KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God. . ."
THE HEAVENS DECLARE
SAGITTARIUS THE ARCHER
We continue our study of the Sign of SAGITTARIUS --THE ARCHER. This Sign of the heavens brings before us a Centaur with the body of a horse and the torso of a man. The human portion of the Centaur is a man with a bow and arrow and he is drawing the bow and aiming the arrow at Atares --the very heart of the Scorpion. Here is the picture of Christ the Redeemer going forth to destroy the adversary. His character here is that of the Mighty One, girding Himself with honor and majesty, and going forth to victory. He rides as a King, armed with bow and arrows, shooting down His enemies. The one who is conquered is the Scorpion --the Prince of darkness, the Lord of sin, sorrow and death. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Conqueror of the Scorpion! This is the picture of One who in refulgent glory rides forth upon a white horse with a bow, going forth as the Conquering King to conquer, and to conquer. The apostle John in his visions on Patmos beheld "a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer" (Rev. 6:2). It is the same divine Hero in both instances.
In Revelation chapter six there is a description of the opening of the seven seals by the Lamb which draws upon many Old Testament symbols. John saw four horses. The first horse was white and the Rider had a bow, and a victor's crown was given unto him and he came forth conquering, and to conquer. The second horse was flaming red and the Rider had the power given to him to take peace from the earth and he was given a great sword. The third Rider had a balance in his hand and sat upon a black horse. The fourth horse was ashen or sickly pale and the name of the Rider was Death, and Hades followed with him. He was given authority over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword, famine, pestilence, and wild beasts.
Until I heard the story in which a self-educated man told of what his life was like before he learned to read, I had never thought much about how illiteracy affects one's perception of the world. He knew very little about life beyond his own neighborhood. Although he had occasionally met people from other cities, he had little idea where those cities were in relation to his own little world. Knowing only how to live by crime, he ended up in prison, where he finally learned to read. This opened up a whole new view of the world --a world he'd never known before, even though it had existed about him all his life. He discovered new options and began to make better choices about how to live. Crime was no longer his occupation, and he turned to productive pursuits. Learning to read words redefines our understanding of the world around us. But there is another kind of literacy that has an even more profound impact on our comprehension of reality. This could be called SPIRITUAL LITERACY -- that is, the ability to read -- to perceive and understand -- the language of the Spirit, the realities of the spiritual world. When we lack this ability to make sense of the broad vistas of spiritual truth, we are left trying to interpret spiritual realities from the limited, distorted perspective of the carnal mind -- natural reasoning and human understanding. I do not hesitate to tell you that the world and the church today are literally filled and overflowing with SPIRITUAL ILLITERATES!
The book of Revelation is first and foremost a SPIRITUAL BOOK. It is a book of spiritual realities communicated by means of signs and symbols. The opening statement in the book of Revelation is --"The REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST." Everything in the book bespeaks of the unveiling of Jesus Christ. The Revelation sets before us a glorious Person, with the veil removed from our eyes so that we may look upon Him and perceive His life, His nature, His ways, His purposes and His dealings. Until one sees the Christ of God on every page, in every chapter, in every scene, and in every verse of the Revelation he remains an illiterate so far as the true meaning of this wonderful book is concerned. Understood as the Revelation of Jesus Christ in and through His body, immediately the book is changed from a prophecy of cataclysmic and apocalyptic end-time events, to a progressive unfolding of the very life, victory and triumph of the Christ in His people and unto creation. Every scene within the book, of the woes, thunders, earthquakes, conflicts, vials, beasts, etc., in all of their sundry and various manifestations, are all to serve but one purpose, and contribute to but one end, namely, To BRING FORTH THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST. Thus, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are among the most significant of the great symbols in the Word of God because they give the key to the processings of God within us. When you have grasped their full significance, by understanding how the scriptures speak of horses, in order to teach spiritual truth, you will have gained an appreciation of Bible symbolism. Nothing can be more vivid and dramatic than the scenes which are successively exhibited as the Lamb opens the seals in the book of Revelation. The four living creatures in the midst of the throne, one after another announce the breaking of the first four seals, with a loud cry of "Come, and see!" As each seal is opened the Seer beholds a visionary figure pass across the field of view, emblematic of that portion of the scroll which is unrolled. There is a divine progression in the vision which opens from glory to glory. When the Lamb opened the first seal, John records, "And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer."
As we have previously pointed out, the primary hindrance to the revelation of Jesus Christ in us is the dominion of the soul --our will, mind, emotions and desires. In order for Christ to be fully revealed in us the attributes of the carnal mind must be effectively dealt with. The carnal mind is an earthbound, unspiritual enemy of God. It is the flesh that wars against the spirit, and it is the carnal mind that receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. The natural man is enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. Before the One who has purchased us can take full possession of His inheritance in us there must first be the dispossession of all that hinders the expression of the Spirit. Just as the children of Israel were commanded to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan, so must the giants that usurp our land be conquered. This, my friend, IS THE MINISTRY OF THE FOUR HORSEMEN! The events surrounding these Four Horsemen all portray conflict, war and destruction. The Four Horses are war horses -- and are representations of the activities of the Christ sent forth into our earth to dispossess the usurpers -- the carnal mind, the will of the flesh, the desires of the flesh, and the works of the flesh. It is the taking possession of our earth by the Christ of God. The Four Horses and their Riders present a vivid picture of God's dealings, strippings, purgings, prunings, and processings by which we are reduced to God. Swift, powerful, irresistible ruin is visited upon our outer world of illusion, and our inner heart of deceit. These horses are sent, not to overcome the world outside, but to overcome the world within; not to judge the outward nations of the earth, but to subjugate the kings which rule in our hearts. As the outer dimensions of our life are stripped away, the inner vitality of the Christ emerges into view. HE becomes revealed! Ah --this is the Centaur, the horse and his rider in the heavens armed with a bow, SAGITTARIUS sending his arrows into the heart of the Scorpion. This is CHRIST THE CONQUEROR!
No one preaches the coming of the Lord more than I do. Christ is coming. He is coming conquering, and to conquer! He will conquer you, my friend! He will ride into your world swiftly and powerfully and will shoot His arrows into your heart until every knee bows and Christ is Lord of all! We will not experience the victory until first we have been vanquished by Christ and have surrendered our carnal weapons. The power of His Kingdom must reign supreme within. The white horse is Christ riding forth out of the inner realm of Spirit, invading the outer dimensions of soul and body, initiating His march of conquest. He enters our domain first with light and illumination, quickening our spirit by His Spirit, giving the understanding that comes from the light of His countenance. He carries on His conquests with great rapidity. With great vigor and velocity He moves down upon the enemy; and wheeling His forces into line, charges upon the opposing ranks, overcoming them by the impetuous energy of His movements, before they have recovered themselves from the surprise of His sudden and swift attack. And no sooner does He attack upon His white horse of illumination and righteousness, than He appears upon His red horse, pressing the battle ever forward.
THE RED HORSE
The Rider upon the red horse staggers the imagination and defies description. The scene is so heavenly, so divine and wonderful, that words utterly fail to describe it. The first thing that is said about the red horse is that "power was given unto him to take peace from the earth" (Rev. 6:4). To those who are experiencing the progressive unfoldment of the Christ-life within one thing becomes increasingly clear -- within them there rages a furious battle. Upon our spirit being quickened by His Spirit, our lives become the meeting place -- battle ground -- for two orders that are opposed to one another --the flesh and the spirit. This conflict is clearly defined by the apostle Paul in his epistle to the Galatians. "For the flesh wars against the spirit, and the spirit wars against the flesh; for these are antagonistic to each other -- continually withstanding and in conflict with each other " (Gal. 5:17). Let us glance for a moment throughout the entire Bible. It is a book of warfare. Two thrones are at war. We discern rival sovereignties. We read of two kingdoms. We are everywhere conscious of a clash of wills. There are two men, two peoples, two natures, two realms. As a result we face throughout scripture irreconcilable opposites: life and death; light and darkness; love and hate; righteousness and evil; holiness and iniquity; liberty and license; truth and lies; law and grace; mercy and judgment; the glorious city of God and the great harlot city of Babylon.
The Bible is a book of war. "The Lord is a man of war" (Ex. 15:3). The saints are men of war. Heaven is a realm of war as well as the earth. "There was war in heaven" (Rev. 12:7). The sons of God are the Lord's army. David was a man of war. "Then answered one of the servants and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite that is cunning in playing, and a mighty man of valor, and a man war" (I Sam. 16:18). "Thou (Absalom) knowest thy father (David) and his men that they are mighty men, and thy father is a man of war" (I Sam. 17:8). David faced Goliath and took his sword. He was a man of war before he met Goliath. David is a type of Christ. His followers were men of war. "And there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker (II Sam. 3:1). The saints follow a man of war.
Long centuries ago Rebecca inquired of the Lord concerning the conflict that was going on within her womb. The Lord answered her, saying, "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger" (Gen. 25:23). This conflict within is not only the experience of Rebecca, but of every son in whom the character of God is being developed. And as Rebecca, so too can we take much comfort from the words of God spoken to her. For within every saint pressing on unto perfection there are two nations, two kingdoms and each kingdom is of a very different character. But the promise is sure -- "the elder shall serve the younger." The spiritual meaning of this is revealed by Paul in I Cor. 15:45-49. "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." And so shall it be fulfilled --the natural man shall be subject to the spiritual, and then shall we see "all things in subjection under His feet" (Heb. 2:8).
In far away Babylon the Holy Spirit witnessed through the prophet Daniel, "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" (Dan. 2:44). Though many look for a "revived Roman Empire" to arise in Europe with antichrist at its head, the ten-toe confederacy of the end-times, yet, praise God, "IN THE DAYS OF THESE KINGS SHALL THE GOD OF HEAVEN SET UP A KINGDOM, WHICH SHALL NEVER BE DESTROYED." That there may be a fulfillment in the outer world of appearances I would not deny, although it is my opinion that historically it has already been fulfilled. But the quickening of the Spirit upon the truth so vital for today bids me look beyond the letter of the Word, beyond the outward manifestations, beyond the European Community and the Common Market, along with the religious ecumenical movement; and receiving of the spirit of the Word, turning inwardly, we find that all that pertains to the kingdoms of this world lies within the heart of man, and there have been so many kings which have RULED WITHIN US, and as His Kingdom unfurls its banner over our lives, these kings are subdued and brought to nought. There are kings of self-will, of worldly ambition, of fleshly zeal, of ruling thoughts, of religious dogmas, creeds, and traditions and commandments of men, of soulish emotions and impulses spirited by the world, of fleshly appetites dominated by the five senses, of fears, doubts, rebellions, weaknesses, and sins. The still small voice speaks a word, and immediately carnal reason tries to argue us out of it. We sense His direction and leading to "stand still", but human sympathy and sentiment tell us to get involved in things HE HAS NOT LED US to do. So we yield and obey these emotions and impulses, and wonder why we miss the joy and blessing of the Lord. But, praise God, in the days of these kings -- while they flourish, control, and bear heavy in their rule -- shall the God of heaven set up His Kingdom and all authority and power shall be subdued before it. Into the midst of these kings has rolled THE STONE, it is breaking in pieces, consuming all these, bringing all into submission to Him!
TAKING PEACE FROM THE EARTH
The deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt and their eventual conquest of the promised land is without doubt one of the most awe-inspiring, marvelous and concerted revelations of God's redemptive program, His aim, intent and objective; His purpose, processes and dealings; His design, out workings and goal that has ever been revealed to mankind. It is not my intention to elaborate upon this, merely to point out in passing the significance of Egypt in scripture. Egypt represents the place of being separated from the life, rule, and blessing of God, and of being oppressed under the dominion of the flesh, the world and the devil. There is a remarkable word of profound significance which the Lord spoke to Israel regarding their relationship with Egypt. "If ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the Lord your God, saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, WHERE WE SHALL SEE NO WAR, nor hear the sound of the trumpet (calling to war), nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell..." (Jer. 42:13-14). Think of it -- Egypt is the place where there is no war! All is peace and tranquility in Egypt. There is security and provision in Egypt. Spiritually this is not speaking of a country in the Middle East, nor about any natural war! It is a reference to people who are experiencing no spiritual warfare in their walk. They do what comes naturally, and there is no opposition to the way they think, act or live. This is the normal state of the natural man before Christ rides into his life upon His war-steed. Those who have not been quickened by the Spirit from above do not hear the sound of the trumpet -- the sound of God's voice mustering to battle across the land. Vast multitudes of these lifeless ones fill the pews of the world's churches Sunday after Sunday, but there is no thirsting after God, no hunger for spiritual things, no comprehension of His purposes, no vision of the power and glory of His Kingdom, no glint of sword to circumcise mind and heart. Ah, but when God's hour arrives for such an one to be apprehended of God, suddenly into his or her peaceful world charges Jesus Christ the conqueror -- and He enters with great swiftness and power. He has a bow, and the bow is bent, and immediately the arrows of divine conviction and revelation pierce the heart, and He presses the battle to make conquest of the soul. He fights His way into the human heart until He possesses that which He has purchased, until the fortresses of mind, will, emotion and desire have been taken and brought under the dominion of Truth. He first shoots the arrow of light and illumination, quickening unto God. Then quickly He shoots the arrows which "take peace from the earth" -- that very earth which He has illuminated, for the battle must be pursued until man is fully conquered and all enemies concealed within have been routed, exposed, and vanquished.
It is the almighty Lord Himself who declares war and fires the first shot. HE it is that initiates the battle. "I am come," said He, "not to send peace on earth, but a sword." Or, stronger still in the original, "Think not that I come to cast peace on the earth; I come not to cast peace, but a sword" (Mat. 10:34). Who holds the sword? Who is to wield the sword? Who is to stir up the fight? Who is to "take peace from the earth"? The Lord Jesus Himself, and the sword is the sword of the Lord. Sometimes people speak about "sweet Jesus." This Jesus offers sugar, not a sword. He tastes good but hurts no one. When life tastes bad, sprinkle on a bit of His sweetness. The Rider on the red horse is not so sweet. Jesus Christ is a warrior, fierce and frightening. E B. Meyer once wrote, "When Christ is born, there is always trial. What trouble the New-born brought into this world! There was trouble for Mary! She was living a happy, peaceful life in Nazareth, when the sword began to penetrate to her soul, and she was called to endure an agony of misunderstanding from those who loved her best. There was trouble for Joseph, who is afflicted by startling fears, roused suddenly from sleep, and bidden to leave all and flee. There was trouble for Herod and the Jews. 'He was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him,' at the story of the new-born King. There was trouble also in a multitude of Jewish homes, entered by brutal soldiery, who tore the babes from their mothers' breasts and tossed them on their sword-points. Wherever Jesus comes, trial follows. He comes to send, not peace, but a sword; and one who knew well of what he affirmed said: l am crucified with Christ --I die daily-- I am delivered unto death for Jesus' sake.' These inward trials often spring from the unwillingness of our nature to yield to the will and way of God. A man's foes are they of his own household. Sometimes, also, when we have begun to live the new life it seems as though the box of Pandora were opened, and all the winds had escaped, each eager to out do all the rest. But out of the trouble will rise the fairest, strongest life. By and by some watcher on the battlements of heaven, beholding our approach, will cry: 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and whence came they?" and this will be the reply: "These are they which came out of great tribulation' -- for tribulation is education misspelt" -- end quote.
There can be no warfare as long as our will is uncontested. There is no war while our desires remain unopposed. There is no conflict when our ways are unchallenged. There is no battle as long as the Adam nature and its activities are not crossed, confronted or assailed. Our carnal life is at peace within itself until the red horse rides in and T-A-K-E-S PEACE FROM OUR EARTH! The red horse never enters our land until we have been quickened to higher and holier things, brought into living fellowship in the Spirit. The world is at peace with itself, unconvicted of its course of carnality and shame, content in the frivolous activities of the earth-life. There is a war which rages within me and, which causes far more trouble than any conflict I face without. My number one problem is neither men nor demons, but myself -- my own limited, deceiving, conniving, mortal mind. My flesh nature is my greatest enemy, for it is the enemy of the Christ. For years I blamed everything on the devil and his demons. Then I discovered to my astonishment that all my spiritual battles were right within myself. I didn't have to look far to find my greatest foe. I found that I face him in the mirror every morning. But I had never experienced a spiritual battle until I met Jesus! When He came into my life He at once declared war! Immediately, the flesh rose up in hostile opposition to the divine Invader and the flesh and the spirit were at war, one with the other. If they are doing the fighting, what are they fighting over! When two people or two nations fight, they are fighting over something. They fight to possess something, to hold on to something, to have ownership of something, or have legal access. They fight for territory or control. There is an object of their affections that they are fighting for. In like manner, the spirit seeks control of your soul and body, and the flesh wants to control them -- soul and body are the object of their affection! Whoever controls your soul and your body, controls you. The conflict is on and the judgment is in humanity.
The battle is between two natures, two kings, two kingdoms. The flesh nature we took upon us when we were born into this world. The spiritual nature came alive in us when we were born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (Jn. 3:6-7). Regeneration, new birth, sons of God -- these are all terms with which most christians are familiar. The beautiful ANALOGY is accepted by everyone. But all this means to the average christian is that he conjures up the nice religious feeling of thinking of himself "as if" he were a "real" son of God, as Jesus is. The average christian has absolutely no idea of the transcendental implications of this new birth into the family of God. Most think of being a child of God as sort of an "honorary" title conferred on them by an indulgent God who accepts them as "little adopted human children" to whom He plans to give as their reward for accepting His gift of eternal life, a beautiful park, a celestial playground called "heaven". This heaven is designed for them to enjoy for eternity, playing, loafing, running, shouting, rejoicing, visiting, strumming harps, waving palm branches, and doing what ever other sinless thing their hearts may desire.
But let us understand what it really means to actually be BORN into the very family of GOD. I like to turn the phrase "the family of God" around, in order to better catch its significance. Instead of saying that we are born into the family of God, it is just as correct to say that we are born into the GOD FAMILY! I may say, by way of illustration, that I was born by natural birth into the family of Eby. But this also means that I was born into the EBY FAMILY. I am of the EBY KIND. I A-M E-B-Y. Not only are men born into the family of God, but they are born into the GOD FAMILY. Not only are we birthed into the Kingdom of God, we are birthed into the GOD KINGDOM -- the KINGDOM WHICH IS GOD. We are of the GOD KIND. And startling as it may be, this GOD KINGDOM, or GOD FAMILY, is the ELOHIM of the scriptures! And to be born into THIS FAMILY means that we have the awesome potential to become ALL, THAT HE IS! "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named" (Eph. 3:14-15). The new birth is nothing less than the birth of a God-being, the birth of a Christ-creature, who becomes "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). There is no new birth outside of the actual birth of an actual Spirit Being, who becomes the "inner man", the new "me". It is MY SPIRIT quickened by HIS SPIRIT God impregnating His own divine seed into me thus making me alive from the dead, a new creature on the Celestial Plane. So many christians glibly talk about a born-again "experience", or a "change of heart", being wholly ignorant as to what must transpire to produce this change, to implement this experience. They confuse "justification by faith" with the "new birth". Abraham was justified by faith long centuries before the transforming Spirit was given, but he was not born of the Spirit, from above. "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:39-40). Our Lord said, "Ye must be BORN," not now of the flesh, but of the Spirit. Religionists, both then and now, are incapable of grasping this greatest of all truths and its astounding implications. And so they fail to understand that as a woman gives birth to a son, bringing an actual child into the world as a living, breathing, personality with an individual identity, nature, mind, and will, so does GOD GIVE BIRTH, delivering out of His own loins (Spirit) the offspring of Himself of His own kind, of the GOD SPECIES, to grow up into the fullness of His own divine Being. The new birth is nothing less than the birth of an actual divine, heavenly Being, a son of the heavenly Father, who is as ageless and deathless as is his immortal Parent, a brother by birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, like Him in every phase of His Being, differing only in development and rank.
For almost two thousand years there has raged a theological battle over the Godhead. Some have contended that God is one Person in three manifestations and that Jesus is that one Person of God manifested in the flesh. Others believe in the trinity -- that God is eternally three distinct Persons, co-equal, co-eternal and con-substantial, united together as one God. The truth lies far beyond the limitation of either concept. Neither view has grasped the fuller truth set forth in the scriptures and now revealed by the Holy Spirit. The wonderful truth is -- God is not one Person, neither is God three Persons. God is a FAMILY! God is a KINGDOM! God is reproducing, expanding, increasing HIMSELF! Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John chapter three that in order to enter the Kingdom of God -or the GOD KINGDOM -- human beings have to be born again. He patiently explained to this inquiring Ruler of the Jews that it was not a physical re-birth into the human plane that He was talking about, but a newborn spirit being on the SPIRIT PLANE. John refers to this birth in Jn. 1:12 when he says, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons (children, offspring) of God, even to them that believe on His name." The word sons in this passage is from the Greek word TEKNON which means "one born" or "a child". That a birth as the offspring of God is what John intended is made clear as he continues in the next verse: "Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. This is not a mere conception as some say, for the Holy Spirit testifies to every man, saying, "And I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto BABES IN CHRIST. I have fed you with MILK, and not with meat" (I Cor. 3:1-2). Again, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of MILK, and not strong meat. For everyone that useth MILK is unskillful in the word of righteousness: FOR HE IS A BABE" (Heb. 5:12-13). Yet again, "As NEWBORN BABES, desire the sincere MILK of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). Then John tells us, "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth I-S BORN OF GOD, and KNOWETH GOD...for whatsoever is BORN OF GOD overcometh the world" (I Jn. 4:7; 5:1, 4). Regenerated believers are called the children of God all through the New Testament. Nowhere does God call us divine embryos or divine fetuses! Embryos and fetuses do not drink milk neither do they love or do the will of God! How beautifully does J. B. Phillips translate the meaningful words of the apostle John: "Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called children of God -- and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. Our heredity on the Godward side is NO MERE FIGURE OF SPEECH -- which explains why the world will no more recognize us than it recognized Christ" (I Jn. 3:1).
Paul speaks of this actual sonship to God in his wonderful teaching on the discipline that God applies to His sons. "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the FATHER OF SPIRITS, and live?" (Heb. 12:9). God is here declared to be the Father of spirits -- not of angels or demons or fairies -- for the whole subject of this chapter is SONSHIP. God is not the Father of angels -- the messenger realm -- they are created spirits, not begotten. "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee! And again, I will be to him a Father... (Heb. 1:5). The only spirits which are born spirits are the children of God! God is the Father of OUR SPIRITS ....therefore we reverence Him as sons reverence their father. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." When I was born into this world many years ago I was birthed a flesh being. My mother was a flesh being, my father was a flesh being, their union was a flesh union, and the offspring of that union was a flesh being. But, praise God! that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. We are no longer merely physical human beings; we are now immortal, incorruptible, heavenly, GOD-LIFE beings, having been born again from above, of an incorruptible seed, children of the Most High. "And you HE made alive, when you were dead, slain, by your trespasses and sins. But God! So rich is He in mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, even when we were dead...He made us ALIVE TOGETHER in fellowship and in union with Christ. He gave us the very life of Christ Himself; the same new life with which He quickened Him. And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together -- giving us joint seating with Him-- in the heavenly sphere by virtue of our being in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:1-6, Amplified Bible).
The above scripture brings us to a most significant point. Some would have us believe that the dead are dead --that is, that there is no consciousness, no knowledge, no being or existence beyond the grave; that the dead have utterly perished and have no more a portion in any dimension of life anywhere in God's great universe. The proof texts used in support of this concept are, for the most part, taken from the book of Ecclesiastes. Truly the wisdom of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes affirms: "For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun...for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Eccl. 9:4- 6,10).
Every diligent searcher for truth must become aware as quickly as possible of his utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit for revelation and understanding of all truth. The secrets of the Lord cannot be learned without the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is impossible. The world is overloaded with dead, dry theologians in whose hearts the light of revelation never shines. Theirs is the realm of musty old volumes of head knowledge --wisdom that is foolishness with God. They have never learned the difference between the oldness of the letter and the newness of the spirit. As we breathe a simple, honest prayer for guidance that will bear great fruit in understanding, may the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God quicken the minds of all who read these lines. While the passage quoted above from the book of Ecclesiastes appears conclusive and final that the dead know not anything and have passed forever out of existence in body, soul and spirit, it is imperative that we bear in mind just what the book of Ecclesiastes is all about. A careful perusal of the book reveals that Ecclesiastes is the book of man "under the sun" reasoning about life; it is the best the carnal mind can do in arriving at the reality and purpose of all things. The key phrases throughout are "under the sun" "I perceived"; "I said in my heart." The Holy Spirit has recorded accurately what the natural man reasons, but the conclusions are man's not God's. This is extremely important! To man without the life of the Spirit or the understanding of the Almighty "all is vanity. To the man whose consciousness, understanding and experience are limited to those things that are done "under the sun," truly all is vanity. "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity" (Eccl. 1:2).
The statements about the dead knowing nothing are no more a divine revelation concerning the state of the dead than any other conclusion of "the Preacher" is such a revelation. Reasoning from the standpoint of man "under the sun," the natural man can see no difference between a dead man and a dead lion (Eccl. 9:3-4). A living dog is better than either, so far as the natural man can discern. Let all the humanists and atheists say, Amen! Let us now acquaint ourselves with the truth as it is in Jesus, for when we learn the truth I now affirm, many things which heretofore have been an inscrutable mystery will begin to come clear to our understanding. Let us then stand assured of this marvelous fact there is a realm of life BEYOND THE SUN! It may come as a shock to some who read these lines, but the Holy Spirit declares with divine certainty that YOUR LIFE, precious child of God, has nothing in common with the lives of those creatures whose existence is bound to that low realm under the sun. You belong to a special category of people to whom none of the known laws of the universe apply. The laws that govern other people do not apply to you. You are in a class all by yourself. One of the greatest truths ever kept hidden from the eyes of the natural man is this: "If any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION" (I Cor. 5:17). The destiny of most people, of all natural and fallen men, is linked to the earth and the mortal; try as they will they cannot escape it. This is the case for most human beings, all human beings, in fact, who live and have their being in the OLD CREATION MAN --ADAM. But, blessed be God! AN EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE: EXISTS! The Master Architect of the universe saw fit to create a special category of people who are of an entirely NEW CREATION. The highest realm known to man is called heaven, and all who have been born again from above by the Spirit of God have had opened to them a realm higher far than the visible world of the physical and material. Paul tells us that we are to "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:1-2). The man or woman who is born from that bright glory world above becomes an entirely new creation in Christ Jesus. And from that time forward, he lives for God. His chief delight is in spiritual things. Spiritual things are eternal things. His affections are set above and not on things below. His citizenship is in heaven --the realm of spirit. Before his eyes there is opened up a Kingdom which is beyond his full articulation or expression, and he knows that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of the Spirit, is within him. He has only glimpsed some of the ineffables glories that God has, is, and will reveal to him. He is now part of a Kingdom so vast in scope and so enduring in quality that the things of this world seem tawdry, mean, narrow, and insignificant by comparison.
I want to draw your attention to a few scriptures that will make the truth crystal clear. And let demons rage. Let fools and unbelievers hang their heads in shame. We quote from the incomparable Word of God. "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins...but God...hath raised us up together, and MADE US SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES IN CHRIST JESUS" (Eph. 2:1,4-6). Ah, we whose spirits have been quickened by His Spirit, we in whom the mighty power is working which God wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand far above all heavens --have been made alive and enthroned with Him in this super-eminence N-O-W. The Lord Jesus Christ is enthroned in the higher-than-all- heavens and WE HAVE BEEN QUICKENED AND RAISED UP AND GIVEN JOINT SEATING WITH HIM IN THE UNION OF HIS DIVINE LIFE! The message is clear --"This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (I Jn. 5:11-13). Alas! those who say that the saint of God whose body goes by way of the grave is dead like a dog without being or consciousness has failed the first simple test of sonship; HE DOES NOT KNOW THAT HE HAS ETERNAL LIFE! Again, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren" (I Jn. 3:14). We know that we H-A-V-E PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE! We also know, therefore, that a dead saint is better than a living dog. The mighty apostle Peter put it this way, "You have been regenerated --born again-- not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm) but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting Word of God" (I Pet. 1:23, Amplified Bible). We could heap scripture upon scripture --but let me ask you, precious friend of mine, How can one who HAS ETERNAL LIFE--die? Oh, yes, his body may go to the grave, and well did "the Preacher" say, "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest." The great question is just this: Is that inner man, the new creation, that man begotten of the eternal Spirit and by the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, that man born from above, that man seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus --is that man, I ask, IN THE GRAVE? If I have the Son of God, if my spirit has been quickened by His Spirit, if I have been joined to the Lord one spirit, if I know that I have passed from death unto life, if I have been raised up (if ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above), translated into the Kingdom of the Son --can I then perish, know nothing, have no reward, and be less than a living dog, without hope in the darkness, silence and non-existence of the grave? "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live" (Gal. 2:20) is the testimony of the resurrected man. If God has not done something eternal in my spirit, then I am of all men most miserable. If my life is hid with Christ in God, but I die like a dog and that is the end of me --WHAT MORE DO I POSSESS THAN THE MAN WHO KNOWS NOT CHRIST? What advantage is there to being born again? Would it not be a monstrous lie to say that I have passed from death unto life? Indeed, what IS this life, this eternal life, this incorruptible life I have now received--if all things come alike to all and there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the clean and the unclean; if all alike die, perish, cease to exist, and know nothing! I do not hesitate to tell you that such a notion is a spiritual absurdity, a distortion of truth, and a repudiation of that regeneration wrought within! Our spiritual life, my beloved, is not measured as matter, nor by years, nor is it in any way restricted or controlled by any physical law or by those things which are done "under the sun." Hearken, O ye sons of God --divinity and eternity are born in us! We are children of our heavenly Father! "Beloved, N-O-W are we the children of God." Do you believe it? DO you! In union with Christ in one spirit I must believe that should my spirit die, the Christ would die. If my new creation life perishes, the Christ perishes. If my inner man has no consciousness apart from the outer man, then the Christ has no consciousness apart from the physical world. The Lord Jesus Christ had power to both lay down His life and take it up again. Can we not see by this that He HAD LIFE EVEN WHILE HE WAS DEAD! A child can understand that one cannot take his life up again if he has ceased to exist. If the Christ did not have LIFE IN THE SPIRIT, there would have been no resurrection of the body!
In that far away beginning the Almighty Creator proclaimed, "Let us make man in our image and after our likeness." God made cattle "after their kind," after the cattle kind. He made "every winged fowl after his kind," after the bird kind. But it is evident that God purposed to make man AFTER THE GOD KIND. Now, incredible as it may seem to those who do not understand the mystery of God, God is a FAMILY. This does not mean that there are many gods. There is only one God, as there is only one Adam and one Christ. Adam is a many-membered man, Christ is a many-membered son, and God is a many-membered Godhead! The Person of God is expressed through a vast variety of manifestations of Himself as He reproduces Himself after His own "KIND." And it is in man that God is reproducing His kind. Man is God's idea, God's image, God's likeness, God's expression, God's manifestation. Man, out of all the infinite creation of God, has the supreme potentiality of being born into the very divine family of God, of which divine family Jesus Christ is the firstborn Son among many brethren. Jesus Christ is the first perfect representation of the invisible God. Do you realize what this means? It means far more than having an immortal body. The transcendent essential factor is that God is PERFECT SPIRITUAL CHARACTER. It is the supreme intelligence, combined with holy and righteous character that most importantly distinguishes GOD from every other life form. Of course God, too, possesses supreme and almighty power and eternal, incorruptible existence. But without right CHARACTER, such power and perpetuity would be destructive and dangerous! Should any one of us acquire an immortal body prior to having developed a holy and incorruptible character, a devil would surely be born! Come now, and let us reason together. Character springs from nature. Webster defines nature as: "the inherent tendencies directing conduct...what a thing really is...quality.. .essence. On the other hand, character is defined as: one's pattern of behavior or personality.. .reputation. Paul describes our old (first, fleshly) nature in Eph. 2:2-3. "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation (behavior) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." The apostle Peter speaks of our new (second, spiritual) nature in II Pet. 1:3-4. "According as His divine power has given unto us all things that pertain to life (Gr., ZOE: God life) and godliness ....whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."
Yes, my beloved, we are now made partakers of GOD'S DIVINE NATURE. The new creation has only God-like attributes. Christ is the life of it. The believer, partaking of the divine nature, displays the very characteristics of Christ. It is He who gives the child of God the righteousness of God and makes him an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. This nature, as all nature, is inherited. And from this divine nature is developed God's divine character. Understand this and you will understand a great truth: NATURE is inherited; CHARACTER is developed! Character is never formed instantaneously. No one is born possessing character. Every child of Adam is born into this world with a sinful (flesh) nature. But that precious little infant does not yet have a sinful character. As the child grows the character is formed progressively out of the nature. The nature gradually manifests itself through the actions of the child as character. In like manner, we have by re-generation been made partakers of the divine nature. The divine seed (sperm) of His life has fertilized the ovum of our human spirit (which also came from God but dwells in a state of death --not nonexistence, but unresponsiveness to the spiritual realm) producing the NEW CREATION MAN. And while this new birth is the most astounding miracle of the ages, it is, nonetheless, merely the birth of a spiritual infant possessing divine nature but not divine character. Now divine character must be developed from the divine nature --God manifesting His nature outwardly through our words, actions and behavior. This character is formed in the crucible of experience, as we learn in every situation and circumstance to yield our vessel to the Holy Spirit who is the active agent in our divine nature.
In the light of the truth we are now studying, so many things take on new meaning. The Lord Jesus Christ explained the two natures when He told Nicodemus, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit" (Jn. 3:6). This is the fundamental principle of the warfare that rages within us! The word flesh is a comprehensive term and includes all that a person is through his or her natural birth: intellect, emotions, will, and body. These component parts that make up a human being are corrupt, for the stream of humanity became polluted at its source when Adam and Eve submitted the human race to the outer realm of appearances. Basically, their sin was unbelief, followed by disobedience, and since all mankind was present in Adam and Eve, their sin killed man spiritually, causing him to be unresponsive to God. The flesh nature is dead to God, but very much alive to the world. The spirit nature, once fertilized by the divine Spirit, is dead to the world, but very much alive to God. This sets into action two competitive forces within the child of God: one born of the flesh, and the other born of the Spirit. Thus the child of God becomes a battlefield. Each nature wars against the other, seeking to dominate the mind, the will, the emotions and the body. It is precisely at this juncture that the red horse gallops into your land with power to TAKE PEACE FROM YOUR EARTH! Few believers understand the intensity of this warfare. The old nature, godless, unbelieving, ego-centric, selfish, and linked to the world, wants control of the individual for fleshly gratifications. The new nature, spiritual, believing, one with Christ Jesus, and eternal, wants control of the individual to produce eternal values. It is a running battle with no surrender, "For the flesh lusteth (wars) against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" (Gal. 5:17). Since most saints do not understand what is going on within, they encounter "mountain-top experiences", and then they are plunged into "death-valley experiences." The death-valley experiences occur when the old nature greedy for personal gratification and fed by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, dominates the spiritual nature.
Here I would share some pertinent words from the pen of Paul Mueller. "Two natures within us manifest the character and manner of each: Fallen Adam within us is that mystery of iniquity that curses and brings forth the iniquities of the carnal man. Likewise, the risen Christ within us blesses the Father, declares the truth and mysteries of God, makes known the manifold wisdom of God, and lifts us up and causes us to walk in the high places in Him. And as we give the preeminence to the Christ within, fallen Adam within will be subdued and conquered so that our spirits, souls and bodies are preserved complete and found blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also perfect His work' (I Thes. 5:23-24, Weymouth). Out of our mouths proceed both blessing and cursing. These things ought not to be. And when THE PERFECT MAN comes forth in the image and likeness of Christ, fully adorned with the garments of His salvation, we shall no longer express the dual natures within us. Then, the perfect man, the Christ body, shall express only the Truth, Love and Life of the Father. Their mind will be the mind of Christ, a single mind in fully redeemed bodies. O the wonder of that so great salvation reserved for those who love His appearing! The Psalmist asked the question, 'What shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue? The answer is given: 'Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper' (Ps. 120:3-4). The Smith-Goodspeed translation gives vs. 4 as, 'The sharpened arrows of the warrior, with live broom coals!' The only Warrior worthy and able to destroy the man of sin, the carnal, Adamic nature in us all, is none other than Christ Himself. HE is the Mighty Warrior! He shall destroy the man of sin within us who is the source of all evil, including the false tongue. O carnal man within! We have now been able to identify you as the man of sin within...the cause of war and strife. I am not so much concerned about the war among the nations as I am with the war within me. Blessed with the knowledge and wisdom of the sovereignty of God, and of His Lordship and dominion over the affairs of men and nations, I can now listen with understanding while the news reports tell of wars and rumors of wars among the nations. My greater distress is in the knowledge that fallen Adam, the source of all wars, is within me. He within me is the warring nature that brings me to distress and woe. Like the Psalmist, I am for peace, not the limited and restricted harmony and peace of the carnal man, but the abundant and all-encompassing peace of the kingdom of God, the peace that only the Prince of peace can bring. When I speak of peace, he within wants war and strife. Woe is me! my soul has long dwelt with that barbarian within who hates peace and desires only war. Nevertheless, I rejoice in the revelation that my redemption and yours is at hand" --end quote.
Of this great battle within someone has written an interesting and appropriate rhyme:
Two natures beat within my breast.
One is foul, the other blest.
The one I love; the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.
This thought is expanded in a poem by Norene Nicholls, titled, THE FULLNESS OF GOD, and we quote:
"But thou flesh, my foe so bitter, was fast nailed to His cross,
Cease your cries! I will not listen, all you've dealt is gall and loss!
Self, you, too, must cease your struggle and come down from off the throne,
Christ, my Lord, is King and Master, and the reins are all His own!
O my spirit, long you've waited 'neath the weights I've heaped on thee,
How you've longed to fully worship; how you've cried to be set free.
O Thou wondrous, glorious Godhead, like an ocean vast and wide,
Launch I forth into Thy fullness where doth flow Thy power's tide.
Who will dare to loose the moorings and abandon all to God?
They shall know unequaled power --they shall tread where none have trod!"
Ray Printing has beautifully expounded along this line --"Paul described it this way: For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin' (Rom. 7:22-23,25). Full well Paul knew that he had given himself to the Lord, made his surrender, and received the INDWELLING LIFE OF THE SPIRIT. But he also knew that there was a law in his members, in the flesh, which would war against this inner life and that there were only two ways to bring a cessation to the conflict, either to PUT OFF THIS BODY, or else to have this body SWALLOWED UP INTO HIS LIFE. He had no great desire to become a dis-embodied spirit, but rather longed to have this body changed and fashioned anew like unto His glorious body, for then he would know that GLORIOUS REST FOR THE BODY. What conflicts --the negative says,'This body is mine by reason of the fall, and the sin that dwells therein.' The spirit of the world adds, 'This body is mine, I give it life and nourishment -- I feed its senses, tickle its emotions, stir up its impulses, etc.' But the Spirit of God within, says, IT IS MINE BY VIRTUE OF REDEMPTION -- I shall transform it, I shall lift it into higher realms beyond all sin and corruption.' Thus we have conflict between the negative and the positive. There might be momentary pauses in the battle, but there will be no thorough pause, complete cessation of warfare, until we are totally changed. It is when we are all righteous, that the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me' (Jn. 14:30). Though Paul recognized this dichotomy in himself, the inward man delighting in the law of God, and the flesh yielding to the law of sin, he did not use this as an excuse, or an occasion to justify the flesh. But knowing of this conflict, he continually sought to 'keep under my body, and bring it into subjection...' (I Cor. 9:27). "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the spirit DO MORTIFY THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, ye shall live' (Rom. 8:13). Through the spirit, by the power of the indwelling Christ, we battle the lower passions, putting them to death, that receiving the 'abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One, Jesus Christ' (Rom. 5:17).
"Many a battle has been fought, and won, though devils were not rebuked, and there was no writhing on the floor in intense travail, nor any challenge by an antagonist against the truth believed --it was all INTERNAL. Battles of the mind, battles of inner spirit conflict, a warfare against the vision, against the thing which God had personally revealed, but which the flesh was not ready to receive. And while we would 'reckon ourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord,' yet only HE can complete this work in us and make it an experiential reality. So we surrender, and He works it out. Now why dost thou cry aloud? IS THERE NO KING IN THEE? is thy counsellor perished?...' (Micah 4:9). Israel was desperate, she was in travail, in pain to bring forth, and was crying out in her distress. God answered back, IS THERE NO KING IN THEE? Praise God, there is One in the midst of us who shall take the reins of the government, and He shall rule in righteousness, so that we eagerly await the emergence of His Kingdom. It is our own little INNER KINGDOM that needs The King, so it is to this realm that we ask the question, and praise God, can answer back positively, YES, THERE IS A KING WITHIN. Paul declared that 'we must through much tribulation (Greek, pressure) enter into the kingdom of God' (Acts 14:22). As much as the flesh would desire an easier way into His kingdom, there is no other way. If there was a list of special works to do, we'd struggle through, checking them off one by one, and lay claim to the glory. If a baptism would do it, we'd be baptised seven times face forward, or backwards, upside down, or however the requirement. BUT THIS IS GOD'S PROCESSING IN US, and He has purposed to do it through much pressure. If it isn't a physical pressure, it will be a mental one, and if not mental, then a spiritual one --as we travail to enter through the straight gate, and receive of His fullness. There is no cause to view this negatively, for it is this very pressure which shall literally and gloriously PRESS US INTO GOD, as His life becomes a REALITY WITHIN. One might have doctrines, visions, dreams, revelations, and be able to recite it to all who pass by your way, but they are of little value when just a mere form of head-knowledge. They have to be worked into us experimentally through the nitty-gritty processings of the day, until self is conquered, and Christ reigns supreme within us, and the vision becomes LIFE, a firm foundation upon which we can stand to face the storms of the times. It often takes pressure to cause the Word to become LIFE to the INNER MAN.
"In some occupations a man with very little authority, limited in his power to make decisions and rule over others, is referred to as a 'straw boss'. Yet betimes this individual gets carried away with his own sense of importance and tries to go beyond his rightful place, giving orders and bossing others. Seems like we have all had our share of straw bosses' usurping authority, as they would assume control over that which they have no right. We'll pass very lightly over the fact that most of the so-called 'shepherding movement' falls into this classification, as they usurp the headship which rightly belongs to CHRIST in every individual. At the moment we are more concerned with these internal straw bosses --our own will, our own desires, our own impulses, etc. which would like to hold control within us. But when we have been OVERCOME BY CHRIST, He shall be King within. Praise His name! In fact there is quite a bit of truth in the statement that we shall only become overcomers in Christ in proportion to how much we have been overcome by Christ. To partake of His victory He must first become Victor over all our inner kingdom.
Take Thy throne, Lord, take Thy throne,
Take Thy throne, Lord, take Thy throne,
For our eyes have seen the King in all His beauty,
Cleanse our hearts so Thou canst take Thy throne!
"'As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest' (Isa. 63:14). The word 'valley' comes from the Hebrew word BIQAH meaning: a cleft, a vale. Down into the valley, down into the fellowship of His sufferings, into the Cleft of His RIVEN SIDE --to know the rending of the flesh, with death to the carnal mind, i.e. minding of the flesh, to mortify all the deeds of the body which are contrary to righteousness. As a beast, taking all the bestial nature down into the vale, with its lusts and passions, weakness and frailty, laden with the sins of this natural creation, and THERE THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD CAUSES US TO REST -- bringing a thorough ceasing of all these works of the flesh, and ending the ways of the bestial, flesh nature. Ending all the self-works that cannot attain spirituality. The beast shall not rise again, for dust returns to dust, and ashes to ashes, and that which is raised up is that NEW CREATION SPECIES IN CHRIST JESUS. How we rejoice to know that what goes down into that valley shall not come up again! There is a NEW BODY that shall arise, a new life that shall spring forth. The new creation rises all righteous, having now become the righteousness of God. Certainly there are spiritual glories which surpass all of that which we can ask or think. But methinks that even to have our very BODIES now brought into a state of righteousness and incorruption, is a wonder almost too great to comprehend. It will mean a glorious rest for the body, to be as He is.
"Beloved friend, we have not offered the world a glorious rest! True, we can say there is rest in Christ, and we have experienced moments of respite, times of refreshing. But at best, we can only awaken a soul from their spirit of slumber, and bring them into a period of conflict, with 'A LAW IN MY MEMBERS WARRING... Certainly we know that God uses all this conflict in our process of overcoming, and certainly we know that by His grace we shall come through, not somehow, but triumphantly. But how we long to bring people into GLORIOUS REST --into a realm where it is no longer in part but satisfied in full. Praise God, He is bringing forth an ensign, a root of Jesse, raised up to be His standard, and they shall GIVE REST TO THE WEARY, for they shall lead them into righteousness, ending the warfare, and bringing forth peace. 'Saviours shall come up on mount Zion...' (Obadiah 21), and sharing the ministry of The Christ, shall liberate 'them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage' (Heb. 2:15). HE hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel' (IITim. 1:10). We shall proclaim not only a gospel of life, but also a GOSPEL OF INCORRUPTION --the fullness of the new birth, where a man sinneth not, and thus the enemy can lay no claim upon him, for he shall have entered into the GLORIOUS REST OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. 'And the work of righteousness shall be peace (Isa. 32:17). The Hebrew word for 'peace' is SHALOM and means both peace and completeness, for in a very real sense, there is no peace without completeness, for if there be any part lacking, there will still be the restlessness of desire for that need to be met. The Greek word is EIRENE meaning: peace, unity, concord. Here we see the end of division, the CEASING OF STRIFE, while harmony prevails over all. Yes, the accomplishment of righteousness shall be PEACE. And this is because HE is made unto us RIGHTEOUSNESS, and 'in Christ shall all be made alive' (I Cor. 15:22). Everyone brought into Him shall become a partaker of His righteousness. This is a vital part of the GOSPEL OF INCORRUPTION. Strange indeed, men believe in the ability of corruption to corrupt the whole, they are sure that one rotten apple in a barrel of apples will cause them all to rot, because they have tasted of the corruption and decay to which this world has been subjected. But who is there that believes in the ability of INCORRUPTION to restore the whole? Did not Daniel make it plain to king Nebuchadnezzar, 'Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet...and brake them to pieces...and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, AND FILLED THE WHOLE EARTH' (Dan. 2:34-35). Here is a promise of the reversal of the process of degeneration, and the beginning of the process of regeneration, until HIS KINGDOM, which IS RIGHTEOUSNESS, PEACE, AND JOY, in the Holy Spirit, shall fill the whole earth, bringing all things into His pureness, into His righteousness, into His peace" -- end quote.
Yes, my beloved, there is a great warfare raging within, and Christ has pressed this war upon us, His conquest that is going on right now in that inner world of our hearts, minds and bodies. The battle of the ages, the famed Battle of Armageddon, portrays no literal conflict with carnal weapons. It is not on any battlefield on earthly ground that the glorified Redeemer confronts the banded hosts of earth and hell. We cannot go to the pages of Josephus or Tacitus or Wells, or any other historian, for the events which correspond with these symbols. Nor shall we find the grim ride of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse in the headlines of the Washington Post or the Miami Herald! The scene reveals one divine and sublime truth: CHRIST SHALL CONQUER! The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world, its weapons are not carnal, He does not conquer the nations by blowing away millions of helpless souls with bullets and bombs and bloody savagery. Ah, it is within the corridors of our own soul that we must hear the hoofbeats of the Four Horses thundering! He must ride right into YOUR EARTH, conquering all the strongholds of YOUR LAND. We don't have to wait until "some glad day after while" because the battle is going on right now. GOD ALWAYS CAUSES US TO TRIUMPH IN CHRIST (II Cor. 2:14). I want to tell you that is a life-changing concept and, yet, some who read these lines have never yet even begun to touch the hem of its garment. The Captain, the King, the General of the heavenly warfare has WON the victory! He has conquered death! He has conquered sin! He has conquered self! He has conquered hell! He has conquered all the powers of evil! And now He brings that triumph to us! He conquers that He may give us all! We can receive the spoils of His warfare by becoming the subjects of His Rule. Why not draw in your colors this day and surrender all into His mighty hands? The end of the warfare brings peace and life fully and forevermore. Hallelujah!
To be continued...
J. PRESTON EBY