"THE HIGH CALLING...OF GOD"
In our daily Christian walk, there is a major GOAL which we are strongly exhorted to fervently press towards. Paul saw this as an END OBJECTIVE, as the TERMINAL POINT and END RESULT of a race where-in only "ONE receiveth THE PRIZE."1Cor.9:24. Hence he stated, "I press toward THE MARK [seal] of THE HIGH CALLING OF GOD in Christ." Phil.3:14. In Eph.1:18, the HOPE OF THIS HIGH CALLING is referred to as "THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS." This glorious "PRIZE", which is also described as "WINNING CHRIST" (Phil.3:8), even as an "EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD" (Gen.15:1; 2ptr.1:4), is something that can be either WON or LOST.
Paul understood it was possible that he himself could be "a castaway" (1Cor.9:27) in the running and striving for THE PRIZE of this spiritual race. This PRIZE is also referred to as "an incorruptible CROWN" [signifying REIGNING AUTHORITY] 1Cor.9:25. James says, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:for when he is tried, he shall receive THE CROWN OF LIFE, which the Lord hath PROMISED to them that love Him."Jas.1:12. Lest one mistake this attainment of THE PRIZE and INHERITANCE as the INITIAL GIFT OF SALVATION, or merely of the attainment of heaven upon death of the body, Paul perhaps more than anyone, was assured of God's grace in these UNEARNED PROMISES. However, he saw something deeper than that.
ALL CHRISTIANS SCRIPTURALLY HAVE THESE BASIC ASSURANCES of this "common salvation" (Jude 3) as well as a future general resurrection of life - Jn.5:28; Rev.20:12. But there was obviously something more, something beyond or apart from this. It was this glorious PRIZE , not the GIFT which Paul saw and was moved to strive toward, regardless of the cost to his flesh. He was in the running to personally complete the race wherby he might receive the promise of that prized crown.
"THE KINGDOM OF GOD" AND "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN"
John the Baptist was given to announce and sow the seed of "the kingdom of HEAVEN" (Matt.4:17) in the hearts of men. But Jesus, as did Paul, also both preached and pressed toward a higher calling and glory which is also a part of "the kingdom of HEAVEN", a realm they were given to see called "the kingdom of GOD."Mk.1:14; Lk.12:31; Ac.19:8. Only mature growth of God's heavenly seed can result in perfection of that which has been planted.
The gospel of Christ was planted in the beginning of the of the church age as the gospel of the "kingdom of HEAVEN." It is now the end of that age, that shallow outer court understanding and in part revelation of the kingdom. The age of the"kingdom of God" is upon us and the revelation of God's inner kingdom as well as the coming earthly kingdom is about to be made manifest.
Only those who reach a stage of maturity and perfection in Christ, will be granted to sit together with Him in His throne [dominion and authority] as ruling kings and priests in "the kingdom of GOD." This is part of the PRIZE, reserved for the "FIRSTFRUITS" "OVERCOMERS" (Rev. 3:21; 14:4, 5) who have followed the Lamb "whithersoever He goeth" (Rev.14:4) allowing the Lordship of Christ to rule in their lives.
GOD the mature Father, is waiting for more MATURE SONS who have grown up INTO CHRIST THEIR HEAD - Eph.4:5...Therefore we are admonished to "BE YE THEREFORE PERFECT (spiritually mature), even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."Matt.5:48. In doing so, one will have earned the right to forever dwell and function in the very presence of God the Father and in all the fullness of His kingdom promises and rewards.
THE PROMISED INHERITANCE
In spiritual type and shadow, there was a great unseen land of PROMISE and of REST far ahead of the chosen children of God who had escaped from the bondage of Egypt. Unknown to them, this first generation were going to have to suffer much vanity of tribulation because of their attitudes and fleshly ways. The second generation where going to have to fight and win fierce battles with their enemies if they wanted to actually possess their promised state. The scriptures elsewhere refer to this land as a realm or state of both physical and spiritual "PERFECTION" Heb.6:1; 1Cor.10:13.
In Hebrews chapters three and four, this land is also likened unto entering into GOD'S REST. Note that ONLY "SOME" of the children of Israel [who typify Christian believers today] were actually able to go in and finally POSSESS THIS PROMISE of their INHERITANCE. Most never made it because of their unbelief, their murmuring and the fleshly erring ways of their heart's - Heb.3:10, 11; 17-19; 4:2-6. We see this pattern stated in Revelation 3:4 where we are told, "Thou hast a FEW names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments..". It is also revealed that these are SOME OF THE FEW of "they that are worthy" and "that overcometh."Rev. 3:4, 5.
None of God's chosen nation that died on their journey towards the land of promise (not heaven - but the portion of land they never actually saw or entered into - Jn.3:3, 5), came under the new kingdom authority of judges, priests and kings. None lost their initial salvation so to speak, but they did lose their right to enter into further promises of God. Their initial salvation was typified in their coming out of the bondage of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. So we see in type, through their wilderness sojourn they were partakers of "the kingdom of HEAVEN", but they fell by the wayside on the road to their total inheritance in the "kingdom of GOD."
The children of Israel lost out on the "milk and honey" promises and rewards of ruling and reigning in dominion over all the promised land. This land and its total possession could have been theirs in actuality and in fullness, had they not faltered - Josh.5:6. Once again we stress, we as Christians cannot lose the basic GIFT of salvation but we most certainly can suffer loss of any part of salvation that entails the PRIZE with all its promises and rewards and the greater glory they entail.
A BETTER RESURRECTION
The apostle Paul, who had been given great divine revelation and true spiritual insight (Gal.1:12), could see what was the true INHERITANCE, GLORY, PRIZE and FULL REWARD (2Jn.8; Gen.15:1) which was OBTAINABLE ONLY as the result of faithfully enduring and OVERCOMING in all of his own wilderness trials. In Phil. chapter three, he describes this FINAL REWARD and ULTIMATE REST from his journey of trials as "the excellency of the knowledge of Christ", found ONLY in experientially sharing "the fellowship of His sufferings." This was in order that he MIGHT KNOW the experiential likeness and "POWER OF CHRIST'S RESURRECTION" and thereby "ATTAIN UNTO THE RESURRECTION of the dead." This was what he counted not himself to have apprehended or laid hold of in certainty -vs.13. But, he followed zealously after these things that he might apprehend them.
Timothy also spoke of enduring all things for the elects sake "that they may also OBTAIN the [fullness of the Godhead bodily type of] SALVATION which is in Christ Jesus."2Tim.2:10-13; Rev.21:7. So we see the PRIZE of the high calling in the kingdom of God includes in its rewards the glory of a resurrection in the likeness of Christ - Phil.3:21. However, it is something to be obtained (1Cor.9:24, 25) and to be counted worthy of (Lk.20:35) and the Bible teaches not all Christian's will meet the requirements.
This special resurrection from the dead of which Paul spoke, was of the highest degree of glory (1Cor.15:41, 42) in resurrection order (rank, group -1Cor.15:23a), amongst whom shall be many who were horribly "tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they MIGHT OBTAIN A BETTER RESURRECTION" (Heb.11:35) than those of their brethren whose faith was not so steadfast and whose works were not so obedient.
This PRIZE to be obtained then, is a better resurrection than others to follow. This resurrection which Paul clearly saw by the Spirit was none other than "THE FIRST RESURRECTION" (Rev.20:4, 5) of overcoming saints...and is the result and reward of their faithful diligence, capped in their finally entering into the fully manifest "kingdom of GOD" (2Ptr.1:10, 11; Rev.12:10) not just spiritually but literally right here on the earth.
This realm or portion of God's kingdom is also known as that part of "the tabernacle which is called THE HOLIEST OF ALL."Heb.9:5. Included in this highest and most holy realm of the kingdom of heaven is "the redemption of the body", not merely a spiritual adoption of NEWLY BORN SONS (Gal.4:5), but rather the full adoption of MATURE MANIFESTED SONS OF GOD - Ro.8:19. Such is the inheritance of those who hear and follow after "the mark of the HIGH CALLING OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect be thus minded.."Phil.3:14, 15. In such is found the revelation of the kingdom of GOD.
This is the time of the harvest (Mk.4:29) and gathering (Matt.34:31) in of the "firstfruits" of all God's creatures (Jas.1:18), even the FIRST full harvest of the chiefest parts (Nu.18:22) the earliest ripe (Ex.23:16; Nu. 13:20), the "FIRST of the firstfruits" of God's purified undefiled sons. These fully ripe and mature sons follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, being the first fully redeemed from among men--being the "firstfruits" unto God and the Lamb - Rev.14:4, 15, 16. These ones of the bride are only 'they THAT WERE READY" (fully ripe) (Matt.25:10), ready to be HARVESTED (Mk.4:29) as a part of Christ's first harvest, even the FIRST resurrection.
Once again we see, the Lord has only A FEW names" comparative to the rest of "the body, the church" (Col.1:17) which do not defile their garments both naturally (experientially) and spiritually, and MADE THEMSELVES READY - Rev.19:7, 8. There must needs be a long period of growth before the firstfruits is ready together, to begin to serve and to feed all of humanity with the broken bread of life. This is taking place in both the natural and spritual realms of the "kingdom of HEAVEN."
"Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious [FIRST] FRUIT OF THE EARTH and hath long patience for it." Be ye also patent; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh - Jas.5:7, 8. Some shall yield forth thirty-fold, some sixty-fold and some one hundred-fold fruits (of the Spirit) unto God - Mk.4:8; 26-29. These bring forth fruit with faithful patience - Lk.8:15. "In your patience, possess ye your souls."Lk.21:19.
Just as SOME of the former children of God in the exodus did not endure patiently unto the end in order to enter into the FULLNESS of their INHERITANCE (1Cor.10:5), so "MANY son" (Heb.2:10) but not nearly all, shall be brought into THE OBTAINING of this first and highest glory of our Lord (2Ths.2:14); brought into their INHERITANCE which in true type includes "THE redemption of THE PURCHASED POSSESSION" (Eph.1:14), even their bodies - 1Cor.6:19, 20. Even now Christ is repossessing the land of our souls.
Beloved of the Lord, concerning this land, "Let us at once go up and POSSESS it: for we are WELL ABLE TO OVERCOME it." Nu.13:30. Rebel not against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land...their [our enemies in high spiritual places] defence is departed from them." Nu.14:19. "Greater is He that is in you than he (the antichrist enemies in and of your soul) that is in the world."1Jn.4:4.
HIM THAT OVERCOMETH
The manifest earthly glory and honour of both this inner (Eph.3:19; 4:13) and outer realm of the coming kingdom of GOD (Matt.6:10). will be granted only to "the man [mature, first born male) child" [a corporate son] (Rev.12:5), described also as "HE that OVERCOMETH" in Rev.2:26, 27. These are ones who shall be deemed worthy to receive the glorious PRIZE and FULL REWARD of RULING with Christ OVER THE NATIONS UNTO THE AGES. These shall be the ones of His body that shall not have been OVERCOME with any form of evil, but shall have experienced and applied the OVERCOMING OF EVIL WITH GOOD - Ro.12:2. "They OVERCAME HIM [the evil one] by the blood of the Lamb [learning how to actively and effectively apply it], and by the word of their testimony (Rev.6:9; 19:10), and they loved not heir [personal lives] unto the death (Lk.17:33)," even of self and sin - Rev.12:11.
To these "saviours" (Obed.21), the first manifested "sons of God" (Ro. 8:19), and not to others, will be given "THE CROWN OF LIFE" (Jas.1:12; 2Tim.4:8), an authoritative reign of glorified kings and priests ON THE EARTH - Rev.5:10; Isa.61:6. Of course not all saints can be in these authoritative governmental positions of spiritual leaders and rulers in the body of Christ - 1Cor. chapter 12. There must also be numerous other members and subjects in the cities and "nations of THEM WHICH ARE SAVED."Rev.21:4; Lk.19:17; Matt.25:23. There are different types of glory in the resurrection (1Cor.15:35-42) just as there are many different callings with diversity of ministry and gifts within the body of Christ -1Cor.chap.12.
Jesus said, speaking to His body, the church, "To HIM THAT OVERCOMETH will I GRAND [the prize] to sit with me IN MY THRONE [total authority], even as I ALSO OVERCAME."Rev.3:21. To others in the church, because they were just "lukewarm" Christians and works of iniquity (Matt.7:21-23; 13:410, they would be prevented from obtaining the promises of the overcomer (Rev.chap.2 and 3) and cast out of that once obtainable position in the coming kingdom of God - Rev.3:21. Jesus had ought against practices in the church that would prevent most from receiving the rewards of those that would be overcomers. If you will carefully examine Rev. chapters two and three, one would have to honestly admit that it is no different in the church today.
ENTRANCE TO KINGDOM REIGN
In Matt.20:21-24 Jesus asked, "Are you able to drink of the cup of [righteous suffering] that I shall drink of...?...Ye shall drink indeed of my cup [sooner or later] but to SIT WITH ME ON THE RIGHT HAND [signifying distributing righteous power and authority in the kingdom of God] and the left [place of chastising judgment of His flock of rams and goats - Ezk. 34:17; Matt.24:33]...shall be given to them for whom it is prepared OF MY FATHER."
If we are to have any hope of entering into the FULL INHERITANCE OF THE FATHER'S COMING MANIFEST KINGDOM (Matt.13:48; 26:29), if we are to OBTAIN the unto the kingdom realm authority and promises (Heb.6:11, 12) after the manner of which Paul was speaking (Phil.3:6-21), we must first, finally enter in through "the strait and narrow gate" where "FEW there be that find it."Matt.7:14.
The "narrow gate" is not speaking of our initial entrance into common salvation in the kingdom of HEAVEN, but in fullness of truth is speaking of the disciplined way into the kingdom of HIS LORDSHIP(2Ptr.1:11) of which realm of His kingdom Jesus also said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."Matt.19:24. Note the contrast from vs.23 where it is difficult to enter the kingdom of HEAVEN, but in vs.24 it is almost impossible for a man who is more involved in the riches and things of this world to enter the kingdom of GOD. There is a real distinction here between them, just as there is a difference in all scriptures relating to the kingdom. Ezk.37:21- 28 is a type and shadow of the heavenly kingdoms.
How few seem to have a vision of what Paul and Jesus taught...that "we must through much tribulation [and its overcoming] enter into the kingdom of GOD."Ac.4:22. Surely all the redeemed shall LIVE with Him, but "if we suffer [with Him], we shall also REIGN with Him."2Tim.2:12. This is one of the most necessary prerequisites of being raised up in Fullness with Him. All the fiery trials, persecutions, tribulation, griefs, thorns, suffering etc. which you endure for His sake, which you are delivered from and which you overcome for "conscience toward God" (1Ptr.2:19), "is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that YE MAY BE COUNTED WORTHY [even for] THE KINGDOM OF GOD [the prize of the high calling] for which ye also suffer."2Ths.1:5, 11.
As potential heirs of being one with the Son in all things, we are now exhorted to "walk WORTHY of God" who has called us to be partakers of this glorious kingdom - 1Ths.2:12. MANY are called and chosen but FEW there shall be that are FAITHFUL AND WORTHY - Rev.17:14; Matt.22:8, 14. These shall be only the faithful and WORTHY "saints" and "disciples" whom Jesus referred to as "the LITTLE flock." Lk.12:22, 31. This brings us back to Rev.3:4 where Jesus, speaking of OVERCOMERS, has but "A FEW names" that shall have been tried and found truly WORTHY to rule together with Him in the kingdom of God.
In summary, we see that the unsolicited GIFT OF INITIAL SALVATION [the kingdom of HEAVEN - identical with the church age - the woman in the wilderness - Rev.12] has been given freely in grace to all those who are believing in Christ as their SAVIOUR. But the PRIZE of receiving THE END or THE FULLNESS OF this so great salvation, is A REWARD of faithful discipleship and can only be EARNED in obedience to Christ not only as the Saviour but also the LORD of their lives. Such is the kingdom of GOD---the millennial reign of the overcomers who shall rule the earth with a rod of iron (Rev.2:27) dwelling in a glorified state of incorruption and immortality. This honour is laid up both as a "reserved" (1Ptr.1:4) and as a deserved INCORRUPTIBLE INHERITANCE, a crown only for "HIM THAT OVERCOMETH."
Truly, God has given us all things that are to be found in the glorious realms "in the kingdom of Christ AND of GOD."Eph.5:1-5. How much we appropriate toward winning and possessing all Christ has for us in the kingdom of God, is up to us - Josh.1:3; 14:9; Mk.4:24; 13:23. "The saints of the most High shall TAKE the kingdom, and POSSESS the kingdom forever.."Dan.7:18. The true spirit of sonship does not involve a spirit of elitism but rather that of committed discipleship.
To receive the FULL INHERITANCE and greater blessing of the Father, is the birthright of all God's firstborn sons in this age. Note how Joseph was given to rule, but his brothers were not. Let us be careful not to be as Esau who in a moment of weakness through turning to the flesh, sold his birthright of the FULL inheritance - Heb.12:16, 17. He did not sell nor forefeit his total salvation but sold his right of rulership, rewards and greater inheritance of the earth. His "CROWN" was taken - Rev.3:11. Yet his Father still loved him and he was blessed with a lesser portion of his Father's kingdom - Gen.chap.25; Heb.12:16, 17. Oh the manifest grace of God! All believers have received of His Grace but how many shall partake of His greater GLORY? Beloved, it is up to your whether you shall be a Jacob or an Esau!
We find the basic principles of which we are speaking throughout the Bible. Judas forefeited his INHERITANCE REWARDS when he sold them for fleshly gain. The "unjust steward" wasted his master's goods and his lord took away his "STEWARDSHIP."Lk.16:1-13. Mock not the surety of God's truth as did his servant Hagar. The offspring of this woman [type of a portion of the true church] will not be FULL HEIR to the blessings of Isaac - Gen.chap. 21. Likewise, because of the sin and instability of Reuben, the offspring of Leah also lost his birthright and rightful inheritance - Gen.49:3, 4.
Can a man lose his unearned salvation? Never! But in accord with these truths we have been sharing, "If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer LOSS, BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; YET SO AS BY FIRE." 1Cor.3:15. Sin and iniquity will not go unpunished or without chastisement. How much moreso if not repented of quickly. Yet our Father is ever merciful if we will repent and turn back unto Him as did the younger prodigal son - Lk.15:11-32.
In harmony with all that has been stated, we find the "wheat and the tares" growing undetected together IN THE KINGDOM (Matt.13:30), until the very end of the church age. This truth of course is to be applied to the working of the spirit in the inner man as well as in the natural realms of the literal church. We are told that in the net of the kingdom were good fish and bad - Matt.13:48. Was not the wedding also furnished with guests "both good and bad?"Matt.22:10. In the kingdom of heaven were five "wise virgins" and five "foolish virgins."Matt.25:1-13. Which one are you?
It is NOW in the kingdom of HEAVEN that Christ "would take account of His servants" and His "faithful and wise stewards", to whom the Lord shall give a portion of kingdom RULE (Matt.24:45-47; 25:23; Lk.19:17) "OVER HIS HOUSEHOLD."Lk.12:42. Likewise, in the growing body of Christ, there are also "wicked servants", "wicked and slothful servants", evil servants", "unprofitable servants" (Matt.25:14) which know their Lord's will, but PREPARED NOT"...."neither did according to His will" (Lk.12:47) and are also of their "fellowservants" (Matt.18:33; 24:49) "having received the kingdom."Lk.19:15. These are "saved' servants but these shall have no part in the ranks of the high calling of the kingdom of God.
Whether or not "ye become the servants of righteousness" (Ro.6:18), "whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, [the flesh or the Spirit], his servants ye are."Ro.6:16; Lk.16:13. "The king's favour is toward a wise servant; but his wrath is against him that causeth shame."Prv.11:35; 17:2; Mk.8:38. Which servant are you?
In the kingdom of heaven during the church age, there are "sheep" [only those who hear and obey His voice] and there are "goats" [those who are yet "kids" led of their own fleshly, carnal, self satisfying ways] Matt.25:33. Which one are you? "A wise man's [sheep's] heart is at His right hand; but a fool's [goat's] heart at His left." Eccl.10:2. Which heart is yours? Similarly, there's the "wise man" (Matt.7:24) and the "foolish man." (Matt.7:26) married to the "wise virgins" and the "foolish virgins." Which one are you.
In the Father's great house, "there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour."2Tim.2:20. Which one are you? Hopefully you will be in that company of "them that HAD GOTTEN THE VICTORY ['OVERCOMERS'] OVER the beast [even their carnal mind] and OVER his image [that which they had built of themselves---the false image of themselves as well as the confused and corrupt Babylonish systems that originated from their fallen corrupt minds] and OVER his mark [seal, established, enslaved and set way of self-preserving life] and OVER the number [figurative characteristic of humanity] of his name [carnal beast nature, character]."Rev.15:2.
"Let every one that nameth the name of Christ DEPART FROM INIQUITY"(2Tim.2:19) lest the Lord also one day shall also say unto them, "Depart from Me all ye workers of iniquity" (Lk.13:27;Jb.31:3). "Let us HOLD FAST the profession of our faith WITHOUT WAVERING" (Heb.10:23), "forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."Phil.3:13. The PRIZE OF THE HIGH CALLING IN CHRIST JESUS AWAITS . "NO MAN HAVING PUT HIS HAND TO THE PLOW, AND LOOKING BACK IS FIT FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD."Lk.9:62.
"Brethren, give diligence to MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE: for IF YE DO THESE THINGS, YE SHALL NEVER FALL: For SO AN ENTRANCE SHALL BE ADMINISTERED unto you abundantly INTO THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST." 2Ptr.1:10, 11. "We do desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence TO THE FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE UNTO THE END: that ye be not slothful, but followers OF THEM WHO THROUGH FAITH AND PATIENCE INHERIT THE PROMISES."Heb.6:11, 12.
"And now little children, ABIDE IN HIM, that
when He shall appear [in His kingdom], we may
have confidence, AND NOT BE ASHAMED BEFORE HIM
at His coming."1Jn.2:28
K. Ross McKay