~ (I Cor. 15:45) and your spirit man is the offspring of that spiritual man.
There is a spirit in man and that spirit is THE TRUE MAN and the true personality--the image of God. The spirit can never rest satisfied until it rests in God. It ever seeks communion with God and longs with unutterable longing and unceasing desire for fellowship with the Most High. This should not seem strange, for God is the FATHER OF SPIRITS (Heb. 12:9). Therefore it is no wonder if the spirit is restless until it is one with Him. The first man is of the earth, earthy, and he is your earthiness; the second man is the Lord from heaven, and this is the tree man of spirit. The beautiful, pure, and divine constitute his ancestry. His origin is not, like the outer man who is perishing, in brute instinct and material substance. Spirit has its primitive and ultimate source of being---God is his Father, and Life is the law of his being. The first man is natural; the second man is spiritual. The first man contained a "breath of life"; the second man "has life in Himself" even as the Father has life in Himself. "For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself (,In, 5:25). Both of these men, precious friend of mine, are Y-O-U. And you may walk after the flesh and DIE, or you may walk after the spirit and LIVE!
We have seen that father Adam in the beginning had a conditional natural life (body and soul) which could have been sustained forever by walking in obedience to the law of God. Death came by sin, and sin is the transgression of the law. Furthermore, he could have possessed IMMORTAL life by being joined to the Spirit. Jesus came to earth in that same wonderful potential of manhood---but He not only walked in union with the Spirit, He brought His faculties into union with the Spirit until soul and body were raised up into the full immortality of God's divine life and nature. This realm of IMMORTALITY which He apprehended for the whole man has by Him been made available to all who will avail themselves of it. We have already seen that it is promised to the OVERCOMER and is a PRIZE to be gained by running for it. It is called a CROWN OF LIFE. It is the RULE OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE. Now let me be very clear--many shall attain to never-ending life as they continue to walk in faith and obedience as Adam could have--but only those who PAY THE PRICE shall actually be raised up into IMMORTALITY---completely beyond the capability of dying or ever again being corrupted either spiritually, soulically, or physically.
I am sure that this thought that not every christian shall in the ages to come possess the full degree of life which is IMMORTALITY will come as a shock to many. But the scriptures clearly indicate MORE THAN ONE DIMENSION of everlasting life. One is the kind of life Adam could have bad, a SUSTAINED LIFE, and the other is the kind of life that ONLY JESUS has been raised up into--INHERENT LIFE. The first raises men up in redemption to the quality of life Adam knew before he sinned and the second goes far beyond "redemption" (a buying back) to the ultimate purpose of God for the NEW CREATION, expressed in the nature, image, glory and dominion of the last Adam, the Lord from heaven. One will never understand that quality of life which is a "prize" to be won until he clearly sees that the first Adam never did dwell in that dimension of life demonstrated by the last Adam. Redemption means "to buy back" and involves a return to a former condition. Redemption, therefore, does not guarantee an entrance into the full and complete glory of the last Adam, the Lord from heaven; but it does purchase for men a return to the first condition and state of man before he sinned. Redemption restores men to the Edenic state of fellowship with God, human perfection, and eternal access to a SUSTAINED LIFE. But those elect sons of God who lay hold upon the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, many sons brought to HIS GLORY, become partakers of a life which far transcends in wisdom, glory and power the sustained life of redemption's provision--even IMMORTALITY AND INCORRUPTION! The wonderful everlasting life provided by redemption is the FREE GIFF of God to all who believe on the name of the Lord, receiving Him as Saviour and Redeemer. The dimension of life which transcends redemption is a glorious PRIZE to be sought after and WON.
Let us consider a few scriptures that speak of the life which is a FREE GIFT by faith. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" 0n, 3:16). "For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). "Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the FREE GIFT came upon all men unto justification of life" (Rom. 5:18).
Now we shall examine other passages that reveal a realm of life which is NOT A FREE GIFT at all. One previously quoted is James 1:12, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation (testing); for when be is tried he shall receive the VICTOR'S CROWN (STEPHANOS) OF LIFE." This "crown of life" is reserved only for the Victors --the overcomers! Consider how great is the exhortation of Paul in ICor. 9:24-45, "Know ye not that they which run a race run a//, but ONE receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an INCORRUPTIBLE. I therefore so run." "To him that OVERCOMETH (not believeth.) will I give to eat of the TREE OF LIFE, which is in the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7).
That the great apostle himself had not yet (in his opinion) qualified for this "crown of life" he states plainly in his epistle to the church at Philippi. Hearken to his word! "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom 1 have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may W-I-N CHRIST, and be found I-N HIM" (Phil. 3:7-9). Surely Paul did not have to go through all that sacrifice, humiliation, stripping and death in order to have Christ in his life--to be SAVED! Paul himself had explained to the Philipplan jailer the simple requirement for salvation: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:31). But in chapter three of Philipplans Paul continues, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; IF BY ANY MEANS I MIGHT ATTAIN UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF (Greek: out from) THE DEAD. NOT as though I had ALREADY ATTAINED, either were ALREADY PERFECT: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3: 10-12).
Fortunately, Paul gives us some very vital information concerning this resurrection "out from" or "from among" the dead, without which we would be very much in the dark. He tells us just how he was planning to be included in it. He also tells us how others came to be included in the same class with him, and he states that the revelation concerning this great attainment and the way into it, is the sign of spiritual perfection (Phil. 3:11-15). But the popular teachers of this day have totally missed these great truths. Let us consider them very carefully. They are of the utmost importance. In Phil. 3:8-14, Paul informs us that he had given up the world, given up everything, that he might suffer with Christ, with his nature transformed to die even as Christ died, "IF BY ANY MEANS I might attain unto the resurrection out from amongst the dead." In our King James version this is rendered, "the resurrection OF the dead:" a pathetic, and altogether misleading translation.
A moment's just reflection will suffice to convince the reader that the apostle is not speaking here of the broad truth of "the resurrection of the dead," inasmuch as everyone must rise again." There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust" (Acts 24:15). In the Greek language the resurrection "of the dead" is NEKRON or TON NEKRON and is applied to all classes of people because all will be raised. But the term EK NEKRON--"out of the dead"--is not once applied to the unjust or the ungodly, or in any general sense. The resurrection of which Paul spoke was not the general resurrection of saints. Paul knew that he was a saved man, and as such knew there was positively no way he could escape the resurrection of the just. Now, if there were but one resurrection of the saved, as modern Babylon teaches, then all of his strivings were altogether uncalled for and useless. But no: Paul was not striving in vain; and unto the saints at Philippi he wrote, "But whatever former things I had that might have been gains to me, I have come to consider as one combined loss for Christ's sake. Yea, furthermore I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege--the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish in order that I may WIN Christ.. . that I may in that same way came to know the power outflowing from HIS RESURRECTION; and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into the likeness even to His death, in the hope that IF POSSIBLE I MAY ATYAIN TO THE.. . RESURRECTION THAT LIFTS ME OUT FROM AMONG THE DEAD EVEN WHILE IN THE BODY. Not that I have now attained this ideal or am already made perfect, but I PRESS ON to lay hold of and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me" (Phil. 3:7-12, Amplified).
Oh! dearly beloved brethren, the resurrection "of" the dead is one thing, but the resurrection "out from among" the dead is a mightily different thing. If ALL the people in a building leave it at the same time, it is the coming out "of" the company; but if only SOME of the people present leave, theirs is a coming out "from" the rest of the company. It was for this resurrection "out from" the dead that Paul longed continually. This was the bright and blessed hope that shone upon his soul and cheered him amid the sorrows and trials, the toils and the difficulties, the buffetings and the conflicts. Every soul who dies, both saint and sinner, must be in the resurrection "of' the dead, for as in Adam ALL die, so in Christ shall ALL be made alive. There is no possible way of avoiding it. But to be a partaker in the resurrection "from among" the dead, that, Paul tells us, is a special blessing and distinction for those who FOLLOW ON TO KNOW THE LORD. These not only are clothed with everlasting life in body, soul and spirit: they are invested with such IMMORTALITY and INCORRUPTION as to be forever and completely beyond the capacity to sin or the capability of death. There's is not merely a SUSTAINED LIFE, but an INHERENT LIFE--God's own divine and eternal life in the fullness of HIMSELF!
You will never know the power of Christ's resurrection until you know union with Him.. There are a couple verses of scripture that I would like to consider with you. If you will let these gracious inspired words speak for themselves, you will be given to understand a mystery comprehended by very few men or women who have walked the face of this planet. The following words of the apostle Paul are freighted with meaning and spiritual significance. "For our conversation is in heaven; form whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3:20-21). The opening statement of this beautiful passage declares that "Our conversation is in heaven." The word conversation is from the Greek word POLITEUMA meaning "citizenship." It is not our words or our talk that are in heaven, but our citizenship--our habitation and residence with full civil rights. We are citizens of heaven. Our residence is in heaven. Heaven is our place of birth, our homeland, our native sphere of habitation. We already dwell in heaven N-O-W. God is SPIRIT, and heaven is the RFAIM OF THE SPIRIT in which God dwells. To be born of the Spirit is to be born in heaven. To live in the Spirit is to live in heaven. To walk in the Spirit is to walk in heaven.
It will be worth our time to examine prayerfully just what is actually stated in the passage of scripture now under consideration. "For our citizenship is in heaven, FROM WHENCE WE LOOK.. ." "We LOOK." I ask you to notice this particularly. 'From whence WE LOOK." "FROM WHENCE we look." It does not say, 'from whence we SHALL look? Nor does it say, "from whence the Lord shall come.' 'From whence WE LOOK FOR THE SAVIOUR, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST: who shall change our vile body.. .' It does not at all say that the Lord Jesus Christ shall come from heaven, although that is how our superficial reading and carnal mindedness has taken it. Nothing is said here about where Christ dwells, or where He is coming from. The subject is not where Christ is, but where WE ARE and WHAT WE ARE DOING THERE. Where are we? "Our citizenship (residence, homeland) is in heaven.' This lovely passage shows the believer to be a heavenly man, positioned in the heavenlies---living out of the realm of SPIRIT. And what are we doing there? From that lofty vantage point and exalted state of consciousness we are LOOKING FOR THE SAVIOUR to change our vile body. Just as a man may sit in a tire-tower steadily looking for the tell-tale signs of smoke that alert him to a forest fire, so WE SIT IN HEAVEN LOOKING FOR THE SAVIOUR TO CHANGE OUR BODY. The message is clear--we are not on earth looking for our Saviour to come crashing down from heaven. Rather, from our exalted seating in the height of heaven we look for this change, for we know the Christ there, we belong to Him there, we are joined in one with Him there, we are heavenly because He is. He will extend the work of salvation and exaltation to the body-realm, so as to present the whole being in the power of eternal life in the true sphere and home of that life above--a spiritual body. We are to possess a fully developed body which belongs to the celestial world. This change from mortality to immortality takes place as Christ rises from within us, coming out of heaven (spiri0 to manifest finally in the visible world. As we find CHRIST IN US as the source of our life, tremendous changes take place. Oh! the mystery of it. It is not from earth that we look for heaven to swoop down and change us; it is in heaven that we look for our outer man to catch up with our inner man. "FROM HEAVEN we look.. ." Hallelujah!
This, my beloved, is that resurrection "out from among" the dead, the "crown of life" which is that FULL SALVATION that includes the plenteousness of His incorruptible life, nature and power. It is the FULL SALVATION of spirit, soul and body, a victory so complete, so powerful, so divine and eternal, that there is NO POSSIBILITY of ever sinning or dying again. And while I have called it a "salvation," it is MORE than salvation, it is something BEYOND salvation, an attainment, the P-R-I-Z-E of a quality and dimension of life the first Adam has never known! These overcomers possess the very fullness of the divine nature. They are not merely "saved by grace," but have totally laid down their own lives and completely taken up HIS. They are an INCORRUPTIBLE and IMMORTAL people spiritually, soulically and bodily. This, dear ones, is the TRUE ETERNAL SECURITY! Why is this resurrection such a PRIZE? Why is it worth giving up everything to run the race? Because it bespeaks of a REAIM OF LIFE and honor and glory and dominion in the fullness of Christ which none others shall receive. It is reserved for OVERCOMERS alone---not for the general run of Christians who have hob-nobbed with the world and taken the mark of the beast by following and propagating the doctrines of anti-christ which are cherished by the man-made churches.
The Lord seeks to bring His overcoming remnant into THE POWER OF AN ENDLESS LIFE. It is greater than Pentecostal power. Greater than power to speak in tongues, prophesy, heal the sick, cast out devils, and do signs and wonders. It is greater than witnessing power, and even greater than power to raise the dead. Pentecostal power lies within the "in part" realm of I Cor. 13:8-10. When that which is PERFECT is come, that which is in part shall be done away! Soon, very soon, those powers will no longer be needed because the manifested sons of God shall arise in the power of the Melchizedekian Priesthood to deliver creation from the bondage of corruption. A ministry is coming where there is no limited measure of the Spirit, no "in part" manifestation of the "gift" realm. There will be no need to heal the sick, cast our devils, multiply bread and fish, or raise the dead---it will be a ministry from the IMMORTAL REALM where everlasting life will flow fully and freely to all creation. Death is not the grave or the coffin. DEATH IS THAT WHOLE DREADFUL REAIM IN WHICH MAN HAS EXISTED EVER SINCE THE TRANSGRESSION IN EDEN. Mankind groans to be delivered, not merely from sin and sickness and trouble and the grave, but out of death, out of the DEATH REALM altogether.
We can only speculate what it win be like to be in the full power and glory of IMMORTAL life. God is moving to bring His holy remnant into the power of and indissoluble life, even now. There will be a full and complete severing from the earth realm, from the carnal mind, from the death realm and all its claims, God wants a free, heavenly, celestial people, a body of sons totally detached from all that is earthly, limited, and temporal. It is possible to move into a resurrection realm in our consciousness that places us beyond time, beyond the thinking and power of the world, beyond the bondage of health, security, and death itself. Is that not the greatest power that God can give to mankind--to make him an eternal SPIRITUAL BEING in the very glory of God? Ah, what a PRIZE! What a CROWN! "So let us run.. ."
But note, precious friend of mine, I did not say that God would make us SPIRITS--but SPIRITUAL BEINGS. What God is creating is a NEW CREATION--something that has never been before! It is God (spiri0, but not just God. It is man (form, image), but not just man. It is God and man brought together in a union producing a race of beings that are not God or man, yet God AND man! It is the NEW CREATION. In the vast storehouse of truth embraced by the holy scriptures no part nor phase thereof is in any way more outstanding or clear than the truth that man was designed by his Creator to possess a body. Man is not designed to have his spirit flit about through eternity without a body. The apostle Paul echoes the sense of revulsion found in the heart of every man at the thought of being found "naked" or disembodied. Speaking of the earthly tabernacle of flesh, he writes, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that hath wrought us FOR THIS SELFSAME THING IS GOD.. ." OI Con 5: 1-5).
There is another body, thank God! formed of the incorruptible life of the resurrected and glorified Christ of God, the last Adam, the God-man, the firstborn of the NEW CREATION species. This marvelous body is from heaven even as my present body is of earth. It is the offspring of the last Adam, just as my flesh body is the offspring of the first Adam. I do not hesitate to declare to you that as a man PUTS ON CHRIST he puts on not only the spirit of Christ but also the RESURRECTION BODY of Christ, and this body IS OUR HOUSE FROM HEAVEN. As the pure and holy life of the Son of God is formed within us God shall also give us bodies worthy of such divine life, bodies capable of expressing all the wisdom and nature and power of that blessed realm beyond sin and death, yea, beyond time and space and matter! What a PRIZE! What a CROWN! This is the CROWN OF LIFE--the crown which IS LIFE ITSELF! Ah, beloved saints of God, let us PRESS ON to obtain this glorious and eternal Crown of Life!
THE CROWN OF MERCY
There are several crowns promised to the overcomer. In II Tim. 4:7-8 Paul says, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing." It is my duty before God to tell you that the VICTOR'S CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS is not that "imputed righteousness" accredited to your account at the time you placed your faith in Christ, but an A'I'FAINED RIGHTEOUSNESS acquired as one's STATE OF BEING through the deep processings of God in the life. Imputed righteousness justifies you from your sins; attained righteousness transforms your nature, qualifying you to reign in righteousness in the Kingdom of God. "Behold, a King shall reign in righteousness.. ." (Isa. 32:1). "And they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Rev. 20:6).
Then there is the CROWN OF GLORY. "And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a CROWN OF GLORY that fadeth not away" (I Pet. 5:4). The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of glory. God is called, "the God of glory'(Acts 7:2). The Kingdom on God is a family; its Father is called "the Father of glory" (Eph. 1:17). Christ, who brought this Kingdom into being is called "the Lord of glory" 0 Cor. 2:8). The Holy Spirit, the energy of this whole heavenly Kingdom, is called 'the Spirit of glory" 0 Pet. 4:14).
T. Austin Sparks has written: "The crown of the incorruptible is glory. The Son, as the Lord of glory, is governing everything in relation to glory. What a glorious statement that is; how much there is gathered into that--GOVERNING EWERYTHING IN RELATION TO GLORY--the LORD OF GLORY! So we have in our Bible a whole book containing the record of the activities of the Lord of glory. Situations and positions seem at first sight all the work of the devil, all the work of devil-inspired and devil-energized people--situations so difficult that they look hopeless. And that book contains the verdict of the long run, that everyone of those situations was turned to glory, something glorious came out of every hopeless and impossible position. The LORD OF GLORY was seeing to that! Yes, there is much comfort in that title 'the Lord of glory.'
"Glory is not some place to which we are going presently, although glory may be a sphere in which everything is glorious. Glory is for now. It is a part of the very life that we have now received. It is the essence of Christ as 'in us, the hope of glory~. May the Lord teach us how to keep dear of this corrupted world, how to keep clear of that wretched., corrupt old man. You remember that magnificent, though so very simple, picture Bunyan has given us--the man with the muck rake, with the crown of glory over his head, but so occupied with his rake and obsessed with what is down there in the mud, that he sees not the glory, he misses it all" end quote. Ah, beloved, that muck is our outer man, the flesh life, the carnal mind, and we are always turning him this way and that to see if we can find something good in him, some glory. May the blessed Spirit of Truth teach us now and forever that there is no glory in this outer world of appearances, and we must end all the investigations in that realm. Count it all but dung, but loss, and lift up your eyes to the Lord of glory--and you will find the way of glory, and you will be crowned with the Crown of Glory, even the Spirit of the Lord.
Another wonderful crown is mentioned in Ps. 104:4, "Who CROWNETH thee with loving kindness and tender mercies." In the Hebrew "lovingkindness" is HHESED; "tender mercies" is RAHHAMIM, which is equivalent in power to our English word "compassions." This is the God of all grace placing a crown upon those who rule with Him. This is the God of love placing upon your head the insignia of anointing as one of His King-Priests. What IS this crown, this kingly, priestly anointing, this power and authority to rule? HHESED and RAHHAMIM --LOVINGKINDNESS and TENDER MERCIES! Or it can be stated as: mercy and compassions.
Think of it! God's Crown, God's Ruling Authority and Power! Crowned with MERCY! Ruling by MERCY! This is truth of unfathomed depth. What kind of a crown do you have in mind when you think of "wearing a crown" in the Kingdom of God? It is my prayerful hope that these words will prove helpful in bringing many of God's precious elect into their crown-fitting. "In mercy shall the throne be established" 0sa. 16:5). "Mercy shall be built up for ever" (Ps.89:2). It is when this MERCY COMPANY has fully become, matured in the nature of God, then shall the completeness of the MERCY THRONE be revealed in the earth. Christ is now OUR Mercy Seat, and in due time God's firstfruits are to become that Mercy Seat for others--to unfold God's transforming mercy to all. In the Tabernacle in the wilderness the Mercy Seat--the Mercy Throne is what the Most Holy Place was made for. As we today are given boldness by the blood of Jesus to truly enter the Most Holy Place not made with hands-the realm of God's fullness--may we enter humbly with this knowledge, and in this spirit--the Most Holy Place is prepared and ordained.. . for MERCY! It is made just for the Mercy Seat. The unmerciful will never stand on this holy ground. No place here to view any man with the thought, "Does he deserve it?" We have not deserved it, any more than any man, we had no merits to claim His favor, but it was freely given to us just the same, and from this holy station we shall learn to freely give in like manner, not imputing men's sins unto them, but revealing HIS REDEEMING MERCY.
This is often times difficult for those priests-to-be who have come out of the church system with a heavy hangover of condemnation and charging every man with guilt and shame. It was a sin to do this, it was a sin to do that, and we were so sin-conscious that we were not able to kindle any consciousness of the awesome power of HIS ABOUNDING MERCY.
This truth might well be illustrated by the children's story of the sun and the wind. In the make-believe story, the sun and the wind discussed which of them was the strongest. The wind said he could prove that he was the strongest by blowing the coat off a man who walked on the road below. So the sun slipped behind a cloud and Mr. Wind started blowing until the man thought a tornado had come up. But the harder the wind blew, the tighter hold the old man took on his coat. Finally the wind saw that he could not blow the man's coat off, so he gave up in defeat. Then it was the sun's turn to try. The sun came out from behind the clouds and smiled kindly on the old man. Presently the warm loving rays of the sun caused the man to pull off his coat. The sun had proved that the power of love and light and kindness is stronger than fury and force!
How we have ranted and raved and stormed at men about their sins and judgment! But it has been well said that "There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; No disease that enough love will not heal; No door that enough love will not open; No gulf that enough love will no bridge; No wall that enough love will not throw down; No sin that enough love will not redeem. It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the problem, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangles, how great the mistake a sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all--if only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world."
Ah---perhaps now we can understand something of the divine wisdom that, when it purposes to save a world gone awry, says, "FOR GOD S-O L-O-V-E-D THE WORLD, that He gave His only begotten Son ..." Then to the bearers of that love He bids, "LOVE your enemies.. ." And God in Christ has enough love to go around, praise His wonderful name! And by that love He is CROWNING His King-Priests for the age and the ages to come with lovingkindness and tender mercies! What a Kingdom! What a Throne! His Word declares it! The heavens declare it! This is the CORONA BOREALIS--the Northern Crown, the dominion of the sons of God!
J. PRESTON EBY
P O BOX 371240
El Paso Texas
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