Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Sovereignty of God in Our Lives

In Genesis we read God made man in his image: “…in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Genesis 1:27  We also read the story of how man fell and sinned against God by disobeying his one commandment to them, to not eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Then God said “…Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil...” Genesis 3:22. This may seem like a paradox….first God said he created man in his image, then after they fell, he said they became “as one of us” to know good and evil. But the words “as one of us” here, speaks of them becoming their own God or another God with their own understanding.

The carnal mind and self will that Adam and Eve fell to that day when they went their own way, has lead man to do what was right in their own eyes…deciding for themselves what was good and evil. God said “…in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis 2:17). Their union with God was broken and their spirit life died that day. They had been covered with the Glory of God, (which is the image of God) but it could no longer rest upon them, they had gone their own way. Without union with God, they were now naked and sought the covering that only union with God could give them. Man has tried everything imaginable since that time to substitute that covering. Every pleasurable thing the world can offer has been tried to fill that spot, but it all leaves them empty in the end and looking for the next “covering”

But Paul knew what he was looking for and it could only be found in the spiritual ream with spiritual life in union with God: “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, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” (2 Corinthians 5:2-4)

In Genesis….God said they were going to create men in their image, and that is what he has been doing these last six thousand years. God is creating Sons of God, a people who are just as he is. Like a mirror, the image has no separate life of its own; it only reflects the life in front of it. It doesn’t seek its own will; it only does what it sees life in front of it doing. This is what the Sons of God will be like.

Everything that has transpired since God formed Adam out of the dust of the ground has been to this end. Giving Adam and Eve the opportunity to fall, giving man the law, yet allowing man to do what seemed right in their own eyes. In one form or another every law and every commandment has been a picture of what union with the father should be. It is the evidence of whether we are in union with him or not. The law was our school master. But without the spiritual life from God, we could not be in union with him. We could have forgiveness of sins through the sacrifices of the lambs and fulfilling the rituals of the festivals, but they could not give us back the life that was lost in the garden and the Glory that rested on them. Without this life there is no union with the father. It took Jesus death for forgiveness of sins, and his resurrection life in us to make it possible to be once again in union with the Father.

God is not looking for just modified behavior that is able to keep the law, but desires to impart a new life in us, born of an incorruptible seed by the Holy Spirit that will grow up into a perfect man made in his image.

We have to understand that not everyone born into this world or even those who call themselves Christians will summit themselves to God to be formed into the image of him and become true Sons of God. 2 Timothy 2:20 speaks of vessels of honour and vessels of dishonour. 2 Timothy 3:12 says “…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If any desire to follow the Lord and live their life through him will suffer loss. The words “in Christ Jesus” in this scripture is Christ living in us, giving us the power to live Godly. In order for that new life to be formed in us, we must die to ourselves. Any good works done in our own strength apart from the power of God working in us is only self righteousness, and God HATES self righteousness. It is still the same thing that Adam and Eve did in the garden, apart from God, they had a knowledge of good and evil.

Why do I speak so much about unity or union with God? This is the part he has shown us of himself and he is requiring that of us. Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” As we study the words of Jesus, he says things like….I and my father are one….I can do nothing apart from my father......he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.

John writes: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1John 5:7

I believe it is save to say that none of the three, the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit, does anything apart from each other, they are always in union. That is why they are called “One”. He is calling us into this same unity with him, “one” perfect man, the body of Christ, whose head is Christ Jesus.

Jesus prayed “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21

Since no flesh can glory in God, our flesh must die.

We can know these things; we can quote the scriptures and talk about it. We can have a sincere heart that desires to live this way, but until it is worked into us by God though trials and tribulations, it can not be formed in us. Scriptures tell us that even Jesus learned obedience through the things he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

If we have a true desire to be a vessel of honor for our Lord, to be conformed into his image, if we belong to him, we have to believe he is working in us. No matter what happens or comes our way, it is for our good and his purpose in us. We must believe he is sovereign in every part of our lives. As Roman 8:28 says: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.”

People like to rebuke the Devil when persecution comes, but we need to get that out of our minds, there is no solid scripture for it. Quite the contrary, persecution is an instrument by which we are conformed into the image of Christ. As our flesh is being crucified with trials and tribulations, our will, pride and our own sense of what we feel is “right” and “wrong” is being nailed to the cross. This is how we are blessed when Jesus spoke of it in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” All of this is necessary to burn away our old “life” so the new life in Christ can grow up into a new spiritual man and his glory can be revealed in us. Everything that Adam and Eve “learned” at the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is carnal and fleshly…it is the enemy of God and we must leave it behind. Our ways are not God’s way.

Peter wrote: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)

Let us read the words of Paul who knew much about suffering:

“…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

How may we have the power of Christ rest upon us? By taking “pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions.” If we do not have faith or trust in a sovereign God, that all things that come against us are not only known of God, but are ordained of him for our good…and that his grace will be sufficient, we have no real faith in him at all!

We are here for His purpose, and his purpose is to conform us to his will. The only part we can play in this is to say to the Lord, “not my will but thy will be done” and obey him. When we have done all…..stand. If a battle is to be fought, let the Lord fight it. Only speak or do as the Lord leads. Don’t try and figure things out with our own understanding, be led daily of the Lord. He is able to keep us when we hold on to him.

As we do this, more and more of our old self dies away and the power of Christ rest upon us!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Bride, the Lamb's Wife

(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Philippians 3:18,19)

The saints will find their way home to God's bosom. But the "tares," those whom Babylon has brought into the ranks of the "believers," never will understand this. They will be tossed about by the doctrines of preachers whose God is their belly until finally they are revealed at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the corruption they truly are.

The Kingdom of God is not composed of many extraordinary saints but of one God, one Christ, and those who are part of Christ. It is the oneness of the Kingdom that is so utterly important. It is the oneness of the Kingdom that the world must see. In view of the oneness of the Kingdom we can understand that disobedience to God in any form cannot be tolerated.

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

Because of her oneness with the Lamb the holy city is termed "the bride, the Lamb's wife." It is the oneness, the marriage, that is emphasized. The Church never is referred to as the queen. It is Babylon who is the queen, the one who regards herself as the equal of the Lord. But the Bride is the body of the Lord, not His equal. She is not His partner, she is Him!

The danger today is that the believers are being taught to seize the promises of God and attempt to make them work for their own good. This is the False Prophet, as we have said. The true Bride rejects this false worship immediately. She knows that the Lord has not called her to be someone who uses Him for her own purposes, not even if those purposes have to do with "Gospel work," but a helper suited to Him. She is to become an integral part of Himself.

Those who are not called of the Lord never will understand this distinction. But the elect understand it immediately and flee from those who are attempting to use Christ's love for their own purposes.

When one beholds the holy city, the new Jerusalem, he beholds God, just as when one beholds Christ he beholds God. This is not because God and Christ are the same person but because They are One and the holy city is one in Them. We are being brought into this perfect Unity. The process of being brought into the Divine Oneness is very painful because our self-centeredness is destroyed; not our identity or uniqueness but our ability to act as an independent will. Adam dies and in his place there arises a new person—a life-giving spirit (I Corinthians 15:45) who is an eternal, incorruptible part of Christ.

To be continued.

R. Thompson

What Part of ‘NO FLESH’ Don’t We Understand? - Cathy Morris

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31.

The One Thing Needful…

If it be asked, What this one thing is? It is the SPIRIT OF GOD brought again to HIS FIRST POWER OF LIFE IN US. Nothing else is wanted by us, nothing else intended for us, by the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel. Nothing else is, or can be effectual, to the making sinful man become again a godly creature.

Everything else, be it what it will, however glorious and divine in outward appearance, everything that angels, men, churches, or reformations, can do for us, is dead and helpless, but so far as it is the immediate work of the Spirit of God breathing and living in it.

These words were penned in 1761 by William Law in his Address to the Clergy. They were true then, and they are true today. The apostle Paul states in Colossians 1:26-29:
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”

There is nothing that can stand in the gap for the Spirit of God; no substitute, nothing of the flesh can meet the requirements of a Holy God. “For all have sinned and fallen short….” includes all of us. All of our good works; all of our perceived righteousness, is as filthy rags.

Continue reading here

Friday, May 01, 2009

Beheaded for the witness of Jesus

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45)

The life-giving spirit is the Lord from Heaven. We are nothing apart from Jesus. We are being created of Him and in Him. This is the true Kingdom of God, the Servant of the Lord, the Israel of God, the new Jerusalem. It is the Light that will govern the nations of saved peoples of the earth. It is the Throne of God and of the Lamb. It is the Branch. It is the eternal Temple, the Tabernacle of God.

It is this eternal Tabernacle of God that will at first enforce obedience on the nations of the saved, and after that will create inner obedience in people until everyone dwelling on the new earth has a portion of Christ in himself and will obey God from an obedient heart. The Kingdom of God is as a tiny seed that grows until it is the greatest of the trees. It will be as an immense mountain, a government that will fill the whole earth. This is the nature and significance of the Judaic-Christian salvation.

The servant of the Lord is beheaded.
. . . and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; . . . (Revelation 20:4)

The believers who attain the first resurrection will have been "beheaded." This may be referring just to those who were decapitated for their testimony, or to all the Christian martyrs. Another interpretation, which is figurative, is that they permitted the Spirit to do away with their fleshly minds so they could follow the Lord by faith and trust.

To do the will of God we must experience a transformation of the mind. The religionist uses his mind in order to practice his religion. The saint is led by the Spirit of God, his mind serving to insure that he is being directed according to the righteousness commanded by the Scriptures.

To be a member of the Body of Christ, part of the Servant of the Lord, we must be "blind" and "deaf" in the world so we may be able to see the Lord and hear His voice. It is impossible to serve the Lord properly, obeying Him faithfully in every detail, until our human mind has been replaced by the mind of the Spirit of God.

The sons of God are led by the Spirit, not by human reasoning. If we would bear a true witness of the Lord Jesus and be an expression of the Word of God we must be "beheaded."

Those who are of the world walk by the light of the world. But those who are of the Lord walk by His light. The saints who rule with God will have no need of the light of the sun for God will illumine them.

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)

And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11)

The worship of the Beast. The worship of the Beast (Antichrist) and the image of the Beast are the great issues of the last days. According to the Book of Revelation, one of the primary tasks of the saints of the end-time is to overcome the Beast and his image.

As we have stated previously, the Beast is Antichrist, that is, the desire of man to be his own God. The False Prophet is the attempt of people to gain the power of Christ apart from union with Christ. There is no doubt that these abominations will be a mixture of the world and Christianity. They will represent the maturing of what already is prevalent in the wealthy nations of the earth, the attempt to set up a system that speaks the words of morality, of faith, of hope, of love (even in the name of Jesus) but which is motivated by human reasoning and objectives.

It is our point of view that the "faith" and "prosperity" movements are of the False Prophet. The "Reconstruction" movement appears to be an attempt of Christian people to use the power of Jesus to gain control of civil government. Then too we see Christian leaders attempt to persuade the world leaders to "accept Christ" according to the "four steps of salvation." They do not seek to convince the politicians to walk in obedience before God, to take up their cross and follow the Lord, but to be "born again" in the sense of a shallow mental and verbal acknowledgment of the Christian redemption. Such teaching will not cause the political leaders to tremble, as did Felix. Paul did not talk to Felix about grace or being born again but concerning righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come.

In addition the Christian leaders stress the value of a democratic form of government (which does not of itself result in godly behavior, as evidenced in the United States, France, England, and West Germany) and free-enterprise capitalism as an economic system. We are not certain that it is the Holy Spirit who is sponsoring these attempts to bring the Divine salvation into the political arena.

Antichrist and the False Prophet will attempt to use the things of Christ to solve the problems of the world. It seems these two members of the satanic trinity are with us already.

There may be a day when people are forced to have some sort of mark in their hand or on their forehead in order to participate in the world economic system. Our concern is that today the actions of the believers and their thinking reveal they already are part of the world system. With their hands they serve the God of the world and their minds think like the world.

The believers are worshiping the demons of covetousness, lust, violence, drunkenness, and occult practices as they watch their televisions. They are seeing on the television what Antichrist desires they see. The believers sit in a mental torpor, allowing Satan to stamp their minds with covetousness, lust, murder, reveling, and sorcery. The Christians do not have the strength to resist the entrance of Satan into their homes. This is because they have been taught that Christ desires to forgive them, rather than the truth of the Gospel which is that Christ wants to change them. Salvation is moral transformation. Apart from moral transformation there is no salvation.

To be continued...
R. Thompson